On 15 April 2023, a clash between two military forces broke out in the capital city of Khartoum in Sudan.(1) Two military generals, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head each of the sides involved. Out of the two military factions, the more “regular” armed troops of Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are led by Burhan, with the militia oriented Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Dagalo.(2)
The Political-Economic Prelude to the 2023 Conflict
On 30 June 1989, Omar al-Bashir came to power in Sudan in a coup d’etat. For three decades Bashir ruled Sudan under a military dictatorship where Dagalo gained prominence as a General of the Sudanese Armed Forces. Under Bashir, the Rapid Support Forces grew out of the Janjaweed militias mostly compromising of the southern Sudanese peasantry. In the early 2000s, the RSF helped the SAF crush the rebellion in the western region of Darfur.(3)
Under the military dictatorship of Bashir, Dagalo received gold mines for his actions in the RSF. Burhan also had close ties politically with Bashir.(4) However, with the turbulent political climate that the military dictatorship of Bashir created among the civilian population, the SAF and the RSF have ousted Bashir and the military dictatorship alongside civilian protests. This Sudanese revolution, birthed a short-lived civilian government that went by the name of the Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC) led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok with elections to have originally taken place in 2023. Despite Hamdok’s appeals to the people’s movement at the time, he has also had backing from the U.$. imperialists aimed to make sure the new governing force in Sudan remained friendly to the United $tates. Previously, al-Bashir had defied the Clinton regime in the U.$. by harboring Al-Qaeda’s Osama Bin-Laden during the military dictator’s reign.
In October 2021, al-Burhan along with Dagalo led a coup d’etat against Hamdok which ended the two year long civilian rule born out of the people-power revolution.
Most of the current fighting is being done in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. On the second day of the conflict, the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors have reported that 56 people were killed and nearly 600 were injured. The World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement on 16 April 2023:
“There are also reports of shortages of specialized medical personnel, including anesthesiologists. Water and power cuts are affecting the functionality of health facilities, and shortages of fuel for hospital generators are also being reported.”(5)
The Russian imperialists have taken a stake in this conflict with the Wagner Group’s support for Dagalo’s RSF giving the militia surface-to-air missiles and military training to the RSF.(6) On the eve of Russia’s war with Ukraine, the Sudanese military’s lapdogs of Russian imperialism granted Russia access to Sudan’s gold in exchange for military and political support.(7)
The Chinese and the U.$. imperialists (alongside many other countries such as Egypt) have taken a more reserved stance on this conflict with more focus towards evacuating their countries’ personnel. Hundreds of Amerikan and other western imperialist countries have taken part in evacuation plans.(8)
On 27 April 2023, the civilian death toll has surpassed 500 with more than 5,000 injured and still counting according to The New York Times.(9) The bourgeoisie portray Africa as a chaos-torn continent with myriads of countries filled with constant violence, but we must remember that political-economic forces and class struggle drive the violence. The beef between Dagalo and al-Burhan is between a disagreement in assimilating Dagalo’s RSF to al-Burhan’s Sudanese military proper. While bourgeois rhetoric portrays this as humanity’s woes of famine, plague, and war that are embedded within our nature, the more scientific way to look at this picture is that the comprador-bourgeoisie (both Dagalo and al-Burhan) always struggle among themselves to be the principal lapdog for foreign imperialist forces (in this case primarily Russian). This is typical of neo-colonialism where multiple imperialist forces oftentimes have stake in a single semi-feudal neo-colony. Mao understood this for his country during semi-feudal China when the Japanese invaded, the western powers won’t let go of China without a fight. This led to the birth of a strategy by the people of having two imperialist forces fight amongst each other while the people maintain independence. While the current fighting is between anti-people forces, the workers and peasants of Sudan and Africa overall have the historical duty of ending these wars of the imperialists and compradors with revolutionary war of the proletariat.
Notes 1. The New York Times, “Chaos in Sudan: Who Is Battling for Power, and Why It Hasn’t Stopped” April 27, 2023.
3. Elian Peltier and Abdi Latif Dahir, “Who are the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitaries fighting Sudan’s Army?” New York Times April 17, 2023
5. CNN, “Fighting between Sudan military rivals enters a second day, with dozens dead” April 17, 2023.
6. Ibid. (The Wagner Group is a Russian paramilitary organization that first appeared in Ukraine as part of Russia’s seizure of territory there.)
7. CNN, “Russia is plundering gold in Sudan to boost Putin’s war effort in Ukraine” July 29, 2022
8. Jennifer Hansler, “US has evacuated American diplomatic personnel from Sudan” CNN April 24, 2023
“We can’t afford rent and we’re sleeping outside. The youths are jobless” -Yaw Barimah, Ghanaian taxidriver
In late June 2022, street protests erupted in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. The above quote matches the general feel and demands of the masses who took to the streets. Most lay persons are aware of the current effects of inflation on the daily lives of the average people. Many of us have not made the necessary connection that such inflation and other tricks capitalists use to increase the amount of surplus value extracted from the populace, are inherently apart of the internal dynamics of capitalism itself. Our failure to understand this brings our protests, and dissent to a screeching halt once the point of economic reformism is reached.
In countries dominated under imperialist neo-colonialism, such as Ghana, the weight of economic exploitation is maximized. As conditions sharpen, the exploited classes of Ghana are beginning to stir. On July 4th four teacher’s unions went on strike in opposition to the neo-colonial government’s refusal to pay ‘cost-of-living allowances’ of at least 20% of their wages.
The government holds the position that due to ‘Annual inflation’ now reaching 27.6% and the accompanied reduction in value of the Cedi(1), they’re unable to pay this allowance. The system of imperialism works in a way that parasitic countries like amerika hold economic hegemony over Third World countries like Ghana. This allows for the U.$. currency, the dollar, to dictate the value of the national currencies of Third World countries. What this means for the Ghanaian and other Third World workers is that because their wages are paid in money, the national currency, the amount of their pay, although the same on paper, is devalued along with national currency.
So the exploitation of the Ghanaian worker has intensified. Their labor is still required to be done at the same rate, same hours labored, same amount of labor, and same wage paid. What has changed is the value of their labor power; with inflation, the amount of cedi it takes to maintain the worker’s needs is greater. Yet wages have not increased, or not increased as much.
To allow the common people to overstand our common interest in overthrowing capitalist dictatorship it is necessary to understand and breakdown plainly, the inner-working of capitalism and how it effects the lives of the people.
In Ghana, as described above, and many other places around the world right now, the mechanism being used by capitalist exploiters is the depression of wages. This generally occurs when the wages of the worker are below the value of their labor power. Labor power here means human work, the sum total of a person’s physical and mental effort.(2) Labor power is the primary factor in society’s production. Uniquely however, only in capitalist society is labor power a commodity.
The process of commodification of labor power manifests itself in two conditions: (1) The worker is ‘free’ in that they can ‘choose’ to sell their labor as a commodity. (2) The worker owns nothing aside from their labor power (what the mind/body can produce). They have no means of productions, or means of living and must sell their labor power to live.
Therefore, what we know as ‘employment’ in the capitalist economy consists of capitalists buying the labor power of the laborer and converting them into hired slaves.
