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S E C T I O N
Social Democracy, Racism
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R A C I S M A S T H E L E A S T C O M M O N
D E N O M I N A T O R O F S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y
While anti-Communism has become the general brake against abandoning the imperialist system itself, racist ideology is the specific bridle on colonial revolution and provides the background against which the world labor aristocracy and its friends, whether they know it or not, view all matters colonial. Racist undertones counterpoint the "humanity" beneath the banner of which capitalism originally paraded (making open racism not quite "polite" – a thing to be hidden where possible; deplored where not).
From the 15th century until 1917, racism grew almost unchallenged. Once the black slave trade was under way, a new "color note" had begun to be heard in official pronunciamentos, and soon dominated colonialism's theme song. Within the shell, after 1917, of anti-Communism, its twanging monotone became, of all imperialism's ideological instruments, the most widespread, most effective "justification" for the Western labor aristocracy's continued receipt, enjoyment and protection of colonially rooted super-wages.
We have seen how, in industrialized areas, wherever colonial subjects live conveniently at great distances, polite – even liberal – Social Democracy and other "labor"-oriented groups could get along by and large without open racism in serving the labor aristocracy. In general, since all ruling class political and economic activities in such areas are basically inseparable from imperialist parasitism, generalized support for the Status Quo in and of itself "painlessly" supported colonialism. But even this condition was not, could not be, smooth, lasting or uninterrupted: sudden devastating manifestations of the system's real basis (lynchings, race riots, and the accepted clubbing down of colonial subjects) divulged in irrepressible flashes that imperialism's carefully-¬
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instilled racism was (and remains) necessary in itself to buttress colonialism, because the latter is inherently and potentially explosive.
Ideologically, such racism has been fostered through a collection of color myths, with anti-black prejudice as their underlying theme. Steeped in such fairy tales, American white workers and whose of Africa wherever black people confront a white labor aristocracy in significant numbers could (and, indeed, had to) dispense with Social Democracy. They openly flaunt their racism.
Nowhere is this truth so well-illustrated as in South Africa
.[,] where two worlds confront each other as politically naked as anywhere under imperialism. It is a matter of record that white workers in South Africa enjoy a standard of living second only to the American. As labor aristocracies, both might be expected to be solidly Social Democratic. Not so. Their stock-in-trade has been an anti-Bantu attitude in the first case; anti-Negro in the second.
The impact of South Africa's white trade unions on employers' increasing use of black labor, including semi-skilled, has been to split them:
1. One faction, represented by the leadership of the Trade Union Council of South Africa (TUCSA), warned that
"unless the workers stood together ... many were going to be priced out of the labor market. South African industries were converting to advanced mechanization."1
The result, of course, was failure to win support of black workers, a failure emphasized by the dissolution of the TUC-affiliated Federation of African Trade Unions of South Africa (FOFATUSA) in January 1966.
2. On the other hand, right-wing workers opposed the TUCSA position. For example, the Amalgamated Engineering Union with 20,000 members, TUCSA's largest single member, disaffiliated from the central body because it disagreed with "TUC's color policy". Here was a faction that would see automation – i.e., would "be priced out of the labor market" – rather than allow black labor to move ahead.
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The central concern of both these lily-white unions was to protect their own super-wages; as they were at odds on method. But that, precisely, we have seen, is the classical function of Social Democracy in Europe. Here is how that function is fulfilled by racism in confrontation with large numbers of super-exploited.
Unexposed color myths founded on anti-black prejudice have allowed racism to live on in our day even in the socialist world. There, the economically-based historical need of racism was destroyed by revolution, and socialist policy reflects this fact. Yet, left-over imperialist-instilled attitudes linger, weighting socialist people's relations with Africans – and their governments' attitudes toward Africa.
In Asia, centuries under European colonialism left some color mark. There, skin color was only one – not the major – form in which super-exploitation occurred. Racism against Asians could be, and to a degree was, offset by Western-type racialist feelings against black people, deliberately inculcated.
Because color played a lesser part, compared to the West, Social Democracy in Asia to this day retains some usefulness per se there. It can maintain local spokesmen in its own name: the Lee Kuan Yew's; the Drs. Wong Lin Ken.
Latin America is the earliest example of what is now called neo-colonialism. After about a century and a half of political independence, Latin American economies are more highly super-exploited by imperialism than ever. American finance capital operates in alliance with a small, predatory, local comprador élite and a so-called feudal aristocracy.*
Did Social Democracy as such develop any mass base in Latin America? Not to this writer's knowledge. Lack of a labor aristocracy would preclude that.
* Actual feudality of such classes has been lucidly challenged in Latin America by Professor Andre Gunder Frank, Visiting Professor of Economics and History at Sir George Williams University in Montreal. See his book, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America, Monthly Review Press.
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At the same time, as in Brazil and Cuba, the colonisers introduced large numbers of black people into Latin America. They did not disappear. Color discrimination left its mark on the population, thereby doubly barring Social Democracy per se or en masse.
Social Democracy attained what ideological hold it has in Latin America both late and indirectly – perhaps ironically – through policies objectively Social Democratic but pursued by self-styled Marxist-Leninists. Fairly recently, public differences of opinion have broken out about how to achieve socialism in Latin America. An apparent majority of those claiming to be Marxists have favored a "peaceful" solution along the lines of European Social Democracy and the Soviet position. As might have been deduced from the lack of a labor aristocracy and from the partial black presence, these Marxists never developed mass parties of, say, the Swedish Social Democratic type (although they themselves would never accept the Social Democratic label).
In Europe, Social Democracy espouses class collaboration "in the workers' interests". The fiasco in a country like Brazil occurred because a Social Democratic position served an avowed aim of "genuine independence with a socialist orientation". Doesn't this prove that, regardless of subjective or proclaimed aims, Social Democratic policy can lead only to the support of imperialism?
In Africa, imperialism's most consistent brutality accompanied a super-exploitation founded unequivocally South of Sahara on pure "color justification". Among black people, Social Democracy could not sustain support for its own spokesmen as such; it had to link arms with racism.
When unbroken imperialist brutality, from Tory and Labor alike, lost its effectiveness, demagogy had to be found for Africa. What arose called itself "African Socialism", pretending to be unconnected with anything "non-African". While – under demonstrable foreign imperialist instigation – this "ideology for Africa" had originated in so-called French Africa, today's¬
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brand sprouts in neo-colonial Kenya under the "labor" sponsorship of European Social Democracy in alliance with and under the guidance of U.S. racism.*
Obviously, Social Democracy's modern involvement with racism in sub-Saharan Africa did not arise full-blown like Minerva from the brow of Jove. What has today become visible is merely the development of a phenomenon implied in and underlying Social Democracy from its inception. It is visible now because anti-colonialism has escalated to a point where black people (the very bottom of the colonial heap) for the first time in history have been in major motion.
Social Democracy's link to racism, especially the latter's anti-black content, by leaving it as naked as the legendary Emperor, strikingly clarifies its real role in other subjugated areas, even "at home".
So, in the decades when Marxism (as espoused by men like Dimitroff, Palme Dutt and Togliatti) was making predictions which happened to involve dark-skinned people, their judgment – like everyone else's – was weighted by their very existence in Western society. In their epoch, the destruction of colonialism had not yet risen (as it has today) to the very first place on History's agenda.
It is not the fault of these men if the overwhelming majority in countries where the fight for justice happened through the agency of Social Democracy more and more to benefit materially out of super-exploitation; it was not their fault if such benefits rose in direct proportion to the darkness of skin pigmentation of the super-exploited.** Neither was it any of their doing that the vast majority of the world's inhabitants in the colonial hinterland happened to wear dark skins.
None of this was "their fault". But all of it constituted a material context from which they, as human beings, could not be isolated. Of course, Marxism-Leninism can be, and sometimes is, an effective instrument by which individuals can and do¬
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overcome a substantial portion of their own prejudices, although they are under the same heavy ideological pressures as others inside a historically-evolved system. But this occurs only if or when specific attention is paid to achieving this particular aim: overcoming racism is NOT and NEVER CAN BE the automatic by-product of studying, espousing, or even practising Marxism-Leninism. Of course, overcoming it must eventually become part of that practice – or Marxism-Leninism will become eroded.
In fighting for socialism, and against super-exploitation, people subjectively overcome and negate a good part of their era's racism in themselves. But it is a general tendency for ideas founded on the material foundations of one age to survive well into the next, specifically retarding the evolution of the new ideology.
It should, therefore, not be too astonishing that Marxist predictions which failed were usually those tied to colonialism and its indispensable racism.
To understand this more fully, the next Chapter will consider the economic realities under imperialism's ideological atmosphere.
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R A C I S M –
M A J O R T A C T I C A L I D E O L O G I C A L F A C T O R
O F I M P E R I A L I S M ' S S U P E R S T R U C T U R E
Racism in these pages is not viewed as "just one idea in imperialism's super-structure"; it is the warp of the fabric of which super-exploitation is the woo
f[l] (while anti-Communism is a "plastic cover" designed to preserve the entire fabric "forever").
History supports this analogy to the hilt. What is more, Lenin's prophetic warnings about parasitism in the dying system expressed his concern with related underlying economic facts.
Capitalism (it is often forgotten, frequently denied, and rarely admitted) was launched not only out of the brutal expropriation and subsequent inhuman exploitation of English peasants, but, in contrapuntal accompaniment, out of the black slave trade, involving an estimated 100 million Africans, about half of whom, after being kidnapped from their continent, survived to furnish through their literally-owned labor-power the inordinate profits of slavery itself.
The traffic in human beings began in the 15th century in time to help expand industries made possible by completing the already-well-advanced process of creating the English proletariat. By the beginning of the 17th century, that trade was fostering new industries, the growth of which obtained added impetus from intense exploitation of the new proletariat they had called forth at home.
For example, the ship-building industry made possible that portion of primitive accumulation called piracy; it aided and helped carry forward the huge search for a "path to the Indies", success of which flooded the formidable riches of Asia – notably of China and India – into a now-rapidly-burgeoning industrial world at whose head England soon marched; it made possible colonies in a "New World", which for two hundred years siphoned off and absorbed Europe's "trouble-makers"¬
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and "surplus" human beings, thus effectively
n[m]uting in the West the sharpest edge of that class struggle which Karl Marx was one day to analyze.
So, not only moder
s[n] civilization itself, but also its major way of life – colonialism – arose in large part upon an originally BLACK BASE, which is the material foundation of the anti-black lies referred to previously.
To try to agree on apportionment of growing empire, Europe's major powers, with the United States already even then discreetly maneuvering in the background, came together in 1885 at the Berlin Conference. Having erected an already-unprecedented prosperity on the sufferings of dark-skinned people, they proceeded to carve up the continent of Africa, with an eye on the future, opening the era of colonialism.
As this historical sequence unfolded, the West grew richer while places like Africa grew poorer. Like that of Asia and Latin America, Africa's material wealth was literally physically removed to bolster Western well-being.
But, in addition, Africa alone was stripped of her HUMAN resources in such a way that their labor power was at the disposal of the rising new METROPOLES. America was but a numerically-pale shadow of the population decimation of Africa as the West's massive free labor-power well-spring.
The robbery of Latin America perpetrated by Spain, Portugal and then England, took place at first side-by-side with the black slave trade. Great Indian civilizations were annihilated and their populations enslaved to coin bullion out of Latin American stolen treasure as well as out of its silver mines. But the labor-power of these slaves ceased to benefit Spain and Portugal when English sea-power – virtually government-supported – made maintenance of Spanish and Portuguese New World colonies impractical. This was at least one reason why these two powers could not compete over the centuries with England, which successfully implanted kidnaped black people into the West Indies and other places in Latin America.
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It was this solid labor-power foundation which first allowed England to grab the lion's share of Asia's wealth via the naked robbery of India and the opium trade in China.
The "Pilgrim Fathers" from England and their descendants in the northern New World destroyed an indigenous population which stood in their way as they seized "Red Indian" land. But they were never able to make significant use of the labor-power of these people. For the New World to grow, we know, millions of black people had to be imported from across the waters and subsequently made the United States the world's foremost imperialist power.
More recent depopulations in the colonial world (for instance, the floods, droughts, diseases and famines that periodically decimated pre-revolutionary China) have been similarly unproductive – though often, as in Indonesia today, politically "necessary".
Hence, from the removal of both its physical wealth and its best people, including the successful use of black slave labor-power, it was primarily Africa which first made possible the rise of "Civilization As We Know It". This material fact of history is not taken into account as yet by Marxists anywhere when they consider the problem of the world colonial hinterland. Yet, it influences those problems in a way which has thus far left them unsolved.
For, another major aspect of the modern black slave trade has been that it was financed by and benefited exclusively white men, sometimes employing black agents (the role of such black people who aided this traffic is a separate, subordinate and derivative subject), but having mainly black victims.
Another undeniable material fact is that the colonialism which the slave trade soon made possible also arose, developed and decayed; and liberation therefrom now advances, over three-quarters of the earth, along the so-called Color Line between dark- and white-skinned people.
This Color Line expresses a real condition specifically, carefully and deliberately fostered by imperialism, because¬
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absolutely indispensable: without super-profits, imperialism cannot exist; without continual "justification" of super-profits, especially in the form of racism, imperialism cannot continue extracting them.
That is why, today, the imperialist-spawned Color Line constitutes a MAJOR very REAL aspect of the ideological atmosphere in which the struggle between imperialism and socialism proceeds; and it continues under this condition: that while imperialism does extract super-profits, socialism has not yet proven able to "overtake and surpass" imperialism: it does not, it will not, it cannot super-exploit. When it starts trying to, it is no longer socialism.
The strategic contradiction of our era – manifest as the conflict between imperialism and socialism – causes all other ideology to operate within the confines, and by the aid, of anti-Communism. But within that context, the major inner contradiction of the system, being expressed as conflict between the imperialist ruling class and the colonial peoples, finds its place in the superstructure via the supremacy of racism as the main ideology of imperialism, the least common denominator of imperialism's inner ideological atmosphere.
The fact that imperialist parasitism generally increases in direct proportion to the darkness of skin pigmentation has reinforced racism, further engraining it in the "ideological atmosphere". And it is Social Democracy which is primarily responsible for fashioning the mental outlook – the ideological atmosphere – of the majority of Western population. This causal sequence explains why the West's racist ideological mask for its underlying colonialism has an inseparable "anti-Red lining", and cannot be separated from Social Democracy in some form.
In order to develop the above points, we turn once again to and requote Lenin:*
"Capitalism has grown into a world system of colonial oppression and of the financial strangulation of the world by a handful of 'advanced' countries...
* From Chapter III, Pages 27-28, above.
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"What is the economic base of this world-historical phenomenon?
"Precisely the parasitism and decay of capitalism which are characteristic of its highest historical stage of development, i.e., imperialism...
"Unless the economic roots of this phenomenon are understood and its political and social significance appreciated, not a step can be taken toward the solution of the practical problems of the Communist movement and of the impending socialist revolution."1
In the light of these words, racism is not only ideological; not only subjective; not merely some "portion of the ideological superstructure" of imperialism. Racism also has – and always has had – a material content. Certainly, it is expressed in a mountain of perverted ideology. But its materiality is its basis – and measurable.*
Facts of even the most elementary sort provide the imperialist-designed material relationship between the degree of super-exploitation and of skin pigmentation, expressed in the already-quoted well-known Afro-American saying: "The blacker the skin, the lower the wage".
The following table clinches the last point. It exposes the phenomenon in South Africa where, within the borders of a single country, all the major contradictions of the imperialist system as a whole are visibly concentrated.
Table 312 RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN COLOR AND SUPER-EXPLOITATION (1937-1948) -------------------------------------------------------------------- PERCENTAGE EACH RACE CONSTITUTES OF CLASS OF SKILL "COLOR" ---------------------------------- WAGES % OF GROUP Semi- (British EUROPEAN Skilled Skilled Unskilled Total Pounds) INCOME --------- ------- ------- --------- ----- --------- -------- European 83.8 33.8 1.5 35.4 350. 3s. - Asians 5.6 11.2 4.5 6.0 91. 5s. 26.1 Coloreds 4.8 20.8 13.2 11.6 51. 4s. 14.7 "Natives" 5.8 34.2 80.8 47.0 16. 2s. 4.6 --------------------------------------------------------------------
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The enormous differential between Western super-wages and the pittance grudgingly allowed colonial peoples – with Africa at the bottom of the imperialist economic heap generally – at least suggests that Western wages in our era already contain a larger portion of super-values not created by Western workers but accepted by them as a gift out of colonial super-exploitation than of the "original value" of its own labor-power. That is, the "bribe" portion of Western super-wages may now possibly exceed the value of labor power in the "unbribe" portion.* What other meaning can be attached to the fact that a black South African earns only 4.6% as much as a white one, even admitting that "other factors" besides the statistical gap itself may operate within the relationship between the two figures?
Today, the modern Western labor aristocracy would appear to have reached a point where, subjectively and within the limits of its understanding at least, it has a bigger stake in maintaining colonialism than in overthrowing the system. And this observation has not yet even taken into account the bigger-still difference between Western and colonial modes of life!
Moreover, this differential measures the materiality of racism, a fact of political significance in all events bearing on Africa or on people of descent from Africa.
This differential also proclaims racism as the major form in which black people have experienced, and still experience, super-exploitation.
Furthermore, racism's success in ensuring a limitless stream of super-profits for imperialism depends on the receipt of super-wages by workers "at home". Super-wages – being that part of super-profits shared out to "their own" workers by the ruling moguls – gives those same workers their stake in the Status Quo, successfully thus far keeping subordinate the main contradiction "at home" between rulers and ruled.
The result has been admirably expressed in 1935 by the great Afro-American scholar, Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois:
* See Appendix I.
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"In the South the great planters form proportionately a quite small class, but they have, singularly enough, at their command some five million poor whites ... it would have seemed natural that the poor white would have refused to police the slave. But two considerations led him in the opposite direction. First of all, it gave him work and some authority as overseer, slave-driver and member of the patrol system. But above and beyond this, it fed his vanity because it associated him with the masters. To these Negroes he transferred all the dislike and hatred he had for the whole slave system. The result was the system was held stable and intact by the poor white."3
The clue to the poor white's role, of course, was that at all times his wages were maintained a bit above those of the Negro: he got his "crumbs" from the super-profits wrung out of his black class brothers.
Today, the U.S. economy stretches its tentacles into every corner of the earth in one way or another. Even its own internal quasi-colony benefits to a considerable extent out of super-profits derived from Asian, African and Latin American super-exploitation.
