Saturday, 13 October 2018

How reckless capitalism torched the planet by imploding into fascism
Umair Haque

Sometimes, when I write scary essays, I encourage you not to read them. This one’s different. It’s going to be brutal, scary, jarring, and alarming. But if you want my thoughts on the future, then read away.

It strikes me that the planet’s fate is now probably sealed. We have just a decade in which to control climate change — or goodbye, an unknown level of catastrophic, inescapable, runaway warming is inevitable. The reality is: we’re probably not going to make it. It’s highly dubious at this juncture that humanity is going to win the fight against climate change.

Yet that is for a very unexpected — yet perfectly predictable — reason: the sudden explosion in global fascism — which in turn is a consequence of capitalism having failed as a model of global order. If, when, Brazil elects a neo-fascist who plans to raze and sell off the Amazon — the world’s lungs — then how do you suppose the fight against warming will be won? It will be set back by decades — decades…we don’t have. America’s newest Supreme Court justice is already striking down environmental laws — in his first few days in office — but he will be on the bench for life…beside a President who hasn’t just decimated the EPA, but stacked it with the kind of delusional simpletons who think global warming is a hoax. Again, the world is set by back by decades…it doesn’t have. Do you see my point yet? Let me make it razor sharp.

My friends, catastrophic climate change is not a problem for fascists — it is a solution. History’s most perfect, lethal, and efficient one means of genocide, ever, period. Who needs to build a camp or a gas chamber when the flood and hurricane will do the dirty work for free? Please don’t mistake this for conspiracism: climate change accords perfectly with the foundational fascist belief that only the strong should survive, and the weak — the dirty, the impure, the foul — should perish. That is why neo-fascists do not lift a finger to stop climate change — but do everything they can to in fact accelerate it, and prevent every effort to reverse or mitigate it.

But I want to tell you the sad, strange, terrible story of how we got here. Call it a lament for a planet, if you like. You see, not so long ago, we — the world — were optimistic that climate change could be managed, in at least some way. The worst impacts probably avoided, forestalled, escaped — if we worked together as a world. But now we are not so sure at all. Why is that? What happened? Fascism happened — at precisely the wrong moment. That shredded all our plans. But fascism happened because capitalism failed — failed for the world, but succeeded wildly for capitalists.
Now, this will be a subtle story, because I want to tell it to you the way it should be told. Let me begin with an example, and zoom out from there.

The world is in the midst of a great mass extinction — one of just a handful in history. Now, if we had been serious, at any point, really, about preventing climate catastrophe, we would have made an effort to “price in” this extinction — with a new set of global measures for GDP and profit and costs and tariffs and taxes and so on. But we didn’t, so all these dead beings, these animals and plants and microbes and so on — strange and wonderful things we will never know — are “unpriced” in the foolish, self-destructive economy we have made. Life is literally free to capitalism, and so capitalism therefore quite naturally abuses it and destroys it, in order to maximize its profits, and that is how you get a spectacular, eerie, grim mass extinction in half a century, of which there have only been five in all of previous history.

But biological life was not the only unpaid cost — “negative externality” — of capitalism. It was just one. And these unpaid costs weren’t to be additive: they were to multiply, exponentiate, snarl upon themselves — in ways that we would come to find impossible to then untangle. (And all this was what economists and thinkers, especially American ones, seemed to whistle at and walk away, anytime someone suggested it.)

You see, capitalism promised people — the middle classes which had come to make up the modern world — better lives. But it had no intention of delivering — its only goal was to maximize profits for the owners of capital, not to make anyone else one iota richer. So first it ate through people’s towns and cities and communities, then through social systems, then through their savings, and finally, through their democracies. Even if people’s incomes “rose”, cleverly, the prices they paid for the very same things which capitalism sold back to them with the other hand, the very things they were busy producing, rose even more — and so middle classes began to stagnate, while inequality exploded. Let’s specify the unpaid costs in question: trust, connection, cohesion, belonging, meaning, purpose, truth itself.

