The Truth about Afghanistan—Colonialism: the graveyard of imperialism

The following article is excerpted from a presentation delivered by African People’s Socialist Party Chairman Omali Yeshitela during a September 7 live forum broadcast on the Burning Spear TV channel on YouTube.

We’ve said colonialism is the graveyard of imperialism. Obviously, that is a play on what has been said about Afghanistan—how military forces of different countries have gone into Afghanistan and lost miserably, despite whatever vicious kind of extortion and oppression they’ve imposed on the people.

There is a culture in Afghanistan that was perhaps forged over the centuries of deep opposition to any force that would come in and occupy Afghanistan and its people.

That’s what the U.S. has done in Afghanistan. That’s what other countries have attempted to do—extend foreign and alien domination either directly or indirectly.

The whole world is shaped by Europe’s going out colonizing peoples around the world—enslaving African people over 600 years ago.

This is the foundation of the whole capitalist system that many Marxists claim to hate. This is colonial capitalism.

So when we talk about the significance of Afghanistan, what we have seen is an assault on the colonial system. It has immediate implications for the United States, but it’s an assault on the entire global colonial system.

The Taliban never would have won if their philosophy championed winning favor with the colonizers.

Fight and win against colonialism, not racism

There’s never been an instance where the Afghans, as a people, sought freedom from imperialist domination by being friends with the colonizers.

There is no anti-racism that the Taliban talked about. They understood that they had to take their freedom away from the colonizer.

Just think about them having come to a conclusion that their main slogan should be “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”—which is another way of saying “I surrender”—as opposed to the tremendous resistance that we’ve just seen in Afghanistan.

Of course, for that resistance to occur with the tenacity that it did in Afghanistan, it had to be a belief system upon which it rested.

People are talking about the corruption of the ousted Afghan government, a government put in place by the U.S. They talk about how the Taliban has ended corruption and opium production.

You are talking about a group of people that had a philosophy that believed in something.

Whereas, when you look at the people put in power by the United States, some of them have not lived in Afghanistan for years. Some had been in the U.S. as business people, or working with the U.S., against colonized people in another place.

These are people who don’t believe in anything. These colonizers quickly discovered just how meaningless their resistance was to the offensive by the Taliban because the Taliban and the people who united with them believe in something.

They believe that they have a right to their own country, their own land—even if that belief system is wrapped in religious clothing.

This is a people with a powerful, unshuttering belief that an outsider cannot break. Whereas the colonizers and the neocolonialists don’t believe in anything.

Capitalism born through colonialism

The entire Earth lives under a global economy that is colonial capitalism.

There could be no capitalism without the fact that the Europeans took the lands of the Americas.

You can’t imagine a capitalism that did not enslave African people and bring in tremendous resources there.

It came about as a consequence of the colonial extraction of value from the indigenous peoples in various places.

U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., (right) plots colonial domination of Afghanistan in bunker in Kabul
U.S. Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., (right) plots colonial domination of Afghanistan in bunker in Kabul, Oct. 11, 2010. pPHOTO “CSA VISITS ISAF AFGHANISTAN” BY THE U.S. ARMY IS LICENSED WITH CC BY 2.0. VIEW A COPY OF THIS LICENSE.

All of this was part of the process that created capitalism. You cannot imagine the existence of capitalism without colonialism.

This is the origin of it, and you can’t get around that.

This is one of the problems that we have with many of the North American and European leftists who cannot recognize the origins of their well-being, their security, their well-paved streets, their air-conditioned homes, their secure neighborhoods, etc.

All of that comes from colonial domination and violent, vicious extraction of value from those of us around the world who are being colonized.

This oppressive, murderous, brutal colonialism also brings with it a worldview; that’s why we’ve always said that what you refer to as racism really is the ideological foundation of colonial capitalism.

It’s what turns ordinary colonizers into active supporters of their own ruling class. It makes them soldiers ready to attack African and other colonized people who are breaking out of the boundaries imposed upon us by colonialism.

It’s really important for us to understand that.

Afghan girl herds sheep for rug production
Afghan girl herds sheep for rug production. PHOTO: “110108-F-5549S-091″BY RESOLUTESUPPORTMEDIA IS LICENSED WITH CC BY 2.0. VIEW A COPY OF THIS LICENSE.

The Afghans built dual power

The Afghan people have fought heroically. People have made the comparison between what happened in Viet Nam and Afghanistan because in Viet Nam you had people who have been colonized by Japan, France and the U.S. The people fought for years.

They had the advantage of a revolutionary party in this instance. It was not an Islamic party. It was a revolutionary communist party that recognized the need to win national liberation from France, and then from the United States, under the leadership of an independent working class revolutionary party.

In Viet Nam, you also had the arrogance of the colonizers. The colonizers never believe that they are going to lose until they find their heads in the noose, and in Viet Nam you saw the colonizers on top of those buildings leaping off onto helicopters to get out of there. They assumed they were going to be there forever.

Afghan women create traditional rugs

The same thing happened in Afghanistan. They said “how did this happen so quickly? We had thought that it would take six months before the Taliban could ever take power and they did it in seven days or so. How did that happen?”

But it didn’t happen in seven days. It happened because the Taliban leading the resistance had a program. They had tactics and strategies. They had a deep and profound organization of disciplined forces who carried out the mission.

The Taliban had been building dual power. Different sectors of the country were being occupied by the Taliban. They collected taxes and had a relationship with the people.

Afghan self-reliance prevails in the countryside
Afghan self-reliance prevails in the countryside where this doctor’s
micro-hydro plant grinds wheat and provides electricity for nearby

They are the ones who were punishing criminals. They were present in the military and various other forces. 

So what looked to the U.S. and other imperialists like something that happened overnight was something that had been happening over the last 20 years. 

The people had been resisting, and even if that resistance was not always visible, the people were there on the ground. 

The people worked with their own plan, their own program and they built their own dual power all over Afghanistan. 

In fact, Kabul—and Kandahar to a lesser extent— was really the only center where the U.S. and Afghan governments could function with some relative security. 

The decline of U.S. hegemony 

The events in Afghanistan really punctuate the decline of influence and power of the U.S. which has been the chief hegemon of the world colonial capitalist system. 

The Afghanistan struggle went on for more than 20 years. This was something that has affected the consciousness of everyone who assumed that this great superpower could do whatever it wanted. 

Afghanistan withstood everything the United States had to bring to them, and they were able to be victorious. 


The colonizer cannot sustain himself if the people have the will and the organizational and ideological fortitude to sustain them. 

That happened in Viet Nam. That happened in Afghanistan and it has happened in other places. 

The United States is losing economic and political influence in various parts of Africa. China is now the fastest- growing economic force on the continent of Africa. 

NATO commander rallies sellout neocolonial Afghan troops
In 2010, NATO commander rallies sellout neocolonial Afghan troops on the Amu Darya River over which the last Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989. In 2021, the U.S. abandoned their puppets. “VISITING WITH AFGHAN BORDER POLICE” BY RESOLUTESUPPORTMEDIA IS LICENSED WITH CC BY 2.0. VIEW A COPY OF THIS LICENSE.

Russia has re-emerged as a force in the globe and is looking to its own interests in places like Syria. It’s challenging U.S. hegemony there and is even giving certain kinds of military assistance to forces there. 

You see the people in Venezuela who the United States has not been able to bring to heel despite the years that they have been trying to starve the people with sanctions as they have done to Cuba. 

Much of the cohesion of the European Union has revolved around the assumption that somehow the United States would offer military protection of all of Europe. The same thing is true of NATO, but increasingly it is becoming clear that the U.S. cannot be relied on to provide military protection. 

Even the neocolonial puppet regimes who have seen what’s happening in Afghanistan recognize that tying your fate to the United States is extremely problematic. 

More of them are looking at China and other forces that they might relate to. Others of them are striking out on their own like Turkey, which is being emboldened by what it sees in the lack of effectiveness of the United States and various other European countries. 

So the world is changing, and it is changing as a consequence of the losses of colonial capitalism. 

The world is not changing because of some great struggle that has happened between the industrial working class and the industrial ruling class because the class question is not located inside Europe. 

It is concentrated in the colonial question. This is where the real class struggle resides. 

This is why the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) has always said that the colonizers—the Europeans who claim to love us but refuse to get off our backs and fight against their own colonial bosses for African independence and liberation— will have to do just that in order to see anything positive happen. 

So, there’s this crisis that’s happening and it is one that’s continuing to spread with a growing loss of confidence in most of the countries around the world. Certainly, that’s true with Europe, the United States and many of the colonial puppet regimes. 

In the United States, the settlers are fighting among themselves. A group of settlers attacked the government and staged a near coup against the government because they’ve concluded that the government cannot serve their interests. 

From May through August in the U.S., about 10,000 demonstrations and protests blew up and are growing in places around the world. 

