Sunday, August 7, 2011

Report from India: The Struggle Against Displacement and the Resistance to the Indian State's War on People

A presentation by
Partho Sarathi RayA
molecular biologist, member of Sanhati, an activist with first-hand knowledge of the people’s movements in India

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. – Program at 7 p.m.
518 Valencia Street (near 16th Street), San Francisco(one block from BART – wheelchair accessible)

Sponsored by: International Campaign Against War on the People in India, Sanhati, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement,Collision Course Video, Freedom Archives, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), Friends of South Asia (FOSA)

The Black Liberation Movement and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions: Lessons and Applications for the Palestinian Liberation Movement

By Kali Akuno

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions or BDS movement, launched in 2005 to uproot the zionist settler-colonial project and dismantle the Israeli apartheid state following the various setbacks to the Palestinian liberation movement stemming from the Oslo accords, is rapidly growing into a powerful international political force. As the movement continues to grow and expand it is bound to encounter more obstacles and roadblocks. One way to defeat these limitations is to study and learn how other peoples' movements that have employed BDS strategies and tactics on an extensive level organized themselves to overcome or maneuver around the roadblocks on their path. One such movement is the Black Liberation Movement (BLM) in North America. The BLM has employed BDS strategies and tactics extensively for the greater part of the last 200 plus years in its unfinished quest for liberation. What follows is a brief summary of the BLM's experience and a short exploration of some of the lessons learned from this extensive experience.

The BLM has employed a broad range of strategies and tactics in its pursuit of liberation over the 500 long years of its existence, including mass rebellions, emigration, work stoppages, mass strikes, armed struggle, and international dipolmacy. Some of the most dynamic of the liberation strategies and tactics employed have centralized the comprehensive utilization of boycotts, divestment initiatives and sanctions, commonly known as BDS. The most dynamic element of these BDS initiatives is that when they have been successful they have been able to engage masses of people and harness limited individual capacities and transform them via collective activities into powerful social and political weapons. And they have often been able to accomplish this in creative ways that have reduced individual risk and minimized direct conflict with brutal and vastly more powerful enemies like the Klu Klux Klan, White Citizens Councils, the Southern Planter Elite, and the United States Government.

It can be soundly argued that the employment of BDS strategies and tactics within the BLM have their roots in antebellum or pre-Civil War initiatives to end chattel slavery and secure basic human dignities. One of the earliest recorded successes of a combined boycott and divestment initiative was the protest of the Black Community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1787 led by Richard Allan and Absolom Jones against the racist practices and policies of the Methodist Episcopal Church. This initiative lead to the creation of the order of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816, which became a cornerstone in the institutional development of the Black Community in the United States. Another exemplary model from the antebellum period is drawn from the Abolitionist movement (under Black and white leadership on both sides of the Atlantic), which organized a boycott in the early 1790's of the strategic goods of the triangular trade such as sugar, rum, tobacco, cotton, coffee, and dyes that built the empirical economies of the Atlantic ocean and laid the foundation for the capitalist world system. These boycotts played a major role in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the United States and the United Kingdom by 1808.

BDS tactics within the BLM grew in considerable scope and application after the civil war. As African descendant people in the US have had very little access to capital until relatively recently, and even less substantive political power until the 1970's, boycotts, rather than divestment and sanctions, have been the primary weapon in the BDS arsenal employed by the BLM. Between the 1860's to 1940's, a broad range of successful boycotts were organized by BLM forces that challenged the system of white supremacy and the institutions of oppression including government and private pension programs that excluded or exploited freed slaves and their descendants, lending agencies that exploited Black farmers, discriminatory transport systems and laws established at the turn of the 20th century, businesses that refused to hire or serve Black people, the US armed forces for discriminatory policies and engagements in imperial conquest, and the US government directly via the original March on Washington Movement led by A. Philip Randolph against racial oppression and discriminatory hiring and contracting practices.

The 1950's witnessed the maturation of the BLM's employment of boycott strategies. The Montgomery, Alabama Bus Boycott of 1955 - 1956, generally considered one of the three primary catalyzing moments of the high tide of struggle mounted by the BLM between the 1950's - 1970's (the other two being the Brown v Board of Education decision and the murder of Emmett Till), dealt a critical blow to the legally sanctioned policies and practices of white supremacy. Although the Montgomery Bus Boycott is generally portrayed as being the product of a spontaneous act and for canonizing the heroic actions and leadership of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., it was in all reality a deliberate and well thought out campaign based on years of preparation and planning. Montgomery however, was not the first boycott of its kind. Similar boycotts were organized in Mississippi, such as the one lead by TRM Howard against the lack of restroom facilities for Blacks on commuter buses in 1952 - 1953, and the Baton Rogue, Louisiana Bus Boycott of 1953 lead by Willis Reed and the Rev. TJ Jemison.

As previously noted, divestment strategies were not as widely employed in the BLM prior to the 1960's. But, when they were employed they tended to serve as catalysts for Black institutional development. Most of the documented mass divestment initiatives employed by the forces of the BLM involved the removal of wealth, deeds, and insurance polices from financial institutions and insurance companies that brazenly supported the oppressive policies and practices of American Apartheid. The most successful of these divestment initiatives lead to the establishment of independent Black institutions such as banks, insurance companies and mutual aid societies, particularly before the Great Depression of the 1930's which liquidated most of the wealth amassed by Black people after the Civil War. Two of the most successful divestment initiatives that translated into Black independent institutions occurred in Natchez, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana where Blacks acted in mass by taking their merger savings from discriminatory institutions that denied them equal services - loans, medical assistance, burial funds, etc., and pooled them together to create mutual aid societies and banks. Initiatives such as this were employed after the Great Depression, more often to support a boycott initiative. But, they tended to be more short lived and limited in their impact as a result of capitals restructuring after WW II and the creation of various welfare state institutions that provided essential social services.

In the 1960's the utilization of boycotts and divestment initiatives became less prominent in the overall orientation of the BLM primarily as a result of the defeat of the legalized dimensions of American apartheid and the attainment of more political power and social influence in the United States as a direct result of the success of the mass resistance mounted by the movement. Sanctions however, began to grow in both utilization and importance from the mid-1960's on. The sanctions typically employed by the BLM concentrated on exerting intense political and economic pressure on government institutions and corporate enterprises to force them to comply with various demands, such as access to jobs, educational opportunities, community investment, and decent housing. This type of sanction was employed because then, as now, Blacks in North America have not been able to attain self-determination in the form of national independence to be able to enact state level sanctions. A few of the more successful sanction initiatives of this period targeted the automotive industry, colleges and universities, and state social welfare agencies over hiring, safety, access and quality administrative issues.

