Saturday, March 30, 2013

Any suggestions?

Okay I am almost finished with my second article comparing Soviet treatment of the deported peoples with South African apartheid. The first one was published last year in Human Rights Review. However, given that the official academic line for most journals is that there never was any racial discrimination or "racial politics" in the USSR under Stalin (this is exactly what they write in the peer review reports) does anybody have any suggestions where I should try and get it published? This article notes the similarities in ethnos theory in the two countries as well as discriminatory practices and deals with the common influence of Shirokogorov on South African volkekundiges and Soviet ethnographers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Russian crackdown on Twitter and Facebook

For anybody who follows the news in Russia it appears that the government is attempting to censor the content of various social media, most notably Twitter and Facebook. As far as I know they are not making any moves right now to block access to Blogger. According to my site meter I do receive a comparatively large number of hits from Russia. Although how many of these are actual readers I have no idea.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wanted: Better Enemies

Say what you want about the Marxist-Leninists at least they had a coherent ideology. It is true that it led to millions of unnecessary deaths, but the basic idea of using the power of the state to forcibly develop the economy and improve the basic living conditions of the descendants of the surviving majority has a certain utilitarian appeal. I do not think improving the economic conditions of life for the children and grandchildren of the 90% of the Soviet population that survived Stalin's massive use of violence at all justifies his crimes. But, I can understand the logic behind it. However, today the radical LEFT in the US is focused completely and totally on justifying and supporting everything ever done by the US Democratic Party since FDR and demonizing everything ever done by the US Republican Party since Nixon. This makes me miss the communists. Because the Democrats have not had a coherent ideology of any sort for the most part other than that on the vast majority of issues since WWII they have agreed with the Republicans. The replacement of Lenin with LBJ as the new revolutionary icon just seems so wrong. I am pretty sure that Ho Chi Minh would have agreed with me on this.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Today I took my lap top into ICT to have some problems fixed. I was worried I was going to have to get a new computer soon. But, it looks like the 30 minutes or so of work the technician did will be sufficient to keep my lap top alive until the end of the year. I should have money to buy a replacement by then. I am told that I should go back to Toshiba rather than getting another Sony. Given my experience with both brands I would definitely say that Toshiba is a much better brand.

How did Ralph Nader become the number one enemy of the Radical US Left?

I do not understand the radical leftists that control US academia. According to the blogosphere or at least Lawyers, Guns, and Money which represents this elite their two greatest enemies are Glen Greenwald and Ralph Nader. I have no idea who Glen Greenwald is and do not particularly care. I know Ralph Nader is an American of Lebanese heritage who has been involved in various US political issues for a long time. I voted for him in 2000 because I was convinced that the two main parties were so closely attached to Israel that if one of them won they were going to get us involved in a war with an Arab country. I was right. George Bush went to war against Iraq. I understand that the US LEFT is strongly pro-Zionist and anti-Arab, but there has got to be a better enemy for them than Nader. How about Rashid Khalidi at the University of Columbia now that Edward Said is dead? Or maybe Chomsky? Really, I would never have pegged Nader as the arch villain of the American LEFT. It is like reading Stalinists and Maoists denounce Tito for being a "right-winger".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sixty four years since Operation "Priboi"

The largest wave of Stalinist deportations from the Baltic States took place 25-30 March 1949. Earlier smaller waves took place in Lithuania in spring 1948 and all three Baltic States on 14 June 1941. Code named "Operation Prioboi" the March 1949 deportations were summed up on 18 May 1949 by S. Kruglov in a report to Stalin.

From the territory of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian SSRs were exiled 30360 families of kulaks, nationalists and bandits (94779 people), of these men - 25,708, women - 41987, children - 27084, of this number: from the Lithuanian SSR - 9518 families (31917 people), from the Latvian SSR  - 13624 families (42149 people), from the Estonian SSR -7488 families (20173 people).

N.F. Bugai (ed.), Narody stran Baltii v usloviiakh  stalinizma (1940-e - 1950-e gody):  Dokumentirovannaia istoriia  (Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2005), p. 74.

