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When the League of Nations lost ground in the 1930s, the ICI joined forces with fascist colonial movements to build up a fascist and corporatist “Eurafrica.” Chapter 7 shows how ICI members co-organized the international Volta Congress on Africa, held in Rome in 1938. The predominantly fascist Volta Congress wanted to replace the League of Nations as the torchbearer of colonial internationalism. To do so, colonial internationalists synthesized liberal and fascist colonial ideas into a revived Roman Empire, which they called Eurafrica. The eclectic character of this fascist Eurafrica came to the fore, when they incorporated Malinowski’s progressive anthropology and Islamic “tribal” and warrior traditions alike to govern the fascist Eurafrican empire. In a typically fascist manner, they did not want democratic representation in the colony and favored a corporatist representation through the different branches of the economy. This attempt to establish a corporatist “Eurafrican” empire coincided with ICI members from France reviving Islamic corporatism in Africa to use as a governmental tool.
In Chapter 8, we see how ICI members promoted the idea of a colonial welfare state at a low cost, based on mutuality and self-help. While craft guilds provided for a welfare system in urban regions, agricultural cooperatives assumed this task in more rural colonies. In the 1930s, a colonial cooperative movement emerged that stretched from Senegal to Madagascar and from India to Italy. Cooperatives were mutual loan, production, and marketing societies that collectively provided help to members in need. These cooperatives became the central element of the ICI’s development scheme. Their grassroots character was a governmental alternative to the huge investment programs of the 1930s to develop the colonies. However, the chapter also shows how colonial administrations used cooperatives to perpetuate enforced labor, wage dumping, collective punishment, additional taxation, and expropriation of land. Nevertheless, development agencies and international organizations continued to regard cooperatives as a crucial tool for educating Africans about collective work in the 1950s and 1960s. The ICI’s development schemes inspired the work of the ILO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, UNESCO, and the Economic Commission for Africa of the UN.
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