Henry Louis Gates and Disciplining of Recalcitrants

Henry Louis Gates’ New York Times article, “Ending the Slavery Blame-Game,” New York Times, April 22nd, 2010, sits on a conceptual pivot of moral equivalence in its cleverly shaped dismissal of the call for reparations from members of the African-American community to the American state and the mythical community of white Anglo-European owners and controllers American state and the

Gates article is a cleverly disguised politics masking as a history.

Designed to transcend the rancorous tenor of the unbridled partisanship provoked by the reparations movement in the African-American community, Gates promotes an ideological bridle of moral equivalence to stymie and constrict the damaging political effects of this challenge to the conscience of white Anglo-European Americans, one of the three founding communities of the modern American nation, the other Native Americans.

Gates attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the reparations movement by suggesting African elites and Anglo-European slave traders were equal traders engaged in a rational exchange of equivalents-“slaves for trinkets”-and since fair exchange is no robbery, descendants of the two communities in the modern American nation have no right to feel guilty about this aspect of their nation’s past, especially descendants of the Anglo-European American community whose political and economic dominance of American society this movement is designed to challenge and undermine.

“…slavery was a business, highly organized and lucrative for European buyers and African sellers alike.”

The slavery business, given the above, for Gates, was a value neutral business beneficial to two parties equal to each other in the pursuit f private profit in a free market. This is so because business is value neutral and as such it is a technical transaction without prejudice when done between equal partners. Such a value neutral enterprise is empty of blame since the responsibility for the conduct of the exchange is mutually shared between economically equal partners. If the historical victors of the trade, the descendants of the Anglo-American enslavers choose to feel guilt over the trade, they choose to do so for reasons removed from the evidence of history. Their reasons are personal and not inspired by the technical neutrality of fair trading but by a self-burdened conscience afflicted with self-ascribed guilt, for there is nothing in either business in general and the slavery business, in particular, which justifies this voluntary indulgence.

In Gates’ hands the politically suspect reading of business to which partisans for reparations subscribe is the causal culprit of white guilt; and this moral, spiritual and psychological leakage within the well meaning liberal white psyche needs be mended by a correct conception of business as value neutral when engaged in by equal partners. Gates’ essay will suture this wound in the white psyche by attempting to protect the liberal white conscience from its self.

The partisans of reparations see business politically, and therefore, wrongfully. Business is evil in their eyes and mind. What they are here doing is collapsing their hatred of the business that enslaved their ancestors with the nature of business itself. Were they to understand that business between equal partners is a mere technically impersonal transaction devoid of personal feeling then they would see as he, Gates, sees: descendants of Anglo-Europeans enslavers are without blame since their African partners in the conduct of the trade were their ancestors equals in trading, therefore there should be no objective economic foundation to guilty feelings among descendants of the historical victors in the Atlantic Slave Trade.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade was just as much a business for African elites as it was for Anglo-European slave traders. It is this simple and transparent truth, reparations activists refuse to acknowledge, because it interferes with their preferred story of white victimization and black innocence. The capture and sale of African slaves was a source of gold and foreign currency to African elites and a source of slaves to Anglo-Europeans. It was a credible and transparent series of commercial transactions between equal economic partners over a long passage of historical time. Claims Gates:

“But the sad truth is that the conquest and capture of Africans and their sale to Europeans was one of the main sources of foreign exchange for several African kingdoms for a very long time. Slaves were the main export of the kingdom of Kongo; the Asante Empire in Ghana exported slaves and used the profits to import gold. Queen Njinga, the brilliant 17th-century monarch of the Mbundu, waged wars of resistance against the Portuguese but also conquered polities as far as 500 miles inland and sold her captives to the Portuguese. When Njinga converted to Christianity, she sold African traditional religious leaders into slavery, claiming they had violated her new Christian precepts.”

Africans of the day had fewer emotional or moral problems with the slave trade than contemporary Africans in modern America, their absence of moral judgment on the conduct of the trade is an attitudinal and behavioral guide from which the latter should learn and reflexively accommodate in their deliberations on the issue-(witness Queen Njinga’s behavior towards traditional African leaders after her conversion to Christianity: she sold them into slavery: see above!). African elites in charge of the conduct of the trade saw it as a rational exchange of equivalents between themselves and the various European slave traders on their West African coastline. Their indifference to its existence was a function of the harsh calculus of rational self interest they practiced in pursuit the economic advantage of their kingdom-states against competing kingdom-states and the European slave traders. Asks Gates:

Did these Africans know how harsh slavery was in the New World? Actually, many elite Africans visited Europe in that era, and they did so on slave ships following the prevailing winds through the New World. For example, when Antonio Manuel, Kongo’s ambassador to the Vatican, went to Europe in 1604, he first stopped in Bahia, Brazil, where he arranged to free a countryman who had been wrongfully enslaved.