The exploitation of workers is examined by the advent of surplus value. The degree of exploitation is examined by the rate of surplus value. The capitalist devises ways to maximize this rate of surplus value, which brings me back to depression and deduction of wages.
To comprehend wages, we must first overstand that wages are a ‘disguise’. They are a way to fool the people into thinking they’re getting equal value for their labor.
Marx said, “wages are not what they appear to be. They are not the value or price of labor, but a disguised form of the value or price of labor power.”(3) Therefore the capitalists notion that they pay the worker the price of their labor is completely fabricated.
A key in understanding political economy is to comprehend the distinction between labor and labor power. Under capitalism what the worker is selling isn’t labor, but is labor power, which is capable of being commodified, while the former (labor) isn’t.
The next logical question is why? why is labor not a commodity? Commodities exist in their final state prior to being sold, labor doesn’t. Also commodities are exchanged for equal value, according to the law of value. Therefore if labor was a commodity the capitalist should pay the full value created by labor, which would eliminate surplus value (the source of profit), which would eliminate capitalism.
If labor was a commodity, it would have value and that value would be determined by the amount of embodied labor. This can’t happen. How can the value of a phenomenon be determined by the value of itself?
What labor is is the process of labor power. Therefore the wage paid to the laborer is equal to the value of the labor power. In other words, it is the amount required to keep the proletariat as a class alive and working – that is the value of labor power. Whatever extra the worker’s labor power produces above the value of labor power (the wage paid to keep the proletariat alive) is called surplus value and it is what is ‘exploited’ by the capitalist. The wage itself is the chain that binds the exploiter to the exploited. The revolutionary demand must be to abolish the wage system.
The term ‘cost of living allowance’, caused me to think of our need to overstand where the idea of ‘cost of living’ or ‘standard of living’ has its roots.
We begin by concluding that these are two distinctive wages. In the political economy of capitalism, there are nominal wages and there are real wages. Nominal wages are expressed by the wage payment of money.
In our quest to find the ‘cost of living’, we can’t use nominal wages as representation. The cost of living will only be reflected by the amount of means of livelihood which can be bought by the money wage (nominal wage). What the nominal wage can purchase is the cost/standard of living and is called real wages.
What is taking place in Ghana is that there is a contradiction between the nominal and real wages. The nominal wage is being held in place, while the real wage is in a downward trend, a decline.
“When the purchasing power of money declines and the prices of the means of livelihood go up, the same amount of the nominal wage can only be exchanged for a smaller amount of means of livelihood. Then the real wage falls. Sometimes even if the nominal wage goes up a bit, but less than the increase in prices of the means of livelihood, the real wage will still decline.”(4)
This is essentially what we observe playing out in real time in Ghana and elsewhere. As the above quote alludes to, simple economic reforms like increase in wage will not end this phenomenon, the elimination of surplus value is the only solution. The bourgeoisie will always use the tools of inflation, price increases and rent increases to increase the contradiction between the nominal wage (money paid) and the real wage (what can be bought) to increase the rate of surplus value accumulation (the exploitation of the people).
In conclusion, I want to point out that while the protests organized by Arise Ghana and the work strike by the four teacher’s unions are significant struggles for the daily hurdles of life for the Ghanaian people, the people must be made to distinguish between the causes and effects of economic hardship. When a sick person has a cold and a running nose, they don’t merely get a tissue for the nose without curing the cold itself. The people exploited by imperialism must synthesize the economic and political struggles.
Closing with a word from Marx,
“The working class should not forget: in this daily struggle they are only opposing the effect, but not the cause that produces this effect; they are only delaying the downward trend, not changing the direction of the trend; they are only suppressing the symptom, not curing the disease.”(5)
DOWN WITH CAPITALIST-IMPERIALISM!!!
Notes: (1) The Cedi is the national currency of Ghana. (2) Fundamentals of Political Economy, edited by George C. Wang,;Chapt.4,pg.59 (3)K.Marx,Critique of the Gotha Program,selected work of Marx &Engels Vol.3 (4)Fundamentals of Political Economy,chapt.4,pg72 (5)K.Marx, Wages,Prices and Profit, Selected Works of Marx &Engels, Vol.2
Anti-imperialists watching the Horn of Africa have sounded the alarm that Amerikans are scheming to further their exploitation of Ethiopia. In May, United States Agency of International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance head Sarah Charles spoke to the U.$. Congress about how the Ethiopian government and other armed forces were restricting the access of Amerikan staff and equipment in the country.(1) Ten days before the 21 June 2021 elections in Ethiopia, the U.$. State Department issued a statement expressing “grave” concern about the conditions of the elections and said they were ready to “help Ethiopia address these challenges” in order to cast doubt on election results.(2)
Many concerned about the talk coming from the U.$. government refer to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria as warnings of what could happen in Ethiopia. Amerikan troops left the infamous sprawling Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan on 2 July 2021, allowing looters to enter the grounds the following day.(3) In 2001, the U.$. overthrew the Taliban-ruled government of Afghanistan. Twenty years later, the Taliban are poised to regain control of the country following the longest war in U.$. history. All peace-loving people have an interest in preventing another one of these long, drawn out wars that have become the norm for U.$. imperialism as it struggles to dominate the rest of the world.
U.$. imperialists have already begun waging warfare in the form of economic sanctions against both Ethiopia and Eritrea. Meanwhile, they continue to push for access by USAID and its affiliated NGOs to meddle in African affairs. The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front(TPLF) launched attacks on the Ethiopian armed forces back in November 2020, which began the war that seems to have reached a stopping point this July and has been used by the Amerikans as a reason to get involved. The TPLF led the Ethiopian government until 2018 when the TPLF president resigned due to popular pressure. In addition to domestic abuses, they led Ethiopia in a war for territory against Eritrea during that time. Eritrea has made peace with the new Ethiopian government led by Abiy Ahmed and sided with Ethiopia in the recent war against the TPLF.
Ethiopia is the 12th most populated country in the world, and the second most populated in Africa. In the 1970s, the Derg government led a quick, forced nationalization of the Ethiopian economy. Current President Abiy Ahmed has overseen the privatization and liberalizations of the economy, which began after 1991, when Ethiopia shifted from the Soviet Union to a U.$. client state. These moves by Abiy will increase foreign investment and involvement in Ethiopian industry. A 2018 plan by the Abiy-led government targeted 25% growth rates in manufacturing until 2025.(4) While falling short so far, this indicates their intentions to become Africa’s leading manufacturing hub. In other words, the Ethiopian masses still living in semi-feudal conditions are a potential source of a newly proletarianized population for imperialist corporations to extract surplus value from.
During the recent conflict, Abiy froze the assets of many TPLF associated companies with U.$. and other foreign investments, which may have concerned the Amerikans as well.
As part of their new plan to provide power for this growth in industry, Ethiopia has been operationalizing the new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). On 6 July 2021, Ethiopia began the second stage of filling the dam. The Egyptian and Sudanese governments have been calling for U.N. intervention for fear of the impact on their water supplies. This will be the biggest hydroelectric project in Africa.(5) Egypt (run by U.$.-backed dictator Abdel Fattah el-Sisi) has indicated it would support intervention in Ethiopia to stop this project by saying all options are on the table. Egypt is one of the most important U.$. client states, historically falling in the top 3 receivers of military aid from the imperialists. The Trump administration had supported Egypt’s interests regarding the dam, and we expect U.$. support to continue.
Land-locked Ethiopia’s access to the Red Sea is through Eritrea or Djibouti. Djibouti is a small country between Eritrea and Somaliland. It is the home of AFRICOM, the United $tates military’s Africa Command, and a number of other imperialist militaries. These military bases provide 5% of Djibouti’s GDP. China has their only foreign military base in Djibouti, making it a potential location of conflict between the Amerikan and Chinese imperialists. This location is also important for access between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea including large movements of fossil fuels.
President Abiy has formed alliances with Eritrea and Somalia, countries the U.$. has used Ethiopia to destabilize in the past. This show of unity in the Horn of Africa could allow for greater serving of African interests, rather than Amerikan interests.
Strong Marxist History
National liberation struggles influenced by Marx, Lenin and Mao are central to the recent history of Ethiopia and Eritrea. In its early days, MIM often mentioned Eritrea as one of the locations of a liberatory people’s war in the 1980s. Current President of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, was one of the first members of the Eritrean Liberation Forces(ELF) to train in socialist China in 1967. He was later part of the leadership to form the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which split from the ELF and combined the ELF’s strong nationalism with an explicit Marxist-Leninist line and the strategy of People’s War.(6)
In Ethiopia a series of Marxist-Leninist organizations emerged to challenge the feudal system of Haile Selassie. This led to the removal of Haile Selassie by his own military leaders in 1974, who formed the Derg government. The Derg undertook a massive nationalization campaign, labeling itself “Marxist-Leninist” and a socialist state in 1975. The Derg assigned head of state to U.$.-trained Mengistu Haile Mariam, but became an ally of the social-imperialist USSR. Their national-brougeois ideas fit nicely with the revisionist distortions of Soviet “Marxism-Leninism.”(7)
The Tigray People’s Liberation Front also began in the revolutionary period of the 1960s. By the late 1970s it was waging guerilla war against the Derg, under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray. At this time there was a split in the revolutionary movement of Ethiopia around the question of secession, with the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front leading the call for the right to self-determination of Eritrea independent of Ethiopia. Others saw secessionist movements in Ethiopia as linked to the reactionary regionalism of feudalism, and a division of the peasant masses.(8)
In 1991, MIM Notes celebrated the overthrow of the “social-fascist Mengistu regime” by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front(EPRDF) as well as the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front(EPLF), which abstained from the provisional government of Ethiopia opting for independence instead. They noted, “MIM doesn’t have much information about the”revolutionary programs" of the EPRDF, so we must watch and let the practice of both the EPRDF and EPLF speak for itself.“(9) Yet, MIM Notes had already quoted the New York Times under the heading”Victories Betrayed":
"The best insurance against another hard-line Marxist regime in Ethiopia appears to be the presence in Ethiopia immediately after the EPRDF’s victory, of an Amerikan, Paul B. Henze.
“Henze, the station chief of the Central Intelligence Agency at the United States Embassy in Addis Ababa from 1969 to 1972, was invited to the capital as a personal guest of President Meles. He spent five weeks in Ethiopia advising Meles and was upbeat when he left. ‘Meles is pragmatic,’ Henze says. ‘He and his colleagues are not bothering with ideological matters. Ethiopia has a good chance of becoming a productive country.’”(10)
Meles Zenawi was a member of the Marxist-Leninist League of Tigray before becoming the first president of Ethiopia under the EPRDF government. As the CIA agent predicted, rather than struggling against differences between classes and nationalities in Ethiopia, the TPLF used its power to dominate the government at the expense of other nationalities and regions, and it soon became a pawn of U.$. imperialism in its maneuvering for power. As a result, by 1998, Meles(TPLF)-led Ethiopia had invaded Isaias(EPLF)-led Eritrea. It appears that both organizations abandoned their Marxist-Leninist lines prior to the overthrow of the Derg and their seizing of state power as part of the process of forming the united front against the Derg. This indicates that there were right-opportunist, liquidationist errors within the leadership of both movements that allowed them to put the liberation struggle and overthrow of the Derg above and in place of the struggle for socialism and a dictatorship of the proletariat. They did not heed the lessons of Mao’s China on how to keep proletarian leadership within a united front of class interests against imperialism. This led to reactionary bourgeois nationalism to play the leading role in these countries, despite the promising Marxist origins of this shift in power. The result gives credence to the warnings from those Marxists who argued against regionalism and secession and opposed the politics of the earlier ELF and original TPLF.
The Organization for African Unity, started by leaders like Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie, also took up a line that it was against the interests of the people of Africa to begin dismantling the states that were amalgamations of peoples imposed by the colonial powers. History has proven this strategy to be effective in preventing divisions among the oppressed. Nkrumah had hoped for the OAU to become a federal government uniting all of Africa, but that strategy did not win out.
At the same time, Maoists recognize the right to self-determination of all nations. And the liberation movement in Eritrea held much promise leading up to liberation. Eritrea also differed from other regions in Ethiopia in that it was previously a separately administered state under Italian colonial occupation. Today, Eritrea remains the only country in Africa without AFRICOM presence, leading to much derision from the United $tates and Europe over the years. They took pride in their non-aligned stance in a world divided by the United $tates and the social imperialist Soviet Union. In 1984, Isaias Afewerki also declared they had no links or support from China. They did not take a position on whether China was still socialist at the time. Isaias did look at Cuba as an example of what happens when you become a client state of the Soviet Union. Isaias claimed the Cubans disagreed with USSR policy in Ethiopia and Eritrea, yet Cuban troops operated in Derg-ruled Ethiopia on behalf of Soviet interests in the 1980s.(11)
While Eritrea has a history of independence and remaining politically neutral, they have recently provided support for the U.$./Saudi war on Yemen that has led to a massive loss of humyn life since 2015. This was likely motivated by financial gain.(12) In the 1980s, South Yemen was in solidarity with the Eritrean liberation struggle despite opposition by the imperialist Soviet Union. Like Cuba, South Yemen took on the form of “Marxist-Leninist” state years after its liberation under the influence of the Soviet Union. Like the Cubans, they seemed to recognize the righteousness of the Eritrean liberation struggle. Today, we cannot view the Eritrean leadership as serving real self-determination when they are being pitted against Yemen by the imperialists. Ultimately, it was the abandonment of proletarian politics that led Eritrean leadership to side with imperialism in the Middle East.
While revisionism seems to have thwarted the popular revolutionary forces in the Horn of Africa in the late 20th century, the proletarian, revolutionary line is no stranger to the people of the region. This is further evidenced by President Abiy having to specifically address and critique Marx, Lenin and Mao in his recent book.(13) It is only through the unified struggle of all African people that the current violence, death and starvation can be properly ended. U.$. and other imperialist involvement will continue to pit Africans against Africans and other oppressed people.
