Thanks to Patrice Lumumba, for six days in the summer of 1960, the Congolese people felt what it was like to be free. In reality, the West was never going to allow the Africanization of Africa.
By Robert Simmons
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a country with huge natural wealth…diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, cassiterite (tin ore)…coltan…timber and oil. But this vast natural wealth has brought nothing but suffering and misery to the Congolese people. Not only has it failed to deliver economic benefits and development, but it has been the cause of numerous and grave human rights abuses. The weakness of state institutions and a pervasive culture of impunity have meant that the perpetrators of crimes connected to the illicit exploitation of natural resources have rarely, if ever, been punished.The Global Witness
The ‘Democratic Republic’ of the Congo is not a safe place. Armed gangs have kidnapped hundreds of women and girls, then brutally and repeatedly raped them until their families can scrape together a ransom – often everything they have – in order to get them back. Militias, armed with hunting rifles and machetes, go around terrorizing innocent citizens. One killing spree left 535 dead and 111 more wounded. In a separate incident, more than 300 women were raped, houses burned down, and children taken away.
Journalists, lawyers, entertainers and activists vocally critical of the government are taken from their homes or businesses, threatened, sometimes severely beaten, and on more than one occasion tied up and paraded through the streets as traitors. Some are even murdered.
Wealthy Foreign investors pay off the president and other top government officials to secure access to the country’s mineral resources. They are known to use the banks to launder their money, hire violent armed groups to maintain control, utilize child and slave labor, and traffic their minerals to familiar companies, like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla.
With 19,000 shooting deaths and 100,000 cases of forcible rape in any given year, the ‘democratic republic’ of the United States is not such a safe place, either, We too have gangs and armed militia groups, and citizens who work for the benefit of a privileged few, with little or no stake in any of the natural resource wealth buried beneath our feet. Could all of this simply be the price of living in a Democracy?
‘Democracy’, of course, is what put America on the map. It is our ‘greatest hit’. It is a song of hope for the hopeless; a beautiful mirage for all those dying of thirst in the endless desert of oppression. For one brief moment, we Americans really did catch ‘lighting in a bottle’, but the reality is that Capitalism bought the Intellectual Property Rights to that bottle a long time ago. Now Democracy is just a jingle, in order to sell something intoxicatingly addictive but ultimately poisonous;play Democracy backwards and you get Capitalist Economics.
Ironically, Economics is derived from the Greek words ‘eco’ and ‘nemo’, meaning to ‘manage one’s house’. To say Capitalism is a form of economics is being kind; it is clearly designed to take care of the upstairs tenants only. The Capitalist Economic System has its roots in the medieval ‘economics’ of feudalism, the colonial ‘economics’ of Mercantilism, and the plantation ‘economics’ of southern slavery.
This system has always run on resource extraction, slave labor, and wealth inequality, which is why the United States currently leads the developed world in wealth disparity. Unfortunately for the DR Congo, it has only been allowed to manage its own house once in the last 5 centuries, during a brief moment between June 30, 1960, and July 5, 1960. It is worth knowing the history that led up to that potentially pivotal (but ultimately futile) moment.
When we marshal big arguments about the West’s superior economic performance…upon an account of the West’s allegedly superior institutions like private-property rights, lean government, and the rule of law, we need to remember that the world Westerners forged was equally characterized by exactly the opposite: vast confiscation of land and labor, huge state intervention in the form of colonialism, and the rule of violence and coercion. And we also need to qualify the fairy tale we like to tell about capitalism and free labor. Global capitalism is characterized by a whole variety of labor regimes, one of which, a crucial one, was slavery.Sven Beckert Slavery & Capitalism
Tale As Old As Time
For the first 4.5 million years, the land now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was doing as well as anybody else on the planet. Then, around 1500 A.D., white people started poking around, looking for resources. The most obvious commodities at this time were actually above ground, in the form of ‘human capital’. For the next 350 years, 4 million Congolese citizens were taken by slave traders and ‘relocated’ to the U.S.; by 1788, 15,000 stolen Africans were arriving each year. It was during this time period that Belgium, as part of the Dutch Republic, came into the picture as a close ally of the United States.
Besides fighting alongside the U.S. in the American Revolutionary War, the Dutch Republic also helped supply us with slaves, though not at the magnitude of the Portuguese, British, Spanish, or even French. In 1830, when Belgium declared its independence from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, the U.S. was there, recognizing Belgian sovereignty.
