Vandalism and Slavery
October 22, 2005
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and Slavery


John Maxwell

Vandalism is the barbarian's tribute to that to which he considers himself inferior. When the Spanish conquistadors destroyed the Aztec/Maya culture s they were performing the same ritual which Napoleon's troops enacted three hundred years later when they shelled the negroid lips and nose of the Sphinx in Egypt.

They didn't understand and were intimidated, so they destroyed the sources of their discomfort - the evidence of their assumed inferiority.

In the "New World", the Spaniards collided with a number of ancient civilisations, Aztec, Maya and in South Americas, the Inca, and all of them shared, among other things, a calendar which, although much older, is said to be more accurate than the Gregorian calendar we use today. The New World cultures were so thoroughly ransacked and pillaged that it is extremely difficult to tell much about their origins or their level of achievement. And especially, they cannot easily be connected to the precedent Olmec civilisation which must have bequeathed some of its characteristics to the newcomers. The Olmecs tantalise us and confound certain historians in that they appear to have been negroid people, judging from the enormous carved heads they left behind.

Of course, European Christians like the Spaniards would have found it difficult anyway to give the slightest credence to the idea that blacks, as the Olmecs at least, would have seemed to them, could possibly be of the same level of humanity as they were, especially because they (the Spaniards) were proving the moral and intellectual superiority of European civilisation by employing the Chinese invention of gunpowder.

And since the Spaniards and their fellow Europeans were about to embark on the most ambitious exercise in parasitism known to mankind - the institution of black plantation slavery - it would have been highly inconvenient for them to believe that they were enslaving civilised people Except of course, that they may have been taking revenge for the conquest and 6 centuries of occupation of Spain by Africans.

It isn't nice to bring up these matters and positively indecent to suggest that there may have been civilisations antecedent to the Greeks and Romans - especially since the Ancient Egyptians have been rebranded as Honorary Whites.

The enormity of such a crime may be gauged by Mr Rumsfeld's response to the sacking of Baghdad's museums and the treasury of ancient history that was Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld's God, like General Boykins and Pizarro's, is obviously bigger than anybody else's.

Big Mac Gobsmacked

These remarks are provoked by an occurrence this week in Paris, where the United States received its most decisive rebuff ever in the international arena. The UNESCO General Conference voted by more than 150 votes to two to endorse a new Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression.

The only countries to vote against the convention were the United States and Israel.

Four countries abstained: Australia, Nicaragua, Honduras and Liberia.

The United States was incensed at its defeat. It had offered 28 amendments and every one was rejected ted. The US Ambassador to UNESCO Louise Oliver described the convention as "a hastily drafted text which is subject to misinterpretation and abuse in ways that could undermine rather than promote cultural diversity".

UNESCO's Director General Koichiro Matsuura, says: "This Declaration, which sets against inward-looking fundamentalism the prospect of a more open, creative and democratic world, is now one of the founding tenets of the new ethics, promoted by UNESCO in the early twenty-first century. My hope is that one day it may acquire the same force as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

The Americans fear that the convention will be used to counter the globalisation of American culture. Right now the US is in a quarrel with South Korea over that country's insistence on limiting American penetration of its cultural space by legislating face time on Korean television for Korean culture.

The United States will not probably be too discommoded by this convention, and may, as in the case of the International Criminal Court, simply blackmail smaller nations into yielding to cultural rape.

Most other countries support the UNESCO idea that a convention is needed to promote indigenous and other ethnic traditions and minority (that is non-English) languages, and protect national and local cultures from the negative impacts of globalisation.

In this connection I am happy to relate that the McDonalds corporation has conceded defeat in its decade long attempt to infiltrate the Jamaican fast food market. Beginning last Wednesday, the McDonald's stores are up for auction. Jamaica must be the first country in the world to achieve this distinction.

Jamaica is not a lost cause for transnational fast food chains however. Although a number of them including Shakey's Pizza, Taco bell and Kenny Rogers' chicken have also failed to make a dent here, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burger King are alive and well.

But while a place like Jamaica may defend itself against fast food and perhaps American music, it can offer no real defence against , language, the gun culture, or US film, video/ TV or book and magazine publishing. Many other countries can offer no defense at all to any intrusion, and the result could well be that the arbitrament of scale will win out against good taste and cultural imperatives.

And, as I say, Conventions don't mean much to the US, if one remembers for instance the Geneva and Hague Conventions and the Nuremberg precedents.

In the Caribbean we have two glaring examples of US disregard for what the rest of the world terms Justice and Law.

The Men in the Iron Masks

In Guantanamo Bay, the US has captured a sizeable piece of Cuban territory and claims it as its own, but, when convenient, the US also claims that it owes no duty to recognise US law at Guantanamo Bay, because it is not American territory.

Because of this, hundreds of people are held like medieval prisoners, without charge, without access to justice or mercy, force-fed while shackled to their beds when they have the temerity to protest by refusing to eat. If, as the Bush administration claims, the internees are being treated humanely, one wonders what the prisoners would do if the conditions were inhumane. . If people are willing to fast unto death to get out of this humane treatment, inhumane treatment by the US must be another dimension of horror entirely.

