The theory of African Internationalism
The chapter “The theory of African Internationalism” from Chairman Omali Yeshitela’s Political Report to the Sixth Congress held in 2013 and published in the book, An Uneasy Equilibrium: African Internationalism versus Parasitic Capitalism has been included in the Political Report to the Seventh Congress.
The depth of the Chairman’s explanation of African Internation- alism with its profound political and historical documentation makes this chapter a must-read for all members and supporters of the Afri- can People’s Socialist Party. This piece on African Internationalism is considered by the Party’s Department of Agit-Prop to be definitive and is a necessary tool empowering everyone to successfully defend the Party’s African working class political theory of African Interna- tionalism against all challenges.
The science of African Internationalism enabled our Party to avoid the ideological pitfalls that validate the assumption of the superiority of white people. Thus, we have never been diverted from our mission of capturing power and uniting Africa and our nation under the leadership of the African working class.
Our Party brought science to our defeated African Liberation Movement at a time when it was generally bogged down in racial and cultural nationalism that indulged in candlelit ceremonies, religious obscurantism and nostalgia for an often-imaginary African past. Through African Internationalism we were able to discover the material basis for the exploitation and oppression of Africans and others in this world.
With African Internationalism we can understand the material forces at work in the movement of history. We can clearly see the current shift in the balance of power between the oppressor and the oppressed, between Europe and the rest of us, between the “white man” and the “black man.”
We determined long ago that characterizing our Movement as a struggle against racism was a self-defeating waste of time. What is called racism is simply the ideological foundation of capitalist imperialism. Racism is a concept that denies Africans our national identity and dignity, rather than defining the system of our oppression. It relegates us to the Sisyphean task of winning acceptance from, and often of becoming one with, our oppressors.
With African Internationalism we have proven that race is simply a colonial invention originating from the enslavement and colonization of Africans and Africa that gave birth to capitalism and, simultaneously, the European nation. Our struggle has always been for power, not against racism. To the extent that we win power, the “racism” of others becomes irrelevant. Power is the great equalizer, the fundamental “aphrodisiac” that is capable of turning a racist of today into a fawning sycophant of tomorrow.
The struggle against “racism” is the struggle of the petty bourgeoisie fighting to integrate into the white capitalist world, to board the sinking ship of white power. It is a diversionary struggle reliant on failed philosophical assumptions that must be cast aside as a precondition for moving forward.
This is not an innocent issue of semantics. The way this is understood informs our practice. The struggle against “racism” presupposes one approach and the struggle against imperialist colonialism another.
Africans are not a race but a nation of people, forcibly dispersed across the globe. We have been pushed out of history by our imperialist oppressors, partially through the concept of “race.” Our national homeland has been occupied in various ways for millennia. Our people have been captured and shipped around the world as capitalist commodities. Our labor and land have been violently extracted to build the European nation and the international capitalist system. This is what determines our reality and the contours of the struggle in which we have been engaged for more than 500 years.
The fight against AFRICOM1 cannot be characterized as a struggle against “racism” any more than the liberation of our people in Haiti from France in 1804 or the necessary unification of Africa to stop the rape of our Motherland and the theft of its resources.
The material conditions Africans suffer worldwide have their origin in the attack on Africa that led to the capture of our national homeland and our people. Our poverty and susceptibility to ignorance, violence and material want throughout the world—including in the U.S., UK and the rest of Europe—result from the material conditions of existence in Africa since its capture and partition!
Are the Iraqis and Afghans fighting against racism? What about all the people of South America and the Caribbean? Certainly, the bourgeois ideology of “racism” serves to unite the vast majority of whites and even some Africans in support of the imperialist agenda.
Increasingly though, this ideology is running up against the material reality of a global power shift, where the oppressed are clearly the locomotive of history. More and more whites are themselves running from their own “racial” designation.
Patrick Buchanan, whose worldview is informed by assumptions of white superiority that we recognize as racism, is himself alarmed by the growing evidence that shifting power relations are chasing whites away from solidarity with their “racial” identity. Apparently this phenomenon has achieved such significance that Buchanan has conceptualized it as “ethnomasochism.” In his book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan laments:
Questions about the future arise. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream of America look like—and what ideas or values might it rally around? What will it mean to be white after “whiteness” no longer defines the mainstream? Will anyone mourn the end of white America? Will anyone try to preserve it?
One reaction professor Hsu reports is that, among cultural elites, some are shedding their white identity. “[I]f white America is ‘losing control,’ and the future will belong to people who can successfully navigate a post-white, multicultural landscape—then it’s no surprise that many white Americans are eager to divest themselves of their whiteness entirely….”
The day after Obama’s inaugural, television host Larry King blurted out to an uneasy Bob Woodward a secret desire of his son. “My younger son Cannon…is eight. And he now says that he would like to be black. I’m not kidding. He said there’s a lot of advantages. Black is in. Is this a turning of the tide?”
Indeed, black is in. The tide has turned; black is the future—not because of some defeat of “racism” but because Africans are a part of the dispossessed, the Wretched of the Earth that are overturning a world social system whose ideological foundation is racism. This system is no longer able to withstand the tide of history sweeping all forms of capitalist parasitism into the proverbial dustbin of history.
The anti-racists would have us fight for a place in the dying system by fighting against its ideology instead of the system itself. In this way they would have us objectively uniting with our oppressors. Anti-racists would transform us into “house Negroes,” fighting to save the master’s burning mansion, to paraphrase Malcolm X.
Parasitism is the essential question
Up to now, since the successful rise of imperialism some 500 years ago, Europe and white people have been the subjects and Africans and others have been the objects of imperialist history.
We have been voiceless and reduced to invisibility in stature and significance. Karl Marx characterized the slavery, rape, pillage and genocide associated with the emergence of white power and our current status as “primitive accumulation.” In another instance, he referred to slavery as “an economic category of the greatest importance.”
In the book One People! One Party! One Destiny!, the Political Report to our Fifth Congress, we commented on what that meant:Here the relationship between peoples and countries is…obscured and mystified. Marx attributes European “development” solely to the “genius” and productive forces inside of Europe. He is thereby covering over or liquidating the fact that this so-called development for Europe requires the parasitic impairment of the capacity for independent development in Africa and other places victimized by Europe.
In another place in the Political Report this rhetorical question was raised:
Would capitalism and the resultant European wealth and African impoverishment have occurred without the European attack on Africa, its division, African slavery and dispersal, colonialism and neocolonialism?
The answer is obvious to anyone with even a smattering of historical knowledge: No! No! No! and a thousand times no! But Marx didn’t get it. Most of our Movement still doesn’t get it. Revolutionaries around the world have missed this crucial understanding of the foundation of imperialist existence.
The most erudite practitioners of the superstition called capitalist economics don’t get it. This is one of the reasons nothing they say about the extant economic crisis of the imperialist world makes any sense.
Our summation of this imperialist dilemma is reflected in this quote from One People! One Party! One Destiny!:
The North Americans, like most Europeans, assume they have some idea of the basis of the contradictions because of the fantasies passed on to them historically about the source of their comparative wealth and “good fortune.”…
Nevertheless, those are resources stolen from others that have become increasingly difficult for them to afford in their malls and supermarkets. It is somebody else’s oil, wrenched from the earth with bloody consequences, for which they now have to pay more.
