Monday, June 21, 2010

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor of the Pan-African News Wire, Panelist in the Black Liberation People's Assembly at the USSF in Detroit

CALL: Black Liberation People's Assembly

Come to the Black Liberation People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social Forum2010

The Black Left Unity Network will be hosting this Assembly at the US Social forum on Thursday June 24th between 1pm and 5pm

The Panel of Speakers Will Include:

Ashaki Binta--Black Workers For Justice

Rose Brewer--Professor of Afro-American and African Studies at University of Minnesota

Efia Nwangaza--Afrikan-American Institute for Policy Studies & Planning

Abayomi Azikiwe--Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Malcolm X Grassroots Movement

Resistance by African Americans to racism and national oppression has taken place prior to and throughout the history of the development of the U.S. It has been both spontaneous and through conscious movement building. It has been central to the organizing of mass opposition in the U.S. to U.S. and European colonialism in Africa and the Caribbean.

Throughout this history of resistance, there have emerged various movement organizations and political tendencies promoting ideas about what constitutes Black liberation. There have been ideological struggles among these tendencies toward shaping a more revolutionary direction for the Black liberation movement.

These ideological struggles were influenced by the growing anti-colonial struggles taking place in Africa, Asia and Latina America. Black liberation movement leaders like Robert Williams, Malcolm X, Queen Mother Moore and Huey Newton, encouraged the Black liberation organizations to view the Black liberation movement within the global context of the anti-colonial struggles against imperialism. As many of the anti-colonial movements saw national liberation as a path toward socialism, this thinking also began to influence tendencies within the Black liberation movement.

In the U.S. South, the central region of chattel slavery and Jim Crow, the struggle was around whether to make SNCC, a leading left civil rights organization into an all Black liberation organization focusing on building Black power; or to stay a multi-racial civil rights organization.

Throughout the urban cities of the North, Midwest and West Coast, the main struggle was between Cultural Nationalism (cultural autonomy) as the demand for self-determination and Black liberation; Pan Africanism, which had anti-imperialist, socialists and Cultural Nationalist expressions, focused on the liberation of Africa as the homeland of the African Diaspora; and Revolutionary Black Nationalism which saw the U.S. South as the national territory and anchor of the African American oppressed nation, and African Americans throughout the U.S. as an oppressed nationality linked in a common struggle against U.S. imperialism for self-determination, and national liberation in the U.S. in alliance with other U.S. and international revolutionary struggles.

The Black workers movement in the 1960s, developed as a distinct part of the Revolutionary Nationalist tendency. It promoted not only anti-imperialist, but also anti-capitalist demands and Black worker at the point of production leadership. All of the Black liberation movement tendencies were weak or backward on the question struggling against women’s oppression and patriarchy.

Black Reparations took on a popular expression in 1969 with the launching of the Black Manifesto as a major demand for African American self-determination.

The Reparations Movement became a major social movement identified with by the various Black liberation movement tendencies. It has suffered from the lack of Black working class leadership in the shaping of demands, tactics and a general strategy that clarifies its anti-imperialist and transformative revolutionary political perspective.

The main strategic question for all of the Black liberation tendencies was and continues to be, how to organize and mobilize mass based Black power to realize self-determination and a form of dual power that weakens U.S. imperialism, and alters the balance of power in favor of the U.S. and international struggles for democracy, national and women’s liberation and socialism.

The scope and depth of the Black power needed to affectively challenge U.S. capitalism and imperialism, requires a national framework with an internationalist perspective that unites Black liberation forces. The Black left, those committed to self-determination, women’s liberation and socialism, must align to carry out a concentration to develop the class consciousness, organizations and leadership of the Black working class as a leading force in the Black liberation and U.S. anti-imperialist movements.

Most Black liberation organizations agree that the Black liberation movement is fragmented; and that no single organization can lead the Black masses in responding to the many national and global changes we face in our struggles for democracy and revolutionary change. This fragmentation can be summarized by the following:

· The U.S. government’s counter intelligence program (COINTELPRO) infiltrated Black liberation organizations and carried out its most intense and violent assaults on the Black liberation movement in the 1960s during the transition from civil rights to Black power.
· Leading Black liberation organizations were set-up by government agents and charged with acts of sedition against the U.S. government, resulting in Black liberation activists being forced into political exile; targeted for political assassinations; subjected to political trials; jailed for long and indefinite periods as political prisoners.
· The police murders of leaders and members of the Black Panther Party throughout the U.S. highlighted the public war by the state on the Black liberation movement.
· Cooptation and neutralization of sections of the progressive Black petit-bourgeois, and mass and social movement organizations by the Democratic Party and funding from many liberal foundations.
· Sectarian errors by Black left forces in trying to apply principles of revolutionary class struggle.
· Women’s oppression and patriarchy within Black liberation organizations.
· The failure to recognize and embrace the emergence of other social movements.

