Category Archives: Black & African Liberation

Grover Furr: The Fallacies of Afrocentrism

EGYPT - JANUARY 01:  The mask of King Tutankhamun displayed in the Cairo Museum, Egypt.  (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

EGYPT – JANUARY 01: The mask of King Tutankhamun displayed in the Cairo Museum, Egypt. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images)

A few days ago I posted an article I wrote back in ’91 when the college’s black student org. invited Leonard Jeffries to come to speak. In it I ran through, though very briefly (for space), some of the fallacies of Afrocentrism. Here is a little more about them, in no special order.

  1. Afrocentrism seriously distorts Egyptian history. Egyptians were not “black” (Negroid) on the whole, though a few dynasties of rulers were. But Egyptians were also not racists, it seems, and people of different colors intermarried. We could do well to follow their lead in this!There is no evidence that Nefertiti or Cleopatra were ‘black’, for example. Nefertiti was not “white” (i.e. European) either (Cleopatra was either 3/4 Greek or, perhaps, entirely so, not Egyptian at all).
  2. Greeks did not “steal” their culture from Egypt. In the ancient Mediterranean world, cultural influences moved around a lot.
  3. The Egyptian rulers and their acolytes (like all the “-hoteps”, Imhotep, Ptahhotep, et al.) were an oppressive and expoitative aristocracy. Cheikh Anta Diop, whom Afrocentrists admire but, it seems, seldom read, has a very interesting review of Jacques Pirenne’s History of Ancient Egypt in one of his books. Diop comments favorably about Pirenne’s description of revolutions against the Egyptian rulers by lower-class Egyptians — something one would expect in an exploitative society. But the Afrocentrists who so admire Diop never mention this aspect of Ancient Egypt! In short, what they admire is the aristocratic, exploitative aspect of it.
  4. “African culture” is not a unity: there are many, many cultures in Africa. Ancient Egyptians are not the ancestors, either culturally or genetically, of the peoples of West Africa or of the American black population.
  5. The whole “ice man-sun man” thesis of Francis Welsing is racist crap, without a shred of evidence to support it. Welsing seldom publishes her ‘research’; same with Jeffries. I know: I’ve tried to get it; with lots of effort, I’ve gotten a very little bit. The infamous “Melanin” Conferences at which these ideas are promoted are virtually secret, their ‘proceedings’, if any, not available to anyone.
  6. The premises of Afrocentrism are false and racist against blacks, among others.
  • it is false and racist that anyone has any business taking “pride” in the “achievements” of one’s distant ancestors, since intelligence, creativity, etc., are not inherited, and furthermore no one can take any credit for anything they have not achieved themselves. This is the case even if modern blacks were the descendants of ancient Egyptians, which they are not. Besides, if one takes credit for the “achievements” of one’s distant ancestors, why not also assume the blame for the atrocities committed by the same ancestors?
  • it is false and racist to say that “blackness”, “melanin” (or “whiteness”, etc.) confers intelligence, or any characteristics at all. If it were true, all blacks with any degree of white ancestry would be “sub-human” just as the “ice person” thesis claims whites are; most American blacks, if not all, therefore.

Where does Afrocentrism come from? Historically, it’s a reaction to the tremendous upsurge of racism spurred by 18th and 19th century European imperialism. I think Bernal [Black Athena, Volume I] is right when he points out that after 1800 study of Egypt — and also of the Semitic mid-east— was systematically denigrated for racist reasons. Some scholars reacted against this marginalization of Egypt and the Mid-East, including some black scholars (but not only them). This is the ancestry of Afrocentrism, sketched by Bernal rather convincingly. What is not convincing about Bernal (Volumes 1 and 2) is his derivation of Greek civilization from Egyptian colonists. However, even if it were true, it would not mean what the Afrocentrists say it means.

Today, Afrocentrism is a racist, highly conservative, nationalist pseudo-science (by the latter term I mean: based upon phony scholarship and premises). It victimizes black students almost exclusively, since it is they who have this nonsense foisted off upon them as truth.

The fact that it is tolerated and even promoted at various universities, including the one I teach at, is a tribute to higher education’s racism against black students. This kind of worthless, reactionary crap would never be tolerated if it were being purveyed to white students!

Afrocentrism is another form of authoritarianism. It tells black students: Believe “your leaders” because they are black! Since there’s no evidence worthy of the name for these theses, “believe your black leaders” is all that’s left.

Who are these misleaders, phony scholars? I do not see any division into “responsible” and “irresponsible.” Asante and Karenga write the same kind of nonsense as Jeffries and Welsing. If you want to read some real authoritarian crap from somebody with a Jesus complex (i.e. he believes he’s the chosen of God), read Asante’s Afrocentricity, in which he claims the belief structure was “granted” him as a “vision”, like Paul on the road to Damascus. He even reprints it!

Afrocentrism, being racist against blacks, is useful to the racist US ruling class, and I think that’s why it’s tolerated. It serves to inculcate racist, anti-white views among black students, and to keep them obedient to whatever the highly conservative ‘authorities’ tell them.

The same kind of nationalism flourished in the ’60s, where it served to keep blacks from uniting with anti-racist whites to fight racism. That’s the function of Afrocentrism today, and very valuable it is to the tactic of “divide and conquer”, by which white and black workers and students are kept divided from one another.

However, Afrocentrism is nowhere near as influential as overt anti-black racism of the Murray/Herrnstein Bell Curve kind, or of the D’Amato/Christy Whitman/Joe Bruno kind. Anti-black racism is sharply on the increase, under the guise of “attacking Affirmative Action”, attacks on welfare, and so on.

Racism is on the increase because the ruling class always uses racism to divide the working class against one another, the better to fleece it — to lower the standard of living and increase profits. Afrocentrism helps them, and so continues to flourish, as do the right-wing fascists, militias, etc., all of which are also racist to the core.

Racism is the key issue here. If there were a mass anti-racist movement involving many whites, as there was in the ’60s, the “cultural nationalists” like the Afrocentrists, like the Farrakhans, would be an insignificant force as they were then. As it is, with racism against blacks rising rapidly, and no multi-racial, anti-racist movement, it is the nationalists who appear, to some, to be at least ‘doing something’ about racism, something to assert the equality and dignity of black people. They are not doing this; but the appearance that they are is what attracts many black students and others.

You want to weaken Afrocentrism? FIGHT ANTI-BLACK RACISM!

Grover Furr, English Department

Source

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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia on the Civil War in the United States (1861–65) and the Reconstruction of the South

Union and Confederate troops clash at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, 1864.(Library of Congress/Kurz and Allison)

Union and Confederate troops clash at the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, 1864. (Library of Congress/Kurz and Allison)

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979).

Civil War in the United States, 1861–65, and the Reconstruction of the South

The Civil War in the United States was a natural result of the sharp worsening of antagonistic economic and political contradictions between the capitalist North and the slave-owning South.

By the mid-1850’s a revolutionary situation had begun to take shape in the United States. It became more and more evident that the contradictions between the two social systems would inevitably develop into an armed struggle for power and for the nationwide victory of one of the social systems. Slavery had become the main obstacle to the development of capitalism in the United States, and the necessity of destroying it had become inevitable. Civil war in Kansas (1854–56), the insurrection led by John Brown in 1859, and the intensified movement for the abolition of slavery were evidence of the approach of a sharp conflict.

In 1860, A. Lincoln, the candidate of the Republican Party, was elected president of the United States. For the Democratic Party, in which slave owners had a very strong influence, his election meant loss of power on a national scale. In response to Lincoln’s election, the slave owners proclaimed the secession of the southern slave-owning states from the Union and began to prepare for civil war. In February 1861 in Montgomery, Alabama, the Confederacy of slave-owning states was formed and joined by 11 of the 34 states. In April 1861 the troops of the Confederacy began the rebellion and captured forts and arsenals in the South, where the major part of weapons and ammunition had been concentrated as early as J. Buchanan’s presidency. Only Fort Sumter in South Carolina offered resistance, but after two days it surrendered on April 14.

The theater of military action was an enormous territory bordered on the north and west by the Potomac, Ohio, and Missouri rivers, on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico. The northern states had a population of 22 million. The North was covered with a dense rail network and had well-developed industry, including almost all the metallurgical, textile, and arms industries of the entire nation. About 9 million people lived in the territory of the southern states, including 4 million Negro slaves. A significant part of the population of the southern states did not support the rebels. The South did not have the essential economic base for waging a prolonged war. There were considerably fewer cities and railroads in the South than in the North. Combat operations were waged primarily along railroads and rivers, which made it easier to move and supply troops.

The size of the regular US Army was only 14,000–16,000 men. They were scattered along the western borders, where they were used primarily to pacify the Indians, and they did not represent a serious fighting force. At the beginning of the war a significant number of the officers were from slave-owning families and went over to the Confederate side. Among them was the capable general R. Lee, who became commander of the South. When war broke out, President Lincoln declared a call-up of 75,000 volunteers, and later a draft was instituted. In turn, the president of the Confederacy, J. Davis, drafted 100,000 men into the army at the beginning of the war. For the entire period of the war 2.7 million were drafted into the army of the North, and 1.1 million into the army of the South. The basic unit was the infantry division, which consisted of three brigades of two regiments each. (A regiment had ten companies of 80–100 men each.) A corps was made up of two to three divisions, and two to five corps were consolidated into an army.

The war plan of the southern slave owners was adventuris-tic. It was calculated to take advantage of surprise and to use aid from Great Britain and France. The South intended to capture quickly the states of Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia and then to attack Washington, D.C., and force the government to accept the slave owners’ conditions. The North’s plan was for passive defense. At first the North intended to restrict its troops to defense and to wage particular operations in which the troops who were being raised would gradually be prepared for offensive action.

The main issue of the Civil War was slavery. The rebel slave owners endeavored to preserve slavery as a social system and spread it to the entire territory of the USA and in the future even to the countries of South America. At the beginning of the war the Lincoln administration saw as its primary task the restoration of the Union and prevention of the spread of slavery to the new territories.

In the first stage of the war (1861–62) the North suffered a series of grave defeats. In the first period the combat operations of the main forces unfolded in the Washington-Richmond axis. In mid-July 1861 the 35,000–man army of the North led by General I. McDowell invaded Virginia and reached the Bull Run River, which at the same time was approached by a 31,000–man army of the South commanded by General Lee. In the battle of Manassas (or Bull Run) on July 21 the poorly armed and trained Northern troops were routed, and they retreated to Washington, D.C., in disorder. However, the Southerners did not take advantage of their success.

The Northern command directed its primary attention to forming a large army and establishing defensive structures. A new strategic plan was developed, the Anaconda Plan, which envisioned the establishment of a ring of army and naval forces around the southern states. This ring would be tightened gradually until the rebels were finally suppressed. Marx and Engels were severely critical of this plan, describing it as a “rebirth … of the so-called cordon system, which was used in 1792–97 against the French with such stubbornness, and always without success” (Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 15, pp. 505–506). They believed that the main thrust should be delivered against the state of Georgia. The capture of Georgia would have split the territory of the Confederacy into two isolated parts, deprived the Confederacy of economic resources, and brought the 500,000 Negro slaves in Georgia into the struggle (ibid., pp. 506–507).

In April 1862 the 100,000–man army of the North commanded by the untalented General G. McClellan again began an attempt to capture Richmond, attacking from Fort Monroe. However, at the approaches to the capital of the southern states, McClellan’s army encountered a well-prepared system of engineer fortifications. In the battle of June 26–July 2 on the Chickahominy River east of Richmond, the Northerners were defeated by an 80,000–man army of the South, and they retreated toward Washington, D.C. In September 1862, General Lee attempted to capture Washington, D.C but after an initial success (the so-called second battle of Manassas or Bull Run on August 30), he was unable to achieve victory at Antietam (September 16–17), and he was forced to retreat beyond the Potomac. The attempt of the army of the North to go over to a new offensive against Richmond was also unsuccessful; on December 11–13 the Army of the Potomac under General J. Hooker was defeated at Fredericksburg. Between June and November 1862 the Southern command made several cavalry raids under T. Jackson and J. Stuart in order to strike the enemy from the rear, but these raids did not produce the desired results.

In the western and southern parts of the Mississippi Valley military actions had a local character. Northern troops under the command of generals U. Grant and B. Butler, supported by Admiral D. Farragut’s squadron, took Memphis. Corinth, and New Orleans. The successful blockade of southern ports by the fleet of the North, which deprived the Confederacy of communications with Great Britain and France, was very important. Actions by the South’s cruisers, including the Alabama, inflicted substantial losses on the North’s merchant fleet but did not have a major influence on the course of the war.

The successes of the rebels are partially explained by their being better prepared for war. However, the main reason for the military defeats of the North was that the bourgeoisie of the North was afraid to rely on the popular masses in the struggle with the slave owners. Influential bourgeois circles in the North continued to seek ways to solve the conflict by compromise. This policy was completely hopeless from a military and a political point of view. Noting the decisive demands of the popular masses in the North to switch to revolutionary methods of waging war, Marx wrote: “If Lincoln does not give in (but he will give in), there will be a revolution” (ibid., vol. 30, p. 222). Marx expressed his firm belief that “waging war in a revolutionary way still lies in the future” (ibid., vol. 15, p. 542).

Marx’ prediction proved to be entirely correct. In 1862, under the pressure of the popular masses and military failures. Congress implemented a number of measures for the purpose of switching to revolutionary methods of waging war. A law was published confiscating the property of rebels, and the death sentence was instituted for treason against the United States. Especially important were the Homestead Act, which was adopted on May 20, 1862, and Lincoln’s proclamation liberating the Negro slaves in the rebel states. which went into effect on Jan. 1. 1863. The slaves were freed without land and without compensation to their owners.

In 1863 a new stage in the war began, which was characterized by important changes in the entire course of the country’s political life and in the strategy and tactics of the Union Army. The political activism of the popular masses increased in the North, and a number of serious attacks were made on counterrevolutionary forces. The Union Army was replenished with new worker regiments. About 190.000 Negroes. 72 percent of them from the southern states, entered the army of the North, and 250.000 Negroes served in rear units.

At the beginning of the second stage of the war (1863–65) the South still held the initiative. On May 2–4, 1863. northern troops were defeated again at Chancellorsville, but the turning point of the war followed this defeat.

In June 1863, General Lee’s 64,000–man army began to advance into Pennsylvania, and Stuart’s cavalry was sent on a deep raid. The Southerners were met by General G. Meade’s 85,000–man army. In an encounter battle at Gettysburg on July 1–3 the army of the South, deprived of cavalry support, suffered a serious defeat. A major success was achieved in the Mississippi Basin, where Grant’s army captured the upper reaches of the river and then besieged and forced the surrender of the fort at Vicksburg (July 4. 1863). The entire line of the Mississippi passed to the control of the North, and the territory of the Confederacy was split into two parts. The decisive role in achieving these successes was played by the farmers, workers, and artisans who poured into the army, fought selflessly, and gave an active character to combat operations. Negroes played an important part in the struggle against the army of the South: they did reconnaissance, attacked southern troops from the rear, and served as guides. The government of the Confederacy was forced to assign 100.000 soldiers to fight rebellious slaves.

The combat operations of the North during 1864–65 were decisive and had the character of maneuvers. General Grant, who was appointed general-in-chief in March 1864, developed a new strategic plan. General Meade’s 122,000–man Army of the Potomac would attack the South from the north, destroy the main forces of General Lee’s army, and capture Richmond. General W. Sherman’s 100,000–man army would attack from west to east against General J. Johnston’s army, which was covering the central region of the Confederacy, and would deliver a thrust against the most important economic centers of the South. At the same time. General Butler’s 36,000–man army would attack Richmond from the east. The offensive began in the first days of May 1864. Meade’s army approached Richmond but was unable to capture the city. Relying on fortified positions, the enemy offered desperate resistance and at the same time attempted to deliver a thrust against Washington, D.C. However, on Sept. 19, 1864, this attack was defeated at Winchester.

Workers of many nationalities participated on the side of the North in the Civil War, as did many revolutionaries who had emigrated to the United States from Europe (for example, J. Weydemeyer and G. P. Cluseret). The North was actively supported by the English workers, who offered decisive resistance to attempts by the British government to intervene in the Civil War on the side of the slave owners. As the war progressed, the economic and military superiority of the North was increasingly evident. The international position of the Lincoln government also grew stronger. Russian policy promoted this to a significant degreee. Russia had an interest in the existence of a unified United States opposed to Great Britain and France, which were then tsarist Russia’s chief rivals. The arrival of two Russian squadrons in September-October 1863 in New York and San Francisco was interpreted in the United States and Western European countries as a demonstration of friendship toward the Lincoln government.

The transition to revolutionary methods of waging war significantly strengthened the position of Lincoln, who was reelected president in 1864. The armies of the North continued their successful offensive operations. The “march to the sea” by General Sherman’s army was particularly important. Pursuing the retreating enemy, Sherman’s army took Atlanta on Sept. 2, 1864, and on December 21 it took Savannah and reached the Atlantic Ocean. Then Sherman turned north and on Feb. 18, 1865, captured Columbia, reaching the rear units of Lee’s army, whose position had become hopeless. On Apr. 3, 1865, Grant’s troops took Richmond. Lee’s army began to retreat to the southeast, but it was overtaken and surrounded by Grant at Appomattox. On April 9, General Lee surrendered, and on April 26, General Johnston’s troops surrendered. The remaining troops of the South had ceased resistance by June 2. The war ended with the complete defeat of the slave owners.

On Apr. 14, 1865, exactly four years after the Civil War had begun, President Lincoln was mortally wounded by the actor Booth, an agent of the slave owners and reactionary circles in the North. Lincoln’s death was a grave loss for all of progressive America.

The Civil War was bloody and expensive. The North lost 360,000 men, who were killed or who died from wounds and diseases, and the South lost at least 250,000. About 1 million soldiers and officers of the North and South were wounded. Military expenditures and destruction were assessed at many billions of dollars. However, the sacrifices were not in vain. As V. I. Lenin noted, the Civil War in the United States had “very great progressive and revolutionary significance in world history” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 37, p. 58).

The Civil War in the United States reflected new phenomena in the development of the art of war. It was distinguished by its large scope and by the participation in it of enormous armies. The transition to revolutionary methods of waging war gave combat operations an active and decisive nature, which decided the victory over the South in advance. Railroads, a steam-powered navy, and riverboats were used extensively in the war. The invention of the telegraph made it possible to maintain operational control of troops over significant distances. The large scope of the armed struggle and significant losses made it necessary to train reserves and establish reserve supplies. The development of the rifled firearm and its increased speed of fire, accuracy, and range led to large losses in the battle formations of troops who attacked in dense, deep columns. Static forms of battle and engineer preparation of the terrain became widespread. Heavy artillery preparation to neutralize enemy fire was required to overcome a defense equipped with trenches, dugouts, and barriers. Combat operations at sea were characterized by the blockade of the coast and the most important ports, and naval battles became artillery contests. The war gave impetus to the development of an armored fleet.

