Africa in the Colonial Ages of Empire

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Africa in the Colonial Ages of Empire

Africa in the Colonial Ages of Empire

European colonial empires began with a race of exploration between the then most advanced maritime powers, Portugal and Spain, during the 15th century.

The initial impulse behind these dispersed maritime empires and those that followed was trade, driven by the new ideas and the capitalism that grew out of the European Renaissance. Agreements were also made to divide the world up between them in 1479, 1493, and 1494. European imperialism was born out of competition between European Christians and Ottoman Muslims, the latter of which rose up quickly in the 14th century and forced the Spanish and Portuguese to seek new trade routes to China.

To understand the impact of European empires on Africa, any worthy study must focus on four patterns that shed light on the ethics of outside interventions: (1) the epidemiological and bodily harms caused by conquest, cultural genocide, and economic underdevelopment; (2) the uneven and inadequate infrastructures established during the colonial era, including certain politically iatrogenic consequences; (3) the ethical ambiguities and transgressions of colonial research and campaigns; and (4) the concerted and inadvertent efforts to undermine African socio-cultural and political practices, which were not always commensurable with introduced European techniques. This kind of historical analysis helps us home in on different kinds of ethical problems that have grown out of past asymmetries of power-between people, professions, states, and institutions-that shape the nature of international political systems to this day in Africa.

Introduction

Empire is currently the overarching concept in all discussions of imperialism and colonialism. An empire can be defined minimally as a relationship “of political control imposed by some political societies over the effective sovereignty of other political societies” (Doyle 1986, p. 19). Yet, this definition does not appeal to some scholars. For example, Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri’s Empire has as its main premise that the era of “Imperialism” is over and that we are now living in an era of the so-called “Empire.” Negri is “the leading advocate of a theory that claims that the age of imperialism is dead.” Really! It is correct to say, as Negri himself does, that modern society is a truly “globalized” society, that capitalism has reached such a level of expansion that it is able to extend its tentacles into every nook and cranny of the planet. However, at the same time, the limits imposed by the nation state, which are the expression of the various national capitalist classes, cannot be overcome within the capitalist economy itself and represent a massive fetter on the future development of humankind. Today, more than ever before, such a contradiction can only be resolved by the destruction of capitalism, thus creating the conditions for putting an end to borders and the nation-state, and for building the union of workers of all nationalities into a world socialist federation.

But, departing from the perspectives of Hardt and Negri in Empire, Panitch and Gindin’s book is one with a clear center. In The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin (2012), there is a fundamental thesis which structures the book. The thesis is that to understand the emergence of contemporary global colonial capitalism, it is necessary to consider first and foremost the role played by the states in its construction. Taking issue with various “globo-philic” ideas, the premise is that, far from being the result of economic determinants that operate “automatically,” global capitalism has depended on the capacity of the state to create mechanisms suitable for the internationalization of capital: primarily, the capacity for the US state to function as guarantor of the accumulation of capital on a world scale (Mentan, 2013).

This book is therefore about imperial capitalist globalization and the state. It shows that far from being an inevitable outcome of inherently expansionist economic tendencies, the spread of capitalist markets, values and social relationships around the world has depended on the agency of states throughout the Old and New Colonial Empires, particularly in Africa. The reason is that in the capitalist world, there has never been, and probably never will be, a situation in which a world power engages in military conflict only to give up its share of the spoils to the imaginary ‘Empire’ to which it allegedly belongs.

An empire usually involves a core polity governing peripheral spaces and populations; peripheries are typically subjected to different legal and administrative practices than the core. As Suny (Suny 2001, p. 25) writes, an empire is “a particular form of domination or control between two units set apart in a hierarchical, inequitable relationship, more precisely a composite state in which a metropole dominates a periphery to the disadvantage of the periphery.” What has empire got to do with Africa in the 21st century, when African countries (Mentan, 2010) are flying national flags and singing national anthems?

Historically, Empires have been the main form of large-scale political organization for at least two millennia in Africa, in contrast to modern bureaucratic states, which have existed for just a few centuries. Empires and colonies have been analyzed by sociologists for as long as sociology has existed as an intellectual field, starting with Auguste Comte in the early 19th century and the founders of the academic discipline in the late 19th century in Europe and the United States, and continuing into the present. Between the 1970s and the end of the 20th century, empires receded in the sociological imagination, but they have reemerged powerfully since then as part of the closely linked domains of “empire studies,” “colonial studies,” and “postcolonial studies” (Achebe, 1988). This resurgent interest in empires corresponds in part to events in the real world, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reappearance of a fortified “American empire” and US military interventions overseas, especially in Africa. Furthermore, the imperial and colonial turn in scholarship has been inspired by trends inside academe, including revisionist histories of the British and French colonial empires in Africa and Nazi Germany, the emergence of global history, and theoretical developments such as postcolonial theory and subaltern studies. Although scholars are always eager to announce that rival schools and turns are passé or that they were never more than mere fashion, such gestures have been unable to stop the growth of imperial and colonial studies. This unabated enthusiasm corresponds to the power of the empirical and analytical work and to the real-world importance of the objects of analysis.

The concept of empire encompasses colonialism and imperialism. Empires are political organizations that are expansive, militarized, and multinational, and that place limits on the sovereignty of the polities in their periphery. In colonialism, the conquered polities or populations are not just ruled over by foreign conquerors but are configured as inferior to their occupiers—inferior in legal, administrative, social, and cultural terms. Imperialism involves political control over foreign lands without the annexation of land or sovereignty. The sociological study of empires overlaps with the study of the state, political domination, geopolitics/political geography, international relations, indigenous peoples, and the historiography of specific empires and colonies. It overlaps with disciplines like anthropology, political science, and cultural studies. The topic of empire is central to several schools of social and cultural analysis, including world-system theory and postcolonial theory. Sociological work on empires can be found in several disciplinary subfields (see Sociology of Culture, Comparative Historical Sociology, Economic Sociology; Marxist Sociology Political Sociology; World-Systems Analysis. This essay focuses on (1) definitions of empire, colonialism, and related terms; (2) the different types of imperial practice or configurations of empire; and (3) theories and research concerning the origins, development, effects, and aftermaths of empire.

This resurgent interest in empires corresponds in part to events in the real world, including the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reappearance of a fortified “American empire” and US military interventions overseas. The imperial and colonial turn in scholarship has also been inspired by trends inside academe, including revisionist histories of the British and French colonial empires and Nazi Germany, the emergence of global history, and theoretical developments such as postcolonial theory and subaltern studies (Zeleza,1999). Although scholars are always eager to announce that rival schools and turns are passé or that they were never more than mere fashion, such gestures have been unable to stop the growth of imperial and colonial studies. This unabated enthusiasm corresponds to the power of the empirical and analytical work and to the real-world importance of the objects of analysis. The concept of empire encompasses colonialism and imperialism.