In the early 1980s, U.S. imperialism began implementing a major strategy of restructuring then called Reganomics, and now referred to by many as neo-liberalism. It focused on eliminating the democratic and social gains won by the Black liberation, women’s and trade union movements over the years, and transferring wealth, resources and democratic rights from these areas to help finance capitalist globalization.

Neo-liberalism took the form, advanced, and imposed itself through privatization and the appropriation of collective wealth and public properties - public housing, water, land, pension funds; and the massive government bailouts of the savings and loan companies, major banks and corporations. The policies of deregulation and the conservative mantra of “smaller government” was the political strategy to shape and deform the meaning of political power, including Black political power.

Despite having won the Voting Rights Act; major attacks have been made on Black voting rights and Black elected officials, including dismantling and reconfiguring former Black majority political districts. The Black political disenfranchisement that led to the coming to power of the Bush Jr. Regime in 2000 and 2004, and that imposed levels of open state repression not seen since the McCarthy Period, should have been a wake-up call for the Black liberation movement about the urgency for national regroupment.

The fragmentation of the Black liberation movement that had won basic democratic rights, affirmative action, government funding for social programs, and elected Blacks to political office, meant that the neo-liberal attacks on the Black masses, was not met with the scope of independent national Black resistance, which had occurred during the 1960s and early 1970s.

The 1984 and 88 Jackson campaigns came closest to generating national and working class resistance. However, because there was no independent national Black liberation framework with strong roots in the Black working class and an independent political program, this resistance was co-opted by the Democratic Party. African American national oppression, including the cooptation of sections of the Black bourgeoisie has been a main point of entry for U.S. strategies and policies that eventually affect the wider U.S. working class.

Neo-liberalism led to limited political participation; democracy was ritualized into casting a vote every four years, while voters are excluded from decision-making. Appointments of Blacks to “high” cabinet posts have been the strategy while undercutting institutional frameworks for national Black democratic and people’s power.

Business unionism, including the fights over jurisdiction, the lack of labor solidarity; the decline of the Black workers movement that helped to pushed trade unions forward to fight discrimination and for democratic demands; the siding of the unions with U.S. imperialist foreign policies and wars; and the splits within national unions and the AFL-CIO, allowed neo-liberalism to attack organized labor and the working class. The opening gun of this attack was the government busting of the Air traffic controllers union.

The fragmentation of the Black liberation movement meant that there was no national framework for arriving at a collective assessment of neo-liberalism’s impact on the Black masses, and for developing a strategic program for national resistance. The failure to unite and build a national movement for Reconstruction in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, points to the weak state of the Black liberation movement.

The inability of the Black liberation movement to intervene at the national level against attacks on Black human rights of the magnitude triggered by Katrina, does not build confidence in the Black liberation movement among the Black masses or other social and political movements inside the U.S. and internationally.

Not having clarity on the direction of the Black liberation movement’s work among the Black masses, makes the strategies, demands and alliances of the various social and political movements throughout the U.S. harder to navigate.

The Black liberation movement must have a program and direction for responding to the current economic crisis, in order to provide leadership to the Black masses who are hurting, and yet confused by Obama’s continuation of neo-liberalism.

This requires more than just criticizing Obama; it requires organizing and mobilizing the power of the Black working class masses.

The struggle for the socialization of the collective wealth; both that which was privatized over the last decades, and for programs for economic recovery and mass based Black and working class political power, must be the main thrust of the Black liberation movement in this period.

The US Social Forum: Key Opportunity to Discuss Black Liberation Unity

Thousands of social movement activists will be attending the US Social Forum in Detroit on June 22 – 26, 2010, discussing their struggles, learning about other struggles and finding ways to connect the struggles and movements.

The coming together of Black liberation forces in this broad array of activists from U.S. and international social movements at the US Social Forum, to discuss the critical questions, make assessments, and to plan for coordinated Black Liberation Movement actions and relations with the other social movements, will be an important step toward regroupment of the Black Liberation Movement.

Again, The Black Left Unity Network will be hosting a Black Liberation People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social forum on June 24th between 1pm and 5:30pm.

If you have basic agreement with this call and the need for regroupment of the Black liberation movement and are committed to have participation in the Black Liberation People’s Movement Assembly at the US Social Forum, please sign on to this call by emailing your name and organizational affiliation to:

Black Left Unity Network (BLUN)

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