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Forward the Revolutionary African National Democratic Struggle
Chairman Omali Yeshitela's report to the InPDUM Convention provided the basis for the existence and current direction of InPDUM.
The following is a political report presented by APSP Chairman, Omali Yeshitela, to the convention of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement on September 27, 2008.
Seventeen years ago last April, our Party initiated the founding convention of the National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, later to become the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM). That historic convention opened in Chicago on April 6, 1991, the 23rd anniversary of the U.S. police murder of 17-year-old Black Panther Party member Bobby Hutton.
Our motivation for founding InPDUM was clear: the struggle for the liberation of our people had to be resuscitated after its crushing military defeat of the 1960s. The masses of the colonized African population of the U.S. had to be brought back into active, conscious, independent, political life. The counterinsurgency that had come with our defeat, ushering in a period of mass demoralization, disorganization, dispersal and chemical warfare in the form of the imposition of a drug economy, had to be exposed and defeated.
At the time of our founding convention I declared in my Report to the Convention that our primary task was to “defend the national democratic rights won by our people in the past, rights which are constantly being abrogated by the U.S. government in the name of fighting a war against drugs…”
We also declared that the “National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement will struggle to extend the question of democracy beyond the definition of the liberal African Petty bourgeoisie.”
Our mention of the “liberal African petty bourgeoisie” was not a careless choice of words. We were consciously recognizing that within the oppressed and colonized African community there are Africans whose class interests give them greater solidarity with our national oppressors than with African workers and the masses of our people. We recognized that the struggle against imperialism will often have to be made against these sell-out forces as well, sometimes more vigorously than with our capitalist-colonialist oppressors.
In fact, we stated clearly in the Report to the National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement Founding Convention that:
“The defeat of the anti-colonial sector of our movement, the defeat of the Black Revolution of the Sixties was a victory for white bourgeois liberalism and the liberal sector of the African petty bourgeoisie, whose interests were restricted to democratic rights under colonial white power.”
African presidential candidate an attempt to rescue imperialist white power
It is important to recall these words in the face of the current struggle with which the U.S. front of the African revolution is confronted. Today a sector of liberal imperialism is fighting for the “right” to rescue “Western” imperialism from an ever-increasing crisis that threatens its hegemonic place in the world.
The current form of that struggle is the electoral contest being waged for U.S. presidency. For the first time in U.S. history an African selected by the imperial U.S. ruling class has won the right to represent a major ruling class party as its presidential candidate.
The fact that the U.S. bourgeoisie had to choose an African in the form of Barack Obama as its primary agent is testimony to the depth of the crisis of imperialism in general, but especially of U.S. imperialism. It was in the U.S. that the imperialist ideological underpinning of white racial supremacy or racism was most developed and viciously imposed.
It is important for us to understand that this move by U.S. imperialism to appoint an African as head of the U.S. State is the result of the ever-growing struggle of non-white victims of imperialist slavery and colonial oppression for control of our lives, lands and resources.
This resistance has emerged in particular since the second imperialist world war, which was accompanied by a crescendo of struggles for national liberation that began the process of attacking the parasitic basis of imperialist power and wealth, born off our enslavement and oppression.
Throughout the world peoples who were formally colonized or otherwise dominated by Western imperialists are successfully challenging this parasitic relationship and its ideological assumption of white racial entitlement to their labor and resources.
The imperial arrogance carried out in blatant racial terms has now become an impediment for imperialist success. The niggers, rag heads, wet backs and gooks were shedding their shackles and becoming forces to be dealt with. This has made it increasingly necessary for imperial white power to disguise itself on a global level as it had so successfully done for a while within the former colonies.
The U.S., having become the chief hegemon is not only fighting to rescue Western imperialism, it is also struggling to maintain its preeminent imperialist position as the sole remaining super power.
What better ploy for an enlightened imperialism than to be under the nominal leadership of an African, a term synonymous with “slave,” “colonial subject,” “oppressed,” “dispossessed,” “despised” and “powerless” since the advent of imperialism?
Inside the U.S., the African presidential candidacy of Barack Obama represents balm to the North American oppressor nation population, which has grown extremely anxious by the obvious manifestations of crisis that have begun to impact its economic and physical security.
Around the world people are up in arms in opposition to U.S. domination and aggression. At the same time the conditions of existence for those colonized within current U.S. borders, such as the Indio-Mexican and African populations, have become unbearably worse.
Thus for the general North American oppressor nation population and its ruling class an African for U.S. president provides relief that colonized African people, historically the most revolutionary volatile sector of the population, have chosen to seek salvation in a manner that validates the parasitic social system. Obama’s Democratic Party candidacy absolves whites of any responsibility to rectify their relationship with the oppressed and exploited peoples of the U.S. and the world.
At the same time, the African population itself, bereft of revolutionary leadership, has jumped on the bandwagon of the ruling class-sponsored African presidential candidate in a state of near delirium. Polls indicate that upwards of 90 percent of the African population have committed to vote for Barack Obama.
Moreover, the African population has committed to Obama despite the fact that he absolutely refuses to address the pressing, life- and liberty-threatening imperialist-imposed conditions confronting Africans in the U.S. and the world.
Reality belies Obama’s claim of “post-racial America”
In fact, the singularly most significant comments Obama has made concerning African people, as a people have been denunciatory. They included attacks on influential African religious leaders, one of whom was his pastor for 20 years. Obama also used the occasion of Father’s Day to attack the shortcomings of African fathers, a favorite pastime of reactionary pro-colonialist whites and their African stooges.
Obama’s candidacy has been promoted as being representative of a “post racial” America, where, according to him, 90 percent of the “racial” problems of the U.S. have been solved.
Obama has dismissed the significance of the U.S. government’s contribution to the devastation of the African population of New Orleans during and following Hurricane Katrina that resulted in a military occupation of an impoverished African population that had been left by the U.S. government to fend for itself as its entire community was swept away by water and colonial policy.
With the acquittal of the occupying military colonial police that killed Sean Bell, a young African in New York on the eve of his wedding day with a 50-shot barrage of gunfire the African community was incensed. Obama greeted this righteous anger with an apology for the court system that found the killers innocent of responsibility for Bell’s assassination.
This is a far cry from his performance before Jewish audiences where he has gone beyond the traditional kowtowing to Zionist interests. Obama has even extended the predatory demands of the white nationalist Israeli settler state to include total control of Jerusalem, previously thought of by liberals as a shared capital of a future Palestine state and Israel.
Obama’s duplicitous claim that there is only a ten percent residual impact of African domestic colonization in the U.S., and the notion of a “post-racial” America requires a deliberate cover-up of what has been one of U.S. imperialism’s greatest, most glaring offenses against humanity: the racial colonial oppression of its captive African population.
In almost every measurable category the conditions of existence of African people have worsened in the most recent period.
We are facing the greatest loss ever of African wealth in the form of home foreclosures due to the collapse of the subprime mortgage industry, a predatory lending scheme that was created to target colonized Africans and Latinos. However, the impact of the mortgage crisis is but one example of the ongoing exploitation of African people that is directly tied to our oppression as a domestically colonized sector of the dispersed African nation.
According to U.S. Health and Human Services data of 2005, Africans in the U.S. suffer obscenely higher rates of death from cancer, some 25 percent greater than whites.
Similar differences exist for rates of heart disease, with 40 percent of African men and women suffering some form of heart disease compared with 30 percent for white men and 24 percent for white women. African people accounted for 54 percent of the diagnosed cases of HIV/AIDS in 2002, and are ten times more likely to die of AIDS than whites.
According to a presentation given by Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard University, Obama’s alma mater, on September 16, 2005, an African male child born in Washington, D.C., in the U.S., has less chance of surviving to his first birthday than a child born in urban parts of Kerala, India. Summers also claimed that the black-white health gap costs the lives of more than 83,000 Africans annually in the U.S.
The social consequences of African colonial domination in the U.S. is summed up in one instance by a March 26, 2006 article in the Washington Post, which claims that the marriage rate for Africans has been dropping since the 1960s. Africans colonized in the U.S. have the lowest marriage rate of any “racial” group in the United States. Quoting the U.S. Census, the article revealed that in contrast to the North American or white oppressor-nation population where 27.4 percent and 20.7 percent of men and women have never been married, the rate was 43.3 percent and 41.9 percent of African men and women respectively.
Additionally one in every eight African men in his 20s is now in prison or jail on any given day, according to an advocacy group, the Sentencing Project.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ report, Prison and Jail Inmates at Midyear 2006, there were nearly 5,000 African men in prison per every 100,000, compared with 736 per 100,000 for white men.
For 2001, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that even when they are convicted white people are less likely than Africans to be sent to prison, with only 33 percent of convicted white defendants going to prison compared with 51 percent of Africans.
Similar data reveal the continuing colonial conditions of Africans in the U.S. in the areas of discriminatory application of the death penalty, felony disenfranchisement dating back to the formal emancipation from colonial slavery and a depression-level rate of unemployment.
However, nothing speaks more eloquently to this dreadful ongoing condition of colonial reality that Obama and his backers would deny than the so-called wealth gap existing between African subjects and North American oppressor-nation citizens.
The Black Commentator, citing a report on wealth disparities by the Pew Hispanic Center, related the revealing information that the average African family earns just 60 percent of the average white family income. The median net worth of the average African household is about $6,000 versus an average white household net worth of $88,000, or 14 times as much wealth. In fact, according to the report, one third of African people have no assets at all or a negative net worth.
According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press of November 13, 2007, even in instances where government policies were established in the name of rectifying past discrimination against Africans, such as Affirmative Action, white women of the oppressor nation population benefited the most from these programs.
This minimal delineation of the colonial conditions with which Africans are confronted in the U.S. reveals one of the reasons Obama is seen by the North American oppressor-nation population and far-seeing sectors of its ruling class as an invaluable asset during these times of extreme turbulence for the imperialist world order.
Obama seduces Africans and others to a kinder face of imperialism
The revolutionary colonized African population, especially the impoverished masses and workers who are being daily driven into greater poverty and experiencing escalating oppression, has traditionally been the force that waged fierce resistance, including revolutionary upheaval, to U.S. imperialism as experienced within current U.S. borders.
This is an aspect of the balming effect of Obama’s candidacy for U.S. presidency. On the one hand his candidacy assures whites of the oppressor nation that they do not have to fear independent African resistance that will challenge the status quo and their lifestyle.
On the other hand, Obama captures the millions of African people whose growing emiseration might normally drive them to independent, alternative, revolutionary politics and woos them back into the safe embrace of the capitalist-colonialist system.
Of course the irony here is that Africans support Obama because they think he represents black power, and whites support him because they know he does not.
Obama’s candidacy is having a similar impact on the international stage, especially, but not exclusively among the world’s dispersed African population.
The August-September, 2008 edition of The Africa Report, a bimonthly journal specializing in African affairs, has Obama on its cover. It also contains a teaser that asks of Obama, “Can this man change America and with it, the world?” Anecdotal evidence abounds throughout the African world that millions of Africans would answer a resounding “yes” to the question.
In July 2008, Obama made a campaign trip to Europe and the Middle East even though Europeans, Israelis and Palestinians cannot vote in the U.S. presidential election (a possible exception being Jews holding dual citizenship with Israel and the U.S.).
Obama’s trip was essential to demonstrate to the U.S. liberal ruling class his ability to seduce the European bourgeoisie and people who have become so resentful of U.S. anti-European foreign policy and hegemonic intent under the current U.S. regime that it threatens the post “Cold War” “Atlantic Alliance.”
In highly staged events hundreds of thousands of adoring Europeans in Germany, France and England gave Obama a rousing welcome worthy of a rock star of some renown.
As recently as September 10, BBC News reported on a poll it had conducted in 22 countries prior to the Democratic and Republican parties' national conventions. According to the BBC report:
“People outside the US would prefer Barack Obama to become US president ahead of John McCain, a BBC World Service poll suggests.
“Democrat Mr. Obama was favoured by a four-to-one margin across the 22,500 people polled in 22 countries.
“In 17 countries, the most common view was that US relations with the rest of the world would improve under Mr. Obama.”
The BBC report continued with these telling data:
“The countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve ties were US NATO allies - Canada (69%), Italy (64%), France (62%), Germany (61%), and the UK (54%) - as well as Australia (62%), along with Kenya (87%) and Nigeria (71%).
“When asked whether the election as president of the African-American Mr. Obama would "fundamentally change" their perception of the US, 46% said it would while 27% said it would not.”
Revolutionary support for Obama campaign is opportunism
Of course, the vast majority of the world’s peoples, including the oppressor nation whites of the U.S., are not a conscious part of some conspiracy to resolve the crisis of imperialism at the expense of Africans and the world’s oppressed.
Many, if not most people see in the Obama candidacy the possibility of global reconciliation of peoples and their interests.
They see in the candidacy of this African the possibility that the U.S., perhaps the most notorious racially chauvinistic country in the world and the world’s sole super power, would now be capable of using its great power to lead the world into a new era of racial tolerance and world peace.
However, while it is understandable that most ordinary people might fall prey to such idealistic fantasies, the fact that so-called revolutionaries would labor under such illusions is testimony to the effectiveness of the Obama candidacy as an imperialist ploy.
We want to make it clear that this is not a blanket condemnation of revolutionary participation within the bourgeois electoral system.
Some African revolutionaries insist that it is contradictory to challenge the authenticity of the Obama candidacy and the legitimacy of Africans’ and revolutionaries’ support for his candidacy while being willing to participate in the colonial electoral system in other situations.
The fact is that we understand that ours is a struggle for political power in the hands of the people, under the influence and leadership of the African working class. We understand that we have to use every available means of struggle to attain this power and that to refuse to utilize the electoral process when it advances the revolution is to betray the revolution. We would never want to concede invaluable democratic space to the ruling class and raise the possibility of being prematurely forced out of effective, above ground political activity.
We of the African People’s Socialist Party believe it is absolutely appropriate to utilize the electoral process on our own terms and when it advances the struggle.
We think the electoral process often allows us the political space and forums for spreading revolutionary theory and analysis, of educating the workers and masses in general. It allows us the means by which to advance various campaigns and to test the effectiveness of our ideas and of our ability to communicate these ideas to the masses and the workers. It provides us a limited opportunity to struggle to influence and create public policy and to force critical contradictions to the surface while testing the limitations of colonial bourgeois democracy.
However, generally speaking, the revolutionaries in the international community or within the U.S. itself – and this includes African nationalists of various persuasions – do not speak of the Obama candidacy in this manner. Most often they speak of it as a kinder, gentler imperialism, preferable to the imperialism of the current regime and the predictable imperialist policies of a replacement regime of the same political party.
This is an opportunist stand, although it is understandable within the international community. For example, there are growing, effective anti-imperialist struggles being made throughout South America. These struggles that have resulted in some limited successful challenges to U.S. control over their sovereignty and resources.
But because of the weakness of a revolutionary movement inside of the U.S., struggling countries around the world cannot realistically rely on meaningful solidarity from revolutionary organizations here.
Opportunist movements in U.S. provide no allies for anti-colonial struggles
Opportunism within the U.S. is the primary reason for this. For too long what has passed for revolutionary movements within the U.S. have taken the path of least resistance. Many groups simply rely on a strategy of ingratiating themselves to the liberal wing of the Democratic Party with the hopes of being awarded political crumbs from the imperialist table.
