It is a mistake for members of the Black Conscious community to take action against white supremacy and neocolonialism without first understanding how the conditions we find ourselves in today came into existence.
Therefore, we must understand that the war that we fight is first and foremost a cultural war.
The culture of a group dictates its economic system, how that group practices its spiritual system, and how that group interacts with others. Culture is by its very definition the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group.
Thus, when we understand the importance of culture as the group identity of a people, we can also begin to understand how white supremacy conquered the planet at the outset of this period of great suffering we find ourselves in called the maafa.
History shows us that there are 5 historic values exclusive to western cultures. They are individualism, ownership, conflict and control, manipulation, and consumerism.
Likewise, there are 5 values upon which indigenous societies were built. They are collectivism, cooperation, common heritage, natural law, and contribution.
As students of Black Consciousness, it is vital that we understand what these values are and how they have influenced the world around us. For knowledge of self includes a knowledge of the world around you, and problem solving begins at the root and not with the fruit.
Individualism Vs. Collectivism
Western cultures were founded on the glorification of the one over the many. Entire nations were enslaved to serve a handful of individuals, including land owners, employers, oligarchs, and elites.
To understand why the West has come to depend on individualism as a way of life, we must understand the origins of the Albion.
Earth’s Northern Hemisphere was a frozen wasteland for the vast majority of human history. For more than 2.6 Million years, Europe was locked in an Ice Age. In a land of little light and vegetation, early African migrants who found themselves trapped in the apocalypse of everlasting winter were transformed into savages.
They sought refuge in caves and shed their melanin – for such a trait was disadvantageous in a hellscape devoid of light. As their bodies changed, so too did their behavior. In a land that was as devoid of resources as it was of light, this new creature adopted an every man for himself approach to food, land, and resources.
After generations of starvation, darkness, and scarcity, individualism became a part of the DNA of the new white creatures in the North. To go deeper into the origins of the Albion, The Iceman Inheritance is required reading.
- Michael Bradley, John Henrik Clarke
- Publisher: Kayode Publications
- Edition no. 0 (06/01/1991)
When the snows melted and the iceman was released from his barren lair, he began to explore the Earth. What he found were whole continents of people in lands of infinite abundance.
Indigenous cultures had never known the horrors of life in a land devoid of light, shelter, and resources. The abundance of resources and seemingly infinite amount of habitable land meant that a great many people could be sustained.
Such an abundance would be impossible (and obscene) for one person to attempt to consume or dominate. Since there was more than enough to sustain each individual, priority was given to taking care of the group and the function of early government was to serve the needs of the many rather than the interests of the few.
Collectivist spiritual systems pay homage to Ancestors – the members of the collective that have transcended the physical realm. Individualist spiritual systems deify single individuals to the exclusion of others. Divine power is concentrated in a single figure – a Jesus, a Mohammed, or a cult leader.
Collectivist systems of government distribute power to the population as a whole in contrast to individualist systems of government where power is held by individual citizens. Such is the difference between pure democracies ruled by the majority and republics ruled by hand-picked representatives.
And collectivist economic models distribute land, resources, and the means of production among the people equally and in contrast to individualist economic models where the vast majority of wealth and resources are held by a small group of people. This is how the richest 1 percent in the United States have come to own more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.
When it came to criminal justice, our ancestors were wise enough to see true reform rather than mass incarceration served the good of the collective. There was no such thing as a jail or prison, and individuals who could not be reformed were expelled from society. It is the rare example of outside cultures (vis a vis Christianity and Islam) infringing on indigenous societies that concepts like incarceration and death penalties were introduced.
Cooperation Vs. Conflict And Control
Because of the aforementioned nature of their origins, Conflict and control is a part of the Albion’s DNA.
Whites have always used their natural violence and aggression as a means of perpetuating their control of land, resources, and people whenever they have come into contact with other peoples of the world. Even their own thinkers will admit this:
“Europe was the most savage part of the world for 500 years. Part of the reason Europe conquered the world was because it had a culture of savagery that was beyond anything that anyone saw anywhere else …that’s why small European armies could conquer big groups; partly they were ahead in the technology of war but partly it was just the culture. In fact, for centuries [European’s] prime concern was to slaughter one another. That was part of the imposition of the nation-state system. Its a brutal, murderous system. Everywhere it’s been imposed its been a disaster. It took centuries to impose it in Europe and it was centuries of savagery. It’s not just the 20th century either! One 17th century war wiped out a third of the population of Germany! So its an extremely savage civilization that extended its atrocities all over the world and if anyone resisted they went berserk…they practically wiped the place out.” – Noam Chomsky: American linguist, Philosopher, Cognitive scientist, and Professor at MIT
In contrast to Albion so-called civilization, Indigenous cultures used cooperation – working together to achieve a mutually beneficial goal – as the bedrock of their relationships. For instance, entire tribes would come together to build the homes of other members, to plant and harvest crops, to hunt, and to govern.