The bauxite, coltan, gold and diamonds along with the cocoa beans, cotton and cheaply produced clothing have cost the rest of us dearly and our combined struggles to seize control of our lives and resources are affecting the ability of North Americans and other Europeans to enjoy a parasitic economy that requires global misery for an oasis of white happiness.
In reality the essential feature of capitalism is parasitism. The inconsistent materialism of Patrick Buchanan as well as Zbigniew Brzezinski, cited in Chapter I [of An Uneasy Equilibrium], allows them to recognize some relationship between the decline of imperialism and the rise of formerly subject peoples.
Yet their overarching philosophical idealism, a worldview stemming from white assumptions of superiority, blinds them to the dialectic between Western or “white” success and African impoverishment. They cannot accept that the changing relations of power are exposing the real dependency—the dependency of the colonizer upon the colonized and of whites on Africans.
This is as true for the capitalism of Adam Smith, the 18th century free market proponent, as it is of the capitalism of Karl Marx, the 19th century scientific socialist. Wage labor, commodity production, private ownership and control of the means of production are features of capitalism that function on the foundation of parasitism, the “primitive accumulation,” that Marx correctly identified as the equivalent of “original sin.” This is the starting point of capitalist accumulation and production, of the capitalist system itself.
This is not to say that everything that Marx said was wrong, but it is to say that everything he said must be re-evaluated based on a materialist appreciation of the centrality of capitalist parasitism, what he called the primitive accumulation of capital. Otherwise we will continue to be duped by those who verbally claim to oppose capitalism, but who cannot oppose parasitic capitalism—the reality that capitalism rests on the backs of African, Indigenous and oppressed peoples everywhere.
We are not Marxists. We are historical materialists. We have used the historical materialism of Marx, the science of investigating and analyzing society, to investigate and analyze our reality as Africans. Our findings prove that we are a part of the “primitive accumulation” mentioned by Marx in his works.
Malcolm X, a materialist of sorts in his own right, has been quoted as saying that a person watching someone sitting on a hot stove would describe the experience differently from the person actually sitting on the stove. This is true. The spectator is not required to have a full understanding of the experience. The victim of the hot stove is provoked by his reality; it becomes a historical necessity to understand the question.
Using the collective experience of African people as a starting place, we were able to use the science of dialectical and historical materialism, cleansing it of its Marxist metaphysics and idealism, to investigate and analyze our relationship to the world.
For us, the rise of capitalism in the world is not based on some purely abstract Marxist theory about the development of human society. It is not a theoretical question. “Primitive accumulation” is not a theory. The rape of Africa, the enslavement of our Continent and our people, the forcible dispersal of Africans throughout the world as a means of rescuing Europe from disease and poverty—the process that gave rise to capitalism—is a matter of historical record.
Marx, the spectator, did not have to understand this. The person sitting on the hot stove—the living, breathing, thinking “primitive accumulation”—would either understand this question or perish. We chose to understand. More than that, we chose to develop a worldview stemming from this understanding. This is the origin of African Internationalism. African Internationalism is simply the worldview stemming from a historical materialist investigation and analysis of the world with its starting point being the experience and role of Africans and Africa in the advent of capitalist-imperialism as the rise of white power.
Parasitic capitalism is the real issue. It is this reality that ultimately distinguishes African Internationalist socialism from the struggle for “white rights” that usually characterizes most movements of Europeans worldwide. It is the difference in socialism resulting from overturning the pedestal upon which all capitalist activity occurs and some variation of the national socialism achieved by the infamous Nazis of Germany.
In the past few years the crisis of imperialism has thrust a number of North Americans and Europeans into motion, from Tea Partiers and Wall Street Occupiers in the U.S. to thousands of militants in Greece, Spain, Brazil and other crisis-ridden countries.
White people have been mobilized by the inability of capitalism to live up to their expectations. They are demanding to be restored to their “rightful” place atop the pedestal of capitalist prosperity, sharing in the stolen loot of colonial plunder.
The problem is that this can only happen at the expense of the well-being of the historical victims of capitalist prosperity— the subject and colonial peoples of the world, whose exploited labor and resources create the pedestal upon which all white people sit. Europe’s economic uncertainty has been brought about by oppressed peoples who are currently fomenting the crisis with our struggle for the recapture of our resources, our sovereignty, dignity and our history.
It is an error to assume that “primitive accumulation” is dead history, something that happened a long time ago with no implications for today. The truth is that today’s capitalist- imperialist structures, the ones being challenged in a thousand different ways, are structures that originated in the very genesis of capitalism as it emerged through the assault on Africa and the majority of humanity from the primordial sludge of backward and disease-ridden Europe.
These understandings of African Internationalism require action. They are not for consumers of information. Our Party’s theory is the only body of political understanding that can make sense of what is happening in the world today.
Our African Internationalist theoretical contributions serve to break the shackles historically imposed on revolutionary theory as perceived through the lens of oppressor nation intellectuals whose worldview was determined by their existence on the pedestal of our oppression.
African Internationalism for the first time allows for Africans and the oppressed of the world to become the subjects of history, defining our own destiny, something not possible with the theory of Marx or his contemporaries and followers.
Today the conditions of the real world manifested by the crisis of imperialism are beginning to confirm what African Internationalism has so long predicted.
The reality of primitive accumulation of capital and the fact that capitalism was born at the expense of the suffering of African and Indigenous peoples and is therefore parasitic; the reality of Africans as one people dispersed around the world who are colonized wherever we may be located; the understanding that African people live under a policy of U.S. counterinsurgency in the U.S.—these are some African Internationalist understandings whose significance is becoming recognized by the world.
Seeing the world as it is, not as we wish it were
African people, like all of humanity have always been motivated by the struggle to understand our place and destiny in the world. We, like others, have through our collective life experiences been compelled to find answers to the fundamental philosophical questions revolving around the primacy of the spiritual versus the material world.
What is the basis of our oppression? Can the answer be found in religious scripture? Are we oppressed because we have offended the gods or perhaps sought solace from the wrong gods? Are the white colonial oppressors and some of the African petty bourgeoisie correct when they say we are experiencing the consequence of insufficient civilization or inadequate education or that we are morally depraved?
Those who see the spiritual as primary are philosophical idealists. For them the idea of reality is greater than reality itself. For idealists, the real, material world is dependent on the spiritual. Philosophical idealists do not look for answers about the nature of the world by examining the world itself. They see the world as the creation of an external force that is incapable of standing up to scientific investigation.
This is a ruling class worldview that is funneled into the consciousness of the working masses through the African petty bourgeoisie as well as other petty bourgeois and bourgeois mediums. Philosophical idealism assumes that there are things that humans are unable to comprehend. It claims that the hand of the mysterious is somehow responsible for what we perceive as reality.
During the historical period when our Party was founded, philosophical idealism was central to the worldview of the Black Liberation Movement which relied mainly on religious, moral and colonial explanations to understand and analyze our situation.
African philosophical idealists of that period sought explanations for our conditions of existence and our future in the articulations of great leaders or simply in the consciousness of the Black Liberation Movement itself.
In other words, the idealists accepted the Movement’s and its leaders’ own self-definition as primary, rather than fundamentally examining the actual material conditions that gave rise to the Movement and its leaders.
Other philosophical idealists with whom our Movement had to contend were the various white liberals including those who defined themselves as “leftists.”
Many of the white leftists relied on religious and moral explanations for their analysis, attributing our oppression to the flawed character of our oppressors. According to these idealists our oppressors were people who had strayed from the American or European moral ideal. In this way the white liberals were not that different from the petty bourgeois leaders of the Black Liberation Movement.
