Niger and the African seething

This post was originally written in Italian the august 6th 2023. Few days are past, but some subsequent events deserve to be reported. ECOWAS countries aligned to the West imperialistic interests have too much concern to put in practice their military threat to the Niger to re-establishes the democratic order, so a government aligned to the West powers. We saw squares and streets demonstration in Senegal and Nigeria against the ECOWAS military threat and solidarity and mobilization from Mali and Burkina Faso. Mrs Nuland went in mission in Niger and she had to report the US attempt to negotiate with Niger’s new leadership failed: the West cannot lose the control of the Niger, but a direct military initiative for sure will be putting the fuel to the fire and quicken the region’s inflame, and possibly force the youthful exploited masses of the area into wider mobilization. In Europe we do not see any solidarity action against the West’s continued plundering of Africa continent. We are aware of this and would not have expected otherwise, but the West weakness to grab the Sahel and the Niger is the other side of the deep long crisis of a mode of production is causing the crumbling of all capitalistic relationship, included the capability of the mode of production to attract the human being and the laborers to the commodity and value, like the sunflowers to the sun.

What is happening in Niger, among neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and the whole Sahel area?

In Western newspapers, we learn that there has been a new coup d’état led by a junta of soldiers commanding the Presidential Guard of the Niger Army. But then the images aired on all TV channels show us popular demonstrations in support of the ‘coup d’état’, not only that, but that the demonstrators are raising placards condemning France and praising Putin. The Western media spotlight is turned on Africa commenting on the events with serious concern. Meanwhile, in Niamey there is a general stampede of French, Italian and European foreign civilians in Niger, while the US, French and Italian military forces on mission barricade themselves in their respective military bases in the country. The US, which has increased the number of its military bases in Africa tenfold since the Obama years (at least a dozen concentrated in the Sahel region and six in Niger), fears losing its best and last outpost in West Africa.

So let us try to understand it better, without hiding behind a finger, and immediately say that the exultation of the masses of oppressed and exploited Africans is a further sign of the destabilization phase of the mode of production at West hegemony, otherwise known as: the revolution is proceeding its unstoppable course.

This coup d’état by an elite unit of the Niger Army – of which many commanders and members of the new military junta were trained by the US Army’s Special Operations Command at Air Force Base 201 or at Fort Benning in Georgia – is part of the same process characterized by the sudden events of the past year in neighboring Burkina Faso and Mali. Events punctuated by that unexpected X-factor: the immediate popular mobilization in the streets in support of the handful of soldiers who had just seized power without firing a shot, the storming of shops, attacks on French diplomatic offices and, as also broadcast by the Italian media, the Niger square demands that all Western military forces – not just those of France – leave the country, shouting against Macron, storming the French Embassy building on which they hoist the Russian flag.

A little over two and a half years ago (February 2021), when the Italian Ambassador, Luca Attanasio in the People’s Republic of Congo was killed during a humanitarian mission, this blog picked up on an article by Michele Castaldo that emphasized how a stony silence had fallen over the renewed plundering of the African continent by Western powers [see here]. A stony silence that continued when the most massive joint military operation by France and Italy started in the Sahel in March 2021 [see here]: Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad. That is to say, the acceleration of the ‘informal’ war of robbery and occupation, carried out in the region and in central Africa by France, Italy and the United States first and foremost, in continuity with the US military aggression at the time of the Obama presidency in Libya and Somalia, went completely unnoticed.

In contrast to the West and China itself, Africa is a continent in strong demographic growth and with an acceleration of urbanization processes that follows a growth in productivity and GDP, which although uneven and slowed compared to that recorded in the 2000-2010 decade, confirms the productive potential of much of the continent. A growth driven by the three main African economies-South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria-which become the flywheel, respectively, for the regions of the Horn of Africa and Ethiopia, for the area of the former British and French colonies in West Africa and for part of Central Africa (Congo and Kenya). So an opportunity for capitals valorization dictated by the growth in volumes of demand for goods and machinery in various areas of the African continent. While in other areas, African liberation from imperialist colonialism has been succeeded only by the barbarity of debt and/or credit restructuring plans imposed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which have opened up a disruptive social and economic dynamic, manifesting the dramatic failure of the real exit from colonial oppression and imperialist domination. An open wound whose determined pus is represented by ethnic wars and the emergence of those local economic syndicates-represented also in part by sub-Saharan Jihadism-that do not go beyond the expression of corporate capitalist interests.

