A review of André Vltchek’s new book “Fighting Against Western Imperialism (Jakarta: Badak Merah Semesta, 2014)
“Who is it, that strange lady with an axe in her hand and with a covered face – the lady whose name is Democracy?” This question, as a haunting leitmotif, is going through one’s mind while reading Fighting Against Western Imperialism and lingers long after the last page of the book is turned. The author of the book, André Vltchek, is one of a few noble knights of investigative journalism who travel to all the dangerous places in the world, “speak truth to power,” and report on the events on the ground in order that people could open their eyes and minds and learn the seemingly incongruent fact that there are millions and millions of innocents, people like you and me, who were and still are being sacrificed in the name of western-style democracy.
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Given the deplorable level of mass-media reporting, this book is definitely a pearl of investigative journalism. Unlike the majority of corporate media writers who report mostly what their respective governments want them to write – that is, fabricated lies – Mr. Vltchek has covered “myriads of conflicts, on all continents,” in almost 150 countries, where he witnessed the horrors of those places, incomprehensible by their sheer brutality as “when people were ‘disappeared,’ tortured, thrown alive from helicopters,” and shot, just to name a few. And all these unimaginable horrors were and still are committed under the aegis of the Western Empire, while the western countries’ constituency believes, “increasingly and blindly, that their societies are an inspiration to the rest of the world as the sole examples of democracy and freedom.”
The monstrosities of Western Imperialism are hidden behind the curtain of democracy, and the author of this fiery book is unequivocally clear – this kind of democracy, “as it is seen from Washington, London or Paris, is nothing more and nothing less than what the white man needs in order to control this planet, unopposed and preferably never criticized.” And if there are millions of nonwestern lives being sacrificed on the altar of “democracy,” so be it! The enormity of the western leaders’ deeds is either skillfully hidden from view or painted in such a righteous color that the western publics allow themselves to be easily duped by their respective governments. Western Imperialism is incredibly skillful in swaying citizens from confidence in their civil rights to the complete opposite, when the same citizens readily surrender their rights of privacy and freedom of [political] choice for the sake of illusory safety.
Quite often, to the rest of the world, the western way of life is revealed through landmines, napalm bombs, biological weapons, acts of terror against any governments “that were determined to serve their own people.” In fact, as Mr. Vltchek says, “No other system spilled more blood, no other system plundered more resources and enslaved more people than the one we are told to describe by lofty and benign terms like ‘Western parliamentary democracy’ or ‘Western constitutional monarchy.’” Any resentment toward Western Imperialism is coldly and cruelly crushed for the alleged sake of those who don’t want to recognize that the West wishes them “liberty” and “happiness.” At the same time, in the western world these horrible atrocities are seen through the prism of so-called national security and the underlying sense of superiority over nonwestern ways, thus preventing any critical thinking and easing the manipulation of the western public into a consenting mass in times of political crises.
The sense of a threatening Other – be this Other a non-westerner, communist, “terrorist,” Muslim, Russian, or just any critically thinking individual – accompanies the Western World’s foreign policy as its loyal shadow, while justifying the gargantuan growth of the military apparatus and unabashed infringement of civil rights. Ironic as it is, in the ideal world of Western Imperialism, the western leaders have a submissive constituency at home, and the anomic hordes of the nonwestern nations that are being plundered and robbed under the flag of the false rectitude. And yet, the facts of the western social evils are easily available for the individuals who want to be responsible for their governments and leaders who are clearly unjust and even criminal toward the nonwestern world. As André Vltchek so poignantly says, there is “plenty of information, plenty of proof that the world is in flames, that tens of millions are dying, that true democracy everywhere is being raped and the natural resources of poor countries are being plundered, so that Western capitalism can flourish.” But the countless reported proofs of atrocities committed against nonwestern peoples by the West-trained and West-financed puppets and murderers are not enough for the western public to stand up and counter their respective governments’ brutal extermination of millions and millions of those who dared to aspire to genuine people’s power.
In Fighting Against Western Imperialism, André Vltchek addresses the glaring paradox of human rights that are applied at will, contingent on the western narrative that is being fed for public consumption. “The sacrifice of ‘the others’ is expected, even welcomed. Seven or even ten million people in Indochina – not a big deal. Three million in Indonesia – it is irrelevant. Ten million in Congo – who cares, they are Christians, but in reality some second rate niggers, just to borrow the vocabulary of the British Christian Prime Minister Lloyd George. Tens of millions all over Africa, from Somalia to Mali – who are they? Un-people, just filthy Muslims! Millions of broken lives all over Latin America – good for them! They were mainly Communists, and atheist hordes. Twenty-six million Soviet people died fighting and defeating Nazism – they were mainly white, but their atheism made them worse than those niggers!”
