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Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism

Perry Anderson

It is now clear that the Portuguese Empire is coming to an end. In its final days, it may be timely to examine the history and structure of this empire, both for their own interest and for the importance they have for any general account of imperialism. Good factual accounts of the Portuguese Empire, past and present, already exist and will no doubt continue to appear. The study below is intended rather to suggest a theoretical model which can integrate the available material into a coherent and significant whole. It begins, necessarily, with the briefest of accounts of contemporary Portugal itself, as centre of determination of its colonies. There follows a résumé history of the Empire, and then a structural analysis of Portuguese imperialism as it exists today. A final section deals with the insurrection in Angola.

Portugal: Economy* Lying on the Western sea-board on the Iberian peninsula, Portugal is some 350 miles long and 100 miles wide. The north is mountainous: most of the centre and the south consists of high plateaux which prolong the Central Spanish Meseta down to the Atlantic. The climate is Mediterranean, with a rainfall of 29 inches and an average temperature that varies between 70° and 50° F. The population (1960) is 9,100,000. A break-down of the economically active proportion of this shows:
* Statistical sources: Annuario Intelligence Unit. Estatistico 1958, UN, OEEC, Economist


Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing Manufacturing ... ... Personal and General Services Trade and Insurance ... ... Building and Public Works ... Civil Servants ... ... ... Transport ... ... ... Mining ... ... ... ... Public Service Industries ... Rest ... ... ... ...

... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...

1,569,000 592,000 489,000 227,000 155,000 115,000 107,000 25,000 10,000 6,000

Total ... ... ... ... 3,186,000 of whom women ... ... 725,000 (1950 census figures) The primary sector (agriculture, fishing, forestry) thus absorbs about 50% of Portugal’s manpower. Industry accounts for only 24%. The tertiary (white-collar) sector employs the remaining 26%. As a pattern, this is unique in Western Europe. The only other country with a work-force distributed in anything like this way is Spain, which, however, has a much more considerable industrial sector. A comparison with the two other physically smallest colonial powers, Belgium and Holland, is instructive. In 1957, Belgium, with a population almost exactly the same as Portugal’s (9,000,000), had an agricultural sector of 11%, an industrial sector of no less than 49%, and a tertiary sector of 37%. In Holland in 1957 the figures showed an even more sophisticated pattern: 19%−30%−41%. The contrast reveals the Portuguese economy as backward in the extreme. The picture becomes sharper as it takes on more detail. Agriculture occupies the vast bulk of the work-force, yet it is subsistence farming at such low levels of technique, that it accounts for only one fourth of the national product. The soil is particularly poor, lacking phosphates and potash. Fertiliser techniques are rudimentary—it is officially estimated that production could be raised by at least 50% given adequate fertilisation. Mechanisation is minimal (there were 6,000 tractors in all Portugal in 1958). Erosion, due to unreliable rainfall and lack of preventive measures, is widespread. As a result, despite the overwhelming place of agriculture in national life, Portugal has a permanent cereal deficit: 150,000 metric tons of corn were imported annually in the period 1953–55. In 1960, wheat imports alone cost 227 million escudos. There is almost no heavy industry. Deposits of coal and iron ore are relatively small: 490,000 tons of coal was produced in 1960, and 280,000 tons of iron ore. There is now one steel works in the country, at Seixal near Lisbon, with an initial planned capacity of 200,000 tons a year and target capacity of 500,000 tons; but with a slowly rising level of demand, this is expected merely to hold the volume of steel imports at its present level. Electrical production has increased in recent years, and in 1960 reached 3,250 million kilowatts. But this is still the lowest per capita output in Western Europe. Total energy

. are heavy industrial goods (machinery. . ... finished steel)....265 Total exports .... 820 Refined Oil Products ..... 1.. The major import items... 1. the Portuguese textile industry. classic consumer durables (motor vehicles......425 Iron and steel .. .. ...... ceramics. and 35.. foodstuffs (wheat. The basis of much of this industry is artificial. .. .. sewing machines).. . 525 Man-made fibres ... 106 Olive oil . is the other major export industry (one sixth all foreign earnings in 1960). .980 Cork .354 For domestic consumption. ...... .. of which Portugal is the world’s largest producer... .. ... 687 Timber and manufacture ..... Lebanon (567 kilos) or the Malayan Federation (558 kilos) consumed more. 465 Resin and products . ..... .... . 1.... metal products. . . would dwindle rapidly.... ...8% of her cotton manufactures were exported back to the same areas. 772 unmanufactured .. .... which is inefficient and uncompetitive.. The 1960 figures were as follows: Exports (million escudos) Textiles . . Without this administratively enforced supply and demand... 882 Crude Oil .7% of Portugal’s raw cotton imports came from her colonies. . glassware. ..... as it is heavily dependent on forcibly depressed cotton prices in the colonies. . Imports (million escudos) 1960 Industrial machinery ... paper. . ..Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism consumption was some 355 kilos of coal (equivalent) per capita in 1959: OEEC estimates place this as about 15 to the OEEC average index of 100.. . chemicals... .... Such underdeveloped countries as Panama (478 kilos). ... . .041 Motor Vehicles . They employ one third of the total manufacturing work-force and provide one fifth of all export earnings.. and fuels (petroleum... . 1.. .057 Wine . and drastically protected markets in the same territories: in 1960 82... . 420 Wolfram . . .... . 82 6...... . . cod). sugar... 696 Canned Fish . ..403 Raw Cotton . 9.. But about half these earnings come from raw cork which.. as a primary product is subject to considerable fluctuations in world prices. coal). . ... there are small industries producing leather goods.. Cork............ 301 .468 manufactured ... Next in size come fish products (mainly sardines) and wine. .. electrical goods and Pharmaceuticals. . .. radio sets.. . . potatoes.. Textiles are the dominant light industry.. in contrast. 1. and is at the minute suffering from excess supply.. soap.. . 1...

