Wednesday, August 8, 2012

UK & Dutch Colonial Nostalgia

More then a year ago Polish prime-minister Donald Tusk accused western Europe's most powerful leaders of hypocrisy and myopia in the midst of what is being called the EU's worst crisis. He charged them with:
 'posing as European champions while pandering to a new form of Euroscepticism for personal political gain, and of using fears about immigration to curb freedom of travel in Europe.'
Donald Tusk did a great job in taking down the crap Jan-Peter Balkenende and Tony Blair served us for over a decade. However he failed to mention how both Tony Blair and 'golden age' Jan-Peter Balkenende pushed a narrative of Western superiority not just concerning immigration and integration, but on development as well!
Today, in an excellent essay in the Guardian, Pankaj Mishra, shines his light on this narcissist version of history to complement Donald Tusk's observations:
'Even before 9/11, Tony Blair was ready to tend, with military means if necessary, to, as he put it, "the starving, the wretched, the dispossessed, the ignorant" around the world. His apparently more intellectual rival Gordon Brown urged his compatriots to be "proud" of their imperial past.'
The Weberian superiority complex is a constant temptation for Europe's ruling elites. It would be a mistake to think this only impacts domestic policy. It has just as much baring on the relationship with regimes across the world and particularly in Africa.

When Yoweri Museveni recently stated 'there still is soo much ignorance in Uganda' or when 'mapping report' Paul Kagame defended crushing the domestic opposition by saying 'Rwanda is not ready for the medecin of democracy' we can't but read these statements in the context of this colonial nostalgia pushed by mainstream politicians from Western Europe.

When Dutch Ambassador Frans Makken, much like a contemporary Pontius Pilate, helped rig Rwanda's 2010 election it's hard to not see this in the 'Weberian' context of neocolonial nostalgia. A constant temptation that probably plays a much larger role in donor policy decision making concerning Africa then most people might expect.

But then again understanding Europe isn't easy and donor diplomacy in central Africa is murky.

No comments: