Build an organization of professional revolutionaries:
Build the African Socialist International!
The following presentation was made on October 6, 2006 in London, England at the Conference to Build the African Socialist International.
Uhuru! First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to the Interim Committee to build the African Socialist International (ASI) for having done the incredible amount of work necessary to make this meeting happen on today. I would also like to thank all of you for having come out.
I would like also to just make a couple of comments about the difficulty of our people getting here to this meeting. It is interesting that we have a brother from Barbados, for example, who was coming to this conference so that the Africans who live in the Caribbeans could have representation here to build this struggle to free ourselves and to free Barbados from economic domination by England.
Now when he claimed that he was coming to this conference they sent him back.
Now I don’t know how many of you know anything about the history of Africans being under colonial slavery in Barbados, but Barbados is one of the places where colonial slavery was most vicious.
Under colonial slavery in Barbados, an African had an average lifespan of seven years. It was cheaper to get an African to Barbados, work that African to death in seven years and then come back and get more Africans than it was to feed that African who was enslaved.
So here we have an African who helped build what you see in this rock called England today who cannot even come here to talk about how to get organized to change the conditions of existence of Africans who live in Barbados.
Here you have a situation where a white man can travel any place in the world that he wants to go without visas without contradictions. But Africans, who built this England, who built the United States, have to plead, lie, deceive and do all other kinds of things to trick our way back a place that has become rich as a consequence of bleeding us dry in the first place.
What in the hell is an African doing in what we call Barbados anyway? Barbados is not the national homeland of Africans. The British took us to Barbados. You can be in Barbados and work for Britain, but you can’t come to England to work for yourself.
I just think it’s worth speaking to because there are Africans who should be here.
There is a sister from Ghana who tried to get here. Africans from other places in West Africa can’t be here because England won’t allow them to come here. That’s part of the crisis of imperialism. That’s their fears.
I live right now in the United States, and in the United States you have a similar situation that many people will not know about.
First of all, the US was born as an imperialist enterprise. You have white people who live there not because they’re indigenous to that land, but because they came there and stole that land. They took that land through bloodshed, and then they used forced African labor to build an economy that’s now the most powerful economy in the world.
But in recent history, the U.S. stole half of Mexico. They have places they call Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, but that was part of Mexico.
Now Mexicans who come across that artificial border are characterized as illegal aliens.
Here you have the white people who stole the land and brought me there. I’m legal in theory, although you can’t tell an ordinary policeman that in the streets of America. White people are legal, but the indigenous people there are illegal. This is imperialism at work.
This is how imperialism has built itself.
It’s necessary to say this because I travel throughout Africa and run into African people who actually believe that poverty is natural to us and that white people who come to Africa come there to do something good for us. We need more investment, they say. This is not just in Africa. It’s also here and the U.S.
The reality, of course, is that everything that England, France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and the United States have, they have got it as a consequence of stealing from us. (Applause)
They stole our self-confidence. But the reality is that we have seen the future, especially those of us who live in the empire.
I know what the future is, and the reason I know is because I saw that Africans built the United States. Africans built England and Belgium. Africans built Holland and the rest of them.
I see the factories and the computers and all the other technology everywhere, and I know that Africa built that. And if Africa can build that for Europe, then Africa can build it for ourselves! (Applause)
African Revolution limited when confined within colonial borders
AmAfrika, I am the Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and our organization was born in the United States of America. We have come to understand that the African Revolution has run into its limitations, whether in Africa or abroad.
If you’re old enough or know enough history you recognize what happened in the ‘60s when the whole world had erupted with the demand for African emancipation. We remember Nkrumah, Lumumba, Malcolm X, Sobukwe and other giants who were struggling for our freedom.
But today what you find is that Africa is worse off now then it was even before so-called “independence.” It is because the African revolution has run into its limitations, when fought within the borders that have been created by imperialism.
There is no future for us as a people within these borders. We cannot be free within these borders. The French were very clear on that.
When many of the white people left, they still owned the economy in Africa, and the French perhaps more effectively than any other country. When they left they made sure that they developed these tiny countries that didn’t even exist in the past.
They did this so that they would be economically and politically untenable and would require an ongoing dependence on France for their existence.
Look at the African world. How many more civil rights bills are we going to get in the United States, and what is the value of such civil rights bills?