One of the most memorable and celebrated BDS initiatives employed by the BLM was an international initiative in support of the anti-Apartheid Movement of Azania (i.e. South Africa). The BLM and the Azanian or South African liberation movement share a long and deep history of solidarity and strategic collaboration going back to late 1800's. From the 1920's on, through the efforts of activists like Max Yergan and A.B. Xuma, the BLM and the South African liberation movement not only appealed to each other for inspiration and solidarity, but consistently shared strategies and tactics to aid their respective struggles. How to apply BDS strategies and tactics, particularly after the success of the Indian liberation movement - which the BLM and Azanian liberation movements both stood in active solidarity with - in attaining independence from the British empire in 1947, and that of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, became a common feature of their exchanges. Upon the founding of the anti-Apartheid struggle by activists from the African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa in London in 1959, BLM activists and organizers were some of the first international supporters to take up the call and organize solidarity initiatives throughout the United States. These initiatives began to gain critical mass beginning in the 1970's through the initiatives of formations like the African Liberation Support Committee (ALSC) and Trans-Africa Forum. They played a major role in weakening the Apartheid regime economically and isolating it politically be getting North American cultural workers (artists, academics, and athletes) to honor the boycott call, forcing several major American corporations to divest from the South African economy, and in forming a solid political block in the US Congress around the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to press for US government to enforce international sanctions of the regime. This long history of solidarity played a critical role in the collapse of the Apartheid state in the late 1980's and the transition to majority democratic rule in 1994.

The BLM was not playing favorites in its international support of the Azanian liberation movement it should be noted. It also employed BDS strategies and tactics in support of numerous national and social liberation movements in Africa - most notably those of Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe, and Congo/Zaire - where it called on the US government and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) to stop arming and supporting the colonial empire of Portugal, the white settler regime in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), or for the US government to sanction and US corporations to divest from the reactionary Mobutu regime in Zaire after the assassination of Patrice Lumumba.

What the history of the BLM's employment of BDS strategies and tactics illustrates is that they can clearly be successful in advancing and attaining some of the critical objectives of a peoples' liberation movement. However, as the uncompleted struggle for Black liberation in North America testifies to, they, like all strategies and tactics, have their limitations. Where BDS strategies and tactics have tended to be most successful in the history of the BLM has been when mass self-reliant resistance was employed to confront a target that was either dependent on Black labor or economic patronage, typically the utilization of a service like transportation or the consumption of a product, or when boycott and divestment campaigns lead to the establishment of Black autonomous or independent institutions. Another critical factor in the success, or failure, of BDS tactics in the service of the BLM was the degree to which they shamed the US government in the context of the Cold War or constrained its operations in the Third World. However, it should be noted that while Pan-Africanism and the eliciting of international solidarity have been central to the BLM since the era of slave rebellions, maroon societies, and the abolitionist movement, and was extensively mobilized between the 1880's - 1900's, the 1920's - 40's, and again in the 1960's - 80's, the BDS initiatives of the BLM tended to be insular or self-reliant mobilizations that self-consciously depended on the strength of the Black masses themselves.

These historical and contextual lessons from the BLM are critical for the Palestinian BDS movement to internalize and incorporate where applicable. As the Palestinian BDS movement is currently modeled more on the example of the anti-Apartheid movement than the BLM (or Indian) example, it possess some of the limitations of that particular movement, particularly the reliance on Palestinian exiles and descendants in the diaspora for leadership and non-Palestinains throughout the world for support and patronage. Exiles or their descendants in the diaspora can sometimes be gravely out of touch with realities on the ground in their homelands, non-Palestinians who engage the movement in various capacities can sometimes have little regard for the necessity of Palestinian self-determination for determining the course of the struggle, and the general support of international allies can often be whimsical and conditional. The balance of forces in the world must also be taken into strategic consideration. The lack of a critical mass of progressive nation-states, as existed in the 1960's and 70's for instance, limits the threat of sanctions, and the general weakness of progressive social movements the world over (even with the inspiration of the so-called "Arab Spring") sets some constraints regarding both reach and depth on the employment of boycott and divestment initiatives.

These are the fundamental limitations related to the anti-Apartheid model of BDS. The primary limitation regarding the utilization of a more BLM oriented model pivots on the role of Palestinian labor in the interrelated and interdependent political economies of Palestine and the zionist nation-state. The Palestinian economy, namely that of Gaza and the West Bank, is severely constricted by what is in effect an Israeli and US-led embargo (in the case of Gaza its actually a full on military blockade), while Palestinian workers are rapidly joining the ranks of the worlds excluded, dispossessed and disposable populations due to the embargo and wholesale replacement in the Israeli economy by super-exploitable migrant workers imported from Southeast Asia and Africa. Prior to the 1st Intifada, the Israeli economy was largely dependent on Palestinian labor. Israeli capital, in unison with the Israeli nation-state, took deliberate steps after the 1st Intifada to make sure that Palestinian labor could never critically disrupt the economy again, hence the replacement. Palestinian labors limited ability to disrupt the Israeli economy means that it is limited in its ability to employ many of the successful BDS methods employed by the BLM in the 20th century.

However, as the example of the BLM illustrates, none of these challenges are insurmountable. The Palestinian liberation movement and its allies can and should learn a great deal from the BSM movements employed by the Black, Azanian, and Indian liberation movements, but take head that none of them can be copied whole cloth. In the final analysis, the Palestinian BDS movement is going to have to blaze its own course to address the conditions of the present era and those of the future. Those of us committed to the cause of Palestinian liberation and see the BDS movement as an essential tool to attain it would do well to take stock of the lessons that can be gained from critically examining a protracted struggle like the BLM, and prepare ourselves to embark on a long marathon down freedom's road.

1. August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, "Black Boycotts before Montgomery", Ebony Magazine, 1969. See
2. Debbie Elliot, "The First Civil Rights Bus Boycott: 50 years ago, Baton Rogue Jim Crow Protest Made History", National Public Radio, June 19, 2003. See
3. Horace Campbell, "The End of Empires: African Americans and India", 2008.
4. William Minter, Gail Hovey, and Charles Cobb Jr, editors, "No Easy Victories: African Liberation and American Activists over a Half Century, 1950 - 2000", 2008.
5. Penny M. Von Eschen, "Race against Empire: Black Americans and Anti-Colonialism, 1937 - 1957", 1997.
6. Peter M. Bergman, Mort N. Bergman, "The Chronological History of the Negro in America", 1969.
7. John, H. Bracey Jr, August Meier, and Elliott Rudwick, editors, "Black Nationalism in Amerca", 1970.
8. August Meier, Elliot Rudwick, and Francis L. Broderick, editors, "Black Protest Thought in the Twentieth Century", 1971.
9. Elliott P. Skinner, "African Americans and US Policy Toward Africa, 1850 - 1924: In Defense of Black Nationality", 1992.
10. Juliet E. K. Walker, "The History of Black Business in America: Capitalism, Race, Entrepreneurship, Volume 1, to 1865", 2009.
11. James H. Meriwether, "Proudly We Can Be Africans: Black Americans and Africa, 1935 - 1961", 2002.
12. Carol Anderson, "Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944 - 1955", 2003.
13. Charles P. Henry, editor, "Foreign Policy and the Black (Inter)National Interest", 2000.
14. Thomas Borstelmann, "The Cold War and the Color Line: American Race relations in the Global Arena", 2001.
15. Mary Dudziak, "Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy", 2000.
16. Brenda Gayle Plummer, editor, "Window on Freedom: Race, Civil Rights, and Foreign Affairs 1945 - 1988", 2003.