Such brutal, selective western militarism is “marching everywhere, almost unopposed.” It manifests itself not only in hideous murders all over the globe, but also in killing or “re-telling” the stories and fairytales from different parts of the world and censoring and controlling art, either western or nonwestern. For example, “one of the greatest films ever made – Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai – got swiftly overshadowed by a Hollywood remake, the Magnificent Seven, because it had to be the American cowboys, not Japanese samurai, who had the right to demonstrate a true moral standards to the world.” In the nonwestern world, “all identity is wiped out, all creativity is destroyed.” Meanwhile in the western world, the governed have a right to choose, indeed, but only from the limited, corporate feed the western rulers deign to offer them. As Mr. Vltchek says, the goal is simple – “we will make you … uniformed, uninformed, unimaginative.” Then, you may have your “free choice.” At the end, “you will not protest, you will not demand change of your system. You will work hard to make elites richer, and consume what you are told you should find desirable. Amen.”
This brilliant book is full of prickly truths that western governments don’t want you to know. For one, not many Americans would know that “the Soviet people fought real war (sic. – in contrast to the carpet-bombing wars that the West likes so much) and they saved our planet. They also helped to liberate dozens of countries from Western colonialism. Without them, there would be no freedom in Africa (such as it is), Middle East, and most parts of Asia. But those facts are oppressed and can’t be mentioned. What also can’t be mentioned is the heroic and at the same time humble involvement of the Cuban people in the African liberation struggle.” Facts like these make western leaders uncomfortable and itchy; they make them cringe, because these truths dispel the cozy myth of western exceptionalism, moral superiority, heroism, which is the inflated foundation of the Western World’s quest for power, its safety blanket, as well as the source of its grandiose delusions.
Drawing examples from the first-hand experiences during his trips to Thailand, Indonesia, Chile, Congo, Venezuela, Ukraine, to name just a few, Mr. Vltchek accentuates the determinative and disastrous role played by the western politics of fear, which is “perfectly manufactured and has been perfected throughout the centuries.” Prefabrications of “facts” and a permanent state of crisis are being used for brutal oppression in the nonwestern world, as well as to curb any kind of critical reasoning and dissent among the western constituency. After all, “fear manipulates the masses to an ignorant obedience, and then threatens those who resist: ‘don’t you see, that is what the majority of people want and think. Follow the others, or else!” To dissent and criticize became a taboo, thus the politics of fear is ushering in the Orwellian nightmare that masks itself as the democratic paradise.
However, the state of affairs is not as gloomy and pessimistic as it may seem. With passion and panache, the author of Fighting Against Western Imperialism writes, “What the West is now doing to the world – igniting conflicts, supporting banditry and terror, sacrificing millions of people for its own commercial interests – is nothing new under the sun. It is called ‘ordinary fascism.’ And fascism came and was defeated in the past. And it will be again. It will be defeated because it is wrong, because it is against natural human evolution, and because people all over the world are realizing that the feudal structures that Western fascism is trying to administer all over the world belong to the 18th century, not to this one, and should never again be tolerated.”
At the end of the day, willingly or unwillingly, Western Imperialism may be brought before a predicament: either face the abyss of permanent international conflict and a prospect of annihilation, or, to use Zygmant Bauman’s words, recognize the possibility of “knowing how to go on in the face of others who may go on – have the right to go on – differently.” Given the insidious and Procrustean nature of Western Imperialism, it is up to us – every one of us! – to not be deceived by the mask of fake democracy any longer. Enough is enough. “The world has been tortured by Europe and the United States for decades and centuries.” In conclusion, Mr. Vltchek emphatically says, “Let us call democracy something else – rule of the people, exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams. Let our taking control of our lives and over our nations be called democracy!”
Alevtina Rea is a freelance analyst and writer; for 7 years (2005 – 2012), she worked as an assistant editor with CounterPunch, a well-known political online journal which is one of a few sources of “incorruptible press” in the United States, with its uncompromising passion to “educate, inform and shed light where there is none, or where the light is filtered.” Ms. Rea is a contributing author to CounterPunch, Cyrano’s Journal Today, Uncommon Thought Journal, The Greanville Post, and the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.