Burning Spear News
"Win the African working class beyond fighting against the issue of the moment"
Nov 12, 2014
Editors Note: The following is an excerpt from the Chairman’s latest book, ‘An Uneasy Equilibrium: The African Revolution versus Parasitic Capitalism’. The book is a commemorative edition of the Political Report to the Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party that occurred in St. Petersburg, Florida in December 2013.
This is the second such excerpt we have published here in just as many months. It is taken from Chapter 5, entitled “The History of the Party.” Our intent is to share with our readers some of the history of our Party in a manner that also discloses the science that informs our existence and our practice.
This is especially important during a period when the crisis of the capitalist social system is rapidly deepening and thrusting many Africans and others into motion, often without an understanding of the nature of the system and the kind of organization necessary for genuine transformation of the social system responsible for so much pain and despair among so many.
This excerpt is one of the many efforts by our Party to intervene in the mass struggles of the people and introduce the African working class to the highest form of struggle toward revolutionary transformation. This is one effort to win the African working class beyond simply fighting against the issue of the moment.
Theoretical direction for Party work
The theoretical basis for our political work is located in the 14-Point Working Platform of the Party, published in every issue of The Burning Spear newspaper.
It is also reinforced by our Political Reports and other documents and resolutions at our Congresses. However, one longstanding guide for our political work that has stood the test of time and can be seen in almost every political goal we have set for ourselves as a Party is our pamphlet, “The Political Aspects of Building a Mass Movement—The Tactical and Strategic Objectives For Black Liberation.”
The Tactics and Strategy paper was given by me as a presentation to a black organizers’ conference at Amherst University in 1977 that included the participation of the venerable Ella Baker, and Robert Williams, who was a notable figure in the African Liberation Movement.
The conference was organized by Max Stanford, a founder of the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), associate of Malcolm X and at the time a staunch proponent of liberation for African people.
These strategic goals and aims have guided our work consistently over the years, with all of our major campaigns fitting into one or more of these categories.
Stated concisely, the “Tactics and Strategy” pamphlet calls for:
1. Winning African people to the position of political independence. “If the masses of black people are not won over to the position of independence, there will be no independence for black people. It is as simple and clear as that.”
2. Establishing the leadership of the pro-independence movement. “In building our mass movement, then, we see that it must be designed to clearly demonstrate the leadership of our movement.”
3. Winning support for the independence position within U.S. borders. “The main targets for this effort to win support for the independence position should be the general anti-imperialist forces within current U.S. borders, other oppressed, subject and colonized nationalities and progressive U.S. North Americans.”
4. Creating dual, competing or contending governmental powers. “That is to say to the degree possible our movement must assume the real and actual responsibilities of government for our people.”
5. Exposing the oppressive nature of the U.S. government. This would constantly undermine “it within and without the current U.S. borders. The U.S. govern ment must be exposed as an imperialist danger to the entire world which practices colonialism within its own borders and Puerto Rico.”
6. Winning international support for the independence position, “contributing to international diplomatic encirclement of the U.S.”
7. Building an African People’s Liberation Army.
The Tactics and Strategy paper also identified three main targets for struggle:
1. The U.S. North American ruling class. “As this is the enemy most responsible for the barbaric treatment of our people, and upon whose system colonialism depends, we must, without letup, strike our main ideological blows here.”
2. Black, primitive petty bourgeois collaborators. “These collaborators (neocolonialists) represent colonialism’s first line of defense within the dispersed U.S. North American colony.”
3. Ideological imperialists. “These are the U.S. North Americans who call themselves socialists and communists, but who deny the right of African people to be led by our own advanced fighters, by liquidating the nationalist character of our movement; obscuring the colonial contradiction; raising the secondary contradiction between African people and our relation to production to a primary contradiction, and seizing hegemony of our movement.”
Anyone familiar with the work of our Party can see that, with the exception of building a liberation army, all the work we have been and are involved in can be located within the strategic objectives laid out here.
We are now and have always been a revolutionary Party with revolutionary objectives. We have always understood that revolution is not about who can best cast verbal aspersions against white people or the U.S. or imperialism in general.
Revolution is not about who is willing to blow up buildings or the effort to hold massive mobilizations, though the significance of either of these things is not being debated here. It is about all our actions, especially now, being able to respond to the question: toward what end?
Party defined role of white people in our struggle
The question of the relationship and role of white people in history and in the struggle for socialism and African liberation is one that has long plagued our movement.
African people have a bloody history with the white population. White people have historically functioned as arms of the oppressive colonial state against us, motivated to do so by the reward of colonial booty, elevated social relevance and a putrid ideology arising from a vicious social system based on genocide, slavery and colonialism.
White people have created in the African world conflicting responses that run the gamut of hatred, awe, fear, servile obedience, permanent suspicion and unrelenting resistance.
The bestiality and inhumanity of the colonial treatment of Africans and others have done much to mystify Europeans or white people in the eyes of the oppressed, making it difficult to develop a political response to their presence and location in the structures of our oppression.
This has been further complicated by the “whites who love us,” as they were called by Comrade Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe, founder of the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.
The whites who love us are the “communists” and other liberals of different stripes with their generally patronizing stances that reflect their imperialist pedigree.
Their existence confirmed the worst fears of those in the African world who were skeptical of the ability of whites to end their self-isolation from the world and join in the fight to overturn imperialism, which for most of its existence has had a white face.
This has not been an easy struggle. On more than one occasion we have engaged in physical battles with white dilettantes who, after discovering oppression or exploitation in the pristine environs of a library, would rush into the African community to reward us with their newly attained wisdom, sometimes disrupting genuine campaigns against imperialist white power.
