Introduction to afro-pessimism: The avant-garde of white supemacy by Steve Martinot & Jared Sexton

In 1998, Critical Resistance: Beyond the Prison Industrial Complex, a national conference and strategy-session, re-posed the question of the relations between white supremacy and state violence. Fascism was the concept often used to link these two terms and the prison industrial complex was considered to be its quintessential practice. The political-intellectual discourse generated at and around Critical Resistance shattered the narrow definitions of racism that characterize many conventional (even leftist) accounts
and produced instead a space for rethinking radical alternatives.This sort of shift in the political landscape has been imperative fora long time now. The police murder of Amadou Diallo comes to mind as an event requiring such re-conceptualization. The Diallo killing was really plural since it involved other police murders as imminent in the same event. Diallo’s killing was plural beyond his own many deaths in those few seconds, a killing that took place in the eyes of his friends and family from as far away as Guinea. In the immediate wake of his killers’ acquittals, the NYPD murdered Malcolm Ferguson, a community organizer who had been active in attempting to get justice for Diallo. (The police harassed the Ferguson’s within the next year and arrested his brother on
trumped up charges.) Two weeks after Ferguson’s murder, the police killed Patrick Dorismund because he refused to buy drugs from an undercover cop, because he fought back when the cop attacked. The police then harassed and attacked Dorismund’s funeral procession in Brooklyn a week later, hospitalizing several in attendance. (The police took the vendetta all the way to the grave.) Tyisha Miller was murdered in her car in Riverside, California by four cops who knocked on the window of her car and found that she simply didn’t respond. Angela Davis tells the story of “Tanya Haggerty in Chicago, whose cell phone was the potential weapon that allowed police to justify her killing,” just as Daillo’s wallet was the “gun” at which four cops fired in unison. To the police, a wallet in the hand of black man is a gun whereas that same wallet in the hand of a white man is just a wallet. A cell phone in the hands of a black woman is a gun; that same phone
in a white woman’s hand is a cell phone.There were local movements in each of these cities to protest acts of police murder and in each case the respective city governments
were solicited to take appropriate action. Under convention aldefinitions of the government, we seem to be restricted to calling upon it for protection from its own agents. But what are we doing when we demonstrate against police brutality, and find
ourselves tacitly calling upon the government to help us do so? These notions of the state as the arbiter of justice and the police as the unaccountable arbiters of lethal violence are two sides of the same coin. Narrow understandings of mere racism are
proving themselves impoverished because they cannot see this fundamental relationship. What is needed is the development of a radical critique of the structure of the coin. There are two possibilities: first, police violence is a deviation from the rules governing police procedures in general. Second, these various forms of violence (e.g., racial profiling, street murders, terrorism) are the rule itself as standard operation procedure. For instance, when the protest movements made public statements they expressed an understanding of police violence as the rule of the day and not as a shocking exception. However, when it came time to formulate practical proposals to change the fundamental nature of policing, all they could come up with concretely were more oversight committees, litigation, and civilian review boards (“with teeth”), none of which lived up to the collective intuition about what the police were actually doing. The protest movements’ readings of these events didn’t seem able to bridge the gap to the programmatic. The language in which we articulate our analyses doesn’t seem to allow for alternatives in practice. Even those who take seriously the second possibility (violence as a rule) find that the language of alternatives and the terms of relevance are constantly dragged into the political discourse they seek to oppose, namely, that the system works and is capable of reform. After the exposure of the LAPD’s videotaped beating of Rodney King, after the rebellions of 1992, police violence only became more rampant and more brazen across the country. After the Justice for Diallo” movement in NYC, the police murders multiplied, and police arrogance increased. It was as if the anti-racist campaigns (or uprisings) against police violence were co-opted by the police to augment their violence, rather than effectively closing it down as they had explicitly intended. In the wake of countless exposés, the prison industrial complex has only expanded; the reportage on the racist operations of capital punishment and the legal system more generally have become absorbed in the acceleration of execution rates. Why do things get worse after each hard fought revelation? Where do we locate the genius of the system? Something is left out of the account; it runs through our fingers, escaping our grasp.If the spectacle of police violence does, in fact, operate according to a rule of its own (as the anti-violence movements argue), what does this suggest about the social institutions that generate it and which it represents despite persistent official disavowals? First, the relationship between police violence and the social institution
of policing is structural, rather than incidental or contingent (i.e., an unfortunate but minor part of the job). Second, the cultural content of the actual policing that we face is to be a law unto itself, not the socially responsible institution it claims to be in its disavowals. Third, a question: is this paradigm of policing a methodology for a form of social organization? If so, of what are the police the avant-garde?They prowl, categorizing and profiling, often turning those profiles into murderous violence without (serious) fear of being called to account, all the while claiming impunity. What jars the imagination is not the fact of impunity itself, but the realization that they are simply people working a job, a job they secured by making an application at the personnel office. In events such as the shooting of Amadou Diallo, the true excessiveness is not in
the massiveness of the shooting, but in the fact that these cops were there on the street looking for this event in the first place, as a matter of routine business. This spectacular evil is encased in a more inarticulable evil of banality, namely, that the state assigns
certain individuals to (well-paying) jobs as hunters of human beings, a furtive protocol for which this shooting is simply the effect. But they do more than prowl. They make problematic the whole notion of social responsibility such that we no longer know if the police are responsible to the judiciary and local administration or if the city is actually responsible to them, duty bound by impunity itself. To the extent to which the police are a law unto themselves, the latter would have to be the case. This unaccountable vector
of inverted social responsibility would resonate in the operating procedures in upper levels of civil administration as well. That is, civil governmental structures would act in accordance with the paradigm of policing—wanton violence legitimized by strict
conformity to procedural regulations.For instance, consider the recent case of a 12 year-old African-American boy sentenced to prison for life without parole for having killed a 6 year-old African-American girl while acting out the moves he had seen in professional wrestling matches on TV. In demanding this sentence, the prosecutor argued that the boy
was a permanent menace to society, and had killed the girl out of extreme malice and consciousness of what he was doing. A 12 year-old child, yet Lionel Tate was given life without parole. In the name of social sanctity, the judicial system successfully
terrorized yet another human being, his friends, and relatives by carrying its proceduralism to the limit. The corporate media did the rest; several “commentators” ridiculed Tate’s claim to have imitated wrestling moves, rewriting his statement as a disreputable excuse: “pro wrestling made me do it” (San Francisco Chronicle,
3/25/01). Thus, they transformed his naïve awareness of bodies into intentional weaponry and cunning. One could surmise, with greater justification than surmising the malice of the child, that the prosecutor made a significant career step by getting this high profile conviction. Beyond the promotion he would secure for a job well done, beyond the mechanical performance of official outrage and the cynicism exhibited in playing the role, what animus drove the prosecutor to demand such a sentence? In the face of the prosecution’s sanctimonious excess, those who bear witness to Tate’s suffering have only inarticulate outrage to offer as consolation. With recourse only to the usual rhetorical
expletives about racism, the procedural ritualism of this white supremacist operation has confronted them with the absence of a real means of discerning the judiciary’s dissimulated machinations. The prosecutor was the banal functionary of a civil structure, a paradigmatic exercise of wanton violence that parades as moral rectitude but whose source is the paradigm of policing. All attempts to explain the malicious standard operating procedure of US white supremacy find themselves hamstrung by conceptual inadequacy; it remains describable, but not comprehensible. The story can be told, as the 41 bullets fired to slaughter Diallo can be counted, but the ethical meaning
remains beyond the discursive resources of civil society, outside the framework for thinkable thought.It is, of course, possible to speak out against such white supremacist violence as immoral, as illegal, even unconstitutional. But the impossibility of thinking through to the ethical dimension has a hidden structural effect. For those who are not racially profiled or tortured when arrested, who are not tried and sentenced
with the presumption of guilt, who are not shot reaching for their identification, all of this is imminently ignorable. Between the inability to see and the refusal to acknowledge, a mode of social organization is being cultivated for which the paradigm of policing is the cutting edge. We shall have to look beyond racialized police violence to see its logic.The impunity of racist police violence is the first implication ofits ignorability to white civil society. The ignorability of police impunity is what renders it inarticulable outside of that hegemonic formation. If ethics is possible for white civil society within its
social discourses, it is rendered irrelevant to the systematic violence deployed against the outside precisely because it is ignorable. Indeed, that ignorability becomes the condition of possibility for the ethical coherence of the inside. The dichotomy between a white ethical dimension and its irrelevance to the violence of police profiling is the very structure of racialization today. It is a twin structure, a regime of violence that operates in two registers, terror and the seduction into the fraudulent ethics of social order;
a double economy of terror, structured by a ritual of incessant performance. And into the gap between them, common sense, which cannot account for the double register or twin structure of this ritual, disappears into incomprehensibility. The language of
common sense, through which we bespeak our social world in the most common way, leaves us speechless before the enormity of the usual, of the business of civil procedures.

Crimes against humanity by Lorenzo Komboa Ervin from “Anarchism and the black revolution”

It is the rich who decide what is or is not a crime; it is not a neutral designation. The laws are written to protect the rich and those who act as agents of the State. But most personal crimes art not committed against the rich, they are usually inaccessible. It is poor and working class Black people who are the major victims of violent crime. The Black female is the primary victim of rape and abuse by the Black male in this country. The Black male himself is the leading homicide victim in the U.S. by another Black man like himself, and sadly our children are among the leading victims of child abuse, many times by his or her own parents. We do not like to think of these things in the Black community, but we are battering and killing ourselves at an alarming rate. This is not to deny that the Capitalist social system has created frustrating, degrading conditions of life that contribute to this brutality and fratricide, but we would be lax in our humane and revolutionary duty if we did not try to correct this problem on the short-term, and also make Black people assume responsibility for our actions. I am not talking some Black conservative or “law and order” garbage here, but rather recognition of fact that we have a problem.

