The Resurgence of Slavery and the Ledger of the Deficits of Humanity

The Resurgence of Slavery and the Ledger of the Deficits of Humanity

Thursday, December 14, 2017 3:48 am


Ademola Araoye


By Ademola Araoye

The resurgence of classic old time slavery in Libya, and the associated orgy of race based violence against blacks, have reaffirmed the seemingly immovable constancy of the most enduring and the ugliest deficit in the character of humanity as a whole. The contrived denial of the singularity of all humanity has from time immemorial resulted in the problematic hierarchical arrangement of diverse racial entities that constitute this common humanity. This has historically had devastating consequences on human relations, on the trajectory of world history and the very evolution of intra-human relations.

Though dramatic in its intense dehumanizing horror, Libya is not alone in this contemporaneous expression of an ancient historical subversion of the integrity God’s single mindedness. Libya’s current circumstances, to which Nigeria unfortunately must shamefully accept some responsibility, has given rise to the unleashing of the worst cruelties of any human society in its descent to depravity. Mauritania, where an estimated 10% to 20% of the population, mainly black, lives in slavery, remains one of the last countries in the world where people are still born into slavery and literally owned by other people. Slaves in Mauretania, all of them certainly black, face a lifetime of abuse of their humanity that comes with forced labor including institutionalized communal rape of slaves by the master’s household.

It was not until 1981, when Mauritania, a then member of ECOWAS, became the last country in the world to formally abolish slavery. Slavery still persists though. Despite its horrific nature, in many cases desperate Africans have sold themselves into slavery in the Middle East. Others have consciously walked themselves into bondage as in the many victims of the horrendous exposures reported from Libya.

The hierarchical categorization of racial entities is an ancient debacle. It has driven some of the most devastating conflicts that Mankind has known. Niall Ferguson reminds that the hundred years after 1900 remains the bloodiest century in modern history. He describes the period between 1904-1953 as the age of hatred mostly on the basis of violent expressions of race antagonisms. He notes that of the total deaths attributed to the Second World War , half at least were civilians, often selected for murder on the basis of their race or class. In Africa the turbulence of race based violence goes much further into antiquity. It was the basis of the universality of slavery of black humanity from Omanis, the Arab World across the Maghreb to the complete rape of the continent by the musket and bible bearing Western Europe. Experts note that the transatlantic slave trade that culminated was responsible for the forced migration of between 12 – 15 million people from Africa to the Western Hemisphere from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century. The slave trade led to the deaths of many millions. Nobody knows the total number of people who died during slave raiding and wars in Africa, during transportation and imprisonment, or in horrendous conditions during the so-called Middle Passage, the voyage from Africa to the Americas.

From these early inceptions, race based violence may be dated to have formally ended with the end of Apartheid in South Africa in the 1990s. The age of hatred in Africa thus lasted a whole century. Race based hated still poses a lethal danger to black humanity in the current millennium. The current resurgence of slavery, coinciding with the rise of debilitating populism in Western Europe and ascendance of neo-fascism in the United States gives cause for alarm. The evolution in the preeminence of negative racial sensibilities and social discontinuities on a global scale suggests that racism is a constant simmering threat to the full acknowledgement of the integrity of black humanity that would explode into the open at the slightest given conjuncture of factors that may be conducive. All these were typically rife in an era of great cognitive dissonances. The era of great cognitive dissonances coincided with the age of hatred and were manifest in:

​conceptual categorization of humanity in hierarchical dichotomies ​(black/white/yellow/brown ​race);
​ethical/value relativity and depreciations (no universal ethical standards);
​devaluation of rationalism and the Enlightenment versus the ascendance of the ​superstitious ​and irrational;
​epistemological quackery (bogus science); and authentic narratives versus contrived constructions (utilitarian blasphemy to suppress ​the ​other).

Woven together these forces constituted the underpinnings of the exterminating externalities under which black humanity has labored until today.

