‘Leftist’ Achcar advising British neo-colonial warriors


This 9 July 2018 video says about itself:

France’s Macron Tells Africans to Just ‘Move on’ After a Century of Murderous Colonialism (Pt. 1/3)

France’s neoliberal President Emmanuel Macron has repeatedly told people in Nigeria, Algeria, and beyond to just “move on” after a century of murderous colonialism. Activist Baba Aye speaks with TRNN’s Ben Norton about the ongoing harms of imperialism and neo-colonialism in Africa.

This 9 July 2018 video says about itself:

Neo-Colonialism Still Binds and Exploits Africa for Corporate Profits (Pt. 2/3)

Activist Baba Aye continues his discussion with TRNN’s Ben Norton about French President Emmanuel Macron and the ongoing harms of colonialism and imperialism in Africa and the Global South.

This 9 July 2018 video says about itself:

How the Capitalist System Survives on Neo-Colonial and Imperial Exploitation (Pt. 3/3)

Activist Baba Aye concludes his interview with TRNN’s Ben Norton, discussing the ongoing harms of colonialism and imperialism in Africa and the Global South, and how they are an integral part of the capitalist system.

By Thomas Scripps in Britain:

Leading Pabloite Gilbert Achcar provided counter-insurgency advice to British Army

6 August 2019

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at least £400,000 since 2016 to provide “cultural advice” for its operations abroad. Lectures were delivered by eleven members of SOAS staff, including Gilbert Achcar, a leading representative of the Pabloite United Secretariat.

One of many organisations claiming to base themselves on Russian Leon Trotsky.

According to Freedom of Information requests obtained by SOAS students, the university designed Regional Study Weeks on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Sessions were attended by members of the military’s Defence Cultural Specialist Unit (DCSU).

See also here.

See also, more extensively, here.

The DCSU is a secretive formation, established in 2010 “in the spirit of counter-insurgency operations”, to provide support for British military deployments internationally. A 2013 Doctrine Note issued by the MoD explained the “need to develop and exploit specialists … who have a deep understanding of the language, customs, values and narratives of that culture” in order “to plan and execute military operations” and “identify threats and opportunities.”

By 2016, the DCSU had deployed 90 regular and reserve Cultural Advisors in at least 22 countries, including Chad, Nigeria, Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Chile. The unit’s trained advisors are described as having a “unique position” with a “central contribution” to Britain’s military footprint.

The topic of one of the sessions delivered at SOAS this February was “the war in the Sahel”, the region of Africa just south of the Sahara Desert. In 2018, Sir Richard Ottaway, former chair of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Select Committee, wrote that he had warned in 2014 of “a ‘worrying pattern of unsightedness’ on the part of the UK in relation to events in the Sahel region, and called for the urgent expansion of our presence and knowledge about the whole region.” He continued, “Most pressing in Africa, the UK must increase its diplomatic and security footprint on the ground …”

Last July, the British military deployed three helicopters and 120 soldiers to Northern Mali as part of a “pivot to the Sahel” strategic shift in Africa. This February, another 250 troops were deployed to the region.

SOAS’s deal with the MoD is further proof of the integration of the armed forces and the academy underway in the world’s major imperialist powers. Significant resources in higher education are being put at the service of the military and security apparatus. Above all, this process relies upon the co-option of a layer of academics into direct service to the state. Representatives of the various pseudo-left groups in this privileged petty-bourgeois milieu play a crucial role.

Achcar’s response to his exposure is unapologetic. He has defended his actions in an open letter, claiming that the SOAS lectures “are essentially about the history, politics and socio-economics of the region, provided by critical scholars to lower-ranking military personnel.” He continues, “it is important to let critical voices be heard, even among the military … Should we prefer that the military and security personnel of this country be solely exposed to right-wing education?”

References to “lower-ranking military personnel” and letting “critical voices be heard” are a transparent fraud. Achcar and his fellows are not giving insurgent lectures to privates in the infantry. They are offering advice to a highly specialised unit offering unique support to military operations in crucial geo-strategic theatres. DSCU training includes a course for one- and two-star

According to Wikipedia:

An officer of two-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-7. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, two-star officers hold the rank of rear admiral, counter admiral, major general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air vice-marshal.

The Thomas Scripps article continues:

and brigade headquarters staff. The unit’s cultural advisors consult with senior military commanders. The DCSU is identical in all essentials to the US Army’s Human Terrain System (2007-2014), criticised by the American Anthropological Association for being an “unacceptable application of anthropological expertise.”

