US goose versus NED gander
THERE is always more to write about than there is space to publish. Last week I had to drop two key matters, to allow myself to address in extenso what I sought to raise.
One matter which I dropped related to the US’s so-called National Endowment for Democracy, NED, in reality a CIA arm and vehicle for subverting targeted countries. There was a feeble attempt from the US Compound here to deny this overt connection between the CIA and NED.
We should not pay attention to the ruse. Instead, we should remain focused on, and watchful of, the activities of this very dangerous outfit, and the political NGOs to which it has disbursed huge funds, all to interfere with, and subvert our politics here, ahead of 2023 Harmonised General Elections. Coming from a country which freaked out against Russia for unsubstantiated claims that Putin interfered with US democratic processes which led to Trump’s election, the irony is as loud as it is fatuous. What is bad for the US gander, is always best for the US goose.
America’s battering ram
All told, America’s NED has disbursed to 21 political NGOs, all created by the West to intensify activities in different political areas which target different interest groups. Part of that money is introverted in that it seeks to promise, raise and fund legal defence, in the likely event of reaction and arrests by the Zimbabwe Government.
In other words, US’s NED knows beforehand it is funding activities that are politically meddlesome, illegal even in terms of our national laws, and for which it has already budgeted for legal backlashes. The 21 political NGOs, in their collectivity, are Zimbabwe’s own Zelensky: America uses them as some battering ram. The 21 don’t need to look far to understand the fate which awaits them.
Setting up receiving bases in neighbouring countries
Monies dispersed by NED range from as little as US$20 000, to as much as more than US$271 000, in the hope of a political multiplier. Broadly, the thrust is to harness different strata of society to foment demonstrations leading to generalised instability, ahead of elections.
So fired up and so reckless are beneficiaries of this war chest that they bawl and brag about it openly and loudly on Twitter. The State reads, notes, plans, prepares. But there is one area I want nationally conscious Zimbabweans to know so they are better able to resist wiles of this meddlesome outsider, to effectively defend the National Interest.
A few weeks back, several political NGOs held a planning meeting inside Zimbabwe where it was agreed that to the number, these US-funded political NGOs must register in South Africa or some other neighbouring country, in anticipation of the PVO Bill which hostile Western governments now accept is unstoppable. The idea is to ensure monies to foment unrest in the country ahead of 2023 continue to pour in, via the country’s neighbours. Meanwhile, the Economy must be made to scream, to ensure anger builds up for ease of incendiary raw material with which to burn Zimbabwe.
To that end, Peter Mutasa’s Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, has had a head start. Allocated US$91 886, it has already set up a South Africa desk. Many others are busy doing the same, News Hawks included. We watch.
What proxy war?
It is hard to understand the Western mind. Harder even, the more it gets unhinged by needless bellicosity. NATO is neck-deep in a long war against Russia. It is a war which now barely qualifies to be called a proxy war.
I am not aware of any instance in recent or long history where a non-belligerent State summons Parliament to raise a vote of US$30bn meant to fund a war in which proxies are used. This is without precedent. Or where a non-belligerent State spends more on a war which is not its own, than those fighting it.
Whether in Latin America or here on our African continent, US-led proxy wars have been funded covertly through the CIA, often through illicit trafficking in narcotics, as in South America or in Afghanistan. Yes, US’s CIA has dabbled in drug trafficking in order to fund its proxy wars. Monies apart, how do you reconcile stupendous shipments of armaments and crafts of war, to claims of proxy status? Tikwanirei imi mapolitical scientists.
We need a new word in political science; reality has fast outgrown our archaic terminologies and dictionaries.
In for a long haul
Except this isn’t my main point. In response, Russia has made sure the whole world is starved of essential grain and agricultural inputs, much like the now surrendering Ukrainian fighters in the giant steelworks! The whole world, the West especially, is now trapped in a bunker, with Russia laying food siege.
The world’s ulcerous stomach is beginning to be subdued, day by day, with Putin’s injunction to ensure not even a fly leaves or flies in, being diligently enforced by his forces. Economies in the West – to the number – are in a tailspin, as is the rest of the global economy.
We are in sh*t, thanks to a collectivity of warmongers called NATO who chose an eastward adventure, going beyond where even angels would dare tread. The calculation in NATO – spectacularly mistaken – was that the Russia-Ukraine war would be sharp, short and even sweet. It looked so, in the beginning. Not anymore.