Empires are political organizations that are expansive, militarized, and multinational, and that place limits on the sovereignty of the polities in their periphery. In colonialism, the conquered polities or populations are not just ruled over by foreign conquerors but are configured as inferior to their occupiers—inferior in legal, administrative, social, and cultural terms. Imperialism involves political control over foreign lands without the annexation of land or sovereignty. The sociological study of empires overlaps with the study of the state, political domination, geopolitics/political geography, international relations, indigenous peoples, and the historiography of specific empires and colonies. It overlaps with disciplines like anthropology, political science, and cultural studies. The topic of empire is central to several schools of social and cultural analysis, including world-system theory and postcolonial theory. Sociological work on empires can be found in several disciplinary subfields (see Sociology of Culture, Comparative Historical Sociology, Economic Sociology; Marxist Sociology Political Sociology; World-Systems Analysis).

Methodology for our social science research

Why do we need a methodology for our research? The social world is indefinitely complex and multi-stranded—thus eluding explanation through simple observation. In other words, the social world as a domain of phenomena is fundamentally different from the natural world, in the respect of its degree of law-governedness (Little, 1993). So neither the methods of ordinary commonsense nor the methods of the natural sciences will suffice to lead us to an ability to recognize the systems, structures, and causal processes that are embodied in the social world. The social world proceeds through the activities of billions of men and women. It embodies institutions, organizations, and structures that propel and constrain individual action, and these social entities give rise to processes that are neither law-governed nor random. The social world gives rise to relations of power, domination, exploitation, and resistance. It produces outcomes that advantage some and disadvantage others. It is the result of complex exchanges between agents and structures, and each pole of this conjunction influences the other. The social world, in short, is complex. The challenge of understanding social phenomena is both important and difficult. This is true in 2017; but it was not less true in 1830, when Engels took up residence in Birmingham and undertook to describe and comprehend the confusion of factories, slums, mansions, hunger, and turmoil that Birmingham represented. The Conditions of the Working Class in England is his result (Engels, 1958); and Capital is Marx’s (Marx, 1977).

What is involved in having a philosophy and methodology for social science? It is to have answers to several different domains of questions

  • inquiry—how to make use of a variety of tools of research to arrive at
  • hypotheses and theories about a domain of empirical phenomena;

  • epistemology—how to employ empirical and theoretical considerations to provide justification for the hypotheses and theories that we put forward;
  • metaphysics—an account of the types of entities and processes of
  • which the domain of phenomena are composed; and,

  • a theory of the structure of social science knowledge—a conception of the purpose of social science inquiry and a schematic notion of what social science results ought to look like. (Theories? Bodies of empirical findings? Statistical laws? Narrative interpretations of important social processes? Groups of causal hypotheses?)
  • Marx’s methodological thinking, and that of many Marxist social scientists who followed, provide tentative answers to each of these questions. And, as we should expect, these answers add up to something less than a finished and consistent methodology (any more than Weber’s work constitutes a tidy theory of social science knowledge and inquiry; (Ringer, 1997)).

    The root cause of this eclectic nature of the best social research approach we have chosen lies in the nature of social phenomena themselves in history. The social world is not well ordered. It is not a law-governed system of cause and effect. Instead, it is a sum of many different and cross-cutting processes, structures and institutions, mediated by the purposive meaningful actions of persons, within given cultural and material institutions that bear contingent and sometimes accidental relations to each other. And Marxist thinking, appropriately eclectically construed, has much to offer as we try to make sense of that plural world of the colonial ages of Empire. The logical approach in this book is therefore to use the dialectical method of analysis of material facts of history. The reason for this choice is that the dialectical method consists in going beyond the recognition of this or that instance of inequality and injustice in capitalism. Cataloguing and describing the multitude of different kinds of oppression and injustice in our colonial world of Empire is important, but it’s not necessary to be a Marxist or a dialectician to do so.

    A dialectical approach to oppression explains how such oppression is part and parcel of a larger social whole, rather than a static and unchanging fact independent of other social factors. A dialectical inquiry into oppression reveals how systems of oppression are connected to the antagonistic and opposed interests of competing social forces—and are both built up and resisted, in a contest between those who try to impose oppression and those who challenge it.

    And the dialectical method describes how oppression and the ideas that sustain it interact in turn with the rest of the moving parts of capitalist society as a whole, including not just the economy, but also the media, the family, the criminal justice system and so on.

    Yet as this example illustrates, a dialectical approach is not necessarily a Marxist one. Many mainstream social scientists working in the fields of sociology, philosophy, anthropology and so on attempt to analyze the world as a social whole. But most social science doesn’t have any notion of how the parts of the social whole stand in relation to the others, beyond a nondescript notion that “a multiplicity of historical factors” are at work simultaneously. Put another way, everything affects everything. Karl Marx brought together dialectics and materialism to understand the world as a totality. This totality is driven by inherent change, conflict and contradictions rooted in the material world, where human activity, including the ideas generated by humans about the world, can also react back on and in turn transform the material underpinnings of society- be it old or new colonial society.

    This scientific method is intended to enables us to understand Colonial Empire history, not as a series of unconnected and unforeseen incidents, but rather as part of a clearly understood and interrelated process. It is a series of actions and reactions which cover politics, economics and the whole spectrum of social development. To lay bare the complex dialectical relationship between all these phenomena is the task of historical materialism. The fact of the matter is that humankind constantly changes nature through labor, and in so doing, changes itself.

    European Colonial Encounters with Africa and Asia

    Colonization, the ruling or displacing of indigenous populations by settler colonies claiming sovereignty beyond their national borders, usually refers to European imperialism, though colonization as a phenomenon is not limited to Europe. In the case of European colonization, though, most adventures into other continents were motivated by exploration and expanded by greed and a paternalistic belief in the superiority of white Europeans. This is especially true in the case of African colonization. European colonization of Africa began in the fifteenth century, when the Portuguese discovered a new trade route to India. Despite attempts to colonize the Indian and East Asian mainland, European interests only succeeded in controlling the ports—and that alone took two centuries. This was not the case in Africa. Missionaries came to the continent, in ever-increasing numbers beginning in the early 1800s, hoping to convert pagan, Muslim, and non-religious indigenous peoples to Christianity. Explorers came next, seeking raw materials and new industries. The largely unknown continent, with its vast tracts of unspoiled land, proved a gold mine for foreign investors. Before long, advancements in technology and industrialization spurred further exploration and land grabs by Europeans. Beginning in the 1880s, a so-called “Scramble for Africa” was on. Germany, Italy, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Belgium, and Spain fought each other over African land and natural resources that they had stolen from the African people. Colonization led to the destruction of indigenous cultural traditions, the weakening of family ties, and the enforcement of alien systems of law and economy.

