Note: One could possibly consider this essay: “Colonialism In Africa: The Stamp-By-Force of European Barbarism,” by Narmer Amenuti also as a rejoinder to Bruce Gilley’s Article: “The Case For Colonialism,” which was published in the western academic journal, Third World Quarterly, 2017.
In addition, the following article is not a point by point rebuttal of Bruce Gilley’s, “The Case for Colonialism.” My editorial choice is rather straightforward. My motivation was not to repeat, in my opinion, a cardinal mistake of argumentation in “Philadelphia Negro,” by W. E. B. Du Bois, the Father of American Sociology. In that essay, Du Bois attempted to prove that the Negro was actually Human. He did so because he operated within the confines of a white supremacist academic environment. I am not confined by the boundaries of Western academia, and hence I need not prove by argumentation the need for colonized peoples to be free or die trying! Our freedoms as colonized peoples are non-negotiable. I thought it more expedient to rather paint Bruce Gilley and his cohort as the [cultural] racists that they actually are. To do so, I had to resort to the history of Western Academia itself and the historical underpinning of the “white” European Academic Miracle. For after all, this is the tradition that produces the likes of Bruce Gilley.
Understanding Western Academia—Bruce Gilley’s Fortress.
It is rare, even impossible, for an academic employed by the American government to consider himself a racist in much the same way that it is rare for the President of the Federal Government of the United States of America to consider himself a white supremacist sympathizer, and if not, a white supremacist himself (either one of which in theory could be aesthetically different, but which in practice is not). Therefore, calling any professor, especially one who has trained in a town called Princeton, New Jersey, an Ivy League town, a racist can be deeply offensive to him.
Yet, even at the state university where this academic is bestowed his birthright as professor, the African American faculty profile of only about one percent paints a rather unfortunate picture of America’s vaunted meritocratic and democratic all-inclusive institutions. In one such school there are about five thousand white faculty to sixty African Americans; plus sixteen thousand white students to about three hundred African American students. This state university in particular is ranked in the middle of over twenty-seven hundred schools surveyed for ethnic diversity. With that rank in mind, one can only imagine the percentage (if that does not extrapolate behind absolute zero) of the African American demographic in a college that ranks at the bottom of two thousand, seven hundred and eighteen schools!
Nowadays, you need only take a cursory look at the profiles of the faculty in a typical Sociology Department in an American State University—faculty who are paid by actual American taxpayers and sworn to study inequality and influence politics by their understanding—to realize that racism is rampant. But few college administrators, professors and the President will consider themselves racists. How does one explain this paradox?
The place to begin is not the white academic who, say, adores his all-white department without Blacks, or who covets a return to Africa of proper colonialism and who simultaneously believes he has nothing bad against Blacks or Africans. The place to begin to unravel this mystery then is not the Colonial Prostitute, who claims to be kind to Blacks—respecting them as equal Human Beings, to live free or die trying—but who would love Blacks better if they were actually re-colonized, because in his mind, this can only be good for them. The Colonial Prostitute is the man who loves those who swipe their huge currencies to keep his birthright afloat, and meritocracy at bay; it is the man who flirts with the idea of his own freedom, and instantly endorses the primitive accumulators who rape others without being exposed to the direct consequences of their exploitation of others (colonialism). The home of such a prostitute is not the place to start to unknot the complicated ligature ossifying between supposed non-racists and the surreal apparitions of a racist academia (and a racist government) that claims it has no racists.
In order to understand the paradox of “racism without racists”—and the colonial prostitutes that shine its phallus of rape and plunder, which is the oblivious context in which Bruce Gilley writes his “Case for Colonialism,” without actually being aware—the place to begin is the culture of white supremacist academia itself. And to start there, one needs to grasp the fine and essential difference between racist theory (being a white supremacist sympathizer, or coveting a proper return to colonial days in Africa) and racist practice (being an actual member of the KKK, or being an officer in the U.S. Law Enforcement). For, as a matter of fact, what a western academic believes, as his own President beckons, is often as important—if not more important—than what he actually does!
Is Bruce Gilley Racist?