Our Role in the Horn of Africa
In April 2018, Abiy Ahmed of the Oromo Democratic Party was elected Prime Minister of the EPRDF government of Ethiopia. This marked the end of TPLF leadership in the EPRDF, which was replaced by the Prosperity Party coalition in November 2019, excluding TPLF. After his confirmation, Abiy quickly established peace with Eritrea, still headed by Isaias Afewerki. This was a historic peace agreement, returning land to Eritrea that the TPLF had been occupying, signalling unity in the region against the U.$.-backed TPLF. Eritrea and Ethiopia have remained united in the war that began in November 2020 with a TPLF attack on Ethiopian forces. Until the people of the region can mount proletarian-led struggles for power again, the Eritrean-Ethiopian alliance remains important for strengthening the region against further meddling by foreign imperialism.
Our role in all of this is determined by the imperial nature of the United $tates government. Like all people in the world, it is our duty to build towards a dictatorship of the proletariat in our own backyard. But we have the added duty of countering the imperial machinations of our current government.
We should expose the imperialist nature of State Department agencies like USAID that want to present themselves as humanitarian organizations. While President Trump celebrated the Ethiopia and Eritrea peace deal, the Biden administration has brought those favoring intervention in the Horn of Africa back into the White House.
Toward the end of his presidency, Barack Obama appointed Gayle Smith to Administer USAID. Gayle Smith was first employed by USAID in 1994. She had lived in EPLF-run areas dating back to the 1970’s, where she was a “journalist” working undercover for the CIA. She later spent time embedded with the TPLF where she mentored Meles Zenawi, who would go on to wage decades of war against the EPLF.(14) Another close confidant of Meles was Susan Rice, who was national security advisor to Barack Obama.(13) And as we mentioned above, Meles had open relations with local CIA agents from the very beginning of his presidency.
In 2021, Biden has appointed Samantha Power to head USAID. Samantha Power had succeeded Susan Rice as Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations after being mentored by both Rice and Obama. Rice was involved in the violent separation of South Sudan from Sudan and lied about mass rapes to justify the invasion of Libya. Rice and Power worked with Hillary Clinton to greenlight the invasion of that killed Muammar Gaddafi, which Clinton later laughed about on television.
In 2013, Power led the charge within the Obama administration to bomb Syria, which Rice came around to support. Power’s book A Problem From Hell justifies intervention against genocide. She used this mission statement of hers to justify bombing Syria and Libya, and now stands behind it to intervene and defend the TPLF.(15) We oppose the continued expansion of U.$. troops in Africa since President Bush started AFRICOM in 2008. U.$. support for the TPLF clearly aims to divide Africans so that they can be better controlled for the benefit of imperialist-country corporations.
The campaign to get the U.$. military operations of AFRICOM out of Africa has been popularized in recent months. The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) initiated a petition drive, which they extended to 4 April 2019, the anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Comrades in United Struggle from Within stepped up and made a substantial contribution to this drive from within the U.$. koncentration kamps.
To add to the list(1) of California, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, USW comrades came through with petitions from Oregon, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. California and Texas also produced quite a few more signatures. And some individuals from Maryland and West Virginia sent their signatures in as well. A large number of our subscribers are in long-term isolation and therefore collecting others' signatures is very difficult.
BAP submitted about 3500 signatures to the Congressional Black Congress chairperson and co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.(2) With the additional 193 signatures we received since our last report we have submitted 423 signatures to the campaign. That is more than 10% of the total signatures collected! United Struggle from Within made a significant contribution to this campaign.
Of course, that is a small victory in the large task of ending U.$. imperialism in Africa. An anti-imperialist message was brought to sections of Congress, and the streets of Washington D.C., by BAP last week. In solidarity, USW popularized the message behind the bars of U.$. koncentration kamps. When doing campaigns like petition drives, the interactions we have with the masses when collecting the signatures is even more important than the interactions BAP leaders have with Congress. Congress will not and can not end U.$. imperialism, only the oppressed people of the world have the power to do that. And that is why building unity among the oppressed around these issues is of utmost importance to our mission.
The torture and abuse enacted on the oppressed nations within U.$. borders is a product of the same system that is dropping bombs and unleashing brutal violence in African countries from Somalia, to Libya, to Nigeria. That is why MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within are dedicated to the anti-imperialist prison movement in the United $tates. Without anti-imperialism, the prison movement is limited to treating the symptoms and not the disease.
The struggle to get AFRICOM out of Africa continues. If you did not get a campaign pack with info on AFRICOM, write us to get a copy. Discuss what is going on in the Third World with those around you. Relate it to the oppression felt here. Write articles for ULK. Our 423 signatures did not shut down AFRICOM, but the oppressed will shut down AFRICOM some day.
Anti-imperialists got a little taste of good news from Trump last month when ey announced plans to pull troops out of Syria. Ey later backpedaled saying ey did not set a timeline for such a pull out. But Trump has long made comments indicating that the new focus of U.$. strategy will be to combat China and Russia. In other words, the war on oppressed nations, particularly in the middle east and north Africa, and euphemistically dubbed the "War on Terror," will no longer be the primary focus.
It has always been MIM line that we are in a period of World War III, that is a low intensity war by the imperialists against the oppressed nations. The hegemony of the United $tates allowed for this to be the focus in the decades following World War II. That hegemony is fading, and the emergence of a fourth world war, or a third inter-imperialist war is bubbling to the surface.
Of course, inter-imperialist war does not mean the oppressed nations get a reprieve from the needless brutality of capitalism, as inter-imperialist war is always about carving up the oppressed nations for their resources and markets. Enter "Prosper Africa", the plan announced by U.$. National Security Advisor John Bolton in December. Bolton stated, "America's vision for the region is one of independence, self-reliance and growth, not dependency, domination and debt."(1) This is a hypocritical jab at China, from the country who has done more to make Africa dependent and in debt in the last half-century than any other. At the same time the Trump administration is calling for more "honest" dealings with Africa, that recognize U.$. economic and political interests more openly.
The "Prosper Africa" plan coincides with Pentagon plans to reduce U.$. troops in Africa by 10%. Nothing close to our demands to shut down Africom, rather a subtle adjustment of current U.$. strategy. The immediate focus seems to be drawing hard lines in the sand of the African continent between those compliant with U.$. imperialism and those who are not.
In recent years, China has joined forces with other emerging imperialist or sub-imperialist nations with independent banking capital including Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa (BRICS). As a group, the BRICS countries have greatly increased trade with African countries over the last decade. Increases in trade on the whole is a benefit to the well-being of all peoples involved. While this trade provides outlets and opportunities for capital from countries with growing finance capital, the established imperialist powers (the United $tates and France) face a reduction in their access to markets and in their ability to strong arm the oppressed nations of the world into serving their interests. This threatens to contribute to economic crisis in the advanced imperialist economies, and trigger more militaristic and desperate actions politically.
The Trump administration has hinted at pulling support from United Nations (U.N.) "peacekeeping" missions in Africa. While opposing the U.N. garners support from white nationalists subscribing to isolationalism and Amerikkkan exceptionalism, the real motivation here is likely to reduce Chinese influence in the region. More than 2,500 Chinese troops are stationed in war zones created by U.$. and French imperialism in South Sudan, Liberia and Mali. China accounted for 1/5 of the U.N. troops pledged to operations in Africa in 2015.(2)
China established its first military base outside of China in 2017 at the strategic location of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. This is in line with a shift in Chinese foreign policy over the last decade from non-interference to "protecting our country's over-seas interests."(3) The United $tates, France and Japan are among the countries with existing bases in Djibouti, where the government depends on military leases as an important source of income.