. The immense southern latifundia are devoted to extensive cultivation and livestock breeding. . In the north. .902 Total imports . .86 Wheat . an insignificant producers goods industry. . the small peasant proprietor has no capital to improve his yield.... an imperial power.... The urban working class is little better off.. The average agricultural wage is 5/7d. Iron and steel products . but equally oppressive tenurial regimes.. .. manufactured imports... does not occur.. and 3/1d. Ninety per cent of the farms in the north are miniscule plots averaging 2. the North by myriads of tiny peasant holdings. Radio and television receivers Antiobiotics and medicaments Plastics . The average wage in the cities is 6/7d. Of all Portuguese farms 94.... A semi-subsistence agriculture. overwhelming export reliance on processed primary products: Portugal. and will not invest to raise productivity.3% are over 494 acres. through generations of divided inheritances.. . Ships . . ..7% of the country’s total cultivated area—the second for 39%... and the cereal deficit. is content with his aggregate profit. Yet the first account for only 28. the classic colonial absorption of raw materials for re-export as manufactured products.500 times as large—5. The corollary is a standard of living that is the lowest in Western Europe. The pattern is the very reverse of an imperial economy. Society Social structures reflect and reinforce the retardation of the economy. .. The South is dominated by the vast latifundia of a feudal aristocracy. ....636 With the single exception of cotton for the textile industry. .. .. . 226 222 200 187 251 235 7..9% are less than 24 acres in size: 0..878 acres.. There is no question of . . a day for men. In the south the average size is 2.. The disproportions of wealth have few comparisons anywhere in the world. This class suffers under two opposite.4 acres of field crops.. for women. less than Greece or Mexico. The balance is exactly opposite: quasi-raw material exports (cork.000 people..—involving minimal technological intervention).. ... In the north. as in much of Latin America... the innumerable small holdings are steadily becoming ever smaller and less viable. Even within this system landlordism is rampant: a recent observer reported that it is not unknown for a five-acre farm to be owned by no less than 15 different landlords. The peasantry is thus by far the most numerous class. wine..... . More than two-thirds of the population live in communities of less than 2. 15. In the south the absentee latifundista.. The net result is chronic unemployment in the countryside. an extremely limited consumer sector. etc.. a day—some £2 a week. has the economy of an underdeveloped country. . and one of the lowest in the world: 210 dollars a year..

and all transport. Per capita consumption of meat is a quarter of that in France. one third of the net national increase of population over that period. shorter hours or better conditions: unions are illegal. the most damning single figure of all. CUF has a monopoly of the Portuguese metallurgical industry. cement.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism striking for higher wages. These structures underline Portugal’s backwardness as a colonial metropolis. particularly British. compact oligarchy of families which entirely dominate the economy through a set of complementary personal and institutional controls. With a stagnant economy and creeping prices (monopolies. Calory intake (2. Paraguay or Egypt.5% had electricity (Spain 80%) and 7. where a traditional. occupies a comparable position to the famous Misr group in the ancien regime in Egypt. livestock. Housing conditions match diet: even by official Portuguese standards 11. The emigration statistics are a verdict on the system. the rice and peanut industries. and higher than some colonial and ex-colonial territories (67.000 families in Lisbon alone (population 790. They show striking analogies to pre-war Egypt. tobacco. soap. CUF all but owns Portuguese Guinea: it has a monopoly of all wholesale and retail commerce. Tuberculosis is more frequent than anywhere else in Europe (51 deaths per 100. electrical industry.2% in Spain. Portugal has only had an actual Ministry of Health since 1958.5 in Senegal). 28. banking. the Companhia União Fabril (CUF). industries and insurance houses.4% of the population over seven years of age is illiterate. foreign capital penetration in Portugal. The infant mortality rate is the highest in Europe (88. is probably more advanced than in any other .8% baths. beer. Health inevitably reflects the conditions of food and shelter. an all-embracing network of cartels overlays the whole economy and ensures monopoly profit-levels from it. and has a massive share of export houses and colonial enterprises. On the one hand. only 14.000) live in dwellings unfit for human habitation.5% of all Portuguese houses had running water in the houses (34. a series of interlocking directorships link banks. Between 1954 and 1957 net average emigration was 31. air transport. debilitating economic growth by financial and real estate speculation. Gouveia. Education fares no better: 40. The sovereigns of this misery are a tiny. cinema. The archetype of the Portuguese cartels.000 population). and scarcely more than that in Egypt.410) is lower than in such underdeveloped countries as Greece. inflated administrative and commercial sectors) real wages dropped by one third between 1939 and 1958. In 1950. Consumption of sugar compares with Ceylon or Pakistan. only 19. socially exclusive intermarrying elite of a similar kind dominated the economy from power positions in banking and finance houses.000 population). Through its subsidiary.7% in Greece). At the same time.760 persons a year (about 65% went to Brazil or Venezuela). real estate and insurance.6 per 1. cellulose. matches. Within Portugal itself its ancillaries include: medicinal drugs. It controls the majority of dockyards and shipping firms. tin. On the other.

Coutts. between whom the State should act as arbiter.675 men. Parallel to these bodies is the civilian organisation of the regime. The social character of the Salazar regime is thus unambiguous. It has developed an extensive paramilitary and ideological armature of its own. a green-shirted shock and vigilante organisation. by now a classic sociological process. brutal exploitation and omnipresent foreign capital is a political regime of permanent violence. gaining a margin of autonomy vis-à-vis the groups which brought it to power and whose interests it factually serves. Political Regime The logic of economic archaism. There are at least five different armed political and police corps: the secret police (PIDE). like its Spanish and LatinAmerican homologues. de la Fosse. 1 German. and is capable of deploying fully armoured and motorized units instantly against strikes or demonstrations. the creation of a military and ecclesiastical alliance. The Legião has some 87. The beneficiaries of the regime are the feudal landowners of the latifundia and the oligarchy which controls the cartels. and 1 Italian. the political apparatus of Salazarism has. but its identity is not simply to be absorbed into its class of origin and its range of beneficiaries. The Portuguese regime is commonly described as fascist. with British concerns again predominant: 26 British firms to 6 French.88 European country. Only a massive machinery of repression could keep the whole intolerable structure in place. the Republican guard (GNR). In its 35 years of existence. Church and Army in turn are institutional formations of these groups. There is a US monopoly in the marketing of cork. 2 Swiss. Krupp). The ideology of Salazarism—corporativism—gives the term a precise historical reference. Strong representation in banking is ensured by the Bank of London and South America. There is also an armed customs police (Guardia Fiscal). Corporativism conceives the nation as a series of conflicting interest groups. Born in 1926 out of an army revolt. it was. Clarkes. The urban bus and train services are all British owned. Founded in 1930. About half of the insurance companies (40 out of 86 in 1953) are foreign owned. worked itself to a certain extent free from its social base. The Salazar dictatorship is precisely this. and the volunteer Legião Portuguesa. Portugal’s single political party. and is today confined mainly to an ideological and publicity role. this has never been very important in the constellation of power within the regime. Sandeman. organising all groups into corporations .000 members and is an important military and political reserve force for the regime. 4 Spanish. The Anglo-Portuguese Telephone Company has a monopoly of the country’s telephone system. the riot police (PSP). the União Nacional. The GNR in 1958 numbered some 7. The industrial and commercial centre of Oporto is dominated by Anglo-Scottish families resident there for generations. and the apparatus of repression and exploitation outlined above clearly meets this classification. The British have strong interests in shipbuilding and electrical goods (English Electric) the German in Pharmaceuticals (Meyer) and engineering (Mannesman.

