I’m a big technology lover. I owned a Commodore 64, actually learned to program using it. I moved onto the PCs, various iterations of Mac, Unix, and now Linux, in the form of my Raspberry Pi.
I like tech, use it (even gave into my children’s urging to get an Alexa for Christmas), and am seldom without means to hook into the Net.
However, it does have its down side – and, in Africa, China is using it to increase their control of the people of that continent.
In a time of growing fears about the accessibility of global data, China has positioned itself as one of the largest providers of technological infrastructures in the world.
As a central part of the Belt and Road Initiative, China is in the process of creating a “digital silk road” that connects China with the rest of the world. The plan includes providing upgraded underwater cables connecting east and west, and introducing new broadband connections to countries with underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructures.
Having the access to the technology is the lure. Chinese control of their country is the hook that will tie them to dependency for a long time. It’s literally “Technological Colonialism”. The free initiatives of the West, particularly of Americans, is a poor substitute.
The reason for Africa’s acceptance of the tech is obvious – it is a powerful aid to the government in their efforts to stay in power. It represents stability, growth, and control, all things that dictators love.
I’m not generally a fan of Western efforts to ‘bring in democracy’. Most of the efforts have allied with the educated classes (those who are not in power at that time), and not with the poorer members of that society. Revolutions cannot succeed without the majority of the country – or, at least, a sizable plurality of its citizens. The Elite, by themselves, cannot wrest power away, without support of at least a sizable number of the masses.
If I were in charge of looking for pro-American people to support, I’d work on getting to know:
- The hill people – traditionally, these are people who are looked down on by the rest of the country, who gain little from government, and whose economy tends not to depend on the central government. In nearly every country, they are the Hillbillies, despised by the rest of the country, and antagonistic to authority.
- The group just under the Elite – the merchant classes. They are reasonably well-educated, have good communications networks established, and stand to gain from the freedom that toppling the dictator may bring. They also resent the government, and its petty tyrannies over their lives.
- Teachers – if you want to influence the future, bring in teachers who will make the linkages between freedom and their history, their language/literate works, and their art. Ground it, not in Jefferson and Madison, but in their own culture. Introduce not our Founding documents, but works that stir that universal yearning to be free.
- Religious figures – teach them to be wary, speak in parables native to their country, and based on written holy books. NOT Islam, which is highly vulnerable to being used by thugs. Preferably Christianity, IF you base it on the Bible. If they have a native religion, incorporate it into those teachings – bring it back to their comfort zone. Use natives, not imported missionaries.
Comment if you have some other ideas.