Editor's note: The following is the view of the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) on the necessity to march on Washington, D.C. with the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations on November 3, 2012 and to participate in the Black is Back conference the following day.
This document represents the position of the Central Committee and leadership of the APSP and not necessarily the view of the different organizations that constitute the Black is Back Coalition. This analysis can be found in the October 2012 editorial, “Point of the Spear,” in The Burning Spear newspaper.
You are welcome to submit letters to the Editor of The Burning Spear on this article, in addition to your comments on Uhuru News. Letters to the editor should be addressed to: Editor, The Burning Spear Newspaper, 1245 18Ave. South, St. Petersburg, FL. 33705
WASHINGTON, DC—The Break the Silence rally, march and conference to be held November 3 and 4, 2012 in Washington, DC continues the trajectory of the Black is Back Coalition (BIBC) as one of the most important developments for the African Liberation Movement and the struggle against imperialism since the Black Revolution of the Sixties.
With the creation of the BIBC, there is now a coalition of African organizations and militants spanning the ideological and political spectrum within the African community, which has come together in a common anti-imperialist effort.
While different organizations and individuals will attend the Break the Silence mobilization for any number of different reasons, the Coalition has shouldered open the door of antiwar opposition to the millions of Africans, Mexicans and other peoples who, though most negatively impacted by war, do not ordinarily fit the nomenclature of “peace” or antiwar activists.
We now have an opportunity to build a real movement against imperialism instead of the innocuous, sometimes militant-sounding actions directed at its symptoms rather than at imperialism itself.
This is the only way the antiwar (or what would pass as an anti-imperialist movement) will ever be fleshed out by the active participation of the oppressed—something so obviously missing up to now.
Getting back to breaking the backbone of imperial power
The presence of the Black is Back Coalition signals a developing recuperation of the African Liberation Movement, which was destroyed by the U.S. and its imperialist partners in the 1960s.
This ruthless defeat of our movement left the struggle against imperialism in the hands of the “white left” and various middle class African and other colonized poseurs who were essentially interested in a kinder, gentler imperialism rather than the overthrow of imperialism as a social system.
The Break the Silence mobilization criticizes the media of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the ruling class and its minions for ignoring and covering over the wars against most of the world, especially the wars against Africa and Africans, including those of us in the U.S. and other areas to which we were forcibly dispersed in the process of the emergence of capitalism and the consolidation of the European nation that benefited from the advent of capitalism.
The Break the Silence mobilization is also a criticism of the traditional antiwar, “peace” or anti-imperialist movement. This movement has also ignored the struggles of African people, as well as others, unless there was a possibility of such struggles intruding into the relatively secure lives of Europeans or white people.
This is because there is a coincidence of interests between the European left and the bourgeoisie, its ruling class.
At first glance this is not obvious as from time-to-time the European left and its bourgeoisie appear to be locked in invective-filled struggle with each other.
In the U.S., this apparent antagonism of interests is reflected in recent history in the emergence of groups identified as Tea Partiers, 99 Percenters or Occupiers.
In the U.S., much of Europe and elsewhere, this contention is often articulated as between Marxists (and/or socialists of various pedigrees) and capitalists—between the proponents and protectors of different social systems.
Awareness of our real interests
The greater reality is the very nature of the capitalist social system and the fact that it is, in general, beneficial to all white people regardless of income, class or social station.
The fact is that capitalism lifted the entire white world out of a state of near barbarism, in a dialectical process that impoverished and subjugated almost the entire rest of the world.
The Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations is a black or African anti-imperialist organization of organizations.
It is an organization built around principles of self-determination—for Africans and for everyone else.
With its starting point being the interests of African people and people most like Africans in their conditions of existence, the Coalition has initiated a process and agenda that is quite unlike the agenda of the traditional white left or “peace” movement.
The Break the Silence mobilization is an attack of the imposed isolation of the struggle of black people by the imperialist ruling class, but it is also an attack on the silence or near-silence of almost the entire white left, that—like the imperialist bourgeoisie—is generally only capable of addressing the issues of Africans and others when and if these interests are significant to the conditions of existence of whites.
Knowing the nature of imperialism
In the early twentieth century, V.I. Lenin, a Russian revolutionary of profound significance for how many anti-imperialists define imperialism, struggled with other socialists of the era to come up with a definition of imperialism at a critical time in the anti-capitalist struggle in Europe.
