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Throughout the ages, the world of humanity has not been pleasant to its majority. In the ancient world, the conquered were made slaves, almost without exception (Rome, etc) and gradually thereafter serfdom replaced slavery (Middle Ages) as a more effective and humane socio-economic arrangement. Globalization, which started in earnest around 1492 (European settlement in the Americas and Africa) initially leveraged slavery and colonialism (in the peripheries) for its accumulation. Later on proletarianism was successfully implemented all over the world. The rigid economic structures & relations (based on commodity chains) of the modern world system (1492 …) were effectively anchored by the attendant social rigidities of racism and sexism. The above economic and social rigidities that facilitated the prevailing polarized world are now confronted by a more enlightened humanity of the 21st century. However, basing our analysis on previous historical experiences, it would be naïve to assume a better future (for all) to automatically present itself without the concerted and protracted efforts of the underprivileged!
Those who benefitted immensely from the prevailing modern world system consider the majority of humanity, for all intent and purposes, mere earthly inhabitants that don’t count for much. Mark Curtis uses the term “unpeople” to describe these ‘wretched of the earth’. According to this definition, Africans form the core of the ‘unpeople.’ In his book, “Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses” the British historian/journalist claims; ‘the number of deaths from British military interventions and at the hands of regimes strongly supported by Britain bears “significant responsibility” for between 8-13 million deaths.’ This is a serious indictment, but don’t sweat it, after all it is only the ‘unpeople’ that were the casualty! See also Chomsky’s article next column.
Every time there is/was a promising attempt on the part of the ‘unpeople’ to better their predicament, entrenched interests (beneficiaries of the existing modern world system) step in to frustrate and undermine the initiatives. Lumumba, Sankara, Allende, etc were stopped violently, to put it politely. For example the war against the Iraqis didn’t require a UN Security Council resolution (hence a war of aggression) or the forceful occupation of territories by the powerful and their proxies doesn’t necessarily trigger sanctions by the world body; since all the victims in both cases are just ‘unpeople.’ Have you heard international organizations, like IAEA sniffing around Israel’s nuclear capabilities/facilities? On the other hand, Iran’s facilities are being used, yet again, as a pretext to launch another war of aggression. Remember the blatant lie about Iraq’s weapon of mass destruction?
When state operators from powerful/belligerent states blow up a passenger plane full of people on board (ET409) the global status-quo is not concerned, after all those lives were not of ‘people’s’, but rather of ‘unpeople’s.’ On the other hand when a passenger plane (Pan Am) was downed at Lockerbie, Scotland the issue dragged on for decades and the culprits were finally tried and convicted while the state behind the affair was made to pay billions and billions of dollars! The open minded naïve might shriek and holler: ‘this is hypocrisy’, but we think it is much deeper than that. Actually the problematic arises from the ‘people’ and ‘unpeople’ nexus of the prevailing modern world system!
Not long ago, North East Asians were considered ‘unpeople.’ As they started to assert their existence on all fronts; doors started to open up, albeit hesitantly. The Japanese were awkwardly given the status of ‘honorary whites’ when their economic might became too powerful to ignore. The South Koreans followed suit and now the Chinese are delineating their mark all over. It seems the traditional power holders are out of their wits on how to handle the emerging new world order and as a result, collective humanity is potentially at risk of inadvertent catastrophe!
Our continent, which is exclusively populated by ‘unpeople’ cannot be free, as long as the beast (African human mass) remains docile. To think liberation from ‘unpeople’ to ‘people’ will come about with the prevailing African leadership is truly laughable. Even those veteran political parties that successively fought for flag independence and state power are not up to the task, given their comprehensive degeneration. From Lagos to Luanda, from Durban to Doula the African polity will ultimately meet its own denouement via its own ‘Egyptian moment’, unless and otherwise a new enlightened and committed leadership emerges and makes a swift u-turn that embraces the people by rejecting the parasitic oligarchy that has been shaping and dominating all aspects of African life; economic, social, political, cultural, etc! We acknowledge this is a tall order, even for our former ‘freedom fighters’ who have now morphed into formidable ‘belly fighters.’ If truth be told, Africa’s kleptocrats are certainly a breed apart! See the articles on page 40.
The government of China, on behalf of the Chinese people, has built us a modern and large conference center here in Addis Ababa. On behalf of our editorial board, we would like to thank the Chinese people/government for their unswerving solidarity, which goes back to the days of anti-colonial/anti-apartheid struggle! We believe there is a whole lot of experience Africa can easily tap on, if it so desires. For a start, the vacuous mulitpartism that has been around for about a quarter of a century, (in Africa) has not and cannot substitute for a committed pro-people (hence democratic) vanguard party whose strategies necessarily envision life beyond the next mechanical electioneering and whose objectives are deeply anchored on the whole collective. We believe, if a party is demonstratively pro-people, then it is bound to have the majority on its side, sooner or later and doesn’t need to worry about losing state power permanently. For us Africans, the old Chinese chant still remains relevant, especially if we are to transform ourselves from ‘unpeople’ to ‘people.’ “Countries want independence, Nations want liberation and People want revolution.” Good Day!