We have an external and an internal crisis situation facing us in our community. The external crisis is racism and colonialism, which works to systematically oppress us and is responsible for whatever internal crisis there is. The internal crisis is the result of an environment where drugs and violence (both social and physical) are rampant, and life is sometimes considered cheap. Black-on-Black crimes and internal violence are destroying our community. It is undoubtedly self-hatred and the desperate economic and social conditions we live under which makes us prey on each other. Drugs, frustrated rage, prostitution and other vices are symptoms of oppression.

We kill, beat, rape and brutalize each other because we are in pain ourselves. Thus we are acting out anti-social roles defined for us by someone else, not ourselves. In our pain and confusion we strike out at convenient and familiar victims; those like ourselves Them are ordinary Black people who steal and rob just to survive under this system, because of that unequal distribution of wealth. Further, for same of us, in our desire to “make it” in Capitalist society we will stop at nothing, including murder. And finally, there are those who do whatever they do because of drug addiction or mental sickness.

Whatever the reasons, we have a serious problem that we must remedy because it is tearing away at the moral and social fabric of our community. It will be impassible to unite Black people if they are in fear and hatred of one another. It is also obvious that the police and government rectify this problem and that only the Black community can do so. The courts and prison prevent the situation from recurring. Therefore what can we do?

It is the community, through its own organizations of concern, which will have to deal with this problem. Community self-managed programs to work with Black youth gang members, (a source of much violence in the community), rather than the military approach of calling in the cops, empower the community rather than the racist prison bureaucracy and the cops. Also, the community-run drug rehabilitation groups, therapy and counseling groups, and other neighborhood organizing help us to effectively deal with the problem of internal violence and hopefully defuse it. Most importantly it involves the community in the effort.

But we cannot totally depend upon counseling or rehabilitation techniques, especially where them is an immediate threat of violence or where it has occurred. So, to insure peace and public security, a Black community guard service would be organized for this purpose, as well as to protect against the white Power structure. This security force would be elected by local residents, and would work with the help of people in neighborhoods. This is the only way it would work. It would not be an auxiliary of the current colonial occupation army in our community, and would not threaten or intimidate the community with violence against our youth. Nor would such a community guard protect vice and organized crime. This community guard would only represent the community that elected it, instead of city hall. Similar such units would be organized all over the city on a block-by-block basis.

Yet the Anarchists go further, and say that after a municipal commune is set up, the existing courts must be replaced by voluntary community tribunals of arbitration, and in cases of grave crimes, connected with murder, or offenses against liberty and equality, a special communal court of a non-permanent nature would be set up. Anarchists believe that antisocial crime, meaning anything that oppresses, robs, or does violence to the working class must be vigorously opposed. We cannot wait until after the revolution to oppose such dangerous enemies of the people. But since such antisocial crimes are a direct expression of Capitalism, there would be a real attempt to socialize, politically educate and rehabilitate offenders. Not by throwing them into the white Capitalist prisons to suffer like animals and where, because of their torture and humiliation, they will declare war on all society, but by involving them in the life of the community and giving them social and vocational training. Since all the “criminology experts” agree that crime is a social problem, and since we know that 88 percent of all crimes are against property and are committed in order to survive in an economically unjust society, we must recognize that only full employment, equal economic opportunity, decent housing and other aspects of social justice will ensure an end to crime. In short, we must have radical social change to eradicate the social conditions that cause crime. An unequal unfair society like Capitalism creates its own criminal class. The real thieves and murderers, businessmen and politicians, are protected under today’s legal system, while the poor are punished. That is class justice, and that is what Social revolution would abolish.

But understandably, many persons want to end the rape, murder, and violence in our communities today, and wind up strengthening the hands of the State and its police agents. They will not get rid of crime, but the cops will militarily patrol our communities, and further turn us against one another. We must stay away from that trap. Frustrated and confused, Black people may attack one another, but instead of condemning them to a slow death in prison or shooting them down in the streets for revenge, we must deal with the underlying social causes behind the act.

Anarchists should begin to have community forums on the cause and manifestations of crime in the Black community. We have to seriously examine the social institutions: family, schools, prisons, jobs, etc. that cause us to fuss, fight, rob and kill each other, rather than the enemy who is causing all our misery. While we should mobilize to restrain offenders, we must begin to realize that only the community will effectively deal with the mater. Not the racist Capitalist system, with its repressive police, courts and prisons. Only we have psychology and understanding to deal with it; now we must develop the will. No one else cares.

Instead of eye-for-eye punishment, there should be restitution to the victims, their families or society. No revenge, such as the death penalty will bring a murder victim back, nor will long-term imprisonment serve either justice or the protection of society. After all, prisons are only human trashcans for those that society has discarded as worthless. No sane and just society would adopt such a course. Society makes criminals and must be responsible for their treatment. White capitalist society is itself a crime, and is the greatest teacher of corruption and violence.

In an Anarchist society, prisons would be done away with, along with courts and police (except for the exceptions I have alluded to), and be replaced with community-run programs and centers interested solely with human regeneration and social training, rather than custodial supervision in a inhuman lockup. The fact is that if a person is so violent or dangerous, he is probably mentally warped or has some physical defect anyway, which causes him to commit violent acts after social justice has been won. If such people are mentally defective, then they should be placed in a mental health facility, rather than a prison. Human rights should never be stripped and he should not be punished. Schools, hospitals, doctors and above all social equality, public welfare and liberty might prove the safest means to get rid of crimes and criminals together. If a special category such as “criminal” or “enemy” is created, then these persons may forever feel an outcast and never change. Even if he or she is a class enemy, they should retain all civil and human rights in society, even though they of course would be restrained if they led a counter-revolution; the difference is we want to defeat them ideologically, not militarily or by consigning them to a so-called reeducation camp or to be shot like the Bolsheviks did when assuming power in Russia in 1917.

There are two major reasons why activists in the Black community as we move to change society, its values and conditions, must immediately take a serious look and act to change the political debate around crime, prisons and the so-called criminal justice system. Those two reasons hit right home! One is because during any given year, one out of four Black men in this country is in prison, in jail on parole, or probation, compared to just one of every fifteen white men. In fact Blacks make up 50–85 percent of most prison populations around the U.S., making a truism of the radical phraseology that “Prisons are concentration camp for the Black and poor.” It may be your brother, sister, husband, wife, daughter or son in prison, but I guarantee you we all know someone in prison at this very minute! The other primary reason Blacks have a vested interest in crime and penal institutions is because by far, most Blacks and other non-whites are in prison for committing offenses against their own community.

Prisons are compact duplicates of the Black community, in that many of the same negative and destructive elements that are allowed to exist in our community and cause crime, especially drugs, are in poison in a more blatant and concentrated form To call such places ‘correctional” or “rehabilitative” institutions is a gross misnomer. Death camps are more like it. These prisons do not exist to punish everyone equally, but to protect the existing Capitalist system from you and I, the poor and working class.

The high rate or recidivism proves, and the so-called authorities all agree, that the prison system is a total failure. About 70 percent of those entering prison are repeat offenders who commit increasingly serious crimes. The brutality or prison experience and the “ex-con” stigma when they are finally released make them worse. Basic to solving these crucial problems is organization. The Black community and the Black Liberation movement must support the prisoners in their fight for prisoners human rights They should fight far the release of political prisoners and victims of racial injustice. They should also form coalitions of groups in the Black community to fight against the racist penal and judicial system, and especially the unequal application of the death penalty, which is just another form of genocide against the Black race. And finally, and maybe most importantly, local community groups must begin programs of re-education with brothers and sisters in prison because only through planned, regular, and constant contact can we begin to resolve this problem that so directly touches our lives. Abolish prisons.

Lorenzo Komboa Ervin “unemployment and homelessness” from his book “Anarchism and the black revolution”

In the first three months of 1993, the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of labor Statistics listed official unemployment rates at about six million persons or just seven of the labor force. Under Capitalism half that figure is “normal” and nonsensically is considered by Capitalist economists as “full employment” even though this is millions of people consigned to economic poverty of the worst sort. But the government figures are intentionally conservative, and do not include those who have given up actively searching for jobs, the under employed (who can’t make enough to live on), the part-time workers (who can’t find a full time or steady job) and the homeless of which them are now between 3–5 million alone.

Of the 6 million people that the government does count as jobless now, less than 3 million are given any unemployment compensation or other federal or state aid; the rest are left to starve, steal or hustle for their survival. A person without a job under the Capitalist system is counted as nothing. Every worker has the human right to a job; yet under Capitalism, workers are dismissed form employment in times of business crisis, overproduction, depression or just to save labor costs through less workers and more speed-up. And some workers cannot find jobs in the Capitalist labor market because of lack of skills, or racial or social discrimination.

But the government’s figures lie, private researchers state that the total number of people who want full time jobs and thus cannot find them amounts to nearly 14.3 million persons. Clearly then this is a crisis situation of broad proportions, but all the government is doing is juggling and hiding figures. But the figures do show that Blacks, Latinos, and women are bearing the brunt of the current depression The National Urban League in its “Bidden Unemployment Index” (included as part of its annual “State of Black America” report) reports levels of 15–38 percent for Black adults 25 and older and incredible levels of 44–55% for teens and young adults 17–24 years. In fact, Black youth unemployment has not declined at all since the 1974–1975 recession. It has stayed at an official level of 35–40 percent, but in the major cities like Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles, the real unemployment rate is more like 70 percent. For Black youth the unemployment rate is three to five times higher than that of white youth. Capitalism is making economic exiles of Black people as a whole. The fact is that unemployment is concentrated in the Black and Hispanic communities, and is greatly responsible for the most destructive tendencies inhuman relations and deteriorating neighborhoods. Crime, prostitution, suicide, drug addiction, gang fighting, mental illness, alcoholism, and the break up of the Black family, and other social ills — all are rooted in the lack of jobs and the denial of essential social services in their communities. It is actually racial genocide in the form of social neglect.

Unemployment is profitable for the bosses because it drives down the wages of workers and helps the employers to keep the workforce under control through this “reserve army of labor,” which are allegedly always ready to scab. Because of pervasive discrimination against Blacks, Latinos and other nationally oppressed workers, including higher levels unemployment — the jobs they do get art generally on the bottom rung. This is also profitable for the boss, and divides the working class.