The U.$.-backed coup and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 helped break the continent's resistance to Africom. Up until then Africom had to operate out of Europe. With the pan-Africanist government in Libya out of the way, Africom was able to operate from within Africa for the first time. Now the United $tates has at least 46 military bases in Africa and close military relations with 53 out of the 54 African countries. Many countries have agreements to cede operational command of their militaries to Africom.(4)
While the coup in Libya was a victory for U.$. imperialism, it continues to be a disaster for Libyans, with repercussions for the whole region. The United $tates will have a much harder time stemming the still-expanding Chinese pole that challenges U.$. hegemony in Africa. As this contradiction threatens the world with inter-imperialist war, it offers opportunities for the oppressed to move independently as cracks widen in the imperialist system.
On 13 January 2019, MIM(Prisons) sent 230 signatures on the petition to shut down Africom to the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) who will be presenting them to the Black Congressional Congress after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This petition calls for the disbanding of Africom (a U.$. imperialist tool to control African militaries), the removal of all U.$. military bases on African soil and the end to U.$. invasions, bombings and other military operations on the continent.
So far we have received petitions from United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades in California, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. BAP is accepting signatures until April 4 — the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. We encourage people to write to us for petitions ASAP and get your signatures in to us by April 1. And we encourage comrades to continue to spread information on this topic to build public opinion against U.$. imperialism in Africa.
USW comrades faced resistance in carrying out this campaign from staff and some prisoners. One USW cell lost 2 sheets of signatures in an altercation with a racist prisoner who opposed its work. Elsewhere in California, prison staff were ordered to target anti-Africom fliers for removal, and USW comrades were targeted for their leadership which forced signature gathering to end early. We have seen increased mail tampering and censorship with California comrades since this campaign began. If it weren't for repression, we would have had twice the number of signatures to submit before the deadline.
While our numbers weren't as high as the goal set by USW, comrades did a good job of turning this around on relatively short notice. Our slow lines of communication limit our ability to organize swiftly. So this was good experience for us in improving in that realm. One thing we need to do better next time is to have a larger list of USW members to forward campaign materials to. If you are a member of USW and did not get the Africom campaign packet, let us know and keep us updated on your organizing work so that you stay on our list of active USW members.
Below are some reports we received back with the completed petitions.
A USW cell in California: Here are 54 signatures we gathered. I hoped there'd be more but all our volunteers backed out on us at the last minute. At least one volunteer was reluctant to participate due to fear of repression. Besides that however it was a good campaign overall. The fliers with the timeline really came in handy. They helped us explain to people what the petition was about. In many instances me and another volunteer spoke at length to people about the nature of the campaign making it clear that our focus here was the oppressed & exploited people of Africa. In some situations, however, we found ourselves agitating for this campaign by talking about the fact that even Amerikan troops' lives were being needlessly sacrificed so that the U.$. government could secure the free flow of natural resources out of Africa. We did this keeping in mind how the Vietnamese National Liberation Front established relations with just about every and any Amerikan organization that was critical of U.$. involvement in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were smart in the respect that they were able to masterfully exploit every crack and division in the domestic U.$. anti-war movement.
A great many signatories were Mexican nationals and nationals from different Central American countries who didn't have to listen to more than the basics of our line before they signed. When agitating amongst this Spanish-speaking population we also found ourselves linking the plight of the Central American caravan to that of African refugees stranded at sea being denied entry into Europe.
Only three people refused to give us their signatures. Two of these people were skeptical from the gate and requested more information on Africom, which we happily handed over, whereas one refused to believe us and called us liars. All three were "brown proud patriots."
In closing, we'd like to thank the Black Alliance for Peace for letting us be a part of this campaign. While gathering signatures we found that prisoners were empathetic to the plight of Africans at the hands of U.$. imperialism in this new scramble for Africa. Surely the great African masses will successfully resist U.$. oppression, exploitation and domination, eject the colonizers and have a principal role in defeating U.$. imperialism once and for all. We hope we've made a difference. In Struggle!
Earlier these comrades had reported: We made copies of existing fliers and put them up in different buildings beforehand in an effort to build public opinion for the campaign. Unfortunately, we just received word a couple days ago that all the fliers we put up were taken down by officers on the orders of their superiors. When officers were asked why the fliers were removed they said they didn’t know, they just received a call explaining to them what to look for and to remove them. This is highly suspect since our fliers were up along with a variety of other fliers on an informational board with over 30 fliers including religious propaganda. Yet the Africom campaign fliers were singled out and removed. All this follows an odd run-in with security squad about a month ago. We've since put the fliers back up.
A report from another USW cell in California: I have enclosed 1 sheet [30 signatures] for the petition to dissolve the Africom military command. There are two pages of missing signatures that we worked very hard to acquire here. The problems last week started over a rude racist comment about "nigger politics," which was dealt with promptly on the spot. [Two comrades from this USW cell ended up in the hole as a result of this conflict.]
MIM(Prisons) adds: One comrade who did not participate in the petition drive challenged the campaign to shut down Africom, and in particular questioned Ajamu Baraka as a former Vice Presidential candidate with the Green Party. While MIM(Prisons) did not endorse Baraka's electoral campaign, we whole-heartedly support this campaign to get U.$. imperialism out of Africa, and stand with Baraka on revolutionary nationalist positions such as the one ey took in a recent article responding to the Prosper Africa plan:
"Africans in the U.S. must make a choice. Malcolm said you cannot sit at the table and not have any food in front of you and call yourself a diner. Africans in the U.S. have been sitting at the table of U.S. citizenship and calling themselves 'Americans' while our people are murdered, confined to cages in prisons, die giving birth to our children, die disproportionately before the age of five, live in poverty, are disrespected and dehumanized. A choice must be made, do you throw in with this dying system or do you align with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world."(1)
“The imperialists export fascism to many Third World countries via puppet governments. And imperialist countries can turn to fascism themselves. But it is important to note that there is no third choice for independent fascism in the world: they are either imperialist or imperialist-puppets. Germany, Spain, Italy and Japan had all reached the banking stage of capitalism and had a real basis for thinking they could take over colonies from the British and French. … The vast majority of the world’s fascist-ruled countries have been U.$. puppets.” – MIM Congress, “Osama Bin Laden and the Concept of ‘Theocratic Fascism’”, 2004
What MIM wrote about Osama Bin Laden in 2004 is just as true for the Islamic State today. Those who call the Islamic State fascist use an unsophisticated definition of fascism that may mean anything from “bad” to “undemocratic” to anti-United $tates. But the idea that it is in the Third World where we find fascism today is correct.
Much funding for the Islamic State has come from rich Saudis. For this, and other reasons, many people have tried to put the fascist label on the obscurantist monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Despite having almost the same per capita GDP (PPP) as the United $tates, it is by geological luck and not the development of imperialist finance capital that Saudis enjoy such fortune.
