Photos by Andre Vltchek, unless otherwise noted
[M]any North American intellectuals have this ongoing love affair with everything that is European, particularly with the European ‘social system’ and ‘European culture’.
It is a deadly, shameful obsession; partially based on a desperate desire to maintain the belief that the West is not finished, yet, and that to a great extent it is still superior to the rest of the world. Europe is portrayed as ‘unique’, as different to the United States, as something that is worth admiring… or at least its past and its essence.
It is never propounded or defined like that, of course, but this belief (and yes, it really resembles a religious faith) indirectly points out that it is quite legitimate that the West (or at least a big part of the West) continues its rule over our planet.
It is obvious that many men and women of the Left, living in North America, actually believe in Western “Exceptionalism”; not that of the United States, but that of Europe.
North American Eurocentric intellectuals tell us indirectly or even directly, that the US is some kind of desperado, which is derailing that wonderful, that glorious, centuries old, European cultural process, and the quest for egalitarianism.
Europe is often shown as a contrast, or counter-pole, to the United States; to its brutal selfishness and turbo capitalism… This is how the reality is depicted in so many progressive films, books and essays.
This view is somewhat romantic (in a Wagnerian way, searching for the idyll), but it also fully ignores clear historic facts, and defies essential logic.
It also blurs reality, doing tremendous harm to any sincere attempts to solve the present global nightmare, which has its roots exactly in the domination over so many long centuries, by European brutality and greed.
It is also arrogantly racist. Instead of US ‘exceptionalism’, it is advancing a clear and vulgar ‘Euro-exceptionalism’ and Euro-centrism. Everything has to be defined and judged by ‘European logic’ and measures, from Chinese socialism, to ‘human rights’, as well as ‘democracy’ and the entire scale of other essential issues.
Europe is often shown as a contrast, or counter-pole, to the United States; to its brutal selfishness and turbo capitalism…
But let us go back to that European ‘social system’ – the holy cow of the great majority of North America’s left:
It has not been built by the exertions and honest labor of the European people. Anyone who bothers to look and study those maps of the world depicting our planet up to WWII would understand the reality, in just a few seconds.
That famed ‘social system’ is built on the enslavement of colonized peoples; it is built on the unimaginable horrors visited on those hundreds of millions of men, women and children, who were slaughtered mercilessly by the colonial European powers. It is built through oppression, terror, and almost exclusively, on theft and plunder.
To admire it, is like admiring some brutal thuggish oligarch, who has amassed huge wealth by extortion and open plunder, built a gigantic palace and provided his family or his village with free medical care, education, some theatres, libraries and parks.
European colonialists ‘opened the veins’ of Latin America. They stole everything they could lay their hands on; in what is now Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and so many other places in Latin America.
They murdered everybody, unlike the US neo-colonialists, but 100% of the people, as happened during the French reign of places like Grenada or (near 100%) in the Polynesian Easter Islands.
Europe committed slaughters that are unimaginable in today’s times, like those by the Belgian king, Leopold II, who was responsible for around 10 million lost lives in Congo, in the days when Congo had just a fraction of the population that it has now.
And at present again, EU companies are responsible, together with US companies, of course, for another bloodletting of nearly 10 million Congolese people (in DRC); simply because that unfortunate country is very rich in strategic minerals like Coltan and uranium, that those greedy Westerners simply cannot control their cravings. The West supports murderous regimes in Rwanda and Uganda that are killing and plundering on its behalf, by manipulating mass media, and creating insane historical narratives about the 1994 genocide… The French are openly plotting to carve off the mineral rich East Kivu from DRC, and to give it to Rwanda, so it could be ravaged in a much more organized way.
When it comes to the list of crimes against humanity committed by Europe, in the past and now, I never know where to begin and where to end. The list is so long, so horrible, that an entire book would, perhaps, be needed to simply compile the most exhaustive list.
But just to give a short summary, such a list would have to include the German holocaust against the local people of what is now Namibia; Belgian super-genocides in all of their ‘dependencies’, Dutch plunder of what is now Indonesia, Portuguese ‘activities’ in Brazil, India and China, Italian barbarities in Africa, British and French holocausts and devastation in basically all the continents, which goes on to this day, unopposed and ignored.
European companies have been so ‘deeply involved’ all over the world, that it is often impossible to separate their corporate activities from the worst fascist nightmares that have been taking place on our planet Earth, from the above-mentioned DRC, to Mercedes factories in Argentina, or, in Southern Chile, the German Nazi ‘Colonia Dignidad’ (a huge builder of motorways), where prisoners were savagely tortured, and women raped.
The perception of Europe being somehow more ‘progressive’ than North America is clearly manufactured by Europhiles and Eurocentric groups in New York, Toronto, San Francisco and elsewhere.
Yes, Europe has social nets, and in many of its countries decent subsidized medical care systems and education, but, but… once again, these have not been built or sustained from its creativity and production, instead, it has mostly come from the colonial and neo-colonial plunder perpetrated all over the world.
How many Asian and African families have to starve, in order to have some early-retired, still strong, German man or woman farting deep holes into his or her sofa, immobilized in front of the television set?
How many Senegalese farmers have to lose their livelihoods and go totally bust, so that French and Spanish farmers get their ‘subsidies’ and drive those latest BMW’s? A generous compensation for ‘not producing’ or a great incentive to produce more, depending on the year.
And where did that theory come from, that it is only the US companies that are plundering the world? It almost appears like an extremely simplified formula: ‘the multi-nationals = US based corporations’.
I have seen German pharmaceuticals in action during the civil war in Peru – what horror and spite for the local population!
I have studied French food giants and their actions in Indonesia, West Africa and elsewhere.
And some of the most horrendous genocides in the world, including those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Papua are fueled and propelled by many European-based conglomerates, not just those with US headquarters.
Yes, the United States behaves like a global thug, like a bandit, but it is definitely not alone, and its behavioral patterns clearly come from the colonialist culture and mentality of the ‘old continent’.
And Europe is unrepentant, just as arrogant as in the days when their armies marched through all the continents and capitals of the world, which really, was, not too long ago.
When the Namibian government decided to move ‘The Horse’ (a statue erected in tribute to German colonialism, which was responsible for two genocides in Africa) out of sight – to the courtyard of the old wing of the National Museum – the German community protested, loudly. They felt no shame!
As a European UN permanent staff member in Windhoek told me, during my visit there just a few days ago, the statue actually stood right above what used to be one of the first concentration camps on earth, built, of course, by the Germans.
To this day, the government of Namibia is still negotiating with Germany for the return of the skulls of local people who were decapitated and their heads flown to Germany for ‘research’ that was supposed to ‘prove’ that Africans are inferior to that great German race!
When I was filming my documentary film – “Rwanda Gambit” – about two outrageously brutal puppets of the West in Africa, Kagame and Museveni, I visited Brussels, among many other places, realizing in shock, that the city is still full of statues and train/subway stations named after King Leopold II, the butcher of Congo. This was the man under whose command, people who ‘did not produce fast enough’ on his rubber plantations, had their hands cut off, and their entire ‘lazy villages’ were burnt to the ground, with the inhabitants locked inside their huts.
King Leopold II – one of the great ‘European heroes’! No repentance.
Winston Churchill – the butcher of the Middle East, as well as a self-proclaimed racist – is one of the symbols of the ‘greatness of Europe’, to this day!
Spain, the ‘mother country’, is dotted with statues of the most outrageous bandits, responsible for the plunder of the ‘New World’, or what is now called Latin America. And not long ago, before this great Revolution that swept through almost an entire continent, gangsters like Francisco Pizarro proudly decorated the main squares of Lima and other capitals. What a horrible insult to the hundreds of millions of local people who were literally exterminated by that European colonial power!
All this is hushed up by European cultural propaganda. In some countries and parts of the world (those that gained real freedom and independence), these facts are known, but in others, like in Southeast Asia, the brainwashing campaign has been much more ‘successful’ and complete.
The grooming of collaborators – local elites from Africa, Asia, the Sub-Continent and the Middle East – is mainly performed in the European capitals, be it London, Paris, or lately, Berlin.
Europe, not the United States, has developed an incredible propaganda system, effectively justifying its colonialist onslaughts, its crusades, its control and plunder over virtually the entire planet, a system implemented with deadly consistency and predictability, for centuries. This system has been evolving and ‘perfecting itself’ ever since the Middle Ages, and even in ancient times. Machiavelli was, of course, just one of the minor demagogues, not the main culprit.
US propaganda is fully transparent and thoroughly vulgar. To control the world, it needs more ‘refined’ and ‘culturally sophisticated’ supervision – in short, better formulated lies.
That is why it is actually pathetic and ridiculous to call Europe a ‘junior partner in crime’. It is not ‘junior’ at all. It is just really old, lazy and vitriolic; therefore it is letting its outgrowth do all the shooting and yelling. But it is ruining the minds and brains of the people worldwide. The demagogy and real propaganda comes from London, Paris, Madrid and Berlin.
European ‘culture’ is behind the crimes, and it is in charge of the propaganda, by its justifications, lies and disinformation.
Europe is also grabbing great chunks of the booty.
In this Imperialist and neo-colonialist game, there are no major and minor roles. All roles are essential, and they are divided masterly.
In Europe, it is often repeated that the guilt for imperialism and neo-colonialism lies with the United States, and that the rest of the world agrees.
That is absolute rubbish.
In the past I lived in Hanoi, Vietnam, for several years. Holding US citizenship, I was often shocked by how friendly and forgiving the Vietnamese people were. Once, over a mug of beer, I asked my good friend: “Don’t you hold any grudges against the US?”
The answer shocked me, but very soon I understood.
“We fought the United States. It was a terrible war, and millions of our people died. But in the end, we won. We forgave… But we could never forgive the French. They did not really fight us, except at the end of the colonialist period. But they humiliated us, plundered our land, and raped our women…”
It became clear to me that to those proud Vietnamese people, it was easier to forgive napalm and carpet-bombing than broken bottles inserted into the vaginas of their women, the common method of torture in Indochina. It was better to die proudly than to suffer constant dishonor.
Ask people from the sub-Continent, where they would most like to go, if they decided to leave India. Europe, with the exception of London, would hardly be on their priority list. Yes, one could argue that India is a very unusual place, and has, lately, become excessively chummy with the United States. I criticize it for that. But the reason why a great majority would choose to migrate to the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa, is simply because they feel more at ease there, where they are treated much better, because Europe is, honestly, outrageously racist. It is the continent of milk and honey if you are a white person, particularly if you are white from the ‘West’.
The colonial master – the United States – murdered one million Philippine people. But there is no animosity towards the country. It is bizarre, I know, and it is partially due to brainwashing and propaganda. But there is also a certain logic to it – Spanish conquest and rule was, incomparably worse.
Europeans spilled blood everywhere. And their arrogance left a terrible aftertaste all over the world.
The ransacking of Beijing by the French, the colonization, plunder and division of China by the British, French, Portuguese… All this is forgotten in Europe, but not in the most populous nation on earth.
The Dutch and their countless crimes – that insane plunder of what is now Indonesia has never been forgiven, or forgotten on the archipelago, but in Europe is muted.
Who built the European palaces, theatres, hospitals and schools? Whose blood was spilt so that Europeans could have their ‘social net’? Whose lands were robbed? Whose labor utilized?
I have repeated many times and say it again here: I am totally appalled, absolutely against all those ‘free medical schemes’ in Europe; I am against their ‘social schemes’, as long as they are paid for by the blood and tears of people in the poor countries.
I hail them – these or similar schemes – when they are implemented in Cuba or Venezuela, China or South Africa, because there they are ‘by the people’ and ‘for the people’. But not in Europe! The way their economies are structured, it is clear that for some grandmother in Germany to have free and long chats with her doctor, dozens of people in Africa and elsewhere have to starve and live in servitude.
The best scenario would be universal and global free medical care, education, and many, many other social projects.
But that is not how Europeans envision the world. They want to be ‘unique’; they want to be the ‘chosen’ ones. They don’t give a damn how many people die to provide them their sheltered and sclerotic lives.
On top of it all, European countries come to their former colonies and lecture them about ‘good governance’, giving scholarships, and teaching young people about ‘democracy’.
‘Good governance’ is of course nothing other than the implementation of systems that will continue to serve the business and geopolitical interests of the West. ‘Democracy’ is a political concept that would never allow real change.
You never hear about the Goethe Institute or Alliance Française arranging a series of lectures in Africa or in Indonesia, about free medical care or free education.
And the people from Africa or Indonesia travel to Europe and say: “My god! What a great social system. Why have we never managed to build it ourselves?” Well, why not? You did build it! But not for yourself! You built it for the Dutch and other Europeans!”
The North American Left is doing a tremendous disservice to the world, with its staunch Euro-centrism!
