On July 29th, a military junta ousted Niger’s President, Mohamed Bazoum, and took control of the country. From the very beginning, the nationalist and anti-French characteristics of the coup became evident. The population took to the streets in support of the military action, with some spontaneously waving Russian flags during the protests.
The coup caused significant discomfort within the imperialist bloc. Quickly, countries like France and the United States condemned the action and began to threaten to invade the country. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), now coordinated by the Nigerian government, which is completely subservient to imperialism, has made statements in the same direction.
Considering the countries involved in the conflict alone, it becomes easy to understand what is happening in Niger at this moment. On one side is a impoverished country with 26 million inhabitants that many people have never heard of. On the other side are the “masters of the world,” who promote coups and wars on every continent just to secure the interests of major capitalists. Add to this the fact that France was virtually stealing all of Niger’s uranium – the country was left with only 2% of the mineral extracted from its soil – and the picture becomes even clearer. It is a struggle of an oppressed country against its oppressor.
Despite the clarity of the situation, several “theories” have emerged within the left to justify a position contrary to supporting the military junta. The first and most infantile of the arguments is that one cannot support a government that comes from a military coup. After all, this would contradict the defense of “democracy.”
Those who say this ignore that one cannot speak of “democracy” in Africa. Just because a regime has elections doesn’t make it democratic. If a government serves a foreign power, if it hands over all its uranium to corrupt French interests, it cannot be a “democratic” government. On the contrary, it is a government that goes against the interests of the population. And if there is any doubt that the previous regime was unpopular, just look at the demonstrations in support of the military coup.
In practice, the defense of “democracy” in Niger opposes a nationalist program since the “democratic” government is deeply pro-imperialist and goes against the interests of the population, which is mobilized to end the Bazoum government. Opposing the military junta in Niger, taken to its logical conclusion, is the defense of imperialism invading the country against a people in the streets wanting to be free from foreign domination.
Therefore, the defense of “democracy” in Niger is the exchange of the defense of the real interests of the Nigerien people for a façade, whose content is nothing more than the most undemocratic thing in the world: the dictatorship of imperialist countries. That is, the dictatorship of countries that destroyed Iraq, dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, and were responsible for the 2016 coup in Brazil. We cannot fail to point out the infinite cowardice of this position, which, in the name of an empty abstraction, advocates for one of the poorest countries in the world to be crushed by the most powerful armies on the planet.
The second argument, supposedly more sophisticated but just as ridiculous as the previous one, argues that the military government in Niger cannot be supported because it is allied with Russia and China. The main argument is that Russia and China are “imperialist” countries, and therefore, the military coup in Niger would not be an attempt to free the country from imperialism but to exchange one imperialism for another.
First of all, it is important to note that the idea of a “Chinese imperialist” or a “Russian imperialist” does not come from Marxism and did not originate from the left. It was conceived by the right, primarily in the case of China, warning of the “danger” of “Chinese globalism.” This idea arose from the need to justify the atrocities of American imperialism. After all, for its defenders, no matter how many “bad things” the United States does, there would be an even more ruthless, violent, and unscrupulous country.
It’s ridiculous. Imperialism, first and foremost, is a system of military domination, not just economic domination. Imperialism is the empire of large economic monopolies. With that said, we ask: what are the major Chinese monopolies dominating the economy in Niger? Taking a more well-known case: are Chinese and Russian monopolies dominating the Brazilian economy? Is Coca-Cola, Nestlé, or Volkswagen Russian?
In another example known to Brazilians: companies that constitute monopolies in Brazil, such as Friboi and JBS, do they constitute monopolies in any other economy in the world? The fact is that neither Brazil, nor Russia, nor China, no matter how large their economies are, dominate the economy of any country. In the essential matters of the economy, the world is dominated by large European, Japanese, and American banks.
Those who control the world economy are the Americans, the Europeans, and the Japanese. They form an international bloc of the richest and most powerful countries in the world to control the world’s economy. And obviously, this is not done through elections but through brute force, corruption of authorities, wars, and endless violence. There is nothing in the history of Russia or China that compares to what imperialism has already done in Africa. The United States, for example, has been preventing Cuba, for more than 60 years, from having access to even basic medicines.
Even if China and Russia wanted to impose the policies of imperialist countries on African countries, they wouldn’t be able to. And for a very simple reason: since imperialism is a regime of force, force is needed to implement it. And these countries don’t have that. Neither China, nor Russia, nor Brazil have the money or the necessary support to carry out pillaging like France in Africa. In Gabon, the French imposed a 56-year dynasty on the people that did absolutely nothing for the country. This can only be achieved through a regime of terror, so that anyone would fear challenging the government due to its support from imperialism.
China and Russia’s influence in Africa is based on different principles. The only way for these countries to increase their influence in the region is by establishing partnerships, not plunder. After all, in terms of plunder, imperialism always comes out on top because it is the most “efficient” regime in promoting the looting of oppressed countries. The only thing left for regional powers like Russia and China is to seek to strengthen relations with other oppressed countries that have mutual interests.
China is not capable of imposing a “deal” on Niger to steal 98% of its uranium. And that’s why relations between the two countries are likely to solidify at this moment when Niger feels confident enough to seek an alternative to French domination.
The theory of “imperialist” China and Russia has no basis in reality. In the end, it is a mere pretext to justify the defense of imperialist interests in Africa.