Kali Akuno is the National Coordinator for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXMG) and the Co-Director of the US Human Rights Nework (USHRN). Kali is currently working on a book tentatively entitled "Confronting a Cleansing: Hurricane Katrina, the Battle for New Orleans, and the Future of the Black Working Class". The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of MXGM or USHRN. Email feedback to:

Friday, July 29, 2011

DURBAN + 10 COALITION: A Peoples and NGO Initiative to Commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action

To honor the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism held in Durban, South Africa, and to continue the global fight against racism and xenophobia, a broad alliance of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from the United States and worldwide have joined together to form the Durban + 10 Coalition.

The Durban +10 Coalition strongly welcomes the UN General Assembly holding of a High Level meeting at the level of heads of state and government to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA) on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011, with the theme "Victims of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance: recognition, justice and development."

The Durban + 10 Coalition unequivocally supports and embraces the advances embodied in the DDPA, and is dedicated to ensuring that the DDPA remains the cornerstone of the UN's program to combat racism. We see the DDPA as central to pressuring the governments of the world to adopt and thoroughly implement national plans of action to eradicate racial discrimination, inequity, colonialism, xenophobia and related intolerances. We further stand opposed to the slander and sabotage against the DDPA and 10th anniversary spearheaded by the United States, Canada, Israel and several members of the European Union, particularly Italy, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, to suppress the rights and demands of the many groups protected by the DDPA, including Migrants, Indigenous Peoples, African and African descendant peoples for restitution and reparations and those of the Palestinian people for self-determination.

The Durban + 10 Coalition is organizing several days of activities in New York City from September 18th through September 22nd to celebrate the accomplishments of Durban, to further educate civil society in the United States and the world about the actual contents of the DDPA, which have been distorted over the past decade, and to pressure the governments of the world to honor their commitments to eradicate racism and xenophobia utilizing the Durban framework.

For more information on the Durban + 10 Coalition please email or visit

The endorsing organizations of the Durban + 10 Coalition include the US Human Rights Network, National Lawyers Guild, World Against Racism Network, December 12th Movement, National Black United Front, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Durban Declaration and Programme of Action Watch Group, US Palestinian Community Network, African Canadian Legal Clinic, Malcolm X Center for Self-Determination, Mississippi Workers Center for Human Rights, Priority Africa Network, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Mouvement International pour les Reparations, Black Workers for Justice, North Carolina Public Service Workers Union - UE Local 150, International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations, Independent Jewish Voices Canada, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, and Black Left Unity Network.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Black Agenda Morning Shot: Monday, July 11, 2011 - Report on the 4th Encuentro of Afrodescendientes

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

On the Occasion of the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the ILPS

Let us join together to consistently uphold democratic, anti-imperialist and internationalist principles, serve the masses in their struggles and build up organised resistance against imperialism and all reactionaries!

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the founding of the International League of Peoples’ Struggles (ILPS) on May 25-27, 2001, we the undersigned founding members of the ILPS, announce to all democratic and anti-imperialist forces across the world that 20 months ago, on 21 Nov, 2009, during a meeting of the ICC (International Coordinating Committee), the highest decision making body of the ILPS between International Assemblies, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, chairperson of the ICC, using the pretext of problems that arose during an IMAR (International Alliance of Migrants and Refugees) event in Athens, claiming that there was a threat of “no confidence” in his chairpersonship, proceeded to dissolve the ICG (International Coordinating Group). Giving no heed to protests by other members of ICC and ILPS office-bearers, chairing the meeting he rejected the right of the ICC to hear or discuss any issues, and negated its authority to hear reports and take the opportunity to resolve any problems. In violation of the fundamental spirit of solidarity which has been the basis of our collaboration, Prof. Sison pronounced a series of measures that are tantamount to the liquidation of the ICC and hence ILPS all together.

After 20 months of patient attempts to reverse and repair the consequences of this undemocratic and abusive behaviour, not being allowed to resolve problems internally, we are now compelled to debate the issues openly. During this period, we have not used the name of ILPS, or used the media channels at our disposal in order not to aggravate matters and allow space to resolve these problems. However, this self-proclaimed group, having issued a communiqué under the name of the ICC to the public on Nov 24, 2009, pretending that all is well, has continued to issue statements. We regard all decisions, statements and memos, since Nov 21, 2009 to be invalid as they are not directed by the ICC that was directly elected by the Third International Assembly of the ILPS in June 2008. Further, we do not regard the events planned for July 2011 in Manila as the “4th International Assembly” of the ILPS and as such will not join these events which are only designed to rubber stamp the unilateral destructive decisions staged by Prof. Sison and his associates at the failed ICC meeting in Nov 2009.

In the communiqué issued under name of ICC by the same group, there is a reference to re-election of the Prof. Sison as chairperson and others and that “some” ICC members were not elected and that this meeting put an end to a “sectarian” tendency.

In fact, quite beside the negation of the spirit of consensus and collaboration that had been developed within the ILPS, the said communiqué attacks and undermines the historic legacy of the ILPS, belittling its main founding organisations and their initiatives and tireless endeavours to advance the ILPS, labelling them as “sectarian”. Since most of the activities under the banner of ILPS consist of these achievements, it must be clear that these attacks are in fact directed against the achievements of the ILPS and indicate a decided rupture from its historic legacy. Events such as Thessaloniki Resistance 2003, Mumbai Resistance 2004, Resistabul 2004, Anti-Imperialist Anti-Capitalist Forum in Athens in 2006, mobilisations during the Anti-G8 and Anti-NATO summits in Glen Eagle, Scotland and Rostock, Germany, on-going campaigns to close down US military bases, No 2 Displacement 2008, International Campaign Against War on People in India 2009 and countless conferences, symposia and mobilisations are some of the major projects that were led by the very organisations under attack.

Today, this authoritarian and bureaucratic group, organising an event in Manila, hopes to consolidate these undemocratic actions and cover them up by branding them as the “4th International Assembly of the ILPS”, without explaining what has happened in the ICC, while members of the ILPS remain largely unaware of this affair.
At this juncture, after a decade of collective efforts, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of founding of the ILPS, we wish to publicly defend the spirit of the unity that was nurtured and fostered in the ILPS and uphold the achievement of our collective work in struggle against imperialism and reaction that is now being vilified in such unprincipled manner.

ILPS was founded with the full knowledge of the existence of ideological and political differences within the people’s movement in general and most importantly recognised the urgent necessity of unity to fight against imperialism and all reaction. From the outset, mechanisms for discussion and dialogues were put in place to facilitate collaboration and also address differences maintaining consensus and unity. But from the beginning a hegemonist, bureaucratic and a sectarian line was visible. However, we believed that so long as dialogue and mutual respect was held in place any adverse effects of such a tendency could be contained.

