Archive | March 13th, 2017

African challenges to African development

Africa Leadership

Development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development  that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities. But sometimes even such initiatives are resisted by anti-African development leaderships.

The parlous story of African economic and social development since independence best expressed in the failure to achieve the autonomous capacity for self-actuated development and in particular to create conditions of national and continental modern mass production and prosperity is well known and need not be repeated. It is enough to re-state that Africa’s development failure was because of the leaderships’ choice to retain, maintain and expand the inherited exocentric colonial system of development incapacitation, primary commodity export, import dependency and poverty generation.

The progressive efforts of some African states and leaders to change the system and create self-reliant economies were stymied by the leaderships’ ideological inadequacies and dependency, the balance of payment crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the subsequent economic crises and decline. This provided the avenue for Western multilateral imperialist agencies the World Bank and the IMF to successfully infiltrate Africa, re-colonize African states and convert them into neo-colonial out-posts of the so-called neo-liberal consensus. This framework embodied in the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP) with its destructives conditionalities: currency devaluation, trade liberalization, subsidy removal, deregulation and privatization, re-directed the African states to focus on expanded raw materials production and exports and to abandon industrialization and development capacitation.

The application of these anti-development SAP dogmas in the 1980s and 1990s ushered in two decades of deepening indebtedness, serious economic crises, de-industrialization, socio-economic decline, deepening impoverishment and political repression. On the other hand, the period also saw the upsurge of popular democratisation struggles, civil rights campaigns, the restoration of democracy, and the establishment of electoral democracy and the decline of military interventions in African politics. In the economic sphere, there were innovative dependency-reducing responses. This was because among businesses there was an increased re-orientation toward local sourcing of well-known agricultural and mineral endowments to expand production. This led to the emergence of new economic sectors and especially the expansion of cottage, small and medium scale consumer goods industries which were operationally autonomous due to the increased utilization of local resources for production and self-development.

In addition there was relative political stability and policy and institutional support for businesses through the creation of enabling environments for attracting investments.

It was partly because of these new domestic conditions and the economic self-activation, and the partly because of return of better commodity prices in the first decade of the 21st century, that the Western media fabricated and propagated the new view of “Africa Rising”. This became a very popular and re-assuring slogan among some African leaders, politicians and intelligentsia.

However, it was an insecure condition because a “Rising Africa” whose upsurge is generated by increased external demand for primary commodities is essentially insecure. It does not represent genuine African development that is based on expansive domestic production and prosperity generation. It merely reinforces African dependency on primary commodity export and its dependence on the importation of manufactured goods. It is evaporating with the speed with which it was proclaimed.

But there was a more consequential development story of this period that ushered in what this author describes as the Affirmative African Narrative phase of development. This is the progressive assumption by African businesses of the leadership role in promoting national and pan-African development. This new trend of African self-development is captured by the new concept of “Africans Investing in Africa”. This is the process by which African industrial, service, and commercial enterprises began to make large-scale investments in many different African countries. The investments involve for example the expansion of banks, telecommunication companies, trading companies and so on. Examples of these include Nigerian bank like UBA, Zenith, Access, First Bank; South African banks like Standard Bank and Moroccan banks; telecommunication companies such as MTN of South Africa, ECONET of Zimbabwe and GLOBACOM of Nigeria. Others are Shoprite, Coca cola and South African Breweries.

While Africans investing in Africa is becoming common and commendable, it is important to emphasize that NOT ALL African investments in Africa are of equal economic importance or strategic development value. For example, African investments like Shoprite and similar companies which merely establish commercial or trading enterprises that do not add value to African economies are no different from traditional non-African FDI companies that are established to create captive markets for products from their home countries and thereby maximally exploit Africa.

On the other hand, African companies that make investments that are decisive and transformational are those that deliberately promote and advance African development capacitation, through local resource exploitation, mass industrialization, large scale industrial, agricultural and mineral production, and beneficiation for internal use.

In terms of investment for development capacitation through local resource utilization and valorization, the vanguard African company is the Dangote Group. In order to ensure that Africa achieves self-sufficiency in the critically important infrastructure development requirement – cement – Dangote embarked on a pan-African investment strategy to establish integrated plants, or grinding plants or cement terminals in African countries according to their resource endowments. The Group’s ultimate objective is to become the ascendant cement manufacturing company in Africa. There is no question that the Dangotean strategy of development capacitation through local resource exploitation, mass industrial production and domestic prosperity-generation is what Africa requires to become the self-actuated mover of its own development and to create a secure development upsurge and continental prosperity that does not depend on the vagaries of external demand for primary commodities.

This Dangotean transformational mission and project is now being threatened by what seems like the unwillingness of African countries to respect and maintain carefully crafted legal investment agreements as sacrosanct documents and binding commitments. Within the past year the Group has faced major challenges as a result of the failure of some African states to keep their sides of the bargain or agreements concluded with Dangote Group. This happened late last year in Tanzania when the government seemed to renege on some elements within the agreements reached with the Dangote Group to give it concessions and incentives for the massive investments of over $500 million that the Group made in the construction of the monumental cement plant in Mtwara, Tanzania. This Dangote Cement Plant with its 3 million metric tonnes per annum capacity is the largest cement plant in Eastern Africa. In addition to the cement plant, other associated Dangote development projects include the construction of a coal power plant and a jetty. While these are primarily beneficial to the Group’s business, they also represent important investments and permanent additions to Tanzania’s power and sea transport sectors.

Together these projects have generated significant direct employment opportunities and as they mature and attain full production capacity the multiplier effects in various sub-sectors would be expansive and extensive, thereby creating prosperity and income in the community as well as revenues for the local, regional and national the governments. But due to the problems, Dangote had to temporarily shut down the plant; and after negotiations and assurances that restored the original terms, the plant resumed production. This Dangotean Tanzanian experience of government infidelity to the sanctity of agreements can only create profound doubts among business people on the readiness of African states and leaders to move Africa forward.

But the Group’s challenges in Africa are not over. Just recently, in Ethiopia, the regional government of Oromo Regional State where Dangote’s new over $400 million, 2.5 million metric tonnes per annum cement plant is located came up with new conditions that are bound to disrupt the operations of the Dangote plant. In what it claimed is an attempt to provide employment for jobless Oromo youth it decided to withdraw all mining licences and agreements already concluded with Dangote and similar other companies with mining concessions. In its place the regional government claimed that it would create youth owned companies that would now supply the minerals required by the cement and other plants.

This action of the Oromo regional government in illegally annulling legally approved mining agreements with the Dangote Group and other companies raise major questions on the genuine preparedness of African states, politicians, and bureaucrats to foster Africa’s self-development through Africans investing in Africa. Without question the action of these governments represents major challenges to Africans’ assumption of responsibility for their development and the emergent Affirmative Africa Narrative. In fact at its core, these anti-investment actions are a repudiation of the long-standing aspirations of Pan-Africanism and its advocates, and the practical commitment of the continental organizations like the former Organization of African Union (OAU) and the current African Union (AU) to promote African-led development through investments, intra-African trade and exchange, as instruments for creating secure African development and domestic prosperity-generation.

This is a good example of how some African leaderships’ represent serious obstacles to African development. Quite clearly any aspiration for Africa’s take off through self-actuated development as represented by the transformational efforts of Dangote and similar committed pan-African economic revolutionaries is weakened by such leadership unfaithfulness, irresponsibility and lack of serious commitments to African investors.

Despite these set-backs, it is important for African states and the continental and regional economic groups to reaffirm their commitment to African-led transformational industrial development as the basis for Africa’s capacitation for self-actuated development. In this light, it is imperative for the AU and its various economic agencies to design Continental Investment Protection Agreements that would commit African states to respect and uphold already approved agreements and avoid arbitrary nullifications of legally binding instruments. An additional guarantor is for each African state to negotiate investment protection treaties with each other. In fact this is especially indicated for countries such as Nigeria where investors are increasingly embarking on Pan-African development investments.

Finally, pan-African transformational investors like Dangote should remain committed and not be discouraged by these clearly disruptive actions of hapless, backward and anti-African development leaders. The Dangotes’ of Africa as continental transformational vanguards should remain firmly committed to their chosen paths of legal profit making and simultaneous contribution to Africa’s transformation, economic development, prosperity-generation, psychological liberation, and the restoration of Africans dignity and equality with others in the world. These are worthwhile and enduring ideals and challenges that transformational revolutionaries and societal game-changers are bound to encounter and overcome so as to create new worlds.

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Africa’s name, knowledge and dynamics

antoinespeaks.co.uk

It is wrong history to teach that Africa was named by Greeks or Romans when these colonialists illegally occupied this unique continent through aggression and invasion. This was in 332 B.C. until the Roman invasion in 30 B.C. Africa got its name from Africans.

It is estimated that there are six thousand languages in the world. 3,000 of them are in Africa. If languages that have faded away are counted Africa had more than the present number.

One of the oldest names of Africa is Alkebu-Lan. This name has been interpreted as meaning “Mother of Nations” or “Mother of Mankind.” Africa is also one of the oldest names of this continent. Many theories about who named Africa have been thrown about:

  1. That the name came from a Roman soldier called Skippio Africanus.
  2. That the name is from Arabic Afriqiyah.
  3. That the name for Africa came from Leo Africanus. (1495-1554 A.D.). This date is too late for him. The Romans and the Greeks were long gone. This African scholar was a youth who was taken to slavery and later made a gift to Pope Leo X. This Pope realising this young man’s brilliant mind released him from slavery.
  4.  During his life Leo Africanus is said to have travelled in Timbuktu in Mali and Songhai in present Nigeria. He patriotically associated his name with the great continent of his ancestors –Afrika. The forces of European imperialism had begun to inflict the continent through the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade.

It does not make sense to attribute the naming of Africa to Leo Africanus. The Greeks occupied Africa in 332 B.C. They were followed by the Romans in 30 B.C. These imperialists had long left when this brilliant scholar was born. Mizraim/Kemet (ancient Egypt) became occupied by Arabs only in 461 A.D. The people of Kemet/Kmt/Chemi/Khemi called themselves Kemmiu. This means Black people.

Greeks had earlier called Africa Aphrike as they could not pronounce the existing name Af-Rui-Ka.  The Greeks had already failed to call Mizraim/Kemet by one of its names Hu- Ka-Ptah. They corrupted this name into Aigyptos, while the Romans followed with their Aegyptus in their Latin language.

The Greek and Roman name for Mizraim/Kemet/Hu-Ka-Ptah translates into Egypt in English. The indigenous African name, Hu-Ka-Ptah, broke the jaws of the Greeks and the Romans. They could not pronounce this Mizraim/Kemet name; hence the name Egypt today. In fact, Egyptology and Egyptologist should be called Kemetology and Kemetologist respectively. Kemet/kmt was one of the correct names for “Hu-Ka-Ptah.”

Anyway let us go back to Africa’s name again. The Romans merely described Africa as “land of Afri” or “Afer terra” which meant “land of Afri” (black people). The names Afer and Afar are Phoencian. Phoenicians were descendants of Canaan son of Ham.  They also spoke of “Afri tribes.” This was long way back in the B.C. period when Africa was far advanced than Europe.

The Bible refers to Africa and its ancient extension in the Near East as the Land Of Ham, many times (Genesis 9:1; 10:6:20; Psalm 78:51; 105:23; 105:27; 10:6-22; 1 Chronicles 1:8) This includes Ham and his descendants.

These Phoenician names also mean “land of dust.” It is not clear whether they meant ordinary dust or the dust from which God created humanity according to many religions. Anyway, Phoenicians called themselves Kena’ anu or Kena’ ani, a Canaanite language. They called a book Byblos.

This section of Black people/ ancient Africans traded in paper which was called Papyrus, from which books were made. Papyrus was grown in Kemet/Kmt. Byblos (Biblyus) is the Canaanite/Phoenician word from which the name of the Bible is derived. Other words so derived are bibliography, bibliotheque, biblioteca and bibliotheke.

Concerning this originally Canaanite word, Byblos, a historian has commented: “This is highly ironic considering the very negative treatment that Canaanites receive in the [Eurocentric misinterpreted] Old Testament [about ‘The Curse of Ham.’”]

Other indigenous people of Africa used the name “Afri” or “Ifran.” The ancient language of Mizraim/Kemet (ancient Egypt): Kemetic called Africa, Af-Rui- Ka. It means the opening of Ka. Ka means soul or spirit. It also means the “place of birth.” Most African languages seem to have all agreed on the “root” “af,” “ifran,” “Afer,” “afar.” etc.

