Wednesday, 07 March 2012 21:04
When you are an anti-imperialist and you are in the habit of attacking imperialism’s economic libertarianism it is quite easy to find allies among Western leftists and it could even be achievable to end up with centre-right allies of the likes of author AC Grayling.
It is when one attacks Western capitalism as having certainly benefited from the regime of civil liberties, more precisely from the façade of the doctrine of human rights, that one starts to get fewer and fewer allies from the West.
This writer has on numerous occasions been accused of confusing civil liberties with economic libertarianism, often being reminded to look at China, defined in the West as practising the later and intolerant of the former. Often this writer has been reminded that his own Zimbabwe lacks both economic libertarianism and civil liberties, and that he is “lucky” to be in Australia.
At one time this writer was billed to debate South Africa’s Patrick Bond at a place in Sydney. The invitation was unceremoniously cancelled after the organisers came across articles authored by this writer and attacking Western imperialism’s pretexts premised on human rights and civil liberties, especially with such attacks citing some examples from native Zimbabwe — something that was interpreted as tacit support for President Mugabe’s alleged “oppressive regime.”
It is quite easy to be applauded when one points an accusing finger at the power of imperialist interests for harming innocent civilians in countries militarily ravaged by the West’s illegal capitalist wars like the one waged against the Iraqis in 2003, or the recent murderous war on Libya. Equally it is quite attractive for Western critics of capitalism to see a non-Westerner pointing an accusing finger at capitalism for the harm it does to individuals, to the environment, to developing nations, and for causing economic disasters like the 2008 credit collapse.
Slovenian born Slavoj Zizek lost a large chunk of his Western allies after his attacks on the West’s disguises, especially those wrapped in the doctrine of civil liberties. That was seen as a blanket “attack on the hard-won dispensation of civil liberties and rights that define Western societies,” to quote A C Grayling.
The civil liberties regime is rightly credited with creating trade unionism and perhaps all forms of social democracy. Both capitalism and civil liberties are products of the Enlightenment settlement. It is, however preposterous, to confuse capitalism’s abuse of the nobility of civil liberties with an attack on the liberties themselves.
The idea of protecting civilians from genocide is not and cannot be derided by any sane person. It would be fatuous for anyone to do that. However, describing UN Resolution 1973 and its subsequent abuse in the brutal bombardment of Libyan cities by the devilish trio of France, Britain and the US as “protection of civilians” is imbecilic at its best.
The only thing protected by Libya’s invasion was the West’s oil interest, otherwise everything else was destroyed, the civilians and the country included.
The cogitative diktats of political reason would be incomplete if we as political writers were to fail to criticise the fronting of aid by predatory imperialists simply because we fear to be labelled critics of philanthropy itself. We cannot shy away from criticising the illegal and callous murder of Gaddafi for fear of being labelled “undemocratic”.
Liberal democracies themselves may to a large extend be premised on liberal ideas that culminate in the human rights and civil liberties regimes, but that alone does not mean we must pay a blind eye to the fact that the same human rights and civil liberties are the most used of imperialism’s masks, apart from philanthropy.
Indeed the liberal ideals enshrined in civil liberties must be allopathic to the deadly exploitations created by economic libertarianism, and one would from this perspective naively assume that civil liberties and the excesses of imperialism cannot be complimentary — that they are inherently not mixable.
Imperialism has successfully portrayed its opponents as authoritarian arrangements hostile variety, free speech, free Press, multiplicity, consent, and institutionalised protections of civil liberties. Often imperialism will seek to prop up rebellion and obnoxiousness so as to entice authorities in enemy states to crack down on the sponsored rebellion. Once this happens imperialism will stick the label of despotism and tyranny on its nemesis and from then on we are told civil liberties are under attack.
In the Western lexicon civil liberties can stretch to treason and armed rebellion, for as long as the context is some anti-imperialist enemy state standing in the way of Western expansionism. This is why Zimbabwe was once expected to watch and escort Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters doing a “Final Push” march to dislodge President Mugabe right from State House. It was then opined that we all needed to abide by “the rule of law,” allowing protesters to march into the State House unabated.
It was all part of free speech for Tsvangirai to declare that President Mugabe had “to go peacefully, or we will remove you violently.” Arresting him was to the imperialist powers a violation of Tsvangirai’s civil liberties.
For brooking no nonsense on these machinations President Mugabe earned himself demeaning accolades from the Western media and their political masters. By extrapolation anyone who criticised Tsvangirai and his MDC for fronting Western interests became a “Mugabe crony,” and this writer was vastly persecuted by both the Australian media and the state — smeared and slandered, and threatened with expulsion.
It is seen as a paradox of liberalism that it allows “illiberal” critics like this writer to flourish under its protection. “Why do you write from Sydney, Australia if the West is so bad?” That is the question always asked in the comments section of almost each of this writer’s pieces.