And it is in this most fragile band represented by the 5 Sahel states that France, Italy, EU and the US had initiated their strategy tending to realize a trojan horse for the resumption of the most ironclad control of the continent disputed by China: the military missions to combat the emergence of Jihadist formations. The actual objectives needless to say are essentially three:

Africa’s raw materials, which are abundant even in the most depressed areas (rare metals, gold, uranium, oil-recently discovered in Mali);

appropriating the fertile lands of Central Africa and the sub-Saharan belt, transforming the savannah countryside into an intensive agro-intensive inducement to supply the new biomass-based power plants being planned (agro-hubs), which will cover the growth in electricity demand that Africa’s increased productivity capacity requires; an energy, therefore, “clean” and “de-carbonized,” but decidedly rapacious, which will quickly, we are sure, compromise the fertility of the Sahelian savannah soil forever compromising the possibility of cultivation through local seeds;

govern the new African slave trade through the network of European and Italian NGOs that proliferate in the Sahel region, and which finds a main junction along the route through Agadez in central Niger that connects Nigeria and West Africa with Algeria and Libya by crossing Niger and the Sahel.

In essence, a military presence that becomes necessary to overcome competition from multinational corporations from China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and India that have joined the West in the new historical form of African colonialism and plunder: the land grabbing. This is a phenomenon that has been steadily progressing since 2008, where representatives of local interests or rulers set up by foreign economic powers lease thousands of hectares to foreign multinationals at an average cost of 2 euros a year per hectare of land, which in order to make a profit exploit the resources of the land to the maximum. Already, it was estimated that in 2016 there were at least 20 million hectares taken by expropriation from local African populations through some 456 leases with durations ranging from 70 to 99 years. The historical law of value production can only be unequal: surplus populations are evicted by the new masters or are forced to leave the lands where they live because they have been turned into dumps by agribusiness and migrate to urban centers; intensive agricultural production is for export to meet the food consumption of rich countries or for mass production of biofuels while Africa’s food self-sufficiency regresses and soil fertility, biodiversity and the environment are compromised.

Certainly the Sahel nations are among the most economically fragile and therefore most exposed to the effects of the social disintegration triggered by the devastating IMF debt restructuring plans of the 1990s. At the helm of the various governments were certainly representatives of economic consortiums who could only align themselves with the neo-colonial offensive in Africa and be bought off with pennies from the West, but without ever getting in return any material ability to curb the decomposition of those unitary states wide factors resulting from colonialism and post-colonialism. How long could this true descent into the underworld last for sub-Saharan Africa?

Recent events show that the peoples of the Sahel have begun to smell that Western mentorship in fighting Jihadist formations is worse medicine than evil, it is precisely that useful Trojan horse for their neo-colonial re-subjugation, which becomes increasingly urgent as Africa risks getting out of hand for the West itself precisely because of a general value crisis that exposes it to competition with the East, China and highlights its decline.

In fact, not even a year after the coordinated France-Italy launch of the barkhane military operation in the Sahel, from Guinea and especially Mali and Burkina Faso, a rapid take kicking of the Europeans has begun, which is being carried out through the only possible means given the material conditions of departure and the nullity of the workers’ movement in the West: a military coup by a few infantry battalions, but with the widespread and active support of very large sections of the working populations of the cities and countryside, whose misery and exploitation combined with the potential of Africa’s productive growth is precipitating a renewed growing anti-French and anti neo-colonial tout court sentiment.

In late January 2022, Mali’s military government expels the French ambassador with a 72 hours’ notice, and shortly thereafter in February, French troops who have been present since 2013 without interruption are forced to leave the country. This all takes place with continuous popular anti-French demonstrations. On Sept. 30, 2022, an unknown Captain of an artillery battalion of the Burkina Faso Army, 34-year-old Ibrahim Traoré, dismisses the incumbent president and assumes power in the new Transitional Government, he denounces France’s military presence and the neo-colonial interests in West Africa, and he breaks bilateral military cooperation agreements with the France, which will finally be forced to withdraw its troops permanently in February 2023. And now the Niger. In each of these moments, the streets were filled with protesters and anti-French sentiment and widespread militant support for the military juntas that came to power.

This is the extraordinary fact of historical significance: since 1990-91, only 32 years have passed, less than the age of the young commander mentioned above, and the West is in the doldrums compared to Desert Storm, of when it was able to queue up its claims under the UN flags and carry out that infamous massacre in Iraq. Times have dramatically changed and the West in addition to blathering threats feels the ground is missing under its feet. Not only is it no longer seen as the beacon of civilization and freedoms, but it is being kicked into the ass in the center of that continent that has been treated in a slave-like manner for centuries.