In Azania (South Africa) there is a common root “ntu”/ “tho” for African languages demonstrating that they come from a common stock. Here is an example. Ancient Africans called their countries after their skin colour or language collectively. Kush, Mizraim/Kemet, Nubia, Numidia, Khart-Haddas, Azania meant black man’s country.

In Africa, especially in Southern-Central Eastern Africa any human being was umntu, motho, muntu. This is in Xhosa, Sesotho and Zulu languages. Their common philosophy is Ubuntu/ Botho. When it came to land it could be according to the language of the people e.g. Venda, Swazi, Sesotho, Sepedi, Setswana, Shona, Sindebele etc.

But when it came to the whole country, it was described as “Land of Black People” or “Blackman’s Country”- Izwe labantu abantsundu or abamnyama, Naha ya batho ba batsho, Shango la vhathu va tswu, Tiko ra vanhu va mtima, Vana vevhu! This is collectively in Sesotho, Nguni, Venda, Tsonga and Shona respectively. In Sesotho all Africans are called Bana ba thari e ntsho (children of the black mother).

There seems to have been this commonality when the ancestors of Africans named Africa. This was long before the Greeks and Romans knew anything about this unique continent whose people have never coveted the land and riches of other people and stolen them at gunpoint.

The name Africa is consistent with the other oldest name of the continent – Alkebu-Lan -“Mother of Nations.” Kemetologist/Egyptologist Gerald Massey was a very learned English man about Africa. He has endorsed the etymology of the word African as meaning origin. He has pointed out that “Africa was the prime source of the world’s people, language, myths, symbols and religions.”

The name Africa has indeed come from the heart of Africans with their then over 3000 languages. Africa became known to Europe through the Greeks and the Romans, but these Europeans had heard this name from Africans.

Greeks and Romans were drawn to the glory and riches of pre-slavery and pre-colonial Africa. Those were days when Julius Caesar, in adoration and admiration of the “Mother of Nations” – Alkebu-Lan – Afrika; could without fear of contradicting himself, say: “Ex Africa semper aliquid novi!”- “Out of Africa always comes something new.”

The distinguished Roman scholar Pliny the Elder had already   proclaimed, “Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre.” “There is always something new coming out of Africa.”

The view that the name Africa came from Africans and not from Greeks and Romans or Arabs has been endorsed by well informed researchers and writers. Some of them are Prof. Ivan Van Sertima, author of Blacks In Science.

Gerald Massey, an accomplished English Egyptologist, went to the extent of saying that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was incomplete without spiritualism from Africa.

Dr. Yosef A. ben-Jochannan simply titled his book, Africa: Mother Of Western Civilisation. The celebrated African Kemetologist/Egyptologist, Dr. Cheikh Anta Diop, has pointed out that “During antiquity, scholars considered Ethiopians, Egyptians and Colchians as Black people. Nobody can cite a denial of this fact in the ancient text.” Indeed, “the father of European history,” Herodotus wrote about this way back in the B.C. era.

What the Ancients said about Africa

Before Africa and her people suffered the holocaust of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade, colonial stealing of their countries and riches by Western Europe that dehumanised Africa’s people through racism, this is what the ancients said about Africa and Africans:

1. Ibn Hisham, the biographer or editor of Prophet Mohammed, has recorded that this Prophet of Islam so trusted the people of Africa that he instructed those who were persecuted in Mecca for their religion to go to Kush/ Ethiopia [Africa]. “You will find a king under whom none are persecuted. It is a land of righteousness where God will give you relief from what you are suffering.”

2. Lucian was a Greek satirist (a “free thinker”) of the olden days. He is recorded as saying, “The [Greek] gods on certain occasions do not hear the prayers of the mortals [in Europe] because they are away across the oceans among the Ethiopians [Africans] with whom they dine frequently on their invitation.”

3. Diodurus Siculus was a veteran ancient Greek historian. What did he write about the pre-slave and pre-colonial Africa? “The Ethiopians [Africans] were the first to honour the gods and hold sacrifices and festivals and processions and the rites by which men honour the deity and that in consequence their piety has been published abroad among all men…the sacrifices practised among the Ethiopians are those that are the most pleasing to heaven.”

4. In his lengthy two-volume treaties, Ancalypsis, pages 137-138, Sir Godfrey Higgins has written, “The Infant in the arms of his mother, his eyes and drapery white, is himself perfectly black.

If any reader doubts my word, he must go to the cathedral at Moulins – to the famous chapel of the virgin at Loretto – to the church of Saint Lazaro, or the church of Stephen at Genoa…to the cathedral at Augsburg, where are a black virgin and child as large as life…to Panthem – a small chapel of Saint Peter on the right hand side….”

Sir Higgins adds, “There is scarcely an old church in Italy where some remains of the worship of BLACK VIRGIN AND BLACK CHILD are not to be met with.”

He, however, observed that lately, “Very often the black figures have given way to white ones and instead of the black ones as being held sacred, they were put into retired places of the churches, but were not destroyed.”

This is how racism has been used against Africa and her people by the architects of the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism for which there has been no reparation or and meaningful apology. History must be written as it happened. A mutilated and manipulated history is a perfidious lie that must be destroyed.

What the Bible says about Africans

What does the Bible say about Africans whom it calls Kushites, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Nubians and by many other names? Through his Prophet Amos in chapter 9:7 God asked this question:

“Are not you Israelites the same as the Kushites? Declare the LORD. “Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt?” (New International Version of the Bible)

“Are you not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith, the LORD .Have I not brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt?” (King James Version of the Bible)

Also through the Bible in Psalm 68:31, God shows great interest in Africans: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; and Ethiopia [Africa] shall soon stretch out her hands to God.”

The New International Version of the Bible reads: “Envoys will come from Egypt; Kush will submit herself to God. Sing to God, O kingdoms of the earth. Sing to the Lord, to him who rides the ancient skies above, who thunders with might.”

“Princes shall come out of Egypt [Africa]; Ethiopia [Africa] shall hasten to stretch out her hands to God.” (The Amplified Version of the Bible).

See what happened about 74 A.D. in Acts 8:26-40. Consider also the fact that the earliest martyrs of the Christian faith were Africans.

In Deuteronomy 23:7-8 God had a command for ancient Jews who had been preserved in Africa.“….Do not abhor an Egyptian (African), because you lived as an alien in his country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.”

The Amplified Bible reads,“ …You shall not abhor an Egyptian [African] because you were a stranger and temporary  resident in his land. Their children may enter into the congregation of the Lord in their third generation.”

On the matter of making Jesus “White”

On another matter of history affecting Christian theology a prominent first century historian Flavius Josephus who lived in Galilee at the time of Jesus has described Jesus as “Man of plain looks, extremely learned and full of vigour with a dark skin.”

If Jesus is divine an image of him defiles and corrupts God’s glory. Not even Black people, who have a reason to claim the skin colour of Jesus while in human form here on earth, may make an image of Jesus.

He Himself taught that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in truth and in spirit” (John 4:24). He told the doubters, “Blessed are they that have not seen but they have believed” (John 20:29)

That renowned religious reformer, John Calvin, was right when he wrote, “A true image of God is not found in all the world; hence God’s glory is defiled and His truth corrupted by the lie, whenever He is set before our eyes in a visible form….Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption His majesty is adulterated. And He is figured to be other than He is.”

Scientists have failed to find a “White” Jesus

Richard Neave in Britain, a retired medical artist from the University of Manchester, constructed a face [of Jesus] using forensic physical anthropology. The face that the learned man constructed revealed that Jesus could not have a broad face and large nose. This would differ markedly “from the traditional depictions of Jesus in [European] renaissance.”

Adam Clark in his Commentary of the Whole Bible (1832) referred to his understanding of the description in Lamentations: 4:7-8 by Prophet Jeremiah. It reads,” Her Nazarites were purer than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies …. Their visage (face) is blacker than coal….”

The Simplified Version of the Bible verse 8 reads:  “[Prolonged famine has made] them look blacker than soot and darkness …”

Incidentally, it was Ebedmelech, a black official of a King, who rescued Jeremiah from death (Jeremiah 38: 7 ). At some point Prophet Jeremiah fled to Kemet (ancient Egypt) in Africa where he later died. (Jeremiah 43)

Anyway, back to Clark. He points out that, Jews/Israelites as a group or in whole or part were originally black. He concluded that, “Jesus, broadly Caucasian,” would not fit in the Western World.

Mark Goodcare of the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham tried to find the skin colour of Jesus as “white.” He used the third century images from the synagogues. His experiment led in a different direction. He found that Jesus’ colour “would have been darker and swarthier.”

A “White” Jesus is bad history

A writer has remarked, “Insisting that Jesus was white is bad history.” He points out that the myth of a ‘white’ Jesus “is deeply rooted in the Western European Renaissance where Western artists depicted Jesus as ‘white.’ But the scholarly consensus is that Jesus was like the most first Jews, “a dark-skinned person.”

Of course, there is no “white Jesus” in the Bible. Matthew describes Jesus as descending from David (Matthew 1:5; 22:43-45: Rev. 22:16).  Salmon’s wife was Rahab (a Canaanite, a descendant of Ham) (Matthew 1:5, Joshua 2:2-4.) David begot Solomon with Bathsheba whose first husband was Uriah (Matthew 1:7; 2 Samuel: 11:3). She gave birth to Solomon (2 Samuel12:24). Solomon himself married a daughter of an African King (1 Kings 3:1).The earthly genealogy or family tree of Jesus Christ is clearly recorded in the Bible e.g. Matthew 1:2-16.

Referring to His human form while here on earth, Jesus Himself declared, “I am the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” (Rev. 22:16)

In reality and truth, there are no “white” people on this planet earth, if the simile “as white as snow” or as “white as milk” are not wrong English. Or have a different meaning from that of African languages.

Disciples of Jesus never preached a “White” Jesus

None of the disciples/apostles of Jesus Christ ever preached a “white” Jesus who is a European. Paul, the most prolific of them, proclaimed:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellence of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know  anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified….That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 7 )

Emphasising this point beyond reasonable doubt to another group of people, Paul warned: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that which we have preached to you, Let him be accursed.

“As we said before, so say I again, if any man preach any other gospel to you than that which you have received, let him be accursed. For, do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brothers [and sisters], that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.” (Galatians 1:8-11)

Back to Africa

Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme, that great Pan Africanist scholar and visionary, was right when on April 1906 told American students at Columbia University:

“Africa in her ruins is like a golden sun, that having set beneath the western horizon still speaks to the world she sustained and enlightened. Africa is truly the history of a people whose inward tide has often been full of tears. But her bondage shall never quench the fire of former years until her destroyed glory returns.”

God bless Afrika, Her sons and daughters!

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How Muslims can help defeat Donald Trump’s retrograde agenda

NOVANEWS
September 11 Fund

As American contradictions get sharper in the coming four years, what is needed is a rich Islamic selfhood that abides by the law of the land, is at ease with quarrelsome heterogeneity, and is confident enough to enter into open, vigorous and respectful dialogue.

At first blush, President Donald Trump is correct to identify the safety of the American Republic and its citizens as a top concern for him, and his administration. On this, there is no daylight between him and his predecessor, as well as the vast majority of the American people. But on the heels of such a large consensus, this unavoidable and immediate question arises: how must one go about the pursuit of such an enduring and important objective? It is here where President Trump’s leadership qualities fall short, his actions betray, thus far, ignorance, a small-minded vision, administrative ineptitude, and, added together, set the basis for acute alienation among many of his compatriots. The combined weight of these debilities have the real potential to disfigure cherished American national institutions that are the envy of the rest of the world, denude the country’s standing in global affairs, embolden existing nemeses, and trigger new antipathies. The immediate impact on and subsequent challenge to American Muslims, akin to numerous others in the larger American society, are only beginning to unfold.

Heretofore, American national leaders have publicly acknowledged, if not fully celebrated, the pivotal role of immigrants in the making of the United States. Perhaps it was one of America’s more substantial presidents, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in an instructive address to the Daughters of the American Revolution, who articulated the foundational point thus:

“All of our people all over the country — except the pureblooded Indians— are immigrants or descendants of immigrants, including even those who came over here on the Mayflower.”

As the new president, Donald Trump has yet to publicly register his own ancestors’ debt to this precious American history, let alone enthuse about it. On the contrary, his campaign pronouncements, from the inception, have been laced with derogatory animus towards immigrants, with particular finger pointing at those who have arrived at these shores since the repeal of the National Origins Law in 1965. This re-ignition of racist othering violates the truth about the actual history of various waves of immigration to the United States, and inevitably sows new discord among American people — especially in a time of hyper global competition that makes it imperative for the country to thicken its civic mutuality and keep on valorising its democratic institutions and traditions.

