Dossier 14-15: The Original Sin and Internationalism

Publication Author: 
Marie-Aimée Hélie-Lucas
September 1996
Word Document83.51 KB
number of pages: 
Once upon a time there was a people called North which was white and rich, and a people named South which was non-white and poor. The people North exploited, attacked and killed the people South according to their needs. This was because the Northern people were bad, terrible, and had (almost) all the vices, and it was born so: such was its nature.

Even "Those who tried to cleanse themselves of the original sin" (one of their tribes) were sad because of their impotence to free themselves of the curse which operated potentially, and was rooted ontologically in them, even when they were very wise.

All their dreams were directed to the poor people South, so exploited, so courageous, so oppressed, so rebellious, so wise, etc… This was because the people South had (almost) all the virtues - also by nature (Or was it due to geographical location? Could one gain their virtues by emigrating to their lands? That was one of the dreams)… "Those of the North who tried to cleanse themselves of the original sin" sometimes followed their dreams to the South; there they were beating their breasts, demanding publicly (as publicly as possible) pardon for the faults of the people North, and begging the people South to aid them to change. (Such processions of penitents were sometimes cut short by the poverty, the filth, the mosquitoes and the other things that ate up the Southern people. And, when one is not accustomed to such things, madam, well it's tough! But those people there are so good, so gentle, they give you the shirt off their backs, etc).

Sisters, stop telling yourselves tall tales and believing in fairies! A dichotomic vision of the world is an obstacle to internationalism. It settles you comfortably, yes, comfortably in a position of impotence - and this despite the state of your soul concerning your original sin and the colour of your skin. You are not, however, impotent. Because you analyse, think, and organise yourselves against imperialism and racism.

The only thing lacking amongst you is a demystification of the 'South', the 'Third World': whatever term you rig us out in, it is equally inadequate. Because it confirms the idea of a world in which the good and the bad are geographically determined. Racism is not your monopoly, far from it. And we, we don't talk about our racism, we hide it: therefore we do not analyse it, organise ourselves against it and fight it - either in ourselves or in the civil society.

Look, you have a major advantage over us. Heaven could be praised if we had anti-racist organisations at home. I have travelled a bit and neither at home nor elsewhere in 'the South', have I found these. Yet, our countries are racist, very racist, perhaps amongst the most racist in the world, just because racism feels at ease here, has no finger pointed at it.

It deploys itself under the protection of concepts you have contributed to spreading, to theorising, blinded by your white guilt, and which comforts the little crooks who, within our countries and our highest bodies, exploit racisms to their own profit.

1. Firstly there is anti-white, anti-Western racism, which you are always ready to understand and excuse as a legitimate response to imperialism. This is a scandal! Are you prepared, in your own countries to tolerate racism against immigrants on the grounds that your proletariat or sub proletariat suffers so severely from the economic crisis? Are we, in your eyes, too primitive to have demanded from us the taking of political positions in response to specific economic and social situations?

Why do you tolerate this, our basic but level racism? Are the Westerners, the whites, an undifferentiated and atomised mass of similar and equal individuals - all imperialists - or do you also have classes, races and sexes, within which our allies struggle? Are we similarly an undifferentiated and atomised mass of individuals, without classes, races and sexes? Do you not see amongst us our national bourgeoisies, - comprador, or contenting themselves with the crumbs their master throw them in passing - allied to imperialism, to which they throw our gates wide open?

We cannot identify ourselves with anti-democratic regimes in our countries, any more than you who struggle within the 'North' can carry the banner of your imperialist states. If your governments (not you), produce and sell arms, despite your courageous opposition, it is because our governments (not us, against whom they are used) buy them. Just as they buy for their own benefit the ruinous equipments and myths of 'development'.

Stop denying the fundamental role played in the South by our bourgeoisies, our feudal castes, our military and our bureaucrats, in the expansion of imperialism, and the complicity of anti-democratic powers amongst them (from North to South and vice versa). Stop beating your breasts about what your leaders do in your name and despite your struggles. Identify your allies in the South: they are in a minority, just as you are, but nothing will be achieved without our coming together – free of scoria of your guilt and that of our good conscience as the long defeated, as the ex-colonised, which feeds our present basic racism.

The official dogma of national unity, favoured in all our countries, conceals xenophobia and allows it to flourish - a weed, a devouring parasite, a nursery of Hitlers and Le Penists. Whilst opening wide their arms to 'your' multinationals, arms and development, 'our' governments favour the expression of popular discontent, in the form of a racism toward you - individuals, whites, Westerners - thus preventing up from making the necessary alliances.

2. Once released, the racist snake does not satisfy itself with just one prey. All our countries exercise their xenophobia against our national minorities as well as toward non-white foreigners. You never speak about this. Neither do we.

You quite rightly use the word racism for the rise of anti-Semitism in your countries, or about the laws and practises discriminating against minorities or immigrants. When similar phenomena appear in our countries, you cover them with justificatory exoticisms such as 'interethnic' or 'tribal' conflicts. Those who govern us are neither stupid nor crazy, so they adopt these excuses for themselves.

Meanwhile, right-extremist Hindus massacre Muslims, just as right extremist Christians massacre Jews, and the right-extremist Jews massacre Muslims just as the right-extremist Muslims massacre all those who differ from, or do not submit to, them.

In Algeria, my own country, the whites of the North throw stones at the Blacks of the South. (Here is a brand new North and South for you: everyone has their own South). But we have neither an SOS Racism nor MRAP (Movement against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples or Rock Against Racism), so that blacks can organise protest and be protected. Official ideology denies this rock in the garden of national unity. And the democrats, the liberals, the progressives, the women, do not have the courage to betray the myth and proclaim the truth, of which every visitor from Sub-Saharan Africa has experience - just as do the Southern Algerians. This concealment of our own racism smothers us, prevents our advance.

Sisters, don't participate in this lie. Although you are doing a good job in denouncing your own racism and that of your own country, nothing will change till we do the same.

Your present definition of internationalism is a one-way one, running from you - the Rich White North - to us, whom it is necessary to 'aid' or 'develop'. Understand this: that we are hand in glove together at a quite different level and that internationalist practice can only develop on a basis of equality; that - beyond all guilt and myth, and considering history here and now - our struggles reinforce each other's. When we write on our racism the kind of articles you write on yours, you will have a more global, less 'white', vision of the situation. And so will we.

A liberatory process, to our common benefit. Unfortunately, back at home 'in the South', we still have a long way to go.