This post is a guest contribution by Laurens Verdonkschot, and was originally written on July 15th.
If you were looking forward to waking up to a Friday morning free of tragedy and a weekend filled with insouciant binge-drinking, then you will, like me, have been reminded that, no, this is not the kind of world we live in anymore.
If you thought that you could somehow combat global violence with grinning, butt-scratching apathy anymore, then let me remind you that, no, that’s not the kind of world we live in anymore.
The chickens of colonialism are coming home to roost. Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold. Shout out to the Irish—who, I’ve realized, have seen the face of colonialism from a whole different angle than their neighbors in England.
Woke up at 4 this morning from what I’m now referring to as eyes-closed beta-wave shutout sleep to a Guardian newsletter reporting on the tragedy in Nice. Please don’t be Muslim I thought, please don’t be Black, please don’t be Da’esh, please don’t be another poor and alone displaced person brought to the point of desperation thanks to the continually widening gulf between rich and poor (it widens this very instant, and beyond).
So far, the facts are still opaque to the public, but I can tell that in their hearts they already know the perpetrator is brown and follows some terrorist mandate that in their minds is linked to Islam. And of course, as far as Boris Fucking Johnson and Francoise Hollande are concerned, this is absolutely the case.
We need to honestly acknowledge the lopsided, abusive international relationships that have been forged in colonialism. We need to have a real talk about the Triangle Trade, the African Diaspora, the scramble for Caribbean territories in the 17th and 18th century, the coffers of the British East India Company, among various other European trading companies of the same period (looking at you, the pillagers of the Dutch East India Company).
We need to talk about who has profited most from the Cuban War of Independence, the Philippine-American War, the 20th-century scramble for Africa, the various proxy conflicts mounted along Central America, South America, the Middle East, and especially Afghanistan during the Cold War. These are all events involving American military intervention, where one form of colonialism was traded for another.
We need to talk about the former French North Africa. We need to talk about the French conquest of Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Niger, and the Guineas. France has sown anger and bloodshed into the soil of North Africa, and today it is reaped all over Europe.
We need to talk about modern-day imperialism. How multinational companies emerging from the great colonial powers have declared their own independence from tax laws and the scrutiny of government so they can extend their pollution and pillaging spree in a time where sovereign nations have to at least pretend at diplomacy. We’ve left slums, ghettos, and war zones in places where people had previously lived in peace. We’ve installed puppet governments whose only job is to roll out a welcome mat as corporations shake down their countries. We need to talk about Iraq, and it’s going to hurt when we see it for what it really is: a model for how to succeed at the game of colony without the slightest repercussions from the public.
There is no rule—avarice is seated at the head of government. The best lack all convictions, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
I was going to save a paragraph near the end on how we can be improved by open discussion re: the above. How we can find strength in compassion, sincerity, forgiveness, humbling ourselves before God, et cetera. But I’m tired. I haven’t even had a shower yet, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet, and I haven’t even been into work yet, and my day off seems so far away right now.
I still believe in all these things, but goddamnit, I’m so tired. In any case, before you change your profile pic to some tricouleur bullshit, please ask yourself: Where does this violence come from, and who profits, and maybe even—perhaps if you’re feeling more up to it than I—ask yourself why the fuck can’t we even adequately tax this profit, in this country alone, so the working classes aren’t starving as a result of signing on 10 minutes late?
I just don’t know anymore.