A word often associated with fascism is genocide. More recently Saudi Arabia is getting some “fascist” rhetoric thrown at it from the Russian camp for its war on Yemen. What is currently happening in Yemen is nothing less than genocide. A recent analysis by the Yemen Data Project showed that more than a third of the “Saudi” bombings in that country have targeted schools, hospitals, mosques and other civilian infrastructure.(1) We put “Saudi” in quotes here because the war to maintain the puppet government in Yemen is completely supplied by the imperialists of the U.$., UK and Klanada, along with U.$. intelligence and logistical support. The United $tates has been involved in bombing Yemen for over a decade, so it is a propaganda campaign by the U.$. media to call it the “Saudi-led coalition.” In October 2016, the United $tates bombed Yemen from U.$. warships that had long been stationed just offshore, leaving little doubt of their role in this war. A war that has left 370,000 children at risk of severe malnutrition, and 7 million people “desperately in need of food,” according to UNICEF.(2)
This is another example where we see confusion around the definition of fascism feeds anti-Islamic, rather than anti-Amerikan, lines of thinking, despite the majority of victims in this war being proletarian Muslims in a country where 40% of the people live on less than $2 a day.
In countries where the imperialists haven’t been able to install a puppet government they use other regional allies to act as the bad guy, the arm of imperialism. It is an extension of neo-colonialism that leads to inter-proletarian conflict between countries. We see this with Uganda and Rwanda in central Africa, where another genocide has been ongoing for 2 decades. While Uganda and Rwanda have their own regional interests, like Saudi Arabia, they are given the freedom to pursue them by U.$. sponsorship. And we are not anti-Ugandan, because Uganda is a proletarian country with an interest in throwing out imperialist puppets. Even Saudi Arabia, which we might not be able to find much of an indigenous proletariat in, could play a progressive role under bourgeois nationalist leadership that allied with the rest of the Arab world, and even with Iran.
Sometimes fascism is used as a synonym for police state. Many in the United $tates have looked to the war on drugs, the occupation of the ghettos, barrios and reservations, gang injunctions and the massive criminal injustice system and talked about rising fascism. We agree that these are some of the most fascistic elements of our society. But many of those same people will never talk about U.$. imperialism, especially internal imperialism. This leads to a focus on civil liberties and no discussion of national liberation; a reformist, petty bourgeois politic.
If we look at the new president in the Philippines, we see a more extreme form of repression against drug dealers of that country. If the U.$. injustice system is fascist, certainly the open call for assassinating drug dealers in the street would be. But these are just tactics, they do not define the system. And if we look at the system in the Philippines, the second biggest headlines (after eir notorious anti-drug-dealer rhetoric) that President Duterte is getting is for pushing out U.$. military bases. This would be a huge win for the Filipino people who have been risking their lives (under real fascist dictatorships backed by the United $tates like Marcos) to protest U.$. military on their land. This is objectively anti-imperialist. Even if Duterte turns towards China, as long as U.$. imperialism remains the number one threat to peace and well-being in the world, as it has been for over half a century, this is good for the masses of the oppressed nations.
The importance of the united front against fascism during World War II, which was an alliance between proletariat and imperialist forces, was to point out the number one enemy. While we don’t echo the Black Panther Party’s rhetoric around “fascism,” they were strategically correct to focus their attack on the United $tates in their own United Front Against Fascism in 1969. And it was reasonable to expect that the United $tates might turn fascist in face of what was a very popular anti-imperialist movement at home and abroad. What dialectics teaches us is the importance of finding the principal contradiction, which we should focus our energy on in order to change things. Without a major inter-imperialist rivalry, talking about fascism in a Marxist sense is merely to expose the atrocities of the dominant imperialist power committed against the oppressed nations.
Rather than looking for strategic shifts in the finance capitalist class, most people just call the bad sides of imperialism “fascism.” In doing so they deny that imperialism has killed more people than any other economic system, even if we exclude fascist imperialism. These people gloss over imperialism’s very existence. But MIM(Prisons) keeps our eye on the prize of overthrowing imperialism, principally U.$. imperialism, to serve the interests of the oppressed people of the world.
In response to the call to honor freedom fighters, it is an honor and pleasure to journal the commemoration of New Afrikan freedom fighter Amy Jacques Garvey.
So many today dismiss the Pan-Afrikan movement and its various bodies, both within and outside of U.$. prisons, as that of an unnecessary call and reference to an outdated idea. In the context of the proletarian political causes, it is often the ultra-leftist who has taken up this position.
However, in our attempts to fast forward the most correct methods of resolving contradictions, we acknowledge that they come in the form of class consciousness among nationalist leaders driven by internationalist struggles led by the proletariat. The Pan-Afrikan movement is one likely place where we find these elements.
Many prisoners are aware of the name Marcus Mosiah Garvey, but very few are familiar with Amy Jacques Garvey, the wife of Marcus Garvey and the bone and marrow of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Amy Garvey was a special person in the history of liberation struggles. Born 31 December 1895 in Kingston, Jamaica to a middle-upper class family, Amy Garvey was ahead of her time. Though "all identity is individual, there is no individual identity that is not historical or, in other words, constructed within a field of social values, norms of behavior and collective symbols."(1)
The mother of what author Ula Yvette Taylor coined "community feminism," Amy Garvey pressed the issue of lower class wimmin not only in serving their male counterparts, but also educating themselves to become political leaders in the nation. Today, lumpen wimmin of the internal semi-colonies still find themselves criticized for either being home-oriented or for sex. UNIA enjoyed support across gender and promoted equality of the sexes. Yet, in practice, this "community feminist" approach was a means of dealing with the expectations put on wimmin to be supporters of men while still being political leaders. While wimmin like Amy Garvey had to take on an unequal burden compared to their male counterparts, their actions served to break down the expectations of gendered roles, paving the way for others.
Amy Garvey empowered wimmin to confront racism, colonialism and imperialism, while contesting masculine dominance as well.(2) As she wrote, wimmin should use their "intelligence in a righteous cause" as they are needed to "fill the breach, and fight as never before, for the masses need intelligent dedicated leadership."(3)
Since the 1920s, Amy Jacques Garvey's organizing activities had sought to further the decolonization of West Afrikan nations as people of African descent endeavored to restructure their societies. The antecedents of these largely nationalist movements were well-established in Pan-Afrikan struggle that came into its own during the early 1940s, including the fifth Pan-Afrikan Congress. Meanwhile, other power shifts were occurring such as: the rise of the Soviet Union, liberation struggles in southeast Asia, the independence of China and the Asian-African Bandung Conference.(4) Indeed, within this political milieu, "West Afrikan nationalism and various brands of Pan-Africanism, could mix with everything from Fabian socialism to Marxism-Leninism."(5)
While engaging in the international arena, Amy Garvey also struggled against fellow comrades of the UNIA. She was well known for her refusal to hold her tongue on the contradictions that arose within, even at times writing critical positions of Marcus Garvey himself. It resembles so many of those within the belly of the beast babylon who struggle to liberate themselves in order to offer liberation to their people, only to be hushed by LO leadership.