This has led to an eviscerated revolutionary movement, opportunistic to the bone and without any independent capacity beyond that permitted by the Democratic Party.
Since most of what passes as a revolutionary movement within the U.S. is tied to the Democratic Party, many revolutionaries and anti-imperialists within the international community feel compelled to limit their aspirations for meaningful solidarity within the U.S. to the same sector of liberal imperialism to which the so-called North American revolutionaries are tied.
While this opportunist stance by anti-imperialists and revolutionaries in the international community is understandable, it is nevertheless no less opportunistic than that of the U.S. homegrown revolutionaries and anti-imperialists.
Whether it comes from revolutionaries fighting against U.S. imperialism around the world or inside this country the results of this opportunism is the same. It abandons and covers over the revolutionary aspirations of Africans and other colonially oppressed peoples as represented by genuine revolutionary organizations and parties. It is a stance that assumes the permanence of U.S. imperialism.
Are the colonially oppressed masses within current U.S. borders to simply sit by passively while international movements that should be our natural allies are instead allied with the liberal representatives of our oppressors?
This sacrifice of the long-term interests of the revolution against imperialism for apparent short-term interests for a special group is the textbook definition of opportunism.
This is the opportunism that was prevalent during the second imperialist world war, when in the name of a so-called united front against fascism, the international Soviet-dominated communist movement impeded and denounced any struggles by subject peoples against its imperialist allies holding us in colonial bondage.
However, the ersatz revolutionaries within the U.S., especially the Africans, do not even have advantage of the paltry excuses of the international opportunists. Here what we have is a motley crew of cowering figures that fear or cannot even envision the defeat of U.S. imperialism and the ascendancy of the African working class to the position of ruling class. Hence their willingness to abandon all recognition of revolutionary social science.
This is why they take Obama’s pronouncements at face value, believing that his words and promises (even those unspoken to African people) are to be accepted as honest representations of his personal views.
Obama a ruling class candidate; not a revolutionary
Those of us armed with revolutionary social science and unwilling to abandon its value for analysis, do understand that bourgeois elections, in the first place, are but simple non-violent contests between different sectors of the ruling class for control of the state.
That’s why the ideas being bandied about during these elections are the ideas of different sectors of the ruling class struggling for a popular mandate to utilize the power of the capitalist-colonialist state to advance their interests.
For revolutionaries to believe otherwise about Obama is to ignore science and rely on good feelings, charm and personality.
Some “nationalists” have even gone so far as to proclaim Obama a worthy candidate despite any meaningful objective evidence, because he is married to an African woman. Others who recognize Obama’s inability to address the conditions of African people and his willingness to engage in racially deprecating anti-African comments to win white support, claim that Obama should nevertheless be supported because his candidacy provides pride for African children!
Obviously the nationalism here is U.S. patriotism, loyalty to the bourgeois state that the candidacy of Obama allows to reveal itself. It is a form of white nationalism in black skin.
For revolutionaries to join the Obama camp because of some illusion that his candidacy represents a meaningful break with imperialism–both the imperialism represented by his own party as well as that of the current ruling Republican Party–is to ignore the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been pumped into Obama’s campaign.
The reality is Obama has received more money from Wall Street than any other candidate throughout the primary election process.
We cannot ignore the prevalence in his campaign advisory teams of people like Penny Pritzker, a billionaire heiress-banker who is credited with creating the subprime mortgage that has brought ruin to scores of thousands of African, Latino and other homeowners.
Obama’s main foreign policy advisor is the notorious warmonger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor from the administration of former U.S. President James Earl Carter. Brzezinski was architect of the strategy to destroy the Soviet Union by dragging it into a quagmire in Afghanistan to face the U.S.-created the CIA-backed Mujahadin that later became the Taliban and Al Quaida.
Evidence abounds of Obama’s ties to imperialism. Most of this is known by his revolutionary apologists, at least one of whom warns ominously that Obama’s election is our only protection from certain fascist takeover of the U.S. if Obama’s opponent from the current ruling party is elected.
While we do not easily dismiss the possibility of a new regime moving even further than the current administration to shut down society, we also recognize that this process of attacking democracy within the U.S. was most recently initiated as a strategy of the Democratic Party by former U.S. president, William Jefferson Clinton, of the same political party as Obama and the person being most relied on today to secure Obama’s election as president.
Preaching to the very same reactionary white nationalist electoral choir to which Obama is appealing, Clinton, in order to win the office of U.S. president publicly attacked a popular African youth cultural worker at the headquarters of Jesse Jackson who was also a Democratic Party darling before being replaced by Obama.
It was Clinton who, for the same reason, used his position as Arkansas governor to preside over the execution over a mentally retarded African man as a campaign ploy.
It was Clinton who warmed the hearts of a substantial sector of the white nationalist U.S. electorate by promising to put 100,000 new policemen in the streets of the U.S. Everyone knew this promise was aimed at demonstrating his willingness to use military force to keep the African community pacified. Many of the arguments we hear for having to support Obama today were advanced by much of the same anti-imperialist movement in supporting Clinton’s candidacy then.
Lead the people to struggle in their own interest or support neocolonialism?
Today, just as then, we are faced with the same choices. Will we fight furiously to arm the masses with organization and an understanding of the real nature of imperialism and its current strategy?
Or will we contribute to the disarmament of the masses by leaving them to the mercy of the same predator adorned with a different complexion and style?
The latter choice will leave us in the same place four years hence that we find ourselves in today: without a real mass movement that is influenced and/or led by African workers and informed by recognition of its own interests, independent of the imperialist white ruling class and reliant on the good will of liberal imperialism.
The proclaimed fear of fascism as a basis for supporting Obama demands a convenient historical amnesia. It demands that we forget the lessons of the U.S. during the heyday of what has been defined as an incipient fascist movement in the U.S. during the mid 1950s. The only thing at that time that kept U.S. society open, that prevented the successful rise of the most reactionary sector of the white ruling class was the struggle of African people for democracy. This was the turning point in U.S. society that defined that period as one for democracy and civil rights.
A serious, successful struggle for the national democratic rights of African people, this time under the leadership of the African working class will be even more effective today in opening U.S. society than it was in the 1950s. It is surely better to rely on the power of the people than the good will of a liberal representative of imperialism, even if it is an African.
A singular weakness of most of what passes itself off as a U.S. based revolutionary movement, especially its African component, is the fact that it is a movement devoid of any kind of work that is informed by revolutionary strategy and theory.
This means that it is essentially tied to spontaneity, correctly referred to as the mother of opportunism. It is a movement whose vision of the future is informed by the presidential campaign of Obama. Its strategy is one that has been hastily devised to accommodate the candidacy of the current liberal imperialist candidate for president.
In a sense, we should be thankful for Obama’s candidacy for giving them direction and something about which to pontificate. Otherwise many of them would be stuck on the sidelines of history, often writing lofty tomes extolling abstract truths.
Because very often the so-called revolutionaries in the U.S. are not engaged in theoretically informed strategically based work their truths are generally useless. This is notwithstanding the fact that they are sometimes wrapped in weighty revolutionary language too obtuse for the ordinary person to easily grasp.
This is a kind of opportunism that is informed by philosophical idealism, a form of pure abstraction where one can draw any conclusion one so desires without fear of the conclusion having to be tested in the real world. It is an instance of continuing to see philosophy as something that simply explains the world, without any responsible to change the world.
InPDUM anticipated Obama 17 years ago
Obviously the African People’s Socialist Party’s view of the Obama candidacy does not suffer from these shortcomings.
We did not discover the world of struggle through the candidacy of Obama; nor was our strategy developed to deal with that candidacy. The fact is our work and strategy anticipated Obama. Even 17 years ago, before most of the world had heard of Obama and before the U.S. imperialist ruling class itself knew that Obama would be the tool they would be using today to resolve its crisis, we were preparing for Obama, though we did not know his name.
