On ideology

Ideology is often a fetter of the mind. In fact, given its method of operation, it may be most appropriate to consider ideology within a similar vein to religion or any form of dogmatism, as both place parameters on thought and action.
 
It is important to note that ideas and ideology are not identical. An idea can be considered as the novel product of human cognition, that is thought, whereas ideology can be considered as a system of ideas. It is the organization of ideas for some specific end that demarcates ideas from ideology.
 
Here, what I am critiquing is the role of ideologies in constraining human thought, that is of binding ideation–the production of knowledge or ideas. It is not that ideology negates the possibility of ideation, rather that it enables or rather sanctions only narrow forms of ideation. For instance, I may conceive of a new method cooking a favorite dish, say black-eyed peas for instance. I may devise a new sequence of movements in a martial art. Again, such things are products of ideation. They are ideas manifest. However, ideology would instead insist that only black-eyed peas be eaten or that they only be prepared in a specific manner. It may mandate that only particular movements or sequences of movements are acceptable, that only certain martial arts are permissible. Such mandates may be offered without any grounding in any system of reason or critical analysis that is not bound within the circular logic of ideology–that is that the ideology is a basis of truth and that truth itself must be determined within the framework of the ideology. Thus, the only basis of legitimacy may be the consonance of a thing or practice with the ideology itself, not its utility for life itself.
 
It is the delinking of action from purpose and thought from reason that is the basis of ideology’s idiocy. One may discover that the constraints of ideology may create patterns of living that are in fact either impractical or untenable, but such limitations are never sufficient to warrant either the revision or rejection of the ideology, as it is (due to its religious inheritance) sacrosanct. Instead the very critique of or deviation from the tenets of ideological purity is taken as evidence of personal failings, rather than the structural flaws of the ideology itself.
 
Paradoxically, ideology, is often the idiom of discourses of freedom–both personal and collective, and it may indeed prove facilitative of this to a degree. However, freedom conceived solely on such a basis may prove fragmentary. Freeing one in some respects, while binding one in others.
 
What is the solution? What lies beyond the fetter of ideology? Perhaps little more than a commitment to human flourishing, a striving to practice a deep and abiding mindfulness, and a willingness to engage in critical investigation of thought and action. In one’s search for optimal ways to promote wellbeing, sustain deeper levels of self-awareness, and ways of interrogating the world one may find that the search necessarily leads to paths wider than those that the delimiting logics of ideology allows for.

 

Escape

Everyday the news (local and national) reminds me of how backwards, decadent, and dangerous this country is. From time to time I watch videos on a Youtube that highlights the stories of Black folks who have moved to Asia. One common theme in their narratives is feeling safe. While I am not necessarily advocating moving to Asia (I for one can’t see myself moving to any non-Black majority country), I can relate and often feel the attraction to another place.
 
One thing that I am aware of however, is that it is not enough for any person of African descent to leave the West. The destructive forces that make our lives unlivable in these places is hard at work at the universalization of misery. The solution is to empower ourselves by focusing on the restoration of African sovereignty and all that this entails. This is, necessarily, a collective solution to a shared problem. It is based on the assumption that escape will not address our problems, but that power and independence will. The alternative to our, at-present, individual approach to emigration, will be the formation of collectives of determined individuals, who depart and do the work to both pave the way for others to come behind them, while also seeking to create a new consciousness via the formation of institutions that seek to reflect–in both mission and action–a new African reality.

Maroons

Europeans told our ancestors to accept enslavement or die. Those that did submit found that they lived under the authority of a savagely violent system. Such an understanding guided the maroons, who truly lived the ideal of freedom or death as they fought an oppressive system.

Reaping the bounty of one’s own traditions

All peoples constructs their spiritual practice on the basis of their own indigenous traditions, which enables them to reap the bounty of those traditions. I suggested the following materials to a brother who expressed a desire to reclaim his own ancestral traditions. Perhaps some of you might find this list enlightening.
 
General
Marimba Ani, Let the Circle Be Unbroken
Dalian Adofo, Ancestral Voices
Dalian and Verona Adofo, Ancestral Voices (film): https://ancestralvoices.co.uk/
Akan
Kwame Gyekye, African Philosophical Thought
Igbo
Ogonna Agu, The Book of Dawn & Invocations
Kemetic (Ancient Egyptian)
Jacob H. Carruthers, Essays in Ancient Egyptian Studies
Jacob H. Carruthers, Mdw Ntr: Divine Speech
Theophile Obenga, African Philosophy: The Pharaonic Period: 2780-330 Bc
Kongo
K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, Self-Healing Power and Therapy
K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo
K. Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, Mbôngi: An African Traditional Political Institution
Fu-Kiau, K. Kia Bunseki, and A.M. Lukondo-Wamba. Kindezi: The Kongo Art of Babysitting
Mende
Adama and Naomi Doumbia, The Way of the Elders
Yoruba
Wande Abimbola, Ifa Will Mend Our Broken World
Kola Abimbola, Yoruba Culture: A Philosophical Account
Segun Gbadegesin, African Philosophy: Traditional Yoruba Philosophy and Contemporary African Realities

The maintenance of hegemony…

The maintenance of hegemony is enhanced via the fabrication of finite outlets via which voices of discontent can be directed and controlled. Absent this, oppositional forces might grow to the point of actually threatening the established order.

Learning from nature: Reflections on African history and culture on the farm

When I am at our family’s farm, I sometimes see things that I interpret as notable lessons. Today, I spent about 15 minutes removing weeds from among our carrots. It is interesting how that which is undesirable embeds itself alongside that which we intentionally cultivate. Hence our gains are often beset by inevitable struggles. Fortunately, the Yorùbá wisdom reminds us that struggle is a constant of life. The Odù Ifá states: “We are constantly struggling. All of us.”

Also today I saw a smaller bird that was pursuing and harassing a hawk. I don’t know what their conflict was about. Perhaps the hawk threatened its nest, I am unsure. It brought to mind a similar incident from a week ago where a smaller bird was pursuing and harassing a goose. In both instances, the smaller birds’ determination was commendable. It reminds me that a mightier adversary can still be confronted, cowed or even defeated. Those facing seemingly powerful foes should remember that their resolve and strategic approach may be sufficient to carry the day. Such is the basis of the Africans’ victory in Haiti. It was a lesson which was the terror of enslavers throughout the hemisphere.

Finally, yesterday I noticed that a spider had spun its web between two poles that I put out about a week ago. I was struck by the fact that the spider used whatever materials that were available to it to achieve its goal—survival. It reminded me that we often regard our cultural traditions as being static, frozen, but this cannot be true as these traditions have been adapted as our people have moved throughout time and space. Even today, many of us are situated in these traditions, but often do not recognize them as such due to our estrangement from our ancestral homeland and cultural traditions that we recognize as explicitly “African”, yet they nonetheless are—having retained many aspects of their African essence. Thus the spider taught me that we can adapt, as needed, to ensure our survival without the fundamental loss of our asili—our essence. However such an outcome is a matter of determination.

The aftermath of “empire” or Towards a more grotesque spectacle of power

I do not believe in prophecy or the inevitability of the triumph of justice over injustice. I do believe that the current administration has and will continue to hasten the unraveling of the US.

I do not believe that such an inevitable occurrence will create a better society. A better society will be the product of clear vision and determined action. I find the former to be increasingly rare in a society whose collective consciousness is addled by conspiracy theories, fear, distrust, hyperindividualism, and anxiety. I think that this past decade’s propagation of the pretense of digital “activism”, the abandonment of critiques of political economy in favor of those centered on an ever-increasing infinity of personal identities and other forms of atomization, and impotent protest has arrested many people’s ability to conceive of “action” in any meaningful manner.

Thus, when the “empire” falls, what will most likely follow are desperate and depraved efforts to sustain it based on more debased forms of neoliberalism, white nationalism, violent religious fanaticism, anti-intellectualism, and pogroms targeting the “rejected and despised”.