- Order Horace Campbell's recent book, Global Nato and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya
- Welcome to horacecampbell.net. Horace Campbell is Professor of African American Studies and Political Science at Syracuse University, New York. His recent book is Global NATO and the Catastrophic Failure in Libya. He is the author of: Rasta and Resistance From Marcus Garvey to Walter Rodney; Reclaiming Zimbabwe: The Exhaustion of the Patriarchal Model of Liberation; Pan Africanism, Pan Africanists and African Liberation in the 21st Century; and Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics. Follow on Twitter @Horace_Campbell.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Africa and Vietnam in a Changed World Economy: Building Relations for the Transformation in the 21st Century*
*This was the lecture I delivered at the 3rd Annual Stakeholders' Forum of the Nigeria-Vietnam Chamber of Commerce in Lagos, Nigeria. January 6, 2011.
Global politics, economy, and cultures have been undergoing profound changes that demand a new epistemological and ontological approach to the relations among peoples and between human beings and planet earth. In the emerging global order, there is an unprecedented shift in the locus and configuration of economic power from Western Europe and the Atlantic powers that have dominated the international political system since the 18th century. Over the past decade, we have seen the rise to prominence of societies in Asia and Latin America, where countries labeled as emerging economies, including Brazil, Russia, India, and China are fast changing the power configuration of the international system. Besides these countries, there are other societies that have made tremendous strides in confronting the imperial tendencies of Western powers and are in the process of transforming their societies. One of such countries is Vietnam.
The peoples of Vietnam have embarked on an impressive program of reconstruction and transformation and the forecasters of the changed international system have remarked that by 2025, Vietnam will be among the top twenty economies in the World. According to a forecast of bodies as diverse as the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and investment firms such as Goldman-Sachs, Vietnamese economy will become the 17th largest in the world with a nominal GDP of $ 436 billion and nominal GDP per capita of $ 4,357 by 2025. These same forecasters envisage China to become the largest economy by 2025, when Nigeria will be the 19th largest economy.
Vietnam, like Brazil, Russia, India and China (called BRIC economies), has understood the significance of Africa in the changing international political economy, and has sought to build relations with the continent in order to be able to access the rich and rare earth elements that are abundant in Africa. One of the many challenges will be whether the access to Africa’s natural resources and energy resources and energy resources will follow the path of plunder and brutality that emerged from Western colonial domination. Like Africa, Vietnam has been through periods of brutal imperial domination and wars, and therefore shares the aspirations of moving to new forms of relations. The Vietnamese aspiration for alternative social relationships within the context of socialist transformation has been formalized in Vietnam by the constitution that stressed the importance of “Independence, Freedom, and Happiness.” Under the political leadership of Ho Chi Minh and the Communist Party of Vietnam, it was recognized that independence, freedom and happiness had to be defended so that the defense of the sovereignty of Vietnam is now recognized as one of the major epic struggles of the 20th century. Vietnam came out of this history of struggle to transform its society in the late 20th century. The thesis of this paper is that transformation, not depoliticized development, should be the goal of Vietnam-Africa relations in the 21st century.
What lessons can Africa learn from the Vietnamese experience and what can Vietnam learn from Africa, especially since the center of gravity of the Cold War shifted from Asia to Africa after 1975? How can Vietnam and Africa take advantage of the changing international system to deepen their own transformation; and what are the ideological and political changes required to advance people’s rights and freedom beyond the freedom of capital? The three changes in the international system that we will focus on in this paper are: 1) the rapid decline of unilateralism with the debasement of the Breton Woods Institutions and the imminent end of the US dollar as the world reserve currency, 2) the end of US and Western military/cultural hegemony, and 3) the opportunities for energy transformation orchestrated by the other changes in the international system. Read More
Thursday, January 27, 2011
At the time of writing this piece, the revolution is going through the third stage where the popular forces are seeking a drastic change in the politics of the society and demanding new order in Tunisia based on freedom, democracy and social justice. In short, the people were calling for a form of popular democracy that moves beyond alienation, and beyond the separation of politics and economics. The first stage of the revolution started with the self-immolation and self-sacrifice of Mohammed Bouazizi in the region of Sidi Bouzid. The unemployed graduate Bouazizi set himself on fire to protest police brutality after they harassed and stopped him from selling fruits and vegetables, which was his only means of a livelihood. The second stage involved the mass organisation and the deployment of new networks for revolution among the youth and the working people, leading to the popular overthrow of the dictator. The third stage involved the merger of the caravans of liberation into Tunis, the capital with the break in the ranks of the forces of coercion. It was at this stage that the true revolutionary character of the self-organisation started to emerge. At this third stage, the prolonged popular protest of the organised poor emerged, with women and youth taking the lead in calling for the arrest of the dictator and for a new government of the people. It is at this delicate stage of this revolution that it is most necessary for revolutionaries all over the world to stand together with the Tunisians, and to draw the positive lessons that can spread the revolution like a fire to burn off the corruption and destruction of capitalism and neoliberalism.
The capitalist classes have been wounded in Tunisia and they want to do all within their power to contain this new wave of revolution. However, their ability to undermine this revolution will depend on the vigilance and support of revolutionaries internationally. We must remember that revolutions are made by ordinary people and that there are millions who want a new form of existence where they can live like decent human beings. In another era of capitalist depression and war, it was C.L.R. James who commented that, ‘That is the way a revolution often comes, like a thief in the night, and those who have prepared for it and are waiting for it do not see it, and often only realise that their chance has come when it has passed.’
James was referring to the Chinese masses who had led the way in the revolutionary process in China. The real point of Tunisia, as in China, is that in every revolutionary situation it is the real action of human beings taking to the streets, defying the police and fighting with courage and imagination that changes society. Revolutionaries should grasp the epoch-making process that is now underway in the world. How this epoch-making process will mature across Africa, Europe and Asia will depend on the politics and organisations that shape the movement in the coming weeks and months. Revolutionaries must learn the positive lessons: the new pattern of 21st century revolution, the new forces of revolution and the new tools of revolutionary struggles that are being fashioned by those who are making sacrifices for a new mode of social existence. Read more
Thursday, January 20, 2011
From the time of the assassination of Lumumba, almost every African leader who sought to chart a course for genuine independence was assassinated, whether it was Eduardo Mondlane, Amilcar Cabral, Herbert Chitepo, Samora Machel, Thomas Sankara, Felix Moumie, Chris Hani or Steve Biko. Violence against leaders was accompanied by the intimidation and assassination of journalists, students, opposition leaders and any social force that challenged oppression of Africans and the plunder of their resources. This nested loop of genocidal thinking, genocidal economics and genocidal politics has generated 11 wars in the Congo since 1960, and all of these wars have had implications for almost all the regions of Africa in relation to genocide, militarism, dictatorship, economic plunder and patriarchal models of liberation. Read More
Horace Campbell, Barack Obama and Twenty-First Century Politics: A revolutionary moment in the USA (New York: Pluto Press, 2010), 319 pps. $29 paperback, $95 hardback.
Horace Campbell has produced a rigorous, thought-provoking look at the political moment in which we find ourselves. Barack Obama and Twenty-first Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA presents challenges to a reviewer because it is three books in one. This is not to be taken literally. But content-wise, there are three very distinct components to this book such that each could have been a book in its own right. One ‘book’ deals with how Campbell understands the moment; the second ‘book’ concerns the nature of the Obama campaign; and the third ‘book’ is a post-election analysis.... Read More
Thursday, January 13, 2011
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011
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