White leftist ideological intervention usually represents itself in the paternalistic, condescending tendency to approach the issue of the oppression of African people from a predetermined assumption of the universality of the white experience. This Eurocentric viewpoint shows that the leftists have pretty much the same viewpoint as all other whites.
Often influenced by Karl Marx, many “leftists” deny being philosophical idealists. Their idealism, nevertheless, is reflected in their demand that Africans, the Indigenous of the Americas and the majority of the world’s peoples understand our struggle as objects of European-defined and experienced history.
From their perspective, Africans and others are relegated to the position of auxiliary forces whose ultimate unhappy destiny, independent of our will, history and experience, is to facilitate the emergence of the industrial or white working
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class as the new ruling class in a utopian post-capitalist world.
The African People’s Socialist Party sprang from the very bowels of the remorseless reality and struggles of our people. As we developed, we were increasingly forced to shed all reliance on religion, other forms of superstition and the good will or moral epiphany of our oppressors.
Our struggles to understand our reality, while occasionally encumbered and influenced by the worldview of the educated and upper classes, were rooted in attempts to solve the real problems of the concrete contradictions in which our people are embroiled.
We were forced to learn that our preconceived notions gleaned through colonial civics books, preachers and liberal white friends only helped to obscure the real contradictions with which our people are confronted. We came to recognize that we must understand the world just as it is, not as we would wish it to be.
We were forced to become philosophical materialists. Materialism teaches us that the world is tangible, knowable and can be experienced through the senses. It teaches us that all existing phenomena result from material causes that come into being, develop and pass away according to the laws of the motion of matter. Materialism informs us that the material world is primary. It is objective reality that exists independently of the mind and will of individuals. It does not require the permission of gods or important persons for its existence.
The development of the African People’s Socialist Party during our historical 41-year trajectory in the midst of intense struggle compelled us to understand that the savage and genocidal brutality inflicted upon our people and the world by Europeans or whites has a material basis. It is not due to the
will of the gods or simply some moral deficiency on the part of whites.
While the humanity of Europeans was clearly open to suspicion (the original Nation of Islam, for example, declared the white man to be the “devil”), the answer to the avaricious motivation of white people is not to be found in an examination of morality, religion or genetics.
Our Party and Movement were forced to conclude that all humans, including Europeans, are trapped by an absolute necessity to secure and develop the means of subsistence. In other words, the primary motivating factor in human society is the production and reproduction of life. Without life, all other questions—religion, culture, genetics, etc.—are moot, meaningless. Indeed, culture is a byproduct of the process of producing and reproducing life.
However, the process of Africans producing and reproducing life was drastically disrupted and altered by the European attack that resulted in the capture and colonial enslavement of Africa and Africans. This attack by Europeans on Africa also resulted in the imposition of artificial borders that separate the dispersed African nation from our human and material resources and from a meaningful relationship among ourselves and with the peoples of the world.
The material and human resources of Africa have gone to satisfy the requirements of life for Europeans at the expense of Africa and Africans. The process of Africans producing and reproducing life has not been primarily for Africa and Africans—it has been primarily for Europe and the white world at our expense.
This progenitor of world capitalism—the attack on Africa and Africans, along with the European assault on Asia and the Americas—rescued Europe and Europeans from an oppressive, thousand-year-long, disease-ridden, impoverished existence known as feudalism. This was the genesis of the
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capitalist system as a world economy, created on a base of the enslavement of Africans and others.
A scientific analysis of human society requires that we take a dialectical approach. We cannot see the world as static and ready-made. Society has to be analyzed as a process that is in a constant state of motion, change and development. There is always something new arising to replace the old and all social motion occurs in relationship to this process of coming into existence and dying away.
Europe’s attack on Africa was effectively an assault on Africa’s ability to produce life for itself. This assault has had the effect of pushing Africa and Africans out of history—history being the summation of the ongoing struggle to produce and reproduce life.
Slavery, genocide and colonialism are the stuff of which capitalism was born. African enslavement was the first capital in the development of capitalism. The prevailing legal system, culture, religion and general philosophical outlook or worldview constitute the superstructure of capitalism thus conceived. This superstructure is a natural product and reflection of this economic base of colonial slavery.
Slavery and colonialism gave rise not only to capitalism but also to the capitalist and working classes alike of Europe and North America. The workers and the bourgeoisie, the two primary capitalism-defining classes, have occasionally fought great battles with each other since their inception as contending social forces.
Nevertheless both were born and developed on a platform of slavery and colonialism. Consequently, what is often called “class struggle” inside the U.S. and Europe is actually contention among the workers and the ruling class for control of the parasitic capitalist pedestal and its stolen resources.
The parasitic foundation of world capitalism continues to exist up to now as the true economic base upon which
the entire superstructure of the capitalist-defined, capitalist- dominated world rests.
The total existence of “white” people and their ability to produce and reproduce life is dependent on this parasitic relationship that came into being with the attack by feudal Europe on Africa and the world.
Instead of separate, more or less self-contained worlds existing in casual relationship to each other, there is one capitalist world system united by a parasitic economic relationship imposed by Europe upon the rest of us.
There is, therefore, no European reality separate from that of Africa and the rest of the world. The entire world is now locked into a single dialectical process, a unity of opposites, whereupon the gruesome extraction of life and resources from Africa and the rest of the world is a condition for the life and “development” of what we now know as Europe, “white people” and the capitalist system to which we have been forcibly affixed.
The legal system, culture, white sense of sameness and political institutions are reflections of this parasitic economic base. Every white aspiration and dream, every expectation for happiness and a good life—from a successful marriage to a secure future for their children—requires drone strikes in Pakistan, police murders and mass imprisonment in the African colonies and barrios of the U.S., and starvation and forced displacement of the oppressed throughout the world.
Our theory, practical struggle prepared Party to lead
While not fully appreciative of the parasitic foundation of the entire capitalist system resting on the brutal oppression of Africans and others, Karl Marx nevertheless recognized the relationship between the economic foundation of society and the resultant institutions and ideas.
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In his preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, published in 1859, Marx expounds on this relationship between the economic base and superstructure that defines society:
In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely [the] relations of production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure, and to which correspond definite forms of consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness…. The changes in the economic foundation lead, sooner or later, to the transformation of the whole, immense superstructure. In studying such transformations, it is always necessary to distinguish between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, artistic, or philosophic—in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out. Just as one does not judge an individual by what he thinks about himself, so one cannot judge such a period of transformation by its consciousness, but, on the contrary, this consciousness must be explained from the contradictions of material life,
from the conflict existing between the social forces of production and the relations of production.
The era of struggle and resistance within which our Party was born was an era of ebb and flow in the challenge to this parasitic relationship. The survival and longevity of the African People’s Socialist Party, our persistent involvement in and learning from the practical struggles of the African working class and the fighting and oppressed peoples of the world, are among the things that prepared us more than any other political formation for the tasks that confront Africa, Africans and the world today.
The birth of capitalism did not simply involve the replacement of the old feudal economic system in Europe with a new system. The death of European feudalism threw the entire European world into turmoil. All the institutions and ideas that held feudal society together were challenged and sometimes cast aside, leaving Europeans with the frightening experience of ideological drift, foundering without a stable belief system.
This is because capitalism required a different set of values and beliefs than feudal society. In feudal society the Church had been a powerful presence in the life of Europeans for a thousand years. The Divine Right of Kings functioned as a key belief of feudal society that tied the peasant serfs to the land and to service to the lords and nobility, fettering every aspect of their lives.