Amy Garvey was from Jamaica and considered herself an Afrikan. She drove home the point that people of Afrikan descent in the United $tates (New Afrikans) and elsewhere were living as second-class citizens, largely as a result of economic oppression. Today we see the second-class citizenship that New Afrikans and [email protected] face as the biggest targets of social isolation by the U.$. prison system. The second class that the oppressed nations are being bred into today is what we call the First World lumpen class. In the imperialist countries, that is the class that has nothing to lose from a revolution except the very chains that bind them to a bourgeois system that doesn't serve them. "As the lumpen experience oppression first hand here in Amerika, we are in a position to spearhead the revolutionary vehicle within the U.$. borders."(6)
The 2015 release of Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group introduces prisoners to the reality of their class identity with the lumpen of oppressed internal semi-colonies in North America.
"Kwame Nkrumah in his analysis of neo-colonialism in Africa defined it as: 'The essence of neo-colonialism is that the state which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.' Nkrumah stressed the importance of dividing the oppressed into smaller groups as part of this process of preventing effective resistance to imperialism as had already occurred in China, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba and elsewhere."(7)
Amy Garvey too considered the likes of Kwame Nkrumah as her comrade, alongside of Nnamdi Azikiwe, W.E.B. DuBois and George Padmore, just to name a few. She was a disciplined, arduous scholar whose objective was to fold Garveyism into existing progressive organizations, thus uniting a divergent Pan-Afrikan world.
Many of the ideas that are circulated amongst the lumpen organizations within the belly of the beast babylon are grafted from the ideas of the peoples parties like the UNIA, whether they admit it or not. The proof is in the pudding. Amy Garvey showed that one could stand on two legs and not buckle under the pressure of integrationist culture.
Amy Garvey held Marcus Garvey up while he served his prison bid in Atlanta, and took the driver's seat of one of the world's most influential Negro organizations in its time when wimmin weren't expected to be political. It is so similar to the anti-imperialist prisoner movement; prisoners aren't expected to be political souljahs.
Death to babylon-imperialism!
MIM(Prisons) adds: MIM said that Pan-Afrikanism should be a strategic question, and is not worth splitting over.(8) They also said that Pan-Afrikanism has historically been the most progressive of the "pan" ideologies. Clearly that the Pan-Afrikan mission has yet to succeed in the dire need for effective revolutionary leadership is evident in the recent revelations that
"In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008."(9)
The imperialists continue to foment the tribal divisions across the African continent to wage proxy wars that amount to inter-proletarian killing on the ground. The overwhelming proletarian character of the populations in Africa gives Pan-Afrikanism its strong progressive character.
The imperialists have created a mess of migration, with hundreds of thousands of people traveling from the Middle East and north Africa to the European Union (EU). Earlier this year there was media attention on the increased migration from Myanmar and Bangladesh to the richer countries of South Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This is in the context of an unprecedented increase in mass displacement worldwide.
"By end-2014, 59.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This is 8.3 million persons more than the year before (51.2 million) and the highest annual increase in a single year."(1)
The conditions that led about 7% of the world's entire population to leave their homes vary widely, and similarly the situations they face when they do leave their homes also vary. Some have absolutely nothing to their name but the rags on their body, while others are carrying smart phones, have high formal education, and are being wired money along their journey for train tickets and smugglers' fees. Some just need to leave where they are, others want to meet up with family who have already immigrated to other countries, and many are doing both. This article does not attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the mass migrations, but it does try to outline some basic principles to keep in mind as the news unfolds.
Open All Borders!
The oppressor countries have concentrated wealth due to the oppression and exploitation they inflict on other nations. In these countries, there is a lot of hubub about whether people are "truly" refugees, and thus worthy of help, or "just" migrants looking for better economic opportunity, and thus not worthy of assistance. They say those deemed to be economic migrants should be sent back to their "safe" countries to build their lives there — a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps of international proportions.
No matter why people are leaving their present location, our position is the same: open all borders! The most progressive economic position under capitalism would be to enable free travel and work across all borders. Wealth would be more equalized and the imperialists would have a material interest in ending harmful policies and practices in other countries, for fear that those populations would leave their homes to venture to the countries where the wealth is being concentrated.
We know opening all borders is not a realisitic solution in our present conditions, so at the very minimum we call on the wealthy countries to allow those who have already fled to make new lives wherever they (want to) land. We then call on these wealthy countries to take a stand against the primary cause for why people flee: U.$. militarism and imperialism.
On the surface it appears Germany has been somewhat favorable to this position. They have been the most welcoming country of the EU (although most recently they are trying to curb the migration rather than welcome it with open arms). We support any EU country's openness to migrants. But it's significant that Germany has an aging population and has been trying to figure out how to maintain its economy with a deficit of working-age people. How fortunate then that so many of the refugees come with professional degrees, skills, and even some savings. The economic situation in Germany makes it possible for the country to play hero. The economic substructure defines the ideological superstructure. If not for the economic problems in Germany, humanitarian efforts would be marginalized.
National Chauvinism is Not Internationalism
In spring 2015, media attention was on Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia for refusing to take in Rohingyas and Bangladeshis who were abandoned by their smugglers at sea for weeks and months.(2) The primary position of these countries was "it's not our problem."
In the EU, Hungary has been a main thoroughfare for migrants this summer. In response they are erecting an emergency wall on the borders, and Hungary's government's stance is to discourage migration as much as possible. Denmark, just north of Germany, has been widely advertising that it has greatly reduced assistance for migrants, and that people should not go there. And these are certainly not the only examples of national chauvinism in Europe.
Those who don't grasp the differences between revolutionary nationalism and national chauvinism will use these examples as evidence that all nationalism is bad. One of the more progressive trends that makes this mistake is the anarchists. Nationalism of oppressor nations tends toward fascism, but nationalism of oppressed nations tends towards revolutionary internationalism. Being that the vast majority of anarchist movements are located in the First World, it makes sense that they should oppose the nationalism that they see around them. But a materialist historical analysis shows that nationalism of the oppressed has done the most to advance peoples out of oppression, imperialism's stranglehold, and toward a society where nations and states are no longer necessary. Maoists also want a world without nations and states, but a rejection of the progressive aspects of nationalism won't get us there.
European Union vs. United $tates
Some officials in the EU have criticized United $tates policy and military intervention in the Middle East as the reason for this most recent mass migration. To the EU, most people coming from the Middle East are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Not surprisingly, the United $tates is also presently engaged in military campaigns in and on these countries.
But the EU only cares what the United $tates does to the degree that it affects the EU. It's good when anyone criticizes the United $tates's meddling in the Middle East. But until words turn into actions (and until EU countries stop their own military campaigns in the region), it's just a lot of hot air. We want to see the EU not only open its borders for all the migrants, but also to recognize that it has interests which differ from those of the United $tates. A united EU should stop all material and verbal support for occupation and war in the Middle East, which would do more to help with their present migrant crisis than building walls and placing newspaper ads.
Rise of Fascism
The recent mass migration has been exposing reactionary nationalist sentiments, and in turn adding fuel to the recent rise of fascism in Europe. More far-right parties are being elected at various levels of government, and there are more demonstrations and attacks on migrants — the people, and the infrastructure to support them. Most notably, fascism has been rising in the last few years in Greece, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.(3)
Communism is the natural antithesis to fascism. Those who see more material interests in maintaining their present economic position will tend toward fascism, whereas those who would benefit more from an equalization of wealth internationally will tend more toward communism. It's the job of the communists to help prevent the rise of fascism in Europe.
Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist Leader by Mary Lawler Holloway House Books 1990
I had the chance to borrow this book from a New Afrikan prisoner in order to check out this cat who many believe to have been a main influence to the Black liberation struggle of the 20th century. One thing that stood out is almost every other page had a photograph, including everything from Jamaican slaves, "race riots," the klan and Malcolm X.
This book traces the life of Marcus Garvey from his birth on August 17, 1887 in Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Out of 11 brothers and sisters, only he and a sister lived past childhood. His stonemason father was known to be a voracious reader and well respected in the village; his mother was a farmer who sold what she grew along with baked goods to contribute to the family. Early on the family owned several properties, but after legal disputes the family was left with the single property they lived in.
Garvey's father was what Lawler described as "A descendant of the maroons, escaped Jamaican slaves who banded together during the 17th and 18th centuries to fight the island's British colonial rulers."(p. 23)
Garvey descended from a line of anti-colonial struggle. The British slaves killed off all the indigenous Arawak natives and then kidnapped Africans and used them as slave labor in their plantations all over Jamaica. Garvey's relatives were among those who resisted the oppressor.
Because of his father's profession and his family being landowners, Garvey was educated in public school as well as by tutors, and took advantage of his father's private library which was well stocked with books, newspapers, and magazines. This was at a time when most Black people in Jamaica received little to no education. At the age of 15 Garvey went on to work as a printer's apprentice, and by age 20 he was a master printer, a skill which he would put to use later in his propaganda efforts.
Garvey became politicized after moving to Kingston and seeing the inequality and oppression of Blacks. It was in Kingston where he joined his first workers' strike at the print shop where he worked to protest low wages. At age 22 Garvey joined a group called the "National Club" that strove for better treatment of Blacks and agitated against British colonialism. He immediately began working on the national club's organ Our Own, which led him to launch his own publication called Garvey's Watchman. Garvey's Watchman didn't last very long, but made clear his real purpose and increased his interest in political organizing.
With big plans and little money Garvey became a migrant worker and set off for Costa Rica in 1910. Garvey's thoughts were on Blacks in Jamaica, but in Costa Rica he saw horrible treatment of Black workers in his first job for United Fruit. United Fruit is a U.$.-controlled company that has long wreaked havoc on Latin America. It has left a bloody trail in its support of brutal dictators while ensuring workers' rights are silenced with often deadly results.
The book explains how Garvey's first job at a banana plantation quickly led him to fight for workers, even launching a newspaper called La Nacionale (The National) that expressed workers' rights. It wasn't too effective as most of the workers were illiterate, so these efforts did not get very far.
After traveling to several Latin American nations and returning to Jamaica, at age 23, Garvey set sail to England. In England, he again faced poor work conditions and discrimination. Garvey finally realized that everywhere he went, regardless of the country, Blacks experienced oppression. In England he attended college where he met other Blacks who promoted Pan-Africanism. The Pan-African Movement was created in the 1800s. This was a time when British colonialism held many Black nations as colonies and the Pan-African movement sought to create Black nations that were governed by Blacks. The idea was to take Africa back for Africans.
In 1913 Garvey began work for Duse Mohammed Ali, publisher of African Times which promoted the rights of Black people. This, Lawler explains, allowed Garvey to mingle with the movers and shakers of the Pan-African movement, as most of them wrote for African Times.
The author writes that after reading Booker T. Washington's book Up From Slavery Garvey "found his purpose." Washington was a known integrationist who believed Black people should not protest racism, and instead that eventually the white nation would accept Black people. Many of the more progressive Black leaders of this period denounced Booker T. as an Uncle Tom.
In this book we read about Garvey creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. UNIA was to work to unite and improve Jamaican Black people's socio-economic conditions while promoting the anti-colonial struggles of Africa.
The author states about Garvey, "Like Booker T. Washington, he believed that until the Black workers became committed to self improvement, they would be looked down upon by whites."(p. 57)
The author implies that Black people can work within the oppressor nation's systems, and claims this will resolve racism from the oppressor. This system of thinking misses identifying the root of one's oppression. To blame the oppressed is to be an apologist for the oppressor nation and this thinking will never lead to the liberation that Garvey was lookiing for.
I also found it surprising that Garvey seemed to rely on religion as a savior. For instance, the author quotes Garvey as speaking on what helped to better himself, "Nobody helped me toward that objective except my own mind and God's good will."(p. 59) Garvey was also known to organize religious meetings as the author reminds us. The book suffers in that the author offers many quotes from Garvey and others but gives no footnotes as to where these quotes are coming from; this makes many of the quotes seem suspect.
In 1916 Garvey arrived in Amerika and found in Harlem a more receptive audience to UNIA than in Jamaica where UNIA only gained under 100 members and financially was unable to launch any independent institutions.
Garvey soon helped form a New York chapter of UNIA along with a newspaper Negro World, which served as UNIA's platform. The UNIA's motto was "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," thus it was steeped in a metaphysical approach about what would free Black people.
In 1919 Garvey founded a shipping company called "Black Star Line." This was created with the intent to obtain Black "economic independence." Garvey said, with regard to the Black Star line, "Our economic condition seems, to a great extent, to affect our general status... be not deceived wealth is strength, wealth is power, wealth is justice, is liberty, is real human rights."(p. 112) Spoken like a true capitalist.
It becomes apparent in this book that Garvey believed Black capitalism would liberate Black people from the hardships he had witnessed worldwide. He believed creating and then monopolizing on "Black industries," UNIA could supply Black people with furniture and other goods in South and Central America, as well as the West Indies and beyond. Garvey encouraged all Black people to invest in UNIA as a step toward liberating themselves from racism.
In 1922 Garvey was arrested for mail fraud in soliciting investors for the Black Star Line which had begun to lose business as ships were lost and investors became suspicious. Garvey was convicted and sent to prison for a couple of years. Upon release he was deported back to Jamaica where he attempted to rebuild UNIA. After poor results he moved back to England to start up a UNIA chapter and it was during this time that a rift was created between the New York chapter and Garvey himself, which helped to tarnish UNIA more. Garvey died in England on June 10, 1940 at age 53. Although he died in poverty his death would bring him a renewed notoriety in Jamaica and worldwide.
Throughout the book neither socialism nor communism was mentioned once! I found this odd as this was a time when Russia had just been liberated under Lenin's leadership, but then Garvey was not a socialist. Without socialism a people will continue to be oppressed even if governed by one's own people. The masses of people will simply be people oppressed by their own bourgeoisie. This is bourgeois nationalism, or as Huey Newton coined it, pork chop nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism which install socialism once a nation is liberated, thus ensuring the bourgeois and other capitalist roaders do not get the chance to derail the revolution.
Garvey did leave a lasting impression on the Black nation in Amerika. Malcolm X's father was a Garveyite so Malcolm obviously grew up in Garvey thought. On the end it can be said Garvey helped to develop more progressive thought than his own. This book is worth reading as a basic intro to Marcus Garvey's political work, but it is important to note it does not include Garvey's own writings. Those researching the historical development of New Afrikans will find some value in this book.