Imperialism, Nigeria and Boko Haram

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Spikymike
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Jun 1 2014 17:01
Imperialism, Nigeria and Boko Haram

The horror of the recent kidnapped northern Nigerian girls seemes to have provoked in the western world one of those usual internet promoted outpourings of manufactured protest more important as a means of self justification or even political self-promotion than anything useful or effective for those suffereing. It has also further involved western governments in their imperialist aims via the cover of humanitarian objectives.

There are some clear connections in the background to all this with the western interventions in Libyia, Mali and elswhere in Africa but I have not located much in the way of anarchist and communist analysis of all this recently except perhaps for this useful article:

http://leftcom.org/en/articles/2014-05-27/the-imperialist-legacy-of-boko-haram

RealPoliGeek
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Jun 6 2014 22:00

I'm going to comment more on the tendency of the occidental left more then on the specific event to try and explain why there is a lack of analysis from the Left.(the article linked is good though from my knowledge on the subject)

I'm going to note a disclaimer that I am a white African and am from e.Africa not western hence why I'm writing more in general and may have bias effected by my own presence in the continent being the result of imperial/colonial ambition.(I also may get off on tangents because this is something I am passionate about I could write a series of articles on this subject)

Theory: that in general African political science and states don't function by the same rules that western nations. the best way I can sum this up,( though there are volumes on the subject both by Africans and non-Africans that i will not do justice to here) is that African states don't have influence via a system of borders and bureaucratic control and direct controlled state violence. Instead it relies on flowing influences of different groups in relation to the state.( think of the traditional European-Nation state as a system of rivers/streams the influence flowing through channels to its desired location or goal and African states like a sea/lake ebbing and flowing with a tide based on the influence of the state). this is similar to how African medieval kingdoms/empires(the kingdom of Nri being a grand example having lasted almost a millennium with leaders never having any military power over its subjects) and has had advantages and disadvantages from a statist perspective. it allowed African states to avoid internal violence that Europe suffered establishing border control over nation-states. So much of Left criticism theory wise at least originates in critic of European nation-states functions it runs into some complications with Africa.

Much of the political Left and Right a lot of the occidental world consumes is effected by the context of the cold war and the revolutions prior(whether you were purged, corrupted or thrived left and right wing alike) it probably has had the biggest effect of politcal philosophy since the French Revolution. For Africa the context of the cold war is very different most of the continent was in anti-colonial struggles that involved both right and left wing sides that have a harder time being analyzed in the context a lot of the west see the world. there not really being a continent wide general philosophy lead to these groups ideologies mostly remaining domestic so did a lot of the evolution of ideas(a country neighboring my homeland has staunch anti-communist laws, while mine mainly have parties evolving from Left and right wing anti-imperialism rather then economics or views of the state, my Partners homeland has a Communist party, a IWW with a strong history and Communist/anarchist Newspapers distributed more familiar to outsiders. there is a lot of variety it's a big continent.) This in no means means there isn't an Afican Left or innovation of ideas, it's just most of us in the anglophone world are not part of it which brings me to....

Info: News, economics, diplomatic and politics info beyond surface data is usually regulated to specialist publications, small depositories and usually not that well distributed(due mostly in my opinion to people not knowing it exists or it not being profitable to distribute affordable and widely; yeay capitalism). This is particularly true when it comes to Africa, particularly in Anglophone publications ( just compare for example Washington Post coverage of Africa vs Le Monde both come from similar angles and places but the raw info and coverage difference is kinda staggering). this makes finding well cited documentation difficult to begin with leading to even less distribution of information as exchange is small. In the net age as people tend to rely on it too much for informing themselves and while Africa has had net access for a while(and does some incredibly innovative things in my opinion). General domestic access to it is limited compared to the West but this does not mean it isn't used. blogging twitter and social networking are large pools of information for idea exchange and political movements however these means tend in nature to not lead to global outreach unless it is there particular goal.(how many African originating memes can you name?) this leads to shallow net research not going very far data wise causing analysis and exchange to be limited. which causes us to not have a good feel for

Recent History Amnesia: For a lot of the anglophone sphere African(and other parts of the world) events kinda pop out in a vacuum and disappear when concluded. This process kinda continues as a result self enforcing. I'll use more recent events for example, with the events in Mali, I think for most reading this the conflict in Mali probably wasn't on your radar until French intervention. Prior though MNLA reps had been on international TV, there had been previous conflict treaties breaking, a coup attempt and covert games played by Nations around the Maghreb(particularly between the Gaddafi Libya and it's neighbors including Mali) all caused the complicated political situation that French intervention is only a small part of however it is the only thing that most outside of Africa have seen in a 30 year series of events. The Television interviews, the meetings with French minsters by Rebel leaders, the Berber Militia Blogs all aren't on our Radar and to back track and learn a whole setting and place it in a occidental left analysis is a daunting task to say the least. Things like this makes analysis difficult for "lumpen" overseas populations particularly if you don't cover it as a profession or use it professionally.

All these reasons lead to a lack of political exchange of ideas on the International Left when it comes to Africa which is quite self perpetuting and is probably the main cause of why you don't see more Left wing analysis of things like Boko Haram outside of out-of date anti-imperialism context that verge closer to nationalistic Isolationism at times dressed up in leftist cloth in the West.

I hope this explained something and was more helpful then silence instead of just ranting to myself on the internet like some kinda cyber ssoapboxer.

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Steven.
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Jun 7 2014 00:03

Thread locked, as we have this article on libcom here, so feel free to continue this discussion below the article: http://libcom.org/news/imperialist-legacy-boko-haram-01062014