Sunday, October 21, 2007

Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle, A Review

Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle: A Review

Writings by political activists including Larry Holmes, Monica Moorehead, Pat Chin, Saladin Muhammad, Mumia Abu-Jamal, LeiLani Dowell, Sam Marcy, John Parker and others.

Published by Worldview Forum, New York, February 2007

Review by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire

This compilation of articles and speeches places the struggle for African reparations within a broad political context that encompasses the overall movements against national oppression, capitalism, imperialism and for socialism.

The political editing of the book was done by Monica Moorehead, managing editor of Workers World Newspaper based in New York City. In the obviously careful selection of these essays and speeches it becomes quite clear that the demand for reparations for African peoples will only be won along with the simultaneous victories against the ever increasing super-exploitation of labor and the attempt by US imperialism to secure its position of global dominance through militarism and the further suppression of working people within its own borders.

The introductory section of this book entitled: "Black liberation & the working-class struggle", begins with an essay by Larry Holmes where he reviews the role of the international socialist movement in advancing the struggle for national liberation among the oppressed and colonial peoples.

Holmes states that: "After much debate, the movement under Lenin's leadership concluded that bourgeois elements in the national liberation movement were a problem, and wherever possible we should wage a class struggle against them within the national liberation movement. But that should not for one second limit us from unconditionally supporting the national liberation movements to free the colonies."

Continuing to emphasize this point, Holmes declares: "Not only should we support the liberation movements but if we want to prevail, if we want to influence oppressed people, we have to become the champions of the liberation of oppressed people, in deed as well as word."

This book examines the multi-faceted character of the struggle by African peoples inside the United States as well as on the continent. The articles seek to extend the demand for reparations beyond the period of chattel slavery in the United States, the Caribbean and Latin America in order to point to the continued oppression and exploitation of African peoples during the periods of Reconstruction, jim crow segregation, the race terrorism of the early twentieth century during the era of widespread lynchings and infamous massacres in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921.

As it relates to the African continent, the contributors point to the continued exploitation of labor and resources. Monica Moorehead writes in the chapter entitled: "Africa, A Battleground Against Colonialism and for Sovereignty", that the struggle against the international debt crisis and its impact on the continent was part and parcel of the black demand for reparations.

Moorehead points out that: "The fact that Africa is both the richest continent in terms of resources and the poorest in terms of underdevelopment did not come about over a span of years or decades but centuries. Three of the G-8 members--Germany, France and England--expanded their capitalist economies with the African slave trade beginning in the middle of the 16th century. The United States became involved in the slave trade a century later. An estimated 40 million African people were stolen from their homeland during slavery."

The editor continues by stating: "Europe became the main colonizer of the entire African continent. The result was millions more lives lost and resources and land plundered from the late 19th century until African struggles brought about nominal independence in the 1960s and 1970s."

Bringing the struggle up to its present period, Moorehead says: "Today the greatest part of Africa is a neocolony under the control of imperialist banks through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Since the post-colonial period, whole African economies have been caught in a vicious cycle of bank loans and structural agreements that have plunged them into a spiraling debt they can never pay off in several lifetimes."

This book defends the government of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe which engaged in a revolutionary land redistribution program that brought about vicious attacks from the former colonial power in Britain as well as the United States. Moorehead exposes the political contradications within American foreign policy toward this southern African nation that won its national independence through an armed struggle that gained international support.

Moorehead says in relationship to the present situation in Zimbabwe that: "U.S. imperialism is hypocritical when it denounces 'repressive measures' taken by the Mugabe government. Look at the repression we face right here if we organize anti-war or anti-police brutality demonstrations. When aren't there thousands of NYPD cops in full riot gear trying to intimidate and even arrest us when we exercise our right to freedom of assembly and free speech? Look at how revolutionaries like Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier are locked away because they dared to speak out against this terrible, racist, oppressive system."

Consequently, any effort aimed at repairing or re-correcting the historic oppression and exploitation of African peoples will be met with maximum resistance from the ruling class in the United States and throughout the various imperialist circles internationally. Therefore, a struggle must and will be waged to overturn the dominance of world capitalism over the oppressed peoples of the globe.

This book makes a significant contribution to the literature on the international character of the black liberation movements worldwide and the need to link the war to end national oppression and neocolonialism with the global class struggle for socialism.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

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