The solipsism of anti-imperialism
Lindsey German is a former member of the SWP and current “convenor” of the “Stop The War” coalition, a coalition who appear to exist entirely to oppose what they see as the continuous and unvarnished evil of the West. Ms German has frequently disgraced herself in the very recent past – making excuses for the terrorist who attacked a French Jewish school (such excuses, of course, she would never make for Mr Breivik), pushing a pretty nauseating pro-Putin line over Ukraine, etc etc.
Last night, however, she decided to up the ante completely. In a Guardian article ostensibly about the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls whose kidnapping by the brutal Islamist terror organisation Boko Haram has become an internet cause celebre (mainly, it must be said, led by Nigerians – mainly female Nigerians at that – themselves), she indulged in yet another round of…
Oh, go on, you know. Another round of blame the west.
It is interesting to see how she formulates this argument. After a couple of paragraphs of throat-clearing (in which the kidnapping is described as a “tragedy” – a revealing choice of word, given a tragedy is generally something, y’know, unavoidable, accidental and grim, like a volcano eruption or a tidal wave, rather than what this actually is, which is a massive criminal human rights violation by a bunch of medievalist psychopaths), she gets down to brass tacks.
To wit, the west shouldn’t get involved. Oh no. Because they will turn Nigeria into Afghanistan. And anyway, the Americans are already there! Boots on the ground in Niger! (Ok, it’s actually the country next door. Ok, there’s only actually 100 of them there. Ok, they operate unarmed surveillance drones at the behest of the Niger government who are worried about….ummm…..medievalist psychopaths spilling over the border).
“And western intervention is already firmly embedded in Africa. It does not have the same profile as in Afghanistan or Iraq, because past wars have made it harder to put boots on the ground. But Barack Obama has his military forces engaged in West Africa through their Predator drone base in Niger, which borders northern Nigeria. It also borders Mali, the scene of recent French and British interventions, and Libya, object of a disastrous western bombing campaign in 2011 that has left that country in a state of civil war and collapse.
US drones also operate in Djibouti, Ethiopia and just across the Red Sea in Yemen. The west has been engaged in proxy wars in Somalia in recent years.
If Islamism is now a threat to western interests in growing parts of Africa, it is one that they have played a large part in creating.”
Never mind there’s rather a large distance between Djibouti and Yemen and Nigeria. Around 3000 miles as the crow flies. Approximately the same distance there is between London and Gambia. Or London and New York. Because Africa is all the same place, innit? Those drones operating out of Djibouti most definitely add to the insecurity in Northern Nigeria. Just as Boris Johnson’s transport policies affect the New York Subway…
Oh, and there’s Mali. Mali is interesting because it happened last year. Remember last year? I remember it happening. And Libya? Remember the Libyan campaign in 2011? Of course you do.
Boko Haram, which “The West” has played a “large part in creating” in Nigeria, was formed in 2002. Its name allegedly translates as “Western Education is sinful” (although there is some etymological dispute over this, but its very much against western – or indeed, any feminine – education, whatever the provenance of its name). It started its campaign of violence in 2009. I’m quite impressed how, as well as destabilising the entire of the region by having 100 soldiers in the country next door, and a drone base 3000 miles away, the evil US have also managed to create Boko Haram via time travel! Astounding!
She then finishes the piece with some general knock-about “hate capitalism” stuff which blames the evil imperialist west for exploiting Africa, and blissfully ignores the major rising economic presence in the area, sitting behind some of the most brutal regimes, the lovely authoritarian Chinese regime, who are busy buying up African resources like there is no tomorrow.
I made a very simple, and easy joke earlier, on Twitter. “There’s a Yoruba saying which translates as ‘as day follows night, whatever the situation, Lindsey German will find a way to attack the West'”. I apologise for that joke – the language in the areas where Boko Haram operate is predominantly Hausa, so it was inaccurate – but the truth of it remains.
Some authors, Ms German prime amongst them, refuse to see any situation through the viewpoint of what it is like for those living in the area. To them, geo-politics is all about you and nothing else. Thus, Ukraine’s national integrity can be sacrificed because one doesn’t like the EU, or NATO. Nigerian schoolgirls being kidnapped can be waved away as a tragedy and then blame fixed on “the West”. Everything comes down to who you hate at home, nothing comes down to what is actually happening abroad.
There is a word for this. The word is solipsism.”Fuck what happens to the Nigerian girls, I’ll just do a bit of dear oh dear hand-wringing and then oppose any action at all that could help them. Why? Because I hate having to live in a reasonably successful pluralist democracy. Why? Because capitalism”.
Pretty sight, that view, isn’t it? Aren’t you pleased our leading liberal-left newspaper gives this woman space to push it?