Thursday, March 22, 2012

Confronting Global Capitalism's Attempt to Re-Colonize Africa & Asia

Confronting Global Capitalism’s Attempt to Re-Colonize Africa & Asia

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Note: The following is a presentation delivered at the Left Forum held on the campus of Pace University during the weekend of March 16-18, 2012 in New York City. Other panelists in this session were Deirdre Griswold, editor-in-chief of Workers World newspaper based in New York and Joyce Chediac, editor of the book “Gaza: Symbol of Resistance.” The panel was moderated by John Catalinotto, managing editor of Workers World.

Today’s topic is one of the most important areas of concern for the Left in the United States during this historical period. Even with the supposed demise of the Cold War with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist states in Eastern and Central Europe during the late 1980s and the U.S.-NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, the defense budget of the Pentagon has grown substantially along with direct and indirect military involvement in the Middle-East, Central Asia and the African continent.

With the overturning of the socialist governments in the Comecon sector and the break-up of the Union Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991, the NATO countries have grown along with the strengthening of the numbers and influence of the European Union. NATO’s role under the leadership of the United States has taken credit for the partitioning of Yugoslavia, the war in Afghanistan and the recent bombing campaign and naval blockade of Libya, which resulted in the overthrow of the government of Col. Muammar Gaddafi.

The regime-change effort in Libya was the first full-blown project of the United States Africa Command (Africom) which was formed in 2008. Africom, although officially based in Stuttgart, Germany, has established a base at Camp Lemonier in the Horn of Africa nation of Djibouti. Africom is now operating in several states on the continent and is actively involved in coordinating the multi-national military campaign in Somalia utilizing allied governments in the region.

The Origins of Capitalism and Imperialism in Africa

In the middle and later decades of the 15th century Portugal and Spain initiated the Atlantic Slave Trade which opened the way for several other European states to become directly involved in Africa. Later the Netherlands, France, Britain, Germany, Italy and Denmark become involved in African slavery and the establishment of colonies on the continent and in the western hemisphere.

Several notable African historians including W.E.B. DuBois, Eric Williams, Walter Rodney, Vincent B. Thompson and others observed and documented the central role of the profits accumulated through the Atlantic Slave Trade in the rise of industrial capitalism and world imperialism.

After four centuries of enslavement of Africans, Europe embarked upon a major colonization project on the continent, which was formalized at the Berlin Conference of 1884-85. Although there were both European and U.S. colonies in Africa prior to the latter years of the 19th century, the expansion and intensification of direct and indirect colonial rule took on a much more systematic character that coincided with the emergence of monopoly industrial capitalism during the late 19th and early 20th century.

Imperialist Response to the National Liberation Movements

There has always been resistance to European imperialist intervention in Africa and the colonization and enslavement of millions in North America, the Caribbean and Latin America. It would be absurd even for historical and scientific racist to assert in the contemporary period that oppressed people from the Americas, Africa and Asia did not possess a tremendous legacy of flight, rebellion, revolt and even revolution in response to slavery and colonialism.

It is this legacy of resistance to exploitation and oppression that exposes the true character of imperialism. The European and U.S. imperialists have consistently stood on the wrong side of history. Every slave and colonial revolt was opposed by the imperialists.

This was true between the 15th and 19th centuries as well as during the 20th century. NATO assisted through Portugal, one of its members, in the fruitless attempts to suppress and crush the national liberation movements. The British held off in Kenya, Ghana and Zimbabwe until it was no longer possible to contain the popular will of the masses for freedom and independence.

The Germans in Namibia murdered tens of thousands when the people rose in rebellion between 1904-1907. Later the U.S. supported the racist apartheid regime, an agent of finance capital, in the sub-continent, as late as the 1980s and early 1990s when apartheid finally collapsed under the weight of armed resistance in Angola, Namibia and South Africa along with the popular and labor struggles of the masses in South Africa and Namibia.

Neo-Colonialism: The Current and Final Phase of Imperialism

Since the defeat of formal colonialism in Africa and other parts of the world, which was precipitated as well as a result of the world socialist movements in Russia, Korea, China, Cuba, Vietnam and other states and geo-political regions, neo-colonialism, the process of indirect imperialist exploitation became the order of the day. Yet as Marx and Lenin observed and noted, the inherent contradictions within capitalism would spark rebellion, revolution and socialist transformation, therefore the aims of imperialism to permanently dominate and exploit Africa would also prove to be unsustainable.

The legacy of colonialism and imperialism in Africa continues to prohibit the genuine economic development and social stability in the post-colonial states. The dependence upon the profit-making system even in the post-colonial period is requiring the escalation of militarism in Africa and other parts of the globe in the 21st century. Hence under the guise of fighting “terrorism” and enhancing the national security of the imperialist states and the post-colonial countries, we are witnessing rapacious military interventions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

In Libya, the U.S. and NATO flew 26,000 sorties and dropped nearly 10,000 bombs on a country of 6 million people in order to ensure the overthrow of a sovereign African state. Somalia, which has been invaded and bombed for the last two decades by U.S. imperialism and its agents and allies have experienced the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. The oil-producing state of Nigeria in West Africa is another focal point of U.S. intervention claiming that their stability must be secured for the free flow of oil inland and in the nearby Gulf of Guinea.

Defending and Supporting African Resistance to Imperialism

It is imperative that the anti-war and anti-imperialist movements in the Western states stand in solidarity with the peoples of Africa and the world while they are being exploited and militarily assaulted and dominated by the U.S. ruling class and its NATO allies. In Libya the war was fought for oil and strategic advantages.

There is no benefit for the indigenous people in these wars. Quite to the contrary, imperialist war breeds instability, impoverishment and immiserization.

We must stand alongside the peoples of Libya, Somalia and all other geo-political regions in the Africa and throughout the world who are under attack by imperialism. Any other position would reflect the failure to understand the fundamental tasks of revolutionaries and proponents of genuine social change within the western capitalist states.

The origins of the current global economic and social crisis are within the United States. It is the U.S. bourgeoisie that must be held accountable for destruction and death among millions within its own borders as well as throughout the world.

We must build organizations, alliances and movements to transform capitalist society at its root. In carrying out this process, we can strengthen solidarity with the peoples of Africa and the world. In alliance with the peoples of the world we can ensure a future void of exploitation, national oppression, war and genocide.

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