During what constituted the second ‘Rape of Africa’ – the period of the New Imperialism (1881 – 1914) – U.S. was again the first to recognize Belgian claims to the territories of the Congo Basin. Figurehead King Leopold II of Belgium personally acquired this precious real estate, and renamed it the Congo Free State.
By 1908, stories had leaked out about the many abuses and atrocities of King Leopold’s reign. He had turned the country into a slave plantation for the collection of natural rubber, and created the Force Publique (a military police comprised of Belgians, Congolese, and various mercenaries) to oversee this ‘public-private’ partnership. Several of these rubber companies, outside the rule of law, also hired their own militia groups to brutally kill, kidnap, starve or dismember any Congolese people who did not meet specified rubber quotas. The Force Publique were enlisted to bring back the severed hands of any one refusing to work. Young men were forced to kill or rape their mothers or sisters as punishment. Heads were severed and placed around villages as warnings. Child colonies were established. Whole villages were burned. Imported disease killed millions. In the end, half the population was decimated.
Christian missionaries residing in the Congo documented the abuses, which went public, forcing Belgium to simply annex the entire area; they took it away from Leopold and renamed it the Belgian Congo. The Force Publique remained, and a period of colonial imperialism ensued, which lasted until 1960; it is then that the pressures of nationalism forced Belgium to concede power to the leader of the Congolese National Movement party, Patrice Lumumba, and grant the Congolese people independence – for most of a week.
And they spit upon him…and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they…led him away to crucify himMathew 27:30-31
Who is Patrice Lumumba? And Why Did Everybody Want to Kill Him?
Congolese citizen Patrice Lumumba was raised a Catholic, and educated by Protestants. He spoke five languages, and read the same philosophers who inspired the dream of independence America had achieved two centuries before. He spoke like a free man, something not seen in a Congolese society that had only known slavery and colonialism.
He spoke of fundamental rights, egalitarian principles, humanism, liberty, and social justice. He believed that the many tribes of his country could indeed be united around these values, with a government tasked to promote the general welfare of its citizens. He popularized a Congolese National Movement, which in May of 1960 won the popular vote, and by June had Belgium conceding independence to the new ‘Republic of the Congo’. The Belgians then regrouped in the mining area of Katanga, formed a makeshift government around it, and seceded 6 days later, in order to retain control of those precious minerals. For that six days, however, the Congolese people felt, for the first time in five centuries, like a free people, though in reality, the west was never going to allow the ‘Africanization’ of Africa.
For white people, the time between 1908 and 1960 was mostly spent in conflicts over resources. Great ‘World’ Wars were fought. The Second one nearly decimated everyone; only the United States, who was conveniently situated away from the actual fighting, came out (infra-structurally) unscathed. This presented the U.S. with a valuable opportunity: A New World order could be created, built on a Capitalist model. In order to grease the wheels of this new economic vehicle, President Truman implemented the Marshall Plan, advancing money to particular countries in order to lay the foundation for this new global regime. Ultimately, the USSR did not take the financial ‘bait’ dangled in front of them by the U.S., and thus began a ‘Cold War’ between the two. Countries that did buy into this new forged economic arrangement also received a complimentary set of U.S. military bases, complete with C.I.A. infiltration, in order to lock all players into this higher stakes game.
Those crazy invisible spooks of the C.I.A., always bringing in briefcases of cash, whispering in certain people’s ears, ‘suggesting’ prudent courses of action, supplying guns and ammunition when needed, providing military ‘advisors’ without being asked, and making recommendations about those who would best ‘protect our interests abroad’, and those who might have ‘interests’ not aligned with this doctrine of Global Capitalism.
When Patrice Lumumba came on the scene in 1958, none of the western powers extracting Congo resource wealth believed he could ever unite his people, but by 1960, when he clearly had done so, it was too late for any ‘subtle’ tactics – Lumumba needed to be “eliminated”. In a Capitalist world, the most dangerous man is the one who cannot be bought. The C.I.A. quickly found someone, in Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who could be bought, and organized a coup to remove Lumumba politically first, securing Mobutu in his place. It was always easy to spot who had been paid off in a C.I.A. operation: the first one to point his finger and declare someone else a “communist” was clearly receiving both C.I.A coaching and U.S. taxpayer funding; the C.I.A. playbook was highly unimaginative. Corporations are not democracies, they are dictatorships, and when setting up a third world country to function as a ‘warehouse’ for raw natural resource extraction, it is best to put a single person in charge on the front end of that economic supply chain.