Gilley claims that: “The countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.” Accordingly, he believes that African independence struggles in the better half of the last century were failures. And the reason for these so-called failures resides in the “Anti-colonial ideology.” Which he does not identify except if that is to say all forms of political struggle against human oppression are in themselves ideologies. Whatever that is, Gilley insists, thwarted the “sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places.”
To call such an academic a racist because of what he writes, I will be accusing him of portraying in his essay the genetic superiority of the race of good-and-modernized white western colonizers (which he alludes to on several occasions) over the backward “hapless [Black] peoples” in Africa (who are better off being colonized). Therefore to call Gilley a racist, I will be accusing him of believing in white supremacism with the implication that discrimination against Blacks is justified, explained, rationalized, by the underlying biological theory. But I doubt an Oxford graduate in the twenty-first century (thanks to the superb civilizational impetus that African Moorish universities in Spain supplied to the founding of Oxford) believes in this theory anymore. At least not in this respect—he does not show it explicitly.
In fact, most western academics and western styled academics elsewhere, from what they write and profess, believe that Blacks have a mental capacity equal to that of whites, but like Gilley, they believe that Blacks have not been able to realize this capacity. Black nations, unlike white nations, have not learned the things a nation needs to know to become “modernized.”
Furthermore, by insinuation, Blacks have not learned how to think rationally, as mental adults, as in when Gilley writes that: “The case for Western colonialism is about rethinking the past as well as improving the future. It involves reaffirming the primacy of human lives, universal values, and shared responsibilities – the civilizing mission without scare quotes – that led to improvements in living conditions for most Third World peoples during most episodes of Western colonialism.” In other words, “The Case for Western colonialism” is made clear because Blacks have not yet learned how to behave appropriately enough (to understand human lives, universal values and shared responsibilities) as social adults.
The problem as Gilley sees it is culture, not biology per se. And naturally, “modernization” will happen in African nations in the course of time if and only if they can submit to “Western colonialism,” which according to Gilley: “Can be recovered by weak and fragile [African] states today in three ways: by reclaiming colonial modes of governance; by recolonizing some areas; and by creating new Western colonies from scratch.” Put another way, the re-colonization of Africa, by the American Empire via USAFRICOM per se, can be justified. That is, Western colonialism in Gilley’s perspective was “both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found,” hence it should be replicated as such since “white” nations are culturally more advanced than [Black] African nations. That problem again is culture, not biology and the difference between whites and Blacks which justify Western colonialism are differences in acquired characteristics in culture.
Another way to put this observation bursting at the seams of Gilley’s essay is to say that cultural racism substitutes the cultural category “European” for the racial category “white.” We no longer have a superior race in white supremacism; we have, instead, a superior culture. It is “European culture,” or “Western colonizers,” “the West.” What counts is now culture, not necessarily race.
This is why Bruce Gilley cannot possibly think himself a racist—at least, not in the traditional racial sense. But I could also be wrong. Gilley could be an outspoken racist. However, his cognitive jujitsu further exacerbates the gulf between the paradox of racism without racists and the colonial prostitutes that shine its phallus of rape and plunder, which is the oblivious context in which Bruce Gilley writes his “Case for Western colonialism,” without actually being aware of it.
To understand the paradox of racism without racists, the place to begin is the culture of white supremacist academia itself. And to start there, one needs to grasp the fine and essential difference between racist theory (being a white supremacist sympathizer, or coveting a proper return to colonial days in Africa) and racist practice (being an actual member of the KKK, or being an officer in the U.S. Law Enforcement). For, as a matter of fact, what a western academic believes, as his own President beckons, is often as important if not more important than what he actually does!
Racist Theory And Racist Practice.
Whether it is cultural racism or biological or religious racism, the scholarly practice has been unanimous throughout Western Academia. Racism itself is an ideology rooted in an insidious western histrionic disorder about purity. In that respect, Black—that is, all Blacks, all Africans, all people of African descent—represents its dichotomous nightmare. The way to comprehend this pervasive ideology is by first identifying it where any group of people of African descent live. They are almost always sought-out, hated, despised and discriminated against by people who do not identify as Black, whether living in Rio de Janeiro, Tel Aviv, Stockholm, Bergen, London, Boston, Tokyo, Moscow, Beijing, or Mumbai. In other words, to be anti-Black, to be racist, to be a white supremacist, you do not even have to be “white;” all one needs is to not be Black. In other words, to be “white” means to not be Black.