After Lenin's time, with imperialism's inevitable decay – colonialism becoming more and more indispensable to imperialism's existence – that universal racism always present in capitalism as its memorial to the economic fecundity of the black slave trade became more highly developed. Therefore, after the usual ideological time lag, such racism is inescapably visible in the present crisis of moribund imperialism wherever colonial peoples challenge the masters.
And because of its universality wherever the "black-white" factor enters the colonial picture, racism in such places, by its tenacious and widespread hold on minds on both sides of the Color Line, over-rides all other ideological concepts used by the international ruling class except – sometimes – anti-Communism. In alliance with the latter, racism has been a brake against the successful overthrow of colonialism. Specifically it warps the¬
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world anti-imperialist struggle on both sides of socialism's borders and on both sides of the Color Line.
To one degree or another, the imperialist system infects all individuals, even men who espouse Marxism-Leninism, with racism:
In all white people, however many its myriad forms, racism expresses itself as White Supremacy.
In all black people, it is mirrored in countless shapes as a Colonialist Mentality.
The next Chapter examines particular forms that White Supremacy and the Colonialist Mentality assume, analyzing them and their effects.
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T H E B L A C K S T E R E O T Y P E A N D
T H E C O L O N I A L I S T M E N T A L I T Y
Basically, the material precondition for the ideological developments, White Supremacy and The Colonialist Mentality, was the export of capital from metropolitan economies to colonial areas, made possible, basically, by the slave trade. The extraction of super-profits resulted in an enormous differential between wages in both areas, translated into qualitatively different living conditions.
Ideological "justification" that was destined to prepare for these conditions was first attempted during the black slave trade. After the 15th century, the entire world outside Africa (though, in obverse sense, Africa too) in practice swallowed at first slave-trading, then colonialist, lies about black people. These lies permeated ALL the capitalist world; NO territory was exempt.
In Europe, such ideological "justification" first took shape in the sphere of religion: darker peoples were presented as "inferior beings" ordained "by God" as the concern of "superior" whites: "the White Man's Burden".
Religious myths of inferiority associated with skin pigmentation were soon reinforced by "science" and "history" with official backing. The result was a Black stereotype – a pervasive though entirely fanciful concept of what black people are like.
In Europe and the "New World", it became accepted that black people are all happy, docile, ignorant, obedient, and clown-like. They allegedly all hang breathlessly upon the "largesse" of their "betters", grateful for any small favor the latter may deign to bestow. These imaginary creatures all live in dense jungle, surrounded by animals to whom they are so "naturally" close that they can practically converse together. Nor have they any history of their own. Instead, they have merely existed for¬
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aeons, until the "Christian" white man appeared. Thereafter, they "developed" under his "civilizing influence", as ordained by the ruling white god. Naturally, no black person is capable of making decisions, even in matters concerning himself alone. That is why the "mission" of "Christians" has been to "liberate" the black "savage" when the "right time" happens along (which always seems to be only after massive revolt by the "docile blacks" is either under way or obviously imminent).
Around these falsehoods, an infinite variety of corollary hypocrisies sprang up. Together, they formed the indispensable context within which landlords and employers in metropolitan areas were able out of segregation and wage discrimination to coin additional super-profits whose amount they deliberately ranked by degree of skin pigmentation.
The resulting practical separation of peoples differing in skin colors has made it both slow and difficult to destroy the myths that nurture it.
Nor was the metropolitan area alone affected: White Supremacy exacted perhaps its most dreadful toll among subjugated peoples in the form of a "mirror image": the widespread Colonialist Mentality.
The latter's main characteristic among subjugated peoples, especially Africans, is its acceptance in practice over a fairly long historical period of the imperialist-imposed Black Stereotype. When people are thus conditioned to act like a false Stereotype, human dignity is crushed, but in a context wherein such people are torn by terrible, subjective contradictions: hatreds, frustrations, and above all hopelessness and lack of self-faith.
White Supremacy's basic crime in perpetuating the Colonialist Mentality has been the attitude toward work which it developed among subject peoples: Work is always presented as punishment (pupils in mission or government schools are forced to do manual labor for the teacher or head master when they break a school rule – "free" labor for the teacher or head master, of course – but its value here is for¬
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its effect on the punished). NOT to have work is held up as the "ideal" – the purpose for which education should strive (pupils in Africa are taught to aim above all for some petty "white collar" job, preferably "in government", the object being to have "lesser" members of one's own community subject to one's "authority").
At the same time, the colonial subject is encouraged to expect "something from nothing" (though, naturally, whatever his situation, he never achieves that).Nevertheless, the search for this "something for nothing" leads to a deep-rooted tendency to believe in promises and to wait for them to materialize before taking action. Such expectations, needless to state, are also encouraged among metropolitan workers – but in a different context, both politically and economically, as we shall see at once.
For in colonies, in practice, wherever such attitudes are inculcated, the vast overwhelming majority are forced to perform the most tasteless, monotonous, menial and back-grinding labor for a pittance, the very condition "theoretically" pictured for them as one to be avoided at all costs. Thus, a conflict, insoluble under capitalism, arises at the very source of value, operating to the detriment of colonial peoples.
Few colonial subjects can attain the demoralizing "working ideal" because it exists only among ruling classes. So, the conditions which colonialism has foisted on such peoples are ironically used to "prove" their "inferiority"! Thus, the poisonous blossoms of original rationalization for the black slave trade encumber the current ideological atmosphere with the crippling concepts of a bygone era.
The postulation of "inferiority" among subject peoples implies that the "superior" motherland's prosperity is due to the "efficiency, superiority and knowledge" of its people, machines and Way of Life.
The fact, however, is that – launched from the springboard of the black slave trade – the "technological mastery" boasted of by "Western civilization" which characterizes the epoch of imperialism has been occasioned NOT by its undeniable "efficiency" of which it is Social Democracy's role to brag, but by its unparalleled parasitism expressed in colonies, where¬
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"super-wealth" comes from an inexhaustible source of cheap human labor-power.
For example, the WASTE in the West's allegedly efficient economy, which has ben dealt with by innumerable Marxist economists, is so tremendous and glaring that one of imperialism's "popular" mouthpieces devoted a major article to it,1 citing failures in education, the energies wasted in a vast bureaucracy, and useless luxury spending. Still, much of the waste attributed to the U.S. economy – this source claimed – was "really" being plowed back and used in one way or another. But naturally, there was NO mention of idle capacity, decreases in "labor force participation" (i.e., "retirement from the labor market" by millions of jobless), unemployment, and the real, far more basic waste implied in the irrationality of the system.
Far from being able to eulogize "resourcefulness", as such mouthings would have the public believe, such waste testifies to built-in inefficiency, irrationality and parasitism, even according to practical testimony taken "from United Nations sources"2:
1. In the first six months of 1963, the entire African continent experienced a trade deficit of 70 million dollars. From 1953 to 1963, this def
e[i]cit averaged one billion dollars a year.
2. Yet, in the first six months of 1964, the continent of Africa, excluding South Africa, had a favorable trade balance of 42 million dollars. Total exports has been $3.671 billion; total imports, $3,529 billion, not including gold, diamonds and other mineral exports of South Africa. Could that country have been counted among the "free nations" of Africa, the increase in favorable trade balance would have been "staggering".
3. In 1965, Britain, to defend her pound sterling against devaluation, borrowed something like $532 million from the World Bank and a consortium of private bankers. In addition, she had a trade deficit of some £800 million. Nobody called this help from foreign sources to a Western power "aid to Britain". Commented the writer:
"Aid is a new expression coined deliberately by the Western countries in an effort to perpetuate the economic and political inferiority of the developing world.
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"It is far more important for the industrialized countries to give the so-called 'aid' than for the developing countries to receive it."2
Colonial areas can live without manufactured goods from metropolitan areas, the article continues, whereas the latter cannot survive without colonial raw materials. What is more, if the "developed" economies were not able to invest in the "developing" world, they could no longer secure against loss the finances of their "commercial" and savings banks, insurance companies, building societies, trust companies and fiduciary funds"2. The colonial areas can also live without this form of financial "security".
4. If all of Southern Africa were liberated and its resources added to those of the rest of the continent and were used jointly in a socialist way, Africa
"would not only have the sum required for the development of Africa but would be lending the West money.
"In gold alone, the West receive over a thousand million pounds per annum from South Africa only. This does not stay in African banks but goes into Western banks to become part of the economy of the West.
"They therefore are lending us our own money and they call that foreign aid."2
The ruling class has marshalled all its forces to ensure continuation of a situation so favorable to itself:
The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), representing the labor aristocracy in metropolitan areas, has in Africa deliberately nurtured the Colonialist Mentality: for those African unionists who "do as told", there have been cars, mimeograph machines, lush offices, typewriters, salaries high by colonial standards, and above all, "recognition": honors, titles, and the permission to hobnob with "superior" white Western officials.3
The French tactic of giving independence to thirteen of her African colonies in 1960 may have been at least partially in response to freedom struggles among those peoples. But it also had the real, observable, effect of "pulling the teeth" of such struggle;¬
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of handing the countries so treated over to neo-colonialism (political independence tied to the metropolis by the same if not worse economic strings as before).
Until recently, the international ruling class was able to keep its own racist under-belly from public gaze except in places like the U.S. South or South Africa. But as issues sharpened in places like Watts in Los Ang[e]les, U.S.A., in South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, etc., the effectiveness of the ICFTU and other Social Democratic agencies, fell off sharply – up to mid-1965, when a series of military coups in colonial areas began. In a word, imperialism directs its policy into whatever channel seems most likely to ensure that it retains Africa, the world's richest potential source of super-profits for the moribund West.
It is clear, then, that the imperialists not only created the Black Stereotype among white people everywhere, but also inculcated the same White Supremacy "principles" in reverse as a "mirror image" into peoples subjugated under their control. BOTH, to a single purpose: "enternal" super-exploitation of colonies.
Despite anything imperialism can do, however, material conditions in colonies makes clashes and conflicts inevitable and irrepressible. The imperialist tactic has been as successful as it has only due "at home" to that stream of super-profits which for so long has enabled the metropolitan ruling classes to wax fat virtually without challenge, simply by giving their "own" working class a substantial share in colonial loot.
Such super-wages and a "mode of life" completely out of reach for, though sought after by, colonial peoples, have acted as a material screen, hiding from the vast majority of those affected by knowledge of it on both sides of the Color Line, the fact that beneath these super-wages are working people, themselves exploited, while imperialist parasitism is the real source of Western well-being.
As the next Chapter will show, failure to discern the "real source" DID NOT AFFECT ONLY POLITICAL ILLITERATES in the West.
[— 293 —]
W E S T E R N M A R X I S T U N D E R E S T I M A T I O N
O R R E P U D I A T I O N O F C O L O R ' S R O L E
Western Marxists, by sharing in colonially-derived prosperity, were absorbed into the labor aristocracy. Gradually, their judgement became indistinguishable from Social Democracy's. On issues related to colonialism, they unwittingly contributed to its "justification" in many of their theoretical postulates.* In addition, they accepted in many implied ways, without fully comprehending, the "world outlook" toward Africa and Africans which has "rubbed off" on all past and present inhabitants of once-global imperialism; an acceptance which shows itself in regard to the "Color Question" as well.
It is instructive in this regard to read some remarks by a president of the East African Students Union in the Americas:
"The imported oligarchy who came (to Africa) as settlers and trading adventurers based their exploitation partly on their imported capital but mainly on the ideology of racial superiority – ideology because it is a belief and not a fact.
"It is indeed true as Jack Woddis states in the opening sentence of his book, 'Africa – The Roots of Revolt', that 'The history of African contact with the West has been a history of robbery – robbery of African manpower, materials and agricultural resources and land'. This epitomization may sound pontifical among well-known international militants, BUT THE AFRICAN STAGE HAS STILL ANOTHER SCREEN – that of color. For a race that has seen slavery, contempt, discrimination, lynching and colonial subjections, all these within living memory, the constant harping on capitalist exploitation is not moving enough."1
* e.g., Chapter VIII, above.
— 294 —
The typical European Marxist responds to this approach variously. He may equate any mention of the "Color Question" with "overemphasis" on it. He may try to assure the black speaker that his experience is "the same" as that of his "white brothers":
"It is true that the great majority of black people of the world are oppressed by imperialism – but so are the great majority of white people."2
He will undoubtedly berate the black person for his "racialism":
"The notion that 'white racialism' is reactionary while 'black racialism' is progressive and even revolutionary is a complete illusion. All forms of racialism are equally reactionary in that they help the imperialists to 'divide and rule'."2
Then there is always that patronizing appeal to the black man "not to be emotional", good heavens!
"There have indeed been some highly emotional speeches at this Congress, and emotion can play a useful and valuable role in revolutionary struggle. We need to hate our enemies and cherish our friends. But it is necessary first to analyze coolly who are our friends and who are our enemies. Without this, one may be so blinded by anger that one strikes out at one's friends and allies and helps one's enemies."2
Finally, anyone who even dares call attention to color as a pervasive FACT of African life can be – and usually is – accused of "attempting to cover up the basic facts of exploitation".
To those who try to point out the damage done to liberation by racism, one stock "Marxist" answer up to now is that "racism is irrelevant" to the anti-imperialist struggle because the troubles of colonial peoples are not caused by white people as such, but by imperialists (who just happen to be mostly white).
Anyone who hints that imperialism itself has made racism relevant to any discussion of, say, anti-imperialist unity, is then charged with advocating racism, of "turning the struggle aside from anti-imperialism", an accusation "justified" by the truism that "only the demise of imperialism can correct¬
— 295 —
racism". It is useless thereafter to note that imperialism's demise in Eastern Europe did NOT automatically lead to the demise of racism; or that imperialism's very demise itself is being unnecessarily postponed by the same racism which that demise "alone" can supposedly destroy.
Moreover, such a reaction is not even theoretically justifiable. In his famous August 8, 1963, statement of support for the Afro-American Freedom Struggle, Chairman Mao Tse-tung of the Communist Party of China remarked that "in the last analysis, all national struggles are a matter of class struggle".
Facts and figures set forth in these pages prove the truth of this remark beyond question. For, today's nationalists globally, by and large, are the colonial peoples still fighting for real freedom despite some kind of political independence in some places for two decades or more.
But if national struggles "are a matter of class struggle"; if the struggles of black people are among national struggles; and if "the color factor" enters into the nationalist struggles of black people (to a degree determined by imperialism over centuries of lies and distortions about black people), then how can discussion of the Color Problem be "irrelevant" to discussion of national problems among "Colored" people – whose freedom struggles today form the heart of anti-imperialism?
Rather, if national struggles really are, in the final analysis, "a matter of" class struggle; if racial struggles are a majority special case of national struggles; then the racial point of view is NOT ipso facto either "irrelevant" or even condemnable; and it could even be correct to substitute a racial view-point for the class viewpoint temporarily when the latter obscures super-exploitation (e.g., as above, by equating "exploitation" and super-exploitation) – with the understanding that racial struggles are or lead to class struggle under correct leadership.
Those who announce "over-emphasis" on Color the moment it is mentioned merely expose their own need to listen and participate in such discussion – the sooner, the better. Anyone thus sententiously ducking behind "capitalist exploitation" to avoid discussion of the "Color Question" is revealed as one who objectively¬
— 296 —
reinforces the present role and status of the Color Problem itself by refusing to let it be aired.
For, no matter how much it may hurt those who objectively want the Status Q
ou[uo] to continue, the COLOR LINE CUTS DEEPER THAN CLASS LINES: it is founded on SUPER-profits, which Lenin specifically noted are "obtained OVER AND ABOVE the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers in their 'own' country". And super-profits, we know, are the fruit of parasitism, without which a qualitative upsurge in the class struggle "at home" could no longer be postponed, thus signaling the final doom of the ruling class.
Here is the meaning behind the above-quoted statement by an East African!
There are reasons why, after centuries of imperialism, very few Marxists, especially in the "white world", have as yet seen the need to take, let alone really taking, the specific time and effort for the difficult, delicate but exigent political surgery which alone, either before or after the world revolution itself, can reveal and excise racial prejudices which so successfully all over the West – and elsewhere – today reinforce colonialism.
This has not happened: not because such Marxists are "nasty", but because history has only very recently made such an exercise materially necessary:
1. Only during the past ten years has it finally become possible for such Marxists to meet individually actual black African people in any significant numbers, though while it lasted such contact was usually neither frequent nor, certainly, intimate. Imperialist policy did all it could to prevent actual meeting between real socialists – or (perish forbid) communists – and Africans. So, it was only after 1957 that such meetings could even begin. Significantly, one effect of the recent and continuing military coups in Africa has been again to cut back such contacts with the clear aim of ending it altogether if possible. Only the Russians remain inside most of West Africa, with a few Poles, Czechs or Bulgarians. Most citizens of formerly-colonial-countries-gone-socialist (Korea, China or Vietnam);¬
— 297 —
Cuba; or Albania) have been driven away from Africa. The ruling class, at least, is class conscious and precisely aware of what it is about.
2. The brand of Marxism-Leninism which arose after centuries of colony-fed colonialism, in Europe first and in the West in general, could not but be interlarded with aberrations, of which the main one today is revisionism, a new expression inside the socialist world of Social Democracy in our era.*
3. When contact did begin between socialism and Africa – in Europe, where African students finally travelled in significant numbers for education; or, in places in Africa, where Europeans from socialist countries serve as experts – it was assumed on both sides of the Color Line that, because good-will was present, because socialism and socialists theoretically and avowedly oppose racism, therefore the phenomenon itself somehow would or should automatically absent itself from such encounters. Only severe shocks, like those "student incidents" involving Africans in a number of Eastern European socialist countries, disclosed the depth and pervasiveness of the general, imperialist-spawned Black Stereotype and its continued existence under socialism in countries that once were also Western metropoles.**
Actually, only mass contact could make White Supremacy's existence evidence and reveal its basis in the Black Stereotype, which deliberately caricatures real black human beings. Finally, "incidents" were needed to prove that this Stereotype is the ideological reason why racism does not automatically evaporate on coming into the presence of Socialism.
To illustrate just how deeply the Black Stereotype has become ingrained in even the most advanced socialist lands, let us consider an example:
At a mass rally in Peking on August 8, 1966, celebrating the third anniversary of Chairman Mao's statement of support for the U.S. Negro Freedom Movement, Robert F. Williams, fugitive¬
* Revisionism itself as related to Social Democracy is to be treated in a separate study.
** See next Chapter.
— 298 —
from the infamous "incident" at Monroe, North Carolina, a decade or so ago, recorded certain facts known to black freedom fighters:
"We have some white Americans with us in our struggle ... (but) some so-called socialists, whom we thought to be our comrades and class brothers, have joined the international Ku Klux Klan fraternity for white supremacy and world domination. To our consternation, we have discovered that the bourgeois-oriented power structure of some socialist states, even one with a black and white population, would prefer to preserve a white reactionary anti-communist power structure in racist America."3
What was the response to this condemnation of the role being played by "white Marxists" toward black workers actually living in their proximity? Unfortunately – a traditional one: the black man is implied admonished for this "sin" in mentioning unpleasant facts.