Meanwhile, the Belgians went about purchasing their own politician, Moïse Tshombe, and rigged Congolese law prior to transferring power to Lumumba, in order that the Belgian Mining area of Katanga could quickly secede from the Congo once Lumumba was sworn in. With the country suddenly divided into three parts, Lumumba attempted to make his way to the eastern part of the Congo, where his appointed staff were waiting to form an independent government. Sadly, he was intercepted at the border, arrested, and taken straight into the heart of darkness: the Katangan mining colony.
The Belgians, the Katangan puppet government, and the Force Publique – they all took turns torturing Lumumba quite thoroughly, even though they already knew they were going to kill him. Why do such a thing? Shame is the usual suspect in these kinds of hate crimes. The Belgians hated him because his popularity represented proof of their inhumanity. To the politicians, his moral courage represented proof of their moral weakness. His presence invoked intense shame within both groups, because only he seemed strong enough to break free from the psychological chains of this lifetime of forged subjugation. The Force Publique? Years of inflicting suffering to their own people had already turned them sociopathic; torturing others was a way of life for them now. Whatever conscience they might have had originally was killed long ago. Declassified reports finally implicated The C.I.A. as being present throughout, as well as British intelligence. Nobody’s hands were clean.
All in all, it was a perfect biblical execution: the washing of hands, the betrayal, the torture, the Crucifixion. “And he answered [them] never a word”. He was pure in his heart. This is the essence of true power, and the founding principle of liberty: no one can truly control another who does not wish to be controlled. Patrice Lumumba, who six months earlier had won the only legitimate democratic election ever held in his country to this day, was then taken to a remote area, stood up against a tree, and shot dead by firing squad.
They dismembered him and dissolved his body parts in acid, a task proving to be more long and arduous than imagined, leaving the killers time for stifling reflection on the horrific deed they had just committed.
Besides taking out Lumumba, U.N. secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld was shot down a year later while entering Katanga airspace; he was there to settle continued conflicts over Congo mining rights. Hammarskjöld was favorable to Lumumba, or at least what he stood for; he originally recommended that Lumumba be allowed to lead his country, then later attempted to intercede to spare his life. At that time, unfortunately, the U.N. was merely a tool of United States interests, and Hammarskjöld could probably not be trusted to rule in favor of continued private control of public mining resources.
Is There a Solution?
Every day the news is filled with atrocities. Who is to say that one atrocity is more awful than another; they are all pretty awful. When we capitulate to the ‘awful’, or allow any degree of it to exist, we condemn ourselves to never be rid of it. War, Poverty, Oppression, Repression, Incarceration, Homicide, Suicide, Genocide, Rape; It is staggering how much ‘awful’ we are willing to accept.
Talk to the smartest people in the room about how to solve all these problems, and many would probably say “it’s complicated”, but it really isn’t. The conflict that we see all around us is simply the manifestation of the conflict that is within each of us. Our desire for MORE is the root of all existence, and it has two sides: when we seek the MORE from within ourselves – through personal growth of any kind – this represents the ‘good’ within us. When we seek the MORE from outside ourselves – through covetous control, accumulation or consumption – this constitutes the sum of all our ‘manmade’ suffering.
This second kind of MORE is embodied in the western concept of ‘happiness’ (and its necessary ‘pursuit’); it reaches its fruition with the invention of so-called ‘Free’ Market economics. If the external MORE is the fire in which we burn, natural resources are the fuel for this fire. Instead of reflecting on possible long-term effects, we impulsively mixed the two in a molotov cocktail called Capitalism and lit the match. Witness a World on Fire.
The U.S. has been at war for 225 of its 243-year existence. It has interfered in 81 different foreign elections since World War II, and was involved in more than 80 different regime changes. Even in our own country, we clamp the lid down tight on this boiling pot; our citizens pay significant taxes in order to incarcerate themselves (2.3 million at a time), apparently to send the strong message that Wealth Inequality will be strictly enforced.