To understand the far-reaching consequences of this theory-building effort and its practice, take for instance the European and the American genuflection before the manufactured “white” historicity of the Roman Empire and the so-called Greek Miracle. Rome and Greece, nowadays defined as “white,” underpin the laughable theory of the autonomous rise of Western Academia, and sometimes more grandly the whole inchoate idea of “the European Miracle” itself. To be precise, the histories of Rome and Greece, which at several points in antiquity were kept at arms-length by those who considered them not white enough, have come to define the very foundations of white exceptionalism, of white supremacism, and they simultaneously provide the retrospective fashionable footing for the pride in the so-called European Academic Miracle. This is the sole reason why Ancient Kemet, no matter what evidence points to its Blackness—preceding Greece and even influencing it—cannot be accepted as a Black Civilization in Western Academia. Kemet cannot be Black if the ideology that is the Western Hegemonic imagination of self is to stand fully on its ten toes.
More generally, Western Academic Hegemony, in which framework Bruce Gilley coons away in his essay: “The Case For Colonialism,” claims that Europe (from Greece to Rome to the West today) was more advanced and more progressive than all other regions prior to 1492. That is, prior to the beginning of the period of “Western colonialism,” the period in which Europe and Africa came into intense modern interaction. If one believes this to be the case—and most modern western academics, including Bruce Gilley, believe it to be the case—then it must follow that the economic and social modernization of Europe is fundamentally a result of Europe’s internal “white” qualities, not of its interaction with the societies of Black Africa, or of even Asia, and the Americas after 1492. Therefore, the main building blocks of modernity must be European or “white” without any African or Black roots. Therefore, colonialism cannot have supplied Europe itself with important ingredients for modernization. Therefore, colonialism must mean, for the Africans, and for Blacks, not exploitation, spoliation and cultural destruction, but rather, the receipt-by-diffusion of European civilization: modernization.
Therefore, understanding this narcissistic cultural masturbation—which is cultural racism—as a histrionic disorder prevalent in Western Academia, is vital in order to grasp the putrefying environment from which Bruce Gilley, and many others like him, operate. For these reasons alone, what a western academic believes, as his own President believes, is often as important if not more important than what he actually does! We can examine some of the practical implications of this insidious cultural theory-building effort in Western academia in order to measure the exact toxicity of the ejaculate of its poseurs in clear waters.
How Does Racist Practice Make Western Academia Look?
Re-consider the statement by Gilley who writes from his neocon perch at a certain State University in Oregon, United States. He claims that: “Western colonialism was, as a general rule, both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found, using realistic measures of those concepts.”
Notwithstanding such trite, shallow, cheap attacks on the integrity of African nations in a full length article that sought funding from dick-swinging colonialists more than it made any sense, the formula of such colonial prostitutes is simple as it is predictable: They channel whatever prevailing right-wing racist grievance exists about African Americans, Africans or Blacks in general into columns and articles that are supposed to be “provocative” because they malign African viewpoints, which are fringe positions in Western Academia after all.
If you doubt this fact about the hypocrisy of Western Academia and the mummery of its vaunted academic freedoms, consider this unnerving example: The African viewpoint that Ancient Kemet, a Black Civilization, influenced Greek Culture, the cradle of “white” civilization, is absolutely frowned upon. Whole Egyptology departments, as a result, are now defunct because of the increasing notion that the most fundamental tenet of white supremacism is undermined by the increasing awareness that Ancient Kemet was after all a Black Civilization!
Which casts the shroud of academic freedoms out the window. Indeed, Western Academia is rather a watering-hole for professors like Bruce Gilley and not a conducive environment for the Martin Bernals, especially if this Bernal comes with Black Athena in hand.