Sidney Rittenberg, a Southern white American living in China, and then in charge of Radio Peking English broadcasts, said:
"Class conscious American working people know that America's future belongs to them, to people's power, black people's power, and white people's power, against racism, exploitation, oppression, and aggressive war."3
So, by implication, Rob Williams, a black leader, is NOT "class conscious". Rittenberg, incidentally, is currently in the lock-up in China, but nobody has as yet repudiated this sententious and patronizing lie of his.
Kuo Mo Jo, high in Communist Party circles in China's active cultural front, repeated from Chairman Mao's 1963 statement supporting Afro-American struggle of three years before, the main point which Chairman Mao omitted from his 1968 statement, with good reason:
"... in the United States it is only the reactionary ruling circles who oppress the Negro people. They in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other englightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people."3
— 299 —
So Rob Williams, the black leader, impliedly does NOT know his friends from his foes, while Kuo Mo Jo of China feels competent – without the meticulous investigation which always preceded Chairman Mao's pronunciamentos on China – to tell him who they are.
In each of these replies to a black worker, there is also an implied rebuke, based on a false estimate of a situation which he had correctly characterized for their attention. Of course, the sentiments expressed by these non-black communists in Peking are "splendid" – even if they do merely repeat without documentation the attitude of the 30s among leading members of the U.S. Communist Party, which itself by its attitudes and policies drove thousands of Negroes OUT of the Party over some decades.
Of course racists do not represent the working class and progressives, and more than Social Democrats, spokesmen for the labor aristocracy, do. The point is hardly at issue; moreover, as used, it amounts to a lie, because it ADDS itself to a statement about "the working class and progressive" in the U.S. which, however desirable, is just NOT SO.
And hundreds of thousands of Negroes at one time or another involved in the countless recorded and unrecorded race riots in big and little U.S. industrial centers and rural backwoods, like Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, or anywhere in the benighted South, KNOW; and the families and friends of unnumbered Negroes who have died in unspeakable agony in lynchings and beatings, or suffered in their millions the ignominy of racial harrassment and segregation, KNOW that it is NOT "only the reactionary ruling circles" who "oppress" them. They KNOW that basic white workers in those cities, and poor white farmers and workers in the rural South perform the bestialities against them. This approach in Peking is on the same level as the one that sees a colonial army as a "people's army" because the imperialists have no other choice than to people it with "workers". There is a real difference between a condition and a potential.
Afro-Americans understand these things. In a best-selling novel, John Killens, Afro-American author, presented a detailed picture¬
— 300 —
of life among his people in the South. The Youngbloods are a family who represent the militants among Southern Negroes. A visit is paid to this family by an Afro-American teacher from New York who goes to Crossroads, Georgia, to the school for black children. The following conversation takes place:
"The young school teacher shook his head ... He felt like anything but a know-it-all...
'We're not exactly alone in this', he said.
"He cleared his throat.
'We have friends all over this country – colored and white.'
"...Thinking out loud...
'Where the white friends at?' Joe Youngblood asked.
'In the labor unions – the – the white workers – and some of the more educated liberal-minded white people.'
"He read the doubt in both their faces. Laurie smiled at the teacher, a thin bitter smile.
'I sure do hope it's true', she said. 'But I sure don't know where our good white friends hiding. Lord Have Mercy.'
"Joe Youngblood said,"
'I sure want to seem them crackers that's my nackerl-born friends. They must be kinda shame-facey ... Maybe it's different in New York City, but down here in Georgia the poor white peck is the black man's worstest enemy. Labor Unions – These people down there won't let you get one foot in the door. White workers. Hmph. Anybody'll tell you. It ain't the rich man that lynches the colored down here. It's the poor crackers. If they my friend, they sure got a real funny way of showing it. I sure do wish they would come out of the bushes and make themself known. I be looking for the high sign sure as you born."4
That "poor white crackers" and "workers in labor unions" are carrying out the policy of "the reactionary ruling circles" is a truism. Does that fact absolve them of their political, bribe-based responsibility for participation? Were the German masses implicated in Nazi bestialities? Does it lessen the blood debt¬
— 301 —
to the Afro-American people which "poor white crackers" have been piling up by their deeds over centuries? Don't these same deeds form the inseparable background for the gassings and napalmings carried out by "ordinary American workers" who, as GI's, murder their Vietnamese class brothers?
Rob Williams spoke in biting words of those who, without studying, investigating, documenting, experiencing or understanding the REAL situation, glibly admonish and advise those who already know:
"... there is a mighty tendency, promoted by the sinister American devil himself, to engender more sympathy and fraternalism for the so-called 'good reasonable American' than for the wretched victims of vicious and brutal U.S. imperialism...
"What is the motive of those who plead for the exemption of liberal Americans whose feigned liberalism merely serves as a cloak and shield around the naked power of savage and racist U.S. imperialism?...
"The myth of the good reasonable American who is yet to be heard is a ruse perpetrated by the psychological arm of the imperialist forces of tyranny...
"A good man who is silent and inactive in times of great injustice and oppression is no good man at all. He is no ally to freedom and justice, but is a silent partner to tyranny and oppression ... Those who are without principle and conviction to declare themselves for the righteous cause of the oppressed must be prepared to suffer the consequences of the gathering storm of violent and turbulent ... retribution."5
Moreover, Williams' feelings have been vindicated in international law – in the particular case of Vietnam:
"The first that should answer for these inexpiable war crimes are the American leaders who are liable for their policy of intervention and aggression in Vietnam and their barbarous orders to 'escalate' the war.
"Then come the executants – American or non-American – who have been acting on their orders and owe the Vietnam people a blood debt.
— 302 —
"The Statute of Nuremberg Court is unequivocal about this matter. According to its Article 8, the fact that the accused has acted in accordance with the orders of his government or his hierarchical superior does not clear him of his responsibility.
"... according to criminal law in most countries, the real criterion of penal liability has nothing to do with orders. It lies in moral liberty, in the faculty of choosing of the accused."6
Ideals of real brotherhood and anti-racialism are really held in the U.S. today only among the vanguard of the black Freedom Movement; a minority of militant students more and more supporting the Movement as they become more deeply involved in preventing themselves from becoming additional victims of criminal U.S. aggression; and a national assortment of honorable individuals, largely professionals. Certainly, this number must grow if the Vietnam situation and its contradictions deepen. Nonetheless, at the moment, and despite the fact that it represents the future, it still constitutes a small minority of Americans.
Expressing such facts usually evokes charges of "slandering the American people", charges too convenient as excuse for not examining the facts.
Facing facts now could help shorten the time needed for the progress that must come eventually, and thus help to decrease growing colonial casualties. Here we have a serious "contradic[t]ion among the people". Will closing one's eyes to it ensure that it is solved – or even tackled?
The illustration chosen was deliberate: in Peking, the world's most advanced Marxists now operate. If this is where the best is found, what of the worst? This example is also intended to illustrate that when a black worker states from his own experience facts which are unpleasant, even the most advanced, but non-black, Marxist ears still cannot hear him too well.
This is the result of the imperialist-spawned Black Stereotype. It affects not only white people in the Western world, but even socialist relations with Africa and Africans. The mass persistance of old racist myths in socialist locales drags practical¬
— 303 —
consequences in its wake which materially affect the course of revolution – at the very least, on the African continent.
Therefore, the next Chapter will delve concrete into the remnants of racism in once-socialist countries – mainly Eastern Europe, where it is most pronounced.
[— 304 —]
T H E B L A C K S T E R E O T Y P E A N D
" S T U D E N T I N C I D E N T S " I N E A S T E R N E U R O P E
Probably the most flamboyant examples of racism left over in Eastern Europe was embodied in a series of incidents in which African students in such countries allegedly "rioted", while violence erupted between Black Africans and white socialists.
Of course, anti-Communist stories in the Western press inevitably exaggerated such happenings. Nonetheless, they were only piling their lies over a core of truth. So, it is of primary significance that socialist countries, and their satellite apologists, chose to pretend that such things did not occur. When the facts could no longer be denied, they switched to the canard that none of it was their responsibility. A Czech with whom I was corresponding, and a Rumanian with whom I talked at length in Ghana, both told me in all seriousness that these "student incidents" were traceable solely to "CIA agents". But neither charges of CIA involvement nor exaggeration in the Western press explains why said CIA agents enjoy such success with their antics, or why "incidents" of such scope happen at all in "socialist" lands.
Africans see two implications:
1. The "CIA agent" argument suggests that "Africans are fools", easily manipulated by anyone, regardless of their own interests.
2. The insistence that such "incidents" are exaggerated calls into question whether Africans can have real grievances against a "socialist" country.
But thousands of black Africans witnessed the truth; and many of them, bearing physical evidence of serious mistreatment in "socialist" lands, returned home, where news travels fast even without newspaper coverage. (If Eastern Europe was even then revisionist, it must be remembered that, at the time of the "incidents", everything was not as clear as today, and all the evils were done in the name of socialism. Most Africans were not in a political condition, historically, to make the nice distinction.)
— 305 —
Since these occurrences offer clear-cut examples of left-over racism in action in the socialist world, let us examine as typical those in Bulgaria in mid-1962.
In Ghana, at that time under Nkrumah, the first Bulgarian "incident" received no press coverage whatsoever. During or directly after it, however, four Ghanaians who had been studying in Sofia returned home with bandaged heads. Within 24 hours, news of this event was known in the most remote corners of the country. That, in fact, was how I myself heard of it.
Six months later, early in February 1963, a more serious occurrence did receive news treatment in Ghana. This time, the trouble had been too widespread, had involved students from too many African countries, to be hushed up, even in Ghana. The Ghanian press, accordingly, discussed the matter: from February 14 through 18. Thereafter, official silence again fell.
The Bulgarian government issued at least two statements: one was to the United Nations and omitted any mention of Africans with bandaged or swollen heads. It claimed or implied that the whole affair was "CIA-incited" and NOT of serious proportions. The other was offered in Ghana by Peter Ivanov, Second Secretary of the Bulgarian Embassy at Accra. He said that it was
"slanderous to accuse the Bulgarian people of racial prejudice."
This remark, unfortunate in the face of the large number of Ghanaians who saw their countrymen's bandages and bruises, was printed only in the pro-West DAILY GRAPHIC, then just recently purchased by the Ghana government from the Cecil King newspaper empire of London.
Brief though they were, however, discussions in the Ghanaian press contradicted even the facts officially presented by Bulgaria. Yet, the Ghana government was at the time avowedly pro-socialist – and pro-European socialist, at that. It had permitted discussion during those few days solely to allay the flying rumors.
Where the Bulgarian version mentioned "a demonstration", Accra papers were quite specific that there had been a series. "Slanderous" though it might be to accuse Bulgaria's people of racial prejudice, the Ghanaian TIMES spoke openly and bitterly of¬
— 306 —
"the brutal suppression of African students during a non-violent demonstration in Sofia, Bulgarian capital, against a ban by the Bulgarian government on a recently-formed All-African Students Union in the Republic."1
At least one African view of these incidents was offered by the Accra EVENING NEWS, official organ of the then-ruling Convention People's Party:
"While the pros and cons of the imbroglio are being sorted out, we wish to condemn in no uncertain terms this flagrant repudiation of socialist principles and unabashed disrespect by so-called socialists for the color of the African which, we are sure, is the underlying psychological factor creating a complex in the minds of those primitive partisans who provoked the demonstrations ... By indulging in the unedifying orgy of bacchanalian revelry, the Bulgarian Republic has brought disgrace on the whole socialist world."2
The most thorough analysis of the Bulgarian "imbroglio" was printed during the last day of press discussion. It was contained in a commentary by H.M. Basner,* and its most significant portion dealt with a question very agitating to African's minds: WHY did the Bulgarian government, supposedly socialist, ban the All-African Students' Union? WHY did the students need to form such a body? Said the TIMES writer:
"If African leaders make the question of African unity the main political motivation, how shall African students from different parts of Africa refrain from putting that unity into practice when they are gathered for a long time in a foreign country? If the constitution of the Bulgarian people forbids that, the Government of Bulgaria has no business to invite African students."3
The typical "answer" of Western Marxists who still insist that "socialists in power" (in European countries, at any rate) can do no (specific) wrong is usually expressed in words like the following:
* The white socialist lawyer from South Africa quoted on a different subject on Pages 290-291, above.
— 307 —
"Of course, there have been mistakes. Nobody should be surprised at this. But the peoples of socialist countries will learn from such mistakes. In time, they will come to act differently in some of these cases. Meanwhile it is urgent that such incidents do not get exaggerated as they often are in the capitalist press."4
In short: a general lip-service to the "inevitability of mistakes", but a real refusal to consider any specific one.
When I challenged a European Marxist about the last student incident in Sofia, he countered by citing a telegram from a delegation of African students sent from England to Bulgaria to investigate. This telegram declared that the investigators had found "no trace repeat no trace" of prejudice in Bulgaria. (In how many days there?)
At the same time, official socialist policy toward African students themselves was in itself (objectively; not necessarily intentionally) provocative. This policy was at least partially responsible if the Black Stereotype was able to rear its ugly head among so many ordinary citizens in a "socialist" land.
Almost every citizen from such countries to whom I spoke on this topic commented that African students were given allowances by the socialist governments noticeably larger than those for students of the country itself – who might be class-mates of said Africans.
Per se, there may be nothing wrong with this. It was a policy based on the theory that, since Africa had been brutally exploited, special allowances must be made for her subjects when far from home. As a matter of fact, special allowances are generally granted ANY foreign student away from home, and not just in socialist countries. Thus, they were actually given to, say, Zambians in Ghana. Yet even these were resented by Ghanaian students because of failure by the government or Party to explain carefully the reasons. The similar socialist policy took too little account of this – and of another reality applicable particularly to Africans: (a) that special allowances for Africans were given in a context where the "color factor" already¬
— 308 —
had conditioned Europeans unconsciously to "expect" Africans to live at a lower scale than themselves; thus, to ordinary resentment was added the COLOR variety; and (b) that most African students – at least, this was so in Ghana – sent to study overseas (whether in socialist or capitalist countries) came from those few colonial families which had benefited from colonialism: those who had been absorbed by the colonial administration to become part of a new elite; civil servants; and professionals (whose arrogance at home played a large part in discrediting the Nkrumah regime which made such broad use of them). Often, these students had, in addition to their allot
tments from socialist governments, allowances from their well-to-do families at home. As a result – and many a socialist citizen griped to me specifically about this – a number of such African students had cars and money to impress – and attract – the local girls; many Africans were living ostentatiously above standards possible to socialist students. When such things were done within a context of surviving barbarous prejudices – embodied in the Black Stereotype pervading all white people's minds – the outcome was virtually inevitable.
Yet, the incidents themselves were not nearly as deplorable as their aftermath: Because the West's monopoly press immediately reported, magnified, and "made hay" of these "incidents", it became fashionable among European and Western Marxists to deny all. In this way, a golden opportunity to advance the cause of socialism among brutally colonized black people in Africa went down the historical drain.
Since when did Marxists cease necessary and sharp self-criticism because ("naturally") the bourgeois press picks it up and sneers at it? At a crucial point in history, with Africa by no means settled on a socialist path, such a position, rather than open self-criticism (where so sorely needed), played into the hands of imperialism and neo-colonialism. Moreover, as we shall see, it furthered already-serious anti-Communism on the African continent.
[— 309 —]
T H E B L A C K S T E R E O T Y P E A N D
E A S T E R N E U R O P E A N S O C I A L I S M I N A F R I C A
Such, then, is the background of the "student incidents" in Eastern Europe. Their significance went far beyond anything that appeared in the few days of press discussion permitted. For, they were not only one of innumerable instances I myself witnessed of unconscious racism by Eastern European
s resident[s] in Ghana.
These, of course, were not vicious, deliberate incitements based on conscious race hatred. They were the results of never before having had personal contact with real Africans, combined in modern socialist – and non-socialist – Europe with the persistent Black Stereotype among people living there.
Just one of many examples: a Russian, in my presence, jokingly told his illiterate steward when the latter had brewed bad coffee, "Oh, Issaku, I will kill you for this". What impinged on the steward? Very familiar threats issuing from someone in a white skin ... in a situation where the African had no frame of reference for detecting the difference in intention: in this typical instance, he knows only what the words have always meant; in 65 out of 100 cases, he cannot read, so he knows nothing of socialist policy, or "aid without strings" or any of the political differences between imperialism and socialism. He has only the evidence of his senses and his intimate knowledge of the history of his people.
With this sort of personal relationship as background, more knowledgeable Ghanaians had their faith in socialism severely shaken by some of the following errors made by socialist countries:
At the big printing press in Tema put up by technicians from the German Democratic Republic, the statement was made by pro-socialist Ghanaians (not as a charge, but as a sorrowful and exasperated commentary at finding their own friends "pulling the rug from under" them) that the only machines in the plant¬
— 310 —
which worked correctly on installation came from West Germany and Britain. Equipment supplied by the GDR allegedly was never complete or would not work right. (In Hungary, in mid-1966, a citizen told my son when he brought this up during a visit there, that none of the European socialist countries were as yet producing quality goods.)
At Kumasi, it took five years to get the show factory which Ghana had bought from Czechoslovakia into operation. While this in itself cannot be laid at the Czechs' door, it was stated to me that the Czechs had "pushed too hard" in that – although they had been told that the ground had not yet even been broken for the building that was to protect the machinery from the weather – once they knew the money was available, they sent the machinery to Ghana almost immediately. As a result, the machinery sat out in the weather on the Tema docks for two solid years and took weeks to recondition before it could be used. Furthermore, one knowledgeable Ghanaian claimed that the Czechs made no effort to canvas the Ghanaian market before deciding on shoe styles. He said that they simply transplanted their own type of shoes onto a market previously conditioned to Italian styling. Considering that they were to sell these shoes at the same price as Italian shoes, this man (it was June 1967 at the time) predicted that Ghanaians wouldn't buy them. Perhaps this is a small thing. But it illustrates a mechanical approach based on failure to se any need to take African problems into account.
But most of the gripes I heard centered on the Russians. Having paid for up-to-date equipment, I was told the Ghanaians got mainly 20-year-old material obsolete on arrival even in European socialist countries. This included army equipment, which was an especially sore point. Enormous Russian lorries could sometimes be seen en route to the North, lumbering along a few miles an hour; when I commented on them and wondered why they weren't more used because their size would obviously save trips, the bitter comment was that they got all of six miles to a gallon on petrol – in a country where that fuel sold for close to a dollar per gallon.
