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The Darker Nations
A People's History of the Third World
By Vijay Prashad; The New Press, 2008, 384 pp.
According to Vijay Prashad's The Darker Nations, in the aftermath of WWII anti-colonialism gave birth to a Third World which briefly promised a model for transcending capitalism. Prashad sets out to offer a people's history of the Third World that illuminates this brief but exciting post-war period.
If we haven't heard much lately about Third World liberation movements that exploded on the scene in Africa, India, and Asia in the 1940s it's because, according to Prashad, they came with a "built in flaw." The working class and peasantry of these countries got "a compromise ideology called Arab Socialism, African Socialism, Sarvodaya, or NASAKOM that combined the promise of equality with the maintenance of social hierarchy." None need look far beyond former Zimbabwe independence leader Robert Mugabi's never-ending authoritarian rule, or the ANC's rightward drift to embrace privatization and structural adjustment, to see the reverberations of those flaws. The Third World project was a morass of contradictions. "The class character of the Third World leadership constrained its horizon, even as it inflamed the possibilities in its societies," writes Prashad.
For Prashad the maintenance of social hierarchy, or capitalist relations of the so-called "underdeveloped" resource-rich countries, has more to do with the rapid redirection and outright usurpation of many of these newly independent left-leaning post-colonial governments into the global economic system. This system happened to be managed by the IMF and the World Bank under the "Washington Consensus" of export driven growth, structural adjustment, debt, privatization, rampant extraction and export of natural resources, and a weakening of capital controls. Across the spectrum, newly independent countries—from conservative pro-U.S. Singapore to Marxist-inspired Ethiopia—submitted. They were subsumed and destabilized as they abandoned the principles of liberation for which they fought successfully to end colonialism. To the extent that these governments embraced or succumbed to these forces, they ultimately faced the double-headed hydra of internal opposition and external domination.
The Darker Nations is a meticulously documented account of the rise of the post-colonial Third World Project and its rapid disintegration and subversion. As Prashad describes, this project rapidly turned into a force of repression. "The IMF-driven globalization of the 1970s ravaged the main pillars of state sovereignty. As it undermined the idea of nationalism, conservative social forces and various powerful social classes gathered together to offer an alternative vision of what it meant to be patriotic, indeed what it meant to be nationalistic."
In a mere three decades, Prashad counts 60 nations paying out $550 billion in principle and interest on loans worth only $523 billion. This redistribution of wealth upward in the global hierarchy means that "the Third World, in other words, has been dissolved."
In the final account, "The Third World, then, is not just the voice of the leaders or their political parties, but also their opposition," Prashad assures us. However, unlike the other entries in Howard Zinn's series of "people's histories," The Darker Nations is focused on documenting the struggle among the elites of the newly de-colonized countries. There is still a history from below of the people who made history distinct from the liberation elites that is yet to be written.
The Darker Nations' subtitle, A People's History of the Third World, is unfortunately inaccurate. Nevertheless, the book should not be missed for anyone who wants to understand how the IMF and World Bank sabotaged the promise of anti-colonialism. By doing so, they softened the ground for the rapid expansion of what we now know as corporate globalization and set back a global movement to build what anti-colonialist writer CLR James called the "future in the present."
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.