    European Colonization of Asia as template

    In the fifteenth century, when Portugal discovered a new trade route to India, the Portuguese became zealous about seizing the most lucrative ports of East Africa, the Persian Gulf, and certain regions of India. The once-free ports were now controlled by the Europeans, who sought to eliminate any rivals. They attempted to enforce a monopoly in the spice trade by forcing local traders to pay customs duties in exchange for safe passage, but Asian maritime powers challenged the Europeans, ensuring the difficulty of a Western monopoly.

    Centuries later, Dutch, French, and English traders began competing with the Portuguese for control over trade routes, textiles, and factory ownership. But India maintained political control over its interests by demanding gold and silver from the Europeans. As hard as they tried to expand their interests into the Indian mainland, the Europeans were overpowered by the might and organization of the Asians. When the Mughal Empire began to disintegrate, that might and organization was lost and the Europeans saw an opportunity to finally control Indian Ocean trade. By the 1870s, Britain had won the battle to become ruler of India, a position it held until August 15, 1947, when India won its independence.

    The first foreign colonies in Africa were formally established in Sierra Leone in 1787. After 1870, European intervention in Africa began its steady and rapid increase. King Leopold II of Belgium (1839-1909) began the accelerated race for African land and resource control in 1876. He organized the International Africa Association, which was supposedly created to serve humanitarian and scientific purposes. In reality, the association served as a cover for him to make bogus treaties with several African chiefs and snatch nine hundred thousand square miles of territory for himself. To squelch any further such land grabs, Germany called a conference in 1884, and twelve European nations and representatives from the Ottoman Empire and the United States attended. The African people were allowed no representation. Many rules were made during the conference, but few were followed. Instead, European colonizers continued to deceive African natives out of their land by forming treaties with chiefs who could not read or understand them. Europeans gave the Africans alcohol, fancy costumes, and trinkets in exchange for tribal lands. By 1914, Ethiopia was the only African empire to remain independent from colonial rule.

    Eugenics

    Eugenics, the scientific and social movement that promotes racial “fitness” through selective breeding, gained widespread attention after Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. The book and its findings inspired biologists to seek out the mechanisms of human heredity. Before long, the term “eugenics” was coined to describe the heritability of intelligence, and eugenicists, after years of research, determined that genes determined behavior. Further, they believed that mental and moral behavior was different among racial and ethnic groups. Eugenicists, then, took issue with Social Darwinism, the popular philosophy that applied Darwin’s principles of evolutionary struggle and survival to human life. They argued that social policy initiatives inspired by Social Darwinism could not possibly benefit the poor or socially “unfit” if genes determined behavior.

    In discussing the ideological interrelationship between Social Darwinism and British imperialistic thought during the period 1870-1900, there is often presumed a close association based upon their common attribute, the “might is right” principle. For example, after expounding on the dominant “power politics” principle in late nineteenth century Europe, C. J. H. Hayes (1941: 12) writes in A Generation of Materialism, “the timelessness of Darwinism . . . established it ., . as the chief conditioning philosophy of Europe in the 1870’s.” He expects the reader to see a logical association between Social Darwinism and the mainstream of British imperialistic thought of the late nineteenth century.

    Social Darwinism was thus a sociological theory popular in late nineteenth- century Europe and the United States. It merged Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and Herbert Spencer’s (1880) sociological theories to justify imperialism, racism, and laissez-faire (i.e. conservative) social and economic policies. Social Darwinists argued that individuals and groups, just like plants and animals, competed with one another for success in life. They used this assertion to justify the status quo by claiming that the individuals or groups of individuals at the top of social, economic, or political hierarchies belonged there, as they had competed against others and had proven themselves best adapted. Any social or political intervention that weakened the existing hierarchy, they argued, would undermine the natural order.

    In an attempt to gain scientific legitimacy, eugenicists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries espoused a two-pronged program to preserve the most “fit” of the species. The first prong, “negative eugenics”, would prevent reproduction among unfit stocks, while the second prong, “positive eugenics”, would encourage breeding among morally and mentally superior stocks, which would, they believed, remove the threat of deleterious human traits from the race. “Racial hygiene”, as the program was often called, was a response to increased waves of immigration into the United States during the early twentieth century. By 1912, the year of the first International Eugenics Congress, eugenic ideas had become socially accepted on a global scale. In 1907, Indiana became the first American state to enact a sterilization law. This opened the door to the formation of the Eugenics Records Office, which promoted aggressive negative eugenics campaigns championing sterilization measures and published extensive reports on the mental deficiencies of poor people, criminals, and various racial and ethnic groups. By 1911, the idea that disparities in health were genetically ordered, not influenced by environmental or socioeconomic factors, was widely accepted.

    After World War I, studies relating IQ to race came into vogue, which shifted the focus of eugenics to define a genetic basis for intelligence. In 1927, the Buck v. Bell Supreme Court case gave further legitimacy to negative eugenics when it ordered compulsory sterilization of mentally handicapped citizens. This prompted the sterilization of thousands of people across the country. Popular and scientific skepticism of eugenic studies arose when news of experiments conducted by the Nazis during World War II became widespread.

    Anthropologists and biologists, armed with new data regarding genetic variation that challenged eugenics’s rigid biological representations of race, bolstered the case against the movement.

    Colonialism and the expansion of Empires

    European colonial period was the period 1500-1900 in most of the European powers to colonize Africa, America and Asia. Designed to boost the bottom of the first region of the national economy at the expense of rivals, the colonies are usually allowed to deal only with the mother nation. By mid-19th century, the great British Empire as trade restrictions mercantilism and established the principle of free trade, the conditions of the restrictions or charges. Colonialism as a form of capitalism, imposed racism, exploitation and social variation on colonized African societies. Working within the capitalist world system, the uneven development of colonialism was closely related. A file corruption and large-scale development and system-dependent economic distortions, psychological and social chaos, poverty and the great dependence of neo-colonialism was the harvest of colonialism. Raw materials and looking for new investment opportunities was the result of the accumulation of capital, competition between capitalist countries. In fact, declining margins caused by the economic crisis cannot be resolved through regional expansion. Group of capitalism forced to expand in seeking to transcend national boundaries, conquer new markets and resources. Imperialism and colonialism led to the same logic, leading to economic development and modernization in the surrounding areas of Europe (Brook-Smith, 1987, Collins, Robert O., ed., 1970).

    The transatlantic slave trade was only one part of a process of wider European global imperial colonization. Before establishing a foothold in the Americas, European powers including the Portuguese, Dutch and the British had been actively trading throughout Asia. There were important trade routes especially for silk and spices across India, Indonesia and into China. The East India Company was both Britain’s trading and political control in India and East Asia from 1600-1874. The competition between European countries for trade, power and profit led to the conquest of new lands. The colonization of the Caribbean and North and South America and the development of the transatlantic slave trade was an indication of this with the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and British all establishing strong footholds.

