Emergent Commonwealth — I. British Colonial Policy
There are two senses in which the term ‘Commonwealth’ is frequently used: sometimes it is used to refer to the whole associated group of the United Kingdom, the Dominions, and the British dependencies; more usually, as in the preceding chapter, it is employed as referring to the completely self-governing components of this group — the United Kingdom and the Dominions — alone. Neither of these usages is incorrect. In any case it is often argued that it is a mistake to distinguish too sharply between the Dominions and the dependencies, as both groups of countries fall under the same conception. The theory of British colonial policy is that the ultimate destiny of each colony, wherever this is practicable, is to become a completely self-governing state — that is, a Dominion. Dominions are colonies that have completed their evolution. On the one hand, since Dominion status implies the right to leave the Commonwealth if this is desired, this policy is Britain’s solution to the rise of nationalism as it affects her own dependent territories — a solution amounting to readiness to surrender all sovereignty and recognise full rights of self-determination. On the other, as almost all emerging Dominions, so far at least, have decided to remain within the Commonwealth, viewing it as an international grouping facilitating a fair measure of co-operative action without infringement of national sovereignty, it also represents an answer of sorts to the problem of internationalism.
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