At the same time. In Portugal. The reason lies doubtless in the role of Catholicism in Portugal. Military expenditure in 1960 absorbed one-fifth of the budget (2. Salazar’s regime has been able to rely largely on traditional institutional formations for its apparatus of coercion and mystification. was also widely contested and discredited in the 20’s: fascism in Italy was correspondingly more ‘ideological’. The Legislature is divided into a National Assembly (all 120 seats. deprived of the experience of either Reformation or Industrial Revolution. and was scheduled to take up well over a quarter in 1961. Fascism is an emergency operation: a last. Italy and Germany. workers into ‘sindicatos’. although still massive.488 million escudos).Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism and mediating impartially between them. It has also developed independent structures of its own. of course. the official ideology of the Italian Fascist Party. fascism took a highly articulated and systematic ideological form. but definite margin of autonomy from its institutional supports and their social ground. even Spain. where all traditional authority had broken down. elected on a severely restricted suffrage. To sum up: Portugal. Corporativism in Portugal is a larvaed ideology. It develops an articulated ideology to the exact extent that traditional centres of authority have weakened or declined. Corporativism was. it remains in Portugal a somewhat half-hearted affair: the regime has never made any real attempt at a systematic propagation or even exposition of the theory. the decentred position of the Legião Portuguesa are the obverse of the overwhelming role of the Army in Portugal. In Italy. and its imitation in Portugal defines Salazar’s regime as fascist in a pure sense of the term. particularly in its exercise of police repression. (This is of immediate political importance. The President of the Republic is always a General. formally the third largest imperial . and enjoys a limited. but which is now irretrievably broken. as will emerge later). Employers are organised into ‘gremios’. In 1958 one out of every three Cabinet Ministers in Portugal was a member of the Armed Forces (including the crucial Ministries of the Interior and the Overseas Territories). Catholicism is virulent and unchallenged. the Fascist or the Nazi parties have varied inversely to the role of the Army in Spain. all officers must marry in Church. an estimate made well before the Angolan insurrection.4 million escudos of a total expenditure of 10. representing the different corporations. just as the relative positions of the Falange. with little political importance.219. In the maelstrom of Germany in the 30’s. without the open intervention of violence. are held by the União Nacional). A developed fascist ideology is therefore unnecessary. desperate attempt to prolong or resurrect by force a social order which once functioned as if naturally and ‘automatically’. Elite recruitment of the officer corps is explicit: no coloured Portuguese ‘citizen’ can become an officer. What is true of political theories is probably equally true of political machines. more so than in any other European country. and a Corporative Assembly. The facade nature of the União Nacional. the influence and power of the Church. no officer can marry any woman without either a university degree or a £875 dowry.

feudal ownership patterns. a combined Venetian-Arab-Indian fleet was destroyed by Almeida off Diu. but were later stabilised at 30 cruzados a quintal. cloves). Da Gama’s shipment of pepper (not a large one) paid for his voyage 60 times over.90 power in the world today. while their procurement price in India remained at about 2 cruzados. But in 1509. Portuguese expeditions to West Africa aimed primarily at the acquisition of Guinean gold. How did Portugal ever come to possess its vast African colonies? Their origins lie at the very opening of European overseas expansion in the 15th century. and Portuguese control of Middle-Eastern shipping was assured. A largely pre-industrial infra-structure. The object was now spices (pepper. Once da Gama had landed in India. In the first half of the century. And in 1498 da Gama landed in India. . nutmegs. In 1487 Dias sailed beyond the cape of Good Hope. This is the metropolitan complex which determines the specific system of Portuguese overseas domination: ultra-colonialism—that is. The gold thus accumulated probably helped to substitute for the increasingly scarce Sudanese source which had up till about 1440 financed deficit European trade in the Levant. Cape Bojador was passed in 1434. What was the economic content of this expansion? Two stages need to be distinguished. After the first voyages. the whole basis of Portuguese commercial expansion changed. a torpid fascism. REFLEX-COLONIZATION The anomaly of Portuguese imperialism has to be seen in the perspective of its history. pepper prices slumped in Europe. and bartered these for gold and slaves. began sending ships southwards along the African Atlantic coast at the beginning of the 15th century. It is in terms of these two elements that an analysis of the Portuguese empire can be made. Caravels left loaded with tin and brass-ware. suffered a severe crisis and joined with Arab Red Sea traders in attempting to oust the Portuguese from their Indian vantage-points by force. Venice. I. In 1485 Diego Cão reached the mouth of the Congo. is itself an underdeveloped country. coral (and later beads on the East coat of Africa). The spices were bought with Guinean gold and the German silver for which it was sold in Europe. trinkets. the Cape Verde Islands colonised in 1456. cinnamon. not gold. linen. Direct access to India allowed the Portuguese to eliminate the Arab and Levantine middlemen who had controlled the European export market to that date from Cairo and Alexandria. Senegal reached in 1444. Asia Portugal. favoured by a geographical position along the Atlantic sea-board and just off the extreme western edge of North Africa. military paramountcy. The profits from the spice trade were initially colossal. at once the most primitive and the most extreme modality of colonialism. the former entrepôt of the spice trade in Europe.

