Mareeg.com-The Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi was asked what he
thought about western civilization. His answer? “I think it is a good
In June 2020 the French government announced that it would release 19
skulls of Algerian freedom fighters that it had been storing in
museums in France to the Algerian government so they could be buried
in Algeria on its Independence Day.
These skulls of Algerian freedom fighters had been taken as trophies
by French Generals during the colonialization of Algeria in the 19th
century. Before being sent to France for “safekeeping” the newly
severed heads of these resistance martyrs had been displayed on pikes
in public by the French as a lesson to the Algerian people.
Cutting off heads and displaying them on pikes for all to see? Is this
the act of a high degree of civilization? I think not. Maybe more
civilization in the western countries would be a good idea?
The British did the same in South Africa when they were suppressing
the Zulu uprising against their conquest of the country in the early
20th century. The Zulus, without modern firearms, had still managed to
inflict a series of defeats on the British colonial army only to
finally succumb to the firepower of the British military.
The British general in command of the suppression campaign against the
Zulus ordered the Zulu leaders head to be cut off and publicly
displayed around the country to terrorize the indigenous population.
Was this an act of a civilized society or was this a barbaric act
marking a society that still needed a strong dose of civilization?
Slavery, subhuman bondage, is not a practice condoned by civilized
society. It is a remnant of a period in history best described as
To put is simply, western imperialism was, and is, a society marked by
the commission of barbaric acts (the ultimate act of barbarism remains
Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and those in the west who still claim it as
high civilization are apologists for the society they benefit from
The great African scientist and historian from Senegal Dr. Cheik Anta
Diop wrote about African genius and the assault on Africa by western
“civilization” in his classic work “Civilization or Barbarism”. In it
he detailed the magnificent accomplishments of ancient and medieval
Africans and the systematic attempts by western civilization to claim,
steal really, the credit for them.
When it comes to stealing, the theft of physical property, the
euro-imperialists just couldn’t resist the obelisks along Africa’s
Nile River, in today’s Egypt. The French, the British, even the
Italians, all stole these magnificent monuments to African genius.
Never mind carving these giant, one piece monuments, the
Euro-Imperialists could only boast about what a feat of “modern
engineering” it was for the looters from the capitals of white
supremacy, London, Paris and Rome to transport the obelisks to their
present day resting places at the heart of the mental illness known as
racism, white supremacy, the capitals of western empire.
In founding the “modern democracy” of the USA the slave owners at the
heart of the revolt against the British, who had outlawed slavery in
Britain, fought and won independence for the British colonies and
successfully preserved slavery for almost another century.
If the institution of slavery, subhuman bondage, marks one of the main
demarcations between civilization and barbarism, and the “Founding
Fathers” of the USA were almost entirely slave owners, than wouldn’t
the USA qualify under western civilization being a good idea?.
The denial of African genius goes so far as to attempt to deny
anything positive about Africa, which nutured high civilizations going
back many, many millennia.
One of the fathers of modern African centered history, W.E.B. DuBois,
described Africa’s Nile Valley civilizations, particularly during the
time of the enlightened Pharaohs, as an early form of socialism.
Africa’s Nile River flooded for 3 months every year, forcing the
entire population to pick up and move to the highlands during this
annual event. The social organizations needed to organize and carry
out this annual migration had to have been very advanced, moving up to
half a million people to a new home and back for three months every
year. A mobile governing structure was needed to provide for the
population and what was created was basically about social equality
and “human rights”, the provision of food, water, shelter etc. for a
people no matter the natural events taking place.
When a society is organized around meeting social needs rather than
individual advancement than that is “socialism”, or at least a
precursor to this next step in humanities survival.
Socialism is anathema to “western civilization” it would seem, with
the word being disparaged or distorted beyond recognition so as to
deny it anything really essential to human kind.
As global climate disaster begins to rear its fearsome head it is
clear the planet will no longer tolerate the sort of greed and
destruction presently being practiced internationally. You can call it
what you want but it started out as “western civilization” and doing
something about getting rid of it and replacing it with some sort of
social cooperation and equality is far overdue. Western civilization?
Definitely a good idea.
Thomas C. Mountain is an historian and educator living and reporting
from Eritrea since 2006. Reach him at thomascmountain at g mail dot