African monarchs also sent their children along these same slave routes to be educated in Europe. And there were thousands of former slaves who returned to settle Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Middle Passage, in other words, was sometimes a two-way street. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to claim that Africans were ignorant or innocent.

African elites of the day were aware of the very injuries to the African personality celebrated by partisans of reparations today as proof of the evil of white slave traders. They drew no moral judgment, however; instead, promotes Gates: it was just business; cold; calculating; instrumental rationality; on their part, just like their Anglo-European counterparts. They were disciplined instrumental and rational in pursuit of their self interests. They were realists. As a result, for Gates, they were modern day corporate warriors in embryonic form: they were the historical acorn of the modern day (global) corporate oak tree. The issue of why Anglo-Europeans became ascendant in free market commerce and their African counterparts not when this was an era of primitive capital accumulation for both, from which the seeds of economic growth sprouted for the Anglo-European and did not for the African elites is a question best answered by the evidence of the contemporary realities of modern Africa and that of Anglo-American economic dominance of the modern world.

One people seized the opportunities for progress endlessly reinventing themselves on disciplined and sustained obedience to law and justice the other allowed itself be conquered and corrupted by foreigners and its own moral and political weaknesses.

Gates political history is a politics identifying with the attitudinal complex and emotional insecurities of an American elite for whom the “present order of things”-power, privilege and opportunity- are as they should be, despite the vivid evidence to the contrary for working and middle class America in the present era. This America is a good America; an America whose prominent values, operational efficiencies and deficits are consistent with the central obsession of state, corporation and social classes benefiting from such arrangements: the unregulated accumulation of private wealth.

There is profound disquietude for certain constituencies of onlookers in understanding how someone like Henry Louis Gates can partner the conceptual apparatus of a power system  and its political arrangements which so impales the great mass of those who look like him and from whom he culturally originates, against the temple walls of economic impoverishment when not uselessness. Gates, in promoting a creative and partisan play on the data of American history ingenuously insinuates the Anglo-European American beneficiaries of the business of slavery [read: the Atlantic Slave Trade] are devoid of blame for trading in a rational exchange of equivalents between themselves and the continental African elites providing the pre-enslaved labor sources for their trinkets and guns.

For Gates, trade obeys the proverb, “fair exchange is no robbery,” and therefore the rational exchange of trinkets for human war booty, which here is accidentally African, is a value-free exchange. It is technically pure; morally innocent; and, absent politics. Therefore, the moral opprobrium historically generated against the trade and those that have materially benefited from it, for political purposes, by professional historians, Pan-Africanists, Afrocentricists and Marxists intellectuals all of whom champion the writing of history from the vantage point of its victims, are at best misguided; and, at worst, reverse racists against Anglo-European Americans; a practice they would loathe to perform against the other beneficiary of the trading process-the African elites.

Gates’ assumptions collectively declare economic activity morally neutral since morality and economics do not mix.

This is a fundamental tenet of neoliberal economics-the conceptual framework of American led globalization- through which Gates builds the bridge of moral equivalence between the Anglo-European and African elites involved in the cross Atlantic trading system.

For Gates, descendants of African elites would serve best their own present interests for material development by issuing conceptual, political, economic and cultural subordination to those whose technical mastery of rational economic calculation has made them masters of the modern human universe. There is nothing harmful in learning from your intellectual and cultural superiors if such exchanges are technically value neutral economic and cultural learning exchanges.

The paradox between supporting an economic system based on the separation of economics and morality and a political prescription based on the connection of economics and morality such a moral equivalence can be said to exist between Anglo-European Americans and African elites based in their economic equality as trading partners, is neutralized when one realizes Gates’ conception of morality is the enlightening pivot.

For Gates, the morality through which moral equivalence can be claimed for his two protagonists is a narrow restrictive economic morality, the rules of honest, value-neutral, private profit-making in a free market, an economically centered morality-morality two. Morality one, the more expansive, universal morality of the United Nations Human Rights Code, for example; that morality through which the champions of the abused rights of the African victims of the Atlantic Slave Trade have championed their cause and whose dominant narrative Gates is writing against, for Gates, is a nuisance morality, old skin that should be shedded by it bearers on the march of history to the nirvana of glorious materialism and technical mastery of the mysteries of commerce.

Gates’ bridle of moral equivalence comes with a prescriptive call for behavioral and attitudinal modification both for Africans enamored of the politicized morality of self-righteous victimhood which provides emotional satisfaction and psychological revenge-(get whitey!)-but no wealth; and corporate Anglo-Europeans to whom it issues the call for continued indifference to the reasoned challenges to white supremacy and unbridled capitalism from its critics-(go whitey, go!)- for since the unique American formula of wealth-making has made America number one in the world militarily, economically, politically, culturally, and technologically, how could something so good be so bad if even its critics benefit materially from it. The evidence of the rightness of corporate capitalist leadership of America is in its creative ingenuity, military dominance, technological prowess and all the other indices of its brilliance. It is this neoliberal formula Gates suggests descendants of the African elites of the continent and America would do well to learn from and repeat.

Neo-liberalism: Eternity on Life-Support

The American economy is “the” economy in the global free market system. All roads leads to it as the epicenter of global market economy; its consumers are “the” consumers of this integrated economy as trendsetters of new patterns of consumption, pioneers in the use of new technologies, new payment technologies, or just consumers consuming.

How did this come to be?

Answer: neo-liberalism

Neo-liberalism, the political theory partnering the economicsof globalization, was instituted during the Conservative administration of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of United Kingdom (1979) and, the Republican Presidential administration of Ronald Reagan (1981).

Thatcherism was defined by deregulation, flexible labor markets, privatization of state owned corporations, and hostility to trade unions. Reagonomics was defined by “supply-side economics”-(i.e., monetarism)- and was based upon disciplined control of money supply to control inflation, reductions in corporation tax, reduction in red tape, reductions in government spending, at the Federal, State, and Municipal levels and unbridled hostility to trade unions.

For both political leaders state monetary policy-(i.e., preserving the value of money to avoid a rise in inflation by controlling the government’s printing of money) – was the raison d’etre of responsible government. This project had a missionary commitment to profit making in a free market for global corporations and an unbridled hostility to the state as an agent of social progress, which for it was equivalent to socialism. The state, for the neo liberalism, was an ally of multinational corporations.

The state was a night-watchman state, a minimalist state, that is, one minimally involved in the management of the economy and which kept its distance from the private affairs of private business, conceiving of the unregulated private sector as the chief vehicle for wealth accumulation for private holders of investment capital. This private wealth would eventually “trickle down” to the middling classes and poor. The main intellectual architect of this economic philosophy was the University of Chicago economist, Milton Freidman-(of “Capitalism and Freedom” fame)-, along with Austrian economists Friedrich Hayek-(The Road to Serfdom)-and Ludwig von Mises-(Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis).

The state was purposed to free business from unnecessary regulation and social obligations. The coordinates of this line of thinking: removal of state support in the provision of social services to better the common lot of ordinary people-“the social compulsive”-through privatizing social services via levying of fees for services that previously the state provided for free; removal of state controls on corporate taxes (or oversee substantial reductions) and remitted profits; removal of foreign currency controls; repression of trades unions and lowering of wages; the removal of wage and price controls; restriction of the money supply. This formula of corporation-friendly economics at its core was insensitive to the material lot of working people and was predetermined by a desire by ruling elites in the metropole to reverse post-Second World war concessions to its own working classes and organized labor, made to preserve social unity in their war against established socialism-(read: Soviet led international socialism and the Cold War).

Anti-socialism was the dominant subtext of the imperial project of neoliberal globalization both domestically and globally.

The United States of America as the most powerful capitalist nation in the world in post-Second World War era, along with its British ally-(the American-Anglo compact)- desired to crush socialism globally and sought to so do by a variety of measures one of which was the integration of the entire world economy on a free market platform of integrated production and supply networks for agricultural, low cost consumer items and natural resources from the periphery with unregulated capital and sophisticated technology supplied from the metropole. Obedience to its dictates meant celebration and support for elites so complicit; rebellion: regime change; assassination; sanctions; isolation and exclusion from global financial markets.

The periphery is not allowed to engage in secondary production of manufactured goods for a  integrated domestic market. They are to meet their needs for manufactured goods and technology via imports from the metropolitan core-(think: European Union; USA; UK; and Japan) and content themselves supplying raw materials to the global market in accordance their supposed comparative advantage. This arrangement of the global order viewed the new entrants into the global production cycle as cheap labor pools that would remain in such a condition in perpetuity. Neo-liberalism was the natural order of the universe and as such was the earliest footprint of the eternal in the present.

Unseen and hence unprepared for by the architects of empire, that is, the corporate and policy makers in Washington, London, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, was the advantage some nations would make of their incorporation into this order to the detriment of the domestic economy in the metropole-(think: China). Their labor cost advantages savaged the high wages of working people in the domestic economies of the metropole, destroying the traditional industries that provided them a high standard of living: car; steel; consumer products. Even though this was intended, its pace of revelation came as a shock to the managerial constitution of imperial policy makers.