But the cost will also be heavy in the international arena. The stature of the USA as a leading nation has already taken some beating in these past few weeks. The large demonstrations in many countries, fuelled by a mixture of astonishment, anger and revulsion are a worrisome signal. Unless skillfully assuaged, the long-term effects could be deleteriously multi-faceted. Around eight hundred years ago, the magnificent Muslim intellectual and jurist, Ibn Khaldoun, warned about what befalls a country whose leaders cavalierly abuse the power invested in them:

“Leadership and government serve as the world’s market place, attracting to it the products of scholarship and craftsmanship alike. Wayward wisdom and forgotten lore turn up there. In this market stories are told and items of historical information are delivered. Whatever is in demand on this market is in general demand everywhere else. Now, wherever the established leadership avoids injustice, prejudice and weakness, and double-dealing, with determination keeping to the right path and never swerving from it, the wares on its market are pure sliver and fine gold. However, influenced by selfish interests and rivalries, or swayed by vendors of tyranny and dishonesty, the wares of its markets-place becomes as dross and debased metals.”

Muslims in America were always present but have had a marginal presence. In recent decades, however, their number has grown to 3.3 million, about one per cent of the total population. Notwithstanding this growth, Muslim insignificance has been aggravated by the fall out from the events of September 11, 2001. Although hundreds of Muslims professionals lost their lives in the attack, one clear effect has been a resurgence of the demonisation of Islam — typified by the latest version uttered by President Trump. If racial profiling is a common feature of the forces of domestic order, singling out specific religious affiliation, as is the case with Muslims, is now in a new and high gear. In such a context, non- European Muslims, such as Africans who happen to be black, must think about what kind of Americans they ought to be. To be sure, the combination of these being non-European and Muslim, in the pursuit of the third, an American, can subject one to complex anxieties — a triple challenge even more daunting than the “double consciousness” so ingeniously and lastingly pointed out by the towering intellect and resilient architect of the civil rights movement, W.E.B. Du Bois. Thus, at this moment, deep-shadowing one’s Muslim identity or, at the other extreme, using it as an aggressively defensive instrument to distance those who do not belong to the faith or who interpret it differently is, at minimum, counterproductive and only accentuates marginality. As American contradictions get sharper in these coming four years, what is needed, then, is a reasoning Islam — a rich Islamic selfhood that abides by the law of the land, is at ease with quarrelsome heterogeneity, and, as a result, is confident enough to enter into open, vigorous and respectful dialogue with those who share a civic identity but follow a different set of religious beliefs.

The vast majority of Muslim Americans feels at once blessed to have become stakeholders of the American civilisation and is proud of their Islamic faith. Thus, while this moment presents some danger, it also presents potentially educating and empowering opportunities. Educating, because American Muslims could awaken to the urgency of enhancing their sophistication about American history, politics and the constantly changing nuances; empowering, because they could discover and then join hands with their rightful allies in protecting the best of progressive American civic engagement and constitutional order. Thus, by strengthening the interweaving of their evolving public spirit and the sincerest piety of being Muslims, they could position themselves well to face up to the rising conjuncture and, ultimately, confound, out-pace and then help defeat this President’s retrograde agenda.

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Trump and Trumpism: Reflections on post US elections geopolitics Part ‘1’

NOVANEWS
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Trump’s victory is partly because of his own skills, but also partly because the world is changing. We are witnessing a civilizational shift – the slow, painful death of the Western Empire. Even in rich America millions of people go hungry and without shelter. In the new world, Africa will use its own resources and ingenuity to prosper.

This is the first instalment of a series of six weekly articles on my reflections on post- US elections geopolitics. Trump’s electoral victory is a good reason to reflect on a whole range of bigger issues that have been crowded out by the ear-splitting anti-Trump campaigns in America and liberal-left circles in Europe. The hysteria, no doubt, is a passing phenomenon. Some diehards will continue, perhaps even plot to assassinate him, but the rest will settle down to the demands of routine existence. We, on our part in Africa, need to make a cool, strategic assessment and consider what these elections mean for us.

1. Trump and Trumpism

Trump is an avant-garde – unconventional but also, in some odd ways, innovative. To my knowledge there has never been a phenomenon like him in American political history – somebody who not only defeated all his 16 Republican rivals in the primaries, but also told his Party to go fishing whilst he prepared – without any real experience in government – to challenge the Democratic candidate.

Trump is, of course, not my kind of person. For one thing, frankly, I do not have his guts. Secondly, I do not share many of his values, and I find his language offensive and demeaning. He is described by his detractors as racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynist, and much else besides. I think these are exaggerated adjectives, but I understand where they come from, given the political climate and the degeneration of American democracy. It is difficult to say how much of these were expressions of Trump’s generally macho personality and “locker-room” talk [1] in order to attract media attention. Trump had a running feud with the mainstream media, but the latter could not take their eyes off him. He is a dramatist par excellence. Hillary Clinton was simply no match.

Trump is a capitalist, albeit a self-made capitalist; but – let us be clear – he is not part of the Establishment. Even Bernie Sanders in the US and Jeremy Corbyn in the UK recognise this. [2] He was fighting the Establishment which was pre-structured against him right from ground zero. Some six weeks before the elections, on September 20, I had written my monthly blog in which I asked the question “Clinton or Trump: who is a better bet for Africa?” where I said, “I have no love for either Clinton or Trump, but as a ‘biased’ African I’d rather have Trump than Clinton”. [3] I stand by that position.

Trump is a “nationalist”; his campaigning slogan was: “Make America Great Again!” I am an internationalist (not globaliser), but I am also a nationalist – “Restore Africa’s dignity and self-reliance”.  But Trump and I represent different strands of nationalism, which I will explain in the second segment in this series. However, I can say a few things here.

If Trump defies the WTO and introduces protection for local American industries to create jobs, then he is on my kind of nationalism. We in Africa need to do the same. If he rejects (as he says) the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) pushed by Obama, then he can count on my support. He might scrape AGOA (which is divisive of Africa) and Obama’s “Power Africa” $7 billion initiative. That’s good too. These “initiatives” of Obama are to help corporate America, not Africa. If Trump talks with Russia, China, Iran and Syria, and defies Clinton’s war-mongering, then he could help forces of peace and reconciliation that the world badly needs.

Trump does not have Africa on his map. He has criticised the notion of “exporting democracy”; it is not his business, he says, to tell Africans how to run their countries. That’s good. We in Africa need allies, yes, but we do not need the Anglo-American Empire or Europe to tell us how to run our countries. Yes, we have problems – and these arise from centuries of exploitation and oppression, from the days of slave trade to today’s so-called globalisation. Yes, we have our share of corruption, leadership problems, divided communities, and civil wars.  But we also have Ubuntu, humanist, values. Africans are divided, but pan-Africanism vibrates strongly in the heart of all Africans. So, leave us alone; we’ll sort out our problems.

2. Imperialism and revolution

The second part will seek to analyse “Imperialism, Nationalism and the National Question” – a central question of our times. We are witnessing a resurgence of nationalism the world over, especially in Europe where it has taken a virulent racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant and anti-Islam expression. We need to understand where this comes from, and its consequences for Africa and for the rest of the world. Above all, speaking from an African perspective, we need to explain to our friends in America and Europe that unless they address the “National Question” (which, unfortunately, is not part of their political vocabulary), their solidarity support to Africa is only partial.

3. Economic nationalism

The third part will look at the phenomenon of “globalism” (as distinct from internationalism), and its economic dimension, in the light of the US elections and Trump’s economic nationalism. We will leave it to the Americans to decide how the slogan translates into concrete policies. But for us in Africa it means moving away from the ideology of “free trade” (which has never, ever, existed since the rise of capitalism 500 years ago), and the ideology of “globalisation” under which all protective measures in the defence of our economies are torn asunder to enhance the profits of global corporations.

4. The global military-security dimension

The fourth segment will look at the implications of Trumpism on the global military-security dimension. Trump has challenged the Europeans on the issue of contributions to NATO. He is not likely to dissolve NATO, but if he does, it will be a fundamental shift in global geopolitics, and we in Africa will welcome it. Already, NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that the West is facing its “greatest challenge to security in a generation”, and America’s “going alone is not an option”. [4] The Europeans (possibly led by France and Germany) might work towards a pan-European security arrangement.  I doubt if they will succeed. This segment will deal with the military and security implications of the possible fragmentation of the North Atlantic alliance … and of Europe.

5. Deep state and the Establishment

The fifth part will examine the phenomenon of the “deep state” and the prospect for revolutionary change nationally and globally. Trump may want to change America and the world, but can he?  Already the former presidential candidate Ron Paul has warned Trump that the “shadow government” will seek to undermine and destroy his plans for America. [5] The problem, of course, is bigger than America. In two earlier blogs [6], I examined the origin and power of “The Establishment” with its roots in the British imperial expansion in Africa.  Now it is represented by the global corporations that effectively control the world’s major resources (gold, diamonds, oil, etc.), banks including financial services, and the institutions of global governance (such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation).

6. The future

In the last segment, I draw a few conclusions and my suggestions for a possible way forward mainly for Africa, but of possible relevance beyond Africa. I don’t know what the future holds. Who does? Nonetheless, I can say this: that if Africa loses the battle of today (as it does every day in the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, the Security Council of the UN) …  then there is no future for Africa. It will remain an enslaved continent. On the other hand, we are witnessing a civilizational shift – a slow, painful demise of the Western Empire. Trump’s victory is partly because of his own skills, but also partly because the world is changing. Even in rich America millions go hungry and without shelter. In a new world, Africa will use its own resources and ingenuity, and produce its own food and fishing nets.

 

End notes

[1] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-elections/athletes-s…

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/10/bernie-sanders-donald-tr…http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-responds-to-…

[3] http://yashtandon.com/clinton-or-trump-who-is-a-better-bet-for-africa/

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/12/going-alone-not-option-n…

[5] http://yournewswire.com/ron-paul-trump-shadow-government/

[6] http://yashtandon.com/clinton-or-trump-who-is-a-better-bet-for-africa/ ;    http://yashtandon.com/the-consequences-of-jeremy-corbyn-for-africa/

Posted in USAComments Off on Trump and Trumpism: Reflections on post US elections geopolitics Part ‘1’

Reflections on post US elections geopolitics: Part ‘2’

NOVANEWS
Imperialism and revolution
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Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, evidence shows clearly that it is Clinton who is the imperialist ideologist. Despite denials by the West, imperialism is an existential reality of our time. In the last three decades or so, it has existed as free trade globalization. Imperialism will persist under Trump.

In Part One I traced the rise of Ronald Trump and his distinct ideology, which could be termed “Trumpism” – a strongly nationalist ideology outside the mainstream Establishment.  Trump won against great odds. How far he will succeed in his “independent” drumbeat we shall examine in Part Three on “Economic Nationalism”, and in Part Five on the “Deep State and the Establishment”.  In this segment we look at the wider context to the US elections.

Imperialism

Western denial of the reality of imperialism

People in the West, including well-meaning NGOs and people otherwise sympathetic to Africa, have difficulty recognizing the reality of imperialism. In my book, Trade is War, I wrote this:

“I have sought to find an explanation in both Western culture and history to illuminate this mental blockage, but I have not come up with a good answer. … I have often wondered why Hitler is described in almost all Western literature as a “fascist” but never as an imperialist. Could it be that calling Hitler an imperialist is too perilously close to looking at a mirror image? Today, many Westerners, including intellectuals, deny the existence of imperialism.”[1]

In the book I related my experience at a conference I attended in November 1995, in Maastricht, Netherlands. I was engaged in a public debate with Herman Cohen, a former US Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs. The debate was on “democracy and governance” in Africa. When I used the word “imperialism” to describe the situation in Africa, Cohen countered by saying I was “anachronistic”, and that imperialism was simply “a figment of Tandon’s imagination”. I did not have to answer him; Africans amongst the audience gave him several concrete examples of imperialism. Cohen was unmoved, his mind blocked by a serious case of what I call Intransigent Imperialism Rejection Syndrome (IIRS).

So for those that suffer from IIRS, let me define imperialism.  Imperialism is a particular kind of relationship that arose in the wake of 19-20th century colonialism. It may not be reduced to any kind of asymmetrical power relationship. Could the relations between the USA and Europe, for example, be described also as imperialist? No. Why not? Because although they have unequal power, at the global level they are both imperialist powers – partners and competitors perpetrating the same crime. They compete and collaborate to maintain a system of production and consumption based on the exploitation of the rich resources – including labour – of the South.  Imperialism is a concrete, existential, phenomenon. It cannot be simply wished away by a rude dismissive gesture of your hands – as Cohen did to me at Maastricht.