In addition to the social chaos that befell Europe with the arrival of capitalism, the existing philosophical coherence was also a casualty. It was the end of one world and with it the end of the effectiveness of a worldview.
Karl Marx was one of the many who vigorously sought to explain the world and Europe’s destiny in that world, although
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generally the Europeans saw the destiny of Europe and the world as being the same thing—and still do.
Marx’s Capital and other works were products of this effort to explain the world and Europe’s destiny. Moreover, Marx sought to distinguish himself and his works not simply as attempts to explain the world, but as agents for changing the world.
Today the people of the world find ourselves very much in the same situation as the Europeans of dying feudal society. We are watching and experiencing the world changing beneath our very feet.
The old world is gone. The white ruling class is busily, frantically, attempting to explain the world and humanity’s destiny in it while refusing to recognize that the social system is irreversibly broken. It cannot be fixed. No explanation based on an assumption of the continued domination of white power, whether by socialist workers or the capitalist bourgeoisie, will suffice.
This is the significance of African Internationalism at this historical moment. African Internationalists understand that what is required is the ideological leadership to show the way forward. Only we are able to explain the crisis of the old, dying capitalist system.
Only we can predict the unfolding future shaped by the oppressed masses of the people, whose resistance deprives the capitalist parasite of access to the resources, life and blood of the colonized, subject and dominated peoples whose conditions of existence represent the foundation of capitalist white power and imperialism as we know it today.
Unlike Marxism and the bourgeois philosophers that have been blinded by their relationship with the world, African Internationalism gives Africans and the oppressed our own voices and our own brains, capable of investigating the world
from our reality and making an analysis stemming from that investigation.
Africans are “primitive accumulation”
We recognize that capitalism has always rested and depended on a parasitic foundation. As a part of the “primitive accumulation” that Marx spoke of as a function of capitalist development, we are key to capitalism’s destruction. Indeed, the historical basis for the advent of socialism lies in the struggles of the colonized and dominated oppressed of the world coming to power under the revolutionary leadership of our own workers and laboring masses in all countries.
Marx was unable to fully understand the importance of this question. Marx was able to declare that this “primitive accumulation” is the historic equivalent of “original sin” in theology. He was able to characterize the earth-shaking events that resulted in the theft, sale, forced labor and enslavement of hundreds of millions of African human beings. Nevertheless, Marx’s position on the pedestal of our oppression prevented him from seeing the centrality of African and oppressed peoples in the struggle to overturn capitalism.
What Marx termed primitive accumulation was in fact the deadly European assault on Africa, North and South America and Australia, and the extinction and the near decimation of whole peoples. It was the brutal rape of much of Asia and the Middle East, and the numerous internecine wars between European states battling for control of the slave trade and the colonies. It was the resultant growth in wealth that overturned European feudalism and ushered forth capitalism and the European nation.
A real understanding of “primitive accumulation” would have required Marx to center most of his work on an examination stemming from this reality and to look to
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Africa, Asia and the Americas for the leading forces against capitalism.
But, objectively Marx was himself a beneficiary of “primitive accumulation.” Like others, his consciousness was shaped by this material relationship to imperialism during his lifetime. The libraries and universities he used for his research were filled with books and philosophy that were informed by this parasitic relationship. Historical necessity did not require Marx to understand and center his work on this reality.
However, the African working class is required by history to understand this parasitic historical process that has from the beginning linked Europe, capitalism and the rest of us in the embrace of death from which we are now disengaging.
This is why Buchanan and Brzezinski are crying copious intellectual tears! Understanding the reality of parasitic capitalism and drawing the correct conclusions from this understanding is the task that our Party willingly undertook. To the dismay of the Buchanans, Brzezinskis and all the defenders of the imperialist status quo, our success in this area constitutes a fundamental component of the existential crisis of imperialism.
For centuries, the advent of capitalism has been shrouded in mystery and superstition. Every explanation, whether by capitalists or anti-capitalists, has overlooked the source of capitalism’s emergence as the dominant world economy and its implications for the present. This has happened despite the fact that the truth has been hidden in plain sight.
The problem is that the arrival of capitalism marks the emergence of Europe and white people as the driving economic and political force in the world. It marks a signal moment, a turning point, in the fortunes of white people and the world. It is the beginning of an era from which the progressive material development of the white world would henceforth be measured.
This is an issue that is increasingly being forced into the public domain. In 2012, The New York Times carried an article by Harvard professor Walter Johnson entitled, “King Cotton’s Long Shadow.”
The premise of the article, excerpted here, is that African enslavement was crucial to the development of global capitalism.
It is not simply that the labor of enslaved people underwrote 19th century capitalism. Enslaved people were the capital: four million people worth at least $3 billion in 1860, which was more than all the capital invested in railroads and factories in the United States combined. Seen in this light, the conventional distinction between slavery and capitalism fades into meaninglessness.
Capitalism born of imperialism—not other way around Certainly slavery was the main contributor to the emergence of capitalism, not only in the U.S., but in the world. However, while slavery was the main contributor to capitalism it was not the only contributing factor.
In the early 20th century, Vladimir Lenin, a Russian revolutionary of profound significance, struggled with other socialists of the era to come up with a definition of imperialism at a critical time in the anti-capitalist struggle in Europe.
Lenin defined imperialism as capitalism developed to its highest stage. Imperialism, Lenin liked to say, is capitalism that has become “rotten ripe.”
The term “imperialism” comes from the word “empire,” which can be defined as the complete domination of territories and peoples by foreign state power. During the era of the First Imperialist World War that was fought to divide the world
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among several European bandits, the term “imperialism” was used to define political and economic features of capitalist- dominated European social behavior and reality.
Lenin’s definition of imperialism was one of several at the time, but it has come to dominate the understanding of politically active European and other anti-imperialists to this day.According to Lenin’s Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism:
Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.
In Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, Lenin declares,
We have to begin with as precise and full a definition of imperialism as possible. Imperialism is a specific historical stage of capitalism. Its specific character is threefold: imperialism is (1) monopoly capitalism; (2) parasitic, or decaying capitalism; (3) moribund capitalism.
Indeed, it is certainly true that Lenin has described certain features of capitalism. However, Lenin is wrong about imperialism being the highest stage of capitalism.
The discussion of imperialism in Europe was a response to contradictions being experienced primarily by Europeans in Europe itself. The foray into an inclusion of the partitioning of the world and the intensification of colonization was to
contribute to the definition of European reality. It was not a discussion of the reality of Africans and the colonized.
Lenin characterized himself as a Marxist, a revolutionary whose worldview was fashioned by his acceptance of revolutionary theory and conclusions advanced by Karl Marx. We African Internationalists have found particular interest in a critical insight of Marx that was clearly not understood as such by Marx’s followers or by Marx himself.
Again we return to the brilliant insight of this quote that we often cite from Capital—the quote that Marx himself did not recognize the significance of:
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation.
In the same work Marx also explains, though not intentionally, the obvious contradiction impacting the relationship between white people, including “workers,” and Africans and other oppressed peoples. This is the contradiction that is responsible for a commonality of cross- class or national interests within European society, and one of Marx’s most important statements:
Whilst the cotton industry introduced child slavery in England, it gave in the United States a stimulus to transformation of the earlier, more or less patriarchal slavery, into a system of commercial exploitation. In fact the veiled slavery of the wage
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workers in Europe needed, for its pedestal, slavery pure and simple in the new world.
