Friday, 10 January 2014

Cycle of Civilization and the Emperor's New Clothes

I wrote this at a time I was waking up to the fact I was a targeted individual (You will notice reference to this phenomenon that is rather vague). This was around 1999, about 5 years after the madness began. Hope you enjoy, reprinted here because there have been a lot of reference to the subject matter in the media of late. This article appeared on the commentary lists of mega sites in the US, South Africa, and beyond. It also hit the broadsheets in about two countries. In one case, it stayed featured for over a week on a fast-paced online journal, and got me into a lot of trouble on the streets. The fuss helped me come to terms with a lot about the status.

As a young African in Europe, eager to use this exposure to the best cultural centres on this planet to know the ways of this world, I took to reading a lot. Exposure to the writings of Nietzsche never gave me the feeling of meeting a like spirit, even if I discovered that I ponder much the same thoughts as he does, in much the same way that he does. 

Friedrich Nietzsche
Rather, bossed around and belittled in menial labour environments, condescended upon and ignored by fellow university students, experiences that are not unique to me, discovery that my very thoughts, to the last line, were in the writings of the man those who were prone to look down upon my intellectual capacities held in high regard, thoughts I knew they could not produce as easily as I could, gave me a kind of justified pride, allowed me to see the truth behind this superiority. I realised from this discovery that I was just as good as anybody else, no matter what race, and even better in many cases, as successes inside and outside classroom environments were to prove, making me very unpopular, further proof that I was simply the victim of stereotyping and institutionalised racism, that the cumulative effect of this over the centuries was to blame for the backwardness with which my people are so readily associated. 

Due to this arrangement, it is easy for any African to develop a complex, to start believing that the treatment we get in foreign climes is justified. Evidence of our lesser capacities is overwhelming. Our continent is lagging behind in many spheres of life. I know I speak for many when I say that even some descendants of Africans who came to the new world as slaves are prone to give the impression that they are better than Africans. 

Some even go to the sad extent of intimating they had been singled out by slave traders because of this, even if this is a direct admission of inferiority by placing this capacity in the hands of slave traders, forgetting the vastness of the continent, and the fact that those who pierced their ears and lips and put large, unsightly plates in them to prevent singling out by the slave traders are not the most attractive, most intelligent people on the continent today without these plates. 

African With a Nose Plate

Rather than look to slave traders for the truth about my people, I am prone to trust my own judgement, and this tells me that there is still no black country or group that has done well in our time because they are better. We all have a place reserved for us in this system, and this fact is not always evident, until push comes to shove. 

Rather than fight the stereotyping, already wise enough to know that this would eventually make me hate my own kind, I went on a wider search for like-minded people, and found an abundant collection of such names just waiting to be discovered, and mostly titled for easy disclosure. Along the way I came upon the likes of Addison Gayle Jr. In his writings I saw my own self reflected, and if we read in order to know that we are not alone, then reading his books, for example "The Ways of the New World", as opposed to the former author, was exactly this for me. Extensive bibliographies and voluminous references led me to others with whom the same was experienced, from the blunt irony of Chinua Achebe's works to the surgical precision of Franz Fanon's philosophy; from the vision of Sheik Anta Diop to the realism of Lekan Are, and since then, I have never feared loneliness. 

Exposure to like minds can create paranoia when the things that you suspected about the world become suddenly confirmed by men who are like you and have been there already, and lately, these fears have begun to turn from mere words into reality. 

I have made real an old discovery that I am an artist by taking to a career of writing. General public response to my "art for the people's sake" has been favourable. Previously, these responses were restricted to the post, e-mails and commentary columns. But lately, I have noticed a new trend towards direct reactions by people I come across on the streets, usually directly connected with an article that just received major publishing, or a book I am working on.
A few negative remarks, I can take. Even reminders of where I am and some warnings to keep out of this or that country's business are to be expected. A "high school head" wondering what text books I read, as opposed to just books, is simply one of those things. Unexpected, though, has been the rate, the numbers who suddenly seem to be hooked up to efficient networks, and the speed of delivery and distribution of my personal pieces of work. 