Homelessness is just the most intensified form of unemployment, where in addition to loss of job or income, there is loss of housing and lack of access to social services. There are now millions of people homeless since the last 15 years, because of the Capitalist offensive to destroy the unions, beat back the gains of the civil rights struggle, and do away with the affordable housing sector in favor of yuppie gentrification in the cities. You see them in cities, big and small, and what this reflects is a total breakdown in the Capitalist State’s social services system, in addition to the heating up of the class war waged by government and the major corporations, It shows, more than anything, that Capitalism worldwide is undergoing an international financial panic, and is really in the beginning stages of a world depression. In addition to the 90 million persons who live below the poverty line and three to five million homeless in the U.S.; there are another 2.7 million homeless in the twelve nations of the European community, and 80 million people am living in poverty there, with millions more in the Capitalist countries of Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. So although Black workers must organize and fight against homeless and unemployment in the U.S., clearly there must be an international movement of workers to fight this economic deprivation, as part of the overall class struggle. In every city in North America, the Black workers movement should organize unemployment councils to fight for unemployment benefits and jobs for the jobless, the building of decent, affordable low-income housing and an end to homelessness, as well as against racial discrimination in jobs and housing. Such councils would be democratic organizations, organized on a neighborhood basis, (to ensure that it would be under the control of the people, and against infiltration and takeover by liberal or “radical” political parties, or co-optation by the government), which would be federated into a citywide, regional, and national organization. That organization would be a national Black unemployment league, to create a mass fight back movement in this depression. It would be made up of Black community unemployed councils from all over the country, with delegates elected from all the local groups. Such a national organization could meet to map out a large-scale attack on unemployment, as well as serve as a national clearinghouse on Black unemployment conditions.

On the local level in the Black neighborhoods, it would be the community unemployment councils which would establish food and housing cooperatives, lead rent strikes and squatting, initiate land and building reclamation projects, establish producer and consumer cooperatives, distribute food and clothing, and provide for other services: they would establish neighborhood medical clinics for free treatment of the homeless and unemployed, rodent control programs, etc., and they would deal with community social problems (brought on by unemployment), and other issues of interest They would build hunger marches and other demonstrations and carry the people’s wrath to various government offices and to the businesses of the rich. Not only would the unemployment councils be a way of fighting for jobs and unemployment benefits, but also the councils would a way to a obtain a great deal of community self-sufficiency and direct democracy, instead of totally depending on city hall, Congress or the President, and helps lead to the kind of confidence among the masses that a Black municipal commune becomes a serious possibility.

One of the most important functions of an unemployment movement is to obtain unity between the employed and unemployed or homeless, and workers solidarity across race lines. The employed and unemployed must work together to struggle against the Boss class if they are to obtain any serious gains during this period of economic crisis. Workers who are on strike or protesting against the boss would be supported by the unemployed, who would even man the picket lines with them and refuse to scab. In turn the workers would form unemployed caucus in their trade unions to allow union representation of these workers and also force such unions to provide food and other necessities, make funds and training available to the unemployed, as well as throw the weight of the unions in the fight for decent jobs and housing for all workers. The Capitalist bosses will not be moved otherwise. Make the bosses pay for their economic crisis!

Here is what a united movement of workers and homeless must demand:

  1. Full employment (zero unemployment) for all workers at union wage.
  2. Establishment of a shorter workweek, so that workers would be paid at the rate for 40 hours of work for 20–30 hours a week on the job.
  3. End homelessness, build and make available decent affordable housing for all. Repeal all loitering, anti-panhandling and other laws against the homeless.
  4. End the war budget, and use those funds for decent, low-income housing, better schools, hospitals and clinics, libraries, parks and public transportation.
  5. End racism and sexism in job opportunities and relief benefits.
  6. Jobs or a guaranteed income for all.
  7. Full federal and state benefits for unemployed workers and their families, including corporate and government funds to pay the bills, rents and debts for any laid off worker, and unemployment compensation at 100% of regular paid wage, lasting the full length of a worker’s period of unemployment.
  8. National minimum wage set at prevailing union entry wage.
  9. Government and corporate funds to establish a public works program to provide jobs (with full union rights and wage scale) to rebuild the inner cities and provide needed social services. The program and its funds should be under the control of committees democratically elected from poor and Black neighborhoods, so as to avoid “poverty pimps” and rip off job agencies, or government bureaucrats.
  10. Free all persons in prison for crimes of economic survival.

These, and the demands previously mentioned, are merely a survival program and agenda for unemployed workers; the real answer is Social revolution the elimination of Capitalism, and workers’ self-management of the economy and society. This is a vital first step however. Them would be no unemployment or social need for wage labor in an Anarchist-Communist society.

The black panthers were not a hate group

There’s a circulating myth about the black panthers that I keep hearing from generally white circles. That they were a black supremacist hate group. Now what is troubling about this myth is that it is being believed by black children and some adults. So before any more damage is done, I would like to combat this myth by pointing out a few things about the black panthers.

1) The black panthers were a self defense organization

The main goal of the black panthers was self defense from a racist, authoritarian police state. They were known for picking up guns against police brutality and general hate groups. For those of you who say that the black panthers should have been none violent, ask yourself, when has civil disobedience ever worked. The civil rights movement got almost nowhere and what little it did achieve was through revolutionary action by more radical groups like the black panthers. Even Martin Luther King hired Deacons for Defence to protect protest agianst agitators. 
I can already hear you saying “muh india”. You realize during the Indian Independence movement there were frequent bombings of British government buildings, assasinations of British officials and to top it all off England had been through two world wars and was badly weakened by then, they didn’t have the reasorces or the time to try to hold on to India.

2) The Panther’s other goal was helpling black communities.

At their peak, the panthers had 45 chapters throughout the US. With that they organized dozens of community help programs like, free breakfast for children, health clinics, shoes for children, ect. They provided more help and services to black people than the government brutaly repressing them.                             Even if they were a hate group, they had a right to be a hate group. An oppressive, white, racist, totalitarian state was what black people were and are living under. To say that hatred wouldn’t arise would literally be the second most asinine thing I have ever heard come from the mouths of white people. 

3) The black panther platform and program
October, 1966
Black Panther Party
Platform and Program
What We Want
What We Believe

1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black community. We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.

2. We want full employment for our people.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the white American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

3. We want an end to the robbery by the white man of our Black community.
We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules was promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.

4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
We believe that if the white landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.

5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in present-day society.
We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.

6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the white racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.

7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The second amendment to the constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self-defense.

8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal state, county and city prisons and jails.We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.

9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities, as defined by the constitution of the United States.We believe that the courts should follow the United States constitution so that black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the US constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been and are being tried by all-white juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.

10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations-supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the Black colony in which only Black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate, for the purpose of determining the will of Black people as to their national destiny.

4)The black panthers had a sub group called the white panthers.

The white panthers were formed after an interview with the BBPs co founder Huey P Newton. The interviewer asked what can white people do to help, and in response Huey said form a subgroup called the white panthers. After that three guys named Pun Palamond, Leni Sinclair, and John Sinclair formed the white panthers party. A counter culture, anti capitalist, anti racist collective. The white panthers did everything they could to not be mistaken for a white supremacist group. They worked with many ethnic  minority groups in the rainbow coalitions.

I still can’t believe that this needs to be said, but the black panthers are not a hate group. Stop telling young, black children a white washed version of black history. How about diverting attention to actual hate groups, that kill People of color, instead of trying to make yourselves feel less guilty.


Ashanti Alston’s “Childhood and the psychological dimensions of Revolution” (Final part)

NEEDING MORE THAN YOU BARGAINED FOR

We need so much more than the “science” of Capitalist Economics, Pan-Africanism, Socialism, Spirituality, guerrilla warfare, etc., to enrich our understanding of the problems of human bondage and self-enslavement. No matter how effective the Mask in enslaving us to the habits, obsessions, ways of thinking, relating and reacting we can destroy it and restructure a whole new identity or character. We have available the kind of analytical and “self-actualizing” psychologies to help us produce that gut-wrenching revolution of The Soul. Here rests and operates that “inner social dynamic” which automatically makes each of us work to fail, to FAIL in carrying out one’s own and one’s group’s most righteous of intentions and endeavors. We need to develop, to self-develop the kind of liberating habits and ways of thinking/feeling/willing/working required to help us succeed in Life in general and in Revolution in particular.

How can people who have been the target of what has been the most effective and dam-near total psychological domination BY THEMSELVES create the conditions and processes for Freedom? For an inner freedom that is a necessary preparation for building the kind of clear, diverse, national revolutionary movements for changing this whole society?

First is by realizing that in this today’s phase of scientific capitalism, the repressive (psychic) domination and (social) administration of society becomes an advanced “1984” -scientific, productive and total. When Malcolm X spoke of their powers to manipulate us and have us thinking that our true friends were our enemies, and vice-versa, even he knew deep the manipulation reached into our very souls. It went deep enough to make us think that we were doing our own thinking and acting. And Malcolm had only penetrated THE TIP of the iceberg.

No one is immune to the psychic domination this oppressive monster, or “god”, has over us. The invisible Mask maintains that domination, that blind addiction to authoritarianism. It represses the instinctual freedom desires of a person. This is true even when one is ALONE with NO VISIBLE political or police force near us. Like the slave who will not, WILL NOT run away from Massa when unchained and no physical obstacle in sight. The only obstacle is her/his personal fears, her/his mentality of fear … a fear that paralyzes the mind, the body, the soul. No more Kunta Kinte. You got TOBY now! Don’t worry because he don’t need those metal chains anymore. Same Mask, same “dynamic” of self-enslavement. Instead of the natural curiosity and drive to go after Life and learn of its greater possibilities – there is a fear of life, and self-imposed limitations. The same fear that immobilizes and paralyzes. That Fear of Freedom. Sacrificed is the natural fiery, streaming desire for life, love, learning, thinking, playing creating. Sacrificed is self-esteem, self-confidence, will power, risk-taking, creative and critical thinking and a natural desire for sociality. Here we are talking about the very undeveloped capacities necessary to fight successfully for freedom and happiness.

