Sunday, November 23, 2008

Africa, Imperialism and the Global Class Struggle: PANW Editor, Abayomi Azikiwe, Speaks at the National Conference on 'The New Situation in the U.S. and the World'

Africa, Imperialism and the Global Class Struggle

The continent's people will play a strategic role in the coming period

by Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor
Pan-African News Wire
Editor's Note: The following is the text of the presentation delivered at the national conference on "The Current Situation in the U.S. and the World" that was held in New York city on November 15-16, 2008. The conference was sponsored by Workers World Party.

A major challenge of the last century has been the reconstruction of African history and the role of the continent in the development of world civilizations, particularly the economic and social systems that have dominated the planet for over 500 years. Most researchers and writers on African affairs, both bourgeois and historical materialist, have recognized the African origins of human society. The contributions of successive African civilizations and cultures have been well documented in various publications.

These efforts to re-correct the distortions in the way African history been narrated and interpreted, are important to understanding the significance and character of political events that are occuring on the continent today. In order for Africa to overcome the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism, there must be a struggle to transform the exploitative and oppressive conditions which have been imposed by world imperialism, with a leading role being played by the ruling class in the United States.

Historical Materialism and the African Condition

This African struggle is taking place with greater intensity in the first decade of the 21st century. What is taking place on the continent is a direct result of the continuing efforts by the imperialist countries to dominate the resources, labor and political institutions in all of the African states.

Progressive and revolutionary thinkers and tacticians have stressed the dialectical relationship between the economic development of western Europe and the United States and the consequent underdevelopment of Africa. Activists and chroniclers of African and African-American history have maintained that the profits accrued from the exploitation of black labor, land and resources played a central role in the rise of world capitalism. This has been stated repeatedly for the last century by people such as W.E.B. DuBois, Shirley Graham DuBois, Marcus Garvey, C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, William Alpheus Hunton, Kwame Nkurmah, George Padmore, Walter Rodney and many others.

This historical materialist approach to analyzing the past as a guide to understanding the present and preparing for the future was discussed by the Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin. In a political biography of Karl Marx, that was written in 1913, Lenin states that:

"The discovery of the materalist conception of history, or rather, the consistent continuation and extension of materialism into the domain of social phenomena, removed two chief defects of earlier historical theories. In the first place, they at best examined only the ideological motives of the historical activity of human beings, without investigating what produced these motives, without grasping the objective laws governing the development of the system of social relations, and without discerning the roots of these relations in the degree of development of material production; in the second place, the earlier theories did not cover the activities of the masses of the population, whereas historical materialism made it possible for time to study with the accuracy of the natural sciences the social conditions of the life of the masses and the changes in these conditions." ("Karl Marx", by V.I. Lenin, p. 15).

Beginning a historical analysis from this perspective leads us into understanding that the underlying social forces that fuel the conflicts that transform society are rooted in the struggle between dominant and subjagated classes. In the same above-mentioned work, Lenin also points out:

"That in any given society the strivings of some of its members conflict with the strivings of others, that social life is full of contradictions, that history discloses a struggle between nations and societies as well as within nations and societies, and, in addition, an alternation of periods of revolution and reaction, peace and war, stagnation and rapid progress or decline-are facts that are generally known.

"Marxism provided the clue which enables us to discover the laws governing this seeming labyrinth and chaos, namely, the theory of class struggle. Only a study of a whole complex of strivings of all the members of a given society or group of societies can lead to a scientific definition of the result of the strivings.

"And the source of the conflicting strivings lies in the difference in the position and mode of life of the classes into which each society is divided. 'The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles,' wrote Marx in the Communist Manifesto." (except the history of the so-called primitive communities--Engels added subsequently). ("Karl Marx" by V.I. Lenin, pp. 16-17).

The Class Struggle in Africa

The class struggle is not limited to the so-called advanced western capitalist countries. With the expansion of colonialism throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean region and within North America itself, class and national divisions were institutionalized by the imperialists to ensure the domination of finance capital.

Kwame Nkurumah, the founder of Ghana's independence movement after World War II, who later became the chief strategist of the African revolutionary struggle that emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, applied the theory of class struggle advanced by Marx, Engels and Lenin to developments on the African continent.