There is no little irony attached to the fact that Karl Marx wrote much of Capital while being supported financially by his friend and collaborator, Friedrich Engels. Engels received his income from his father, a bourgeois factory owner whose wealth was derived from cotton and textile mills supplied by plantations in the Caribbean.
Stated simply, Marx’s work on the plight of the working class that promised the future to the white workers of the world was financed by the labor of enslaved Africans who constituted what Marx would refer to as the primitive accumulation of capital, the beginning of the process, equivalent in political economy to “original sin” in theology.
African Internationalists are historical materialists whose investigation and analysis of the world has its starting point in an examination of the capitalist-dominated world from the objective reality and experiences of Africans and the vast majority of the peoples on the planet, including “white” or European people.
It is clear to us that imperialism is not a product of capitalism; it is not capitalism developed to its highest stage. Instead, capitalism is a product of imperialism.
If anything, capitalism is imperialism developed to its highest stage, not the other way around.
The imperialism defined by Lenin has as its foundation the “primitive accumulation” spoken of by Marx. Finance capital, the export of capital, monopoly, etc., are all articulations of a political economy rooted in parasitism and based on the historically savage subjugation of most of humanity.
Road to socialism is painted black
Unlike Marx and Lenin, we African Internationalists deny that there has ever been anything progressive about capitalism.
Capitalism was born in disrepute, of the rapes, massacres, occupations, genocides, colonialism and every despicable act humans are capable of inflicting.
Capitalism was not responsible for some great, otherwise unimaginable leap in production, which “despite its contradictions” resulted in human progress and enlightenment.
What capitalism did was to rip the vast majority of humanity out of the productive process—in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and what has come to be known as the Americas.
The hundreds of millions dead due to the slave trade and slavery itself; the millions exterminated everywhere Europeans ventured—these are people whose hands were forever removed from a relationship with nature that would result in “production.”
Europeans achieved their national identity by way of this bloody process. This is not something that only happened a long time ago. The world’s peoples are suffering the consequences of capitalism’s emergence right now.
Locked in colonies and the indirect rule of neocolonialism; restricted to lives characterized by brutality, ignorance and violence in the barrios of the Americas; in other internal colonies characterized as Indian reservations and black ghettos; kept under the paranoiac, nuclear-backed, armed- to-the-teeth watch of military forces born of a state power that has its origins in protecting the relationship between capitalism and its imperial pedestal, capitalism has been the absolute factor in restricting our production and development. It has concentrated productive capacity in the hands of the
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world’s minority European population that sits atop the pedestal of our oppressive reality.
Capitalism was not the good, “progressive” force that is the precursor to something better for “humanity.” Capitalism was a disaster that rescued Europe from a diseased, feudal existence at the expense of the Africans and the rest of the world. In the 17th century, Galileo, an Italian scientist, ran afoul of the Catholic church with his claim that the Earth circumnavigated the sun, as opposed to the prevailing view in feudal Europe, supported by the church, that the Earth was the center of the universe.
The white Left has always been locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans at the center of the universe.
If this were not the case, Marx would have been forced to declare that the road to socialism is painted black. The destruction of the “pedestal” upon which all capitalist activity occurs, not some maturation of contradictions within European capitalist society resting upon the pedestal, is the key to overturning imperialist capitalism.
In an earlier work entitled The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx made this startling admission:
Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that gave the colonies their value; it is the colonies that created world trade, and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large-scale industry….
Without slavery, North America, the most progressive of countries, would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Wipe North America off the map of the world, and you will have anarchy—
the complete decay of modern commerce and civilization. Cause slavery to disappear, and you will have wiped America off the map of nations.
What an excellent formula for the overthrow of capitalism! The “slavery” of today is comprised of the colonial, subject and oppressed peoples of the world. The existence of our Party and the convening of our Sixth Congress are part of the trajectory to cause slavery to disappear and, objectively, to achieve the consequence predicted by Marx.
African Internationalism is the way forward
African Internationalism has brought us to a different understanding than that held by Marx and Lenin regarding the way forward in the struggle against capitalism. It is rooted in our recognition, supported by the quotes from Marx above, that it was imperialism that gave birth to capitalism and not the other way around.
Lenin stated that imperialism is capitalism that is characterized in part by parasitism. But from what we have already seen from the pen of Marx, and what we know from our own experiences and historical investigation, capitalism was born parasitic. That is the meaning of the enslavement, colonization and annexation of other countries and peoples by Europe.
A direct line of connection, a unity of opposites, a dialectical relationship exists between the vast majority of the planet and Europe and Europeans. There is no other explanation for the vast differences in the conditions of existence of Europeans and the rest of us.
The original peoples of the Americas, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean, much of Asia, the Middle East and everywhere the U.S. and Europe are currently engaged in bloody wars
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and intrigues, represent what Marx has objectified with the term “primitive accumulation.”
Indeed, the current irreversible crisis of imperialism is the result of the imperialist “pedestal,” the very foundation of capitalism, freeing itself from its supporting role of the capitalist edifice.
Objectively, this is the meaning of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia and other countries where the people are attempting to liberate themselves from the yoke of empire. It is in self-defense that the U.S. and its partners are engaged in every effort, no matter how brutal or duplicitous, to protect the capitalist status quo.
This is the meaning of AFRICOM, the U.S. military project created to ensnare the entire African continent in the permanent embrace of U.S. imperial domination to the exclusion of other avaricious imperialist contenders and African people ourselves.
The future of capitalism also rests on the continued subjugation of Mexicans and Indigenous people within current U.S. borders, and especially of internally colonized Africans whose conditions of existence demand a permanent state of often spontaneous and unorganized but ever-present resistance.
The enduring impact of Marx’s theory is the fact that it was a response to a desperately needed explanation of the world and the way forward during a time when the thousand- year reign of European feudalism was colliding with the emergence of capitalism, a time when the existing European superstructure was incapable of representing the transforming economic base of society. The established political, legal and cultural institutions and philosophy were incapable of representing the emerging capitalist social system that was ruthlessly uprooting feudalism.
The similarity to today’s world is obvious to African Internationalists. Confusion abounds in every arena. Prior explanations fail to satisfy the test of reality. The U.S. popular culture is replete with examples of decadence and philosophical inadequacy. The most oft-viewed movies and TV shows in the U.S. include those of white super heroes, mostly from a past era of imperialist strength and ghoulish vampires and zombies of today.
In other words, one is offered a thrill of nostalgic, vicarious super strength reflecting the imperialist past or the “walking dead,” representative of the imperialist socio- political purgatory of today. A superstructure resting on the shaky foundation of a terminally ill imperialism is incapable of seeing the future.
Nor are Buchanan and Brzezinski the only ones confused by how imperialist crisis expresses itself today. The special 90th anniversary issue of Foreign Affairs, the political journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, a bourgeois entity historically associated with the Trilateral Commission and the Rockefellers, is dedicated to scrambling for an ideological grasp of this era of imperialism in crisis.
The January/February 2012 anniversary issue is entitled, “The Clash of Ideas, the Ideological Battles that Made the Modern World–And Will Shape the Future.”
Among the submissions to this journal is one by Francis Fukuyama. With the implosion of the Soviet Union and the capitulation of China to the capitalist model, Fukuyama popularized the term “End of History” to suggest the U.S. Western imperialist model represents the extent to which human society would develop.