From the First International Assembly (FIA – May 25-27, 2001) till the Second International Assembly (SIA – November 11-14, 2004) this dialogue was maintained in a healthy way and consensus was maintained. At the SIA, held in the Netherlands, there were disruptive attempts to impose views that were supportive of China (a restored capitalist and emerging imperialist power) and other reactionary states. Such a line negating the ILPS charter was rejected by the gathering. Although this line was rejected during the Assembly nevertheless it continued to persist.
At this Assembly, the newly elected ICC meeting, elected Prof. JM Sison as the chairperson of the ICC. From the 2nd International Assembly (SIA) till the 3rd International Assembly (TIA) held in Hong Kong, in June 2008, while dialogue and discussion continued to exist and many actions and projects were undertaken, increasingly, there was reference to the ILPS chair as “chief spokesperson” of the ILPS as charter of the ILPS recognises – but more and more the role of the chairperson was being interpreted as the “sole spokesperson” of the ILPS by his associates. This became a problem as increasingly the other officers of the ILPS were effectively demobilised. However, believing that the ILPS is still in a stage of evolving into a mature organisation, we assumed that so long as the line expressed by the ILPS chair was representative of the collective, this issue could be resolved. However, soon after taking up his post, the first signs of departure occurred when Prof. Sison imposed “his method of leadership”. The chairperson establishing his office began to issue statements and directives without consulting with other elected officers representing different member organisations, a trend and practice that continued till Nov 2009. This practice was against Prof. Sison’s own earlier memos and recommendations (issued during 2001-2004 acting as the ILPS General Consultant) that suggested wider consultation and inclusivity of ICC members in preparation of drafts and statements by the ICG and the general secretariat.

In April 2005, on the 50th anniversary of the Bandung conference (1955), the office of the chairperson without any consultation with other office-bearers or members of the ICC issued a statement signed by the chairperson of the ICC that openly declared that the ILPS was “guided by the spirit of Bandung”. In fact up to that moment, the name Bandung, let alone it spirit had never entered our minds or discussion in public, during meetings or in any private meeting. No doubt such views do exist and continue to exist within the ranks of the people movements inside and outside the ILPS. However, many believe that the Bandung Conference was a departure from and alien to the spirit of internationalism, as it confused the front of the workers and other oppressed in each country with the reactionaries and comprador states that took advantage of the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist sentiments of the masses of people to legitimise and consolidate their own domination and privileged position in each country. As such, the “spirit of Bandung” cannot be regarded as a guide or foundation for an initiative that is based on an alliance of democratic and anti-imperialist mass formations. Beside the undemocratic nature of making such claims as an officer of the ILPS, it simply is not true that ILPS was founded with such a guiding spirit. The very idea of ILPS being part of a “non-aligned” movement that followed the principles of “non interference” and respect for UN charters was in fact alien to the charter of the ILPS. The ILPS charter defines the organisation as an alliance of democratic and anti-imperialist mass formations and as an organisation that is not attached to or extension of any state, party or religious establishment. ILPS was founded on the spirit of tireless internationalism which necessarily meant that peoples’ movements would unite on the basis of “Your enemy is my enemy! Your fight is my fight!” This implies by its very nature that we must engage in active solidarity struggles with each other and other people’s just struggles.

The ILPS was founded on clear principles. Its charter dictates that it is an independent organisation—independent of imperialism and all reactionary governments. ILPS took efforts to distinguish itself from the World Social Forum. Interestingly, propagandists and leading members of social democracy, civil society groups and funded NGOs too, express their pride in the fact that the World Social Forum (WSF) was actually built on the “spirit of Bandung”. Clearly, the WSF was a movement that was built for the purpose humanising imperialism, designed to help contain the rising tide of popular resistance, promote reform, undermine movements for social liberation and blur or mystify the need to smash the imperialist system before a new and a better world could be built. In contrast, the ILPS was built on the concept of the need to unite to provide international support for national and social liberation struggle of peoples of the world against imperialism and all reaction. This was reaffirmed through attaching prime importance to its first topical concern.

Increasingly, the office of the chair continued to issue contentious statements expressing opinions that perhaps accommodated the views of a section of the ILPS but not the views of the whole organisation. This continued till after the Third International Assembly where relations were becoming more difficult. Increasingly, the office of the chairperson rather than acting as representative of the collective views of the ILPS was acting unilaterally as the sole authority that expected and demanded that others follow without criticism.

In January 2009, the ILPS chairperson without consulting any member of ICG and against the advice of the general secretary and particularly, without consulting the vice chair for external affairs dispatched a member of his staff to participate in the “Beirut conference” (called the "International Forum for Resistance, Anti-Imperialism, Solidarity between Peoples and Alternatives”). This was to be a representative of an organisation in the Philippines who would also double up as a representative of the ILPS at this conference. Without a doubt, this conference, which was hosted by an affiliate of Hezbollah (Party of God) in Lebanon, was designed as a public relations exercise of the Iranian foreign ministry. A representative from Hezbollah opened the meeting and amongst the list of participants are the representatives of Ministry of Information from Iran.

In February 2009, this issue was cause for heated discussions at the annual meeting of the ICC where vice chair for external affairs and other members of the ICC opposed and rejected the report of representative from the office of the chair that had attended this conference, forestalling the intended ICC endorsement of this surprising and unauthorized engagement with the Beirut Conference by Prof. Sison.
Quite beside the undemocratic attitude adopted by the chair in lack of consultation and taking advice, this was another sign of his imposing a line that was alien to ILPS, a line that blurred the boundaries between people and their enemies.

Barely six months before Beirut Conference, in June 2008, during its plenary session, the Third International Assembly of the ILPS, approved a resolution marking the 20th anniversary of the massacre of 18,000 political prisoners in Iran, in the summer 1988, by the reactionary regime of Islamic republic. The resolution also pledged ILPS’s full support for the rising tide of struggle amongst workers, students, women and national minorities in Iran. Yet the ILPS chair was sending his representative to an event to portray this reactionary regime in good light for the international public opinion.

The Communiqué issued by Prof. Sison and his associates in the name of the ICC on Nov 24, in order to cover up their undemocratic behaviour and justify their actions, accuses the members of the ICC who are demanding thorough discussion of political issues and the general line, the development of policies with consensus, adherence to the democratic process and the accountability of ILPS officers, of “confuse(ing) ideological building of parties with the ILPS as a broad united front of mass organizations along the anti-imperialist and democratic line and misconstrue(ing) united front policy and work as opportunism.” These accusations are clearly false, when viewed in the light of the exemplary mass initiatives, over many years, led by the ICC members and organizations which have come under attack.

The undemocratic and autocratic behaviour of Prof. Sison and associates is unjustifiable and is condemnable, whether one is engaged in building a party or an alliance of mass formations in any one country, let alone an international alliance and coordination body of mass formations such as the ILPS.