We were able to anticipate Obama because of our concrete work to solve the problems of the revolution within the U.S. and throughout the world. Our approach to the Obama candidacy was born of an analysis of the strategy of liberal imperialism throughout the world and within current U.S. borders and because of our ability to recognize neocolonialism and its role and impact on our struggle within the U.S., especially during this era of imperialist crisis.
Returning to the Political Report to the founding convention of InPDUM 17 years ago, I stated:
“The liberal sector of the white ruling class had funded the Civil Rights Movement. They needed the limited revolution for their own economic interests following the second imperialist war. The defeat of the Black Revolution of the Sixties was a victory for the liberal white ruling class and its junior partner the liberal African primitive petty bourgeoisie, whose limited revolution for democracy, prestige and material wealth for itself was to be at the expense of democracy, prestige and material wealth for the broad masses of our wretched and brutalized people.
“In the final analysis it has been this relationship between the white ruling class and the African petty bourgeoisie that has proved the most devastating component of the U.S. counterinsurgency. For it is the African petty bourgeoisie that function as the social base for the U.S. neocolonial strategy, currently the linchpin of the U.S. counterinsurgency. The U.S. neocolonial strategy is simply a strategy of formal transfer of political power to the African petty bourgeoisie, generally trough the electoral process, while economic control and hence de facto power remains in the hands of the white ruling class.
“The U.S. neo-colonial strategy has provided an excellent cover for U.S. domestic colonialism and up till now, along with historical white opportunism, has contributed magnificently to the maintenance of class peace within the U.S. and the isolation of the suffering African working class within the U.S. and internationally.”
What should be clear here is that while we did not know the name of Obama 17 years ago when InPDUM was founded, we were preparing for him even then. Our approach to this question of his candidacy did not require us to know his name or that he would emerge in the very same city where our founding convention was being held. Our view of his candidacy is not based on a subjective assessment of this person, of his wit and charm or an assumption that his appearance represents an historical break from U.S. imperialism’s past. In the same founding document from which I am copiously quoting, I also stated:
“[W]e must build an organization which will also attack the neocolonial component of the U.S. counterinsurgency. And since the electoral process is the primary method for implementing neocolonialism within the U.S., our movement must deny the African petty bourgeoisie the free hand to utilize it with impunity to carry out a ruling class or corrupt self-serving petty bourgeois agenda. In order to do this we must fight them on the arena of the electoral process by running our own candidates and where appropriate, by registering our movement as a mass party.
“However, two things must be kept in mind. Number one, we are not talking about symbolic campaigns. We are talking about campaigns to win elections and/or to affect policies governments are capable of implementing. Number two, we are talking about winning campaigns on principle, on the basis of actually massifying our demands for self-determination among the people.
“This means that we must learn certain skills necessary for struggle in this arena, skills that most people in most mass movements may not have, but many of which the Uhuru Movement has acquired over the years although not in sufficient enough quantity nor quality. Serious, principled struggle in this arena – in defense of the national democratic rights of our people and as part of the process to expose the U.S. counterinsurgency leading to the abrogation of many of those democratic rights, will shatter the democratic façade of the colonialist white ruling class state.”
What about the black community, Obama?
On August 1, 2008, when Obama brought his campaign here to St. Petersburg, Florida, a stronghold of our Party and movement, we were prepared for him. We had been preparing for him for at least 17 years as InPDUM. It was this preparation based on the scientific assessment described here that resulted in the intervention at the campaign gala at a local high school.
It is a measure of the opportunism facilitated by Obama’s campaign that our movement raising the simple question: “What about the black community, Obama,” resulted in such an uproar, not only by politically unsophisticated Africans tied to the Democratic Party, but also by African nationalists and some others with revolutionary pedigree.
Some have accused us of arrogance for ignoring the sentiments of the masses of African Obama supporters. We have been assumed to be elitist, thinking of ourselves as knowing better than the people. Some have declared that we are making the error of isolating ourselves by getting too far ahead of the people by criticizing Obama. Others have claimed that our criticism represents support for the white candidate of the ruling Republican Party.
The truth is that we have not ignored the sentiments of the masses. It is one indicator of the significance of the betrayal of the people by those who would wear the mantle of leadership that the sentiments of the masses are wedded to the interests of a sector of our oppressor nation and class.
If the people are to get revolutionary political education it must come from revolutionaries, not from the bourgeoisie! It must not come from the Democratic Party that is for all practical purposes the party of the masses of our people precisely because those who claim revolutionary credentials have ensconced themselves in the very same bourgeoisie party, albeit under the leadership of its liberal wing, and have denied them revolutionary leadership.
We are elitist in the sense that our Party has not been absorbed in the masses. We have acquired a scientifically based worldview, something that is obviously not true of the masses of our people. The real crime is being committed by those who would tail the masses as opposed to lead them; by those who would assume our task to be simply waiting for the people to indicate the direction they want to go and to then get in front of the uninformed crowd.
It is true that revolutionary organizations have to avoid taking up ultra leftist stances and actions that can separate us from the people and isolate us for attacks by our class enemies and national oppressors.
However, this fact cannot be used as an excuse for not engaging the enemy at critical moments in history. While our track record as an organization that has maintained strong roots among the masses is clear, what kind of leading organization would we be if fear of retaliation by the bourgeois colonial state was the guiding influence for our every action?
Obviously a revolutionary party that acts as the advanced detachment of the laboring masses faces the possibility of retaliation. It is true all the time that when there is a genuine revolutionary force in the field of engagement against imperialism, as the general staff of the revolutionary African masses, it will always draw the strategic fire of the enemy.
Some claim that criticizing Obama translates into support for the bourgeois Republican Party, but such a claim truly reveals the limitations of the opportunists within the ranks of the movement of the U.S.
This is a claim that cannot understand the concept of independent struggle against imperialism. In the view of many of our opportunist opponents one can only pursue the interests of the people through the patronage of one sector of the white ruling class or another. For them opposition to one wing of the ruling class must necessarily mean support for another.
Well, the truth is we are opposed to all imperialism. We recognize the depth of the crisis of imperialism and the fact that the two imperialist parties represent, at this point, two different approaches to how to resolve the crisis and rescue imperialism.
Our problem is not that we support a particular wing of imperialism; it is that we intend to lead the struggle to wrest all power from the grasp of the bourgeoisie in whatever form the bourgeoisie presents itself. We intend to lead the struggle to raise up the African working class, united with the democratic revolutionary forces, to the position of ruling class.
When the African Revolution of the Sixties was strong in the U.S. the self-serving revolutionaries or nationalists would have never attempted to equate opposition to an imperialist candidate as support for his imperialist opponent. When the African working class and progressive nationalists were influential, when Malcolm X was a representative of the aspirations of the suffering African masses or when the Black Panther Party and other revolutionary organizations were viewed as real alternatives to imperialism, we were never confronted with the question of, “If not the Democrat, then what?’”
It is only because the African Revolution of the 60s was defeated and opportunism can walk the earth without fear of real revolutionary opposition that this question resonates today. In other words, the people are stuck with a bourgeois choice in the absence of a real revolutionary alternative.
InPDUM prepared for current crisis of imperialism
In 1991 InPDUM was created as an organization of the African People’s Socialist Party. It is a primary instrument for bringing Africans back into independent political life under the leadership of the African working class.
InPDUM’s founding 17 years ago was an act of defending the revolution and the masses of our people at a time when U.S. imperialism appeared to be all-powerful to many of the world’s peoples.