Today Fukuyama is one of the many who have had to reconsider outdated notions of imperialist permanency. In his submission to Foreign Affairs, “The Future of History,” Fukuyama is now advancing a modified outdated defense of
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imperialism, in which he asks the question in the subtitle, “Can liberal democracy survive the decline of the middle class?”
Interestingly, Fukuyama addresses what is for him, one of the “most puzzling features of the world in the aftermath of the financial crisis,” the fact “that so far, populism has taken primarily a right-wing form, not a left-wing one…”
The main trends in left-wing thought in the last two generations have been, frankly, disastrous as either conceptual frameworks or tools for mobilization. Marxism died many years ago, and the few old believers still around are ready for nursing homes. The academic Left replaced it with postmodernism, multiculturalism, feminism, critical theory, and a host of other fragmented intellectual trends that are more cultural than economic in focus.
The 41-year history of the African People’s Socialist Party is clear evidence that history did not end. In anticipation of Fukuyama’s current intellectual dilemma, the Main Resolution of our First Congress, held in Oakland, California, all the way back in 1981, laid out direction and leadership for our struggle. Its revealing title is, A New Beginning: The Road to Black Freedom and Socialism. Indeed, Fukuyama’s end is our beginning!
This Sixth Party Congress and the theory of African Internationalism represent the “future of history” that Fukuyama is searching for.
The emphasis on African Internationalist theory in this Political Report to the Congress is a refutation of Fukuyama’s outdated assumptions. The slave, previously brutalized into
silence, has found a voice, and we do understand the world and the future. Our Sixth Party Congress is living testimony to that reality.
We are not the “Left” that Fukuyama speaks of. We are not some radical, loyal opposition. We are African Internationalists, committed to the overthrow of the entire system of empire that has feasted off the blood and resources of Africans and others around the world. We are the African People’s Socialist Party that survived the war without terms unleashed against our revolution of the sixties.
Indeed, what is reflected in the popular culture of vampires and geriatric superheroes is the end of history that Fukuyama presumed to see with the failure of the Soviet Union. Were it not for the seriousness of the occasion of our Sixth Congress, we would be tempted here to say to Fukuyama, not without some element of smug satisfaction, “Be careful what you ask for!”
Class question found in the colonial contradiction
It is the liberty of the oppressed, the colonized and enslaved laboring masses of the world currently involved in a massive attempted jailbreak, that will destroy capitalism, the prevailing dominant social system that has the world in lockdown.
Therefore the crisis of capitalism does not cause us anxiety. We know that this is the crisis of the parasite that has, since its historical emergence, required the lives and resources of Africans and others for its success and survival. While this is not a new position of our Party, confusion on this question has led to profound errors within the African liberation and socialist movements. Izwe Lethu i Afrika, the 1990 Political Report to the Third Congress of our Party, attempted to bring clarity and leadership to this crucial issue. In that report we stated:
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We have always said that those who saw the fundamental struggle in the world as existing between the minority white workers and bosses of the world were mistaken. We have always said that the essential class struggle in the world does not exist between the white workers and the white ruling class but is actually concentrated in the struggle against colonialism and economic dependency. Indeed whether he knew it or not, Marx inferred as much himself when in Part VIII of Capital he wrote [in a quote that we find so important that we use it for the third time in this current report]:
“In fact, the veiled slavery of the wage workers in Europe needed for its pedestal slavery pure and simple in the new world.”
This statement by Marx is simply another way of saying that capitalism, the entire basis and superstructure of white power as it exists, has its origin in and rests upon a pedestal of African oppression.
This point is further elaborated in Izwe Lethu i Afrika:
The significance of this research is its usefulness in exposing that the fundamental contradiction, the resolution of which would result in the historically based advent of socialism, has never existed between the industrial (white) working class and ruling class. The real locus of the class contradiction in the real world exists in the contest between capitalism born as a world system, and the “pedestal” upon which it rests.
Hence the 1917 revolution in Russia was not a true socialist revolution since the real historical basis of socialism, which is the destruction of the pedestal upon which capitalism rests and which is required for its existence, had not occurred. What happened in Russia in 1917 was the emergence of conditions that constituted the political basis for socialists to seize power.
However, this seizure of state power by socialists did not change the reality that the world economy, even the world economy within which Russia existed, was and continues to be, a capitalist world economy. It is the same world economy created by the slave trade and augmented by other facets of parasitic or “primitive accumulation” that transformed the vast majority of the peoples and countries of the world into great reservoirs of human and material resources largely for European and North American exploitation.
This is why the presence of our Party is so important. We are the living custodians of the history of struggle and the political, ideological and organizational bridge from the last era of struggle up to now. We are the organization whose every action is guided by our political theory and whose political theory always has been tested and deepened by our action.
Some stuck in last period of struggle
Many of the African liberation organizations of the past period no longer exist, and most that do have lost all semblance of revolutionary content. Though some forces act as if the Black Panther Party (BPP) still exists, there has been no functioning BPP in the U.S. for nearly 40 years. The race nationalist hybrid that calls itself the “New Black Panther
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Party” has absolutely nothing in common with the Black Panther Party of the 1960s except for appropriating the name and the fact that its members wear berets.
The New Black Panther Party is a caricature of the original Black Panther Party, whose founding was tied to the historical process in which the questions of class struggle and nonviolence were being hotly debated throughout the African Liberation Movement in the U.S. and by diverse liberation movements in contests with colonialism and their own petty bourgeoisie around the world.
Unlike the New Black Panther Party the original Black Panther Party was not a race nationalist organization that perceived a race-based society locked in a Manichean battle between evil whites and good blacks. And, while for much of its short, effective existence, the Black Panther Party was ideologically eclectic, it was, unlike the New Black Panther Party, never religiously based and almost always consistently socialist.
Today, some forces formerly associated with the original Black Panther Party consider themselves a kind of post- revolutionary alumni functioning primarily as guardians and beneficiaries of the legacy of the long dead entity. For them the struggle is over. Through their actions they have either declared victory or conceded defeat.
The original Nation of Islam, through which the world came to know Malcolm X, does not exist. The original organization was, in fact, slipping into revolutionary irrelevance, despite the best efforts of Malcolm X when he split with the organization prior to his assassination.
Philosophical idealism, which prohibited the organization from actively engaging in political life during the heat of the African Liberation Movement of the 1960s, was one of the factors leading to Malcolm X’s departure from the Nation of Islam.
Malcolm’s continuous move into secular politics, embracing some of the civil rights activists and offering scientific, revolutionary analysis for the most important events of his times, endeared him to Africans and oppressed peoples throughout the world. At the same time it created friction between him and leaders of the Nation of Islam who thought Malcolm was straying too far from the religious idealism around which much of the Nation of Islam was defined.
Even so, the leader of the existing Nation of Islam rides the coattails of Malcolm X’s legacy. It was Malcolm X who, to his personal detriment, raised the Nation of Islam from relative obscurity as a religious organization to the most influential black nationalist political organization of that era. It was Malcolm X who gave revolutionary legitimacy to the Nation of Islam in a period when the oppressed of the world sought revolutionary direction for ending the colonial domination of Africans and the world’s oppressed.
The Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (RNA) was an organization that from its inception in 1968 considered itself the political heir to Malcolm X. The RNA was a militant organization that held up the principle of self- determination that included a real struggle to capture five geographically contiguous states of the southern U.S. as a national homeland for Africans whom the RNA called “New Afrikans.”