    Different countries abolished slavery in the Americas at different times. Denmark was the first to abolish slavery in its American colonies in 1803; and the Portuguese were the last in 1869. The British abolition of the slave trade in 1807, and finally slavery itself in 1838, actually stimulated the growth of the British Empire and development of other trade links. Britain looked for legitimate trade links to retain its profit and power while at the same time maintaining its moral high ground as it persuaded other European countries to abolish slavery. Palm oil and cocoa became important commercial crops in the trade with Africa.

    However, after abolition in 1838 the British needed another supply of labor in their Caribbean colonies to replace the freed enslaved Africans. They turned to their colonies in Asia and imported thousands of poor indentured laborers from south Asia into Africa and the Americas to labor in conditions that were little better than the enslaved Africans before them. After slavery, Europeans continued their exploitation of overseas colonies, most notably in the ‘scramble for Africa’. Between the 1880s and the First World War European powers desperate for access to African natural resources divided up much of the continent between them – literally with a ruler hence the straight lines of many African borders. The British looting of Benin (1897) shows the inequalities and the damage done to African countries in the process of colonization. The inequalities and exploitation of the colonial past remain in global trade today, hence the attempts to introduce ‘fair trade’.

    In sum, through the process of decolonization that began, in most African territories, at the close of World War II, African leaders gained greater political power under European rule. In the decades that followed independence, they worked to shape the cultural, political, and economic character of the postcolonial state. Some worked against the challenges of continued European cultural and political hegemony, while others worked with European powers in order to protect their interests and maintain control over economic and political resources. Decolonization, then, was a process as well as a historical period.

    Yet the nations and regions of Africa experienced it with varying degrees of success. By 1990, formal European political control had given way to African self-rule—except in South Africa. Culturally and politically, however, the legacy of European dominance remained evident in the national borders, political infrastructures, education systems, national languages, economies, and trade networks of each nation. Ultimately, decolonization produced moments of inspiration and promise, yet failed to transform African economies and political structures to bring about true autonomy and development.

    Decolonization of Asia and Africa, 1945–1960

    The national liberation movements of the late 1950s and 1960s brought tremendous hope and renewed aspirations to colonized peoples around the world, as illustrated by Patrice Lumumba’s speech upon the recognition of the independence of the Congo (1). The UN played a significant role in the decolonization process (2) but neither that body nor the colonial powers liberated “dependent” territories; independence was hard won by colonized peoples, and reluctantly acknowledged by their colonizers (3). As Argentine journalist Adolfo Gilly observed in his 1965 introduction to political philosopher Frantz Fanon’s Studies in a Dying Colonialism: “The whole of humanity has erupted violently, tumultuously onto the state of history, taking its own destiny in its hands. . . . Liberation does not come as a gift from anybody” (4). The “tears, fire, and blood” were a price worth paying to bequeath genuine self-determination to coming generations.

    Between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. There was no one process of decolonization. In some areas, it was peaceful, and orderly. In many others, independence was achieved only after a protracted revolution. A few newly independent countries acquired stable governments almost immediately; others were ruled by dictators or military juntas for decades, or endured long civil wars. Some European governments welcomed a new relationship with their former colonies; others contested decolonization militarily. The process of decolonization coincided with the new Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and with the early development of the new United Nations. Decolonization was often affected by superpower competition, and had a definite impact on the evolution of that competition. It also significantly changed the pattern of international relations in a more general sense.

    The creation of so many new countries, some of which occupied strategic locations, others of which possessed significant natural resources, and most of which were desperately poor, altered the composition of the United Nations and political complexity of every region of the globe. In the mid to late 19th century, the European powers colonized much of Africa and Southeast Asia. During the decades of imperialism, the industrializing powers of Europe viewed the African and Asian continents as reservoirs of raw materials, labor, and territory for future settlement. In most cases, however, significant development and European settlement in these colonies was sporadic. However, the colonies were exploited, sometimes brutally, for natural and labor resources, and sometimes even for military conscripts. In addition, the introduction of colonial rule drew arbitrary natural boundaries where none had existed before, dividing ethnic and linguistic groups and natural features, and laying the foundation for the creation of numerous states lacking geographic, linguistic, ethnic, or political affinity.

    During World War II Japan, itself a significant imperial power, drove the European powers out of Asia. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, local nationalist movements in the former Asian colonies campaigned for independence rather than a return to European colonial rule. In many cases, as in Indonesia and French Indochina, these nationalists had been guerrillas fighting the Japanese after European surrenders, or were former members of colonial military establishments. These independence movements often appealed to the United States Government for support.

    While the United States generally supported the concept of national self- determination, it also had strong ties to its European allies, who had imperial claims on their former colonies. The Cold War only served to complicate the U.S. position, as U.S. support for decolonization was offset by American concern over communist expansion and Soviet strategic ambitions in Europe. Several of the NATO allies asserted that their colonial possessions provided them with economic and military strength that would otherwise be lost to the alliance. Nearly all of the United States’ European allies believed that after their recovery from World War II their colonies would finally provide the combination of raw materials and protected markets for finished goods that would cement the colonies to Europe. Whether or not this was the case, the alternative of allowing the colonies to slip away, perhaps into the United States’ economic sphere or that of another power, was unappealing to every European government interested in postwar stability. Although the U.S. Government did not force the issue, it encouraged the European imperial powers to negotiate an early withdrawal from their overseas colonies. The United States granted independence to the Philippines in 1946.

    However, as the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union came to dominate U.S. foreign policy concerns in the late 1940s and 1950s, the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations grew increasingly concerned that as the European powers lost their colonies or granted them independence, Soviet- supported communist parties might achieve power in the new states. This might serve to shift the international balance of power in favor of the Soviet Union and remove access to economic resources from U.S. allies. Events such as the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Netherlands (1945–50), the Vietnamese war against France (1945–54), and the nationalist and professed socialist takeovers of Egypt (1952) and Iran (1951) served to reinforce such fears, even if new governments did not directly link themselves to the Soviet Union. Thus, the United States used aid packages, technical assistance and sometimes even military intervention to encourage newly independent nations in the Third World to adopt governments that aligned with the West. The Soviet Union deployed similar tactics in an effort to encourage new nations to join the communist bloc, and attempted to convince newly decolonized countries that communism was an intrinsically non-imperialist economic and political ideology. Many of the new nations resisted the pressure to be drawn into the Cold War, joined in the “nonaligned movement,” which formed after the Bandung conference of 1955, and focused on internal development.