Standing alone, such academic imposters like Gilley remain caricatures of the old Wild Wild West and he is not worth spending much time on anymore: He is just another thorough-bred neocon writer who thrives on cheap, easy, and superficial “controversy,” who sees himself as a brave intellectual dissident as he is continually celebrated by and gets his birthright promotions handed to him within the most mainstream neocon-neoliberal Academic circles—all for spouting conventional and atomic-power-flattering critiques of largely powerless nations. But he is worth examining for what his scholarship says about the state of Western Academia, its understanding of “diversity”—to imply white men, affirmative action for white women only, white gays, white lesbians, white Jews, white Latinos, white Indians, white anything, but Blacks—and the range of opinions it does, and does not, permit.
The Sincere Ignorance of Colonial Academia.
The most pressing implications of the manufactured European Miracle, which serves as the basis for justifying “Western colonialism” to academics like Bruce Gilley, are already at play in the swarming shadows of the new colonialism ongoing since independence in many African nations.
Let us focus on colonialism, and neocolonialism in the twenty-first century, in order that we can gain a deeper, more granular handle on the insanity of those who claim they are civilized, yet want more colonialism for others, so that we can grasp the pervasiveness of their incendiary theories bent solely on shackling other people’s freedoms while they bask like pigs with carefully manicured freedoms slapped about their lips. Because in the end what a western academic believes, as his own President believes, is often as important if not more important than what he actually does!
When Bruce Gilley writes that “Anti-colonial ideology imposed grave harms on subject peoples and continues to thwart sustained development and a fruitful encounter with modernity in many places,” he is actually performing on the practical stage the theoretical play written for him on white supremacism. Either Gilley is ignorant or conscientiously stupid. He may be unaware of the larger forces at play, but nothing is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Notwithstanding, such statements clearly fall within the framing of white supremacism, which is simply that colonialism cannot have been really important for Europe’s modernization as explained above. Therefore, colonialism must mean, for Africa, not exploitation, spoliation and cultural destruction but, rather, the receipt-by-diffusion of European civilization: modernization.
How can this be true?
The Veil Of Independence In Africa.
Let us examine the danger of this sincere ignorance or conscientious stupidity or both.
Clearly, the trouble in Africa today escapes the Ivory Towers of Western Academia. Or it does not. They pretend that the trouble in Africa today is not rather simple and straightforward. It is that colonialism did not actually disappear after countries in Africa formally achieved their independence from Europe’s Great Powers. In fact, in certain instances, colonialism was replaced by neocolonialism which proved to be more destructive and immeasurably more dishonest than what went before. For instance, France (defeated by the Haitians in 1804) still collects reparations from Haiti and as many as fourteen African nations.
At every turn in the West’s relationship to African states, the intentions for a claimed cross-cultural and political pollination reach beyond the cordial; they reach, for all purposes, for complete imperial control of African nations, of Black nations.
At least the British Empire, which at its peak covered almost a quarter of the world’s land surface, acknowledged it was an empire. Today, the more shadowy empire of the globalized monopoly of finance-capital and USAFRICOM, which now haunts fifty-two of the fifty-four African nations, does no such thing. Entire countries—such as Ghana (Nkrumah overthrown with CIA assistance), DR Congo (Lumumba caught and diced with CIA help) and Libya (Gaddafi sodomized with Hillary Clinton brandishing a sharp knife and a loud, orgasmic laugh)—are destroyed for not toeing the line, while those which continue to defy the neocon fascists, or the neoliberal elites, such as Eritrea, are under a state of permanent siege.
So of course, it is perfectly imaginable that Bruce Gilley (although his analysis here is suspect) is rather befuddled about his peculiar finding that “the [African] countries that embraced their colonial inheritance, by and large, did better than those that spurned it.” Perhaps they toed the line of the neocons or neoliberals of the American Empire in order to fend off the Atomic Bomb wielding bully that the empire has increasingly become? And not because of the “kindness” of colonialism? Since Gilley entirely misses that obvious point, one has to become fully aware of the danger of this sincere ignorance or conscientious stupidity.
A few more examples of the West’s grip on African resources, politics and ways of life hopefully buttresses the reality of the vast reaches of neocolonial efforts in Africa by western powers today.
The Grip of Neocolonialism in Africa.