We still carry that character mask of Slave Mentality today. We have no developed capacities for truly LIVING (the self-actualizing development towards a full-humanness), and so, no true durable STRUGGLE capacities. We, as revolutionaries, are as neurotic as anyone else in this society. It is a mass neurosis, a mass sickness, and we are a part of THE MASSES. The personality problems that stem from those early traumatic experiences don’t get exposed and resolved for our betterment merely by reading and taking on new beliefs. No matter how militant, scientific or moral. What we’re doing is merely piling, PILING more stuff ON TOP of problems already caused by a poor uprooting of racism, sexism and authoritarianism per se inside of us. IT IS A GHETTO INSIDE THERE, and you don’t intelligently build a new identity on top of an old, crumbling foundation structure that is fragile, re-decorated, “shouldabeencondemnedlongago” psychological tenements.

The problem is how to change the whole ghetto-ized or niggerized mind/body/soul chain system so that in self-discovery and development of wholesome, enriching and enlivening capacities, one can be better able to truly take hold of new, liberating ways of thinking and relating as in guiding principles and life concepts. Here we especially mean one’s critical, emotional, sensual, creative and physical capacities in and for life per se. Does what we believe, do our behavior patterns inhibit, repress or distort the “fire of life? Or does one’s beliefs and behavior promote and nurture that “born freedom,” that potential primarily for creating higher, diverse forms of liberating, human natural relationships, cultural and sexual happiness, psychological self-determination – and as critical, for social revolutionary struggle, including the complex underground machinations called for?

In order to radically change the ghettoes, you have to get out the dynamite, the giant digging cranes, the ball crushers, power jacks, etc.. You have to carry through the tasks of blowing up, knocking down the old physical character of the ghetto. Then you have to keep on digging deep through the surface, past hidden layers of earth to prepare for a new, clean foundation. That is the concern here: preparing for a new, clean foundation for freedom. And we’ve got a lot of garbage and backed-up, antiquated sewer systems in our psychological characters to deal with. This is the PREPARATION of changing the Masked Character Structure.

Just like the construction workers, the re-construction of the character structure require us to DIG DEEP into the many layers of our personal pasts, for those hidden, buried potent capacities screaming to be free for living fully, for developing naturally towards the fullness, the wholeness of life. It is from this BASIS that the capacities for a mix of revolutionary life styles, including all its dangerous implications, should be developed. Talk about struggle, conflict? LIKE NOTHING YOU COULD HAVE IMAGINED. The living, potent knowledge available to us now, can help us to conduct this inner radical reconstruction that inescapably puts us through some hellified psychological and even biological changes. And this is just what we need!

“After difficulty comes ease.” – The Quran

WHERE TO – WHAT NOW?

This calls for a different kind of boldness or courage. It impels you to confront and challenge not just the external enemy of all shapes, sizes and dress, but the internal enemy who is YOU, an yet NOT THE YOU you are silently SCREAMING to be. There is the need for the courage to seek out amongst ourselves the men, women and youngsters (regardless of race, sex, class or belief) who are at least INTERESTED and WIILING to venture on this journey (a rugged journey, mind you) in putting ourselves through, and having others of like interest put us through, the kinds of personal, emotionally upsetting, gut-wrenching experiences necessary to discover their selves and piece back together a human being fragmented by this oppressive culture. This is synonymous with being, becoming REVOLUTIONARY, which is synonymous with being at peace with one’s self. Anyone whose attitude is that s/he is already revolutionary (or human) enough and don’t need to go through no more changes is obviously a self-enslaved person who is satisfied with remaining stuck in the same old mold. That type of person cannot, and more than likely WILL NOT, help him/herself nor allow others to help her/him unless that particular negative anti-freedom attitude changes to one that is indicative of an OPENING to the world of positive “stimuli,” goodness in people, enriching, liberating experiences, and the like.

So, the primary purpose of this paper (and my idea with others before me of the primary task of this stage of human struggle in Babylon) is to help each one and each other SEE, as penetrating and broadly as we can, the Masked Oppressor within us. These self-hating, self-enslaving mechanisms which have become an unconscious and invisible force is operating off of our induced fears of LIVING FULLY, affectively restricting our capacities for struggle and freedom. We’ve got to break through if we are going to change ourselves into capable, human peoples who are determined to take responsibility for creating radical social-changing lifestyles.

Reading Is A Must! SO we must seek out the kinds of information that can show us:

1) How we each are prevented by the society (through culture) and how we prevent our own selves (internalizing culture) from developing our potentials as human beings and revolutionaries, and

2) How we might bring forth those buried potentials and capacities to be free, constructive, creative, willing, loving, independent, communal, responsible, playful, sensual, honest, assertive, playful, and revolutionizing.

Part 3 of Ashanti Alston’s ” Childhood and the psychological dimensions of the revolution”

PSYCHIC IMPRISONING BY CULTURE

To teach us to repress ourselves in the name of Respect and Obedience to Authority (parents, preachers, teachers, principals, police, politicians, etc) DEHUMANIZES us. If a child is forbidden to express his/her feelings, explore her/his potentials, s/he will never be able to unfold freely in a rich and joyous life … OR in a life of Revolution dreaming, creating, destroying, healing, contesting, renewing … The social repression and its learned self- repression is going to negatively affect his/her concept of self and her/his ability to relate positively to self, others and environment with a sense of freedom and responsibility through love, work and critical reflection. The reactions to those traumatic or fearful events in one’s earlier life has armored one’s psychological make-up against the Natural, the Instinctual.

Our self-concept is, and has been, continually bombarded with negative experiences and subliminal messages which leave us with the feelings of insignificance, self-hatred, helplessness, powerlessness, and lifelessness. The way we learn to cope with it is by THE MASCARADE. Remember the song,

The stage is set,

the curtain goes up,

and everybody’s playing a part..

This is the result of Coping without ever being conscious of the process we are going through.

The Mascarade – everybody has their particular mask, a psychological or character mask that is UNWITTINGLY created by the child’s reactive attempts to deal with the traumatic experiences of a culture imposing itself on that child. That mask is the NUMBER ONE block to freedom, in the psychic and social sense. It serves to bind up and distort the righteous streamings of living energy into socially acceptable, pathological thinking, feeling and acting … characterizing a society oriented to race-ism, class-ism, sex-ism, imperial-ism, profit-hunger, war and other anti-humanistic tendencies.

CAN’T IGNORE THE “PSYCHOLOGICAL DIMENSION”

We’ll be able to understand, in greater depth, the problems that block Revolution in this country when we are more willing and daring to learn about the psychological dimension, or that dynamic aspect of the Mask. It is what one perceptive activist referred to as “self-inflicting psychological oppression.” It arose from a discussion of the ways in which people in general, and activists, in spite of their high self-opinions, perpetuate the very society oppressing them by holding on to the ideas, opinions, beliefs, addictions, attitudes, gestures, relationships and established traditions that make this National Life powerful and workable for the Rich and already Powerful. To understand this, to make an honest attempt to understand this, you must step out of the obsession with The Masses, or with proving studiousness and loyalty to a particular ideology or belief. For this, you must start BY EXAMINING YOUR OWN DAM SELF!

This is why the point is being stressed that child-rearing, as we practice it, is a mechanism of personality- or character-structure formation. Put another way, it is plain ole SPIRIT-BREAKING. In particular, it is a source of our most enduring, stubborn and persistent personality problems all through the course of one’s life. And before someone forgets, this is specifically concerned with THOSE OF US WHO ARE ACTIVISTS, REVOLUTIONARIES, in SELF-OPINION. Why? Because we are the ones out on Front Street talking about (and trying to) educating The Masses and organizing them to enter into a revolution. We are also the main ones to land in prison, graveyards, psycho-wards or survive under the most dangerous conditions due to our commitment to “take on” this System.

As we are now, we are NOT ready, and primarily because we’ve successfully avoided that NUMBER ONE CONFRONTATION of SELF, of our personal problems hidden under a pile of revolutionary (and/or religious) theory and belief systems, aggressive posturing and political hatreds. It is in opening ourselves up to this that we need to demonstrate real, concrete COURAGE. Getting out on Front Street declaring a new Revolutionary Party or Army, the squeezing of a trigger, the taking off of a bank, dope dealer, pig, charging into kkklan demonstrations, whatever the obsession with physical, combative activities – they are quite secondary to the kind of GUT-WRENCHING, NERVE-WRECKING inner changes we need to make to DE-CONDITION ourselves from psychological loyalty to this oppressive system. The wrenching off of the Mask is preparatory and inescapable IF we are to eventually be successful in realizing our high verbally expressed goals.

Part two of “Childhood and the psychological dimensions of Revolution” by Ashanti Alston. 

NICE LIES – PAINFUL TRUTHS

Home (or family), church, school, peers, etc. have the function in common of causing the child or person to restrict and distort the living physical, intellectual and emotional expressions of that dynamic, charging energy of life, of Freedom within. It is done in the nice-sounding names of “civilization”, “God,” proper upbringing, Education, Manhood, Citizenship and the American Way.

Take the home. Just as we say that Prison is but a “microcosm” of society in general, so too is the Home. Home is that part of society which is first entrusted with the mission, or responsibility of molding us into what the Ruling Order has defined and instituted as acceptable. Those cultural forces converge upon each human being at the youngest of age. At such a period the person is helpless, defenseless as the “Spearhead” of these molding forces are the members of the family within the institution of the home.

The early distortion of our naturally positive drives and pure feelings with morals, taboos, nice lies, scaring lies, compulsory duties, repressive religious and secular adherence, racism, sexism … frustrates, twists and distorts the natural, positive life functioning of the infant. It makes both child-life and adult-life miserable, frustrating. Each person comes to develop a plasticness or front of being, of trying to be nice, polite, obedient, civil. Each person tries to “cope”; some become abusive and rebellious. None understand what makes them repress and deny that child-like “innocence” which is a purity and openness to Life’s inner and outer forms.

That front becomes a seemingly permanent fixture containing and expressing Life-denying fears, hatreds, worries and inhibitions inside. All or most of our character or personality problems in later adult life stem from these childhood oppressions that were never brought to consciousness, and understood, in order to be resolved in the interest of that person’s psychic, biological, social, and communal health. No matter what the endeavor, these person problems affect the process and outcome of all we did, do and will do, mostly without our ever realizing or being conscious of its relationship.