With Russia even more encircled than before the outbreak of hostilities, her sheer existence as a State, Nation, Culture and Language is now threatened. Who, in their right mind, would settle for a shorter, capitulationist war in those circumstances? It didn’t happen when Hitler attacked both the West and Russia; didn’t happen when America attacked Vietnam; didn’t happen when America attacked Afghanistan; certainly will not happen with any country, least of all Russia.
Wars are won/lost at home
Now, a long, drawn out war is what NATO least likes or countenances. With several cracks already apparent, not even US – leader of the pack of aggression – can afford a protracted war in Eastern Europe. To the country, this is one so-called proxy war whose effect on domestic politics has been instantaneous. As is well known, wars may be fought abroad; they are won at home.
You need home consent, which NATO countries do not have. Home looks bleak, for all NATO potentates. Not helped by air-ripping Biden who now recklessly ignites more fires in Southeast Asia. What is this dotard doing, except to pursue a reckless global policy informed by terminal thinking, arguably?
When NATO forgot its belly
Back to my main point. Russia has decided no grain leaves its territory for the world market, ostensibly to secure its own national food security in the face of NATO-led sanctions. To all intents and purposes, Russia is now running a war economy, and is in it for a long haul.
There is nothing that small, snowy and recklessly bellicose Britain can do to ameliorate its food situation, short of suffering buffeted economic fundamentals or, if it’s not fully exorcised of her imperial grand illusions, invading other lesser countries, in order to stretch its geography and food means. Same goes for many nations in Europe, many of which seem to have forgotten Napoleon’s dictum: an army moves on its stomach!
Except now its more than an army; it’s a whole subcontinent which historically has been moving on Russia and Ukrainian granaries accounting for over 30 percent of global cereal output! Russia has closed the tap; it has also blockaded grain ships running from Ukraine to the global grain and inputs market, the same way Ukraine closed Russian gas pipes passing through its territory to global market. Why NATO thinks Russia must respond through bounteous, forgiving heart to all its appalling aggression by armour, one just cannot comprehend. For us here in Zimbabwe, just as well.
We have the land; we have the gas we need to manufacture phosphates; we have the skills; technologies are now known. The trouble has been that we have been uninventive, lulled to slothful sleep by Russian and Ukrainian warehouses. We just have to grow now!
Geography and geology versus begging bowl
Meanwhile, Russia is set to build a new global food and economic order on a shrunken or even empty global stomach, the same way the US built an imprisoning global financial order on the smouldering ashes of the so-called Second World War. Hark, I notice China is seeking to enlarge BRICS already. Hark, Russia boasts geography and geology, while NATO countries spin begging bowls!
The Poverty of Philosophy
Karl Marx and Frederick Engels penned a book I enjoy reading time and time again. It is called The Poverty of Philosophy. In it is a quote I want to abstract from that timeless treatise. It reads: “ The economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet FOR itself. In the struggle this mass becomes united and constitutes itself as a class FOR itself (own emphasis).”
Have they heard about ceteris paribus?
The week has seen a very sprite debate on the economy pitting me against a whole body of impressionistic opinion, much of it coloured by oppositional discontent. Nothing surprising, really. We are highly politicised, as matters stand, although not always with much political knowledge. One meets more of anger-venting than coherent opposition stemming from a solid worldview.
One also meets arguments crafted on bare, textbook economic principles learnt from school, sorely crying out to be grounded in the work-a-day world. Ordinarily, that shouldn’t be worrisome, until polemicists pushing such textbook economics evince some know-it-all bellicosity which just puts you off. Then you have unconditional apostles of laissez-faire economics who believe in the wand of the market, in Adam Smith’s invisible hand, however imperfect market conditions may be.
It’s as if they missed the ceteris paribus notion by which all economic absolutes are qualified. The last group in this litany of foibles is that of polemicists who have some inkling of economics, but divested of politics; they have never heard something called political economy.
All told, the picture of the national mind looks messy, suggesting key flaws in the way national knowledge is constructed and imparted in our tertiary institutions. On that score, we are still far from coming of age.
Protest versus affirmations
But that’s not my biggest concern. No government runs on vapour emitted on the ever smoking streets of Twitter. What worries me, and gets me quite exercised, are huge gaps in thought processes of our literati, from which then emerges a certain false consciousness which can very easily hurt the National Interest, and outcomes to national processes, elections included.