The working masses played the decisive role in crushing the slave owners, but the fruits of victory were enjoyed primarily by the bourgeoisie, which achieved its main goals. Slavery, which had hindered the development of capitalism, was abolished. Favorable conditions were established for the development of capitalism in agriculture by individual farmers—that is, by the American method. The creation of a single national market was begun and control over the entire economic and political life of the country was concentrated in the hands of the bourgeoisie. However, a powerful workers’, farmers’, and Negro movement threatened the dominance of the bourgeoisie. Under these conditions there appeared a clear-cut policy of concluding a class alliance between the bourgeoisie and the plantation owners, directed against the working people.

Reactionary circles in the North and South were especially disturbed by events that unfolded in the southern states. Led by the Radical Republicans, the Negroes and some of the poor whites began an organized struggle to obtain land for themselves and to win the right to vote for the former slaves. A true battle began in the southern states between the Negroes and bands of the Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization founded in the South in 1865. The struggle of the Negroes to win equal rights with whites was revolutionary. It developed under very difficult conditions, because the federal government acted as an ally of the plantation owners. In order to thwart the movement of the popular masses in the South, A. Johnson, who became president of the United States after the assassination of Lincoln, advanced a program that amounted to a formal recognition by the former rebel states of the abolition of slavery. At the same time, under Johnson’s plan all power in the South would remain in the hands of the former slave owners. Amnesty was granted to thousands of active participants in the rebellion. By February 1867 property valued at 2 billion dollars had been returned to the plantation owners. The Negroes did not receive any rights, and they became landless agricultural workers.

Having consolidated their economic and political position in the South, the plantation owners raised the question of restoring slavery and openly laid claim to participation in federal governmental bodies. This was already a direct attempt to change the results of the Civil War, and it was an open threat to the bourgeois monopoly of state power. The Negroes offered fierce resistance to the former slave owners’ offensive. Leagues of alliance, which united Negroes and poor whites, created armed detachments, consisting primarily of Negroes. They were the bulwark of the revolutionary movement in the South. These detachments played an important part in implementing the Radical Reconstruction of the South, the beginning of which was marked by the First Reconstruction Act of Mar. 2, 1867.

The purpose of Radical Reconstruction was to carry out bourgeois-democratic reforms in the South and restrict the power of the former slave owners. All power in the South was transferred to the federal army. Active participants in the rebellion were deprived of all political rights. More than 1 million Negroes received the right to vote. The transition to Radical Reconstruction was brought about not only by the Negro struggle against the plantation owners but also by major changes that were taking place in the North. In December 1865, Congress officially sanctioned the emancipation of the Negroes by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and in June 1866 the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution recognized the right of Negroes to vote.

With the participation of Negro voters, in the summer of 1867 constitutional assemblies were elected, which adopted new bourgeois-democratic constitutions for the southern states. The socioeconomic system of the southern states began to be restructured on new, bourgeois principles. The Negroes were an important moving force in the Reconstruction. In a number of cases they seized the lands of plantation owners, and they participated actively in the work of local governmental agencies. For the first time in the history of the country, 16 Negroes were elected to the US Congress. During Reconstruction the Negroes made great progress in public education. The number of Negro students increased more than 500 times in comparison with 1860 and reached 500,000 by the end of Reconstruction. Significant gains were made in the development of industry, transportation, trade, and organization of public services in populated areas.

However, the agrarian question remained unresolved, just as it had been during the Civil War. The overwhelming majority of the Negroes and poor whites remained in the position of agricultural workers and sharecroppers without any rights. The workers’ and farmers’ movement of the North and West did not give direct support to the revolutionary struggle of the Negroes in the South. Without this support the Negro movement was doomed to failure. This was in fact its fate. Taking advantage of racial prejudices, the plantation owners were able to split the united front of the Republicans in the South and begin taking power in one southern state after another. By 1877 the Republicans held power in only three southern states. In April 1877 the federal government withdrew its troops from these states, and power in them was immediately seized by the plantation owners. The withdrawal of federal troops from the southern states was a direct betrayal by the Northern bourgeoisie of its Negro allies. This traitorous act marked the end of the Reconstruction of the South.

Despite the restoration of the power of the plantation owners in the South, Reconstruction played an important, positive role in the history of the South and the entire country. The revolutionary struggle of the Negroes and their white allies thwarted plans to reestablish slavery in the South. The restructuring of the southern states in the interests of capitalist development completed the process of establishing a single national market. The active participation of broad popular masses in Reconstruction as well as the revolutionary methods of struggle to which they resorted gave Reconstruction a bourgeois-democratic revolutionary character. During Reconstruction attempts were made to solve problems that the Civil War had been unable to resolve. For this reason, Reconstruction is viewed as a continuation of the Civil War and as the second phase of the bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1861–77. However, unlike the Civil War, the period of Reconstruction was not marked by the formation of a united front of northern workers and farmers and southern Negroes. The active role of the popular masses and the results achieved were significantly less under Reconstruction than during the Civil War. Reconstruction was a descending stage in the second American revolution.

REFERENCES

Marx, K. “Amerikanskii vopros v Anglii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch. 2nd ed., vol. 15.
Marx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Severnoi Amerike.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Soedinennykh Shtatakh.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Otstranenie Frimonta.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “Anglo-amerikanskii konflikt.” Ibid.
Marx, K. “K kritike polozheniia v Amerike.” Ibid.
Engels. F. “Uroki amerikanskoi voiny.” Ibid.
Engels, F. “Bronenosnye i tarannye suda i grazhdanskaia voina v Amerike.” Ibid.
Marx, K., and F. Engels. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Amerike.” Ibid.
Engels. F. K. Marksu, 3 iulia 1861 g. i 30 iulia 1862 g. (Letters.) Ibid., vol. 30.
Lenin, V. I. “Novye dannye o zakonakh razvitiia kapitalizma v zemledelii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27.
Lenin, V. I. “Pis’mo k amerikanskim rabochim.” Ibid., vol. 37.
Lenin, V. I. Ibid., vol. 17, p. 129; vol. 22, p. 345; vol. 23, p. 128; vol. 30, p. 354.
Foster, W. Negritianskii narod v istorii Ameriki. Moscow, 1955. (Translated from English.)
Foster, W. Ocherk politicheskoi istorii Ameriki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1955.
Allen. J. Rekonstruktsiia: Bitva za demokratiiu v SShA, 1865–1876. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
K stoletiiu grazhdanskoi voiny v SShA. Moscow, 1961.
Ivanov, R. F. Grazhdanskaia voina v SShA (1861–1865). Moscow, 1960.
Ivanov, R. F. Bor’ba negrov za zemliu i svobodu na iuge SShA (1865–1877). Moscow, 1958.
Ivanov, R. F. Linkol’n i grazhdanskaia voina v SShA. Moscow, 1964.
Kuropiatnik, G. P. Vtoraia amerikanskaia revoliutsiia. Moscow, 1961.
Blinov, A. I. Kriticheskii period istorii Soedinennykh shlatov: Rekonstruktsiia (vosstanovlenie Soiuza) SShA posle okonchaniia grazhdanskoi voiny (1865–1877).[Krasnoiarsk] 1957.
Blinov, A. I. Period revoliutsionnoi diktatury radikal’nykh respub-likantsev vo vremia rekonstruktsii SShA (1866–1868). Krasnoiarsk, 1960.
Dement’ev, I. P. Amerikanskaia istoriografiia grazhdanskoi voiny v SShA (1861–1865). Moscow, 1963.
Malkin, M. M. Grazhdanskaia voina v SShA i tsarskaia Rossiia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Gausman, I. Voina v Soedinennykh Shtatakh Ameriki 1861–1865 gg., vols. 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1877–78.
Vigo Rusi Ton. F. P. Voennye sily Severo-Amerikanskikh shtatov: Voina za nerazdel’nosi Soiuza 1861–1865. St. Petersburg. 1868.
Danilov, N. A. Kampaniia Granta 1864 i 1865 gg. St. Petersburg, 1899.
R. F. IVANOV

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV): Statement on the Popular Insurrection in Upper Volta, known as Burkina Faso

BurkFas1

Revolutionary Communist Party of Volta (PCRV)

November 1, 2014

Upper Volta, called Burkina Faso, is experiencing a revolutionary situation which led to a popular insurrection on Thursday, October 30, and ousted the autocrat Blaise Compaoré on Friday, October 31, 2014, despite his sordid maneuvers to maintain himself at the head of the neocolonial State at all costs.

Our people in their various constituencies and the popular youth have won an important victory with a spirit of determination and political maturity in thwarting the various conspiracies and in facing with heroic courage the barbaric repression that led to dozens of dead and wounded. This historic popular movement, which quickly spread like wildfire across the country in the wake of recent major demonstrations organized by the reactionary bourgeois opposition as well as by the Coalition Against the High Cost of Living on Tuesday, October 28 and Wednesday, October 29, fully confirms that when the people rise up neither repression nor terror can prevent them from winning.

This popular insurrection is taking place in the context of the continuation of the eruption onto the political scene of the popular strata with their pressing demands, who in the past allowed themselves to be oppressed and exploited without protest. They have learned to take charge of their own destiny through powerful struggles to get out of their misery and the deep distress that has struck them for decades, particularly under the government of the Fourth Republic of Blaise Compaoré due to neocolonial exploitation.

Indeed, since the hunger riots of 2008, not a day has gone by in which the poor peasants, workers and salaried employees, the poorest strata in the towns consisting of workers, apprentices, small traders, artisans, and especially the youth thrown into the informal sector, have not revolted and sometimes carried out insurrections for the right to a decent life, justice and freedom and a real change in favor of the people.

BurkFas2This is the practical and concrete expression of the deepening of the revolutionary crisis that has shaken our country since the assassination of journalist Norbert Zongo and his three companions in misfortune on December 13, 1998. This revolutionary crisis that has been developing in stages since then reached an unmatched scale today with this unprecedented popular movement in our country. This resulted in massive mobilizations through the various marches and meetings of the reactionary bourgeois opposition as well as of the Coalition Against the High Cost of Living (CCVC) and of the trade unions in June and July of 2013 and throughout 2014. The depth of the crisis is such that it led to the breakup of the ruling party, the CDP (Convention for Democracy and Progress) and to a reconfiguration of the national political scene. The stakes are either a fundamental change in favor of the people or a reform of the neocolonial system and the neocolonial rule, mainly French, in our country. Several memorable facts also reflect the failure of the mafia regime of the autocrat Blaise Compaoré and focused the anger and struggles of the masses:

* the lack of function and total discredit, striking the institutions of the Republic (government, parliament, justice), which have been reduced to a plaything in the hands of Captain Blaise Compaoré and his mafia clan in power who use and abuse them at their will;

* the pronounced inclination for the monarchisation of power with a strengthened collusion between the business community, traditional leaders and religious authorities;

* a gradual erosion of liberties under the pretext of the fight against organized crime with enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions fraught with the danger of gangland murders or disguised political assassinations;

* the persistence of impunity for bloody crimes brought to light by the democratic and revolutionary movement;

* a socio-economic situation plagued by corruption and impunity for economic crimes;

* the persistent problem of high prices with an increased impoverishment of the broad popular sectors;

* a clear revival of the vitality of the social front and an increasingly marked determination of the masses to fight for bread and freedom, as shown by the multiple actions and struggles organized and led by the party.

BurkFas3The popular insurrection of October 30 is fully justified in view of the overall maturation of the revolutionary crisis in Burkina Faso. But very quickly the working class and the people are realizing that their hard-won achievements are being threatened and reversed by the putchist clans of the neocolonial army, which have carried out a reactionary military coup d’état. Their ultimate goal is to stifle the revolutionary process taking place and to save the bankrupt neocolonial system. The reactionary bourgeois opposition, while advocating change, is carrying on negotiations with the military high command for a “transitional government” that would allow them to maintain their opportunity of obtaining neocolonial power.

The imperialist powers (France, United States and European Union) are busy trying to impose a solution that would preserve their economic and geostrategic interests in Burkina Faso and in the sub-region of West Africa. They are taking account of the role played by their former pawn Blaise Compaoré who allowed their military presence in the country to become a strategic platform of aggression and exploitation of the peoples of the sub-region.

But the popular movement remains vigilant and is showing its willingness to fight in order not to “be robbed of their victory.” The Revolutionary Democratic Movement, led by the party, in this complex situation is opposed to the military coup and calls on the masses to continue the struggle to deepen the revolutionary process.

The PCRV calls on the working class, the people and the youth to strengthen their organizations of struggle, especially the CCVC, and to organize together with them for the revolutionary overthrow of the neocolonial regime and to put in place a Provisional Revolutionary Government and a Constituent Assembly in order to build a modern democratic Republic.

The PCRV calls for international solidarity in the face of repression against the democratic and revolutionary movement and the interference of the imperialist powers in our country.

Bread and Freedom for the People

Long Live Proletarian Internationalism

November 1, 2014

Source

Enver Hoxha on Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic “Socialism”

256

This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the Alliance issue #51, “Pan-Arabic or Pan-Islamic ‘Socialism.’”

January 1980

THE EVENTS WHICH ARE TAKING PLACE IN THE MOSLEM COUNTRIES MUST BE SEEN IN THE LIGHT OF DIALECTICAL AND HISTORICAL MATERIALISM

The international situation is very tense at present. In many regions of the world and mainly in the large zone of the oil-producing countries, especially those of Asia, the struggle between the two imperialist superpowers, the United States of America and the Soviet Union, not excluding imperialist China and the other capitalist powers, over the division and re-division of markets and spheres of influence, as they try to elbow one another out, has reached new, major proportions just as our Party correctly predicted long ago. Their pressures and plots are accompanied with diplomatic efforts and a propaganda clamour about “agreements and compromises” allegedly to preserve the peace and the balance of power. In fact, as recent events have shown, we see that agreements and compromises are still the basic principle of their policy towards each other regardless of their very acute rivalry. One day,however, the rivalry between them may reach such a point that they can no longer overcome it and settle matters except through military confrontation. The consequences of such a confrontation will descend upon the peoples, just as has occurred in previous imperialist wars.

The most recent result of this rivalry is the military aggression of the Soviet social-imperialists against Afghanistan, the occupation of that country through armed force by one of the imperialist superpowers. The fact is that what is now being done openly by the Soviets through their armed forces against the sovereignty of the Afghan people had long been prepared by the Soviet social-imperialist chauvinist politicians and military leaders and their Afghan agents. In order to arrive at the present situation, both the former and the latter exploited the overthrow, first of King Mohammed Zahir Shah in 1973 and, later, of Prince Daoud in 1978. They also exploited for their evil aims the desire of the Afghan people for social liberation from the oppression they suffered under the absolute monarchy and its foreign friends, first of all, the Soviets, who financed the monarchy and kept it in power. So, irrespective of the “alliance” which they had with the king of Afghanistan, the Soviet social-imperialists worked and acted for his overthrow. In order to disguise their imperialist aims, at first they brought their men, allegedly with more progressive sentiments, to power. Later, these, too, were changed one after the other, through actions in which blood was shed, by means of putsches and tanks, and Noor Mohammed Taraki and Hafizullah Amin were sent to the slaughter.

Nevertheless, no foreign occupier, however powerful and heavily armed, can keep the people, against whom aggression has been committed, subdued for ever. In every country which is invaded the people, apart from anti-national and anti-popular cliques of agents, receive the foreign aggressors with hatred and resistance, sporadic at first and later with more organized revolts which gradually turn into popular uprisings and liberation wars. We are seeing the proof of this in Afghanistan, where the people have risen and are fighting fiercely in the cities, villages and mountains against the Soviet army of occupation. This war of the Afghan people enjoys the support and sympathy of freedom-loving peoples and revolutionary forces throughout the world. Our people, too, support it with all their might. The war of the Afghan people against the Soviet social-imperialists is a just war, and therefore it will triumph.

The current war of the Afghan people against the Soviet military aggression and the anti-feudal, anti-imperialist, anti-American uprising of the Iranian people must make us reflect somewhat more profoundly, from the political, theoretical and ideological aspects, about another major problem which, in the existing situation of complicated developments in the world, is becoming ever more prominent: the popular uprisings of “Islamic inspiration,” as the bourgeoisie and the revisionists like to describe these movements, simply because the Moslem peoples of the Arab and other countries have placed themselves in the vanguard of the liberation movement. This is a fact, an objective reality. There are insurrectionary movements in those countries. If we were to examine and judge these movements and uprisings of Moslem peoples in an over-simplified and very superficial way as movements simply of an Islamic character, without probing deeply into the true reasons which impel the broad masses of the peoples to advance, we could fall in the positions of the revisionists and imperialists, whose assessments of these movements are denigrating and conceal ambitions to enslave the peoples.

We Marxist-Leninists always understand clearly that religion is opium for the people. In no instance do we alter our view on this and we must not fall into the errors of “religious socialism,” etc. The Moslem religion is no different in this regard. Nevertheless, we see that at present the broad masses of the Moslem peoples in the Arab and other countries have risen or are rising in struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism for their national and social liberation. These peoples, who were deliberately left in ignorance in the past and remain backward in their world outlook to this day, are now becoming aware of the great oppression and savage exploitation which were imposed on them by the old colonizers and which the new colonizers and the internal feudal-bourgeois capitalist cliques continue to impose on them. They are coming to understand the political-economic reasons for their oppression and, irrespective that they are Moslems and have been left in backwardness, they are displaying great vitality and making an important contribution to the anti-imperialist bourgeois-democratic revolution which opens the way to the proletarian revolution. Those who have adopted and exploited the Moslem religion to exert social oppression over these peoples and to exploit them in the most ferocious ways are the anti-popular oppressive regimes and the reactionary clergy. They have protected and continue to protect their blood-thirsty power through the weapons and support which they have received from abroad, that is, from the imperialist powers, the neo-colonialist robbers, as well as through inciting and developing religious fanaticism. Thus, the development of events is more and more confirming the Marxist-Leninist thesis that the internal enemies collaborate closely with the external enemies to suppress their own peoples and that they use religion as a weapon to oppress the peoples and keep them in darkness.

The events taking place before our eyes show that the Moslem Arab peoples are fighters. Their anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal struggles and uprisings are accompanied with and result in armed clashes. These struggles and uprisings have their source in the savage oppression which is imposed on these peoples and in their freedom-loving and progressive sentiments. If you are not progressive and freedom-loving you cannot rise in struggle for freedom and national independence against the twofold internal and external oppression.

Another social cause and powerful impulse to anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal uprisings is the grave economic situation of these peoples, the burden of hunger and suffering under which they live. Hence, we cannot fail to take into account their political awakening and. to some extent, also their social awakening.

Looking at the whole struggle of the peoples of Moslem belief, we notice that there are marked differences in its level of development: there are periods when it mounts, but also periods of decline or stagnation, the latter caused by various factors and especially, by the pseudo-progressive bourgeoisie which places itself at the head of these peoples.

In Morocco, for example, there has been some movement, but the anti-feudal and anti-imperialist movement of the people of that country is not at the same height as that of other countries. On the contrary, the monarchy and feudalism dominate the Moroccan people, through violence and liberal pseudo-reforms, as well as by exploiting their religious sentiments.