It may actually be the greatest single reason why the “Left” lost in so many places.
The world is measured and analyzed by Western, mainly European logic, which is absolutely foreign, even hostile to the people of the rest of the world.
The arrogance and provinciality of these analyses are pushing away people from some of the greatest cultures and societies on earth, including those of China, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, but also to some great extent, of Latin America.
And we are actually talking about societies where the Left – their own, home -grown Left – has lately been victorious!
But this Left is not good enough for most Europeans and their North American admirers. Chinese socialism is not really socialism, because it is not based on European ‘culture’. Unless it gets that seal of approval from the intellectuals in Paris, London or Rome, it is not real socialism, not at all!
For years, since the beginning of the Process, I had been fighting for Chavez. I even began working for, and making films for Telesur. I am a firm Chavista, not because I believe that his governance was flawless, but because I am convinced that it was pulling the country and the world in the right direction. And because his people had chosen him, again and again! But it took more than a decade before the West’s left, and even then just a small part of it, began taking the Venezuelan revolution seriously! And they are still trashing Cuba!
I am behind China with all my heart. I have seen how Chinese socialism is transforming the country, and I have also witnessed the great work it is doing abroad. But the more socialist China is (and it is, once again, increasingly), the more spite it gets from the Western, particularly European intellectuals, who lost, flatly and patently, in their countries, and are now bitter about every nation on earth where that young, progressive, healthy spirit is propelling millions towards constructing new schools and hospitals, high-speed railways and metro systems, public parks and social housing. They would never accept the leadership of some Asians! They would rather bury the entire spirit of the Left, which, in a way, they are actually doing.
I see the same now, here, in South Africa! The more this wonderful country is changing, transforming itself, the more it does for its people – the more it comes under fire, and the more it is being spat at.
It is different here, damn it! It moves on through very different dynamics than those in Europe. China is thoroughly different, and so are its culture and its way of doing things. And thank God it is different! People worldwide have had enough of European cultural chauvinism, which always leads to the same result, in the end – the seeking of exceptional privileges for the people whose greatest ‘achievement’ was the most efficient, intensive plunder and murder seen on our planet!
Ask Africans, whether they trust and want the Chinese here, or the Europeans? Despite all that vitriolic BBC propaganda, the great majority all over this destroyed continent will say that they trust Beijing much more than London, Paris or Brussels!
But they do not count! How many African voices (except the collaborative ones) are carried by European media, or by progressive North American ones?
You see, foreigners, the majority of the world, cannot be really trusted. Look who writes about China, Russia, Latin America or Africa? Just look at their names! How many Chinese, Japanese, Korean, African names do we see even in progressive Western publications? How many Latin names are allowed in?
India is an exception. Indian intellectuals speak English and many of them (although not all) are part of this Western game: from the Right, Left, and from the Center.
Everybody in the West is passing judgment on China and Venezuela or Africa; especially Europeans or those who take the European uniqueness and its cultural exceptionalism as their basic platform.
I have very unpleasant but honest news for the North American Eurocentric left: people in many countries worldwide, where socialism is actually being built and fought for as we speak, want nothing to do with the Western left, anymore, exactly for the reasons I have spelled out above. They see it as patronizing, hostile and extremely unhelpful.
Many Chinese comrades that I know in Beijing feel indignant. They feel that their country, which has done so much for its people and for the world, is being insulted, dragged through dirt, and smeared… often by the Western, mostly European, left!
I feel the same anger in South Africa.
And I have to declare here, that I share these emotions. If I am forced to choose, to take sides, I would not hesitate for a single moment: my allegiances are with Latin America, with China, Russia, Eritrea, not with the Western Left, and not with those European analyses of the world.
No other continent or part of the world ever damaged, or harmed our planet as much as Europe; not even the United States. And all the foundations of terror that the US and its allies have been spreading all around lie in the long and horrid centuries past, depicted so well by the historical world maps.
I do not want the world to be judged, defined and ruled by European ideas and perceptions. I do believe in collective guilt and responsibility, and I am holding Europe accountable for most of the conflicts, divisions and nightmarish scenarios that we have on this planet Earth right now.
We need unity, and we are working on it.
It is unthinkable for China to begin trashing South African or Brazilian concepts.
Venezuela would never start criticizing Russian culture or the way Russians are doing things.