In 2010, a letter was published in the French newspaper Libération, addressing French President Nicolas Sarkozy. More than ninety leading academics, authors, journalists and human rights activists from around the world urged one thing and one thing alone: the French government needed to pay back Haiti for the 90m gold francs Haitians were forced to pay as a price for their independence. Haitians defeated Napoleon’s Armies in a series of battles spanning the period between 1791 and 1804 but were forced by the West’s Great Powers to pay reparations to France or face utter annihilation under a common white supremacist knighthood.
When the indemnity money Haiti paid France is adjusted for inflation and a minimal interest rate, its value is well over 20bn euros today. (In fact, in an interview on France 24, Ottawa historian Jean St Vil put the current figure at well over 40bn dollars.)
Before I finally make the point, let me stage a few more pressing examples that this essay ultimately demands. When Guinea claimed independence from French colonial rule in 1958, the French unleashed their fury with more than three thousand leaving the country taking away what they claimed was their property. They destroyed schools, nurseries, public administration buildings, cars, books, medicine and research institute instruments. Tractors were crushed and sabotaged, animals killed and food in warehouses was burned or poisoned. The reasoning was petrifying then as it is now: These were the supposed benefits from “Western colonialism,” as Bruce Gilley puts it. Without which Guinea is nothing, but carefully sidestepping the counter point that without Guinea, France is nothing!
But the message of such narratives is loud and clear: Africa either accepts Western European white supremacist hopes and dreams of colonialism, slavery and torment, or face total annihilation!
And in Africa they have a history of tormenting Africans. For example, the likes of Sékou Touré, Abel Djassi Cabral, Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah who were prominent anti-colonial leaders, were resoundedly crushed. An enduring memory of one such crushes paints in real terms the nature of the neocolonial strategies of the West in Africa even today.
In 1963, Sylvanus Olympio, the first president of the Republic of Togo, bypassed the French in refusing to sign onto the colonization continuation pact, which De Gaule had proposed. There was pandemonium within the French elite as a result. The only condition the French would accept to not destroy Togo with bombs was for Olympio to agree to pay an annual debt to France for the so-called benefits Togo received from French colonization. The recurring amount of the “colonial debt” was almost 40 percent of Togo’s annual budget. In other words, Togo had to pay annually, for the rest of her existence, for the receipt-by-force of Western civilization.
When Olympio refused and decided to replace the French Franc with a Togolese currency, he was assassinated by ex-French Foreign Legionnaire army sergeant, Etienne Gnassingbe, who was paid a bounty of a little over six hundred dollars from the local French embassy for the hit job. Togo and Olympio were not the last.
In January 1966, Jean-Bédel Bokassa, an ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, carried out a coup against David Dacko, the first President of the Central African Republic. In the same month that year, Maurice Yaméogo, the first President of the Republic of Upper Volta, now Burkina Faso, was victim of a coup carried out by Aboubacar Sangoulé Lamizana, an ex-French Legionnaire who fought alongside French troops in Indonesia and Algeria in support of colonialism. On November 19, 1968, like Olympio, Modibo Keita was the victim of a coup carried out by another ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, then Lieutenant Moussa Traoré, for attempting to refuse the use of the French Franc in Mali.
The Benefits Of Colonialism?
These colonial and neocolonial incidents can be summarized in order not to bore the humble reader with copious details of the neocolonialism of Africa in the last seventy years and counting.
During the last half century, a total of 67 coups have occurred in 26 countries in Africa. Notably, an overwhelming 16 of these were French ex-colonies. Fourteen African countries are still bound by a colonial pact, to deposit 85 percent of their foreign reserves into the Central Bank of France. Obviously, African leaders who refuse are killed and for those who are lucky enough to escape death, they become victims of coups. Those who obey are supported, of course, and have their entire [extended] families rewarded by France with lavish lifestyles on French beaches and real purchases of French leather clothing and shoes made from the leather of actual Nile crocodiles.
These facts of neocolonialism are not lost on the elites of France themselves, so one can only be stupefied that they are conveniently lost on the Gilleys of Western Academia. In March 2008, former French President Jacques Chirac reiterated what everyone knew: “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power.” Chirac’s predecessor François Mitterand had already prophesied in 1957 that: “Without Africa, France will have no history in the twenty-first century.”