In Algeria the people waged the national liberation war against the French colonialists and, although it was not led by a Marxist-Leninist party but by the national bourgeoisie, the war for national liberation ended with the withdrawal of the foreign occupiers, but it was carried no further…

In Tunisia the people seem to be asleep and very apathetic, are showing little sign of awakening, but they are not all that backward. Recently there was talk about a trade-union movement there and the general secretary of the trade-unions was arrested, but nothing more happened.

In 1952 there was a revolt in Egypt, too. The monarchy was overthrown without bloodshed. King Farouk was expelled from Egypt by a group of officers. Those who removed him from the throne accompanied him to Alexandria, gave him money, put him on board a ship and helped him to get away and save his neck. In other words, they told the monarch he had better leave of his own accord and save his skin, because he could no longer stay in the country, he no longer had any basis there. Thus, the group of officers, headed by Nasser, Naguib and Sadat, carried out what you might call a bloodless military coup against an utterly degenerate monarchy and seized power. What was this group of Egyptian officers that carried out the putsch and what did they represent? These officers were of the bourgeoisie, its representatives, they were anti-British, but amongst them there were also pro-Hitlerites. As I have mentioned, Anwar el-Sadat himself declares he collaborated with the “Desert wolf,” the Nazi field-marshal Rommel. 

This event, that is, the removal of Farouk from the throne, was exaggerated to the point of being called a “revolution.” However, the Egyptian people, the working masses of that country, gained nothing from this whole affair. Virtually no reform to the benefit of the people was carried out. The so-called agrarian reform ended up in favour of the feudals and wealthy landowners. Under the disguise of the unity of Arab peoples the newcomers to power tried to bring about the “unification” of Egypt with Syria. However, every effort in this direction was in vain because in Syria, too, at this time the capitalist bourgeoisie in the leadership of the state had simply changed their horses and their patron. The imperialist Soviet Union had replaced France. It sabotaged this baseless «unification» and established itself firmly in that country.

As is known, in 1969 there was a revolt in Libya, too; the dynasty of King Idris was overthrown and a group of young officers, headed by Qaddafi who poses as anti-imperialist, came to power. We can describe this revolt, this movement, as progressive at first, but later it lost its impact and at the moment it has fallen into stagnation. Qaddafi who came to power and claims to be the head of Islam, exploited the Moslem religion to present Libya as a “progressive” country and even called it “socialist,” but in reality the great oil wealth of the country is being exploited for very dubious adventurous and sinister aims. Of course, for purposes of demagogy and because the income from the sale of oil is truly colossal, some changes have been made in the life of the people in the cities, while the poverty-stricken nomads of the desert remain a grave social problem. As we know, Qaddafi was a disciple of Nasser’s in politics, ideology and religious belief, as well as in his aims. 

A somewhat more advanced and more revolutionary uprising against the monarchy took place in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, in 1958. It ended with the killing of King Faisal and his prime minister, Nuri Said. The “communists” took power there together with General Kassem, a representative of the liberal officers. Only five years later, however, in 1963, there was a coup d’état and Kassem was executed. He was replaced by another officer, Colonel Aref. In 1968 General Al-Bakr came to the head of the state and the “Baath” Party, a party of the reactionary feudal and compradore bourgeoisie, returned to power.

The events which are occurring in Iran and Afghanistan are a positive example for the peoples of neighbouring states, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, the Emirates of the Persian Gulf, Syria, Egypt and many others, but they also constitute a great danger to the ruling cliques of some countries in this region. Hence, the whole Arab world is in ferment, in evolution. 

The echo of this anti-feudal, anti-imperialist uprising of the Iranian people which is shaking the economic foundations of imperialism and its ambitions for world hegemony extends as far as Indonesia, but there the movement is weaker than in the countries of Central Asia, the Near and Middle East or even North Africa, where the Islamic religion is more compact and the assets are greater. In those regions, for instance in Iran, there is a progressive awakening of the masses, which for the moment is led generally by religious elements who know how to exploit the sentiments of these peoples for freedom and against oppressive imperialism, the monarchist leaders and rapacious feudal cliques of robbers and murderers, etc., etc. Therefore, we must make a Marxist-Leninist analysis of this situation. We cannot accept the tales that the bourgeois revisionist propaganda, American imperialism and world capitalism are spreading that Ayatollah Khomeini or this one or that in Iran are people who do not understand politics or are just as backward as Imam Ali, Imam Hassan and Imam Hussein were. This is not true. On the contrary, the facts show that people like Khomeini know how to make proper use of the existing movement of these peoples, which, in essence and in fact, is a progressive bourgeois-democratic and anti-imperialist movement.

Employing various ways and means, the different imperialists and social-imperialists are trying to present themselves as supporters of these movements and win them over for their own aims. At present, however, these movements are in their disfavour, are against them. So true is this that the Soviet social-imperialists were obliged to send their tank regiments and tens of thousands of Soviet soldiers into Afghanistan, in other words, to commit an open fascist aggression against an independent country, in order to place and keep in power their local puppets who were incapable of retaining power without the aid of the bayonets and tanks of the Soviet army, the armed forces of the Soviet Union.

Obviously, this event, this Soviet armed occupation of Afghanistan, was bound to have repercussions and cause concern in international public opinion, to arouse great anger and indignation among the freedom-loving peoples and progressive forces and, from the strategic standpoint, to provoke the anger of their rivals for hegemony, especially of the United States of America. In fact we see that these days the American president, Carter, seems to want to make a move, apparently to create difficulties for the Soviet Union and to strengthen his own positions which are growing steadily weaker, wants to take measures to prevent a possible Soviet invasion of Pakistan, or rather, to stop the Soviet social-imperialists from exploiting the anti-imperialist revolutionary sentiments of the Moslem people of Pakistan for their own ends.

The Pakistani people nurture sympathy for the anti-imperialist movement of their Iranian neighbours, and what is occurring in Iran could occur there, too. Precisely to forestall this eventuality, the United States of America, through President Carter, has proposed to the Pakistani government to dispatch 50,000 soldiers to Pakistan and to increase the supplies of arms, allegedly to cope with the Soviet danger. The United States of America sent its Secretary of Defence to China to concretize and activate the Sino-American alliance. During this visit both sides expressed their concern over the extension of the Soviet social-imperialist expansion in this region and, in connection with this, their determination to defend their own and each other’s imperialist interests. The United States of America promised China the most sophisticated modern armaments.

Is there really a Soviet threat to Pakistan? Yes, there is. However, in Pakistan the anger against Zia-ul-Haq, accompanied by sympathy for Khomeini, might erupt even without the intervention of the Soviets. In order to escape the Soviet pressure and the uprising of the Pakistani people, Zia-ul-Haq himself might link up with the Soviets and thus enable them to justify their intervention in Pakistan. That is why the United States of America is revising its military agreements with Pakistan.

For his part, Carter is trying to preserve the balance, because an intervention of the Soviet Union in Pakistan constitutes a threat to American imperialism in that region of the world. Carter must have influence in Pakistan, also, because that country has a “defence treaty” with the United States of America. Apart from this, in the new situation which has been created in these times in Central Asia, Carter also sees other dangers, such as the return to power of Indira Gandhi who is pursuing her pro-Soviet policy. If the Soviets are able to strengthen their position in India, which is in conflict with Pakistan, the latter country might be more vulnerable from the Soviet side, in other words, the penetration of Soviet influence there would be made easier and would increase. That is why the American imperialists want to forestall the eventuality of a military intervention or the build-up of the Soviet influence in Pakistan. On the other hand, the United States of America is very concerned about the possibility of Soviet pressure on Iran under the pretext of aid against the threats made to that country by American imperialism.

It is clear that the peoples of this region are Moslems and when we say this we have in mind the fact that the majority of them are believers, but their belief is relative and does not predominate over politics. There are also progressive people there who believe in and respect the Koran and religion more as a custom and tradition. When we speak about the overwhelming majority, we have in mind that part of the people to whom the Moslem religion has been presented as a liberal progressive religion which serves the interests of the people and to whom everything preached in its name “is for the good of the people,” because “to wash, to pray and to fast is for the benefit of the health, the physical strengthening and spiritual satisfaction of man,” etc., etc. In other words, people are told that the rites of this religion are “useful” not only for this life but also for the “next life,” after death. This is preached openly. However, the poverty and oppression, schooling and a certain political development have shaken the foundations of this belief.

In general, from all these events and developments, we see that the imperialists and the social-imperialists are in difficulties in these regions of the world. It is understandable that their puppets, likewise, are in difficulties. Both for the former and for the latter it is the progressive, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal revolutionary movement of the popular masses of the Moslem Arab peoples, whether Shia or Sunni, that is the cause of these great difficulties. The whole situation in this region is positive, good, and indicates a revolutionary situation and a major movement of these peoples. At the same time, though, we see efforts made by the enemies of these peoples to restrain this movement or to alter its direction and intensity.

Hence, we must regard these situations, these movements and uprisings of these peoples as revolutionary social movements, irrespective that at first sight they have a religious character or that believers or non-believers take part in them, because they are fighting against foreign imperialism and neo-colonialism or the local monarchies and oppressive feudalism. History gives us many positive examples in this direction when broad revolutionary movements of the popular masses have had a religious character outwardly. Among them we can list the Babist movements in Iran 1848-1851; the Wahabi movement in India which preceded the great popular uprising against the British colonizers in the years 1857-1859; the peasant movements at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century which swept most of the countries of Europe and especially Germany. The Reformation itself, although dressed in a religious cloak, represented a broad socio-political movement against the feudal system and the Catholic Church which defended that system. 

When the vital interests, the freedom and independence of a people are violated, they rise in struggle against any aggressor, even though that aggressor may be of the same religion. This is what occurred, for example, in North Yemen in 1962 when Nasser sent the Egyptian army allegedly to aid that country. Later he was compelled to remove the troops he had sent to Yemen, because a stern conflict began between the people of that country and the Egyptian army, irrespective that both sides professed the one religion.

In South Yemen, with a population of Moslem believers, there was a popular revolutionary movement against British imperialism which owned the port of Aden. Britain would never have left the port of Aden voluntarily, because it constitutes a very important strategic key to the Indian Ocean and the entrance to the Red Sea, but it was the anti-imperialist struggle of the people of Yemen that compelled it to clear out, because remaining there became impossible. After this, in 1970 a “popular democratic” regime which gradually came under the influence of the Soviet social-imperialists, was formed in South Yemen. The revolutionary movement against Soviet social-imperialism is bound to flare up there, if not today certainly in the near future.

Throughout the Principality of Oman there is an anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist revolutionary movement which is also opposed to the ruling Sultan. A similar situation will develop in Ethiopia, Somalia, the countries of the Persian Gulf, etc.

The peoples of the countries of this region are all religious, believe in the Koran and Mohammed, and link the question of the struggle against imperialist oppression with their religion. This is a reality. Obviously, however, we cannot come to the conclusion that it is religion which is causing these revolts and this revolutionary awakening. By no means. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that these peoples believe in the Moslem religion and, at the same time, are fighting heroically for their national and social liberation against imperialism of every hue.

Before Liberation there were people who professed the Moslem religion in Albania, but there was no fanaticism. In the Arab or Moslem countries of Central Asia, too, the classical fanaticism of the past cannot exist, especially today. Such fanaticism can exist neither among the Moslems nor among the Catholics, the Calvinists and other schisms of Christianity. We must not forget the epoch in which we are living. We cannot fail to bear in mind the great development of science today, the growth and strengthening of the revolutionary proletariat and the spread of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. Today the reactionary religious leaders, lackeys of the feudal order and oppressive monarchies linked with them, who want to keep the people in ignorance and bondage and to combat their liberation movements, incite fanaticism in its classical sense in those countries.

In regard to Khomeini, he is a religious leader, a dedicated believer and an idealist philosopher. He may even be a fanatic, but we see that, at the same time, he is in accord and united with the revolutionary spirit of the Iranian people. Khomeini has taken the side of the opponents of the monarchy. The imperialist bourgeoisie, the supporters of the Pahlavi monarchy and other reactionary forces in the world say that he wants to become a monarch himself. Let them say this, but the fact is that the anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist and anti-feudal liberation movement in Iran is in the ascendancy and Khomeini still maintains a good stand in regard to this movement.

What is occurring in Iran might occur also in Pakistan or in the countries of the Arabian Peninsula, it may spark off a revolutionary situation in some other neighbouring country and even in the Soviet Union itself, because social-imperialism and revisionism carry national oppression everywhere and, as a consequence, arouse the national liberation sentiments of the peoples. Socialism and the Marxist-Leninist theory alone provide a just solution to the national question. Today the national rights of nations and peoples have been violated and trampled underfoot in the Soviet Union and wherever American imperialism and international capitalism rule. There is great oppression there, logically, therefore, there will certainly be movement.

We must examine and analyse the present events in Iran as they take place and draw conclusions from them on the basis of the teachings of our Marxist-Leninist theory. In the vanguard of the active forces in the uprising against imperialism and the monarchy in that country, are the religious zealots, the student youth, the workers and intellectuals. So, neither the proletariat nor a genuine Marxist-Leninist party is in the leadership of the movement. On this question we must also bear in mind the fact that we do not really know the strength and the basis of the different political currents in that movement. We know from experience that in our country, too, the working class was not developed, nevertheless, since the objective and subjective factors existed in the conditions of the occupation and the National Liberation War, the Party led the people to victory by basing itself on Marxism-Leninism, which means it put the working class and its vanguard, in other words itself, in the leadership. This is not the case in Iran. In that country there is a Marxist-Leninist party, the Workers and Peasants’ Communist Party of Iran, a young party which, has just been formed, but it is still small, untempered, not linked with the working class and the masses, etc., while the revisionist “Tudeh” Party has existed legally and illegally, is now legal again, but is a tool of the Soviet Union. Hiding behind Marxist-Leninist slogans, this party is sabotaging the anti-imperialist revolutionary struggle of the Iranian people and trying to bring Iran into the sphere of influence and under the thraldom of the Soviet Union. That is why the Moslem people of Iran, who have risen in revolution, are not acquainted with Marxism-Leninism either as a theory or a revolutionary practice. The students who are studying at Iran’s Moslem universities with great traditions and of the Shia Moslem sect, are both believers and non-believers in religion. In regard to the secular progressive elements there are those who believe in and are fighting for a liberal bourgeois-democratic state, those who believe in a “progressive” capitalist but anti-communist society, and those who still think that the Soviet Union is a socialist country which represents and applies Leninism. This is one of the reasons that genuine Marxism-Leninism has still not won acceptance in Iran, therefore the people there are fighting for liberation from the yoke of American imperialism and from Soviet influence, but under the banner of Islam. This means that the Shia Moslem clergy are in the leadership, in the vanguard of the uprising, but we have no illusions and know that they are for a bourgeois capitalist regime with religious predominance, hence, a theocratic regime. As to what course the movement against American imperialism and the barbarous compradore monarchy of the Pahlavis will take in the future, this depends mainly on the seething internal forces.

What general definition can be made of these forces?

In the present world situation and at the existing stage of the movement of the peoples for their national and social liberation, the popular revolution in Iran represents a new stage. Regardless of what others do or say, we must document this stage more carefully and make a critical Marxist-Leninist analysis of it.

Iran is a country very rich in oil, hence, has a working class comprised of oil workers and other industrial workers, but also has artisans. Of Iran’s 33 million inhabitants about 17 million are in the countryside and work the land. They are poverty-stricken, oppressed and exploited to the limit by the mullahs, the religious institutions, the big-landed bourgeoisie in the service of the Pahlavis, by the wealthy mercantile and money-lending bourgeoisie linked with the monarchy. Of the total population of Iran 99 per cent are of the Moslem religion and the majority of the Shia sect.

The Pahlavi regime was one of the most barbarous, the most bloodthirsty, the most exploiting, the most corrupt of the modern world. It employed bloodshed and terror to suppress any progressive movement, any even mildly liberal demonstration, any protest or strike of workers or students, and any attempt to develop a small-scale, auxiliary subsistance economy. The savage dictatorship of the Pahlavis was based on the big feudal landowners, the wealthy property-owners that the regime created, the reactionary army and the officer caste which ran it, and on SAVAK , the secret police, which the Shah himself described as “a state within a state.” The Pahlavis ruled by means of terror, robbed the people, enriched themselves in scandalous ways, were the personification of moral and political degeneration, were partners with and sold out to British and American and other imperialisms. The Pahlavis had become the most heavily armed gendarmes of the Persian Gulf under the orders of the CIA.

Iran was oppressed, but the people were seething with revolt, although wholesale executions were carried out every day. The ayatollahs who were discontented with the regime began to move. In 1951, Mossadeq, a representative of the bourgeoisie, supported by the mullahs opposed to the Shah, and by the “Tudeh” Party, seized power. In 1953 the Shah was driven out, but his overthrow and departure were not final, because the CIA organized a putsch, overthrew Mossadeq, brought the Shah back to Iran and restored him to the throne. Thus, Iran became the property of the Americans and the Shah and its oil became their powerful weapon. 

It is characteristic of the revolt of the Iranian people that, despite the great terror, it was not quelled, but continued spasmodically, in different forms and in different intensities. This revolutionary process steadily built up in quality and overcame the stage of fear of suppression

Despite the great terror, in 1977 the opposition to the Shah began to be displayed more forcibly, became more open and active. If we follow these trends opposed to the Shah and his regime separately we shall see that they are to some extent autonomous, but have a common strategy. Thus, we see the opposition of Mossadeq’s supporters, the resistance of the religious forces, the actions and demonstrations of the students, the stands of intellectuals, officials, writers, poets and artists against the regime expressed at rallies, in the universities and in other public places, etc., and together with all these currents we also see the self-defence and resistance of the working class and the whole oppressed and exploited people. SAVAK attacked mercilessly, but the suppression and executions only added to the anger of the masses. This resistance turned into a permanent activity. 

In the same period we see the re-awakening of the political opposition of Mossadeq’s supporters in the National Front. One of the elements of this current was Shapour Bakhtiar, who became prime minister on the eve of the overthrow of Shah Pahlavi. This was the last shot of the Shah and the American imperialists against the Iranian anti-imperialist revolution and Khomeini.

In the course of the development of this political opposition, the “Movement for the Liberation of Iran,” the “Iran Party,” and the “Socialist League of the National Movement of Iran,” broke away. The “Movement for the Liberation of Iran,” which was headed by Bazargan, who became prime minister after the departure of the Shah, was closer to Khomeini and the other imams.

We must always bear in mind that neither this political opposition, nor the religious opposition to the Pahlavis was united. Some of those who comprised this opposition were against the so-called agrarian reform, against the right of women to vote, etc. This section, which comprised conservative clergy, was steadily losing its influence amongst the masses, who were moving closer to that part of the clergy who openly fought the dictatorship of the Shah on the basis of the Shia principles of the Moslem religion. One of these was Ayatollah Khomeini, who was imprisoned, tortured, imprisoned again, and sent into exile and his son murdered. This enhanced the influence of the imam among the people, in the “Bazaar” (the main market centre of Tehran), hence, amongst the merchants, and also amongst the workers. In the rising tide of agitation and the great demonstrations against the Shah, the masses demanded the return of the Imam to the homeland. The death of his son and of a political personality, Ali Shariat, in mysterious circumstances led to the emergence of the religious elements in the forefront of the clashes and the whole people united with them, especially in Tabriz on February 18-19, 1977, as well as in Tehran, Qum and other Iranian cities. Al l this testifies to the fighting spirit of the people of Iran. As a result the Pahlavi monarchy was quite incapable of resisting the repeated waves of the onslaught of the insurgent people. 