These were social costs — not environmental ones, like the mass extinction above. And I will make the link between the two clear in just a moment. First I want you to understand their effect.
A sense of frustration, of resignation, of pessimism came to sweep the world. People lost trust in their great systems and institutions. They turned away from democracy, and towards authoritarianism, in a great, thunderous wave, which tilted the globe on its very axis. The wave rippled outward from history’s greatest epicenter of human stupidity, America, like a supersonic tsunami, crossing Europe, reaching Asia’s shores, crashing south into Brazil, cresting far away in Australia. Nations fell like dominoes to a new wave of fascists, who proclaimed the same things as the old ones — reichs and camps and reigns of the pure. People began to turn on those below them — the powerless one, the different one, the Mexican, the Jew, the Muslim— in the quest for just the sense of superiority and power, the fortune and glory, capitalism had promised them, but never delivered.

The capitalists had gotten rich — unimaginably rich. They were richer than kings of old. But capitalism had imploded into fascism. History laughed at the foolishness of people who once again believed, like little children hearing a fairy tale, that capitalism — which told people to exploit and abuse one another, not hold each other close, mortal and frail things that they are — was somehow ever going to benefit them.

Now. Let me connect the dots of capitalism’s unpaid social and environmental costs, and how they are linked, not additively, 2+2=5, but with the mathematics of catastrophe.

When we tell the story of how capitalism imploded into fascism, it will go something like this: the social costs of capitalism meant that democracy collapsed into neo-fascism — and neo-fascism made it unlikely, if not outright impossible, that the world could do anything at all about climate change, in the short window it had left, at the precise juncture it needed to act most. Do you see the link? The terrible and tragic irony? How funny and sad it is?

The social costs of capitalism weren’t just additive to the environmental costs — they were more like multiplicative, snarled upon themselves, like a great flood meeting a great hurricane. The social costs exponentiated the environmental, making them now impossible to reduce, pay, address, manage. 2+2 didn’t equal 4 — it equalled infinity, in this case. Both together made a system that spiralled out of control. Wham! The planet’s fate was being sealed, by capitalism imploding into fascism — which meant that a disintegrating world could hardly work together anymore to solve its greatest problem of all.

Let me sharpen all that a little. By 2005, after a great tussle, much of the world had agreed on a plan to reduce carbon emissions — the Kyoto Protocol. It was just barely enough — barely — to imagine that one day climate change might be lessened and reduced enough to be manageable. Still, there was one notable holdout — as usual, America. Now, at this point, the world, which was in a very different place politically than it is today, imagined that with enough of the usual diplomatic bickering and horse-trading, maybe, just maybe, it would get the job done. And yet by 2010 or so, the point of all this, which was to create a global carbon pricing system had still not been accomplished — in large part thanks to America, whose unshakeable devotion to capitalism meant that such a thing was simply politically impossible. So by this point the world was behind — and yet, one could still imagine a kind of success. Maybe an American President would come along who would see sense. Maybe progress was going in the right direction, generally. After all, slowly, the world was making headway, towards less carbon emissions, towards a little more cooperation, here and there.

And then — Bang! America was the first nation to fall to the neo fascist wave. Instead of a President who might have taken the country into a decarbonized future, Americans elected the king of the idiots (no, please don’t give me an apologia for the electoral college.) This king of the idiots did what kings of idiots do: he lionized, of all things…coal. He questioned whether climate change was…real. He packed the government with lobbyists and cronies who were quite happy to see the world burn, if it meant a penthouse overlooking a drowned Central Park. He broke up with allies, friends, and partners. Do you see the point? The idea of a decarbonizing future was suddenly turned on its head. It had been a possibility yesterday — but now, it was becoming an impossibility.

