Burning Spear News
African Internationalism has not only explained the world, it is changing it
Map of the members (dark blue) and observers (light blue) of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). p PHOTO: D/K, PUBLIC DOMAIN, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
First of all, I want to say that we are appropriately anticipating indictments and jailings of some of the leaders and members of our Party and Movement. It's appropriate that we should anticipate this, and it doesn't make any sense if we've got signals that such a thing is down the road not to prepare for it.
But “prepare for” should not mean the same thing as rolling over. It should not mean, “Okay, it's going to happen and we need to get ready to be busted and jailed, assuming the worst possible things to happen.”
I’ve believed for a long time that it’s possible to push the State back. We can’t act like we're dealing with the world that had been defined before we offered up a new definition.
The world has changed; there is evidence of the whole world moving in a particular direction and the U.S., in many ways, is fighting not to be left behind.
I think it's really important for us to understand that the struggle we’re involved in now is in the context of the world being changed. We played a role in changing that world. And it is as if someone is trying to put the brakes on history when they attack us.
As an organization that has volunteered to take the leadership in the struggle for the liberation of Africa, it includes that we must understand our significance.
This is what the uneasy equilibrium was all about. We're talking about a changing world–not just a changing relationship between black people and the colonizers—but a changing world that's recognizing that everything in it rests upon the foundation of our oppression.
Global challenge to U.S. hegemony
Moving with how this is actually expressing itself politically, in many different ways, we can look at the U.S. in terms of the international arena. People around the world are fighting to change their relationship and it has a real serious impact on what America can do and what it is trying to do. Its death grip is no longer firmly in place that it has had over much of Asia. China has disrupted that in a big way. Russia, too.
Russia–its presence, its growing influence–has also opened the door to a new configuration of the political relationships and powers in Europe itself. Because the U.S. has held Europe close, there's a tradition in history that's associated with that, but also how the political economy has worked, especially over the last 75, almost 80, years since the end of the second imperialist world war; the whole world economy has been configured under the leadership of the U.S., and that means all of Europe has been configured this way as well.
There have been occasional tosses and struggles that happened within this Atlanticist force that came together; this is how it was characterized. The whole Atlanticist thing comes from the struggle that the U.S. was leading in the fight against the emerging influence of the Soviet Union, especially coming out of the second imperialist world war. The U.S. took the leadership in trying to pull together all of the colonial powers to protect the existing social system, the existing mode of production, from intrusion by Russia who was now a real major force in the world. A Russia, that is riding on the crest of the anti-colonial struggles of the world that we say gave birth to the Soviet Union. This is where you have the Atlanticists.
What is meant by the "Atlanticists?" We're talking about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It was created in 1949 to contend with Russia. There’s also the United Nations (UN) and things like the World Trade Organization, which may have been called something else early on in its iteration.
There is the emergence of the Bretton Wood project that created the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. This was the U.S. moving to control the whole world. There was this general agreement on tax and tariffs that would try to control the economy of the entire planet Earth. This all came as a consequence of this whole Atlanticist thing.
It was all of these things: how the world economy should act and look and what would be the laws governing international trade and things like that.
As I mentioned, the Atlanticists were a response to the emergence of the Soviet Union, to contain and control, and if possible, destroy Soviet Russia.
Russia, China rising contending powers
During this time, they were also engaged increasingly with China in ideological struggle. What social system should humanity embrace? Should it go toward this capitalist system that’s ruled over by the colonial powers? Should it move in the direction of freedom, that's been characterized, of the workers and then colonized peoples, etc? And at one moment, in Russia and China, they were contending forces within this block, moving away from what has been characterized as capitalist domination to a different kind of world.
In the 1950s we saw the Bandung Conference, in Indonesia, that did not allow white people to come to it. All kinds of forces engaged in trying to change the world emerged at that time.
Many of them went on to create what they characterized as “non-aligned states,” meaning they were not with the Russians, or with the Americas and the so-called West; they were non-aligned trying to be neutral in this process.
Now you have the U.S. leading the struggle of all the colonial powers, including in ideological struggle. As this was going on, Bandung was happening; black people and other people in various places throughout the world were fighting for freedom.
They were fighting in Africa, fighting all over Asia and inside the U.S., itself. Forces lined up in the international arena and central to this were those forces who had accumulated some form of State power like Russia and China, and India who would develop State power.
There was this movement between these powerful entities struggling for their best place in the world. India for a long time was able to play one side against the other, that is to say the socalled communists in China against Russia and the U.S.. All of these forces were at work.
We represent Africa’s interests
In many ways, that brought some modicum of relief to the struggles that African people were having inside the U.S. and some other places, because the U.S. was vying with Russia and China, saying, “this is the best system, align with us” or “maintain this relationship with us.” This is what the U.S. and the “Western” countries were saying.
We saw the emergence of the phony communists from within the African Liberation Movement and other struggles, and I call them phony communists because who else would somebody who was dominated and colonized by the apartheid regime of South Africa, by Portugal or England or any of these forces, turn to for any kind of assistance?