In reference to imperialist domination in Africa, Nkrumah wrote during 1971 that:

"At the core of the problem is the class struggle. For too long, social and political commentators have talked and written as though Africa lies outside the main stream of world historical development--a separate entity to which the social, economic and political patterns of the world do not apply.

"Myths such as 'African Socialism' and 'pragmatic socialism,' implying the existence of a brand or brands of socialism applicable to Africa alone, have been propagated; and much of our history has been written in terms of socio-anthropological and historical theories as though Africa had no history prior to the colonial period. One of these distortions has been the suggestion that the class structures which exist in other parts of the world do not exist in Africa." (Nkrumah, "Revolutionary Path," 1973).

In refuting these bourgeois, and even racist notions that Africa exist outside the social processes which transform human existence, Nkrumah continued by emphatically stating that:

"Nothing is further from the truth. A fierce class struggle has been raging in Africa. The evidence is all around us. In essence it is, as in the rest of the world, a struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed.

"The African Revolution is an integral part of the world socialist revolution, and just as the class struggle is basic to world revolutionary processes, so also is it fundamental to the struggle of the workers and peasants of Africa." (Nkrumah, "Revolutionary Path," 1973).

The contributions of Workers World to the understanding of the central role of Africa and the other former colonial and semi-colonial nations in the global class struggle has been reviewed over the last year through various articles that are reprinted on a weekly basis. In studying and analyzing developments that emerged during the post World War II period, Sam Marcy and other co-founders of the party clearly recognized the political significance of the revolutions in China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and on the African continent.

Today, Workers World covers the struggle against U.S. intervention in various parts of Africa, including, but not limited to, the efforts to destabilize Sudan in order to seize its oil; to isolate Zimbabwe over the land question; to dominate Somalia for the people's refusal to submit to a foreign imperialist financed and coordinated occupation.

The impact of the multi-national oil and other extractive industries are noted in the ongoing struggles taking place in Nigeria, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and South Africa, to name a few. Moreover, Workers World reports on every significant movement aimed at resisting imperialist domination in Africa and views these efforts as part and parcel of the international battle to defeat capitalist globalization and to guarantee a socialist future in Africa and around the world.

As anti-imperialists and proletarian internationalists, we will continue to work in solidarity with all genuine mass movements as well as progressive and revolutionary organizations in Africa. The role of the Africa Command (AFRICOM) and other militarist schemes to subjugate the continent will be defeated by the organizational weight of the African workers and farmers in conjunction with a class conscious proletariat in the western countries.

Africa, the Class Struggle and the African-American National Question

Finally, the understanding and appreciation of the role of the African continent in the global class struggle also relates to the pivotal importance of resolving the problem of racism in the United States, what marxists call the national question. The over 40 million people of African descent in the U.S. have always maintained recognition of the continent as their historical homeland. Consequently, the history and contemporary affairs of Africa are of major concern to the African-American people.

The most progressive and revolutionary elements in the African community in the United States have always taken great consideration of the struggle for liberation by the peoples of the continent as an important objective in their own efforts aimed at achieving total freedom in this country. Workers World has always understood the Leninist principle upholding the right to self-determination of oppressed nations under capitalism and imperialism.

In the last year, the paper has reprinted articles from the early 1960s when support and solidarity was expressed around the Congo crisis of 1960-61, when Patrice Lumumba was overthrown and assassinated. There was unconditional support for the civil rights campaigns that lead to the desegregation of public accomodations, voting rights, affirmative action and the right to assembly and protest.

At the same time, editorials have been recovered where Sam Marcy had written statements in support of the urban rebellions of 1967 in Newark and other cities. Just in the last several weeks, the role of Workers World in the campaign of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988 was recounted.

This working class voice has continued in this tradition. The party has never wavered on supporting and defending the inherent right of African-Americans to determine the form and method of their struggle for liberation. Even in the recent campaign of Senator Barack Obama, Workers World analyzed the significance of the social forces that propelled the President-Elect into electoral victory where he will become the first African-American president of the United States. At the same time, the newspaper defended President-Elect Obama and Michelle against every racist attack by the right-wing and exposed the threats posed by the character of the McCain-Palin political base.

African-Americans and other oppressed nations in the United States have and will continue to play an essential part in the overall class struggle against the ruling class and it surrogates.
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.

1 comment:

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