Before the neofascist wave, the world might have indeed “solved” climate change. Maybe not in the hard sense that life would go on tomorrow as it does today — but in the soft sense that the worst and most vicious scenarios were mostly outlandish science fiction. That is because before the neofascist wave, we could imagine nations cooperating, if slowly, reluctantly, in piecemeal ways, towards things like protecting life, reducing carbon, pricing in the environment, and so on. These things can only be done through global cooperation, after all.

But after the neofascist wave, global cooperation — especially of a genuinely beneficial kind, not a predatory kind — began to become less and less possible by the day. The world was unravelling.

When countries were trashing the United Nations and humiliating their allies and proclaiming how little they needed the world (all to score minor-league wins for oligarchs, who cashed in their chips, laughing )— how could such a globe cooperate more then? It couldn’t — and it can’t. So the neofascist wave which we are now in also means drastically less global cooperation — but less global cooperation means incalculably worse climate change.

So now let’s connect all the dots. Capitalism didn’t just rape the planet laughing, and cause climate change that way. It did something which history will think of as even more astonishing. By quite predictably imploding into fascism at precisely the moment when the world needed cooperation, it made it impossible, more or less, for the fight against climate change to gather strength, pace, and force. It wasn’t just the environmental costs of capitalism which melted down the planet — it was the social costs, too, which, by wrecking global democracy, international law, cooperation, the idea that nations should work together, made a fractured, broken world which no longer had the capability to act jointly to prevent the rising floodwaters and the burning summers.

(Now, it’s at this point that Americans will ask me, a little angrily, for “solutions”. Ah, my friends. When will you learn? Don’t you remember my point?

There are no solutions, because these were never “problems” to begin with. The planet, like society, is a garden, which needs tending, watering, care. The linkages between these things — inequality destabilizing societies making global cooperation less possible — are not things we can fix overnight, by turning a nut or a bolt, or throwing money at them. They never were. They are things we needed to see long ago, to really reject together, and invest in, nurture, protect, defend, for decades — so that capitalism did not melt down into fascism, and take away all our power to fight for our worlds, precisely when we would need it most.

But we did not do that. We were busy “solving problems”. Problems like…hey, how can I get my laundry done? Can I get my package delivered in one hour instead of one day? Wow — you mean I don’t have to walk down the street to get my pizza anymore? Amazing!! In this way, we solved all the wrong problems, if you like, but I would say that we solved mechanical problems instead of growing up as people. Things like climate change and inequality and fascism are not really “problems” — they are emergent processes, which join up, in great tendrils of ruin, each piling on the next, which result from decades of neglect, inaction, folly, blindness. We did not plant the seeds, or tend to our societies, economies, democracies, or planet carefully enough — and now we are harvesting bitter ruin instead. Maybe you see my point. Or maybe you don’t see my point at all. I wouldn’t blame you. It’s a tough one to catch sight of.)

The tables have turned. The problem isn’t climate change anymore, and the solution isn’t global cooperation — at least given today’s implosive politics. The problem is you — if you are not one of the chosen, predatory few. And the solution to the problem of you is climate change. To the fascists, that is. They are quite overjoyed to have found the most spectacular and efficient and lethal engine of genocide and devastation known to humankind, which is endless, free natural catastrophe. Nothing sorts the strong from the weak more ruthlessly like a flooded planet, a thundering sky, a forest in flames, a parched ocean. A man with a gun is hardly a match for a planet on fire.

I think this much becomes clearer by the year: we have failed, my friends, to save our home. How funny that we are focused, instead, on our homelands. It would be funny, disgraceful, and pathetic of me to say: is there still time to save ourselves? That is the kind of nervous, anxious selfishness that Americans are known for — and it is only if we reject it, really, that we learn the lesson of now. Let us simply imagine, instead, that despite all the folly and stupidity and ruin of this age, the strongmen and the weak-minded, in those dark and frightening nights when the rain pours and the thunder roars, we might still light a candle for democracy, for freedom, and for truth. The truth is that we do not deserve to be saved if we do not save them first.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Japan's Zozo launches bespoke fast fashion

Chris Dawson

It’s tough for a retailer to differentiate themselves online and it’s even tougher to reimagine ecommerce and address some of the common issues. That’s no more so then in fashion where high rates of returns are the norm and for every retailer there are 100 more offering relatively similar products and, in today’s world where brands are becoming less important than style, to have a truly unique offering is almost impossible.