As tribes grew into larger nations, citizens would come together to construct monuments, irrigation canals, and national walls. It’s important to note that these generally were not slaves, but individuals who were compensated for their labors. The pyramids, for example, were built by a workforce that was given tombs right next to the pyramids they helped to build, and farmers in the region sent dozens of buffalo, cattle, and sheep to the plateau daily to feed the builders, believed to number around 10,000.
Indigenous American tribes worked in cooperation with one another to till the land, starting at one end and finishing at the other. When the time arrived, each individual harvested its own plot and stored the produce in a private granary. Surplus crops could be donated to the public store, which was used to feed visitors, supply war parties, or help feed families whose supplies failed.
If you have ever wondered why Indigenous Americans welcomed whites instead of sinking the first ships they saw, it is because these original people had a values system that welcomed strangers. Whites, on the other hand, had values that demanded they take as much as they could for as long as they could in the most violent way possible.
Common Heritage Vs. Ownership
“We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his Brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the Earth from his children, and he does not care. His Father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his Mother, the Earth, and his Brother, the Sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the Earth and leave behind only a desert.” – Chief Seattle, Suquami Tribe
When Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais first encountered the Kingdom of Ndongo around 1575, he asked the inhabitants to whom the land belonged. The question confused the inhabitants – ownership of land was foreign concept to them. If anything, the King (called Ngola) was responsible for dividing up the land equally among inhabitants. But no one owned the land – it was held in common.
Equally confused, Paulo Dias de Novais assumed that the land free for the taking, but having heard the word ‘Ndongo’ repeated, he assumed the inhabitants were repeating the name of the country. And so rather than calling the land by its rightful name – Ndongo – the Portuguese mistakenly called the area Angola.
The colonists assumed that the language of ownership was universally applicable and also assumed that the concept of “ownership” was applicable only to “civilized” societies. The colonists also “assumed that land must have an owner, even where rights had never been defined”. The fact that “ownership” was a strange concept to indigenous groups meant that the government could appropriate this “unowned” land.
If a dispute arose between Africans about land, colonists used common law that was interpreted by the colonists themselves to resolve the dispute instead of the court’s developing African indigenous law to fill such gaps. Some people attempted to overcome the problem of indigenous land tenure and its incompatibility with the notion of “ownership” by stating that land was “common to all people” and “communal”, or that communities as “corporate entities” should make the decisions regarding access to and the use of land. (Sources: Chanock Land, Custom and Social Order 232, Bennett Customary Law 375 – 77, and Okoth-Ogendo “Nature of Land Rights” 99.)
But this notion flew in the face of the values system that the colonists brought with them. As a result, the land – and all other property – was assigned an owner. Where no owner could be assigned, the colonists took control of it. Even the religious doctrine of the colonizers encouraged this behavior:
[Man shall have] dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the Earth. – Genesis 1:26
And where land was determined to be communal, the colonists pressured the Kings and Queens of old to convert to Christianity, making the Pope – and not the king – the arbiter of property.
When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land. – Desmond Tutu
In his essay Toward Perpetual Peace, Immanuel Kant claimed that the expansion of hospitality with regard to “use of the right to the earth’s surface which belongs to the human race in common” would “finally bring the human race ever closer to a cosmopolitan constitution”.
This essay gave voice to what indigenous cultures have always believed – that use of the right to the earth’s sea, air, and surface all belong to the human race in common.
All indigenous peoples have always understood that the Earth and all her resources were the common heritage of all life forms that dwell within it. We have also understood that no man can own the air, the oceans, or the mountains – and until modern times we have defended ourselves against any invaders who would have had us believe otherwise.
Natural Law vs Man-Made Manipulation
Since ancient times, Indigenous cultures have abided by natural law. Natural law – particularly in regards to African philosophy – asserts that certain rights are endowed by nature—traditionally by God or a transcendent source—and that these can be understood through universally accepted moral principles. No law needs to tell a human being that they should not kill or take what is not theirs. These principles are fundamentally understood.
