Africa and the Liberal Agenda
Paul Conton

Dinner talk to the Freetown Junior Dinner Club, October, 2016

Now, who are the liberals and what is the liberal agenda? I use the term liberal with a small ‘l’to clearly avoid confusion with a specific political party such as the Liberals or New Liberals, capital ‘l’, of
Great  Britain. I shall be focusing on political philosophy and policy, rather than party and personality.

Wikipedia defines liberalism as, “a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Whereas classical liberalism emphasizes the role of liberty, social liberalism stresses the importance of equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation.”

So liberals believe, amongst other things, in equality. A worthy cause which I’m sure most if not all of us round this table would support. I will return to this issue of equality. To all intents and purposes one might say the causes mentioned by Wikipedia as defining liberalism are more or less worthy ones, although it should be pointed out that a good number of these causes are supported by all political persuasions. Democratic society, liberty and free markets for instance, are generally supported in the West by liberal and non-liberal alike.

In discussing the liberal agenda it’s important to understand that liberalism is a relentless, expansionist force, operating with a “worldview” over a timespan of decades, if not centuries. Liberalism is promoted not only by individuals and national political parties, but also by international organizations. Wikipedia tells us, “On a global level, liberals are united in the Liberal International, which contains over 100 influential liberal parties and organizations from across the ideological spectrum.”

In the West, liberals are most often placed in opposition to conservatives. Again relying on the redoubtable Wikipedia: “Conservatism as a political and social philosophy promotes retaining traditional social institutions in the context of culture and civilization. Some conservatives seek to preserve things as they are, emphasizing stability and continuity…” Political competition in the West can be fascinating partly because there are often real, serious issues at stake. It is an interesting exercise to examine some of these issues and attempt a determination as to which side Africa really belongs. In the liberal camp or with the conservatives?  So let’s take a look at some of the key issues that divide liberals and conservatives.

Prominent among these has been the issue of sexuality, where liberals, especially including the BBC, have long championed the cause of homosexuality or, to use the current terminology, LBGT rights. Seemingly, they have almost succeeded in their objective, because many Western countries have moved or are moving towards the placing of homosexuality and same-sex marriage on an equal footing with heterosexuality and traditional man/ woman marriage. This is quite a remarkable achievement by the liberals in countries where homosexuality was a criminal offense a scant twenty or thirty years ago. Not only that, the liberals have turned their attentions in this regard towards third world countries and are increasingly putting pressure on them to adopt the same policies. Not only that, in the Western world the liberals are increasingly succeeding in stifling free speech on the issue, in countries where the issue of free speech is more or less sacrosanct. If you are in public life in the West, your job could well be at stake if you are perceived to be criticizing homosexuality. Just this week I heard a news item (on the BBC naturally) about a football player who was suspended and sent for reeducation after making remarks deemed to be anti-gay and a football administrator coming under fire for the same perceived offense. It is now politically incorrect to say anything negative about this practice in the West. In the eyes of liberals, LBGT’s are just another minority to be protected, like blacks or Hispanics. I think it’s fair to say that the great majority in Africa find this position abhorrent and the lumping of black people with homosexuals insulting, to say the least.

I come back to that term “equality” used in my opening to help define liberalism. In their desire for “equality”, liberals see no difference between normal and abnormal sexual practices. To them, all are equally valid. They are now adding a fifth category to their acronym – LBGTQ – with the Q standing for Queer. If the world stays silent who knows? They may yet add a D for dogs.  Their dogmatic approach to “equality” leads to absurd outcomes – not only acceptance of gay marriage, but equality in adoption laws for gay couples who then doubtlessly go on to spread their ideology to the young, innocent minds placed in their care. Now they’re arguing about which toilets the LBGT’s should use, men’s, women’s or entirely separate ones. So we may end up with six or more sets of toilets in public facilities.

Gentlemen, in Africa, should we really be standing with the liberals on this issue?