“So here we have an African who helped build what you see in this rock called England today who cannot even come here to talk about how to get organized to change the conditions of existence of Africans who live in Barbados. ”
We have come to see that what they give you with one hand, they take back with the other hand. We get civil rights when the struggle grows among African people as means by which they pacify our struggle.
They give it to the African whose ambitions and interests can be realized with formal rights to integrate into white power. But there are not any more civil rights bills that can satisfy our aspirations.
If you look at the United States of America, something like 10 percent of the African male population is in prison. This is the consequence of civil rights. These, of course, are the African workers.
We concluded that our freedom couldn’t be realized in the United States. There are some forces that differed with us.
The African petty bourgeoisie has no confidence in African people ourselves It has so identified with white power that all it wants to do is be a part of white power, to integrate with white power itself.
The ideological implications of imperialism are profound and strong. That’s not just true in America and in England. It’s true in Africa as well.
We decided in the African Peoples Socialist Party that our primary efforts have to go toward building the African Socialist International because there is no future for us without it.
The primary resources that we have go toward this effort to build this ASI. We’ve done things that we think help to create a certain kind of capacity that can grow our revolutionary movement on an international scale.
Certainly that is the only thing that we are interested in. We’re not trying to make some North American or American Revolution. We see ourselves as the U.S. front of the African Revolution.
We are in service to Africa’s liberation, to our children who are in Africa and around the world. That is what we are attempting to serve with this effort.
Flag independence served to set back the African Revolution
This process to build this ASI has been a rocky journey that’s been going on for many years. In 1981, we passed a resolution in our Congress in Oakland, California, in the United States to build the African Socialist International.
We’ve traveled to various places. We’ve had relationships with various organizations in Africa in the period prior to the so-called independence.
People who we worked with talked about building an ASI, and sometimes we actually trained and set up offices for them in the United States, at the United Nations and other places.
We helped them to raise resources in the United States to advance the struggles there.
Sometimes our stance was even more militant than their own in terms of opposition to petty bourgeois neo-colonial forces that were struggling for power in the very same places that they had come from. We had great relationships until independence.
When independence came, it meant they could go back and accept the deal that the imperialist have always made with us to protect their own interests. It meant independence in this little, tiny territory here where the same imperialists continue to control the economy.
I have seen people who were progressive Africans who came to power within an economy that was controlled by imperialism, and neo-colonialism was the necessary consequence of what they were attempting to do. They couldn’t do anything because the economies were determined and defined by this relationship to imperialism.
What am I talking about? I’m talking about three to seven percent of all the so-called formal trade in Africa is among Africans. Only three to seven percent.
That means that 93 to 97 percent of what they call trade in Africa represents our resources leaving Africa and going to Europe and America.
Feeding white babies, while our children go hungry. Building schools to educate white people while our children can’t get education.
When you talk about medicines and computer technology, all of it’s being shipped out of Africa — sometimes in the form of raw materials — and goes to America, Europe and increasingly it’s going to China and other places like that.
We have to stop it, amAfrika. We want to build a revolutionary movement.
In 1994 there was a Pan Africanist Congress. The sixth Pan Africanist Congress occurred in Uganda. Seven hundred from Uganda attended that meeting. A hundred from Sudan attended that meeting. They came from everywhere to Uganda.
They said that they were going to establish a secretariat. They had a commission that was going to create a constitution. Then they went home, and we haven’t heard from them since. (Laughter)
The reality is that since the defeat of our Revolution we’ve had situations where people have these feel good conferences that we go to on a regular basis where we talk to each other. We share information, and then we go home and do nothing.
That’s not what this conference is about. We must build a capacity to transform our condition as a people.
That means that we have to engage in struggle, and we have to know that we are up against an imperialist enemy that never intends to allow African people to have a decent life.
That means that we recognize that in order for Africa and African people to get out of this situation we are going to have to fight for it. (Applause)
The problem with independence is that it was like the end of history for various forces. So now we’ve got independence. We are free, in theory. Now we just have to find out how to make it work.
That’s more or less what we are hearing from the African petty bourgeoisie. Or if you are in the United States they say we have civil rights, now we have to get “silver” rights. We’re free, now let’s get some money.
But, the fact is that freedom for the African petty bourgeoisie is different from freedom for the African workers and poor peasants around the world. It’s a different freedom.