Portuguese oriental trade was imperialism as well as exchange.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism Rapid expansion followed. Chaul. The structure of this Empire was absolutely distinctive. unprecedented scale. Damao. an imperialism of exchange. was taken in 1511 and the main source area for the spices. These bases commanded both sources (Indonesian islands. Bassein. In the first half of the 16th century a climax of imperial luxury was reached. By the middle of the 16th century. the actual majority of Portuguese revenues in the East came from this carrying trade.000.000 cruzados a year. Amboina. cinnamon from Ceylon. much of the spices came to be paid for in Coromandel cloth from the Indian coast: Arabian horses. Goa. In 1519 Colombo fell. Macao to Nagasaki. silks and textiles. Ultimately. Ormuz in the Persian Gulf was captured. but much of it stayed in the East. Cochin to Colombo. and they could then be shipped home directly. Ternate. and effectively secured Portuguese commercial dominance over the whole ocean. were initially bought on the Indian coast. the Portuguese came to make larger and larger profits from the Asian interport trade. Lisbon became the most spectacularly opulent town in Europe. Ormuz and Muscat in the Persian Gulf. Its pattern was the barter or purchase of one type of (usually primary) commodity for another. mace and nutmeg from the Indonesian islands. because of its enforcement by technologically superior means of . the Portuguese exercised control over the whole Indian Ocean from East Africa to Indonesia. Diu. Malacca in the Malay straits. African gold and ivory. The original accumulation of capital came from the influx of Guinean gold in the first half of the 15th century: this was then ploughed back into the spice expeditions. Ceylon) and sea routes. etc. As the Portuguese grip on the Indian Ocean littorals extended. Ternate and Tidore in 1514. In 1515. This Portuguese empire of the 16th century was the creation of a specific type of imperialism. Mozambique and Mombasa in East Africa. Wealth flowed into Portugal on an immense. Albuquerque estimated the annual profits to the Crown alone at 1. which marked the zenith of the first wave of European overseas expansion. In this way. unlicenced local traders being liable to arrest and confiscation. cloves. much of the supply-areas for these spices came under their control. Tidor and Solor in Indonesia (later Macao extended Portuguese penetration to the South China sea). and soon dominated the Indian coast. whereas the carracks which got back to Lisbon were predominantly loaded with spices. Finally. which they controlled through a system of licences. Malacca. Goa was seized in 1510. Pepper from the Malabar coast. Cochin in India. in the Malay straits. and the Persian Gulf to Burma. Chinese and Japanese bullion were carried the relatively short and safe distances from one oriental entrepôt to another: Ormuz to Goa. It consisted simply of a vast arc of naval bases strung-out at immense intervals round the Indian Ocean: Sofala. with an enormously increased yield. mainly with German silver from the Augsburg mines. Colombo in Ceylon. the Indonesian islands of Amboina. when naval supremacy was firmly established.

*James Duffy. The transition from one stage to the other implied a more systematic use of violence: instead of the establishment of factories and forts along a littoral. seizure of Socotra. The Mameluke empire in Egypt was about to succumb to the Ottoman Turks. Other Asian artillery was still less effective. The basis of Portuguese successes in the Indian Ocean in the 16th century is much argued over. In their overall level of culture. Japan was in anarchy. it meant the conquest of extensive hinterlands. Cambridge. Ming China was in an isolationist phase. At the same time. Portuguese paramountcy in the East was based ultimately on heavier fire power. With the seizure of the spice islands. there was very little armed shipping there to resist them. Thus. but they were inefficient compared with European models. Key administrators (Almeida. the totality of the world’s cloves crop was grown. and all the Indian forts except Goa and Cochin. all frequently at war with each other. ‘Portuguese Africa’. if not more so. Where decisive superiority did lie was in artillery. but spices are such a concentrated crop (by the 18th century. Malacca. and the state of the various Empires which confronted the Portuguese when they rounded Africa at the turn of the 16th century. Real) consciously resisted any tendency to extend Portuguese enclaves inland: da Gama even advised the abandonment of Ormuz. Southern India was dominated by five Muslim Sultanates and the Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. the eastern empires were easily as advanced as the Portuguese aggressor. on the island of Amboina) that the normal consequences of the change were never effected in the Portuguese Asian Empire.). the Javanese empire of Madjapahit was in collapse and decline.92 violence (bombardment of Calicut. etc. it was a world comparable. when the Portuguese appeared in the Indian Ocean and beyond. if not superior. Besides the purely geographical assets of her outlying position on the Atlantic seaboard. sacking of Goa. burning of Mombasa. thus allowing an all-out concentration on overseas expansion which no other European country could match. in material culture to Portugal in 1500. none of the major states against which Portuguese expansion in the Indian Ocean was launched. by Dutch restrictive practice. Two crucial factors were Portugal’s own position in European geopolitics at the time. Chinese and Indonesian war-junks were more formidable than Portuguese warships. pilots and navigating instruments in the Indian-African traffic were as good as anything the Portuguese had.’* Portuguese success was not even due to a superior naval technology. This was true even of the small Arab city-states on the East Coast of Africa: as Duffy says: ‘By all accounts. Portugal enjoyed the related advantage of comparative isolation from the European power-political struggle. was politically very strong at that moment. 1959. The Chinese had possessed cannon for centuries. . The logic of this type of expansion was to move beyond control of exchange to control of actual extraction. the Portuguese in the 16th century had already formally taken this step.