Today much has changed in the world. The U.S. of 17 years ago no longer exists. Its all-powerful image has since been forever destroyed and much of U.S. life is characterized by a population made terrified by the strategic machinations of the white ruling class and the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Pentagon. Those attacks forever destroyed the notion of U.S. invulnerability and its ability to ruthlessly have its predatory way in the world with impunity.
Using the September 11 attacks as its justification, the U.S. initiated a brutal assault on the government and people of Iraq, overthrew the government, initiated the execution of its president and established a colonial occupation that has resulted in the death of thousands of Iraqis and a military quagmire for U.S. imperialism.
Similarly, the current regime of the U.S. launched an attack and occupation of Afghanistan after overthrowing its government. In both places, Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. has had to face the increasingly sophisticated resistance of the people that although not tied to revolutionary program is nevertheless representative of a new historical era that is attacking the very basis of Euro-American capitalism resting upon a parasitic pedestal of colonial oppression.
In South America this new era shaking imperialism to its very foundation is best represented by the government of Venezuela and its president Hugo Chavez. Under Chavez control of the oil resources of Venezuela have been seized for the benefit of the impoverished masses in Venezuela and other countries and peoples that are being brought into the embrace of a growing anti-imperialist front stretching from South America to the Persian Gulf.
Then there is the movement in Bolivia under that has resulted in the election for the first time in its history of a militant indigenous president, Evo Morales.
In Nicaragua the Sandinista movement is back in power after being forced out by U.S. imperialist aggression in 1990. Progressive governments have also emerged in Ecuador and Paraguay and the government of Brazil is under strong pressure from the masses of its population and others in the region to deepen its unity with the progressives at the expense of its ties to U.S. imperialism. These and other occurrences in South America lend much needed support to the government of Cuba that has been an outpost of anti-imperialist resistance in the region and the world.
Barack Obama’s key political advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski is a preeminent thinking representative of the U.S. imperial ruling class who savors the disrepute being heaped on the so-called neo-conservatives or Neocons currently enmeshed in the regime of U.S. President George W. Bush. In his book Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower, Brzezinski recognizes the unsettling changes in the world and offers his imperialist masters his version of a corrective worldview.
“Global political awakening is historically anti-imperial, politically anti-Western and emotionally increasingly anti-American,” Brzezinski writes.
“In the process, it is setting in motion a major shift in the global center of gravity. That in turn is altering the global distribution of power, with major implications for America’s role in the world.
“The foremost geopolitical effect of global political awakening is the demise of the imperial age. Empires have existed throughout history, and in recent times American paramountcy has often been described as a new global empire . . .and that makes America the focus of anti-imperial sentiment.
“Imperial stability,” Brzezinski continues, “has historically depended on skilled domination, superior military organization, and – ultimately most important – political passisivity on the part of dominated peoples against their less numerous but more assertive dominators… Initially empires evolved by territorial expansion to adjoining areas… The more recent Western European empires grew predominantly through superior transoceanic navigational capabilities motivated by trade and greed for valuable minerals. Modern imperialism is thus largely a Western emanation.” (pg 205)
“…The dynamism of a populist-nationalist awakening on every continent, Brzezinski states, “involving the empowerment of the hitherto largely passive majority of humanity signals not only that traditional empires have seen their day but that heavy-handed global domination by a single state will not historically endure.
“Global systemic instability, moreover, is likely to be prompted in many parts of the world by challenges to existing state frontiers. In Asia and Africa especially, state borders are often imperial legacies and do not reflect ethnic or linguistic boundaries. These borders are vulnerable to increased pressure as heightened political consciousness leads to more assertive territorial aspirations . . .
“The largely anti-Western character of populist activism,” and we are still quoting from Brzezinski here, “has less to do with ideological or religious bias and more with historical experience. Western (or European) domination is part of the living memory of hundreds of millions of Asians and Africans, and of some Latin Americans (though in this case its sharp edge is pointed at the United States). That memory may be vague, even factually wrong, but it is part of the historical lore that defines the political content of the new self-awareness. In the vast majority of states, national identity and national emancipation are associated with the end of foreign imperial domination, an ending often portrayed in heroic epics of self-sacrifice. This is true in such large and increasingly self-confident states as India or China as it is in Congo or Haiti.”
Brzezinski concludes, “Anti-Westernism is thus more than a populist attitude. It is an integral part of the shifting global demographic, economic and political balance. Not only does the non-Western population already far outnumber the Euro-Atlantic world (by 2020, Europe and North America are likely to account for only 15 percent of the world population), but the non-West’s awakened political aspirations generate significant momentum for the ongoing redistribution of power. The resentments, emotions, and quest for status of billions are a qualitative new factor of power.” (206-209)
What Brzezinski is doing here is observing the key factors resulting in the crisis of imperialism worldwide and as it is experienced in the U.S. by the general North American oppressor nation population and its ruling class.
“Change” is already here!
This is why Obama’s campaign mantra of “change,” later adopted by his Republican opponent, has such resonance. It is not because either of them is prepared to bring about real change but as brilliantly put by APSP leader Nyabinga Dzimbahwe, it is because they recognize that earth-shaking change is already happening. Their call for change is a call to mobilize the people against their own interests; it is a call to manage, control, misdirect and undermine the change that is being forced upon the imperialist world by the struggling masses of the world.
Today the U.S. is engaging Russia in a proxy struggle in Georgia, formerly a part of the Soviet Union. In its efforts to maintain its hegemonic place in the world and to advance its economic interests in controlling the energy resources of the planet, the U.S. has been advancing its military capacity to the doorstep of Russia, which only a few years ago appeared to be weakened beyond a capacity to defend its own geopolitical interests. The U.S. has been busily bribing former Soviet states, bringing them into NATO and other strategic political alliances at Russia’s expense.
Once a part of the Soviet Union, Georgia, which has been waiting in the wings for NATO membership, apparently assumed its relationship with the U.S. and Europe gave it an ability to challenge Russia militarily by attacking ethnic populations that had not been incorporated into the Georgian state subsequent to the dismantling of the Soviet Union.
It was an obvious ploy of the U.S. to extend its military presence to the very border of Russia through these ethnic enclaves where the people carried Russian passports and live with the presence of an agreed-on Russian military peacekeeping force. The Georgians were dealt a swift, brutal defeat by Russia. This has led to ongoing military posturing by Russia and the U.S. in the region.
In apparent response to the U.S. intervention in the region, Russia has embarked on a public display of military unity with the Government of Venezuela to the chagrin of the U.S. that is already recoiling from the transformation in what it has historically considered America’s “backyard.”
Asia, once held in such great contempt by Europe and the U.S., is also discovering a greater capacity to contend with Europe and North America. China and India with billion plus populations each are fast becoming powerful, contending economic forces. Currently China has the fastest growing economy in the world and continues to challenge the U.S. for access to the world’s diminishing supply of fossil fuels.
Our Africa is one of the places where the contest between the U.S. and China for access to oil is being played out today. This contest plays a major role in the Darfur issue in Sudan, where the U.S. is attempting to create international hostility to China’s role and influence and remove it as the leading recipient of Sudanese oil.
The growing instability in Africa, coupled with the efforts of Africans ourselves to take back our resources for our own use and the fact that China is the fastest growing external economic force in Africa also contributes to the U.S. plan for a hegemonic military presence in the form of an Africa Command Center or Africom.
Growing African resistance deepens imperialist crisis
The African nation, dispersed around the world through various forms of colonial slavery and separated from each other and our resources by imperialist-created borders and neo-colonial states and leaders, has also been playing a role in changing the existing relations of power to the detriment of Western imperialism.
The 2001 UN-sponsored Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa brought thousands of Africans and others together in a liberal political forum that allowed a public, international display of support for the Palestinian struggle against the illegitimate settler state of Israel and opposition to African slavery and colonialism, both of which were defined as a crime against humanity. The conference also raised the demand for reparations as a remedy for these past attacks against Africa and its people, forcing the representatives of U.S. imperialism to walk out.