Thus, the events in Athens and the role that the ILPS Chairperson played in aggravating differences and using his position to vilify others rather than act as an overseer and an arbiter must be seen in the light of such a backdrop of a growing tendency alien to the spirit of ILPS that ended up in the bureaucratic behaviour culminating in the undemocratic and liquidationist decisions at the ICC in Nov 2009.

We are living through one of the worst economic crises of the world capitalist system, which during the last 3 years alone has brought untold havoc to the lives of workers and the oppressed peoples around the world. The all-round ongoing offensives of the imperialist powers and reactionaries against the peoples of the world are unable to contain the rising tide of widespread protests and resistance struggles. The current upheavals and mass mobilisations in the Middle East, as in other places around the world, are a direct product of this crisis and the worsening condition of life for the vast majority of the people of the world.

Regional uprisings of the widest sections of the masses of peoples has led to the toppling of some long-time puppets but has not led to a decided rupture and break from the imperialist system. While various imperialist powers unite to contain the spontaneous mass uprisings and suppress the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of the world – resorting to violence, aggression and war – they continue to contend with one another to expand their spheres of influence, domination, and re-division of the world.

It is under such conditions that reactionaries everywhere attempt to utilise the just struggles of the masses of people to consolidate their position. US imperialism, the worst violator of democracy and people’s rights at home and abroad portrays itself as the champion of democracy. Reactionaries of all sorts tied with thousand strings to the imperialist system portray themselves as “anti-imperialist” and anti-American hegemony. Without a doubt the victory for the cause of national and social liberation of the people everywhere lies in unwavering opposition and consistent struggle against all imperialist powers and all reactionaries. Clearly, the struggle for democracy is inseparable from the struggle against imperialism and reaction.

Only a clear and consistent line, following democratic and anti-imperialist principles, is capable of providing the firm basis for the unity of the people’s movement. In May 2001, the ILPS was founded on these very principles and values. Today, more than at any time in the past there is an urgent need for dialogue, discussion and collaboration, to realise the principled internationalist unity of democratic and anti-imperialist forces across the world. Only in this way will we be able to bring much needed support and solidarity with the front line of the peoples struggle across the globe, and facilitate an effective framework for unity in struggle in the more difficult conditions.

As founding members of ILPS representing mass organisations in our countries in different global regions and as directly elected officers of the ILPS we reaffirm our commitment to serve these high objectives, build on the achievements of the ILPS, its charter and founding spirit. We take full responsibility for our own short comings and weaknesses for allowing such deprecating, divisive attitudes and lines to take hold against the interests of the ILPS and the global peoples’ struggles.
We pledge our commitment to take steps reaching out to all people’s mass formations to rebuild the unity of the democratic and anti-imperialist forces based on the positive experiences and achievements of the ILPS underpinned by the unwavering spirit of internationalism and active solidarity in our struggles against imperialism and reaction everywhere. On this occasion, drawing lessons from this experience, we also collectively resolve to fight to end undemocratic, bureaucratic and authoritarian ways of functioning in people’s organisations. We invite all democratic and anti-imperialist forces to join us in this endeavour!

In solidarity,

GN Saibaba – Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) – India
Deputy Chairperson of ILPS ICC (TIA), Regional Coordinator for South Asia
M Arkolakis – Committee Against Military Bases and Dependency of Greece – Greece
Vice Chairperson for External Affairs (FIA, SIA and TIA), Regional coordinator for Europe
A Riazi – Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisation of Iranians in Britain – Iran
General Secretary (IIC, FIA, SIA and TIA)
E Brunner – Umut Publications – Austria
Deputy General Secretary (TIA)
R Scarlatelli – Brazilian Centre for Peoples Solidarity, CEBRASPO – Brazil
Member ICC (FIA, SIA and TIA), Regional Coordinator for Latin America
H Gulum – Belidiye Is 2 Nolu Subesi (Civil Servants Union) – Turkey
Member ICC (FIA, SIA and TIA)
D Norberg – Collision Course Media, US
Member ICC (alternate SIA, TIA)
Kali Akuno – Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) – US
Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Y Gunes – Federation of Workers from Turkey in Holland (HTIF, Member of ATIK) – Netherlands
Member ICC (TIA)
A Genc – Federation of Workers from Turkey in Germany (ATIF, Member of ATIK) – Germany
Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Prof K R Chowdry – Vistapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan – India
Member ICC (TIA)
C Perperidou – Class March – Greece
Alternate member of ICC (SIA, TIA)


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To All ILPS Member Organisations - June 28, 2011

Dear Comrades and friends,

In our previous joint letter dated 26/06/2011, addressed to ILPS members, we announced and explained our collective decision as members of the International Coordination Committee (ICC) and founding members of the ILPS, not to join the events in Manila in July 2011. We explained that after 20 months of patient attempts to reverse the undemocratic and destructive actions of the meeting of ICC in November 2009, and having received no positive response from Professor Sison and his associates and, having seen announcements portraying events in Manila in July 2011 as the 4th International Assembly of the ILPS, we will make known the facts about these events and the spell out its consequences for the ILPS.

Herewith, we provide further information about the proceedings of the ICC meeting, in November 21, 2009 -- the details of which have remained unknown to most ILPS members, though the actions of that date have paralysed and effectively liquidated the ILPS as an international alliance of democratic and anti-imperialist mass formations since its foundation in May 25-27, 2001. Here are the facts and the background relating to the events of November 21, 2009 and the ICC.

The ICC annual meetings have usually taken place in the first quarter of each year, and were due to take place in early 2010. However, due to a need to discuss a set of important issues, proposals or planning of events, the ICC members, through the ICG, were requested to meet earlier and thus provide timely guidance and direction on demanding situations and at the same time facilitate a more effective mobilisation for major or central projects.

In fact, the call for the ICC meeting of November 2009 was based on the request of the Deputy Chairperson of ILPS, GN Saibaba, from India. He had asked for this gathering in order to report on the progress and to discuss the plans for a major international project to be hosted in India. This was a project that he was leading on behalf of the ILPS as the regional coordinator for South Asia and an officer of the ICC. Discussions and planning for this major project - which revolved around the topic of “Crisis of Imperialism and Our Tasks”, and which was jointly hosted with wider local groups based in South Asia - had been going on since soon after the conclusion of the Third International Assembly of ILPS, in June 2008 and preparations were well underway.

The ICC meeting in November 2009 was also an opportunity for members travelling from afar, to participate in events, such as the annual international solidarity with political prisoners in UK, and other solidarity events that were either ILPS led events or that had strong ILPS contingents.

In early November2009, there was also an International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IMAR) event in Athens, which members of ILPS in Europe supported. However, this was an event that was not conducted under auspices of the ILPS. There were difficulties in preparations for this event and there were significant differences of opinion amongst the organisers, which involved some members of the ILPS. This had produced unhealthy contentious atmosphere and the ILPS Chairperson, invited to address the IMAR event, became involved-- and rather than help resolve the issues by meeting and consulting with fellow ICC members to arrive at a unified ILPS statement, instead aggravated relations by insisting on unilaterally delivering a discordant and dis-uniting speech. During this event the Greek and Turkish members of ILPS walked out in protest. Clearly, serious mistakes had been made on both sides that needed to be addressed and resolved.

