The Central Intelligence Agency, a ruthless enforcer of Wall Street’s drive for profits, publishes “The World Factbook.” It gives updated statistics for every country, some of which measure quality of life and societal health, such as life expectancy, infant mortality, literacy, unemployment and industrial production. In this series, Workers World examines some surprising conclusions, all using the CIA’s own statistics. Even though these statistics often understate gains compared to United Nations figures, they can’t help but show that countries benefit by breaking with imperialism.
Constantly in the U.S. we are told that the solution for the people of Africa, who overwhelmingly live in extreme poverty, is for U.S. corporations and oil companies to invest there.
For a long time Marxists have struggled to expose this bit of supposed “common knowledge.” Walter Rodney wrote a ground-breaking work called “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa” that showed how Africa was impoverished and destroyed by Western domination and colonialism.
Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana, wrote “Neo-Colonialism: the Last Stage of Imperialism.” The book discussed how even though some governments in Africa and other impoverished parts of the world became politically “independent” from colonial masters, starting in the 1950s and 1960s, they are still dominated and controlled by Western capitalists and can still be subject to direct military repression.
The history of Africa is filled with examples of U.S. intervention against liberation movements. Washington backed the criminal apartheid regime of South Africa for many decades, until the 1990s. The U.S. also engineered the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the first premier of the Congo after it won independence from Belgium. More recently, the U.S. has bombed and destabilized Somalia in the name of the “war on terror.”
The U.S. media has whipped up a frenzy of “moral outrage” about alleged “dictators” who are to blame for the economic woes of African people. Leaders who oppose the West such as Robert Mugabe and Muammar Qaddafi are portrayed as harming their people by getting in the way of Western capitalists.
But even the CIA’s own statistics show otherwise. The highest life expectancy in Africa — 77.47 years — is in Libya, where Qaddafi leads the country with an ideology of “Islamic Socialism” and is consistently demonized by the U.S. propaganda machine.
Compare this to Libya’s neighbor, Egypt, a country not led by anti-imperialists or revolutionaries, where this same average is 72.40 years.
Nigeria, an oil-producing country like Libya, is another example of the “wonders” of Western imperialism. Nigeria’s government has long been a friend to U.S. and British corporations, such as Shell Oil. With friends of Shell holding the government rather than a popular anti-imperialist regime, Nigeria’s average life expectancy is only 47.24 years.
It is odd that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime has been labeled as having negative effects for the people of Libya, when people in that country live longer than those in any other African country. To the corporate media’s discredit, they publish or broadcast little of the negative impact of privatization in Egypt or Nigeria, yet will disseminate much about alleged evils of countries like Libya that refuse to become neo-colonies of Western capitalism.
Zimbabwe has long been demonized as a “dictatorship” and “economic disaster.” Such accusations against Zimbabwe are directed at the government of Robert Mugabe, who led the Zimbabwe African National Union in wresting power from a regime composed of white settlers whose ancestors claimed the territory for the British Empire. Now the Mugabe government has angered the West by taking over and distributing to the African people the richest farmland, which had been held by the settler minority that still controlled the country’s resources. Literacy in Zimbabwe, led by its revolutionary nationalist government, is 90.7 percent, far above even the world average of 80 percent.
Uganda, where a U.S.-backed evangelical Christian who believes in free market capitalism holds the presidency, has only 66.8 percent literacy.
The Nigerian government, under tight control of U.S. oil corporations, has established only 68 percent literacy.
Zimbabwe’s life expectancy, though low, stands above Nigeria, Zambia and U.S.-occupied Afghanistan. Despite this fact, the corporate media never seem to report on the “economic disaster” of Western capitalist domination in Nigeria or Zambia, but focus on the problems of Zimbabwe. Add to this the problems caused Zimbabwe by U.S. and British sanctions and the maneuvers of Western bankers to destabilize the national currency, and you get the picture.
The CIA’s own statistics on quality of life in Africa overwhelmingly show that capitalist domination and imperialism are not “saving” the African people. The regimes in countries such as Nigeria, Egypt and Zambia, which are dominated and controlled by Western corporations, generally have a much lower quality of life than those that fight imperialism and seek to build an independent government.
Contrary to what is largely believed in the United States, people in Africa benefit most from carving out their own destiny and removing the power of Western corporations and banks. Investment by imperialists is no help to the people of that continent; it is done purely to exploit the labor and resources that should belong to the African people. Claims that imperialism brings “development” are as phony as the past claims by the slave-traders that they were “helping to civilize” African people by placing them in bondage.
More to come.
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