The centrality of race in the age of hatred has been codified. Noting that even though race is not a genetically meaningful concept, race has been such a powerful and violent preoccupation of modern times. The first ostensible attempt to subdivide the human species to biologically distinct race to the Swedish botanist Carolus Linneaus (Carl von Linne). According to Ferguson:

​Linneaus, like all his many imitators, ranked the various races according to their appearance, ​temperament, and intelligence, putting the European man at the top of the evolutionary tree, followed by American man (ill tempered,…obstinate, contented, free), Asian man (severe, ​haughty, desirous) and invariably at the bottom-African man (crafty, slow, foolish). Whereas the ​European man was ‘ruled by custom, Linneaus argued African man was ruled by caprice.

These atrocious demarcations of fake science were not about ending. It is further advanced that by the end of the nineteen century, racial theorists had devised more elaborate methods of categorization, mostly commonly based on skull size and shape. In his own case, the English polymath Francis Galton developed a scale of racial intelligence that place ancient Athenians at the top and Australian aborigines at the bottom.

The concept of race however is not a scientific phenomenon. Race and ethnicity are instrumental social constructions. In a seminal book, Not in our Genes, that I copiously cite here, Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon J. Karmin, respectively an evolutionary geneticist, a neurobiologist, and a psychologist, watching with concern the rising tide of biological determinist writing debunked its increasingly grandiose claims to be able to locate the causes of the inequalities of status, wealth, and power between classes, genders, and races in Western society in a reductionist theory of human nature.

Sharing a commitment to the prospect of the creation of a more socially just—a socialist—society, they recognized that a critical science is an integral part of the struggle to create that society, just as they also believed that the social function of much of today’s science is to hinder the creation of that society by acting to preserve the interests of the dominant class, gender, and race. This belief—in the possibility of a critical and liberatory science-—is why they had each in their separate ways and to varying degrees been involved in the development of what has become known over the 1970s and 1980s, in the United States and Britain, as the radical science movement. Theirs was a systematic exploration of the scientific and social roots of biological determinism, an analysis of its present day social functions, and an exposure of its scientific pretensions.

Biological determinism was essentially an quasi-intellectual prop for the ultra conservative New Right ideology of the era of Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States. In 2017, President Donald Trump in the United States, the Le Pen in France and the expanding neo-ultra nationalist movements in Europe all advance the philosophical tradition of’ individualism and nuanced tinge of white racial superiority, with its emphasis on the priority of the individual over the collective. That priority is seen as having both a moral aspect, in which the rights of individuals have absolute priority over the rights of the collectivity.

The roots of this methodological individualism lie in a sanguine view of human nature that Richard Lewontin et al shattered. Philosophically, they traced this view of human nature back to the emergence of bourgeois society in the seventeenth century and to Hobbes’s view of human existence as a helium omnium contra omnes, a war of all against all. This disturbing understanding of human nature leads to a state of human relations manifesting competitiveness, mutual fear, and the desire for glory.

For Hobbes, it followed that the purpose of social organization was merely to regulate these inevitable features of the human condition. And Hobbes’s view of the human condition derived from his understanding of human biology; it was biological inevitability that made humans what they were. The implications being that biological attributes differed from human group/race to the other. Some races are less gifted due to their genetic construction.

The ancient misguided philosophy had to be subjected to critical scientific interrogation. The philosophy failed this vital scrutiny. Lewontin had calculated that around 85% per cent of the total amount of genetic variations in humans occurs among individuals in an average population; only 6 per cent occurs among races. Finally the genetic variants that affect skin colour, hair type and facial features involve an insignificant amount of billions of nucleotides in an individual’s DNA. Based on this evidence, strictly speaking, human races to not exist.
Racism could therefore not be scientifically anchored on human genes. It is paradoxically anchored in convenient distortions of sacred texts in the bible as well as in the murderous fanatical interpretation of the will of Allah in the Middle East.

These have been distilled into dangerous philosophical disquisitions that have propelled systemic level social action detrimental to the integrity of the humanity peoples of African descent. Yet, Africans and people of African descent have bought into the whole tacit and open denunciation of their humanity in their massive subscription to dubious theological precepts from both the West and the Middle East. The first challenge we confront is that humanity in its entirety was enveloped in a seeming incubus expressed in an era described as dominated by volatile ambivalence. This had universal application manifest in the systemic turbulence with local variations in their expressions.