The true explanation for Achcar’s intimate relationship with the state is rooted in his political tendency’s history. …

The anti-socialist politics of the Pabloites, coupled with extensive state infiltration, paved the way to ever-closer integration into the political structures of imperialist rule—including the state apparatus. This process finds consummate expression in Achcar, whose writings on the Middle East and Africa dovetail perfectly with the strategy of British and US imperialism and who has now been exposed as a paid adviser.

In 2011, Achcar supported UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorising an imperialist war of plunder against Libya, writing, “Here is a case where a population is truly in danger, and where there is no plausible alternative that could protect it … You can’t in the name of anti-imperialist principles oppose an action that will prevent the massacre of civilians.”

He went on to chide the imperialist powers for not dropping enough bombs on the Libyan population, describing airstrikes which killed tens of thousands as “low-key.” He demanded that more weapons be funneled to the anti-Gaddafi opposition, as “consistently and insistently requested” by them. This US-backed opposition, to which the United Secretariat extended “full solidarity,” was led by a reactionary collection of former government officials and Islamic fundamentalist tribal leaders.

Achcar was equally hawkish in support of imperialist intervention in Syria, participating in a 2011 meeting of the Syrian National Council, a collection of US and French intelligence assets. He advised the Syrian opposition to Bashar al-Assad—led by a collection of CIA-linked Islamic fundamentalist militias—to seek indirect assistance rather than direct intervention from Washington.

In 2013, he described analyses of imperialist interests and involvement in the region as a “kind of conspiracy theory among those that call themselves anti-imperialist and tend to see the hand of imperialism behind everything.” He lyingly claimed that America “refuses to deliver weapons to the insurgency despite insistent requests.”

In March 2018, with the regime-change operation failing, he joined demands for full-scale military intervention by the US and other imperialist powers via an open letter in the New York Review of Books, “Why the World Must Act Now on Syria.”

Over the bodies of hundreds of thousands of dead and two destroyed societies, Achcar continues his relentless advocating for imperialist wars. In July 2018, he hosted an “Inconsistent Anti-Imperialism and Selective Solidarity” event at SOAS to launch Rohini Hensman’s, Indefensible: Democracy, Counterrevolution, and the Rhetoric of Anti-Imperialism. Hensman’s book supports virtually every war or overseas operation launched by the Democratic Party since the Stalinist dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. It is a vitriolic attack on all serious opponents of imperialism, denouncing journalists John Pilger and Seymour Hersh, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and the World Socialist Web Site.

How closely Achcar’s writings align with the strategy of world imperialism is indicated by his recent prescriptions for Sudan, where he advocates a policy of orientation to the military for protesting workers and youth.

Achcar has claimed, “The main strength of the Sudanese revolutionaries is their great influence over the soldiers and the officials, some of which even used their weapons to defend the demonstrators … This factor will determine the fate of the Sudanese revolution.”

In an article for Jacobin magazine, he writes that the military has been “dissuaded” from “attempting to drown the revolution in blood.” And further, “The troops’ sympathizing with the popular movement was determining in leading the generals to get rid of Bashir. The most important thing now is for the movement to consolidate its support among the rank and file and lower-ranking officers of the armed forces.”

This is a thoroughly anti-Marxist position which seeks to replace the organisation of the working class into an independent revolutionary party with moral appeals to the armed guardians of the capitalist state. Given the experience of workers in Egypt in 2013, it is criminal advice. The same line was advanced by the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) in that country, to whose “Socialist Days” conference in 2011 Achcar was invited. RS helped to hand power to the butcher of the Egyptian revolution, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, even as he massacred protestors in the streets. Backed by the world’s imperialist powers, General el-Sisi established a bloody dictatorship which routinely executes political opponents.

Britain’s “pivot to the Sahel” will no doubt be accompanied by discussions on an equally bloody military crackdown in Sudan. The greatest obstacle to the predatory ambitions of the UK and the rest of the world’s imperialist powers is Africa’s increasingly militant working class. But as Egypt demonstrated in the negative, this immense social force can only triumph if it acquires and acts upon an international socialist perspective. Achcar works publicly against such a perspective to politically disarm the working class, while discussing with the forces of military repression in closed-door meetings organised by SOAS.

Any genuine socialist or even progressive organisation would have expelled Achcar immediately upon hearing of his dealings with the MoD. But the United Secretariat will not bat an eyelid at his giving paid advice to the military, which simply formalises a longstanding political relationship. … They have for years provided Achcar with a platform to strategise on behalf of the US government.

