Category Archives: News

A decolonial view of the war in Ukraine

Sandew Hira, The Hague 25-2-2022

Introduction

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is world news. The analysis in the Westernized media (this includes media in the global South that copies the news from Western media) is overwhelmingly biased. This analysis provides a decolonial lens of the news. The decolonial characteristics of the analysis entails two points:

  1. The link between the Russian invasion and the decolonial concept of a new world civilization.
  2. The analysis of how our mind is being colonized by the media and how to decolonize our mind.

The rise and fall of Western imperial power

A Eurocentric view of world history lies in the concept of “modernity”. According to this view world history moves from backwardness to modernity. In economics the world went through the phase of hunting and gathering to the modern industrial society. In social relations humankind has freed itself from social constraints to enjoy individual liberties. In politics despotism is replaced by parliamentary democracy. In culture religious superstition is substituted by scientific knowledge. Since 1492 a new world was created in which Western Europe took the lead in uplifting mankind from barbarism. In the 17th and 18th century Spain and Portugal were the leaders of the Western world. Everyone who lived in this era associated Spain and Portugal with imperial power. When an intellectual from the establishment of these countries in those time spoke (they were Christian theologians), their words automatically carried weight, because they spoke with the imperial backing behind them. Now if an intellectual from the establishment of Spain or Portugal speaks, it does not automatically carry weight, because it is not linked to imperial power. The imperial power shifted during the centuries from Spain and Portugal to the Netherlands/Belgium, France and Britain.

In the 20th century the US took over the role of the imperial power in the world, especially after World War II. It ensured that a global economic system came into place that enabled to control the world economic through financial institutions ad the World Bank, IMF and the SWIFT payment system. It established 800 military bases across the world.

The concept of a world civilization

The current world order is not just the totality of political institutions. It is a world civilization. A civilization is a collection of economic, social, political and cultural institutions in a geographical region with a common cultural base. The common cultural base is a combination of a variety of elements: language, religion, cosmology, knowledge production etc. Colonialism has created a world society that did not exist before. Every place on the planet is now connected to any other place through transportation (land, sea, air) and communication (print, audio, video, digital). This connection was made by brutal force and not with the consent of the majority of the world population.

The cultural basis of this civilization was developed during the European Enlightenment. The new world created by the Enlightenment was the end phase of world history. Its philosophical foundation was liberalism. As German philosopher Georg Hegel (1770-1831) puts is: “World history has arisen in the southeast, and it has subsided into itself to the northwest.” Europe is the pinnacle of human history, the end of history, or as Hegel puts it: “the last stage in History, our world, our own time.” History has come to an end with the rise of European modernity. The cultural basis was universal, not pluriversal. Its knowledge production was based on university: one narrative from Europe that holds for everyone in the world.

The European Enlightenment produced two major philosophies of liberation: Liberalism and Marxism. The were linked to two economic and political system: capitalism and socialism. The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought Marxism as a major force in directing world history. During the Cold War world was divided between two major blocs: the socialist led by the Soviet Union and the capitalist bloc led by the US. The demise of the Soviet bloc with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 signalled a new era.

The West claimed a final victory. The claim of the end of history was repeated in 1989, Almost 160 years later after Hegel the Japanese American conservative Francis Fukuyama put forward the claim of the end of history after the fall of the Berlin Wall: “What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government…. there are powerful reasons for believing that it is the ideal that will govern the material world in the long run.”

This triumphalism would not last long. In 1978 China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping started its economic reforms with the introduction of market reform under the leadership of the state and the Communist Party. Within 40 years it transformed China from an underdeveloped agricultural country into one the most advanced industrial countries. In 40 years it uplifted 800 million people from absolute poverty. This has never been done in the history of mankind. It is changing the word order.

Five hundred years of Western colonization is coming to a end. And China is taking the lead in shaping a new world. The narrative behind this lead is not a political narrative based on the European Enlightenment. It is a civilization narrative, the places China in the context of the resurrection of an ancient civilization that goes back 2,000 years ago. The challenge of the supremacy of Western civilization comes from other regions in the world. The Islamic revolution of 1979 in Iran was rooted in the Islamic civilization. In 2006 the first Aymara president came to power in Bolivia with reference to the resurgence of the indigenous civilizations of the Americas and the end to the historic era of colonization.