Imperialism’s sanitised version – Free Trade Globalisation (FTG)

During the last thirty years – to be precise, during the reign of Thatcher in the UK and Reagan in the US – a sanitised version of imperialism has appeared. It is called “Free Trade Globalisation”.  In fact, it has gone beyond the 19-20thCentury reality of imperialism. It is presented as a “scientific truth” – like gravity: nobody can escape the gravitational pull of FTG; all one can do is to mitigate some of its negative effects.

Theresa May, in her first foreign policy speech at London Lord Mayor’s banquet on 14 November 2016, promised to “make globalisation work for all”. It has “left behind” too many people, she said. In the Post-Brexit period, Britain has a “historic” opportunity to take on “a new role as the global champion of free trade.”[2] So for Theresa May, FTG is like gravity – all you can do is to slow its force that is pulling down people to poverty!

Free Trade Globalisation has become the Empire’s new liturgy. We will show in the last segment (Part 6), that FTG is not irresistible; there is nothing “scientific” about it. In the book Trade is War I show that there has never, ever, been something called “free trade” since the rise of capitalism circa 500 years ago.

Clinton versus Trump: who is the imperialist ideologist?

The answer is clear: Clinton is the imperialist jingoist. Under her as Secretary of State the US and NATO went to war against Libya, well beyond the UN Security Council mandate. The end of the war was the gruesome death of Gaddafi cornered in a hell-hole. Clinton, on viewing this on the screen, remarked with mocking, derisive laughter: “We came, we saw, he died”.

In his “Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump” John Pilger writes:

“In 2011, Libya … was destroyed on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit genocide on his own people.  That was the incessant news; and there was no evidence. It was a lie. In fact, Britain, Europe and the United States wanted what they like to call “regime change” in Libya, the biggest oil producer in Africa. Gaddafi’s influence in the continent and, above all, his independence were intolerable. So he was murdered with a knife in his rear by fanatics, backed by America, Britain and France.  … According to its own records, NATO launched 9,700 “strike sorties” … They included missiles with uranium warheads. … [Look at] the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The UNICEF report on the children killed says, “most [of them] under the age of ten.

“As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS. To the militarists in Washington, the real problem with Trump is that, in his lucid moments, he seems not to want a war with Russia; he wants to talk with the Russian president, not fight him; he says he wants to talk with the president of China.” [3]

Nationalism and fascism

Most “left-liberal” organisations in Europe come from a strong internationalist background and socialist ideology. They regularly identify nationalism with fascism or neo-fascism.  Why, one might ask, is “socialism” acceptable but not “nationalism”?  What’s wrong with nationalism? [4]

Good nationalism, bad nationalism

Nationalism is not too much of a problem in the United States, where they celebrate it with passion. 240 years ago the thirteen American colonies declared independence from England – an event celebrated on July 4 every year. But nationalism is acceptable for the white Americans, not for the (coloured) Latinos, Africans and Asians. Nationalism is good for America, bad for the global South.

There is an interesting difference here between the US and Europe. In Europe there is general hostility against nationalism – prominently amongst the “left” but NOT amongst the “right”. In America, on the other hand, there is hostility against (and only against) third world nationalism cutting across the left-right political divide.  Why?

Let me offer an explanation.

In Western Europe anti-nationalism has, essentially, two sources. One is the experience of “national socialism” under Hitler. Since then socialism was rescued, but nationalism became a dirty word. The second is the experience of the Second World War which had its origins in Europe. One of the strongest arguments against Brexit (Britain exiting the EU) was that the European Union has been a strong deterrent against another intra-European war, and against the resurgence of nationalism.

In Europe, thus, there is a palpable alarm in “left-liberal” circles about nationalism’s resurgence, often equated with “neo-fascism” or “populism” – or both.  In recent years we have seen the rise of the National Front in France, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands, the Danish People’s Party in Denmark, the Progress Party in Norway, and the  UK Independence Party (UKIP).  Many of these parties rejoiced at the UK’s Brexit vote, hailing it as a triumph for their own nationalist positions. Not surprisingly, they also hailed Trump’s victory.

There is a third reason.  And this is shared by the “liberal-left” Americans and Europeans alike.  This reason is Russia. Russia is often singled out in the Western mainstream media for its nationalism. For example, on 20 November 2014 the (London) Economist carried an article entitled: “Nationalism is back”. “The most serious threat to the stability of Europe …” it said, “remains Russian nationalism. The biggest security question facing Europe—and perhaps the world—will be whether President Putin rides the nationalist wave he has helped to create, and continues to threaten Ukraine and even the Baltic states.”[5]

In the US, Trump has no problem with Russia or Putin. Hillary Clinton cannot stand Putin. “We have 17 intelligence agencies, civilian and military”, she said, “who have all concluded that these espionage attacks, these cyber-attacks, come from the highest levels of the Kremlin, and they are designed to influence our election.”[6]

The essence of fascism

One of the most insightful analysts of fascism was the economic historian Karl Polanyi, author of the classic “The Great Transformation”.  He described the link between global capital and state power as “Globalised Fascism” – way before the rest of us began to talk about globalisation in the post-1980s era.  Polanyi witnessed the rise of fascism and devoted much effort to understand it in order to better fight it. As he put it: “After the abolition of the political democratic sphere, economic life alone remains; capitalism as organised in the different sectors of industry becomes the whole of society. It is the fascist solution.”[7] (For a more contemporary understanding of this phenomenon, see: Samir Amin, The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism, Monthly Review, 2014.)

The national question

As I said earlier, the “left-liberal” in Europe and America do not recognise the National Question. It is missing, for example, in an otherwise excellent study called “The Communist Manifesto: A Weapon of War” by Doug Enaa Greene. He says: “Despite being written over 160 years ago, the Communist Manifesto remains as relevant as ever.” [8] However, there is no mention of the National Question – a debate that goes back (under various formulations) in the writings of Marx, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Mao, Castro … and in more recent times, Dani Wadada Nabudere, Samir Amin and other Marxist revolutionaries.

In a debate with Patrick Bond in 2014, I argued against his thesis that the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) are “sub-imperialist” countries. This arises, I argued, from Bond’s non-recognition or inadequate understanding of the National Question.[9] I will not get into that debate here.  I will simply refer readers to further analysis of the National Question in two books. One is Reclaiming the Nation: The Return of the National Question in Africa, Asia and Latin America (2011) edited by Sam Moyo and Paris Yeros (Pluto Press); and the other is Nationalism and National Projects in Southern Africa: New Critical Reflections (2013), Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni and Fenix Ndhlovu, especially Part Four on “National Question, Ethnicity and Citizenship”.

Summary and conclusions

  1. Imperialism is an existential reality in our times. Western denial of it arises out of what I call the Intransigent Imperialism Rejection Syndrome (IIRS).
  2. Today imperialism exists in its sanitised version –it is called “Free Trade Globalisation” (FTG)
  3. Between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, evidence shows clearly that it is Clinton who is the imperialist ideologist.
  4. For the American and European “left-liberal”, socialism is acceptable but not nationalism (except if you are a white American and celebrate the 4th of July every year).
  5. In Europe, following the massive influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa (a product mainly of Western imperialist interventionist foreign policy in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and other places), there is a resurgence of nationalism, often equated with “neo-fascism” or “populism” – or both.
  6. Fascism has deeper roots. As Polanyi explained, there is a symbiotic link between global capital and state power reproduced as “Globalised Fascism”.
  7. The Western “left-liberal” political elite, academia, and the media have a blind spot that obliterates the National Question from their vision.  Unlike nationalism in the West which turns aggressive under imperialism, nationalism in the global South is defensive, and is aimed at completing the struggle for national independence from “globalised fascism”.

We shall return to some of these issues in the later segments of this series.

End notes

[1] See: Tandon (2015), Trade is War, Chapter 6: From War to Peace – The Theory and Practice of Revolutionary Change.

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-37966519

[3] http://johnpilger.com/articles/inside-the-invisible-government-war-propa…

[4] The day after the US elections, I received a circular from my friends at the Global Justice Network (GJN) – a justice oriented campaigning NGO – with who I am generally in agreement for 90 percent of the time. The circular started with the following: “We have woken up this morning to the most shocking news. An extreme nationalist has won the US presidential election on a campaign filled with racism, misogyny and hatred.”

[5] http://www.economist.com/news/21631966-bad-news-international-co-operati…

[6] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/oct/19/hillary-c…

[8] Polanyi, Karl (1957), The Great Transformation. The Political and Economic Origins of our Times, Beacon Press, 2001.

[9] http://links.org.au/communist-manifesto-marx-engels-weapon-war-greene

[10] http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/91832

Posted in USAComments Off on Reflections on post US elections geopolitics: Part ‘2’

Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘3’

 NOVANEWS
Africa Fashion Guide

Donald Trump is an economic nationalist. In the wake of his electoral victory, the peoples of the Global South need to intensify their struggles against economic orthodoxy, and work on development alternatives that take into account the fact that all countries – without exception – are economic nationalists, including those that swear by the ideology of “free market globalisation”.

Economic nationalism

Capitalism has been a progressive force in its times. But it has given rise to resistance at various levels. The first resistance came from its exploited classes – the industrial workers. When Capitalism was obliged by its own logic to colonise, it gave rise to national resistance. Hence we had the American war of independence in the 19th century, and wars and struggles for national independence in the global south in the 20th … and still continuing.

This struggle has both a political and an economic dimension. This segment deals with the economic.  In the previous segment, under the sub-heading “the National Question”, we dealt with its essentially political and ideological dimension.

Economic nationalism is part of the liberation struggle against imperialism. It is my contention that students of “economics” need a higher degree of awareness of history and a deeper understanding of the geopolitics of economic nationalism in order to make sense of the economic and political realities on the ground.  Given the overall title of this series, I would argue that Donald Trump is an economic nationalist.

Economic nationalism is a universal phenomenon

The imperial deception

We’ll start with the very continents that are today opposed – ideologically – to economic nationalism, namely the United States and the European Union.  However, what they preach is not what they do, or wish to do. They are as much economic nationalists as the very countries they criticise.

The evidence of this proposition is overwhelming – from agriculture to the environment to banking.  Let us take banking and finance. It is arguably the most “international” in character. In Europe the banks are facing a serious crisis as a result of tough competition from American banks. European investment banks are losing out market share to Americans. Germany’s biggest bank, Deutsch Bank, has acknowledged that it must retreat from “global” ambitions, following €6 billion quarterly loss, resulting in 9000 jobs cuts (a quarter of workforce).

Top European bankers, which include the Chairman of Barclays, John McFarlane, have warned of the American threat to their future. France’s Société Générale Chief Executive Frederic Qudea and president of European Banking Federation said that a handful of “robust” American banks “are gaining market share abroad while strengthening their positions at home”. He said that the top five US banks had increased their share of the global capital market from 48 to 59 percent in past five years, while the top five EU banks have slipped from 35 to 31 percent. [1]

Other examples of economic nationalism

In April 2005, the US company Chevron and the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) made competitive bids for Unocal, a Californian oil company.  The ferocious reaction of Congress against the Chinese bid surprised nobody, except those deluded by the ideology of free flow of capital across borders. Congress feared that the Chinese takeover would put to risk American energy sovereignty and compromise its “national security”. [2]

In July 2005, the French political elite mounted a massive campaign to prevent Danone, the country’s leading food group, against takeover by an American “predator” – PepsiCo.  How could, they said, the US dare take over “our national champion”. [3]

Of course, it is different story if a “third world” country dares to exercise economic nationalism. In April 2012, Argentina’s President Christina Kirchner asked Congress, in the interest of securing “hydrocarbon self-sufficiency”, to nationalise oil and gas producer YPF, owned largely by the Spanish conglomerate Repsol YPF – a company that employs 24,000 workers globally and has revenue of

EUR 44.67 billion (2014). She also took action against other hedge funds. The Western reaction was strong: how dare a “communist third world banana republic” take matters in its hands like this?  Following smear campaigns, street wars between the embattled Kirchner and the “deep State” backed by the Empire, Kirchner lost her presidency. In February 2016, the new president, Mauricio Macri, offered to pay $6.5 billion to the group of six hedge fund holdouts. In addition to the 75% payment in principal and hefty interest accumulated over the years, thirteen years of hefty legal bills would also be picked up by Argentina. Estimates on the returns that the “super holdouts” will make on their investment in Argentina’s bonds range from three to five times what they had paid for the bonds. [4]

Resource nationalism

All the three cases described above relate to resource nationalism. Global resources are unequally distributed, the bulk of them are in the Global South. Their ownership and control, however, remain largely in the hands of Western corporations which are jealously protecting their “historical rights” over these resources. [5]

This is a very sensitive area of the struggle between the Global North and the Global South.  Obviously, we cannot even begin to make a list of the many issues involved.  However, I would like to mention two issues that are often either left out of mainstream research or dealt with rather cursorily.