Religion had always been the most powerful formative influence in shaping the values, norms and institutions of community. Among the many sad ironies of life, Ritner affirms that perhaps none is more poignant than the role of the dominant Church of the Afrikaner people (the Nederduitse Gereformeeder Kerk) in the consolidation of racial hatred in South Africa. Afrikaners were one of a few in western societies whose values and customs were established by, and expressed through their church. She further highlights that it was the Church that insisted on the progressive sterner definition of separateness. It is then surmised that the local expressions of the global age of hatred in South Africa revolved around racial bigotry, the devaluation of God, the de-legitimation of the humanity of the Black being and the repudiation of fundamentals of the Enlightenment and its spirit. In this Christian Nationalism was predicated on predestination, exclaiming that God broke a threatening uniformity of humankind, provided the ideology of hatred, while the Broederbond ensured organizational traction.

The ideas of Abraham Kuyper drove these developments. Abraham Kuijper, born 29 October 1837 and died 8 November 1920), was a Dutch journalist, statesman, but notably was neo-Calvinist theologian. He founded the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, a newspaper, the Free University of Amsterdam, and the Anti-Revolutionary Party. He served as Prime Minister of the Netherlands between 1901 and 1905. In religious affairs, he sought to adapt the Dutch Reformed Church to the challenges posed by the loss of state financial aid and by religious pluralism, rising nationalism, and the Arminian religious revivals of his day which denied predestination. He vigorously denounced modernism in theology as a fad that would pass away. In politics, he dominated the Anti-Revolutionary Party (ARP) from its founding in 1879 to his death in 1920. He promoted pillarisation, the social expression of the anti-thesis in public life, whereby Protestant, Catholic and secular elements each had their own independent schools, universities and social organizations.

In effect, by the doctrine of predestination and the assumed hierarchy of strands of humanity preached by Kuyper, instead of the sanctity and equal dignity of all races, the oneness of humanity was denied and God, the Calvinist version, was rendered nude. In God’s nudity, man and God were disrobed of their singular catholicity. The world proceeded on the devaluation of God disrobed of its essential catholicity to a mere partisan god to superintend an age of hatred. These steps led to confusion and ambivalence regarding the validity of universal axioms underpinning the topsy-turvy of the Human order. These confusions were expressed epistemologically and intellectually, spiritually and temporally, materially, physically and in the relativity of the now numerous and competing systemic values.

The universe of humanity was driven by great cognitive dissonances and associated with it many relativities and dichotomies. The new systemic rot upended the seeming cognitive coherence of a more sane humane and godly dispensation. Racism as a plank for social action in entrenching social discontinuities had been intellectually validated by the false principles of predestination of Calvinist theology.

Allied to the theory of Kuyper’s predestination is the unfounded biblical perspective that because Ham was the father of black people, and because he and his descendants were cursed to be slaves because of his sin against Noah, Tony Evans highlights that some Christians averred “Africans and their descendants are destined to be servants, and should accept their status as slaves in fulfillment of biblical prophecy.” Evans notes that there existed a myth of inferiority with apparent biblical roots. This theological basis provided the raw material necessary to convince the slaves that to resist their assigned inferior status was to resist the will of God. This myth became an authoritative myth because it was rooted in theology, and slave owners used this twisted theology to sustain a perverted sociology. This process is known as sacralization, the development of theological and religious beliefs to serve the interest of a particular ethnic or racial group.