When these objective laws are made subjective, then manipulation of the law becomes the game that white supremacists rely on to maintain their power.
As a result, in non-Black nations like the United States, Indigenous Americans (Blacks, so-called Latinos, and so-called Native Americans) have been victimized by the weapons of white supremacy known as persecution and murder. Both of these weapons use the manipulation of the law to perpetuate their inhumane values.
We know that the manipulation of these laws has long been used to protect the agents of white supremacy who abuse, prosecute, and lynch people of justice.
Man made manipulation extends beyond realm of natural law and into nature itself.
Genetically modified foods. Artificial life extension. Synthetic Viruses. Weather control. Man seeks to subject nature to his will at his own peril.
Natural Laws dictate that man not consume anything unnatural, nor should he implant anything unnatural into his body. It is impossible to overdose on fruits and vegetables, even though they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
But these same vitamins and minerals – when subjected to man-made manipulation – become toxic genetically modified organisms responsible for everything from skyrocketing cancer rates to early puberty.
Monsanto, the world’s leading producer and distributor of genetically modified produce, goes to great lengths to ensure that their genetically modified crops are fed to the world’s people without competition from pesky “organic” seeds and natural farmers. In a Vanity Fair expose, authors Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele wrote about Monsanto’s efforts to gain control over the world’s food supply.
“Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country. They fan out into fields and farm towns, where they secretly videotape and photograph farmers, store owners, and co-ops; infiltrate community meetings; and gather information from informants about farming activities. Farmers say that some Monsanto agents pretend to be surveyors. Others confront farmers on their land and try to pressure them to sign papers giving Monsanto access to their private records. Farmers call them the “seed police” and use words such as “gestapo” and “mafia” to describe their tactics.
When asked about these practices, Monsanto declined to comment specifically” – Vanity Fair, Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear May 2008
Human kind can enjoy the benefits of technological progress in accordance with natural law. Geothermal energy, natural husbandry and crop domestication practices, and wireless electricity are all positive options.
Instead, we choose to adopt white values systems by burning fossil fuels for energy, or by forcing our foods into compliance through genetic modifications, and by fighting nature’s processes with “cures” whose side effects are just as bad the illnesses they attempt to treat.
Consumerism Vs. Contribution
Approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide now belong to the “consumer class”—the group of people characterized by diets of highly processed food, desire for bigger houses, more and bigger cars, higher levels of debt, and lifestyles devoted to the accumulation of non-essential goods. Today nearly half of global consumers reside in developing countries, including 240 million in china and 120 million in India—markets with the most potential for expansion. “Rising consumption has helped meet basic needs and create jobs,” Christopher Flavin, President of Worldwatch Institute said in a statement to the press. “But as we enter a new century, this unprecedented consumer appetite is undermining the natural systems we all depend on, and making it even harder for the world’s poor to meet their basic needs.” – National Geographic
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts based on greed. Consumerism promotes the idea that the more you purchase, the more that you will want to purchase. The more you consume, the more you will want to consume.
One of the major contributions to this rampant consumerism is something called “planned obsolescence” – a policy of creating a product with a limited useful life, so it will become obsolete or nonfunctional after a certain period.
With planned obsolescence, manufacturers can count on future purchases, and you will feel the need to buy the newer replacement or upgrades. This is how companies like Apple (with its 22 different versions of the iPod and 18 versions of the iphone) have grown into the trillion-dollar companies that they are today.
Contrast this with the organization of African tribes, in which each and every member was expected to contribute something tangible to and needed by the rest of the group. The blacksmith, the herdsmen, the farmers, the craftsmen all contributed to the moneyless economy that was indigenous tribal life.
The idea behind it all was that if you had nothing to contribute to the rest of the tribe, then you could not gain anything of value for yourself since you had nothing to exchange. The craftsman exchanged his pots for milk, the milk man exchanged his milk for metal, the blacksmith exchanged his metal for pots, and on and on. All contributed in one form or another.
In this white system that we find ourselves in, most of the occupations contribute NOTHING to society and its advancement and instead fuel a consumer based economy.
We can do better. We can escape this matrix of buy-consume-spend-die. We can abolish – not reform – systems of mass incarceration. We can restore ma’at to mankind and its relationship with the Earth and the spirit realm.
But to do so, we must return to our original values. Time is running out.