Africa’s Ever-Deepening Imperialist Hell, and the Revolutionary Movement that Can End It

Rainer Shea
Somalia (left) and South Africa (right)

Africa, with its growing instability, is a later-stage version of what other exploited regions like Latin America or Oceania are going to become like as capitalist collapse continues to unfold. Following NATO’s turning Libya into a failed state a decade ago, and the ongoing precariousness within the country during the leadup to this year’s tense elections, the imperialists have expanded their manufactured chaos to the entire horn of Africa. Now the humanitarian disasters, civil strife, and political crises are spreading to all corners of the continent, precisely because of the U.S. empire’s designs.

In Libya, the neo-colonial government has issued an arrest warrant for Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Libya’s socialist former leader Muammar Gaddafi. Whether or not the charges against him of collaborating with Russian mercenaries are truthful is irrelevant; the U.S. is hypocritically allowing pro-regime mercenaries and militants to try to hunt him down, showing that he wouldn’t be charged if he weren’t trying to run in this year’s election under his father’s agenda of Pan-African anti-imperialism. It’s a purely political ploy that Washington intends as a way to keep Libya in its state of instability. Even if this year’s elections happen smoothly in spite of al-Islam’s persecution, the empire will keep subjecting Libya to the same cycle of meddling that’s plunging the broader region into hardship.

In Somalia, the imperialists have created a positive feedback loop of scarcity, terrorism, and “War on Terror” atrocities. U.S. and U.K. meddling have produced the very terrorists that Biden has been bombing and attacking with drones, exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis. As The Grayzone has assessed about the horrific imperialist-manufactured conditions that led to the militant anti-Americanism in Somalia today, “With US and British training, including logistical support, Ethiopia invaded Somalia in late-2006 to install Abdullahi as President of the TFG. The US and Britain worked hard to set up a new regime in a war so brutal that over 1 million people fled their homes. In addition, tens of thousands crossed the Gulf of Aden to Yemen in hazardous small boats sailed by traffickers. Hundreds of thousands ended up in dire refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, where women and girls were raped.”

In South Africa, the former president Zuma — the country’s only recent leader who’s tried to dethrone white monopoly capital — has been jailed by the country’s neo-colonial regime at the behest of the imperialist governments which control it. This has combined with the neo-apartheid conditions created by South Africa’s rising private police force, and the growing pandemic-era inequities that plague the still highly segregated country, to produce riots so huge that they’ve broken supply chains.

The worst consequences of the empire’s interference throughout the continent have harkened back to the darkest events in Africa’s history of being subjugated by colonialism and neo-colonialism. In Ethiopia — a greatly influential country within the horn of Africa — the 1984 famine that killed 1.2 million dead and 2.5 million displaced is close to being repeated, and the country is verging on collapse. Nearly half a million Ethiopians are living in severe food insecurity, with an additional four million in crisis or emergency. The Biden administration has been exacerbating this crisis by imposing sanctions on the country, an obvious ploy to strong-arm Ethiopia into halting its deals with China; Washington has been disingenuously putting the Ethiopian government on equal footing with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, an ethnic nationalist militant organization that Ethiopia has designated as a terrorist group but that Washington suspiciously refuses to classify as such.

This parallels Washington’s removal of the Uyghur nationalist group the East Turkestan Islamic Movement in Afghanistan from the terrorist watch list last year, despite (or rather because of) the ETIM posing a growing terrorist threat to China. All over, the imperialists are tacitly sowing terrorism to score geopolitical points against the PRC, with the consequences in both Africa and Afghanistan being the multiplying of their respective humanitarian crises. Except for Africa there’s an additional level of subjugation, since the Biden administration has been using its operations towards partition, Balkanization, and destabilization within countries like Ethiopia to expand upon its core tool for delaying China’s rise in Africa: AFRICOM.

When the U.S. empire began on its current track of militarizing Africa for great-power competition, even the bourgeois intellectuals sympathetic to Washington’s neo-colonial projects foretold that only destruction would come of it. In his 2008 book The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria wrote:

Consider the manner in which the United States is considering expanding its presence in Africa. The rhetoric that the Bush administration has used is commendable. “We want to prevent problems from becoming crises, and crises from becoming catastrophes,” Theresa Whelan, deputy assistant defense secretary for African affairs explained in an interview in 2007. “We have in our national interest that Africa is a stable continent.” Its solution, however, has been the creation of a new military command for the continent, AFRICOM, with its own commander and staff. But as the Washington Post columnist David Ignatius perceptively asks, “Is the U.S. military the right instrument for the nation-building effort that AFRICOM apparently envisions? Will a larger U.S. military presence check terrorism and instability on the continent, or will it instead become a new target for anti-Americanism?”

These paternalistic, condescending attempts to guess how the African masses would respond to a new stage of colonial occupation have been proven even truer than they anticipated. All the way back in 2007, the Center for Strategic & International Studies assessed that “Africans know that the militarization of political and economic space by African military leaders has been one of the factors that has held Africa back for decades. While African states are trying to put the culture of military rule behind them, the United States appears determined to demonstrate that most civilian activities in Africa should be undertaken by armed forces.” Now that the U.S. has created at least 34 bases across the continent, it’s become obvious that dictatorship is instrumental to the existence of AFRICOM, with Washington backing a dictator in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure a government that consents to the U.S. military occupation.

And in Côte d’Ivoire and other countries, Africans are rumbling in anger towards Washington’s devilry. “By condoning Ouattara’s dictatorship, we feel like America has ignored the call of the Ivorians to breathe the oxygen of democracy,” laments an Ivorian pro-democracy activist, concluding that the U.S. “has agreed to help France keep its knee on our throats.” This attitude parallels the rage from the colonized South Africans towards their imperialist-backed white supremacist regime, and the enranged protests from Ethiopans against Washington’s deadly sanctions, and the desire for liberation from the Libyans who back al-Islam. Wherever imperialism puts its evil hand, there are legions to meet it with fury. And this fury is going to become translated into a Pan-African socialist revolutionary movement.

The dream that many African anti-colonialists had after decolonization of applying Korea’s Juche socialism to their land is still alive. Juche continues to find supporters across Africa’s communist movement. Juche’s root ideology of Marxism-Leninism is rising through organizations like South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters, a Marxist institution that seeks “a shift from reconciliation to justice in the entire continent.” And as the African liberation solidarity organization Juche Africa has assessed, Juche will continue to progress towards its implementation across the continent:

With the collapse of apartheid in South Africa as a climax of Africa’s liberation in 1994, the whole of Africa is free from colonialism and is entering the decisive phase of economic transformation and political integration. Africa recognizes that the path to total emancipation is not easy because the imperialists are relentlessly opposing the peaceful realization of Africa’s aspiration to develop her infrastructure, natural resources and even human resources. Imperialists are increasingly interfering and disrupting the independent development efforts in many African countries. The continued neo-colonial machinations in Africa, not only call for the Juche idea as guiding principle for those in search of a solution for Africa’s problems, but indeed Songun idea must be internalized by many African revolutionaries with the view to adopting its principles to strengthen Africa’s capacity to defend her sovereignty and peaceful development.

What’s our role in this as those within the core of imperialism? To correctly analyze the geopolitical situations across Africa so as to counter imperialism’s propaganda about the continent’s countries, while extending international solidarity to all liberation movements in these countries.