Hence, in this climate of progressive insurgency against feudalism, the monarchy and imperialism, the Marxist-Leninists must analyse the various political trends, the orientations of these trends, the alliances and contradictions between them inside Iran and with the capitalist-revisionist world outside that country.

At present we see an active and militant unity of the uprising against American imperialism and the Shah and, to some extent, also against Soviet social-imperialism, and, at the same time, we also see increased vigilance and opposition towards all other capitalist states, though not so open and active as against the Americans. This situation will certainly undergo evolution. We see that the universities in Iran have become centres of fiery manifestations with both political and religious tendencies, and likewise see that the religious opposition and the political opposition are uniting. Thus, despite the contradictions which exist between them, it seems that the supporters of Mossadeq and those of Khomeini are moving closer together. In Tabriz, which has an important working class, apart from the oil workers, we can say that this unity has been brought about. Similar things are taking place at Abadan and the other regions where there are oil-fields and refineries. 

The Iranian Marxist-Leninists must, in particular, submit the strength and orientations of the working class to a Marxist-Leninist analysis and then their party must base its activity on this analysis, go among the working class, educate it and clarify it politically and ideologically, while tempering itself together with the working class in this revolutionary class struggle which, far from being ended, has only begun and will certainly assume diverse aspects. The revolutionary activity of the working class and the Marxist-Leninist ideology alone must become the factor deciding the correct directions which this anti-imperialist revolution must take. Certainly, in the present situation in Iran much can and must be gained from the revolutionary force of the Iranian working class, by the progressive elements, and especially by the students and the poor and middle peasantry. 

The Marxist-Leninists will be committing a mistake if they do not understand the situation created and do not utilize it in the right way, if they come out as anti-religious fighters and thus damage their anti-imperialist and anti-feudal unity with the followers of Ayatollah Khomeini and the followers of Mossadeq’s, Bazargan’s or others’ anti-imperialist bourgeois-democratic parties and movements.

Although anti-religious in their principles, the Iranian Marxist-Leninists must not for the moment wage a struggle against the religious beliefs of the people who have risen in revolt against oppression and are waging a just struggle politically, but are still unformed ideologically and will have to go through a great school in which they will learn. The Marxist-Leninists must teach the people to assess the events that are taking place in the light of dialectical and historical materialism. However, our world outlook cannot be assimilated easily in isolation from the revolutionary drive of the masses or from the anti-imperialist trends that are trying to remain in the leadership and to manoeuvre to prevent the bourgeois-democratic reforms of the revolution. The Iranian Marxist-Leninists and working class must play a major role in those revolutionary movements, having a clear understanding of the moments they are going through; they must not let the revolution die down. The working class and its true Marxist-Leninist vanguard should have no illusions about the “deep-going” bourgeois-democratic measures and reforms which the Shia clergy or the anti-Shah elements of the old and new national bourgeoisie might carry out. Certainly, if the working class, the poor peasantry and the progressive students, whether believers or non-believers, allow the impetus of the revolution to ebb away, which means that they do not proceed with determination and maturity towards alliances and activities conducive to successive political and socio-economic reforms, then the revolution will stop halfway, the masses will be disillusioned and the exploitation of them will continue in other forms by pseudo-democratic people linked in new alliances with the different imperialists. 

These special new revolutionary situations which are developing among the peoples of Islamic religious beliefs must be studied, conclusions must be drawn from them and new forms of struggle, action and alliances must be found. These revolutionary situations are much more advanced than those in Europe and Asia and, to some degree, even Latin America, where the revolutionary movements have assumed a petrified form, linked with and led by reformist and counter-revolutionary social-democracy and modern revisionism.

For instance, we do not see such revolts of a marked revolutionary political spirit occur in Europe where there is a big and powerful proletariat. For what reasons? For all those reasons which are known and have to do with the grave counter-revolutionary influence and sabotage of social-democracy and modern revisionism. The question is not that there is no exploitation on our continent, and therefore there are no movements. No, here, too, there is exploitation and there are movements, but they are of another nature. They are not “very deep-going, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary movements” which are waiting “for the situation to ripen,” etc., as the social-democrats, revisionists and other lackeys of the capitalist bourgeoisie describe them. No, the capitalist bourgeoisie itself and its lackeys do not permit such situations to ripen, do not permit such occurrences as are going on at present in the Arab-Moslem countries, where the revolutionary masses rise in struggle and create difficult situations for imperialism, feudalism and the cosmopolitan capitalist bourgeoisie.

Some claim that the Arab peoples and the peoples of the other Moslem countries are moving, because they are “poor!” Indeed, they are poor. But those who say this must admit that they themselves have become bourgeois and that is why they do not rise against oppression and exploitation, while the truth is that capitalism barbarously oppresses and exploits the peoples everywhere, without exception.

It is claimed, also, that in the countries of Islamic religion, the “masses are backward,” therefore, they are easily set in motion. This means that those who support this reasoning have degenerated and are not for revolution, because at a time when capitalism is in decay, honest people must be revolutionary and rise in struggle against capitalism, aiming the weapons they posses against it. Here, in Europe, however, we do not see such a thing. On the contrary, we see the “theory” of adaptation to the existing situation being preached.

Political debates are organized all over the capitalist countries. It has become fashionable for the social-democrats, the Christian-democrats, the revisionists and all sorts of other people in these countries to talk about “revolution” and allegedly revolutionary actions, and each of them tries in his own way to confuse and mislead the working masses with these slogans. The “leftists” scream for “revolutionary measures,” but immediately set the limits, “explaining” that “revolutionary measures must not be undertaken everywhere and in all fields,” but that only “certain changes must be made,” that is, a few crumbs must be thrown to the masses, who are demanding radical revolutionary changes, in order to deceive them and to hinder and sabotage the revolutionary drive of the masses.

We must analyse these situations and phenomena in theoretical articles or in other forms and with other means of our propaganda on the Marxist-Leninist course, with the aim of explaining the essence of the revolt and uprisings of peoples against imperialism, neo-colonialism and local rulers, of explaining the question of the survival of old religious traditions, etc. This does not rule out our support for liberation movements, because such movements occurred even before the time of Marx, as mentioned above. To wait until religion is first eliminated and carry out the revolution only after this, is not in favour of the revolution or the peoples. 

In the situation today, the people who have risen in revolt and believe in religion are no longer at the stage of consciousness of Spartacus, who rose against the Roman Empire, against the slave-owners, but they are seething with revolt against the barbarous oppression and exploitation and policy of imperialism and social-imperialism. The slaves’ revolt led by Spartacus, as Marx and Engels explain, was progressive, as were the beginnings of Christianity.

In these very important situations we see that the other peoples of Africa have risen, too, but not with the force and revolutionary drive of the Arab peoples, the Iranians, etc. This is another problem which must be examined in order to find the reasons why they, too, do not rise and why they are not inspired to the same level as the peoples that I mentioned. It is true that the African peoples are oppressed, too, indeed, much more oppressed than the Arab peoples, the Iranians and others. Likewise, Marxism has still not spread to the proper extent in Africa, and then there is also the influence of religion, although not on the same scale as in the Moslem countries. Work must be done in Africa to disseminate the Marxist-Leninist theory more extensively and deeply. That is even more virgin terrain, with oppressed peoples, amongst whom the sense of religion is still in an infantile stage. There are peoples in Africa who still believe in the heavenly powers of the sun, the moon, magic, etc., they have pagan beliefs which have not crystallized into an ideology and a concrete theology such as the Moslem religion, let alone the Christian or Buddhist religions and their sects. Although there is savage oppression and exploitation in Africa, the movement in this region of the world is developing more slowly. This is because the level of social development in Africa is lower. 

If we take these questions and examine them in unity, we shall see that at the present stage of development, Islam as a whole is playing an active role in the anti-imperialist liberation struggles of the Moslem peoples, while in the European countries and some other countries where the Catholic religion operates, preaching the submissive Christian philosophy of “turn the other cheek,” its leaders take a reactionary stand and try to hinder the movement, therevolt, the uprising of the masses for national and social liberation. Of course, in those countries the oppressive power of the bourgeoisie and capitalism, social-democracy and modern revisionism is greater, but the Catholic religion, too, serves to suppress the revolutionary spirit of the masses in order to keep the situation in stagnation.

From the stand-point of economic development the Moslem peoples have been held back; as a consequence of colonialist occupation and colonialist and neo-colonialist exploitation in past decades the Moslem religion in those countries was suppressed by the Catholic or Protestant religions which were represented by the foreign invaders, a thing which has not passed without consequences and without resistance, and herein we might find a political and ideological-religious reason for the anti-imperialist revolution of the Moslem peoples.

The question presents itself that we should look at the present stage of development of the Moslem religion as compared with past centuries. The development of human society has exerted an influence that has made the Moslem religious belief less and less functional. That is, it has been infiltrated by a certain liberalism which is apparent in the fact that, while the Moslem believer truly believes in the Islamic religion, today he is no longer like the believer of the Middle Ages or the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Today the veiled women in the Moslem countries have those same feelings which our veiled women had before Liberation, as for example in Kavaja [town in central Albania – E.S.] although, of course, not completely those of women as progressive as ours were. Nevertheless, the feelings of revolt exist deep in their hearts, and are expressed to the extent that public opinion permits. Today the Iranian women are involved in the broad movement of the Iranian people against the Shah and imperialism.

Hence, we see that religious oppression exists in the countries with Moslem populations, too, but the religion itself has undergone a certain evolution, especially in its outward manifestations. Let me make this quite clear, religion has not disappeared in those countries, but a time has come in which the spirit of revolt, on the one hand, and the liberalization of the religion, on the other, are impelling people who believe in the Islamic dogmas to rise against those who call themselves religious and want to exercise the former norms of the religion in order to suppress the peoples and keep them in poverty. Their struggle against imperialists, whom they continue to call infidels, that is, their enemies, enemies of their religion, is linked precisely with this. These peoples understand that the foreign occupiers are people of Catholic or Protestant beliefs who want to oppress both countries and religions. The westerners call this religious antagonism, which also contains the class antagonism against foreign occupiers, simply a religious struggle, or apply other incorrect denigrating epithets to it. This is how they are treating the liberation struggles of the Moslem peoples of Arab and non-Arab countries in Asia and Africa today and even the liberation struggle of the Irish people, most of whom are Catholics, against the British occupiers who are Protestants. At the same time, we see incorrect manifestations also among the Moslem peoples who have risen in revolt. They, too, say: “The Giaours, unscrupulous people who are against our religion, are oppressing us,” etc. In this way they link the question of national liberation with the religious question, that is, they see the social and economic oppression which is imposed on them by imperialism as religious oppression. In the future the other Moslem peoples will certainly reach that stage of development which the people of Algeria, Syria and some other countries have reached on these matters. 

These struggles lead not only to increased sympathy for the peoples who rise in revolt, but also to unity with them, because they are all Moslems. If a people rise against imperialism and the reactionary chiefs ruling their country, who use religion as a means of oppression, this uprising destroys the sense of religion even among those who believe in it at the moment. When a people rise in insurrection against oppression, then the revolutionary sentiment is extended and deepened and people reach the stage which makes them think somewhat more clearly about the question of religion. Until yesterday the poor peasant in Iran said only “inshallah!” and comforted himself with this, but now he understands that nothing can be gained through “inshallah!” In the past all these peoples said, “Thus it has been decreed,” but now the masses of believers have risen united and come out in the streets, arms in hand, to demand their rights and freedom. And certainly, when they demand to take the land, the peasants in those countries will undoubtedly have to do battle for the great possessions of the religious institutions, that is, with the clergy. That is why the sinister forces of reaction are making such a great fuss about the fanatical aspect, about the question of putting the women back under the veil, etc., etc., because they are trying to discredit the Iranian revolution, because imperialism and world capitalism have a colossal support in religion. This is how matters stand with the Vatican, too, with the policy of that great centre of the most reactionary world obscurantism, with the mentality and outlook of Catholics. But the revolution disperses the religious fog. This will certainly occur with the Arab peoples, with the other Moslem peoples, who are rising in insurrection, and with the peoples of other faiths, that is, there will be progress towards the disappearance, the elimination of religious beliefs and the religious leadership. This is a major problem.

Here we are talking about whole peoples who are rising in revolt in the Moslem countries, whether Arab or otherwise. There are no such movements in Europe. On this continent social-democratic reformist parties and forces operate. The number of Marxist-Leninist parties here is still small, while there are big revisionist parties, which operate contrary to people’s interests and sentiments, have lost credibility among the masses, and support capitalism, imperialism and social-imperialism. The Moslem peoples of the Arab and non-Arab countries trust neither the American imperialists nor the Soviet social-imperialists, because they represent great powers which are struggling to oppress and plunder the Moslem peoples; also, as Moslems they put no trust in the religious beliefs of those powers.

As a result, the uprising which is developing in Iran and Afghanistan is bound to have consequences throughout the Moslem world. Hence, if the Marxist-Leninist groups, our comrades in these and other countries of this region properly understand the problems emerging from the events in Iran, Afghanistan and other Moslem countries, then all the possibilities exist for them to do much work. However, they must work cautiously there. In those countries religion cannot be eliminated with directives, extremist slogans or erroneous analyses. In order to find the truth we must analyse the activity of those forces in the actual circumstances, because many things, true and false, are being said about them, as is occurring with Ayatollah Khomeini, too. True, he is religious, but regardless of this, analysis must be made of his anti-imperialist attitudes and actions, which, willy-nilly, bring grist to the mill of the revolution. 

This whole development of events is very interesting. Here the question of religion is entangled with political issues, in the sympathy and solidarity between peoples. What I mean is that if the leadership of a certain country were to rise against the revolt of the Iranian people, then it would lose its political positions within the country and the people would rise in opposition, accuse the government of links with the United States of America, with the “giaours,” because they are against Islam. This is because these peoples see Islam as progressive, while the United States represents that force which oppresses them, not only from the social aspect but also from the spiritual aspect. That is why we see that none of these countries is coming out openly to condemn the events in Iran.

Another obstacle which reaction is using to sabotage the revolution of the Iranian people is that of inciting feuds and raising the question of national minorities. Reaction is inciting the national sentiments in Azerbaijan, inciting the Kurds, etc., etc., in order to weaken this great anti-imperialist and “pro-Moslem” uprising of the Iranian people. The incitement of national sentiments has been and is a weapon in the hands of imperialism and social-imperialism and all reaction to sabotage the anti-imperialist and national liberation wars. Therefore, the thesis of our Party that the question of settling the problems of national minorities is not a major problem at present, is correct. Now the Kurds, the Tadjiks, the Azerbaijanis and others ought to rise in struggle against imperialism and its lackeys and, if possible, rise according to the teachings and inspiration of Marxism-Leninism. The Kurds, the Tadjiks and the Azerbaijanis who live in the Soviet Union and are oppressed and enslaved today, must rise, first of all, against Russian social-imperialism.

In broad outline this is how the situation in these regions presents itself and these are some of the problems which emerge. The events will certainly develop further. Our task is to analyse these situations and events which are taking place in the Moslem world, using the Marxist-Leninist theory as the basis, and to define our stands so that they assist a correct understanding of these events, and thus, make our contribution to the successful development of the people’s revolutionary movement.

Enver Hoxha, “Reflections on the Middle East,” Tirana; 1984; pp. 355-392

Joint Communiqué of the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast and the Communist Party of Benin

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On 23 February 2014, a meeting was held in Cotonou between the PCRCI [Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast] and the PCB [Communist Party of Benin] related to the events organised by the INIREF [International Institute of Research and Training]-Benin for the celebration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the peoples of Benin.

The two parties exchanged views on the international situation and the respective national situations and identified the tasks they imply.

I. On the international situation

1) The global capitalist crisis began in 2008 and its effects continue to worsen the living conditions of the proletariat and the peoples of the world. This leads them around the world to wage different forms of struggle for their liberation.

2) The arrival on the world stage of new so-called emerging powers, whose known core is made up of the BRICS group: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, increasing the inter-imperialist rivalries with the multiplication of local clashes concerning domination; this constitutes the elements of a world war by proxy.

The first counter-offensive by the classical imperialist powers to stop the rise of the “emerging” countries was launched against Libya. They succeeded in regaining control with this counter-offensive, directed against China and Russia, as well as against the African peoples. At the end of the war France would have won 35% of Libyan oil. The second counter-offensive was against Syria; they have bitten the dust faced with the determination of the Syrian people but also with the policy of Russia and China. It is the same with the evolution of the situation in Iran.

II. On the African continent

1) Africa is the focus of all world contradictions: an abundance of untapped wealth, crying misery of the majority of the population, greed of the imperialists, cultural domination, military aggression against the peoples, installation of military bases in some countries to serve as Advanced Operational Bases such as Ivory Coast and Djibouti. The fight is fierce between the old powers and the new so-called emerging powers. This rivalry is the basis of all the conflicts of which the African peoples are the victims.

2) To protect its neo-colonial “backyard,” French imperialism resorts to the policy of direct military occupation of its former colonies. The military infrastructure of imperialism (French and U.S. – Africom – etc.) aim at criss-crossing Africa with assault troops through their military bases in Djibouti, Chad, Gabon, Ivory Coast, Sahel, Gulf of Guinea, etc. So from now on, Abidjan will officially serve as a rear base to attack the peoples of the sub-region.

The latest military intervention to date is the one taking place in the Central African Republic. Any excuse is good to intervene in the African countries: “Hunting a despot who refused to recognise the election results” for the Ivory Coast; “To help the Libyan people in revolt against the dictator Gaddafi” for Libya; “To fight the jihadists and restore the territorial integrity” of Mali; “To restore security and order and stop the massacres” for the Central African Republic. The tactics of imperialism are the same: To set a fire to give a pretext to intervene to put it out. However, we now know that it is the French intervention in Central Africa that is exacerbating the ethno-religious relations in the country disarming the Seleka and covering up the crimes of so-called Christian militias.

The PCRCI and PCB declare that French imperialism and its military forces are the only ones responsible for the current massacres of Central African citizens, particularly those of the Muslim faith and therefore for the ongoing genocide in that country.

The PCRCI and PCB denounce and condemn the military aggressions of international imperialism and particularly French imperialism, which is hiding behind the UN forces and behaves like a pyromaniac fireman to maintain its African backyard.

They pay tribute to all Africans who fell victim to the bullets of the French interventionist aggressors, whether in Libya, Ivory Coast, Mali, Central Africa, etc. And they declare them heroes and martyrs of African patriotism.