Some of the paradoxes of this exercise are that the minimalist night-watchman state was, in practice, just as interfering in the production process avoiding involvement as it were when involved, since the modern economy is interdependent with the authority and responsibility complex of the modern state-the two are necessarily intertwined. The ideology of “trickle down economics” was betrayed by the reality of trickle-up wealth and substantial structural inequality between rich and poor. The natural resources comparative advantage of the periphery was in practice a comparative disadvantage vis a vis the metropole and its technological superiority. Neoliberal globalization far from being a new world order, in practice, was a continuation of old imperial relations under a new name.

Neo-liberalism brought gross ecological despoliation and robbed many nations of fair market value for their natural resources. It abandoned the public good and in making of politics a violent indifference to human needs reformulated economics into an autistic science of private profit accumulation. It has unleashed what the Uruguayan essayist, Eduardo Galeano, has called genocide on the peoples of the periphery.

The diminishment of its technical value, discrediting of its developmental promises and degradation of its statistical evidence of mass harming has collectively made of neo-liberalism an ideological project on terminal life support in the court of global public opinion, so much so that even its two most noted votaries, IMF and World Bank, are distancing themselves from its profit seeking singularity.

The ending of the neoliberal era is marked by the birth of the post-liberal where moral uncertainty, transformation in American imperial practices, rise of new global market competitors, deindustrialization and the new knowledge economy is giving birth to a new set of crises of profit making provoking civilizational anxieties unparalleled in the history of western civilization.

Good sources for further reading include the following: Michael Parenti’s, “The Face of Imperialism” (2011); Robert Wood, “From Marshall Plan to Debt Crisis”; George Caffentzis, “Rambo on the Barbary Shore: Libya, the Oil Price and the US”; David Harvey, “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” (2007);  and, Noam Chomsky and Robert W. McChesney, “Profit Over People: Neoliberalism & Global Order” (2011). 

Charles Simon-Aaron: Mugabe: Land Wars, Resource Nationalism and Empire (forthcoming); Dilemmas of Western Civilization: Narratives of Loss (forthcoming): chasimaa.wordpress.com

Post-Liberalism: Age of Uncertainty

One of the most difficult tasks for the ordinary citizen in the post-liberal age is making sense of world affairs on an everyday basis, for the modern world is both simple to understand and complex in its mysteries.

This age is one of the most elusive eras in human history to understand and locate from the vantage point of one’s personal self interest-(the “what’s in this for me question”)-for it goes unnamed by most commentators on world economy.

With the demise of neo-liberalism post-liberalism was born.

This era registers a strange feature for one whose thinking was shaped by the Cold War era of East-West conflict and the simplistic “us” and “them” separatism it promoted: it has no master template by which human understanding can be guided and state affairs managed. Capitalism is no longer fighting against socialism and socialism is no longer fighting against itself for all are friends shaking hands in the global marketplace and seeking the blessings of the money-making god of modern economics-Foreign Direct Investment, which the West has a lot of and everyone else less, if any.

Take the resource nationalist events of recent times: who would have believed that a right wing Canadian Prime Minister (Stephen Harper) would see eye to eye politically with nationalists Robert Mugabe (Zimbabwe) and Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), and all three drink from the same cup of post-liberal opportunity as Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard whose country is a card carrying member of the free market society.

According to the ideological framing of the Cold War era these politicians existed on opposite sides of the imperial divide, Canada and Australia loyal partisans of the American-Anglo compact; Zimbabwe and Venezuela, its enemies. Yet in the post-liberal era they all share the same policy attitude to multinational mining companies and their dominant ownership of their nation’s natural resources: they want their nation’s natural resources to be owned by their states in the interest of their peoples or to tax and levy financial obligations on these companies such income so earned can be used for infrastructural development.

This “turn” from pro-capital policies to pro-state policies can be seen in the official responses of political leaders in this post-liberal era where multinational resource corporations have had to accept state involvement in their income streams as the political price they have to pay to operate in a given country, a far cry from their neo-liberal heydays where and when governments globally had to give them free reign to get access to World Bank and IMF funding for fiscal deficts.

Take the case of Zimbabwe where ZANU-PF under the aegis of its leader President, Robert Mugabe, and Minister for Indigenization and Empowerment, Saviour Kasukuwere, who has held major corporations in the country to account, in accordance the Law of Indigenization, to relinquish 51% control of their assets to indigenous Zimbabweans, to correct the peoples long history of racist exclusion from ownership positions in their economy.