Socialism means that the working class has become the ruling class.
“You don’t give poverty program to the workers. If the poverty programs are going to be created, the workers are going to create it for you. ”
Socialism means the workers in power
We’ve had difficulty because we have a situation where some people use the same words that we use but they mean something different from what we mean. I run into all these Africans who say they’re socialists. If you don’t believe they’re socialists, then they show you the poverty program that they’ve got for the workers and how they’re going to be kind to the workers once they come to power.
Well they don’t understand socialism. Socialism means that the working class has become the ruling class.
You don’t give poverty program to the workers. If the poverty programs are going to be created, the workers are going to create it for you. (Applause)
We have to build a revolutionary organization. Not one intent on doing charity for the workers, but one that is the advanced detachment of the African working class.
When we say the advanced detachment of the African working class, we’re talking about the general staff of the African working class. An international revolutionary party that can set the terms for how the class must stand up to it’s full stature and assume it’s responsibility.
We are not some white leftists who talk about the working class in some idealistic kind of way. The reality is this: all value is created by workers. All value.
Stockbrokers don’t create value. Bankers don’t create value. Professors don’t create value. If you see any wealth anywhere on earth it is a consequence of working people having put their hands to nature and transformed it to serve our needs.
So how can we live in a world then where the people who produce all the value, on earth have nothing to show for it while those who don’t produce any value at all own every damn thing? There’s something wrong with that.
The African working class must come to power. We have to build that organization.
So at this meeting we have some objectives. One, we want to consolidate a newly developed Interim Committee that would assume for itself the responsibility of leading the work from this juncture forward to build the First Congress of the African Socialist International and decide where and when that congress should occur.
We also want to initiate the process to build an African international trade union, organizing African workers around the world into a single trade union so that we would have the power to shut down the imperialist enterprise at will.
This union will be about more than simply wages and conditions. It would be a part of the process of the workers preparing to become the rulers. It would be a part of the process of the African workers organizing to seize political power.
This means that we will give ourselves the ability as African people all around the world attached to the ASI to begin going into the fields and the mines and every place to organize African workers into our own union.
You’ve got some places where African workers are the ones who are the ones who drive the buses and all these other forms of transport.
When they kidnapped Garvey to take him to prison, they tried to do it in the dead of night so nobody would know where he was. This was in 1925, but all the workers on the trains were Africans.
So when they moved Garvey, eleven million Africans around the world immediately knew where Garvey was because there were African workers there who were able to get the word out that.
We need that capacity. So even though the British government or the U.S. government may have a formal policy about who can and can’t come in, if the African workers are organized, we can also have something to say about who can and can’t come in. We are the ones who control much of the capacity for them to move from one place to the other.
We must seize State power
We’re talking about seizing State power. If you ain’t interested in power you ain’t interested in freedom. You’re just playing.
The petty bourgeoisie is not interested in destroying State power. They want to come to power but they want to use the same organs of power that were put there by the ones who preceded them.
They don’t destroy the power of the pre-existing State. They try to incorporate it and use it for their own benefit. But the State by its very definition is an organization of oppression.
The colonial State was born to oppress colonized people. If somebody comes to power in a colonial country and takes the same apparatus that the white folks were using as the State apparatus, that entity only has the capacity to oppress African people
We have to make a revolution by building the international revolutionary organization everywhere African people are in the world. We are not trying to make friends with any uncle tom on earth, whether he’s in power or out of power. Our objective is to fight Uncle Tom and Uncle Sam and all the imperialist forces around the world and we have to have the organization to do that.
Have to have organization of professional revolutionaries
That requires an organization of professional revolutionaries, people who have determined that no matter what occupation they may have, their profession is revolution. People who have decided that their life is dedicated to the liberation and unification of Africa and African people. That’s what we have to have.
People who will bet their future on the revolution, not on what they can get with their college degree. Not on the fact that “I’m going to get a good job later on down the road.”
We have to have a people who say, “I ain’t worried about that because the revolution’s going to solve all that.” (Applause)
Turn it loose. Let imperialism go. Throw it out the window. Unite with the revolution.
When you do that you unite with the future. When you hold onto the other stuff, you’re trying to hold on to the past, and you’re trying to hold back the revolution.
Down with the past! Forward with the revolution!
One Africa! One Nation!
Izwe Lethu I Africa!