3) The PCRCI and PCB welcome the victories of the fraternal people of Tunisia under the leadership of the Workers’ Party and the Popular Front of Tunisia for Democracy against Islamist obscurantism, and for a democratic constitution.

They also greet the fraternal people of Niger who fought bravely against the plundering of the mineral resources, particularly uranium, which is the object of the AREVA group and for the sovereignty over its natural resources.

III. The situation in Benin and the Ivory Coast is characterised by the unchallenged domination of French imperialism whose monopolies control large parts of the national economies (ports, banks, energy, etc.).

1) In Benin, Yayi Boni, having ransacked the economy and finances of the country, aims to restore a fascist dictatorship of another age. It is against this that all the people are rising up to oppose him and establish the power of the workers and peoples. The PCRCI firmly supports the ongoing struggles of the Benin workers and youths in the struggles for their total emancipation and wish them a successful result.

2) In the Ivory Coast, under the false pretext of development after the disaster of the war period, the Ouattara authorities are confiscating the state media, stifling freedom, trying to ban student organisations and put in their place puppet structures. The Communist Party of Benin supports the struggles of the Ivorian people and the Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast in their struggle against French imperialism and against the anti-democratic regime of Ouattara to liberate the Ivory Coast from neo-colonial dependency.

3) The Revolutionary Communist Party of the Ivory Coast (PCRCI) thanks the Communist Party of Benin (PCB) and the INIREF-Benin for inviting it to the events for the commemoration of the International Day of the Mother Tongue and the celebration of the peoples of Benin.

The PCRCI and PCB send the proletariat, the peoples, the democrats and the youth the following call:

* NO TO MILITARY INTERVENTION AGAINST THE PEOPLES!
* NO TO FOREIGN MILITARY BASES OF AGGRESSION ON AFRICAN SOIL!
* IMPERIALISM OUT!

Cotonou, February 23, 2014

For the PCRCI: Yokore Gnagnon.
For the PCB: Philippe Noudjenoume

Source

Communist Party of the Workers of Tunisia (PCOT): Popular Front (Political Draft)

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From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Tunisia

For decades our people have suffered under a anti-popular and anti-patriotic despotic police regime.

Politically, by the individual power and domination of the Destour Party, through its different forms (the Neo-Destour, Destourian Socialist Party, the Constitutional and Democratic Concentration), over all forms of political life, by the violation of freedoms and human rights.

Economically by mortgaging the economy and the country’s wealth for the benefit of the colonial powers and their allies, the local capitalists.

Socially by the marginalization of the popular strata, by poverty, unemployment and corruption. These evils reached their maximum under Ben Ali, particularly with the intervention of his family, his collaborators and the political and economic mafia in all structures of the State and society.

The Tunisian people, with their patriotic, revolutionary, democratic and social forces, have never ceased to struggle against the dictatorship and oppression since the establishment of the Desturian regime. The Tunisian people have had hundreds of martyrs, thousands of prisoners in heroic combat, of which the main ones are the poor peasants’ movement in the late 1960s; the movement of students and youths in February of 1972; the fight of trade unionists and workers, crowned by the general strike of January 26, 1978; the revolt in the mining region of 2008, and throughout this period other national struggles of solidarity with the Palestinian people, with Iraq, Lebanon and other Arab countries in their struggle against Zionist aggression and the imperialist powers.

These struggles led to the revolution of December 17, 2010 in Sisi Bouzid, which allowed the popular masses to overthrow Ben Ali on January 14, 2011. He was a symbol of despotism, of collaboration with imperialism and of corruption, at the cost of hundreds of martyrs and thousands of wounded in the various regions of the country. During this uprising, the people demanded the end of the despotic, exploiting regime and had sold out to foreign interests, and for its replacement by a regime of freedom, equality and dignity, which would ensure employment and social justice, objectives that they desired during all those years of struggle.

The people managed to topple Ben Ali, as well as his heirs, the two governments of Ghannouchi; they managed through popular struggles and in particular the “sit-ins” in the Kasbah I and II, to obtain results, specifically those concerning civil liberties, the dissolution of the RCD [Constitutional Democratic Union) and of the two chambers of deputies and advisors, the abolition of draconian laws (the law of parties, of associations, of the press, etc.) and the suspension of the constitution of 1959. They contributed to the demand for a constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. However, most of the objectives of the revolution, particularly those relating to the economy, social and patriotic objectives, have not been achieved under the successive governments, including the current government resulting from the elections of October 23, 2011. This has led the people to continue the struggle for social and political change worthy of their ambitions.

From the elections of October 23, there has emerged a constituent assembly dominated by the troika under the direction of the Ennahdha movement. Approximately eight months after the coming to power of this alliance, it is clear that it is leading to a quick burial of the objectives of the revolution of our people and laying the groundwork for a return to a dependent, despotic and corrupt regime, under a religious mantle.

The unity of the Tunisian people is being threatened by contrived doctrinaire struggles, instigated by foreign forces through their local agents who hide behind religion. The freedoms won by the people – at the cost of their blood – are also threatened by the government and the criminal gangs, attributed to certain Salafist currents that act with impunity. The democratic reforms demanded by the revolution in the spheres of information, justice, administration and secondary institutions are being pushed into the background. These are spheres on which the dictatorship rested to repress the people and control society. The government is eluding its obligations to take care of the wounded of the revolution and to bring to justice the murderers as well as those guilty of oppression and corruption; it is trying to attract them as collaborators.

The Ennahdha movement, which dominates and controls the alliance in power, is working with the complicity of its partners in taking over the State institutions and imposing its dictates and establishing a new dictatorship that would liquidate the achievements of the revolution, as well as the historical achievements and the civilization of the Tunisian people in all areas: social, cultural and educational, and particularly those of women.

In the economic sphere, the government is following the politics of Ben Ali that has impoverished the people. The wealth of the country continues to be monopolized by local and foreign minorities. The government continues under the orders of the international financial institutions and continues with the unjust treaties and agreements. The privatization of wealth (mines, oil, etc.) continues, like that of the public institutions, to benefit foreign capital. Nor are they even protecting Tunisian lands ceded to western companies and those of the Persian Gulf, which heralds a new agrarian colonialism at the expense of the poor peasants and the agricultural workers. To all this must be added the government’s incompetence in managing daily affairs, the administrative chaos and bureaucratic hegemony, which threaten to plunge the country into a real cataclysm.

This disastrous politics has serious effects on the lives of the working and popular classes and strata, effects that grow day by day, with unemployment, regional inequality, deterioration of services (water and electricity shortages, accumulation of garbage throughout the country, deterioration of municipal and hygienic services, etc.). These phenomena are inherited from the old regime and were one of the causes of the people’s revolution, but the fact is that in reality they have increased with the present government, which has changed nothing in economic policy and is unable to take urgent measures to limit the adverse effects on the lives of citizens.

The government’s foreign policy continues to be subjected to international capitalist powers. It is clear that they are trying to integrate Tunisia into the Turkey-Persian Gulf Axis under the leadership of the U.S. The objective of this Axis is to liquidate the struggle of the Arab masses, liquidate their hopes for liberation, promote divisions in their ranks and sabotage their unity, in order to ensure U.S., Western and Zionist colonial rule over the region… Our country is going through a real crisis, which it can only get out of with the continuation of the struggle of the Tunisian people, a national, democratic, social, cultural and environmental struggle, to achieve the full realization of the objectives of the revolution and the establishment of the power of the people. This will be possible if an end is put to the disunity of the revolutionary, national, democratic and progressive forces, that of the parties as well as of the associations and organizations of the youth and independent personalities. A common alliance within the popular front represents an alternative for a genuine government that overcomes the false duality that tries to oppose “two poles.” These are actually united to maintain the same economic orientations achieved by the liberal media subjected to the foreign spheres, although one is covered with a “religious” mantle and the other with a “modernist” one. In this way they try to hide the contradiction between the forces that want to achieve the goals of the revolution, and those that are trying to auction it off.

This alternative is based on a political Charter that represents the common denominator in the political and national fields, based on the following principles and values of all the national and popular forces that are firm in the struggle for the realization of the objectives of the revolution for which they work. This Charter is based on the following principles and values:

1. The national and democratic question

Building a republican, civilian and democratic system to serve the people and that:

• Carries out a real independence for the country.

• Is based on the principle of the sovereignty of the people, with election to all institutions of power at the national, regional and local level, with the ability to control them, hold them accountable and even remove them.

• Separation of powers with the necessary balance.

• Ensure the independence of the judiciary according to internationally recognized criteria.

• Ensure the neutrality of the State toward the political parties and forces and their democratic management.

• Ensure civil and individual liberties, particularly freedom of thought, creation and expression, as well as of the press, information and its dissemination; freedom of organization, movement, protest, demonstration and strike, and ensure the material conditions for these.

• Full and effective equality between men and women in all areas, protection of women’s achievements; promotion and consolidation of the Personal Status Code and fight all forms of discrimination and physical and moral violence against women.

• Separation of religion and politics, guarantee freedom of conscience and worship and its practice, combat all forms of political manipulation of religion, of places of worship, of religious, educational and cultural institutions as well as labor and social institutions, and prohibit exploitation for sectarian or partisan ends.

• An independent and national foreign policy, on the basis of support for the national resistance in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as support for all movements of national liberation and social emancipation in the Arab homeland and the world; support for the Arab revolutions and the struggle against foreign intervention, criminalization of all forms of normalization of relations with the Zionist entity and racist movements; work for Arab unity based on the principles of freedom, equality, dignity, social democracy and justice .

2. The economic and social problem

To build a national, independent, balanced and consistent economy, which ensures the people’s sovereignty over the wealth of the country, ensures an efficient growth for all regions and rests on a just distribution to meet the people’s basic needs in the material and moral spheres, means the following:

• Revision of agreements detrimental to the interests of the country and its independence.

• Nationalization of strategic sectors and guarantee of their democratic and efficient management.

• Nationalization of confiscated businesses and provision of handing over businesses to foreign capital.

• Promotion of a domestic industry according to the country’s needs, its abilities and capacities.

• Cancellation of the debt based on a thorough study of the loans contracted by the overthrown dictatorship.

• Establishment of a fair and transparent tax system.

• Land reform for the benefit of the poor peasants and small farmers.

• Guarantee of the fundamental rights to dignified work, decent housing, of free, quality public education, and free health care.

• Guarantee of trade union freedom and the right to strike

• Guarantee of the right of all citizens and future generations to a healthy and balanced environment, favorable to health and without waste, struggle against pollution and concentrating efforts on renewable energy.

3. The problem of culture and education

The guarantee of the freedom of creation in all its forms, artistic, cultural, intellectual and scientific, as well as ensuring the adequate frameworks.

• Ensure academic freedom and the promotion of independent scientific research.

• Establishment of a democratic, popular and unified education system.

• Ensure the supremacy of the Arab language, its protection and promotion and ensure its teaching both in official and administrative areas, without opposing the learning of other languages.

• Work to maintain the roots of our people in their national identity formed through a historic process, continuously enriched and developed in a fruitful interrelationship of Arab-Islamic elements of civilization and of the progress of humanity; fight against attempts to erase their national and patriotic identity and against forms of cultural domination, fanaticism and intolerance.

• Disseminate the value of reason, progress, citizenship and human rights.

• Overcome individualism and promote social values and relations and those of solidarity among the people.

The signatories of this document believe that the main objective of the Front is to complete the revolutionary process and establish the power of the people through all possible forms of struggle, including elections. Thus they affirm their willingness to respond positively to the national and popular initiatives in line with the orientations and tasks of the Front.

Tunisia, September 2012

Source

American Party of Labor on John Brown

John_Brown_daguerreotype_c1856

Taken from the A.P.L. Facebook page.

On the morning of December 2nd, 1859, abolitionist fighter John Brown was hanged. One of the leaders of the left-wing abolitionist movement and participant in the Underground Railroad, Brown came to realize that the institution of slavery could not be ended by peaceful means, and that such oppression had to be fought with force. He formed a militia of black and white people dedicated to striking against slaveholders in the hopes of sparking a slave uprising and insurrection to overthrow slavery in the United States.

In 1855-56, Brown organized successful armed struggles against slaveowners and pro-slavery militias in Bleeding Kansas. He planned to create a Free Republic in the Allegheny Mountains as a base for the fight against slavery, even composing a draft provisional constitution. Brown and 18 of his men raided a federal armory in Harper’s Ferry on Oct. 16, 1859, meaning to use the weapons to arm slaves, but the raid failed. Brown’s men were almost completely annihilated by U.S. Marines commanded by Robert E. Lee, as well as pro-slavery farmers and militiamen. Two of Brown’s sons were killed and Brown himself was wounded and captured.

In his speech to the court at his trial and sentencing, John Brown spoke these powerful words:

“Had I interfered in the manner which I admit, and which I admit has been fairly proved (for I admire the truthfulness and candor of the greater portion of the witnesses who have testified in this case), — had I so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or in behalf of any of their friends – either father, mother, sister, wife, or children, or any of that class – and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference, it would have been all right; and every man in this court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment. […] Now, if it is deemed necessary that I should forfeit my life for the furtherance of the ends of justice, and mingle my blood further with the blood of millions in this slave country whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments, I say, let it be done.”

After his trial and execution, John Brown went down in history as a martyr and a fighter for liberation. Brown’s rebellion immediately preceded the American Civil War of 1861-65, and was one of the first open challenges to slavery.

John Brown’s legacy lies with millions of people who have given their lives to struggle against human bondage, against crushing systems of stratification, and against the gravest crimes of exploitation.

Enver Hoxha on Africa

HoxhameetsAfricans

Africa is a mosaic of peoples with an ancient culture. Each African people has its own culture, customs, way of life, which, with some variations, are at a very backward stage, for well-known reasons. The awakening of the bulk of these peoples has only recently begun. De jure, the African peoples, in general, have won their freedom and independence. But there can be no talk of genuine freedom and independence, since most of them are still in a colonial or neo-colonial state.

Many of these countries are governed by the chieftains of the old tribes who have seized power and rely on the old colonialists, or the US imperialists and the Soviet social-imperialists. The methods of government in these states at this stage are not and cannot be other than a marked survival of colonialism. The imperialists are ruling most of the African countries again through their concerns, their capital invested in industry, banks, etc. The overwhelming bulk of the wealth of these countries continues to flow to the metropolises.

Some of the African countries have fought for that freedom and independence they enjoy today, while the others have had it granted without fighting. During their colonial rule in Africa, the British, French and other colonizers oppressed the peoples but they also created a local bourgeoisie, more or less educated in the Occidental manner. The leading figures today, have also emerged from this bourgeoisie. Among them there are many anti-imperialist elements, fighters for the independence of their own countries, but the majority either remain loyal to the old colonizers, in order to preserve the close relations with them even after the f ormal abolition of colonialism, or have entered into economic and political dependence on the US imperialists or the Soviet social-imperialists.

The colonizers did not make large investments in the past. This was the case, for instance, with Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. However, the colonizers drained the wealth of all these countries, seized large tracts of land, and developed a proletariat, by no means small in number, in some special branches of the industry, such as in the extraction and processing of raw materials. They also drew large numbers of workers to the metropolises, such as to France, for instance, but also to Britain, as a cheap labour force which worked in the colonizers mines and the factories.

In the other parts of Africa, especially in Black Africa, industrial development remained more backward. All the countries of this region were divided up, especially between France, Britain, Belgium and Portugal. Great underground riches, like diamonds, iron, copper, gold, tin, etc., were discovered there long ago, and industry to mine and process minerals has been set up there.

In many African countries, large, typically colonial cities, were built, where the colonizers lived a fabulous life. Now, on the one hand, the local great bourgeoisie and its wealth is growing and developing there, while on the other hand, the impoverishment of the broad masses of working people is increasing still more. In these countries a certain degree of cultural development has been achieved, but it has more of a European character. The local culture has not developed. It has generally remained at the stage reached by the tribes and is not represented outside them, in the centres with towering sky-scrapers. This has come about because, outside the large centres, were the colonizers lived, stark misery and extreme poverty existed, hunger, disease, ignorance and ruthless exploitation of the people, in the full meaning of the term, reigned supreme.

The African population remained culturally and economically undeveloped and continuously diminished in numbers, declining because of colonial wars, the savage racial persecution, and the traffic in African negroes, who were sent to the metropolises, the United States of America, and other countries to work like animals in the plantations of cotton and other crops, as well as in the heaviest jobs in industry and construction.

For these reasons, the African peoples still have a great struggle ahead of them. This is and will be a very complicated struggle, differing from one country to another, because of the state of their economic, cultural and educational development, the degree of their political awakening, the great influence which the different religions, such as the Christian and Moslem religions, the old pagan beliefs, etc., exert on the masses of these peoples. This struggle becomes still more difficult since many of these countries are actually under the domination of neo-colonialism combined with that of local bourgeois-capitalist cliques. The law there is made by those powerful capitalist and imperialist states which subsidize or control the ruling cliques, which they set up and remove whenever the interests of the neo-colonialists require or when the balance of these interests is upset.

The policy pursued by the big landowners, the reactionary bourgeoisie, the imperialists and the neo-colonialists is intended to keep the African peoples in permanent bondage, in ignorance, to hinder their social, political and ideological development, and to obstruct their struggle to gain these rights. At present we see that those same imperialists who used to lord it over these peoples in the past, as well as other new imperialists, are trying to penetrate into the African continent, by meddling in every way in the internal affairs of the peoples. As a result of this, the contradictions among imperialists, between the peoples and the bourgeois-capitalist leaderships of most of these countries, and between the peoples and the new colonizers, are becoming more and rnore severe every day.

These contradictions must be utilized by the peoples, both to deepen them and to benefit from them. But this can be achieved only through resolute struggle by the proletariat, the poor peasantry, by all the oppressed and the slaves, against imperialism and neo-colonialism, against the local big bourgeoisie, the big landowners and their whole establishment. A special role in this struggle devolves upon progressives and democrats, the revolutionary youth and patriotic intellectuals, who aspire to see their own countries advancing free and independent, on the path of development and progress. Only through continuous and organized struggle by them will life be made difficult for the local and foreign oppressors and exploiters and government impossible. This situation will be prepared in the specific circumstances of each African state.

British and US imperialism have not given to the peoples of Africa any freedom. Everybody can see what is happening in South Africa, for instance. The white racists, the British capitalists, the exploiters, are ruling there, savagely oppressing the coloured peoples of that state, where the law of jungle prevails. Many other countries of Africa are dominated by the concerns and capital of the United States of America, Britain, France, Belgium, and other old colonialists and imperialists, who have become somewhat weaker, but who still hold the keys to the economies of these countries.

In irreconcilable struggle against the revisionists and other opportunists, against all the lackeys of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Castroite, Khrushchevite, Trotskyite, <<three worlds>>, and other such views and practices, they have worked out a correct political line and accumulated sufficient experience in the struggle to put this line into practice, becoming the bearers of all the revolutionary tradition of the past, in order to use it and develop it further to the advantage of the workers’ and liberation movement, the preparation and raising of the masses in revolution.

