November 25 2003
I want to change the world. Most political thinkers want only
to make the world a little bit better, want to advance in a gradual way. They
want to maintain the present power relations. Though the world can indeed still
be improved, it is impossible to build a fundamentally better world on a wrong
In the colonial era the English were more racist than the French. The goal of
opponents of the bad situation of colonised indigenous people should not be a
(slight) improvement, for example a less racist attitude of the occupiers,
but a total change, the abolition of the colonial regime. It has been proved
that it was impossible for colonial powers to gradually educate colonised people
till they "were capable of managing their own affairs". But in Iraq
the Americans still adhere to the same idea, namely that they only plan to leave
when they find Iraqis able to take their destiny in their own hands.
Iraq provides other examples of the impossibility of the paternalistic idea that
old leaders can introduce fundamental changes. A growing number of people are
against Bush, are against the War in Iraq. But when they look for solutions they
rally behind the opposition that in the past has been guilty of developing a
situation which made it "easy" for Bush to invade Iraq, an opposition
that also do not want to leave Iraq unconditionally.
Bush indeed is not solving the terrible situation in the Middle East, including
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Clinton also supported the existing
situation of the quagmire in and around Israel. Clinton also demanded that
Iraq's (apparently non-existent) weapons of mass destruction should be
controlled and destroyed. Clinton also did nothing against the atom bombs of
Israel, Pakistan, India or China (not to mention against the own A-weapons, the
biggest arsenal of all). Clinton also did nothing to improve the backward
position of women in many countries. Clinton was cleverer than Bush, not better.
A possible Democratic successor to Bush will hardly change the Bush policy. Poor
people with AIDS will still be deprived of needed medicines. The International
Criminal Court will still not be allowed to judge possible crimes against
humanity committed by American soldiers. Domination by Western capital through
the IMF or the World Bank will be continued. The building of the American Empire
will go on. The rest of the world will remain under Western control.
The situation in the Third World is unwell, but colonial times have already
proven that the rich cannot improve this situation. The international secret
meddling in former Yugoslavia caused the deaths of many civilians. The invasion
in Afghanistan chased the Taleban away (at least temporarily) but the new regime
is not much better than the old one and drugs are again streaming towards our
countries. In Iraq and in Afghanistan the occupiers block any independent
development. In many other countries people are kept backward by regimes that
are fully supported by the West.
Bush is unpleasant but Clinton and the like are not much better. People must
start to develop a policy that is not dependent on or infiltrated by powers that
primarily want to maintain their own privileged position.
Of course the present situation can be improved. A reasonable society (like our
democracy) has enough room for criticism. But all improvement will remain within
the boundaries set by the powerful elite. As a small example; it is permitted in
my country, Holland, to criticise the behaviour of individual members of the
royal family. But hardly tolerated would be an attack on the undemocratic
constitution by which a wealthy family gets power because of their genes.
I want change by undermining and then transgressing the elitist borders to open
the way to new worlds, to a new unthought-of future. Such a policy, I am
advancing on my web site. I invite everyone to form temporary minority groups of
active and interested citizens that creatively disturb the now quiet world of
the privileged elite. See the chapter 19, Creative
Disturbance, of About Violence and Democracy. When the elite cannot go on living as
before, the possibility of fundamental change will arise. But when people only support one faction of the elite against another faction; support Clinton-like
people against Bush-like people, only tiny improvements in the situation are
possible, and our world will continue in its fundamentally wrong situation.
Yours truly, Joost van Steenis