Moreover, while Americans, English, Swiss, Italians, West Germans and other Westerners mingled freely and in apparent¬
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camaraderie with Ghanaians, the
personel[personal] exclusiveness of the Russians was the talk not only of Ghana from one end to the other, but even of socialists from other European countries like Rumania, some of whom privately told me that such "clannishness" was hurting the cause of socialism – and, indeed it was. In Tamale, where they were building what was to have been the largest air field in Africa, the Russians lived by themselves, went to work in closed vans, returned the same way, and almost never mingled socially with Ghanaians.
Instance after instance of a similar nature I either saw with my own eyes or had cited to me ruefully by Ghanaians who were trying, in Nkrumah's regime, to work toward socialism under heavy if then tacit, opposition from the rising new élite among themselves.
Is it any wonder, then, that the conclusion drawn by such Ghanaians was that European socialists, being white, felt that second-hand merchandise was "good enough for black people". Even if the change itself were not true, it must be understood that such would be the reaction of honest Ghanaians.
Another side-light on socialist relations with Africa: the big expatriate distributive firms, like Kingsway (United Africa Company, Lever Brothers) and UTC (Union Trading Company, a Swiss firm) utilized the entry of socialist goods into Ghana to buy large quantities of it at low prices. After the first month or so, during which lucky purchasers bought such things at the usual percentage markup and thus considerably below that of Western goods, the prices on them were raised to Western levels. Thus, the big capitalist monopolies found a way to make super-profits out of socialist goods! After the coup, these same stores put prices on socialist goods back to their original levels in "sales" to clean them off their shelves for good. So much for "peaceful economic competition" in Africa!
The overall approach to Africans implied in these typical cases is also reflected in Marxist discussion of African problems. Although the number of such discussions began growing about 1964, only just recently has the Color Question been mentioned – and then, only indirectly and by Africans.
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For example, the WORLD MARXIST REVIEW (known in Africa as PROBLEMS OF PEACE, FREEDOM AND SOCIALISM) ran a series reporting an extended conference under its auspices in early 1962 on "Paths of Development for Newly Emergent Countries". In it, not unexpectedly, Africa came in for some mention. Yet, the composition of participants failed to reflect the crucial nature of Africa's struggle in relation to the future of world socialism: out of a total 31 participants listed, only three were Africans – one from South Africa and two from the North. Their talks, moreover, dealt primarily with specific national questions; the continent was "represented" by a Frenchman and an Englishman!
Around the end of 1964 or beginning of 1965, short, purely reportorial items began appearing in this publication from certain "Black" African countries like Nigeria and Cameroon.
The AFRICAN COMMUNIST, official organ of the illegal South African Communist Party, printed two articles dealing with color in several years' copies spot-checked (1962 to 1967 inclusive); in Third Quarter 1966, "Bending the Color Bar", by Z. Nkosi (attitudes of white unions toward black labor in South Africa); and Second Quarter 1967, "Trade Union Apartheid", by R.E. Braverman (divisions in South African trade unions over the attitude toward black labor). Neither of these articles discussed the Color Problem as such; rather they recorded the fact that the existence of deep racial prejudice among white workers (industrial, at that), causes in the South African labor movement divisions among the white workers themselves, and more concentrated exploitation of black workers.
Other ideological symptoms testify to persistent chauvinism in World Marxist ranks. For instance, the colonialists (where politically ousted) left behind – especially South of Sahara – few reliable statistics. In Ghana, for instance, the first industrial census was made during the Nkrumah regime to determine the size of basic industry, the working class, etc. It required two years merely for gathering data. When, a few months before the coup, the contract of the Rumanian assigned by the UN to direct this census ended, he naturally had to leave. With the coup, apparently the census will be forgotten. It will be dubbed one of Nkrumah's "prestige¬
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projects". So far as this writer has been able to ascertain, to this day the census has never actually been completed, let alone analysed. Undoubtedly, similar surveys must have been undertaken in other African countries. Most of these were Western-directed, which would result in figures far less capable of use for Marxist analysis. One of these carried out in Nigeria, for instance, was an internationally-notorious flop, resulting in what was claimed to be prodigious over statement of population – 58 million claimed; 40 million actual: a 45% error!
Yet, it is on such surveys that many airy conclusions have been made by "Marxist experts" on Africa. The fact is that, until completion of reliable, "people-directed" surveys on many economic aspects of "emerging" countries, any analysis of – say – Africa's "class composition" or the actual "orientation" of economic development in various countries can at best be "educated guesses", based on UN statistics – or wishes.
For example, any attempt to obtain meaningful vital statistics for South Africa out of the 1962 U.N. Statistical Yearbook – latest available when the writer consulted the Kumasi Public Library in 1966 – was frustrated by the fact that for most categories – life expectancy, etc. – figures were given for whites, colored, Asians and Africans all lumped together, so that the inordinately high levels for South African whites (conveniently) conceals the reality of the vast majority.*
Nonetheless, the lack of statistical data done from below has not thus far hindered European Marxists and socialists from continuing to make definite analyses of Marxist categories like classes and economic orientation. Such people, who include the numerous Russian Africanists and well-known Left authorities like Jack Woddis, Idris Cox, etc., may well make contributions to the solution of African problems. But when they "act the oracle" at all times, make hard and fast statements for African consumption and implementation (too often on the basis of mechanical application to available "African" statistics of conclusions from European conditions), they do not serve the cause of socialism in Africa.
* See Chapter XVII, Pages 135 ff., above.
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Scientists must contribute to each other's work without regard to geography. What is being objected to here is that the world-be contributions under discussion fall short of being scientific because certain real material factors on the African scene are being omitted. Nor is it taken into account that, as a result of their history, Africans are extraordinarily sensitive, notable when white people are involved, to "interference" in anything they are doing, as the figures on the numbers of Communists in Africa suggest.* Perhaps the following statement expresses such misgivings:
"The Nigerian People's Party as the Marxist-Leninist political party of our Nigerian peoples shall help to enrich the international socialist pool BY ITS ORIGINALITY AND STAND AGAINST DOGMATIC AND BLIND COPYING OF POLICIES AND TACTICS OF THE MARXIST-LENINIST PARTIES OF OTHER COUNTRIES."1
When challenged to explain such statements, European Marxists simply repudiate the Party concerned. This may get rid of the problem for such Europeans, but in effect it amounts to arrogating to themselves the decision as to who shall lead, or speak for, Africans.
* See Table 32, Chapter XXXIX, Page 331 ff., above.
[— 315 —]
T H E B L A C K S T E R E O T Y P E
A N D T H E S O V I E T U N I O N
Although such was not their purpose, Russian authorities themselves have testified to the causes behind socialist blunders toward Africa and Africans. Chief among these causes is a theoretical ignorance on the subject of Africa which constitutes a perfect screen against seeing – let alone admitting – any error in that sphere.
"The study of the languages and culture of the peoples of tropical Africa has started comparatively recently in the USSR.
"Before the October Revolution many outstanding Russian scientists studied the history of ancient Egypt, medieval Ethiopia, and the history of the peoples of North Africa. But the life and culture of the peoples living South of the Sahara were never studied. This could be explained by the fact that the destinies of the people of North and Northeast Africa were always closely connected with the history of Europe and Asia Minor, while the countries lying south of the Sahara developed independently for a long time, being far removed from European culture."1
The lack in Russia of any study of the "Languages and cultures of the peoples of tropical Africa" – typical of all European countries – was fostered by those in control of the educational and information media of the era, the Western European slave traders in medieval Europe's power centers whose countrymen became colonialists. The particular Russian lack merely marks that country, for a long period, as part – though a johnny-come-lately – of capitalist-imperialist Europe, where such st
y[u]dy was systematically suppressed.
An honest explanation of such facts would have had to include the fact that there WAS a "close connection" between¬
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Europe and Africa South of Sahara which completely destroyed that area's developing "independently ... from European culture" (manifested, e.g. by the great, world-renowed University at Timbuctu) – the incredibly profitable black slave trade, to participate in which Russia arrived too late on the capitalist world scene.
The only classical touch omitted from this "explanation" is in suggesting that there could have been development South of Sahara "independently ... from European culture". Otherwise, the whole thing is a mere sickly echo of the past.
But the "explanation" continues:
"Until recent times, the history of the African peoples could be studied only by the scientists of those countries who possessed African colonies."2
After 50 years of socialism, without a blush or a quotation mark, a Russian professor dubs misrepresenters of Africa "scientists". Liars about history receive the Soviet accolade. How does this differ from imperialist practice?
A pacifist publication in London, studying racism in Moscow, declared that
"It seems that most of the racial intolerance comes not from official quarters, but from ordinary people."3
Not in the least! It is from "official quarters" that "explanations" like the above come. It is in "official quarters" of Eastern Europe that new "scientists" have arisen to give "socialist" support to old saws about Africa.
And what do these new "scientists" have arisen to give "socialist" support to old saws about Africa.
"... the idea that it was the white race that had created the foundations of African culture."2
The new "scientists" don't say so; the old ones did. In a word – quite "scientifically", of course - ALL Europe wallowed for centuries in deliberately fabricated misconceptions about one of the¬
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world's great continents, thereby developing everywhere in Europe certain traditional attitudes toward Africans, such as an overall acceptance of their "backwardness" and "helplessness", leading to doubts about African abilities in any field.
A British Communist who prefers not to be named answered my query why Africa was still "represented" in European Marxist discussions about Africa by Frenchmen and Englishmen by describing for me the "difficulties" involved in "trying to develop" African spokesmen. Africans, he complained, produce written work about their own problems which are "full of mixed-up ideas", which of course must be "corrected" at once. "And they thank us", he assured me. The present status of Western Communist Parties and their abysmal stand on Africa leads one to question the concept "mixed-up ideas" when uttered by one of their spokesmen.
There are two significant aspects to the problem of left-over racialism in the Western and Eastern European Left:
The first is that, after 50 years of socialism, a Russian "Africanist" is still mouthing the old myths. "Ordinary people" in such countries still express – because they still harbor – race prejudice. And anyone who tries to point out the reality is at once termed "anti-Soviet", thus ensuring NO discussion. SO, racism in Eastern Europe and the Western Left may be expected to increase.
Second, every error made by a Russian in Africa or toward Africans anywhere is resented by Africans on a color basis, even when they themselves deplore such a reaction. Many Africans who react that way know that what they are feeling was created by imperialism; but that knowledge does not automatically erase the historically-conditioned response.
Actually, neither of these is very surprising. As yet, all Europeans have lived under imperialism a lot longer than under socialism. Eastern European countries under capitalism had never developed fast enough or early enough to become colonizers. Yet, they lived in the "metropolitan atmosphere" and absorbed it. Till recently, Africa could hardly be of major concern to any socialist nation: after World Wars I and II, first Russia, then the smaller countries of Eastern Europe, had been kept militarily and¬
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economically busy protecting the very life of their new social system. Where private ownership in the means of production had been abolished, the need for prejudice in any form went, too; and there official socialist policy at once expressed the opposition to racism. But this alone did not and cannot prevent racism itself from (inevitably) persisting in the mass consciousness, because it had been deliberately ingrained there during centuries.
In a word, neither the USSR not other European socialist countries which arrived at socialism later than Russia, have had time adequately to overcome, or even properly to lay bare, all the misconceptions embodied in unconscious approaches by socialist citizens to Africans – even supposing those nations had been anxious to do so.
On any other subject, socialists readily admit that many misconceptions are left over from the old way of life. Immediate mass education is undertaken. But it was only in 1957 that Ghana's independence, coupled with her orientation for the first time on that continent avowedly in a socialist direction, opened the way from the African side for any extensive interchanges with socialist Europe. Previous to that, none was permitted.
So, for forty years, mass education on this topic, not being urgent, could not be fitted in. Ironically, and perhaps significantly, by then, other "old" ideas had become rampant in the USSR. Did the hold of racism on European minds play any role in this ideological deterioration?*
Whether so or not, no mass educational campaign about Africa has yet, to this writer's knowledge, been undertaken anywhere in Eastern Europe. Many Africans and Afro-Americans will tell you that some Europeans – French, Russians, and others – do not "see color". But this turns out in practice simple to mean that living with these Europeans may be preferable, at least at first, to residing among outright racists from or in other metropoles. It certainly did not prevent the Russians, under socialism, from taking an "educational" road vis-a-visa Africa exactly like the West's: they¬
* An answer to this question will be sought in a separate study of Revisionism.
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have created a small élite of "African experts" concentrated in their "Afrika Institut", whence floods of experti
c[s]e, like that quoted above, issue.
The existence and nature of the Black Stereotype in the mass Western mind anywhere has yet to be acknowledged, let alone fought.
The "student incidents" in the USSR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and elsewhere offered a tremendous opportunity to have launched just such an educational program. My own experience was that when such ideas as the existence of a Black Stereotype were brought to the attention of socialist individuals personally, from the countries involved, they not only seemed very objective about it, so that thorough discussion was held, but they appeared most eager to rectify the now-understood position in which they usually acknowledged themselves. One Rumanian whom I came to know fairly well stated after such a conversation: "If only I had known these things before coming to Ghana, I would have done many things differently!"
Politically, however, this point has been left far behind in Eastern Europe by now. The only importance to airing it now is to expose the facts for possible later use.
The attitude of politically advanced Africans is another side to this story which must be understood. Africans from various countries, none of them anti-socialist, made to me in Ghana illuminating comments on the student incidents and other evidences of left-over imperialist prejudices in the socialist world. Many of them had spent time in one of the socialist countries, where they had met other Africans of similar background.
All of them concurred that, generally speaking, socialist Europe was in no way comparable in its racism to the West. Yet, all had experienced specific and repeated individual instances of prejudice from citizens in or from Eastern European socialist countries. They agreed that such instances were all, in and of themselves, trivial and so recognized by their victims. They were damning their aggregate.
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A single illustration, told me by a number of Africans independently of each other, is the following: each claimed to have been asked by some socialist citizen in Eastern Europe whether it was true that "you people live in trees". (Later, Eastern Europeans in Ghana to whom I quoted this recurring remark categorically refused to believe that it could really have been said. But the story had come independently from more than one source, all reliable in other tested ways.)
Trivial though such incidents were, however, their importance lay in a total corrosive effect from piling up over an extended period of time. Certainly, they corroborate the existence in Eastern Europe among people calling themselves socialists, and representing to Africans a land of socialism, of definite, widespread and typical misconceptions about real Africans. All such socialists have in common, for better or for worse, as seen by Africans, a white skin. The major injury suffered by the Africans on account of these petty instances of racism did not stem from the prejudice itself, although that never ceases to hurt; it came from the fact that such errors originated in a socialist source which, in too many cases – especially officially, when the incidents were publicized – refused to admit any error, consequently denying the need for any corrective.
One Ghanaian who had been deeply involved in a well-publicized incident in Eastern Europe told me that, when he tried to explain African grievances to his Eastern European socialist comrades, their reply invariably was: "Oh, Comrade! You think about color too much!" In a word, exactly as in racist history everywhere in the West, anything bad that happens to Africans out of chauvinist mistakes by whites is "the African's fault": he is "too sensitive" about "color"! Any American who ever had contact with the Afro-American community readily recognizes this old saw.
The Black Stereotype was bound to come abruptly to the surface the moment real Africans, conditioned by centuries of imperialist brutalization, ran head-on into Europeans loaded with Western misconceptions about Africa deposited in their part of the world in super-exploitation's wake.
[— 321 —]
When Social Democratic outfits like the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions send their cohorts to Africa to undermine African progress for the benefit of the Western labor aristocracy – and naturally, therefore, of the imperialist ruling class – they quite easily exploit socialist errors derived from left-over racism, and can hook these mistakes into their virulent anti-liberation activities. Considerable real damage to the African freedom struggle results, especially insofar as the achievement of unity on a continental labor basis is concerned.
But even all this is not yet the total. Africans, only recently emerging from centuries of tight imperialist domination in its most vicious form, have[,] to an extent hard to realize until one is set down in its midst[,] had their minds filled with various far-reaching anti-Communist lies. It is into THIS context that "student incidents" and other socialist errors of racism fall. It is within these boundaries that remnants of the Black Stereotype and the strongly-persisting Colonialist Mentality both operate.
[— 322 —]
S O M E D I S C L A I M E R S A N D A S U M M A R Y
O F R A C I S M ' S E F F E C T S T O D A Y
Obviously, a detailed Marxist examination of racism, especially its relationship to Social Democracy, is long overdue. But experience since this attempt at it was started shows that it is vital to specify first certain positions which are NOT being espoused:
1. Racism is most blatant when there are differences in skin color. But it is not confined to such cases. Nazism, for example, shows that, even in the absence of color differences, racism can be a major ideological weapon for imperialism: color prejudice is a special case of racism. But while racism can not be equated to color prejudice, clearly it is related to it. Colonialist practice has illuminated this point because colonialism always "justifies" its extraction of super-profits from ANY subjugated people by referring to its victims' "inferiority", setting the degree of such alleged "inferiority" in general in direct proportion to differences in skin color. The overwhelming majority of peoples actually subjugated by colonialism did have and still do have pigmentation darker than those prevalent in metropolitan areas. So, under imperialism, racism is indissolubly tied to color of skin.
Furthermore, racism reduces to outright, straightforward color prejudice as its major content when the subjugated are black. Historically, the most basic and brutal super-exploitation has been practised precisely against black people.
Basically and specifically, racism is the subjective side of colonialism; in particular, of super-exploitation, which latter is its material base. Its ideological content is a mythical "superiority" postulated, in the overwhelming majority of cases, upon the degree of absence of skin pigmentation; and, in the rest, upon some physical – i.e. inborn – claim to speciality.
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2. The writer has been accused of claiming that "racism is the major cause of all the strife in the world today". Let us set the record straight: Racism is the major tactical ideological pillar upholding the moribund imperialist system AT THIS TIME in history. Concretely, what does that mean? Is ideology "causative"? Originally, no; as it develops, it moves from the expressive state to an equally – dialectically – causative one. A knowledge of contradictions reveals that racism could not cause "all the strife in the world today"; but it's doing a masterly job of keeping it going. Racism – present not only in conscious agents of the system – and specifically color prejudice, play a major subjective role in most of the strife in "Black" Africa and among people of African descent. Racism is a derivative of imperialism. Imperialism is the father, teacher and husbandman, the real culprit behind colonial misery. But this basic fact is obscured, hidden, buried – and a very potent weapon thereby withheld – by the smokescreen, Racism.