Mugabe’s nationalism was disliked by the American-Anglo compact that levied sanctions on his administration in the aftermath of land reform initiatives 2000-2004 and hotly contested elections between his party and that of its rival Movement for Democratic Change.Yet Canadian, Chinese, Australian and South African mining companies prevail in the Zimbabwean mining landscape even though sanctions exist; and, given stock market quotations many of these mining companies have ownership relations with investors from the compact.Go figure?

Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, prevented BHP Billiton’s $40 billion hostile takeover bid for Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., the world’s largest fertilizer company in 2010. This from a free marketeering officer of the state who remains committed to foreign investment and foreign takeovers of Canadian assets, though not those in the Knowledge economy like BlackBerry.

Prime Julia Gillard, of Australia, has levied higher taxes on mining companies in Australia citing the need for investment in infrastructure to maintain the country’s high standard of living and well developed human resources infrastructure. This against the backdrop of massive profits which mining companies have made over the past 20-30 years with little of its monetary benefits coming to Australians care of their government because of the neo-liberal consensus which said the government was not to be involved in private economic activities since corporations did so best.

President Hugo Chavez, of Venezuela, has sought to redistribute wealth by using income from the country’s oil industry to finance housing development, building medical care facilities, schools, roads, bridges, water supply and dental and eye care facilities to the people for the first time in their lives.

In the major corridors of global power such social initiatives in the Cold War era were defined as socialist and inefficient in the allocation of resources since they do not obey the profit motive and competitive free markets, they are, today, in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial meltdown, in the post-liberal era, tolerated, since they serve the interests of global business by bringing more people to the global market for the products it has on offer: cell phones, smart phones, computers, cars, housing materials, foods, clothing, media products, and financial products to name but a few-all of which are produced and sold by the major corporations of the Western world and Japan. Go figure?

It is this paradox of circumstances in the post-liberal age which contributes to making this era so difficult to understand and to “choose sides” on global issues for we no longer have clear cut enemies nor clear-cut friends, a feature of the era best expressed with the neologisms, “frenemy” and “edutainment”. The lines of definition are increasingly blurred though interconnected.

In addition, governments are finding that their only friend is their self interest because the pivotal global player, namely the USA, because of domestic fiscal deficits and trade imbalances with major competitors, is no longer able to shape world affairs with the same single mindedness of purpose it once was able to during the neo-liberal era, since its financial means are “difficult” after the longer than expected wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which it has had to give a leading hand in financing.

America’s central role in organizing the global economy was based upon its willingness to sacrifice its domestic manufacturing economy on the altar of global competition in order to co-opt the support of powerful socialist countries like China and Russia and stop their continued support for socialist economic policies substituting them with free-market profit driven options. This sacrifice has succeeded, perhaps even more than expected with unforeseen consequences that are proving problematic and irresolvable to policy makers.

The global economy has intensified global competition for markets and natural resources converting former friends into potential enemies-think, China and America; and, China and America in Africa. Was this outcome scenario mapped by Washington governmental and New York corporate policy officials? Such a question from such a source of circumstances is the datum of the post-liberal age: uncertainty is king in the imperial palace of global authority.

Words: 1,160

Word 2003

Charles Simon-Aaron: Mugabe: Land Wars, Resource Nationalism and Empire (Forthcoming); Class Ideology and African Political Theory (Edwin Mellen, 2011)


Obama Droned by Hurt-Mail

Please hazard a caring thought for the besieged occupant of the Presidential Office of America, President Barack Obama (2008-), who, in preparing for a second run for Presidential office, is on the receiving end of comments that are, to say the least, lacking in tact and sensitivity as to his person and family history, and which unknowingly and unintentionally lowers the moral threshold of public conduct mimicking in the process the past of exclusion and silencing many new Americans do not wish to have be repeated in their nation’s present form.

Such comments when they surface serve as a sign of a nation in struggle with its past and vexed over the socio-cultural transformations of its present with the cult of rights and cult of respect of previously excluded and silenced communities traveling in tow to much consternation. Here, the future America is slowly baptizing itself silently and in some pain, but baptizing itself it is for there is no turning back to the past of unbridled violence, discrimination and contempt that besotted the daily lives of its poor European Americans, its African, its Native, its Mexican and its Asia Pacific populations. That America has been struggled to the ground with strangle holds to its neck still.

For many Americans, especially European Americans ( the community of Americans for whom such changes are mostly felt as loss) the new-America-in-the-making is so far removed in outward appearances and cultural ways from that with which they are historically familiar, and prefer, it seemingly does not reflect their value systems and cultural ways, hence social change=equals=social loss, loss at the expense of their cultural preferences and security of continued political and economic dominance of “their” America. This has provoked psychic dissonance and much resistance since flagrant public demonstrations of contempt towards this new-America-in-the-making are socially unbecoming and much disapproved from leadership communities of the new America that have learnt and mastered the art of protest in the American nation.

It is therefore highly significant when an event such as the e-mailed message by Richard F. Cebull surfaces. For Judge Cebull, Chief U.S. District Judge (the chief federal judge of  HYPERLINK “http://www.politico.com/tag/Montana” \t “_blank” Montana, 2008) in sending his e-mail to other chief judges, where he engaged in polite private humor among friends, unveiled the following:

Normally I don’t send or forward a lot of these, but even by my standards, it was a bit touching. I want all of my friends to feel what I felt when I read this. Hope it touches your heart like it did mine:

A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’ His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!

(Source:  HYPERLINK “http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/03/federal_judge_s.phphttp://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/03/federal_judge_s.php) March7th, 2012

For the uninitiated the above requires a certain measure of interpretative skill to discern the vulgar subtext of its intent: one, Barack Obama’a father was a metaphorical dog on two levels: (a) a rampant unrepentant womanizer; (b) a person bereft of civility in intimate relations with members of the opposite sex. Two, he was literally a dog; and, a black dog at that. The resonance with the African ancestry of Barack Obama’s father and the traditional animalistic metaphorical allusions to which the African is traditionally associated in disreputable literature in America and for that matter globally, is the pained attachment of this exposed exercise in private humor, and the one that is particularly disturbing to many a reader for this kind of thinking has been the tradition of far right activism; and, one prefers to believe was waning in use, alas that is not the case, since it has acquired new life in the hands of a chief judge in the American judicial system.

As one astute blogger remarked: The “joke” doesn’t “clearly insinuates [ sic ] that young Barack’s father could have been a dog, and that this somehow explains why he is black” but it does imply that a white woman that had sex with a black man would also have sex with dogs. This is actually more offensive, in my opinion. It’s sad that race is an issue because ignorant people like this judge deflect attention from the real issues. I don’t care for Obama but next to men like this he seems like shining example of everything we could hope for him to be.  HYPERLINK “http://burning-plastic.tumblr.com/” \t “_blank” burning_plastic ( HYPERLINK “http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/03/federal_judge_s.phphttp://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2012/03/federal_judge_s.php)

(March 7th, 2012)

The lessons of this experience for non-American communities in the global family of nations rented with such conflicts are that in the American scenario the writer of the e-mail could have freely written it. The newspaper that published it–(the Great Falls Tribune)-could have freely published it. And, the aggrieved public could have voiced their substantial disapproval once it reached the public domain. The outcome: the nation that is America is free to adjust its collective temperature of moral tolerance for the new violations of its own new codes of decency as it transitions from a Eurocentric to a pluralized Eurocentric-plus, plus, plus, plus, cultural universe-minus external interference. Nice.

The freedom to self define that is the hall mark of the American way is the desire of those nations and peoples globally who would like to regulate their own domestic temperature of tolerance for their own standards of conduct which they perceive the American way (in company, its British ally) as blocking via its entertainment-financial-diplomatic-military-industrial and educational complex. The irony of modernity is that the global family accepts the liberal prescriptions of civility as promoted by America and Britain as its new civilized norms only to find that in the context of empire, doing as empire does, that is, self-defining in keeping with national self perceptions and expectations-national self determination-is defined by American-Anglo empire as anti-imperial and politically disobedient, hence worthy of punishment.

Subordinate nations are to do as they are told and not as the leadership nations of the world do. Obedience to foreign dictates is their lot to experience and limited self definition at that. It is this limitation on autonomy that is the fuel of much acrimony in many quarters in the global community: Their cry: “Why can we not be allowed to set our own standards of morality and self police and regulate in accord our own value systems and have such be respected by all just as leadership nations do?” This is the kernel of much anti-imperial acrimony in the modern world.

Harmful to many communities as they engage in such national debates is their failure to understand what often they do not even know exist-empire, what it is; what are its means and, what are its ends.

Barack Obama as the official symbolic leader of the world’s single largest empire has experienced a verbal drone of vitriolic contempt from Judge Cebull’s e-mail which in no way parallels that of the real drones he has authorized be used in America’s war theatre in the early part of the 21st Century but it sure did hurt-even if, just a little; and it hurted in the American way-in full public domain.