    The newly independent nations that emerged in the 1950s and the 1960s became an important factor in changing the balance of power within the United Nations. In 1946, there were 35 member states in the United Nations; as the newly independent nations of the “third world” joined the organization, by 1970 membership had swelled to 127. These new member states had a few characteristics in common; they were non-white, with developing economies, facing internal problems that were the result of their colonial past, which sometimes put them at odds with European countries and made them suspicious of European-style governmental structures, political ideas, and economic institutions. These countries also became vocal advocates of continuing decolonization, with the result that the UN Assembly was often ahead of the Security Council on issues of self-governance and decolonization. The new nations pushed the UN toward accepting resolutions for independence for colonial states and creating a special committee on colonialism, demonstrating that even though some nations continued to struggle for independence, in the eyes of the international community, the colonial era was ending.

    Indeed, and as a consequence of decolonization, between 1945 and 1960, three dozen new states in Asia and Africa achieved autonomy or outright independence from their European colonial rulers. There was no one process of decolonization. In some areas, it was peaceful, and orderly. In many others, independence was achieved only after a protracted revolution. A few newly independent countries acquired stable governments almost immediately; others were ruled by dictators or military juntas for decades, or endured long civil wars. Some European governments welcomed a new relationship with their former colonies; others contested decolonization militarily. The process of decolonization coincided with the new Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, and with the early development of the new United Nations. Decolonization was often affected by superpower competition, and had a definite impact on the evolution of that competition. It also significantly changed the pattern of international relations in a more general sense (Springhall, 2001).

    The creation of so many new countries, some of which occupied strategic locations, others of which possessed significant natural resources, and most of which were desperately poor, altered the composition of the United Nations and political complexity of every region of the globe. In the mid to late 19th century, the European powers colonized much of Africa and Southeast Asia. During the decades of imperialism, the industrializing powers of Europe viewed the African and Asian continents as reservoirs of raw materials, labor, and territory for future settlement. In most cases, however, significant development and European settlement in these colonies was sporadic. However, the colonies were exploited, sometimes brutally, for natural and labor resources, and sometimes even for military conscripts. In addition, the introduction of colonial rule drew arbitrary natural boundaries where none had existed before, dividing ethnic and linguistic groups and natural features, and laying the foundation for the creation of numerous states lacking geographic, linguistic, ethnic, or political affinity (Fanon, 1964).

    During World War II Japan, itself a significant imperial power, drove the European powers out of Asia. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, local nationalist movements in the former Asian colonies campaigned for independence rather than a return to European colonial rule. In many cases, as in Indonesia and French Indochina, these nationalists had been guerrillas fighting the Japanese after European surrenders, or were former members of colonial military establishments. These independence movements often appealed to the United States Government for support.

    While the United States generally supported the concept of national self- determination, it also had strong ties to its European allies, who had imperial claims on their former colonies. The Cold War only served to complicate the U.S. position, as U.S. support for decolonization was offset by American concern over communist expansion and Soviet strategic ambitions in Europe. Several of the NATO allies asserted that their colonial possessions provided them with economic and military strength that would otherwise be lost to the alliance. Nearly all of the United States’ European allies believed that after their recovery from World War II their colonies would finally provide the combination of raw materials and protected markets for finished goods that would cement the colonies to Europe. Whether or not this was the case, the alternative of allowing the colonies to slip away, perhaps into the United States’ economic sphere or that of another power, was unappealing to every European government interested in postwar stability. Although the U.S. Government did not force the issue, it encouraged the European imperial powers to negotiate an early withdrawal from their overseas colonies. The United States granted independence to the Philippines in 1946.

    However, as the Cold War competition with the Soviet Union came to dominate U.S. foreign policy concerns in the late 1940s and 1950s, the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations grew increasingly concerned that as the European powers lost their colonies or granted them independence, Soviet- supported communist parties might achieve power in the new states. This might serve to shift the international balance of power in favor of the Soviet Union and remove access to economic resources from U.S. allies. Events such as the Indonesian struggle for independence from the Netherlands (1945–50), the Vietnamese war against France (1945–54), and the nationalist and professed socialist takeovers of Egypt (1952) and Iran (1951) served to reinforce such fears, even if new governments did not directly link themselves to the Soviet Union. Thus, the United States used aid packages, technical assistance and sometimes even military intervention to encourage newly independent nations in the Third World to adopt governments that aligned with the West. The Soviet Union deployed similar tactics in an effort to encourage new nations to join the communist bloc, and attempted to convince newly decolonized countries that communism was an intrinsically non-imperialist economic and political ideology. Many of the new nations resisted the pressure to be drawn into the Cold War, joined in the “nonaligned movement,” which formed after the Bandung conference of 1955, and focused on internal development.

    The newly independent nations that emerged in the 1950s and the 1960s became an important factor in changing the balance of power within the United Nations. In 1946, there were 35 member states in the United Nations; as the newly independent nations of the “third world” joined the organization, by 1970 membership had swelled to 127. These new member states had a few characteristics in common; they were non-white, with developing economies, facing internal problems that were the result of their colonial past, which sometimes put them at odds with European countries and made them suspicious of European-style governmental structures, political ideas, and economic institutions. These countries also became vocal advocates of continuing decolonization, with the result that the UN Assembly was often ahead of the Security Council on issues of self-governance and decolonization. The new nations pushed the UN toward accepting resolutions for independence for colonial states and creating a special committee on colonialism, demonstrating that even though some nations continued to struggle for independence, in the eyes of the international community, the colonial era was ending (Visser, 1999: 79-94).

    Africa in the Crosshairs of Old Colonial Empire

    Today, Africa is still in the crosshairs as Land Grabs intensify. Yesterday, it was the hunting of Africans to be sold and bought as slaves or the commodification of the African. And later, the continent was parceled out to European countries as colonies and sources of raw materials for European industries and markets for their manufactured goods. Let us consider the instructive case of Mozambique in the current global scramble for land.

    More than 1,000 large-scale foreign land deals are now under contract for agriculture covering more than 26 million hectares of land, according to the new report by Land Matrix Initiative.

    On October 12, the government of Mozambique quietly announced that it would close its Agriculture Promotion Centre (CEPAGRI), the agency created in 2006 to promote large-scale foreign investment in the country’s agricultural sector. In a terse statement, government spokesman Mouzinho Saide gave no reason for the closure, saying only that its functions would be subsumed under a different agency in the Ministry of Agriculture.

    Longtime Mozambique analyst Joseph Hanlon was not so shy, reporting in his October 18 Mozambique News Report that CEPAGRI was finished because those large-scale projects it was supposed to broker: “none of them have succeeded.” “Africa remains the largest target for land grabs, accounting for 42 percent of global deals with 10 million hectares under contract.”

    Hyperbole aside, Mozambique’s grand visions of foreign capital modernizing its agricultural sector have indeed proven grandiose. Nowhere is this clearer than in the rich Nacala Corridor in northern Mozambique, where the ProSavana project promoted by Brazil, Japan, and Mozambique was going to transform 35 million hectares—nearly 100 million acres—into soybean plantations modeled on Brazil’s cerrado region.

