Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, speaking at the Dr. Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on April 5, 2008. The event commemorated the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Unite the Global 99% to Fight Imperialism, the Root Cause of Crisis and War
By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Note: The following remarks were made for a panel at the Left Forum held in New York City over the weekend of March 16-18, 2012 at Pace University. In addition to the PANW editor, the other panelists were Bill Doares, Vice Chair of External Affairs for the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS), Gary Labao of Bayan USA and Lucy Pagoada-Quesada of the National Popular Resistance Front in Honduras (FNRP).
Since the beginning of 2011 the struggle against the worsening social conditions of the majority of peoples throughout the world has intensified. In Tunisia at the conclusion of 2010, a national rebellion was sparked as a result of the repressive character of the neo-colonial state.
This rebellion spread into Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and other countries in Africa and the Middle East.
Later inside the United States, a new layer of right-wing leadership moved into Congress and State legislative structures throughout the country. Soon drafts of draconian legislation were submitted for debate which were designed to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees and educators; massive layoffs were carried out of civil servants and school teachers and there were huge cuts enacted of municipal services and defined pension programs.
The people of Wisconsin struck back through mass demonstrations and the occupation of the State Capitol in Madison. The stand-off lasted for weeks until the Republican Governor and legislators manipulated the process and passed the dictatorial legislation.
The demonstrators in Wisconsin took note from the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. These parallels were reflected in signs held by students and workers saying: “Fight like an Egyptian.”
Demonstrations began to erupt in other Midwestern states including Ohio and Michigan. In Michigan thousands travelled to the State Capitol in Lansing to oppose Public Act 4, which was later dubbed the “dictator law,” since it provided provisions for the appointment of “emergency managers” who embodied the authority to usurp the powers of elected officials on a local level as well as the abrogation of labor contracts and the expropriation of pension funds, the confiscation of public assets and large-scale privatization of city services and resources.
Emergency managers have already been appointed in several majority African American cities throughout the state of Michigan. Detroit, the largest city in the state, with the most predominant Black population of any other municipality of its size in the United States, is currently under threat of complete takeover by agents of finance capital. Although like Wisconsin, the workers and youth have resisted these right-wing assaults on their basic democratic and economic rights, the ruling class surrogates occupying the state government are determined to implement their plans for austerity.
The Global Crisis in the West and the Global South
The Occupy Movement interjected a new set of dynamics into the movements for social change both inside the imperialist states and in the so-called Global South. With the focus on Wall Street, the nerve center of international finance capital, this was a cause of extreme concern for the ruling class in the U.S. and Europe.
Even though the bankers and bosses refused to comment or write editorials on the phenomena largely because their positions are indefensible, we can deduce from the subsequent wave of repression by the Department of Homeland Security that crushed the encampments, that these were efforts coordinated by the White House and the Pentagon.
Later in December 2011, we saw the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act which provides for greater repression including indefinite detention.
Inside the U.S. there are already 2.5 million people incarcerated, most of which are African Americans and Latino/as from working class and poor backgrounds. Millions more are under some type of supervision by law-enforcement and the overall criminal justice system.
With the ongoing re-structuring of the labor market and the administration of public and social services, there will be even more people placed into jails, prisons, reform schools along with probationary and parole programs.
The Significance of the Struggle Against Imperialism
This panel is significant for several reasons. The U.S. and the NATO states are escalating their militaristic policies in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and within the domestic confines of North America and Europe itself.
Both the peoples of the industrialized countries and the oppressed post-colonial states are suffering immensely as a result of the collapse of the capitalist world system. Consequently, the opportunities for broader and deeper alliances are greater today than ever before in the current period.
As social justice and labor organizers in North America, we must always link the struggle here with the plight of the peoples of Africa, Asia, the Pacific and Latin America. This linking must be done through our propaganda as well as programmatically utilizing solidarity actions and sharing of methodologies.
It is only through this process of a global united front that we can pose an effective challenge to imperialism and ensure a brighter and secure future.