The Top Ten Myths In The War Against Libya - Maximilian Forte


The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya.
By Maximilian C. Forte
Counterpunch | August 31, 2011
[Reproduced with the author's permission.]


Since Colonel Gaddafi has lost his military hold in the war against NATO and the insurgents/rebels/new regime, numerous talking heads have taken to celebrating this war as a “success”. They believe this is a “victory of the Libyan people” and that we should all be celebrating. Others proclaim victory for the “responsibility to protect,” for “humanitarian interventionism,” and condemn the “anti-imperialist left”. Some of those who claim to be “revolutionaries,” or believe they support the “Arab revolution,” somehow find it possible to sideline NATO’s role in the war, instead extolling the democratic virtues of the insurgents, glorifying their martyrdom, and magnifying their role until everything else is pushed from view. I wish to dissent from this circle of acclamation, and remind readers of the role of ideologically-motivated fabrications of “truth” that were used to justify, enable, enhance, and motivate the war against Libya—and to emphasize how damaging the practical effects of those myths have been to Libyans, and to all those who favoured peaceful, non-militarist solutions.
These top ten myths are some of the most repeated claims, by the insurgents, and/or by NATO, European leaders, the Obama administration, the mainstream media, and even the so-called “International Criminal Court”—the main actors speaking in the war against Libya. In turn, we look at some of the reasons why these claims are better seen as imperial folklore, as the myths that supported the broadest of all myths—that this war is a “humanitarian intervention,” one designed to “protect civilians”. Again, the importance of these myths lies in their wide reproduction, with little question, and to deadly effect. In addition, they threaten to severely distort the ideals of human rights and their future invocation, as well aiding in the continued militarization of Western culture and society.
1. Genocide.
Just a few days after the street protests began, on February 21 the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: “We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports”. This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together—the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of “mercenaries” (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of “genocide” (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions. Among others like him, Soliman Bouchuiguir, president of the Libyan League for Human Rights, told Reuters on March 14 that if Gaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, “there will be a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. That’s not the only time we would be deliberately reminded of Rwanda. Here was Lt. Gen Roméo Dallaire, the much worshipped Canadian force commander of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for Rwanda in 1994, currently an appointed senator in the Canadian Parliament and co-director of the Will to Intervene project at Concordia University. Dallaire, in a precipitous sprint to judgment, not only made repeated references to Rwanda when trying to explain Libya, he spoke of Gaddafi as “employing genocidal threats to ‘cleanse Libya house by house’”. This is one instance where selective attention to Gaddafi’s rhetorical excess was taken all too seriously, when on other occasions the powers that be are instead quick to dismiss it: U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner waved away Gaddafi’s alleged threats against Europe by saying that Gaddafi is “someone who’s given to overblown rhetoric”. How very calm, by contrast, and how very convenient—because on February 23, President Obama declared that he had instructed his administration to come up with a “full range of options” to take against Gaddafi.
But “genocide” has a well established international legal definition, as seen repeatedly in the UN’s 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, where genocide involves the persecution of a “a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Not all violence is “genocidal”. Internecine violence is not genocide. Genocide is neither just “lots of violence” nor violence against undifferentiated civilians. What both Dabbashi, Dallaire, and others failed to do was to identify the persecuted national, ethnic, racial or religious group, and how it differed in those terms from those allegedly committing the genocide. They really ought to know better (and they do), one as a UN ambassador and the other as a much exalted expert and lecturer on genocide. This suggests that myth-making was either deliberate, or founded on prejudice.
What foreign military intervention did do, however, was to enable the actual genocidal violence that has been routinely sidelined until only very recently: the horrific violence against African migrants and black Libyans, singled out solely on the basis of their skin colour. That has proceeded without impediment, without apology, and until recently, without much notice. Indeed, the media even collaborates, rapid to assert without evidence that any captured or dead black man must be a “mercenary”. This is the genocide that the white, Western world, and those who dominate the “conversation” about Libya, have missed (and not by accident).

2. Gaddafi is “bombing his own people”.
We must remember that one of the initial reasons in rushing to impose a no-fly zone was to prevent Gaddafi from using his air force to bomb “his own people”—a distinct phrasing that echoes what was tried and tested in the demonization of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. On February 21, when the first alarmist “warnings” about “genocide” were being made by the Libyan opposition, both Al Jazeera and the BBC claimed that Gaddafi had deployed his air force against protesters—as the BBC “reported”: “Witnesses say warplanes have fired on protesters in the city”. Yet, on March 1, in a Pentagon press conference, when asked: “Do you see any evidence that he [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air? There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent?” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates replied, “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that”. Backing him up was Admiral Mullen: “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever”.
In fact, claims that Gaddafi also used helicopters against unarmed protesters are totally unfounded, a pure fabrication based on fake claims. This is important since it was Gaddafi’s domination of Libyan air space that foreign interventionists wanted to nullify, and therefore myths of atrocities perpetrated from the air took on added value as providing an entry point for foreign military intervention that went far beyond any mandate to “protect civilians”.
David Kirpatrick of The New York Times, as early as March 21 confirmed that, “the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior”. The “vastly inflated claims” are what became part of the imperial folklore surrounding events in Libya, that suited Western intervention. Rarely did the Benghazi-based journalistic crowd question or contradict their hosts.
3. Save Benghazi.
This article is being written as the Libyan opposition forces march on Sirte and Sabha, the two last remaining strongholds of the Gaddafi government, with ominous warnings to the population that they must surrender, or else. Apparently, Benghazi became somewhat of a “holy city” in the international discourse dominated by leaders of the European Union and NATO. Benghazi was the one city on earth that could not be touched. It was like sacred ground. Tripoli? Sirte? Sabha? Those can be sacrificed, as we all look on, without a hint of protest from any of the powers that be—this, even as we get the first reports of how the opposition has slaughtered people in Tripoli. Let’s turn to the Benghazi myth.
“If we waited one more day,” Barack Obama said in his March 28 address, “Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world”. In a joint letter, Obama with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy asserted: “By responding immediately, our countries halted the advance of Gaddafi’s forces. The bloodbath that he had promised to inflict on the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi has been prevented. Tens of thousands of lives have been protected”. Not only did French jets bomb a retreating column, what we saw was a very short column that included trucks and ambulances, and that clearly could have neither destroyed nor occupied Benghazi.
Other than Gaddafi’s “overblown rhetoric,” which the U.S. was quick to dismiss when it suited its purposes, there is to date still no evidence furnished that shows Benghazi would have witnessed the loss of “tens of thousands” of lives as proclaimed by Obama, Cameron, and Sarkozy. This was best explained by Professor Alan J. Kuperman in “False pretense for war in Libya?”:
“The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially—including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi….Khadafy’s acts were a far cry from Rwanda, Darfur, Congo, Bosnia, and other killing fields….Despite ubiquitous cellphones equipped with cameras and video, there is no graphic evidence of deliberate massacre….Nor did Khadafy ever threaten civilian massacre in Benghazi, as Obama alleged. The ‘no mercy’ warning, of March 17, targeted rebels only, as reported by The New York Times, which noted that Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those ‘who throw their weapons away’. Khadafy even offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt, to avoid a fight ‘to the bitter end’”.
In a bitter irony, what evidence there is of massacres, committed by both sides, is now to be found in Tripoli in recent days, months after NATO imposed its “life-saving” military measures. Revenge killings are daily being reported with greater frequency, including the wholesale slaughter of black Libyans and African migrants by rebel forces. Another sad irony: in Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, well after Gaddafi forces were repulsed, not even that has prevented violence: revenge killings have been reported there too—more under #6 below.

4. African Mercenaries.
Patrick Cockburn summarized the functional utility of the myth of the “African mercenary” and the context in which it arose: “Since February, the insurgents, often supported by foreign powers, claimed that the battle was between Gaddafi and his family on the one side and the Libyan people on the other. Their explanation for the large pro-Gaddafi forces was that they were all mercenaries, mostly from black Africa, whose only motive was money”. As he notes, black prisoners were put on display for the media (which is a violation of the Geneva Convention), but Amnesty International later found that all the prisoners had supposedly been released since none of them were fighters, but rather were undocumented workers from Mali, Chad, and west Africa. The myth was useful for the opposition to insist that this was a war between “Gaddafi and the Libyan people,” as if he had no domestic support at all—an absolute and colossal fabrication such that one would think only little children could believe a story so fantastic. The myth is also useful for cementing the intended rupture between “the new Libya” and Pan-Africanism, realigning Libya with Europe and the “modern world” which some of the opposition so explicitly crave.
The “African mercenary” myth, as put into deadly, racist practice, is a fact that paradoxically has been both documented and ignored. Months ago I provided an extensive review of the role of the mainstream media, led by Al Jazeera, as well as the seeding of social media, in creating the African mercenary myth. Among the departures from the norm of vilifying Sub-Saharan Africans and black Libyans that instead documented the abuse of these civilians, were the Los Angeles Times, Human Rights Watch which found no evidence of any mercenaries at all in eastern Libya (totally contradicting the claims presented as truth by Al Arabiya and The Telegraph, among others such as TIME and The Guardian). In an extremely rare departure from the propaganda about the black mercenary threat which Al Jazeera and its journalists helped to actively disseminate, Al Jazeera produced a single report focusing on the robbing, killing, and abduction of black residents in eastern Libya (now that CBS, Channel 4, and others are noting the racism, Al Jazeera is trying to ambiguously show some interest). Finally, there is some increased recognition of these facts of media collaboration in the racist vilification of the insurgents’ civilian victims—see FAIR: “NYT Points Out ‘Racist Overtones’ in Libyan Disinformation It Helped Spread”.
The racist targeting and killing of black Libyans and Sub-Saharan Africans continues to the present. Patrick Cockburn and Kim Sengupta speak of the recently discovered mass of “rotting bodies of 30 men, almost all black and many handcuffed, slaughtered as they lay on stretchers and even in an ambulance in central Tripoli”. Even while showing us video of hundreds of bodies in the Abu Salim hospital, the BBC dares not remark on the fact that most of those are clearly black people, and even wonders about who might have killed them. This is not a question for the anti-Gaddafi forces interviewed by Sengupta: “‘Come and see. These are blacks, Africans, hired by Gaddafi, mercenaries,’ shouted Ahmed Bin Sabri, lifting the tent flap to show the body of one dead patient, his grey T-shirt stained dark red with blood, the saline pipe running into his arm black with flies. Why had an injured man receiving treatment been executed?” Recent reports reveal the insurgents engaging in ethnic cleansing against black Libyans in Tawergha, the insurgents calling themselves “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin,” vowing that in the “new Libya” black people from Tawergha would be barred from health care and schooling in nearby Misrata, from which black Libyans had already been expelled by the insurgents. Currently, Human Rights Watch has reported: “Dark-skinned Libyans and sub-Saharan Africans face particular risks because rebel forces and other armed groups have often considered them pro-Gadhafi mercenaries from other African countries. We’ve seen violent attacks and killings of these people in areas where the National Transitional Council took control”. Amnesty International has also just reported on the disproportionate detention of black Africans in rebel-controlled Az-Zawiya, as well as the targeting of unarmed, migrant farm workers. Reports continue to mount as this is being written, with other human rights groups finding evidence of the insurgents targeting Sub-Saharan African migrant workers. As the chair of the African Union, Jean Ping, recently stated: “NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries. All blacks are mercenaries. If you do that, it means (that the) one-third of the population of Libya, which is black, is also mercenaries. They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them”. (To read more, please consult the list of recent reports that I have compiled.)
The “African mercenary” myth continues to be one of the most vicious of all the myths, and the most racist. Even in recent days, newspapers such as the Boston Globe uncritically and unquestioningly show photographs of black victims or black detainees with the immediate assertion that they must be mercenaries, despite the absence of any evidence. Instead we are usually provided with casual assertions that Gaddafi is “known to have” recruited Africans from other nations in the past, without even bothering to find out if those shown in the photos are black Libyans. The lynching of both black Libyans and Sub-Saharan African migrant workers has been continuous, and has neither received any expression of even nominal concern by the U.S. and NATO members, nor has it aroused the interest of the so-called “International Criminal Court”. There is as little chance of there being any justice for the victims as there is of anyone putting a stop to these heinous crimes that clearly constitute a case of ethnic cleansing. The media, only now, is becoming more conscious of the need to cover these crimes, having glossed them over for months.