That’s the challenge that ZOZO founder Yusaku Maezawa faced when he decided to reimagine fashion ecommerce and decided to address the challenge of sizing and ensuring a perfectly fitting garment is delivered each and every time. Committed to finding a solution that would benefit as many people around the world as possible, Maezawa began development on the ZOZOSUIT and a line of affordable, size-free clothing for men and women.

The ZOZOSUIT is a stretchy body suit covered in more than 350 white dots, each of which is unique. These dots serve as markers, which are used in a unique measuring process powered by a smartphone app. Consumers don the suit and rotate as 12 images are captured and from this the app measures your unique body shape and size. It’s this ability to capture an individual’s exact measurements that enables ZOZO to ship garments that will fit perfectly every time and in the process cutting returns in a vertical that is renowned for high returns rates.

ZOZOs proprietary algorithm processes the spacial data and triangulates a 3D rendering of your body based on where each unique white dot was captured in space. More accurate than a human tailor, measurements captured with the ZOZO measurement system are exact and unique to you. It’s effectively a home based 3D scanning of your body and ZOZO will ship a free ZOZOSUIT to anyone that wishes to sign up as a customer.

This is such a unique take on fashion that there’s really nothing else out there to compare it with. ZOZO don’t have the normal fashion problem of a consumer purchasing three different sizes of the same garment and returning two. When you shop at ZOZO, you won’t even see the option to select a size on their website or find a size tag in your clothing. At ZOZO their aim is to build a size-free world where you’ll get custom-fit clothing that feels tailor-made.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Revolution Precrafted creates designer houses with price beginning at $10,000 per unit

At the moment, the company has projects in 24 countries such as Myanmar, Japan, Spain, Cyprus Brazil, El Salvador, among others. It is expected to deliver 35,000 units in the next four to five years.

There is a lot of talk about Revolution Precrafted being the “Philippines’ first Unicorn start-up”. How have you managed to achieve a $1bn valuation in such a short period of time?
CEO and founder Robbie Antonio: Unlike other prefab companies which check two or three things, such as speed, and affordability, with some of them offering tech solutions as well, we offer something more. We have all those three elements plus designer brands and we are truly global.

What is the revolution about? What is the main mission of the company?
We wanted to address the pain points most consumers have when buying a house. It’s usually very costly and it takes a lot of time to build a home. So we decided to combine technology and design to create designer, limited edition prefab homes that can be built in as fast as two to three months. More than that, we create designs that are accessible to more people, with price points beginning at $10,000 per unit. Of course, we also have the branded designs that can cost from $60,000 to $350,000.

‘Precrafted’ carries some connotations, and ones contrary to the image that you are putting out there. How do you aim to reconcile the two perceptions?
Heading into the business, we are aware of the misconceptions about prefab, and that is why we created a different business model. We deliberately sought out some of the best architects, designers and artists in the world to make the market realise that prefabs can also be elegant, beautiful and branded.

Can you give us some examples of some of the high-end luxury contracts you’ve signed – what makes them unique and when you’ll be delivering them by?
We have more than 30 active contracts at the moment and some of them involve high-end luxury homes. For example, we are building 500 units in Bahrain with each units measuring at least 200 sqm. These are homes that are specifically designed for the Middle East. We also have high-end projects in Brazil, Japan, and, most recently, in San Bernardino, California. Of course, we are also in the process of finalising the designs for the structures we are suppling to Seven Tides, for the World Islands project.