In 1538 sumptuary laws. Trend. In 1521. seized control of their extraction. in the midst of what seemed a perpetual carnival the nation was begging its bread. In the words of the textbook account: ‘They (the Portuguese) did not produce anything at home. wandering in bands through Lisbon. in the earlier type of imperialism. cheese. The King sent to Flanders for ships of corn. metalwork and furniture were imported. They believed it did this by its magnetic effect on manpower. it is at once the motor and the meaning of the totality of the economic and social relationships at stake. its high rate of casualties (as many as 50% of a crew often died from disease. Elementary manufactures like cloth. or. by 1560 it was so large that the interest-rate on it was repudiated. technological superiority is generalized. By contrast. Slaves were imported from the Guinean Coast for manual labour while Portuguese emigrated to Western Spain to find employment. capsizing and shipwreck increased). and as carracks became more and more heavily loaded. The crucial difference lies in the role of technology in each. The immense wealth of Lisbon was useless. made their appearance. 1957. *J. the metropolitan economy stagnated and declined. . at best. the pressure of hunger was so great that poor people. often manufactured from processed primary products from the same area. In 19th century imperialism. Structuring and defining every aspect of colonial reality. The other simply enforced an advantageous exchange of primary products. Corn continued to be bought abroad: Portugal began importing wheat and barley from France and North Africa as well as from Flanders. fell dead and remained unburied.000 cruzados. technological superiority is confined to the essentially external medium of violence.’* Salt meat. The difference is underlined by the domestic impact of the wave of Portuguese commercial expansion at the beginning of the 16th century. and the cultural effects of its quick-money climate. leaving the strictly economic processes unadvanced and unchanged.000. ‘Portugal’. It is possible the actual economic decline in Portugal has been exaggerated in this period for the purposes of subsequent morality.000. B. and fish had to be bought abroad. The external debt in Flanders became so high that by 1543 interest-rates in Antwerp had risen to 50%. London. by 1552 it was 3. But the central fact is clear: the opening phase of Portuguese overseas expansion was based on a flagrantly fainéant metropolitan economy. Contemporary foreign observers were emphatic that the spice empire had demoralized domestic industry and agriculture. in agriculture or manufacture. The one exploited its colonial possessions both for raw material supplies and as consumer markets for goods produced at home. While oriental revenues soared.000. Pogroms broke out against the Jewish population. butter. After the famine of 1503–4 came the plague of 1505.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism The decisive difference between either of these types of imperialism and the classic transformer imperialism of the 19th century is clear. a classic phenomenon of inflation and extreme social disintegration. By 1544 the royal debt was 2.

Production expanded. In 1718 further deposits were found inland: in 1728 diamonds were discovered in the original gold-bearing area. The Portuguese empire was not merely transferred from a basis of one primary product to another. and it was processed in refineries on the spot. Large areas of north-eastern Brazil were penetrated and cleared. America Towards the middle of the 16th century. although development was still mainly concentrated close to the littoral. . Brazilian sugar saved Portuguese prosperity and preserved its structure almost intact. Technological innovation began to impinge on the economic process per se—sugar was an imported crop. For 100 years. eight of the eleven Brazilian captaincies were together exporting some 7. and the orientation of Portuguese imperialism shifted from Asia to South America. R. Ternate and Tidore in 1607. little was changed. Boxer. By the early 17th century. In 1612. At this second moment of crisis. Sugar was the most important bulk export from the tropical world to Europe in the 17th century.000 cruzados a year.000 to 8. and by the end of the century was making a major contribution to the domestic economy. indeed. The home economy grew no stronger. The revenue from this new colonial wealth equalled or exceeded the profits from sugar. In 1602 the Dutch East India Company was founded: Amboina fell in 1605. the product concerned was the most lucrative single commodity of the century: spices in the 16th. the mines of Minas Gerais and Cuiabà assured the continuity of Portugal’s imperial prosperity. and Brazilian sugar dominated world supply. it also preserved the continuity of Portuguese economic infantilism. and sugar in the 17th century. sugar simply replaced spices.’* At the end of the 17th century. sugar plantations were started on the sparse Portuguese settlements in north-eastern Brazil. *C. ‘Salvador de Sà and the Struggle for Brazil and Angola’. From 1580 to 1640 Portugal was incorporated in the Spanish Kingdom and thus drawn into war with England and Holland.500 tons of sugar a year. the spice empire was lost. At this critical juncture. Ceylon and the Malabar coast in 1655–63. when peace was finally made. the imperial economy was rescued and relayed once again. Dutch attacks on Portuguese positions in the East began almost immediately. Malacca was taken in 1641. The Brazilian plantations completed the conversion of the Portuguese empire’s basic mode of exploitation from exchange to extraction. In both cases. But in all major respects. the leading authority on colonial Brazil can write: ‘It is not too much to say that the existence of Portugal as an independent nation depended mainly on the resources which she derived from the Brazil trade.94 2. French and British West Indian sugar production was beginning to overtake Brazilian output. and attracted the first real wave of colonization. In 1694 gold was discovered in Brazil. The market value of this crop was enormous: as early as 1627 it was calculated at 400. But despite marginal re-investments in Portugal. London. Ormuz in 1622. Expulsion from Japan came in 1639. 1952.

The purpose of these enclaves was to act as supply and protection ports for the traffic to India and Indonesia. At the same time. At a time when Brazilian bullion was furnishing huge cpaital revenues in Lisbon. deprived of its empire. . and Portugal’s under-development received explicit juridical status. and the difference was covered in gold. by the substitution of mines for plantations.000. In 1822 Brazil declared its independence. stagnation and debt. Portugal. 3. as the century was coming to an end. the Treaty placed Portugal in the position of a permanent economic dependent: in exchange for the preferential entry of Portuguese wine to Britain. and the whole area disintegrated and declined: there was a withdrawal from the farther posts in the interior. An adumbration of 19th century colonial devices. Cereal production sank as viniculture spread.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism In Brazil. The historian of Portuguese Africa writes: ‘in the 1810’s the extent of Portuguese coastal occupation was the same as in 1600 and consisted of forts and trading posts from Ibo to Lourenco Marques. the Portuguese hoped to discover important sources of silver and gold in the African interior. Almeida had set up a factory at Sofala on the east coast. and Portuguese penetration of the hinterland. In Minas Gerais there was actually a formal prohibition of any occupations that might have diverted manpower from the gold industry. in 1544 Quelimane. The English trade ran at a deficit of £1. relapsed into poverty. In Portugal. motivated almost exclusively by the search for them. Africa Then. or were even reinforced. They were technically administered from the Goan viceroyalty. on his voyage to India. In 1505. the Methuen treaty with England was signed in 1703.000 a year. raising great expectations. The 19th century left the country suddenly reduced to its real proportions. By the end of the 17th century only the Zambezi valley as far as Tete had been occupied and even there the settlements were few and shadowy. Its final metamorphosis came in Africa. limited amounts were finding their way down to the coast from Manica and Mashona at this period. the Portuguese empire was revived and transformed once again. the anomaly of Portuguese imperialism was never clearer. With the collapse of the spice trade and the Asian empire. free entry was granted to British cloth. and arrested there. the habits of monoculture were carried over unchanged. and on the coast Sofala became deserted. the rationale of Portuguese presence on the East Coast had gone. The total Portuguese population on the whole coast probably did not exceed one thousand. thus effectively stifling Portugal’s projected woollen industry and restricting its export economy to processed primary products. in a pattern which has become classic of Algeria in the 20th century. and a fortress at Kilwa. In 1531 Sena was founded. Two years later a fortress and factory were built on Mozambique island. But neither metal was ever found in substantial quantities. was limited and ephemeral.