This conference, ending on September 8, 2001, though an indicator of the growing popular opposition to Western imperialism with political consequences, was eclipsed by the attack on the World Trade Center twin towers on September 11. This was an occasion of one crisis of imperialism being temporarily eclipsed by another.
However, the demand for reparations from Europe and the U.S. for slavery and colonialism has only grown throughout the African world since the UN conference. Euro-American pundits never mention the militancy of the Conference Against Racism as a factor in the changing contours of the world’s geopolitical terrain only because of the continued need to undermine Africa’s legitimacy in a world where the contest for resources is being increasingly fought by a variety of forces on African soil.
The African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement have also been instrumental in the growing participation of the dispersed African nation in challenging the imperialist status quo.
Not only were we present for the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, we also played the fundamental role in advancing and popularizing the reparations demand throughout the African world even before Durban. It was the African People’s Socialist Party that held a World Tribunal for Reparations for Africans in the U.S. in New York City in 1982. It was we who also toured Europe to popularize the demand within the African community there the following year and who used our media to spread the demand within the African community worldwide.
APSP leads growing movement for African Liberation
During our efforts to build the World Tribunal in 1982 we initiated a practical program to build the African Socialist International as the general staff of the revolutionary struggle to liberate and unify Africa and African people under the leadership of the African working class. Today, the African Socialist International represents organizational participation in Africa, Europe, North America, including Canada and incipient activity in South America and the Caribbean. At this moment a regional conference is being built in Sierra Leone in anticipation of more than one thousand participants from throughout West Africa and other areas.
Our Party has also created the All African People’s Development and Economic Empowerment Project. This is a project that has organized Africans from throughout the international African community to participate in independent development projects that forward the revolution by supporting efforts initiated by grassroots initiatives on the ground. Through AAPDEP we have already completed rainwater-harvesting projects in Sierra Leone and initiated healthcare, agricultural and other projects there. We are now working to contribute to an irrigation project in Zimbabwe in support of a youth farm program stemming from land redistribution.
We have recently organized the African Internationalist Student Organization, a student wing of the Party, currently headquartered in Canada. AISO gives us a division of labor that allows us to concentrate on winning African students to a permanent relationship to the revolution beyond their days as students. It provides revolutionary continuity, and as students are generally preoccupied with intellectual work, the existence of AISO allows us to raise the level of theoretical discussion and development within the Party and the African revolution.
The African People’s Solidarity Committee, an organization of the African People’s Socialist Party, consisting primarily of white people, has allowed us to take our struggle for Black Power into the living rooms and neighborhoods of the North American oppressor nation.
Up to now APSC’s participation in InPDUM has deprived the North American colonial state of an absolutely consolidated white opposition to African liberation. The existence of APSC has neutralized the opportunist sector of the so-called North American left or anti-imperialists, which wrongly states that North Americans cannot be organized in solidarity with the efforts of Africans in the struggle for our liberation.
InPDUM key to pushing back counterinsurgency against African people
In addition, since its founding InPDUM has enthusiastically taken up the gauntlet in the struggle against imperialism and for our emancipation. InPDUM has taken up a wide range of struggles in defense of the democratic rights of Africans throughout the U.S. and England, especially London. We have forged a reputation as tenacious fighters against police violence and terror against African people in Philadelphia and we have exposed and fought against the employment of designer legislation targeting African groups as criminals in York, Pennsylvania.
In the state of Florida, InPDUM has led struggles against the military occupation of our communities by police. The organization has been involved in every form of political struggle in defense of our people in the wake of blatant police murders that have led to mass uprisings by African workers who have learned through experience that the colonial court system cannot be relied on to protect the interests of African people.
When six young African men were captured by the FBI in Miami, Florida after being framed by provocateurs who were recruited to brand them as terrorists in a U.S. Justice Department campaign, InPDUM was the first to organize in their defense.
In California and New York; in Texas and Alabama – indeed, throughout the entire U.S. – InPDUM has been an invaluable participant and leader in advancing the struggle of our people. InPDUM’s existence as an organization of the African People’s Socialist Party has meant that in almost every instance each struggle we have been engaged in has forwarded the overall struggle of Africans for total liberation in the U.S. and liberation and unification for Africa and African people worldwide.
Adding to the difficulties of imperialism that defines this period of struggle is the collapse of the U.S. economy that is also jeopardizing the entire imperialist-controlled world economy even as we conduct this convention.
There is some irony that the economic meltdown is strongly connected to the collapse of the U.S. housing mortgage industry. This is an industry made fat by the predatory lending scheme now known as subprime mortgages. U.S. government and industry policies directed mortgages in a consciously deceptive way at African and Latino communities especially, promoting subprime as an opportunity for our communities to cash in on homeownership as part of the “American dream.”
As many people are increasingly aware, subprime mortgages are adjustable rate loans that start out with low interest rates that increase drastically after two years or so, taking the mortgages beyond the capacity for the homeowners to meet the payments.
An architect of this scheme was Penny Pritzker, the billionaire finance chair of Obama’s presidential campaign. Pritzker reportedly thought up the idea to repackage old-fashioned predatory loans with the new name of “subprime,” and then to bundle them up and re-sell them as investment instruments to be used in Wall Street hedge funds, money markets and retirement funds.
Pritzker pitched this idea to Merrill Lynch, which has since had to be bought by another bank due to its heavy load of defaulted subprime loans. These mortgage backed securities were highly risky time bombs waiting to go off at the moment the interest rates spiked them beyond the homeowners’ capacity to pay them off. But until they went bad thousands of parasitic Wall Street bankers and investors made trillions of dollars off this blatant exploitation of African people.
While many of these bankers are now getting very generously bailed out by the U.S. government with tax payers’ money, the conditions of millions of African people left homeless and broke by the subprime scheme are yet to be addressed by either candidate.
Other predators known as speculators, who deliberately inflate the perceived value of commodities by strategically buying them with the intent to quickly re-sell at a higher price, created a price-hike explosion in the oil industry. This has negatively impacted the prices of every other commodity that requires petroleum related products for production or operation, including agriculture, contributing to the urgent world food crisis and mass world starvation today.
Final offensive against white power
These economic factors, together with the declining value of the U.S. dollar, originally as a deliberate ploy to remedy the U.S. trade deficit, has led to reverberations throughout the U.S. and world economy.
Major banks have been rescued from default by the U.S. government while others have collapsed and still others await their doom. Though some bank CEOs and other financiers who are party to this economic debacle are reaping major economic benefits, their handiwork is leading to major losses for others, resulting in growing loss of confidence in the system and a sense of panic on Wall Street and among the people.
Massive layoffs are occurring in nearly every industry. The retail industry, dependent on consumer spending is experiencing critical losses, threatening the continuing existence of some brands that have functioned as economic security blankets and supposed evidence of the longevity of the U.S. capitalist foundation.
Nothing is as it was in 1991 when InPDUM was founded and we were intent on rebuilding a movement that could complete the black revolution of the 1960s.
At the time of InPDUM’s founding our revolutionary work was frustrated by difficulties in rebuilding our movement exacerbated by the deceptive appearance of U.S. and Western imperialist strength.
We have long said in the African People’s Socialist Party that our struggle had entered into an era of the final offensive against imperialism in historical terms. We have long ago proclaimed that imperialism was a spent shell, without a viable future, living off past glories and desperately fighting to hold onto what it has stolen.
Nevertheless, when InPDUM was founded 17 years ago, it was founded from a defensive position. It was founded to defend the democratic rights of our people while attempting to bring them back into political life from the military defeat of our revolutionary movement of the 1960s.
