Leopold II., Macron and Other Cannibals– The Trend Towards Total War Against Africa
- Colonialism does something – to us.
“The colonial world is a Manichean world. It is not enough for the settler to delimit physically, that is to say with the help of the army and the police force, the place of the native. As if to show the totalitarian character of colonial exploitation the settler paints the native as a sort of quintessence of evil. Native society is not simply described as a society lacking in values. It is not enough for the colonist to affirm that those values have disappeared from, or still better never existed in, the colonial world. The native is declared insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is, let us dare to admit, the enemy of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil. He is the corrosive element, destroying all that comes near him; he is the deforming element, disfiguring all that has to do with beauty or morality; he is the depository of maleficent powers, the unconscious and irretrievable instrument of blind forces.”
Genocide or genocidal, genocide or crimes against humanity, holocaust or black holocaust, massacre or mass murder …, these are the terms we could use to describe the situation in the central parts of Africa today. Ultimately, we would have to conclude that the overall escalation of late capitalism is indescribable, that its manifestations are indescribable, and that it has never been possible to describe them in this way before.
But perhaps the genocide of 10 million people in the so-called “Congo Free State” between 1880 and 1908 by the Belgian royal family is not indescribable, it is just that historians are not sure about how many, and why they were killed. Which is why today even the UN, Human Rights Watch and Wikipedia are uncertain about how many people were killed and who is to blame. And this has particular bearing on the millions in this region of Africa that have been massacred since 1990 by European and US policy – for the benefit of the global North.
The guessing game over guilt, culprits, and causes, as well as the constant puzzling over the numbers of the colonial past and present, is in the end a sort of “immunization” therapy through which European societies want to buy the time they need to justify the ongoing crimes. But this bestial present can only find new justifications by denying, downplaying, alienating or romanticizing the past.
European societies are on the run from themselves, their history of colonialism, their responsibility for their wealth and the misery they produced, but nevertheless they are still involved in the ongoing genocide in the global South. The most indescribable aspect of all is our seeming inability to fight the causes of the flight from ourselves and the flight itself, and to recognize that in the Manichaeism world we live that we, who live north of the Mediterranean and the Rio Grande are the “elect,” who have the right to live and to make the wrong decisions, in our world of relationships, emotions and protests:
Bourgeois metropolitan societies in Europe and the US do not want to understand racism, but rather to avoid it. Racism is reduced to the personal and interpersonal level, where it is thought to be resolvable, i.e. the appearance of racism is fought. However, as Stokely-Carmichael/Kwame-Toure noted, racism by one person against another is just a problem between two people. In fact, racism is always a power relationship; only when one person (or group) is given the power by the state (de jure or de facto) to practice racism, does it become effective and institutionalized. And it is only on this institutional level that racism takes on its pervasive meaning, which for the western centers of power means the maintenance of “order,” i.e. to prevent rebellion or direct it into appropriate channels.
The political situation should remain permanent; repressive force should be the exception, the last resort (e.g. when protesters are killed in Hambach Forest or yellow vests are beaten almost to death by special police squads). After 1945, the permanent, open, brutal use of force that prevails in the global South – war, starvation, murder, and expulsion – should be avoided in the bourgeois state as far as possible.
The importance of legitimation: the people in Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali and Syria can only be slaughtered by European and US soldiers, or by weapons produced in Europe, the US or Israel, if they have been dehumanized beforehand. The islamophobic discourse in the global North has an internal (i.e. domestic) significance, but above all it also has an external implication – it allows war to be waged war against the countries of the global South (which often have Muslim populations) and to do so without significant disruptions.
Racism is an integral part of the global relations of power and exploitation.
Every time Nazis march or a new right-wing party emerges in European bourgeois democracies, activist groups rush to shout “fascisms.” Why?
- To negate the inherently fascist character of the colonial and neocolonial situation,
- to separate racism from one’s own left-liberalism,
- to project it onto an admittedly even uglier political opponent.