As has happened in several jurisdictions, both near and far, a mass hysteria on Election Day can easily saddle a society with an unfit outcome, can easily beget what latter turns out to be bitter dispensation whose tenure becomes very long and destructive, even though it’s a normal five-year mandate.
Those of us who read literature know what I am talking about. Mass euphoria at Independence, and during certain moments of false restarts in the life of many African nations, soon give way to long winters of disenchantment, during which the citizenry disengages and retreats from the Nation, metaphorically and, as is often the case, physically as well by exercising the exit option.
I attribute much of that to politics that hates a reigning status quo, whatever its occasional missteps and the promise it holds for correction and reconstruction. There is too much of politics built around what is being rejected — protest politics — without a clear formulation of what is being proposed or defended by way of an alternative framework of economic and political governance.
Or by way of a coalescence and community of interests founded on a group of people’s place against the means of production. Often these politics coalesce around a handsome, yet hapless person, or around nebulous claims like “ngaapinde hake mukomana”! There is no recognition that mukomana wacho, much like his own race and class, remains a trapped outsider in the scheme of things!
Trapped in an odious status quo
Looking at contours of national debate, one senses complete entrapment in the economic status quo. No thinking seems able to escape it. So-called solutions wind up as affirmations of that bad status quo. And the economic status quo remains essentially a settler colonial one we received from UDI.
It combines a few multinationals, many white-run businesses, with the rest of us hovering on its margins, ekeing a meagre, threadbare living. As indigenous people, we remain the scum, the underdog of this inherited economic structure, except minimally in agriculture where we were thrust through Land Reforms, even then still circumscribed by the same inherited economic legacy.
I should have said most multinationals have either left or trimmed their manufacturing operations to mere warehouses.
Symbolically, Lonrho is dead; Union Carbide long disinvested. Unilever has turned its manufacturing plant into a huge warehouse which repacks imports from its subsidiaries in the neighbourhood. Alongside Palmolive, it now had ceded distributorship to Innscor’s Business Group Africa, BGA, as did many other multinationals.
Structure of Rhodesian economy
Even at its very heyday, the Rhodesian economic structure was very far from meeting even minimum standards of a perfect market, which exists nowhere in the world by the way.
Economies of the world strive for perfection, which is why anti-trust laws and regulators have not gone away; it’s that simple and plain, yet seemingly hidden and esoteric when it comes to the Zimbabwean debate. Rhodesia ran on monopolies and oligopolies, much of them built around colour and ethnic sects within a collective white hierarchy.
So you had Rhodesian English businesses; Rhodesian Scottish businesses; Rhodesian Germany businesses; Rhodesian Portuguese business (kwaMuputukezi) and several other economic castes, but all united against the indigenous black consumer, politically termed “the black peril”. Your Indians and white farmers would be the major distributors, with African petit bourgeoisie taking the fringes. By and large, this was an affective economy, run on racial lines.
This does not require an Einstein; mere knowledge of both history and political economy of Rhodesian settler colonialism and its structures.
Marx and Engels notion of alienation
With the advent of Independence and, much later, sanctions-induced disinvestments, the Zimbabwean market become even more imperfect, with the only changeless magnitude being us, the black consuming horde. You and I, in other words, being either buying peasants or buying workers in this hostage, white-dominated, monopolistic and/or oligopolistic market.
Even in agriculture where the ownership structure has since changed, the peasant, small, medium and large farmer cede their produce to these same Rhodesian-times monopolies, only via the State-owned Grain Marketing Board, GMB! The ultimate owner of that agricultural produce is the same monopolies we inherited from Rhodesia!
It’s that plain, meaning unless something happens in the countryside where the indigenous farmer is confined, the indigenous producer remains indentured to monopolistic manufacturing capital based in towns and cities, which doubly squeezes him: through the smokescreen of GMB which is the cheap warehouse of monopolistic manufacturers, and directly as a consumer who meets his needs in supermarkets dominated by the same distributors.
What has changed except giving the indigenous underdog a LAND ILLUSION? He is completely exiled from value chains even though these start at his farm! He is entrapped in the cycle of price spirals which operate well away from his farm, even though fed by it. Entrapped as a whimpering consumer. Is that not what Marx and Engels called alienation: that state where a product of your own sweat suddenly outgrow you the producer, to assume a life larger and inscrutable than you can ever comprehend?