Seen from a creative point of view, this has begun to bear all the hallmarks of intellectual and creative bankruptcy on the part of my self designated opponents as the cause for this impasse. In a line, I am suddenly getting the feeling of one who is on a bus full of down patients who keep saying "hello" throughout the trip (no offense intended). This is definitely going nowhere, especially since an element of force is involved. I feel that I am getting forced to reject the ultimate: my own self. 

If I relied on my eyes alone, then I would not believe that this is happening. These things belong to the past. Evidence of a world that has changed is there for all to see. I may even place the blame on myself, and believe that I am the most imperfect person in my neighbourhood, hence the fame, or shrug. This scenario is thankfully not beyond my imagination, and prevents me from falling into the shoes of those who are quick to say that these things belong to the past. There is evidently a double standard at work in the world today. As an African conscious of who I am and where I stand in this struggle, of my roots and the history of the violent meeting of the Afro and the Euro worlds, of the fear that rules this world, seeing why this level of caution is necessary is easy. The technology available to anyone today also makes the fast delivery and close scrutiny possible. 

This personal exposure to what has been a common experience, and recent world economic and political developments, and a simple "one plus one" on my part, has made me see the verity in the words of many radical authors and activists from the past, and regret the fact that I had not espoused their thoughts earlier on. This would have prevented me from walking into walls.
In the shadow of the war against terrorism, of the World Trade Organisation meeting in Doha in the Gulf state of Quatar, in which many in the third world came away complaining they were getting forced to accept terms of trade that would be unfair to them, surprised the talks were not even connected to the fight against terrorism, convinced the rich countries were bent on using what has been coined "economic gunboat diplomacy" to ensure their aim of staying, and getting richer, it should become more than clear to all who have believed fair trade between countries will one day be a reality that the rich are not prepared for such an eventuality. Rather, they will do all they can to force poor countries to accept the primacy of western interests, and the prospect of further decline for the poor. Everything else is simply lip service to such a standard, no matter the garb in which this message is presented. 

The rich countries of the world want to maintain the free access they have to world resources and markets by any means available to them, and they will do all they can to ensure these channels remain available to them, even if this entails direct meddling in the domestic affairs of other countries to ensure that the regimes do not rock the boat, as is evidently the case with those governments that were actually made to recall their representatives from the last WTO round, when these were in disagreement with the rich countries' demands, when one knows that it takes two to tango; from force or threat of force when all else fails, by frustration of positive movements and people in recalcitrant countries, to actual disrespect of the intelligence of the third world by blunt evasion or obfuscation. 

Action speaks louder than words, or aid. 

We live together on this vast planet that has no corners in it, which is fast becoming smaller thanks to technology, in which no major activities can sufficiently be concealed from other human eyes. Our misery, our suffering, our starved bodies in the deserts moving to retrieve food dropped from aeroplanes, our dead bodies in ship containers as we try to better our life conditions by migration, is all too evident to the rich. They see our toil, they see our tears, they see us die in millions because of poverty, caused in large part by policies or wars their former and present designs make possible, and because of disease. They are just as human as we are, and are known to have a conscious and do show compassion when the situation arises, so what is preventing them from reacting to the mother of our tragic situation in the same way? Why, in view of all this evidence, are they still actually, actively engaged in setting the stage for a worse tomorrow for us? 

When a child, a young adult, a mafia like organization does not want to play fair, and is prone to use force to compel opponents to obey, we usually conclude that the person lacks the capacity to see options. We call such people bullies, and as we all know, bullies tend to be the least resourceful, least creative members of any given group. But what happens when a person of the above propensity happens to be surrounded by visible signs of his better intellectual and creative potentials? It then becomes difficult to place such persons under the same umbrella as any bully, even when they proceed to coerce others to do things they want them to do against their will. We tend to subconsciously regard such persons, in view of their better accomplishments, as beings more informed than the rest, that they happen to know what is good for the rest and are sometimes compelled to resort to force to correct the recalcitrant, for their own good. 