The fantasized threat of a seizure of power in the manner of Hitler in 1933, distracts the gaze from the market laws imposed on the global South, which in method are fascistic (without requiring an openly declared ideological fascism), and directs it towards the more-or-less openly fascist right, with its martial talk, while in fact a democracy based on the Noske model continues to be implemented: in case of emergency, a few heads are cracked to restore order, but thereafter politics are used to ensure pacification.
Inflating the term fascism allows recognition of personal responsibility – active or passive, wanted or involuntary – for the brutal conditions in the global South to be avoided.
These proclamations of national bourgeois anti-fascism, which take place from time and avoid referring to global power relations as much as possible, do not seem to lose their attraction, and are a constant form of self-assurance that Europe is at the center of the world. In spite of this self-assurance and despite the isolation from the rest of the world, it apparently remains necessary to incorporate ritualized activities into daily life at the expense of others. Change through consumption, so-called “fair trade” has become a properly labeled and profitable part of the market – not to create alternatives or even to point in their direction, but to make the conditions and their perception more bearable.
2. The Postcolonial Myth
“So artificial boundaries were set, and people were, willy-nilly, given independence, and you might have one nation that’s completely land-locked, with no means to export its resources, and another nation that has all these ports, but no resources to export. One speaks French and the other speaks English, so the French and the English mediate the whole thing, you see? We’ll get your goods out for you; we’ll build a railroad for you; we’ll send your children to the Sorbonne, and educate them, and we’ll put these elites back in there so they can rule over your own people. So we have the development of neo-colonialism. Neocolonialism is the last stage of imperialism.”
(Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad, 1992)
It was not because of the indescribability of what erupted in the global South immediately after 1990 that scholars such as Gayatri Spivak invented the so-called postcolonial theory. A theory that identifies colonial phenomena and refers to anti-colonial theorists here and there, but which in “theory” suggests and conveys the “end of history,” i.e. of an imperialist and colonial history, and in consequence detaches actual and future struggles from the history of resistance – and thus tends to DELEGITIMIZE them.
These icons of the modern scientific establishment have in part successfully filled in the cracks (including those in the thinking of people in metropolitan regions) that the liberation struggles in the global South had triggered and deepened. The real perspectives of anti-colonial liberation and their real palpable humanity have been sealed up with the concrete of this “high end intellectualism,” which turn universities and academies in the USA and Europe into sarcophagi. But, before the burial, the usable parts are picked out, i.e. the parts that can serve in the industrial production of knowledge, by deforming them, and scattering these pieces in the lecture halls. If they are mentioned at all at this postulated “end of history,” the works of Frantz Fanon, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Ali Shariati, Malcolm X, or Fred Hampton are fragmented and EXPLOITED without any context.
Concerning the exploitation of Fanon’s texts, Professor Greg Thomas of Tufts University writes: “In short, for mainstream academics ‘humanities’ in general and ‘post-colonial studies’ in particular, Black Skin, White Masks is a fetishized object – while The Wretched of the Earth is a phobic object – when it is known or rarely read since it cannot be seriously read by them as a matter of fact.”
And he continued: “Fanon knew colonialism. As a thinker of colonialism, who acted against it in ways which academics would only avoid if not condemn, he theorized and represented ‘anti-colonialism’ – not any such thing as ‘post-colonialism,’ this much is abundantly clear.”
Liberation movements – both those that won state power and those that remained superficially “unsuccessful” up to now – have created lasting and profound changes for people in the global South. On economic, political, social, and cultural levels, South-South cooperation has constrained and undermined the neocolonial policies of the rich North and has even succeeded in disrupting them at certain junctures.