Yet, because imperialism is the basic perpetrator of this condition, the World Left has thus far refused to tackle the material force which racism constitutes, especially in that area of anti-colonial liberation involving black people. There are probably endless numbers of people who think that this does not matter. But, being at the bottom of the economic totem pole, black people happen to play a far more crucial role in the in the immediate outcome of anti-colonial liberation than pervasive racial prejudice on both sides of socialist borders throughout the world has yet been willing to grant.
Recent events on the African continent bolster the contention that the outcome of the African and Afro-American struggles may, after all, be a decisive factor on the world scene today.
3. Analysis of racism and its relation to Social Democracy, plus insistence that racism is present even in advanced progressive quarters such as among Western Marxists and in socialist countries, does not constitute "over-stressing the race question" or "advocating racism", as has already been declared. Stating facts is no more causal than an accurate weather forecast: if people are¬
— 324 —
imagined who for ages had feared thunder and lightning, their motives would be readily apparent if they accused the meteorologist of "over-stressing" or "advocating" thunder storms. And if they imbued such "advocacy" with negative virtues, it still wouldn't change the objective facts.
If you ignore racism, it will NOT go away. If you tackle the problems it creates, you will come to see that they have no solution short of socialism. But if, consequently, you think you can wait until socialism before dealing with such a serious matter, you merely leave the field clear for its unchallenged rampage. WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH. VERBAL CONDEMNATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR ANALYSIS, not for active proof of understanding. The pervasive Left refusal to face and fight racism as such is, in my opinion, testimony to just how deeply it has penetrated all human beings.
4. Although it has been stated in these pages that anti-colonial liberation is in fact advancing along a front defined by the Color Line, this is not attributable to the existence in itself of differing skin colors. That is, it is not claimed that being born white produces a congenitally color-prejudiced person. What is being said is that being born white in today's world constitutes a specific material fact in a specific material environment carrying in its train specific and unavoidable ideological consequences which have persisted from a historically-determined past, and which carry therefore certain material consequences predetermining the success of "Color" as a tactic. This is the meaning of the pervasiveness in the entire world today of the Black Stereotype. Its success stems from the fact that the black slave trade, and the colonialism that followed, allowed imperialism to use degrees of pigmentation as its excuse for extracting from the labor of peoples it had subjugated super-profits in direct proportion to the darkness of skin.
When Africans correctly note that certain Russians, Czechs, Poles, etc., "act like white people", they are referring to the facts we have been trying to make clear:
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a) that the economic foundation of imperialism is colonialism, without which it will cease to exist; and
b) that ALL white people on this earth lived for LONG time under imperialism. Since white people, like any others, cannot be abstracted from their material environment, the fact that EVEN people from Eastern European "socialist" lands all too frequently do "act like white people" merely reflects the fact that they are "white people" who, during a long historical period, starting IN EUROPE, lived in metropoles which exported capital, the source of imperialist super-profits, as "justification" of which the ruling class created an artificial and mythical "Master Race".
5. Unfortunately, widespread racial prejudice exists among Marxists, as all black people know who have come into contact with them. But few white people, though they claim to be Marxists ready to face any objective fact, know it or will admit it even when it is pointed out, a symptom of great importance in proving the thesis.
In particular, the many serious "student incidents" in the 60s in Eastern European socialist countries have shown beyond question the persistence of racism and color prejudice into the socialist era. So, in order to forestall the usual refusal in these quarters to discuss the points raised herein, certain false objections must be disposed of:
a) Nobody, including Africans or this author, questions that genuine socialist policy opposes racism. By its nature, real socialism has no need of racism because it has no profit-based economic motive to divide people in order to squeeze super-surplus-value from them.
b) Nobody, including Africans or this author, denies that Africans make mistakes, including serious ones, any one of which, made abroad, could become the immediate spark setting off "incidents". But are their mistakes any worse than those of others? It is the exaggerated, and so usually physical, reaction to African mistakes which is of interest, because it "gives the game away". It ignores the fact that such mistakes, clearly derivative, are so handy for confusing the issue. The ISSUE is¬
— 326 —
the need to face and eradicate left-over White Supremacy among progressives in the West generally and in the post-capitalist world in particular. The latter, especially, constitutes the indispensable precondition for correct future relationships between peoples in former metropolitan areas and those in former colonies, with special emphasis on Africa.
c) One major response of actual Eastern Europeans and of Marxists in the Western Left when their attention is called to such left-over race prejudice in their own ranks has been to claim that "all these incidents are set off by the CIA". We have dealt in part with this shibboleth.* But the implication of the contention itself is that, were it not for the CIA, no such incidents would occur. Objectively speaking, it is quite apparent that CIA agents are NOT either the ONLY or the MAIN cause of these troubles. Activities of the CIA, etc. – as the Bolshevik Party under Lenin clearly proved – can be thwarted by correct policy accompanied by mass understanding of how history is made, and mass participation therein. Such activities can NOT be thwarted by pretending that the prejudices in question do not exist; nor by trying to out-maneuver the CIA.
In the long run, history is made NOT by the maneuvers and cheap intrigues of Hollywood-type political gangsters. It develops out of the world relationship of forces, among which the masses in politically-correct action cannot be defeated. The examples of China, Korea, Vietnam and Cuba stand witness.
With all the foregoing qualifications in mind, a summary of this discussion of racism suggests that:
A. Race prejudice is universal in the world which lived for centuries under capitalism. White people harbor it as "great nation chauvinism", the main subjective expression of which is White Supremacy in myriad forms that, together, constitute a Black Stereotype. Black people reflect it in an attempt to escape racism's results called "Black Nationalism"; more¬
* See Chapter XXXV, Page 304, above.
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generally, in "The Colonialist Mentality", the negative or mirror image of the metropolitan areas' Black Stereotype.
B. This Stereotype, a pervasive accomplishment of imperialism, left-over even in the socialist world, especially its European part for so long integrated in Western capitalism, today has begun to play a material role in BRAKING the anti-imperialist struggle, of which the current MAJOR material content is anti-colonial liberation.
C. Social Democracy from its inception was basically intent on thwarting precisely this liberation struggle in any of its forms.
D. Because Social Democracy needs and supports colonialism to guarantee high Western living standards through the constant flow of super-profits into the metropoles, and because colonialism has in fact subjugated mainly the earth's darker peoples, Social Democracy unfailingly has RACIST features: at first, hidden; but as imperialism decays, more and more open.
E. In fact, the lowest common denominator of Social Democracy IS racism (subjectively expressed in the Black Stereotype). Conversely, the Black Stereotype has been and remains a material factor evoking mass support for Social Democracy. Its materiality is expressed in wages and living conditions differentials between metropolitan and colonial peoples.
F. The Black Stereotype has played, and still plays, a significant and thus-far-unrecognized role in promoting Social Democracy under specific conditions, as proven by the fact that, when confronted by black people in significant numbers, Social Democracy reduces to outright color racism. Witness recent history in England.
G. The Black Stereotype, and the Colonialist Mentality that complements it, are so deeply imbedded, so unconscious, and so irrational because emotionally based, that they cannot automatically disappear with the appearance of Socialism. They linger on, undetected in their carriers – and will continue to do so until consciously recognized, analyzed and uprooted – because until very recently, there was no material reason for any other course: other material factors, such as defending the very life of Socialism, were more urgent.
— 328 —
H. In the light of this background, it is not racism among Marxists that shocks; rather, it is the continued refusal among white Leftists to FACE it. What is more, exposure of racism's full content and its ways of manifesting itself would be a genuine spur to the struggle against colonialism; it could lay bare the real path to final, economic success for anti-colonial liberation.
Because racism is a disorganizing force which conceals imperialism's basic economic and political truths, this exposition is indispensable – and inseparable from Lenin's admonition to "understand" and "appreciate" the effects of imperialist parasitism. It is by the racist umbilical cord that hundreds of millions of victims on both sides of the Color Line are still bound to the cancer-ridden mother long since doomed, but kept alive by their misguided support, and by their equally misguided hatred and/or fear of their own natural allies across the Color Line.
As a result, among Marxists in that portion of the capitalist world where the foreign economic activities of metropolitan monopoly capital is crucial to maintaining outmoded imperialism; and, in those sectors of the socialist world where the need for foreign economic activities by "home" capital once dominated (i.e., before socialism) and hence, where racism was ideologically required, there has been a very significant failure properly to estimate the role of anti-colonial liberation as the KEY factor in current world revolution – a failure characteristic of Revisionism.
Revisionism can be proven to be a modern, intra-socialist form of Social Democracy; ipso facto, it must have specific racist elements.
I. Finally, Social Democracy, its racist variant, and its "intra-socialist" form Revisionism, all operate within a shell of virulent widespread anti-Communism, which both feeds on their misconceptions, and reinforces them.
Because anti-Communism is the major strategic ideological pillar of moribund imperialism today, we cannot leave the subject of racism without at least a cursory look at anti-Communism.
[— 329 —]
A N T I - C O M M U N I S M A N D R A C I S M
If racist errors are being made by Eastern European socialists or Western Marxists today, it is nonetheless no secret that racism and color prejudice do not benefit from, nor did they originate in, socialism, but in capitalism, which is founded, and continues to exist, on their fruits.
For, the basic fact of today's world is that, objectively, socialism constitutes for the whole colonial world, and for Africa in particular, its main bulwark against, and hope of destroying, imperialism.
On this fundamental truth the desperate international imperialist ruling class is acutely conscious. Its long-run program and all its major actions are directed first and foremost toward foiling colonial revolution, success of which would destroy imperialism completely: even though racism be successful for the time being in frustrating revolution in the colonies themselves; even though it enchains the ideologically-impoverished populations "at home"; nonetheless, as long as a socialist world exists, the permanence of colonies for imperialism's milking can not be assured.
In this light must be seen the role on the revolutionary front of anti-Communism. It forms a context in which the success of racism takes on new and ominous meaning. As previous Chapters have noted, it is simply an unfortunate fact that on the African continent the concept of "Color" is Siamese twin to anti-Communism, providing the springboard from which imperialist ideology rockets onto the African scene. For, in Africa, anti-Communism operates in a milieu where – because of colonialism's history – the vast majority of Africans are deeply conscious of humiliation, degradation, exploitation and deliberate unmitigated violence and brutality, all experienced almost exclusively on a racial – nay, more: a color – basis.
— 330 —
Thus, when all is said and done, racism furnishes the fulcrum at which imperialism uses its anti-Communist level to try to overthrow the socialist countries, reinstitute capitalism on their soil, and thereby not only secure them as restored lucrative colonies, but – so it believes – preserve its existing colonies "for all time". And, perhaps its hopes are not without basis:
The "incidents" and other race-based errors of socialist countries and citizens vis-a-visa colonial countries, especially Africa, occur in a world where anti-Communism has been accepted by millions of its victims. Testimony to this statement comes from Africans themselves:
"No one should know better than the present-day leaders of our national liberation movements how false and harmful these anti-communist frenzies of the imperialists have been in Africa. They themselves have been the sufferers and victims ... Yet it is surprising that some of our own national leaders seem not to have fully realized and absorbed the lessons of these so-recent events."1
More recent writings by Africans suggest that the "lessons" are still not "absorbed". On the contrary, anti-Communism and its effectiveness have escalated in Africa. For instance, a report about the deteriorating situation in Kenya noted:
"A furious and reckless anti-communist campaign was ... launched, master-minded and financed by Western intelligence agencies and aimed in the first place at Odinga and the men around him."2
What happened to Odinga has been recorded.
Furthermore, an assessment of "the coups and other events on our continent", noted "certain outstanding facts":
"... in every case the imperialists and local reactionaries have made full use of the corrosive weapon of anti-Communism existing in the minds even of sincere patriots and revolutionaries, or of their opportunist fear to defend the rights of Communists to participate with other anti-imperialist fighters in the vital tasks of national construction and the evolution of policy and concepts...
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"The weakness and even the absence of organized Marxist parties in Africa has meant that much of the discussion (about policy – H.E.) has been dominated by trends other than and even hostile to Marxism-Leninism."3
As early as 1962, this significant "absence of organized Marxist parties in Africa" had been documented. The following table appeared in a publication put out in Czechoslovakia:
Table 324 NUMBER OF COMMUNISTS IN CAPITALIST COUNTRIES OF ASIA, AFRICA, AND LATIN AMERICA ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Third World Area 1939 1957 1960 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Asia over 20,000 over 1,700,000 approx. 2,500,000 Latin America 90,000 200,000 250,000 Africa (approximations) 5,000 20,000 50,000 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
This table had been printed in order to prove that Communist ideas were penetrating Africa, even though "there are as yet no Communist Parties in most African countries that have recently won their political independence". It is now almost ten years later, and imperialism has managed – thanks in large part to errors by the Communists listed in the table – to reduce drastically these numbers. This is probably good for the quality of the remaining Communists. But it emphasizes the point we are about to make.
For, this table is eloquent witness to the effectiveness of linking racism to anti-Communism in the post-World War II era: on the Asian continent, where racism is present but not dominant because of the absence of large number of black people, the number of a Communists in 1960 was ten times that of any other subjugated area of the world. In Latin America, where black people are present in significant numbers but are not the majority of the oppressed, so that racism is one factor in the ideological atmosphere along with anti-Communism, the number of Communists is signally smaller. But in Africa, where the majority are black, so that racism has been the dominant theme of oppressing ideology, linked with anti-Communism, the number¬
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of Communists is negligible (and those who do exist have been tied to metropolitan apron strings).
This absence of Marxist Parties with any significant mass influence, accompanied by a seemingly infinite number of splits and splinters among those who do espouse socialism, is in fact perhaps the most telling result of racism combined with anti-Communism in Africa.*
Factors among Africans leading to the temporary success of this combination include some of the following:
1) Among educated Africans, the majority up to now have been mission- (meaning "church-") educated, and have completed their advanced courses in WESTERN institutions. It is most instructive to listen to such people discussing socialist countries, because what is revealed is the extent to which they accept anti-Communist lies. This real factor must be taken into account in any attempt by outsiders to establish meaningful relationships with Africans. It cannot be wished away. Nor is it confined to the formally educated.
2) One of the bitter heritages of colonialism is that, to this day, the vast majority of Africans are illiterate. Of the minority who have any formal education, most have gone through Middle School (i.e., Junior High), enabling them to hold certain jobs above laborer work, but hardly conducive to wide reading of political analysis. For those who do read, there are floods of WESTERN material freely available and heavily financed by the U.S. while, at the same time, there is very little if any from Marxist-Leninist sources.
This condition was explained by ex-President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana:
"Dating from 1961, the U.S. has actively developed a huge ideological plan for invading the so-called Third World, utilizing all its facilities from press and radio to Peace Corps ... At the centre of its programs lay the demand for an absolute U.S. monopoly in the field of propaganda, as well as for counteracting any independent efforts by developing states in the realm of information
* We are, of course, not suggesting this as proof of, but only as support for, our proposition.
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... the chief executor of U.S. psychological warfare is the United States Information Service Agency (USIA) ... staffed by some 12,000 persons to the tune of more than $130 million a year. It has more than 70 editorial staffs working on publications abroad. Of its network comprising 110 radio stations, 60 are outside the U.S. Programs are broadcast for Africa by American stations in Morocco, Eritrea, Liberia, Crete, and Barcelona, Spain, as well as from off-shore stations on American ships. In Africa alone, the USIA transmits 30 territorial and national radio programs whose content glorifies the U.S. while attempting to discredit countries with an independent foreign policy.
"The USIA boasts more than 120 branches in about 100 countries, 50 of which are in Africa alone. It has 250 centres in foreign countries, each of which is usually associated with a library. It employs about 200 cinemas and 8,000 projectors which draw upon nearly 300 film libraries.
"This agency is directed by a central body which operates in the name of the U.S. President, planning and coordinating its activities in close touch with the Pentagon, CIA and other Cold War agencies, including even armed forces intelligence centres.
"In developing countries, the USIA actively tries to prevent expansion of national media o
f[r] information so as itself to capture the market-place of ideas. It spends huge sums for publication and distribution of about sixty newspapers and magazines in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
"The American government backs the USIA through direct pressures on developing nations ... for instance, many agreements for economic cooperation offered by the U.S. include a demand that Americans be granted preferential rights to disseminate information."5
It is small wonder that, under such pressure, even the progressive press and information media of Africa, as illustrated in Nkrumah-led Ghana, presented a picture of "socialism" at best confusing, and at worst, a carbon copy of imperialist-sponsored lies. Most material from the socialist world, while it poured into Ghana in liberal quantity for some period before the military coup, was – at best – "hard reading".
3) Between the USIA, the difficulty of understanding literature from socialist countries, the confused state of national publicity¬
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channels, and imperialism's success in preventing Africans from having mass contact with real socialists, only a small minority of Africans had or have the foggiest notion of official socialist policy toward their countries, such as "aid without strings", or formation of societies for friendship with Africa. As noted before, the ONLY way most Africans had of judging socialism was through such few personal contacts as they or their friends happened to make with individual citizens of such countries. That is why little is known by Africans even of actual projects being built on African soil by technicians and other personnel from various socialist lands: they reached only the few workers at or around actual sites, a condition largely due to imperialist-influenced government policy, but partly to socialist underestimation of the tremendous importance of personal relationships. As noted in previous Chapters in addition, on such sites European socialists often acted in such a manner that they gave the wrong impression about socialism as a whole; either, they were too exclusive like the Russians at Tamale; or, they were too imperious and demanding, like those at Bui, both in Ghana.
4) Neo-colonialists have been and remain active, well-financed and very capable all over Africa. In the absence of organized parties of Marxism and the consequence lack of full understanding of class forces, historical laws and some of the more general tenets of Marxism-Leninism among Africans generally, not to mention the lack of actual people-directed investigations of real conditions "on the spot", these reactionaries are able temporarily to influence the course of events against the people's interests. The various attempts to assassinate President Nkrumah which presaged the February 1966 coup illustrated the results of pre-financed neo-colonialism. Certainly the many coups and assassinations in Africa between 1964 and 1967 – still continuing: witness, Mali – indicate something less for the moment than victory for anti-colonial revolution there.
In the wake of such a statement, certain questions arise: concerning the general danger, whenever there is no organized Marxist-Leninist party, of just this type of set-back, since without such parties the advanced classes of Africa can not exercise leadership.¬
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Real African Communist parties under African leadership would offer their countries a hard corps of unswerving cadres who could be relied on to carry forward in any crisis. Their dialectical, class analysis of various aspects of the African scene and struggle, sadly lacking up to now, would enrich all Marxist-Leninist theory, African in particular but by no means solely.
These considerations post another question: WHY have political events occurred precisely as they have in Africa? Why so many assassinations? Why did so many military coups follow one another on the African continent during the three years following 1964 with such apparent ease? Do factors operate in Africa which are not present (or are weaker) in Asia and Latin America?
