Monday, June 17, 2024
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Nineteen Eighty-Four

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When George Orwell (pen name of Eric Arthur Blair) wrote ‘1984’ in 1949, technical gizmos were quite rudimentary. Except for the radio and the movie screens, there were no commercially available television sets, no Internet, no mobile phones, no jet travel, no satellites, etc., etc. Nevertheless, Orwell envisioned technical tools (not developed at the time) and employed them in his dystopian novel to help convey institutionalized evil that were becoming common features of all modern states, capitalist or otherwise. At the time of writing the industrially advanced countries of the West were leveraging their knowhow to usher the arrival of totalitarianism a la ‘the technics’, while the political East was implementing totalitarianism via terror! To Orwell, the most important material to work with were not the gadgets as such, (actual or envisioned) but the general human condition, specifically the evil side of the dominant species, highly amplified by modernity’s narcissism and its loyal foot soldiers, the born psychopaths/sociopaths. This is what ‘1984’ is all about!

Institutionalized evil is one of the anchoring structures of the prevailing modern world system. Professions in this ever-widening sector are now ‘respected’ and even glamorized, compliment of the deep state and its affiliated entertainment media. Here again is our definition of the deep state. Deep state = military-intelligence-industrial-banking-media-complex. Moviemakers, like Hollywood, (at the service of entrenched interests) thrive on the dark theme of espionage, blackmail, murder, etc. Modernity has managed to convince the gullible global sheeple that these activities of the intelligence community are necessary and good, to all and sundry. Remember movies like, ‘James Bond’, etc.? If truth be told, espionage is a vocation that spreads suspicion amongst global humanity, and tends to attract weak souls who prefer dark operations always away from enlightening sunshine! It is hoped the revelations of the CIA’s structure and day-to-day operations, by Wikileaks, will go a long way in informing the global sheeple as to the evil and vileness of these modern institutions.

As the secret protectors of the increasingly polarizing global order, ‘intelligence’ institutions of the industrially advanced societies, operate with impunity! These extensive outfits (Snowden’s revelations) leverage the sweat and blood of the sheeple, (taxation) for the purposes of outright evil deeds, supposedly employed to protect and benefit the masses. The operations and budgets of the intelligence community are not controlled even seriously monitored by elected officials, lest such enthusiasm encounter ‘intended accidents’ from the clandestinely operating outfits! Unfortunately, this is the modus operandi of the ‘intelligence community’ all over the so-called modern nation states! The real strength of the ‘intelligence community’ is during times of relative peace. Once the sheeple refuses to adhere to the logic of the reigning order, i.e., launch a revolution of its own; the first institutions to go are those belonging to ‘intelligence’. If and when broad based internal insurrection usurps power, it is not the secret institutions of the old order that will prevail, but rather the will of the people. The military intelligence, which, for all practical purposes, is just another wing of the military, can slumber along with the new ministry of war, euphemistically called the ‘ministry of defense’!

It has become very clear that bringing these institutions under democratic control will not be easy during times of relative peace. A full scale uprising of the sheeple (revolution) might be needed to dismantle the currently operating evil institutions! These institutions operate like the ‘Mafia’ and share some common principles with it, which includes, amongst other things, secretly eliminating those who stand for meaningful justice, transparency and democracy! In the current scenario operators in these organizations don’t seem to stand for the Republics (be it the US Republic, the Ethiopian Republic, etc.) their allegiance is, first and foremost, to themselves, to the preservation/perpetuation of the various clandestine organizations. To be fair, there are always brave souls like Snowden, Manning, Assange and many others that, from time to time, come out in the open (from time to time, to expose the gross abuse of power that continuously take place in these publicly funded entities.)

This is the same phrase John F. Kennedy used in regards to the then quite small CIA. Unfortunately, it was his brain that ended up ‘scattered into the winds…’ and not the CIA!

Africa against neocolonialism: Why does the continent’s struggle for self-sufficiency remain so difficult?

By Denis Degterev

Over the past three years, the political events in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, and Niger have attracted international attention and raised the issue of external influence in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Africa seems to stand on the brink of historical changes as its countries –  both on their own and together– attempt to gain real, not formal, independence and take control over the continent into their own hands. Books published in 2022 and 2023 show that Western scholars have been watching this situation closely, since the West is in no way ready to lose its influence over Africa.

“African agency” is one of the most popular modern concepts. It is regularly discussed at conferences related to Africa, as well as in papers and books. Agency is an intangible and multifaceted concept, but one that is crucial for Africa. Moreover, its importance will only increase over the coming years with the expansion of Africa’s role in world politics. But what does this mean?

Essentially, we’re talking about the sovereignty of African nations and regional organizations, one that would allow African governments to make sovereign decisions independently from non-regional players and to successfully implement them. Theoretical, “superficial” sovereignty no longer deceives anyone, and there is increased social demand in Africa for empirical – in other words, real – sovereignty. 

Agency needs self-sufficiency

ECOWAS, which was established in 1975, bears many of the ‘birth pangs’ characteristic of other regional groupings of the Global South and the non-Western world. Take, for example, the issue of extremely low share of intraregional trade: ECOWAS member states account for less than 10% of each other’s trade, and less than 5% of the international trade of the group’s leading economy, Nigeria. Does this mean that a single regional market is being formed merely for the convenience of external actors?

Most ECOWAS member-countries supply commodities to foreign markets and import finished goods in large quantities because of the poorly-developed local processing industry. Even Nigeria, which is one of the world’s largest oil producers, does not have sufficient refinery capacity in order to process its own oil and is forced to import gasoline. This is despite the fact that Nigeria is one of the African countries where the issues of import substitution and industrial development have moved far beyond “good intentions” – many practical steps have been taken to achieve this end. 

