In the interview itself, Andrews says of Enlightenment thinkers: “the argument has always been that you can separate out their racism from their moral theory. You really can’t!”
German philosopher Immanuel Kant comes in for particular criticism, with Andrew suggesting that his work was underpinned by an assumption that “African people obviously can’t think; white people can.”
Andrews characterises Kant as “essentially arguing that he can write the
Critique of Pure Reason and we can have rights [in Europe] because of the superiority of the white race… That’s where you see the Enlightenment principles permeating universities, so you create a space for elite white men to create racist knowledge…”
“It is blindingly obvious that the biggest problem for global inequality is racial: you can map poverty and race, and there’s a complete correlation. The white places are the ones with the highest GDP per capita. Africa has the lowest, and there is a hierarchy in between. This is the image of white supremacy from the Enlightenment,” Andrews claimed.
In fact, the territory with highest GDP per capita in the world, according to
World Bank figures, is the Macau (Macao) Special Administrative Region of China, populated largely by Cantonese-speaking Chinese, while the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world is Luxembourg — European, but atypical due to its status as a city-state, and with no history of colonial imperialism.
Much of the remaining states and territories in the top ten are, like Macau, majority non-white, including Singapore, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Some majority-white countries which do rank highly do not appear to fit Professor Andrews’ mould, such as Ireland — a former imperial
possession rather than a former imperial power.
Britain, meanwhile, which was historically the master of the greatest Western empire in history — and which funds Andrews’ university today — does not even make the World Bank’s top 20 for GDP per capita, but the
Times Higher Education Supplement made no attempt to challenge the academic’s economic assertions.