The RNA experienced years of U.S. government repression. This included military assaults on their meetings and headquarters and jailings of their members and leaders. While the organization continues to exist, it appears to be merely a shell of its earlier self, despite the ongoing political activism of some militants that continue to identify with the organization’s aims.
Of the Civil Rights organizations of the era, only the NAACP continues more or less unchanged. It continues to be a
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shameless expression of African petty bourgeois opportunism. It is essentially a wing of the bourgeois Democratic party and functions mainly as a pipeline through which the liberal white ruling class imposes informal, indirect, neocolonial authority over the colonized African community of the U.S.
The situation is no better on the continent of Africa. The African National Congress (ANC) is probably the best known of the liberation organizations of the sixties. This is mainly because the struggle against the South African apartheid regime succeeded in winning support from much of the world, and its leader, Nelson Mandela, became the world’s most recognized political prisoner.
The ANC was initially recognized due to the former Soviet Union’s designation of the organization as one of its “Authentic Six” revolutionary groups on the Continent during that period. The politically influential Soviet Union did much to win support for the ANC throughout the world.
Later, in 1994, when apartheid was no longer viable because of mass resistance, and the Soviet Union no longer existed, Mandela was released from prison through pressure from the liberal bourgeoisie of the world. Because a black face was necessary to represent white imperialist interests in South Africa, the U.S. took the lead in world sponsorship of the ANC.
In the 1960s the African National Congress was recognized along with the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) as one of the two legitimate liberation organizations in South Africa. The ANC was for all practical purposes the mass organization of the South African Communist Party, a mainly white political formation that could not fight for control of a black African movement and government with its own white face.
Today it is clear to most of the world that the ANC is not fundamentally different from the white nationalist regime it replaced. At the time, however, our Party was the only force
that was clear and outspoken on this question as documented in articles from The Burning Spear from the 1970s and ‘80s. As we predicted, the only thing that has transpired since ANC’s rise to power is that a sector of the African petty bourgeoisie or middle class has been recruited to administer the white capitalist state after direct white rule became untenable.
Now in South Africa there is settler neocolonialism. Now it is the “black” government that protects the interests of international capital and the white minority that still owns more than 80 percent of the land, an area four times larger than England and Northern Ireland combined. Today the ANC government orders police murders of protesting African miners.
The ANC presides over a regime under which more than 40 percent of African workers are unemployed in steadily deteriorating conditions, while the conditions of the whites have improved considerably.
APSP represents interests, aspirations of African working class
In Zimbabwe, Algeria, Egypt, Angola, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo and other places where armed organizations led struggles against the prevailing forms of colonial white domination, there is no forward motion. In most instances there has only been a replacement of white oppression by imperialist-backed black oppression of the masses of our people.
However, we are here—the African Socialist International, the global expression of the African People’s Socialist Party. We are here, forged and prepared over the last 41 years for the tasks confronting Africa, Africans and the toiling masses of the world.
We represent historical continuity, the ongoing development of a revolutionary process guided by our ever-
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developing revolutionary theory, despite the shortcomings and failures of various expressions of our Revolution at particular moments in history.
Our Party has become the custodian of the interests and aspirations of the oppressed and dispersed African nation. It is our existence that represents the dynamic future of Africa and the African Revolution, despite the setbacks experienced by the limitations and/or abandonment of particular African personalities or organizations of the past period.
Political parties are always organizations that represent the interests of particular classes, although efforts are often made to disguise this fact. In so-called democratic capitalist societies, political parties often obscure their class character. This is especially true in the United States, where the main ruling class parties are the Democrats and Republicans.
These two parties most often share political power in a number of ways, including elected offices, as well as appointments to posts within the administrations of either or both parties in government.
Regardless of the capitalist political party in power, each party looks out for the interests of capitalism in general, even as it pursues the specific interests of the specific sector of the bourgeoisie that is responsible for its elevation to power.
The African People’s Socialist Party is also the Party of a class, the African working class. Our work is responsive to the interests of our class, interests that distinguish it from other social forces, whether those of the oppressor nation capitalists or the oppressed nation, neocolonial-aspiring African petty bourgeoisie.
Our objective is to provide the political leadership for the African working class in its pursuit of political power, the power to govern, the power to become the new ruling class of a liberated, united Africa and African population whose
conditions of existence worldwide are a reflection of the rape and colonization of Africa.
African Internationalism is our scientifically based, ideological guide that informs our actions and keeps us on the right track. It keeps us away from the lures of race nationalism, superstition and other toxins that attempt to divert the masses and us from our historical mission of African liberation, unification and socialism.
What we are currently experiencing, sometimes in the name of revolution, is the consequence of revolutionary defeat. This is what has contributed to the stupefication of the masses of our people and the peoples of the world. This is why our Party and African Internationalism are so important. Our Party represents the clearest evidence of revolutionary continuum in the world. And it is revolution that continues to be necessary; not prayer to the “right” god while turned in the correct direction. It is not that we need cultural enrichment, nor is social media militancy—audacity in front of a computer screen—the missing element.
It was revolution that won the hearts of masses of Africans and other oppressed peoples around the world. It was revolution that was defeated and counterrevolution that succeeded almost absolutely, except for the presence and work of the African People’s Socialist Party.
Material basis of white terror
One of the issues that has served to befuddle sectors of the African Liberation Movement in the U.S. and elsewhere is the definition of “white people,” their role in history and their place, if any, in the struggle to end oppression and exploitation.
This is an issue that has been complicated by the fact that for centuries, race-based biological definitions have been used by European oppressors as justification for the horrors
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they have inflicted on most of the world and especially on Africans.
To justify the colonial enslavement and brutal oppression of Africans, Europeans concocted pseudo-scientific biological “evidence” purporting the inherent inferiority and bestiality of the colonized. Africans and other oppressed peoples were the primary victims of the violent oppression that accompanied the ruthless exploitation used to create the capitalist system and the sense of sameness necessary for the consolidation of the European nation.
Capitalism entered the historical scene as a world system stemming from slavery and colonialism, and its power to define reality was nearly absolute. What is known as “racism” is a consequence of the power of capital built on the backs of Africans and Indigenous peoples. In fact, racism, as we discussed earlier in this chapter, is the ideological foundation of the global capitalist social system. Racism is a component of the superstructure spawned by the process of capitalism’s conception. Therefore it is nearly impossible to exaggerate the extent of its intellectual influence in the U.S., Europe and the world.What is called racism is a biological analysis. It is reinforced by the creation of such things as the discipline of anthropology, used for the express purpose of proving the superiority of whites or Europeans over Africans and all others. This analysis had an understandable influence over how Africans would begin to explain “white people” as oppressors in the struggle to recapture our humanity, resources and freedom.
Victimized by this pseudo-scientific approach Africans adopted a competing biological analysis to explain the evil nature of the white man.
One result of this has been a hodgepodge of theories that spanned the genetic gamut. This included assertions that
the white man is a mutation; the white man’s depravities are expressions of melanin deficits; and finally, from the Nation of Islam, the white man was created by an evil black genius named Yakub through a selective breeding process.
Contributing to the complexity of the issue has been the perennial willingness of the white majority to suffer voluntary isolation from the majority of humanity in exchange for the material benefits of imperialist colonialism, as well as the extraordinary, irrationally based spiritual or ideological rewards of “whiteness.”