To be fair, low indicators of internal trade are typical for most non-Western regional groupings. Internal trade in such organizations rarely exceeds 20%, and tops 50% only within the framework of ASEAN +5 (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) as a result of China’s participation. Of course, a large share of domestic trade passes through informal trade channels, but these can hardly ensure the functioning of high-tech industries or modern technological clusters. 

In order to form self-sufficient entities in the world economy (the “critical mass” of a nation is not sufficient in this regard) and to effectively develop industrial cooperation, it is necessary to surpass narrow national interests. Currently, only the demographics of Nigeria (with its population of 217 million as of 2022), and perhaps Ghana (with 32.5 million) and Côte d’Ivoire (27.8 million) allow us to discuss a potential domestic market. 

Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana (in 1960-1966) and a brilliant visionary, understood this quite well. In the early 1960s, as part of the Casablanca Group and alongside the leaders of Algeria, Guinea, Egypt, Mali, and Morocco he urged to immediately create the Union of African States. However, the President of Tanzania (in 1964-1985) Julius Nyerere, who represented the more moderate Monrovia Group, campaigned for gradual integration that would start at the level of regional associations. 

As a result, by the time Africa gained formal independence  – or “flag independence” as Nkrumah called it – the continent was caught up in a powerful disintegration process. 

Nyerere eventually admitted that Nkrumah was right. In 1997, he said, “Once you multiply national anthems, national flags and national passports, seats of the United Nations, and individuals entitled to a 21-gun salute, not to speak of a host of ministers, prime ministers and envoys, you would have a whole army of powerful people with vested interests in keeping Africa balkanized.”

An old song, sung in a new way

The interaction between the divided African countries and the world’s largest consolidated geopolitical actor – the European Union, which had absorbed the historical colonial experience of its member-countries –  is clearly asymmetric. Africa’s relations with the EU have moved from the “preferential” format of the Lomé Convention and the Cotonou Agreement to the “equitable” Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) of the post-Cotonou era.

Under the Lomé Conventions, African countries were primarily guaranteed that their mineral and agricultural raw materials would be sold on the European market. The transition to EPA tied the national economies to the EU economy in an even closer way, and encouraged the transition to “European standards” not only in the field of economics, but also in socio-political development. In recent years, the trade turnover between ECOWAS and the EU has continued to grow, and surged from 48 billion to 80 billion euros between 2020 and 2022.

At this point, the “African agency” issue comes up once again. Formally, since 2017 (the Fifth EU-Africa Summit), political dialogue has been conducted in an European Union-African Union format. However, the real interaction takes place mostly at the regional level, and sometimes even at the country level (which is obviously asymmetrical).

Initially, the European Union started EPA negotiations with regional groupings in Africa (including ECOWAS), treating them as single entities. However, it soon became clear that the regional powers which were traditionally set on sovereign development (Nigeria in West Africa, and Tanzania in East Africa), did not want to sign agreements on an unequal footing. Then, utilizing a so-called twin-track approach, the EU proceeded to hold individual negotiations (“divide et impera”) with the countries that favored the agreements. Now, could anyone imagine holding separate trade negotiations with individual EU countries?! That’s it.

Within ECOWAS, the Trojan horses of the collective West are the “showcases of peripheral capitalism”: Ghana and the Côte d’Ivoire (stepping stone provisional EPAs came into force in 2016), and Kenya in the East African Community (EAC). Although the agreements with West Africa and the EAC are still being finalized and ratified, Africa’s three most conventional countries have long been “enjoying the benefits of civilization.” 

This is reminiscent of the capture of Africa by Europeans at the end of the 19th century, when some African nations were still trying to fight the colonizers while others had already integrated into the system. Now, however, we are talking about the collective trade neocolonialism of the 21st century.

Another side of history

More and more countries are building cooperation with non-Western partners. China is already the largest trading partner for over 130 states. The nations of the Global South welcome so-called “non-Western regionalism.” This implies rejecting a one-sided focus on the EU while strengthening their partnership with non-Western regional organizations and increasing the independence of these organizations, including ECOWAS.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukrainian conflict, and the growing global competition between the United States and China have all led to so-called “decoupling” – or the formation of closed techno-economic blocs. In Western countries, it is mostly tied to the technology sector, although the concept is gaining momentum among international organizations and in the field of values. The new Cold War is gradually coming into its own.

In Africa, the first step is security decoupling, which prompts the countries to choose their priority security partners. Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger have already made their choice, preferring strategic alternatives to France.

ECOWAS is currently going through interesting times. It has imposed sanctions on four countries (Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and Niger) that broke away from French neocolonialism and chose to rely on non-Western partners. Russian international lawyers Yao Nikez Adu and Alexander Mezyaev demonstrate how, under the influence of France, ECOWAS leadership sometimes acts in a way that exceeds its authority. Incidentally, Alexander Mezyaev defended Slobodan Milosevic, Ratko Mladic, and Radovan Karadzic in the International Criminal Court (ICC), and is quite familiar with the specifics of the collective West’s “justice” system. 

So far, only four out of the 15 ECOWAS member-countries have joined the “wrong side.” The turning point is still far away, but perhaps ECOWAS may be the first regional grouping of the Global South to regain control over its organization. Increasing the agency of Nigerian diplomacy will play a key role on this way. An important sign of such changes is the Nigerian Senate’s refusal of a military intervention in Niger in August 2023. After all, resilient, self-sufficient regional integration groupings in Africa are key to the formation of a multipolar world.

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