“AFRICOM is a ‘New Age Imperialist’ force, a U.S. military instrument of Empire and Globalization, just like NATO and other U.S. military geopolitical initiatives are. AFRICOM does not seek to establish a post-colonial ‘neo’ colonial relationship with a former colonial territory. That’s the essence of the term ‘Neo-colonial’. Instead it attempts to coherently organize and militarize Africa’s haphazard and hurried post colonial balkanization of the continent to protect the ‘comprador classes’ already in power from themselves, and while doing so insure unhindered access to Africa’s vast resources. It should be noted that were the majority of African nations to create a Pan-African Common Market, in which non-African nations would have to trade and deal with, then AFRICOM’s agenda’s would be an oxymoron. The U.S. and its allies are not stupid – they know that an African with a gun and no politics is a criminal, and that Africans with guns and politics are potential revolutionaries or enemies. AFRICOM’s objective is to train and maintain as many armed criminals on the African continent protecting as many despotic regimes, bogus democracies and dictators money will permit. Almost every coup carried out in Africa over the past 50 years since decolonization was carried out by western trained soldiers – none of these coups brought progressive governments to power, only insured European vested interests were protected to the detriment of ordinary people. The few exceptions that come to mind were Libya’s and Burkina Faso’s coups the latter led by Sankara. America cannot militarily occupy Africa as old colonial powers once occupied their colonies – ‘New Age Imperialism’ operates as a global economic and military network wherein war and the threat of war reinforce the economy of capitalist nations.”
(Dhoruba al-Mujahid bin Wahad)
The old lie of Western development agencies that they offer “help for self-help” is replaced by the new lie of “development through investment.” These postmodern euphemisms employed by Austrian Chancellor Kurz and French President Macron have made clear what Europe’s relationships with African countries and their peoples will be based on: the EU and Europe must not “leave Africa to the Chinese.” The recent gestures of the French government such as restitution of some looted art, the recognition of certain individuals (!), and of individual (!) crimes committed during the Algerian revolution are supposed to obscure the military actions of France and the militarization it promotes (France maintains 8 bases in the region). But, only the elites applaud. Under the slogan of the “War on Terror,” military alliances, such as AFRICOM, MINUSMA (United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali), EUCAP (EU Capacity Building Mission), and EUTM Mali (European Union Training Mission Mali) are actually the means to ensure the success of and security for Western economic interests.
The so-called Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) and their modifications are the codification of the absolute military and economic penetration of the African continent over the last 29 years by Western interests. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the race of the Global North (EU, USA, Israel) for the best lands of Africa has been reignited.
Between April and July 1994, a million people died in Rwanda with full knowledge of the UN, USA, UK, Belgium and France. Just in the so-called Congo wars between 1996 and 2009, over 5 million people died. In Europe these slaughters merit just a few short-lived headlines and documentary films. The silvery backs of mountain gorillas serve to hide the piles of corpses. Leopold “the Cannibal” would be proud of that. The “immunization” of the population of the rich metropolitan North against images of such slaughter extends beyond class divisions and has reached unprecedented dimensions. The arguments of the self-disciplining left have been reduced to neoliberal jargon.
Continuously, certain African national governments are disempowered when they become targets of Western exploitative interests, when they try to pursue intra-African economic programs, or South-South cooperation. Local elites who have grown rich from neocolonial relations also come under pressure. In some cases, they become unnecessary and problematic burdens for European and U.S. interests such as when they show interest in China’s offers.
At the same time, parts of the African market have become an outlet for European overproduction from its inordinately subsidized agricultural sector. The much belabored chicken exports to African markets even make an appearance in newspapers that generally promote economic liberalism to distract, with a paradoxical phenomenon, from the basic contradiction.
The consequences of dwindling South-South cooperation, the opening of markets, the imposed fixation on the export of basic agricultural products and mineral raw materials to Europe, all reduce already scarce state revenues. These results are in line with the principal goal of colonial powers: to prevent the development of infrastructures and the possibility of industrialization.
The economic forecasts of the Brookings Institute read like the sales talk for a new product by a vacuum cleaner sales representative. Brookings predicts good to high growth for African countries that are of strategic importance to the U.S. These countries usually already have military bases of the US or its allies in their country that allow the massive waging of the “War on Terror” by means of drones and troops. Examples include Ethiopia and Kenya, which are in the deployment area of AFRICOM, and then are permitted to display tourism advertisements on CNN as proof of stability. The economic growth of such countries originates almost exclusively in the service sector (Kenya had a plus of 5.5% in 2018) but such figures are highly variable.
Rwanda is, of course, high on the list, because it not only guarantees the illegal export of raw materials from the eastern Congo’s Kivu region, but also monitors political, economic and military changes in central Africa.
By contrast, Brookings’ forecasts for Africa’s traditionally richest countries, such as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are bleak. Nigeria is one of the few African nations that have not yet signed an EPA.
The colonial system 2.0, or the trend towards re-colonization, is not simply a repetition. It is an escalation in late capitalism, which (in its quest for profit maximization) requires the further balkanization and militarization of Africa. In keeping with this growing trend, it is only logical for economists like Paul Romer to call for the administrative and political takeover of certain zones – so-called special administrative zones – in the global South. In these zones, corporations can then carry out production without being subjected to national or international law. People on the lowest rung of the economic ladder will be interned there (Romer, of course, insists on the “voluntary” nature of the work, when in reality it is a choice between survival in these Zones or starvation). The inhabitants of these “zones” (in Romer’s jargon, “Refugee Cities” or “Charter Cities”) will largely be refugees stranded on their way to Europe or the U.S. or deportees from metropolitan countries. Local governing elites lease out these special administrative zones, thus losing any legal claim to sovereignty and consequently any claim to the economic benefits of exploitation. The U.S. has already tested this partial re-colonization with the government of Honduras. The left-liberal press regards little desk jockeys like Romer as sustainable development experts who fight “refugee crises, poverty and injustice.” The perfidious (still) ruling Social Democracy in Europe includes the “Romer camps” in its euphemistic discussion of “fighting the causes of refugee flight”. The immunization of the consciences in the “white” world has progressed so far that protests on the part of its inhabitants remain absent.
However, this escalation generates resistance, and this must be crushed with all possible might for the sake of European prosperity.
The master’s room was wide open. The master’s room was brilliantly lighted, and the master was there, very calm… and our people stopped dead…it was the master…I went in. “It’s you,” he said, very calm. It was I, even I, and I told him so, the good slave, the faithful slave, the slave of slaves, and suddenly his eyes were like two cockroaches, frightened in the rainy season…I struck, and the blood spurted; that is the only baptism that I remember today.
(Aimé Césaire, Et les chiens se taisaient, as cited in Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth)
 Following “Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wétiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism“, Seven Stories Press (2008), ISBN 1-58322-781-4 and “The Wétiko Epidemic. An Indian Philosophy of Agression and Violence,“ 1981, (original title: “Die Wétiko-Seuche. Eine indianische Philosophie von Aggression und Gewalt“)
 An ancient forest in the West of Germany that was to be razed and become a brown-coal surface mine. An occupation by environmentalists began in 2012. In 2018, a large-scale police operation attempted to forcefully remove the protesters tree houses, which resulted in the death of a film-maker and further massive protests. An government agreement to preserve what remains of the forest appears to be in place but does not yet have legal force.
 The yellow vest movement for economic justice in France began in October 2018 and continued through 2020. French police violently repressed demonstrations throughout the country.
 Gustav Noske was the Social Democratic defense minister of the Weimar Republic. He approved the murder of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg according to Waldemar Papst, whose unit actually carried out the killings: “It is clear that I could not have carried out the action without Noske’s approval – with Ebert (the President) in the background – and that I had to protect my officers. But very few people have realized why I was never questioned or brought to trial. As a gentleman, I acknowledged the behavior of the SPD of the time by returning the favor and keeping my mouth shut about our cooperation for 50 years.“
 LE MONDE diplomatique, December 2018