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07 October

"Mau Mau veterans sue Britain"


The full text of Shiraz Durrani's book "Never be silent : publishing & imperialism in Kenya, 1884-1963" is now available under "Creative Commons" rights via E-LIS. [1]

Shiraz asked:

"Do the Kenyan librarians see their role as informing Kenyan people as well as participants at the WSF about the reality and history of Mau Mau".

I am not a Kenyan librarian, so the question is not for me to answer. That is why I have put Shiraz question about the Mau Mau veterans who are now sueing Britain [2] between quotation marks.

I intend to use Shiraz' question as a pretext to think aloud - organise my own thoughts - about some general issues.


The answer is included in Shiraz' question. Obviously, the librarians of a world society should help humankind to settle the accounts with its past and present. [3]

A world society has not yet come into existence. But it might have become possible in our days. The internet is one of its potential institutions.

The internet is an outgrowth on the library.[4] Internet and library are one and the same. The internet is the library becoming a true world library.

In old Alexandria, already, they almost had a world library. Which means that "globalisation" started a long time ago.

Is Alexandria East or West? North or South? The answer is that Alexandria is everywhere. It is in Bush.[5] It is in Mao's "Contradictions".[6] It is in Maulana's "Mesnavi".[7]

The world society is present in you and me. The world's society and the world's library are very close to each others. Library and society are mutually dependent on each other. The mere existence of the library proves that Mrs Thatcher was wrong in saying that 'there is no such thing as society'.


How about the wealth of nations and the misery of the peoples? What can a librarian do?

She/he can join the efforts to create a world society at the World Social Forum.

At the World Social Forum, we (we, the peoples) try to organise the world's public finances in a social and democratic way. World Public Finances is perhaps best described as a Social Democratic idea[8] ?)

In our modern world, the public sphere is the sphere of the society that is accessible to the reading public. It is the sphere of democratic deliberation.

'Finances' refers to a certain abstract perspective on the economy, using money as its measure. 'Public finances' is a concept that belongs to the political economy, the common (social) economic sphere of the society.

The neoliberal economists, bankers and politicians, who still dominate the politics and the economy, do not want any public discussion and deliberation about the public finances of society, not to speak about the public finances of the whole world.

But why should the librarians follow the Bushes, Blairs and Berlusconis instead of participating, along with other professional groups, in the Open Conspiracy [9] for a world society?



(The purpose of these notes is to provide yet one illustration to the thesis about the identical nature of the internet and the library - all the references are actually found on the net. )

[1] "E-LIS is an open access archive for scientific or technical documents, published or unpublished, on Librarianship, Information Science and Technology, and related areas" (http://eprints.rclis.org/).

[2] See, for instance, Joyce Mulama: "The "Mzungu" Called to Account, Decades After Colonial Abuses", Inter Press Service (IPS), 6 October 2006 (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35021)

[3] See, for instance: Richard Drayton: "The wealth of the west was built on Africa's exploitation. Britain has never faced up to the dark side of its imperial history", a comment in the Guardian, August 20, 2005 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,5267073-103677,00.html).

[4] "Polemos panton men pater esti,", wrote Heraclitus, strife is the father of all things. Thus somebody might object that the internet is an outgrowth of the military-industrial complex of the USA, and, more in particular, of the efforts of American scientists and engineers to guarantee the coninuation of the control, command and communication (CCC) of the American soldiers even during and after an atomic war. - Would such CCC be anything else than a futile effort to save "the library"?

[5] We all live today under the conditions of the pax americana, which only is an extension of the pax romana which, in turn, was built on the ruins of the library of Alexandria.

[6] Mao Zedong, in his essay "On Contradiction", tried to explain parts of the philosophical heritage from Alexandria to his fellow countrymen. This text is available at http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-1/mswv1_17.htm

[7] This refers to "The Masnavi I Ma'navi" by Maulana Jalalu-'d-din Muhammad Rumi Abridged and Translated by E.H. Whinfield (1898), (http://www.sacred-texts.com/isl/masnavi/). The Wikipedia has an article on this Persian classic, and its English translations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masnavi). - A nice little selection of poetry from the Masnavi is found in Aida Foroutan's blog at Yahoo, see Aida Foroutan

[8] On Social Democracy, see Howard Richards: Dilemmas of Social Democracies (http://www.howardri.org/dilemmas.html). A printed version is available as The Dilemmas of Social Democracies: Overcoming Obstacles to a More Just World, by Howard Richards and Joanna Swanger (http://www.lexingtonbooks.com/). On World Public Finances, see http://www.cttcampaigns.info/otrosistema/wpfblog

[9] "The Open Conspiracy" is an idea that has been developed by, among others, the British author H.G.Wells in a pamphlet with the same title, which is available at http://www.gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0201081.txt. - The Wikipedia has an article about H.G.Wells and a separate entry about "The Open Conspiracy".

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