We are prone to ready acceptance of their ideas, their theories, their ways, and even become suspicious or regard those thoughts originated by our own members as mediocre. And correctly so. The exclusive ideology at the base of such a system gives us no other choice. Disagreement with this would have to lead to a conclusion that regards the shinny, impressive creations surrounding the bully as nothing more than vain products of this same bully's particular mind. If we accept such a premise, then we would also have to make real the implication that we can do as well, even better than the bully. Simply put, we are forced to accept that we are better than a person who resorts to bullying, who is always mentally inept since options are a luxury for such a mental design. 

This is a very contentious position to take, not so much because it is evidently radical, or insulting, but because it challenges the dominant, exclusive ideology at the base of the entire system itself, which is to blame for the inactivity, and also demands that we prove the assertion. Once such a premise is adopted, rather than wave placards calling for the death of the capitalist system, without a viable option, we need to look at the sacrosanct aspect of it, and by so doing expose the element within the design that is aiding the man, or preventing him from using his mental prowess to change a system that has evidently gone wrong. 

If the level of organisation, of technical advancement attained to date can say anything about the man, then it is that he is very creative. Since systems are initiated or created by man, we would be led to believe, in light of the former, if we have a basic education, are articulate and have an idea of how systems operate, that they can be deciphered by man, no matter how complex they become, and can be changed or altered by man to suit his calling. He is, after all, the creative being, the being making highly complex, convoluted and unbelievable discoveries and inventions in our time. If helping prevent the spectre of further tragedies and misery in the world, of war and famine, of destruction of our own breathing and living environment will benefit man, then why is it so hard for the man to change such an evidently self destructive orientation? What is the ingredient in this system that is preventing such evidently creative minds from making concerted efforts to change it? Since the man will not reveal the secret, we have to break the system down to its constituent parts for the answer. 

A system has an ideology at base, and relies on an accumulation of theories to substantiate this, to give it form and shape, direction, even purpose. It is in these supporting pillars that we must look for the clue. If anything, our knowledge that the system is flawed gives us a good start. We know that the theories that have flowed from it over the years are nothing more than self-serving lies. Taking the theories apart, one by one, we discover glaring truths. 

Like those who used the bible to justify slavery, and even wrote voluminous books on the subject, the system has turned science into its service industry, and used this to, for example, show the inevitability of poverty in Marcus Aurelius' theory of "one man wanting more and another getting less", which, as a natural condition, fails to account for the scale and scope of poverty in the world today, or the fact that it is not restricted to individuals, but to whole groups, amounting to subtle condoning of an unnatural condition; or the theory of population growth that compares industrial societies to hunting groups, forgetting or ignoring the fact that population growth is linked to exigencies (rain storms, war, etc.), in which people tend to increase sexual activity in an attempt to survive through numbers, a state this system excels in projecting; or Levi Bruhl's theory of the pre-logical mentality of primitive peoples who, with his head deep in the sands of African languages, could not see that the very structure of the languages he considered as pre-logical was to be found in the major European languages, including the civilized Germanic strain. 

A shrewder variant of thinkers have provided a spectre of chaos and wars if the west loses its access to world markets and resources, warning that the technology that has enabled the west to support otherwise overpopulated regions would fail, leading to chaos involving the entire world. In an equation: western consumerism and the remarkable, unnecessary mountains of waste this creates is peace, redistribution and better management of world resources is war. We are certainly in the "four legs good, two legs better" phase.
We discover that medical and social sciences have been used to medicalize whole societies for ulterior ends. For example, campaigns have been launched which have disregarded the instinctive importance that the human creature attaches to reproduction, by attacking a sexually transmitted disease in the same manner as an outbreak of other kinds of diseases, creating a negative reaction which has led to a more complicated situation of an actual drop in the number of people seeking medical examination, causing silent epidemics of other, curable sexual diseases to become commonplace, restricting discovery of such diseases to pregnant women and others who have no choice but to be in a medical institution, an outcome that does not become accidental once one realizes that the initiators of the placard waving method knew better; that, at the onset of the epidermic, a campaign fitting of a sexually transmitted disease would have prevented the scope of the epidemic today. 

