Boom and Bust, 1918-1925
Whatever the shortcomings of dependency or world-systems analysis, it has at least insisted correctly on the reality of interrelatedness in modern economic history, specifically between core, semi-periphery, and periphery in the world economy. Thus a recurrent theme identifies one weakness of Third World economies--their vulnerability to abrupt shifts in world market conditions. Changes completely beyond their control deepen difficulties of development planning, indebtedness, foreign exchange, and other problems. Zambia, indeed, has experienced in the past decade the roller-coaster effects of world copper price changes. Clearly the roots of these situations lie in the periods of incorporation into the world economy--most obviously in the colonial period. Within the colonial period itself in Africa, the most casual survey of any territory's history reveals the effects of shifts in, for example, the demand for its products or external capital investment. Whether the pre-colonial economies were any more stable is, of course, another question. In any case, in the years after World War I the Tonga Plateau got a taste of the fluctuations--boom and bust--that the imperial economy can bring. To a remarkable extent, these fluctuations coincided with ecological ones: a series of good growing seasons, followed by a series of bad.
At the close of World War I, according to L. H. Gann, "the whole world cried out for raw materials--for grain and copper, for maize and lead."1 More accurately, it was a ravaged Europe that cried out. One effect was a period of sharply expansionary conditions in many parts of the colonial world. On the Tonga Plateau, the upturn in the imperial economy noticeable from at least mid-1917 was sustained and extended in the immediate post-war years. Typically, this boom proved a two- edged sword from the standpoint of the Plateau Tonga: it created new marketing opportunities, but it simultaneously opened the way for further loss of land to white settlers.