    Brazilian agribusinessmen walked away, seeing land that was hardly “unoccupied,” resistance from the communities occupying that land, and poor infrastructure to get any product to its intended markets in China and Japan.

    ProSavana lives on in name at least—and as an ongoing threat to farmers in the region—but so far, the project’s largest product is hubris.

    But is land-grabbing over, in Mozambique and across Africa and the rest of the developing world? Now that crop and food prices have returned to their usual punishingly low levels, is the pressure off from foreign buyers looking to acquire large tracts of agricultural lands?

    Not according to new data from the Land Matrix Initiative, which has been tracking such deals since the land rush took off in 2007. A large number of formerly announced deals have failed to materialize, as with Pro-Savana, but many that remain are now under contract and coming into production.

    Land-grabbing: myth and reality

    More than 1,000 large-scale foreign land deals are now under contract for agriculture covering more than 26 million hectares of land, according to the new report, ”Land Matrix Analytical Report II: International Land Deals for Agriculture.” That area represents a remarkable two percent of arable land in the world. Nearly three-quarters of the projects have now begun production on some of the land.

    Africa remains the largest target for land grabs, accounting for 42 percent of global deals with 10 million hectares under contract. Mozambique now ranks 18th among all target countries in area under contract, with 500,000 hectares in 60 concluded deals. That puts the country, which in the 2012 report was a top target in Africa, well behind Ethiopia, Ghana, and South Sudan, which have the most on the continent.

    The United States and United Kingdom remain among the leading investors in the amount of land under contract for agriculture. The Land Matrix notes the rise of developing country investors in recent years and, to the surprise of many, that does not mean China. Malaysia, with heavy investments in palm oil plantations in Indonesia and other Asian countries, now is the leading source of investors, followed by the U.S. and the U.K. China ranks ninth overall, with about one million hectares under contract, barely one-third the land acquired by U.S. investors. China remains a minor agricultural player in Africa.

    The new report also dispels the myth that the land grabs are mainly by “resource poor” governments to secure food access for their domestic populations. At least 70 percent of the concluded deals are by private investors, with only 6 percent directly by governments. And food crops account for a minority of the land under cultivation. Cereal crops account for only an estimated 20 percent of the area under cultivation, while 44 percent is estimated to be in oilseeds such as palm oil and another 10 percent is in sugar. The latter two are considered prime “flex-crops” because they can be used to produce biofuels, raw materials for processed foods, or edible oils and sugar.

    A map from the LMI report, land deals in Eastern and Southern Africa

    The new data also shows that the acquired land was not “unused,” despite investor claims to the contrary. Fully 58 percent was reported to be cropland in recent use. Only 10 percent of acquired land was considered “marginal,” and Land Matrix points out that this by no means indicates that it was not in use. “Land considered to be ‘marginal’ often serves as a grazing area and is important to rural communities and indigenous peoples,” notes the report. Land Matrix also confirmed that successful projects failed to generate many jobs, as capital- intensive farming displaced labor-intensive small-scale production. One researcher estimated a net loss in livelihoods between 28 percent (Tanzania) and 75 percent (Kenya) from large-scale foreign projects.

    Mozambique: Still under threat

    Mozambique’s rural communities remain on high alert, even as they successfully repel many of the largest land grabs. The Mozambican government may have closed its agricultural promotion center, but it remains committed to giving away good land to foreigners. As I reported earlier, a 200,000-hectare project along the Lurio River in northern Mozambique is still very much in the pipeline, even if it doesn’t appear yet in the Land Matrix database. (GRAIN, the other international organization collecting land grab data, shows it as an announced project that could displace 100,000 people).

    But the failures are stunning, and a testament to communities’ resistance to the foreign invaders, as well as their insistence that the government respect the country’s progressive Land Law. In the Land Matrix’s first report in 2012, Mozambique was the second most important target in the world, with nearly 8 million hectares in reported agricultural deals. Now, the Land Matrix lists only 500,000 hectares in 65 concluded agricultural deals. Of the current projects, nine, on nearly 100,000 hectares, are listed as “abandoned,” mostly biofuel projects. Data is scarcer on the area actually under production, but Land Matrix could confirm only 21,000 hectares in production. No doubt, the area is larger than that. Interestingly, the largest operational project, a Chinese rice investment in Xai Xai, has been significantly scaled back from its listed 8,800- hectare plantation because of community resistance.

    Large-scale projects have been more successful in forestry and tourism, with nearly two million hectares in concluded deals. And mining concessions continue to displace or threaten thousands of Mozambicans as the mineral boom continues. But the initial alarming ProSAVANA promise was 35 million hectares. ProSAVANA appears in the Land Matrix database now as a 700,000- hectare project “intended (under negotiation),” but with no land under contract or production seven years after the plan was announced. The project is now limping through yet another consultation process with little pretense of attracting investors. Brazil does not appear as the home source of investment for a single Mozambican farming project, though there certainly are a few. Interestingly, Brazil ranks fifth in the world as a land-grab target, with two million hectares under contract to foreigners.

    The slowed pace of land grabbing in Mozambique is mirrored in global data from Land Matrix. The group’s first report, in 2012, had far less precise information because the land rush had just begun in earnest, triggered by the food price spikes in 2007–2008. The 2012 report showed 83 million hectares in “intended” agricultural deals, with some 56 million in Africa. Many of those intentions have gone the way of ProSAVANA. According to the new report, only 26 million hectares in deals have been concluded globally—less than one- third the threatened amount—with about 10 million in Africa, less than one- fifth the area reported in 2012.

    An international campaign for Land Rights Now is focusing particular attention on women, indigenous communities, and others who do not have secure title to the land and are particularly vulnerable. Fundamentally, the responsibility lies with national governments to recognize communal and individual land rights and stop giving away land to foreign investors.

    History, like life, is complicated. A sense of proportion is essential, as is an appreciation of nuance. European colonialism went between the period 1500- 1900 when many European powers colonized Africa, America and Asia. Designed to boost the bottom of the first region of the national economy at the expense of rivals, the colonies were usually allowed to deal only with the mother nation. Today, it seems hard to credit all the talk of Empire. Not so long ago one would have been forgiven for believing colonial history to be a mildly interesting area of academic study, good mostly for the nostalgia of Colonel Blimps or the arcane fascinations of nerdy graduate students.

    As one may ask: Didn’t the age of colonization finally end when the last vestiges of Portugal’s colonial empire in Africa were swept away in the mid- 1970s? Didn’t this finally put paid to the project of colonial empires, sweeping them forever into the ‘dustbin of history’? And with it didn’t any sense of political credibility attached to the paternalism of the ‘white man’s burden’ or a dozen other ‘civilizing’ hypocrisies also disappear forever? Gandhi caught the spirit of the times after the Second World War when asked what he thought of Western civilization. His cryptic retort: ‘I think it would be a good idea.’ The end of an era, right?