Necessary illusions or false consciousness
In comes Chomsky, with his notion of “necessary illusions”. Put simply, Chomsky says capitalism manufactures and sells illusions which stand between the mind of the exploited, and realities and agencies of exploitation which the exploited may even give the aura of virtue and compassion. That way, class differences are masked, with workers manufacturing evil spirits to explain their predicament, and prayers to solve them!
This is Chomsky’s own substitute for what Marx and Engels called false consciousness: carefully cultivated falsehoods which impede the exploited worker from realising the link between his diminished welfare and the peculiar economic structure which employs him, and within which he must reproduce his meagre life as an exploited consumer! For once the exploited peasant and worker realises his misfortunes are not God-ordained, but capitalist-made, he then wants to confront that which saps his life, namely capitalism!
Without such knowledge, he remains part of a mass of unconscious consumers, what Marx and Engels call a mere class-in-itself placed in a position of powerlessness by the objective conditions created by monopolies in the economy. Capital is thus safe from insurrections.
But once that knowledge visits this exploited worker, and exercises him to levels where he challenges the bad status quo, then he becomes a class-for-itself, ready and determined to change his unhappy lot through struggles and structural changes in the society in which he survives. Modern capitalism employs professors to generate such necessary illusions!
Kudos to President and Dr Nzenza
I must pay tribute to Dr Nzenza, the Minister of Industry and Commerce. She told ZimInd that Zimbabwe needs more manufacturers, particularly along agricultural value chains so the food production sector is more diversified and therefore more competitive. It was interesting that she spoke highly of Belarus and Nigeria, both non-traditional sources of investment capital.
Setting up shop means by such non-traditional capital means breaking existing monopolies. Equally, the President has been courting companies from UAE intent on joining the food manufacturing sector. Above all, he has been exhorting our farmers to now gear themselves to move from country to city as manufacturers or, better still, to set manufacturing units at farms.
That way we begin to change the structure of this heavily distorted market, thereby breaking the pricing instability we have grappled with since Independence.
Hoping for miracles and born-again capitalists
Government should begin to set up market-friendly instruments for funding and attracting new producers, preferably from non-traditional investment markets, including from here, among us, the indigenous horde until now historically defined and fated as whimpering consumers, historically defined as a class-in-itself and not a class-for-itself. This is where venture capital fund which the President mooted, and the programme of rural industrialisation, come in.
This sterile debate in which bare principles of economics and accounting are mouthed, with little regard to basic realities on the received market structure, must not be allowed to distract us. You don’t need rocket science to know that there is no perfect market here where laws of demand and supply operate in self-checking mode, whether in the realm of real economy or financial/currency markets.
Much worse, the same entities which have created current distortions, even withholding product to force their way, are the same entities which define buyers and sellers in those same markets goods or currencies are exchanged or floated respectively. Is the hope that they will be born-again, merely because of this bookish practice called floating, given entrenched imperfect conditions we have had from time immemorial? This is the entrapment I am alluding to.
Hoping for a god from a machine!
Here is my parting shot. Strangely, indigenous consumers confront Government when they are hit by volatile prices in supermarkets run by monopoly distributors. Yet they know very well Government runs not a single supermarket. If anything, Government runs a currency auction whose benefits are being intercepted by these monopolies before reaching the consumer!
The call is that Government must use laws and policies to protect the consumer. When that is done, as happened on May 7 and after, the same hard-pressed consumer pouts book economics to attack the same Government! Which in essence means to defend the same monopolies which squeeze him a thousand times over, in spite of facilitation by Government through access to affordable capital.
How then do we create a class or race FOR itself, in circumstances of such fragmented thinking and animated false consciousness? And when you call forth cheap technologies that make the African underdog get into manufacturing – raise possibilities of acquiring capital goods for manufacturing – the response is: we can’t all be oil expressors! Goodness me!
The same answer you get when you challenge us to grow our food, inviting a retort of indolence: we can’t all be farmers! Until and unless we accept monopolies are no saviours, we will continue to hope for some deus ex machina, a saving god from a machine. Not even fiction provides such a god. Much less the dismal science we call Economics! Let me get back to my stable; I have brayed enough.