It was with this background that the ICC meeting in November 2009 took place. The ICC meeting held on November 21, 2009 was chaired jointly by ICC Chairperson, Prof. JM Sison and Deputy Chairperson of ICC, GN Saibaba. Following deliberations and acceptance of the agenda, the ILPS Chairperson, Prof. Sison began to read his report. In his report of ILPS activities in the past few months, Prof. Sison stated:
 that Vice Chairperson for External Affairs , M. Arkolakis abused him in the event of International Assembly of Migrants and Refugees (IMAR2) in Athens held 1-4 November 2009;
 ATIK, a founding and leading member organisation of the ILPS, behaved in a sectarian manner and tried to prevent the IMAR2 activity in Greece; and that,
 Class March, another founding member organisation of the ILPS from Greece, did not cooperate in organising this event.

In his report, rather than create an atmosphere for discussion and resolution of these issues and claims, the ICC Chairperson adopted a bureaucratic approach, and putting himself above the ICC, used the Athens events as a pretext to suspend the ICC’s democratic process and the ICC agenda.

The Chairperson continued to claim that during these events, there was a strong sense of “no confidence” in his chairpersonship and that the ICG had to be dissolved as it had lost trust in him as chairperson. He promptly “dissolved” the ICG. The Deputy Chairperson and other ICC members opposed these actions, and argued to reverse the undemocratic acts of dissolution of the ICG outside the agenda and more importantly without thorough going debate and discussion that is the life line and hallmark of any democratic organisation. The Deputy Chairperson repeatedly appealed to the Chairperson and his associates that it was a blunder to resolve political and ideological issues in an organisation through an organisational act instead of solving them by conducting a healthy debate and discussion. This appeal also didn’t bring in any change of minds of those who premeditated the liquidation of the organisation prior to the ICC meeting in November 2009. However, despite these strong protests and procedural reminders by the Deputy Chairperson and other ICC members and to the dismay of the founding members of the ILPS present at this meeting, Prof. Sison denied their rights as members of the ICC to hear or discuss any opinions or facts about these events and to counter with arguments the allegations that had been raised by the Prof. Sison. Despite protests, the Chairperson continued to ignore the agenda and with the support of his associates staged a pre-rehearsed snap re-election for a new ICG with himself as the new Chairperson.

The reasons stated by the Chairperson could hardly suffice as any convincing statement for such a knee-jerk, arbitrary and abusive action that resulted in this unilateral take over and effective liquidation of the ILPS. In such a highly charged atmosphere created by high-handed actions of the Chairperson-- when a debate is denied the representatives of the organisations which were accused and denied their rights, had no alternative but to leave the meeting. The Deputy Chairman, GN Saibaba, rejecting the undemocratic decisions and “staged” election, declined and rejected his new post as the “new deputy chair” of ILPS. Other members of the ICC, each expressing their criticism and opposition to these unsound decisions and the utterly undemocratic and abusive conduct of the meeting by Prof. JM Sison and his associates also departed.

A few days later, an unauthorised communiqué was issued by this group, on the 24th November 2009, carrying the name of the ICC that was distributed to the public and members of the ILPS, pretending that all is well and claiming that there was an election and “some” members of the ICC were not re-elected to the new ICG. The “communiqué” went further, adding insult to injury, and accused founding members of the ILPS as “sectarian”, “confusing party building with work in mass formations” and “being disruptive at meeting “ just to pile on more disinformation and lies in order to cover up these senseless acts. This document unashamedly further denied the contributions of the major founding members to the growth and development of the ILPS.

Since this “Communiqué” was issued and circulated to the wider public and was distributed beyond the members of the ILPS, we will issue our belated public response to it, addressed to all democratic and anti-imperialist forces for their attention and consideration.

Since then there has been no ICC meeting or consultations on any decisions including to hold any gathering or International Assemblies. Since then the rights of the ICC members representing major organisations from across the world as directly elected Office-bearers of the ILPS have been denied and trampled on. All ILPS related activity of members from the concerned countries including the major project on the “Crisis of imperialism and our tasks” that was to take place in India, have effectively come to a halt.

Without a doubt these events have arisen as a result of political differences and are the continuation of cumulative problems that have existed from the very beginning of the founding of the ILPS. It is true and we were fully aware of these differences from the very beginning. But it is also true that such alliances and united-fronts are built with the knowledge and the recognition of existing differences and that so long as mutual respect and sincerity is preserved, so long as dialogue and discussions are maintained, so long as fundamental political principles are not abandoned, then every possibility exists to arrive at defendable common views that can only lead to positive action.

Within the ILPS such mechanisms for dialogue, consultation, discussion and resolution of differences of opinions, were put in place from the very beginning for exactly this purpose. The International Assemblies, local and regional consultative meetings and annual meetings of the ICC, as well as the topical commissions were all venues where such differences could be aired, helping to develop an agreed common line for action based on consensus, in the interests of the collective and the wider democratic anti-imperialist people movement, that also reflect the degree of unity and development of the ILPS organisation at any given moment.

Problems were bound to arise and change the course of development when a sectarian line, lacking in sincerity, bent on imposing its will, subverted this process and resorted to bureaucratic and arbitrary methods, denied the need for discussion and the necessity of arriving at decision through consensus and put its own narrow interests above all and that of the ILPS. What led to the unprecedented and senseless proceedings of the last ICC meeting in Nov 2009, could only be the result of such a tendency suffocating the democratic process and crushing the very spirit of solidarity and fraternity that was cultivated within the ILPS.

Clearly, this rampant insincerity, high handedness and abuse shown towards peoples’ unity, and such attacks on the ten years of achievements and successes of the ILPS is the mark of a decided rupture with the ILPS legacy of advancing the unity in struggle of the oppressed peoples of the world by holding high the democratic, anti- imperialist and internationalist values and principles.

We the undersigned, as founding members of the ILPS, upholding the values and principles that were the basis of the foundation of the ILPS, reject the decisions taken in the name of ILPS during and after November 2009. In the light of the break down of basic relations, we announce our intention to use all channels open to us to initiate the widest discussions upholding the very founding spirit and principles that established the ILPS, to uphold the ILPS Charter as a the framework for unity, to defend our achievements in the past 10 years and to coordinate the widest participation in the process to rebuild the democratic and anti-imperialist and internationalist peoples’ unity in the struggle for social liberation against imperialism and all reaction.

We call on all ILPS members and all other democratic and anti-imperialist forces across the world to engage in just struggle against the imperialist system and all reactionaries. Join us in this endeavour!

