On Africa


I talk to people mostly through the web. I encounter all walks of life. I have made friends and enemies – and in return turned enemies into friends and friends into… well we’re still friends.
I try very hard to avoid self-deception and narcissistic, group-selection tendencies. I prefer to focus on what I and those I associate with (friends, family, culture, country, species) are responsible for. I tell people who get upset at what they call "anti-Americanism" that "the ability to point fingers of blame to those outside our ‘group’ is nothing to be proud of; the ability to focus our criticisms on others is not a virtue. We should focus on what we are responsible for and what are the greatest issues we as a species face. There could be no more qualification in calling my constructive criticisms anti-anything than saying a parent who focuses on their child instead of others is anti-children."
Obviously I have been deeply influenced by Noam Chomsky, and what he has called "the principle of universality." American Power and the New Mandarins is in my car and I read it frequently.
The other day I was looking at the Human Development Index (HDI) and noticed that Africa dominates the bottom. This is not surprising. We know their lives are hell. But what occurred to me was how much they are an export economy and who they primarily export to and how those recipients fair on the HDI, and worse still, how those recipients use bargaining power to control and influence them.
Someone responded to this observation that "Bush in King in Africa" thanks to PEPFAR.
I found this odd.
He donated billions of dollars to Africa for AIDS relief but there were strings attached. He used the aid to control them. He could have give the money to the Global Fund and let it be authentic charity. But that doesn’t serve his interests.
In the movie The Watchmen the character Adrian kills tens of millions of people to save billions of people. Bush "saved" millions of Africans to keep and further entrench the very policies that are killing millions and millions more.
I once saw this awful video of a man torturing a pig with a blowtorch. He would stop just short of the pig dying and give it some water to revive it. Bush in Africa reminds me of that sadistic fuck.
Africa literally exports her wealth and resources to the US – her primary recipient under unfair trade terms – which puts her at the bottom of the HDI to help us be at the top.
We used to grab them and bring them over on boats – once we realized the local inhabitants were dying off too quickly and unable to control – and make them do the same thing. Now we leave them in their homes and just ship their work here for our consumption. Slavery has taken a new form.
I was talking to my grandmother about this – she like many octogenarians has seen enough life to know how things work. She says, "Oh, Michael. Don’t tell me. I am sure it’s awful." Like Bertrand Russell, the suffering of a kind heart unable to end the suffering of others becomes too much.
Africa is a rich continent – rich in wealth and resources, and rich in history. It is our ancestral home. Some think we ignore their plight because they don’t have anything we need. The truth is the opposite: we ignore their plight because they have what we want, we are taking what we want and we ignore what we do so as not to draw too much attention to it. Would the companies making hand over fist (the World Bank has reported that foreign investments in Sub-Saharan Africa yields the highest rate of return and it is no secret how that is being done) really buy advertisement spots in papers or online sites that were exposing their misdeeds?
And of all the issues we face, Africa should be high up on the list. But like all "issues" they really cannot be separated as their own issue. The issues of environmentalism, war, imperialism, capitalism, racism, sexism, and so on all bleed and mesh together. To address one thoroughly unequivocally requires the addressing of all.

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