(Source: The Huffington Post)
I would rather have my taxes go to every single ‘welfare queen’ in the united states twice over than to drone programs and corporate subsidies.
that moment when you’re throwing snaps alone in your room while reading amazing revolutionary works by women of color
There is, however, a fundamental problem with striving to ‘rebrand Africa’. For the sake of this argument, in a contemporary context, we take branding to mean the set of stories that describes the problems an institution, organization, or individual solves, who they serve and how they solve and serve. A brand, therefore, is not merely a logo, but a coordinated effort to communicate multiple stories to multiple audiences in order to achieve a set of goals, usually financial. Historically, you can only brand what you own, and a brand announces to the community who owns the branded object. The questions now shift. Who owns Africa? To whom is the brand announced? Who benefits from the brand Africa as it stands now, and who will benefit from a rebranding?
Current rhetoric also falls under this line of questioning. The term now is that Africa is rising, which begs the questions: when did it fall? Who is responsible for its falling? From where is it rising? And to where is it going? Again, we see a shifting in the narrative. Africa’s rising is a subjective one, relative to one’s relationship with Africa. If you are able to locate yourself in a temporal, spatial, economic and academic position that is above Africa, then you’re quite literally looking down on Africa and commending it for its efforts in rising to your level.
Are you, African, insulted yet? No? Very well, let’s continue.
When Europeans came to this continent, they tore asunder the indigenous societies that existed here. In response to the onslaught they faced, some natives engaged in resistance–sometimes in the form of attacks against the colonists’ regular armed forces, sometimes in the form of terrorizing unarmed colonist women and children, ostensibly innocent people. But who among us today would say that “both sides” were at fault for the complete destruction of indigenous American society at the hands of colonists, or for the wars of ethnic cleansing (a.k.a. “the Indian Wars”) and untold human suffering that followed? Simply put, there would have been no violence, no 200 years worth of Indian Wars had colonial-settlers not attempted to impose their presence and authority in the Americas through violence and ethnic cleansing in the first place. It is an eminently one-sided problem when you get to the root of it–to act as though there is some moral parity between the colonists who arrived employing systematic, terrorist violence on a civilization-shattering scale in order to forge their own sovereign entity against the desire of (and eventually upon the ruins of) indigenous communities, and the natives who fought back and may have employed terrorism themselves is absurd and curiously vulgar.
While condemning attacks on unarmed non-combatants is an easy moral call to make, who among us would mention Native American raids on European settlements without acknowledging the genocidal violence leveled against them? Who would speak of Nat Turner’s orgy of violence against white Virginians without mentioning the dehumanizing and obscene institution of slavery?
Something tells me that “contextualizing” Hamas’s rockets as falling in the vicinity of the ethnically cleansed and colonist-occupied birthplace of the group’s refugee co-founder would not find favor with Alterman or Goldberg. Same for contextualizing the threat that Hezbollah poses to the colonial-settler state, a state whose rapacious military adventurism in Lebanon–which, lest we forget, was originally prosecuted to quash the resistance of Palestine’s natives-cum-refugees–precipitated the group’s formation in the first place. And yet, without endorsing the methods or platforms of the aforementioned groups, this is the context that matters most.
Indie designer Seth Alter’s Neocolonialism is a PC strategy game about taking over the world. But don’t start training an army or building a barracks, this serious game invites players to take on their friends, or the AI, though financial soft power and economic control.
Players assume the roles of greedy capitalists, that is, investors, and try to control the world. Straight violence isn’t the answer, but funding puppet governments is totally acceptable! So is insider trading, manipulating votes, and skimming money into your private account. By using game mechanics to represent the relationship between the investor’s financial choices and the worldwide consequences, Alter creates a simulation that’s playable as a strategy game and informative on other levels.
I’ve played Sid Meier’s Civ a few times with a non-violent house role, battling friends and the jerk Montezuma to control the globe by dominating trade routes, controlling resources, and spreading culture. Players who enjoy that sort of strategic challenge will enjoy the gameplay involved in Neocolonialism. Alter has aligned gameplay goals with economic exploitation, which uses both the moral thoughtfulness players have making virtual political decisions in Positech’s Democracy or Max Barry’s NationStates, and our desires to succeed in multiplayer games, and he creates a strategy sim that’s serious, moral and still engaging.
The Neocolonialism game map puts north on the bottom, and south on top. Alter hopes an upside-down worldmap will provoke discomfort, and draw attention to economic inequality between regions. The reoriented map isn’t so usual that it brings social discomfort for me. As veteran boardgamers know, playing a game set on a world map, like Pandemic or Axis&Allies, means that someone at the table’s going to be sitting with the map upside-down. But it does require more thought and inconvenience to navigate on the upside-down map, and it works well with Neocolonialism’s disruptive themes and ideas of privilege.
The game is currently in alpha. The alpha version can be downloaded here from Subaltern Games, and there’s a Greenlight for Neocolonialism for distribution through Steam.
There’s a Kickstarter for the game too. Backers at the top tier receive a re-oriented play map, and a credit as an “Orthodox Cartographer”, a delightful bit of Orwellian phrasing. With enough money, Alter is saying, and you can have things your way! Pay enough, and you have have it the easy way, where you don’t have to think too much.
Africom was established under the George Bush administration, and commenced operations a few weeks before he left office. But it is under Barack Obama that Africom has truly come to life, establishing furtive but powerful bases in countries such as Uganda and Burkina Faso. However, Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, which hosts several thousand US personnel and is undergoing steady and speedy expansion, is the only base on the continent that Africom officially recognises as such. For its part, Djibouti is already paying the price through a spate of drone crashes.
Drones are becoming a cornerstone of Africom’s strategy, especially for enhancing spy operations across the continent. A dedicated drone base was established in Niger this year, and drones have previously been distributed to countries for “fighting Islamists”. They are just one component of a larger supply of weaponry from Africom – such as fighter planes which, they caution, should arouse the least suspicion possible: “[We] don’t want covert aircraft, just friendly looking aircraft”.
In addition, Africom is currently soliciting contractors to transport “hazardous cargo including ammunitions…smoke grenades, blasting caps, rockets, mines and explosive charges” to various countries, and regularly conducts military-to-military exercises in conjunction with African troops across the continent. As summarised by Nick Turse, who has conducted the most comprehensive investigative journalism on Africom:
“They’re involved in Algeria and Angola, Benin and Botswana, Burkina Faso and Burundi, Cameroon and the Cape Verde Islands. And that’s just the ABCs of the situation. Skip to the end of the alphabet and the story remains the same: Senegal and the Seychelles, Togo and Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. From north to south, east to west, the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, the heart of the continent to the islands off its coasts, the U.S. military is at work. Base construction, security cooperation engagements, training exercises, advisory deployments, special operations missions, and a growing logistics network, all undeniable evidence of expansion – except at U.S. Africa Command. To hear AFRICOM tell it, U.S. military involvement on the continent ranges from the minuscule to the microscopic.”