Since the Valladolid Controversy, the empire-builders, slave-mongers, colonialists, capitalists, have, throughout history and in various forms, attempted to justify their exactions on “natural and social grounds” by using their alleged knowledge of the “soul”, the psyche and the culture of dominated.
From theories of the so-called “biological inferiority of colonized peoples’ brains”, to the arguments of the desire of the victims of colonial conquests to be colonized, this tortuous path took us to the theories about the “degeneration” afflicting proletarians, oppressed peoples, to various forms of “cultural racism”, and theories claiming to justify “conflicts of civilizations”.
You may remember the scandalous theses of “the School of psychiatry of Algiers”, which popularized in the years 1930-1950 the idea of “Maghrebian primitivism” (Antoine Porot), and, in the same period of time, through the writings of John Colin Carothers, Director of Nairobi’s Mathari Mental Hospital of Nairobi from 1938 to 1950, who, in a report to the WHO that brought him some degree of fame, described the African as fundamentally the same as a European, without the latter’s frontal lobe.
The world, from the African slave trade to the colonization of the African continent and the native peoples of America, has paid a heavy debt to these murderous so-called “scientific” false arguments.
Today the extension of the market to all spheres of the living and culture exacerbates the segregative, racist, violent divisions, desymbolizations, hierarchisations among human beings.
Today, this debate on various versions of these theories attempting to justify all sorts of segregation and discrimination, and even racism has resurfaced as being worthy of further discussion and is being used to justify a number of government policies.
We, the undersigned, meeting in Nairobi for the 2007 World Social Forum, launch an appeal for vigilance against the trivialization of the history of these horrendous theories and of the practices which they inspired in the past.
We are also committed to the struggle against current methods of the misuse of science, such as in the fields of genetics and behavioral psychology, used to provide an apparently erudite justification for both modern-day forms of human segregation, and the ideological construction of “natural hierarchies” of cultures, that serve the interests of current capitalistic imperialism.
Our struggle is in the name of resistance to whatever contributes to current forms of apartheid and colonization : segregated urbanization, stigmatization by the media, inequality of wages, plunderers’ arrogance with respect to the economic weakness of the plundered in the course of international trade relations.
They place the promotion of their dignity as a first priority in their actions, projects and hopes. Against this world where segregation, discrimination and house-arrests rule, alienations against the walls which are built all over the world, where bridges should be erected , we, the undersigned, proclaim that the construction of a different world requires the creation of conditions permitting the emergence, in different ways, of a shared vision for building new universalistic subjectivities. This demand challenges the whole altermundialist movement in search of alternatives.
For the undersigned, human emancipation is a matter of justice and equality, which is to say, a matter of dignity.
Dignity for one is unattainable without “dignity for all”.