The narrative of the Russian revolution was rooted in the European Enlightenment, more specifically in the ideological school of Marxism. After the demise of the Soviet Union the legal heir of the Soviet Union tried to become part of the Western bloc. Together with the West it supported Iraq under Saddam Hussein in trying to roll back the Iranian revolution in the bloody Iraq-Iran war that lasted from 1980-1988. With the Soviet Union gone, it was logical for the military bloc of NATO to dissolve, because there was not Soviet threat anymore. But it did not. Russia asked to join NATO, but NATO refused. Russia was promised by NATO that it would not allow countries from the former Soviet bloc to join NATO. In the negotiations between George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990 Gorbachev had agreed to let go of East Germany, under the condition that NATO would not move “an inch to the East’’. NATO violated that promise and allowed membership of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia in 2004, and Albania and Croatia in 2009. With each expansion the military infrastructure of NATO is encircling Russia. Furthermore, in 2001 America withdrew from the Anti Ballistic Missile Treaty. This treaty was concluded in 1972 between the Soviet Union and the US. It is an arms control treaty on the limitation of the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems carrying nuclear weapons. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Russia became a partner in the treaty. With the withdrawal the US gave a signal to Russia that the encirclement of Russia was free of the limitations for using nuclear weapons.

There are two reasons for this policy.

First, NATO is still stuck in the cold war mentality. Russia is now a capitalist country, just like the US and unlike China where the Communist Part leads the economic development. But the West still regards Russia as a threat to its hegemony and wants to subdue Russia, rather than acknowledge her as a equal party in the Western bloc. This arrogance pushed Russia in the opposite direction, away from the West.

Second, since the start of western colonization its military might was the main instrument in enforcing its domination. NATO is not only against the former Soviet threat. It is the military cornerstone of Western domination in the world. Allowing a strong party as Russia into NATO could hamper the unchallenged drive led by the US for military interventions across the world.

Confronted with the refusal of the West to have Russia as an equal partner in the world and frustrated by the Marxist-Leninist ideological legacy of the Soviet Union Russia developed its own view of the Russian society. According to Putin “Russia is not just a country, it’s really a separate civilization.” Separate means separate from the West.

The decline of the West is not only expressed in economic and cultural terms, but also in military term. The US lost the war in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria and is losing the proxy war together with Saudi Arabia in Yemen. Russia played a crucial role in defeating the US and it’s proxies in Syria. The NATO encirclement of Russia in Europe is a message that in the existing world order the West still has a military might to hold on to its imperial power.

The war in Ukraine

The war in Ukraine is the result of the above mentioned development. For centuries, Ukraine has been split between Russia, Poland and Austria and ever since Ukraine regained its independence in 1991, the country has been a fertile soil for interference by its neighboring powerhouses. This is partially because Ukraine has, throughout its post-soviet history, been a country divided by political, economic, religious and ethnolinguistic lines,” writes Chris de Ploeg in a well documented book on Ukraine. The Soviet military, and later the Russian military, has a naval base in Sevastopol in the Crimean peninsula. When Ukraine split from the Soviet Union it was still an ally of Russia. But in February 2014, the elected government of Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by a violent popular mobilization of Ukrainian nationalists (the Maidan uprising) led by forces from the extreme right including the Nazi’s who still have a large following in Ukraine. They were supported financially and politically by the West, as Chris de Ploeg has documented extensively. Ukraine is a multi-ethnic society with Ukrainians, Russians, Bulgarians etc. Some 30% of the population speaks Russian. In 2012, a new law on regional languages entitles any local language spoken by at least a 10 percent minority be declared official within that area. As soon as the nationalists came to power in February 2014 they tried to repeal that law and acknowledge only Ukraine as the state language everywhere.  The Russian speaking population in the Donbass and Crimea felt the brunt of the ultra nationalist forces ruling the country. In Crimea with 80% Russian speakers a referendum was held in March 2014 on whether Crimea wanted to join Russia as a federal subject, or if they wanted to be a part of Ukraine. The results were overwhelming: 97% of the voters wanted to join Russia with a turnout of 83 percent. In the Donbass region of Ukraine (mostly Russian speakers), especially in  Donetsk and Luhansk, the population began to organize against the ultra-nationalists. The Ukrainian army began to shell these regions which brought the Donbass war in full swing since 2014. In February 2015 an agreement was signed between Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany (the so called Minsk agreement) that should ensure a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, constitutional reform in Ukraine granting self-government to certain areas of Donbas and restoring control of the state border to the Ukrainian government. Ukraine ignored the agreement.

In 2019 the hot headed former actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky came to power in presidential elections. He actively sough NATO support to stand up against Russia and regain Crimean. If Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, and provokes a war to regain Crimea, this would inevitable draw NATO into an armed conflict with Russia. Article 5 of the NATO charter stipulates that an armed attack against any member state, whether in Europe or North America, is regarded as an attack against all 30 members of the organization.

Zelensky’s pressure to become a member of NATO is an existential threat to Russia, because a war with NATO will be a nuclear war. But that is also a problem for NATO, because a nuclear war has no victors. Since 2014 Russia has tried to reach an agreement with the West to prevent the expansion of NATO to the east and implement the Minsk agreement to ensure a peaceful coexistence between the different ethnic groups. Zelensky now engaged in a gamble. He increased pressure for membership of NATO and went full ahead with the war in the Donbass. He counted on all the political and moral support he was getting from the West for a situation in which a Russian invasion would lead to military support of NATO. In the propaganda war against Russia he seemed to be the golden boy in the rhetoric’s of the West, despite the repeated declarations of Western leader that the only measures they are contemplating was not military support, but economic sanctions. But Zelensky ardently hoped that when the time was there that the Russians would invade Ukraine, the West would change its mind. But when the time came, he saw that his gamble failed. After the invasion Zelensky said he had reached out to “partners” in the West to tell them that Ukraine’s fate was at stake. “I asked them – are you with us?” Zelensky said. “They answered that they are with us, but they don’t want to take us into the alliance. I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe, if Ukraine will be in NATO, I’ve asked them directly – all are afraid and did not respond. We were left by ourselves. Who is ready to go to war for us? Honestly, I don’t see anybody. Who is ready to give Ukraine guarantees of NATO membership? Honestly, everybody is afraid.”

Putin had made it clear. Russia would destroy all military installation that poses a threat to the country, and was prepared to use nuclear weapons in case of a NATO response. And NATO now turns out to be a paper tiger. All speeches about hard repercussions excluded a military response. It is all about economic sanctions, even to the level of comedy. The West promised to hit Putin and his Foreign Minister Lavrov very hard, by freezing their foreign assets. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova stated that neither Putin nor Lavrov have any assets outside Russia. For the West it does matter anyway. They are going to freeze non-existent assets.

Decolonizing The Mind and the fight for a new world civilization

To cover up for its military impotence the West has setup an intensive media campaign not to inform the world, but to mobilize popular sentiments against Russia with mechanisms for colonizing the mind. The first mechanism is disinformation. You will not see the analysis and facts provided here in the mainstream Western media, so an average person bases his/her opinion on limited and pre-selected facts. Western media don’t abide by the journalistic principle of giving equal time to all sides of the story. Western media present small pieces of information from the Russian perspective and seldom the whole picture and never with the same intensity as they do with NATO leaders.

The second mechanism is to turn the victim into a perpetrator and vice versa. As usual the conflict between Russia and the West is portrayed as a conflict good and evil and Putin is the personification of evil. Implicitly Western leaders are the personification of good. This mechanism was used in the start of Western colonization when the Indigenous people were portrayed as evil creatures without a head and eyes on their chest. In every conflict between the colonizer and the colonized the colonizer is present as good and its adversaries as evil. In the case of Ukraine the horrors of war of the Ukrainian population is shows in all its horrific details, but the victims in the Donbass don’t get the same coverage.

The third mechanism is to turn a defeat into a victory. Russia effectively defeated the NAT bluff and destroyed its military infrastructure in Ukraine in less than 24 hours. The endless repetition of how devastating economic sanctions, including the threat of freezing non-existing assets, will be for Russia is the cover up for this defeat and is presented as the voice of a powerful empire.

The fourth mechanism is implementing intimidation for those who oppose Western imperialism. If your are not for me, than you are for Putin. And as Putin is evil so you are also evil. And evil person should be dealt with.

The role of social movements

Before the fall of the Soviet the world had a strong anti-imperialist movement. After the fall social movements went in search for new theories of liberation. Many movements are looking towards theories that emphasize individual liberation, rather than social liberation. It has weakened the anti-imperialist movement.

Now is the time to build new social movements that deal with major economic, social, political and cultural problem. The decline of the Western civilization is full with perils of devastating wars. World War III always looms around the corner with any conflict in the world. The world needs a social movement that is focussed on the issue of peace and a new world civilization based on pluriformity. A movement that says “NO!” to all wars, not just the war in Ukraine. We have a long way to go before this movement matures, but as a Chinese philosopher once said: a journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.

Note

This analysis is based on chapter 8 of my forthcoming book: Decolonizing The Mind. Imagining a new world civilization.

