(Part III, Conclusion)
By Kindeneh Endeg
In part I and II of this essay, we refuse to identify Borrell’s European garden as the Garden of Eden or Paradise. But we should not give up on Europe so easily. Though not in the manner self-righteous vanity Mr. Borrell put it, declaring, “The world needs Europe”, it can still be admitted as an important part of the universal human fellowship.
So let us keep on straining our brain and try to re-imagine Borrell’s European garden as Gethsemane. What would Borrell’s Burges disciples be doing there? Kneel down and stay awake praying that fateful night? Or rather lay wait preying on their unwary target?
Borrell’s own oration hints towards the latter. It ends with the investiturial injunction, “Keep the garden, be good gardeners. But your duty will not be to take care of the garden itself but [of] the jungle outside.”
Unfortunately, Borrell is not forthcoming with sufficient details on how that is done. How the diplomats deliver on the task of “keeping the garden”, while toiling on its behalf in the jungle. Or how they live up to their ordination to “be good gardener”, by “taking care of the jungle.”
What little Borrell said leaves a lot to be desired. At times he represents it in altruistic tone. For example when he says, “It has to be a way of supporting the others facing the big challenges of our time.” Elsewhere Borrell might as well be busy handing out machetes per head for a sort of weed clearing job. The task at hand being preemptive, defensive act of self preservation, a substitute to “building wall” to stop the jungle from coming in and “invading” the garden, as Mr. Borrell sees it.
In the end, it is as though Borrell would rather have the relevant details saved for insiders, while having the rest of us, left in the dark, or keep guessing. Come to think of it, rather not unlike the infamous foreign policy stance of the US towards Taiwan called Deliberate Strategic Ambiguity.
We are not sure about China, but we shall have none of that. Indeed searching high and low to overcome Borrell’s enigma, we stumbled into the following buried deep into the rear recess of Lugards sizable tome, where no one would be normally looking;
“The standard of comfort, and what had come to be regarded as the absolute necessities of life by the mass of the population, had, during the nineteenth century, advanced in an even greater ration. I cannot here attempt to depict the contrast. It is enough to recall the fact that 100 years ago a labourer’s wage was 4s. to 6s. a week. He rarely tasted a white bread for the quarter loaf stood at 11d., and had been double that price a few years before. Still less could he afford to eat beef or mutton. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, tea, coffee and cocoa, previously unknown luxuries, were his daily beverages and white bread his daily food. Sugar was cheap and rice, sago, and other tropical products were in daily use. If my reader will turn to the pages of Miss Martineau’s history or to those of Carlyel and contrast the condition of squalor and misery in which the bulk of the people of these islands lived in 1816 with the conditions prevailing in 1891, he will realise how insistent had become the demand alike for the food supplies and raw materials which were the products of the tropics.” (emphasis Mine) F.D. Lugard, The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa. (Edinbrugh & London, 1922), pp. 614-15.
There! No holds barred! That is Borrell’s European garden in full display, with all its glory! A parasite dependent on its “jungle” host for everything including things as basic as daily bread, coffee, and tea!
So Mr. Borrell, guess what about what you would have us guess about! ወአልቦ ኅቡዕ ዘኢይትከሰት ወአልቦ ክዱን ዘኢያስተርኢ ወገሃደ ይከውን (ዘሉቃስ፰፡፲፯) “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open” Luke 8:17.
Back to the main point, it is not like we didn’t know already! We knew. We did know!
But Alas! Who would have thunk it! Who would have thought it was that dire! No wonder that Mr. Boris Johnson, used to spend sleepless nights about Africa being a “blot.” For as it turns out, he is displacing! The blot is Europe but for colonialism!
Who would have thought that had it not been for Africa and Asia, the European masses would have come down as a blot on humanity’s conscience! Or either way, they cannot avoid being so.
Who would have thought that, the situation was so horrendous that the European Dream used to be affording a decent loaf of bread! Pushing it notch or two higher, a nice cupper to go with the decent loaf of bread!
So our genuinely immense courtesy and indebtedness to Lugard for having said it like it was! Or for having it “brought out in the open” for us, as Luke the Evangelist would say!
So forget altruism. Forget even symbiosis! The nature of relationship between the garden and the jungle, Europe’s most carefully guarded secret, has always been, and still remains to be one of parasitic!
Europe made it big, being parasite! Or correction, Europe both make ends meet and made it big, being parasite on the ‘jungle’ outside!
Really surreal! What Lugard’s rare testimony reveals is that by the late 19th century, Europe was on the brink of collapse! It was rushing headlong to the abyss of mass hunger poverty and famine!
Had it not been for colonialism coming to the rescue, bread, tea and coffee would have remained luxury rarities of five star hotels!
Again, who would have thunk it! All along we thought by scramble for Africa what Europe was after was something less existential, something other than daily bread, more like, beef and mutton! Something like that!
ለካ ቅርጫው የዳቦ ቅርጫ ኖሮአል! That Europe was too desperate, scavenging for survival!
Who would have thunk it! That ships loaded with wheat used to set sail from Africa and Asia, north bound to Europe. That, “hail WFP please send us our daily bread” by the former is a thing of yesterday, after the table is turned for reasons Mr. Borrell would rather double down on and be street smart about than atone for!
Yet his eminency, Lord Frederic Lugard himself may not be immune of a critique or two!
One has to do with the alleged reciprocity of the colonial Mandate? Namely what did Africa get in return if indeed the mandate was dual? What did Asia get in return?
Other than, the dubious benefits of British administration for the colonized (because they are inherently incapable of self-rule, being the adult children that they are), Lugard seem to have indeed little to show for that. Instead as though in anticipation of our critique of the real nature of the arrangement as rather one way cannibalistic dependency and daylight robbery, on the same breath that he made the revelation quoted at length above, Lugard recycled the worn out racist cliché stating; “These products lay wasted and ungranered in Africa because the natives did not know their use and value.” (Lugard, 615)
Of course, of course! You nailed that one right on the head Mr. Lugard! What else could it be! Wasn’t Africa all but no man’s land prior to its discovery by the heroic explorers of Europe!? As jungle dwellers, weren’t Africans subsisting by hunting and gathering!? Wasn’t it the case, as we have been told over and over again that, agriculture and agricultural products like cereals used to be alien to Africa until the Western civilizers came around and sort of jammed it all down Africa’s throat!?
Sarcasm aside, there was nothing dual about the colonial mandate. It was always a one way transaction between a gift that kept on giving and ungrateful ተምች parasite that kept on taking!
That was all there was to it! And that is all there is still to it!
Second, Lugard, writing in 1922, made it look as though it was only the dirt poor proletariat who made ends meet by looking up to Africa/Asia for his daily bread. He refutes the notion that colonialism had a lot to do with greed of the rich and affluent.
A more balanced approach would show that it was rather both. Greed and basic necessity all at the same time.
Implying that the colonial parasitic dependency of the West had class dimension to it. The destitute parasite depended on Africa and Asia for his daily bread. Then there was the fat blood sucking capitalist bug, who used to skin his host to the bone, for a whole host of his luxury items.
The implication is, there is no quarrel on the theft! For everyone is a highwayman that way, ALLRIGHT! The Left Vs Right quarrel of the European garden is on the question of how to split the spoil among the highwaymen.
The Left/Right quarrel is about distribution of the colonial spoil!
Indeed the extent of dependency complex of Europe especially since the height of colonialism was almost second nature to it. It could no longer tell the difference between greed and basic necessity.
At this point we have to leave Europe to cross the Atlantic. May Almighty Lord, maker of heaven and earth, be our succor, saving us the fire and brimstone, in the unlikely event that our journey runs into the Middle Passage!
For there is indeed Europe. And then there is USA. European greed and existential dependency on slavery and colonialism on steroid! Multiplied ad infinitum!
Come to think of it, a slogan or two might not hurt to facilitate our trans-Atlantic voyage. In the case of Europe, we noted that the slogan encapsulating the dependency complex of Europe on colonialism would be, more like, …No Africa No Bread! No Colonialism No Tea! No Colonialism No Coffee! Which of course was on top of the dependency of the more affluent for his luxury need to roll on diamond and fur!
One would think it could not get any worse!
Wrong! The case of the US was much worse. It would be like, No Genocidal Colonialism no USA. No slavery no USA.
Europe, as we have seen, owes both its affluence as well as daily bread to colonialism! In USA’s case IT OWES IT SELF to genocidal colonialism and slavery, than just affluence!
Simply put, what we are saying is, without genocidal colonialism and slavery, the Union of States, out of which USA is constituted as a nation-state would have been unthinkable. The Union is fashioned out of genocidal colonialism and slavery.
Put bluntly, Lucifer himself fashioned the Union out of Dante’s Inferno and labyrinth of human sacrifice, which came in the shape and form of the flesh and blood of countless Native Americans and the sweat and blood of millions of Black African slaves, the latter earning the would be Union its thousand of billion dollars and gold bullions.
Needless to say, stated as such, our contention, while every bit defendable, as we shall demonstrate shortly, is bound to come across as the most unforgivable blasphemy even to the taste of the harshest critic of the Union, leave alone conventional wisdom which would have us believe that the Union was fashioned out of liberal democracy, celebrated as the central tenet of Enlightenment political thought and philosophy.
Well, we beg to differ on the side of Almighty’s honest truth.
Not so much by throwing the baby with the bath water. Meaning not so much by questioning the central role Enlightenment philosophy and political thought played in the making of the Union. We have no quarrel with that. Only we challenge the nature of such decisive role of the Enlightenment.
In place of liberal democracy, we place racism as the central tenet of Enlightenment political thought and philosophy. In place of, or rather prior to the role of liberal democracy defining the political system of the infant and emergent Union to the liking and benefit of the white majority (majority here denoting political establishment than population number), we give more credit to the role of racism in realizing the union itself in the first place.
Silence Versus Text: The American Declaration of Independence
The limited scope of this essay means that we can do no more than offer a brief outline of the argument described above. We will do so based on a close reading of the preamble of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence (arguably the earliest and most influential political document embodying the ideals of Enlightenment political thought and philosophy) quoted bellow;
“We hold this truth to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among there are, Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the Governed,-…”
By close reading we mean more than reading between the lines here. We mean first, reading silence and then compare the silence in question with the Text of the Declaration.
The objective is to demonstrate based on this interrogation, that America owes more to the silence of the Declaration of Independence than to the text itself. Because, the silence is more truly self-evident than the text. As such the silence inform action and practical policy much more natural and uncontested in the eye of the authors of the Declaration, namely genocidal colonialism and slavery, than the action the text informs, namely liberal democracy.
Put very succinctly, what we identify as silence is the failure of the preamble to account for anyone other than whites. The targets of the erasure, silence, of the Declaration, to mention but two for the limited purpose here, are Native Americans and Black Americans. As far as the Declaration of Independence is concerned Native Americans and Black Americans were as good as non-existent.
The most important point of silence we seek to highlight is not that the preamble fails to include Native Americans and Blacks to what it affirms as “self evident truth”, “that ALL men are created equal”.
No. That is not the silence we seek to highlight here. It is something much worse than that. What we seek to highlight is rather, the failure of the preamble to refer to or acknowledge the existence of Native Americans and Blacks even by negation. Namely that the author/s did not find it necessary even by way of useful qualifying reminder to state that, what they meant by “ALL men” was only/exclusively whites.
The reason that made such a qualifying reminder unnecessary is what we seek to highlight here. The author/s of the Declaration did not find is necessary to state by way of reminder that by “all men are created equal”, they did not mean Native Americans and Blacks as well, because that is self-evident truth, that went without saying. Since nobody would miss that, there was no need to state that. It would be pointless. It would be belaboring the obvious.
Accordingly, the silence that neglect any need for reference to Native Americans and Blacks even in the negative, signify, more self evident truth, than what the text “hold” as “self evident truth”. Namely that in the eyes of the author/s of the Declaration of independence, the inequality of Native Americans and Blacks with whites was what was truly self-evident truth, than the fact that “ALL whites were created equal”
By comparison the fact that ALL “whites were created equal” (sure white men, but the gender issue is beyond our scope here)—was less self evident. In fact to refer to that as self-evident truth, imply escapable contradiction in terms. Because had it been truly self-evident, it would have went without saying. The fact that it required affirmation was because it was not as self-evident, as the authors would have liked it to be. It was because someone challenged it (in this case the King George of England, but again the details are not part of our interest here)
That is what we mean by the silence of the Declaration of Independence, more important than the text. For what the silence did was render Native Americans as good as non-existent and Black Americans as good as useless save their use/role as property of whites.
The Declaration of Independence, contrary to its claim and nomenclature is therefore America’s social contract of conceptual annihilation. What it sanction by omission is more important than what the text enshrines by commission.
For by omission it rendered Native Americans and Blacks OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND. They were totally unaccounted for conceptually. It follows that they were also unaccounted for practically in terms of policy action. The only exception to that is that Blacks could earn exception to the conceptual annihilation of being as good as non-existent, or as good as useless via, slavery, meaning by proving themselves useful, not as human beings but as property to whites.
Put differently, what the silence of The Declaration of Independence, sanction or ratify by intentional and well-thought-out omission, is the application of the ideals and principles of liberal democracy and rule of Law, enshrined in the text in the reverse order. Which means that because it is self-evident truth that Native Americans and Blacks were not created/born equal to whites they do not have inalienable Rights their creator endowed them, such as Life and Liberty (forget the pursuit of happiness).
Instead, because whites are their creators/Master Lords, and have absolute power of life and death over them, they can deprive them their life (both individually and collectively perpetuating genocide) and liberty (turn them into slaves).
