The January 2008 edition of the journal Race & Class leads with Joy Wang’s analysis of Thabo Mbeki’s AIDS denialism, features Jeremy Seabrook’s examination of the psychic costs of industrialism’s relentless march and includes studies of racial conflict in Malaysia, liberal imperialism in Egypt and the ‘integration’ discourse in France.
Aids denialism and ‘The humanisation of the African’
Joy Wang analyses the AIDS denialism of South African President Thabo Mbeki’s government through close examination of a representative monograph circulated throughout the ANC in 2002, referred to here as ‘The humanisation of the African’. Although the anti-colonial stance of this document is problematic, the expressed resistance to pharmaceutical industries and racism needs to be regarded seriously. Fanon’s essay ‘Medicine and colonialism’ establishes useful parameters for historicising the impasse between scientists and Mbeki’s government. Understanding Mbeki’s AIDS denialism within the context of apartheid and colonialism is crucial in enabling us to read the tragic mismanagement of the epidemic beyond the most frequently employed explanations of South African racial paranoia, pathological despotism and/or scientific illiteracy.
The living dead of capitalism
In the usual accounts of industrialism’s resistless march, what is ignored is the coercive dissolution of whole ways of life that were once promoted as embodiments of virtue, and the associated psychic and spiritual pain resulting from the loss of coherence and purpose in one’s life. Even those appointed by capitalism to privileged positions are vulnerable to industrial society’s lurches from one mode of being to the next. And, when the young rebel against yesterday’s privilege in the name of a new moral order that is itself sanctioned by ‘progress’, they, more often than not, fail to anticipate that their values, too, will one day be deemed obsolete. Jeremy Seabrook relates a tale of this hidden injury told through memories of a generation which came of age in the 1950s with a determined zeal to do away with antique prejudices and which committed itself to values of public service that have now been discarded.
Racial conflict in Malaysia: against the official history
According to the official history, the ‘race riots’ of May-July 1969 were a spontaneous outbreak of conflict between Malays and Chinese – Malaysia’s two largest ethnic groups – and the violence was prompted, if anything, by opposition parties rejecting the status quo. In this article, Kua Kia Soong challenges the official account using recently declassified documents held at the Public Records Office, London, which suggest that the riots represented a coup d’etat. With its ideology of Malay dominance, the faction that came to power in May 1969 represented the interests of the then emergent Malay state-capitalist class.
Liberal imperialism and the occupation of Egypt in 1882
The US occupation of Iraq and the ongoing war throws up a number of parallels with British imperial history. Outstanding in this regard is the Gladstone government’s 1882 invasion of Egypt, ostensibly to oust a despotic military government. John Newsinger describes how the many decades-long occupation saw the country virtually bankrupted, suppressed a modernising Islamic movement for constitutional democracy and, in the fall-out from this, fostered in the Sudan a more fundamentalist Islamic movement.
‘Integration’, discrimination and the Left in France: a roundtable discussion
At a roundtable discussion held in Paris in May 2007, French activists and academics examined the dangers of the current ‘integration’ discourse. In these extracts from the discussion, transcribed and edited by Naima Bouteldja, it is argued that a chauvinist consensus on national identity exists across the political spectrum in France. Bound up with this consensus is a set of deeply held prejudices against Muslims and ‘immigrant’ communities.
Race & Class is published quarterly, in January, April, July and October, by Sage Publications for the Institute of Race Relations; individual subscriptions are £27/$47, for four issues, with an introductory rate of £20/$35 for new subscribers.