To this writer, it seems absolutely obvious that the strength of racism in Africa (and wherever black people are subjugated in significant numbers) acts as a brace and buttress to pervasive, world-wide anti-Communism: the latter, in turn, boosts racism; so that the two create an ideological battering ram for imperialism, with specific political consequences:
A. As early as 1963, this writer was warning that, despite the number of African countries then openly espousing socialism as goal and policy, the future on that continent of socialism was by no means settled. Now, the set-backs to African progressive forces have not yet had time to bear all their bitter fruit, nor are the consequences to the rest of the liberation camp completely obvious as of this writing. Nonetheless, such negative examples must become foci of new efforts to overcome this twin weapon of imperialist ideology. For, mention of political set-backs is not defeatism; negative lessons are as valuable and necessary as positive ones. Only – one cannot help wondering how many of these negative lessons were really unavoidable.
B. The tacit acceptance of basic socialist policy as anti-racist is a factor favorable to world revolution. But it is NOT an AUTOMATIC GUARANTEE of such an outcome, especially if socialists persist in race-rooted errors when dealing with African countries and individuals.
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C. The reservoir of "colonialist mentality" among educated and uneducated Africans – recognized by politically-aware Africans themselves and consciously fought against – is a factor NOT favorable to revolution, but to neo-colonialism.
D. The penchant of white people – apparently everywhere on earth at this moment – to deal with "African errors" in physical ways, as in the "student incidents" in socialist countries or in Watts in the U.S., is clear proof of the survival in virulent form everywhere, even in socialist lands, of the centuries-old deliberately-inculcated Black Stereotype spawned by imperialism to "justify" black slavery and the colonialism which grew up on its back. Injuries inflicted on Africans by socialist police and individuals or groups in or from European or other Western Countries cannot be silenced out of existence or swept under the political rug. The outcome of anti-colonial revolution will have decisive influence on the fate of world revolution for decades to come. The decision is in the mill NOW – and history, like time and time, does not wait.
E. Personal observation, plus first-hand accounts from Africans, prove beyond doubt that, among white representatives of socialist countries, the remains of the Black Stereotype expressed in such individual cases of chauvinism on their part as cited earlier, under circumstances of rampant, pervasive, engulfing anti-Communism, contribute at present to discrediting socialism itself on the African continent. This was vividly shown in Ghana right after the first coup in February 1966 when anti-Communist feeling was easily whipped up.
Why has the United States taken on its own shoulders the expensive task of "fighting Communism" and "making the world safe for (its) democracy"? Why the United States rather than, say, Germany or Japan? And why has it been so successful with its tactics in Africa up to the present?
To answer these questions, the next Chapter will take a closer look at anti-Communism.
[— 337 —]
A N T I - C O M M U N I S M – M A J O R S T R A T E G I C
I D E O L O G I C A L P I L L A R O F I M P E R I A L I S M
A central political fact of our epoch is the self-appointed "Savior" role of the U.S. ruling class. Shielding the putrefaction of his own mortal illness behind the blazing lies of anti-Communism, Uncle Sam spreads corruption, destruction and death wherever his agents go. Yet, he does so under the tattered mask of his once-proud "democratic traditions".
It was one thing for a maniac and abject political tool of German monopoly like Adolf Hitler to commit crimes in the name of anti-Communism. The tool suited the method of operation. Then, the Nazis were defeated by "Democracy", (or by these "allies" financed and finally pushed over the brink of victory by U.S. finance capital). For "the Greatest Democracy on Earth" then to pick up the dirty anti-Communist mantle where vanquished Hitler had dropped it should have opened the eyes of the world's masses. Should have – but, by and large, did not.
On the contrary, lies about Communism have never had greater success, including among so many of its colonial victims, pushed further along this road by racialist-rooted errors made by white people from socialist countries, as discussed at length above.
How did anti-Communism become so widespread? Why did romantically-admired America pick up where despised Hitler left off?
The answer lies in world history since 1917. In that year, the capitalist system had been breached by Russia's successful socialist revolution. Despite massive intervention, despite the weakness of the new Russian economy, the "ignorance" of her masses, and all the factors which convinced "sensible" people that "it couldn't last", nothing was able to dislodge this first victorious revolution by a majority subjugated class. Within a short time, all Central and Eastern Europe were aflame with similar revolutions. These were temporarily defeated. The revolutions themselves were put down.
But it had been just the beginning. Despite these defeats,
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"The issue of the revolution was not averted. It returns today with added force in a world under the shadow of reaction and war...
"From the outset the dominant concentration of all the leading statesmen of imperialism after the war was directed to the defeating of the revolution... The clearest and most conscious expression of this outlook was given by Lloyd George in his Memorandum to the Peace Conference in March 1919. He stated:
'...Bolshevik imperialism (sic!) does not merely menace the States on Russia's borders. It threatens the whole of Asia and is as near to America as it is to France. It is idle to think that the Peace Conference can separate, however sound a peace it may have arranged with Germany, if it leaves Russia as it is today.'
"...Hoover, in charge of American relief in Europe, expressed concisely the aim in a latter to Oswald Garrison Villard on August 17, 1921, quoted in Louis Fischer, The Soviets in World Affairs, Vol. I., p. 174:
'The whole of American policy during the liquidation of the Armistice was to contribute everything it could to prevent Europe from going Bolshevik or being overrun by their armies.'"1
Even as such words were being uttered, armies of fourteen capitalist nations were invading the infant socialist state. The Soviet Union had to fight a war on twenty-three fronts – yet, survived! Russian workers, peasants and soldiers, guided by the incomparable Lenin and the monolithic Bolshevik Party he had forged in two and a half decades of struggle, defied the whole capitalist world, cleared their native soil of invaders and set about the historically-imposed chore of pulling themselves up by their own boot-straps.
The capitalist world answered with an economic blockade. It set up the "cordon sanitaire", anti-Communist states, in most of which revolutions had been defeated, which were to "contain Russian communism".
In the West, the kept press hooted, jeered and lied: Russia's "collapse" was "imminent"; she "lacked resources"; her economy was "inefficient". But the owners of the imperialist machinery who sponsored the lies knew better. They saw a socialist economy begin¬
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to advance at development rates hitherto unprecedented in world economic history.
At any cost – this must be stopped! If the intervention of the 20s had failed, that must be only because the Powers had been a bit exhausted by World War I. NOW, they would recover – and try again.
In the defeated, prostrate post-war German monster created at Versailles, the victorious "Allies" saw the instrument they sought – and picked up the option. Nazism and its inspired wild man Hitler became the darlings of international finance capital. The German war machine was supported, financed, and in desperate haste built to enormous size. Hitler began boasting of "invincibility".
During two decades, the stage
s was set; the puppets, prepared. All that was missing was The Deed. The world hovered at the brink of explosion.
What was the real issue? Why such "insane" hatred of a single allegedly "weak" socialist country? What was at stake?
A lucid explanation of anti-Communism has been offered by two writers frequently cited in these pages:2
Britain, by her victory over Napoleon in 1815 had achieved "a decisive victory", following which the need for armaments seemed to fade. Even the young and lusty U.S. had become Britain's ally – at a price. The famous Pax Britannica had prevailed until the first decade of the 20th century. But this temporary martial lull was due only to
"one unchallenged leader sitting on top and stabilizing the whole system through its own strength and a flexible system of alliances."3
These, of course, lasted only until the German and Japanese challenges to British hegemony, after which arose a new militarism among capitalist countries that resulted in World Wars I and II.
The United States had entered the world scene relatively late. Until after the Civil War, her comparative insecurity led her to operate mainly through "alliances and deals designed to take maximum advantage of the needs and conflicts of the leaders". Through such means,
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"during the nineteenth century, Washington built up a large, if still secondary, empire and staked out a claim to a still larger one (especially in the Monroe Doctrine) without ever experiencing the need for a commensurately large military machine."4
By the end of World War II, the United States had attained in the international arena a position fully as commanding in the new epoch as Britain's had been after her victory of 1815. For this reason alone, the U.S. would at first have needed an unusually large military build-up. Moreover, when older empires began breaking up, the U.S. managed by fair means and foul to secure for herself large chunks of them. This would have increased her military needs for "defense" purposes still further.
But now, something new happened. Though by now far more powerful in the size of and her control over this modern empire than Britain had been after 1815, the United States was unable to relax military: there was NO "Pax Americana". Visibly and compulsively, the U.S. continued to this day building up its armed might to undreamed-of heights. Far from stabilizing the situation through its position as undisputed leader of the imperialist world today (as Britain had done in the 19th century), the U.S. hangs onto an international empire that is like a sackful of hedgehogs – full of prickles and struggling to get loose.
What has caused this difference?
"...the rise of a world socialist system as a rival and alternative to the world capitalist system."5
Even so, why, specifically, should this cause such a military build-up?
The official U.S. stance has been "the need to protect the 'free world' from 'communist aggression'". This alleged need is "justified" by the myth of "Soviet aggressiveness", usually inferred from the "fact" that, since Nazism was a totalitarian state and was aggressive, and since the Soviet Union is another "totalitarian state", therefore it "must be aggressive", too.6*
* It must be borne in mind that this argument applies to early USSR.
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But out of the mouths of American ideologues themselves, it has been shown that even some of the most belligerent enemies of the USSR, like Walter Lippman, do not believe in the aggressiveness of Soviet policy. For such men, facts prove that Soviet foreign policy has been
"essentially defensive and bears no resemblance to the aggressive war policies of Nazi Germany and its Axis partners."7
How, then, explain the enormous U.S. military machine? On what particular phenomenon does it rest? On
"the same implacable hatred of socialism, the same determination to destroy it, that has dominated the leading nations of the capitalist world from the time the Bolsheviks seized power in November 1917. The central purpose has always been the same: to prevent the expansion of socialism, to compress it into as small an area as possible, and ultimately to wipe it off the face of the earth. What has changed with changing conditions are the methods and strategies used to achieve these unchanging goals."8
Thus, when the infant Soviet Union, often with the assistance of workers in capitalist countries, beat off counter-revolution, a "cordon sanitaire" was set up to "contain" it. When the socialist land nonetheless forged ahead, the military machines of Germany and Japan were built up and shoved into headlong attack on it. When this tactic in turn boomeranged, the U.S. itself had to make common cause with the intended victim. Not only did the USSR survive World War II; a whole series of new socialist countries now replaced the hostile cordon around her periphery: the socialist world expanded.
And colonial countries, too, began to stir in revolt:
"Clearly, world capitalism was facing an unprecedented crisis."9
Such were the circumstances under which the U.S. ruling class stepped forward and appointed itself leader of a great imperialist counter-offensive. And the form the counter-offensive took was intense anti-Communism as preparation for eventual war. Even so, it took a full year from the opening gun¬
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of this campaign – Winston Churchill's famous Fulton (Missouri) speech on March 5, 1946 – before the American people were deemed ready to back the international anti-Communist crusade. Not till February 1947 did the U.S. take its first step: intervention in Greece and Turkey, where revolutionaries were close to success. The famous Truman Doctrine set up a protectorate over Greece and Turkey and proclaimed the U.S. "right" to do so whenever a situation warranted.
Yet this was but the negative side of American policy: the announced U.S. intention of preventing the spread of socialism even an inch.
There was also a positive side to that policy. It was enunciated in two major speeches by Secretary of State Dean Acheson in March 1950 (i.e., before the Korean War).
In the first, Acheson had started that the aim of the U.S. was to establish "situations in strength".12 In the second, he defined in detail what was meant. Declaring that, if capitalism and socialism were to co-exist, certain points of difference would sooner or later have to be settled, he listed seven:
"First Point: The German, Austrian and Japanese peace treaties must make those countries 'free' – in other words, capitalist countries allied with the U.S. against the Soviet Union.
"Second Point: 'Orderly representative processes' must be introduced into 'the whole group of countries we are accustomed to think of as the satellite area' – in other words, the Soviet Union must stand aside while the United States organizes counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe.
"Third Point: 'The Soviet leaders could drop their policy of obstruction in the United Nations' – in other words, the Soviet Union must acquiesce in the UN's becoming an instrument of American policy.
"Fourth Point: The Soviet Union must accept 'realistic and effective arrangements for the control of atomic enregy and the limitations of armaments in general' – in other words, the Soviet Union must place her work in the field of atomic energy under the control of an American-dominated agency and submit her military apparatus to outside inspection.
"Fifth Point: The Soviet Union must 'Desist from, and¬
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co-operate in efforts to prevent, indirect aggression across national frontiers' – in other words, since 'indirect aggression' is the usual pseudonym for social revolution, the Soviet Union must not only agree to United States counter-revolutionary actions but actually aid and abet them.
"Sixth Point: The Soviet Union and its allies (as long as it has any) must give American official representatives the run of their countries.
"Seventh Point: The Soviet leaders must stop criticizing the United States and its allies."13
Instructive or appalling as hindsight makes these seven points, an American professor immediately dubbed them "a United States foreign policy" with "only one possible objective: ... the destruction of Communist power".14
To implement such a policy, three things were needed:
a) a world-wide military alliance dominated by the U.S. (witness, the Marshall Plan, SEATO, NATO, and the rest);
b) a network of military posts and bases to surround the socialist areas of the world.
"By 1959, the United States had ... a total of 275 major base complexes in 31 countries and more than 1,400 foreign bases, counting all sites where Americans were then stationed and sites designed for emergency occupation."15
c) above all, "Arms of all kinds (and) .. the men to use them".16
These are some of the reasons why the capitalist system is so hostile to the existence of a rival world socialist system.
But some people say that hostility is caused by irrational fears. If so, then could one but present proper rational arguments, one could presumably win these "mad" rulers over and make them "see the light". Indeed, this is the basic, stated or tacit, underlying premise of pacifist peace groups in the West as a whole, not to mention the revisionists.
In fact, however, "rational argument" only emphasizes the problem:
For example, the advance of socialism is said to constitute a¬
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threat to the foreign trade of capitalist countries, which cannot exist without such trade.
REPLY: Capitalist countries do require foreign trade. But socialist countries are more than ready, willing and able to enter such trade and have done so. The advance of industrialization in European socialist countries enhances their potential as a trading partner.17 Of late, even President Johnson had waxed enthusiastic over the possibility of "trade bridges to the East".
At the same time, foreign trade is rarely conducted between themselves by governments, but by private business, mainly huge corporations.
"What these corporations are interested in is not trade as such but profits: the reason they and the governments they control are opposed to the spread of socialism is not that it necessarily reduces their chances of importing or exporting (though of course it may), but that it does necessarily reduce their opportunities to profit from doing business with and in the newly socialized areas."18
And the source of the highest such profits has always been and remains the "less developed and under-developed countries". Hence their defection would be "the last straw".
Today, U.S. need to police its global empire is inseparable from its need to fight socialism. For,
"the threat to the empire comes from revolutionary movements which, like the American Revolution two hundred years ago, are sparked by a deep-seated yearning for national independence and are fueled by an
d increasingly urgent need for economic development, which experience is proving cannot be achieved by underdeveloped countries today except on the basis of public enterprise and comprehensive planning – in short, only if their nationalist revolutions are also socialist revolutions."19
So! Here, at last, is bedrock: clearly, the continued growth of the American military machine is inseparable from world anti-Communism spearheaded by the U.S., and the intended effect is to implement the grand strategic aim of the U.S. ruling class: "to contain, compress, and eventually destroy the rival world¬
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socialist system".20 The existence of socialism, in turn, is feared by imperialism not only for its own dangers, but also because it was threatening the colonial system, where profits are from two to four and more times the domestic rate. It does this both by removing its own areas from the capitalist world and by suggesting an alternative to colonial peoples.
Freedom for colonies, were it to spread to include their economies, would mean the additional loss of monopolist control over foreign sources of supply, another major benefit to imperialism of the colonial system. Moreover, such control must include the ability to force political and legal concessions from subject governments.
These are all reasons why the defection of even a single colonial area today causes such panic in, and such brutal and immediate response by, imperialism: it disrupts the world-wide total control network threaded through all exploited lands and peoples. No longer can capitalism which once ruled the whole world support even the slightest deviation from its own needs. Rather, if it is to survive, it must if possible recoup a considerable portion (preferably, of course, all) it has lost. The "development" of Eastern Europe thus far must be peculiarly gratifying to Uncle Sam.
Now, imperialism had been forced to use colonial subjects in large numbers as soldiers in its anti-Nazi war, once its Hitler creature had proven "untrustworthy". Such soldiers brought home with them, from overseas duty, concepts of equality and comradeship. Many of them had, despite imperialist precautions, met real socialists and communists. The "independence" yeast began to work; it had to be counter-acted.
In curtailing contact between Africans and socialists, from the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 on, the international ruling class had acknowledged their own clarity about what such contact might accomplish: they felt that any massive interchange between these two groups would be fatal to themselves. Massive contact might enable the two groups to overcome individual errors on either side, and permit news of the success and significance and structure of real socialism to get through to Africans. Successful relationships of this type, they also suspected, could destroy racism and its¬
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effectiveness: if white people could come into Africa and get past the first stage where they are seen as "acting white", the Color wall would have been br
an[ea]ched; the structure of imperialism would be placed in great danger. The international ruling class did not dare to take a chance on any massive socialist presence in "its" "under-developed" areas.
When Ghana gained independence in 1957 and promptly announced that she was going socialist, the imperialists had to work fast. First, they stepped up their pressure against exactly such contact between the socialist world and Africa; and in this they were largely successful. Then they went all-out for the anti-Communist theme song.
So, when socialists did finally come into Africa, it was into the midst of an anti-Communism so intense that no Eastern European who had been raised under up-to-50 years of socialism could possibly imagine it. They came, trailing their ideological left-overs behind them, and as we have seen in previous Chapters, the indiv
u[i]dual and/or collective errors they made – which at any other time or place might have been easily handled – proved grist to the imperialist mill in that context of anti-Communism and racism combined which is the African scene.
What, then, has been the effect on Africa of this concentrated anti-Communist campaign? As a matter of fact, there has been a resultant increase in the effectiveness of RACE and COLOR in braking the revolutionary movement.
It works like this: racism is imperialism's major tactical ideological weapon for frustrating anti-colonial liberation; liberation today is the key to any further advance in world revolution. But the existence of any considerable reservoir of colonial labor-power super-exploitable by any metropolis guarantees the continued existence of that metropolis.
Furthermore, anti-Communism is the major strategic ideological weapon in the overall, imperialism-vs-socialism world struggle, its implement being unprecedented metropolitan military strength supplemented by pre-financed and ideologically-controlled¬
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colonial armies – all this permitting the ruling imperialists to maintain a bony hold on the system's current existence. Inside this sequence, militarism shelters anti-Communism, which in turn prevents the demise of racism.