000 slaves were imported to Brazil during the whole colonial period (1500–1820). to the contrary. was reached and no mines were found. A slogan of the 17th century was ‘without sugar there is no Brazil. Pungo Andongo. With the exception of the fishing port of Benguela in the South. Portuguese presence was concentrated mainly in the enclaves of Luanda and Benguela on the coast. slaves were also Mozambique’s major export item. reputed to be the centre of the silver country. In 1604 Cambambe. it was maintained through a system of small fortresses scattered at isolated points in the back country: Massangano. Silver and slaves were the two objectives of the Portuguese penetration of Angola. By the end of the 17th century.000 a year.000). development had been very different. Cambambe and Ambaca. Angola was the major supply area for labour on the Brazilian plantations and mines. disease and neglect in these coastal towns. and without Angola there is no sugar. and another half million from the Congo area. 18th and early 19th centuries.000–25. Some penetration of the interior was necessary for the purchase or seizure of slaves.’ A total of about 4. about a million slaves were exported from Angola. on achieving independence in 1822.000. The Brazilian plantation economy of the 17th century demanded a vast influx of manpower. and as the West Coast supply tapered off.000.000 slaves for Luanda and Benguela alone.’* Meanwhile on the West Coast. it was estimated that some 50.000. Muxima. plus another probable 1. and for the 50 years after that it went up to 15. and establish a Trans-Oceanic Federation with Angola and Mozambique. Neither in the south nor in the north had the Portuguese penetrated appreciably into the interior. From 1580–1680. None of these *Duffy. . Annual shipments reached 20.000. op. In the 17th.000 to 30. The symbolic relationship between the two areas was underlined when Brazil. From 1680–1836 the total estimated figure is 2. . From then on. their coastal outposts sustained periodic attacks from bordering tribes. at least in the sense that there was freedom of movement for Portuguese within the area. Its role in the Brazilian economy was absolutely indispensable.000 in the illicit trade and from the Congo.96 Reports of travellers and governors record the apathy. so that the geographical expanse of Portuguese-controlled territory was larger than on the East Coast. . .000 to 5. no other economic activity was seriously pursued in Angola for two centuries.000 in the last ten years of the trade’s legal existence. around Luanda (founded 1576) and the mouth of the Congo river. (Meanwhile by 1800. the Portuguese West Coast existed to supply it. the Portuguese settlements on the coast functioned almost entirely as embarcation posts for the slave trade. In the interior. the East Coast traffic rapidly expanded: from 1780–1800 the flow was about 10.000 square miles were ‘controlled’.000 of which over half (8. making an annual average of 15. attempted to detach Angola from Portugal.500) went to Brazil. cit. The extent and type of Portuguese presence in Angola was thus determined almost exclusively by its slave-economy.

‘been in the possession of England. By the middle of the 19th century. In terms of population. (An ominous remark of Livingstone’s had criticised Portugal’s decay in Angola as early as 1854. in the middle of the 19th century. it would have been yielding as much or more of the raw material for the manufacturers as an equal extent of territory in the cotton-growing States of America. Had the province. Angola (coastal strip). In 1880. Thus. When India and the Indies were lost.000 in all Angola. For four centuries. and the re- . The East Coast functioned as a transit and depot zone for Indian shipping. There were also the Cape Colony. When the slave trade was suppressed. The conquest and division of Africa by the West European powers occurred essentially in the last two decades of the century. and perhaps twice that number of mulattoes.000 square miles). it is safe to say that there were never more than about 3. the East Coast disintegrated.832 whites in the whole area of Portuguese ‘occupation’: of these 1. and Gabon (coastal strip)—French. these were converted into the massive colonial territories of Angola and Mozambique. The total area of even vestigial Portuguese presence was not more than one-tenth of the size of present-day Angola (481. Gambia. The thrust behind this vast expansion was industrial. in 1854. leaving some 300 for whole of the rest of Angola. in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. Portuguese Africa had an almost purely ancillary existence: its value was extrinsic. Natal. European occupation was limited to the following areas: Algeria (to the Saharan border). the West Coast sunk into neglect and decline.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism was more than some 150–200 miles from the coast. By 1895 the entire continent was divided up. and only about 1. In the circumstances of this change lies the root explanation of the structure of the Portuguese colonies today. The new type of imperialism had emerged. as a supply area for the great central complexes of Portuguese imperial power in India and South America. Gold Coast (coastal strip). the full and final expression of technological supremacy and frustrated productivity. Nine years later. with the exception of the Sahara. Sierra Leone (coastal strip). the Sudan. Senegal (including areas of the present Mali and Mauretania). Lagos (coastal strip in Western Nigeria)—British. late in the 19th century.’) Suddenly. In 1845 Benguela had just 38 white inhabitants. a census of the 1830’s gave only 1. the West Coast as a labour reservoir for Brazil. Tripoli and Ethiopia. The new type of exploitation required the absorption of an unprecedented volume and range of raw materials by the colonizing power.000 Portuguese nationals. Mozambique (coastal strip)—Portuguese. Transvaal and the Orange Free State.500 were concentrated in Luanda. Morocco. the African settlements were almost the only extant remnants of the Portuguese Empire—and they had survived largely because of their unimportance. Livingstone calculated that there were some 830 whites in Luanda.

