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arendt's Journal
Posted by arendt in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat May 17th 2008, 10:09 PM
Livingston sounded a call for a worldwide crusade to open up Africa...(he proposed) the "three Cs": Commerce, Christianity, and Civilization...Trade not the gun would liberate Africa...

That was not the way Africans perceived the Scramble. There was a fourth "C" - conquest - and it gradually predominated. At first European expeditions were too weak to challenge African rulers. It was safer to use blank treaty forms, explained away by an empire-minded missionary, than to use live ammunition...But paper imperialism soon proved inadequate. When effective occupation became necessary to establish good title, conflict became inevitable...the Maxim gun - not trade or the cross - became the symbol of the age.

- T. Pakenham, "The Scramble for Africa" (1991)

As recently as 1970, America was self-sufficient and politically self-aware. In the 1980s, the United States passed through the phase of being a once-productive and prosperous nation fallen on hard times (like China during and after the Opium Wars). Today, America more resembles a primitive rabble of warring tribes squatting ignorantly on some assets they haven't a clue how to use or how to defend (like Africa during the colonial Scramble). The path from 1970 to today is sadly reminiscent of the trip up The River in Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". The farther America goes, the more backward, bankrupt, and barbaric it becomes.

America's journey is no joy-ride or accident; nor is it the result of the thirty-years-extinct hippies, nor of communists in our schools. It is the result of the same game of blank treaty forms, unrealistic expectations, reneged-upon deals, and out-of-sight, out-of-mind economic slavery that was inflicted upon Africa in the 19th century by a similar gang of financier-led, expatriate mercenary-enforced imperialists. Let's refer to our imperialists as the Neo-plantationists.

1. The Duh-opium Wars

The first phase of our trip into servitude was the dumbing down of America. The de-cerebration proceeded simultaneously via the two main providers of intellectual content in our society: the schools and the media.

1.1 Bovine University

First of all, the Neo-plantationists had to prevent people from getting a real education. So, universities were slowly turned into increasingly-expensive party schools. Money was spent on physical-education plant, a plethora of sports teams, and fancy dormitories. Then, student loans for these gold-plated degrees were privatized, and college activism became a mark against you in getting the corporate job needed to repay the loans. Finally, universities were simply bought out by corporate money - grants with strings attached, product placements on campus (pepsi-only schools), joint for-profit research. Corporately-incorrect faculty need not apply. At the secondary level, a thousand cuts were inflicted: fights about prayer in school, home schooling, charter schools, etc. Then the NCLB "teach-to-the-test" nuclear weapon leveled what was left.

1.2 Mediated Reality

Meanwhile, in the society at large, the media ridiculed intellectual pursuits, and lately, has demonized them as "elitist". History, geography, and politics in the mass media were at first dumbed down, and eventually reduced to a wax museum, consisting of a handful of patriotically-correct snapshots and soundbites. These have been re-hashed in countless books, movies, and TV shows, until production values, celebrity stars, and the ability to pay clever homage to earlier movies were more important than the minimal intellectual content remaining. Needless to say, this repetition made these subjects really boring, even compared to the bottom-feeding trash of reality TV.

Media entertainment has become the new opiate of the masses. TV has been called "the plug-in drug". Scientific studies of brain waves show that it literally stupefies people. But, by subsidizing the industry with $70 billion worth of free airwaves for HDTV, the powers that be have made TV one of the few cheap entertainments left in an increasingly brutal and impoverished society. TV constantly pushes the sexual titillation and graphic violence to higher and higher levels. Loutish behavior is modeled - as if people need to be taught that.

What little honest education TV provided has long since been banished. Under Reagan, we had the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine; and under Clinton's telecom deregulation, we got the hyper-concentration of the media down to six owners for 95% of all content. And you know how much of that content was of intellectual merit: as little as they could get away with.

Beyond the TV wasteland, pagers, cell phones, video games, iPods, YouTube, and FaceBook have colonized what little independent thinking and behavior remains among children and adolescents. Video games retard childhood development and reduce the ability to repress violence. Totally cut off, in their virtual reality bubble, children learn little more than the corporate version of history and politics - unless they risk everything to be a geek, an "elitist", an atheist, or some other stance that spells instant ostracization.

Already, ten years ago, a childhood that began with Sesame Street had conditioned college students to want to be entertained, not educated. So, its hardly surprising that difficult subjects are shunned; and professors are rated on their ability to perform rather than educate. De-cerebration accomplished.

2. Treaty Time

As for the government of the country, (King Mwanga) had signed away control of his own revenues ("The revenues of the country shall be collected and the customs and taxes shall be assessed by a Committee or Board of Finance"). No longer did he command his own army ("The King, assisted by the (British East Africa) Company, shall form a standing army, which the officers of the Company will endeavour to organize and drill like a native regiment in India"). Nor could he decide his own policy (The Resident's consent "shall be all grave and serious matters conneted with the state").