As long ago as 1858, in a letter to Karl Marx, his comrade and collaborator, Friedrich Engels, offered this materialist observation about the ability of the whites to unite with their ruling class in the exploitation of the colonial world: “For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.”
Later, in 1882, in a letter on the same subject, Engels would comment to Karl Kautsky: “You ask me what the English workers think about colonial policy. Well, exactly the same as they think about politics in general…the workers gaily share the feast of England’s monopoly of the world market and the colonies.”
What Engels has begun to do here is attempt a scientific, materialist-based explanation for white behavior. We have spoken to this issue earlier in our description of the economic foundation of capitalism and the resultant superstructure. However, our Party has much more to say on this issue that has provided such a Gordian knot until cut asunder by the incisive blade of African Internationalism.
Writing in A History of Africa, a book we have often quoted, Hosea Jaffe makes another important contribution to a materialist explanation for the emergence and behavior of Europe or the “white man,” declaring:
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Europe was born out of colonialism, as the exploiting, oppressing, negating pole that tried always to destroy and assimilate its opposite pole: the rest of the world….
It was out of this process that the very idea of a European man arose, an idea that did not exist even in etymology before the 17th century. Before the slave trade in Africa there was neither a Europe nor a European. Finally, with the European arose the myth of European superiority and separate existence as a special species or “race”; there arose indeed the myth of race in general, unknown to mankind before—even the word did not exist before the lingua franca of the Crusades—the particular myth that there was a creature called a European, which implied, from the beginning a “white man.” Colonialism, especially in Africa, created the concept and ideology of race. Before capitalist- colonialism there were no races; but now, suddenly and increasingly, there were races: once born, the myth grew into a reality.
Clearly this and other African Internationalist philosophical materialist analyses offer a correct explanation for the “creation,” power and influence of the “white man.”
This is the same explanation provided by our book A New Beginning:Living in a country built and sustained off slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism, the impact of victorious revolutionary struggles reaches down into the gas tanks, shopping centers and tax brackets of the North American population. There is an objective relationship between world slavery and
U.S. affluence, and up to now the North American population, opportunistically and demagogically led by their stomachs, pocketbooks and corrupt leadership, have chosen the continued enslavement of the world.
In the U.S., imperialism was constructed off the enslavement of African people and the near- decimation of the Native population. This system has been the cornerstone of world capitalism since the Second Imperialist War, which means among other things, that the resources, the wealth, the near-slave labor of the vast majority of the peoples of the world have been the basis for the development, not only of the wealth of the ruling class, but of the entire North American society.
African Internationalism helps us to understand that white people are just that, people. And, like all people their actions can be explained by material causes. African Internationalism teaches us that key to the actions of white people is the fact that they have lived on the pedestal of the oppression of most of the world since the advent of capitalism as a social system.
White people: join humanity; commit national suicide! This is not to state that white people are not beset with various contradictions with their own ruling class within the capitalist system. Certainly they are. However, these contradictions require for their existence the primary contradiction—the parasitic extraction of value from Africans and others that constitute the foundation of the entire capitalist social system that has been generally beneficial to Europe and white people at our expense.
For white people to overturn the contradictions with the white ruling class they find themselves contending with
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from time to time they must end their voluntary exile from the rest of the toiling masses of the world and their parasitic relationship to us. They cannot simply claim to be a part of the “99 percent,” as the Occupy Movement proclaimed, when it suits them to suddenly identify with the oppressive circumstances of the rest of us. They are not a part of the 99 percent and it is dishonest for them to make such a statement. However, this is not simply a complaint about the capacity of white people for truth and veracity. The problem is that the claim by whites to be part of the rest of us is an attempt to use the energy of Africans and the oppressed of the world, whose exploitation facilitates the extraction of value that feeds the white population, as a means of remedying white people’s problems on the pedestal. The problems of white people are the direct result of the struggles of the oppressed to take back our resources and our future.
In other words, the contradictions faced by many white people today are the result of the crisis of imperialism brought about by the resistance of oppressed peoples who are struggling against the imperialist theft of their oil, minerals, land and resources.
It is insane for Europeans or whites to assume that the 80 percent of the world that attempts to survive on $10 or less a day would be a willing part of a struggle defined and designed for reinstatement of white student loans or retirement guarantees for the white elderly.
The real, legitimate struggle for white people is to commit national suicide by joining in the struggle for black power and against the white power that is representative of the oppressor nation relationship with the rest of us. The various contradictions plaguing the world are contradictions born of the ascent of white power.
Like Africans, Mexicans, Arabs, Iranians, Roma, South Americans, etc., white women, white homosexuals and white
workers are all victims of capitalism that was born as white power at the expense of everybody else in the world. Yet, white people have always attempted to solve their contradictions with capitalism at our expense rather than in solidarity with us.
Progressive, forward-looking whites who are committed to the creation of a new world without war and exploitation have to join in this struggle by the world’s majority against white power instead of using inane slogans and opportunistic subterfuge to attempt to win world participation in solving their perceived problems at our expense.
We have already discussed the opportunism of the Euro- North American Left. It is real, historical and universal. In Izwe Lethu i Afrika we quoted from the 1907 congress of the Second Communist International, held in Stuttgart, Germany and attended by more than 800 delegates. This piece was cited in Lenin’s Struggle for a Revolutionary International, edited by John Riddell.
The crux of the quote revolves around a majority resolution at that congress that, “Under a socialist regime, colonization could be a force for civilization.” While today most opportunists attempt to disguise the self-serving basis for their opportunism, the “99 percenters” at this congress were refreshingly and unreservedly open in their intent to preserve white power on the backs of the rest of us.
Let us listen in to the debate on the question. This statement by Hendrick van Kol of the Netherlands is in support of the majority socialist colonization resolution:
The minority resolution also denies that the productive forces of the colonies can be developed through the capitalist policy. I do not understand at all how a thinking person can say that. Simply consider the colonization of the United States of
319 The theory of African Internationalism
North America. Without it the native peoples there would today still be living in the most backward social conditions.
Does Ledebour want to take away the raw materials, indispensable for modern society, which the colonies can offer? Does he want to give up the vast resources of the colonies even if only for the present? Do those German, French, and Polish delegates who signed the minority resolution want to accept responsibility for simply abolishing the present colonial system? …Surely there are few Socialists who think that colonies will be unnecessary in the future social order. Although we do not need to discuss this question today, I still ask Ledebour: does he have the courage now, under capitalism, to give up the colonies?
Perhaps he can also tell us what he would do about the overpopulation of Europe. Where would the people who must migrate go, if not to the colonies? What does Ledebour want to do with the growing production of European industry if he does not want to create new export markets in the colonies? And does he as a Social Democrat want to shirk his duty to work continually for the education and further advancement of the backward peoples?
We are tempted to quote more extensively from this discussion as we have in past documents. However, the point is made perfectly clear here: there is a solid, clearly understood material basis for white opportunism that is not limited to the U.S. or to the “backward,” “duped” white working class. It includes its most advanced sector, communists who claim to be organized to struggle for the power to lead the world
to a new day of society free of oppression and economic exploitation.
African Internationalism is not simply an empty discussion dealing with purely abstract questions. It is a theory that has profound implications for how we understand the world and our approach to changing it, as we must.
This is why this Political Report has become a tome of sorts to dig deeply into the theoretical issues confounding much of the world. As an organization of propagandists the Party is the tool of the Advanced Detachment of the African working class used to spread the gospel of African Internationalism among the oppressed African workers and all the toilers of the Earth.