The crises have erupted in our lives at different times, but, most of the times, the specialists although pretending to know, have clearly shown that their understanding was limited by their own training and reliance on data tainted by both the origin and the purpose for which they had been created. It should be possible to examine all of these recent crises (financial, food, land grabbing, climate, nuclear) by asking one single question: aren’t they all interconnected, and if so how?
Let us keep in mind one axiom: long before the splitting of the atom was carried out by scientists in the 20th century, the mindset that had been at the root of that process had inaugurated the splitting of humanity. That process of splitting humanity has been carried out, with impunity by one segment over another. At no time during this process was there ever made a call for something even remotely resembling the Truth and Reconciliation process put in place in South Africa at the end of Apartheid. No tribunal was ever thought of as a way of healing from the enslavement and colonizing processes that have bled Africa to torture and to a slow, programmed annihilation.
From the genocides perpetrated by the discoverers of the so-called New World to the slow destruction of a way of living, a way of thinking, a way of healing, to today, humanity has been slowly put to death. From those inaugural times of the currently dominant system, the motto has always been identical: “Those who must die are those who are perceived as obstacles to the full flowering of a system that has never hesitated to show its murderous intentions to the people it considered as barbarians, primitive, uncivilized”. All of these processes, enslavement, colonization, apartheid, forced labor, direct, indirect rule swept across the planet with a single minded intention in mind: make the world fit the goals and objectives of the managers of capitalism determined to imperialize everything into submission.
Nothing but competition for profit has been the banner waved by the destroyers of humanity. Over the centuries, and now, with every year, month, week one can see with much greater clearly than ever before that the single ruler is the market and its single enemy is anything that does not submit to its rules and regulations, i.e. the vast majority of humanity. A humanity that struggles without even knowing it has been condemned to slow extinction behind words like democracy, constitution, and justice. Face to face with the disappearance of justice it struggles to appeal to social justice as if the marketers might be moved by a word they have long learned to abhor because it reminds them of socialism, communism, imperialism, etc.
And now, 25 years after Chernobyl, the world faces yet another nuclear disaster, this time in a country that would not fit all of the pejorative prejudices used to describe the Soviet Union. Then, the response of many immersed in the Cold War ideology was “well of course, if a nuclear disaster had to happen, it was bound to happen in the Soviet Union, given how recklessly it has treated its population”. Following this crisis in Japan, the fallback position will be that man is incorrigible, forgetting the context in which the nuclear industry for war and peace was born.
From almost all corners come the same words and phrases about how clean the nuclear industry is, how inexpensive it is, etc. Indeed, how clean is the nuclear industry when one takes into account the entire process of getting the uranium from the ground and getting rid of the spent fuel? With regard to the latter, the disposing of nuclear waste in a manner that does not endanger life and living has yet to be resolved.
The costs of the uses and abuses of the atom have still not been fully calculated and comprehended. This has followed the pattern inherited from the uses and abuses of slavery and all of the ensuing political and economic processes, from colonization to today. The nuclear industry has followed the pattern of the banking and financial industry: they have become so big that, as the financiers and their accomplices in governments have declared: they are too big to fail.
Questions that are raised are either not answered or answered in a way that must only satisfy those with the most unchallengeable power.
Is it enough to denounce the injustices that are erupting with more frequency?
Is it enough to ask for a reform of the UN Security Council?
Can crises be resolved within the framework put in place by those who sewed the seeds of all these crises with the intention of massively gaining?
How long will it take for the privileged inhabitants of the richest countries to face the collective exasperation of humanity tired of being treated as if it did not exist? Given this pattern of eradication, is it too far fetched to ask what may appear as a horrifying question: Will failures of nuclear power stations be used to deliberately wipe out “unnecessary people”?
More and more people are becoming aware of the fact that the issue of nuclear power cannot be framed solely in terms of energy. The process through which it became the most powerful weapon (in the hands of a few) can be compared to a slow unfolding dictatorial coup against the inhabitants of the earth. Most of the dangers to the health of human beings have been systematically censored and/or minimized ever since the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is now being demonstrated that the Chernobyl disaster was much worse than the public was made aware.
In order to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons (of the military and civil kind), should one not look at other processes of abolition which, arguably and contrary to historical consensus, did pave the way to the current state of humanity trapped between a rock and a hard place by the criminal whims of a tiny few?
If we look at the abolition of slavery, or the end of colonial rule, it is clear that both, formally speaking, were brought to an end. But any serious examination of the last 50 years since Independence has been achieved in Africa, it is clear that colonization by other means has been successfully maintained and reinforced, with the connivance of African governments. The crimes against humanity committed during slavery and during colonial rule were never brought to a tribunal of any kind. The crimes were committed with impunity. And impunity of the most powerful, not just in Africa, but the world over, has become a way of life, almost taken for granted.
It has been said that it is a-historical to speak of crimes against humanity when the notion was not even part of the juridical and political language, back then. Again, how can this be ascertained when those who suffered the crimes were not even heard before any institution? How do we know for sure that the people who were being dragged to the ships did not utter, in their minds, in their own language: “how can other human beings inflict this to other human beings?” One can already hear legal scholars say, with certainty that no one can say for sure that those words can be translated to mean “a crime against humanity”.
The mindset that has grown from the impunity that has accompanied so many crimes against humanity has kept humanity on a course of self-annihilation. As a result, other mantras have grown aimed at forgetting history, forgetting humanity and anything connected to keeping them –the commons of history, humanity—alive and well.
The tragedy that is unfolding in front of our eyes is not just about the excesses of one industry, be it financial, nuclear, oil, etc. It is about the continued and deliberate silencing/sidelining of the majority of humanity by a tiny dictatorial fraction that, for centuries and generations has always gotten away, literally with murder. What has struck me the most about all of the articles I have read about the nuclear/environmental crisis in Japan is how shallow and selective the history is. Invariably they all start with the atom, even though the mind set that has pushed through the informal, full of secrecy, nuclear code can easily be said to have been inspired by Le Code Noir decreed by Louis XIV in 1685 (in place till 1848) to make sure that the slave industry served its profiteers without any moral and/or ethical preoccupation [See Note 1].
This is not the space to dissect the Black Code. It is just a reminder that the mindset at work today, around all of the recent crises, was born during historical processes that current rulers do not like to refer to, at the risk of having to own up to a history of devastation of humanity whose responsibility was not nature but irresponsible, genocidal members of known governments, organizations. It is understandable that rulers should prefer to fudge the historical record; however, where it becomes alarming is when highly respected intellectuals from many parts of the world seem to have accepted the framing and formatting of history according to those who have become too powerful and too rich to be questioned.
The most distressing fact of all is the apparent complete and total absence of African voices articulating how the current mindset was set in motion. These voices should not just come from Africa they should be coming from any corner of the planet that has endured what the African continent and indigenous people the world over, have endured for centuries, to this day.
Note1: My source, for this essay, was mostly the daily Le Monde from March 11, 2011 through March 27. Even when the word slavery is mentioned, as in the case of March Humbert’s opinion piece (Japon: alerte verte et rouge), the author is unable to see beyond the blinders of Western history, and see that his narrative of how humanity has become enslaved to tools it has invented, is not the by-product of recent developments, but has deep historical roots in the twin genocide of Indigenous people of the Americas and Africa. For fear of quoting him out of context, here is the quote: Une telle banque too big to fail [in English in the text] ne devrait pas exister, disait André Orléan, de telles entreprises géantes, de telles centrales parce que nucléaires et trop grandes et trop dangereuses pour faillir, ne devraient pas exister : alerte rouge.
Cette manière de voir est tout en fait en accord avec l’idée d’Illich (1973) que les outils devenus trop gros ne sont plus conviviaux : au lieu de nous servir ils nous rendent esclaves.[my emphasis, jd] Il s’agit de terrorisme, parce que nulle part, pas plus en France qu’au Japon, on a mis en débat le choix du nucléaire.
Le Monde, 23/03/2011. Accessed on March 27, 2011: http://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2011/03/23/japon-alerte-verte-et-rouge_1497021_3232.html
March 18-27, 2011