SOAS was founded in 1916 to promote the long-term interests of British imperialism in Africa and Asia by training a cadre of colonial administrators. Alumni include countless heads of state, diplomats and civil servants in the former colonial countries. Today, the same training is provided by leaders of the pseudo-left tendencies who are mortal enemies of the international working class.

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Weaver birds’ duet singing and brains


This video says about itself:

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver (Zimbabwe) building a nest. These noisy and social cuties were always around at Nakavango Conservation Centre. May 2015.

From the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Germany:

The brains of birds synchronize when they sing duets

Vocal control areas in the brain of weaver birds fire in time when they sing together

June 12, 2019

When a male or female white-browed sparrow-weaver begins its song, its partner joins in at a certain time. They duet with each other by singing in turn and precisely in tune. A team led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen used mobile transmitters to simultaneously record neural and acoustic signals from pairs of birds singing duets in their natural habitat. They found that the nerve cell activity in the brain of the singing bird changes and synchronizes with its partner when the partner begins to sing. The brains of both animals then essentially function as one, which leads to the perfect duet.

White-browed sparrow-weavers (Plocepasser mahali) live together in small groups in trees in southern and eastern Africa. Each bird has a roosting nest with an entrance and an exit. The dominant pair will have a breeding nest which is easily recognisable by the fact that one passage is closed to prevent eggs from falling out. In addition to the dominant pair, there are up to eight other birds in the group that help build nests and raise the young. All group members defend their territory against rival groups through duets of the dominant pair and choruses together with the helpers.

White-browed sparrow-weavers are one of the few bird species that sing in duet. It was assumed that some cognitive coordination between individuals was required to synchronise the syllables in the duet, however the underlying neuronal mechanisms of such coordination were unknown.

Miniature transmitters enable recording under natural conditions

“White-browed sparrow-weavers cannot develop their complex social structure in the laboratory. We were therefore only able to investigate the mechanisms of the duet singing in the natural habitat of the birds,” says Cornelia Voigt, one of the three lead authors of the study. Because of this, researchers and technicians at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen developed mobile microphone transmitters to record the singing in the wild. These weigh only 0.6 g and were attached to the bird like a backpack.

With another newly developed transmitter, weighing only 1 g, the scientists could also make a synchronous record of the brain activity in the birds while they were singing in their natural environment. An antenna placed near the birds’ tree recorded up to eight of these signals in parallel. With the help of an external sound card and a laptop, the singing and the brain signals were synchronously recorded with millisecond precision. “The technology we have developed must withstand the extreme conditions of the Kalahari Savannah in northern South Africa,” says Susanne Hoffmann, a scientist in the Department of Behavioural Neurobiology. “The electronics for recording the signals were stored in a car. During the day, it got so hot that the laptop almost began to glow. But the recordings all worked well, even when the birds and their transmitters were caught in one of the few downpours.”

Brain activity of the duetting birds synchronizes

Lisa Trost, also a scientist in the department, says: “Fortunately, the procedure for fixing the implants for neuronal measurements on the heads of the birds did not take long. After complete recovery, the respective bird was quickly returned to the group and did not lose its social status. All birds sang in the tree immediately after their return.” The researchers recorded almost 650 duets. In many cases, the males began with the song and the partner joined in after some introductory syllables. The syllables between the duetting pair followed each other without delay and in perfect coordination. The coordination was so precise that analysis showed only a 0.25s delay between the duetting partners’ singing bouts.

The singing of songbirds is controlled by a network of brain nuclei, the vocal control system. In one of these nuclei, the HVC, the call of the partner bird triggers a change in neuronal activity in the bird that began singing. This, in turn, affects its own singing. The result is a precise synchronization of the brain activity of both birds. “The rhythmic duet of the individuals is achieved through sensory information that comes from the partner,” says Manfred Gahr, who led the study. The brains of the partners form a network that functions like an extended circuit to organize the temporal pattern for the duet. The researchers suspect that similar mechanisms are also responsible for coordinating movement during social interactions in humans (e.g. dancing with a partner).

“Until now, this kind of study has only been performed in the laboratory. Measuring the activity of nerve cells in the field using wireless transmitters is much less stressful for the birds,” says Susanne Hoffmann. “We hope this study has laid the foundation for the further development of neuroethology.”

African teams at women’s football World Cup


This 31 May 2019 video says about itself:

Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa in high spirits ahead of FIFA Women’s World Cup

Africa’s representatives at the Women’s World cup are in high spirits ahead of kick off on June 7.

Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon have intensified preparations as show time looms.

Nigeria’s Super Falcons are optimistic about their strategies and tactics to top group A. With such determination South Korea, Norway and host nation France face a daunting challenge. ”He [the trainer] wants us to play in the 3-5-2 formation, I think that has been our best formation right now, I think it’s a great improvement for the team’‘, said Super Falcons’ captain, Evelyn Nwabuoku.

New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands also face a hurdle with Cameroon.

Known as the Indomitable Lionesses and so hungry to win, the three other teams on such a fairly balanced group will have to fight their way through.

Indomitable Lionesses’ goalkeeper, Mireille Mambingo said they are ready to leave no stone unturned.

“Like all lionesses going out hunting, we’re on a hunt and we’ll get our prey, because a lioness never comes home empty-handed’‘, she said.

Although Germany remains number 2 in the world and is unbeaten since losing to France in last year’s Cup, South Africa is also ready to put up a fight, with China and Spain also on the group.

“Today you are good, tomorrow you are better and the other day you’re even greater”, Banyana Banyana’s striker, Thembi Kgatlana said.

‘‘So yes people say we’re in the group of death, but I mean by the time we’ll be at the World Cup we’ll be good as a team and they would not know what to expect from us’‘, she added.

Belgian government apology for stealing African children


This 2015 video is called Human zoos, dunking booths, African dodger, Hit the trigger.

Among the images in this video is an African little girl in a human zoo in Belgium in 1958, fed bananas like a caged ape.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Belgium apologizes for abducting children from colonies

Belgian Prime Minister Michel will apologize tomorrow at a special ceremony for the way children from mixed relationships were treated in the middle of the last century. The children from Africa, called ‘métis‘ in Belgium, were systematically removed from their mothers and sent to Belgium to grow up in orphanages.

The Catholic Church, which played a major role in abducting the children, already apologized years ago.

In 2017.

The children were Rwandan or Congolese

or Burundian

, those countries were then colonies of Belgium. After they were taken away, they did not automatically acquire Belgian nationality and many have been stateless for years.

The apologies come after last year the parliament called on the government to help those involved to obtain Belgian nationality. The MPs also wanted the victims to get help in the search for their biological parents, especially the mothers.

Now, about 70 years later … when many of the children and nearly all of the parents are already dead …

Sensitive

The discussion about the colonial past is extremely sensitive in Belgium. The renewed Africa Museum was recently reopened, but not by King Philip, precisely because of that sensitivity.

That museum was once built to honour King Leopold II, who considered the resource-rich Congo as his personal colony. The museum has overhauled the old colonial decor and now gives more explanation about the past and the dark sides of the occupation. …

Some more explanation, but not enough yet, according to critics.

Critical report

Belgium also recently refused to apologize after a critical United Nations report, in which the abuses and atrocities committed during the colonial occupation of Congo were denounced.

Tony Blair’s wife’s anti-African racism


This 27 March 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Cherie Blair said ‘African women‘s first sexual experience is rape’

Some self-styled ‘centrist‘ politicians are emulating the xenophobia of far-right politicians like Donald Trump.

In November 2018, United States Democratic politician Hillary Clinton made ‘Trump-lite’ statements against immigrants.

Donald Trump said about Mexicans: ‘They are rapists’.

And now, Cherie Blair, the ‘centrist‘ wife of Blairitecentrist‘ ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Ms Blair says in fact about African men in general, tarring all of them with the same brush: ‘They are rapists’.

From the Daily Mail in Britain (itself often not free of racism) today:

Cherie Blair causes storm after telling pupils that ‘most African women’s first sexual experience is rape‘ during school talk

Reportedly made the remark to pupils during a talk at London secondary school

By Mary O’Connor

Cherie Blair has claimed that rape is the first sexual experience of ‘most African ladies’.

She is reported to have made the remark during a talk about women and leadership to pupils at a London secondary.

In this case: misleadership.

But an audience member accused the wife of former prime minister Tony Blair of making unsubstantiated claims.

Giving her name only as Caitlin, she said: ‘No one seemed to react and I was shocked because I felt like she was in a position of authority and should take responsibility for saying things like that without any evidence to support it.’

Chi Onwurah, the Labour MP who chairs the all-party group for Africa, said: ‘Mrs Blair should enable African women to speak for themselves instead of usurping their voice and their experience.’

She accused Mrs Blair of reinforcing harmful stereotypes, adding: ‘Violence against women is a huge problem in many African countries – as it is here.