The revolutionary situations existing today make it essential for these parties to maintain the closest possible contacts and consult with one another as frequently as possible, to be able to gain the maximum benefits from one another’s experience and co-ordinate their stands and actions on the common problems of the struggle against the reactionary bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Soviet, Chinese and other brands of modern revisionism, and on all the problems of the revolution.

Now that the peoples have awakened and refuse to live any longer under the imperialist and colonial yoke, now that they are demanding freedom, independence, development and progress, and are seething with anger against foreign and internal oppressors, now that Africa, Latin America and Asia have become a boiling cauldron the old and new colonialists are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to dominate and exploit the peoples of these countries by means of the previous methods and forms. They are quite unable to do without their plunder and exploitation of the wealth, the toil and the blood of these peoples. That is why all these efforts are being made to find new methods and forms of deception, plunder and exploitation, to dispense some alms, which, again, do not benefit the masses, but the bourgeois-land owner ruling classes.

Meanwhile the question has been made even more complicated, because Soviet social-imperialism long ago began to penetrate and entrench itself more and more deeply in the former colonies and semi-colonies, and because social-imperialist China has begun to make feverish efforts to get in there, too.

The revisionist Soviet Union carries out its expansionist interference under the guise of its allegedly Leninist policy of aid for the peoples’ liberation struggle, posing as the natural ally of these countries and peoples. As a means to penetrate into Africa and elsewhere, the Soviet revisionists employ and spread slogans of a socialist colour in order to deceive the peoples who aspire to liberate themselves, to liquidate oppression and exploitation, and who know that the only road to complete national and social liberation is socialism.

The Soviet Union also involves its allies, or better, its satellites in its interference. We are seeing this concretely in Africa, where the Soviet social-imperialist and their Cuban mercenaries are intervening on the pretext that they are assisting the revolution. This is a lie. Their intervention is nothing but a colonialist action aimed at capturing markets and subjugating peoples.

The intervention of the Soviet Union and its Cuban mercenaries in Angola is of this nature. They have never had the slightest intention of assisting the Angolan revolution, but their aim was and is to get their claws into that African country which had won a certain independence after the expulsion of the Portuguese colonialists. The Cuban mercenaries are the colonial army dispatched by the Soviet Union to capture markets and strategic positions in the countries of Black Africa, and to go on from Angola to other states, to enable the Soviet social-imperialists, too, to create a modern colonial empire.

Under the cloak of aid for peoples’ liberation the Soviet Union and its mercenary, Cuba, are intervening in other countries with armies equipped with artillery and machine-guns, allegedly to build socialism, which does not exist in either the Soviet Union or Cuba. These two bourgeois-revisionist states intervened in Angola in order to help a capitalist clique seize power, contrary to the aims of the Angolan people who had fought to win their freedom from the Portuguese colonialists. Agostinho Neto is playing the game of the Soviets. In the struggle against the other faction, in order to seize power for himself, he called in the Soviets to help him. The struggle between the two opposing Angolan clans did not have anything of a people’s revolutionary character.

The fight between them was a struggle of cliques for power. Each of them was supported by different imperialist states. Agostinho Neto emerged the winner from this contest, while socialism did not triumph in Angola. On the contrary, following the intervention from abroad, Soviet neo-colonialism has been established there.

Social-imperialist China, too, is making great efforts to penetrate into the former colonial and semi-colonial countries.

An example of how China intervenes is provided by Zaire, a country ruled by the clique around Mobutu, the wealthiest and most bloodthirsty clique on the African continent. In the fighting which flared up in Zaire recently, the Moroccans of the Sherifian Kingdom of Morocco, the French air force, and China, too, all rushed to the aid of Mobutu, the murderer of Patrice Lumumba. The assistance given by the French is understandable, because with their intervention they were defending their concessions and concerns in Katanga, and at the same time, protecting their men, as well as Mobutu and his clique. But what do the Chinese revisionists want in Katanga? Whom are they assisting there? Are they helping the people of Zaire who are being suppressed by Mobutu and his clique and by the French, Belgian, US and other concession holders? Or are not they, too, assisting the blood-thirsty Mobutu clique? The fact is that the Chinese revisionist leadership is assisting this clique not indirectly, but quite openly. To make this assistance more concrete and more demonstrative, it sent its foreign minister, Huang Hua there, as well as military experts and military and economic aid. Thus, it acted in an anti-Marxist, anti-revolutionary way. China’s interference has exactly the same features as that of King Hassan of Morocco and that of France.

The Chinese social-imperialists are interfering not only in the affairs of that country, but also in other affairs of the peoples and countries of Africa and other continents, especially in those countries into which they are striving to penetrate in every way, in order to establish economic, political and strategic bases there.

Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, Excerpts from “The Peoples’ Liberation Struggle – a Component Part of the World Revolution”

John Reed on the Black Question In the United States

John_Reed_journalist

Reed: In America there live ten million Negroes who are concentrated mainly in the South. In recent years however many thousands of them have moved to the North. The Negroes in the North are employed in industry while in the South the majority are farm labourers or small farmers. The position of the Negroes is terrible, particularly in the Southern states. Paragraph 16 of the Constitution of the United States grants the Negroes full civil rights. Nevertheless most Southern states deny the Negroes these rights. In other states, where by law the Negroes possess the right to vote, they are killed if they dare to exercise this right.

Negroes are not allowed to travel in the same railway carriages as whites, visit the same saloons and restaurants, or live in the same districts. There exist special, and worse, schools for Negroes and similarly special churches. This separation of the Negroes is called the ‘Jim Crow system’, and the clergy in the Southern churches preach about paradise on the ‘Jim Crow system’. Negroes are used as unskilled workers in industry. Until recently they were excluded from most of the unions that belong to the American Federation of Labour. The IWW of course organised the Negroes, the old Socialist Party however undertook no serious attempt to organise them. In some states the Negroes were not accepted into the party at all, in others they were separated off into special sections, and in general the party statutes banned the use of Party resources for propaganda among Negroes.

In the South the Negro has no rights at all and does not even enjoy the protection of the law. Usually one can kill Negroes without being punished. One terrible white institution is the lynching of Negroes. This happens in the following manner., The Negro is covered with oil and strung up on a telegraph pole. The whole of the town, men, women and children, run up to watch the show and take home a piece of the clothing or the skin of the Negro they have tortured to death ‘as a souvenir’.

I have too little time to explain the historical background to the Negro question in the United States. The descendants of the slave population, who were liberated during the Civil War, when politically and economically they were still completely underdeveloped, were later given full political rights in order to unleash a bitter class struggle in the South which was intended to hold up Southern capitalism until the capitalists in the North were able to bring together all the country’s resources into their own. possession.

Until recently the Negroes did not show any aggressive class consciousness at all. The first awakening of the Negroes took place after the Spanish-American War, in which the black troops had fought with extraordinary courage and from which they returned with the feeling that as men they were equal to the white troops. Until then the only movement that existed among the Negroes was a semi-philanthropic educational association led by Booker T. Washington and supported by the white capitalists. This movement found its expression in the organisation of schools in which the Negroes were brought up to be good servants of industry. As intellectual nourishment they were presented with the good advice to resign themselves to the fate of an oppressed people. During the Spanish War an aggressive reform movement arose among the Negroes which demanded social and political equality with the whites. With the beginning of the European war half a million Negroes who had joined the US Army were sent to France, where they were billeted with French troop detachments and suddenly made the discovery that they were treated as equals socially and in every other respect. The American General Staff approached the French High Command and asked them to forbid Negroes to visit places used by whites and to treat them as second-class people. After the war the Negroes, many of whom had received medals for bravery from the English and French governments, returned to their Southern villages where they were subjected to lynch law because they dared to wear their uniforms and their decorations on the street.

At the same time a strong movement arose among the Negroes who had stayed behind. Thousands of them moved to the North, began to work in the war industries and came into contact with the surging current of the labour movement. High as they were, their wage rates trailed behind the incredible increases in the prices of the most important necessities. Moreover the Negroes were outraged by the way all their strength was sucked out and the terrible exertions demanded by the work much more than were the white workers who had grown used to the terrible exploitation in the course of many years.

The Negroes went on strike alongside the white workers and quickly joined the industrial proletariat. They proved very ready to accept revolutionary propaganda. At that time the newspaper Messenger was founded, published by a young Negro, the socialist Randolf, and pursuing revolutionary propagandist aims. This paper united socialist propaganda with an appeal to the racial consciousness of the Negroes and with the call to organise self-defence against the brutal attacks of the whites. At the same time the paper insisted on the closest links with the white workers, regardless of the fact that the latter often took part in Negro-baiting, and emphasised that the enmity between the white and black races was supported by the capitalists in their own interests.

The return of the army from the front threw many millions of white workers on to the labour market all at once. The result was unemployment, and the demobilised soldiers’ impatience took such threatening proportions that the employers were forced to tell the soldiers that their jobs had been taken by Negroes in order thus to incite the whites to massacre the Negroes. The first of these outbreaks took place in Washington, where civil servants from the administration returning from the war found their jobs occupied by Negroes. The civil servants were in the main Southerners. They organised a night attack on the Negro district in order to terrorise the Negroes into giving up their jobs. To everybody’s amazement the Negroes came on to the streets fully armed. A fight developed and the Negroes fought so well that for every dead Negro there were three dead whites. Another revolt which lasted several days and left many dead on both sides broke out a few months later in Chicago. Later still a massacre took place in Omaha. In all these fights the Negroes showed for the first time in history that they are armed and splendidly organised and are not at all afraid of the whites. The results of the Negroes’ resistance were first of all a belated intervention by the government and secondly the acceptance of Negroes into the unions of the American Federation of Labour.

Racial consciousness grew among the Negroes themselves. At present there is among the Negroes a section which preaches the armed uprising of the Negroes against the whites. The Negroes who returned home from the war have set up associations everywhere for self-defence and to fight against the white supporters of lynch law. The circulation of the Messenger is growing constantly. At present it sells 180,000 copies monthly. At the same time, socialist ideas have taken root and are spreading rapidly among the Negroes employed in industry.

If we consider the Negroes as an enslaved and oppressed people, then they pose us with two tasks: on the one hand a strong racial movement and on the other a strong proletarian workers’ movement, whose class consciousness is quickly growing. The Negroes do not pose the demand of national independence. A movement that aims for a separate national existence, like for instance the ‘back to Africa’ movement that could be observed a few years ago, is never successful among the Negroes. They hold themselves above all to be Americans, they feel at home in the United States. That simplifies the tasks of the communists considerably.

The only correct policy for the American Communists towards the Negroes is to regard them above all as workers. The agricultural workers and the small farmers of the South pose, despite the backwardness of the Negroes, the same tasks as those we have in respect to the white rural proletariat. Communist propaganda can be carried out among the Negroes who are employed as industrial workers in the North. In both parts of the country we must strive to organise Negroes in the same unions as the whites. This is the best and quickest way to root out racial prejudice and awaken class solidarity.

The Communists must not stand aloof from the Negro movement which demands their social and political equality and at the moment, at a time of the rapid growth of racial consciousness, is spreading rapidly among Negroes. The Communists must use this movement to expose the lie of bourgeois equality and emphasise the necessity of the social revolution which will not only liberate all workers from servitude but is also the only way to free the enslaved Negro people.

 – John Reed, quoted in “Minutes of the Second Congress of the Communist International, Fourth Session July 25”

Bill Bland: The Nation of Islam and the Moorish Science Organization

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The ‘Nation of Islam’ arose indirectly out of an organisation called the ‘Moorish Science Organisation’, established in Newark, New Jersey, USA, in 1913, by one Timothy Drew, who had been born in North Carolina in 1886. Drew changed his name to ‘Noble Drew Ali’. (Clifton E. Marsh: ‘From Black Muslims to Muslims: The Resurrection, Transformation and Change of the Lost-Found Nation of Islam in America: 1930-1995’; Lanham (USA); 1996; p. 29).

‘Noble Ali Drew’s ideas were published in a 64-page booklet which he titled the ‘Holy Koran’.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 31).

This proclaimed that ‘Noble Drew Ali’ was:

“. . . a prophet ordained to carry the message of Islam to people of African descent in America”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 31).

and that black Americans were in fact

“. . . Moors, whose ancestors had come from Morocco”,

(Clifton E. March: ibid.; p. 31).

forming

“. . . part of a far-flung Moorish Nation that had somehow made its way to North America”.

(Theodore Draper: ‘The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism’; London; 1971; p. 70-71).

Drew also

” . . . identified white people with the embodiment of evil in scripture, which is Satan”.

(Imam Wallace D. Muhammad: Interview, 25 July 1979, in: Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 41).

and taught that there was

” . . . a ‘natural’ conflict between Islam and Christianity. This conflict would ultimately be resolved through the Battle of Armageddon, which he defined as a religious war between Muslims and Christians”.

(Clifton E. March: op. cit.; p. 38).

In March 1929 ‘Noble Drew Ali’ was

” . . . arrested and charged with murder,”

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 35).

but,

” . . . released on bond, he died a few weeks later, mysteriously”.

(Theodore Draper: op. cit.; p 71).

THE FOUNDATION OF THE ‘NATION-OF-ISLAM’

In July 1930,

“. . . a stranger suddenly appeared in Detroit Wallace D. Fard”.

(Theodore Draper: ibid.; p. 73).

Fard was

” . . . a door-to-door pedlar who claimed that he had been ‘sent by God’ and professed to have come from Mecca”,

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

He claimed:

“to be ‘Noble Drew Ali’ reincarnated”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 37).

Those members of the ‘Moorish Science Organisation’

“who believed Master Fard Muhammad’s reincarnation”,

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 35).

broke away to

” . . . set up a temple in Detroit”,

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

and establish

“. . . what came to be known as the ‘Nation of Islam”‘.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 35).

otherwise known as the ‘Black Muslims’.

ELIJAH MUHAMMAD

In early 1934,

“. . . Fard disappeared as suddenly and mysteriously as he had appeared”.

(Theodore Draper: op. cit.; p. 76).

He was succeeded as leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’ by Robert Poole, a former car worker, the son of a Baptist minister, who had been born in Sandersville, Georgia, in October 1897. (Charles Van Doren (Ed.): ‘Webster’s American Biographies’; Springfield (USA); 1974; p. 749).

Poole had moved to Detroit in 1923 and had eventually become

” . . . Fard’s chief lieutenant”.

(Walter D. Abilla: ‘The Black Muslims in America: An Introduction to the Theory of Commitment’; Nairobi; 1977; p. 5).

as

” . . . Chief Minister of Islam”,

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 39).

As Poole

“. . . rose in the movement, he took the name of ‘Elijah Muhammad”.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

and:

“moved operations”.

(Theodore Draper: op. cit.; p. 76)

“… to Chicago which he made his Permanent base of operations”.

(Theodore Draper: op cit.; p.76).

THE ‘NATION OF ISLAM’ UNDER ELIJAH MUHAMMAD

Elijah Muhammad

“. . . gave the sect a proper organisation”,

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28),

and a mythology which taught that:

“whites were devils created by an evil wizard Yakub”.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28),

and proclaimed

“the superiority of the black man over the white”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

Under Elijah Muhammad’s leadership, the ‘Nation’ advocated

“. . . complete separation for Negroes, and strongly opposed racial integration”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

advocating:

“. . . that the United States government should give the ‘Nation of Islam’ several states to create a separate nation”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 71).

“to include only blacks”.

(Walter D. Abilla: op. cit.; p. 15).

Membership of the ‘Nation’ was

” . . . secret”,

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

but in 1965 was

“. . . variously estimated at between 50,000 and 250,000”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

Its headquarters, the ‘Temple of Islam’, were:

“.. . a 19-room mansion in Chicago, the residence of Elijah Muhammad”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

Under Elijah Muhammad, the ‘Nation’:

“demanded that members rid themselves of their ‘slave’ names,”

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 40).

and in their place adopt

” . . . either Arabic names or use their first with an ‘X’ (hence ‘Malcolm X’). When more than one person has the same first name, the successive ones call themselves ‘2X’, ‘3X’ and so on”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

Members of the sect were:

” . . . forbidden extra-marital sexual relations; the use of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics; gambling, dancing, movies and television; and lying, stealing, discourtesy, insubordination to civil authority (except on religious grounds) and dirty homes and habits. Also prohibited are the eating of pork, hair-dyeing, and excessive make-up for women”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

Women were accorded

” . a subordinate role to men”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 72).

Male members were:

” . . . organised on a para-military basis and receive training in judo and karate”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 15; p. 20,690).

This small army of male followers was:

” . . known as the ‘Fruit of Islam”‘.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

The ‘Nation’

“. . . established schools’,

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

and a ‘University of Islam’, providing education for students in grades 4 to 12. Later, the university was known as the ‘Clara Muhammad School’, after Elijah Muhammad’s wife. (Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 43).

Under Elijah Muhammad, thrift and accumulation were:

” . . . articles of faith”.

(Walter D. Abilla: op. cit.; p. 16),

and he put forward a:

” . . . self-help philosophy”.

(Clifton E Marsh: op. cit.; p. 109).

On the basis of members’ contributions, he

“. . . established many businesses, restaurants and cleaners, and sold bean pies, whiting fish”. (Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. op. cit)

Every member was

” . . . expected to ‘buy black’, that is to trade with his own kind”.

(Walter D. Abilla: op. cit.; p. 86),

particularly with enterprises owned by the ‘Nation’. As a result, Elijah Muhammad became

” . . . admired for building the black dollar, encouraging black
people to patronise black businesses”.

(‘Independent’, 26 July 1997; p. 22),

but was criticised from the Left

“for advocating a kind of black capitalism”.

(Matthias Gardell: ‘In the Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam’; Durham (USA); 1996; p. 321).

These enterprises gave employment or petty bourgeois status to many members of the ‘Nation of Islam’, thus binding them to the ‘Nation’ by economic as well as religious bonds. However.

” . . . the financial empire was tied tightly to the Messenger personally”.

(Natthias Gardell: ibid.; p. 110).

that is, to Elijah Muhammad. By the 1970s, his assets had grown to constitute

” . . . an empire worth $40 million”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

and his family became known as

” . . . the ‘Royal Family’ among members of the organisation”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 69),

By the 1970s, the ‘Nation of Islam’ had grown to

” . . . approximately one million members”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 68).

THE DISSOLUTION OF THE ‘NATION OF ISLAM’

Upon Elijah Muhammad’s death in February 1975, he was succeeded by his son Wallace D. Muhammad, who had been born in Detroit in October 1933. (Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 13, 67. 69).

Wallace had previously been excommunicated several times by his father, according to Wallace

“. . . always on the same charge. I was not accepting the God image given to Fard Muhammad”

(Wallace D. Muhammad: Interview in Chicago, 25 July 1979, in; Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 67-68).

Wallace changed the name of the ‘Nation of Islam’ to the ‘World Community of Al-Islam in the West’ (WCIW), and his own name to Warith Deen Muhammed. (Clifton E Marsh: 115, 102).

More important, he began

“. . . to turn the sect towards orthodox Islam”.

(‘Times’ Magazine, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

Thus, the WCIW practised:

” . . . the devotional duties of the pillars of Islam (testimony, prayer, fasting , alms and pilgrimages)”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 72).