Both Chirac and Mitterand could not be further from the truth. Their statements mark the hardline parasitic relationship with Africa that France guards with its weapons of mass destruction, which it conveniently calls the “fruits” of modern civilization. Or is it a consequence of barbarism? Not to mention the sheer laziness of the French. France is neither ready to feed itself nor untie itself from the apron strings of the colonial system which puts about 500 billion dollars of Mother Africa’s monies into its treasury annually. France is a bit like a college chap who will drop out of school eventually, but who in the meantime still buys his pregnant girlfriend actual panties on his mother’s credit.
On a broader note, there are more expansive treatments on the scope of neocolonialism in Africa today. Rather than concentrate on such further details (and they are plenty and lengthy) let us proceed to make the point that a genuine study of the instances elaborated above demonstrates: Colonialism has never meant in Africa, at any stage, the receipt-by-diffusion of European civilization, if civilization that is. What it has meant for Africa, at all stages is exploitation, spoliation, cultural destruction and above all dehumanization. In other words, colonialism and neocolonialism in Africa, at every stage, have meant the imposition-by-force of European barbarism!
Furthermore, it is not that fraudulent scholarship of the likes of Gilley is necessarily surprising—since we understand better in Africa the bigger forces at play pushing the neocon and neoliberal narratives about colonialism in the world today. If African viewpoints were made available to such neocon writers perhaps they might become more civilized. Although I doubt it: I doubt that African viewpoints would have any representation at the Africa-balkanizing dinner tables of Western academics where shiny forks and knives made from actual African silver are used, not as a sign of civilization but as a sign of the power to rape and plunder what they cannot acquire through independent innovation. Or if such African viewpoints are made accessible to such scholars who ejaculate to “Western colonialism,” I believe they can only disregard it because their jobs at the bigger, fancier dinner table of western colonizers, as waiters and waitresses, depend on ignoring viewpoints that directly undermine the inchoate ideologies of “whiteness” under which such writers earn the scraps from the Queens napkin, made from actual cotton saved from the days of American chattel slavery.
What fascinates scholars in Africa most about essays like Gilley’s is not even the ignorance or the stupidity it displays in fashionable pagan English, but the unpardonable extent of the crass senselessness. As a result, a few African scholars have become more energized by it, nay, more interested, as for instance a psychiatrist might become interested in the history of a serial killer. One could be fascinated by why “white” supremacism as the purveyor of Western colonialism persists even when it is proven through counter evidence to be incorrect; when it is proven to only produce performative illogicalities; and when it is known to reproduce systems of human and environmental oppression everywhere.
The answers to these questions lie in essays such as Bruce Gilley’s. They rest within the contrite bosom of the very globalist project of modernization in “Western colonialism.” And that project is the brainchild of Western Academia, which is where all theory-building efforts of “white” supremacism are carefully hewn, carved and sharpened, for the violent colonizers, as a tool for the continued exploitation of Mother Africa.
Destooling Colonial Academia.
In a recent essay, I presented a paradox about the issue of the trajectory of colonialism, independence and neocolonialism in Africa, which has spanned the long arc of the better half of the last century to today. Africa bears tremendous natural resources—unparalleled resources—yet she has not industrialized, while nations that, in comparison, boast a tiny fraction of resources have industrialized, often with the use of African resources to the effect. How do we explain this paradox?
In that essay, I illustrated the debilitating factors that continue to widen the gap between Africa’s potential—that is, her tremendous resources—and her attempt to industrialize. (If industrialization that is.) I identified that Africa’s under-industrialization was directly linked to Western exploitation and neither to African culture, nor African institutions nor the character of her leaders. This is important to enable us to grasp the ultimate factors that caused African susceptibility to the debilitating and enervating thievery, cunning and trickery of European exploitation.
Obviously there is no place where the trickery, cunning and thievery of European exploitation are formulated and canonized more than in Western Academia. After all, until African viewpoints on the issue can be made accessible to the likes of Bruce Gilley, it makes straightforward sense to me that all that we can expect out of Western Academia on African under-industrialization is everything but the truth of the exploitation that colonialism was and neocolonialism is. The very jobs of Western academics, it seems, are solely dependent on their not getting it right.