police. with the regime of King Leopold’s International Association of the Congo (1882). The impetus behind the ‘scramble for Africa’ came from the driving economies of Western Europe: its spearheads were logically the great marauding companies. France and Germany—between them accounted for almost exactly 80% of the total territorial acquisitions in Africa in the second half of the 19th century. In Central Africa. Then. Yet Portuguese entry into the competition for Africa was almost the last. the United Africa Company (1879). etc. while the Deutsche Kolonial Gesellschaft took over South-West Africa. her settlements were the oldest European enclaves in the continent. In Southern Africa. and its successors the National African Company (1881) and the Royal Niger Company (1886) effectively occupied and ruled large parts of Nigeria. In West Africa. where a more military and dirigiste tradition asserted itself. The three most industrialised countries of Europe—England.98 export of a substantial proportion of these to the colonized territories in the form of cheap manufactured goods (mainly clothing). Once in motion. the future president of the British East Africa Company). not a planned political artefact. an elemental explosion and overflow of economic forces. the historic but now unoccupied area of the Bakongo Kingdom. and the company protectorates became colonies. The timing and circumstances of its opening are revealing. from the 1820’s onwards. These mixed forms—private concerns exercising public powers— were exact institutional notations of the new imperialism. diplomacy. England had refused to recognise Portugal’s claim to to the territory between Ambriz and the River Congo. In East Africa the German East African Company (1885) administered Tanganyika. the phenomenon took its most extreme form of all. not its impulsion. The most expressive institution of this imperialism was the chartered company. The expansion was spontaneous. To what extent did the development of the Portuguese colonies adhere to this pattern? Portuguese presence in Africa antedated that of any other European power. For 60 years. The companies assumed semi-sovereign political status. the option of which had been secured for it by Sir William McKinnon. laws. Political and geographic initiative was seized by powerful private concerns before State intervention itself took place. as a consummation of the process. in fact. administering huge areas of Africa with their own budgets. the British South Africa Company seized most of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland. state policy intervened. in 1882–1883. Their conquests were based on an extreme economic and (with the exception of France) demographic dynamism. English policy suddenly changed. The companies’ role was small only in French expansion. and . But State action came afterwards. the British government refused the protectorate of the Sultan of Zanzibar’s mainland dominions. for instance. several occasions when the State refused to ‘follow’ a company in a acquisitive manoeuvre (in 1881. From 1893 the Filonardi Company controlled Italian Somalia. political and strategic considerations came into play. There were. and the British East Africa Company (1887) Kenya.

Portugal reacted by belatedly sending expeditions to establish Portuguese sovereignty in Mashonaland and Nyasaland and by proclaiming the creation of a new district of Mozambique which would have included most of the north of Southern Rhodesia and thus cut off British-occupied Mashonaland from British-occupied Nyasaland. Simultaneously. The reason was the swift and effective penetration of Equatorial Africa by de Brazza (for the French government) and Stanley (for King Leopold). at which Portugal was ceded the south. and in June. the implementation of the Berlin General Act’s ‘effective occupation’ had still to be completed. and a dual Anglo-Portuguese commission to control the river traffic. which threatened to lock off the whole of Central Africa. England in 1884 attempted to recognise Portuguese sovereignty over both banks of the Congo as far as Noqui. in return for freedom of navigation on the river. German. Faced with the threat of force (warships from Zanzibar were moving towards Mozambique). a treaty was signed which confined Portuguese jurisdiction more or less to the present limits of Mozambique—a line some 600 miles east of the farthest eventual limit of Angola. Even after the diplomatic settlements. French and domestic English opposition prevented the ratification of the Treaty. and precipitated the Berlin Conference of 1885. This plan directly threatened two entrenched British interests: Rhodes in South Africa. in fact to effect a junction with a force moving eastwards from Angola. and the missionaries in the Shire district of Nyasaland. The British Government delivered a note to Lisbon in 1887 rejecting the Portuguese transcontinental claims on the grounds that the areas in question were not ‘effectively occupied’ by Portugal in the terms of the General Act of the Berlin Conference—which was indeed the case. without prejudice to the rights which other powers may have acquired there. customs preferences. but lost the north bank of the Congo. 1891. from British interests. and for the first time. Portuguese imperial diplomacy collapsed. To block this development. demanding withdrawal from the Shire area and Mashonaland. Portugal’s major bid for territorial aggrandisement came in the next year. a major financial crisis broke out in Portugal. In late 1889. in particular the Congo basin. and the missionaries were concerned to strengthen their hold on the Lake Nyasa region. The diplomatic disaster of 1891 aroused an intense nationalist reaction in Portugal. a coordinated and .’ The Portuguese ambition was for a coast-tocoast Empire stretching uninterruptedly from Luanda to Lourenco Marques. The British government promptly sent an ultimatum to Portugal. In November the column clashed with British-protected tribesmen on the Shire River. The government resigned.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism became receptive to Portuguese claims. Treaties were signed with France and Germany which recognised ‘the right of sovereignty and civilisation in the territories which separate the Portuguese possessions of Angola and Mozambique. a Portuguese force under Serpa Pinto began moving into Makololand with the ostensible purpose of surveying land for a railway line. Rhodes was attempting to push up north across the Limpopo after the annexation of Bechuanaland.

which marked the entry of Portugal into the arena of African partition. To the south. Portuguese colonial diplomacy was initially set in motion from the outside. In 1897. From 1895 to 1896 a campaign under Antonio Enes and Mousinho de Albuquerque reduced Gazaland in Southern Mozambique. in 1902–4. The approval meant no concrete backing for Portugal against British opposition. so the de Castro-Gomes cabinet of 1886 attempted to achieve the ‘Rose-coloured Map’ (the transcontinental colony) by getting German support: hence the treaty with Germany of 1886. Coutinho occupied the coastal area north of Quelimane. the Zambezia company ‘pacified’ the area from Tete to the Nyasaland frontier. The specific characteristics of the Portuguese colonialism of the last two decades of the 19th century are clearly visible even from the resumé narrative just given. which made considerable territorial concessions to Germany in southern Angola and northern Mozambique. Only in fact towards the end of the First World War were Angola and Mozambique fully and finally brought under Portuguese control. When military action was finally taken. Subsequent measures such as the simple proclamation of a new ‘district’ of Mozambique. so that the treaty was only a paper weapon. The Portuguese ‘offensive’ of 1886–90 was a direct result of the humiliation of Berlin in 1885. England clearly regarded Portugal as so weak as to be virtually supplantable by herself in the key areas she was recognising to Portugal. by the actions and decisions of other European powers. Portugal thus only entered the mesh of events at two removes from their starting-point: France and King Leopold threatened English positions. England counter-manoeuvred by manipulating Portugal. In 1906 the northern sector opposite Mocambique island was subdued. Yet it was the keystone of the Portuguese plan for the coast-to-coast colony: the unreal quality of the offensive is thus evident from the start. some four years . Germany a successful opponent. From 1907–10 the Dembos area only some hundred miles back of Luanda was attacked and occupied. incorporating large areas of the present Southern Rhodesia. In a series of campaigns from 1908–12 the Yao tribes off Lake Nyasa were brought under control. The nationalism of the military and professional intelligentsia demanded a massive territorial riposte to the treatment Portugal had met with at the Conference and the evaluation of her status that it implied.100 deliberate attempt was made to subdue by military force the African populations nominally under Portuguese control. the Quanhamas inflicted a heavy defeat on the Portuguese in 1904 and campaigns to subdue them lasted right into 1915. In the first place. were the result of British apprehensions of French and Belgian penetrations of Equatorial Africa. In 1917 it was still necessary to send a force to pacify Moxico in South-eastern Angola. In Angola military occupation took even longer. The Congo negotiations of 1884–85. In 1901–2 the Bailundo country in north central Angola was conquered. were of a similar kind. but the strategy of the attempt was dictated by the Berlin experience. Not only the motivation. England had proved an ineffective patron there.