    Perhaps not. Today talk of Empire is everywhere from Left to Right across the political spectrum. Two significant panoramic studies, both entitled Empire – one by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (2000) on the Left, one by Niall Ferguson (2003) on the Right – have made claims to alter significantly the way we think about empire. Both are books of towering political ambition. Both have set off ferocious debates about the nature and prospects of imperial power. The stage for such debates was set by the collapse of optimism that accompanied the era of post-colonial independence. Read an issue of the NI from the mid-1970s and you get a flavor of the hope that infused the period. The enduring poverty and brutality in the global South, particularly Africa, is for some an indication that colonized peoples are incapable (culturally? genetically?) of self-government. For others it is stark evidence that Empire has never really gone away.

    Empire is coming out of the closet, and not just in books: it has once again taken center stage, this time with a cowboy swagger. The idea of an American Empire has produced a veritable avalanche of learned tomes, articles, documentaries, TV shows, web interventions and not a little resistance. If you are an Iraqi or an Afghan this is an everyday reality. No longer is it just the not- so-subtle velvet hammer of IMF and World Bank advice. In country after country US military bases dot the landscape. While this is not, in most cases, the direct territorial acquisition of formal colonies, the presence of foreign troops on one’s soil is clear evidence that someone else is making claims on your natural resources and the nature of your institutions.

    Boots on the ground, then, have made Empire more than an academic exercise. What might yet prove to be the world’s most powerful (if most reluctant) empire is clearly flexing its muscles. Is the ‘world’s only superpower’ becoming the new Rome? The US reluctance to acclaim itself an empire lies not in any unwillingness to impose its will on others through the projection of military might or the imposition of its favored neoliberal economic model on recalcitrant populations. It lies rather in its unwillingness to admit that that is what it is doing.

    Historically empires have proudly proclaimed their right – indeed their obligation – to impose their order. The Glories of Rome; ‘The Sun never sets on the British Empire’; Hitler’s Thousand Year Reich; La Civilisation Française: empires have usually trumpeted their own greatness from the rooftops. But the US has, until recently, been very modest in this regard, preferring to see itself as a champion of anti-imperialism and democracy. Pop historian Karen Farrington (2004) has produced a lavish, illustrated Historical Atlas of Empires that starts in Mesopotamia in 40,000 BCE and ends with the fall of the Soviet Empire in 1991. Farrington never even entertains the possibility that there could be an American Empire. Even more serious historians of Empire like Frederick Cooper and Michael Doyle shrink from such a judgment.

    The reluctance of the US to name itself may be because the tricky question of democracy is at the center of this latest empire’s self-image. Hard to square Empire with democracy, so let’s not talk about it. Maybe people won’t notice. But bits of evidence are starting to accumulate that indicate this is changing. Lynne and Dick Cheney in their most recent Christmas card quoted Ben Franklin: ‘If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?’ In the White House, meanwhile, Cheney’s boss has commissioned a study of the ruling practices of past empires going back to Rome and Genghis Khan.

    A plethora of imperial-minded think-tanks and institutes, military and oil industry lobbyists and Christian fundamentalist battlers against various ‘evil others’ populate the official US political landscape. Their belligerence is delivered in a rather macho register. Michael Ledeen, who held the ‘Freedom Chair’ at the American Enterprise Institute, caught the mood: ‘Every 10 years or so, the US needs to pick up some crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.’ The bold and the brash have gained imperial ascendancy inside the Washington beltway (http://www.opendemocracy.net/content/articles/PDF/2021.pdf ).

    Post colonialism

    The term postcolonialism has roots in philosophy and literature as a theoretical approach to understanding the condition of nations that were once or continue as colonial possessions of other nations. While there is considerable debate over what constitutes the boundaries of the field of postcolonial studies, broadly speaking, post colonialism refers to the study of interactions between European nations and the nations that have been colonized in the post-Enlightenment period of history.

    European colonization can be broken into two general periods: first, with the early European explorers from the 15th to the 17th centuries; and second, in the latter half of the 19th century beginning with European imperial expansion and culminating in the “scramble for Africa” through the end of World War I. Decolonization refers to the process by which a former colony asserts its independence from its ruling empire. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, decolonization has largely occurred in Africa and Asia following World War II and the creation of the United Nations. It is imperative to remember, nonetheless, that several colonies remain today; for instance Puerto Rico’s status as a colony of the United States of America and the plight of native and indigenous groups in places like the Americas and Australia complicate any discussion of “post”colonialism (Balme, 1999, Amin, 1977, Amuta, 1989).

    Many scholars attribute the beginning of postcolonial studies to the publication of Edward Said’s book Orientalism (1978), though previous influential treatises such as Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks (1952) have long considered the impact of colonization on the psychological and living conditions of the colonized. Considering the long period of colonial occupation and the widespread reach of European empires, postcolonial studies grew out of an interest in the cultural, philosophical and literary production of those people within the colonized world.

    Postcolonial studies has been interested in questions that consider how colonial powers have been able to gain so much control over large parts of the non-Western world. Postcolonial scholars have documented how Western culture, ranging broadly from the implementation of colonial education and languages to the importation of technology, science, and medicine, has impacted colonized societies. Some argue that colonization was not all negative; rather, the infrastructure built and maintained by colonial powers has helped poor regions of the world develop into more modern and industrialized nations. Other scholars argue that while some good did come from colonial occupation for some sectors of colonized societies, the impact of colonization has been fairly detrimental to existing indigenous social, economic and political systems. In particular, some postcolonial scholars and activists point to the question of how “free” ex-colonies can ever be from their colonizers (Spivak, 1999). That is to say, some scholars contend that new forms of imperialism and domination constitute a neocolonialism that includes the spread of global trade, the development and aid industries, and military occupations. Such neocolonization (Esteva, 1998) has implications along gender, race, and class lines that impact not only the relationships between the West and the developing world, but also create new inequalities within ex-colonies themselves (Young, 1995).

    In general, contemporary scholars have considered how some development projects, intended to modernize former colonies (also called the “Third World”), carry with them traces of colonial missions. Development, or the transfer of ideas and technologies from developed to underdeveloped countries, is intended to help these disadvantaged countries that are mostly former colonies. Postcolonial scholars of development, such as Arturo Escobar, have noted that the era of development began as the era of colonization ended. The driving idea behind development has been based on the assumption that the rest of the world can follow the same patterns of industrialization as the West did to become developed. The problem, according to Escobar (1995), is that this assumption ignores the historical conditions of colonization that have helped create “backward” conditions within the underdeveloped world. More than that, this assumption also does not take into account the unequal economic and political conditions between the developed world and developing countries, or the inequalities within nations.

