A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization.
A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization."
" -Aimé Césaire
For over five hundred years, humanity has been governed by a civilization known as the West. Prior to its world-historical epoch, the West more than did not exist, it was a rough analogy of politically backward kingdoms at the margins of the global economy. Through a series of fortunate events, strategic aggrandizements, a fervent eschatology, and blatant hauteur, what is known as the West emerged around 1450 during the crisis of Late Feudalism. Consonant with the rising power of working peoples due to the Black Death, and conscious of the fact that the greatest triumph of the Crusades was the sacking of Constantinople, burghers, lords, scholars, and Church leaders reconsidered the place of Christianity in the world. The Renaissance forced a recognition of the pagan past, but its secularizing tendencies diminished religious proselytizing in favor of categorical integration. For if anything it was the Renaissance that created Europe by splitting the Mediterranean, and generating an idea of racial unity though a collective religious past, with a present will to dominate. The subsequent half-millenia of political, economic, and knowledge accumulation in the Continent enabled the West to refine, preach, and institute its gospel. Yet Western practice itself, in conjunction with its ideological duplicity, has proven to be bankrupt in every conceivable way. For the universal has only, and can only be realized, in contradistinction to the discursive project of the West.
On the shores of Angola a century after Vasco de Gama rounded the Cape of Good hope, a new belief system was emerging due to a shifting world order. Catholic priests, heretofore obsessed with the devotion of new converts, were baptizing slave coffles en masse prior to their passage across the Atlantic. These dark Africans, in comparison to the Iberians, embodied a periphery in a new world order, whose orbit centered on a constellation of absolute monarchies at the tip of the European peninsula. In the beginning these peripheries served to mitigate European isolation from established Asian-African trading links by productive experimentation, and then attempting to monopolize, the flow of tropical commodities to Europe. In this early modern period, African principalities became labor subcontractors for European merchants and captains, who then shipped these conscripts to the Caribbean Basin, where they would be worked to death producing sweeteners, beverages, drugs, and dies for North Atlantic consumption. At the same time, those who survived the Spanish conquest of the Americas obligingly mined insatiable amounts of silver out of Potosi and Zacatecas, which would fund the Counter-Reformation, and provide the Lowcountry with the capital needed to be the world's greatest power in the 17th Century. Ensconcing the West was synonymous with the expansion of Europe, and its economic correlative, capitalism, has been a giant concentration camp from its inception.
Coterminus with this material ascendancy, the West invented a new ontology for itself which deviated from its pre-Renaissance past, and also justified its will to power. Europeans' interaction with diverse, previously 'unknown' peoples all over the globe, in conjunction with Continental intellectual tendencies against absolute despotism, led to what is known as the Enlightenment. Instead of the Christian ideal of salvation, Enlightenment thought was predicated upon the liberty of the individual and the rights of political subjects against absolute dominion. Left unsaid, however, was the implicit and purposeful limitation of Enlightenment conceptuality to those deemed corporeally worthy. For man, as understood by those who claimed to be gods, was hierarchically ordered by phenotype and gender so as to rationally decide who was more or less civilized, and who was to serve. The substitution of reason for pre-modern faith, then, gave Westerners a civilizing mission, and explained the immense human costs of colonization as purposeful and just. In this light the Enlightenment obsession with slavery was simply a political metaphor, for its authors had no intention of delegitimizing the basis of their comfort and influence. Voltaire, for example, decried human bondage without blacks, and Montesquieu derived his living from the slave trade. One can ascertain that the object of the Enlightenment, therefore, was to restrict the despotism of the West to those who were beyond it. Intentionally hypocritical, the Enlightenment has and always will be a ruling ideology.
For nearly three centuries Western hegemony stood unchallenged, leaving colonial powers free to imprint the globe as they saw fit. The first major confrontation to Europe was what became the United States. As a nationalist movement the American Revolution did not challenge the fundamental discourse of the Enlightenment, but sought to fulfill its promise in the nation. If the metropole became unalterably corrupt because it refused to stop treating whites like the colonized, then independence would ideally solve this problem by permanently codifying the Enlightenment under the guise of citizenship. In this vein the United States corrected a contradictory tenor of Western thought, by affirming descendants of Europeans to be equal regardless of locale. Subsequent settler independence movements confirmed this tradition by fomenting their revolts solely in the name of lost metropolitan rights. Contrastingly the so-called Third World revolutions, which by the mid-20th Century enabled former colonies to obtain autonomy from European political administration, but never attained the same level of economic sovereignty or existential respect. This was largely due to the fact that new national boundaries coincidentally reproduced colonial territories, and new national elites strangely comprised the former comprador caste under direct imperial rule. Moreover, given that Western cartels continued to control post-independence economies, the former colonized did not achieve independence in any material sense. In the dialectic between colonized and colonizer, then, the advent of the nation ultimately served to strengthen Euro-American global hegemony.
The reformulation of the world-system in the 1970's enabled the West to refashion its world-historical mission under the auspices of universality. The reduction of national boundaries in favor of a single world-wide corporate market promised to usher in global economic development along Continental lines, and the Wilsonian international ideal portended an end to war. This subsequent realization of the Enlightenment transferred the civilizationist prerogative to the Fortune 500, and transformed the nation-state into its local enforcement arm. If anything neoliberalism has demonstrated Western universalism to be a sham, for one can never achieve being if you are perpetually becoming. Present and degraded imperial powers have not ceased fomenting war in their former colonies, and the world capitalist market has greatly succeeded in increasing class disparity around the world. The continued hauteur of the world's second and greatest narco-state, and Euro-American funding of religious fanatics against secular forces, has elucidated to those in the know that Enlightenment sanction is inevitably nihilistic. The West, therefore, has proved to be an illusion in shepherding humanity out of the darkness, and the continued, parallel subjugation of those within and outside of the nation will serve to highlight this movement. The fact that the Western war against Iran has already started because the latter is simply attempting to obtain the sovereign rights of the former, is proof enough of a dying civilization. Little Boy was dropped for much less, after all.
Bonne année et bonne santé