5. Viagra-fueled Mass Rape.
The reported crimes and human rights violations of the Gaddafi regime are awful enough as they are that one has to wonder why anyone would need to invent stories, such as that of Gaddafi’s troops, with erections powered by Viagra, going on a rape spree. Perhaps it was peddled because it’s the kind of story that “captures the imagination of traumatized publics”. This story was taken so seriously that some people started writing to Pfizer to get it to stop selling Viagra to Libya, since its product was allegedly being used as a weapon of war. People who otherwise should know better, set out to deliberately misinform the international public.
The Viagra story was first disseminated by Al Jazeera, in collaboration with its rebel partners, favoured by the Qatari regime that funds Al Jazeera. It was then redistributed by almost all other major Western news media.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, appeared before the world media to say that there was “evidence” that Gaddafi distributed Viagra to his troops in order “to enhance the possibility to rape” and that Gaddafi ordered the rape of hundreds of women. Moreno-Ocampo insisted: “We are getting information that Qaddafi himself decided to rape” and that “we have information that there was a policy to rape in Libya those who were against the government”. He also exclaimed that Viagra is “like a machete,” and that “Viagra is a tool of massive rape”.
In a startling declaration to the UN Security Council, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice also asserted that Gaddafi was supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape. She offered no evidence whatsoever to back up her claim. Indeed, U.S. military and intelligence sources flatly contradicted Rice, telling NBC News that “there is no evidence that Libyan military forces are being given Viagra and engaging in systematic rape against women in rebel areas”. Rice is a liberal interventionist who was one of those to persuade Obama to intervene in Libya. She utilized this myth because it helped her make the case at the UN that there was no “moral equivalence” between Gaddafi’s human rights abuses and those of the insurgents.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also declared that “Gadhafi’s security forces and other groups in the region are trying to divide the people by using violence against women and rape as tools of war, and the United States condemns this in the strongest possible terms”. She added that she was “deeply concerned” by these reports of “wide-scale rape”. (She has, thus far, said nothing at all about the rebels’ racist lynchings.)
By June 10, Cherif Bassiouni, who is leading a UN rights inquiry into the situation in Libya, suggested that the Viagra and mass rape claim was part of a “massive hysteria”. Indeed, both sides in the war have made the same allegations against each other. Bassiouni also told the press of a case of “a woman who claimed to have sent out 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse”. However, his teams asked for those questionnaires, they never received them—“But she’s going around the world telling everybody about it…so now she got that information to Ocampo and Ocampo is convinced that here we have a potential 259 women who have responded to the fact that they have been sexually abused,” Bassiouni said. He also pointed out that it “did not appear to be credible that the woman was able to send out 70,000 questionnaires in March when the postal service was not functioning”. In fact, Bassiouni’s team “uncovered only four alleged cases” of rape and sexual abuse: “Can we draw a conclusion that there is a systematic policy of rape? In my opinion we can’t”. In addition to the UN, Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera said in an interview with the French daily Libération, that Amnesty had “not found cases of rape….Not only have we not met any victims, but we have not even met any persons who have met victims. As for the boxes of Viagra that Gaddafi is supposed to have had distributed, they were found intact near tanks that were completely burnt out”.
However, this did not stop some news manufacturers from trying to maintain the rape claims, in modified form. The BBC went on to add another layer just a few days after Bassiouni humiliated the ICC and the media: the BBC now claimed that rape victims in Libya faced “honour killings”. This is news to the few Libyans I know, who never heard of honour killings in their country. The scholarly literature on Libya turns up little or nothing on this phenomenon in Libya. The honour killings myth serves a useful purpose for keeping the mass rape claim on life support: it suggests that women would not come forward and give evidence, out of shame. Also just a few days after Bassiouni spoke, Libyan insurgents, in collaboration with CNN, made a last-ditch effort to save the rape allegations: they presented a cell phone with a rape video on it, claiming it belonged to a government soldier. The men shown in the video are in civilian clothes. There is no evidence of Viagra. There is no date on the video and we have no idea who recorded it or where. Those presenting the cell phone claimed that many other videos existed, but they were conveniently being destroyed to preserve the “honour” of the victims.

6. Responsibility to Protect (R2P).
Having asserted, wrongly as we saw, that Libya faced impending “genocide” at the hands of Gaddafi’s forces, it became easier for Western powers to invoke the UN’s 2005 doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. Meanwhile, it is not at all clear that by the time the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 that the violence in Libya had even reached the levels seen in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. The most common refrain used against critics of the selectivity of this supposed “humanitarian interventionism” is that just because the West cannot intervene everywhere does not mean it should not intervene in Libya. Maybe…but that still does not explain why Libya was the chosen target. This is a critical point because some of the earliest critiques of R2P voiced at the UN raised the issue of selectivity, of who gets to decide, and why some crises where civilians are targeted (say, Gaza) are essentially ignored, while others receive maximum concern, and whether R2P served as the new fig leaf for hegemonic geopolitics.
The myth at work here is that foreign military intervention was guided by humanitarian concerns. To make the myth work, one has to willfully ignore at least three key realities. One thus has to ignore the new scramble for Africa, where Chinese interests are seen as competing with the West for access to resources and political influence, something that AFRICOM is meant to challenge. Gaddafi challenged AFRICOM’s intent to establish military bases in Africa. AFRICOM has since become directly involved in the Libya intervention and specifically “Operation Odyssey Dawn”. Horace Campbell argued that “U.S. involvement in the Libyan bombing is being turned into a public relations ploy for AFRICOM” and an “opportunity to give AFRICOM credibility under the facade of the Libyan intervention”. In addition, Gaddafi’s power and influence on the continent had also been increasing, through aid, investment, and a range of projects designed to lessen African dependency on the West and to challenge Western multilateral institutions by building African unity—rendering him a rival to U.S. interests. Secondly, one has to ignore not just the anxiety of Western oil interests over Gaddafi’s “resource nationalism” (threatening to take back what oil companies had gained), an anxiety now clearly manifest in the European corporate rush into Libya to scoop up the spoils of victory—but one has to also ignore the apprehension over what Gaddafi was doing with those oil revenues in supporting greater African economic independence, and for historically backing national liberation movements that challenged Western hegemony. Thirdly, one has to also ignore the fear in Washington that the U.S. was losing a grip on the course of the so-called “Arab revolution”. How one can stack up these realities, and match them against ambiguous and partial “humanitarian” concerns, and then conclude that, yes, human rights is what mattered most, seems entirely implausible and unconvincing—especially with the atrocious track record of NATO and U.S. human rights violations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and before that Kosovo and Serbia. The humanitarian angle is simply neither credible nor even minimally logical.
If R2P is seen as founded on moral hypocrisy and contradiction—now definitively revealed—it will become much harder in the future to cry wolf again and expect to get a respectful hearing. This is especially the case since little in the way of diplomacy and peaceful negotiation preceded the military intervention—while Obama is accused by some of having been slow to react, this was if anything a rush to war, on a pace that by very far surpassed Bush’s invasion of Iraq. Not only do we know from the African Union about how its efforts to establish a peaceful transition were impeded, but Dennis Kucinich also reveals that he received reports that a peaceful settlement was at hand, only to be “scuttled by State Department officials”. These are absolutely critical violations of the R2P doctrine, showing how those ideals could instead be used for a practice that involved a hasty march to war, and war aimed at regime change (which is itself a violation of international law).
That R2P served as a justifying myth that often achieved the opposite of its stated aims, is no longer a surprise. I am not even speaking here of the role of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in bombing Libya and aiding the insurgents—even as they backed Saudi military intervention to crush the pro-democracy protests in Bahrain, nor of the ugly pall cast on an intervention led by the likes of unchallenged abusers of human rights who have committed war crimes with impunity in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I am taking a narrower approach—such as the documented cases where NATO not only willfully failed to protect civilians in Libya, but it even deliberately and knowingly targeted them in a manner that constitutes terrorism by most official definitions used by Western governments.
NATO admitted to deliberately targeting Libya’s state television, killing three civilian reporters, in a move condemned by international journalist federations as a direct violation of a 2006 Security Council resolution banning attacks on journalists. A U.S. Apache helicopter—in a repeat of the infamous killings shown in the Collateral Murder video—gunned down civilians in the central square of Zawiya, killing the brother of the information minister among others. Taking a fairly liberal notion of what constitutes “command and control facilities,” NATO targeted a civilian residential space resulting in the deaths of some of Gaddafi’s family members, including three grandchildren. As if to protect the myth of “protecting civilians” and the unconscionable contradiction of a “war for human rights,” the major news media often kept silent about civilian deaths caused by NATO bombardments. R2P has been invisible when it comes to civilians targeted by NATO.
In terms of the failure to protect civilians, in a manner that is actually an international criminal offense, we have the numerous reports of NATO ships ignoring the distress calls of refugee boats in the Mediterranean that were fleeing Libya. In May, 61 African refugees died on a single vessel, despite making contact with vessels belonging to NATO member states. In a repeat of the situation, dozens died in early August on another vessel. In fact, on NATO’s watch, at least 1,500 refugees fleeing Libya have died at sea since the war began. They were mostly Sub-Saharan Africans, and they died in multiples of the death toll suffered by Benghazi during the protests. R2P was utterly absent for these people.
NATO has developed a peculiar terminological twist for Libya, designed to absolve the rebels of any role in perpetrating crimes against civilians, and abdicating its so-called responsibility to protect. Throughout the war, spokespersons for NATO and for the U.S. and European governments consistently portrayed all of the actions of Gaddafi’s forces as “threatening civilians,” even when engaged in either defensive actions, or combat against armed opponents. For example, this week the NATO spokesperson, Roland Lavoie, “appeared to struggle to explain how NATO strikes were protecting civilians at this stage in the conflict. Asked about NATO’s assertion that it hit 22 armed vehicles near Sirte on Monday, he was unable to say how the vehicles were threatening civilians, or whether they were in motion or parked”.
By protecting the rebels, in the same breath as they spoke of protecting civilians, it is clear that NATO intended for us to see Gaddafi’s armed opponents as mere civilians. Interestingly, in Afghanistan, where NATO and the U.S. fund, train, and arm the Karzai regime in attacking “his own people” (like they do in Pakistan), the armed opponents are consistently labeled “terrorists” or “insurgents”—even if the majority of them are civilians who have never served in any official standing army. They are insurgents in Afghanistan, and their deaths at the hands of NATO are listed separately from the tallies for civilian casualties. By some magic, in Libya, they are all “civilians”. In response to the announcement of the UN Security Council voting for military intervention, a volunteer translator for Western reporters in Tripoli made this key observation: “Civilians holding guns, and you want to protect them? It’s a joke. We are the civilians. What about us?”
NATO has provided a shield for the insurgents in Libya to victimize unarmed civilians in areas they came to occupy. There was no hint of any “responsibility to protect” in these cases. NATO assisted the rebels in starving Tripoli of supplies, subjecting its civilian population to a siege that deprived them of water, food, medicine, and fuel. When Gaddafi was accused of doing this to Misrata, the international media were quick to cite this as a war crime. Save Misrata, kill Tripoli—whatever you want to label such “logic,” humanitarian is not an acceptable option. Leaving aside the documented crimes by the insurgents against black Libyans and African migrant workers, the insurgents were also found by Human Rights Watch to have engaged in “looting, arson, and abuse of civilians in [four] recently captured towns in western Libya”. In Benghazi, which the insurgents have held for months now, revenge killings have been reported by The New York Times as late as this May, and by Amnesty International in late June and faulted the insurgents’ National Transitional Council. The responsibility to protect? It now sounds like something deserving wild mockery.

7. Gaddafi—the Demon.
Depending on your perspective, either Gaddafi is a heroic revolutionary, and thus the demonization by the West is extreme, or Gaddafi is a really bad man, in which case the demonization is unnecessary and absurd. The myth here is that the history of Gaddafi’s power was marked only by atrocity—he is thoroughly evil, without any redeeming qualities, and anyone accused of being a “Gaddafi supporter” should somehow feel more ashamed than those who openly support NATO. This is binary absolutism at its worst—virtually no one made allowance for the possibility that some might neither support Gaddafi, the insurgents, nor NATO. Everyone was to be forced into one of those camps, no exceptions allowed. What resulted was a phony debate, dominated by fanatics of one side or another. Missed in the discussion, recognition of the obvious: however much Gaddafi had been “in bed” with the West over the past decade, his forces were now fighting against a NATO-driven take over of his country.
The other result was the impoverishment of historical consciousness, and the degradation of more complex appreciations of the full breadth of the Gaddafi record. This would help explain why some would not rush to condemn and disown the man (without having to resort to crude and infantile caricaturing of their motivations). While even Glenn Greenwald feels the need to dutifully insert, “No decent human being would possibly harbor any sympathy for Gadaffi,” I have known decent human beings in Nicaragua, Trinidad, Dominica, and among the Mohawks in Montreal who very much appreciate Gaddafi’s support—not to mention his support for various national liberation movements, including the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Gaddafi’s regime has many faces: some are seen by his domestic opponents, others are seen by recipients of his aid, and others were smiled at by the likes of Silvio Berlusconi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Condoleeza Rice, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. There are many faces, and they are all simultaneously real. Some refuse to “disown” Gaddafi, to “apologize” for his friendship towards them, no matter how distasteful, indecent, and embarrassing other “progressives” may find him. That needs to be respected, instead of this now fashionable bullying and gang banging that reduces a range of positions to one juvenile accusation: “you support a dictator”. Ironically, we support many dictators, with our very own tax dollars, and we routinely offer no apologies for this fact.
Speaking of the breadth of Gaddafi’s record, that ought to resist simplistic, revisionist reduction, some might care to note that even now, the U.S. State Department’s webpage on Libya still points to a Library of Congress Country Study on Libya that features some of the Gaddafi government’s many social welfare achievements over the years in the areas of medical care, public housing, and education. In addition, Libyans have the highest literacy rate in Africa (see UNDP, p. 171) and Libya is the only continental African nation to rank “high” in the UNDP’s Human Development Index. Even the BBC recognized these achievements:
“Women in Libya are free to work and to dress as they like, subject to family constraints. Life expectancy is in the seventies. And per capita income—while not as high as could be expected given Libya’s oil wealth and relatively small population of 6.5m—is estimated at $12,000 (£9,000), according to the World Bank. Illiteracy has been almost wiped out, as has homelessness—a chronic problem in the pre-Gaddafi era, where corrugated iron shacks dotted many urban centres around the country”.
So if one supports health care, does that mean one supports dictatorship? And if “the dictator” funds public housing and subsidizes incomes, do we simply erase those facts from our memory?

8. Freedom Fighters—the Angels.
The complement to the demonization of Gaddafi was the angelization of the “rebels”. My aim here is not to counter the myth by way of inversion, and demonizing all of Gaddafi’s opponents, who have many serious and legitimate grievances, and in large numbers have clearly had more than they can bear. I am instead interested in how “we,” in the North Atlantic part of the equation, construct them in ways that suit our intervention. One standard way, repeated in different ways across a range of media and by U.S. government spokespersons, can be seen in this New York Times depiction of the rebels as “secular-minded professionals—lawyers, academics, businesspeople—who talk about democracy, transparency, human rights and the rule of law”. The listing of professions familiar to the American middle class which respects them, is meant to inspire a shared sense of identification between readers and the Libyan opposition, especially when we recall that it is on the Gaddafi side where the forces of darkness dwell: the main “professions” we find are torturer, terrorist, and African mercenary.
For many weeks it was almost impossible to get reporters embedded with the rebel National Transitional Council in Benghazi to even begin to provide a description of who constituted the anti-Gaddafi movement, if it was one organization or many groups, what their agendas were, and so forth. The subtle leitmotif in the reports was one that cast the rebellion as entirely spontaneous and indigenous—which may be true, in part, and it may also be an oversimplification. Among the reports that significantly complicated the picture were those that discussed the CIA ties to the insurgents (for more, see this, this, this, and that); others highlighted the role of the National Endowment for Democracy, the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, and USAID, which have been active in Libya since 2005; those that detailed the role of various expatriate groups; and, reports of the active role of “radical Islamist” militias embedded within the overall insurgency, with some pointing to Al Qaeda connections.
Some feel a definite need for being on the side of “the good guys,” especially as neither Iraq nor Afghanistan offer any such sense of righteous vindication. Americans want the world to see them as doing good, as being not only indispensable, but also irreproachable. They could wish for nothing better than being seen as atoning for their sins in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a special moment, where the bad guy can safely be the other once again. A world that is safe for America is a world that is unsafe for evil. Marching band, baton twirlers, Anderson Cooper, confetti—we get it.