The African People’s Socialist Party has also been part of the general discussion within the liberation movement around the question of how to understand white people and their role, if any, in the struggle for the liberation of Africans and the movement toward a non-oppressive, non-exploiting society.
Some of the conclusions we reached laid to rest outmoded, colonialist-serving concepts of “race” that served to place people in permanent contention based primarily on biology or genetics.
Our own experiences also forced us to examine the behavior of too many Africans who betrayed the interests of our people—Africans such as Mobutu of Congo, Duvalier of Haiti and the preachers, lawyers and other traitors in our immediate communities.
Obviously, their actions could not be explained by their “race,” so there was clearly some other explanation that had to be explored.
We were informed by how the people of Viet Nam and others involved in anti-colonial movements were able to win support from within the imperialist oppressor nations and how clearly and scientifically identifying that our struggle is one against colonialism can assist us in winning allies of any nationality or “race.”
We learned too that an examination of the history of Africans in the emergence of the capitalist system within which whites and Africans live and contend, would reveal to us the origin and foundation of white power.
This revelation not only guides the struggle for our liberation as Africans, but the liberation of the peoples of the world.
As we have made clear in this report, fighting against racism is a dead end street. We are colonized Africans, in Africa, in the U.S. and throughout the world.
Our colonization must be overturned and we can build a strategy to end it, one that allows for a role by anyone of any nationality or “race” in the effort—including white people.
When we are clear that we are struggling against colonialism, we are capable of identifying anyone who works to obstruct the struggle, regardless of their “race,” even if they are Africans.
We are also then capable of identifying any genuine ally. This is why the Party fought so hard against the designation of our struggle as one against racism, especially at a time when most of the world was in an uproar to end colonial domination by Europeans.
In 1976 the Party worked with the Puerto Rican Socialist Party and an assortment of African and North American activists to build a July 4 mobilization in Philadelphia termed, “A Bicentennial Without Colonies.”
This event was held to challenge the hoopla initiated by the U.S. ruling class to build patriotic fervor among the North American population on the 200th anniversary of the bourgeois American revolution.
We saw this as an excellent opportunity to win support for the U.S. -based African struggle against colonialism and mobilized our members and supporters from the U.S. to participate.
We also used this anti-colonial momentum to identify many North Americans who had indicated friendship with our Party over the years and win them to an organizational relationship.
In September of that year, we pulled these North Americans together in St. Petersburg, Florida, to launch the African People’s Solidarity Committee, an organization of North Americans or so-called white people who would work directly under the leadership of our Party in the struggle against our colonial oppression as we defined it.
The launching of the African People’s Solidarity Committee did not occur without struggle. The fact that the Party had identified certain forces and pulled them together to work under our leadership did not automatically mean that these whites would simply overturn their own history and tradition in the structure of our oppression.
Some North Americans have always been able to offer charity to African people, even within the most oppressive expression of our relationship going back to slavery. Genuine, principled, material solidarity based on opposi tion to U.S. colonial domination of our people was another question.
In the relationship with Africans, either directly or indirectly, whites have a tradition of being boss and Africans have a tradition of being bossed. All of this had to be overturned.
There was the notion in the minds of many of the whites being organized under our leadership that we were entering into a relationship of equal, parallel struggles.
Some of the forces imagined that solidarity work meant North Americans doing their “own thing” to free white women or white homosexuals or white workers while Africans as recipients of their occasional charity would be permitted to handle the Africa question. It was many years until this notion was overturned.
The fact that all the work was subordinate to the liberation of Africa and African people; that all white people exist and benefit from the pedestal of the oppression of African and other colonized peoples; and that the task of the solidarity movement is to win support for the Black Revolution inside the white community as a strategic component of our struggle to overturn white power where the oppression and exploitation of the world is centralized—this took some time to win.
For years the creation of APSC was met with a barrage of criticism, most of which was surreptitious, sometimes in the form of slanderous whisper campaigns from North American leftists and black nationalists. Nevertheless, history has shown us to be correct in building this arm of our Party.
Many of the APSC comrades have proven themselves strong African Internationalists, opening up another, heretofore unavailable front for black power within the North American community, something that is valuable unto itself.
This organizational relationship provided another means of challenging the empty race nationalism that inadvertently contributed to the overall weakness of our struggle against U.S. colonialism and imperialism in general.
The creation of APSC helped us to end the counterinsurgent isolation imposed on our movement by the U.S. secret political police.
It gave us an avenue through which we could break out of the information quarantine blocking the ability of our movement to engage in political debate and struggle outside our colonized community.
The existence of APSC has also forever changed the limitations North Americans and Europeans have imposed on how genuine solidarity should be defined. Now, it is not they, but we who define solidarity with our struggle for liberation.
It is true that nearly all the value extracted from our colonial communities throughout the world is in some white community or another. APSC has assumed its responsibility to concretely build white support for reparations to African people.
The solidarity committee is achieving its own capacity as an organization of white people contributing to our just reparations demand and also winning other North Americans and Europeans to contribute to reparations with material support for our liberation struggle.
This is truly the significance of APSC, the organization, even in the face of certain individuals in APSC who have, from time to time, betrayed its aims.
The work of the Party has resulted in APSC members having to confront police repression in a number of campaigns from New York City, to Oakland, California, to St. Petersburg, Florida.
APSC has also been custodian of assorted Party-owned institutions for a number of years and its members have experienced arrest, kidnapping and various forms of repression as arms of our Party.
Today, many of those who attacked us in the past for the relationship with APSC, a relationship that is principled and aboveboard, have been forced to abandon previously held rigid racial views that disallowed the development of non-African allies.