As the primeval urge of the Conservative Right to leave the European Union clashes with Liberal Europhilia it is worth dwelling on what it means to be an internationalist in the light of the present neocolonial military intervention of the French in Mali and Somalia.
While just under half Britain’s trade relates to the Euro area, and the Obama Administration send out smoke signals that the ‘special relationship’ hinges on Britain remaining a big player in Europe, increasingly the UK’s future lies with the growing superpowers of China, India, Brazil as well as African states, six of whom who are in the top ten fastest-growing economies in the world.
An international outlook therefore must look beyond a stagnating and troubled Eurozone to the rest of the world and nurture a plethora of special relationships with nations who do not reflect the physical image of Europeans.
One way not to foster such relationships is to indulge in neocolonial might-is-right escapades in a continent that used to be the ‘Third World’ but is rapidly pulling itself up by the bootstraps.
Mali and Somalia are not those countries – they remain mired in desperate poverty – yet they are connected to the rest of the continent of Africa.
Connected to nations on the rise who remember well the experience of brutal enslavement, colonialism and externally-sponsored coups. Nations who see their struggle for prosperity through the prism of overcoming debt enslavement, outrageously unfair trade tariffs and IMF-imposed pip-squeezing austerity to pay off interest on debts long since paid in full.
Today, as Britain’s chattering classes debate Europe the nations of Mali and Somalia – two regions of Africa with an amazingly rich history of advanced civilisations and wealth before the arrival of Europeans – now witness French air strikes and French soldiers on the ground.
Over the past five years France has also deployed armed helicopters to engage in action in Chad and the Central African Republic. There is now talk of Germany and even Britain intervening in Mali to eliminate Islamic forces alongside continued American drone strikes.
The disregard of the African Union speaks volumes about Europe’s assumptions about its’ right to kill whoever it wishes in nations it once oppressively ruled over while enjoying a hedonistic lifestyle.
This is not a Europe I want to be part of. Unlike some on the progressive wing I do not see internationalism as a byword for Europeanism or vice-versa.
And while the European social project has been a useful on various issues, from workers rights and health and safety, and has acted as a welcome break on the worst excesses of social vandalism whenever a Right-wing government is elected in the EU, gratitude should not tie us inexorably to an EU-handcart on its’ way to a sulphurous furnace.
From world trade to tackling the alarming environmental threats facing the planet, now more than ever progressives must turn their heads away from their own mirror image and instead view their futures from an astronaut’s perspective, gazing upon the whole earth. Its’ people one inter-dependent species hitching a ride on the most fragile of ecosystems.
With time running out the human race does not have the time to indulge in neo-Imperialism or protectionism against those of different cultures or shades of skin. Europe is certainly in no position to engage in white Christian crusades against Africans, either morally or economically.
An internationalism free of prejudice and notions of superiority not a narrow and backward Europeanism holds the key.
By Lester Holloway @brolezholloway