No wonder Mwanga had desperately tried to avoid signing away these rights..."The English have come", said Mwanga acidly, "They have built a fort, they eat my land, and yet they have given me nothing at all."

- T. Pakenham, "The Scramble for Africa" (1991)

With Americans blind drunk on mindless entertainment and celebrity, it was time for the blank treaty forms. Fantastic promises were made about how free trade was, for example, going to raise Mexico's standard of living while simultaneously providing new jobs for Americans. We were evangelized by the Neo-plantationists to save the world with their version of the three "C's": globalization, Christianity, and "democracy". America's tribal chiefs in the Congress were plied with favors until they signed NAFTA, GATT, WTO, CAFTA, and MFN for China. The world was carved up by financiers and multi-nationals, just as Africa was a century earlier.

American politicians sold our rights and our property for "beads and cloth" (i.e., cheap, shoddy, Chinese crap). Ten years after NAFTA, the US is both poorer and more polluted. The Neo-plantationists have destroyed our manufacturing base and made us dependent on their foreign manufactures, just as the British capitalists destroyed the Indian cloth industry to gain markets for their sweated labor.

3. The Fourth "C"

While Americans have been busy entertaining themselves to death, computer technology has been delivering unprecedented financial and political firepower to the Neo-plantationists. Today's American middle class is as defenseless as African natives against the latest computer armaments of the internationalized overclass.

Computer networks have made financial looting trivial. Hi-tech has been a force multiplier for offshore banking and money-laundering (originally pioneered by the CIA, of course), and created whole new categories of financial heavy artillery: derivatives, credit swaps, collateralized debt. After thirty years of screwing working Americans with fiscal restraint, the Federal Reserve has dropped the mask and become the bailer-out-of-last-resort for bank and stock fraud artists - irregardless of the inflationary cost to the American dollar.

Meanwhile, credit cards and sub-prime mortgages were passed out like free tastes of crack; then later, draconian bankruptcy laws were enacted, along with interest rates and fees that would make loan sharks green with envy. America has become one big, computerized company store.

On the political front, we have had our right to vote stolen by a traitorous Supreme Court decision, and a bunch of corrupt, privatized black-box voting machines - crammed down our throats by the GOP and the Dominionist corporations that own the made-to-be-hacked machines. Meanwhile, just in case "We The People" might get our act together via the Internet, the military is busy practicing total "domination" assaults on the network and spying on us through the phone companies.

4. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

(King Lobengula's) last bitter speech to his people has been preserved:

"You have said that it is me who is killing you: now here are your masters will have to pull and shove wagons; but under me you never did this kind of thing."

- T. Pakenham, "The Scramble for Africa" (1991)

As with the imperialist Scramble for Africa, the Neo-plantationist partition of America is led by adventurers and buccaneers: predatory media assholes, such as John Malone and Rupert Murdoch; financial pirates, such as Ken Lay and a raft of billionaire hedge fund managers. Like Cecil Rhodes and the Rand gold-bugs before them, these people produce nothing of value. They are not entreprenuers; they are con-men and thieves. Their methods are legalized bribery (via Campaign Finance) and legalized intimidation (via the Corporate Media created by the Fairness Doctrine and ownership cap repeals).

America is now colonized by the Neo-plantationist/Chinese West Hemisphere Company. Bush is "the Resident". Our foreign policy is the old "Open Door Policy" imposed on China and the Congo: extra-territoriality for businessmen and soldiers, backed up by gunboat diplomacy; carte blanche for pillage and murder. Sovereign wealth funds are busy grabbing any worthwhile asset left in the wreckage of the American Dream. was a sense of having been duped by the capitalists at the time of the Boer War that lay below the fury...Herbert Paul, the Liberal politician and historian wrote:

"Five and a half years ago the people of this country were humbugged and deceived...but their eyes were now open to the fact that the policy of the late government was engineered in South Africa by bloodthirsty money-grubbers... a war for cheap labour."

- T. Pakenham, "The Scramble for Africa" (1991)

Yes, the natives are restless; and the Neo-plantationists are thin on the ground. But their commercial firepower is immense. They can simply pull the plug on America's supply of manufactured goods and oil. The rebellion is coming soon; but I fear it is too late and too out-gunned, like Africans with spears against Maxim guns. Unfortunately, dictatorship is history that repeats, not rhymes. The parallels to African powerlessness are, to me, overwhelming. We will all be picking bananas for our new masters for generations; right up to the point where environmental collapse (which the Neo-platationists are busy denying) pulls the rug out from under humanity.

I hated it when they made me read Joseph Conrad in high school. Now I know why.

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