Wallace also

“. . . rejected his father’s racist teachings”.

(‘Times’, Magazine, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

and abandoned

“the notion of African Americans as a separate nation”,

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 112),

and with it the demand for a separate state within the United States, (Matthias Gardell: ibid.; p. 112),

Members were now instructed:

” . . . to honour the American flag and . . . to vote”.

(Clifton E, Marsh: ibid.; p. 71).

Black Americans were now called by the WCIW:

“Bilalians. Bilal was an Ethiopian Muslim who was born circa AD 600,”

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 70).

and

“…. . the ‘Muhammad Speaks’ newspaper was renamed the ‘Bilalian News “‘.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 70).

Furthermore, he:

“began dismantling the . . . economic enterprises”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 115),

built up under his father’s regime.

These changes

” . . . enabled the ‘World Community of Al-Islam in the West’ to be accepted by the Islamic World Community and also to be accepted by the United States government”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: ibid.; p. 77).

In the spring of 1980, Wallace changed the name of the ‘World Community of Al-Islam in the West’ to

“the ‘American Muslim Mission”‘

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 115).

and in late 1987 he dropped this name,

” . . . dissolving the entire organisation, urging the former membership to affiliate with any local mosque”.

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 113),

THE EXCOMMUNICATION OF LOUIS X

Some members of the former ‘Nation of Islam’ were strongly opposed to the changes introduced by Wallace Muhammad. The movement of resistance was headed by Louis X, who had been born Louis Walcott in May 1933 and had become

“… a calypso singer known as ‘Calypso Gene”‘.

(‘Independent’ Magazine, 26 July 1997; p. 25),

Walcott had

“become a follower of the Honourable Elijah Muhammad”,

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 96).

in February 1955.

Louis X had written:

“. . . and starred in a play called ‘The Trial’. One of the songs he wrote for the play became the ‘Nation of Islam’s anthem ‘The White Man’s Heaven is the Black Man’s Hell”‘.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

Because of his opposition to Wallace Muhammad’s changes, in November 1977
Louis X

” . . . was excommunicated from the ‘World Community of Al-Islam in the West’

(Introduction: Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 108).

THE RESURRECTION OF THE ‘NATION OF ISLAM’

Taking the name ‘Louis Farrakhan’, Louis X now announced

” . . . his intention to re-establish the ‘Nation of Islam’ ‘on the platform of the Honourable Elijah Muhammad”‘.

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 123),

Farrakhan

” . . . not only took over as undisputed head of the ‘Nation of Islam’, but also moved into Elijah Muhammad’s mansion, the house in which he still lives, in a posh neighborhood of Chicago much favoured by doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 11, 2 April 1995; p. 25).

In this

“fortress-like mansion”,

(‘Independent on Sunday’, 8 October 1995; p. 19).

He

“lives in considerable luxury”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 11, 2 April 1995; p. 25).

Under Farrakhan, the new weekly newspaper of the ‘Nation of Islam’ is called:

‘The Final Call”‘.

(‘Independent’, 36 July 1997; p. 22),

The membership of the revived ‘Nation’ is predominantly

“. . . young; up to 80% of a typical congregation is between the ages of 17 and 35; The membership is predominantly male”.

(Walter D. Abilla: op. cit.; p. 1).

Today the ‘Nation’ owns:

” . . . about 120 mosques across the country”.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 28).

‘Self-Help’

Under Farrakhan’s leadership, the ‘Nation of Islam’ continued

“. . . the self-help policy of the Hon. Elijah Mohammad”,

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 109).

Members

“. . . pay a mandatory tithe, which he (Farrakhan — Ed.) has used to create a network of small businesses, and to fund a long-planned venture into farming”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, I April 1994; p. 13).

so that the ‘Nation’ has again become

” . a rapidly growing business empire”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

The ‘Nation’, which:

“. . . has its own line of skin and hair care products, set up a soap-selling business with a multi-million dollar loan from Colonel Gadafy of Libya”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, I April 1994; p 13).

while its clinic in Washington DC

” . . . promises a miracle cure for AIDS”.

(‘Times”, 3 February 1996; p. 30).

On the positive side, the ‘Nation of Islam’

“. . . are respected for their practical programmes to reduce crime and drugs. . . . They go on to estates where the police can do nothing, and close down the drug peddlers”.

(‘Independent’ Magazine, 26 July 1997; p. 26).

This reputation has been turned to financial advantage. Security firms affiliated to the ‘Nation’

” . . . have won lucrative government contracts policing hardened housing estates”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, 1 April 1994; p. 13).

The ‘Nation of Islam’ Security Agency,

” . . . is manned by members of the ‘Fruit, was formed in 1990″.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

and

“. . . acts as security guard for hire by other prominent black figures”,

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

and

“. . . has won government contracts worth millions of dollars to police crime-wracked housing estates”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 8, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

“Some of the grants were as much as $50,000 per month”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 129).

Farrakhan

“. . . aims to establish a black media empire of broadcasting and entertainment interests, with the ‘Nation’s newspaper, ‘The Final Call’, as its foundation”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, 1 April 1994; p. 13).

Farrakhan himself

“. . . can be seen on 95 TV stations throughout the country and can be heard on 43 radio stations throughout the United States”.

(Clifton E. Marsh: op. cit.; p. 91).

Right-wing Political Views

Not surprisingly, Tony Robson, of the anti-fascist magazine ‘Searchlight’, says of the ‘Nation’:

“They are extreme right-wingers — the religious input is minimal”.

(Tony Robson, in: ‘Times’ ‘Life and Times’ Supplement, 3 August 1992;p. 4).

Farrakhan’s political views are indeed close to those of right-wing Republicans. Like them he

“denounces sex and violence in popular culture, and preaches ‘family values”‘.

(‘Times’, 3 February 1996; p. 30).

Under his leadership, the ‘Nation’

“. . . rejects the American welfare system”.

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 319).

and denounces it in particular:

“for ‘subsidising single mothers”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, 1 April 1994; p. 13).

It

” . . approves of harsh penal codes adopted by countries such as Saudi Arabia”,

(‘Sunday Times’. Section 10, 2 April 1995; p. 25).

and wants

” . . to prohibit marriage between different races”.

(‘Independent on Sunday”, Section 11, 12 November 1995; p. 3).

and demands the death penalty for

“interracial sex”.

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 337).

Political Abstention

Continuing the abstentionist policies pursued under the leadership of Elijah Muhammad, members of Farrakhan’s ‘Nation of Islam’

“do not take part in any election”.

(Walter D. Abilla: op. cit.; p. 15).

Sexism

The discrimination against women practised under Elijah Muhammad has been accentuated under Louis Farrakhan. Men

” . . . are designated as the ‘maintainers of women and children”‘.

(‘Independent on Sunday’, Section 11, 20 October 1997; p. 3).

and women

. . . cover themselves from head to toe and sit in segregated areas during services”.

(‘Independent on Sunday’, Section 11, 20 October 1997; p. 3).

‘Nation of Islam’ rallies

“. . . are often of men only, and when they are mixed it is common for the women, wearing regulation long-sleeved white robes to cover their flesh, to be asked to vacate their seats for men”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement. 1 April 1994; p. 13),

Since January 1994,

. . . Farrakhan has barred women from speeches in public buildings in New York, Boston and Washington”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement. 1 April 1994; p. 13),

In March 1994,

“. . . Farrakhan cancelled a speech at the Texas Southern University rather than admit women. Farrakhan had billed the April 11 address as a man-to-man discussion of issues involving black men, But the state university said the speech could not go ahead without the women”

(‘Guardian’ Supplement. 1 April 1994; p. 13),

In October 1995,

” . . . several hundred thousand black men attended a rally in Washington DC . . . organised by Louis Farrakhan”.

(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events;’, Volume 41; p. 40,765).

This event,

” . . . named the ‘Million Men March’,

(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events;’ Volume 41; p. 40,765).

was one:

” . . . from which women had been excluded”.

(‘Independent on Sunday’, Section 11; 20 October 1996; p. 3),

Racism

Under Farrakhan, the ‘Nation of Islam’ has revived the racism of Elijah Muhammad. In her autobiography, Sonsyrea Tate describes the racist ideas about white people she received as a ‘Nation of Islam’ child in Washington:

“I’d learned that they were wicked, that they smelled like wet dogs when it rained, and that, in general, they had unsanitary habits, such as picking up food and eating it after they dropped it on the floor — and not wearing underclothes. I thought I might start itching if one of them sat next to me”.

(Sonsyrea Tate: ‘Little X: Growing up in the Nation of Islam’, San Francisco; 1997; p. 131).

Farrakhan

” . . . goes round saying that whites are inferior”‘,

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 2 April 1885; p. 25).

Indeed, the ‘Nation’s propaganda on whites is

“. . a mirror image of what the Ku Klux Klan is saying”,

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 2 April 1995; p 25).

about black people.

Under Farrakhan, the ‘Nation’ has revived the demand for:

“the withdrawal of Negroes into a separate black nation”.

(George Breitman: ‘Malcolm X: The Man and his Ideas’, in: Malik Miah (Ed.): ‘The Assassination of Malcolm X’; London; 1968; p. 42).

and one of Farrakhan’s principal aims is:

“to establish an independent black Islamic state”.

(Matthias Gardell: op. cit.; p. 327).

In Britain in 1987,

“. . . the ‘National Front’ announced a campaign to promote Farrakhan’s ideas. Posters went up: Louis Farrakhan speaks for his nation. We speak for ours”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 2 April 1995; p 25).

“The promotion of racial separatism by the NoI has unfortunately found common ground with the likes of the ‘National Front’ in Britain. An editorial in ‘Nationalism Today’ in 1988 praised Mr. Farrakhan for his contribution to ‘the fight against multiracialism’, adding: We are ready and willing to work with those of other races who wish to maintain their separateness and identity”‘.

(‘Times’, Supplement, 3 August 1992; p. 4),

In the mid-1980s, the ‘Nation of Islam’

“. . . admitted to dealings with a former leader of the Californian Ku Klux Klan, Tom Metcalfe, now in gaol for a racist murder”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9; 7 August 1994; p. 5).

Anti-Semitism

Apart from anti-white racism, the ‘Nation of Islam’ under Farrakhan indulges in virulent anti-Semitism. Since the mid-1980s,

“the targets for the ‘Nation’s political fulminations have been the Jews”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 65).

In 1991,

” . . . the ‘Nation of Islam’ published ‘The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews’ . . . which accused Jews of being ‘key operatives’ in the African slave trade”.

(‘Times’ Magazine, 3 February 1996; p. 31),

In 1985, Farrakhan told a black audience:

“I have a difficulty with Jewish people. . . . They are not the chosen people of God. . . . The black people of America and the Western hemisphere are God’s chosen people”.

(‘Times’ ‘Life and Times’ Supplement, 2 August 1992; p. 4).

Robson affirms that

“Farrakhan is notoriously anti-Semitic”.

(‘Times’ ‘Life and Times’ Supplement, 2 August 1992; p. 4).

Indeed, Farrakhan is on record as saying that Jews

” . . are ‘bloodsuckers’ who have become rich on the sweat and toil of blacks. Judaism is a ‘gutter religion’; the Holocaust was nothing compared to the historical oppression of American blacks”.

(‘Independent on Sunday’, 8 October 1995; p. 19).

In July 1998, Donu Kogbara wrote:

“The anti-Semitism displayed by Louis Farrakhan…… the Nation of Islam’s black American leader, is despicable”.

(‘Sunday Times’, 5 July 1998; p. 5),

and refers to

” . . . his obsession with racial separation — apartheid by another name”.

(‘Sunday Times’, 5 July 1998; p. 5).

Mainly as a result of representations by Jewish organisations Farrakhan

” . . . has been banned from Britain since 1988″.

(‘Times’ ‘Life and Times’ Supplement, 3 August 1992; p. 4).

The ban

” . . . also prohibits all broadcasts of his image and likeness”.

(‘Guardian’ ‘The Editor’, 4 July 1998; p. 4).

In November 1993, Khalid Muhammad, a leading member of the ‘Nation of Islam”‘, referred to Jews

“. . . as ‘Christ-killers’, alleging that they controlled the global financial system. . . ‘It’s that old no-good Jew, that old imposter Jew, that old hook-nosed, bagel-eating, lox-eating Johnny-come-lately”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement, 1 April 1994; p. 13).

He accused the

” . . . Jews of being ‘bloodsuckers’ on the black community, questioned the Holocaust and called for the killing of all whites in South Africa”.

(‘Keesing’s Record of World Events’, Volume 40; p. 39,854).

Following widespread complaints about the speech, in February 1994 Farrakhan demoted Khalid Muhammad”; (‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 4).

Nevertheless, Farrakhan

“is still very close to Khalid”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9. 7 August 1994; p. 4).

since he

” . . . uses Khalid Muhammad as a stalking horse”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p. 5).

Fascism

Chip Berlet, of ‘Political Research Associates’, says:

“Many of the key elements of a fascist political movement are present in the NoI, including theories of racial superiority, organic leadership and the appropriateness of authoritarian measures”.

(‘Sunday Times’, Section 9, 7 August 1994; p 5).

The ‘Nation of Islam’ has revived the ‘Fruit of Islam’ as its uniformed storm troopers, which are run along military lines. (‘Independent’ Magazine, 26 July 1997; p. 25).

It is composed of

” . . . shaven-headed men, all of whom are identically attired, from the tips of their shiny black shoes, to their zip-up black bomber jackets. crisp white cotton shirts and trade-mark red bow-ties”.

(‘Independent’, 26 July 1997; p. 20).

‘Fruit’ members

“take martial arts classes”,

(‘Independent’, 26 July 1997; p. 22).

and

” . . frisk the queues to ‘Nation’ rallies, stand with Farrakhan on stage, and act as sentries at his home”.

(‘Guardian’ Supplement. 1 April 1994; p. 13).

After he had left the ‘Nation’, Malcolm X told a press conference:

“I know for a fact that there is a conspiracy between . . . the Muslims and the Lincoln Rockwell Nazis and also the Ku Klux Klan”.

(Matthias Gardell: op, cit.; p. 273).

Indeed, John X Ali

” . . . arranged for American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell to speak at the 1962 Saviour’s Day celebration in Chicago”.

(Matthias Gardell: ibid.; p. 273).

THE ‘NATION OF ISLAM’ IN BRITAIN

In Britain, the ‘Nation of Islam’

“began informally in 1986”.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 25).

when

“the first mosque was set up in Brixton”,

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 25).

Today it has

” . . . three mosques, in south, north and east London”.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 25).

Together with:

” a study group working towards a mosque in North London”,

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 26).

The ‘Nation’s London headquarters are situated

“in Goldhawk Road”.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 22).

and it owns

“a shop on Harlesden High Street”.

(‘Independent’, 26 July 1997; p. 26).

Since its foundation,

“It . . . it has grown tenfold . . to 2,500 (half-male, half-female)”.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 22-23).

Jamaican-born Hugh Chester Jones, now known as ‘Leo Muhammad’, is Farrakhan’s

“mouthpiece in London”.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 20).

where there is published

” . . . a new locally produced magazine called ‘Signs of the Times”‘.

(‘Independent’, Section 11, 26 July 1997; p. 22).

CONCLUSION

THE ‘NATION OF ISLAM’ IS A FUNDAMENTALLY REACTIONARY, SEXIST AND RACIST, FASCIST-TYPE ORGANISATION WHICH OBJECTIVELY SERVES IMPERIALISM, ESPECIALLY UNITED STATES IMPERIALISM, BY SEEKING TO BUILD A BLACK PETTY BOURGEOISIE AS A BUFFER AGAINST SOCIALIST REVOLUTION AND WHICH SEEKS TO UTILISE RACIAL PREJUDICES AND SUPERSTITION TO DIVIDE THE AMERICAN NATION, INCLUDING THE AMERICAN WORKING CLASS, ALONG RACIAL LINES.

William B. Bland for the Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau

1998

Source

Challenging Capitalism and Patriarchy: An Interview with bell hooks

bellhooks1

THIRD WORLD VIEWPOINT: You have written extensively on feminist issues and on racial oppression in America, and your analyses are always thoughtful and incisive but, in terms of being an intellectual in the elitist sense of the word, does it bother you that the masses of African American women and men may, perhaps, not get a chance to know who bell hooks is; may not be reading your material that has so much to say about the struggles that they are engaged in?

BELL HOOKS: I think that I am a lucky person in that I get a lot of feedback from those “masses.” I think that we have such stereotypical notions of working people. There are a lot of Black working people who read and, in fact, 20 years ago, long before white feminists were receiving my work and applauding it, I counted on that basic Black population, particularly Black women who went to the library and checked out my books and wrote to me. My concern is to enlarge that audience, particularly to reach young Black people between the ages of 15 and 25 who are the reading population but who are least likely, maybe, to hear of a bell hooks.

Part of my desire to do that has led me to go to magazines that ordinarily I might not be that engaged with politically, I want Black people to know that there are insurgent Black intellectual voices that are addressing our needs as a people who must have renewed liberation struggle.

Let us talk about the concept of patriarchy about which you write and talk a lot. Patriarchy is a notion of society being dominated by men. Clearly, patriarchy also existed before there was capitalism. Do you believe that the overthrow of capitalism has within it the seeds for ending patriarchy and thus the oppression of women?

I think that what we see globally is that there have been incredible struggles to combat capitalism that haven’t resulted in an end to patriarchy at all. I also think that when we study ancient societies that were not capitalist we see hierarchical systems that privileged maleness in the way that modern patriarchy does. I think we will never destroy patriarchy without questioning, critiquing, and challenging capitalism, and I don’t think challenging capitalism alone will mean a better world for women.

How do you combine the struggle against patriarchy and against capitalism?

I think that strategically, we have to start on all fronts. For example, I’m very concerned that there are not more Black women deeply committed to anti-capitalist politics. But one would have to understand the role that gender oppression plays in encouraging young Black females to think that they don’t need to study about capitalism. That they don’t need to read men who were my teachers like Walter Rodney, and Nkrumah, and Amilcar Cabral.

I think that as a girl who grew up in a patriarchal, working-class, Black, southern household there was a convergence of those issues of class and gender. I was acutely aware of my class, and I was acutely aware of the limitations imposed on me by gender. I wouldn’t be the committed worker for freedom that I am today had I not begun to oppose that gendered notion of learning that suggests that politics is the realm of males and that political thinking about anti-racist struggle and colonialism is for men.

I’m very much in favor of the kind of education for critical consciousness that says: Let’s not look at these thing separately. Let’s look at how they converge so that when we begin to take a stand against them, we can take that kind of strategic stance that allows us to be self-determining as a people struggling in a revolutionary way on all fronts.

In terms of your own political development, would you say that your analysis is informed by a Marxist critique of capitalist society?

Absolutely. I think Marxist thought–the work of people like Gramsci–is very crucial to educating ourselves for political consciousness. That doesn’t mean we have to take the sexism or the racism that comes out of those thinkers and disregard it. It means that we extract the resources from their thought that can be useful to us in struggle. A class rooted analysis is where I begin in all my work. The fact is that it was bourgeois white feminism that I was reacting against when I stood in my first women’s studies classes and said, “Black women have always worked.” It was a class-biased challenge to the structure of feminism.

