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Africa/Global: Oligarchs of All Nations

AfricaFocus Bulletin
July 20, 2022 (2022-07-20)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"Biden Concedes Defeat on Climate Bill as Manchin and Inflation Upend Agenda" - New York Times, July 16, 2022

This news was yet another indication of the failure of the Biden administration to act on the climate apocalypse now visibly taking its toll on Africa, the United States, and the entire planet. It was also a reminder of how vested interests such as the fossil fuel industry–and the billionaires who dominate funding of national political campaigns–have succeeded in paralyzing action by the federal government.

In a new report released on July 13, entitled Billionaires Buying Elections, Americans for Tax Fairness charted funding patterns for the 2022 election cycle, showing how they apply to both the Republican and the Democratic parties. The summary conclusion is this:

"The nation’s roughly 750 billionaires are increasingly using their personal fortunes and the profits of connected corporations to drown out regular voters’ voices and elect hand-picked candidates who further rig the nation’s economy—especially the tax system—to make their wealthy benefactors even richer. This anti-democratic vote-buying, totaling $1.2 billion in the 2020 election cycle, has expanded greatly in recent years. It has been facilitated by—and is facilitating—the accelerating wealth growth of the billionaire class and the record profits of the corporations they own."


Neither this political reality nor Manchin's effective veto over a host of policy issues is new. But perhaps it is time to update the language we use to describe these realities. Terms like "billionaires," "the rich," "the 1%," or, in the language of wealth managers, "Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI)" are all far too neutral. Given the recent prominence of Russian “oligarchs” in the news, it seems appropriate that we apply the same label to members of this group in the United States and indeed around the world.

And those of us who have been focusing on illicit financial flows and tax justice might brainstorm new slogans such as, perhaps, "Oligarchs of all nations should pay their taxes plus reparations." Of course, changing the language is not sufficient to change the reality. But perhaps it can help to clear away some mental cobwebs obscuring clear analysis.

AfricaFocus Bulletin has covered these issues for more than a decade. For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on illicit financial flows and tax justice, visit The current issue includes a selection of book recommendations from the AfricaFocus Bookshop, highlighting key books on this topic. It also includes a potpourri of other material as well as additional book recommendations on a variety of topics. There will be a break after this issue, for August and September, before publication resumes, most likely in a shorter format on Substack.

If you want to support AfricaFocus and its ongoing work, as well as support independent bookstores around the United States, click on the links to my bookshop and AfricaFocus will receive a commission of 10% of the list price of any book you order.

[ was founded in January 2020 to support independent bookstores and has grown rapidly since then. Unfortunately the site, which hosts affiliate sites by authors, organizations, and individuals, only ships to addresses in the United States, A parallel site at ships to addresses in the United Kingdom. AfricaFocus readers in Africa and elsewhere may be able to order directly from the publishers or through other channels.]

Update on AfricaFocus Bulletin

As regular readers will know, I have been posting the Bulletin, which appears on the website and is sent to subscribers by email, less frequently this year, given the time needed to produce each issue. In addition, I have been exploring other ways to share relevant information and analysis, including social media (Facebook and Twitter only) as well as specialized sites such as I am also doing more writing on current issues for other publications, such as Responsible Statecraft and Foreign Policy in Focus.

I am also gradually adding playlists to a new Youtube channel called Solidarity Songs, with the assistance of my friend and colleague Zeb Larson. And for my own use but also for sharing, I have begun to compile links to current news on important topics in a Google Drive spreadsheet. You can find these links here.

Most recently added to that spreadsheet is an article in The New Republic by top climate change journalist Kate Aronoff: The title is ": Watching American Democracy Melt," and the subhead reads: "Joe Manchin’s ability to sink climate legislation is getting less attention than the January 6 hearings. But it’s just as dire a sign for democracy."

Substack Coming

Later in the fall (or perhaps sooner), I hope to set up a Substack account for more convenient management of these diverse channels of communication. I will keep you posted as these plans develop in the next few months.