One is the issue of the rights of indigenous peoples the world over. These can no longer be ignored. They are the battle-lines of the future. What we see in Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela…are the  beginnings of “Arab Spring”  in the area of natural resources, and will spread over the rest of the world – not least, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most of Asia and Africa.

The second is the issue of women’s rights to natural resources.  At the international level, the “national” rights to the resources are a burning issue. But at the national and local levels, it is the right of women to these resources that is critical, especially land. In fact, land and women’s rights are two sides of the same coin. Metaphorically, land is women, and women are land. (I know this from my 15 years’ experience working amongst the rural people in southern Africa).

The ideological terrain

Here the battle lines go back to the “free trade” versus “protection” debate.  It is largely an academic, ideological, debate, for, as we have seen above, economic nationalism (including protectionism) is a universal phenomenon.  There is nothing called “free trade”. A bit of history will give a proper context to this debate.

The American 1775- 1783 war against England was about economic (as well as, of course, political) independence. Following independence, America went for a full-fledged program of economic nationalism.  Within 50 years, the US was well on its way to industrialisation. Friedrich List, a German political-economist, then living in the United States, decided he could suggest to his compatriots that they, too, should follow the lead of the US. In 1841 he wrote The National System of Political Economy.  It was the beginning of economic nationalism in Germany, followed by other countries in Europe and then Japan.

In 1884-5, the European nations met in Berlin and carved up Africa. The German Chancellor Bismarck presided over the division. The Europeans needed access to cheap raw materials which they could no longer get from America or the older colonies. This was the material reality. The erstwhile economic nationalists turned imperialist.  It is only one step from being a “nationalist” to being an “imperialist”. Germany needed colonies for the sake of “national” interest.

None of the economic theories (classical, neoclassical, Listian, German historical school, Austrian school, among others) came to save Africa from savage colonisation.  Nor, for that matter, did the Hamilton School of American nationalists. At the time, the Americans were too preoccupied with their own imperialist project in South America declaring these as their “sphere of interest” under the Monroe Doctrine. New theories (ideologies) had to be invented to legitimise Africa’s predation. Economic theories were now embellished by a missionary ideology – “the white man’s burden” to “civilize” Africa.

Today, as we discussed above, it is “free trade globalisation”.  My book Trade is War gives a blow by blow account and analysis of this Empire-driven curious phenomenon of “free trade” that belies reality on the ground. [6]

What is the way forward?

The first thing we must realise is that this is an upstream struggle. The Empire is not about to disappear any time soon. For sure, it is weakening, and for all intents and purposes, it has become a “paper tiger”.  But it still has a lot of clout to do enormous damage to economic nationalists. To get some insight into this, look at what has been happening to Greece over the last two years. [7]

The following are some of the highlights of the way forward. I have Africa in mind, but they have relevance for the whole of the Global South.

  1. We need to challenge economic orthodoxy, and work on development alternatives that take into account the fact that all countries – without exception – are economic nationalists, including those that swear by the ideology of “free market globalisation”. [8]
  2. One of the most vital aspects on an alternative strategy is to protect local industries that add value to local resources, and put in place strong barriers against imports that kill local industries. I know this goes against the so-called “laws” of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). So be it. Let the WTO and the Empire impose sanctions on Africa. They cannot harm African economies more than they are already doing.  Decoupling from “free market globalisation” must be properly strategized and sequenced. The “value addition” must be done first at the local level, then at the national level, then regional and continental.
  3. There should be no “open door” policy towards “free trade” and Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in general. These might be allowed as and when required by national consensus between the government, the local (not foreign) private sector, the workers, small farmers, and other organs of civil society. The FDIs must operate under certain nationally determined conditions (for example, limited access to domestic savings), and they must conform to certain performance requirements (for example, effective transfer of technology and managerial know-how).
  4. Economic nationalism does not preclude regionalism – nations getting together to integrate regionally.  In fact, for Africa to get rid of the yoke of European and American imperialism it is imperative that they integrate at a continental level, though starting, at first, at regional level as prescribed by, for example, the Lagos Plan of Action that the African Union agreed to in April 1980 – a plan that was systematically subverted by the World Bank, acting for the Empire.

@Yash Tandon

End notes

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/b911380e-6e8a-11e5-8171-ba1968cf791a

[2] See: Genevieve Ding, “The CNOOC Bid for Unocal and US National Security: Was the Political Outcry in Congress Justified?”  https://sites.duke.edu/djepapers/files/2016/10/Ding.pdf

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/business/2005/jul/21/usnews.france

[4] See: Yuefen Li, “Implications of Argentina’s Deal with ‘Super holdouts’” http://www.alainet.org/es/node/175835

[5] See: Ndletyana Mcebisi & David Maimele (eds.) 2014. Resurgent Resource Nationalism, Pretoria: MISTRA for an interesting study on this.

[6] However, those interested in an ideological challenge to my views may want to read Sam Pryke’s “Economic Nationalism: Theory, History and Prospects” in Global Policy, Vol. 3, Issue 2, September, 2012, where he makes the extraordinary claim that “the complexity of the global economy, makes it all but impossible to separate by nationality”.

[7] For an eye-opening account of this, see: Daniel Munevar, “IMF explaining its own contribution in destroying South Europe”, where Munevar gives an account of the split within the political and technical divisions of the IMF that eventually ended with Germany using the IMF to protect the interests of German Banks. The IMF’s Executive Board was kept in the dark, and told lies about what was taking place. The “Troika” (the IMF, the European Bank, and the European Commission) decided to give Greece more loans knowing fully well that the debt it was creating was unsustainable. This was mainly to protect German bonds that stood to lose €83 billion, and to give time to the Euro area to build firewall to prevent contagion. http://www.defenddemocracy.press/imf-explaining-its-own-contribution-in-…

[8] See, for example, Reinert, Erik S. Jayati Ghosh & Rainer Kattel, eds. 2016 Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development

Posted in USAComments Off on Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘3’

Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘4’

NOVANEWS
The deep state and the imperial Establishment
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

The future is still largely open-ended. Trump could try to make a difference, but whether he would succeed or not depends on many systemic and structural constraints at both national and global levels.

There is widespread hearsay that with Donald Trump as the next American President, all bets are off. Anything can happen. The man is unpredictable.

Trump’s assumption of power could be the beginning of a sea change in America’s relations with the rest of the world. But it is not all up to him, or to America, even if the USA is militarily and economically the most powerful country in the world. We should bear in mind that there are always some enduring features embedded in the structures of our economies and global geopolitics.

Let us first make a poised assessment of Trump not as Presidential candidate but as President-elect.

What difference would Trump make on assuming power?

Trump as a Presidential candidate said a lot of outrageous things. Equally, much of the political “left-liberals” in Europe and America reacted with what can only be described as hysteric panic attack.  They said Trump would round up Muslims and Mexicans and put them in jail together with Hillary Clinton; encourage the Ku Klux Klan to return to the old days of slavery; unleash mass repression of women and LGBTIs; abolish the health care; endanger the planet with his cavalier attitude towards the environment; appoint his racist and anti-Semitic friends in his cabinet; and bring an apocalyptic extinction of the liberal world order.

Among those who made a more balanced appraisal was, for example, the essay by Professors David Held and Kyle McNally: “Gold Plated Populism: Trump and the end of the Liberal Order”: [1]

“Donald Trump’s electoral victory has startled the world. It seems to usher in an era marked by the triumph of fear and anger, brazen disregard for reason and truth, the weakening hold of liberalism, the fracturing of the postwar consensus, and the rolling back of gains made from an integrated world economy. On the horizon, by contrast, is protectionism, wall building, and deeply exclusionary practice.”

Held and McNally go on then to say this:

Yet, little of this is Trump’s invention or design. The post-war order has shown cracks for many years; regional and international institutions have been weakened steadily; nationalism and xenophobia have been on the rise; militant and intolerant discourses have spread like wildfire and authoritarian populism has emerged across many parts of the world. The roots of this are deep and extensive.”

So the question is: now that Trump is the President-elect, would he act differently from his campaign rhetoric?  It is still early; January is a Christmas away. Nonetheless, he appears to have pulled back some of his punches, whilst still standing firmly on some other issues.

In an interview with the New York Times [2], Trump is reported to have said the following among other things:

  • He has dropped the idea of jailing Hillary Clinton.
  • On climate, he said: “I have an open mind to it”, and that clean air and “crystal clear water” were vitally important.
  • He said the Iraq war was “one of the great mistakes in the history of our country”, but he has “very definitive” and “strong ideas” about how to deal with the violent civil war raging in Syria.
  • He said it would be “nice” if he and Mr. Putin could get along, but he rejected the idea that any warming of relations would be called a “reset”, noting the criticism that Clinton received after her attempts to “reset” relations with Russia failed.

On the other hand, he defended his Cabinet appointments like Breitbart and Bannon saying they have been falsely accused of being racist and anti-Semitic. He said Mattis was being “seriously, seriously considered” to be secretary of defense. He also defended the appointment of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner as “special envoy” charged with brokering peace in the Middle East. He said he had no “legal obligation” to establish boundaries between his business empire and his White House. Later he elaborated to say that he would distance himself from his businesses, and that his “great business” is to focus on the Presidency.

So the future is still largely open-ended. Trump could try to make a difference, but whether he will succeed or not depends on many systemic and structural constraints at both national and global levels.

The deep state and the imperial Establishment

Among a section of the left in Europe and America there is scant understanding of the phenomenon of “the Establishment”.  In my earlier blog on the choice for Africa between Clinton and Trump I gave its definition and history which is worth summarising. I traced it down to the creation of the British Empire towards the turn of the 19th Century, and associated with names like Cecil Rhodes, Alfred Milner, Lionel Curtis, Robert Brand and Adam Marris. A part of their strategy was to deliberately provoke wars – such as those leading to the British colonisation of South Africa. This is “the Establishment”.  Rhodes died in 1902, but the Anglo-American Establishment lives on and has mutated over time. Now it is represented by the global corporations that effectively control the world’s major resources (gold, diamonds, oil, etc.), banks including financial services, and the institutions of global governance (such as the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation).

Others have referred to this as “the Deep State” – or state within state – which controls policy irrespective of what political party is in power. In the next segment we analyse the military-industrial-financial complex in the US as an essential part of the Establishment. But there are other aspects which are as potent as the military industrial complex. These include the academia (about which I will write another time), and the media.

The media as part of the deep state

The well-known investigative journalist, John Pilger, has a good description of the media as part of the Deep State in his “Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump”. [3] The Western media such as the BBC, NBC, CBS, and the CNN, and “liberal” newspapers like the Washington Post, the Guardian, and the Economist, present themselves as “… enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist – anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT. And they love war”.

Pilger cites Ukraine as “media triumph” in conditioning viewers and readers to accept a new cold war. Russia is maligned when, in fact, the 2014 coup in Ukraine was the work of the American intelligence establishment. Once again, it is “… the Ruskies are coming to get us, led by another Stalin, whom The Economist depicts as the devil”.  There is a systematic suppression of truth about Ukraine. It is, says Pilger, “one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember.”  There is an all-pervasive “media joie d’esprit – a class reunion of warmongers … inciting war with Russia”.

Truth, says Pilger, is engineered. Human rights don’t matter. The human rights record of Saddam Hussein or Gaddafi was just a ruse; they were irrelevant. The truth is that they did not obey orders from the USA and Britain and surrender their countries to the Empire.  So they took matters in their own hands without a mandate from the UN Security Council, attacked Iraq and Libya, and murdered Sadaam and Gaddafi.  The former British Foreign Office official, Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told Pilger: “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked.” Had journalists told the truth, the attack on Iraq would not have happened; hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today.

When the terrorists attacked parts of Paris in November 2015, President Francoise Hollande immediately sent planes to bomb Syria – and, predictably, more terrorism followed – the product, says Pilger, “of Hollande’s bombast about France being ‘at war’ and ‘showing no mercy’. That state violence and jihadist violence feed off each other is the truth that no national leader has the courage to speak,” says Pilger.

And, I might add, the West’s attack on Iraq, Libya, and Syria – this “war without mercy” – is the root cause of the massive exodus of refugees to Europe fuelling the anti-immigrant and Islamophobic hysteria – one of the main reasons for BREXIT and the triumph of Trump.

