Burning Spear News
Rise of violence among African youth in Britain caused by imperialism's crisis
LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair has been leading a criminalizing, ideological assault on the African community in the United Kingdom (UK). In a series of speeches on this year’s rise of horizontal violence that has left dozens of African youngsters killed, the British leader blamed African people for being victims of the conditions imposed on us by the colonial British government and society.
Since January, the rate of violent deaths of African young men has increased. Leading white rulers and ideologues and their black puppet politicians took this opportunity to fill the airwaves with all kinds of unimaginable accounts on our children. But it is Tony Blair who led the frontal ideological assault against African people in Britain. Quotes printed in the April 12 issue of the Guardian Unlimited, a London-based liberal imperialist news agency, exposed Blair’s ideological warfare against our people in Britain. Here are selected extracts:
- Tony Blair claimed “the spate of knife and gun murders in London was not being caused by poverty, but a distinctive black culture.”
- Blair also stated, “The black community — the vast majority of whom in these communities are decent, law abiding people horrified at what is happening — need to be mobilized in denunciation of this gang culture that is killing innocent young black kids."
- He’s also quoted as saying that there needed to be an “intense police focus” on the minority of young black Britons behind the gun and knife attacks, and that the laws on knife and gun gangs needed to be toughened and the ringleaders “taken out of circulation.”
- He’s quoted as saying, “Economic inequality is a factor and we should deal with that, but I don't think it's the thing that is producing the most violent expression of this social alienation.”
- Blair even said of the horizontal violence, "I think that is to do with the fact that particular youngsters are being brought up in a setting that has no rules, no discipline, no proper framework around them.”
- Finally, he’s quoted as saying, "We need to stop thinking of this as a society that has gone wrong — it has not — but of specific groups that for specific reasons have gone outside of the proper lines of respect and good conduct towards others and need by specific measures to be brought back into the fold."
Imperialism has stolen our hip hop culture and uses it against us
Blair’s speeches against African people were a to reassure white people that the gun violence aspect of the counterinsurgency is for black people.
However, gang culture is imperialist culture. In any society split between the haves and the have nots, it is the former, the dominant class that controls culture.
For example, the African working class is the creator of the modern pop music, but it is the white ruling class that owns and control the means of production and distribution. The white rulers define the orientation of the contents of the music with the aims of confusing, obscuring and marginalizing the significance of the African working class and of Africa in the world.
The modern pop music that is beamed over the imperialist airwaves functions as an array of imperialist ideological bullets that facilitate the agenda of imperialism. They are — in addition to school curriculum, movies, cartoons, video games and the news — the software of imperialism in the heads of our children.
The government has a near monopoly over the materials we feed our brains with and, as a result, how we think. Regardless of being single parents or not, from “broken homes” or not, the opinion and worldview of every oppressed black person is affected by the white imperialist worldview through its institutions and ideologues.
It is the government that has imposed an illegal drug economy on us, preventing many of us from being able to even think of long-term aspirations and creating the basis to fill jails with black women and men. It is the government that sends us into sinking schools, which miseducate our children with a curriculum we can‘t relate to.
Government uses gang violence to criminalize entire African community in UK
It has been the government’s intention for a long time to militarize the policing of the colonized African people in Britain. The drug economy and the introduction of firearms into the African community provided the basis for the justification for militarization of the police.
Now, a special armed force known as Operation Trident has been put in place to deal with violence inside the black community. But in reality, the drugs and the guns are in our community because the government wants them to be there.
With this latest gun violence, the calls for more stop and searches have reached a saturation level. Police containment activities in our community have sharply increased.
An article in the May 11 issue of the London Press entitled “There’s not an exit strategy” explained, “One police group has been awarded for providing activities for 11- and 12-year-olds. They found that gang activity dropped in a town centre as they had something constructive to do.”
The causes of horizontal violence
However, if horizontal violence is to end it is important for African people to understand the causes. There are four main causes:
One cause is the fact that imperialism’s worldview keeps Africans workers unaware of our national interests.