What made you want to take such an active part in the industry and was it always your ambition?
I’ve always been interested in real estate but I wanted to create something different. I wanted to excel at something new. So I thought of prefab structures, but then I was thinking of how to make it totally new and interesting. That’s when the idea of a branded prefab homes came to me. Before our company was founded, the idea of a branded prefab structures was an oxymoron since most people don’t usually associate prefab units with quality and luxury or good design. I am glad that we were successful at setting the trend.

Back to the business, you have global aspirations. Where do you want to take this business?
We dream big at Revolution Precrafted. We want to be present in 25 countries by the end of 2018 and it looks like we will easily achieve that since we are now present in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Central America and the Caribbean. For the next two years, we want to be present in at least 100 countries.

Where do you see Revolution Precrafted in the next five years?
I expect Revolution Precrafted to be everywhere. We expect the company to be a ubiquitous and to be serving a wide range of clients around the world. We have grown by 1,000 percent in revenues and we are profitable. We are expecting to be present in 100 countries in 2020.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

"The Sufis were prophets of pluralism" 
The Sufi thinker Jalal ad-Din Rumi is a major source of inspiration to you. What can a thirteenth century philosopher offer us today?
Abdolkarim Soroush, philosopher: My first impulse is to give you a very general answer, followed up by a succinct "just read his work; just go and read it." Because Rumi's work is like a vast ocean: in order to experience an ocean, you have to wade into the water, you have to know how to swim in the ocean. If you read Rumi you will encounter a very different world and we need different worlds, because from the moment we are born, we are born into a family, a city, a particular country, a particular culture. We need somebody to come and help us change our view on the world – and that somebody can be Rumi.

We live, everybody lives, but we need people like Rumi to give meaning to our life, to tell us what the real essence of life is. Thatʹs the first aspect. The second is this: Rumi, as I understand him, had a direct experience of God, a direct experience of divinity. A man of the prophetic tradition, ongoing from the prophets. We need such people. We need to be able to look at them and say: here is prophethood, here is divinity, here is the embodiment of the meaning of life.

Theology can be regarded as the science dealing with questions that deal with our concept of God, creation and humanity and the relations between them. Within this context, can Sufism be seen as an integral part of theology?

Soroush: Sufism or mysticism or irfan, as I like to call it, is a way of life that combines this world and the other world. Irfan actually comes from the word marifa, which means, "to know, knowledge". Yet it also has a second: arif or irfan comes from arf in Arabic. Arf means to see, to smell. So an arif is somebody who knows how God smells. He can smell the fragrance, the ether of divinity. Rumi uses a very good simile by way of explanation:

Suppose that you are hunting a deer, a musk ghazal. First you examine the ground, you see the hoof prints of the ghazal and you follow it. Later you still cannot see the ghazal, but you can smell the musk, so you are confident that you are close to the ghazal, even if you canʹt yet see it. You continue to go forward and suddenly you see the ghazal. So here you have three things. First you have the hoof prints, these are the signs of ghazal that are read by the experts (ulama). Once you smell the fragrance, however, you become more than a scientist, because now you feel it. Only by extrapolation could you say that these are the footsteps of ghazal, therefore the ghazal should exist; but then you smell the fragrance and eventually catch sight of the ghazal. So arif is somebody who smells the fragrance first and tries to reach the object he is searching for through scent.

Is irfan part of theology? It all depends on the meaning of theology. If you translate theology into ilm al-kalam, it is not part of theology because, in that case, theology means demonstrative science – looking for the footsteps. You work with proof (burhan) and with evidence (dalil). But an arif doesn't look at dalil, he is looking for the thing itself and not the signs of it. Therefore Sufism cannot be part of ʿilm al-kalam in the traditional sense of Islamic theology. In traditional Islamic thought, theology and Sufism are two utterly different approaches.

As a strong believer in plurality, do you think it is possible to defend a position of plurality from within the religious frame? After all, every religion sees itself as the only true path to God, which doesn't leave much space for real plurality.