The reason why even revolutionaries -or sincere-meaning people who get involved with movements – cannot change their social circumstances is because they do not recognize or just deny the existence of powerful unconscious, self-enslaving emotional habits, thought patterns and defense-mechanisms WITHIN THEM that overwhelms the best and most righteous of intentions and endeavors to change society. This is the inner social dynamic of the Mask whose function it is to frustrate and repress the vast potential of each and every human being to be free and wholly alive.

Look at this process of mask-forming, role-fitting, and chronic frustration and distortion of the human being’s living energy into conforming behavior, from another angle.

The painful but inescapable truth is that our “homes” are like kennels or prison-factories where Mama and Papa raise us pretty much like dogs. Yes, they “loved” us and all, BUT … More time and energy is put into trying to (and mostly succeeding) DOMESTICATE us, than with actually raising, nurturing good healthy life-affirming qualities. Children’s humanness, their naturalness is not respected. That, especially, which makes us so unique, apart from all other species, is not respected: our very human emotions and intellect. Even our basic biological needs and natural rhythms are subject to mechanical, pseudo-scientific measure. Early the child is being forced into submitting to authoritarianism.

It starts with such seemingly meaningless things as feeding and teaching the child to “cooperate”; cleaning or bathing and teaching the child to be still and “cooperate”; peepeeing and dodoing and potty-training the child; teaching the child ONE perspective of life – YOURS; teaching sexist, racist and other shit whose message is to be “loyal” to Authority. It is here that the saying “Action speaks louder than words” is relevant. The overt and subtle messages come across to the memory more through people’s actions, their behavior. For example, parents don’t sit a child down and actually say, “You are the Inferior One because of your age, sex, and race.” It is given from the daily behavior of parents and significant others. Again, it is not that the child must not be raised or taught – it is the Why and How behind it.

The infant can naturally signal hunger and should have her hunger satisfied then. But Mama, many times, ignores this and forces the baby to comply with what’s convenient for Mama, or with some so-called scientifically worked out time schedule for feeding. When this happens the baby is being put through some heavy trauma. That baby is not “scientific” nor so rigid. S/he is an organism of natural rhythm and needs, of harmonious instincts and pure feelings.

The authoritarian manner of forcing a child to COMPLY, to CONFORM, to SUBMIT to a rigid schedule instead of its natural rhythm an signaling, or to force him/her to eat when they’re not hungry, or to strap a child to a high-chair and let him sit there until he “learns” how to eat CIVILIZED, is cruel punishment. But even in this example, it is done supposedly on the child’s behalf – for the child’s own good. It is one example of a “nice lie” honestly believed in by parents, but based on old myths and new scientific” myths.

What about the child’s FEELINGS? Or does it matter? What about the harm done to the child’s nascent sense of self and potential for self-determination? This is what is crucial here. In the place of a possible healthy, lively, free self-hood and self-determination (which could grow naturally under non-oppressive culture or in a fight-back…) comes the first pieces, THE FIRST PIECES of the Mask. And always it is with struggle: the baby cries, kicks, fights … the baby eventually succumbs and loses touch with more and more aspects of that vital fire of life (Self).

In the classic play, Hamlet, it is said: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” When any oppressive society demands and institutes practices that influences a child’s self-repression of his/her own naturalness, in the name of Civilization, or Moral Upbringing, and the like – it is a cruel assault on the very potential and capacity of that human being to be free, whole, alive, loving, strong, curious, and responsible. An assault on being YOU!

THINK BACK

Go on, think back.

Open up that ole hidden chest where those ancient memories are stored. The ones you never had cause to ever think about again. The ones you never knew had such significance or influence on you at present. They aren’t all nice memories either. You know that. Many of them evoke anger, hatred, ill-feelings towards those significant persons in your earlier life. But never-the-less, you have got to face them. Think about how those early traumatic experiences, conditioned your development into the kind of person you are today.

Man, if you, as a youngster, spoke out at home and it was directed at your parents or other adults in a manner that wasn’t considered “nice” or “respectful,” why you were liable to GET THE PISS SMACKED OUTTA YOU. You were liable to get your butt whupped or threatened with a whupping. And it didn’t matter, in general, if you had a legit beef, a good point, a concerned interest, or just plain angered by something done to you that YOU perceived as wrong, unjust, or questionable.

By the parents’ reaction (including body language and actual verbal expressions) you are taught a lesson that will play on your behavior not only in relation to your parents but with ANY other AUTHORITY FIGURE you deal with.

You don’t talk back to me, boy!

You aint grown yet, girl!

You don’t tell ME what-chu gonna do.

I’m yo’ Father! I’m yo’ Mama!

You’re gonna OBEY me, dammit!

Just wait till your Father gits home!

And then once you’ve learned to shut your mouth and not express your self in natural manners, the emotions come out in soundless physical gestures that HIDE your true thoughts and feelings. But even the Physics of it is an apt indication to “experienced” parents that you are STILL rebellious. That you have learned to HIDE the truth within you at an early age shows that you are learning the more “advanced” and subtle ways to , personally and socially, control yourself. This is a shame because it means you are learning to be other than, OTHER THAN your true self! Think back.

What-chu got yo’ dam lip poked out for?

Better put-cho lip back in before I put it in For you!

I hear you pouting and you better stop!

You stay right here and if I see one tear umma really give you something to cry for!

What kind of upbringing is this? What are its consequences for the child, in its childhood AND its adulthood? It is an AUTHORITARIAN UPBRINGING, one designed to instill FEAR of those human elements in society who are recognized as POWERS. The child has NO RIGHTS that a Parent or Adult is bond to respect. The black man has not rights that the White Man is bound to respect. The worker has no rights that the Boss is bound to respect. The female has no rights that the Male is bound to respect. The colonized has no rights that the Colonizing Powers are bound to respect. And the examples could go on. It should be obvious now that the foundation for the perpetuation of Status Quo, Power Structure … is laid AT HOME. It is the actions, and beliefs guiding those actions, of parents and other significant social figures in our lives which cause the child to conform, in psychological loyalty, to the very kind of oppressive regime which exterminates, extinguishes the potent, streaming energy of Life within. In other words, you have learned to contain, repress or even virtually completely extinguish that wellspring of freedom burning within you. We are prisoners of our own upbringing

Childhood & The Psychological Dimension of Revolution by Ashanti Alston (first part)

PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT REVOLUTION AND CLASS STRUGGLE WITHOUT REFERING EXPLICITLY TO EVERYDAY LIFE, WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WHAT IS SUBVERSIVE ABOUT LOVE AND WHAT IS POSITIVE IN THE REFUSAL OF CONSTRAINTS, SUCH PEOPLE HAVE A CORPSE IN THEIR MOUTHS

RAUL VANEIGEM, from THE REVOLUTION OF EVERYDAY LIFE

I had a typical upbringing where the inner-city was Niggertown with all the customs and traditions of racism, sexism and powerlessness. You come into this kind of world ignorant but increasingly learning about people, society, roles and duties. You recognize the Supreme Authority of the Whites, the Rich and “God,” of the poleece in the streets. Of the preachers and teachers in the churches and schools, and of the parents and older folks in the home and neighborhood.

Though my first “authority” figures were my parents (and older brothers and sisters) I soon found out that beyond the world of home, there were others in authoritarian positions over me. But whatever or whoever the authority, the cultural lesson that tied it all together was the one that began in the home: Respect and Obey your Parents! Do as we Say. We know how to Raise you.” Disrespect and disobedience was not to be tolerated. Funny, you didn’t like it as a child, yet you found yourself following the same customs and traditions when you were in the role as Parent, as an Authority. It made your life as a child miserable in many respects with the roles and chores, the do’s and don’ts and all. But, it was said to be Necessary if you were going to Fit In and Make It in this society.

No child just automatically conforms to such authoritarian raising, such methods. There is naturally rebellion and resistance. But you are just a child, weak and dependent upon those around you to “prepare” you for the real world. So what can you do but eventually submit, conform to their social designs? I am certain that I had to learn through this process of instilling Fear in me, to cement each lesson in my soul. Not like I got it much, but I didn’t like to get my butt whupped, didn’t like to be shouted at, threatened, ordered to stay in the house away from friends and games and al. They were upset with my natural wild zest for life and mostly, all of their measures were designed to restrict it, that “wild zest.” I didn’t know but it was obvious that I had ongoing choices to make to please them, whether I liked it or not. Mama knows best – Papa knows best … but I didn’t know a dam thing! Hell, I guess that I was just suppose to go along with the program. It was no question that when I did, it brought more rewards than punishment, and when faced with a choice between the two, man, you get tired of punishment! Without ever fully understanding why, you come to realize that the things you truly want, desire to do, think, say, feel … have got to be repressed, hidden and if done at all, done on the sly. Just can’t be you. Why?

Once those customs and traditions become a part of a person they form a psychological “mask” quite unknowingly to the person. You come to don that mask reluctantly, as your every physical, mental and emotional fiber resists. But once its fastened on your face, on your soul, it functions just like your heart pumps blood, lungs air, or stomach digest food. You forget about, or repress the memories of, the traumatic experiences which created the mask, and go on through life not even realizing that it governs, influences, pulls and jerks your every physical, emotional and intellectual activity. It effectively cuts you off from being in direct touch with your true feelings, with your spontaneous contact with the outside world, with friends, with your energy, and with your curiosity about life in general.

Poor child has no idea that its dependency upon those who raise him/her is gonna cost him/her that natural, playful, soulful zest for life; its psychic and biological health and development twisted and suffocated by a series of traumatic experiences designed and invoked in the name of God and the American Way and good child-rearing practices to produce a powerless, dependent, fearful, self-enslaving, law-abiding citizens (first- and second-class). Its sad that parents don’t see the real damage they inflect on their children in their rearing methods, but the end-result always show in the inability of people in general to govern their own lives without an authoritarian figure hovering over them; it shows in their apathy, hopelessness and feelings of insignificance.

After the coup d’etat of the Family Institution over the natural freedom and aliveness of the child, that child is trained into an adulthood in which it will continue to repress freedom (its full human developmental capacities) and continue the whole process anew in its offspring. What was done to your parents in childhood, they did to you, and you, in turn, do it to yours.

And so on, never thinking about the harmful consequences of blindly carrying on traditions which distort our humanity. It is here, though, and in this way of words and behavior, that the sexism, racism, capitalism, the religious, intellectual and moral belief systems, as well as the lying, dishonesty, irresponsibility, emotional denial, liberalism, manipulation, egotism, slavishness, etc., are taught and passed on.

In sociology the process itself is called “socialization” or “enculturation.” The object is to “civilize” the child and keep everyone bind to the traps of tradition and belief. But what it amounts to is a vast suppression of the force or fire of life within the child or population in general, because it is that “fire” which rebels against any kind of oppressive socialization which is not in harmony with the free development of a human being’s potential for healthy, satisfying love, work and knowledge. What is wanted is a well-behaved, obedient, productive person who will NOT disturb nor question the Established Authoritarian Order, but will merely carry on as proscribed and arranged for generations.

Generally, there is one brief period in the human development cycle where we are, relatively, free; when the culture has not yet restricted, twisted, or distorted the natural, spontaneous Living Expressions of a thinking, feeling and doing human being. This period is from birth to 3, 4 or 5 years old. The child is “born free”. This is when our emotional, physical and mental energies are most delightfully burning, most alive, vibrant, responsive, honest, curious, sensuous, logical rational and crazy. You fear not new things or people; you fear not adventure or trying new activities; you don’t become stuck in anxieties or depressive moods; nor worry about what others think about you.

You are open, receptive and geared to nothing else but Life itself and all its pleasure and struggle. You are just a wellspring of energy to love, to learn and to act.

Every day, every minute and every experience in the life of a child is one of curiosity and a powerful drive to learn … about things, people, self. Those eyes are bright, observant. Those hands and arms, legs and feet are moving and touching, reaching. That child, every child – a natural explorer! Eyes, mouth, ears, hands, senses. Not only does s/he learn and do from seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, tasting the objects of its surrounding reality. They also learn about themselves and the use of the capacities of eyes, ears. Hands, legs, feet, tongue, muscles, sexual organs, thinking and feeling and the whole “humanimal” range. In other words, they are on the road – naturally – to self-discovery, in its totality and on his/her own terms. Self and surroundings are ONE. But …

These days or years of “born freedom” are not going to last long in our culture. Our society is not geared nor interested in nurturing human development on the basis of natural freedom. It is geared to develop us on the basis of Authority – class, race, sex, age, etc. The need to OBEY, rather than the need to BE, is the over-riding concern. This is what makes “childhood” as we had it imposed on us, an oppressive institution. Good ole Western, U.S. child-rearing is an innocent-appearing good-intentioned Fire-Extinguisher used to put out a fine, sweet, bright and wildly burning human flame, in the person of an Uncivilized, unADULTerated child. And let it be said again and again, so that there’ll be no misunderstanding: The ground-breakers, the spirit-breakers or foundation builders of this pillar of psychological loyalty to the social system is the Family, Parents, Brothers, Sisters and other relevant figures tied to your immediate surroundings.

It is not that the child must not be taught or “raised” – it is the Why’s and How’s and what actual characteristics are being produced in us by our addiction to the traditions and beliefs that keep them alive. We are born into a society which has been in existence for several hundred years, complete with its own established way of life, life philosophy and institutions for perpetuating its existence via education and other political power institutions. Its basic ways and beliefs, as in terms of sexual and class relationships – the why’s and how’s – have roots going back 6 to 10 thousand years. One insignificant, tee-ii-iny baby, coming into the world knowing nothing of it and at the complete Ômercy’ of other people to care for it, cannot contend with society’s tremendous and awe-some cultural forces.

When society grabs hold of that child, it becomes a nonsensical one-sided battle: the Social Imposition -vs- the Natural Requirements. The former is geared towards molding you to fit a predetermined work, race, sex, age role, or roles that serve a set status quo or totem pole. If you are born into the bottom, then tuff. You will be raised in a manner appropriate to it. The social requirements for growth are tied to serving a Power Structure for ruling class, sexist and racist goals. The latter, is geared towards your need to “be”, to be in a process of “being”, discovering yourself in potentials and capacities through unadulterated interactions and interdependencies between you and your social world. Child -vs- Society? Natural -vs- Social? The Living, vibrating, flickering flame of life -vs- the fire extinguishing, repressive, life-deadening Mask? Poor child – Poor ADULT: both losers!

Where the child first lived with an abundant spring of energy, with emotional honesty, absorbing curiosity and a general openness to life per se, parents and other cultural forces have caused him/her to self-create, self-shape and self-fasten a Mask over the abundantly enlivening, human developmental energies. The dynamic aspect of these human energies is that they are always life-affirming, freedom-bound, pleasurable and empowering, that is when one is not caused to fear their streamings and unfoldings. The dynamic aspect of the Mask is just the opposite of the “free spirit.” This person is trapped in fear of deeply-felt life, of self-determination, of pleasure, of personally powerful wholeness. The person who is caused to fear those genuine outward positive streamings of human energies – under the cultural imposition of life-deadening, repressive beliefs and practices – maintains a mechanical split within him/herself between feeling and thought, emotion and intellect, intuition and reason, nature and culture.

When this person “comes up” under such a setting, the adaptive aspects of human biology causes him/her to form character or personality structures trapped and addicted to the very oppressive “life” s/he has come to accept as “natural.” Given are the basics of vocabulary, behaviors, rules, morals, bias, etc. from which you learn to express, re-enforce and reproduce a rigid split in mind/body/soul according to socially approved standards.

Whether conscious of it or not, the person accustomed to, and receptive to , the society’s authoritarian beliefs and traditions, does not normally challenge her/himself to affirm those “anti-social” deeply-felt feelings or longings for un-ADULTerated life. The beliefs and traditions do not challenge the person to consciously allow his/her sexual, emotional, intellectual and physical seeds to develop in a more natural, less culturally oppressive way. And it is rare the person who will allow the Rebel Fire of Life within to be channeled into the human developmental forms that are indicative of personal and social freedom, consciousness, responsibility and happiness. It is even rarer the person who will know HOW to follow the faintest or strongest “inklings” and desires to be free or change the circumstances of life as s/he knows or has known it.

