Aug
28

The New Age of Empire

Kehinde Andrews' 2021 book "The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World" was celebrated by many (Kimberle Crenshaw, Russel Brand, Ibram X Kendi, and a host of book reviewers) and critiqued by a few (book reviewers). The author is the first professor of Black Studies in the UK. I assume this book was not written for academics, but for a mass market. The book introduces readers to a lost list of centuries of Euro-Western genocide and plunder. Much of the book is summative. The author describes the aim as: "A central thesis of this book is that White supremacy, and therefore anti-Blackness, is the fundamental basis of the political and economic system and therefore infects all interactions, institutions and ideas. My aim is to trace how White supremacy has been maintained and plays out in the various updates to Western empire" (p. xxi).

A glimpse into the book: "Racial science arose as a discipline to explore the superiority of the White race, and it is telling that basically all the key Enlightenment thinkers were architects of its intellectual framework. Voltaire (in France) believe that "None but the blind can doubt that the Whites, the Negroes, the Albinos [sic], the Hottentots, the Laplanders, the Chinese, and the Americans, are races entirely different." Hegel (in Germany) thought that "Negroes are to be regarded as a race of children who remain immersed in their state of naivete. They are sold and let themselves be sold without any reflection on the rights and wrongs of the matter." John Locke (in seventeenth-century England) believed that 'Negroes' were the product of African women sleeping with apes and therefore that we were subhuman. David Hume (in Scotland) was 'apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other species of men (for there are four of five different kinds) to be naturally interior to the Whites.' One of the architects of the Greatest Democracy on EarthTM, Thomas Jefferson (in the United States) believed that Black people 'whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the Whites in the endowments of both mind and body.' All agreed that race was real and defined in biology that determined the extent to which a people could claim full humanity." (p. 7-8)

The author concludes that the "glimmer of hope for true transformation in the West is that if the system is left to collapse under its own weight it may well end human existence as we know it" (p. 207) and therefore maybe "it is in this moment, standing on the cliff-edge of annihilation, staring into the abyss caused by Western so-called civilization, that the depth of the problem and scale of the solutions can be grasped." (p. 207) The book details the former but provides none of the latter (beyond "create an entirely new framework for the world's political and economic system", p. 207). It also seems to discount any kind of transitional steps or processes of transformation (as per many Marxist-inspired thinkers, awaiting the revolution, or in this case a Western-based scholar awaiting the fall of the Euro-Western system or revolution that takes it down). 

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