In solidarity,
GN Saibaba – Deputy Chairperson of ILPS ICC (TIA)
– Regional Coordinator for South Asia
M Arkolakis – Vice Chairperson for External Affairs (FIA, SIA and TIA)
– Regional coordinator for Europe
A Riazi – General Secretary (IIC, FIA, SIA and TIA)
E Brunner – Deputy General Secretary (TIA)
R Scarlatelli - Member ICC (FIA, SIA and TIA)
– Regional Coordinator for Latin America
H Gulum – Member ICC (FIA, SIA, TIA)
D Norberg – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
K Akuno – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
A Genc – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Y Gunes –Member ICC (TIA)
Prof K R Chowdry – Member ICC (TIA)
C Perperidou – Alternate member of ICC (SIA, TIA)


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To All ILPS Member Organisations - June 26, 2011

Dear Friends and comrades,

The undersigned members of the International Coordinating Committee (ICC), representing founding member organisations of the ILPS, after 20 months of patient attempts to reverse and repair the damage caused by the undemocratic, arbitrary and abusive actions led by Prof. Sison, the Chairperson of the ILPS, at the Nov 21, 2009 ICC meeting, which were aimed at effectively liquidating the ILPS as a democratic, anti-imperialist organization, declare that we will not participate in the events in Manila in July 2011, which are being promoted as “ILPS 4th International Assembly”.
On November 21, 2009, the ICC Chairperson, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, in his report to the ICC meeting declared that the prior proceedings in the IMA (International Migrants Alliance) event, in Athens, Greece there was a strong sign of “no confidence” in him--and, without allowing any discussion, dismissed the whole of the International Coordinating Group, of ILPS. In violation of the agenda, and without prior notice, a “snap” election of office-bearers was held by dissolving the ICG. Despite protests and procedural reminders that this is undemocratic, a pre-rehearsed set of moves swiftly “elected” a new ICG with Prof. Sison as its Chairperson. The office-bearers who were thus removed represented the geographic and political diversity of ILPS across the globe. All this took place while the ICC and its agenda was subverted and its rights to request details of the proceedings and events were denied and subjected to the whim of the Chair attempting to replace and act as the whole ICC, negating the role of this body as the highest decision making body of the ILPS in between Assemblies. Objecting to these undemocratic and unprecedented manoeuvres, some members of the ICC left the meeting in protest.

Clearly, no one, including Prof. Sison, is above the Charter of ILPS and this abusive attitude has broken all democratic procedures and rules of conduct. Despite this unprecedented, senseless and outlandish behaviour, during the past 20 months, we have made every attempt and given every opportunity for these decisions to be reversed and to allow the ICC, (the only directly elected body and the highest organ of the ILPS in between Assemblies), to hear the issues and exercise its powers to resolve or seek ways to offer solutions to these issues. Instead, Prof. Sison and his associates have continued to misuse the name of ICC in statements, the first of which was a communiqué accusing founding member organisations of the ILPS as sectarian, denying their contributions and spreading other unfounded lies to justify their actions and hide the truth from ILPS members. These unfounded attacks against the very organisations that shouldered and led many of organising activities and mass campaigns under the auspices of the ILPS, are in fact an attack on legacy of the ILPS and its achievements and are clear indications of the extent of the departure from the very founding spirit of the ILPS which has been taken.

Adding insult to injury this group is now calling for an event in Manila, in July 2011, and branding it as the ILPS 4th International Assembly. Not to mention that all these preparations and announcements have been conducted without the consideration or approval of the ICC to ratify the proposals and plans for the 4th International Assembly--since November 2009. This so-called “Assembly” is merely an attempt to get ILPS member’s approval for the actions of Prof. Sison and his associates while members of the ILPS remain uninformed about what has actually taken place in the last 20 months.

We regard all these actions as negation of the ILPS Charter, contrary to the spirit of unity that brought us together to create the ILPS and tantamount to the total liquidation of the ILPS. As founding members of the ILPS we feel duty bound to inform members of the ILPS about the facts of these matters, to uphold the Charter, the legacy of the ILPS and its achievements since its founding and to continue to advance the principle of unity that is embodied in its Charter. We regard this principled unity as an expression of the radical democracy, consistent anti-imperialism and unwavering internationalism, which are essential in the struggle against imperialism and all reaction, particularly at a time of the intensifying crisis of capitalism and the imperialist system and the rising tide of peoples’ struggles and resistance around the world.

Thus, it is in this context that as founding members of the ILPS we feel obliged to inform and open public discussion about the details of these proceedings, the progressive build up of the arbitrary and undemocratic measures since the Second Assembly in 2004, and the emergence of differences in the line, understanding, and approach that are behind these senseless attempts to block the unity of the peoples movement at the international level.

To this end, we are determined to use all communication channels at our disposal to inform members of the ILPS on these issues and to launch open and wide discussions amongst all democratic and anti-imperialist forces across the world (including those that have so far remained outside ILPS) to help rebuild our common project that is being liquidated in such a undemocratic and foul manner.
We welcome the participation of all ILPS member organisations and all others in the process.

In solidarity,

GN Saibaba – Deputy Chairperson of ILPS ICC (TIA)
– Regional Coordinator for South Asia
M Arkolakis – Vice Chairperson for External Affairs (FIA, SIA and TIA)
– Regional coordinator for Europe
A Riazi – General Secretary (IIC, FIA, SIA and TIA)
E Brunner – Deputy General Secretary (TIA)
R Scarlatelli - Member ICC (FIA, SIA and TIA)
– Regional Coordinator for Latin America
H Gulum – Member ICC (FIA, SIA and TIA)
D Norberg – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Kali Akuno – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Y Gunes –Member ICC (TIA)
A Genc – Member ICC (SIA, TIA)
Prof K R Chowdry – Member ICC (TIA)
C Perperidou – Alternate member of ICC (SIA, TIA)


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Friday, May 20, 2011

A Work of Negation: A Critical Review of Manning Marable's, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention"

by Kali Akuno
written for Left Turn Magazine

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Manning Marable's, "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention", must be seen for what it is, an ideological polemic. The general focus of this polemic is Black Nationalism, and Black revolutionary nationalism in particular. Manning's critical focus and fixation on Malcolm X as the quintessential point of reference for Black Nationalists since his cold blooded assassination in 1965, is a means to socially advance a line of reasoning against this broad political philosophy and social movement by turning its iconic figurehead on his head. The objective of this inversion is to prove, in 594 pages no less, that those who adhere to and seek to advance some variant of a Black nationalist program not only have it all wrong, but in fact are distorting what Malcolm himself stood for at the end of his days.