Last week, the Ibero-American summit rebuffed the US, as I reported. But the US still insists it has a right to wage an undeclared war against Cuba while insisting that Cuba, under American attack, should behave according to the very same democratic ideals the US itself has discarded in its PATRIOT Act and similar legislation and practice. The United States is busy kidnapping people from foreign countries and shipping them off to be tortured in places like Uzbekistan and Egypt (and Guantanamo Bay) with human rights records that cannot stand comparison with Cuba's.

Next door to Cuba is Haiti where the United States and its quondam allies France and Canada, are determined to make the Haitians pay for their temerity in defining a new standard in human civilisation.

I have become convinced that the real motive for the two hundred years war against Haiti by France and the United States arise from the simple fact that the Haitians were the first people in the world to abolish slavery - their own - and then go on to proclaim universal human rights. Although France and the US in their revolutions had proclaimed the Rights of Man, it was the Haitians who first promulgated them.

The French, having been twice defeated by their former slaves, subjugated Haiti with the help of the United States by the same process of blackmail now being used against Cuba. Unless Haiti agreed to pay an indemnity of billions to the French, the newly independent republic would be denied all opportunity to trade and develop. Thus, the French, in concert with the US, achieved by compound interest what they had not been able to achieve by war.

Haiti is the model for the for the new slavery by globalisation. Having been made utterly destitute by commercial exploitation and conquest, the Haitians are now thought to deserve no say in their own affairs.

The racist prescription for Haiti can be read most succinctly in a piece last week in the Washington Post by one James Harding , formerly of the Financial Times. In a piece last Sunday entitled In Haiti, the Vote Isn't Nearly Powerful Enough" Harding writes from Port-au-Prince:

"Beyond the poverty statistics and the kidnapping numbers, the signs of Haiti's miserable failure as a country are literally littered across the capital: the rats squirming across the piles of garbage that festoon the streets; the bloated corpse of a dog lying on the roadside in an upscale neighborhood; the kids paddling through fetid green water in the slums of Cite Soleil."

"This is a country where there is nostalgia for strong, even if bloody, leadership. Many Haitians cite the corrupt and murderous Duvalier regime as the best government in living memory."

As, no doubt, some in jamaica long for Governor Eyre.

Utopia on a Dungheap

In a piece which reads like the Master Narrative for Hapless Haiti, Harding quotes, among others, Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of State:

"Throughout history, people have fought for the right to vote. Some have indeed died for the right to vote. There is no more powerful weapon in the hands of a citizen than the vote. And so to the people of Haiti, I urge you to use that powerful weapon, the vote, in the days ahead." Tell that to the Marines.

In Harding's unintentional parody of the parachuted periodista, he stumbles across some truths

"In a country of 8 million people, Haiti's paltry budget means that the next president will have about $100 to spend on each person, dispensed through a corrupt and incapable bureaucracy, not to mention a lawless and often violent police force.

He also quotes without explaining his role in the chaos - Andy Apaid " ... one of the country's wealthiest businessmen" who, according to Harding says simply: "We are in a very, very serious hole."

As perhaps the chief hole-digger, one would have expected Apaid to have had more to say, and that Harding would have asked him more questions. Alas, we have to accept Mr Apaid's Delphic and no doubt, deeply significant utterance.

Harding says: "Even Juan Gabriel Valdes, the top United Nations official in Haiti, takes a fatalistic view of the presidential contest that the international community is working so hard to make happen: "We will have the election, but the country will not be very different the day after. What we would like is to build a consensus around the priorities."

The problem, of course is that that was precisely what Jean Bertrand Aristide was attempting to do when Apaid, Colin Powell and assorted murders and rapists, assisted by the US Marines, put an end to Haiti's democratic experiment.

As I said, Harding does stumble across some truths. He even says something that I said ten years ago, that Haiti's problems can only be solved by long term dedicated help, but Harding doesn't think Haitians are capable of being in charge of the process.

Strangely, he ends his piece thus: "Instead, it is to say that Haiti is a case for nation-building, not mere liberation. It is a task for a development-minded administration, not one single-mindedly focused on democracy. Another Haiti crisis will not be far off. It is in America's interests to be looking well beyond the election to the less newsworthy, less Manichaean business of road construction, power generation and clean water distribution. The priority is not freedom, it's the garbage."

Somebody must have lent him one of Aristide's books. Aristide spoke of the possibility of building 'Utopia upon a Dungheap', but he was sabotaged by the United States, France and the European Union as well as by the International Financial institutions, the World Bank, the IMF and the ineffable Kofi Annan.

As I said earlier, I am become convinced that it is Haiti's perceived moral superiority to her persecutors which is responsible for the mess. If they let Haitians do their own thing they may be in danger of exposing the truth: that people like us, Haitians, like the Cubans and the Venezuelans may actually expose the hollow pretensions of the "civilised world.'

Copyright©John Maxwell

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