By Alevtina Rea. A review of Andre 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?”[T]his 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, Andre Vltchek, is one of a few noble knights of investigative journalism. He travels to all the dangerous places in the world, “speaks truth to the power,” and reports on the events on the ground. All of this in the hope 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 the western-style democracy.
Given the deplorable level of the mass-media reporting, this book is definitely a pearl of investigative journalism. Unlike the majority of the corporate media writers who report mostly what their respective governments want them to write – that is, the fabricated lies – Mr. Vltchek has covered “myriads of conflicts, on all continents.” He has been in almost 150 countries where he witnessed the horrors of those places, the incomprehensible brutal horror “when people were ‘disappeared,’ tortured, thrown alive from the helicopters,” shot, just to name a few despicable acts. And all these unimaginable horrors, were and still, committed under the aegis of the Western Empire, all while the western countries constituency believe, “increasingly and blindly, that their societies are an inspiration to the rest of the world as the sole examples of democracy and freedom.”
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 apparently, if there are millions of non-western 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 public allow themselves to be easily duped by their respective governments. Western Imperialism is incredibly skillful in swaying the citizens from a confidence in their civil rights to its complete opposite, when the same citizens readily surrender their rights of privacy and freedom of 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 resistance to the Imperialists is coldly and cruelly crashed for the alleged sake of those who supposedly believe 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. Underlying this is a sense of superiority over non-western 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 policies as its loyal shadow. It justifies 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 non-western nations that are being plundered and robbed under the flag of the false rectitude abroad. 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, towards the non-western world. As Andre 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 non-western 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 for people’s power.
In Fighting Against Western Imperialism, Andre Vltchek addresses the glaring paradox of the human rights that are applied at will, contingent on the western narrative that is being fed for the 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 Somali 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 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 fairy tales from the different parts of the world, and censoring and controlling art, either western or non-western. 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 standard to the world.” In the non-western world, “all identity is wiped out, all creativity is destroyed.” While in western one, 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 the 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 the 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, 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 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, 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 his 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. This is a fear that is “perfectly manufactured and has been perfected throughout the centuries.” Prefabrication of “facts,” and a permanent state of crisis, are being used for brutal oppression in the non-western world, as well as to curb any kind of critical reasoning and dissent among the western constituency. After all, “fear manipulates 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, willingly or unwillingly, Western Imperialism may find itself in a predicament of: either facing the abyss of permanent international conflict and a prospect of annihilation, or, to use Zygmant Bauman’s words, recognizing a 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. Ms. Rea is a contributing author to CounterPunch, Cyrano’s Journal Today, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.