Soroush: That's true. Prophets are not good pluralists. Let me give you an example: imagine a marketplace, filled with different shops. Every shopkeeper advertises for his shop. That's the most natural thing in the world. I am not going to propagate your shop, you are not going to propagate mine, yet every one of us is trying to be as successful as possible by attracting as many customers as possible.

But what about the customers? They are in the market and see a number of shops looking to attract custom. They have to be pluralist. The shopkeepers are not pluralists, but the marketplace is a place of plurality. The prophet of Islam was no pluralist, the prophet of Christianity wasn't either, and the list goes on. But I as a customer can see a number of shops in front of me. So I think, okay, maybe Iʹll buy some of what I need from this shop and some from a different. Pluralism also means that you have to allow all these shops to be open and to operate. You canʹt allow just one shop to open and close all the others down. What I have just described is my kind of pluralism.

From a theological point of view, the question might take another turn. Are we all the same, equal in the eyes of God, regardless of our religion? There are so many religions in the world, there are even ideologies that donʹt even call themselves a religion. So what has God to do with them? Iʹm afraid I donʹt have the answer to this because I am not God. But I can say that as long as you seek the truth you will be saved – it doesnʹt matter whether you are a Christian or a Muslim or something else.
Of course a prophet of a religion will say come to me, don't go to the others, but I as a customer in the market place can choose to whom I should go. All that matters is that I seek the truth; that I am honest and act fairly. The purpose, the goal of all religions is just to make us honest human beings.
The Sufis were prophets of pluralism. Rumi for example has many things to say about pluralism. He says light is light, but you have different lamps. So different lamps mean different religions, but the light inside the lamp is the same, whether you get it from this particular lamp or from another. The truth is above religion and religiosity. Religions are looking for truth. And if you find truth then you have to follow it.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

« Africain » et « Français » en chair et en os

The Conversation
 Ary Gordien, anthropologue et enseignant, Sciences Po – USPC
Au lendemain de la coupe du monde de football, Trevor Noah, le présentateur sud-africain du talk-show étatsunien The Daily Show, célébrait la « victoire africaine » de la France. La réponse que lui avait alors opposé Gérard Araud, ambassadeur de France aux États-Unis, avait été abondamment commentée.

Les échanges qui suivirent entre les deux hommes révélèrent la persistance et la prégnance d’un malaise français concernant la reconnaissance des sentiments communautaires de minorités, notamment lorsque ces sentiments se fondent sur la couleur ou la race.

La « race » est ici bien sûr entendue comme « race sociale » ; l’humanité a été historiquement catégorisée sur la base de critères physiques et culturels non-scientifiques durant l’histoire coloniale. Ces catégories continuent néanmoins à avoir un impact politique, culturel et social (racisme, discrimination et sentiments d’appartenance) qu’analysent historiens, sociologues et ethno-anthropologues.

La question de la place de communautés ethnico-raciales au sein de la République française ne se limite pas uniquement à des rapports de domination mais s’articule également avec des logiques d’auto-identification subjectives. En l’occurrence, les propos de Trevor Noah questionnent plus précisément la possibilité de concilier deux sentiments d’appartenance : l’un qu’il qualifie d’ africain et l’autre français.

Ce qu’être « noir » signifie
Les manières dont s’exprime un sentiment d’appartenance noir ou africain ne peuvent pas être d’emblée disqualifiées comme du communautarisme ou du racisme mortifères qui causent forcément des divisions et des tensions.

Il existe bien certaines tendances radicales qui renversent le discours raciste pour affirmer une supériorité noire. Néanmoins, la célébration de la noirceur est surtout l’expression d’une quête de fierté dans des contextes sociaux et culturels où, y compris en France (outre-mer et dans l’hexagone), un complexe d’infériorité s’est durablement enkysté dans les mentalités.
Ce complexe s’explique notamment par le fait que l’utilisation du terme « noir », pour désigner un individu ou des populations, est héritée de l’histoire de la colonisation de l’Afrique, des traites négrières et des esclavages.

Il en est de même pour les représentations souvent dévalorisantes du continent africain et des cultures et individus qui lui sont plus ou moins directement liés généalogiquement. En dépit de l’existence d’élites et de royaumes africains connus des Européens avec lesquels ils échangent au moins de puis le XVe siècle, l’image d’un continent arriéré sur le plan technique et culturel et d’hommes et de femmes noir·e·s aux aptitudes physiques inversement proportionnelles à leur capacité intellectuelle se sont imposées.

Et ce y compris dans les tendances négrophiles manifestées notamment dans l’entre-deux-guerres en France et aux États-Unis exaltant la créativité, la jovialité et la sensualité « africaines ».

Inverser le stigmate
En réponse à ce racisme, dans une logique d’inversion du stigmate, des consciences noires se sont ainsi construites essentiellement sur le désir de revaloriser une identité négative, assignée à travers les histoires coloniales. Le mouvement de la Négritude incarnée notamment par Aimé Césaire en est l’un des plus beaux exemples. S’il a existé des relations entre populations, communautés et ensembles politiques africains bien avant la colonisation européenne, il n’est pas excessif de considérer que l’idée d’unité africaine naît en réponse à la domination et émane d’ailleurs souvent des descendants de captifs africains réduits en esclavage dans les Amériques.

À Saint-Domingue, en Guadeloupe et en Jamaïque ou encore à l’île de la Réunion, pour ce qui concerne l’Océan indien, à travers des révoltes d’esclaves, la constitution de populations d’esclaves fugitifs ou encore de la création, d’institutions communautaires telles que la National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, des identités noires en références parfois directe au continent africain se sont construites de manière métonymique (références bibliques à l’Éthiopie) ou en en lien avec les ancêtres.

C’est le cas du rastafarisme ou par exemple du mouvement plus récent de redéfinition d’une identité Akan (Ghana) dans certains réseaux noirs états-uniens.

Aussi bien le racisme anti-noir que certaines doctrines qui visent à le combattre en affirmant une identité noire ou africaine reposent sur un essentialisme théoriquement et politiquement problématique.

Essentialisme « noir »
Certaines théories afrocentristes ou panafricaines telles que celle de l’égyptologue sénégalais Cheikh Anta Diop, visent ainsi tout autant à réhabiliter ce que les politiques et théories esclavagistes et coloniales ont contribué à dénigrer qu’à affirmer la grandeur d’une « race » ou d’une « civilisation africaine ».

Ainsi, loin de se limiter aux populations du continent, la catégorie d’« Africain » est employée par des citoyens de pays européens, américains ou caribéens afin de revendiquer cette identité primordiale.

Certains mouvements noirs plus radicaux et minoritaires ont même parfois cherché et cherchent encore à subvertir et inverser le discours eurocentré pour définir l’Afrique (parfois nommée Kemet en référence à l’Égypte antique) comme l’origine de la civilisation humaine et les « Africains », au sens large, comme supérieurs aux Blancs ou Européens sur les plans culturels et biologiques.
Toutefois comme toute doctrine politique ou religieuse, il convient d’analyser les manières dont ceux qui y souscrivent en viennent à adhérer à de tels postulats.

Attribuer du sens via l’afrocentrisme
Sans nécessairement souscrire à des théories racialistes aussi radicales, certaines femmes et hommes estiment que leur attachement génétique, généalogique ou spirituel à l’Afrique constitue une part essentielle de leur identité. Ils trouvent à travers l’afrocentrisme un moyen de valoriser à tout prix l’Afrique et les populations noires.

Cela se produit dans des contextes où ces personnes et communautés peinent à trouver des sources d’identification positives. Comme l’avait déjà signalé Frantz Fanon, il s’avère en réalité impossible de retrouver une essence pure d’avant la colonisation.