[Because Australia isn't under economic sanctions, and hasn't had it's currency destroyed by them? They hypocrisy and sanctimony of the MDC/Rhodesian Front types is endless. - MrK]
We are told Western societies denote pluralistic societies characterised by limitless freedoms, individual autonomy, free speech and the rest of the niceties of democracy. So good is Western democracy that its principles grant freedom of expression to its own underminers and opponents.
The likes of this writer are widely believed to be enjoying impunity and celebrity offered by those they deride and scorn, right from within the safety of the derided ones. Safety is always the word of emphasis.
It is quite revealing that the safety in question meant for this writer a stinging campaign to halt his studies at an Australian University in 2007, and of late efforts to have the University rescind the qualification awarded.
It is a safety that resulted in a prolonged legal battle between this writer and Australia’s immigration department after the authorities in that part of government bought into a slanderous and malicious “dob in” by amateurish political activists.
Four times this writer has been detained and body searched at two of Australia’s international airports because his name is flagged as a “person of concern” — most probably flagged by the same department that once unsuccessfully tried to effect an eviction.
Twice the detentions took several hours and included torturous interrogation and a rather obnoxious attitude to all responses.
The common accusation is that the views this writer expresses at the lenience and mercy of his hosts would result in imprisonment or death in his own home country, Zimbabwe. If this were true, then there is not much difference because the Australian immigration department furnished this writer with a thick copy of the Rome Statute in
January 2009, advising in red ink that the document was to be read “with the assistance of a lawyer” because there were “reasonable grounds” to send this writer to The Hague for trial.
The views of this writer perhaps attract imprisonment in both liberal and illiberal regimes, and the myth of “safety” in a Western democracy is as flattering as telling newlyweds that they will “live happily ever after.”
Yes, Western societies do not generally see themselves as entitled to stop those who criticise their political systems, but that does not mean the critics of Western imperialism pass their views in luxury. The absence of a sense of entitlement to silence dissent does not mean there are no efforts to silence such dissent.
It is easy for Westerners to criticise their governments for becoming less liberal and more authoritarian in the name of anti-terror laws. Ironically, the same critics believe that the political elites who mask their oppressive and intrusive tendencies as national security are better devils abroad, arguing that their pretexting behind human rights and civil liberties is in fact genuine and must be universally accepted.
Australia runs international affairs on a “me too” foreign policy where it imitates the US and Britain in almost everything related to capitalism. Its sanctions regime on Zimbabwe is an imitation of ZDERA sanctions, just like the partial relaxation of the same sanctions is. The undeniable fact is that imperialism is a monster with unquenchable appetite, and it has no concern whatsoever with the harm it causes its victims, especially the poor masses from the developing world.
We cannot blithely ignore this threatening reality simply because we cannot separate our obsession for freedoms and liberties from the tragedy of those abusing our plight in order to pursue self-interests.
It is a fact that leading capitalist figures like George Soros often commit themselves to vast acts of philanthropy — many times masking the ugly face of imperialism by exercising touching humanitarianism, that way concealing the face of exploitation and deception that brought the surplus into their philanthropic hands in the first place.
It is not philanthropy that should be blamed for Soros’ misdemeanours. Attacking philanthropic imperialists does not amount to denouncing philanthropy itself, just like criticising civic imperialists does not equate to attacking civil liberties or human rights.
Western propagandists love to portray the likes of this writer and authors like Slavoj Zizek as rejectionists of notions of rights and liberties — misleadingly claiming that attacking imperialism for abusing the plight of those in search of civil liberties and human rights is the same as asserting that rights and liberties are in themselves a conspiracy by imperialists to disguise their true objectives. There is a huge difference between attacking civil liberties and attacking imperialists.
There is a strong belief in the West that one is entitled to vociferously complain against the harm and wrongs of imperialism, but criticising imperialism itself as a concept is seen as unpragmatic, archaic and even communist.
The regardant resolve to indigenise the economy of Zimbabwe must not be vilified as an attack on civil liberties and or human rights. It must be seen as the foundation for a true concept of civil liberties and human rights — especially in view of the fact that individual autonomy is defined by economic independence. Free speech on an empty stomach is an insult to humanity, just like political pluralism with no economic independence is an illusion leading to perdition.
We cannot allow politicians and political activists to misapply the nobility of liberties and human rights for ends that interfere with the destiny of the nation – for treacherous endeavours inspired by the enticing temptation of donor power.
Equally we cannot condone pseudo-revolutionaries who dismiss every mentioning of human rights and civil liberties as insidious lexicon at the service of quisling opponent politicians pursuing regime change agendas.
Human rights and civil liberties are universal fundamental rights that must be observed by all civilised peoples of this world. It does not matter that imperialists mask their vile intentions behind civil liberties and human rights. That in itself does not make these values unacceptable or bad. An enemy of human rights and civil liberties is by definition an enemy of the people.
Africa we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
* Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia