“Many world thinkers today, both black and white, believe that Western civilization, the white man’s show, has reached the end of the road. Like, Western civilization has taken us to the moon, but still it murders in Vietnam, lynches in Mississippi and exploits in Belize. Western civilization makes cars and tanks and bombs but has no peace and love in it. Western so-called civilization has given us nothing but bloodbath after bloodbath. This would need to be culturally revolutionized. Capitalism cannot do it. Communism cannot do it. It is the people in the so-called underdeveloped countries – the Third World – who must lead the white man out of his hatred and war and racism.”
– pg. 1, AMANDALA No. 1, Wednesday, 13th August, 1969
Some scholars speak of a “clash of civilizations” occurring when Christian Europe sent armed soldiers into Palestine a thousand years ago. Jerusalem was considered “Holy Land” by Christians, and a thousand years ago Jerusalem was being ruled by Islam. European soldiers sought to recover the Holy Land for Christianity. These expeditions are referred to as the “Crusades.” At the time, Christianity was a thousand years old, and Islam was four hundred years old. Judaism, considered the precursor of Christianity, was three or four thousand years old. The various religions of the various African peoples and the various Indigenous peoples of America were older than Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Five hundred years ago Europe invaded Africa and America, and these were real clashes of civilizations which later became couched in religious terms. Europe conquered Africa and America, and then began referring to the native peoples of the African and American continents as “primitive” and “pagan.” The native peoples were described as “pagan” because they did not know of, or believe in, Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Holy Trinity, so they had to be brought into the Christian world. The process of Christianizing the natives was also described as “civilizing” them.
The Christian Crusades of a thousand years ago were not triumphant episodes for the Europeans, but when Europe entered Africa and America five hundred years ago these entries became triumphant episodes for the Europeans. The Europeans did not conquer the Africans and the Americans because of any superior spiritual or religious aspects of their “civilizations”: the Europeans conquered because they enjoyed advantages in military force and technology. The European God became accepted as superior to any gods of the Africans and the Indigenous Americans, because ultimate power, then as now, came out of the barrel of a gun.
As an interesting aside, we should remind you that when European journalists asked India’s Mahatma Gandhi one time what he thought of “Western civilization” (“Western” being a synonym for “European”), the Mahatma reflected briefly and then replied: “I think it would be a good idea.”
In this twenty-first century of the Year of Our Lord, what we may refer to as “Western civilization” rules the world with both force and ideas. If you consider the cases of Russia and China (perhaps even that of India), it may be said that they are both essentially pursuing Western (European) concepts of development, progress, and civilization. Neither Russia nor China is a classically European nation-state. Russia is considered “Eastern” European, while China’s ancient civilization is Asian. China’s ancient civilizations predate by thousands of years anything emerging from Europe, but China had been in serious decline, abused by the Europeans and the Japanese, before the Communist Revolution of 1949. And Russia had been a feudal state before their Communist Revolution in 1917.
Still, the world being the violent place that it is, both Russia and China have pursued the sort of military credibility for which the Europeans and neo-Europeans, as organized in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), have set the bar. Modern military credibility at the world power level demands nuclear weapons, and such modern military credibility presumes an industrial economy which is based on the burning of fossil fuel, that is to say, petroleum and petroleum products.
It became clear after World War II (1939-1945), with the harnessing of atomic energy followed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that human beings had developed the ability to destroy planet earth as man had known it from time immemorial. This amazing and terrifying nuclear power may be described as an achievement, it may even be called a “triumph,” of Western civilization. But this was never the sort of achievement or triumph that African and Indigenous American peoples sought. Their “pagan” religions had insisted on a reverence for planet earth itself, a reverence which was fundamental to their “primitive” religious beliefs. The earth had given life, and therefore the land and sea and air and sun and moon involved with the earth should be worshipped. Such a religious concept was derided by the conquering Europeans. The conquering Europeans believed, following the precepts of their “Holy Book,” that the earth was here to be subdued by, and for the good of, man, who had been created in the image and likeness of God. In pursuance of that subjection of planet earth, Europeans happened upon atomic energy. Ultimately then, their conquests had led them to their own existential danger. This was and is a modern version of the Biblical Tower of Babel.
There is catastrophic death, and there is slow death. What the world’s scientists, and they are mostly European and neo-European, have concluded today is that the dominant world civilizations, apart from the real possibility of catastrophic nuclear death, are pursuing a form of slow death with respect to the uncontrolled and ever-increasing burning of fossil fuels. But, the burning of these fossil fuels became the foundation of the Industrial Revolution less than two centuries ago which cemented Europe’s victory in their clash of civilizations with Africa and Indigenous America five centuries ago. For Europe now to admit that a civilization based on indiscriminate use of fossil fuels is a flawed civilization, would be the equivalent of Europeans’ questioning the superiority of their God.
A tangential consideration in the current dilemmas of Western civilization, we submit, is European embrace, encouragement, and extolling of homosexual and other deviant sexual practices. Homosexuality was not embraced, encouraged, or extolled by primitive, pagan African and Maya societies. Perhaps it was accepted somewhere, we cannot speak categorically on that score. But the sense of us African and Maya peoples today is that the Europeans and neo-Europeans are embracing, encouraging and extolling homosexuality, and not only that, they want to pressure us natives to do the same.
Historically in Belize, homosexuality is well-established at an informal level, but it had been declared illegal by British colonial law. To be truthful, this situation is paradoxical, because the same British are well-known partners in the European tradition of aforementioned embrace, encouragement and extolling of the gay life. Whatever, it was the British who declared buggery was illegal in Belize. Now the Europeans, who include the British and the Americans, want to change the law in Belize. Western civilization, to our mind, is in a state of moral decay, even as it flirts with catastrophic death and tinkers with the slow version.
In 2015, we see things at this newspaper the same way we saw them in 1969. This so-called Western civilization does not present Belizeans with a road we want to follow. The European way of life has been a way of death for us natives. Things have to change here. And it is we, the Africans and the Maya of Belize, who will do that changing in Belize. Not the New York Times. So let that be written; so let that be done.
Power to the people.