Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Obscuring power: or why Jared Diamond, Thomas Friedman and Jeffrey Sachs make me see red

In the final episode of "Guns, Germs and Steel", I had some hope. Diamond pointed out that Africa, difficult for the west to settle, became a colonial source of slaves, mineral & agricultural wealth. "And I realized" Diamond said on the train "that the very train I was on, today still served the same purpose." My hopes rose: would he say it? These are still western colonies! Say it! "But these aren't colonies anymore. They are free democratic societies." Arrrrgh!!!!! He then blames malaria for poverty. It's unbelievable. This is what passes for anaylsis in the 21st century: a man who can't connect the dots, because it would accuse people he knows -- of continuing the tradition of Projecting Power.

It could be that Diamond is just a poor reader. He needs to study Rousseau, Marx, and lots of Chomsky. But, it's more likely that he just suffers from not wanting to accuse those in his class ... fellow professors, writers etc.

Take the other two in my title: Thomas Friedman and Jeffrey Sachs. Professors, writers, movers & shakers ... they've also positioned themselves. Diamond is a biogeographical apologist for power. Friedman is a geopolitical apologist for power. Sachs is a macroeconomic apologist for power. And they all use the world's massive inequalities to further their punditry and obscure the truth: that poverty exists to continuously concentrate wealth & power, and does so now, at this very moment. It didn't stop in 1865, 1914, 1945, 1961 or 1990. It is still going on today, as fast as ever, killing millions. And the wealthy classes in all countries are hiding this fact from their intellectual & managerial classes ("civil society"), ensuring the masses continue to be enslaved, their resources stolen, their environments polluted, nature destroyed, etc.

The only difference, perhaps: Sachs & Friedman certainly know their crimes, because they purposely hide their own roles (Sachs in the destruction of every country he's ever advised, Friedman as propagandist for the Council on Foreign Relations). But Diamond is just an author, being polite, working within the framework. Maybe he'll open his eyes someday.


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