Sunday, March 6, 2011

Afro-Futurism: The Marketing of Revolution

rev-o-lu-tion: noun

1. an overthrow or repudiation and the thorough replacement of an established government or political system by the people governed;
2. a radical and pervasive change in society and the social structure, especially one made suddenly and often accompanied by violence.

Like most of the world, I have been following the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" in North Africa and the Middle East. As I watched the news coverage (primarily on Aljazeera English), saw the images of protest, violence and chaos, observed the manoeuvrings of the ruling class to maintain power, while some were pretending to relinquish it, as I read throughout the blogosphere, afrosphere and listened to the "experts" predict the rise of people power, I mused of how wrong Gil Scott Heron was when he stated that "the revolution will not be televised."  

Not only is the revolution being televised, it is also being marketed throughout all media platforms... on television, radio, in print, but most importantly, throughout cyberspace. It has become apparent that 21st century revolutions are purposely being marketed via the internet... and the main players, multi-national, billion dollar corporations such as Facebook, Google and Twitter, or media created sensations such as WikiLeaks, are the primary beneficiaries. 

History is a cruel teacher, because it teaches the same lessons to future intelligentsia, who continuously fool themselves into believing that they are smarter, as well as more sophisticated, than all the generations previous. However history has taught us, if we care to examine closely, that all revolutions... whether secular, religious, political or social... no matter how noble and well intentioned they began, ends up replacing one small parasitic ruling class with another privileged one. History also teaches us that from the beginning, if we care to examine closely, the benefits from the new revolutionary society were always intended for a chosen few.

"No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which." George Orwell: Animal Farm
I remember during my university days revolutionaries such as Gaddafi, Mugabe and Castro were my heroes. I recently watched a documentary on the rise of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, who some consider a new age revolutionary. When they were leaking information such as the dumping of toxic waste off the Ivory Coast by western corporations (here), they realized that the world was taking little or no notice of their leaks. Then they devised a marketing strategy to bring themselves to prominence. They would focus on leaking American secrets and brand themselves with a face... and who better than a white-haired, blue eyed, fair-skinned, Norse-like god to be the face of WikiLeaks... although he was originally from Australia and had dark hair.

The image makeover and marketing of Assange as the new Thor-like revolutionary hero... who like the mythical hero that wielded a hammer to produce thunder throughout the heavens... Assange wielded the "send" button on his computer, to produce a thunderous effect throughout cyberspace, heard around the world... an internet driven revolution of society. However, just like real thunder, which initially may cause a mixture of fear, chaos, wonder, and worship among the young, uninformed, blind and zealots... over time this new revolutionary thunder dissipates into nothingness and life goes on. It becomes a news cycle story for a time, then a hollywood produced movie.. panem et circences... and history once again repeats itself. 

Interestingly, Jasmine-like revolutions which has been taking place within "black" Africa, people rising up against despotic leadership in places such as Zimbabwe, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Chad and recently the Ivory Coast, don't get the anywhere near the worldwide attention and concern... particularly among the self described "black revolutionaries" within the afrosphere. These "Cocoa Revolutions" have no marketing value, except to reinforce the perception that these are just a bunch of savage Africans killing each other as usual. There are no white-haired, blue eyed, fair-skinned, Tarzan-like figures, associated with these revolutionary struggles in "black" Africa to capture our attention... or to worship. Most importantly, "black" Africa is not conducive at this point, for profit generation by the new multi-national, billion dollar corporations such as Facebook, Google and Twitter.  

The future for those of African descent, regardless of where we reside in the world, isn't in revolution. 20th century revolutions for the 21st century is foolish and self-defeating. History has taught us, for those who wish to learn, that revolution hasn't benefitted us in the past, whether it's been marketed with a "white" Christ, Marx, Lenin, Mao, Assange or whatever fair-skinned brand they are planning to throw at us in the future. History has taught us, for those who wish to learn, that European based revolutionary ideology, like all Eurocentric ideology and theology, wasn't created for our benefit... or profit... even if it has been marketed to us with a "black" face. The fact is, they have been used time and time again, to enslave us, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. 

Moving forward into our collective Afro-Future, individually and as a people we need to embrace a spirit of evolution. The 60's ended on January 1st, 1970. Malcolm, Martin, Nkrumah, Lumumba, etc., had their moments. Today belongs to us. The time is now to build upon their foundation... as well as on those of all our ancestors... not rest on them. Future generations should honour our efforts and be inspired by our words of wisdom, just like we honour and quote our ancestors. We must evolve within, first and foremost.... spiritually, emotionally, mentally. As a people, we are only as strong as our weakest link. If we can't evolve to the point where we can unite with each other... or at least listen to each other... regardless of ideology, theology, politics, gender, sexual orientation, national and/or tribal affiliations, we will always be slaves to the marketing strategies and revolutions of others.
"The best way to control the opposition, is to market it. Once a revolution can be branded, given a Facebook page and "Googled", it's the shareholders in front of their computers, not the people on the streets, who determine the course of their history." Asabagna 

1 comment:

  1. We must use this forum, this cyberspace to our own advantage, just as everyone else is! So far, we've done a bit of psychoanalyzing our mental enslavements, and that's the tip of the iceberg, IMHO.

    I believe that we need to KNOW what our foundation actually is!! Too many of us don't even KNOW that much! In knowing we can then say, yes to this, no to that etc.

    Mental slavery is the most damning of all, because it leaves one open to be raped again and again and again, and even again! It opens the door to the other slaveries.
    I've said it a bazillion times, (at least I intend to) that this cyberspace is open for us, and we had better take advantage of it while we can to do a mass drive-by on mental slavery and self ignorance.

    "Let's cleanse our minds so the truth of who we are can be re-implanted".
    Anna Renee

    We are in the position of being the brains of the new evolution of the black man and black woman! And that means that we have to be on our J.O.B.!! It takes diligence!! Who's ready? We (Afrospear) need to put forth the ideology for this evolution!