Capitalism brings out the worst in our human nature: a propensity to consume, a tendency toward addiction, a desire to want what other people have, an instinct to coalesce around either attacking or defending any perceived threats to our ‘interests’…These forces, and several more like them, are at constant work within our subconscious mind – ‘habits’ that are not capable of being broken, unless we are aware they exist. Once we are aware of them, we could reframe the concept of ‘liberty’ to coincide with what is in our long-term best interest.
When we seek the MORE from outside ourselves, the first (and easiest) strategy becomes to simply reach out and take whatever we desire. Any resistance would lead to a second level of strategy: CONTROL – which involves how to take it, then how to keep it. Neither strategy requires morality to enter into the equation. The highest functioning part of our brain always fires last in the sequence when engaging our thought processes, which is why most of us impulsively act well before our conscience has a chance to kick in.
The Third Option believes that to change our world, we fist have to change our thinking; this means that a mental paradigm shift toward seeking the MORE from within ourselves becomes the over-arching driver of so-called ‘progress’.
Until we endorse this behavior, attempting any outward change to our society is futile. The beauty of seeking this kind of MORE is that it exists in endless supply, unlike the natural resources of our planet.
If the people of a country are counted as the true owners of the territory on which they reside, and form a government based on that assumption, the people within that territory would all become stakeholders in whatever that territory could produce, realizing that work, and what work produces, is the only sure way to create ‘economic’ stability. The concept of peddling resource wealth, like all forms of economic ‘rent’ (the art of obtaining ‘money for nothing’), is a boom or bust way to do business, and should no longer be encouraged.
Good governance needs a chance to take root, before unleashing free market economics upon it. If we ever hope to undo the wrong we have perpetrated on the third world, we in the so-called ‘developed’ world need to take a financial hit in the short term, and fund government stability for these countries, in the form of guaranteed essential needs, until the citizens can be educated enough to take over these essential needs platforms themselves.
DR Congo needs water and sewer infrastructure, education, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, rule of law, de-militarization and the disarmament of militia factions. These are things that only government can provide. Capitalism is designed to do one thing, and it has nothing to do with 99% of what people need. Until people have infrastructure, and jobs to create their own essential needs, there will be no taxes in order to fund any sort of meaningful government.
Third Option Solution
Third Option Solution
In matters of governance, The Third Option believes only 4 criteria need to be met when making any decision: whether it exhibits Fairness to every one involved, creates more Certainty and Inclusivity, and is Sustainable. If our decisions can satisfy all four ‘parameters’, then we can safely say we have done our due diligence, and engaged our frontal lobes in the decision-making process.
Fairness is more tangible to people than the concept of ‘equality’. Through the dissemination of Fairness, people will feel they are being valued ‘equally’, which is enough to satisfy at least 99% of us.
Certainty simply means the physical safety of each individual, who needs clean air, potable water, sustenance, shelter, and (in our modern world) electricity. Our economic arrangement requires education, (to order to gain employment), plus logistical considerations such as communication, transportation, healthcare, and retirement savings.
Inclusivity encompasses our innate need to Belong, When people are shamed or shunned, marginalized or neglected, an isolating feeling of subconscious shame is formed; some ‘internalize’ this, to their own physical detriment, while others ‘externalize’ it, to the physical detriment of those around them. If we ever wish to get a handle on violence, in all its forms, this Need to Belong must be front and center in all decision-making.
Sustainability is the fourth measure of effective decision-making. Are we simply putting a bandaid over an already festering wound? Are we hacking around at the branches, or are we striking at the root of the problem? Sustainability also means creating solutions that we can sustain indefinitely, as well as ones that create the least amount of negative externalities.
We are recycling our finite water supply. We are beginning to practice regenerative agriculture, and pursuing sustainable energy solutions. By Fairly Including every person in providing Sustainable basic needs such as these, we would help people feel more Certain. To make these needs sustainable for every one, we would need to educate every one (in every country) on these latest technologies, in order to get all the citizens of the world on the job of providing basic needs to themselves. Now there would be no idle rich (or poor) groups, as people became empowered to take control of their own fates. Those occupied in liberating themselves would have less time to stew about any unfairness, uncertainty or isolation they might be feeling – negative energy that produces actions ranging from protest to terrorism within less-sustainable environments.
For How The Third Option plans to help encourage this more Fair, Certain, Inclusive and Sustainable world, check here, here, and here. To the poor, Capitalism is a weapon of mass destruction. Developing countries need a better model than the imperialism, colonialism, or capitalism we have offered them thus far.