Before my latest documentary film was broadcast by Telesur, throughout Latin America and the world – a film about the horrific slums in Nairobi that were created under the Kenyan capitalist nightmare – one of the leading figures of the network asked us to remove from the film both the Venezuelan Ambassador and some Kenyan politicians who kept repeating that only adopting the Venezuelan way would save their country.
The argument put forward by the most influential television channel in Latin America was clear: “It is an insult to put a high ranking Venezuelan official on air… The great Kenyan nation knows and will find its own way forward.”
To some extent I disagreed, but I saw the point. The argument was full of respect for that far-away suffering African country and her people.
Venezuelan comrades were refusing to dictate the way forward to their brothers and sisters in Africa.
China is adopting exactly the same attitude: “if you need us, we will help, but do not expect us to come and push our system down your throats! And we will not judge you. We will not tell you who you are and what to do!”
The Western, pro-European Left, may actually cost some terrible harm to all progressive countries, governments and movements, worldwide. By stubbornly embracing and endorsing the continent (and its schemes) that is seen by majority of the planet as the most merciless, arrogant and brutal, it has actually already alienated many genuine revolutionaries in non-white and non-Western countries.
To observe this love affair between the North American Left and Europe – to see it from some none-Western city or village, is thoroughly grotesque, confusing, even insulting. It appears to be millions of miles from true and honest Internationalism. And it is strategically suicidal and morally chauvinist.
Europe is fully behind all crimes committed in early days of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Murdering of indigenous people was done, mainly, by the first, second and third generation of the European settlers. The ‘Old Continent’ introduced the US exceptionism, and the same goes for slavery, apartheid and brutal discrimination. The same is apparently true about what was done to the territory now called Latin America.
And colonialism and neo-colonialism, as well as the spite for non-white human beings all over the world, came, most clearly, from the logic and concepts that originated in the UK, France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and other European countries.
After exterminating hundreds of millions of ‘lesser people’, and after plundering natural resources all over the world, using local slave labor, the European conquerors awarded their own nations with internally egalitarian social systems, which, the North American left-wing intellectual elite cannot stop admiring, until now.
For centuries, the aristocracy, royalty, Church and merchants, were hiring and prostituting court musicians, to bang into their harpsichords and to sing on the stages and in the theatres built on corpses from foreign lands, and amalgamated by blood. They also employed painters to depict the ‘noble faces’ of the elites, the saints, the Jesus and the countryside. That has been the core of that fable European culture!
No horrors, no genocides were depicted or described by that ‘culture’, despite the fact that the entire continent was built on the genocides and plunder committed all over the planet.
‘The European intellectual elites’ have been, historically, the most silent and servile, of any part of the world.
And these facts are totally overlooked, even censured, by most of the North American ‘left-wing’ admirers of Europe.
I believe it is time to revisit both history and the ‘culture’ of Europe.
And it is time to re-visit the sources that are fueling its ‘social system’; to see who is really paying for those agricultural subsidies, early retirements and free medical care all over the European Union.
I am writing this in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, which has just suffered from an abortive coup. I am sitting in the Alliance Française cafe… There are three white men sitting at the next table, speaking German. Unfortunately, I do understand.
They are talking about how pathetic, how useless the African Union and SADC is. They despise this part of the world. They came here to preach. They are full of ‘ideas’ about how to change Africa – pushing her in their direction. I don’t know if they work for some bank, or for the EU.
I have nothing to do with them. I don’t want this world to be run by them, anymore. They are vitriolic, toxic.
A few minutes’ walk away; there are men and women of South African police force. Pretoria took immediate action after the coup in the neighboring country: on request, it sent the elite police force to protect the government and key institutions. Like Brazil in South America, South Africa is taking direct actions to improve life in its part of the world.
Spontaneously, I approach a woman selling fruits at the corner, as if trying to cleanse myself from that Euro-neo-colonialist talk.
“Whom do you trust more: South Africans or Europeans?”
She laughs, thinking that I am joking:
“But… These are our brothers and sisters”, she points her hand towards the South African police. Two of my sisters live in their country. We follow all that happens there…. All their victories and problems…”
As I board my shuttle to the tiny Maseru airport, for some reason, I feel light and happy and full of hope.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andre Vltchek, a special correspondent with The Greanville Post, is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. The result is his latest book: “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. ‘Pluto’ published his discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. His feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” is about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.