Not restricting this scrutiny to present theories, we can go back much farther in time and find that science has been used to show the connection between muscular bodies, virility, athletic ability, and hedonistic, pervert, backward, lecherous, primitive desires of early man; between thatched huts, wide nostrils, smaller craniums and early man; between stone constructions and modern man. All these theories still find wide acceptance in our time, even if this is not openly stated, though proof of their self contradictory nature has been found as, for example, the discovery of larger craniums in those who were considered as precursors of modern man, or those who are poor today as opposed to the most successful groups having the exclusive right to this endowment; the discovery that in evolution, nostril size does not matter to intelligence, that the leading movements of the man have considered virility as a sign of a better race, but demonized it when seen in other races, etc. 

By reducing the past of human beings to epochs of development which fit in its design, which point to today as the apex of this development, the system has succeeded in making people believe that man is no more than the sum of his achievements to date. With such a precedent, who would try anything new. New things cannot be made today. They lie in the future of developing man, in the hands of those who lead in this development. The system has succeeded to drill us into believing, even if subconsciously, that man is on a journey that leads to something like white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes. In some countries, like Cuba, this is not a subconscious belief at all. Here, some individuals will not flinch to say that breeding with light skinned people improves the race. It is quite difficult for the more realistic among us to see the improvement that can result in changing a given black man into a given white man. But then ignorance has a way of confusing things. In this case, aided by the system's brainwashing, better is readily equated with the status that comes when one man has his own money, and another does not. 

As a theory based on this one way, up the ladder approach, from primitive to the modern age, the appearance of signs of highly advanced cultures in unexpected places and times has posed a threat to the basic tenets of the system itself. This is the sole reason individuals in the system have resorted to fantastic theories, if only to keep the world brainwashed on the theory of the linear development of man, because of Knowledge of the aftermath of admittance. Gigantic people whose gigantic bones have yet to be found, aliens from another planet who chose the wrong groups to give their civilizations to, and blue-eyed strangers who did not base their civilizations in their countries of origin, but crossed the seas to place them among primitive peoples, are a few examples of the fantastic explanations used. 

At the base of these attempts is a fear of the loss of the central position enjoyed by the system's philosophy when people in other parts of the world discover that they can think as well, if better than the best who have been, that they can be just as innovative. The biggest fear is the fallout that will result when the truth about this system's cultural institutions is known and a whole range of subjects, discoveries and breakthroughs are revealed for what they really are. What is going to happen to all the books that will be revealed for the fakes that they are? What will become of all the disciplines, the institutions of learning, the whole design from the root to the fruit, when people discover that they are phonies? 

The world cannot stand up to the system because the ideology at the base of the system inculcates in all a belief that this culture is a chance occurrence which people have to hold on to with all their might, and teeth if it comes to that, lest it disappears down the abyss from which it came. This is evidently a lie, which, unfortunately, requires more proving to expose, to make a part of our psyche because, at base, all of us, from scientists to those working on Wall Street, from sociologists to those destined for the pentagon, have been bred in institutions of learning which indoctrinate us with the very system's lies, who are trained to do nothing more than help the system keep its path. To expose the lie, we have to go back to the very first period when man was in the position he is believed to be in today; the only time when this linear development was true. From this past, if we keep our eyes open and believe what we see, we will realise that believing the theory of linear, uninterrupted development is wrong, and very limiting in that it keeps us from knowing what man really is, and prevents daring ventures since people are led to believe that they have never had it this good before, to look to the bearers of this system as the ones to emulate. 