    Why am I writing this book? The reasons are many and I will dwell on a few. The first reason is intellectual. Intellectual activities grow out of a process to produce real life. In any given society, intellectuals are the result of the level of development of the society. Intellectuals are specialized in solving problems that confront society in the process of producing and reproducing real life. People develop skills and organizations to overcome contradictions presented to them by nature. To fulfill the needs of the people in the society, most people get involved in manual labor, as fishermen, peasants, house builders and net makers, as metalworkers making knives, hoes, axes and spears, as clothes makers, etc. Another set of skilled people like mathematicians, philosophers, artists, priests and healers, who are not directly involved in the process of production of material life, emerge later as a result of the development of material production in society.

    The latter type of people depends on the former type of people. Intellectual activities arise in the process of producing life, in the process of solving problems that oppose the development of forces of production. Gradually, a small number of people may be asked to observe, study and analyze further a particular phenomenon in order to advance the material production in society. For example, a society that does not produce yams cannot directly acquire yam planting knowledge; a society that does not directly make stone pyramids cannot directly acquire the art and science of building pyramids. Ancient Egyptians invented and developed geometry because they were involved in work to control the flooding of the Nile River. This was necessary to guarantee agricultural production and land delimitation upon which the whole country depended.

    The second reason concerns the waste of African labor over the centuries and African students, academics and policy makers must grasp this existential reality if they should count at all in the process of the continent’s liberation from Empire. Production under imperialism has given rise to nations, institutions and relationships necessary to maintain and reproduce the imperialist order: primarily the oppression and exploitation of oppressed nations by oppressor nations; secondarily the reproduction of the African petty bourgeoisie in Africa, as the enforcer of the imperialist order that keeps us, the oppressed people, chained to the oppressors from Europe and North America.

    The institutions of learning in capitalist society are created to train and form cadres who will manage and secure the reproduction of that capitalist society. That is to say that in a world that is split between the oppressor nations and oppressed nations, the education must serve to maintain the status quo. African students are part of the oppressed nation, which under imperialism produces essentially for the oppressor nations. Since students are not a social class by themselves, engaged in material production, many consider their studies in universities and other institutions of higher learning to be a pathway to the petty bourgeois class and the lifestyle associated with it. In fact, it is in these institutions that their role as a conscious agent of imperialist interests and values will be enhanced and consolidated. They learn to see their education, grants and, later on, their jobs and careers as an entitlement, with no regard to the causes and plight of the African workers and peasants whose labor and resistance to imperialism made it possible for them to acquire education and professional status in society.

    It is my view that African students must first serve the people. Their education must be used to develop the organizational and fighting abilities of the people against Empire-old or new. They cannot be apolitical, because the universities they are in are not apolitical. There is no such thing as an apolitical institution under slavery. You are either for or against. You either support it or fight it. In order to ensure that their qualification is not just a passport to the bourgeoisie, students must join the African resistance against imperialism. We do not mean the talk fest and other conferences African opportunists organize on campuses solely to consume information. We want students to join the struggle for African liberation under the leadership of African Internationalism. It is only in the process of fighting imperialism and the African petty bourgeoisie under the leadership of African internationalism that African students can really gain knowledge of the art and science of African liberation. It is only then that they can begin to resolve the contradictions of being educated but not alienated from the people, educated but not opportunistic, and firmly united with the workers and peasants for a common future.

    Third, we must overturn imperialist definition of Africa as a charity case. Africa has been defined by our oppressors today as a charity case. Newspapers, movies, music, sports, movie stars and various personalities in imperialist countries are involved in charity activities all over Africa. Geldof and Bono tour the world to raise money for Africa. For years, the criminal duo of Gordon Brown and Tony Blair shamelessly promoted themselves as leaders trying to help out Africa. Wherever you go, there are images that appeal for donations to help out Africa and African people. They advertise Oxfam, USAID, Save the Children, Christian Aid, Red Cross, etc. Europe, North America, Japan, Australia and now China have all developed aid programs as part of their foreign policies towards Africa.

    This concept of charity undermines African people’s consciousness to the reality that Europe and America are living off African resources. It covers up for all the looting and brutality inflicted on the people in the process of stealing our resources. Untold massive amounts of gold, oil, coltan, cobalt, platinum, uranium, diamond, cocoa, and other resources that leave the land of Africa every year, hundreds of billions paid to IMF and the World Bank disguised as debt are not signs of poverty. Our mines generally are owned by imperialist powers who also fix the prices of what comes from our own soil and labor. Most of the stuff we produce ends up in factories, supermarkets, homes, mansions and museums in Europe and North America.

    Fourth, and finally, Africa is not poor, Africa is being looted. Policy makers in Africa must understand that Africa does not have its own economy. It has an imperialist economy. Ghana and Ivory Coast are large producers of cocoa, which is processed and consumed in Europe and North America. Nigeria, Chad and Angola produce oil, which is mostly consumed in North America, China, Europe and Japan, while our people continue to queue up for oil at unaffordable costs. It does not matter how many years we have produced cocoa or oil, our people are still poor. In North America and other oppressor countries, African labor is not paid its real value. We all know by now that under direct or indirect colonial slavery, African workers and peasants are never paid the real value of our labor and natural resources, which are defined by imperialism, which has its origin in the capture and enslavement of Africa and African people in the 15th century. This situation must change.

    In this time of searching situations that we no longer understand because of their volatility-what Deleuze (1989: xi) describes as “situations which we no longer know how to react to, in spaces we no longer know how to describe”- we hope that what we are calling Africa in the New Colonial Ages of Empire is a move to start creating a language and way of thinking methodologically and philosophically together that is up to the task.

    Notes

    1. On Lumumba’s assassination soon thereafter, see Ibrahim J. Gassama, Africa and the Politics of Destruction: A Critical Re-Examination of Neocolonialism and its Consequences, 10 ORE. REV. INT’L L. 327, 328-332 (2008). See Patrice Lumumba, “Speech at Proclamation of Independence,” June 30, 1960, in INDEPENDENCE DOCUMENTS OF THE WORLD 793-797 (Albert P. Blaustein, Jay A. Sigler & Benjamin R. Beede eds. 1977). The precise wording of Lumumba’s speech is reported in various ways, perhaps because it was a somewhat impromptu response to insulting comments made by Belgian King Albert Baudouin at the ceremony. See David Renton, David Seddon & Leo Zeilig, The Congo: Plunder And Resistance 80-81 (2007).

    2. See Antony Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and the Making of

    International Law 196 (2005).

    3. See Alain Pellet, Book Review of the Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, ed. Bruno Simma, 25 MICH. J. INT’L L. 135, 140-141 (2003).

    1-2, (1965).

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