So you would encourage women to get organizationally involved in the struggle against the capitalist system and against gender oppression?

Absolutely. In my newest book, Killing Rage: Ending Racism, one of the big issues I deal with is the degree to which capitalism is being presented as the answer. When people focus on the white mass media’s obsession with Louis Farrakhan, they think the media hate Farrakhan so much. But they don’t hate Farrakhan. They love him. One of the reasons why they love him is that he’s totally pro-capitalist. There is a tremendous overlap in the values of a Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam and the values of the white, Christian right. Part of it is their pro-capitalism, their patriarchy, and their whole-hearted support of homophobia.

Farrakhan’s pro-capitalism encourages a kind of false consciousness in Black life. For example, you have a Rapper like Ice T in his new book, The Ice Opinions, making an astute class analysis when he says that “People live in the ghetto not because they’re Black, but because they’re poor.” But then he goes on to offer capitalism as a solution. This means that he has a total gap in his understanding if he imagines that becoming rich within this society–individual wealth–is somehow a way to redeem Black life. The only hope for us to redeem the material lives of Black people is a call for the redistribution of wealth and resources which is not only a critique of capitalism, but an incredible challenge to capitalism.

You bemoan the fact that you don’t see enough women playing leading roles in political organizations–on the left, in particular. But, in terms of the possibilities of women on the left organizing independently from a feminist perspective, it would seem to me that a number of reasons might be offered to explain this, one of them being that Black men, even though they are sexist, are not perceived to be in control of the levers of power in this society, so that it becomes problematic for Black women in terms of organizing separately as Black women?

I would disagree that my political standpoint begins with feminism. My political standpoint begins with the notion of Black self-determination. In order for me to engage in a revolutionary struggle for collective Black self-determination, I have to engage feminism because that becomes the vehicle by which I project myself as a female into the heart of the struggle, but the heart of the struggle does not begin with feminism. It begins with an understanding of domination and with a critique of domination in all its forms. I think it is, in fact, a danger to think of the starting point as being feminism.

I think we need a much more sophisticated vision of what it means to have a radical political consciousness. That is why I stress so much the need for African Americans to take on a political language of colonialism.We owe such a great debt to people like CLR James and the great thinkers in the African Diaspora who have encouraged us to frame our issues in a larger political context that looks at imperialism and colonialism and our place as Africans in the Diaspora so that class becomes a central factor.

In terms of the need for consciousness of Black women and men to be raised about the issues of gender, what kind of program do you think should be addressed?

I think we equally need Black men to be feminist teachers educating for critical consciousness. I’m actually for a more communal division of labor. If we have a community where people seem to be more hip about gender, but not very hip about class, then I think that we need to strategically go for that framework of understanding which is missing, rather than to assume that one framework should always be centered on.

I believe that Black women are very susceptible to bourgeois hedonistic consumerism because women are so much the targets of mass media. So, clearly, a lot of critical thinking about materialism in our lives is crucial to engaging Black women in revolutionary struggle. So that class, again, comes up and we haven’t had enough Black women leaders.
But the point is, we need to also know how some of these women, many of whom came from bourgeois families, began to acquire a more revolutionary consciousness–if, indeed, they have acquired that consciousness. It’s also easier, a lot of times, for Black women to talk about gender and ignore class because many of us are non-divesting of our support of capitalism and our longing for luxury. I think that it’s one thing to enjoy the good life and to enjoy beauty and things, and another thing to feel like you’re willing to support the killing of other people in other countries so that you can have your fine car and other luxuries.

You have, in effect, through your answers explained the difference between your politics, and, let us say, white feminist politics.

Well, I would say “some white feminist politics,” because I can think of revolutionary feminists who are white. We don’t hear much from revolutionary feminists who are white because they’re not serving the bourgeois agenda of the status quo. They’re a small minority, but they are there and they are useful allies in the struggle. So I try not to use those monolithic terms anymore that I used in the beginning with Ain’t I A Woman because I was 19-years-old when I was writing that book and it reflected a certain degree of political naivete. I am now much more acutely aware of the need for us not to lump all white feminist thinkers together because there are a small group of revolutionary women who are activists in struggle and are more deeply our allies than the mainstream white feminists we hear so much about.

So we should put to rest the notion that feminism is about pitting men against women?

In Feminist Theory, From Margin to Center I said that if you think of feminism as a movement to end sexism and sexist oppression, there is nothing about men in there. To me, a woman can’t be a feminist just because she is a woman. She is a feminist because she begins to divest herself of sexist ways of thinking and revolutionizes her consciousness. The same is true for the male comrade in struggle.

One would think, as in the case of racism, that it’s more in the interest of the woman to develop a feminist consciousness, but that’s the only way in which I think that women have a greater claim to feminism than men. I feel sad that we have allowed these knee-jerk feminists who want to act like it’s a struggle against men…but again that’s the least politically developed strand of feminism. That is the strand of feminism that people most hear about, not the kind of revolutionary feminism that says, patriarchy is life threatening to Black men. When we look at the Black men who are killing each other–who think that their dick is a gun, and a gun is a dick–those men need a critique of that notion of patriarchal masculinity to save their lives. Feminism as a political movement has to specifically address the needs of men in their struggle to revolutionize their consciousness.

In your first book Ain’t I A Woman you took Amiri Baraka to task for his sexist views and his sexist politics. As a result of more outspokenness by you and others, do you see a change developing in the Black community among Black men?

I think that we certainly have seen tremendous changes in Black males. But one of the difficulties is that Black, gay men–I’m thinking particularly of Essex Hemphill, Joseph Bean, and Marlon Riggs–who have been at the forefront of critiquing sexism are not looked on as leaders, as they should be, in our community. When a Marlon Riggs makes a film like Tongues Untied, where he talks about the place of silence in the construction of Black masculinity (he keeps repeating that line, “Silence is my weapon, silence is my shield”), he’s not just talking about gay men who use silence. When we look at Black men, in general, in intimate and personal relations, we see the inability to communicate feelings, emotions, in relation to the people they care about, as a problem. I can’t think of anything that a straight Black man has made that tries to speak to that need of Black men to break through the wall of silence, and to speak about the range of issues that affects their lives as deeply as Marlon in Tongues Untied. And yet, again, even though it has been on PBS, a lot of Black people will see “gay,” and they won’t go any further with it. That’s tragic because gays have so much to offer.

Is the Black community any more homophobic than the white community?

The rhetoric of nationalism is totally homophobic, and to the degree that contemporary Black people are engaged in escapist, non-political, non-revolutionary fantasies of nationalism and the patriarchal family, we are more aggressively homophobic than the larger culture where there are a lot of white liberals and leftists who are not interested in nationalism.

In terms of where we are in the 1990s, are you optimistic? Do you see on the horizon the seeds of a future regeneration of Black, political radicalism?

I see a hunger, especially among Black youth, for more sophisticated answers. Unfortunately, right now, it’s narrow nationalism, narrow forms of Afrocentrism, that are mostly addressing that hunger. Our leading people buy into utopian fantasies of liberation, when in fact our liberation should come from a concrete struggle in the workforce, no fantasies about ancient Africa, and kings and queens. Not that we don’t need to know about ancient Africa to address the biases of Western education.

People forget that the militant struggles of the 1960s were profoundly anti-capitalist. Even Martin Luther King reached a point, before his death, in A Testament of Hope, when he was saying we must be anti-militarist; we must critique capitalism. That has somehow gotten lost in the mix, and I think that this embracing of capitalist ethic of liberal individualism has done more to diffuse Black people’s capacity to struggle for freedom, than any other factor.

On the other hand, when I go to give a talk and there are many more Black men than ever before. There are many more Black people, so it says to me that there is also a burgeoning group of Black people who are ready to educate for critical consciousness, in a more powerful, revolutionary way. The question will be: how many of us will rise as insurgent, revolutionary, Black intellectuals, to be the teachers, and to be the leaders, and to be the people who make certain sacrifices to bring certain insights. We have to think of political insight as a resource that we bring to our diverse Black communities and to our lives.

You are also a cultural critic. There are a lot of Black movies out now–do you think these films are addressing the needs of Black people at this time?

I was told, for example, by a lot of Black people, “Oh, you must see Sankofa,” Haile Gerima’s film. Then I saw that film and I thought, this script of slavery comes right out of Gone with the Wind. It has moments where it affirms Black self-determination, but it’s so sentimental when it comes to gender. We have the sacrificing Black mother who, truly, has a revolutionary consciousness and is not going to go chasing after some retrograde, self-hating mulatto son in the way we see that Black woman doing. It’s kind of sad that this is our vision of a film that begins to address our issues because, once again, it’s on such a banal level.

I think it is worth discussing how useful are fictional narratives of slavery to us in a culture where people don’t know their actual history. I’m much more interested in students reading and knowing the speeches and text of Malcolm X, the person, than going to see that garbled, crossover, colonized version of Spike Lee’s. Until people have concretely studied the teachings of a Malcolm X or a Martin Luther King, it’s dangerous to have fiction become the primary learning point.

I guess there’s still a very strong nationalist hold over us…

That’s a good point. I think nationalism is a non-progressive world vision right now. I think that nationalism is different from Black self-determination because, of course, any vision of Black self-determination that is rooted in a class analysis and a critique of sexism unites us with the struggles of, not only Black people, globally, for liberation, but all oppressed people.

I think that nationalism has undermined revolutionary Black struggle. It’s no accident that people like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were destroyed at those moments of their political careers when they had begun to critique nationalism as a platform of organization; and where, in fact, they replace nationalism with a critique of imperialism; which then, unites us with the liberation struggles of so many people on the planet. If we don’t have that kind of global perspective about our social realities, we will never be able to re-envision a revolutionary movement for Black self-determination that is non-exclusive, and doesn’t assume some kind of patriarchal nationhood. Many of our African nations have failed precisely because they lacked a revolutionary vision for social change that worked, and not because they didn’t have a nation. So, Black Americans must be very, very cautious in embracing the notion of a nation as the redemptive location. The redemptive location lies in our radical politics and the strategies by which we implement those radical politics–not with the formation of a nation.

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Remember Medger Evers

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From Mississippi, Medgar Evers, born July 2, 1925 was assassinated on June 12, 1963. After returning from military service in World War II he became very active in the African American civil rights movement.

In 1948 Evers enrolled at Alcorn College (a historically black college, now Alcorn State University) majoring in business administration. He also competed on the debate, football, and track teams, sang in the choir, and was junior class president. He earned his BA in 1952. Evers applied to the then-segregated University of Mississippi Law School in 1954 but his application was rejected.

Evers’ civil rights leadership and investigative work made him a target of white supremacists. In the weeks leading up to his death, the hostility directed towards him grew. His public investigations into the murder of Emmett Till and his vocal support of Clyde Kennard had made him a prominent black leader.

Mourned nationally, Evers was buried on June 19th in Arlington National Cemetary with full military honors before a crowd of thousands.

On June 21, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and member of the White Citizens’ Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan), was arrested for Evers’ murder. Juries composed solely of white men twice that year deadlocked on De La Beckwith’s guilt.

In 1994, 30 years after the two previous trials had failed to reach a verdict, De La Beckwith was brought to trial based on new evidence. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed from his grave for autopsy. De La Beckwith was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing (he was imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 for conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick). De La Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison in January 2001.

R.I.P. Medgar Evers on the 50th anniversary of his murder.

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Chokwe Lumumba Elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi

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Congratulations to Chokwe Lumumba! As a Southerner from the Deep South myself, let me say this is truly a groundbreaking event, and I welcome him winning the election. I hope he guards himself and remembers what happened to Medgar Evers, Marco McMillian, Emmett Till, Louis Allen, James Craig Anderson, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, George W. Lee, Lamar Smith, Mack Charles Parker, Paul Guihard and Vernon Dahmer.

All those listed were people, public figures or civil rights activists murdered in Mississippi. Medgar Evers and Marco McMillian were both elected to public office before being murdered. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and dumped in the Mississippi River.

— E.S.

BY KIRSTEN WEST

Former Ward 2 Councilman and Chokwe Lumumba, 65, is the new mayor of  Jackson, Miss., winning the general election with 87 percent of the vote, reports Fight Back! News.

“I’m just delighted. I feel wonderfully well about the people and their vote. Our slogan has been the people must decide and the people gave us an outstanding mandate today for positive change in the city of Jackson,” Lumumba said. “We intend to work diligently and put all our hearts and efforts into that and we’re going to be calling upon the people to work with us. We’re not working by ourselves.”

As previously reported by NewsOne, Lumumba served four years on the Jackson City Council before running for mayor. He spent part of the ’70s and ’80s as vice-president of  the Republic of New Afrika, an organization which advocated for “an independent predominantly black government” in the southeastern United States and reparations for slavery.

“The provisional government of Republic of New Afrika was always a group that believed in human rights for human beings,” Lumumba told The Associated Press in a recent interview. “I think it has been miscast in many ways. It has never been any kind of racist group or ‘hate white’ group in any way…. It was a group which was fighting for human rights for black people in this country and at the same time supporting the human rights around the globe.”

As an attorney, Lumumba has represented legendary activist, poet, actor and Hip-Hop artist Tupac Shakur in several cases, and his godmother, Assata Shakur, whom Lumumba calls a “Black Panther heroine.”

Assata, formerly Joanne Chesimard, was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.

She sought political asylum in Cuba after being accused of killing New Jersey state trooper, Werner Foerster, in 1977, and  recently became the first woman placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list. Medical evidence proved that it was “anatomically impossible” for Assata to kill Foerster after being shot by state trooper, James Harper, and forensic evidence proved that she had not fired a weapon. Even with that knowledge, the FBI recently raised the bounty on her head from $1 million to $2 million dollars.

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America’s “Most Wanted” Terrorist: An Open Letter From Assata

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My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.

I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:

‘The FBI and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law enforcement personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her as being a leader of the Black Liberation Army which the government and its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the shooting of police officers. This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of Assata Shakur’s relationship to it was widely circulated by government agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal activities; she was highlighted on the FBI’s most wanted list; and to police at all levels she became a ‘shoot-to-kill’ target.”

I was falsely accused in six different “criminal cases” and in all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly not the case. It only meant that the “evidence” presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges.

On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a “faulty tail light.” Sundiata Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became “suspicious.” He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata. Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Foerster was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths. Neither Sundiata Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial We were both convicted in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison. In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison, aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.

The U.S. Senate’s 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations inside the USA, revealed that “The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the public’s perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through “friendly” news contacts.” This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today.

On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey State called a press conference to announce that New Jersey State Police had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to intervene on their behalf and to aid in having me extradited back to New Jersey prisons. The New Jersey State Police refused to make their letter public. Knowing that they had probably totally distort the facts, and attempted to get the Pope to do the devils work in the name of religion, I decided to write the Pope to inform him about the reality of’ “justice” for black people in the State of New Jersey and in the United States. (See attached Letter to the Pope).

In January of 1998, during the pope’s visit to Cuba, I agreed to do an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to the Pope, about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about the changes I saw in the United States and it’s treatment of Black people in the last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because I saw this secret letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity maneuver on the part of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical attempt to manipulate Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for many years, and was completely out of touch with the sensationalist, dishonest, nature of the establishment media today. It is worse today than it was 30 years ago. After years of being victimized by the “establishment” media it was naive of me to hope that I might finally get the opportunity to tell “my side of the story.” Instead of an interview with me, what took place was a “staged media event” in three parts, full of distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies. NBC purposely misrepresented the facts. Not only did NBC spend thousands of dollars promoting this “exclusive interview series” on NBC, they also spent a great deal of money advertising this “exclusive interview” on black radio stations and also placed notices in local newspapers.

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media, those of you who believe in truth freedom, To publish this statement and to let people know what is happening. We have no voice, so you must be the voice of the voiceless.

Free all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest, Most Resistant and Most Courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on the Face of this Planet.

Assata Shakur Havana, Cuba

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FBI adds 65-year-old Black Panther to Most Wanted Terrorists list

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Joanne Chesimard

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced that Joanne Chesimard has been added to its Most Wanted Terrorists list. Thursday’s bulletin gave Chesimard, a black nationalist, the dubious distinction of being the first woman to be placed on the list.

Chesimard, better known as Assata Shakur, was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army when, on May 2, 1973, she was driving through New Jersey with two others. The car was pulled over for a broken taillight and a gunfight ensued with police. One officer and one man from Shakur’s group were killed. 

Despite being injured, she managed to flee from the scene but was eventually arrested and, in 1977, convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. But in 1979, The New York Times reported, she “escaped from Clinton Correctional Institute for Women after three male visitors drew handguns, kidnapped two guards and seized a prison minibus in order to drive out of the grounds to two getaway cars. They left the guards handcuffed but unharmed.” 

It’s been widely speculated that Shakur was aided in her escape by the Black Liberation Army. William Kunstler, her trial lawyer, told reporters at the time that Shakur’s health had declined in prison.

I was very happy that she escaped because I thought she was unfairly tried,” he said, as quoted by the Gothamist. 

Her surviving accomplice, Sundiata Acoli, born Clark Edward Squire, is still held in a federal prison after being denied parole several times. 

In 1984 Shakur was granted asylum by Cuban leader Fidel Castro, who called the charges against her “an infamous lie.” Originally from the Queens section of New York City, Shakur explained her situation on her website.

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My name is Assata (“she who struggles”) Olugbala (“for the people”) Shakur (“the thankful one”), and I am a 20th Century escaped slave,” she wrote. “Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the US government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one.” 

She went on to admit involvement with the Black Panther Party and described the FBI’s intention to “destroy it and its leaders and activists.” 

Federal and New Jersey law enforcement announced during Thursday’s news conference that they had doubled the reward for information leading to Shakur’s capture from $1 million to $2 million. Along with being the first female named to the list, she is only the second domestic ‘terrorist’ on the list, which was assembled to identify those responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. 

We would be naïve to think there’s not some communication between her and some of those people she used to run around with today,” said Aaron Ford, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Newark, New Jersey. 

He did not elaborate on the reasoning behind the seemingly sudden decision to add Shakur, now 65 years old, to the list. New Jersey law enforcement has previously campaigned for her extradition, appealing to Pope John Paul II when he traveled to Cuba in 1998.  

State Police superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes may have shed light on authorities’ reinvigorated motivation to apprehend Shakur, however. 

To this day, from her safe haven in Cuba, Shakur has been given a pulpit to preach and profess, stirring supporters and groups to mobilize against the United States by any means necessary,” Fuentes said. “We also have reason to believe that she has established association with other international terrorist organizations.” 

Fuentes did not mention what evidence the New Jersey state police had connecting Fuentes to international terror syndicates, but Ford was careful to note that the US – still struggling to reform its relationship with Cuba – has little hope the country will comply with American requests. 

Currently it’s not good,” Ford said during the press event. “We don’t enjoy a great extradition status with that country.”

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