The combined result, of course, has been that thus far the African continent as well as Latin America and large segments of Asia have been maintained in subjugation.
Yet – and here is the point of this section of the discussion – because of basic socialist POLICY; because of the basic mutual interests between Africans and socialists, it might have been possible to reverse the existing situation. But this could ONLY have taken place had the socialists accepted criticism and dealt sharply in self-criticism; that, and that alone, would have cut the ground out from under the neo-colonialists.
Not only could this have been done fairly simply; but every agent provocateur, European or African, could have been exposed and isolated. It did not come to pass; not will it as long as socialists persist in ignoring real factors in the African milieu, especially as long as they refuse to study and understand how many African grievances have their roots in "Color" troubles; nor, as long as they refuse to see their own Color-based ideological left-overs of imperialist ideology and practice. The sooner a public start is made in correcting such attitudes, the sooner the real conflict can come to the fore and be fought in concert.
In a word, because of racism and anti-Communism, together with errors made in Africa and/or toward Africans by real people accepted as socialists, the advent of socialism in Europe or elsewhere in and of itself has been no guarantee of the automatic evaporation of old prejudices and wrong ideas. This truism has long been accepted – but not applied.
Such attitudes can be changed only by courageously facing them and taking positive steps to root them out. Up-rooting cannot occur short of bold, difficult and surely painful criticism and self-criticism. But the stakes are high. Socialism has shown in other connections thta it has the strength to make such a bold uprooting.
The question is: WILL Socialists do it IN TIME to affect colonial casualties materially?
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A N T I - C O M M U N I S M , R A C I S M
A N D S O C I A L D E M O C R A C Y
One of the greatest obstacles to eliciting either in the Western Left or in Eastern European socialist lands the type of criticism and self-criticism envisioned at the end of the previous Chapter is the malevolently persisting Social Democracy of our time.
Its obstruction to revolutionary advance has become double: first, its activities – as before – inside colonial areas; and second, its appearance inside a section of the socialist world in a modern but recognizable form.
This Chapter will be concerned with the first factor: Social Democratic activities inside a colonial area. (The second is to be the subject of a separate study.)*
A most striking example of how Social Democracy utilizes the connection between racism and anti-Communism to defeat anti-colonial revolution is the case of British Guiana (now Guyana). There it was revealed how anti-Communism tries to block liberation alone; how, by itself, it is today inadequate to the task; how to its rescue, reinforcing and extending it, comes racism in the hands of a metropolitan labor aristocracy; and how this combination has so far succeeded in turning back the struggle for freedom.
Guyana is about the size of Great Britain: 83,000 square miles. Situated on the mainland of South America, it is wedged between Brazil along 500 miles of its south and southwest; Venezuela on its west; and Dutch Guiana, called Surinam, on its east. Ninety percent of the population, and most of the economy, are located¬
* Anatomy of Revisionism, AURORA edition, 1978.
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in a narrow coastal land strip 50 miles wide comprising four percent of total area, located below sea level but protected by sea defences and drained by a complex canal system. The capital and chief port, Georgetown, contains 25% of population.
The economy is typically colonial: almost entirely agricultural, it depends on sugar, bauxite, rice, diamonds, hardwoods and rum. Only half of one percent of the land is cultivated. Processing sugar and distilling rum are among its oldest industries. Sugar exports in 1960 were valued at £26.5 million. In 1961, its mines produced 2.374 million tons of bauxite. Under Cheddi Japan's pro-socialist regime, rice production more than doubled, and there were set up margarine and soap-making plants, breweries, factories making wallboard, cigarettes and aluminum ware, as well as boat-building yards.
In 1966, the UN estimated the population at 662,000. Inside the country, the 1960 census counted 558,769 Guyanese, of whom 279,460 were East Indian in origin, while 256,460 were of African or mixed descent; all others numbered only 16,190.
Until 1803, the Dutch controlled the area. Using mainly slaves from West Africa (with names suggesting specifically the old Gold Coast), the Dutch cultivated land along such broad rivers as the Essequibo, Demarara and Berbice. Their plantations extended miles upstream, and the soil's natural fertility was soon depleted. But they could not move into the rich savannah grasslands in the interior because the rivers were navigable only for short distances, while tropical rain forests made road-building expensive. Moreover, life in the hot humid interior was unhealthy; malaria, yellow fever and other tropical diseases were rife. The Dutch settlers, having found the clay of the coastal area suited to sugar cane, developed the drainage system which allowed them to grow that crop.
Plantation slaves suffered typically: cruelty, inhumanity and endless forced labor under a tropical sun. By the beginning of the 19th century, the colony had been swept by at least two slave uprisings of serious proportions. For this reason, the British, who in 1803 had taken over from the Dutch, soon found slave labor unprofitable. Accordingly, in 1833, they abolished slavery. The¬
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freed slaves left the plantations and begin forming small communities and peasant villages, some even becoming small businessmen. This is how Guyanese urban areas, notably Georgetown, came to have a predominantly African-extracted citizenry.
Starting in 1851 and lasting until 1917, the British answer to their own need for a new source of cheap labor power was to import thousands of East Indians as indentured laborers. This eventually resulted, over the country, in East Indian population slightly outnumbering that of African descent.1
What was the relationship between these two peoples?
A government-favored publication British Guiana's London office in late 1963 described it as follows:
"Race has never been a serious problem in Guiana. Indians and Africans have for many, many years played, worked and lived amicably together. Underlying the superficiality of racism is the basic problem of the class struggle and the struggle for land and jobs. Prior to the 1955 split in the People's Progressive Party, the Africans and Indians, who constitute the backbone of the working class and peasantry, were united in their struggles against the capitalists and landlords. On every front – sugar plantations, water front, mines, mills, quarries – the workers battled (together) for improved wages and working conditions."2
A similar estimate was made by even so biased an authority as the former British judge, Mr. Wynne-Parry, who chaired a Commonwealth Commission sent to British Guiana in 1962 to investigate the "February disturbances" there. Said the honorable judge:
"We found little evidence of any racial segregation in the social life of the country and in Georgetown. East Indians and Africans seemed to mix and associate with one another on terms of the greatest cordiality ... the disturbances of February 16th did not originate in a racial conflict, nor did they develop into a trial of strength between the East Indians and Africans.
"...we are merely drawing attention to the circumstances mentioned above to show that there is no clear-cut¬
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division between the races and that, although broadly speaking Dr. Jagan's supporters are for the most part East Indian and the supporters of the P.N.C. are drawn mostly from the African race, the difference is not really racial, but economic and vocational."2
Concerning the racial makeup of the PPP itself and its governments, the following are the facts:
"...persons of Indian descent comprise 50% and those of African origin only 34% of the population. But the PPP has won seats where the majority of the electors are of African origin. In the 1961 elections the PPP had 14 candidates of Indian origin and 11 of African descent. In the Legislative Assembly, the PPP had 11 Indian and 7 African members... In the Government administration, those of African descent have 30 key positions in the police force and Indians have only 4. In the police ranks there are more than 1,000 of African origin and only 248 of Indian descent."2
The political result of the cooperation and harmony between two super-exploited sectors of a c[o]lonial people was that both British and American imperialism were frightened out of their wits: in April 1953, in the first General Elections under Universal Adult Suffrage held in British Guiana, Dr. Cheddi Jagan, an East Indian Guianese trained as a dentist in the U.S., led his avowedly-socialist People's Progressive Party (PPP) to victory. Out of a total of 24 seats, the PPP contested 18 and won them all. Mr. Forbes Burnham, an attorney of African extraction, later in Opposition and currently neo-colonial prime minister, was then Chairman of the PPP and Minister of Education in the new administration.
This parliamentary success brought consequences:
"Since 1953 ... foreign intrigue has aimed at the destruction of (British Guiana working class) unity and militancy. Their actions were principally: the 'terror' rule which followed the 1953 suspension of the Constitution; the 1955 Burnham-engineered split in the PPP and the subsequent alliance of Mr. Burnham and his working class supporters with those reactionary elements who were opposed to the PPP before the 1953 suspension."2
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2. The response of the British empire: first, via the kept press of the colony itself, it alleged "a Communist conspiracy", led, of cou[r]se, by Dr. Jagan and the PPP. This was the prelude. Then, an "arson plot" was added, in which even the British government, to judge by its remarks in a White Paper following investigation, did not believe. Nevertheless, within 1933 days, British battle-ships had reimposed direct colonial rule, which lasted till 1957, followed
"by all the trappings of a police state: assemblies and demonstrations were banned and persons were detained for months without trial."2
The first election having been nullified by British troops and warships, Britain followed through in typical style by setting up the usual British Commission of Inquiry to blow smoke in the public eye. One of the Commission
s's members was George Woodcock, an Assistant General Secretary of Britain's T.U.C.
3. A campaign got under way inside the British Guiana T.U.C., under the direction and prodding of its British counterpart, to disrupt the unity of the Guayanese working people. By February 1962, this campaign had blossomed in the "disturbances" alluded to by the British judge above. The excuse was a new Labor Relations Bill proposed by Jagan's Government (after his third election in 1961) which would have permitted the Guayanese sugar workers to choose by secret ballot his own labor union instead of being, as was then the case, forced into the Company union called the Manpower Citizens' Association (MPCA).2
4. In 1955, the Chairman of the PPP, Forbes Burnham, defected from the Party to form his own, the PNC or People's National Congress, which came out in opposition to "the communist aims" of the PPP.
5. The cry of "Communism" arose in British circles other than those of the T.U.C. and government: A Social Democrat (the British Labour M.P., Fenner Brockway), head of the English "Movement for Colonial Freedom", discussing British Guiana, and speaking of the 1955 split in the PPP, had said:
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"The split was fanned by the pro-communist leanings of Dr. Jagan ... As the ideological controversy grew, Forbes Burnham declared himself a Social Democrat and now heads the Opposition under that name."3
Thus, anti-Communism was used by (a) the ruling imperialists to nullify an anti-colonial parliamentary victory; and (b) by a section of the international working population, pushed, prodded and guided by the metropolitan labor aristocracy, which now began combining racism with its usual anti-Communism.
By 1957, the PNC having weathered two years of existence, the British decided that the time was ripe for new elections. They felt reasonably sure that PNC had done its divisive work well enough to ensure the "desired" result.
Accordingly, in August, new elections were held. But again, the PPP scored decisive victory at the polls. Mr. Burnham then had no choice but to join Dr. Jagan in constitutional talks in London, both demanding independence of the British in 1961. The British, while forced to agree to the principle of independence, replied by scheduling still other elections, this time for August 1961.
Before then, however, a new element entered the Guayanese picture: a parting calling itself the United Front (UF) had been organized by one Peter d'Aguiar, a businessman owning breweries and a newspaper. Helped along by open and lavish U.S. funds, the UF joined forces with Burnham's PNC.
Nevertheless, when August rolled around, the PPP took 20 out of 35 seats. Japan again became prime minister – but the police remained under British control. New constitutional talks were announced: first, for January; then, for May, 1962.
By now, it had become obvious that neither racism nor anti-Communism alone would be able to save this territory for imperialism. So, at this point, specifically in September 1961, the metropolitan labor aristocracy (i.e., Social Democracy itself) intervened in British Guiana. The active part it played there finally and successfully got rid of Japan (meaning,¬
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of the immediate threat to colonialism in British Guiana).
The Social Democratic unions of England, through their T.U.C., working with their Guayanese affiliate, the British Guiana T.U.C., had already fomented "trouble" which led in February 1962 to the cited "disturbances" over the proposed Labor Relations Bill (sometimes likened to the U.S. Wagner Labor Act).
Immediately after Japan's third successful candidacy, in August 1961, the AMERICAN trade unions, representing racism in the metropolitan working class, took a direct hand in Guayanese union and political affairs.
"U.S. citizens, agencies and institutions – the American Institute for Free Labor Development, the Christian Anti-Communist Crusade, the International Congress of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), and its Latin-American Regional Committee (ORIT) – have been actively engaged in subversion. Without the funds supplied by these organizations, the strike of 1963 would have collapsed in a couple of weeks."2
Instead, it lasted 80 days – nearly 12 weeks.
According to a corroborating statement.
"The last twenty months, (i.e., from September 1961 – H.E.) have seen a massive effort to bring the trade union movement in British Guiana under the control of the United States trade union movement."4
An avenue for such a venture already existed: most important British Guiana unions were already affiliated to U.S. counterpart unions and/or to their international-controlled sections, starting with the B.G. TUC, wihch was tied to the ICFTU, international labor arm of Social Democracy; and including at least eight others with organizational bonds to American or ICFTU unions and/or their Regional Organizations.
Contrary to the usual stance of metropolitan trade unions, which want colonial unions to be NON-political in order to qualify for their "aid", the preoccupation of B.G. unions under British and American "stimulation", was with political rather than economic questions:
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"Notwithstanding the low rates of wages and poor conditions of work in certain commercial undertakings, the omission of certain employers to pay rates in excess of the minimum ... prescribed by Government for certain categories of workers, and the failure of many employers to comply with provisions enshrined in protective labor legislation, there has been no strike to remedy these conditions since the 1961 General Elections by the Trades Union Council or its affiliates. Instead, the Trades Union Council has called two general strikes for obviously political reasons."4
This judgement had been supported by the aforementioned 1962 Commis[s]ion appointed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Its report also attributed political motives to at least three leading B.G. trade unionists (Ishmael, Jackson and Sankar) all deeply involved in the "disturbances" because "they had personal grievances against Dr. Jagan and his Ministers".
U.S. Unions took three general types of interfering action in British Guiana:4
1. They sent large sums of money into B.G. for special meddling;
2. Guayanese trade unionists were "trained" in the U.S. in growing numbers;
3. A steady stream of U.S. union officials began visiting B.G.
Part of the "large sums of money" consisted of scholarships for Guayanese unionists: eleven local unionists were named who either had already been trained in the U.S. or were undergoing such training under scholarships said to have amounted to $44,000. At the same time, trade unionists sent on scholarship to the U.S. were each paid "for full-time services in the Trades Union Movement", $250 per month for a period of nine months "with expected extensions". For the unextended nine months alone, this added up to a cool $18,000.
Eight of these scholarships came from the Institute for Free Labor Development, a project launched in 1962 with a quarter of a million U.S. dollars under the Alliance for Progress, the organization which runs interference for Wall Street in Latin America; the launchers had been business tycoon J. Peter Grace, who became first President and Chairman of the Board of Trustees;¬
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and George Meany, President of the AFL-CIO, the Institute's Vice-Chairman.
All in all,
"On the basis of union membership and population of the colony, British Guiana has had the highest proportion of scholarships in Latin America to the Institute of Free Labor Development."4
As to other money, one top official in the B.G. TUC and MPCA allegedly said that the ICFTU between 1958 and 1961 had – through its Regional branch ORIT and the Caribbean Labor Congress (CCL) – given local B.G. trade unions some 5,000 B.G. dollars (59 c each, U.S. money; about $3,000) plus an additional 8,500 (or about $5,000 U.S.) between October 1961 and May 1962 "to assist the local movement in a special organizational crash program".5
These amounts, however, were only partial; there were at least nine "omissions" from the confession, involving well over a million dollars of which the following were typical:4
– During 1961, out of a total expenditure of $15,429.02 by the B.G. TUC, about $11,786 came from "overseas sources".
– Officers of B.G. unions had their salaries paid monthly by ICFTU affiliates.
– Unions acquired property, purchased with money advanced by outside, American-controlled organizations.
– Delegations of Guayanese trade unionists were sent abroad to various Labor conferences within the 18 months following the 1961 elections, with all passages and hotel expenses paid for them by the AFL-CIO or ICFTU outfits.
– Some of the heaviest outside financing of the B.G. labor movement came in April 1963 when a general strike was instigated by these outside agitators against a Government Tax Bill made necessary by the refusal of financial aid by all Western sources. American and ICFTU unions sent in an asserted $125,000 per week for "strike relief and other assistance". The strike lasted eleven weeks and four days, making a total sent in for this purpose alone no less than $1,500,000.
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– In addition, motor vehicles, cinema projectors, films, books and office equipment were sent to B.G. unions by U.S. trade unions.
As to the visits of American union officials, in the 18 months following the 1961 elections, more of them visited the colony than in the 18 preceding years. They organized five "sample courses" for local unionists, in addition to which,
'Certain of the visiting U.S. trade unionists also attended and participated in meetings of the Executive of the British Guiana Trade Union Council."4
When the California magazine RAMPARTS early in 1967 exposed extensive CIA penetration into allegedly progressive student organizations, it also implicated a number of U.S. unions. Victor Reuther, international affairs director of the huge United Automobile Workers Union, commented that
"there is a lot bigger story in the CIA's financial and other connections with the AFL-CIO than with students."6
As if in corroboration, a staid New York daily a few days later carried a story about CIA funds channeled through a New York Foundation to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFL-CIO). How AFSCME used such money to help bring about the downfall of the popularly-supported Jagan government was reported in detail: first, these funds supported the 1963 Georgetown general strike designed to overthrow Jagan by force. The strike in turn successfully caused a racial split between black and East Indian Guyanese along political lines. It also paralyzed the Guyanese economy, paving the way for U.S. domination over the once-British colony. (Nevertheless, as we have seen, in the 1964 elections, Jagan again gained an electoral plurality, bigger than those which had sufficed to keep him in office previously; the British simply booted him out.)
AFSCME was said to have used CIA cash in the following specific ways:
1. "to set up in Washington an Inter-American Affairs Branch" of a London-based international confederation of public employees,¬
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the Public Service International. This outfit reportedly was administered by "two CIA aides with the knowledge of the union's leadership".
2. These CIA aides, using AFCSME as cover, advised Guyanese unions "how to organize and sustain" the anti-Jagan strike.
3. They provided funds, food and medical supplies to ensure its success.
4. One CIA aide "even served as a member of a bargaining committee from a Guiana dike workers union that negotiated with Jagan".6
Nor was this the first or only instance of union betrayal of colonial freedom – even in Guyana. In 1961 at New York City's Commodore Hotel, a secret meeting had taken place between an anti-Communist leader of the British Guiana Trades Union Council and AFL-CIO President George Meany with several other top AFL-CIO officials. This had been mere weeks after the August 1961 elections in which Jagan, despite British- and American-supported maneuvers, had again been voted into office.8
The AFL-CIO, either in its own name or via the ICFTU which it had helped found, had
"channeled $20 million of their members' dues between 1949 and 1965 to support foreign trade unions which follow the U.S. line in foreign policy."8
All this outside interference bore fruit in British Guiana in still further elections, held in 1964 under a protested Proportional Representation system imposed by the British. In that election, the PPP – with Japan still prime minister – won 46% of the vote, increasing its total by 3.3% (the only party to register a gain). Burnham's PNC culled 40%, while d'Aguiar's UF got 14%. Using the PR voting system as excuse, the British thereupon forced Jagan out. A coalition was formed by the PNC and the UF with Burnham as prime minister.