Lenin defined imperialism as a stage in the development of capitalism, of capitalism developed to its highest stage. Imperialism, Lenin liked to say, is capitalism that has become “rotten ripe.”
The term “imperialism” comes from the word “empire,” which is defined as the complete domination of territories and peoples by another foreign state power.
In the early twentieth century, especially with the first imperialist war that was fought to divide the world among several European bandits, the term “imperialism” was used to define political and economic features of capitalist-dominated European social behavior and reality.
Lenin’s definition of imperialism was one of several at the time, but it has come to dominate the understanding of politically-active European and other anti-imperialists to this day.
According to Lenin, “Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.” (Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism)
On another occasion Lenin declares that “We have to begin with as precise and full a definition of imperialism as possible. Imperialism is a specific historical stage of capitalism. Its specific character is threefold: imperialism is (1) monopoly capitalism; (2) parasitic, or decaying capitalism; (3) moribund capitalism….” (Imperialism and the Split in Socialism)
Indeed, it is certainly true that Lenin has described certain features of capitalism. However, Lenin is wrong about imperialism being the highest stage of capitalism.
The discussion of imperialism in Europe was demanded by contradictions being experienced primarily in Europe itself. The foray into an inclusion of the partitioning of the world and the intensification of colonization was to contribute to the definition of European reality.
It was not fundamentally a discussion of the reality of Africans and the colonized.
Lenin characterized himself as a Marxist, a revolutionary whose worldview was fashioned by his acceptance of revolutionary theory advanced by the nineteenth century German philosopher and revolutionary, Karl Marx.
We African Internationalists have found particular interests in a critical insight of Marx that was clearly not understood as such by Marx’s followers or by Marx himself.
In “Capital,” published in 1867, clearly one of the most influential works in history, Marx spoke of the condition essential to the emergence of capitalism, one that “… plays in political economy about the same part as original sin in theology…” which he called the “primitive accumulation” of capital that was capitalism’s starting point.
Elaborating, Marx declared, “The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black skins, signalized the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief momenta of primitive accumulation…”
In the same work Marx also explained, though not intentionally, the obvious contradiction impacting the relationship between white people, including “workers,” and Africans and most others, the contradiction that is responsible for a commonality of cross-class interests within European society:
“Whilst the cotton industry introduced child slavery in England, it gave in the United States a stimulus to transformation of the earlier, more or less patriarchal slavery, into a system of commercial exploitation. In fact the veiled slavery of the wage workers in Europe needed, for its pedestal, slavery pure and simple in the new world.”
African Internationalists are historical materialists whose investigation and analysis of the world has as its starting point an examination of the world from the objective reality and experiences of Africans and the vast majority of the people on the planet, including the “white” or European people.
So it is clear to us that imperialism is not a product of capitalism; it is not capitalism developed to its highest stage.
Instead, capitalism is a product of imperialism.
Capitalism is imperialism developed to its highest stage, not the other way around.
The imperialism defined by Lenin has as its foundation the “primitive accumulation” spoken of by Marx.
Finance capital, the export of capital, monopoly, etc., are all articulations of a political economy rooted in parasitism and based on the historically brutal subjugation of most of humanity.
Unlike Marx and Lenin, we African Internationalists deny that there has ever been anything progressive about capitalism.
Capitalism was born parasitic
Capitalism was born in disrepute, born of the rapes, massacres, occupations, genocides, colonialism and every despicable act humans are capable of inflicting on others.
Capitalism was not responsible for some great, otherwise unimaginable leap in production, which—despite its contradictions—resulted in progress and enlightenment.
What capitalism did was to rip the vast majority of humanity out of the productive process—in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Australia and what has come to be known as the Americas.
The hundreds of millions dead due to the slave trade and slavery itself; the millions exterminated everywhere Europeans ventured—these are people whose hands were forever removed from a relationship with nature that would result in “production.”
Europeans achieved their national identity by way of this bloody process.
This is not something that only happened a long time ago. The world’s peoples are suffering the consequences of capitalist emergence even now.
Locked in colonies and indirect rule of neocolonialism, restricted to lives characterized by brutality, ignorance and violence in the barrios of the Americas and other internal colonies characterized as Indian reservations and black ghettos, kept under the paranoiac, nuclear-backed, armed-to-the-teeth watch of military forces born of a state power that has its origins in protecting the relationship between capitalism and its imperial pedestal, capitalism has been the absolute factor in restricting production and development by concentrating productive capacity in the hands of the world’s minority European population that sits atop the pedestal of our oppressive reality.
