Ousmene Sembene

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Apr 30 06:57:21 MDT 2001

David Welch:
>The Marxist critique of imperialism is not that imperialist countries
>force development on their colonies, rather that because of the structural
>limitations of capitalism it is unable to expand evenly across the world,
>instead less developed countries are held as sources for raw materials and
>for superexploitation. Claiming that if you support development then you
>must support capitalism is nonsense, it's precisely because social
>progress under capitalism is uneven and limited that socialism is

Gossamer abstractions like this are a good way to avoid a debate. I was
describing a historical process dramatized in Sembene's films. The French
seized rice from villagers to feed their imperialist garrison as did the
British in Bengal (described in Satyajit Ray's "Distant Thunder"). The
result in either case was death by slaughter or famine. When I wrote a
movie review defending the right of peasants to be left in peace and not
get fucked by French colonists, that prompted you to write a snide
one-liner about how I should go live in one of these villages. It reminds
me of the shmucks who used to tell me that I should go live in Russia if I
believed in communism.

I believe in democracy. It is the right of precapitalist societies to not
be mauled by multicorporations and their gun-thugs. How simple can it be.
You must defend the right of the Ogoni people not to be trampled by Shell
Oil and their Nigerian army hired assassins. You must defend the right of
the Yanomami not to be forced off their land by multinationals who want to
turn the Amazon into lawn furniture for sale at Pier One. You must defend
the right of Inuit to hunt and fish in traditional fashion and not lose
this right because of George Bush Jr'.'s desire to placate the people who
funded his campaign for president. I am very concrete. You refuse to be
concrete because you don't want to spell out your shitty politics. At least
Heartfield had the guts to say that Shell Oil was right. You are too much
of a coward to defend your Menshevism.

>Who said anything about forcing?

The films did and I focused on that. Obviously Sembene's desire to make
films about resistance to forced economic and social assimilation touched a
raw nerve in you. I can understand this. The British left has been
notoriously weak on such questions. Unlike the rest of the British left,
however, you seem anxious to promote this kind of mixture of Rudyard
Kipling and Karl Marx.

Louis Proyect
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