Another issue of intense interest in the West and indeed around the world has to do with the rights of the unborn child. In 1973, in a landmark case, Roe vs Wade, liberals won a famous victory in the US Supreme Court, when the court ruled that a woman had the right (I stress the word right) to terminate a pregnancy up to the time of fetal viability, ie up to the time the new born could survive by itself outside the womb. The court assessed this point of fetal viability to be at the end of the second trimester of pregnancy, although there was appreciation that medical technology could potentially make this point come even earlier. This 1973 decision of the US Supreme Court aroused great controversy and division between liberals and conservatives which continues up till this day. I listened with great interest to the recent Clinton/ Trump debates, and the most horrifying thing I heard was Trump’s claim, which Clinton did not deny, that Clinton supported the right (I stress the word right) of women to terminate a pregnancy even in the ninth month, by which time of course the unborn child is a viable, full-fledged human being. One could make a plausible argument that this is legalized murder. Not content with their 1973  victory which allowed women six full months in which to decide whether or not they wanted to take a pregnancy to full term, liberals have pushed relentlessly to expand this time frame right up to the point where the baby is ready to come out of the door, so to speak. Again, many in Africa would find this liberal position abhorrent. Yes, many abortions have taken place and will continue to take place in Africa, but for those of us who might at some point in our lives have felt compelled by circumstance to become involved in such a practice, the mercy and forgiveness of God would normally be sought. To claim that this act is lawful and right in the ninth month of pregnancy, as some liberals now do, is to reach a new level of depravity. What would the Almighty have to say about this? one wonders.

Mention of the Almighty brings me to the subject of religion. A significant portion of US conservatives come from the born-again Christian faith, the so-called Christian right. By contrast, liberals tend to be free thinkers, without strong or indeed any faith. Indeed when one considers my two earlier issues, sexuality and the unborn child, it is difficult to see how one could support liberal views on these issues and still claim to believe in the Bible. That liberal notion of “equality” again comes into play here, with liberals ascribing all religions and belief systems, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, atheism etc etc, to be equally valid. Bernie Sanders, who ran such a strong race against Hilary Clinton for the Democratic party nomination was rumored to be an atheist. Although he has denied it, his exact religious persuasion still appears to be a matter of some doubt. A dwindling lack of faith throughout the West, characterized by very low church attendance, contrasts sharply with the situation in Africa in general and Sierra Leone in particular, where faith appears strong, and church and mosque attendance is relatively high. Interestingly, on the question of faith, black Americans are aligned with their African brethren, as black American churches have traditionally been very strong.

Gentlemen, as I look round the table I see men of strong faith. Where would you rather stand on this issue: with the party of the atheists and agnostics? Or with the party of the believers?

In the area of the family Liberals tend to promote individual liberties and lifestyles, whilst conservatives promote traditional family values. This is far more in line with traditional African thinking, where family and community play such a central role in everyday lives.

In the area of government’s role in society, the liberals generally want more government, whilst conservatives want smaller government. The liberals introduced big government in the 1930’s in Franklin Roosevelt’s so-called New Deal, in which government introduced welfare payments and Social Security pensions. Ever since the liberals have been the tax and spend party whilst the conservatives have argued for more individual responsibility. Arguably, African society, with its emphasis on the role of the nuclear family, the extended family and community as support networks could be deemed to be closer to the conservative model than to the liberal model.

In the area of womens rights, in their never-ceasing quest for “equality”, liberals dogmatically argue that any differences between outcomes for men and women are the result of gender discrimination and must be reversed. They favour 50/50 and all manner of reverse discrimination to bring women to strict parity with men in all endeavours. But men and women are different, no matter what the liberals say. You know it and I know it. They are different physically, emotionally and psychologically. The differences starting from birth lead to very clear differences in goals and accomplishments in later life. But liberals can not accept this and have pushed not only for equality of opportunity, which conservatives might well agree with, but for equality of results, which is a very different thing.