Capitalism was not the good, “progressive” force that is the precursor to something better for “humanity.” Capitalism was a disaster that rescued Europe from a diseased feudal existence at the expense of the world.
Europe is not the center of the universe
In the seventeenth century Galileo, an Italian scientist ran afoul of the Catholic church with his claim that the Earth circumnavigated the sun, as opposed to the prevailing view, supported by the church, that it was the Earth that was the center of the universe.
His view, supported by science, challenged views informed by the limited perspective of the terrestrial world.
Today’s white left is also locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans in the world as the center of the universe. It always has.
Otherwise, Marx would have been forced to declare that the road to socialism was the destruction of the “pedestal” upon which all capitalist activity occurs, not some maturation of contradictions within the capitalist society upon the pedestal, a society that owed its success to the existence of that pedestal.
Destroy slavery to destroy capitalism
In an earlier work entitled The Poverty of Philosophy, Marx made this startling admission, “Direct slavery is just as much the pivot of bourgeois industry as machinery, credits, etc. Without slavery you have no cotton; without cotton you have no modern industry. It is slavery that gave the colonies their value; it is the colonies that created world trade, and it is world trade that is the pre-condition of large-scale industry…”
“Without slavery North America, the most progressive of countries would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Wipe North America off the map of the world, and you will have anarchy—the complete decay of modern commerce and civilization. Cause slavery to disappear and you will have wiped America off the map of nations.”
What an excellent formula for the overthrow of capitalism!
Certainly this is the view of the African People’s Socialist Party and consistent with the trajectory of the Black is Back Coalition and the Break the Silence demonstration designed to bring the cause of the “slaves” of the world center-stage.
The slavery of today is comprised of the colonial, subject and oppressed peoples of the world. The Break the Silence mobilization is part of the trajectory to cause slavery to disappear and objectively, to achieve its predicted attendant consequence.
African Internationalism is the way forward
African Internationalism has brought us to a different understanding than that held by Marx and Lenin regarding the way forward in the struggle against capitalism. It is rooted in our recognition, supported by the extensive quotes from Marx above, that it was imperialism that gave birth to capitalism and not the other way around.
We claim that “African Internationalism is a scientifically falsifiable theory as can be seen in this question: Would capitalism and the resultant European wealth and African impoverishment have occurred without the European attack on Africa, its division, African slavery and dispersal, colonialism and neocolonialism?” (One People! One Party! One Destiny!)
Lenin stated that imperialism is capitalism that is characterized in part by parasitism. But from what we have already seen from the pen of Marx, capitalism was born parasitic.
That is the meaning of the enslavement, colonization and annexation of other countries and peoples by Europe.
A direct line of connection, a unity of opposites, a dialectical relationship, exists between the vast majority of the planet and Europe and Europeans.
Struggle against the pedestal which rests on top of the majority of the world!
There is no other explanation for the vast differences in the conditions of existence of Europeans and the rest of us.
America, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean and much of Asia and the Middle East and almost everywhere the U.S. and Europe are currently engaged in bloody wars and intrigues – represent what Marx has objectified with the term “primitive accumulation.”
Indeed, the current crisis of imperialism, one from which it will never fully extricate itself, is responsive to the imperialist “pedestal,” the very foundation of capitalism extricating itself from its supporting role of the capitalist edifice.
Objectively, this is the meaning of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, Bolivia, etc. It is in defense of itself that the U.S. and its partners are engaged in every effort, no matter how brutal or duplicitous, to protect the capitalist status quo.
This is the meaning of AFRICOM, the U.S. military project created to ensnare the entire African continent in the permanent embrace of U.S. imperial domination to the exclusion of other avaricious imperialist contenders and African people ourselves.
The future of capitalism also rests on the continued subjugation of Mexicans and “Indians” within current U.S. borders, and especially of internally-colonized Africans whose conditions of existence demand a permanent state of resistance, often spontaneous and unorganized, but always present.
Our hatred of imperialism and oppression is what makes it necessary for the African People’s Socialist Party, African Internationalists, to be in the front ranks of the Black is Back Coalition’s Break the Silence mobilization.
It is precisely because we understand that the future of capitalism will be determined by the struggle against parasitism, against imperialism, against the pedestal upon which capitalism relies for its survival.