Therefore, the history of insisting on the wrong sides of every African issue in Western academia is not new. It was here in the nineteenth century that the West’s religious racism was born. Not inside the Church per se. The idea that Yahweh had naturally favored Caucasians (the new chosen Hebrews) to the exclusion of every other (the gentiles, the goyim) was borne in Western Academia. With it the argumentation proceeds as follows: If only Africa could be Christianized, Africans would become “developed” like us (Europeans)—although the very intention of the mission to Africa was to exploit, make war and loot. This was the religious racism of the nineteenth century, which underpinned European exploitation of Africa, to which Western academia’s apron strings were intricately tied.
Western academia was also where the tenets of racist naturalistic arguments—like craniology and phrenology—displaced the absurdity of the biblical and theological arguments in Europe. Since religious racism (some of which culminated in the Hamitic Hypothesis) had already established the causality by which Yahweh gave better heredity to converted Hebrews and Christians, this argument was adapted by Western academics to assert the genetic superiority of Caucasians, the so-called white race, grounding this argument in the immensely influential biological theories of the period, notably Darwinism and [later] Mendelianism. This was reason for the onset of the biological racism that defined the era of direct European colonization of Africa and the chattel slavery of Africans that ensued in the Americas.
Western academia was also where cultural racism has been neatly carved out of the old discarded indirect paradigms of genetic superiority. Hence, Bruce Gilley is actually small fish, following in the tradition of many before him. A notable example is Max Weber and various groups of social scientists, among them the Parsonian structural-functionalists and “traditional mind” theorists like McClelland, most of whom were indirectly in the modernization-theory construction project. Weber, in particular, is respected for grounding his arguments in biological racism but he is deified for grounding most of his arguments about European superiority in axiomatic argumentation about the uniqueness of the European mind—its rationality, its spiritual capacity. Weber’s historical argumentation about the unique rise within Europe, and Europe alone, of institutions and structures stamps in the minds of racists the sole European source of modernization. A modernization that could only go to benefit an Africa in contact with “Western colonialism.”
Weber (and Weberianism) is important in Western Academia because Weber provides contemporary social scientists with a theory of modernization, essentially an elegant and scholarly restatement of colonial-era ideas about the uniqueness of European rationality and the uniqueness of European culture history. In this regard, those who think that Weber became popular in the fifties and sixties because of his well-known opposition to the Marxist theory of the rise of capitalism are missing the bigger picture. Weber was to neocolonialism what Marx was to socialism. In a manner of speaking, Weber was the godfather of cultural racism. Bruce Gilly is only an unremarkable descendant of this tradition.
There’s one goal amongst cultural racists like Bruce Gilley and Weber before him. They need to prove the superiority of Europeans, and for that matter Western colonialism, and need to do so without recourse to the invalid arguments from religion and biology. How do they accomplish this? By recourse to history—by manufacturing a characteristic theory of cultural (and intellectual) history, one in which Africa, and in particular, Blacks, play no part in the introduction of civilization to Greece; one in which Africa plays no part in what France is today, in what the United Kingdom is today, and in what the United States of America is today. The claim is simply made that nearly all of the important cultural innovations which historically generate cultural progress occurred first in Europe, then, later, diffused to the non-European peoples. There’s no counter-current.
Therefore, according to this theory, at each moment in history Europeans or Western colonizers are more advanced than non-Europeans in overall cultural development (though not necessarily in each particular culture trait), and they are more progressive than non-Europeans. This is asserted as in Bruce Gilley’s essay as a great bundle of apparently empirical facts about invention and innovation, not only of material and technological traits but of political and social traits like the state, the market, and even the family. The tellers of this tale saturate history with European inventions, European progressiveness, and European progress. This theory evolved as a justification and rationalization for classical colonialism and it provides the foundation today for the West’s neocolonialist project in Africa.
But once it can be identified, or once it has been identified, the character and theme of this racism is made obvious. It can absolutely be ignored. Bruce Gilley is small fish in a huge tank of cultural racists. His arguments barely penetrate beneath the surface of thought and reason. He can be ignored. He can be forgotten, and the world will lose absolutely nothing!