People are assuming that governments can’t solve their needs. This is because colonialism itself is fracturing and the society is connected to, reliant upon and ideologically influenced by colonialism. 

These societies and governments are fracturing right before our very eyes. There is a sector of the settlers in this country that is doing everything it can to guarantee that African people do not have the right to vote. There are state governments within the United States that are making it illegal for people to protest inside this country. 

A fundamental transformation is happening here, and the responsibility for the APSP and anybody who’s genuinely interested in a transformation is to be engaged in a struggle to extricate ourselves from colonial capitalism. 

Capitalism has to die. There is no nice way to put it. Capitalism cannot die unless we take the pedestal upon which it rests away from it. That is colonialism. 

It is in the strategic interest of the oppressed peoples of the world, and anybody in the world that’s interested in the eradication of capitalism, to give support to the leadership of the African working class. This is the way to destroy capitalism that people pretend to hate. 

The question always before us is whether the colonizer will be able to unleash this connection because the colonizers usually go in the direction of the most radical forces who explain the growing problems that exist among the colonizers themselves as due to the colonized. 

Somehow we are responsible for their condition and what they have to do is unite more deeply with the colonizer. That is how something like 57 percent of the white people who voted in the last election voted for Donald Trump. 

It’s the responsibility of the African People’s Socialist Party, through our work in the various forces that we lead, to help white people understand that you’re betting on a losing horse. You’ve tied yourself to a social system that has built into itself its own failure because it relies on the ongoing oppression and exploitation of the colonized people for its success. 

ASI Secretary General Luwezi Kinshasa at Seventh Congress.
ASI Secretary General Luwezi Kinshasa at Seventh Congress.

APSP Agit-Prop Director Akilé Anai reports to the Seventh Congress
APSP Agit-Prop Director Akilé Anai reports to the Seventh Congress

There can be no coexistence between capitalism and what people like to refer to as socialism. Colonial capitalism as a mode of production must be destroyed if there is going to be the socialism that so many people claim to desire. 

Also, it’s really important to understand the significance of Africa in this struggle against global colonial capitalism. 

Part of what building its failure into its own system means is that millions of African people who were kidnapped away from our mother country Africa and spread throughout the world represent strategic economic and political entities necessary for the ongoing functioning of the whole colonial capitalist system. 

We know just from what we saw in the crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, how the supply lines were shut down and what that meant for the economies of much of the world. Africans wherever we are located have that ability. 

We are a colonized people, and we have to be united in one struggle because there is no solution for any of us within the artificial borders created by the colonizers. The colonizers created these borders to suit their needs and then created a situation that imposed false national consciousness on us. 

We have to have one Party just as Marcus Garvey talked about. That’s what we’ve been building in the APSP. 

Chairman Omali leads flag salute at APSP Seventh Congress
Chairman Omali leads flag salute at APSP Seventh Congress, building “One Nation, One Party”

Africans in Africa join with the African Socialist International to build One Nation, One Party
Africans in Africa join with the African Socialist International to build “One Nation, One Party”

The African revolution is located all over the world and increasingly that African revolution is being connected by the work of the APSP with the African Socialist International (ASI). 

This is the strategic linchpin for the defeat of colonial capitalism globally and the emergence of a new kind of social system. 

You cannot run around trying to seek solutions, dealing with the situation in Afghanistan and any other place in the world, that does not recognize that the colonial question is the primary question. 

The fact is that the whole African people globally live under colonial domination. Just as in Afghanistan where colonized people picked up the gun and fought, we have also done that inside the United States. 

Africans have done that. Puerto Ricans have done that. Oppressed people everywhere have been able to do that, and it’s a just struggle. 

The reality is that anytime you have a people who are colonized, any means that they use to end colonialism, any attack that they make on colonialism is self-defense. 

It’s not a matter of having to say that the police shot at somebody. That’s not the real question. 

The fact is the police are the military occupation force in our communities. So any fight back is an act of self-defense made against colonialism. 

We’ve got people who are today locked up as political prisoners—Ruchell Magee. Sundiata Acoli. 

People claim to love Assata Shakur so much, but they don’t unite with the struggle against colonialism. That’s what these comrades were fighting against! 

You can’t give proper support to them without recognizing that African people as a group are fighting against colonialism. 

The African revolution and the anti-colonial movement of the peoples of the world have to step forward and claim their rightful place as the leaders of this revolutionary project. 

The African People’s Socialist Party has to assume our responsibility and leadership throughout the African world as the advanced detachment, the general staff, the vanguard.



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