Words: 1, 207

Charles Simon-Aaron:

Mugabe: Land Wars, Resource Nationalism and Empire (Forthcoming)

Class Ideology and African Political Theory (Edwin Mellen Press, 2011)

[Steven]Harper’s Revenge: Toronto and the G20 Summit

The lead up to the G20 meeting in Toronto was a series of puzzles to many onlookers: one, why locate the G20 meeting in the country’ largest city and in its congested city core at that? Two, why spend $1 billion to do so? Three, why alienate a decent law abiding and responsible citizenry with overwhelming policing force?
The only local beneficiaries of this largesse of Harper’s fiscal generosity seemed to the city’s Police Force, regional Policing Forces, RCMP, CSIS and the other peripheral elements of the nation’s policing complex like private Security Guards and the Canadian military in the provision of extra manpower for the occasion.
Lost in interpretation of this scenario was the obvious need to protect World leaders once invited to the country, for should harm befall them questions would be raised as to why no expense was spared in protecting them; and if no harm befell them then any expense was worth it to protect them and Canada’s international reputation.
Haunting this evaluation of Harper’s actions however is the why question, for Canada is a huge country—the second largest country in the world, after Russia, in terms of physical size according to the CIA Factbook– with many adequate locations where protections of such leaders could have been conducted with greater ease and lower cost; with cost efficiencies the cause célèbre of the neoliberal handbook of political strategy.
In ignoring cost and choosing Toronto as the most appropriate location for the G20 meeting Harper deviated much from his party’s mandate of fiscal responsibility and responsible government. $1 billion in G20 cost saw to that.
When the why question is asked Harper’s choice of actions reveal political behavior that neoconservatives by no means have a monopoly in practicing: political revenge.
Harper permitted the G20 meeting in Toronto to punitively demonstrate to urban Reform Party hating Toronto they will not escape the smell and fist of his power. He rules Canada; and, therefore, by extension, Toronto.
For the Reform Party and Steven Harper, Toronto, is a most disobedient and politically indifferent city to its Federal authority able to live independently because economically rich, economically diverse and internationally linked. It lives as if Federal authority is a paper fiction and not a political reality in its day to day life. It therefore had to be brought to heel, symbolically, to know the limits of its independence. What better way to so do than to take control of the city through full Federal rule under the perfectly legitimate guise of protecting World leaders for the Group of 20 economically leading countries.
How can a Federal take-over of the country’s largest city be seen as a Reform Party coup when the massive investment in policing manpower and telecommunications surveillance took place in the name of securing World leaders from harm?
Toronto’s cosmopolitanism and entrenched liberalism (small “l” liberalism) which has been emitting disdain for Harper and the Reform Party by simply not electing any of its candidates in the several federal elections the country has witnessed since Reform was formed out of the debris of the Progressive Conservative Party and Preston Manning’s Reform Party, must be taught a lesson in subservience. If it chose not to bow voluntarily it will be forced to bow by force: hence G20 in Toronto and the massive demonstration of police force and paramilitary authoritarianism.
Harper seems to be saying, scorn me at your peril. Reform rules, baby! Smell it. Eat it. Feel it.

The infantile, testosterone fuelled, egotistical aggression, of such a declaration was partnered by the policing authorities assigned to implement Harper’s strategy of contempt for the city and its Reform scorning multitudes.
Reeling from a series of media friendly calamities Canada’s policing bodies have in their conduct demonstrated a substantial deviation from the popularly held assumptions of good character and fair judgment that has been their social capital for generations. They now find themselves mistrusted, called racists, Islamophobists (meaning: they scorn Islam and Muslims), drug dealers and drug thieves, fraudulent, and anti-democratic. There exists alternative, competing, interpretations of their conduct in many sectors of the public; the public is no longer of one mind about the “Police” as the recent fall out over the killing of Robert Dziekanski, at the hands of four RCMP officers, October 14th, 2007, at Vancouver International Airport, revealed. The scenario worsens when we add the Air India Inquiry Report of ex-Superior Court Judge, John Major, presented to the public, 17th, June 2010, where he found the Federal Government, Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Canadian Security and Intelligence Service were complicit in allowing the bombing of the Air India plane, June 23rd, 1985, to take place.
Canada’s “Police” needed a face saving boost to their public image and G20 was the perfect fit. They got to demonstrate to the public their “hard power” skills-(which need no explanation)-and “soft power” skills like mastery of new telecommunications technologies that monitor cell phone conversations and even close them down altogether, in service the national interest.
In addition, Canada’s Policing authorities in historically suffering from a constitutional inferiority complex vis a vis their American counterparts saw in policing G20 a source of redemption. It gave them an opportunity to run their very own anti-terrorist show and illustrate, in the boy’s club way that matters in such a community, that Canadian Police can do anti-terrorist policing too: there is more to being white and Canadian than ice hockey
Harper’s revenge and the Police’s desire to gloat before their American counterparts were two agendas that met, mutually reinforced and mutually fulfilled each other’s expectations. This explains the extravagant cost and lockdown of the downtown core of the country’s largest city: ego made policy.