9. Victory for the Libyan People.
To say that the current turn in Libya represents a victory by the Libyan people in charting their own destiny is, at best, an oversimplification that masks the range of interests involved since the beginning in shaping and determining the course of events on the ground, and that ignores the fact that for much of the war Gaddafi was able to rely on a solid base of popular support. As early as February 25, a mere week after the start of the first street protests, Nicolas Sarkozy had already determined that Gaddafi “must go”. By February 28, David Cameron began working on a proposal for a no-fly zone—these statements and decisions were made without any attempt at dialogue and diplomacy. By March 30, The New York Times reported that for “several weeks” CIA operatives had been working inside Libya, which would mean they were there from mid-February, that is, when the protests began—they were then joined inside Libya by “dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers”. The NYT also reported in the same article that “several weeks” before (again, around mid-February), President Obama Several “signed a secret finding authorizing the CIA to provide arms and other support to Libyan rebels,” with that “other support” entailing a range of possible “covert actions”. USAID had already deployed a team to Libya by early March. At the end of March, Obama publicly stated that the objective was to depose Gaddafi. In terribly suspicious wording, “a senior U.S. official said the administration had hoped that the Libyan uprising would evolve ‘organically,’ like those in Tunisia and Egypt, without need for foreign intervention”—which sounds like exactly the kind of statement one makes when something begins in a fashion that is not “organic” and when comparing events in Libya as marked by a potential legitimacy deficit when compared to those of Tunisia and Egypt. Yet on March 14 the NTC’s Abdel Hafeez Goga asserted, “We are capable of controlling all of Libya, but only after the no-fly zone is imposed”—which is still not the case even six months later.
In recent days it has also been revealed that what the rebel leadership swore it would oppose—“foreign boots on the ground”—is in fact a reality confirmed by NATO: “Special forces troops from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar on the ground in Libya have stepped up operations in Tripoli and other cities in recent days to help rebel forces as they conducted their final advance on the Gadhafi regime”. This, and other summaries, are only scratching the surface of the range of external support provided to the rebels. The myth here is that of the nationalist, self-sufficient rebel, fueled entirely by popular support.
At the moment, war supporters are proclaiming the intervention a “success”. It should be noted that there was another case where an air campaign, deployed to support local armed militia on the ground, aided by U.S. covert military operatives, also succeeded in deposing another regime, and even much more quickly. That case was Afghanistan. Success.

10. Defeat for “the Left”.
As if reenacting the pattern of articles condemning “the left” that came out in the wake of the Iran election protests in 2009 (see as examples Hamid Dabashi and Slavoj Žižek), the war in Libya once again seemed to have presented an opportunity to target the left, as if this was topmost on the agenda—as if “the left” was the problem to be addressed. Here we see articles, in various states of intellectual and political disrepair, by Juan Cole (see some of the rebuttals: “The case of Professor Juan Cole,” “An open letter to Professor Juan Cole: A reply to a slander,” “Professor Cole ‘answers’ WSWS on Libya: An admission of intellectual and political bankruptcy”), Gilbert Achcar (and this especially), Immanuel Wallerstein, and Helena Sheehan who seemingly arrived at some of her most critical conclusions at the airport at the end of her very first visit to Tripoli.
There seems to be some confusion over roles and identities. There is no homogeneous left, nor ideological agreement among anti-imperialists (which includes conservatives and libertarians, among anarchists and Marxists). Nor was the “anti-imperialist left” in any position to either do real harm on the ground, as is the case of the actual protagonists. There was little chance of the anti-interventionists in influencing foreign policy, which took shape in Washington before any of the serious critiques against intervention were published. These points suggest that at least some of the critiques are moved by concerns that go beyond Libya, and that even have very little to do with Libya ultimately. The most common accusation is that the anti-imperialist left is somehow coddling a dictator. The argument is that this is based on a flawed analysis—in criticizing the position of Hugo Chávez, Wallerstein says Chávez’s analysis is deeply flawed, and offers this among the criticisms: “The second point missed by Hugo Chavez’s analysis is that there is not going to be any significant military involvement of the western world in Libya” (yes, read it again). Indeed, many of the counterarguments deployed against the anti-interventionist left echo or wholly reproduce the top myths that were dismantled above, that get their geopolitical analysis almost entirely wrong, and that pursue politics focused in part on personality and events of the day. This also shows us the deep poverty of politics premised primarily on simplistic and one-sided ideas of “human rights” and “protection” (see Richard Falk’s critique), and the success of the new military humanism in siphoning off the energies of the left. And a question persists: if those opposed to intervention were faulted for providing a moral shield for “dictatorship” (as if imperialism was not itself a global dictatorship), what about those humanitarians who have backed the rise of xenophobic and racist militants who by so many accounts engage in ethnic cleansing? Does it mean that the pro-interventionist crowd is racist? Do they even object to the racism? So far, I have heard only silence from those quarters.
The agenda in brow-beating the anti-imperialist straw man masks an effort to curb dissent against an unnecessary war that has prolonged and widened human suffering; advanced the cause of war corporatists, transnational firms, and neoliberals; destroyed the legitimacy of multilateral institutions that were once openly committed to peace in international relations; violated international law and human rights; witnessed the rise of racist violence; empowered the imperial state to justify its continued expansion; violated domestic laws; and reduced the discourse of humanitarianism to a clutch of simplistic slogans, reactionary impulses, and formulaic policies that privilege war as a first option. Really, the left is the problem here?

Maximilian Forte is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. His website can be found at http://openanthropology.org/ as can his previous articles on Libya and other facets of imperialism.
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"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare

The Pitfalls Of National Consciousness - Frantz Fanon

The Pitfalls of National Consciousness.
Chapter 3 - The Wretched of the Earth
By Frantz Fanon, 1961

Source: Les damnés de la terre by François Maspéro éditeur in 1961;
First published: in Great Britain by Macgibbon and Kee in 1965;
Transcribed: by Dominic Tweedie.

HISTORY teaches us clearly that the battle against colonialism does not run straight away along the lines of nationalism. For a very long time the native devotes his energies to ending certain definite abuses: forced labour, corporal punishment, inequality of salaries, limitation of political rights, etc. This fight for democracy against the oppression of mankind will slowly leave the confusion of neo-liberal universalism to emerge, sometimes laboriously, as a claim to nationhood. It so happens that the unpreparedness of the educated classes, the lack of practical links between them and the mass of the people, their laziness, and, let it be said, their cowardice at the decisive moment of the struggle will give rise to tragic mishaps.

National consciousness, instead of being the all-embracing crystallization of the innermost hopes of the whole people, instead of being the immediate and most obvious result of the mobilization of the people, will be in any case only an empty shell, a crude and fragile travesty of what it might have been. The faults that we find in it are quite sufficient explanation of the facility with which, when dealing with young and independent nations, the nation is passed over for the race, and the tribe is preferred to the state. These are the cracks in the edifice which show the process of retrogression that is so harmful and prejudicial to national effort and national unity. We shall see that such retrograde steps with all the weaknesses and serious dangers that they entail are the historical result of the incapacity of the national middle class to rationalize popular action, that is to say their incapacity to see into the reasons for that action.

This traditional weakness, which is almost congenital to the national consciousness of under-developed countries, is not solely the result of the mutilation of the colonized people by the colonial regime. It is also the result of the intellectual laziness of the national middle class, of its spiritual penury, and of the profoundly cosmopolitan mould that its mind is set in.

The national middle class which takes over power at the end of the colonial regime is an under-developed middle class. It has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace. In its wilful narcissism, the national middle class is easily convinced that it can advantageously replace the middle class of the mother country. But that same independence which literally drives it into a comer will give rise within its ranks to catastrophic reactions, and will oblige it to send out frenzied appeals for help to the former mother country. The university and merchant classes which make up the most enlightened section of the new state are in fact characterized by the smallness of their number and their being concentrated in the capital, and the type of activities in which they are engaged: business, agriculture and the liberal professions. Neither financiers nor industrial magnates are to be found within this national middle class. The national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building, nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type. Its innermost vocation seems to be to keep in the running and to be part of the racket. The psychology of the national bourgeoisie is that of the businessman, not that of a captain of industry; and it is only too true that the greed of the settlers and the system of embargoes set up by colonialism has hardly left them any other choice.

Under the colonial system, a middle class which accumulates capital is an impossible phenomenon. Now, precisely, it would seem that the historical vocation of an authentic national middle class in an under-developed country is to repudiate its own nature in so far as it is bourgeois, that is to say in so far as it is the tool of capitalism, and to make itself the willing slave of that revolutionary capital which is the people.

In an under-developed country an authentic national middle class ought to consider as its bounden duty to betray the calling fate has marked out for it, and to put itself to school with the people: in other words to put at the people’s disposal the intellectual and technical capital that it has snatched when going through the colonial universities. But unhappily we shall see that very often the national middle class does not follow this heroic, positive, fruitful and just path; rather, it disappears with its soul set at peace into the shocking ways — shocking because anti-national — of a traditional bourgeoisie, of a bourgeoisie which is stupidly, contemptibly, cynically bourgeois.

The objective of nationalist parties as from a certain given period is, we have seen, strictly national. They mobilize the people with slogans of independence, and for the rest leave it to future events. When such parties are questioned on the economic programme of the state that they are clamouring for, or on the nature of the regime which they propose to install, they are incapable of replying, because, precisely, they are completely ignorant of the economy of their own country.

This economy has always developed outside the limits of their knowledge. They have nothing more than an approximate, bookish acquaintance with the actual and potential resources of their country’s soil and mineral deposits; and therefore they can only speak of these resources on a general and abstract plane. After independence this under-developed middle class, reduced in numbers and without capital, which refuses to follow the path of revolution, will fall into deplorable stagnation. It is unable to give free rein to its genius, which formerly it was wont to lament, though rather too glibly, was held in check by colonial domination. The precariousness of its resources and the paucity of its managerial class forces it back for years into an artisan economy. From its point of view, which is inevitably a very limited one, a national economy is an economy based on what may be called local products. Long speeches will be made about the artisan class. Since the middle classes find it impossible to set up factories that would be more profit-earning both for themselves and for the country as a whole, they will surround the artisan class with a chauvinistic tenderness in keeping with the new awareness of national dignity, and which moreover will bring them in quite a lot of money. This cult of local products and this incapability to seek out new systems of management will be equally manifested by the bogging down of the national middle class in the methods of agricultural production which were characteristic of the colonial period.

The national economy of the period of independence is not set on a new footing. It is still concerned with the ground-nut harvest, with the cocoa crop and the olive yield. In the same way there is no change in the marketing of basic products, and not a single industry is set up in the country. We go on sending out raw materials; we go on being Europe’s small farmers who specialize in unfinished products.

Yet the national middle class constantly demands the nationalization of the economy and of the trading sectors. This is because, from their point of view, nationalization does not mean placing the whole economy at the service of the nation and deciding to satisfy the needs of the nation. For them, nationalization does not mean governing the state with regard to the new social relations whose growth it has been decided to encourage. To them, nationalization quite simply means the transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period.

Since the middle class has neither sufficient material nor intellectual resources (by intellectual resources we mean engineers and technicians) it limits its claims to the taking over of business offices and commercial houses formerly occupied by the settlers. The national bourgeoisie steps into the shoes of the former European settlement: doctors, barristers, traders, commercial travellers, general agents and transport agents. It considers that the dignity of the country and its own welfare require that it should occupy all these posts. From now on it will insist that all the big foreign companies should pass through its hands, whether these companies wish to keep on their connections with the country, or to open it up. The national middle class discovers its historic mission: that of intermediary.

Seen through its eyes, its mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the masque of neocolonialism. The national bourgeoisie will be quite content with the role of the Western bourgeoisie’s business agent, and it will play its part without any complexes in a most dignified manner. But this same lucrative role, this cheap-jack’s function, this meanness of outlook and this absence of all ambition symbolize the incapability of the national middle class to fulfil its historic role of bourgeoisie. Here, the dynamic, pioneer aspect, the characteristics of the inventor and of the discoverer of new worlds which are found in all national bourgeoisies are lamentably absent. In the colonial countries, the spirit of indulgence is dominant at the core of the bourgeoisie; and this is because the national bourgeoisie identifies itself with the Western bourgeoisie, from whom it has learnt its lessons. It follows the Western bourgeoisie along its path of negation and decadence without ever having emulated it in its first stages of exploration and invention, stages which are an acquisition of that Western bourgeoisie whatever the circumstances. In its beginnings, the national bourgeoisie of the colonial countries identifies itself with the decadence of the bourgeoisie of the West. We need not think that it is jumping ahead; it is in fact beginning at the end. It is already senile before it has come to know the petulance, the fearlessness or the will to succeed of youth.

The national bourgeoisie will be greatly helped on its way towards decadence by the Western bourgeoisies, who come to it as tourists avid for the exotic, for big-game hunting and for casinos. The national bourgeoisie organizes centres of rest and relaxation and pleasure resorts to meet the wishes of the Western bourgeoisie. Such activity is given the name of tourism, and for the occasion will be built up as a national industry. If proof is needed of the eventual transformation of certain elements of the ex-native bourgeoisie into the organizers of parties for their Western opposite numbers, it is worth while having a look at what has happened in Latin America. The casinos of Havana and of Mexico, the beaches of Rio, the little Brazilian and Mexican girls, the half-breed thirteen-year-olds, the ports of Acapulco and Copacabana — all these are the stigma of this depravation of the national middle class. Because it is bereft of ideas, because it lives to itself and cuts itself off from the people, undermined by its hereditary incapacity to think in terms of all the problems of the nation as seen from the point of view of the whole of that nation, the national middle class will have nothing better to do than to take on the role of manager for Western enterprise, and it will in practice set up its country as the brothel of Europe.