Questioning the Nation State

The nation state model of organizing society in which each ethnic group as defined by language has its own state has in many ways caused more problems than it has solved. In Europe the creation of relatively homogeneous nation states came about only through the massive use of violence to remove minorities through partition, expulsion, and extermination. That is it took World War I, World War II, the Holocaust, the massive expulsion of ethnic Germans from East Central Europe, and the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia during the 1990s to reach the current state of rough correspondence between states and nations. Whether the human costs involved in reaching this stage of development was worth it or not is rarely debated. It is just assumed that the nation state is natural and that events like the mass expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia were necessary.

While in Europe the nation state has been largely achieved through the shedding of rivers of blood, in Africa the realization of the idea remains virtually non-existent. Most African states are multinational states with a large number of ethnic groups speaking different indigenous languages. These groups unlike in Europe do not each have their own exclusive state to give their nation political self determination. Instead they are forced to share state sovereignty with other ethnic groups. Ghana is not an Akan state, South Africa is not a Xhosa state, and Nigeria is not a Hausa state. The European pattern of violent partition, expulsion, and extermination to create homogeneous nation states has been avoided by most African states. The result is that these states are very different from those in Europe and much of Asia where the nation state model has triumphed.

This leads to the question of whether the existing African states should be called nations at all. If we do call them nations what do we call the various ethnic groups inside them seeking modern forms of political representation? Because when people talk about the Ghanaian nation they mean something very different from the Hungarian or Kyrgyz nation. There is no Ghanaian language or common myth of being a single extended family for one thing. There is only a common Ghanaian state founded in 1957 from the territories of the British Gold Coast colony and the British Togoland League of Nations Mandate. This state is composed of a number of ethnic groups none of which is a state bearing people. Ghana is a multi-ethnic state rather than a nation state and this pattern is widespread throughout Africa.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Today I had kenkey and pepper for lunch at the Night Market. I passed on the dry fish. The flies seems to like the fish a bit too much and I definitely do not want to catch cholera. The kenkey and pepper cost me only 50 peswas (25 cents). So it is possible to find things even cheaper than Ramen noodles to eat. The big expense in all meals here seems to be the meat, chicken, or fish.


It always amazes me when I get a comment from a new person here. It is evidence that I have readers I did not know about. I got one the other day. I wonder if there are anymore out there?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Obituary for the Socialist Workers Party

When I did my post-graduate work to earn my MA and PhD at SOAS from 2001-2004 the Socialist Workers Party had a constant low level presence around the various University of London campuses. It was a strange Marxist-Leninist-Trotskyite entity with its own cult of personality around Tony Cliff who founded the party.  Every summer they would sponsor a conference called Marxism that would have various speakers, musicians, and a big book sale. I once saw China Mieville give a talk on zombies and Lenin at one of these conferences, I believe it was Marxism 2003. Now I am told as a result of a rape scandal that the party has basically fallen apart and is in its death throes. Of course in terms of having any real effect on British politics the SWP was a complete non-entity. But, it did attract the support of a lot of geeky London undergrads who would probably have become libertarians in the US. Its role in providing an outlet for socially awkward youth seems to have been far greater than its actual intellectual or political influence in the UK. Nonetheless, despite my ideological differences with the communists in the SWP I have fond memories of arguing with their members over issues ranging from Lenin to Palestine to Chechnya. I don't know if the radical left in the UK or anywhere else in the English speaking world will be able to find a replacement for the SWP. It was in almost all aspects a completely anachronistic organization during the years I came in contact with it. After all 2001 was not 1917. So perhaps now the era of organized Marxist-Leninist politics in the English speaking world has finally come to a fitting end.

Decline in Readership since 2009

Walt Richmond, one of the very few people to ever comment on this blog, left a comment recently stating that people do not care about Africa and Africans. I suspect that is true for most of the world outside of Africa. But, it seems particularly true regarding those who read and write blogs. I looked at some stats today that showed that my readership had declined by over 80% since 2009 when I was based in Kyrgyzstan. Now maybe these stats are wrong, but if they are true that is a pretty stunning decline. I am not sure why the decline would be so great. But, maybe there is relatively a much higher interest in reading blogs written in Central Asia than those written in Africa?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The very poor record of socialists on racial equality