Islamophobia conference 11 and 12 December 2021

On 11 and 12 December 2021, IHRC and DIN organize the Islamophobia conference of 2021 that will address the questions posed by Muslim participation in civic and political life in the so-called ‘West,’ including countries like the UK, the US, the European Union, Australia and Canada. See for the program: https://www.ihrc.org.uk/activities/events/31525-working-with-the-westernised-establishment-yes-no-maybe/.

A decolonial history app from DIN

The DIN Foundation has developed a policy for the future that will focus on the following topics:

  • Develop decolonial theory as an instrument of change, and not only as an instrument of critique.
  • Develop and educational infrastructure for decolonial education.
  • Develop relations with a global network, and not limited to Europe.
  • Develop relations not only with academics and activists, but also with anti-imperialist movements with state power (institutions, networks in governments).

The Decolonial History App (DHA) is one of the projects that follows from this policy. It will enable us to reach tens of thousands if not millions of people (especially young people) with an popular educational instrument: the decolonial history app.

The DHA is a free mobile app that will be available in Google playstore and Apple store. It will be known as the decolonial history app and will be a product of the DIN Foundation.

The key features of the app are:

  • When you open the app, you see the date of today and a list of events that happened x year ago on this day or biographical information of people (born or died that day, went to prison or was released etc).
  • Click on the event or bio and you get information in 255 characters of what happened.
  • When an item is connected to other items via a timeline, then the timeline is shows in this screen.
  • An event description can be linked to sources: hyperlinks, videos, literature suggestions.
  • It also links to current events to commemoration an event or person.
  • The information can be presented in any language that is available in a translation software (Google Translate or DeepL Translate). A user can select a language in the app and the information is show via translation software in the chosen language, including non-European languages such as Chinese, Arabic, Japanese or Hindi.
  • There is a search function to search in keywords and description of events and bio’s.
  • There is game function for games like quizzes.

The app is targeting the following groups:

  • All people in the world who are interested in a decolonial view of history. Google gives 10 million hits with the keyword “Decolonize”. This is an active keyword meaning that there is some activity going on and somebody is involved. There is a huge decolonial movement. With this app The DIN Foundation can tap into these target group.
  • Young people from secondary school onwards up to the university who can use the app when they have to study the subject of history.
  • People who are engaged in social and political discussions and want to support their argument with historical information.

Here is a beta version of the app.

DIN wants to get researchers across the world involved in filling the app. Anyone who is interested in the app can start a conversation with DIN. Send an email to info@din.today and DIN will make an appointment for the conversation.

 

Belly and the beast: the war on Cuba

There is a new source of information about the Cuban revolution we should be all aware off: https://www.bellyofthebeastcuba.com/. Their website states: “The media landscape in Cuba is bleak. State-run outlets churn out propaganda while US-based journalism reinforces narratives propagated in Miami and DC. Some foreign media organizations try to find an “unbiased” happy medium, but the result is often false balance that obscures the context necessary to understand a country where every aspect of life is shaped by six decades of economic war waged by the world’s most powerful government.”

Their aim: “Through hard-hitting journalism and stunning cinematography we inform and inspire, opening eyes and hearts to a country with a unique past and a wide-open future.”

Watch their videos on the War on Cuba:

Season 1

https://youtu.be/z1mknIkBGUA Part 1 – 12 minutes

https://youtu.be/61hYxh9x61Y Part 2 – 12 minutes

https://youtu.be/_pNBp0n08ak Part 3 – 16 minutes

 

Season 2

https://youtu.be/CfPq6uUO7Og Part 4 – 21 minutes

https://youtu.be/WavOrU-g2E4 Part 5 – 21 minutes

https://youtu.be/uRxtVGeolu0 Part 6 – 22 minutes

 

Lecture/Dance Decolonizing The Mind

What happens when a decolonial thinker meets decolonial dancers, when decolonial pholosophy meets decolonial arts….. it blows your mind away!

Decolonizing The Mind is a philosophy of liberation. Decolonial arts transforms entertainment in education and empowerment. Sandew Hira, secretary of the DIN Foundation combines a lecture on decolonial theory with dances performances of the Amenti Theatre Company in a lecture/dance combination.

This lecture/dance is an experiment in the combination of philosophy and art. Is it possible for dancers to teach decolonial philosophy with movement and expression from the body? It is possible for a decolonial thinker to have a conversation with dancers in their respective languages?

Amenti Theatre Company and Sandew Hira will engage in a unique artistic experiment that might open the door in the future for merging art with philosophy.