Charles Simon-Aaron
University of Malaya

906 words

Haiti: Pioneer of the New

Once again Haiti plays the role of pioneer of the new, first with its anti-slavery revolution of 1804 and, today, as a result of the physical devastation of the January 2010, earthquake. How is it able to so with the latter when so obviously devastated, you ask? Answer: its resistance to inequality.
Haitian Africans resisted the rapacious greed and unrelenting violence of the white French enslavers of the Island for whom they were cheap and expendable labour imported to the island to produce sugar tobacco and coffee, with an uprising of world historical significance, the first successful slave rebellion in human history which led to the proclamation of the independent Haitian state in 1804.
With the revolt, they spoke to their masters in his language of violence. In their victory, they called on their master’s tradition of political institutions to guide them in shaping their new path of Republican government.
The 18th century age of Haitian uprisings was one of mass enslavement of Africans in the Americas and Caribbean by French, English, Danish, Spanish, Portuguese, and American slave owners.
The revolutionaries of Haiti made their nation a supporting location for the American liberator, Simon Bolivar, for whom it served as a base for his revolutionary sojourns across the southern American continent from which the modern nations of South America were born: Colombia; Peru; Venezuela; Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay. Haiti served their birthing. Haitians supported the Americans in their fight for independence from the English and the Greeks in their liberation struggle against Turkish colonialism.
Emancipated Africans existing as a pariah state in the then family of white European nations for whom slavery was economic commonsense, made their victory the source of other nations and peoples emancipation.
Their self-emancipation was a source of inspiration to other enslaved Africans and a threat to slaveholders throughout the region.
Haiti was an international example of the mutual compatibility between Africans and freedom. For Haitians, since the slave labour gave birth to the modern world then emancipated Africans had earned the right to partake in its fruits.
Haiti’s challenge to the Western dominated international order of the day was its political rejection of the economic inequality that so defined the 18th and 19th centuries, be it in the form of plantation labour in the Americas and Caribbean, manufacturing capitalism in Western Europe, or unequal trading practices by the West with the rest of the world.
In the modern era, modern Haiti finds itself, in the midst of the earthquake induced devastation, revealing to the world the consequences of a society falling prey to the perils of unbridled capitalism or, neo-liberalism: ‘the absence of things’: When the cult of profits guides the shaping and reproducing of a modern society human life is more so defined by its absences than its necessary presences for those without cash.
A careful listing of Haiti’s absences reads like a menu of basic necessities of modern life: electricity; computers; roads; water; housing; healthcare facilities; schools; literacy; medicines; trees; fire stations; city government; food; and the list goes on and on and on.
Meaningful modern life has been denied the people of Haiti and the post earthquake response of the world community broadcasts these facts for the world to see, and feel: This is what neo-liberalism means for societies that are forced to live in strict accordance its postulates of profit maximization and cost efficiencies, and are poor, underdeveloped, and, in some cases never developed.
Neo-liberalism, the diet of cheap labour, free markets, minimal government and, in Haiti’s case, total dependency on American capital and external governance, has created a playground for wealth making that makes the Haitian state, government and society redundant appendages to its rule.
That Haiti’s privileged and tiny elite has squandered the nation’s wealth, enriching itself at the expense of the well being of its peoples, the nation’s most precious resource, is in now in full glare for the world to see. The people are poor because of the unrelenting efforts by the nation’s elite- in alliance, the American state, World Bank and IMF-to ensure they remain a cheap labour pool for low cost international commodity production networks: baseballs; baseball bats; T-shirts; textiles; electronics assembly; computer assemblage; trinkets manufacture and the like. This has been a fate the people of Haiti have resisted for generations to the consternation and opposition of the local elites and their international supporters, electing in 1999, and 1994 and 2000, Jean Bertrand Aristide, their nation’s first democratically elected president, whose efforts to make the state meet the basic needs of the nation’s peoples was met with his repeated ouster and exile at the hands of the local army, and local elites, in consort the American CIA.
Haiti was as much opposed to the dominant political trend in world economy at its birth-the inequality of the plantation economy- as it is today-the neo-liberal age and its cult of privatization, profits and free markets. This is a destiny conferred upon its peoples by dint of history and circumstance. That they showed the world in 1804, the need for a new, alternative and humane way for human beings to live in the modern world predisposes them to show the world the new, of which they are abled pioneers. Haiti becomes a pioneer of the new both in terms of what is possible and what is necessary, for the struggles of its peoples have been in the past and in the present unstinting resistance against the physical, psychic and moral ravages of inequality.

921 words
Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur