Monday, August 18, 2008

From Brussels to Baghdad


From my notes on the second chapter of The Darker Nations:

1927, Brussels: League Against Imperialism and Colonialism Conference held
attended by 200 delegates, representing 37 states, 134 organizations


This was a formative event in Third World history; a foundation for solidarity between colonized people struggling for independence. they determined they had the right of self-rule, passed resolutions and set up a program for working collectively to resist imperialism.


The fact it was in Belgium was ironic/strategic. Here's why:

1884-5-The Berlin Conference
14 European powers (including the US) got together with Otto von Bismarck, leader of Germany and divided up Africa between them

Belgium, a consitutional monarchy became the 6th largest economy in the world by exploiting the labor and stealing the resources and land of the Congo, which was named "the Congo Free State" by Leopold II, the monarch. They stole 2.3 million square kilometers of land from the people of the Congo.

In order to get the people of the Congo to work for them, the Belgians cut off the hands and heads of people who didn't meet their quota and/or refused to work. Another strategy was rape and genital mutilation in front of family members.

Between 1895-1908 the population of the Congo declined by half: the Belgians had massacred 10 million people.

Here are some quotes:

"The lazines of the colored races is a kind of genetic burden" --from a 1923 Belgian manual

"To open civilization in the only part of our globe which it has not yet penetrated, to pierce the darkness which hangs over entire peoples, I dare say, a crusade worthy of this century of progress"-Leopold II on the Belgian occupation of the Congo

any of this sound familiar? it should. don't let that make you immune to this horror. this puts what we are doing in Iraq right now in a historical continuum. we need to familarize ourselves with the history of colonialism in order to understand our current era of neo-colonialism and then apply this understanding to an economic analysis.

that's part of why i'm reading this book.

there's more, but it's late. i'm gonna post notes for each chapter because there's so much information that is new to me that i need to do it that way.

1 comment:

petebest said...

In my art making (see "Conquest '85", "Bam Bam and the Barbarians" with Josh Bayer and "Siberian Doctor's Wife") I have attempted the simple act of illustrating the continuum of conquest in the name of empire...which is like fire in the name of oxygen...I don't think the much debated Marxian tyranny of need is to blame for this endless appetite for conquest...it is not need that creates greed, freedom comes from satisfied need, greed is a pathology of suffering, a compulsive attempt to curtail it's every source...even greed itself! A downward spiral if there ever was...and so suffering is not only inevitable but healthy, it commands change...but if that change eliminates the symptom called suffering, it has only the memory of suffering which is more horrrible yet, than it's reality...the nightmares of the billionaires must rip at their soft custard underbelly and beg protection in the form of:MORE!...of everything! This is the pathology that would stop short of nothing to kill the nightmare of suffering that it causes! The cycle ends when we each take only what we need...and give what we can.