Which means silence is the more important side of the document than the Text. The blank side is more important and instrumental side of the Document than the Text. The silence is instrumental in the making of USA out of genocidal colonialism and slavery.
Namely the conceptual annihilation informs action that went into the making of the Union itself. It paves the way for territorial expansion at the cost of extirpation of Native Americans. The conceptual annihilation also informs slavery by making blacks as good as useless save their irreplaceable role as property of whites.
Benighted Chasm Vs the Bright Spot (flashlight) of the Enlightenment
That is why elsewhere in this essay, we noted that what we refer to as the Benighted Chasm of the Enlightenment is more instrumental for the making of USA and the Modern West in general, than what is by comparison less important role of the Bright spot the of the Enlightenment.
The benighted chasm of the Enlightenment, which is racism, played more important role in the making of USA and the Modern world by allowing turning blind eye to the very existence of everyone outside whites. That directly paved the way for genocidal colonialism and slavery. By comparison the bright spot of the Enlightenment, defined the political system of the West, that is liberal democracy exclusively for the benefit of whites.
The implication to our understanding of the very phenomenon of modernity is that we need to see Modernity as a World order, than something confined to the Modern West. Rather modernity need to be understood as a bifurcated phenomenon where slavery and colonialism are every bit modern, one side of a binary while the other side constitutes liberal democracy for white majority of the west. In other world, unlike how they are presented by conventional wisdom, slavery and colonialism come to the world and coexist with liberal democracy not in inherent tension as antithetical to each other, but as mutually constitutive.
Unfortunately the limited scope of the current essay means we cannot go much further. We have to leave it by doing two more things.
One is the need to underscore the fact that the founding fathers of America behind the Declaration of Independence were indeed the products of the Enlightenment. Thomas Jefferson, the main author of the document, was a pupil of John Lock, perhaps the earliest and most influential luminary of Enlightenment political thought and philosophy.
Second as such, sure enough, what we identified above as silence of the Declaration of Independence did not remain that way indefinitely. In due course, the silence that rendered Native Americans and Blacks, as good as non-existent and/or as good as useless save as slaves or property of humans, i.e., whites, had to be spelt out and justified. Thomas Jefferson himself explicitly stated his views in what came to be known as Notes in the State of Virginia, which include the following;
“…Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason and imagination, it appear to me that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior as I think, one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless and anomalous…
To these objections, which are political, can be added others, which are physical and moral. The first difference which strikes us is that of colour, … this unfortunate difference of colour and perhaps faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people [Black Americans].”
The question of slavery also prominently featured as one of the sticking points that dominated the debates of the Constitutional Convention that came ten years after the ratification of the Declaration of Independence. Eventually it was settled in a manner that substantiated our main point, namely that No slavery No Union. It is important to note that the issue at the time was not about abolition of slavery. It was much less radical than that. It surfaced in the Constitutional Convention debate in the form of opinions for and against a proposal as to whether Congress should be authorized to levy tax on importation of slaves. Among those opposing the proposal, we find in the Constitutional Convention documents, that a certain Mr. Rutlidge, unequivocally made it clear that if it comes down to a choice between slave ownership and the Union, states like North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia would opt out of the union in favor of defending slavery as follows;
“…If the convention thinks that N.C S.C and Georgia will ever agree to the plan, unless there rights to import slaves be untouched, the expectation is vain. The people of these will never be such fools as to give up so important an interest.”
Concluding Remark መሰናበቻ…
If the reader were to forget everything about the preceding three part essay, he/she should at least appreciate the need to discern between Hail Africa, and Hell Africa coming from Uncle Sam and co.! For what used to be Hail Africa, Hail Asia Send us Our Daily Bread is more like Hell Africa, Hell Asia, fall back in line and Get Back to slavery and Colonialism.
The least one can do is thus not to confuse Hell Africa of Uncle Sam for Hail Africa, and arrogate to oneself the unenviable position and role of Uncle Tom as though badge of honor! For ain’t glory in that! Only shame and disgrace.
For as Mark the Evangelist as opposed to Marx the secular materialist, puts it to us, ወምንት ይበቍዖ ለሰብእ ለእመ ኩሉ ዓለመ ረብሐ ወለነፍሶ ኃጒለ? (ዘማርቆስ ፰፡፴፮) “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?” (Mark 8:36)
We should rather join hands to heal Ethiopia/Africa/Orient from the Hell Ethiopia/Africa/Orient አዚምና መርገም …of Borrell’s Burges neo-colonialism! የኢትዮጵያ አምላክ ይቦርግሰውና!
Kindeneh Endeg is a Historian with PhD from Florida State University, currently based in Addis Ababa, Kinde2011@gmail.come
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