If you are not familiar with Substack, it is now the platform of choice for some of the most informative blogs being written. Among those that I follow personally and highly recommend, on very different topics, are Third Age (, by Cathy Sunshine; Global Inequality and More 3.0 (, by Branko Milanovic; and Uncharted Territories, by Tomas Pueyo. For a very interesting analysis of Substack and its potential see this post by Tomas Pueyo:

William (Bill) Minter

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++

Books on Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Justice

Four outstanding books on illicit financial flows and tax justice. The first, by Tax Justice Network Africa, is still one of the best summaries available, despite having been written over a decade ago. The three other recent books focus on the lawyers and accountants who make this global system run and the two countries that are at the top of the tax haven industry.

And more recommended books on the same topic.

Announcements and Updates


Chris Root and Richard Knight report that the African Activist Archive at Michigan State University, which has pioneered in digitizing archival material on activist support for African liberation, has launched the first major update of its website since 2009. The user interface is much more friendly than before. And 530 new digital items have been added from several sources. These include selected documents scanned by the Columbia College Archive from two of their collections (the Chicago Anti-Apartheid Movement Collection and the Cheryl Johnson-Odim collection), as well as from the TransAfrica Chicago Support Committee and the TransAfrica national office correspondence with other local chapters.

“Featured Items” now appear at the bottom of the Browse page ( See for example, this photo showing Parking Meter Collectors Against Apartheid in New York.

And, in Amsterdam, Kier Schuringa announced the addition of a major new video collection to the Anti-Apartheid and Southern Africa Collection at the International Institute of Social History. The full collection guide can be accessed at The African Skies Foundation Video Collection, with almost 190 hours of video presentations, is now online and can be viewed at After selecting the content list, you can choose from links for each tape by clicking on browse digital collection. Please note that most of the tapes don’t start immediately but after half a minute or so.


For more Songs around the World from Playing for Change.

Additional original performances and coveers for Redemption Song and Soul Makossa.

Recent News and Analysis from

Roundup of articles on conflict in the Sahel

Animal-to-Human Diseases On the Rise in Africa

Africa Still Too Reliant On Commodities Exports

Other News and Analysis of Likely Interest to AfricaFocus Readers
This short book on different ways to understand China's global role is free to download. It's well worth reading.
Analytical article by Asha Ransby-Sporn & Debbie Southorn notes a rare anti-war organizing victory.

New York Times newsletter The Morning explains how college-educated workers are spearheading new union drives at companies like Amazon and Starbucks.

Other Selected Book Recommendations from AfricaFocus Bookshop

Four books I am now reading relevant to the war in Ukraine. The first section of Cedric Robinson´s book ties in through his influential analysis of emergence of "racial capitalism" in Europe, is more general in character.

In my opinion, these are among the best recent books on "post-apartheid" South Africa. The first I reviewed in the latest issue of African Studies Review. Matisonn´s book is particularly of current interest in containing a comparative description of the careers of Jacob Zuma and Vladimir Putin, informed by his first-hand reporting on both of them.

Two of the best books on contemporary Angola, the second published last month. Timely reading given The recent death of former Angolan President José Eduardo Dos Santos.

In my opinion, these two books offer fundamental new insights on the history of European conquest of the Americas and the racial hierarchies that still define our nation and the world.

Two books on progressive organizing in the United States today, one a short manifesto and the other consisting of short essays by progressive activists on grassroots organizing in the 2020 election.

Two short children´s books about Nobel Prize winner angari Maathai. For a host of other recommendations on books for teachers and students on Africa, see the web site managed by educator Brenda Randolph.

A selection of four recent books on African American life and progressive activism.

And, finally, two more lists of possible interest to some AfricaFocus readers.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter. For an archive of previous Bulletins, see,

Current links to books on AfricaFocus go to the non-profit, which supports independent bookshores and also provides commissions to affiliates such as AfricaFocus.

AfricaFocus Bulletin can be reached at Please write to this address to suggest material for inclusion. For more information about reposted material, please contact directly the original source mentioned. To subscribe to receive future bulletins by email, click here.