I cite Pilger as an example of a journalist who has the courage to tell the truth. He quotes the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko: “When the truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”  A large part of the Western media is silenced by the Establishment.

Trump and the revolt against the Establishment

We are back to the question: would Trump make a difference?  To be frank, I don’t know.  The odds are heavily against him.

The odds were against Bernie Sanders too. He contested Hillary Clinton, but later gave in to her. He had an enormous following amongst the younger generation – angry, frustrated, suffering from financial crisis, and rising inequality. The Gini coefficient is a measure of inequality in which 0 is perfect equality and 100 is perfect inequality, or one person owning all the wealth.  According to one estimate, the Gini coefficient of the USA is 80.56.  It is one of the most unequal countries in the world. [4]

So why did Sanders step down?  He probably realised that it was futile to challenge the Establishment that backed Clinton. With all the support he had among the people, only 29% of primary voters supported him compared 47% for Clinton.  So what is the difference between Sanders and Trump?  One important difference is that, unlike Sanders, Trump has his own resources. He did not have to depend on the Republican Party either politically or financially.  Trump managed to become US president by tapping into the anti-establishment anger of a declining middle class – where Sanders failed.

How far would Trump be able to challenge the Establishment and the Deep State? This remains to be seen. In an interesting development, Sanders has said that he would be happy to work with Trump provided he saves the social safety nets. He would work with Trump on trade and keeping American companies from moving jobs abroad. “Financial deregulation, brought about during the Clinton administration”, Sanders said, “which allowed commercial banks and investment banks and large insurance companies to merge, created the pathway forward to the collapse of 2008.” [5] Here is Sanders distancing himself, again, from Clinton.

By way of conclusion

  1. First, one must make a distinction between Trump the Candidate and Trump the President elect.
  2. The Deep State, the “state within the state” is a reality. It is “the Establishment” that backed Clinton against Trump, but failed. Trump was able to feed on the anger of the people disillusioned with the Establishment.
  3. One reason Trump succeeded where Sanders failed was his financial independence.
  4. That does not ensure that Trump will deliver on his promises. The Establishment will try and direct him back to its own agenda. The media still remains part of the Establishment, though it seems it may kowtow to Trump opportunistically.
  5. Bernie Sanders may try and “radicalise” the Democratic Party, just as Trump may try to “reform” the Republicans. Whether they succeed or not remains to be seen. But it is interesting that Sanders is prepared to work with Trump on certain issues.
  6. Finally, those of us who are in the Global South can take a leaf out of Sanders’s book – seize the space provided by the change in the US presidency. How we might do this is what I shall come to in the last segment of this series.

 

End notes

[1] https://www.socialeurope.eu/2016/11/gold-plated-populism-trump-end-liber…

[2] https://www.google.co.uk/#q=Trump%2C+in+Interview%2C+Moderates+Views+but…

[3] http://johnpilger.com/articles/inside-the-invisible-government-war-propa…

[4] http://fortune.com/2015/09/30/america-wealth-inequality/

[5] http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/where-sanders-may-work-with-trump

Posted in USAComments Off on Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘4’

Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘5’

The global military-security dimension
AP/LM Otero

On 20 January 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. Will he succeed in carrying America’s “imperial burden”? It is too early to say, but it will, undoubtedly, be a compromise between what he and his inner circle of policy advisers intend to do, and what the military-industrial-financial complex wants him to do.

Trump has challenged the Europeans on the issue of contributions to NATO, provoking speculation that NATO’s future might be at stake. From NATO’s Secretariat the reaction was strong. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Trump that the West is facing its “greatest challenge to security in a generation”, and America’s “going alone is not an option”. [1]

NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff’s recent book, War with Russia, was described by the Sunday Times as a “Top Ten Bestseller”. [2] It gives a chilling account of how Russia has become increasingly militaristic, embroiling itself in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.  Sir Richard (born in Kenya) criticised the British Government’s paltry spending on defence.

Here is the power of the military.  But the military is only part of a bigger complex.

The military-industrial-financial complex

The American President and a military man, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his Farewell Address on January 17, 1961, alerted the Americans to guard against the influence of the military-industrial complex. He knew how the MIC marshalled political support for increased military spending in the interest of their profits.

In his  U.S. Imperialism And America’s War Machine: A Destructive Apparatus (2013), William C. Lewis argues that Corporate Imperial Militarism controls U.S. society and wages destructive occupations abroad to serve the capitalist interest in wars – making and selling arms to kill people for profit. [3]

To the Military Industrial Complex must be added the Banking-Financial dimension.

At the beginning of World War I, President Woodrow Wilson had initially adopted a policy of neutrality. But Morgan Bank, which funded over 75 percent of the financing for the allied forces during the War, pushed Wilson out of neutrality sooner than he might have done. [4]

In her All the Presidents’ Bankers: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power, Nomi Prins, drawing on original presidential archival documents, shows the intimate link between the White House (the State) and Wall Street (Finance Capital).  Prins should know. She has worked as managing director at Goldman Sachs, as a Lehman Brothers strategist, and as a Chase Manhattan Bank analyst. Then she left the world of finance. “I was probably soul-searching a while before I left … when I got to Goldman Sachs I realized that the nature of how business was done was not something I wanted to be involved with”. [5]

The triumvirate – industry, the military, and finance capital – are behind wars and the pervasive culture of militarism in the build-up of the Anglo-Saxon and European Empire. To take one recent example, Britain sold £3.3 billion of arms to Saudi Arabia in the first year of Saudi bombardment of Yemen. In a recent (November, 2016) debate in the British Parliament, the leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, called on the Prime Minister to halt those sales because of the “humanitarian devastation” caused by a Saudi-led coalition waging war against rebels in Yemen. In her defence, Theresa May said Britain must go on selling these arms to “keep people on the streets of Britain safe”. [6]

The state in Britain and the arms industry go hand in hand. Theresa May should know that as more people flow out of the Middle East because of the wars the military-industrial-financial complex promotes, the less safety there is for the “streets of Britain”.

Europe, vassal of USA

Paul Craig Roberts is an American economist, journalist, and now a well-known blogger. He was the US Assistant Secretary of State under President Reagan in 1981. He is critical of mainstream politicians, including Bush and Obama, especially in their handling of the “War on Terror”, which he views as threatening constitutional civil liberties and right to privacy of ordinary Americans.

In his “America’s Conquest of Western Europe: Is Europe Doomed By Vassalage To Washington?” he shows how the Second World War ended in Europe being conquered not by Germany but by the USA.  The US used not the military but the financial muscle, the mighty US Dollar. The US Establishment encouraged the integration of Europe into the EU. The EU created its own currency.  Smaller countries such as Greece, Portugal, Latvia, and Ireland who can no longer create their own money have been looted by the private banks from whom they borrow to finance their debts.

Why, Craig asks, do these governments, despite expressed wishes of the people (like in Greece) continue to remain in the European Union?  His answer is: “… that Washington would have it no other way. The European founders of the EU are mythical creatures. Washington used politicians that Washington controlled to create the EU”. These “pseudo-governments” are obliged to privatise public assets, run down social welfare, and cut retirement pensions in order to pay their debts to German banks.   It is no wonder that during Obama’s last farewell tour of Europe, he described Chancellor Merkel as “my closest international partner these past eight years.” [7] He ended his tour by offering advice to Trump: “Stand up to Russia”. [8]

Trump’s imperial legacy from Monroe Doctrine to today

Before we come to assess Trump’s foreign policy, it is important to provide a brief historical context of where the US comes from and where it is going.

In 1783 the 13 American colonies declared independence from England after a bitter war that lasted eight years. Alexander Hamilton writing in the “Federalist Papers” was already talking about the emergent America as a world power – particularly in relation to the western hemisphere, principally in North America. This was later extended to Latin America in 1823 under the Monroe Doctrine, which declared that any effort by Europe to take control of North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the time the Spanish and Portuguese Empires were collapsing, and their colonies were vying for independence.

In his “The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in 19th-Century America” (2011) Jay Sexton shows how the doctrine evolved over time. At the time of its formulation, there was fear not only of a European threat to the US but also of the USA breaking apart.

What followed then was the expansion of US Empire in Latin America and the Pacific. It is a chequered history where Europe retained hold over some countries in the region… to this day.  Here are some highlights of Euro-American imperial conquests before the First World War.

  • In 1842, the Monroe Doctrine was applied to Hawaii, Britain was warned to keep out, and the US annexed Hawaii.
  • In 1838-50 Argentina was blockaded by the French and, later, the British. No action was taken by the US.
  • In early 1843, England reasserted its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands. No action was taken by the US.
  • In 1862, taking advantage of the American Civil War (1862-1867), the French invaded and conquered Mexico. The US denounced it as a violation of the Monroe Doctrine, and in 1865, it stationed a large army on the Mexican border, and encouraged a revolution against France’s stooge, Maximilian, who was executed by the Mexican nationalists. France pulled out, and Mexico became a virtual colony of the US – to this day.
  • In 1862, The British turned Belize into a crown colony and renamed it British Honduras. The U.S. took no action.
  • In 1898, the US intervened in support of Cuba during its war for independence from Spain. Under the terms of the peace treaty from which Cuba was excluded, Spain ceded Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam to the US in exchange for $20 million. Cuba came under US control and remained so until it was granted formal independence in 1902.

In 1901 Theodore Roosevelt became US’s 26th President. By this time the US was well past the civil war and imperialism was in full force. The Americans believed that they have a “manifest destiny” to redeem the world from the evils of European imperialism and spread “the special virtues of the American people and their institutions”. [9] In 1904 Roosevelt extended the Monroe Doctrine (called the “Roosevelt Corollary”), asserting the right of the U.S. to intervene in Latin America in cases of “flagrant and chronic wrongdoing” by a Latin American Nation. Under his “speak low and carry a big stick” foreign policy, Roosevelt proceeded to virtually colonise any Latin American nation that failed to pay their debts to European and US banks and business interests.

Let us fast track to more recent times. There have been a series of US interventions in Latin America during the cold war period and in recent times to fight revolutionary movements and/or to carry out “regime change” in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Dominical Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Grenada, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. [10]

Here are a few instances of these:

  • In 1954, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles invoked the Monroe Doctrine at the 10th Pan-American Conference in Caracas (Venezuela), denouncing the intervention of Soviet Communism in Guatemala.
  • After the Cuban Revolution (1953–1959) when Fidel Castro established ties with the Soviet Union, the US invoked the Monroe Doctrine to prevent the spread of Soviet-backed Communism in Latin America.
  • In 2009, Secretary of State Clinton aided the military coup in Honduras against democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya. [11]

The above account can be multiplied several times over if we were to include the other regions of the Global South – the Middle East (including Iran), Asia, and Africa. It is this imperial legacy – the “Imperial Burden” – that Trump is expected to carry.

Trump’s foreign policy challenges

Would Trump succeed in carrying the imperial burden?   It is too early to say, but it will, undoubtedly, be a compromise between what he and his inner circle of policy advisers intend to do, and what the military-industrial-financial Establishment complex wants him to do.

We do not yet know exactly who will be in Trump’s inner circle. As usual with anything connected with Trump, there is a huge hype in the media for and against his tentative appointments. Of course, I too would be concerned if he appoints John Bolton for Secretary of State. Bolton is a hard-core militarist and a confirmed neo-Con. [12]

Let us look at some specific issues.

  • His first hurdle would be the massive anti-Russian hoopla mounted by the US, the UK and the European Union. [13]
  • Overall, Trump is for peace and diplomatic resolution of international conflicts.  This has unleashed reactions bordering on hysteria. Jonathan Powell, writing for the British paper, the Guardian, said, “The US is dangerously exposed by an isolationist Trump”. [14] Owen Jones, also writing for the Guardian, said, “Our crisis is existential … Trump’s victory is one of the biggest calamities to befall the west”. [15]
  • Trump had said during the election campaign that he would try to renegotiate the nuclear deal agreement with Iran, and increase US sanctions against Iran. He has since then retracted a bit, but the pressure from some of his inner circles and from Israel may cause some hurdles for him.
  • On the Israel – Palestine conflict, Trump has given assurances to Benjamin Netanyahu. At the same time, however, he has said that he would “love to be the one” to makes peace between the two.
  • Trump is likely to take a tougher stand on Cuba than Obama, and possibly take a more interventionist position in relation to the rest of Latin America.
  • On mega-trade agreements – such as the TPP and the TIPP – Trump has said that he would get rid of them. He well might. But TPP and TIPP are only partly trade deals. Essentially, they are part of the US strategy to isolate Russia (in the case of TTIP) and China (under TPP).  China and Russia are seen as military threats. Trump is a “nationalist” (as defined in an earlier blog in this series), and has taken the anti-TPP-TTIP position, as he has in relation to the NATO.  But this is not the last he has said on these mega-regional trade deals.