How can art contribute to decolonizing the mind? Immersing the spectator with feelings, rather than intellectual words. A way to empathize and create a connection. Amenti invites Sandew Hira this evening. Sandew Hira, penname for Dew Baboeram, is a historian and writer who published 20 books. Currently, he is writing a book about decolonizing the mind.

Forthcoming: July 2022

 

During this evening we will go into a conversation with Sandew, through words and dance. We invite you to attend this evening to learn but also discuss topics related to the decolonizing of the mind. During our ‘conversation’ there is room for questions and remarks. We would like to make this evening interactive, knowledgeable and magical.

Date: Friday 26 November 2021

Start: 19.00 – 22.00 hr.

Location: ‘s-Gravendijkwal 58, 3014 EE Rotterdam

Entree: € 7,50

Order your ticket here: https://www.eversports.nl/e/event/xgcpqz4Ti

 

First interview with Sheikh Zakzaky after his release from prison

DIN has reported about the case of Sheikh Ibraheem Yaqoub El-Zakzaky and his wife Maillimah Zeenah who were arrested in 2015 after the Nigerian army massacred almost 400 Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. On July 28, 2021, Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court discharged and acquitted them of culpable homicide, and unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges for which they have been standing trial. In his first interview with Press TV he goes into this ordeal. See the interview here: https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1mnxedyVoLAJX?s=08.

We must choose : Permanent War or Revolutionary Peace !

Activists from different parts of the world have lanched a manifest on the 20th anniversay of 9/11. See the text here: https://blogs.mediapart.fr/manifeste-20-ans-apres-le-11-septembre/blog/110921/we-must-choose-permanent-war-or-revolutionary-peace.

When we remember 9/11 it is good to remember not only the second one, but also the first one: 9/11 in Chili: https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/1973-chile-coup-the-first-9-11-attack-allegedly-backed-by-the-usa.html

SHEIKH ZAKZAKY & MALLIMAH ZEENAH FREED

Ibraheem Yaqoub El-Zakzaky and his wife Maillimah Zeenah were arrested in 2015 after the Nigerian army massacred almost 400 Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. Sheikh al-Zakzaky, a leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, was injured and arrested along with his wife. The couple have nine children; six of them were murdered by the state. They were kept in state detention since 2015.

On 2 December 2016, they were ordered to be released from Department of State Services detention into police custody within 45 days. The judge announced that the justification of “holding him for his own protection” is not sufficient. He also ordered the state to pay $164,052 in compensation. The state refused to let them go.

In 2019, a court in Kaduna state granted him and his wife bail to seek treatment abroad but they returned from India after 3 days because of unfair treatment and restrictions by security services. Finally on July 28, 2021, Justice Gideon Kurada of the Kaduna State High Court discharged and acquitted them of culpable homicide, and unlawful assembly, among other criminal charges for which they have been standing trial since December 2018.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), a founding member of the Decolonial International Network Foundation, has been in de forefront of the campaign to free Zakzaky and Zeenah. Follow the campaign here.

Online Decolonial School January 10-14, 2022

From Januari 10-14, 2022, the Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues will organize an online international decolonial school: the South-South Decolonial Dialogues. The school aims to open a dialogue among different decolonial thinkers of the Global South. The school’s goal is to present different decolonial perspectives produced from the body-politics and geo-politics of knowledge of liberation struggles in the Global South. For this purpose, we have a group of decolonial intellectual/activists from different regions of the world that will participate as faculty of the decolonial school. They will cover different aspects of decoloniality with emphasis on their regional location.

Affiliated Faculty Members include: Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Houria Bouteldja, Ramón Grosfoguel, Faith Mkwesha, Sandew Hira, Ashraf Kunnummal, Dina Odessy.

Application: http://southsouthdialogues.dialogoglobal.com/

About the Center

Center of Study and Investigation for Decolonial Dialogues is a non-profit and non-governmental organization promoting research, knowledge-making, education (through seminars, workshops, exhibits, round-tables discussions, publications and video-making) and public policy to invent and work towards non-competitive horizons of life, of socio-economic organization and international relations. Non-profit and non-governmental organizations emerge from within civil and political society to address issues that are not supported or attended to by government and corporations. Their function is crucial in building futures that are beyond the regulations of States or the needs of the Corporations. In order for civil and political society to become relevant actors in social transformation and pointing out the limits of corporate values and state regulation, it is necessary to create institutions of knowledge-making not at the service of the state or corporations, but to the benefit of the civil society.