Sunday, July 10, 2011
The US Black Left Must See the Struggles throughout the Americas as Core to an Anti-Imperialist and Revolutionary Strategy
Black Left Unity Network Discussion Paper
There are more than 150 million African descendants in Latin America and the Caribbean and 50 plus million in the US, Canada and throughout North America. The conditions, contradictions, consciousness and social movements of African descendants throughout the Americas, have been shaped by the colonial and capitalist development, the domination of US imperialism, and by the resistance by to the economic, political and cultural subjugation that shape their particular forms of oppression.
The development of capitalism throughout the Americas shows a colonial history of societies that built their primitive base of accumulation of capital on the basis of the sale, reproduction and exploitation of the labor of enslaved Africans and Indigenous peoples. Wars were waged by the European colonial powers against the Indigenous peoples resulting in genocide, as they resisted drives to take their lands and to destroy their communities.
During the colonial period predating the bourgeois revolutions that established independent republics throughout the Americas, African descendant and Indigenous peoples carried out organized resistance against colonization.
An important aspect of this resistance was the organizing of maroon societies as liberated zones, where they developed institutions and communities and began to shape their demands and struggles for forms of self-determination – centered around demands to end African enslavement and the colonial theft on land and natural resources of Indigenous peoples.
As the first bourgeois republic in the Americas, the US from its beginning set out to become an empire. The US Constitution denied African descendants and Indigenous peoples civil and human rights for the first 90 years of its history; and only granted them subjugated citizenship rights for the next 100 years. Thus, built into US bourgeois democracy was a system of structural racism anchored in the Southern states for African descendants and a reservation system mainly in the Southwest for the Indigenous peoples.
The bourgeois revolutions that followed the US, emulated the US in keeping intact the racist structures and patterns that super exploit the labor and communities of Black and Indigenous people and that exclude and marginalize them in society.
The Haitian Revolution beginning 15 years after the America (US) revolution saw enslaved African descendants organize and defeat the French colonialists. At the time of the victory of the Haitian revolution in January 1804, eighty percent of the African descendants in the Americas were considered chattel.
African descendants organizing and leading a revolutionary struggle in Haiti for state power against a colonial power smashed the myth of white supremacy. It sent shock waves to the colonial governments throughout the region and in the US and Europe.
It sent a message that the struggles against African enslavement were not for mere citizenship rights in a bourgeois democracy, but for power to control their communities, institutions and economies in shaping their own destinies, independently of, or within the framework of democratizing and transforming the societies of the various republics.
African descendant solidarity was a key aspect of the struggles against enslavement throughout the Americas, reaching its highest points in the late 19th Century following the Haitian Revolution, and in the 20th Century with the Black Power revolution in the 1960 and 70s.
The 1960s and 70s began to see the coming together of Black revolutionaries from throughout the Americas to formulate and raise the demands for Black power, self-determination and socialism within the context of the struggles against US and Western imperialism. African Liberation Day May 25, 1972, was a coordinated effort of mainly African descendants in the US, Canada and throughout the Americas that mobilized thousands of Black people in support of the anti-colonial struggles in Africa. After a period US state repression, cooptation, and left sectarian attacks against Black liberation organizations, the US Black left became fragmented and the Black liberation movement became weak, with its forces fighting mainly local struggles with no shared national and international framework.
The World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) became a focal point for the realignment of African descendant social and political movements and movements of other oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world.
The demand for reparations was a unifying demand for African descendants coming out the WCAR. It was correctly seen by some in the US Black left as an anti-imperialist demand, calling for a major redistribution of the global capital accumulated from the exploitation and oppression of African and African descendants throughout the world.
The revolutionary view understood that the demand for reparations would require a coordinated struggle by African descendants rooted mainly in the Black working class and social movements fighting for power and control over their labor, communities, national resources, territories and governments. It also began to unite forces around a human rights framework that was expected to be further developed by African descendant working class social and political movements, and formations like trade unions that challenge capital and state policies.
Building a Hemispheric-wide Struggle:
Over the past 10 years, revolutionary and progressive governments throughout the Americas have emerged, and begun forming alignments to make independent decisions about trade, development and foreign policies. They are challenging US hegemony in the region and are narrowing the options for US capital during this capitalist crisis.
Critical to these realignments and the demands and struggles against US imperialism throughout the Americas and inside of the US, is their conscious inclusion of the demands, social movements and struggles of African descendants and indigenous peoples.
The African descendant and Indigenous movements and structures for working class control of communities, labor and natural resources, and new forms of economic development and people’s democracy must be seen as growing parallel societies contending with the corrupt governments and ruling classes dominated by imperialism. All forms of resistance in this process must be fused with and accountable to the people’s social and political movements.
Colombia, with the second largest African descendant population in Latin America to Brazil is one of the key pillars of U.S. imperialism’s strategy in the region. Similar to Israel in the Middle East; the US strategy is to make Colombia its client state in the region, working to undermine the progressive governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Cuba, further positioning the US corporations through Free Trade Agreements to continue reaping huge profits from the Colombian working class and lands and natural resources of African descendant and Indigenous communities. To this end, the US spent $6.5 billion dollars, mostly on military aid through Plan Colombia, and looks to install seven more military bases in Colombia, with hundreds of US military personnel and military contractors providing aid to the Colombian military, which, in collusion with paramilitary forces, has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people and has contributed to the internal displacement of 5.2 million persons, the majority of which are Afro-descendants and Indigenous peoples.
The struggle of African descendant, indigenous and the working classes in Colombia must be seen as part of the revolutionary strategy and process of altering the balance of power in favor of an anti-capitalist regional and international direction.
Haiti, a nation kept underdeveloped and under siege by US and Western imperialism, and suffering massive dislocation and instability from natural disasters such the earthquake in 2010, is another strategic pillar of US imperialisms strategy in the region. It is a reminder to other nations in the region of what happens to countries that support interests against those of US imperialism. It is virtually a colony of US imperialism for its cheap labor, natural resources and military positioning.
Black revolutionaries in the US must build active support for the movements and struggles of African descendants and Indigenous peoples in Colombia and for the liberation of Haiti from US and Western imperialism as strategic struggles to help isolate and defeat US imperialism’s hegemony in the Americas and to sharpen the internal contradictions among the imperialists. The US Black left must see the struggles to defeat US hegemony and domination throughout the Americas as an essential component of a hemispheric wide revolutionary program.
This is our role and our responsibility. And with this unity, black revolutionaries from the US can link with black revolutionaries throughout the Americas to reassume the role that history has given us as the gravediggers of imperialism.
Black Left Unity Network
P.O. Box 934 Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802