As for Islam and black slavery, it was much simpler. The will of Allah was said to sanctify putting to the sword all infidels. The Bilad al Sudan, the land of the blacks, was synonymous with pagan territories adjoining the Islamic world that had to be conquered. With superior technology and European guns, black resistance to forcible conversion was no match to the jihads. The long war of Khartoum, always as a proxy for Egypt, against South Sudan had the undertones of the Islamic Arab North determined to keep its territory of pagan South Sudan intact. Expectedly, the women of the conquered black were turned into objects of indiscriminate sexual pleasures. Blacks went down in Arab social memory and folklore as inferior beings. This folkloric social discontinuities was what Colonel Muammar Gaddafi tried to transcend in his quest for a continental federated African state. It is not only in Libya. In North Africa, including in Egypt, Morocco or even Algeria a black easily attracts ferocious fury at the slightest opportunity. In Mali and Niger the undercurrent of Tuareg irredentism are partially located in the Arab and Moorish folklore of black inferiority whose political control over the Tuareg and associated groups should be terminated. Tuareg from the Kidal region of North-Eastern Mali have led rebellions against the Malian state since 1963, alleging discrimination and marginalization. The rebellion beginning in Mali in January 2012 finally gave a Tuareg-dominated irredentist movement control of Northern Mali in the fourth rebellion since independence. The Movement for the National Liberation (MNLA) called this area Azawad, proclaiming it as independent. Although it was to be a multiethnic country, the MNLA remained dominated by the Tuareg. The irredentists can count of support of states like Mauretania and Algeria or even Libya. Advancing fanatical and political Islam merely presents an excuse. The idea of Azawad is for the Tuareg to be independent of black rule.

Between then and now, it is clear that the continuing curse of slavery has survived because of political hypocrisy of African leaders, the structure of the mostly unviable 56 African states and apparent political non-entities that, as constructed, are comprehensively incapable of taking the brutal but rational decisions necessitated by the prostrate stature of black humanity. There is a systemic nexus to Africa’s constantly unfolding human tragedies. On all fronts, including in fighting slavery, Africa, along with its coterie of wittingly or unwittingly co-opted collaborating political leaders, mostly egomaniacal dignified conmen, is structurally configured to be dependent on an international system that, beneath the thin facade of diplomatic correctness, is visibly contemptuous of the lethargy of African and black humanity. The lethargy of Africa and Africans across all facets of human life and endeavor that is expressed in consolidated comprehensive dependencies on the External Other has perpetuated deep seated global contempt..

The resurgence of open slavery in Libya and the virtual, nuanced and explicit, sub human treatment meted out to Africans everywhere, including even in Africa, reflects the true horrific sentiments across the globe. These are camouflaged in a hypocritical lexicon and praxis of political correctness. Gullible and irresponsible Africa must hold itself responsible for the perpetuation of the historic fallacy two decades into the third millennium. The events in Libya are a clear wake up call to accept the reality of our fictive sovereignties, extremely laughable contingent nationalisms, distorted spiritualities and the material, physical and identity defections brought on by the operative illogic of the African reality. Africa must revolt to re-appropriate its dignity from its entrenched internal enemies. It is the first critical step to its final emancipation from is ancient debilitations. By our acts of commission or omission, black humanity has reified perceptions of the External Other of its own sub humanity. By sheer dint of indolence and debilitating moral cowardice to do what is right, Africa is sinking deeper into a quagmire.

Home to 56 political entities and non-entities, Africa is beholden to a few power drunk old men, scions of old traitors, including a sprinkling self serving decayed revolutionaries. The African state is mostly under the control of external forces determined to keep Africa divided for their benefit. A recent review of France’s strategic options in Africa concluded that any initiative to unite Africa poses a mortal threat to its long strategic interests. Given Africa’s desperate situation, a constructive deconstruction of the African state system doing away with its many fictive sovereignties and contingent nationalisms is required. That should lead to the consolidation of its unstable patch work of states into a continental federation as the surest way to begin the arduous task of redeeming black humanity. Africa as currently configured is not working, cannot work and would not work. For so long would black humanity continue to take the kind of risks that made the open resurgence slavery in Libya possible.

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  • […] Libya isn’t the only African nation where slavery is taking place. An estimated 10 to 20 percent of the population in Mauritania are enslaved. The centuries old practice continues despite it being […]

  • […] in Africa However, Libya isn’t the only African nation where slavery is taking place. An estimated 10 to 20% of the population in Mauritania are enslaved. The centuries-old practice continues despite it […]

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