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Africa - What is it all about?

A friend telephoned me yesterday to ask “What is the African Aid thing all about?”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, it’s all over everything. You wouldn’t know, of course, but even children in infant schools are saying that African debt ought to be cancelled, when they know nothing about it. The mass media are stirring up a frenzy. What is going on? What are they really up to?”

Well, of course, I wasn’t particularly aware. I don’t watch television or read newspapers. This bombardment, like all other such bombardments, passes me by. And I suggested to my friend that if she thought something special was going on and I didn’t, that might not be because I was standing too far off, but because she was standing too close.

These things happen. They come and they go. Bogus alarums and excursions are the stuff of the Pit circus. Much of the point is just to keep our eyes on the circus, to keep discussion - whichever side one takes - on the issues the controllers want discussed; and more subtly, but more importantly, to prevent our inward secession.

No doubt it is a massive campaign. No doubt infants who can know nothing are being propagandised. Though their ignorance is no great matter. They think in a simplistic way that “cancelling debt” means “stopping the poor people in the pictures from starving”. The mass of the population thinks the same thing in an equally simplistic way, because they have been propagandised by the same system. I fail to see the difference. To say that an infant is unfair game is pointless. So is the average person. That is why democracy is so popular with the oligarchs.

Of course throwing money at Africa is not going to stop starvation. Six Marshall Plans’ worth of aid have been thrown at Africa over the last two decades and the people are poorer than ever, while the Swiss Bank Accounts of African dictators swell to unbelievable proportions.

Starvation in Africa is happening because Africa was betrayed by decolonisation. Today the only country capable of governing most of sub-Saharan Africa and bringing peace and prosperity has been culturally destroyed. It is a defeated, demoralised nation. Its very backbone - its class structure - has been torn out and pulverised, and it is governed (politically and otherwise) by proletarianised nonentities. It is doubtful whether anything can restore Britain to nationhood, and without that it is almost certain that nothing can save Africa.

So why all the African hoo-ha? What is it all about?

Think back to the Threat of Nuclear Extinction. What was all that about? Was a Communist invasion of the west ever likely, at any point in the whole of the Cold War? Wasn’t the whole thing balderdash from beginning to end? Yet hundreds of thousands of people worried about it every day of their lives. Some were driven to suicide. Others formed parties and committees.

What was it all about? It wasn’t all about anything. It served certain purposes - demoralising the West - furthering certain international forms of organisation; but for the most part it was just another circus; another snake-eye to hypnotise the poor rabbit.

If my friend thinks the “massive campaign” about Africa is big, it is nothing compared to the “Nuclear Annihilation” campaign. And where is that today? A quaint memory.

The Africa campaign will not even be that. In two years Africa will no longer be in the Hit Parade. Something else will be the Most Important Issue in the World.

And my friend will be asking me what it is all about.

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”[…E]ven children in infant schools are saying that African debt ought to be cancelled, when they know nothing about it. The mass media are stirring up a frenzy. What is going on? […] No doubt it is a massive campaign. No doubt infants who can know nothing are being propagandised. […] They think in a simplistic way that ‘cancelling debt’ means ‘stopping the poor people in the pictures from starving.’ The mass of the population thinks the same thing in an equally simplistic way, because they have been propagandised […].” (—Novaryana)

A few years ago I had occasion to have a long discussion with an American nearly of retirement age whose career had been in the field of international aid to the Third World. As a young man this particular individual had felt a vocation for the priethood and became a Catholic priest, finding himself not long after assigned to work with an organ of the Catholic Church devoted to aiding the Third World financially and otherwise. He came to love the work, in the course of which he lived in various parts of the Third World: Black Africa, Latin America, the South Pacific, Southeastern Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and elsewhere. He liked the work so much, he ended up after a couple of decades leaving the priesthood because of it: he was “stationed” somewhere in Africa when word came he was being transferred again, this time back to the South Pacific or South America or something, and he didn’t want to leave his work right at that moment: he did not want to interrupt it. Somehow, things couldn’t be ironed out with the Catholic “home office.” He looked around at what his options were, chatted with his friends from C.A.R.E. who were working in the same area, was told they would take him on, thought hard about it, then took the plunge and resigned from the priesthood, in his mid-forties, in order to stay and work in Africa, this time for C.A.R.E. instead of the Catholics. (A little later he met and married a Hindu woman from India who was also working in Africa for some aid agency, they had lots of kids, five I think it was, and the family eventually returned to the States.) Anyway … the point of the story was, this chap confirmed for me what one often hears about First-World financial aid to the Third World: what happens is way more of the money (or the things it buys) than the broad First-World public realizes goes no further than the pockets of the élites running those countries, the poor people for whom it is intended see precious little of it, and calls for “Third-World debt forgiveness” are coming from those same élites who don’t want to have to come up with a plan to re-pay what they’ve stolen, thieving élites with millions, tens of millions, in bank accounts, dozens of servants, several Mercedes Benzes in the garages of their mansions, who own large interests in companies, sometimes in whole industries, own real estate in places like London, Paris, New York, and so on. When debt forgiveness is granted, all it means is these crooks don’t have to think about repayment of “development loans” whose principal they and their cronies mostly stole—as much of it as they could get away with.

There’s a hilarious column on Live8 up over at the Ambler, incidentally. (I especially liked the “MAKEBONOHISTORY” T-shirt offer …)
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Long live Flanders!

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… but I will point others to the Ambler’s previous column on Live 8, http://www.theambler.com/jul1-15_05.htm#live8bait&switch here.

“So why all the African hoo-ha? What is it all about?” (—from the forum topic)

Here’s part of what it’s about: an excerpt from an interview on the subject published a few months ago:
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FOR GOD’S SAKE, PLEASE STOP THE AID!

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. […]

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa…

Shikwati: … for God’s sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.

SPIEGEL: Do you have an explanation for this paradox?

Shikwati: Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa’s problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn’t even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

SPIEGEL: Even in a country like Kenya, people are starving to death each year. Someone has got to help them.

Shikwati: But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there’s a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program—which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It’s only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it’s not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa […] and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN’s World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It’s a simple but fatal cycle.
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Long live free Flanders!

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… all the liberals / leftists who called for sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa have never done the same for any other undemocratic, tyrannical states in Africa, i.e. all the other countries… South Africa’s non-democracy was intolerable only because it was “racist”; whereas African despots ruling Africans is okay, and Je$$e Jackson is always happy to suck up to them…

We’d be doing the Africans a big favour if we indeed cut off all foreign aid to them, and forced them to confront their tyrants, instead of our current aid policy, which ends up, however inadvertently, propping up tyrants…