‘But to characterise African women’s sexual experience as rooted in rape undermines the hard work of many to tackle this issue while playing to and indeed stoking stereotypes of sexually aggressive African men and passive women.’

She urged Mrs Blair, 64, to fund the flights and visas for a group of African women to come to the UK to speak about their own experiences. She said this would ‘undo the insult and injury’ her comments had caused.

Caitlin sent a written complaint to the Cherie Blair Foundation, a charity that supports women and girls in developing countries build their own businesses.

Cherie Blair kissing Bush

This photo shows Cherie Blair kissing United States Iraq war president George W. Bush. Apparently, it is easy, if you are right-wing on waging bloody wars in Iraq and all over the world, to then become right-wing on xenophobia as well.

Prehistoric African Homo sapiens, new study


This is a map showing early African archaeological sites with evidence for symbolic material and microlithic stone tools. Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Image by Reto Stöckli

From the University of Huddersfield in England:

New light on origins of modern humans

March 20, 2019

Summary: The work confirms a dispersal of Homo sapiens from southern to eastern Africa immediately preceded the out-of-Africa migration.

Researchers from the University of Huddersfield, with colleagues from the University of Cambridge and the University of Minho in Braga, have been using a genetic approach to tackle one of the most intractable questions of all — how and when we became truly human.

Modern Homo sapiens first arose in Africa more than 300,000 years ago, but there is great controversy amongst scholars about whether the earliest such people would have been ‘just like us’ in their mental capacities — in the sense that, if they were brought up in a family from Yorkshire today, for example, would they be indistinguishable from the rest of the population? Nevertheless, archaeologists believe that people very like us were living in small communities in an Ice Age refuge on the South African coast by at least 100,000 years ago.

Between around 100,000 and 70,000 years ago, these people left plentiful evidence that they were thinking and behaving like modern humans — evidence for symbolism, such as the use of pigments (probably for body painting), drawings and engravings, shell beads, and tiny stone tools called microliths that might have been part of bows and arrows. Some of this evidence for what some archaeologists call “modern human behaviour” goes back even further, to more than 150,000 years.

But if these achievements somehow made these people special, suggesting a direct line to the people of today, the genetics of their modern “Khoi-San” descendants in southern Africa doesn’t seem to bear this out. Our genomes imply that almost all modern non-Africans from all over the world — and indeed most Africans too — are derived from a small group of people living not in South Africa but in East Africa, around 60,000-70,000 years ago. There’s been no sign so far that southern Africans contributed to the huge expansion of Homo sapiens out of Africa and across the world that took place around that time.

That is, until now. The Huddersfield-Minho team of geneticists, led by Professor Martin Richards at Huddersfield and Dr Pedro Soares in Braga, along with the eminent Cambridge archaeologist Professor Sir Paul Mellars, have studied the maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA from Africans in unprecedented detail, and have identified a clear signal of a small-scale migration from South Africa to East Africa that took place at just that time, around 65,000 years ago. The signal is only evident today in the mitochondrial DNA. In the rest of the genome, it seems to have been eroded away to nothing by recombination — the reshuffling of chromosomal genes between parents every generation, which doesn’t affect the mitochondrial DNA — in the intervening millennia.

The migration signal makes good sense in terms of climate. For most of the last few hundred years, different parts of Africa have been out of step with each other in terms of the aridity of the climate. Only for a brief period at 60,000-70,000 years ago was there a window during which the continent as a whole experienced sufficient moisture to open up a corridor between the south and the east. And intriguingly, it was around 65,000 years ago that some of the signs of symbolism and technological complexity seen earlier in South Africa start to appear in the east.

The identification of this signal opens up the possibility that a migration of a small group of people from South Africa towards the east around 65,000 years ago transmitted aspects of their sophisticated modern human culture to people in East Africa. Those East African people were biologically little different from the South Africans — they were all modern Homo sapiens, their brains were just as advanced and they were undoubtedly cognitively ready to receive the benefits of the new ideas and upgrade. But the way it happened might not have been so very different from a modern isolated stone-age culture encountering and embracing western civilization today.

In any case, it looks as if something happened when the groups from the South encountered the East, with the upshot being the greatest diaspora of Homo sapiens ever known — both throughout Africa and out of Africa to settle much of Eurasia and as far as Australia within the space of only a few thousand years.

Professor Mellars commented: “This work shows that the combination of genetics and archaeology working together can lead to significant advances in our understanding of the origins of Homo sapiens.”