Afro Pessimism an introduction

One of the central tenets of Afro-pessimism, which expands upon the erudite work of Orlando Patterson,2 is a reoriented understanding of the composition of slavery: instead of being defined as a relation of (forced) labor, it is more accurately thought of as a relation of property. The slave is objectified in such a way that they are legally made an object (a commodity) to be used and exchanged. It is not just their labor-power that is commodified—as with the worker—but their very being. As such, they are not recognized as a social subject and are thus precluded from the category of “human”—inclusion in humanity being predicated on social recognition, volition, subject hood, and the valuation of life. The slave, as an object, is socially dead, which means they are:
1) open to gratuitous violence, as opposed to violence contingent upon some transgression or crime;  2) natally alienated, their ties of birth not recognized and familial structures intentionally broken apart; and 3) generally dishonored, or disgraced before any thought or action is considered. The social death of the slave goes to the very level of their being, defining their ontology. Thus, according to Afro-pessimism, the slave experiences their “slaveness” ontologically, as a “being for the captor,”3 not as an oppressed subject, who experiences exploitation and alienation, but as an object of accumulation and fungibility (exchangeability). After the “nonevent of emancipation,”4 slavery did not simply give way to freedom. Instead, the legal disavowal of ownership reorganized domination and the former slave became the radicalized Black “subject,” whose position was marked epidermally, per Frantz Fanon.5 What followed was a profound entrenchment of the concept of race, both psychically and juridically. Formally, the Black subject was no longer a slave, but the same formative relation of structural violence that maintained slavery remained—upheld explicitly by the police (former slave catchers) and white supremacy generally—hence preserving the equation that Black equals socially dead. Just as wanton violence was a constituent element of slavery, so it is to Blackness. Given the ongoing accumulation of Black death at the hands of the police—even despite increased visibility in recent years—it becomes apparent that a Black person on the street today faces open vulnerability to violence just as the slave did on the plantation. That there has recently been such an increase in media coverage and yet little decrease in murder reveals the ease with which anti-Black violence can be ignored by white society; at the same time this reveals that when one is Black one needn’t do anything to be targeted, as Blackness itself is criminalized. With this understanding of slavery and Blackness, Afro-pessimism makes a critical shift in focus by moving away from the Black/ white binary and reframing it as Black/non-Black, in order to de-emphasize the status of whiteness and to center analysis, rather, on the anti-Black foundations of race and modern society. In other words, “it is racial blackness as a necessary condition for enslavement that matters most, rather than whiteness as a sufficient condition for freedom.”6 As a result, it is Blackness, and more specifically anti-Blackness, that gives coherence to categories of non-Black—white, worker, gay, i.e., “human.” Categories of non-Black must establish their boundaries for inclusion in a group (humanity) by having a recognizable self within. There must also, consequently, be an outside to each group, and, as with the concept of humanity, it is Blackness that
is without; it is Blackness that is the dark matter surrounding and holding together the categories of non-Black. Experientially, subjects, even Black ones, can obviously find themselves with any myriad identities, but ontologically Blackness is still violently excluded from even the meager scraps given when recognized. The distinction that Afro-pessimism makes is important because it problematizes any positive affirmation of identity7—as non-Black categories are defined against the Blackness they are not, this relation of race indirectly (and directly, e.g., white teens’ racist snapchats) sustains anti-Blackness by producing and sustaining racialized categories. Stated otherwise, “the violence of antiblackness produces black existence; there is no prior positive
blackness that could be potentially appropriated. Black existence is simultaneously produced and negated by racial domination, both as presupposition and consequence. Affirmation of blackness proves to be impossible without simultaneously affirming the violence that structures black subjectivity itself.”8 Afro-pessimism departs with this understanding and illuminates the limits and failures of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, such as their reformist ideologies concerning progress and their disastrous integration with bureaucratic machinery. If, as Afro-pessimism shows, it is not possible to affirm Blackness itself without at the same time affirming anti-Black violence, then
the attempts at recognition and inclusion in society will only ever result in further social and real death. Individuals can of course achieve some status in society through “structural adjustment”9 (i.e., a kind of “whitening” effect), as has been superficially confirmed, but Blackness as a racialized category remains the object of gratuitous, constituent violence—as demonstrated by police murders, mass incarceration, urban planning, and surveillance (from cointelpro to special security codes at stores to indicate when Black customers enter). As Blackness is negated by the relations and structures of society, Afro-pessimism posits that the only way out is to negate that negation. The challenges Afro-pessimism poses to the affirmation of Blackness extend to other identities as well and problematize identity-based politics. The efforts, on the part of such apolitics, to produce a coherent subject (and movement), and the reduction of antagonisms to a representable position, is not only the total circumscription of liberatory potential, but it is an extinguishment of rage with reform—which is to stake a claim in the state and society, and thus anti-Blackness. Against this, we choose, following Afro-pessimism, to understand Black liberation as a negative dialectic, a politics of refusal, and a refusal to affirm; as an embrace of disorder and incoherence;10 and as an act of political apostasy.11 This is not to categorically reject every
project of reform—for decreased suffering will surely make life momentarily easier—but rather to take to task any movement invested in the preservation of society. Were they not to decry every action that didn’t fit within their rigid framework, then they might not fortify anti-Blackness as fully as they do. It is in the effort to garner legitimacy (an appeal to whiteness) that reformism requires a representable identity and code of actions, which excludes, and actually endangers, those who would reject such pandering. This also places undo faith in politicians and police to do something other than maintain, as they always have and will, the institutions—schools, courts, prisons, projects, voting booths, neighborhood associations—sustaining anti-Blackness. Afro-pessimism can also be used to critique prevalent liberal discourses around community, accountability, innocence, and justice. Such notions sit upon anti-Black foundations and only go so far as to reconfigure, rather than abolish, the institutions that produce, control, and murder Black subjects.12 Take for example the appeal to innocence and demand for accountability, too frequently launched when someone Black is killed by police. The discourse of innocence operates within a binary of innocent/ guilty, which is founded on the belief that there is an ultimate fairness to the system and presumes the state to be the protector of all. This fails to understand the state’s fundamental investment in self-preservation, which is indivisible from white supremacy and the interests of capital. The discourse goes that if someone innocent is killed, an individual (the villainous cop) must be held accountable as a solution to this so-called injustice. The structural reality of anti-Black violence is completely obfuscated and justice is mistook as a concept independent from anti-Blackness. Discrimination is indeed tragic, but systematic dispossession and murder is designedly more—it is the justice system—and no amount of imprisoned cops, body cameras or citizen review boards will eliminate this. Furthermore, Afro-pessimist analysis exposes the often unacknowledged ways that radical movements perpetuate anti-Black racism. One such way is in the rhetoric repeatedly used that takes an assumed (historically oppressed) subject at its center—e.g., workers or women.13 This conflates experience with existence and fails to acknowledge the incommensurate ontologies between, for instance, white women and Black women. To speak in generalities, of simply workers or women, is to speak from a position of anti-Blackness, for the non-racialized subject is the white, or at least non-Black, subject. For this reason, movements against capitalism, patriarchy, or gender mean unfortunately little if they don’t elucidate ontological disparities within a given site of oppression; and if they don’t unqualifiedly seek to abolish the totality of race and anti-Blackness. This is not to privilege anti- Black racism on a hierarchy of oppression, but to assert—against the disparaging lack of analysis—the unlivability of life for Blacks over centuries of social death and physical murder, perpetuated (at varying times) by all non-Black subjects in society.

​Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of imperialism by Kwame Nkrumah 1956

Introduction

THE neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage. In the past it was possible to convert a country upon which a neo-colonial regime had been imposed — Egypt in the nineteenth century is an example — into a colonial territory. Today this process is no longer feasible. Old-fashioned colonialism is by no means entirely abolished. It still constitutes an African problem, but it is everywhere on the retreat. Once a territory has become nominally independent it is no longer possible, as it was in the last century, to reverse the process. Existing colonies may linger on, but no new colonies will be created. In place of colonialism as the main instrument of imperialism we have today neo-colonialism.

The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside.

The methods and form of this direction can take various shapes. For example, in an extreme case the troops of the imperial power may garrison the territory of the neo-colonial State and control the government of it. More often, however, neo-colonialist control is exercised through economic or monetary means. The neo-colonial State may be obliged to take the manufactured products of the imperialist power to the exclusion of competing products from elsewhere. Control over government policy in the neo-colonial State may be secured by payments towards the cost of running the State, by the provision of civil servants in positions where they can dictate policy, and by monetary control over foreign exchange through the imposition of a banking system controlled by the imperial power.

Where neo-colonialism exists the power exercising control is often the State which formerly ruled the territory in question, but this is not necessarily so. For example, in the case of South Vietnam the former imperial power was France, but neo-colonial control of the State has now gone to the United States. It is possible that neo-colonial control may be exercised by a consortium of financial interests which are not specifically identifiable with any particular State. The control of the Congo by great international financial concerns is a case in point.

The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the development of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increases rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world.

The struggle against neo-colonialism is not aimed at excluding the capital of the developed world from operating in less developed countries. It is aimed at preventing the financial power of the developed countries being used in such a way as to impoverish the less developed.

Non-alignment, as practised by Ghana and many other countries, is based on co-operation with all States whether they be capitalist, socialist or have a mixed economy. Such a policy, therefore, involves foreign investment from capitalist countries, but it must be invested in accordance with a national plan drawn up by the government of the non-aligned State with its own interests in mind. The issue is not what return the foreign investor receives on his investments. He may, in fact, do better for himself if he invests in a non-aligned country than if he invests in a neo-colonial one. The question is one of power. A State in the grip of neo-colonialism is not master of its own destiny. It is this factor which makes neo-colonialism such a serious threat to world peace. The growth of nuclear weapons has made out of date the old-fashioned balance of power which rested upon the ultimate sanction of a major war. Certainty of mutual mass destruction effectively prevents either of the great power blocs from threatening the other with the possibility of a world-wide war, and military conflict has thus become confined to ‘limited wars’. For these neo-colonialism is the breeding ground.

Such wars can, of course, take place in countries which are not neo-colonialist controlled. Indeed their object may be to establish in a small but independent country a neo-colonialist regime. The evil of neo-colonialism is that it prevents the formation of those large units which would make impossible ‘limited war’. To give one example: if Africa was united, no major power bloc would attempt to subdue it by limited war because from the very nature of limited war, what can be achieved by it is itself limited. It is, only where small States exist that it is possible, by landing a few thousand marines or by financing a mercenary force, to secure a decisive result.

The restriction of military action of ‘limited wars’ is, however, no guarantee of world peace and is likely to be the factor which will ultimately involve the great power blocs in a world war, however much both are determined to avoid it.

Limited war, once embarked upon, achieves a momentum of its own. Of this, the war in South Vietnam is only one example. It escalates despite the desire of the great power blocs to keep it limited. While this particular war may be prevented from leading to a world conflict, the multiplication of similar limited wars can only have one end-world war and the terrible consequences of nuclear conflict.

Neo-colonialism is also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploitation without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.

Above all, neo-colonialism, like colonialism before it, postpones the facing of the social issues which will have to be faced by the fully developed sector of the world before the danger of world war can be eliminated or the problem of world poverty resolved.

Neo-colonialism, like colonialism, is an attempt to export the social conflicts of the capitalist countries. The temporary success of this policy can be seen in the ever widening gap between the richer and the poorer nations of the world. But the internal contradictions and conflicts of neo-colonialism make it certain that it cannot endure as a permanent world policy. How it should be brought to an end is a problem that should be studied, above all, by the developed nations of the world, because it is they who will feel the full impact of the ultimate failure. The longer it continues the more certain it is that its inevitable collapse will destroy the social system of which they have made it a foundation.

The reason for its development in the post-war period can be briefly summarised. The problem which faced the wealthy nations of the world at the end of the second world war was the impossibility of returning to the pre-war situation in which there was a great gulf between the few rich and the many poor. Irrespective of what particular political party was in power, the internal pressures in the rich countries of the world were such that no post-war capitalist country could survive unless it became a ‘Welfare State’. There might be differences in degree in the extent of the social benefits given to the industrial and agricultural workers, but what was everywhere impossible was a return to the mass unemployment and to the low level of living of the pre-war years.

From the end of the nineteenth century onwards, colonies had been regarded as a source of wealth which could be used to mitigate the class conflicts in the capitalist States and, as will be explained later, this policy had some success. But it failed in ‘its ultimate object because the pre-war capitalist States were so organised internally that the bulk of the profit made from colonial possessions found its way into the pockets of the capitalist class and not into those of the workers. Far from achieving the object intended, the working-class parties at times tended to identify their interests with those of the colonial peoples and the imperialist powers found themselves engaged upon a conflict on two fronts, at home with their own workers and abroad against the growing forces of colonial liberation.

The post-war period inaugurated a very different colonial policy. A deliberate attempt was made to divert colonial earnings from the wealthy class and use them instead generally to finance the ‘Welfare State’. As will be seen from the examples given later, this was the method consciously adopted even by those working-class leaders who had before the war regarded the colonial peoples as their natural allies against their capitalist enemies at home.

At first it was presumed that this object could be achieved by maintaining the pre-war colonial system. Experience soon proved that attempts to do so would be disastrous and would only provoke colonial wars, thus dissipating the anticipated gains from the continuance of the colonial regime. Britain, in particular, realised this at an early stage and the correctness of the British judgement at the time has subsequently been demonstrated by the defeat of French colonialism in the Far East and Algeria and the failure of the Dutch to retain any of their former colonial empire.

The system of neo-colonialism was therefore instituted and in the short run it has served the developed powers admirably. It is in the long run that its consequences are likely to be catastrophic for them.