Under colonial oppression, the violence of the oppressed must be to end their oppression. This is what is expected from any organized and conscious social force that is exploited and oppressed.
Unconscious and unorganized colonized forces may be at any time engaged in activities that are opposed to our own legitimate interests because our worldview has been formed by imperialism. This worldview keeps African workers unaware of our own interests. It only promotes horizontal violence, or violence against our own community instead of those who hold us under oppression.
By nature, conflicts amongst the people are non-antagonistic, but it is imperialist philosophical intervention that transforms them into antagonistic ones, whilst at the same time imposes submission and subservience to imperialism.
The second cause of horizontal violence is that African workers are excluded from the legal economy and live in state of severe poverty.
Wherever you walk around the African community, you see most of the skilled and semi-skilled jobs are operated by white people — in construction, road maintenance and everything else. At the same time, markets in our community are owned by Asians, Afghans, and Turks, etc. Our community is deprived of capital needed to start, maintain and develop our own businesses.
About 50 percent of African households live with £300 or less per week. This is half the national average.
Southwark, which is the Borough to which Peckham town belongs, has been one of the centers of the recent horizontal killings in the African community. According to statistics, 27.6 percent of the population of Southwark are estimated to be economically inactive.
The average net annual household income of those in owner occupation with mortgage in 2003-04 was £32,626. That’s more than three times the amount for those in council housing which was £9,329. The average net annual household income of those who privately rented was £22,943, and those who rented through the housing association had an income of £1,188.
Most of the African people are housed in council houses. With the overall average household income at about £23,000, it can be seen clearly that the black community household income is well below half of the national average income.
The third cause of horizontal violence in the African community is the temporary rise of the black petty bourgeoisie as the leaders of African people in the UK.
The African rebellions of 1981 and 1985, which shook the British colonial society to its foundations, convinced the rulers of the necessity to build a middle class that would act as buffer between the people fighting for freedom and the British ruling class itself.
Today, the strategy of integration has born its fruits. There is a black middle class that effectively helps to keep the black masses in check.
They are black members of the British parliament, councillors, cadres of the police, preachers, lawyers, etc. They do not see resistance and self-determination for African people as a necessity.
Charity work is the policy of the African petty bourgeoisie. You can count with your fingers the number of African organizations that are not receiving government funds.
This desolate leadership would, instead of guiding African people to struggling against colonial oppression, would blame African people for the problems we face at the hands of our colonial oppressors.
The fourth cause of horizontal violence is the near inexistence of an African national liberation movement inside UK borders, equipped with an advanced theory of liberation.
What is known as the “black movement” in the UK is generally just a cultural entity that meets on different occasions to commemorate historical events. It is not equipped to take our struggle into the final conclusion of a United States of Africa under the leadership of the African working class in alliance with the poor peasantry.
It is a movement locked up in spontaneity and in the struggles of the 60s, fighting for an old, dead Pan-Africanism. It is a movement that disregards the fundamental theoretical questions for African revolution.
There are no serious discussion on tactics and strategies for our struggle for self-determination. There is no summing up of the major contradictions of this current period that is characterized by the general and permanent decay of imperialism.
That is why it is not uncommon to hear some elements, who may consider themselves members of the anti-colonial movement, blaming the people for our condition. They make statements like “everything starts at home” or “everything starts with the parents.” In the Uhuru Movement we always say it is white imperialism that is the beginning of all our problems.
The reality of gun violence is that each death in the African community in the UK is a direct or indirect consequence of the British ruling class’ domination of African people in the UK. We die violently because they have imposed poverty, ignorance, individualism, the drug economy, poor housing, unemployment, failing schools, firearms, police harassment and brutality on our community.
The only way to end these conditions is to organize from below, with the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), the only organization of African workers organizing tirelessly to bring revolution to every place where there are African people. To struggle to end horizontal violence must mean to struggle to defeat the British counterinsurgency against African people in the UK!
No compromise! No surrender!