After many years of debate, propaganda and counter-propaganda the two Rhodesias, Northern and Southern, seem likely to become one. Two arduous days of discussion at Victoria Falls between representatives of their respective legislative councils have produced terms of amalgamation that are to be submitted to the imperial government and, by referendum, to the two electorates.
The long hesitations over taking this step have been due only in part to
divergences of local interests, The real alternative has been the incorporation of Southern Rhodesia into the Union of
South Africa. That was advocated by many settlers as bringing them within the economic frontiers of a larger unit with which they have many economic ties. It was opposed for the reason, amongst others, that the Dutch element is now the predominant partner in the Union. In both the Rhodesias an overwhelming proportion of the white settlers are of British descent.
If the amalgamation is carried through, there will conic into existence a large and reasonably homogeneous political
unit stretching to the Belgian Congo, which will no doubt aspire to dominion status. If it obtains that, it will take rank as sovereign State arid presumably be a member of the League of Nations. It will then be impossible for anyone to suggest that the Rhodesias, as colonies, ought to be handed over to the League to be administered by Great, Britain under a mandate, or else put into a common pool and made available for expanding nations without colonies. But let no one suppose that such proposals, however desirable in themselves, would receive a moment's consideration from the white Rhodesians even now. The settlers are there, and have every intention of staying there, as a community of British descent run by those of British descent.
Moreover, they are there as a white community determined to maintain at all costs their separate culture and standard of living, and their economic and political predominance, in the midst of the vastly more numerous coloured population around them. No differences concerning amalgamation have ever divided the Rhodesias on that point. (One of the proposed terms of amalgamation provides that, of the nominated members of the united legislative council, not more than three are to be nominated in the interests of the natives, and no provision is made for members to be elected by them.) It is well to face these facts, if only because the proposals in question have so much to commend them from the point of view of those who seek to prevent war and exploitation. It is the plain truth that, however well-intentioned such proposals may be, the white settlers in the regions concerned would, for all their imperialism, break away from the mother country before they accepted them, just as the American colonists did, and the Ulster " loyalists " were ready to do, on much smaller provocation.