It has occurred to me that despite their claims to have eliminated racism that socialist regimes were historically every bit as bad if not worse than the worst capitalist states such as apartheid South Africa in this matter. Cuba seems to be the only socialist state in which racial discrimination actually decreased rather than increased after the revolution. In the USSR there were the bloody national operations that fell heavily upon diaspora groups like the Germans, Poles, Finns, Greeks, Latvians, and Estonians during 1937-38. Then there was the wholesale internal deportation and deprivation of civil rights imposed upon the Koreans, Germans, Finns, Karachais, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Crimean Tatars, Meskhetian Turks, and other stigmatized groups in the 1940s. In China there was the wholesale persecution and annihilation of the cultural institutions of the Tibetans, Mongols, and Uyghers, particularly during the Cultural Revolution. In Vietnam there was the systematic mistreatment of ethnic Chinese in 1978-79. In Cambodia the Khmer Rouge exterminated the majority of the country's ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, Thais, and Cham. So it is not surprising that people who continue to spring from the same ideological base as Stalin, Mao, Le Duan, and Pol Pot continue to support policies that treat different groups of people differently and unequally on the basis of their ancestry and lineage.

On this topic I am interested in learning more about the Vietnamese government's persecution of its Chinese population during the late 1970s. It appears that the exodus of ethnic Chinese from Vietnam was in response to a campaign of racist persecution by the Vietnamese government, but that they were not actually forcibly expelled from the country. Rather after being plundered and subjected to significant harassment they were given the option of settling in New Economic Zones or leaving Vietnam, and the vast majority chose to leave. If anybody has any suggestions for reading on the subject please put them in the comments.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

More on Left-Wing Racism

I see that the Left-Wing racists at Crooked Timber who strongly denounced the slight reduction in the very high standard of living of the White people in Greece are now denouncing the IMF's policies in even richer, but still White Cyprus. Policies that will also make rich White people less rich.  But, these same people have been completely silent on the recent further impoverishment by the IMF of poor Black people in Ghana and other African countries through the forced elimination of fuel subsidies. It is clear from this support of the structural racism I outlined above that the American and European LEFT does not consider Black people in Africa to be real people deserving of the same rights, opportunities, and material benefits as White people in Europe. This is a far worse form of racism than the utterance of racial slurs by powerless poor rural Whites in Mississippi.

Grading Rubric

I have some students that do very well. I have other students who do not do so well. The difference between the two groups is that the first type does the reading and pays attention in class while the second does not. There are no magic formulas for getting a good grade.

Friday, March 15, 2013

More on Togo police battle protesting journalists

Here is a fairly good summary of yesterday's protest and its suppression by the Togolese security forces.

Togo police battle protesting journalists

Thursday, March 14, 2013

More Government Violence in Togo

Right across the eastern border of Ghana is the city of Lome in Togo. It is the seat of a repressive dictatorship that continues in power with the active support of the French and US governments and more importantly the passive support of racist American liberals. Today security forces used tear gas to break up a demonstration in Lome the capital of Togo. The demonstrators were protesting new restrictions on the country's media. The government can now revoke media licenses without going through the courts. Around 50 journalists were involved in the protest and 3 were injured. This is just the latest in a long string of protests by people in Togo recently against the dynastic dictatorship of Faure Gnassingbe who inherited rule of the country from his father in 2005.

You won't ever find anything about the ongoing struggle for freedom and human rights in Togo on any self proclaimed "liberal", "progressive", or "radical" blogs. This is because they do not believe that the people in Togo or anywhere else in Africa are fully human. They believe it is perfectly acceptable to reinforce international racist structures in which France and the US support the regime in Togo against the people of Togo. To absolve themselves of any wrong doing they think all they have to do is condemn poor rural whites in Mississippi who are prejudiced against Black Americans. Then they become "good people" opposed to racism.  But, it is not poor rural whites in Mississippi who are propping up the Togolese regime. It is the progressive governments of France and Obama that are keeping the current dictator in power just as his father was backed by Paris and "progressive" US presidents like Johnson and Clinton. You wouldn't see such complete silence by leftist bloggers if there was a military regime in a white country like Greece or Spain. The international left was as vocal against Franco and the Greek Colonels as they are completely silent regarding Togo.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


I do not watch television anymore. If somebody sends me a documentary on DVD I will watch it. But, other than that I only watch films on airplanes. This undoubtedly cuts me off from my indigenous Obruni culture to a large extent. I do, however, read popular fiction written in the US. I like mysteries and crime novels and the big book store across the street has a much better selection of these types of books than any book store I have ever seen in the US. Lately, I have been reading a lot of Michael Connelly novels. I know it is not high literature, but I find it far more entertaining.

Monday, March 11, 2013

We have electricity again!!!

Today after four whole days with no electricity what so ever, my office finally has power. I have no idea how long it will last, however.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

What is going on at work.

Except for Wednesday which was a holiday the electricity has gone out in the history department every single day. When it went out on Thursday the electricians refused to come out and fix it. Apparently they said they were tired of coming out to fix it and so they were not ever going to solve the problem. So now the history and English departments have had no electricity at all for three whole days running and it is really hot and humid. I can stand about 30 minutes in my office in the afternoon, but not any longer, without the air conditioning and fan. Evidently the problem is that when they built our new offices last summer they forgot to add any carrying capacity to the building's wiring to allow it to run the additional air conditioning units they added. They also knew about this problem at the time and decided it was too much work and expense to do it right then. So now it looks like the history and English departments at the University of Ghana will be without electricity indefinitely. I guarantee you that this would not ever happen to the Business school.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

8 March 1944

This Friday is International Women's Day. It is also the 69th anniversary of the deportation of the Balkars from their Caucasian homeland to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Balkars are not a very large nationality even by the standards of the North Caucasus. Their history is nonetheless representative of a number of small ethnic groups in the USSR. Most notably in the fact that the decision to deport the Balkars was made before the regime concocted the false charges of treason used to justify this ethnic cleansing. If you are looking for material on the Balkars or any other national group from the Northwest Caucasus some of the best writing comes from my good friend Walter Richmond. I have linked to two of his pieces above.

The Week

Tomorrow is Ghanaian independence day so I do not have to go to Accra to teach at City Campus. I do not know what I will do tomorrow. Today we had no power in the office for most of the day.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Reputations and Rankings

If I go by reputation and rankings all of the WHITE universities in the world appear much better on paper than my institution. But, we get between three and six presentations by PhD students and faculty from Europe and the  US here a semester and most of them are pretty weak. Even if they are sending us their absolute worst representatives because we are in Black Africa and not worth the effort, it indicates that their overall quality is far inferior to their reputation. However, in some cases the presenters are portrayed as the best that a certain institution in Europe or the US has to offer. In which case why are we rated so far below these institutions internationally? Our best graduate students are doing much better work and frankly I would be embarrassed to send somebody to Europe from here to give the type of mediocre presentations that they routinely send us. If anybody has any thoughts as to why this is the case I would greatly appreciate their comments.

Class today

Today in class it was clear that not a single student had done all of the assigned reading and the mid-term exam is next week. I know people tell me if I want the students to do the reading that I have to give a quiz every class. But, that is a lot more work grading for me since the class has 110 students. Should not people in their twenties be mature enough to do the reading on their own without me having to test them on it every week? Is it too much to ask that at least one student, less than 1% of the class, do all the reading for any one class session? I do not know where the habit of not doing any reading for class came from. But, it is the single greatest obstacle to the university becoming a world class institution.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Former Soviet Archives

From best I can tell the archives of the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan are still both partially open with regards to researching Stalinist repression even though both states are run by dictators. Whereas those of democratic Kyrgyzstan have reclassified everything to do with Soviet violations of human rights as secret and top secret. Scholars writing on the Russian-Germans conscripted into the labor army are still citing a number of different archives from the RF and Kazakhstan. In contrast those writing about the subject on Central Asia recently only cite archives from Moscow and none from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. I know for a fact as a result of going to the TsGAKR in Bishkek last summer that these documents are indeed now off limits in Kyrgyzstan despite the fact that many of them were published earlier. I assume that those in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan have also been reclassified. But, I have no evidence other than the lack of citations in recent scholarship. Can anybody confirm the status of the archives in these three states regarding research into Stalinist repression?