Once again we must keep before us the unfortunate example of certain Latin American republics. The banking magnates, the technocrats and the big businessmen of the United States have only to step on to a plane and they are wafted into sub-tropical climes, there for a space of a week or ten days to luxuriate in the delicious depravities which their ‘reserves’ hold for them.

The behaviour of the national landed proprietors is practically identical with that of the middle classes of the towns. The big farmers have, as soon as independence was proclaimed, demanded the nationalization of agricultural production. Through manifold scheming practices they manage to make a clean sweep of the farms formerly owned by settlers, thus rein-forcing their hold on the district. But they do not try to introduce new agricultural methods, nor to farm more intensively, nor to integrate their farming systems into a genuinely national economy.

In fact, the landed proprietors will insist that the state should give them a hundred times more facilities and privileges than were enjoyed by the foreign settlers in former times. The exploitation of agricultural workers will be intensified and made legitimate. Using two or three slogans, these new colonists will demand an enormous amount of work from the agricultural labourers, in the name of the national effort of course. There will be no modernization of agriculture, no planning for development, and no initiative; for initiative throws these people into a panic since it implies a minimum of risk, and completely upsets the hesitant, prudent, landed bourgeoisie, which gradually slips more and more into the lines laid down by colonialism. In. the districts where this is the case, the only efforts made to better things are due to the government; it orders them, encourages them and finances them. The landed bourgeoisie refuses to take the slightest risk, and remains opposed to any venture and to any hazard. It has no intention of building upon sand; it demands solid investments and quick returns. The enormous profits which it pockets, enormous if we take into account the national revenue, are never reinvested. The money-in-the-stocking mentality is dominant in the psychology of these landed proprietors. Sometimes, especially in the years immediately following independence, the bourgeoisie does not hesitate to invest in foreign banks the profits that it makes out of its native soil.

On the other hand large sums are spent on display: on cars, country houses, and on all those things which have been justly described by economists as characterizing an under-developed bourgeoisie.

We have said that the native bourgeoisie which comes to power uses its class aggressiveness to corner the positions formerly kept for foreigners. On the morrow of independence, in fact, it violently attacks colonial personalities: barristers, traders, landed proprietors, doctors and higher civil servants. It will fight to the bitter end against these people ‘who insult our dignity as a nation’. It waves aloft the notion of the nationalization and Africanization of the ruling classes. The fact is that such action will become more and more tinged by racism, until the bourgeoisie bluntly puts the problem to the government by saying ‘We must have these posts’. They will not stop their snarling until they have taken over every one.

The working class of the towns, the masses of unemployed, the small artisans and craftsmen for their part line up behind this nationalist attitude; but in all justice let it be said, they only follow in the steps of their bourgeoisie. If the national bourgeoisie goes into competition with the Europeans, the artisans and craftsmen start a fight against non-national Africans. In the Ivory Coast, the anti-Dahoman and anti-Voltaic troubles are in fact racial riots. The Dahoman and Voltaic peoples, who control the greater part of the petty trade, are, once independence is declared, the object of hostile manifestations on the part of the people of the Ivory Coast. From nationalism we have passed to ultra-nationalism, to chauvinism, and finally to racism. These foreigners are called on to leave; their shops are burned, their street stalls are wrecked, and in fact the government of the Ivory Coast commands them to go, thus giving their nationals satisfaction. In Senegal it is the anti-Sudanese demonstrations which called forth these words from Mr Mamadou Dia:

“The truth is that the Senegalese people have only adopted the Mali mystique through attachment to its leaders. Their adhesion to the Mali has no other significance than that of a fresh act of faith in the political policy of the latter. The Senegalese territory was no less real, in fact it was all the more so in that the presence of the Sudanese in Dakar too obviously manifested for it to be forgotten. It is this fact which explains that, far from being regretted, the break-up of the Federation has been greeted with relief by the mass of the people and nowhere was a hand raised to maintain it.” (Mamadou Dia: Nations africaines et sohdarite mondial, Presses Universitaires de France, p. 140.)

While certain sections of the Senegalese people jump at the chance which is afforded them by their own leaders to get rid of the Sudanese, who hamper them in commercial matters or in administrative posts, the Congolese, who stood by hardly daring to believe in the mass exodus of the Belgians, decide to bring pressure to bear on the Senegalese who have settled in Leopoldville and Elizabethville and to get them to leave.

As we see it, the mechanism is identical in the two sets of circumstances. If the Europeans get in the way of the intellectuals and business bourgeoisie of the young nation, for the mass of the people in the towns competition is represented principally by Africans of another nation. On the Ivory Coast these competitors are the Dahomans; in Ghana they are the Nigerians; in Senegal, they are the Sudanese.

When the bourgeoisie’s demands for a ruling class made up exclusively of Negroes or Arabs do not spring from an authentic movement of nationalization but merely correspond to an anxiety to place in the bourgeoisie’s hands the power held hitherto by the foreigner, the masses on their level present the same demands, confining, however, the notion of Negro or Arab within certain territorial limits. Between resounding assertions of the unity of the continent and this behaviour of the masses which has its inspiration in their leaders, many different attitudes may be traced. We observe a permanent see-saw between African unity, which fades quicker and quicker into the mists of oblivion, and a heart-breaking return to chauvinism in its most bitter and detestable form.

“On the Senegalese side, the leaders who have been the main theoreticians of African unity, and who several times over have sacrificed their local political organizations and their personal positions to this idea, are, though in all good faith, undeniably responsible. Their mistake — our mistake — has been, under pretext of fighting ‘Balkanization’, not to have taken into consideration the pre-colonial fact of territorialism. Our mistake has been not to have paid enough attention in our analyses to this phenomenon, which is the fruit of colonialism if you like, but also a sociological fact which no theory of unity, be it ever so laudable or attractive, can abolish. We have allowed ourselves to be seduced by a mirage; that of the structure which is the most pleasing to our minds; and, mistaking our ideal for reality, we have believed it enough to condemn territorialism, and its natural sequel, micro-nationalism, for us to get the better of them, and to assure the success of our chimerical undertaking”. (Mamadou Dia, op. cit.)

From the chauvinism of the Senegalese to the tribalism of the Yolofs is not a big step. For, in fact, everywhere that the national bourgeoisie has failed to break through to the people as a whole, to enlighten them, and to consider all problems in the first place with regard to them — a failure due to the bourgeoisie’s attitude of mistrust and to the haziness of its political tenets — everywhere where that national bourgeoisie has shown itself incapable of extending its vision of the world sufficiently, we observe a falling back towards old tribal attitudes, and, furious and sick at heart, we perceive that race feeling in its most exacerbated form is triumphing. Since the sole motto of the bourgeoisie is ‘Replace the foreigner’, and because it hastens in every walk of life to secure justice for itself and to take over the posts that the foreigner has vacated, the ‘small people’ of the nation — taxi-drivers, cake-sellers and shoeblacks — will be equally quick to insist that the Dahomans go home to their own country, or will even go further and demand that the Foulbis and the Peuhls return to their jungle or their mountains.

It is from this view-point that we must interpret the fact that in young, independent countries, here and there federalism triumphs. We know that colonial domination has marked certain regions out for privilege. The colony’s economy is not integrated into that of the nation as a whole. It is still organized in order to complete the economy of the different mother countries. Colonialism hardly ever exploits the whole of a country. It contents itself with bringing to light the natural resources, which it extracts, and exports to meet the needs of the mother country’s industries, thereby allowing certain sectors of the colony to become relatively rich. But the rest of the colony follows its path of under-development and poverty, or at all events sinks into it more deeply.

Immediately after independence, the nationals who live in the more prosperous regions realize their good luck, and show a primary and profound reaction in refusing to feed the other nationals. The districts which are rich in ‘ground-nuts, in cocoa and in diamonds come to the forefront, and dominate the empty panorama which the rest of the nation presents. The nationals of these rich regions look upon the others with hatred, and find in them envy and covetousness, and homicidal impulses. Old rivalries which were there before colonialism, old inter-racial hatred come to the surface. The Balubas refuse to feed the Luluas; Katanga forms itself into a state, and Albert Kalondji gets himself crowned king of South Kasai.

African unity, that vague formula, yet one to which the men and women of Africa were passionately attached, and whose operative value served to bring immense pressure to bear on colonialism, African unity takes off the mask, and crumbles into regionalism inside the hollow shell of nationality itself. The national bourgeoisie, since it is strung up to defend its immediate interests, and sees no farther than the end of its nose, reveals itself incapable of simply bringing national unity into being, or of building up the nation on a stable and productive basis. The national front which has forced colonialism to withdraw cracks up, and wastes the victory it has gained.

This merciless fight engaged upon by races and tribes, and this aggressive anxiety to occupy the posts left vacant by the departure of the foreigner, will equally give rise to religious rivalries. In the country districts and the bush, minor con-fraternities, local religions and maraboutic cults will show a new vitality and will once more take up their round of excommunications. In the big towns, on the level of the administrative classes, we will observe the coming to grips of the two great revealed religions, Islam and Catholicism.

Colonialism, which had been shaken to its very foundations by the birth of African unity, recovers its balance and tries now to break that will to unity by using all the movement’s weaknesses. Colonialism will set the African peoples moving by revealing to them the existence of ‘spiritual’ rivalries. In Senegal, it is the newspaper New Africa which week by week distils hatred of Islam and of the Arabs. The Lebanese, in whose hands is the greater part of the small trading enterprises on the western seaboard, are marked out for national obloquy. The missionaries find it opportune to remind the masses that long before the advent of European colonialism the great African empires were disrupted by the Arab invasion. There is no hesitation in saying that it was the Arab occupation which paved the way for European colonialism; Arab imperialism is commonly spoken of, and the cultural. imperialism of Islam is condemned. Moslems are usually kept out of the more important posts. In other regions the reverse is the case, and it is the native Christians who are considered as conscious, objective enemies of national independence.

Colonialism pulls every string shamelessly, and is only too content to set at loggerheads those Africans who only yesterday were leagued against the settlers. The idea of a Saint Bartholomew takes shape in certain minds, and the advocates of colonialism laugh to themselves derisively when they hear magnificent declarations about African unity. Inside a single nation, religion splits up the people into different spiritual communities, all of them kept up and stiffened by colonialism and its instruments. Totally unexpected events break out here and there. In regions where Catholicism or Protestantism predominates, we see the Moslem minorities flinging themselves with unaccustomed ardour into their devotions. The Islamic feast days are revived, and the Moslem religion defends itself inch by inch against the violent absolutism of the Catholic faith. Ministers of state are heard to say for the benefit of certain individuals that if they are not content they have only to go to Cairo. Sometimes American Protestantism transplants its anti-Catholic prejudices into African soil, and keeps up tribal rivalries through religion.

Taking the continent as a whole, this religious tension may be responsible for the revival of the commonest racial feeling. Africa is divided into Black and White, and the names that are substituted — Africa south of the Sahara, Africa north of the Sahara — do not manage to hide this latent racism. Here, it is affirmed that White Africa has a thousand-year-old tradition of culture; that she is Mediterranean, that she is a Continuation of Europe and that she shares in Graeco-Latin civilization. Black Africa is looked on as a region that is inert, brutal, uncivilized — in a word, savage. There, all day long you may hear unpleasant remarks about veiled women, polygamy and the supposed disdain the Arabs have for the feminine sex. All such remarks are reminiscent in their aggressiveness of those that are so often heard coming from the settler’s lips. The national bourgeoisie of each of these two great religions, which has totally assimilated colonialist thought in its most corrupt form, takes over from the Europeans and establishes in the continent a racial philosophy which is extremely harmful for the future of Africa. By its laziness and will to imitation, it promotes the ingrafting and stiffening of racism which was characteristic of the colonial era. Thus it is by no means astonishing to hear in a country that calls itself African remarks which are neither more nor less than racist, and to observe the existence of paternalist behaviour which gives you the bitter impression that you are in Paris, Brussels or London.

In certain regions of Africa, drivelling paternalism with regard to the blacks and the loathsome idea derived from Western culture that the black man is impervious to logic and the sciences reign in all their nakedness. Sometimes it may be ascertained that the black minorities are hemmed in by a kind of semi-slavery which renders legitimate that species of wariness, or in other words mistrust, which the countries of Black Africa feel with regard to the countries of White Africa. It is all too common that a citizen of Black Africa hears himself called a ‘Negro’ by the children when walking in the streets of a big town in White Africa, or finds that civil servants address him in pidgin English.

Yes, unfortunately it is not unknown that students from Black Africa who attend secondary schools north of the Sahara hear their schoolfellows asking if in their country there are houses, if they know what electricity is, or if they practise cannibalism in their families. Yes, unfortunately it is not unknown that in certain regions north of the Sahara Africans coming from countries south of the Sahara meet nationals who implore them to take them ‘anywhere at all on condition we meet Negroes’. In parallel fashion, in certain young states of Black Africa members of parliament, or even ministers, maintain without a trace of humour that the danger is not at all of a reoccupation of their country by colonialism but of an eventual invasion by ‘those vandals of Arabs coming from the North’.

As we see it, the bankruptcy of the bourgeoisie is not apparent in the economic field only. They have come to power in the name of a narrow nationalism and representing a race; they will prove themselves incapable of triumphantly putting into practice a programme with even a minimum humanist content, in spite of fine-sounding declarations which are devoid of meaning since the speakers bandy about in irresponsible fashion phrases that come straight out of European treatises on morals and political philosophy. When the bourgeoisie is strong, when it can arrange everything and everybody to serve its power, it does not hesitate to affirm positively certain democratic ideas which claim to be universally applicable. There must be very exceptional circumstances if such a bourgeoisie, solidly based economically, is forced into denying its own humanist ideology. The Western bourgeoisie, though fundamentally racist, most often manages to mask this racism by a multiplicity of nuances which allow it to preserve intact its proclamation of mankind’s outstanding dignity.

The Western bourgeoisie has prepared enough fences and railings to have no real fear of the competition of those whom it exploits and holds in contempt. Western bourgeois racial prejudice as regards the nigger and the Arab is a racism of contempt; it is a racism which minimizes what it hates. Bourgeois ideology, however, which is the proclamation of an essential equality between men, manages to appear logical in its own eyes by inviting the sub-men to become human, and to take as their prototype Western humanity as incarnated in the Western bourgeoisie.

The racial prejudice of the young national bourgeoisie is a racism of defence, based on fear. Essentially it is no different from vulgar tribalism, or the rivalries between septs or confraternities. We may understand why keen-wined international observers have hardly taken seriously the great flights of oratory about African unity, for it is true that there are so many cracks in that unity visible to the naked eye that it is only reasonable to insist that all these contradictions ought to be resolved before the day of unity can come.

The people of Africa have only recently come to know themselves. They have decided, in the name of the whole continent, to weigh in strongly against the colonial regime. Now the nationalist bourgeoisies, who in region after region hasten to make their own fortunes and to set up a national system of exploitation, do their utmost to put obstacles in the path of this ‘Utopia’. The national bourgeoisies, who are quite clear as to what their objectives are, have decided to bar the way to that unity, to that coordinated effort on the part of two hundred and fifty million men to triumph over stupidity, hunger and inhumanity at one and the same time. This is why we must understand that African unity can only be achieved through the upward thrust of the people, and under the leadership of the people, that is to say, in defiance of the interests of the bourgeoisie.

As regards internal affairs and in the sphere of institutions, the national bourgeoisie will give equal proof of its incapacity. In a certain number of under-developed countries the parliamentary game is faked from the beginning. Powerless economically, unable to bring about the existence of coherent social relations, and standing on the principle of its domination as a class, the bourgeoisie chooses the solution that seems to it the easiest, that of the single party. It does not yet have the quiet conscience and the cairn that economic power and the control of the state machine alone can give. It does not create a state that reassures the ordinary citizen, but rather one that rouses his anxiety

The state, which by its strength and discretion ought to inspire confidence and disarm and lull everybody to sleep, on the contrary seeks to impose itself in spectacular fashion. It makes a display, it jostles people and bullies them, thus intimating to the citizen that he is in continual danger. The single party is the modem form of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, unmasked, unpainted, unscrupulous and cynical.

It is true that such a dictatorship does not go very far. It cannot halt the processes of its own contradictions. Since the bourgeoisie has not the economic means to ensure its domination and to throw a few crumbs to the rest of the country; since, moreover, it is preoccupied with filling its pockets as rapidly as possible but also as prosaically as possible, the country sinks all the more deeply into stagnation. And in order to hide this stagnation and to mask this regression, to reassure itself and to give itself something to boast about, the bourgeoisie can find nothing better to do than to erect grandiose buildings in the capital and to lay out money on what are called prestige expenses.

The national bourgeoisie turns its back more and more on the interior and on the real facts of its undeveloped country, and tends to look towards the former mother country and the foreign capitalists who count on its obliging compliance. As it does not share its profits with the people and in no way allows them to enjoy any of the dues that are paid to it by the big foreign companies, it will discover the need for a popular leader to whom will fall the dual role of stabilizing the regime and of perpetuating the domination of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois dictatorship of under-developed countries draws its strength from the existence of a leader. We know that in the well-developed countries the bourgeois dictatorship is the result of the economic power of the bourgeoisie. In the under-developed countries on the contrary the leader stands for moral power, in whose shelter the thin and poverty-stricken bourgeoisie of the young nation decides to get rich.

The people who for years on end have seen this leader and heard him speak, who from a distance in a kind of dream have followed his contests with the colonial power, spontaneously put their trust in this patriot. Before independence, the leader generally embodies the aspirations of the people for independence, political liberty and national dignity. But as soon as independence is declared, far from embodying in concrete form the needs of the people in what touches bread, land and the restoration of the country to the sacred hands of the people, the leader will reveal his inner purpose: to become the general president of that company of profiteers impatient for their returns which constitutes the national bourgeoisie.

In spite of his frequently honest conduct and his sincere declarations, the leader as seen objectively is the fierce defender of these interests, today combined, of the national bourgeoisie and the ex-colonial companies. His honesty, which is his soul’s true bent, crumbles away little by little. His contact with the masses is so unreal that he comes to believe that his authority is hated and that the services that he has rendered his country are being called in question. The leader judges the ingratitude of the masses harshly, and every day that passes ranges himself a little more resolutely on the side of the exploiters. He therefore knowingly becomes the aider and abettor of the young bourgeoisie which is plunging into the mire of corruption and pleasure.

The economic channels of the young state sink back inevitably into neo-colonialist lines. The national economy, formerly protected, is today literally controlled. The budget is balanced through loans and gifts, while every three or four months the chief ministers themselves or else their governmental delegations come to the erstwhile mother countries or elsewhere, fishing for capital.

The former colonial power increases its demands, accumulates concessions and guarantees and takes fewer and fewer pains to mask the hold it has over the national government. The people stagnate deplorably in unbearable poverty; slowly they awaken to the unutterable treason of their leaders. This awakening is all the more acute in that the bourgeoisie is incapable of learning its lesson. The distribution of wealth that it effects is not spread out between a great many sectors; it is not ranged among different levels, nor does it set up a hierarchy of half-tones. The new caste is an affront all the more disgusting in that the immense majority, nine-tenths of the population, continue to die of starvation. The scandalous enrichment, speedy and pitiless, of this caste is accompanied by a decisive awakening on the part of the people, and a growing awareness that promises stormy days to come. The bourgeois caste, that section of the nation which annexes for its own profit all the wealth of the country, by a kind of unexpected logic will pass disparaging judgements upon the other Negroes and the other Arabs that more often than not are reminiscent of the racist doctrines of the former representatives of the colonial power. At one and the same time the poverty of the people, the immoderate money-making of the bourgeois caste, and its widespread scorn for the rest of the nation will harden thought and action.

But such threats will lead to the re-affirmation of authority and the appearance of dictatorship. The leader, who has behind him a lifetime of political action and devoted patriotism, constitutes a screen between the people and the rapacious bourgeoisie since he stands surety for the ventures of that caste and closes his eyes to their insolence, their mediocrity and their fundamental immorality. He acts as a braking-power on the awakening consciousness of the people. He comes to the aid of the bourgeois caste and hides his manoeuvres from the people, thus becoming the most eager worker in the task of mystifing and bewildering the masses. Every time he speaks to the people he calls to mind his often heroic life, the struggles he has led in the name of the people and the victories in their name he has achieved, thereby intimating clearly to the masses that they ought to go on putting their confidence in him. There are plenty of examples of African patriots who have introduced into the cautious political advance of their elders a decisive style characterized by its nationalist outlook. These men came from the backwoods, and they proclaimed, to the scandal of the dominating power and the shame of the nationals of the capital, that they came from the backwoods and that they spoke in the name of the Negroes. These men, who have sung the praises of their race, who have taken upon themselves the whole burden of the past, complete with cannibalism and degeneracy, find themselves today, alas, at the head of a team of administrators who turn their back on the jungle and who proclaim that the vocation of their people is to obey, to go on obeying and to be obedient till the end of time.

The leader pacifies the people. For years on end after independence has been won, we see him, incapable of urging on the people to a concrete task, unable really to open the future to them or of flinging them into the path of national reconstruction, that is to say, of their own reconstruction; we see him reassessing the history of independence and recalling the sacred unity of the struggle for liberation. The leader, because he refuses to break up the national bourgeoisie, asks the people to fall back into the past and to become drunk on the remembrance of the epoch which led up to independence. The leader, seen objectively, brings the people to a halt and persists in either expelling them from history or preventing them from taking root in it. During the struggle for liberation the leader awakened the people and promised them a forward march, heroic and unmitigated. Today, he uses every means to put them to sleep, and three or four times a year asks them to remember the colonial period and to look back on the long way they have come since then.

Now it must be said that the masses show themselves totally incapable of appreciating the long way they have come. The peasant who goes on scratching out a living from the soil, and the unemployed man who never finds employment do not manage, in spite of public holidays and flags, new and brightly-coloured though they may be, to convince themselves that anything has really changed in their lives. The bourgeoisie who are in power vainly increase the number of processions; the masses have no illusions. They are hungry; and the police officers, though now they are Africans, do not serve to reassure them particularly. The masses begin to sulk; they turn away from this nation in which they have been given no place and begin to lose interest in it.

From time to time, however, the leader makes an effort; he speaks on the radio or makes a tour of the country to pacify the people, to calm them and bemuse them. The leader is all the more necessary in that there is no party. During the period of the struggle for independence there was one right enough, a party led by the present leader. But since then this patty has sadly disintegrated; nothing is left but the shell of a party, the name, the emblem and the motto. The living party, which ought to make possible the free exchange of ideas which have been elaborated according to the real needs of the mass of the people, has been transformed into a trade union of individual interests. Since the proclamation of independence the party no longer helps the people to set out its demands, to become more aware of its needs and better able to establish its power. Today, the party’s mission is to deliver to the people the instructions which issue from the summit. There no longer exists the fruitful give-and-take from the bottom to the top and from the top to the bottom which creates and guarantees democracy in a party. Quite on the contrary, the party has made itself into a screen between the masses and the leaders. There is no longer any party life, for the branches which were set up during the colonial period are today completely demobilized.

The militant champs on his bit. Now it is that the attitude taken up by certain militants during the struggle for liberation is seen to be justified, for the fact is that in the thick of the fight more than a few militants asked the leaders to formulate a dogma, to set out their objectives and to draw up a programme. But under the pretext of safeguarding national unity, the leaders categorically refused to attempt such a task. The only worthwhile dogma, it was repeatedly stated, is the union of the nation against colonialism. And on they went, armed with an impetuous slogan which stood for principles, while their only ideological activity took the form of a series of variants on the theme of the right of peoples to self-determination, borne on the wind of history which would inevitably sweep away colonialism. When the militants asked whether the wind of history couldn’t be a little more clearly analysed, the leaders gave them instead hope and trust, the necessity of decolonialization and its inevitability, and more to that effect.

After independence, the party sinks into an extraordinary lethargy. The militants are only called upon when so-called popular manifestations are afoot, or international conferences, or independence celebrations. The local party leaders are given administrative posts, the party becomes an administration, and the militants disappear into the crowd and take the empty title of citizen. Now that they have fulfilled their historical mission of leading the bourgeoisie to power, they are firmly invited to retire so that the bourgeoisie may carry out its mission in peace and quiet. But we have seen that the national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is incapable of carrying out any mission whatever. After a few years, the break-up of the party becomes obvious, and any observer, even the most superficial, can notice that the party, today the skeleton of its former self, only serves to immobilize the people. The party, which during the battle had drawn to itself the whole nation, is falling to pieces. The intellectuals who on the eve of independence rallied to the party, now make it dear by their attitude that they gave their support with no other end in view than to secure their slices of the cake of independence. The party is becoming a means of private advancement.

There exists inside the new regime, however, an inequality in the acquisition of wealth and in monopolization. Some have a double source of income and demonstrate that they are specialized in opportunism. Privileges multiply and corruption triumphs, while morality declines. Today the vultures are too numerous and too voracious in proportion to the lean spoils of the national wealth. The party, a true instrument of power in the hands of the bourgeoisie, reinforces the machine, and ensures that the people are hemmed in and immobilized. The party helps the government to hold the people down. It becomes more and more clearly anti-democratic, an implement of coercion. The party is objectively, sometimes subjectively, the accomplice of the merchant bourgeoisie. In the same way that the national bourgeoisie conjures away its phase of construction in order to throw itself into the enjoyment of its wealth, in parallel fashion in the institutional sphere it jumps the parliamentary phase and chooses a dictatorship of the national-socialist type. We know today that this fascism at high interest which has triumphed for half a century in Latin America is the dialectic result of states which were semi-colonial during the period of independence.

In these poor, under-developed countries, where the rule is that the greatest wealth is surrounded by the greatest poverty, the army and the police constitute the pillars of the regime; an army and a police force (another rule which must not be forgotten) which are advised by foreign experts. The strength of the police force and the power of the army are proportionate to the stagnation in which the rest of the nation is sunk. By dint of yearly loans, concessions are snatched up by foreigners; scandals are numerous, ministers grow rich, their wives doll themselves up, the members of parliament feather their nests and there is not a soul down to the simple policeman or the customs officer who does not join in the great procession of corruption.

The opposition becomes more aggressive and the people at once catch on to its propaganda. From now on their hostility to the bourgeoisie is plainly visible. This young bourgeoisie which appears to be afflicted with precocious senility takes no heed of the advice showered upon it, and reveals itself incapable of understanding that it would be in its interest to draw a veil, even if only the flimsiest kind, over its exploitation. It is the most Christian newspaper The African Weekly, published in Brazzaville, which addresses the princes of the regime thus:

“You who are in good positions, you and your wives, today you enjoy many comforts; perhaps a good education, a fine house, good contacts and many missions on which you are delegated which open new horizons to you. But all your wealth forms a hard shell which prevents your seeing the poverty that surrounds you. Take care.”

This warning coming from The African Weekly and, addressed to the henchmen of Monsieur Youlou has, we may imagine, nothing revolutionary about it. What The African Weekly wants to point out to the starvers of the Congolese people is that God will punish their conduct. It continues: ‘If there is no room in your heart for consideration towards those who are beneath you, there will be no room for you in God’s house.'

It is clear that the national bourgeoisie hardly worries at all about such an indictment. With its wave-lengths tuned in to Europe, it continues firmly and resolutely to make the most of the situation. The enormous profits which it derives from the exploitation of the people are exported to foreign countries. The young national bourgeoisie is often more suspicious of the regime that it has set up than are the foreign companies. The national bourgeoisie refuses to invest in its own country and behaves towards the state that protects and nurtures it with, it must be remarked, astonishing ingratitude. It acquires foreign securities in the European markets, and goes off to spend the week-end in Paris or Hamburg. The behaviour of the national bourgeoisie of certain under-developed countries is reminiscent of the members of a gang, who after every hold-up hide their share in the swag from the other members who are their accomplices and prudently start thinking about their retirement. Such behaviour shows that more or less consciously the national bourgeoisie is playing to lose if the game goes on too long.

They guess that the present situation will not last indefinitely but they intend to make the most of it. Such exploitation and such contempt for the state, however, inevitably gives rise to discontent among the mass of the people. It is in these conditions that the regime becomes harsher. In the absence of a parliament it is the army that becomes the arbiter: but sooner or later it will realize its power and will hold over the government’s head the threat of a manifesto.

As we see it, the national bourgeoisie of certain under-developed countries has learned nothing from books. If they had looked closer at the Latin American countries they doubtless would have recognized the dangers which threaten them. We may thus conclude that this bourgeoisie in miniature that thrusts itself into the forefront is condemned to mark time, accomplishing nothing. In under-developed countries the bourgeois phase is impossibly arid. Certainly, there is a police dictatorship and a profiteering caste, but the construction of an elaborate bourgeois society seems to be condemned to failure. The ranks of decked-out profiteers whose grasping hands scrape up the bank-notes from a poverty-stricken country will sooner or later be men of straw in the hands of the army, cleverly handled by foreign experts. In this way the former mother country practises indirect government, both by the bourgeoisie that it upholds and also by the national army led by its experts, an army that pins the people down, immobilizing and terrorizing them.

The observations that we have been able to make about the national bourgeoisie bring us to a conclusion which should cause no surprise. In under-developed countries, the bourgeoisie should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existence and its growth. In other words, the combined effort of the masses led by a party and of intellectuals who are highly conscious and armed with revolutionary principles ought to bar the way to this useless and harmful middle class.

The theoretical question that for the last fifty years has been raised whenever the history of under-developed countries is under discussion — whether or not the bourgeois phase can be skipped — ought to be answered in the field of revolutionary action, and not by logic. The bourgeois phase in under-developed countries can only justify itself in so far as the national bourgeoisie has sufficient economic and technical strength to build up a bourgeois society, to create the conditions necessary for the development of a large-scale proletariat, to mechanize agriculture and finally to make possible the existence of an authentic national culture.

A bourgeoisie similar to that which developed in Europe is able to elaborate an ideology and at the same time strengthen its own power. Such a bourgeoisie, dynamic, educated and secular, has fully succeeded in its undertaking of the accumulation of capital and has given to the nation a minimum of prosperity. In under-developed countries, we have seen that no true bourgeoisie exists; there is only a sort of little greedy caste, avid and voracious, with the mind of a huckster, only too glad to accept the dividends that the former colonial power hands out to it. This get-rich-quick middle class shows itself incapable of great ideas or of inventiveness. It remembers what it has read in European textbooks and imperceptibly it becomes not even the replica of Europe, but its caricature.

The struggle against the bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is far from being a theoretical one. It is not concerned with making out its condemnation as laid down by the judgement of history. The national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries must not be opposed because it threatens to slow down the total, harmonious development of the nation. It must simply be stoutly opposed because, literally, it is good for nothing. This bourgeoisie, expressing its mediocrity in its profits, its achievements and in its thought, tries to hide this mediocrity by buildings which have prestige value at the individual level, by chromium plating on big American cars, by holidays on the Riviera and week-ends in neon-lit night-clubs.

This bourgeoisie which turns its back more and more on the people as a whole does not even succeed in extracting spectacular concessions from the West, such as investments which would be of value for the country’s economy or the setting up of certain industries. On the contrary, assembly plants spring up and consecrate the type of neo-colonialist industrialization in which the country’s economy flounders. Thus it must not be said that the national bourgeoisie retards the country’s evolution, that it makes it lose time or that it threatens to lead the nation up blind alleys. In fact, the bourgeois phase in the history of under-developed countries is a completely useless phase. When this caste has vanished, devoured by its own contradictions, it will be seen that nothing new has happened since independence was proclaimed, and that everything must be started again from scratch. The change-over will not take place at the level of the structures set up by the bourgeoisie during its reign, since that caste has done nothing more than take over unchanged the legacy of the economy, the thought and the institutions left by the colonialists.

It is all the easier to neutralize this bourgeois class in that, as we have seen, it is numerically, intellectually and economic-ally weak. In the colonized territories, the bourgeois caste draws its strength after independence chiefly from agreements reached with the former colonial power. The national bourgeoisie has all the more opportunity to take over from the oppressor since it has been given time for a leisurely tête-á-tête with the ex-colonial power. But deep-rooted contradictions undermine the ranks of that bourgeoisie; it is this that gives the observer an impression of instability. There is not as yet a homogeneity of caste. Many intellectuals, for example, condemn this regime based on the domination of the few. In under-developed countries, there are certain members of the elite, intellectuals and civil servants, who are sincere, who feel the necessity for a planned economy, the outlawing of profiteers and the strict prohibition of attempts at mystification. In addition, such men fight in a certain measure for the mass participation of the people in the ordering of public affairs.

In those under-developed countries which accede to independence, there almost always exists a small number of honest intellectuals, who have no very precise ideas about politics, but who instinctively distrust the race for positions and pensions which is symptomatic of the early days of independence in colonized countries. The personal situation of these men (bread-winners of large families) or their background (hard struggles and a strictly moral upbringing) explain their manifest contempt for profiteers and schemers. We must know how to use these men in the decisive battle that we mean to engage upon which will lead to a healthier outlook for the nation. Closing the road to the national bourgeoisie is, certainly, the means whereby the vicissitudes of new-found independence may be avoided, and with them the decline of morals, the installing of corruption within the country, economic regression, and the immediate disaster of an anti-democratic regime depending on force and intimidation. But it is also the only means towards progress.

What holds up the taking of a decision by the profoundly democratic elements of the young nation and adds to their timidity is the apparent strength of the bourgeoisie. In newly independent under-developed countries, the whole of the ruling class swarms into the towns built by colonialism. The absence of any analysis of the total population induces onlookers to think that there exists a powerful and perfectly organized bourgeoisie. In fact, we know today that the bourgeoisie in under-developed countries is non-existent. What creates a bourgeoisie is not the bourgeois spirit, nor its taste or manners, nor even its aspirations. The bourgeoisie is above all the direct product of precise economic conditions.

Now, in the colonies, the economic conditions are conditions of a foreign bourgeoisie. Through its agents, it is the bourgeoisie of the mother country that we find present in the colonial towns. The bourgeoisie in the colonies is, before independence, a Western bourgeoisie, a true branch of the bourgeoisie of the mother country, that derives its legitimacy, its force and its stability from the bourgeoisie of the homeland. During the period of unrest that precedes independence, certain native elements, intellectuals and traders, who live in the midst of that imported bourgeoisie, try to identify themselves with it. A permanent wish for identification with the bourgeois representatives of the mother country is to be found among the native intellectuals and merchants.

This native bourgeoisie, which has adopted unreservedly and with enthusiasm the ways of thinking characteristic of the mother country, which has become wonderfully detached from its own thought and has based its consciousness upon foundations which are typically foreign, will realize, with its mouth watering, that it lacks something essential to a bourgeoisie: money. The bourgeoisie of an under-developed country is a bourgeoisie in spirit only. It is not its economic strength, nor the dynamism of its leaders, nor the breadth of its ideas that ensures its peculiar quality of bourgeoisie. Consequently it remains at the beginning and for a long time afterwards a bourgeoisie of the civil service. It is the positions that it holds in the new national administration which will give it strength and serenity. If the government gives it enough time and opportunity, this bourgeoisie will manage to put away enough money to stiffen its domination. But it will always reveal itself as incapable of giving birth to an authentic bourgeois society with all the economic and industrial consequences which this entails.

From the beginning the national bourgeoisie directs its efforts towards activities of the intermediary type. The basis of its strength is found in its aptitude for trade and small business enterprises, and in securing commissions. It is not its money that works, but its business acumen. It does not go m for investments and it cannot achieve that accumulation of capital necessary to the birth and blossoming of an authentic bourgeoisie. At that rate it would take centuries to set on foot an embryonic industrial revolution, and in any case it would find the way barred by the relentless opposition of the former mother country, which will have taken all precautions when setting up neo-colonialist trade conventions.

If the government wants to bring the country out of its stagnation and set it well on the road towards development and progress, it must first and foremost nationalize the middle-man’s trading sector. The bourgeoisie, who wish to see both the triumph of the spirit of money-making and the enjoyment of consumer goods, and at the same time the triumph of their contemptuous attitude towards the mass of the people and the scandalous aspect of profit-making (should we not rather call it robbery?), in fact invest largely in this sector. The intermediary market which formerly was dominated by the settlers will be invaded by the young national bourgeoisie. In a colonial economy the intermediary sector is by far the most important. If you want to progress, you must decide in the first few hours to nationalize this sector. But it is clear that such a nationalization ought not to take on a rigidly state-controlled aspect. It is not a question of placing at the head of these services citizens who have had no political education. Every time such a procedure has been adopted it has been seen that the government has in fact contributed to the triumph of a dictatorship of civil servants who had been set in the mould of the former mother country, and who quickly showed themselves incapable of thinking in terms of the nation as a whole. These civil servants very soon began to sabotage the national economy and to throw its structure out of joint; under them, corruption, prevarication, the diversion of stocks and the black market came to stay. Nationalizing the intermediary sector means organizing wholesale and retail cooperatives on a democratic basis; it also means decentralizing these cooperatives by getting the mass of the people interested in the ordering of public affairs. You will not be able to do all this unless you give the people some political education. Previously, it was realized that this key problem should be clarified once and for all. Today, it is true that the principle of the political education of the masses is generally subscribed to in under-developed countries. But it does not seem that this primordial task is really taken to heart. When people stress the need to educate the people politically, they decide to point out at the same time that they want to be supported by the people in the action that they are taking. A government which declares that it wishes to educate the people politically thus expresses its desire to govern with the people and for the people. It ought not to speak a language destined to camouflage a bourgeois administration. In the capitalist countries, the bourgeois governments have long since left this infantile stage of authority behind. To put it bluntly, they govern with the help of their laws, their economic strength and their police. Now that their power is firmly established they no longer need to lose time in striking demagogic attitudes. They govern in their own interests, and they have the courage of their own strength. They have created legitimacy, and they are strong in their own right.

The bourgeois caste in newly independent countries have not yet the cynicism nor the unruffled calm which are founded on the strength of long-established bourgeoisies. From this springs the fact that they show a certain anxiety to hide their real convictions, to side-track, and in short to set themselves up as a popular force. But the inclusion of the masses in politics does not consist in mobilizing three or four times a year ten thousand or a hundred thousand men and women. These mass meetings and spectacular gatherings are akin to the old tactics that date from before independence, whereby you exhibited your forces in order to prove to yourself and to others that you had the people behind you. The political education of the masses proposes not to treat the masses as children but to make adults of them.

This brings us to consider the role of the political party in an under-developed country. We have seen in the preceding pages that very often simple souls, who moreover belong to the newly born bourgeoisie, never stop repeating that in an under-developed country the direction of affairs by a strong authority, in other words a dictatorship, is a necessity. With this in view the party is given the task of supervising the masses. The party plays understudy to the administration and the police, and controls the masses, not in order to make sure that they really participate in the business of governing the nation, but in order to remind them constantly that the government expects from them obedience and discipline. That famous dictatorship, whose supporters believe that it is called for by the historical process and consider it an indispensable prelude to the dawn of independence, in fact symbolizes the decision of the bourgeois caste to govern the under-developed country first with the help of the people, but soon against them. The progressive transformation of the party into an information service is the indication that the government holds itself more and more on the defensive. The incoherent mass of the people is seen as a blind force that must be continually held in check either by mystification or by the fear inspired by the police force. The party acts as a barometer and as an information service. The militant is turned into an informer. He is entrusted with punitive expeditions against the villages. The embryo opposition parties are liquidated by beatings and stonings. The opposition candidates see their houses set on fire. The police increase their provocations. In these conditions, you may be sure, the party is unchallenged and 99.99 per cent of the votes are cast for the governmental candidate. We should add that in Africa a certain number of governments actually behave in this way. All the opposition parties, which moreover are usually progressive and would therefore tend to work for the greater influence of the masses in the conduct of public matters, and who desire that the proud, money-making bourgeoisie should be brought to heel, have been by dint of baton charges and prisons condemned first to silence and then to a clandestine existence.

The political party in many parts of Africa which are today independent is puffed up in a most dangerous way. In the presence of a member of the party, the people are silent, behave like a flock of sheep and publish panegyrics in praise of the government of the leader. But in the street when evening comes, away from the village, in, the cafes or by the river, the bitter disappointment of the people, their despair but also their unceasing anger makes itself heard. The party, instead of welcoming the expression of popular discontentment, instead of taking for its fundamental purpose the free flow of ideas from the people up to the government, forms a screen, and forbids such ideas. The party leaders behave like common sergeant-majors, frequently reminding the people of the need for ‘silence in the ranks’. This party which used to call itself the servant of the people, which used to claim that it worked for the fail expression of the people’s will, as soon as the colonial power puts the country into its control hastens to send the people back to their caves. As far as national unity is concerned the party will also make many mistakes, as for example when the so-called national party behaves as a party based on ethnical differences. It becomes, in fact, the tribe which makes itself into a party. This party which of its own will proclaims that it is a national party, and which claims to speak in the name of the totality of the people, secretly, sometimes even openly organizes an authentic ethnical dictatorship. We no longer see the rise of a bourgeois dictatorship, but a tribal dictatorship. The ministers, the members of the cabinet, the ambassadors and local commissioners are chosen from the same ethnological group as the leader, sometimes directly from his own family. Such regimes of the family sort seem to go back to the old laws of inbreeding, and not anger but shame is felt when we are faced with such stupidity, such an imposture, such intellectual and spiritual poverty. These heads of the government are the true traitors in Africa, for they sell their country to the most terrifying of all its enemies: stupidity. This tribalizing of the central authority, it is certain, encourages regionalist ideas and separatism. All the decentralizing tendencies spring up again and triumph, and the nation falls to pieces, broken in bits. The leader, who once used to call for ‘African unity’ and who thought of his own little family wakes up one day to find himself saddled with five tribes, who also want to have their own ambassadors and ministers; and irresponsible as ever, still unaware and still despicable, he denounces their ‘treason’.

We have more than once drawn attention to the baleful influence frequently wielded by the leader. This is due to the fact that the party in certain districts is organized like a gang, with the toughest person in it as its head. The ascendancy of such a leader and his power over others is often mentioned, and people have no hesitation in declaring, in a tone of slightly admiring complicity that he strikes terror into his nearest collaborators. In order to avoid these many pitfalls an unceasing battle must be waged, a battle to prevent the party ever be-coming a willing tool in the hands of a leader. ‘Leader': the word comes from the English verb ‘to lead’, but a frequent French translation is ‘to drive’. The driver, the shepherd of the people no longer exists today. The people are no longer a herd; they do not need to be driven. If the leader drives me on, I want him to realize that at the same time I show him the way; the nation ought not to be something bossed by a Grand Panjandrum. We may understand the panic caused in governmental circles each time one of these leaders falls ill; they are obsessed by the question of who is to succeed him. What will happen to the country if the leader disappears? The ruling classes who have abdicated in favour of the leader, irresponsible, oblivious of everything and essentially preoccupied with the pleasures of their everyday life, their cocktail parties, their journeys paid for by government money, the profits they can make out of various schemes — from time to time these people discover the spiritual waste land at the heart of the nation.

A country that really wishes to answer the questions that history puts to it, that wants to develop not only its towns but also the brains of its inhabitants, such a country must possess a trustworthy political patty. The party is not a tool in the hands of the government. Quite on the contrary, the party is a tool in the hands of the people; it is they who decide on the policy that the government carries out. The party is not, and ought never to be, the only political bureau where all the members of the government and the chief dignitaries of the regime may meet freely together. Only too frequently the political bureau, unfortunately, consists of all the party and its members who reside permanently in the capital. In an underdeveloped country, the leading members of the party ought to avoid the capital as if it had the plague. They ought, with some few exceptions, to live in the country districts. The centralization of all activity in the city ought to be avoided. No excuse of administrative discipline should be taken as legitimizing that excrescence of a capital which is already over-populated and over-developed with regard to nine-tenths of the country. The party should be decentralized in the extreme. It is the only way to bring life to regions which are dead, those regions which are not yet awakened to life.

In practice, there will be at least one member of the political bureau in each area and he will deliberately not be appointed as head of that area. He will have no administrative powers. The regional member of the political bureau is not expected to hold the highest rank in the regional administrative organization. He ought not automatically to belong to the regional administrative body. For the people, the party is not an authority, but an organism through which they as the people exercise their authority and express their will. The less there is of confusion and duality of powers, the more the party will play its part of guide and the more surely it will constitute for the people a decisive guarantee. If the party is mingled with the government, the fact of being a party militant means that you take the short cut to gain private ends, to hold a post in the government, step up the ladder, get promotion and make a career for yourself.

In an under-developed country, the setting up of dynamic district officials stops the progress whereby the towns become top-heavy, and the incoherent rush towards the cities of the mass of country people. The setting up early in the days of independence of regional organizations and officials who have full authority to do everything in their power to awaken such a region, to bring life to it and to hasten the growth of consciousness in it is a necessity from which there is no escape for a country that wishes to progress. Otherwise, the government big-wigs and the party officials group themselves around the leader. The government services swell to huge proportions, not because they are developing and specializing, but because new-found cousins and fresh militants are looking for jobs and hope to edge themselves into the government machine. And the dream of every citizen is to get up to the capital, and to have his share of the cake. The local districts are deserted; the mass of the country people with no one to lead them, uneducated and unsupported, turn their backs on their poorly-laboured fields and flock towards the outer ring of suburbs, thus swelling out of all proportion the ranks of the lumpen-proletariat.

The moment for a fresh national crisis is not far off. To avoid it, we think that a quite different policy should be followed: that the interior, the back-country ought to be the most privileged part of the country. Moreover, in the last resort, there is nothing inconvenient in the government choosing its seat elsewhere than in the capital. The capital must be deconsecrated; the outcast masses must be shown that we have decided to work for them. It is with this idea in mind ‘that the government of Brazil tried to found Brazilia. The dead city of Rio de Janeiro was an insult to the Brazilian people. But, unfortunately, Brazilia is just another new capital, as monstrous as the first. The only advantage of this achievement is that, today, there exists a road through the bush to it.

No, there is no serious reason which can be opposed to the choice of another capital, or to the moving of the government as a whole towards one of the most under-populated regions. The capital of under-developed countries is a commercial notion inherited from the colonial period. But we who are citizens of the under-developed countries, we ought to seek every occasion for contacts with the rural masses. We must create a national policy, in other words a policy for the masses. We ought never to lose contact with the people which has battled for its independence and for the concrete betterment of its existence.

The native civil servants and technicians ought not to bury themselves in diagrams and statistics, but rather in the heart of the people”. They ought not to bristle up every time there is question of a move to be made to the ‘interior’. We should no longer see the young women of the country threaten their husbands with divorce if they do not manage to avoid being appointed to a rural post. For these reasons, the political bureau of the party ought to treat these forgotten districts in a very privileged manner; and the life of the capital, an altogether artificial life which is stuck on to the real, national life like a foreign body ought to take up the least space possible in the life of the nation, which is sacred and fundamental.

In an under-developed country the party ought to be organized in such fashion that it is not simply content with having contacts with the masses. The party should be the direct expression of the masses. The party is not an administration responsible for transmitting government orders; it is the energetic spokesman and the incorruptible defender of the masses. In order to arrive at this conception of the party, we must above all rid ourselves of the very Western, very bourgeois and therefore contemptuous attitude that the masses are incapable of governing themselves. In fact, experience proves that the masses understand perfectly the most complicated problems. One of the greatest services that the Algerian revolution will have rendered to the intellectuals of Algeria will be to have placed them in contact with the people, to have allowed them to see the extreme, ineffable poverty of the people, at the same time allowing them to watch the awakening of the people’s intelligence and the onward progress of their consciousness. The Algerian people, that mass of starving illiterates, those men and women plunged for centuries in the most appalling obscurity have held out against tanks and aeroplanes, against napalm and ‘psychological services’, but above all against corruption and brain-washing, against traitors and against the ‘national’ armies of General Bellounis. This people has held out in spite of hesitant or feeble individuals, and in spite of would-be dictators. This people has held out because for seven years its struggle has opened up for it vistas that it never dreamed existed. Today, arms factories are working in the midst of the mountains several yards underground; today, the people’s tribunals are functioning at every level, and local planning commissions are organizing the division of large-scale holdings, and working out the Algeria of tomorrow. An isolated individual may obstinately refuse to understand a problem, but the group or the village understands with disconcerting rapidity. It is true that if care is taken to use only a language that is understood by graduates in law and economics, you can easily prove that the masses have to be managed from above. But if you speak the language of every day; if you are not obsessed by the perverse desire to spread confusion and to rid yourself of the people, then you will realize that the masses are quick to seize every shade of meaning and to learn all the tricks of the trade. If recourse is had to technical language, this signifies that it has been decided to consider the masses as uninitiated. Such a language is hard put to it to hide the lecturers’ wish to cheat the people and to leave them out of things. The business of obscuring language is a mask behind which stands out the much greater business of plunder. The people’s property and the people’s sovereignty are to be stripped from them at one and the same time. Everything can be explained to the people, on the single condition that you really want them to understand. And if you think that you don’t need them, and that on the contrary they may hinder the smooth running of the many limited liability companies whose aim it is to make the people even poorer, then the problem is quite clear.

For if you think that you can manage a country without letting the people interfere, if you think that the people upset the game by their mere presence, whether they slow it down or whether by their natural ignorance they sabotage it, then you must have no hesitation: you must keep the people out. Now, it so happens that when the people are invited to partake in the management of the country, they do not slow the movement down but on the contrary they speed it up. We Algerians have had occasion and the good fortune during the course of this war to handle a fair number of questions. In certain country districts, the politico-military leaders of the revolution found themselves in fact confronted with situations which called for radical solutions. We shall look at some of these situations.

During the years 1956-7, French colonialism had marked off certain zones as forbidden, and within these zones people’s movements were strictly controlled. Thus the peasants could no longer go freely to the towns and buy provisions. During this period, the grocers made huge profits. The prices of tea, coffee, sugar, tobacco and salt soared. The black market flourished blatantly. The peasants who could not pay in money mortgaged their crops, in other words their land, or else lopped off field after field of their fathers’ farms and during the second phase worked them for the grocer. As soon as the political commissioners realized the danger of the situation they reacted immediately. Thus a rational system of provisioning was instituted: the grocer who went to the town was obliged to buy from nationalist wholesalers who handed him an invoice which clearly showed the prices of the goods. When the retailer got back to the village, before doing anything else he had to go to the political commissioner who checked the invoice, decided on the margin of profit and fixed the price at which the various goods should be sold. However, the retailer soon discovered a new trick, and after three or four days declared that his stocks had run out. In fact, he went on with his business of selling on the black market on the sly. The reaction of the politico-military authorities was thorough-going. Heavy penalizations were decided on, and the fines collected were put into the village funds and used for social purposes or to pay for public works in the general interest. Sometimes it was decided to shut down the shop for a while. Then if there was a repetition of black marketeering, the business was at once confiscated and a managing committee elected to carry it on, which paid a monthly allowance to the former owner.

Taking these experiences as a starting-point, the functioning of the main laws of economics were explained to the people, with concrete examples. The accumulation of capital ceased to be a theory and became a very real and immediate mode of behaviour. The people understood how that once a man was in trade, he could become rich and increase his turnover. Then and then only did the peasants tell the tale of how the grocer gave them loans at exorbitant interest, and others recalled how he evicted them from their land and how from owners they became labourers. The more the people understand, the more watchful they become, and the more they come to realize that finally everything depends on them and their salvation lies in their own cohesion, in the true understanding of their interests and in knowing who are their enemies. The people come to understand that wealth is not the fruit of labour but the result of organized, protected robbery. Rich people are no longer respectable people; they are nothing more than flesh-eating animals, jackals and vultures which wallow in the people’s blood. With another end in view the political commissioners have had to decide that nobody will work for anyone else any longer. The land belongs to those that till it. This is a principle which has through explanation become a fundamental law of the Algerian revolution. The peasants who used to employ agricultural labourers have been obliged to give a share of the land to their former employees.

So it may be seen that production per acre trebled, in spite of the many raids by the French, in spite of bombardments from the air, and the difficulty of getting manures. The fellahs who at harvest-time were able to judge and weigh the crops thus obtained wanted to know whence came such a phenomenon; and they were quick to understand that the idea of work is not as simple as all that, that slavery is opposed to work, and that work presupposes liberty, responsibility and consciousness.

In those districts where we have been able to carry out successfully these interesting experiments, where we have watched man being created by revolutionary beginnings, the peasants have very clearly caught hold of the idea that the more intelligence you bring to your work, the more pleasure you will have in it. We have been able to make the masses understand that work is not simply the output of energy, nor the functioning of certain muscles, but that people work more by using their brains and their hearts than with only their muscles and their sweat. In the same way in these liberated districts which are at the same time excluded from the old trade routes we have had to modify production, which formerly looked only towards the towns and towards export. We have organized production to meet consumers’ needs for the people and for the units of the national army of liberation. We have quadrupled the production of lentils and organized the manufacture of charcoal. Green vegetables and charcoal have been sent through the mountains from the north to the south, whereas the southern districts send meat to the north. This coordination was decided upon by the F.L.N. and they it was who set up the system of communications. We did not have any technicians or planners coming from big Western universities; but in these liberated regions the daily ration went up to the hitherto unheard-of figure of 3,200 calories. The people were not content with coming triumphant out of this test. They started asking themselves theoretical questions: for example, why did certain districts never see an orange before the war of liberation, while thousands of tons are exported every year abroad? Why were grapes unknown to a great many Algerians whereas the European peoples enjoyed them by the million? Today, the people have a very clear notion of what belongs to them. The Algerian people today know that they are the sole owners of the soil and mineral wealth of their country. And if some individuals do not under-stand the unrelenting refusal of the F.L.N. to tolerate any encroachment on this right of ownership, and its fierce refusal to allow any compromise on principles, they must one and all remember that the Algerian people is today an adult people, responsible and fully conscious of its responsibilities. In short, the Algerians are men of property.

If we have taken the example of Algeria to illustrate our subject, it is not at all with the intention of glorifying our own people, but simply to show the important part played by the war in leading them towards consciousness of themselves. It is clear that other peoples have come to the same conclusion in different ways. We know for sure today that in Algeria the test of force was inevitable; but other countries through political action and through the work of clarification undertaken by a party have led their people to the same results. In Algeria, we have realized that the masses are equal to the problems which confront them. In an under-developed country, experience proves that the important thing is not that three hundred people form a plan and decide upon carrying it out, but that the whole people plan and decide even if it takes them twice or three times as long. The fact is that the time taken up by explaining, the time ‘lost’ in treating the worker as a human being, will be caught up in the execution of the plan. People must know where they are going, and why. The politician should not ignore the fact that the future remains a closed book so long as the consciousness of the people remains imperfect, elementary and cloudy. We African politicians must have very clear ideas on the situation of our people. But this clarity of ideas must be profoundly dialectical. The awakening of the whole people will not come about at once; the people’s work in the building of the nation will not immediately take on its full dimensions: first because the means of communication and transmission are only beginning to be developed; secondly because the yardstick of time must no longer be that of the moment or up till the next harvest, but must become that of the rest of the world, and lastly because the spirit of discouragement which has been deeply rooted in people’s minds by colonial domination is still very near the surface. But we must not overlook the fact that victory over those weaknesses which are the heritage of the material and spiritual domination of the country by another is a necessity from which no government will be able to escape. Let us take the example of work under the colonial regime. The settler never stopped complaining that the native is slow. Today, in certain countries which have become independent, we hear the ruling classes taking up the same cry. The fact is that the settler wanted the native to be enthusiastic. By a sort of process of mystification which constitutes the most sublime type of separation from reality, he wanted to persuade the slave that the land that he worked belonged to him, that the mines where he lost his health were owned by him. The settler was singularly forgetful of the fact that he was growing rich through the death-throes of the slave. In fact what the settler was saying to the native was ‘Kill yourself that I may become rich’. Today, we must behave in a different fashion. We ought not to say to the people: ‘Kill yourselves that the country may become rich.’ If we want to increase the national revenue, and decrease the importing of certain products which are useless, or even harmful, if we want to increase agricultural production and overcome illiteracy, we must explain what we are about. The people must understand what is at stake. Public business ought to be the business of the public. So the necessity of creating a large number of well-informed nuclei at the bottom crops up again. Too often, in fact, we are content to establish national organizations at the top and always in the capital: the Women’s Union, the Young People’s Federation, Trade Unions, etc. But if one takes the trouble to investigate what is behind the office in the capital, if you go into the inner room where the reports ought to be, you will be shocked by the emptiness, the blank spaces, and the bluff. There must be a basis; there must be cells that supply content and life. The masses should be able to meet together, discuss, propose and receive directions. The citizens should be able to speak, to express themselves and to put forward new ideas. The branch meeting and the committee meeting are liturgical acts. They are privileged occasions given to a human being to listen and to speak. At each meeting, the brain in-creases its means of participation and the eye discovers a landscape more and more in keeping with human dignity.