The liberal clamp  down on free speech is very much in evidence on this issue. Nowadays, woe betide you if you are in public life in the West and you express an opinion that is anything other than strictly gender-neutral. Nigerian President Buhari touched a very raw nerve recently when he mentioned, standing beside Angela Merkel no less, that his wife’s place was in the home. Once again, we find traditional African practice, where men and women have different, clearly defined roles much closer to the Western conservative viewpoint than to the liberal one. Once again we see Western liberals pushing very hard in Africa through the promise of funds and the threat of withholding aid to change the African perspective on this issue.

The only issue I can find where the African point of view is closer to the liberal position than it is to the conservative one is on the question of race. Yes, white conservatives in the US (interestingly many of them Southern Democrats, not Republicans) fought tooth and nail to retain slavery and were in the forefront of the odious segregation laws that continued until the landmark US civil rights legislation of 1964 that gave blacks the vote. Yes, starting in the fifties, white liberals marched with black civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King to force change upon recalcitrant white conservatives. But gentlemen this all happened more than fifty years ago! I am reminded of the General who marched onto the battlefield with bigger and better bows and arrows to face his longtime enemy with whom he had been fighting for decades, only to discover his enemy had invented tanks. Gentlemen, in supporting the liberal point of view reflexively, unquestioningly, because of their support for the civil rights movement some fifty or sixty years ago, we are fighting yesterday’s war. We won that war fifty years ago! If there were any doubt whatsoever, then the election of Barack Obama eight years ago surely provided incontrovertible proof. There is no major party anywhere in the Western world that espouses an openly racist philosophy, that says we will deny someone an opportunity solely or even partly on the basis of his or her race. The challenge for blacks now, black Americans and black Africans is to make political choices on issues beyond the question of racial affinity, the notion that such and such a party does or does not like black people. 

Liberal tactics to carry the day include repression and clampdowns on free speech. They have developed a fondness for closing down discussion by using negative terms, newly invented buzzwords, for points of view that differ from theirs.  Thus, if you don’t agree with liberals on the LBGT question you are dubbed “homophobic”, a word that does not appear in my 1984 edition of Webster’s dictionary. If you don’t agree with them on anything to do with women you are sexist. And if you disagree with them on any question of race you are racist. Liberals are quick to use the racist charge against conservatives who have any differences with them on the question of race. Multiculturalism is yet one more misguided invention of the liberals. According to this philosophy multiple cultures should mingle freely and openly within a single jurisdiction. If you are a white conservative and happen to disagree with this, if you would prefer the ethnic and cultural balance in your region to remain undisturbed, you are quickly painted with the racism slur. Thus white conservatives who reject resettling of foreign migrants in their communities are quickly dubbed racist.

Undoubtedly some of these people are racist, but the fact of the matter, gentlemen, is that we all like to associate with our own people, people of our kind, people who are similar to us in one way or another. As I look around this table I don’t see any poor people. The Dinner Club is a rich man’s club, at least by Sierra Leonean standards. We don’t want any poor men here, at least partly because when our backs are turned they might steal our rum!  Krios loved their former bastion, Freetown, and have had a very hard time coming to terms with the loss of prestige, power and influence caused by the influx of non-Krios into the city. No settled group relishes the prospect of outsiders coming in and grabbing a piece of their territory. The Limbas and Temnes in Bombali have their areas and they don’t want to give them up. Nor do the Mendes in Bo and Kenema. Or the Korankos in Koinadugu. Or any of the other tribes. So if white Christians in America say no, we’d rather not bring in Muslim foreigners in large numbers and distort the existing makeup of our communities what is so strange about that, so different than the way the rest of us behave? The experience of Africa shows us very clearly that multiethnic societies are fraught with challenges. If one had the choice I would not advise any society to willingly choose that option. In good times all might be well, but in bad times multicultural societies can easily fracture.

In summary, gentlemen, I hope I have managed to convince you, if you did not believe it initially, that there is a worldwide liberal agenda that has been at work relentlessly over the decades. On the issues I have discussed, sexuality, the rights of the unborn child, religion, family values, and gender issues, I have tried to show that the liberal agenda is directly in opposition to African tradition, culture and values. We must work in
Africa to resist this spreading liberalism by focusing on core principles and policy rather than party and personality. I thank you for your attention and would welcome any comments or questions.