Ce type de bricolage sert précisément à attribuer du sens à des trajectoires personnelles et communautaires diasporiques conflictuelles et complexes. C’est, selon un libraire du Quartier Latin, le cas de nombre de jeunes noirs et métis qui, en l’absence d’une transmission culturelle par le biais de leurs parents, semblent particulièrement friands d’écrits afrocentristes radicaux.

En dépit des similitudes que révèlent les expériences communes des personnes d’ascendance africaine, compte tenu de la pluralité et de la diversité des expériences noires et africaines, les contours de la conscience africaine s’avèrent ainsi beaucoup plus flous et labiles qu’il n’y paraît.
Le souci de revalorisation se retrouve chez bien des personnes identifiées et s’identifiant comme noires ou africaines qui n’adhèrent pas aux postulats (modérés ou plus radicaux) de l’afrocentrisme.
Les propos de Trevor Noah sur l’équipe de France de football tout comme son engouement manifeste pour le film Black Panthers (partagé à l’échelle planétaire notamment au sein des populations noires), montrent plutôt à quel point les personnes africaines, d’ascendances africaines (ou qui, à défaut d’endosser cette identité, se la voit assigner du fait de leur type physique) sont avides de modèles d’identification positifs.

En creux, cela révèle également, plus de 65 ans après la publication de Peau noire, masques blancs de Franz Fanon, à quel point un sentiment d’infériorité continue à être ressenti.

Ce sentiment demeure plus ou moins largement partagé mais il ne s’enracine pas pour autant dans une conscience communautaire forte et univoque. Outre le fait, et c’est là une évidence, que les personnes et populations perçues ou se définissant comme noires ou africaines diffèrent entre elles sur bien des points, la « conscience noire » qu’elles partagent ne les empêche nullement par ailleurs de se différencier elles-mêmes, dans certains contextes, sur la base de critères nationaux, ethniques, de classe sociale voire encore de race et de couleur.

Se défaire des implicites raciaux
Lorsque l’on est conscient des ressorts théoriques de certains mouvements noirs, il est tout à fait légitime de s’interroger sur les issues attendues de ceux qui se focalisent sur l’exaltation d’une identité primordiale africaine au soubassement parfois racialistes.

Et tout comme le présentateur Trevor Noah, on peut néanmoins tout autant se questionner sur ce que signifie le refus absolu d’entendre le désir de faire reconnaître une spécificité alors que les considérations liées à la couleur et à la race façonnent les relations sociales de multiples façons.
Certes, a contrario, les modèles multiculturalistes britanniques, étatsuniens ou canadiens peuvent entraîner une exacerbation du racial qui débouche potentiellement sur une reconnaissance plus ou moins solide des différences ethnico-raciales tout en minimisant voire occultant les mécanismes d’exclusion de nature sociale.

Néanmoins, en Angleterre par exemple, la reconnaissance d’une présence et d’une identité noire ne s’est pas faite au détriment de l’identité nationale britannique.

En dépit de la mobilisation de codes afrocentristes, une diversité d’expériences coloniales, postcoloniales, de migration, de réussites et d’épreuves difficiles ont, tant bien que mal, été intégrées au récit national.

La France et l’Angleterre ayant chacune leur histoire propre, il est bien sûr impossible de calquer sans les adapter aux réalités françaises ce type de politiques. Il s’avère néanmoins, en tout état de cause, qu’il est bien possible de trouver une manière originale de concilier sentiment d’appartenance noir ou africain, d’une part, et citoyenneté/nationalité européenne, de l’autre.

La question se pose donc de savoir selon quelles modalités cela pourrait se produire en France. Une partie du processus consistera nécessairement à se défaire des implicites raciaux derrières les catégories d’africain (« noir ») et de français (« blanc »). La condition d’autres minorités, notamment celles s’identifiant comme arabes ou musulmanes (ou encore à qui une telle identité est assignée de manière fantasmagorique) devra également être prise en compte.