French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa

By Ruth Ginio | Go to book overview

5.
“Thinking Big”
Vichy Economic Visions in FWA

As in other areas, the Vichy regime aspired to introduce a new order to the French economy. However, it faced difficulties when trying to implement far-reaching reforms because of the circumstances of the war and the diversity of economic views and ideas among the regime’s politicians. The dominant motive of Vichy economic policy was economic survival. The regime wished to make optimal use of the existing manpower, goods, and factories and at the same time curtail German attempts to control French industry. A secondary motive was to introduce structural changes by establishing comités d’organisation that were to replace trade unions and employers’ associations. In addition the Vichy regime created a special body for economic planning, the Délégation générale à l’equipement national, which was assigned to draft a ten-year economic plan that included the French colonies.1

The difficult economic situation in France caused by the war and occupation led the regime to look for remedies in the empire. One aspect of Vichy imperial propaganda emphasized the great economic potential that lay in the colonies and presented the empire as the feeder of France. The French colonies constituted a vital source of the raw materials and food products that France so urgently needed. The Vichy regime believed that this potential had not previously been realized and that by using metropolitan funds and expertise it would be possible to build up Africa’s ability to produce.2 This, however, did not prove so simple. The British blockade prevented the transfer of products from the African colonies and created severe shortages in FWA itself. So while the Vichy regime in France was considering how to better exploit Africa’s economic sources, the colonial administration in FWA was concerned with tackling the economic

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French Colonialism Unmasked: The Vichy Years in French West Africa
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Introduction xiii
  • Part I - French West Africa and Its Place in the Vichy Colonial Idea 1
  • 1 - Setting the Stage for Vichy 3
  • 2 - "A Source of Pride and Greatness" 11
  • Part II 23
  • 3 - Vichy Settles In- Administrative Changes and Continuity 25
  • 4 - Spreading the National Revolution in FWA 33
  • 5 - "Thinking Big" 59
  • Part III 87
  • 6 - Vichy and the "Products" of Assimilation 93
  • 7 - The Vichy Regime and the "Traditional" Elements of African Society 117
  • 8 - Vichy Colonialism and African Society 153
  • Part IV 159
  • 9 - Vichy Colonialism 161
  • 10 - Vichy''s Postwar Impact 173
  • Conclusions 183
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 213
  • Index 231
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