Today, 17 years later, it is Western imperialism that is on the defensive, within the U.S. and throughout the world. Imperialism is on the defensive immediately and in a historical sense. Imperialism has been mortally wounded by the ongoing struggles of oppressed peoples of the world to take back their lives and resources, which constitute the pedestal upon which imperialism resides and that it needs as a condition for its continuing existence.
We do not take lightly the fact that imperialism does have a residual strength, that even with all its current problems it is still capable of going on for quite a while. But imperialism today is like a running deer shot in the heart that is still capable of running another 50 yards before dropping.
We are not afraid of imperialist attacks
We do not stand quaking in our boots out of fear that our opposition to imperialism attempting to rescue itself in a new, dynamic face might somehow result in its renewed capacity to oppress. We of the Uhuru Movement recognize that this profound crisis of imperialism is the result of the birth pangs of a whole new social system being born from the womb of the parasitic past.
In the stress being experienced by the imperialist world economy and the growing resistance of the world’s peoples, along with our work to build the African Socialist International, we see the historical conditions for the birth of socialism as the new world economy.
In the victories being won by the world’s peoples to take back our resources, our sovereignty and our identity we see a world pregnant with the possibility for the emergence of a liberated and unified Africa and African people worldwide.
Our enemies see this possibility as well. This is the significance of Brzezinski’s quoted ruminations. Their response is to attempt to abort this process, to prevent the rise of the people to real power and our rightful place as leaders of society.
Even sectors of the African petty bourgeoisie understand this possibility. They too would abort the emergence of this new social force in the world. As Obama has suggested to us on Father’s Day this year, they hate the birth of the new world because of the fact that the expectant parents of the child are of the African working class.
We recognize that this imperialism is armed with thousands of nuclear weapons and that it is at least for now the reigning custodian of the world economy. Therefore, imperialism as the great arm-twister of puppet, neocolonial and other timid leaders of the world continues to be a terrible force with which to reckon.
However, the evidence of its putrescence is growing evident to the world’s peoples daily. Clearly the reckless behavior of U.S. imperialism today is akin to that of a wounded, fearful animal that has tasted its own blood.
We are not afraid and we will not flinch in the face of the reactionary response of imperialism to its crisis.
We do take things like the Patriot Act and FISA seriously. We are aware of the growing willingness of the bourgeois state to stand nakedly exposed as the dictatorship that we as colonial subjects have always experienced, although it is usually hidden from view of the North American oppressor nation citizens.
Guantanamo has become a part of the international lexicon that stands for concentration camp and torture. Arab and Muslim peoples within the U.S. and throughout Europe have become victims of vicious pogroms under the guise of fighting against terrorism.
We have also seen how the U.S. has worked to give “terrorism” a black face with attacks on Africans in Miami, California and other places, obviously in anticipation of intensification of the pending just struggle by our people for happiness and the return of our stolen resources that constitute a part of the lifeblood of a parasitic social system.
We do understand that the so-called war on terrorism is but a shameless political gambit to use the fear of North American oppressor nation citizens and Europeans in general to win support for attack of every expression of revolution everywhere in the world.
But we refuse to retreat at this critical, defining, moment in human history.
This period has many similarities to time of Marcus Garvey
In many ways this is a moment not unlike the era of the movement initiated by Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. At that time in the early part of the 20th century the imperialist powers were at each other’s throats, engaged in the first imperialist world war.
Not unlike today, in Garvey’s time territorial borders throughout the world were being challenged by imperialist contenders and by oppressed peoples who had been victimized by many of these borders created by the imperialists to facilitate the theft of their wealth.
In that era when definitions of nations were in a state of flux and much of world affairs was marked by uncertainty, Africans under the leadership of Garvey were able to build a massive anti-imperialist movement based on our own self-definition and in pursuit of our own vision of our own selfish interests as Africans.
This is where we are today. InPDUM was founded as what could be characterized as a defensive posture by our movement. Today things have changed considerably. We have changed as a movement and we have helped to change the world within which we exist and struggle. The world’s peoples have engaged and are effectively engaging imperialism, and the posture of InPDUM must now change to reflect the real change in the world from which the imperialist politicians in the U.S. are attempting to divert us.
Of course, this is something we have been aware of for a while now. It was first intimated at our last convention in Huntsville, Alabama, where we unveiled our Revolutionary National Democratic Program for the first time. And again in Washington, D.C. last May we reintroduced the Revolutionary National Democratic Program at our well-attended African Liberation Day conference, where the call was made to challenge the legitimacy of the Obama candidacy as representative of the interests of African people with the slogan: The Ballot or the Bullet Revisited. During the African Liberation Day event we held a plenary process that allowed the conference attendees to contribute to our developing Revolutionary National Democratic Program.
Revolutionary National Democratic Program is key
Our Revolutionary National Democratic Program was always implicit in InPDUM’s political outlook. In the Report to the Convention of 1991 from which we have quoted extensively, I declared:
“The highest expression of democracy is self-determination. A major aspect of [I]NPDUM mass work should revolve around our efforts to initiate an internationally supervised plebiscite, which, as stated in Point Number 10 of the 10-Point program of the Black Panther Party, will be held ‘throughout the black colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate for the purpose of determining the will of black people as to their national destiny.’”
Other components of the program included control of education, reparations, opposition to the death penalty and designer laws designed to maximize the use of prison as a means of colonial control.
With our Revolutionary National Democratic Program, elaborated on at our African Liberation Day conference by all the Africans that participated and that will be further developed at this convention, we move from a defensive posture to an offensive posture. Moreover, it allows us to do so in a manner that requires us to do serious work among the masses of our people, thereby building the kind of united struggle that belies the claim that fighting against a popular, neo-colonialist imperialist candidate must mean isolation from the masses.
"Revolutionary National Democratic Program" is not simply a title; it is an actual political document, a real political program. This statement has various implications concerning its presentation. Its intent is not to simply list a number of criticisms, objections and/or oppressions, but primarily to win general support for a program that unites the broadest possible group of democratic forces with the aspirations of the African working class while at the same time isolating the imperial colonial power.
African workers must seize power in our own interest
We are African Internationalists. This means that we are involved in a struggle to lead the African working class to power in its own selfish interests. This conquest of power by the working class is often referred to as the dictatorship of the proletariat or working class. However, in a colonial situation, where the entire nation and all classes are by definition oppressed, only a handful of petty bourgeois, comprador, absolute sellout forces, do not have an objective interest in African national liberation.
As the historically-determined most dynamic social force, as the only social force capable of leading the struggle to its revolutionary conclusion, as the only social force that cannot achieve its interests and aspirations short of revolution, it has fallen upon the shoulders of the African working class to not only lead the struggle for its own conquest of power but to also lead the struggle for the emancipation for the entire oppressed colonized nation.
Moreover, while the African working class is not strong enough to conquer power in its own name and selfish interests, it is the only social force that is capable of leading a revolutionary national democratic struggle. That is a struggle that embraces the interests of the most progressive sectors of the oppressed African nation, whose national interests oppose the colonial domination of our people and, when fought for under the leadership of the African working class, can achieve a democratic revolutionary character.
Because the African working class is not only interested in its ascendancy to power as a class, but in the emancipation of the whole colonized nation, which is a condition for the rise of the working class, it is the only social force capable of leading the struggle for the achievement of revolutionary national democratic power.
This achievement of revolutionary national democratic power–power that is shared by all the democratic, progressive forces under the leadership of the African working class and cutting across class lines–is sometimes referred to as the immediate program or first stage of the socialist revolution.
In our instance the political expression of this Immediate Program or First Stage is InPDUM’s Revolutionary National Democratic Program. InPDUM is the instrument of the African working class, under the leadership of its advanced attachment, the African People’s Socialist Party, for leading the struggle for the achievement of revolutionary national democratic power.
