First published in Taki's Magazine: http://www.takimag.com/site/article/yes_africa_imust_i_go_to_hell/
Note: In TakiMag the article appears under a variant of my original title; this variant was chosen by the editor. Later on it was used by a Swiss publisher, in German translation. I don't like it because it seems to make the piece about my taking delight in a callous attitude to the problems that afflict post-colonial Africa, whereas in its original form it was, in fact, a play on James Jackson's preceding piece "Why Africa Has Gone to Hell". It was intended to grab attention, and hence is provocative, but becomes ambiguous, allowing an alternative meaning, when reading the piece: while Jackson condemned the peoples of sub-Saharan Africa wholesale for their current troubles, I am condemning the White liberals of the West, whose sublimated imperialism condemned sub-Saharan Africa to its current troubles. The thesis is admittedly too radical for an article of this length, which is inevitably a blunt instrument, and out of its original context the title no longer seems adequate, so the thesis herein outlined will need book-length elaboration.
I welcome James Jackson’s courage in pointing out the fact that Africa’s chronic dysfunction is the result of, not white European rule in the past, but black Africans rule in the present—that, rather than its being the result of European colonialism and post-imperial indifference, as is the Left’s contention, chronic dysfunction in the region is the result of European post-colonialism and post-imperial aid programs.
I will not accuse him of Leftism, but Mr. Jackson still commits the fallacy—characteristic of the Left—of judging sub-Saharan Africa by European standards, and still seems to assume that Africa would develop into a European-style civilization if only Africans stopped playing victim and got their act together, for once and for all. This latter assumption stems from the belief, held by the Left, that black Africans are Europeans with black skin. Said belief is linked to another belief, one that values progress and measures it in terms of convergence with Europe’s present techno-industrial society—a type of society characterized by complex social organization, high technology, industrial production, scientific discovery, capitalism, rule of law, private property, citizen’s rights, modernity, and secular rationalism. The abnormality of these beliefs in relation to some non-European societies is not obvious to us, because we take them for granted. But taking cognizance of it is important, for the consequences are catastrophic: they underpin the entire aid and white guilt enterprise, which have fuelled a population explosion in the Dark Continent and the consequent tide of hungry and resentful immigrants into Europe and North America.
I have argued for some time that if stability is ever to visit the Dark Continent, we must allow black Africans to diverge from Europe and to reorganize in a manner harmonious with their temperament, proclivities, and endowments. I have also argued that we must not intervene, even if the end result is disturbing to us. What Africa needs is not more money and development, but none. Black Africans are different from Europeans. We may not wish to speak of African cultures, because in relation to ours they seem primitive, but we must accept that culture means something different for them than it does to us, and, while me may well have an opinion, our opinion is irrelevant if what they understand as culture is what works for them. Progress, as important as it may be for us presently, is out of place there. Africa has gone to hell because it must.
This is not to say that the present situation in sub-Saharan Africa (and I stress sub-Saharan, because we must not tarnish Morocco and Egypt with the same brush) is normal by African standards. It is not normal. It is the result of a period of transition – from white society to black society—that Western Leftists have been obstructing ever since the end of empire with their well-meaning (but all the same doomed) aid and development programs.
Traditional sub-Saharan societies are tribal; their spiritualities animistic; their medicine witchcraft; their sanitation poor; their farming subsistence or non-existent. J.R. Baker (Race, 1974) paints a picture of uncivilization: the aborigines were naked or semi-naked; they practiced self-mutilation; they resided in small settlements, in simple, single-story dwellings; they sailed on crude canoes carved out of tree trunks; they had not invented the wheel; they rarely domesticated animals or used them for labor or transportation; they had no written script or recorded history; they had no use of money, no numbering system, no calendar; they had no roads; and they had no administration or code of law. Chiefs were despotic, capricious, and cruel; slaughter was frequent; cannibalism was sometimes practiced. Dialects were simple, with limited vocabularies to express abstract thought. The average tribesman lived for the moment and lacked foresight. Any bright ideas usually perished with its inventor. Such a picture efficiently explains Africa in the 21st century.
It also explains why aid and development funds have achieved nothing except amplify the horrors in the continent: after all, once you introduce money in the above context, the spear gives way to the AK-47. Bono and Geldof and their fellow Live8 participants, the ageing, self-righteous, self-indulgent, cosmetically-enhanced rock stars that we know and loathe, have blood on their hands. So do the Western charities and media for supporting such efforts.
This why I think Mr. Jackson is right to want “the demolition of every road, college, and hospital we ever built” in black Africa. This ought to have been concomitant with de-colonization. If the European powers no longer saw it feasible to maintain an empire, they ought to have dismantled the colonial infrastructure and left the region as it was first found by the early explorers. Outsiders ought to have been forbidden, by an international covenant modeled after the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, from upsetting the sub-Saharan habitat by declaring the region a nature preserve. Of course, this was politically impossible at the time, and the European conscience, already afflicted by post-imperial guilt, would have been doubly troubled by the ensuing famines (without industrialized farms, you cannot feed millions of people). But the famines have, nevertheless, still visited the region, and not only have they not been averted, but they have been multiplied and magnified by the Western efforts to avert them.
The initial post-imperial famines might have been inevitable, but the end result would have been a smaller, re-tribalized, pre-historical population, able to feed itself through the traditional methods of subsistence farming, hunting, and gathering. After a few generations, sub-Saharan Africa would have no longer looked at the West with a mixture of envy, frustration, and hatred, because it would have forgotten about its existence, except through orally transmitted fables and legends. The white man would have been remembered as a god (or a demon)—as an alien being from another world, who built cities of gold and had magical powers beyond imagination. After a few generations, sub-Sahara African would have reverted to its pre-colonial ways, and completed its transition from a collection of failed states to a living record of humanity’s past.