When I grow up, I want to be like Cornel West!
I am following an informative and interesting 4-part documentary series on Al Jazeera called The Secret of the Seven Sisters. It reveals the details of a secret pact that was made by the seven biggest oil companies in the world to control the industry to maximize their profits. To achieve this goal these comapanies: Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell, Mobile, Chevron, Gulf, British Petroleum (BP) and Texaco, control and manipulate the political and economic arenas of nations. In Episode 2 below, it discusses their fiendish pursuits for African oil: The Black El Dorado.
This week I was musing about two historical colonial and imperiliastic atrocities which reminded me of the death of Chilean deomocratically-elected president, Salvador Allende (1973) and that of the first and democratically-elected PM of DRC, Patrice Lumumba (1961). Both leaders were toppled and killed by CIA.
Allende was killed by CIA just because he introduced what was known as Chileanization of the economy of his country. This meant: he had to empower Chileans to run their economy. By doing so, he was taking a morsel from the hands of foreigners especially American companies. To stop this, CIA brought one of its Americas school graduate Gen. Augusto Pinochet who ruined the country for many decades.
Another casualty of CIA machinations geared by greedy and exploitation of poor countries was Lumumba who was replaced by CIA agent Joseph Desire Mobutu, who, just like Pinochet, ruined DRC for decades. The involvement of CIA in the toppling of two leaders remained top secret for almost three decades. Many people did not know, and would not think, that CIA committed such sacrilegious acts on the democratic elected governments. Ironically, nobody would believe that the US could topple democratic governments and install dictatorial and kleptocratic regimes as it happened in two incedent above. This raised the question as to whether the US fights for democracy or it just uses democracy as pretext and cover to secure its hidden interests.
Along with Allende and Lumumba was Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, who was overthrown in 1954 by CIA just because he wanted to buy back the land that was owned by an American company so as to give it back to his landless citizens. Albenz was replaced by Carlos Castillo who also ruined the country. American United Fruit Company (UFCO) owned vast tracts of land which was not cultivated. UFCO used to undervalue its land so as to pay low tax, something our current investors do. Therefore, when president Albenz wanted to buy the same uncultivated land, UFCO found that it’d suffer a big loss. So, it demanded more money than the value it had declared. When Albenz held his horses, CIA decided to dispose him to save an American Company.
The above three incidents remind me to write this as prediction of what is going to happen to Africa, shall currently myopic regime press on with their so-called investment geared by globalization. I can see Africa heading for the so-called economic coalition path with neo-colonialism based on economic exploitation. I am trying to apply history to show how it sometimes repeats itself especially, when those supposed to understand it well fail to do so. Africa, since independence, has been repeating the same mistakes. Our economies still depend on our former colonial masters. Black colonial masters have always been in power to serve white colonial masters. We’re but small and poor banana republics producing what we can’t consume and consuming what we don’t produce like hens. Who could believe that US used to give Mobutu over $1Bn annually to end up in imperialistic and parasitic banks in Switzerland? When it came to Mobutu, the US did not want any litany on democracy of accountability. Many American created dictators came and left without being reprimanded by the “champion” of democracy! Corrupt and kleptocratic regimes are in power in many African countries and US does not preach any democracy to them. Instead of singing democracy, the US is singing free trade and globalization.
Given that the era of dictatorship is gone, currently, the same imperilialist powers are using the so-called democratically elected leaders to ruin and exploit poor countries. In 1995-2005 Tanzania was under Benjamin Mkapa who did everything to see to it that he robbed all public investment. Mkapa offered all profitable firms to investers at a throwaway price. Since then, the country has been cascading to abject poverty despite producing gold in tons. This is but a single example which tells us that if Africa is to go on with the ongoing diabolic investment, chances are that landless Africans will resort into fighting for freedom afresh.
It is sad though to note that many African regimes have been singing the song of investment and globalization without any scientific, fair and safe preparations or measures in place. Many mineral and energy companies are landing multibillion investments in Africa without paying tax or investing in human development. It recently came to light that some corrupt government officials in Tanzania stashed over $ 300,000,000 in Swiss banks. All this money was deposited to the banks by corrupt foreign investors. What is evident in many African countries is the rise of antagonism between poor citizenry and foreign companies, which have much influence in the upper echelons of power due to the kickbacks they give to venal rulers. Human rights and the environment are gravely abused and the champion of democracy is just watching silently!
I am not trying to avoid sounding like a Luddite especially for those who would wrongly think I’m against investment. Omnishambolic and exploitative investment “no”… “yes” to fair and reasonable investment. Without taking a leaf from the above incidents, Africa is going to cascade even more into neo-colonialism. While rich countries are using their companies to rake billions of dollars from Africa in order to invest in their people. African greedy rulers are selling their people with their resources. We are not allowed even to subsidize our poor farmers or offer social services, especially welfare, as it is in rich countries. They don’t allow us to do this fearing that the prices of our produce will rise and therefore making it hard for rich countries to buy them at low and exploitative prices, as it has been going on since time immemorial.
The murder of 34 miners by the South African police, most of them shot in the back, puts paid to the illusion of post-apartheid democracy and illuminates the new worldwide apartheid of which South Africa is both an historic and contemporary model.
In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony. This was designed to force blacks from agriculture into an army of cheap labour, principally for the mining of newly discovered gold and other precious minerals. As a result of this social Darwinism, Rhodes’ own De Beers company quickly developed into a world monopoly, making him fabulously rich. In keeping with liberalism in Britain and the United States, he was celebrated as a philanthropist supporting high-minded causes.
Today, the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University is prized among liberal elites. Successful Rhodes scholars must demonstrate “moral force of character” and “sympathy for and protection of the weak, and unselfishness, kindliness and fellowship”. The former president Bill Clinton is one, General Wesley Clark, who led the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, is another. The wall known as apartheid was built for the benefit of the few, not least the most ambitious of the bourgeoisie.
This was something of a taboo during the years of racial apartheid. South Africans of British descent could indulge an apparent opposition to the Boers’ obsession with race, and their contempt for the Boers themselves, while providing the facades behind which an inhumane system guaranteed privileges based on race and, more importantly, on class.
The new black elite in South Africa, whose numbers and influence had been growing steadily during the latter racial apartheid years, understood the part they would play following “liberation”. Their “historic mission”, wrote Frantz Fanon in his prescient classic The Wretched of the Earth, “has nothing to do with transforming the nation: it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.
This applied to leading figures in the African National Congress, such as Cyril Ramaphosa, head of the National Union of Mineworkers, now a corporate multi-millionaire, who negotiated a power-sharing “deal” with the regime of de F.W. Klerk, and Nelson Mandela himself, whose devotion to an “historic compromise” meant that freedom for the majority from poverty and inequity was a freedom too far. This became clear as early as 1985 when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Reilly, chairman of the Anglo-American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia and both sides agreed, in effect, that racial apartheid would be replaced by economic apartheid, known as the “free market”.
Secret meetings subsequently took place in a stately home in England, Mells Park House, at which a future president of liberated South Africa, Tabo Mbeki, supped malt whisky with the heads of corporations that had shored up racial apartheid. The British giant Consolidated Goldfields supplied the venue and the whisky. The aim was to divide the “moderates” – the likes of Mbeki and Mandela – from an increasingly revolutionary multitude in the townships who evoked memories of uprisings following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and at Soweto in 1976 – without ANC help.
Once Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the ANC’s “unbreakable promise” to take over monopoly capital was seldom heard again. On his triumphant tour of the US, Mandela said in New York: “The ANC will re-introduce the market to South Africa.” When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms that “the policy of the ANC is privatisation”.
Enveloped in the hot air of corporate-speak, the Mandela and Mbeki governments took their cues from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. While the gap between the majority living beneath tin roofs without running water and the newly wealthy black elite in their gated estates became a chasm, finance minister Trevor Manuel was lauded in Washington for his “macro-economic achievements”. South Africa, noted George Soros in 2001, had been delivered into “the hands of international capital”.
Shortly before the massacre of miners employed for a pittance in a dangerous, British-registered platinum mine, the erosion of South Africa’s economic independence was demonstrated when the ANC government of Jacob Zuma stopped importing 42 per cent of its oil from Iran under intense pressure from Washington. The price of petrol has already risen sharply, further impoverishing people.
This economic apartheid is now replicated across the world as poor countries comply with the demands of western “interests” as opposed to their own. The arrival of China as a contender for the resources of Africa, though without the economic and military threats of America, has provided further excuse for American military expansion, and the possibility of world war, as demonstrated by President Barack Obama’s recent arms and military budget of $737.5 billion, the biggest ever. The first African-American president of the land of slavery presides over a perpetual war economy, mass unemployment and abandoned civil liberties: a system that has no objection to black or brown people as long as they serve the right class. Those who do not comply are likely to be incarcerated.
This is the South African and American way, of which Obama, son of Africa, is the embodiment. Liberal hysteria that the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is more extreme than Obama is no more than a familiar promotion of “lesser evilism” and changes nothing. Ironically, the election of Romney to the White House is likely to reawaken mass dissent in the US, whose demise is Obama’s singular achievement.
Although Mandela and Obama cannot be compared – one is a figure of personal strength and courage, the other a pseudo political creation — the illusion that both beckoned a new world of social justice is similar. It belongs to a grand illusion that relegates all human endeavour to a material value, and confuses media with information and military conquest with humanitarian purpose. Only when we surrender these fantasies shall we begin to end apartheid across the world.
A documentary adaptation Naomi Klein’s 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine. An investigation of disaster capitalism, based on Naomi Klein’s proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.
Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism — the rapid-fire corporate re-engineering of societies still reeling from shock — did not begin with September 11, 2001.
The films traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today.
New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, shock and awe warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.
The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.
This is outrageous! How far the ANC has fallen!
- Murder charges stun and enrage South African miners
- South Africa’s Mine Massacre Reveals Ugly Realities
- Squalor surrounds South Africa’s platinum treasure chest
- Mnikelo Ndabankulu speaks at Marikana memorial service (video)
- Neo-colonialism still wreaking havoc in Africa — as the world watches