Some concluding remarks

  1. The years 2017 to 2020 are likely to shatter many shibboleths of the past years. The stage has already been set by events like the Brexit, Trump’s incoming presidency, the anti-Russian hysteria among the Euro-American Establishment, the rise of populist right in much of Europe, and above all, the deepening financial and global systemic crisis.
  2. We still have to see the end of the gruesome wars in the Middle East, and their military-security consequences. The geopolitics of the East Asia region are shifting the balance of forces in favour of China. We need to watch how the US will react to this unfolding scenario.
  3. There will be continuing struggles in keep Europe intact and to hold on to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Already NATO is under severe strain; Europe led by Germany and France might try to create a European Security organisation, but I think it will fail; and in time to come the European Union will fragment.
  4. An accidental nuclear exchange in some of the hotspots of the globe cannot be ruled out.

 

End notes

[1] http://www.politico.eu/article/nato-chief-to-trump-going-alone-is-not-an…

[2] https://www.google.co.uk/#q=Sunday+Times++War+With+Russia+%E2%80%9CTop+T…

[3] http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-wages-of-u-s-imperialism-and-americas-w…

[4] http://www.globalresearch.ca/bankers-hate-peace-all-wars-are-bankers-war…

[5] http://www.progressive.org/news/2014/05/187678/nomi-prins-speaks-out-why…

[6] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/arms-sales-saudi-arabia-th…

[7] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/11/15/germans-bid-fond-far…

[8] https://www.thestar.com › News › World

[9] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifest_destiny

[10] See: Timeline of United States government military operations. The list through 1775 is based on Committee on International Relations (now known as the House Committee on Foreign Affairs). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations

[11] See: Tim Shorrock Twitter https://www.thenation.com/article/how-hillary-clinton-militarized-us-pol…

[12] The Neocon (shortened form of Neoconservatism) is a political movement born in the US in the 1960s that advocates vigorous promotion of American national interest in international affairs, including use of military force. The movement had its intellectual roots in the monthly magazine Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

[13] On 18 November, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, vowed to keep pressure on Russia amid fears over Donald Trump’s “alliance” with Vladimir Putin. On 23 November, EU Parliament approves resolution – “Atwar with Russia” -to counter alleged Russian propaganda against Europe. Of course, Obama, and with him, the entire US Establishment, have had ceaseless violent verbal attacks on Trump since Day One of the US elections, and still continuing.

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/donald-trump-brita…

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/10/the-left-needs-a-n…

Posted in USAComments Off on Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘5’

Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘6’

Politics of resistance and solidarity
AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

The Trump phenomenon points to a civilizational shift; namely, the slow, painful demise of the Western Empire. If this shift breaks down the European Union, dismantles NATO, weakens the Empire’s financial control over the global South, and opens a space for a new moral and political order to emerge, then it is an opportunity all revolutionary forces must seize.

In Part 4 of this series, I concluded my analysis by referring to the turnaround by the losing Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders, in the US elections. He distanced himself from fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton, and promised to work with Republican President Trump provided he saves the social safety nets. I then asked the question: Can those of us who are in the Global South “take a leaf out of Sander’s book – seize the space provided by the change in the US Presidency?”

The civilizational shift

Let us put the Trump phenomenon in a wider context – that of a civilizational shift – a slow, painful demise of the Western Empire. In contrast to Francis Fukuyama‘s “End of History” and Huntington’s “The Clash of Civilizations”, I prefer to talk about “The Civilizational Shift’.[1] In my book Trade is War,[2] I argued that no civilization, however defined[3], lasts forever. Contrary to what most people think (or believe) the so-called Western or capitalist civilization is not everlasting. This civilization’s callous exploitation of human labour and nature is finally coming to an end. It may take yet another century, but that is not really too long to wait. Civilizations previous to capitalism (such as the Aztec, Egyptian, Chinese, Indian and Persian) lasted much longer.

Trump himself may be a passing phenomenon.  But he is today’s reality.  He is the President of the wealthiest and militarily the most powerful country in the world with a finger on the nuclear trigger.  He can decide the fate of millions inside and outside his country.

So let us take stock where we from the South fit into this emerging reality against the background of a collapsing Empire and an emergent new world with all its perils and promises.  The past is not dead ground, and to traverse it is not a sterile exercise. The challenges lie here and now.

The Communist Manifesto is dead

Karl Marx thought that the international proletariat would be capitalism’s nemesis. It might still be; we do not know.

Bound by his own time and space, Marx’s perspective was still essentially Eurocentric, and hence his memorable phrase: “A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism”.  In our own time, it is now the spectre of the oppressed nations of the world (most significantly, the nationalism of the countries of the South) that is “haunting Europe” … and America.

And here is where we might take a leaf from Sander’s book when referring to Trump’s victory in the US elections. Sanders is prepared to work with Trump provided Trump protects matters of social security. On our part in the South, I suggest we work with Trump provided he respects our nationalism and our sovereignty.  We resist him if he tries, like Obama, to continue with the US policy of “regime change” in the Global South.

Two kinds of nationalisms

In Part 3 of the series – “Economic Nationalism” – I described Trump as an “economic nationalist”. The Western “left-liberal” political and intellectual forces find it odd that Trump is a “nationalist”.  How can this be? Surely, they might say, Trump is living out of his time; surely, there is no room for nationalism in our times.

We must tell our friends in the North with whom we wish to work in solidarity towards a peaceful and just world, that Trump is not an oddity in our times. Nationalism is not out of fashion. In fact, nationalism has returned to Europe and the Americas with a vengeance. The campaign calling for the independence of California from the United Sates has been calling for “Calexit”, and has this month opened an “embassy” in Moscow.

However, we must distinguish between two very different species of nationalisms – one offensive and the other defensive.  A bit of history is a good guide. The first kind of nationalism – the aggressive and fascist – was put in place by Mussolini when he became Italy’s Prime Minister in 1922.  He appealed to the popular sense of Italy’s imperial past and promoted its restoration in the Mediterranean Sea and Africa. He built closer relations with Germany, especially after Hitler came became its Chancellor in January 1933.  In October 1935, with a 100,000 strong army Mussolini invaded the ancient land of Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).  In Germany Hitler declared war on two fronts – internally against the Jews; and externally against Europe as a prelude to conquer the world for a “pure” Aryan race.

Then there is the “defensive nationalism”. The anti-colonial struggle for liberation from the European Empire was defensive. The continuing struggle of the Global South (Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean) from the American-European-Japanese imperialism is defensive nationalism.

This does not contradict our effort at regional integration – for example, the East African Community.  Unlike the European Union, which is an aggressive project, the EAC is a defensive project.

Aggressive nationalism in our times and Trump’s challenge

Aggressive nationalism is imperialist. Its most virulent organisational expression is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO is the main source of global insecurity today. Our “left-liberal” solidarity friends in the North might contest this, and argue that the “terrorists” (especially Islamic terrorists) are the main source of insecurity.  In a curious way this is true. But they must know that the “terrorists” are a product of Western wars in the Middle East and Africa. Their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Mali, Somalia – to name a few – have only added fuel to terrorist fire.

Trump has said that NATO is obsolete, and he wants to talk with Putin; that he will renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal; he will stand by Israel against the Palestinians; he will challenge China’s hegemony in trade, and by extension, possibly in the area of the military in East Asia; and so on.  It is a mixed bag. What he will actually do is still to be seen.  Nonetheless, it is correct to assume that NATO will not disappear overnight, and the Empire will not withdraw its claws from its imperialist outreach the world over.  Nonetheless, if Trump does act on his ideas to question NATO and to talk with Russia (on matters related to Europe and the Middle East), then we in the South (like Sanders) should cooperate with him.

Trump is “defensive” when it comes to protecting the American economy and employment from what he regards as “invasion” by cheap products from the South, mainly China, and illegal immigrants, mainly from border countries like Mexico. Of course, we know that the issues of unemployment and lack of competitiveness in the global market are complex matters. They are as much related to the impact of technology on production (what Marx called the changing “organic composition of capital”[4]), as of “cheap imports” from China, and immigrants from Mexico.

But Trump may well take some “defensive” or “protectionist” measures to defend America’s economy.  There are two aspects of these measures that might be of interest to us in the South. One is his statement that he will do away with mega-regional trade and investment agreements (MRTIAs), such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  He says that he will renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Area Agreement (NAFTA) which he describes as “the worst trade deal the U.S. has ever signed”.  If Trump is serious about this, then this is an area where we in the South should cooperate with him.

Trump appears to defy the mainstream neoclassical ideology that “free trade” is good for all. He is definitely for protection.  During his campaigns he even threatened to pull the U.S. out of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if it blocks his efforts to impose penalties on companies that move American production offshore.  Again, this is a complex issue. But Trump is right; “free trade” is not good for all.  It has been disastrous for Africa and most of the weaker countries of the South.  If Trump becomes “protectionist”, this would add weight to the efforts of the countries in the global South to put barriers against imports that threaten value-added production at home. I have argued in my book “Trade is War” that the WTO is a war machine wielded by the West against the Global South.

Defensive nationalism in our times and the national question

On the defensive kind of nationalism, the efforts by the peoples of the countries of the South – from Cuba to Congo to China – to try and consolidate their independence from Western-backed aggressions will continue.  These countries are still battling with their “National Question”, a historically defined incomplete liberation from imperialism; a strategic issue that is largely absent from the vocabulary of our Western “solidarity” friends. [5]

But a more interesting current phenomenon is the emergence of “defensive nationalism” within Europe too. For them it is not a part of the “National Question” – as defined above.  But it is still part of the efforts to protect their national identities against encroachments by bigger powers. Greece has become an emblematic case, its effort to protect its national sovereignty crushed by the triumvirate of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

But there are other cases – Scotland and possibly Ireland in the United Kingdom; the Walloons in Belgium; the Basque in France; and Catalonia in Spain.  Interestingly, a wave of “nationalism” has hit even major countries like England, France and Italy where people are voting in vast numbers to pull out of what they see as the domination of the unelected bureaucrats in the European Commission. The victory of François Fillon in the French Republican presidential primary on 27 November 2016, and, in Italy, the popular rejection (by nearly 60%) of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s attempt to reform the Constitution on 4 December 2016 referendum …  are interesting signs on the horizon of what might be a new kind of Europe in months and years to come.

Globalisation versus internationalism

The Western “left-liberals” have now joined forces with their ruling classes to applaud “globalisation”.  In their dictionary “globalisation” is uncritically identified with “internationalism”.  For us in the South, “globalisation” is simply a sanitised version of “imperialism”.  I have all these terms into inverted commas because we assume when we use these, that we are all agreed on their definitions. Words matter. They arise at a particular time in history and specific contexts. That’s why Lenin defined “imperialism” as the “highest stage of capitalism” in his time, and Nkrumah defined it as “neo-colonialism” in his time.  The reality remains – that of capitalist-imperialist continued predation of the colonies and neo-colonies.

Some thoughts for the future: Politics of solidarity

1.  This series in six parts is not a blueprint for the future. Its main objective was to address some significant geopolitical issues raised by the American elections. The future we talk about is the foreseeable future – say the next 20 years, a generation.

2.  Within the next 20-25 years, we’ll witness further signs of the decline of Western civilization, which is in the autumn phase of its life; there is a palpable civilizational shift. As the geopolitical balance of forces shift from the West to the ancient civilizations of the past, we cannot be sure if they will necessarily be any better.

3.  The last century’s wars of national liberation brought a degree of political freedom to the two-thirds humanity in the global South encaged in capitalist-imperialist slavery. But the “National Question” remains a challenge for most of them.

4.  The era of “socialism” has been short-lived. But we have learnt valuable lessons from the successes and failures of socialism in the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and countries in Africa and Latin America.  Cuba under Fidel Castro has been an outstanding example of how to sustain a system of social justice and social welfare (education, health, housing, etc.) against the background of 50 years of relentless sanctions by the biggest power on earth literally 50 miles away.

5.  The Western world is in turmoil.  The well-known historian, Karl Polanyi, said that there is a symbiotic link between global capital and state power reproduced as “Globalised Fascism“. That is what we are living through.  We do not know how the wave of “rightist” populism that has engulfed Europe and American will evolve.  But if it breaks down the European Union, dismantles NATO, weakens the Empire’s financial control over the global South, and opens a space for a new moral and political order to emerge, then it is an opportunity we must seize.