In InPDUM is to be found the actual, real, concrete, organizational expression of the revolutionary will of the broad democratic masses under the leadership of the African working class.
Hence, it is clear that InPDUM’s program is not only a program that speaks to and resonates with the African People’s Socialist Party and other socialist revolutionaries. It must also speak to other national democratic forces of other classes within the African nation that, when uniting with their own recognized interests found in the program, also unite with the interests of the African working class. This would thus contribute to isolating our common imperialist and comprador enemies while enhancing the political position of the African working class.
Although most of the public political space in the U.S. is currently monopolized by the two white nationalist imperialist ruling class parties and other lesser parties and organizations of the oppressor nation, it is possible to enter the debate to influence public policy.
InPDUM program can stop public policy of police containment
By public policy we mean the fundamental principles that inform the basic social order. In the U.S. there is a social order that is born of an historical relationship to African people as well as others whose stolen labor and resources constitute the foundation of the entire social system. Today the relationship experienced by the “domestic” African population with the U.S. is colonialism, a relationship that requires constant oppression for its continuation.
Hence, in the U.S. the fundamental public policy regarding our people has long been one of Police Containment. This is because by definition a colonial population exists for the purpose of extreme exploitation. Colonialism, the expropriation of a nation’s right to self-determination by another nation, is the most profound expression of police containment by a bourgeois democratic republic, which is a colonialism that enjoys broad public support within the oppressor nation and sometimes within the oppressed nation itself.
While police containment is a general reality for our people, it is especially rife during periods of imperialist crisis where there is struggle against colonial conditions or the likelihood of such struggle.
Hence, the growing popularity within the U.S. of the call for more prisons and police to fill them.
Hence, the assortment of “designer” laws, made especially for the purpose of filling the court system, jails and prisons with African and other colonized young people. Such laws as “Three Strikes” that negate the constitutional prohibition against double jeopardy or trial more than once for the same offence; “Mandatory Minimum Sentencing” requiring severe punishment regardless of the circumstances that might influence a judge to do otherwise; maximum sentences for crimes that are committed with weapons of the poor as opposed to the computers, and stock market, weapons of the wealthy and essentially white population.
Hence the requirement that all politicians who are running for office advance proposals for increased use of the death penalty; more vigorous and aggressive policies by police departments; greater severity of punishment of young Africans convicted of any offense by the colonial courts, etc.
Nor are these calls limited to politicians: neighborhood associations and bourgeois media pundits, an assortment of white nationalist groups of various political persuasions, as well as some comprador elements from within the colonized African population are also among those who clamor for enhanced police containment of our people.
Our Revolutionary National Democratic Program must initiate and influence the debate around public policy to the advantage of the African working class and other sectors of the colonized populations within the U.S. It must also serve to expose and isolate the North American ruling class, its institutions and lackeys of every political persuasion and nationality.
Our Revolutionary National Democratic Program must also be forwarded in a way that allows the revolutionary national democratic forces to recognize and understand their separate and distinct interests in its achievement.
Students, progressive intellectuals, struggling petty bourgeois business people, anti-oppression democrats, especially but not necessarily exclusively from among the colonized African population; pro-independence African nationalists, African national prison advocates, death penalty opponents, supporters of African political prisoners, prisoners of conscious and prisoners of war, African national cultural advocates, etc., are among the forces who should be able to identify their own interests in support for, and pursuit of, our revolutionary national democratic program.
Use every front to build Revolutionary National Democratic Program
The Revolutionary National Democratic Program must become the program of the people.
This is our mandate: we must take the Revolutionary National Democratic Program out to the masses of our people and win this program as the program of the people. This is our way forward regardless of which imperialist candidate achieves the right to be captain of this imperialist Titanic. Where possible we must use, if only for the brief period left to us at this point of the U.S. presidential election cycle, the presidential campaigns as vehicles to advance our program.
It is even possible that an alliance can be built with one of the third party candidates in the presidential race, depending on the candidate’s ability to unite with and advance our program or a substantial portion of it.
Even beyond the presidential election we must be willing to use when appropriate the electoral process involving offices other than the presidency. We must also consider using the initiative process where available, such as in California, where initiatives can be placed on the ballot for adoption by popular vote. The significance of doing this kind of work has already been spoken to in this presentation.
This kind of work within the electoral process is a great disciplining agent. It forces us to learn to speak clearly to our issues with the intent of winning mass support. This is different from the tradition of movements that really do not expect or intend to affect public policy and are therefore free to speak recklessly and in any manner they choose without having to consider the real consequences for advancing a program.
Our ability to carry out this mandate is something that we must continue to develop. This means that we must be aware of and fight to overcome our own shortcomings in order to fully embrace this defining moment in history and realize the aspirations of our people for liberation, unification and a decent material life.
Overturn contradictions in organization and move forward
To do this we must soberly and honestly face our own organizational contradictions.
Not the least of these contradictions is the careerism that exists among some of our branch leadership. This is a stance that allows some of our forces to be satisfied with merely having membership as evidence of militancy. Our constitution actually permits this. However, this should not be the general trend and it should not be tolerated within the leadership of our branches. It is one thing if there are those who simply want to become members without the responsibility that that implies, but it is entirely another thing that there are those who would actually occupy leadership positions with no intent of advancing the aims of the organization.
Among those most guilty of this offense are those who are former members of the African People’s Socialist Party. Their stance is often an anti-Party stance; it is a liberal criticism of the Party. It is a stance that attempts to take advantage of the fact that membership in InPDUM does not require the same level of unity as does membership in the Party. Rather than see their current position in the movement as a step down from membership in the Party, as an inability to live up to the high standard of Party membership, these individuals see themselves as living evidence of the shortcomings of the Party. They have it backwards and sometimes they stand in the way of progress.
Our movement must remind them that although InPDUM does not require the same level of unity and discipline as the Party, InPDUM is nevertheless an organization of the Party and it is an organization that was created to realize the strategic aims of the Party for the liberation of our People and our Africa not to provide a hideout for recalcitrant opponents of the revolution.
The leaders of InPDUM must also struggle against liberalism that denies our branches the necessary criticism for correcting errors. InPDUM leaders must also struggle to become more efficient in their capacity to carry our their designated functions as leaders. We must become experts in our areas of responsibility. It should be expected that a leader of a particular area of work would be able to provide answers or get answers to questions necessary for our success in that particular area.
These criticisms of the state of our organization should not be something that overshadows the fact that InPDUM is now in possession of its most effective International Executive Committee ever. It is a youthful, bold and dynamic, if sometimes impetuous leadership that is truly representative of a new generation of Africans intent on taking its rightful place at the helm of our liberation movement. It is a leading committee that is learning how to work together better each day and that exudes a passion for the Party, the people and the revolution. It is a leadership that is required by the time in which we live and struggle.
Finally, we must come to understand that we cannot fight every battle and that we do not necessarily advance our cause if our ongoing actions come at the expense of our development. We must avoid what might be called Left Opportunism, where we lose sight of the long-term aims of the struggle in order to become bogged down in incessant struggles around immediate issues. Revolutionary patience requires us to build our organization in order to achieve a real capacity to carry out our mandate.
This means that we should initiate a campaign of membership recruitment and development in order to have sufficient forces to carry out all the work that is necessary. Membership allows us to rationalize our organizational structure. It also provides us without enough forces to carry out the tasks we set for ourselves and it helps us to access the human and material resources, especially money, that we need to advance our program.
This also means that we must develop our agitprop skills, our ability to produce and distribute our ideas, using every possible medium from forums to flyers, to newspapers and Internet, including those developed by our own movement.
This is an incredibly significant, a signal, historical moment that we must move to capture and define. We can win. We must win. The future of our people requires it; the future of the world depends on it.
Build the International People’ Democratic Uhuru Movement!