The cadence of events in an important strip of Africa that sees Western Europeans swamped in the desert dunes and savannah forest describes a dynamic that is anything but “coup-like” or one of clashing corporate economic interest groups for power. Behind every emblematic moment of this expulsions of Europeans from the Sahel there is a materiality of an irrepressible need that emerges from deep within: the potential for productivity growth in Africa and the crisis of a monist mode of production and its global unitary chain that weakens the West and confronts Europe with its swan song. This recent development of Africa requires machinery to develop the processing of its rich resources, and the West no longer produces them of its own, because in order to remedy the long value crisis it has had to relocate major productions in Asia and in China, so the African masses out of necessity are driven to look toward the East and the China to develop the market economy and feed their mouths. The poor and working masses, rural and urban have cell phones but they have problems of subsistence, protection from social disintegration as an effect of post-colonial bankruptcy and do not want to be dispossessed from their lands to give way to the munificent projects of foreign multinational corporations. The new technologies used for the development of mobile networks, internet and digital infrastructure, which are necessary for the circulation of value and business development within the global value production chain, are predominantly made in China and made in India, it is corporations such as Huawei and Tata Telecommunications that undermine the European, British and North American multinational TLC giants. It is therefore no coincidence that even the most corporate bourgeois interests are attracted by a deep-seated motion to betray Western allies out of necessity. The U.S. has invested more than $500 million since 2012 in Niger for so-called “security,” little and insufficient to win the loyalty of that handful of Niger Army officers now dragged into the vortex of the Sahelian rebel movement.

Many countries in Africa, particularly South Africa, had already made it abundantly clear that they had no intention of siding with the West against Russia and remaining neutral in the war waged in Ukraine (in votes on UN resolutions and in the unsuccessful Blinken’s mission in Africa the past summer), because the commodity the West produces, because of the crisis, is reduced to a logo or marketing slogan. On the other hand, Africa has never known colonialism on the Russian side, and popular mobilizations in the Sahel look at it with a completely different gaze than in the last century.

It seems clear, therefore, that calling the military’s seizure of power in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger with popular support a “coup d’état” is a far cry from Western-directed and organized coups d’état, and those who advance this thesis do so out of Eurocentric opportunism condescending to imperialism at home. That then the democratic fairy tale is also given to the remnants of the left that was, well, whatever, fools they were before and remain so. There have even been leftist “important theorists” who called the Russian Revolution of 1917 a “Coup d’Etat” as well. Conversely, extraordinary popular mobilization supports the current military juntas precisely because they have deposed “democratically” elected presidents, that is, put there in power by Western economic potentates.

We are witnessing a general African seething, which will not be able to consolidate in the wake of the pan-Africanism of the 1960s, that is, from the perspective of developing value production and equitable exchange relations among African nations. That historical possibility was definitely defeated in Lumumba’s time in an ascendant phase of the worldwide accumulation and of the global market, it cannot find a place today when the world crisis begins to bite even China and the East. Its re-emergence out of time is the other side of the general crisis of a unitary mode of production, weakening the West as it looks at itself reflected through the mirror of Sahelian events and confronts its own weakness and inexorable decline. If in this material reflex, the working masses of Africa and the Sahel look to Russia, this precisely is because the West has less and less ability to achieve the combined and predatory exchange relationship useful in tying pro domo propria the fragmented capitalist African indigenous interests.

It is the process of the revolution on the march still with confusing connotations – and it could not be otherwise – that is sweeping through the Sahel and threatening to infect the continent: a process that originates from deep root causes and that also begins to determine those personalities of the history that become a reflex agent of the need to call into the question the relationship between a mode of production and the resources of the nature and the relations of exchange with other peoples from the point of view of the needs of the Africa development and its exploited working masses. This can only take place along the groove determined by the historical past and the material conditions of today.

A few days ago Ibrahim Traoré, president of Burkina Faso, from the audience of the Russia Africa Summit in St. Petersburg, addressing the entire African continent, noted that “my generation is asking a thousand and one questions. But we do not find an answer.” Why is it, the young new president asks, that the African continent, although rich in every good thing, remains the poorest continent and the one that suffers the most from hunger? Why is it that the countries on the African continent fail to achieve that on-the-spot transformation of raw materials that Africa possesses, proving incapable of achieving those solidarity relationships and being self-sufficient and independent from the imperialism?

It is a short seven-minute speech that is already spreading across Africa inflaming new generations because it called into question the unbroken imperialist domination of much of the continent and the collusion with it of the leadership of African states:

«My generation has instructed me to tell you that because of poverty, they are forced to cross the sea to reach Europe. They die in the sea, but soon they will no longer cross the sea but will come to our palaces in Africa to claim their daily livelihood…The real big problem is to see our African heads of state, who bring nothing to their struggling peoples, singing the same music as the imperialists. Our African heads of state must stop acting like puppets..»

On closer inspection, the motion of rebellion against the West brings to the plate the heart of the historical question: imperialism has succeeded in continuing the plunder of Africa because in the continuous expansion phase of the accumulation of value has allowed it to buy the formation of local emerging economic interests, which have sold their natural resources and granted the exploitation of Africa’s raw materials. The general crisis of accumulation is undermining this welding, and the exploited Africans are looking to Russia not for its Soviet past, but for present-day Russia, which is placed in the necessary condition of being anti-Western in order not to back down in the capitalist development achieved to a mere commodity-producing nation, and thus as an advocate of a decidedly improbable multipolar capitalism.

In fact, President Putin appeared patently uncomfortable with the sharp denunciation pronounced by the young Burkinabe leader against the representatives of African economic and political powers toward whom Russia presents itself as an attractive pole of capitalist multipolarism. It is about the impersonal role it is forced to play, because Russia needs to export the raw materials it produces to Africa to strengthen its own accumulation of value, and as a modern capitalist nation it is interested in business.

In essence, if Europe and the West, after draining an entire continent for hundreds of years, in order to compete with China in the contest of plundering Africa’s raw materials and using cheap African labor imported through immigration are forced to deploy their own military forces to counterbalance the financial penetration of China (which alone has reached an investment quota that exceeds that of the United States and France combined), Russia as a modern capitalist nation can only enforce to its advantage the law of unequal exchange between commodity-producing countries, which precisely the land grabbing granted to the West and China by compliant African governments is favoring it.

One only has to read the agendas and those contents discussed by the bilateral Summits or Forums with African countries organized and wanted by the United States, China, the European Union and Russia to deduce how the laws of a monist and impersonal world mode of production determine the relationships and relations of different type of domination and force towards Africa by the aforementioned major players: the first three around the exploitation of land, investment in major works, land grabbing and immigration; the fourth about the exchange of their respective commodity productions, with the “coup” states also asking for those military aids that are needed to protect the integrity of the local capitalist market so as not to expose themselves to Western military occupation.

So much so that the Russian government had already distanced itself from the latest so-called military coup in Niger, also pronouncing itself for the defense of the rule of law and respect for the constitutional order, increasingly isolating the increasingly less free Wagner group-after its “mutiny” a few weeks ago-which, in order to assert its corporate and “store” interests, is playing with the fire of the maelstrom of rebellion of a new generation of Africans against neo-colonialism. While China remains silent hoping for a quick “normalization” of the political situation in the whole area. [Note 1]

The events of these days, therefore, can only make us say without any concern the ongoing ouster of all Western forces from the Sahel as a practical moment of the Revolution on the march. We are not certain that the governments of the ECOWAS nations of West Africa, aligned with the vital interests of the former colonialist brigands (of France and Britain) and the West will be pushed to intervene in Niger through proxies; if they do so it would be a new and further war of aggression by the West against the whole of Africa to contain the African seething and the horizons of revolution that are beginning to emerge confused and chaotic from Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. With what certain favorable implications for the West is rather doubtful.

Communism as a historical necessity will only emerge through the folds of the general chaos of an unstoppable crisis: the awakening of the African continent’s rebellion against the combined and unequal order of world capitalism is in itself a decisive moment in this revolutionary process, which is given in discontinuous waves and becomes a nightmare for the supporters of the capitalist mode of production and will make even sorcerer’s apprentices burn their hands.

[Note 1]

History has a spoken language and a “dumb” language, that is, of what is not said for deep-seated reasons: we want to refer to the silence on China by the people of the Sahel contrary to their sympathies toward Putin’s Russia. African countries are also paying at this stage the price of the plundering done by China’s encroachment with its development rates of the past 40 years. So much so that China in recent years has been making several bilateral agreements with various African countries to import cheap labor for large Chinese manufacturing and thus reduce the value of the average Chinese wage. At the same time, Africa in recent decades is witnessing an opposing Chinese immigration made up of entrepreneurs, traders and workers linked to the infrastructure projects needed for the stated purpose of relocating some of the Chinese manufacturing precisely to East Africa. In Luanda, many Angolan workers believe that Chinese laborers are used as forced labor, but despite this they see work being done in record time, including the complete rebuilding of the rail lines. In a short time, African workers and laborers imported from China completely renovate the railway lines that connect the various East African ports together, lines that still date from colonial and early 20th century times. All this generates that “allure all of its own” of the paroxysmal development of industrialism. And young East Africans look upon the Chinese as “exploiters,” “swindlers,” but “still better than the Europeans who have only wreaked havoc.”

The causality of motion (La causalità del moto) – Roma 6 agosto 2023.


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