It is true that higher cultures are creations of improving beings, who start them when they are capable and ready for such levels of sophistication. This stage, however, came and went for man, a long time ago. This fact is evident in the evocations of sophisticated cultures that we are constantly getting from the past, from the great pyramids all over our planet, to the civilizations of the Nok and Bauchi plateaus in Nigeria, which actually show signs of a backward movement in development, from Timbuktu's highly advanced stores of knowledge, to the Dogon tribe telling of super dense matter. In his state today, man has had a mind capable of such high levels of sophistication for a long time. It is this mind, and its very works, that made past civilizations possible, which forms the backbone of any civilization that is, was, and will come, and not the facial features, the dwellings man lives in, or the traditions to which he resorts. 

Civilizations, or advanced cultures, comprise of two elements: the minds of the people and the products of these minds. Civilisations can only exist and flourish around standardization, a necessity for exact communication, even though this can be altered as awareness and knowledge of the need grows, whether this growth is aided by the very creations of the mind or not. Seen as such, since civilizations are merely collections of artifacts, static creations of non static minds, their development follows quite different routes to that of the minds that create them. 

Civilizations have to constantly get pulled along, so to say, to be kept in pace with the creators whose mental capacities they do not directly, or actually aid to develop. The minds, however, tend to follow a logic for developing forms of communicating and expressing that are less logic based than appealing, which has to be a natural ear for a better way because this same orientation gave man his potentials (not the other way around), a phenomenon that is quite evident today. Certain aspects of a civilization are cumulative, while others develop with time without being cumulative. If we understand this, then we can easily see why, like supply and demand in an industrial or agricultural cycle, a time will come when the two can grow apart, and another will come when new civilizations arise, as long as the human mind stays the same construction and aim. 

Creations of the minds which were novel and exciting at one time, can become vain, superfluous, counter productive, or redundant later on. A critical situation can arise when the individuals consciously find the need to divorce themselves from the culture they have created if they recognize the vanity of the whole direction, or they can simply grow out of it and move on to other, better concerns or ways of life, which do not necessarily have to bear signs of what today is considered as advanced, unless one stays brainwashed with the belief of the hierarchical structure of such evolution. Human beings in simpler times do not become primitive. They are the same beings who made past splendours, and, using history to prove my point, may even have improved and simply need to excite that core in them which makes them creative in a manner we readily recognize as civilized. 

This theory kills two birds with one stone. It not only helps make sense of the confusing landscape of vanished cultures all over the world, and why they vanished, it also exposes the bully as nothing more than a man who has gained respect and following in our age because of his extensive use of self-serving theories, placing his system at the height of human development, using the very implements that aided in his domination of the world as symbols of this advancement, not allowing the rest of mankind to realize that these are mere creations of the human mind, the only constant in the equation. 

Making statements that appeal to the conscious of the rich has over the centuries proven a futile mission, and will continue to do so, for a long time to come, as long as the vanity at the core of the system remains, as long as people do not forget to see the neat, suit clad, hesitant feet representatives of the system they address as simple pawns in it, who know nothing else save that which they have been brainwashed on, and the orders they receive, as long as people do not see that the only consolation for such men is the fact that the system is working for them. If we understand this then we will see why when things are not going their way, force becomes the only option.
As actors in a system biassed against us, as human beings whose story has yet to be told, who deserve to live better lives, it is essential to find a new, radical direction; to commence with telling our own story, even if this entails shutting the rest of the world out of this process; to remember all those times we originated ideas, and know that we gave them up because designs within the system did not permit it; to know that if we push along with our own theories, we will create new standards. 

What better way to start this than to reveal the vanity at the base of the system that keeps us in bondage, and free the minds of the poor by making them realise that they are not what the rich have led them to believe, especially when we are aware that individuals from skin clad groups have managed to come away with degrees in universities where knowing how to split an atom was a precondition, that, not more than a hundred years ago, some of the most advanced countries comprised such groups, this itself proof that, if managed properly, any society today can shine. Seen in the context of the modern world, these groups are more defenceless than primitive, and this includes more than half a billion people on this planet's poorest continent.

1 comment:

Mukazo Vunda said...

I wrote this at a time I was waking up to the fact I was a targeted individual. This was around 1999, about 5 years after the madness began. Hope you enjoy this article, reprinted here because there have been a lot of reference to the subject matter in the media of late.