6.  The “we” is difficult to define.  To call ourselves “the left” is to live in the past. The “left” in Europe is very different from the “left” in Africa.  For sure, there are common principles of social justice we share.  There are common battles we fight – for example, for a system fair trade; for free exchange of knowledge appropriated by global corporations as their “intellectual property” rights; and for a revolution in the way we relate to the environment and the other livings species – primates, wildlife and forests.

7.  It is in this context that we who call ourselves the “left” must work out new principles of solidarity based on mutual respect, working together as equals and without exploitation, to advance shared values.

8.  For their part, the “left” in Africa must help our leaders to develop self-reliant economies and governance systems.  Africa must end its shameful dependence on the so-called “development aid”. In a new world, Africa must use its own resources, knowledge and ingenuity, and produce its own food, fishing nets, and democratic systems of governance.   This is happening, but more needs to be done.

End notes

[1] Both Fukuyama and Huntington come from mainstream Western geopolitical and ideological thinking, based essentially on Eurocentric epistemologies. They boil down, in the case of Fukuyama, to a premature celebration of Western triumphalism at the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union, and in the case of Huntington, to a fear of counter-Western civilizations, especially Islamic one. See Fukuyama (1992), The End of History and the Last Man, Free Press; and Huntington (1996), The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, Simon and Schuster.

[2] See:  “From War to Peace: The Theory and Practice of Revolutionary Change”, in Tandon, Y. (2015), Trade is War, OR Books.

[3] It is usual to contrast ‘civilization’ to supposedly barbarian or primitive cultures, such as those of hunter-gatherers and nomadic pastoralists. The word ‘primitive’ is highly pejorative and demeans many cultures – such as the Karamojong of Uganda, among whom I grew up as a child – that in many ways have a higher culture (in the sense of social bonding and peaceful means of internal conflict resolution) than our ‘modern’ industrial or post-industrial civilizations.

[4] The “organic composition of capital” is the ratio of the value of the materials and fixed costs (constant capital) embodied in production of a commodity to the value of the labour-power (variable capital) used in making it.

[5] See Part 2: “Imperialism, Nationalism and the National Question”.

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Reflections on post-US elections geopolitics: Part ‘7’

What is fascism in our times?
Toronto Star

In this final essay of a seven-part series, Yash Tandon depicts fascism as a systemic phenomenon arising from the incompatibility of democracy and capitalism. For capitalism to persist, as is the case now, democracy is dispensed with. Hegemonic imperialist powers embody fascism in their relations with the rest of the world. Leaders of African neo-colonies administer the fascist system on behalf of the global corporate and financial fascism.

There is much talk these days, especially in the Western media, about “fascism”. The word is thrown around with total abandon to describe any political figure with whom one is in disagreement.  Sometimes, “fascism” is twinned with “populism” so that those that are described as “fascists” – for example Trump in America and Le Pen in France – are also called “populists”.

The West is caught up in a historical trap from which its people (including the intelligentsia) are unable to escape.[1] History has entrapped them. The result is that they have no longer much to offer in order for us to understand what fascism really means today.

Those who do not recognise the turning points of history cannot even raise the right questions, let alone provide answers to some of the glaring challenges we now face.

Classical fascism

In his essay, “The Essence of Fascism” (1935), Karl Polanyi wrote:  “Victorious Fascism is not only the downfall of the Socialist Movement; it is the end of Christianity in all but its most debased forms. The common attack of German Fascism on both the organisations of the working-class movement and the Churches is not a mere coincidence. It is a symbolic expression of that hidden philosophical essence of Fascism which makes it the common enemy of Socialism and Christianity alike.” [2]

In another essay Polanyi wrote: “Fascism is born from the incompatibility between democracy and capitalism in a fully developed industrial society. Either capitalism or democracy must therefore disappear. Fascism constitutes the solution to this deadlock by allowing capitalism to persist.”[3]

Polanyi was right about the incompatibility between capitalism and democracy. Eighty years later, on July 22, 2015, the British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, told members of British Parliament that democracy was “cumbersome” for the pursuit of foreign military objectives. He said democracy puts Western governments at a disadvantage in confronting Russia and other threats: We as a nation and as part of an alliance in NATO must think about how we deal with the challenge of our relatively cumbersome decision-making processes.”[4]

Fascism of the hegemonic/imperialist powers

In his “The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism”, Samir Amin explains how the hegemonic capitalist/imperialist powers embodied fascism in their relations with the rest of the world, and how its roots go back to Nazism: [5]

“Nazism is the model of this type of fascism. Germany became a major industrial power beginning in the 1870s and a competitor of the hegemonic powers of the era (Great Britain and, secondarily, France) and of the country that aspired to become hegemonic (the United States). … Japanese fascism belongs to the same category. Since 1895, modern capitalist Japan aspired to impose its domination over all of East Asia…. Nazi Germany made an alliance with imperial/fascist Japan.”

I’ll quote Samir Amin at some length for the readers to understand the origins and essence of contemporary fascism that is obfuscated by loose use of the term “fascism” by the political elite and popular media in the West to which I referred earlier.  Says Amin:

“The right in European parliaments between the two world wars was always complaisant about fascism and even about the more repugnant Nazism. Churchill himself, regardless of his extreme “Britishness”, never hid his sympathy for Mussolini. … With all the cynicism characteristic of the U.S. establishment, Truman openly avowed what others thought quietly: allow the war to wear out its protagonists – Germany, Soviet Russia, and the defeated Europeans – and intervene as late as possible to reap the benefits…. No hesitation was shown in the rehabilitation of Salazar and Franco in 1945.Furthermore, connivance with European fascism was a constant in the policy of the Catholic Church. It would not strain credibility to describe Pius XII as a collaborator with Mussolini and Hitler. … Hitler’s anti-Semitism itself aroused opprobrium only much later, when it reached the ultimate stage of its murderous insanity.”

Amin, then, explains how and why the socialist and social-democratic parties of Western and Central Europe enabled fascism to return in full force today:

“In West Germany, in the name of “reconciliation,” the local government and its patrons (the United States, and secondarily Great Britain and France) left in place nearly all those who had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity…. [It was] the support of the socialist and social-democratic parties of Western and Central Europe for the anti-communist campaigns undertaken by the conservative right [that] shares responsibility for the later return of fascism.”

Corporate fascism

Political philosopher, Sheldon Wolin, described the emerging form of government of the United States as “illiberal democracy”. He used the term “inverted totalitarianism” to describe the system of democracy in the US. He goes on to show that the “liberal church”, like the rest of the “liberal establishment”, looked the other way while the poor and working people, especially those of colour, were ruthlessly disempowered and impoverished.

The term “inverted totalitarianism” was picked up by, among others, Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. In Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt they describe how corporations have corrupted and subverted democracy, and how people are manipulated into surrendering their liberties and their participation in government through commodification of natural and human resources in a deeply ingrained consumerist culture.

Roger Moody in his Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalisation of Mining argues that both communities and fragile ecosystems are unable to cope with bigger and bigger mining ventures.  As grades of ore decline, and community opposition mounts, mega-mining corporations are taking over more and more Greenfield sites in the global South.[6]

We know it from our own experience in Africa how global corporations have been exploiting African nations for their minerals – oil, iron ore, aluminium, diamond, uranium, gold, zinc, copper and cobalt – to mention only the obvious ones.

The Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) – which I founded in 1997 – has been having running battles in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and with the European Union (EU) encouraging African governments to resist the pressures from the Western corporations to open up their countries to exploitation. We have had some successes, but the corporations, backed by their states and institutions of global economic governance, are simply too powerful.  To describe them as “fascist” would be quite appropriate.

These fascist methods that can only be described as acts of “war” are used not just against the nations of the South, but also against the peoples of First Nations.  Take the case of the hotly contested Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) in the United States. The DAPL is a 1,172-mile-long underground oil pipeline under construction by a number of corporations – including Dakota Access, a part subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline is guarded by the G4S (a leading global integrated security company) that uses psychological warfare tactics – fascist methods – to guard the pipeline against the people.[7] The Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux tribes (among others) have opposed the DAPL arguing that the pipeline threatens their “way of life, their water, people, and land.[8]

In my earlier blogs, I have described how Euro-American Imperial Militarism serves corporate interests through waging wars and encouraging the manufacturing of armaments that eradicate human beings for profit. Global corporations like Cargill and Union Carbide and especially manufacturers of weapons of war; the revolving doors between them and state bureaucracies in the imperial states; the strategic hold these states have over institutions of global governance such as the IMF, the World Banks and the WTO; and the looting of the scientific knowledge of the communities in the South which have developed this knowledge over thousands of years – all these constitute theft and corruption at the highest levels.

Financial Fascism

The whole system of corporate fascism is supported by a complex web of banking and financial institutions. I have written on this subject, so I will not go into this again. But take the case of Mark Johnson, HSBC’s global head of foreign exchange trading, who was charged with fraud in the US for his alleged role in using inside information to profit from a major currency deal. Strange though it may sound, but I must say this in his defence that he is not personally accountable for the fraud, the whole banking system is a fraud that enjoys impunity. Indeed, the global financial superstructure fits well with Sheldon Wolin’s concept of “inverted totalitarianism”.

Some conclusions

  1. Fascism is a systemic, structural phenomenon, not personal.  Individuals in state power who “administer” the system are often stigmatised as “fascist”. The person becomes the most visible carrier of the fascist project.
  2. It follows that those in state power in the African neo-colonies administer the fascist system on behalf of corporate and financial fascism. Of course, some are more ruthless than others. They are dictators or militarists, and the continent is full of them.  Others, like Nyerere, are democratic and anti-imperialist, but the corporate power is too strong for them to turn around a deeply embedded fascistic coloniality of the state and the economy.
  3. The Euro-American Imperial Militarism serves corporate interests through waging wars against not only the people of the Global South but also their own people, especially the workers, the people of First Nations, and the people of colour.
  4. This series of blogs began on November 15, 2016 with my reflections on the US elections. Part 1 was on “Trump and Trumpism” where I argued that Trump is an anti-Establishment capitalist. From an African perspective, we can work with him if he defies the WTO; rejects mega-regional Trade and Investment treaties like the TPP and the TTIP; scrapes AGOA; and talks with Russia, China and Iran for peaceful resolution of conflicts.
  5. In Part 6 – “The Politics of Resistance and Solidarity”- I argued that the Western world is in turmoil. We do not know how this will evolve.  But if it breaks down the European Union, dismantles NATO, weakens the Empire’s financial control over the global South, and opens a space for a new moral and political order to emerge, then it is an opportunity we must seize.
  6. This said, I must warn that the newest phase of Imperial Fascism is all the more dangerous, and aggressive, because the Western Empire is facing its crisis point, its denouement.
  7. Every crisis, however, is also an opportunity. That is so provided we understand the underlying forces. Let me therefore repeat what I wrote in Part 6:

“Trump himself may be a passing phenomenon.  But he is today’s reality.  He will be the President of the wealthiest and militarily the most powerful country in the world with a finger on the nuclear trigger.  He can decide the fate of millions inside and outside his country. So let us take stock where we from the South fit into this emerging reality against the background of a collapsing Empire and an emergent new world with all its perils and promises. The past is not dead ground, and to traverse it is not a sterile exercise. The challenges lie here and now.”

@Yash Tandon

ENDNOTES

[1] Except for some enlightened individuals amongst them – historians like Karl Polanyi, philosophers like Jürgen Habermas, journalists like Chris Hedges, and solidarity organisations like the Geneva based CETIM – to mention those that come to my mind immediately.

[2] You can get access to this essay in: kpolanyi.scoolaid.net:8080/xmlui/bitstream/…/Con_13_Fol_06%20REVISED.pdf

[3] See: https://www.researchgate.net/…/305418782_Sustaining_Democracy_

[4] https://www.rt.com/uk/310448-cumbersome-democracy-russia-isis/    … Queen Elizabeth’s uncle, who became King Edward VIII, travelled to Nazi Germany in 1937 following his abdication. He was not only filmed giving Nazi salutes to Hitler, he also plotted with the Third Reich to form a Nazi-collaborationist regime in England.

[5] Samir Amin, “The Return of Fascism in Contemporary Capitalism”, Monthly Review, September 2014. https://archive.monthlyreview.org/index.php/mr/article/view/MR-066-04-20…

[6] Roger Moody, (2007). Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalisation of Mining, Zed Press.

[7] The same security firm is also deployed to guard oil and gas industry assets in war-torn Iraq.

[8] See: Gaudiano, Nicole: “Bernie Sanders, Native Americans say oil pipeline will poison drinking water”. USA Today, September, 13, 2016

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