They couldn't turn to the U.S., to England or the other colonial powers, but there were these powerful bodies out there in the form of China and Russia, who were offering up a different kind of narrative, a different kind of relationship, with a modicum of power.
We saw people who wanted to have out of this relationship of total colonial domination from the Europeans, move toward Russia. In fact, that's where our struggle with Russia first emerged, because Russia had determined that there were only six authentic revolutionary organizations in all of Africa. They trained them, brought money and did stuff like that because they met Russia's interests. Who was meeting the interests of Africa?
The African Socialist International was created, in part, contending with Russia for who should be leading the struggle of black people in the world.
The U.S. would justify killing black people in Congo because they were “fighting against Russian communists.”
[Patrice] Lumumba finally, after attempting to get Belgium off their back, and unable to get any aid from any of the colonial powers, actually had talked about turning to Russia.
The U.S. put the United Nations on Lumumba and they helped to isolate and facilitated killing him.
This was a turbulent period. African people were struggling in Birmingham, Alabama; our leaders were shot down in Mississippi, water hoses being put on people.
Russia and China were saying, “this is the example of the U.S…Why would you want to be associated with this kind of system that's doing this kind of stuff to black people? This is who the U.S. is. This is what characterizes the U.S..”
When I say Russia, I mean the influence that the Soviet Union had globally. There was a force now with State power, with a capacity, with mediums that they could utilize to tell this story throughout the whole world.
They were sharing this message and engaging in this ideological struggle that was exposing the U.S. for what it was doing to black people and telling the people that they’d be better off on this side as opposed to that side.
That wasn't just some kind of academic question. They were looking at all of the resources in the world and who was going to be able to control these resources, who's going to have access to these resources. Russia had been starved from international trade, it had been isolated from the whole world economy that's controlled by the Atlanticists.
This is part of the whole contest.
Colonial powers fighting the old war
Part of why the liberals emerged inside this country and why they had to put the brakes on some of the outstanding brutal lynchings and mob rule that was killing black people was because they were also in a contest with Russia and China for approval of the peoples of the world about which system they were going to work with.
Now the U.S. is facing a situation similar to what they were facing in the 1960s, during the turmoil of what was characterized as the Cold War. A period where, in this country, the Black Revolution was defeated militarily, the Malcolm X's and Martin Luther King’s were killed and different organizations destroyed. Different expressions of independence appeared in Africa and various places around the world. In Indonesia, from 1965-66, a million people were killed with the assistance of the CIA for being accused of being communists.
I’m trying to define this vortex we're in and the similarities that exist now. The main similarity of course is that the U.S. is fighting all around the world. It's engaged in a contest now about which is the best system.
Russia is growing in influence now. They busted through a certain kind of encirclement that had been imposed on them. China has also busted out of this encirclement on their own terms.
China had engaged in guerilla warfare. Under Mao Zedong, they trained people in guerilla warfare. What happened is in this vast territory of China, they wanted the enemy to come in, to make them fight for every inch and deplete their resources.
China opened the door to trade and the U.S. felt like they had easy prey. The problem is they didn’t understand China. China wasn’t a neocolonial State.
They had taken power on their own terms, not through some relationship to the “West.” They were building inside China, even if it was slower because they were still kept outside of the major trade and economic relationship with the rest of the world, controlled by the colonial powers.
But then the colonial powers came in because they saw this lucrative China. They talk about how there’s a billion people in China, they said, “you just need to sell one yard of material to every Chinese person;” so they thought China had this great appetite. China let them in but on their own terms.
While the colonial powers were gobbling up whatever they could get, thinking they were moving forward, all the while China was strengthening its capacity.
The doors previously closed to China began to open, allowing them to grow their economy, and they did so rapidly.
The billion or so people in China became this incredible force, because the most costly aspect of production as it relates to the economy is labor.
China had this massive cheap labor force that the colonial powers assumed they could exploit, but China exploded and has grown ever since.
U.S. can’t rule in the same way
In the meantime you had people like Brzezinski, who we’ve talked a lot about in the past, who was trying to advise U.S. presidents because he saw the writing on the wall. He saw on the horizon that the colonial powers weren’t going to be able to dominate the world as it had done up-to-now. He talked about needing to “lead from behind.”
He advised that the “West” should establish relationships with Russia and China, to somehow bring them into their embrace, so that if they couldn’t lead in the same way, they could at least have this relationship, but the U.S. was incapable of following his advice. The U.S. was experiencing a certain kind of inertia that if felt allowed them to set the terms for how Russia and China would be brought in. Both China and Russia refused to do it this way.
So these forces were building themselves and as a consequence, the world began to change. They began to feel their own strength and power.
This was happening in the wake of all the peoples of the world rejecting this relationship. The anti-colonial struggles were gaining traction in places like South America, in Asia and among African people throughout the world. It has been a struggle for an entirely different world configuration.
These are the similarities we’re experiencing today.
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