The large proportion of young people in the under-developed countries raises specific problems for the government, which must be tackled with lucidity. The young people of the towns, idle and often illiterate, are a prey to all sorts of disintegrating influences. It is to the youth of an under-developed country that the industrialized countries most often offer their pastimes.

Normally, there is a certain homogeneity between the mental and material level of the members of any given society and the pleasures which that society creates for itself. But in under-developed countries, young people have at their disposal leisure occupations designed for the youth of capitalist countries: detective novels, penny-in-the slot machines, sexy photographs, pornographic literature, films banned to those under sixteen, and above all alcohol. In the West, the family circle, the effects of education and the relatively high standard of living of the working classes provide a more or less efficient protection against the harmful action of these pastimes. But in an African country, where mental development is uneven, where the violent collision of two worlds has considerably shaken old traditions and thrown the universe of the perceptions out of focus, the impressionability and sensibility of the young African are at the mercy of the various assaults made upon them by the very nature of Western culture. His family very often proves itself incapable of showing stability and homogeneity when faced with such attacks.

In this domain, the government’s duty is to act as a filter and a stabilizer. But the Youth Commissioners in under-developed countries often make the mistake of imagining their role to be that of Youth Commissioners in frilly developed countries. They speak of strengthening the soul, of developing the body, and of facilitating the growth of sportsmanlike qualities. It is our opinion that they should beware of these conceptions. The young people of an under-developed country are above all idle: occupations must be found for them. For this reason the Youth Commissioners ought for practical purposes to be attached to the Ministry for Labour. The Ministry for Labour, which is a prime necessity in an under-developed country, functions in collaboration with the Ministry for Planning, which is another necessary institution in under-developed countries. The youth of Africa ought not to be sent to sports stadiums but into the fields and into the schools. The stadium ought not to be a show place erected in the towns, but a bit of open ground in the midst of the fields that the young people must reclaim, cultivate and give to the nation. The capitalist conception of sport is fundamentally different from that which should exist in an under-developed country. The African politician should not be preoccupied with turning out sportsmen, but with turning out fully conscious men, who play games as well. If games are not integrated into the national life, that is to say in the building of the nation, and if you turn out national sportsmen and not fully conscious men, you will very quickly see sport rotted by professionalism and commercialism. Sport should not be a pastime or a distraction for the bourgeoisie of the towns. The greatest task before us is to understand at each moment what is happening m our country. We ought not to cultivate the exceptional or to seek for a hero, who is another form of leaden. We ought to uplift the people; we must develop their brains, fill them with ideas, change them and make them into human beings.

We once more come up against that obsession of ours — which we would like to see shared by all African politicians — about the need for effort to be well-informed, for work which is enlightened and free from its historic intellectual darkness. To hold a responsible position in an under-developed country is to know that in the end everything depends on the education of the masses, on the raising of the level of thought, and on what we are too quick to call ‘political teaching’.

In fact, we often believe with criminal superficiality that to educate the masses politically is to deliver a long political harangue from time to time. We think that it is enough that the leader or one of his lieutenants should speak in a pompous tone about the principle events of the day for them to have fulfilled this bounden duty to educate the masses politically. Now, political education means opening their minds, awakening them, and allowing the birth of their intelligence; as Cesaire said, it is ‘to invent souls’. To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people. In order to put all this into practice, in order really to incarnate the people, we repeat that there must be decentralization in the extreme. The movement from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top should be a fixed principle, not through concern for formalism but because simply to respect this principle is the guarantee of salvation. It is from the base that forces mount up which supply the summit with its dynamic, and make it possible dialectically for it to leap ahead. Once again we Algerians have been quick to understand these facts, for no member of the government at the head of any recognized state has had the chance of availing himself of such a mission of salvation. For it is the rank-and-file who are fighting in Algeria, and the rank-and-file know well that without their daily struggle, hard and heroic as it is, the summit would collapse; and in the same way those at the bottom know that without a head and without leadership the base would split apart in incoherence and anarchy. The summit only draws its worth and its strength from the existence of the people at war. Literally, it is the people who freely create a summit for themselves, and not the summit that tolerates the people.

The masses should know that the government and the party are at their service. A deserving people, in other words a people conscious of its dignity, is a people that never forgets these facts. During the colonial occupation the people were told that they must give their lives so that dignity might triumph. But the African peoples quickly came to understand that it was not only the occupying power that threatened their dignity. The African peoples were quick to realize that dignity and sovereignty were exact equivalents, and, in fact, a free people living in dignity is a sovereign people. It is no use demonstrating that the African peoples are childish or weak. A government or a party gets the people it deserves and sooner or later a people gets the government it deserves.

Practical experience in certain regions confirms this point of view. It sometimes happens at meetings that militants use sweeping, dogmatic formulae. The preference for this shortcut, in which spontaneity and over-simple sinking of differences dangerously combine to defeat intellectual elaboration, frequently triumphs. When we meet this shirking of responsibility in a militant it is not enough to tell him he is wrong. We must make him ready for responsibility, encourage him to follow up his chain of reasoning and make him realize the true nature, often shocking, inhuman and in the long run sterile, of such over-simplification.

Nobody, neither leader nor rank-and-file, can hold back the truth. The search for truth in local attitudes is a collective affair. Some are richer in experience, and elaborate their thought more rapidly, and in the past have been able to establish a greater number of mental links. But they ought to avoid riding rough shod over the people, for the success of the decision which is adopted depends upon the coordinated, conscious effort of the whole of the people. No one can get out of the situation scot free. Everyone will be butchered or tortured; and in the framework of the independent nation everyone will go hungry and everyone will suffer in the slump. The collective struggle presupposes collective responsibility at the base and collegiate responsibility at the top. Yes; everybody will have to be compromised in the fight for the common good. No one has clean hands; there are no innocents and no onlookers. We all have dirty hands; we are all soiling them in the swamps of our country and in the terrifying emptiness of our brains. Every onlooker is either a coward or a traitor.

The duty of those at the head of the movement is to have the masses behind them. Allegiance presupposes awareness and understanding of the mission which has to be fulfilled; in short, an intellectual position, however embryonic. We must not voodoo the people, nor dissolve them in emotion and confusion. Only those under-developed countries led by revolutionary elites who have come up from the people can today allow the entry of the masses upon the scene of history. But, we must repeat, it is absolutely necessary to oppose vigorously and definitively the birth of a national bourgeoisie and a privileged caste. To educate the masses politically is to make the totality of the nation a reality to each citizen. It is to make the history of the nation part of the personal experience of each of its citizens. As President Sekou Toure aptly remarked in his message to the second congress of African writers:

“In the realm of thought, man may claim to be the brain of the world; but in real life where every action affects spiritual and physical existence, the world is always the brain of mankind; for it is at this level that you will find the sum total of the powers and units of thought, and the dynamic forces of development and improvement; and it is there that energies are merged and the sum of man’s intellectual values is finally added together.”

Individual experience, because it is national and because it is a link in the chain of national existence, ceases to be individual, limited and shrunken and is enabled to open out into the truth of the nation and of the world. In the same way that during the period of armed struggle each fighter held the fortune of the nation in his hand, so during the period of national construction each citizen ought to continue in his real, everyday activity to associate himself with the whole of the nation, to incarnate the continuous dialectical truth of the nation and to will the triumph of man in his completeness here and now. If the building of a bridge does not enrich the awareness of those who work on it, then that bridge ought not to be built and the citizens can go on swimming across the river or going by boat. The bridge should not be ‘parachuted down’ from above; it should not be imposed by a deus ex machina upon the social scene; on the contrary it should come from the muscles and the brains of the citizens. Certainly, there may well be need of engineers and architects, sometimes completely foreign engineers and architects; but the local party leaders should be always present, so that the new techniques can make their way into the cerebral desert of the citizen, so that the bridge in whole and in part can be taken up and conceived, and the responsibility for it assumed by the citizen. In this way, and in this way only, everything is possible.

A government which calls itself a national government ought to take responsibility for the totality of the nation; and in an under-developed country the young people represent one of the most important sectors. The level of consciousness of young people must be raised; they need enlightenment. If the work of explanation had been carried on among the youth of the nation, and if the Young People’s National Union had carried out its task of integrating them into the nation, those mistakes would have been avoided which have threatened or already undermined the future of the Latin American Republics. The army is not always a school of war; more often, it is a school of civic and political education. The soldier of an adult nation is not a simple mercenary but a citizen who by means of arms defends the nation. That is why it is of fundamental importance that the soldier should know that he is in the service of his country and not in the service of his commanding officer, however great that officer’s prestige may be. We must take advantage of the national military and civil service in order to raise the level of the national consciousness, and to detribalize and unite the nation. In an under-developed country every effort is made to mobilize men and women as quickly as possible; it must guard against the danger of perpetuating the feudal tradition which holds sacred the superiority of the masculine element over the feminine. Women will have exactly the same place as men, not in the clauses of the constitution but in the life of every day: in the factory, at school and in the parliament. If in the Western countries men are shut up in barracks, that is not to say that this is always the best procedure. Recruits need not necessarily be militarized. The national service may be civil or military, and in any case it is advisable that every able-bodied citizen can at any moment take his place in a fighting unit for the defence of national and social liberties.

It should be possible to carry out large-scale undertakings in the public interest by using recruited labour. This is a marvellous way of stirring up inert districts and of making known to a greater number of citizens the needs of their country. Care must be taken to avoid turning the army into an autonomous body which sooner or later, finding itself idle and without any definite mission, will ‘go into politics’ and threaten the government. Drawing-room generals, by dint of haunting the corridors of government departments, come to dream of manifestos. The only way to avoid this menace is to educate the army politically, in other words to nationalize it. In the same way another urgent task is to increase the militia. In case of war, it is the whole nation which fights and works. It should not include any professional soldiers, and the number of permanent officers should be reduced to a minimum. This is in the first place because officers are very often chosen from the university class, who could be much more useful elsewhere; an engineer is a thousand times more indispensable to his country than an officer; and secondly, because the crystallization of the caste spirit must be avoided. We have seen in the preceding pages that nationalism, that magnificent song that made the people rise against their oppressors, stops short, falters and dies away on the day that independence is proclaimed. Nationalism is not a political doctrine, nor a programme. If you really wish your country to avoid regression, or at best halts and uncertainties, a rapid step must be taken from national consciousness to political and social consciousness. The nation does not exist except in a programme which has been worked out by revolutionary leaders and taken up with full understanding and enthusiasm by the masses. The nation’s effort must constantly be adjusted into the general background of underdeveloped countries. The battle-line against hunger, against ignorance, against poverty and against unawareness ought to be ever present in the muscles and the intelligences of men and women. The work of the masses and their will to overcome the evils which have for centuries excluded them from the mental achievements of the past ought to be grafted on to the work and will of all under-developed peoples. On the level of underdeveloped humanity there is a kind of collective effort, a sort of common destiny. The news which interests the Third World does not deal with King Baudouin’s marriage nor the scandals of the Italian ruling class. What we want to hear about are the experiments carried out by the Argentinians or the Burmese in their efforts to overcome illiteracy or the dictatorial tendencies of their leaders. It is these things which strengthen us, teach us and increase our efficiency ten times over. As we see it, a programme is necessary for a government which really wants to free the people politically and socially. There must be an economic programme; there must also be a doctrine concerning the division of wealth and social relations. In fact, there must be an idea of man and of the future of humanity; that is to say that no demagogic formula and no collusion with the former occupying power can take the place of a programme. The new peoples, unawakened at first but soon becoming more and more clear-minded, will make strong demands for this programme. The African people and indeed all under-developed peoples, contrary to common belief, very quickly build up a social and political consciousness. What can be dangerous is when they reach the stage of social consciousness before the stage of nationalism. If this happens, we find in under-developed countries fierce demands for social justice which paradoxically are allied with often primitive tribalism. The under-developed peoples behave like starving creatures; this means that the end is very near for those who are having a good time in Africa. Their government will not be able to prolong its own existence indefinitely. A bourgeoisie that provides nationalism alone as food for the masses fails in its mission and gets caught up in a whole series of mishaps. But if nationalism is not made explicit, if it is not enriched and deepened by a very rapid transformation into a consciousness of social and political needs, in other words into humanism, it leads up a blind alley. The bourgeois leaders of under-developed countries imprison national consciousness in sterile formalism. It is only when men and women are included on a vast scale in enlightened and fruitful work that form and body are given to that consciousness. Then the flag and the palace where sits the government cease to be the symbols of the nation. The nation deserts these brightly lit, empty shells and takes shelter in the country, where it is given life and dynamic power. The living expression of the nation is the moving consciousness of the whole of the people; it is the coherent, enlightened action of men and women. The collective building up of a destiny is the assumption of responsibility on the historical scale. Otherwise there is anarchy, repression and the resurgence of tribal parties and federalism. The national government, if it wants to be national, ought to govern by the people and for the people, for the outcasts and by the outcasts. No leader, however valuable he may be, can substitute himself for the popular will; and the national government, before concerning itself about international prestige, ought first to give back their dignity to all citizens, fill their minds and feast their eyes with human things, and create a prospect that is human because conscious and sovereign men dwell therein.
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"Patria est communis omnium parens" - Our native land is the common parent of us all. Keep it beautiful, make it even more so.

Blessed is all of creation
Blessed be my beautiful people
Blessed be the day of our awakening
Blessed is my country
Blessed are her patient hills.

Mweh ka allay!
Guanaguanare