‘Looking at the Map of Africa, One Can See That It Lacks Basic Infrastructure’
[PDF version of this interview]
This interview of Helga Zepp-LaRouche was conducted for the weekly Cameroonian publication Intégration on May 6 by its New York City correspondent Celestin Ngoa Balla, and was published in its May 16 issue. Below is a transcript of the interview.
May 6—The political activist answers the questions of the newspaper Intégration after the April 7 conference of the Schiller Institute in New York City.
Intégration: You just held a conference in New York. What was it about? What was said there? And what should we expect next?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: In this New York conference we focussed on the war danger and the fantastic breakthroughs of the New Silk Road development in various countries, the science of the future, and the dialogue of cultures. The best is, you go on our websites and look at it yourself. And we will do more of these kinds of events.
Intégration: You have been lecturing all around the world, but never in black Africa and, in particular, never in Cameroon. So when will you visit us?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I have been in conferences in Khartoum and Abuja. I have been working on African development programs since the beginning of the 1970s, so it is not a lack of interest, but of opportunity.
Intégration: Why are you calling for a New World Economic Order?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Because the present world order, which is generally called “globalization,” is completely bankrupt, financially as well as morally. The need for a just New World Economic Order is today much more urgent than it was half a century ago, when the Nonaligned Movement demanded a New World Economic Order. The great humanitarian crisis, which is reflected in the fact that millions and millions of people are fleeing today from war, hunger, and poverty from Southwest Asia and Africa, and are risking their lives in trying to get to Europe, which is closing its borders, is a condemnation of those who try to maintain a system which only benefits a few, and sacrifices billions. Mankind has reached a crossroads, where either we define a new paradigm which takes into account the interest of all human beings living on this planet, or we will plunge even deeper into a new dark age, or even a third world war.
Intégration: Doesn’t the International Conference on Corruption indicate some guidelines for this new World Economic Order?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I can’t see that this conference has done anything in practice to change the corruption of the present system. Just take the enormous multitude of crimes the trans-Atlantic banking system is involved in, as revealed by the so-called “Panama Papers,” where the banks organized systematic tax evasion and other illegal activities, which is only the tip of the iceberg. Or the Libor rate manipulation, swindling people out of three digit sums of billions, or the drug money laundering of such banks as HSBC. These guidelines so far are only words.
Intégration: You are saying that we should expect regime changes in many countries, particularly in Africa where we see the phenomenon of “Presidents for life” who are able to avoid any recourse to democracy?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: The tragedy is that in Africa many leaders who fought for the common good of their people were assassinated and replaced by stooges for the colonial system, which in a way still exists, for example in the form of the conditionalities of the IMF. In his book The Economic Hitman John Perkins describes very well how this system operates still today. One also has to see that the nice sounding words “democracy” and “human rights” have often become a synonym for foreign interventions to bring to power people who would fulfill the interest of the trans-Atlantic financial system.
Intégration: Cameroon head of state M. Paul Biya has often called for a Marshall plan for Africa. Do you think that this is necessary and possible?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: Absolutely! It is more than necessary, given the extreme poverty in many areas and countries in Africa. It is also a realistic possibility for the near future. China has started to build the New Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road, where already more than 60 countries are cooperating. My organisation, the Schiller Institute, has produced a 370-page study, describing how The New Silk Road Becomes the World Land Bridge, which has a large section on key development projects for Africa, which would be a complete game changer. Primarily, large infrastructure projects are the absolute precondition for the development of agriculture and industries, as well as water projects, energy production and distribution, and new cities.
However, I would not call it a Marshall Plan, because the New Silk Road extended into Africa should not have a cold war connotation, but be a win-win perspective for all participants.
Intégration: The international press gave you the nickname of “Silk Road Lady.” How do you justify this name and what exactly is the Silk Road initiative?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: I guess I got that nickname, because I have campaigned now for 25 years for the New Silk Road, because that is what my husband and I proposed when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991. Then we called it the “Eurasian Land-Bridge/New Silk Road,” which was the proposal to connect the population and industrial centers of Europe and Asia through development corridors, opening up the landlocked areas of the Eurasian continent. We have conducted literally hundreds of conferences and seminars on this topic all over the world since.
The good news is that in 2013 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road as the official policy of China in the tradition of the ancient Silk Road, uniting peoples through an exchange of goods, technologies, cultures, and ideas. In the two and a half years since then, this project has taken on an enormous momentum, and it is right now the only positive perspective on the planet.
Intégration: We have to ask you, what does the new Silk Road initiative mean for Africa, or what contribution can Africa make to the New Silk Road initiative?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: If you look at the map of Africa, you can see that it lacks basic infrastructure. The few railway lines and roads still are not much better than they were during colonial times, when they were built only to exploit raw materials. So essentially it would mean building integrated high-speed railways, highways, waterways, as well as investment in advanced technologies and education. This would not only provide for the elimination of poverty, hunger and disease in a very short time, but also leapfrogging as quickly as possible to the most advanced technologies, to learn the lesson from the Chinese economic model, which has brought about the most spectacular economic miracle in the last 25 years. This model is based on exactly the same economic theory which was also the basis for the German economic model in the post-war period in Germany. In principle, this model can be replicated everywhere, if one focuses on the best possible education of the population and brings forward its creativity.
Africa can contribute its enormous human potential to the development of mankind as a whole. The more people study the projects and the philosophy of the New Silk Road, the quicker it can be put on the agenda. In some countries there are already study groups that get together once or twice a week, and they study the theory of physical economy which goes back to Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, and which has been developed further by my husband Lyndon LaRouche.
Intégration: Why are you always warning that a third world war is imminent? Who would benefit from such a catastrophe?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: As everybody can easily see, the United States and NATO are presently engaged in a policy of encirclement against Russia and China, which is reaching a very dangerous point. The reason is that the trans-Atlantic financial system is completely bankrupt, and some oligarchical circles see their power threatened by the rise of China.
Nobody would benefit from a third world war with thermonuclear weapons which would lead to the extinction of the human species.
Intégration: And the remedy you propose is what you call a “cultural and scientific renaissance”?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: You also need a new financial system, replacing the present bankrupt one with a credit system, by implementing the Glass-Steagall banking separation, which was introduced by F.D. Roosevelt.
But the new economic order will only function if you change the present culture, which is mostly evil and ugly, and which shapes the thinking of people in a very destructive way.
We must revive the best tradition of each culture and than have a dialogue between the best expression of each civilization and culture. That way people start to learn about each other, chauvinism and xenophobia disappear, and out of this revival then the ground is being laid to create a new renaissance.
Intégration: How does this scientific and cultural renaissance manifest itself? What part does Africa play in it?
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: There are clear frontiers of science which will lead to a completely new platform of economic activity. One such area is the research into thermonuclear fusion. Breakthroughs can be expected in the short term, both in respect to the stellarator model in Greifswald in Germany, where in February scientists succeeded producing a plasma at several million degrees Celsius for the tenth of a second and where the goal is to reach a stable plasma for 30 minutes much hotter than our sun by the year 2020, and also concerning a recent breakthrough at a different reactor type in China, at the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) at the Institute of Physical Science in Hefei, recently. A fusion based economy means energy and raw-material security for all of mankind. Another area is space research and travel.
A cultural renaissance would indicate that society is finally becoming human again, as it was in the past only during brief periods, such as Gupta period in India, certain dynasties, such as the Song dynasty in China, the Abbasid period in the Arab world, the Italian Renaissance, the Golden Age of Timbuktu, or the German classical period. A new renaissance would mean, that that kind of thinking would be the standard and basis for new breakthroughs of creativity in all areas of science and culture.