THEN – at long last – the British set May 26, 1966, as the date of "independence" for Guyana. And that is how Guyana's present plight came to be.
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The results of Burnham's first year as prime minister were described by Dr. Jagan in an analysis of the Guyana situation. Among other things, Jagan said:
"With the departure of the British, the United States will move into the vacuum created. A new stage of neo-colonialism will thus be launched ...
"In its first 12 months in office, the Burnham-d'Aguiar government has strengthened the hold of imperialism ... It is moving also to denationalize the Guyana Electricity Corp., which my government nationalized and has embarked on a program to aid foreign firms at the expense of the people of Guyana. Taxes which my government imposed in 1962 on the wealthy have been abolished or modified drastically – property, gift, turnover, capital gains and prestige advertising taxes. On the other hand, taxes on consumer goods, against which Burnham campaigned ... are now being imposed ... on a large variety of items consumed by the working people ... there would be no need of consumer taxes at all if the capital taxes against the wealthy had not been abolished in 1965."9
In this way, the reversion to and maintenance of factual colonialism became assured in British Guiana under the name "independence". It was ensured because Social Democracy had joined bands with "its" Government AND with RACIST union officials of a rival imperialist power, the United States of America. In concert, this unholy alliance had succeeded where no separate maneuvers of anti-Communism alone, racism alone or Social Democracy alone had been able to.
The lesson in this is that, faced with possible colonial liberation, imperialist rivalries and the differing class interests between the ruling class and "its" labor aristocracies fade into insignificance and can be utilized by anti-colonial revolution only if properly evaluated – not if they are expected to operate automatically. The tendency is for the major contradiction to take over at such times.
The British Guiana example was, of course, clear-cut. There are others, more complex; many of them, in Africa.
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At the same time, it is no news when Social Democracy resorts to anti-Communism. Its application of this ruling class weapon was not even, or ever, confined to colonies: it began in the West and continues there as well:
"... the principal way in which Social Democracy assists the advance of Fascism to poewr (is) by disorganizing the working class front, by breaking strikes, by denunciation of the class struggle, by preaching legalism and trust in capitalism, by expulsion of all militant elements and splitting of the trade union and working class organizations.
"The war on Communism is placed in the forefront by Social Democracy. The German example has shown to what lengths of direct alliance with the militarist and White Guard Social Democracy will go in order to crush the revolutionary workers. But the slogan of the war on Communism is the slogan of Fascism. Social Democracy and Fascism offer, in effect, rival services to the bourgeoisie for the sla
v[y]ing of Communism."10
That was written in 1935. Today – 34 years later – Social Democracy has not yet abandoned (nor will it ever while it lasts) its use of anti-Communism. A recent example was the case of the progressive weekly (then) NATIONAL GUARDIAN, which published a "Report to Readers: Bitter Harvest of anti-Communism",11 wherein it named itself a victim of red-baiting and "misrepresentation" by NEW AMERICA, "a twice-a-month tabloid newspaper published by the Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation". This was related to an earlier NATIONAL GUARDIAN report on the connections between the CIA and certain national student unions. NEW AMERICA accused the GUARDIAN of "a McCarthy-like attack on an individual it implies is being a CIA agent ... without ... any evidence to back up these charges".11 Apparently, it hoped in this way to lay the basis for a costly court suit against the progressive weekly. This is just one case among many.
The point is that anti-Communism is and has always been one major stock-in-trade of Social Democracy.
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Another is and has been racism in one form or another:
"The overwhelming impression from these essays is of the dismal state of the socialist movement almost everywhere today. Largely responsible for this is Western socialists' failure to take the colonial masses' condition into account as a dominant factor in their own social and economic patterns; in fact, Western socialism has continued to be poisoned by racism."12
In summary, the linkage between Social Democracy, anti-Communism and racism, when the three act in concert, is usually detrimental to the cause of liberation; it is an inevitable result of the growth of liberation forces, both politically and organizationally. This is not to suggest that the combination is unbeatable. Armed with FACTS and a fact-guided, scientific leadership, only the masses of the exploited of this world are that. What seems to have been missing up to now is the willingness to deal on the Left in the West with – precisely – facts; and especially, about the West itself.
As to why the "romantically-admired" Americans picked up where the despised Hitler left off, we can now answer this question: the U.S. as chieftain of world imperialism, today stands, of all imperialist countries, to lose most if there is any real defection among colonial peoples. With the socialist world as a solid bulwark for these peoples, the U.S. ruling class rightly judges that, unless and until it can destroy that world, its entire empire remains in jeopardy. This has been true ever since 1917. Hence, the huge U.S. military build-up, its all-or-nothing bid to "stop Communism" and its use of every conceivable ally – the labor aristocracy, racism, etc. – in attempting to prevent any new anti-colonial revolution from succeeding.
[— 362 —]
A N D S O – W H A T ?
The main concern of the foregoing restudy of Social Democracy since 1914 has been to expose and document the existence within the imperialist system of a subsidiary – currently principal – international contradiction: between the working class in the main capitalist countries and peoples in colonial areas.
To perform that exposition and documentation, it was necessary to return to Lenin's Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. Based on it, an attempt was made to show that to a far greater degree than when he first called attention to it, imperialism is an integral system wherein metropolitan areas exercise world hegemony through subjugating, oppressing and super-exploiting world hinterlands. In this, its greatest ally has been Social Democracy.
The restudy has revealed what may be considered the central fact of this era: That, in its metropoles, imperialism is able to, and does (except for "pockets") with Social Democracy's help, bring prosperity to its own majority. But it does so ONLY at the expense of constantly worsening conditions for peoples in subjugated world areas like Africa, Asia and Latin America. This has been demonstrated as the general expression of the fact that imperialism is today, as Lenin described it yesterday, still primarily parasitic.
Imperialist parasitism finds particular expression via the growth in metropolitan areas to majority status of a once-tiny labor aristocracy, which Lenin called "the principal social ... prop of the bourgeoisie". Concomitantly, there has arisen in the world's super-exploited areas a new, completely parasitic élite, which works with the metropolitan labor aristocracy in helping the international ruling class to stave off revolution in colonial areas.
It has been insisted that examination and exposition of the majority status of parasitic labor aristocracies in the West¬
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constitute neither "slander of the proletariat" nor denial of its long-run, major contradiction with its home bosses.
If, then, the demonstrated subsidiary contradiction between the Western Labor aristocracy and the subjugated colonial peoples is currently the main one operating on the world scene, genuine revolutionaries have to deal with IT now. How?
There is a choice.
1. The existence of such a contradiction can be denied. This, it has been shown, is how the situation is met by Social Democracy; by the modern revisionists; by self-styled anti-revisionists; and, lately, by the Chinese.
a) Modern revisionist headquarters are in the USSR. Their position, including at present, was set forth in Chapter XXI:
"The capitalist world is shaken by class struggles with the working class in their center. Strikes – a school of struggle as Lenin called them – assume wide scope and deal heavy blows at monopolies...
"It is significant that the strike movement is growing fastest in the imperialist states ... and more frequently grew (there) into big political clashes between the working class and state monopoly capitalism ... demonstrating the immense force, staunchness, solidarity and determination (of the working class) and compelling the monopolies to make important concessions."1
b) Self-styled anti-revisionists concur:
"...It is not the white workers in Britain who dominate and exploit the people of African countries; it is the wealthy finance capitalists who, through international concerns like Unilever, exploit not only the people of Nigeria but also the workers of Britain – white and black ... It is true that the great majority of black people of the world are oppressed by imperialism – but so are the great majority of white people."2
c) The Chinese have now joined this segment of opinion:
"Wages of the working people in the United States are not sufficient to maintain the minimum standard of living... The American people are suffering exploitation in all its forms from monopoly capital and are living an extremely hard life...¬
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The persecution and exploitation of the working people by the U.S. ruling clique serve only to further awaken the broad masses of the working people... A growing number of working people among the whites oppose racial discrimination and support the Black people's struggle against violent repression."3
In assessing such positions, it must be remembered that Lenin had predicted that, as revolution approaches, Social Democracy may be expected (whatever its form) to flare up. Never will it die out of itself.
2. The existence of such a contradiction can be faced, attempts being made to deal with it in the interests of real revolution. Happily, growing numbers (though still a tiny minority) in the West are showing in action that they are sick and tired of fairy tales that lull to sleep the world working class in all its sections while its pockets are picked and its throat slit:
a) Among American whites, there is a growing awareness of the vanguard role of the real proletariat, where to find it, what to do about it:
"The most important aspect of (the history and political development of the new left in this country) for white radicals to grasp and grasp firmly is the VANGUARD ROLE played by oppressed peoples in general and the most oppressed sectors of the international working class in particular.
"Take a look at our own history. At almost every turning point in our development from a left-liberal movement to an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist movement, the decisive factor has been the exemplary action and leadership of the black liberation movement and, although indirectly, the example of the Cubans and the Vietnamese."4
b) In London, a few honest Leftists are groping toward the same position:
"Can we expect a class to reject the fruits of exploitation simply on theoretical or moral grounds? A class, for example, schooled in British bourgeois morality, steeped in bourgeois attitudes that seem essential to survival as individuals in a bourgeois society?
"On the other hand, can we fail to oppose exploitation, of any kind, whoever benefits from it?
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"On the other hand, can we fail to oppose exploitation, of any kind, whoever benefits from it?
"Those of us who don't take a clear-cut line on these questions will turn into pretty dubious revolutionaries. We'll probably find it convenient to drop the slogan about U.S.-headed imperialism as the main enemy, since U.S. imperialism is the main prop helping us to maintain exploitation. Then we can concentrate on a reformist-type struggle for a larger share in the loot (doomed to failure because the other side holds the strings that manipulate the economy). Or we might resort to a kind of jingoistic anti-Americanism: British capitalism is best!
"It doesn't seem that a truthful line is going to win us easy popularity. But how can we usefully be anything but truthful! Otherwise, we put the working class into the power of confidence tricksters.
"In the long term, a class that allies itself with the exploiters will go down with the exploiters ... for example ... the South African white working class.
"By making the situation crystal clear, by pointing to the inevitable downfall of the exploiters, as emphasized by every blow struck by the Liberation forces in Vietnam – only thus can we help the British working class to extricate itself from the actual, if passive, alliance with the exploiters."5
There are other examples, such as "Communist ORIENTATION" in Denmark.*
As between these two choices, this text has taken its stand with the second: to face the real situation and work from there.
This approach requires first that the truth be documented. For, without the facts, a revolution has nowhere to go: the only hook on which to hang theory so the masses can grasp it is on WHAT THEY KNOW BY EXPERIENCE. Currently, however, the tendency is to try to use
other's[others'] conditions and fit them into one's own situation. This has led revolution to fail!
This text has merely started the work of marshalling facts; it is hoped that the job will be picked up and carried on. Truth, however, must be dug for:
What sums are actually involved in colonial robbery?
* See Appendix III.
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– What is the metropolitan-colonial wages discrepancy worth, for example, to the bourgeoisie? To the Western labor aristocracy?
– What is the essential – i.e., socially-necessary – cost of producing labor-power today, world-wise? What real difference, if any, exists to geography (for instance, the relative ease of cutting down a tree as against pushing an automated button)?
– What factors inflate the prices of metropolitan commodities, including labor-power? Which constitute cheating when the ruling class buys colonially-produced goods, including colonial labor-power?
– What are other facts today about colonialism? Relations must be spelled out between "old" and "neo" ways whereby imperialism gathers its harvest; the complete size of that harvest; its future.
– Are there new facts today about imperialism? Certain modern studies in this field have been cited.* But terms, used in some quarters, like "neo-imperialism" or "neo-capitalism", are to be decried. If a man ages, and so alters his appearance with wrinkles, lost hair and a stoop in walking, has he ceased to be the man we've known all along? Is he now a "neo-man"?
These are a few questions in need of answers – answers still hidden under the bourgeoisie's manner of selecting its data.
At the same time, in thus assessing the world situation, account must be taken of ALL factors. Above all, the role of RACISM will have to rescued from criminal neglect: it will have to be studied and documented so as to expose it as the material force it actually is in today's world. Until this is done, anti-Communism cannot be conquered; and so, world revolution will remain an unfinished task. To this truth, History stands witness!
If the racism growing in the world's cities today proves anything, it proves that workers (who, there, are mainly a labor aristocracy) know EXACTLY where the MAIN conflict will be joined. And the labor aristocracy thus gives ample warning of the side on which it intends to fight.
Having documented, or while documenting, the background FACTS with which revolution must deal, it is also necessary to¬
* See Section B., Chapter X, Pages 75 ff., above.
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work out the practical tasks which follow from the facts:
* First, to carry out any tasks, an orientation is required.
* Second, work started by men like Harry Magdoff in New York, studying imperialism in detail, must be continued. Care must be taken to ensure that, as orientation, it serves always only the primacy of anti-colonial struggle! This will influence what facts are gathered and how they are presented.
For example, it is imperative to refute factually the current Chinese contention that "U.S. imperialism is falling apart". On the contrary, Uncle Sam can still fall back on 2,000 million human beings: all Latin America (except perhaps Cuba); all Africa; the Caribbean; Western Europe; and a good hunk of Asia – and to all these for the same purpose he is now adding more and more areas of Eastern Europe. Out of these at present, he squeezes his well-being. As long as such a condition persists, imperialism can – and will – continue to solve its inner and growing contradictions at the expense of deepening misery for colonial peoples. THEY MUST REMOVE THEMSELVES FROM IMPERIALISM'S REACH!
* Third, it is urgent that "the working class in the main capitalist countries" be widely exposed as NOT "the proletariat" of the world (acknowledging its inevitable but minority poverty pockets), but at present as a world labor aristocracy. Crystal clarity is needed about its actual political stance and its real material conditions. the object is to expose the FACT that today IT HAS NO CURRENT INCENTIVE TO MAKE REVOLUTION.
As this text has shown, the Western labor aristocracy in its overwhelming majority lives off the backs of colonial peoples. In this way, an antagonism, clearly demonstrated, has been created by imperialism between metropolitan workers and those in colonies. Today, it is this antagonism which, unfortunately, decides the way events turn out. The Western worker, therefore, is NOT NOW an ALLY of revolution. At THIS historical moment, he is a reserve of imperialism.
World revolutionary attention must be focused on this subsidiary contradiction till it can be utilized in moving the situation forward¬
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to new levels. Here, above all, the purpose must be to help pin down and kill the myth of "the poverty-stricken, revolution-oriented Western worker". The "Sweetness and Light" approach to revolution must be smashed as well.
* Fourth, for this purpose, it is necessary further to study the conditions which actually lead to revolution. A main one of them will be found to be the ideological and material need for a vanguard party: where and how is a vanguard party built? Does one exist today?
Material in the text has strongly suggested that it does not. A vanguard party cannot and will not be, and has not yet been, built in the West because all such attempts can be based only on current enemies of revolution. In France during May 1968 this inevitable absence of a vanguard party in the world's cities clearly and irrefutably revealed that struggles, no matter how violent, undertaken without such a party result – and CAN result – ONLY in a reformist outcome. In general, the world labor aristocracy demonstrably works against its so-called class ally in colonies because, today far more than in Lenin's time, the "working class in the main capitalist countries" is handed ITS SHARE of systemic sustenance out of these same 2,000 million human beings whom the ruling class brutally super-exploits. THESE PEOPLE MUST BE REMOVED ALSO FROM THE LABOR ARISTOCRACY'S REACH!
* Fifth, if, as has been shown, imperialism's supply lines remain intact (neo-colonialism), and its mercenaries (the Western labor aristocracy) are still under its control, then it becomes necessary somehow to disrupt those supply lines; to throw confusion and doubt into the ranks of the mercenaries; but to win over any tiny minority among them who, despite years of receiving stolen goods, are still honest enough to recognize truth when they hear it.
* Finally, A VANGUARD PARTY MUST BE BUILT AMONG THE VANGUARD. As Lin Piao showed, that vanguard today resides in the world's hinterlands. But, today, aside from China (and even that becomes doubtful in the light of its current line about how "excellent" the world situation is for revolution),¬
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it would appear that NO VANGUARD PARTY EXISTS. Here is a formidable task, indeed!
Since, moreover, the vanguard from which such a party must be forged is made up of people from or in colonies, there is also a minority reserve of revolution inside the West, because of increasing numbers of colonial migrants there. Activity of a revolutionary nature has already begun emanating from them in some places, like the U.S.
The world proletariat ALSO has 2,000 million human beings on which to rely for revolution. Let this fact, too, be considered in all decisions on tactics; LET IT NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!
A question confronting revolutionaries today is this: is it too late now to reverse the anti-revolutionary trend in the world Left? NEVER! United, the working class is stronger than the politically depraved, moribund ruling class.
We have been told that, if this book did not call for UNITY OF THE WORKING CLASS, it would be "no good". Well, let's set the record straight on this:
* There is NO "unity" if there is no vanguard party to steel people ideologically and guide the struggle to victory!
* It is NOT "unity" to hold Western workers up as "leader of world revolution" by denying that they live off colonial peoples.
* Nor is it "unity" to appoint Western workers, with their stolen Good Life, as "revolutionary leaders" just because here and there they fight tenaciously for a bigger share in colonial loot. The struggle over stolen swag is NOT class struggle; just because one is a participant in it, that does NOT constitute credentials for leadership of revolution.
UNITY, to be viable, can be based ONLY on principle. Principle can subsist ONLY on FACT. This book is a small first step toward such – honest, real – working class unity because it calls for, and documents the sanity behind, HEGEMONY OF OPPRESSED AND SUPER-EXPLOITED PEOPLES IN MAKING REVOLUTION. It is primarily a call for FACTS as the METHOD eventually to achieve that UNITY in the WORLD WORKING CLASS which history requires.
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Colonial workers! You are the world's overwhelming majority! The metropoles cannot exist without you. BUT YOU CAN EXIST WITHOUT THEM! TAKE YOUR DESTINY INTO YOUR OWN HANDS! DO NOT EXPECT HELP WHERE NONE MAY BE EXPECTED! INSCRIBE ON YOUR BANNERS THE SOBER, COSTLY BUT EFFECTIVE WATCHWORD:
This – and this alone – will eventually bring unity to the world working class, thus enabling world revolution at last to succeed! Meantime, the rest of us must find ways effectively to support colonial liberation struggles!