Opinion: ‘Demofascism’ must be resisted – a message from Africa

A new U.S. bill that obliges Washington to punish African governments that abet Russian ‘malign’ activities on the continent has sailed through Congress. The 'Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act' will become law soon.

conflict in Ukraine, Opinion: ‘Demofascism’ must be resisted – a message from Africa

By João Melo, Angola

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – (Opinion) The current geopolitical and tribal conflict in Ukraine has produced a new (or old?) phenomenon that is increasingly undeniable and inevitable: the use of fascist methods by democracies to impose their points of view and win “sympathies” for their cause. This is why I call it ‘demofascism’.

The complete refusal to discuss the complexity of the situation in Ukraine and to acknowledge that history did not begin on February 24, 2022, when Russia invaded the neighboring country, was the first manifestation of this phenomenon.

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It was followed by a wave of russophobia that swept the West, with discrimination against all Russian citizens, the deportation of artists and athletes, the banning of Russian literary works in schools, and other aberrations.

conflict in Ukraine, Opinion: ‘Demofascism’ must be resisted – a message from Africa

Not even some of the most respected Western authorities on strategy and political leadership who have called attention to the insanity of the current war in Ukraine, such as Henry Kissinger or former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, have escaped this attempt at “derussification” that we are witnessing, which is as pathetic and delusional as the “denazification” argument used by Putin.

If they were not deplorable, the reactions of some of today’s mediocre Western leaders to the warnings of these figures would be cause for laughter.

But the “demofascism” triggered by the Ukraine war goes even further. The West (i.e., the hallowed alliance of the U.S., NATO, and the European Union) makes no secret of its irritation and discomfort with the fact that the world’s demographic majority, especially the Global South (Africa, Asia, and Latin America), is taking a cautious stance toward the war in Ukraine, lest it fall into the trap of hegemonic Manichean discourse (as opposed to “majority” discourse).

The most recent example of this irritation was the passage of the “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act” (H.R. 7311) by the U.S. House of Representatives on April 27, 2022.

The measure authorizes the U.S. State Department to monitor the foreign policy actions of the Russian Federation in Africa, including its military actions and other “malign” statements, whatever those may be.

(Report on the U.S. “Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa Act”)

I have not read (perhaps by my mistake) any reference to this in any of the major European newspapers I normally consult, but the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has published a full piece on this subject, which can be seen on YouTube.

The Ethiopian news site Borkena also published a detailed report on May 31 on this measure passed by the U.S. Congress. “The U.S. Congress has no right to dictate what the relations between the Russian Federation and the member states of the African Union should be,” the article signed by Abayomi-Azikwe reads. The author has no doubt that the decree passed by the congressmen strengthens neocolonialism in Africa.

The question is: what is the official position of African countries on the war in Ukraine? Do they support the Russian invasion, as the current “demofascists” would have us believe, resorting to the old motto “Whoever is not for me is against me”? No. The African position is simple: a diplomatic solution to the war in question must be found.

Western ideologues would have us believe that a war between democracy and autocracy is being waged in Ukraine. The global South is not convinced of this. In fact, the political-ideological reality in Ukraine and Russia has more similarities and commonalities than Russian and Western propaganda would have us believe.

Therefore, Africa cannot be forced to choose one side or the other. As Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign minister has argued in the case of his country, Africa must be able to position itself on any issue according to a balance between its values and its interests.

João Melo is an Angolan writer and journalist, director of the magazine Africa 21