the bid for the Anglo-Mozambique corridor) and the general timing strongly suggest that the Portuguese role in the seizure of Africa was determined by the prior roles of the other. The major vector of the new imperialism. the Niassa Company (1891–93). Congo Free State. the Zambezia Company. Togo. Somaliland. Major seizures were still to come. but in the compressed time-span of the ‘scramble’ it is striking how late the attempted Portuguese expansion into Central Africa came.1879) and Capelo and Ivens (1884). Germany and South Africa. Bechuanaland. Firstly there were deliberately imitative—inspired by foreign examples and modelled consciously in their image. There were no real equivalents of the British South Africa Company. several exploring expeditions had. The initial issued capital of the Mozambique Company was 5. the German East Africa Company or the Royal Company of the Niger. French Congo. France. was almost nonexistent in Portuguese Africa at this time. Germany and South Africa. of which a large proportion was subscribed in England. Egypt. Shares in the Zambezia Company were bought in England.Portugal and the End of Ultra-Colonialism after the treaties of 1886. these expeditions were successful. Following the formation of the Geographical Society in Lisbon in 1875. industrial European powers.000. the Portuguese manoeuvres of 1886–90 acquire a redoubled significance. South-West Africa. A glance at the chronology of European advance in Africa (see above) shows that the bulk of colonial acquisitions had been made by 1885: Tunisia. it only got a few miles into Nyasaland before it was stopped. Niger Coast. The capital for the Niassa Company was predominantly British. (the Congo crisis. Portugal’s bid for a transcontinental empire was a bluff which deceived only itself: when faced with a real challenge. A final consideration confirms this conclusion. the chartered company.000 dollars. Portugal’s relative and absolute share of international trade is damning: . it collapsed instantly and ignominously. Secondly. and then both the specific circumstance. much of French West Africa. it is true. The Portuguese economy was scarcely touched by the commercial and industrial expansion of Western Europe in the 19th century. But two distinctive features marked these companies off from their English or German counterparts. been sent out to reinforce Portuguese claims in Central Africa: the most notable were the continental crossings of Serpa Pinto (1877. Kamerun. and not by any internal logic. Concessionary companies did exist in Mozambique from 1891 onwards: the Mozambique Company (1891). Set in the larger context of the European seizure of Africa in the last two decades of the 19th century. and the absence of ‘pioneering’ company enterprise made them only prestige affairs ultimately. which between them controlled two-thirds of Mozambique by 1900. In themselves. Tanganyika. not merely their model. but their actual capital was mainly foreign. A serious attempt to secure recognition of territorial claims came only after 1884. but Portuguese inability to consolidate them with any effective system of military or political control.

000 69. suddenly extended into the hinterland under the threat of rival European annexation. . 61 86 136 237 310 Germany . rationalised pattern. which had created an unprecedented need for raw materials and markets. If the grandiose dream of a trans-African Empire came to nothing.200.000. and of their integration into the ensemble. (to be concluded) . they were stagnant survivals of 16th century slave and trading posts..000. The normal colonies of the 19th century were the outcome of industrial expansion by the metropolitan power: they were sprung from a domestic base of massive capital accumulation and advanced technology. 5 8 10 14 18 Italy ..000 France . a hollow and rotten shell.000.900.700. As such they were ‘natural’ extensions of the metropolitan economy. In essence. which reveals a parallel inability to meet the costs of the administrative and military infra-structures of colonial expansion: Government Expenditure by Heads (Sample Year 1887) £ sterling Government Debt Military Total Naval Great Britain 30. and funtioned according to a uniform. 41.000 9.000 31..000.200..000 16.000. the manoeuvres of 1886–91 did secure.700. the present frontiers of Angola and Mozambique...400.000 1.700. 82. both of them far beyond the lines of any Portuguese presence at the time... Thus the stimulus to conquest did not come for any industrial élan: it was not internal and ‘natural’ but external and artificial. The specific nature of the Portuguese African colonies at the turn of the 20th century is unmistakeable. The Portuguese economy was archaic and bankrupt.000..000 52.000 20..300. with 30 per cent..000 Germany ..102 Portion of International Trade (Mulhall’s Directory of Statistics) £ millions sterling 1850 1860 1870 1880 1889 Great Britain .000 In 1888.000 125. It was utterly unable to effect or even begin the conversion from an extractive to a transformer imperialism. 95 167 227 339 311 Portugal .. The Portuguese colonies were wholly different in origin.. 38 52 66 91 94 The backwardness of the private sector is mirrored in the size of the national budget....600..000 14.000 31. .400.5 per cent—quoted for any European country.000 90... 34... ..000 31. It can accurately be called reflexcolonization. This fact is the root determinant of the structure of the Portuguese colonies today.. 169 375 547 698 740 Holland & Belgium .. Portugal had the highest ratio of national debt to national income—27. . if only by falling short of the greater target. .. 4.000 130.601. a figure exceeded only by Turkey. It provides the master-explanation both of the individual sectors of the Portuguese colonial system.000 Portugal .800..000 Italy .000 27.000 3..900.000.