Neo-colonialism is based upon the principle of breaking up former large united colonial territories into a number of small non-viable States which are incapable of independent development and must rely upon the former imperial power for defence and even internal security. Their economic and financial systems are linked, as in colonial days, with those of the former colonial ruler.

At first sight the scheme would appear to have many advantages for the developed countries of the world. All the profits of neo-colonialism can be secured if, in any given area, a reasonable proportion of the States have a neo-colonialist system. It is not necessary that they all should have one. Unless small States can combine they must be compelled to sell their primary products at prices dictated by the developed nations and buy their manufactured goods at the prices fixed by them. So long as neo-colonialism can prevent political and economic conditions for optimum development, the developing countries, whether they are under neo-colonialist control or not, will be unable to create a large enough market to support industrialisation. In the same way they will lack the financial strength to force the developed countries to accept their primary products at a fair price.

In the neo-colonialist territories, since the former colonial power has in theory relinquished political control, if the social conditions occasioned by neo-colonialism cause a revolt the local neo-colonialist government can be sacrificed and another equally subservient one substituted in its place. On the other hand, in any continent where neo-colonialism exists on a wide scale the same social pressures which can produce revolts in neo-colonial territories will also affect those States which have refused to accept the system and therefore neo-colonialist nations have a ready-made weapon with which they can threaten their opponents if they appear successfully to be challenging the system.

These advantages, which seem at first sight so obvious, are, however, on examination, illusory because they fail to take into consideration the facts of the world today.

The introduction of neo-colonialism increases the rivalry between the great powers which was provoked by the old-style colonialism. However little real power the government of a neo-colonialist State may possess, it must have, from the very fact of its nominal independence, a certain area of manoeuvre. It may not be able to exist without a neo-colonialist master but it may still have the ability to change masters.

The ideal neo-colonialist State would be one which was wholly subservient to neo-colonialist interests but the existence of the socialist nations makes it impossible to enforce the full rigour of the neo-colonialist system. The existence of an alternative system is itself a challenge to the neo-colonialist regime. Warnings about ‘the dangers of Communist subversion are likely to be two-edged since they bring to the notice of those living under a neo-colonialist system the possibility of a change of regime. In fact neo-colonialism is the victim of its own contradictions. In order to make it attractive to those upon whom it is practised it must be shown as capable of raising their living standards, but the economic object of neo-colonialism is to keep those standards depressed in the interest of the developed countries. It is only when this contradiction is understood that the failure of innumerable ‘aid’ programmes, many of them well intentioned, can be explained.

In the first place, the rulers of neo-colonial States derive their authority to govern, not from the will of the people, but from the support which they obtain from their neo-colonialist masters. They have therefore little interest in developing education, strengthening the bargaining power of their workers employed by expatriate firms, or indeed of taking any step which would challenge the colonial pattern of commerce and industry, which it is the object of neo-colonialism to preserve. ‘Aid’, therefore, to a neo-colonial State is merely a revolving credit, paid by the neo-colonial master, passing through the neo-colonial State and returning to the neo-colonial master in the form of increased profits.

Secondly, it is in the field of ‘aid’ that the rivalry of individual developed States first manifests itself. So long as neo-colonialism persists so long will spheres of interest persist, and this makes multilateral aid — which is in fact the only effective form of aid — impossible.

Once multilateral aid begins the neo-colonialist masters are f aced by the hostility of the vested interests in their own country. Their manufacturers naturally object to any attempt to raise the price of the raw materials which they obtain from the neo-colonialist territory in question, or to the establishment there of manufacturing industries which might compete directly or indirectly with their own exports to the territory. Even education is suspect as likely to produce a student movement and it is, of course, true that in many less developed countries the students have been in the vanguard of the fight against neo-colonialism.

In the end the situation arises that the only type of aid which the neo-colonialist masters consider as safe is ‘military aid’.

Once a neo-colonialist territory is brought to such a state of economic chaos and misery that revolt actually breaks out then, and only then, is there no limit to the generosity of the neo-colonial overlord, provided, of course, that the funds supplied are utilised exclusively for military purposes.

Military aid in fact marks the last stage of neo-colonialism and its effect is self-destructive. Sooner or later the weapons supplied pass into the hands of the opponents of the neo-colonialist regime and the war itself increases the social misery which originally provoked it.

Neo-colonialism is a mill-stone around the necks of the developed countries which practise it. Unless they can rid themselves of it, it will drown them. Previously the developed powers could escape from the contradictions of neo-colonialism by substituting for it direct colonialism. Such a solution is no longer possible and the reasons for it have been well explained by Mr Owen Lattimore, the United States Far Eastern expert and adviser to Chiang Kai-shek in the immediate post-war period. He wrote:

‘Asia, which was so easily and swiftly subjugated by conquerors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, displayed an amazing ability stubbornly to resist modern armies equipped with aeroplanes, tanks, motor vehicles and mobile artillery.

‘Formerly big territories were conquered in Asia with small forces. Income, first of all from plunder, then from direct taxes and lastly from trade, capital investments and long-term exploitation, covered with incredible speed the expenditure for military operations. This arithmetic represented a great temptation to strong countries. Now they have run up against another arithmetic, and it discourages them.’

The same arithmetic is likely to apply throughout the less developed world.

This book is therefore an attempt to examine neo-colonialism not only in its African context and its relation to African unity, but in world perspective. Neo-colonialism is by no means exclusively an African question. Long before it was practised on any large scale in Africa it was an established system in other parts of the world. Nowhere has it proved successful, either in raising living standards or in ultimately benefiting countries which have indulged in it.

Marx predicted that the growing gap between the wealth of the possessing classes and the workers it employs would ultimately produce a conflict fatal to capitalism in each individual capitalist State.

This conflict between the rich and the poor has now been transferred on to the international scene, but for proof of what is acknowledged to be happening it is no longer necessary to consult the classical Marxist writers. The situation is set out with the utmost clarity in the leading organs of capitalist opinion. Take for example the following extracts from The Wall Street Journal, the newspaper which perhaps best reflects United States capitalist thinking.

In its issue of 12 May 1965, under the headline of ‘Poor Nations’ Plight’, the paper first analyses ‘which countries are considered industrial and which backward’. There is, it explains, ‘no rigid method of classification’. Nevertheless, it points out:

‘A generally used breakdown, however, has recently been maintained by the International Monetary Fund because, in the words of an IMF official, “the economic demarcation in the world is getting increasingly apparent.”’ The break-down, the official says, “is based on simple common sense.”’

In the IMF’s view, the industrial countries are the United States, the United Kingdom, most West European nations, Canada and Japan. A special category called “other developed areas” includes such other European lands as Finland, Greece and Ireland, plus Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The IMF’s “less developed” category embraces all of Latin America and nearly all of the Middle East, non-Communist Asia and Africa.’

In other words the ‘backward’ countries are those situated in the neo-colonial areas.

After quoting figures to support its argument, The Wall Street Journalcomments on this situation:

‘The industrial nations have added nearly $2 billion to their reserves, which now approximate $52 billion. At the same time, the reserves of the less-developed group not only have stopped rising, but have declined some $200 million. To analysts such as Britain’s Miss Ward, the significance of such statistics is clear: the economic gap is rapidly widening “between a white, complacent, highly bourgeois, very wealthy, very small North Atlantic elite and everybody else, and this is not a very comfortable heritage to leave to one’s children.”

“Everybody else” includes approximately two-thirds of the population of the earth, spread through about 100 nations.’

This is no new problem. In the opening paragraph of his book, The War on World Poverty, written in 1953, the present British Labour leader, Mr Harold Wilson, summarised the major problem of the world as he then saw it:

‘For the vast majority of mankind the most urgent problem is not war, or Communism, or the cost of living, or taxation. It is hunger. Over 1,500,000,000 people, some-thing like two-thirds of the world’s population, are living in conditions of acute hunger, defined in terms of identifiable nutritional disease. This hunger is at the same time the effect and the cause of the poverty, squalor and misery in which they live.’

Its consequences are likewise understood. The correspondent of The Wall Street Journal previously quoted, underlines them:

‘… many diplomats and economists view the implications as overwhelmingly — and dangerously — political. Unless the present decline can be reversed, these analysts fear, the United States and other wealthy industrial powers of the West face the distinct possibility, in the words of British economist Barbara Ward, “of a sort of international class war”.’

What is lacking are any positive proposals for dealing with the situation. All that The Wall Street Journal’s correspondent can do is to point out that the traditional methods recommended for curing the evils are only likely to make the situation worse.

It has been argued that the developed nations should effectively assist the poorer parts of the world, and that the whole world should be turned into a Welfare State. However, there seems little prospect that anything of this sort could be achieved. The so-called ‘aid’ programmes to help backward economies represent, according to a rough U.N. estimate, only one half of one per cent of the total income of industrial countries. But when it comes to the prospect of increasing such aid the mood is one of pessimism:

‘A large school of thought holds that expanded share-the-wealth schemes are idealistic and impractical. This school contends climate, undeveloped human skills, lack of natural resources and other factors — not just lack of money — retard economic progress in many of these lands, and that the countries lack personnel with the training or will to use vastly expanded aid effectively. Share-the-wealth schemes, according to this view, would be like pouring money down a bottomless well, weakening the donor nations without effectively curing the ills of the recipients.’

The absurdity of this argument is demonstrated by the fact that every one of the reasons quoted to prove why the less developed parts of the world cannot be developed applied equally strongly to the present developed countries in the period prior to their development. The argument is only true in this sense. The less developed world will not become developed through the goodwill or generosity of the developed powers. It can only become developed through a struggle against the external forces which have a vested interest in keeping it undeveloped.

Of these forces, neo-colonialism is, at this stage of history, the principal.

I propose to analyse neo-colonialism, first, by examining the state of the African continent and showing how neo-colonialism at the moment keeps it artificially poor. Next, I propose to show how in practice African Unity, which in itself can only be established by the defeat of neo-colonialism, could immensely raise African living standards. From this beginning, I propose to examine neo-colonialism generally, first historically and then by a consideration of the great international monopolies whose continued stranglehold on the neo-colonial sectors of the world ensures the continuation of the system.