Corruption, the Devaluation of the Human Spirit and the Futures of Black Humanity (1).

Ademola Araoye


By Ademola Araoye

So many interesting ideas float on the internet these days. They can be harvested for the good of mankind. At the same time, the air waves provide a mechanism unleashed for the propagation of absolute trash. The debris of monumental trash invading private spaces unsolicited may often be dangerous to the wholesomeness of humankind.  They can also be provocative.  One such unprovoked offensive intrusive piece by a Michael Page appeared in my in box during the week. Titled “A New Taxonomy for Corruption in Nigeria”, the purported research was funded by the reputable Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The funding by Carnegie Endowment implied a badge of legitimacy for what I thought was a project merely cloaking what we, without external prompting, recognize as the repulsive in our national life. Our embarrassing open sore is dramatically encrypted in the mystic of vacuous intellectualism. I didn’t think that the grandiloquent headlines of the intrusion notwithstanding, that Page’s cheap intervention on the modalities of corruption in Nigeria added anything profound to the existing corpus of knowledge on corruption.  But it did rouse in me again certain nagging misgivings and thoughts around the international politics, international political economy, of theories, conceptual frameworks and analytical paradigms, especially, but not exclusively, in Social Science research. A lived experience of conflicts in the proxy zones of hegemonic powers had long validated my misgivings. The experience of active engagements of conflict management has led to deep cynicism about often specious international analytic instruments in the complexities of African affairs, if not in the totality of the third world universe. The international politics and political economy of mainstream paradigms often advance insidious grand intellectual corruption that is implicit in entrenched pervasive hegemonic falsehoods on which the global order is sustained.

Wondering the import of the intrusive piece, I was reminded that what I was reading, as innocuous as it seemed, was consistent with the eternal struggle between the forces of light and harmony and the forces of darkness. The latter seems entrenched and overwhelming to the extent that progressivism has always been on the back foot. These entrenched mainstream perspectives have been in the service of conservative Enlightenment. They are propagated as the narratives of the validation of the dehumanization of the weak. Social Darwinism is a clear case in point. The forces of radical enlightenment must show discretion in the handling of ostensibly value neutral good intentioned analytical frameworks and the intellectual outputs that they engender. It is a critical requirement. For good or otherwise, ideas, have proven to be the most effective or dangerous instrument in the pursuit of any agenda. As paradigms for social action, the ultimate objectives of analytical frameworks range from oiling the struggle for emancipation to the consolidation of the iron fetters of humanity. These are the endless and timeless confrontations of polar and antagonistic opposites.  It is in the context of this unbounded tussle that the contesting narratives of the evolution of the principles around the social organization of mankind are premised. Dominant mainstream narratives are based on the sanctity of entrenched glaring lies and fallacies. They are often spiced with exaggerations. The expressions and manifestations of hegemonic falsehoods are from narratives around what may appear very inconsequential things to major decisions as to who, including whole communities, survives and who is eliminated. The system of intricate fabric of organized untruths spurned by dominant forces of the global system to maintain the status quo or the extant order of the universe may be categorized as hegemonic falsehoods. Africa, wittingly or unwittingly, has been sucked into the destructive cauldron of hegemonic fallacies. It is now trapped in the contradictions of inherited falsehoods that now drive its organizing principles. African leaders, imbibing hegemonic fallacies of the grand deception of the directors of the global system, have acquired the convenient logic assuring its eternal subservience and ultimate destruction. They are thus far removed from the pulse of Africans.  They lead Africa in a long arduous walk is into a cul de sac.

Hegemonic falsehoods are not static. They may be, or indeed, incrementally modified by direct assaults of changing ground realities that may force radical modifications of the premises of those sanctified falsehoods. Radical realignments of the perceptual locations of China and Japan are instructive of the possibility of liberating adjustments by the force of realities. Academic egg heads refer to the Kuhnian revolution as essential to intellectual movement of theories and concepts to closer approximation of evolved objective reality and factual truths. Such modifications reflect systemic progress. The gradual realignments of concrete realities may thus challenge dominant falsehoods on the nature of man and society, including the preeminent philosophical underpinnings of the organization of Man. Where a society, nation, community or any aggregation of humanity with common elements as to be perceived as the defining trait, is fixated on ideas that are obsolete, the fixations are deleterious. The ideational immobility is instrumental in sustaining the validity of all falsehoods that may have been woven around perceptions of that community’s existence. Such is the case of Africa, its peoples at home and abroad, that has refused to force the progressive transformations of critical perceptions in the face of massive evolution of other aggregates of humanity.

Africa has confronted and suffered from a multi level swindling from its earliest engagement with the External Other. The first has been through the intrusions of the exogenous hegemon. More lately, it has wrestled with its internal monsters cloned in the image and service of the inimical External Other. So, Africa’s subservient location in the hierarchy of the human order is firmly consolidated by the wholesale abandonment of the rational imposed by its own historicity by its own dominant social forces. The tragedy is that Africa has been sold on ideas contrived to keep it in its place. The tragic paradox is that Africa is today the main propagators of the very ideas that assure its own subordination across the totality of the spectrum of human endeavors. Globally inspired Hegemonic falsehoods dating back to antiquity remain preeminent as drivers of Africa’s continued subordinate status and locus in its relationship with the brutal universe. The hegemonic falsehoods are perpetuated as convenient validations and instruments for the derailment of the human spirit. The challenge of holistic progressivism is to debunk the underlying corruption of the ideas that drive existential realities by assaulting the manifestation of those ideas in concrete existence.

The contemporary ordering of the universe is to a large extent the reflection of the validated corruption of the human spirit. That is why an alternative progressivism inspired narrative of global history cannot but conclude that it would be “a heartbreaking, serious, and thoughtful survey of human evil that is utterly fascinating and dramatic.” I cite here the new York Times book review of Niall Ferguson’s The War of the World. Another sees the Ferguson’s narrative as a “tale of evil in human terms”, while yet another summarizes it, based on its psychological insights and analysis as “counterfactual’ that nonetheless presents fresh, surprising detail. The point is the dominant factors and forces of the evolution of the ordering of human order, including the construction and evolution of power, political configurations are premised of grand corruption.

Some digression to explain the concept of corruption, from the angle of radical Enlightenment, would be in order. Conceptual delineations are important in helping us tease out the parameters for the engagement with our subject. It determines the expansive extents or the limited boundaries and contours of the subject of interest. Corruption, from the view of radical Enlightenment, is the process and actuality of the derailment and or subversion of the ordained natural order of things. Corruption thus also may be termed the assault on or the derogation of the objective good. The axiomatic underpinnings are simply that there is an objective goodness that is transcendental to all expressions and manifestations of relative specificities of local cultures, time ad locations in the social hierarchy. From this angle, the centrality of evil that has been the fundamental driver of the evolution of human history and manifest in the philosophies around the organization of human society has clearly represented the expressions of historic devaluation of the human spirit. The essence of the purity of the human spirit is derogated in every corrupt transaction. This applies to institutions and may include nations and states, human systems, largely corporate bodies and individuals at all levels of human engagement. Every act that upends the values implicit in the sanctity of human life as a collective, also expressed in individual lives, and torpedoes associated ethical systems of humanity is manifestly corrupt. There are gradations of corruption. Based on the massiveness, intensity and depth of the afflictions that they wreak on humanity, institutional transgression pursued by nations and states as well as large corporate institutions and systems against the collective human spirit may be categorized as Grand Corruption. This often dates back to antiquity. Grand Corruption is exemplified in horrors such as Racism and Slavery, Nazism and the incineration of humanity, colonialism, the Tuskegee experiment, the Rape of Nanking, etc, etc. Constitutional contrivances that blatantly validate the dehumanization of the human spirit such as Apartheid rank as Grand Corruption. Grand Corruption is thus institutionally located and driven. Grand corruption is often in the service of a collective minority. It is often central to the political economy of the minority.

Yet, speaking of a minority runs afoul of the nature of the nature of things. Niall Ferguson illuminates this by noting that the science of modern genetics has revealed that human beings are remarkably alike. He highlights that in terms of human DNA, without a shadow of doubt, all are descended from one specie. The origins of human beings can be traced back to Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago.  Fergusson clarifies that the difference associated with racial identities are superficial. In a footnote further clarifying the foundations of a single humanity, it is affirmed that all the human mitochondrial DNA sequence are descended from one African woman. Also all the Y chromosomes can be traced back to one African man. Beneath the skin, he affirms that all human beings are quite similar. The conclusion of some biologists is that, strictly speaking, human races do not exist. The concept of race and ethnicity is thus the corruption of the nature of things in its convenient social constructions. This construction is thus one of the fundamental elements of hegemonic fallacies instrumental to the evil of human history. This corruption of the nature of things has been the principal drivers of the evolution and sanguinary fate of collective black humanity.