Liberia in a Vicious Political Industrial System
By Geepu Nah Tiepoh
May 15, 2002
Liberians are being sacrificed in a kind of political industrial system in which their lives are viewed by political-ego chasers as mere raw materials consumable in the process of manufacturing and safeguarding state power. Just as in a typical economic industrial manufacturing process, where certain goods are used up as intermediate inputs to produce others, in the Liberian political manufacturing system the lives and wellbeing of human beings are treated as intermediate, disposable raw materials.
For more than a decade now, the savage dynamics of this political manufacturing complex have been unfolding in our country. Thus, in producing the current international pariah regime headed by Charles Taylor, 250,000 Liberian lives were wantonly consumed in the manufacturing process. This excludes the heavy psychological, economic, and physical damages inflicted upon the people. However, since Liberians made these gigantic sacrifices five year ago, the political outcome has not benefited them. Rather, the population that survived the pre-1997 deadly manufacturing experiments has since been subjected to another round of these killer experiments. In the past five years, since springing to power from the blood and carcasses of the Liberian masses, the Taylor regime has been subjecting the people to untold economic suffering in the process of protecting state power.
The national economy now exists merely in the people’s desire and perseverance to survive. Economic growth and employment statistics are as pitiful as the silent death of the nation, with unemployment estimated around 85%. According to fresh reports from Monrovia, the price of a regular 100-pound bag of rice (the national staple) has now jumped to about US$35 in a country where teachers, civil servants, and other employees are supposed to make only half of that amount per month. Under the Taylor plague there has been a virtual collapse of Liberia’s international economic and diplomatic relations, rendering it impossible for the country to exploit its traditional sources of external finance and to reasonably manage its existing international financial obligations. Consequently, not only are the doors to new finance almost completely locked but also there is a loss of effective management of the country's existing external debts.
Parallel to the above is the fact that Liberia is now transformed into a battleground for anti-Taylor and pro-Taylor armed elements. This sad event only reflects the callousness and insensitivity of the Liberian political industrial complex and the men who manage and advocate it. That a group of human beings would pick up deadly weapons as a means of acquiring state power is bad enough, not only because in the process of doing so other human beings with no such weapons are victimized but also because the process often leads to a vicious circle of violent political manufacturing experiments in which more and more innocent people are consumed as raw materials. But resorting to arms as a means of acquiring power is even worse when those who have used them fail to place the power thus obtained at the service of their people. So far the Liberian experience with militaristic adventures has been negative, and there is no evidence that it will be positive in the future. This is why those who might have harbored initial faith in the reckless Taylor adventures may now be admitting their errors. And it is the same reason that Liberians should be cautious and suspicious of any current and future waves of militaristic political manufacturing experiments.
No amount of state power should be worth the blood of the people who were supposed to be uplifted by such power, especially when this power is going to be used to oppress and deprive them and their children. The international community must be reminded that for twelve years now Liberians have suffered unprecedented human destruction and economic emaciation under the Taylor factor. Only a few countries of the world (such as Rwanda, the Congo, and Sudan), in the last decade, have experienced greater destruction of human lives. And perhaps no country has suffered greater economic deprivations. The path to Liberia’s future does not lie in a vicious circle of dead-end political manufacturing experiments in which the attainment and protection of state power is an end itself. These experiments are prohibitively costly in terms of human lives and welfare, and they stifle economic, political and social progress. They must stop! The path to Liberia’s future lies in an internationally brokered ceasefire that will set the basis for a long-term peaceful solution to our national tragedy. This is not an easy path, but it is less costly than the alternative route of endless military insurgencies and counter-insurgencies under which Liberians have labored for so long.