As Manning would have it, at the time of his assassination, Malcolm X had all but abandoned Black nationalism, and had instead become a pragmatic, liberal humanist, with social democratic political leanings. As several critics have already pointed out, this character bears a striking resemblance to Manning himself. Paraphrasing Patrick Moyniham, although Manning is unquestionably entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts. And the fact stands that the document that most clearly reflects Malcolm's political philosophy and programmatic orientation at the time of his death was the Program of the Organization of Afro-American Unity. This program is without question a revolutionary nationalist program. The OAAU's program is modeled on the anti-imperialist program of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) advanced by the Casablanca block of the Union in the early 1960's. The Casablanca Group included several progressive states offering political, financial and military aid to the revolutionary anti-colonial struggles then raging on the continent, particularly in the Portuguese held colonies and Southern Africa. Chief amongst the Casablanca states were Kwame Nkrumah's Ghana, Sekou Toure's Guinea, and Gamal Abdel-Nassar's Egypt, all of which Malcolm X had long standing knowledge and admiration of. This is evidenced by his constant references to the 1955 Afro-Asian or Bandung Conference, even prior to his departure from the Nation of Islam (NOI), and the Non-Aligned Movement which he was concretely relating to at the time of his death. Manning consistently tries to tip toe around these and other clearly known facts, and where he can't he insists on trying to twist their meaning into something more temperate and palatable to the liberal, non-racial or multi-cultural, social democratic movement and program he was seeking to advance.

No where was this more painfully evident than on pages 484 - 486 of the book. The portion that perhaps best illustrates Manning's disdain for Black nationalism and his narrow interpretation of it is found on page 485. He states:
"The unrealized dimension of Malcolm's racial vision was that of black nationalism. A political ideology that originated before the Civil War, black nationalism was based on the assumption that racial pluralism leading to assimilation was impossible in the United States. So cynical were many nationalists about the incapacity of whites to overcome their own racism that they occasionally negotiated with white terrorist groups like the Ku Klux Klan, in the mistaken belief that they were more honest about their racial attitudes than liberals. Yet as Malcolm's international experiences became more varied and extensive, his social vision expanded. He became less intolerant and more open to multiethnic and interfaith coalitions. By the final months of his life he resisted identification as a 'black nationalist', seeking ideological shelter under the race-neutral concepts of Pan-Africanism and Third World revolution."
First, he rehashes an old, liberal line against Black nationalism that it is the largely rejected strain of Black politics that periodically reemerges like a phoenix during times of heighten oppression against Black people. Manning, like many of his predecessors who held and advanced this line, has a hard time grasping that since the inception of the genocidal white-settler project that is the United States, that there have been African people not in the least mystified by the material and ideological trappings of their would be masters, and have sought to establish their own independent states or safe havens on American soil or sought repatriation back to Africa. Uncompromising self-determination and sovereignty has always been the fundamental objective of this tendency of the Black Liberation Movement. Further, Manning's statement assumes that structurally the US is qualitatively less white supremacist now than it was in the 19th century. While some of the formal trappings of white supremacy have changed, and changed considerably as in the case of the elimination of de jure apartheid, the fundamental essentials of the racist political economy remain the same. And we have to keep in mind, that although history never repeats itself exactly, there are plenty of signs that the "second reconstruction" has exhausted itself with the election of President Obama, and is in the process of being reversed, much as the first reconstruction was between the late 1870's and 1890's.

Second, neither Pan-Africanism, Third Worldism, or Tri-Continentalism were ever "race-neutral". All of these social movements were and are crystal clear that one of their primary enemies was and is white supremacy in the guise of European and American colonial occupation and imperialist exploitation. Malcolm X's deepening embrace of Pan-Africanism and Third World internationalism was never a rejection or retreat from Black nationalism. If anything, as it pertains to his adoption of these ideologies and movements, the base of his contemporary US influences alone (the myth that it was international travel alone that advanced Malcolm's politics in this vein needs to be totally debunked) - which run the gamut from Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Queen Mother Moore, Robert F. Williams, CLR James, Vickie Garvin, Carlos Cooks, Elombe Brath, Harold Cruse, John Henrik Clarke and Gaidi and Imari Obadele, to name but a few - indicate more than anything, that Malcolm was in fact embracing the more revolutionary and internationalist currents of the Black Liberation Movement. These revolutionary currents were brutally repressed in the 1940's and 50's by the US government and largely sidelined by the liberal, petit bourgeois leadership of the social movement now labeled the "Civil Rights Movement", which made a conscious choice to abandon the economic demands and human rights framework advanced by the BLM in the 1930's and 40's, so as not to be castigated or associated with communism and the revolutionary nationalist movements opposed by US imperialism during the high tide of the Cold War.

In light of these facts, I think it becomes clear that Manning's distortions are more than just mere twists of fact. "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention", has to be read as a product of the political and ideological struggles of its own time and historical context, just as much as it should be read and interpreted as a product of a singular (or team, as I believe there was more than one hand responsible for some of the sections of this work) consciousness. It is the contemporary weaknesses of the Black Liberation Movement on a whole, and its Black Nationalist wings more specifically, buttressed by imperialism's hegemonic co-optation of Afrocentrism and other liberal variants of multi-culturalism into a "post-racial" politics of American nationalism that define the so-called "age of Obama", that enabled the production of this work. Nowhere is this most evident than on page 486, where Manning raises the question:
"If legal racial segregation was permanently in America's past, Malcolm's vision today would have to radically redefine self-determination and the meaning of black power in a political environment that appeared to many to be 'post-racial'."
Here again, Manning displays his narrow understanding of Black Nationalism. In this leap frog of a statement, Manning fails to address the more than 40 years of the Black nations internal struggle over the question of self-determination. What is negated here is an explanation of the political and military defeat of the Black Liberation Movement in the 1970's and 80's, and the Black petit bourgeoisie's broad betrayal of the liberation movement by making conscious, deliberate and consistent choices since the 1970's to incorporate itself within the American imperialist project. Thus by virtue of a vacuum, the Black petit bourgeoisie, in alliance with the Democratic Party, has assumed an unrelenting hegemonic stranglehold over Black politics, removing it from the streets, the schools and the shop floors to ensure that the peoples' political engagement would be safely confined to narrow electoral channels. The liberal Black petit bourgeois program and cultural orientation willfully subjects and subordinates the interests of Black people to the interests of the American imperial project, essentially to ensure that its own position within the projected is secured and consolidated. The "post-racial" political climate that Manning speaks of is not some neutral phenomenon that somehow spontaneously emerged. It is the outcome of this struggle, an outcome with clear winners and losers. The primary loser being the Black working class.

Since its qualitative fragmentation (particularly after the collapse of the National Black Political Convention and the dissolution of the African Liberation Support Committee in the mid-1970's) and repression induced retreat in the 1970's, the Black Liberation Movement has been largely unable to address the deteriorating conditions of the Black working class produced by capital's globalizing counter-offensive to the gains of Black workers and the working class as whole won between the 1930's and 60's, and fundamentally blocked from enacting on a comprehensive scale an independent political program that advances the goal of self-determination. One of the primary results of this defeat has been a steady right orientated ideological drift in the Black community that has tailed the growing class fragmentation of the Black nation into the Haves (and have access) and the Have-Not's. The Have's occupy the hegemonic center, and through the hegemonic block that they have constructed within the Black nation have advanced a program that creates space for the general acceptance of Black cultural and physical inclusion within the imperial project, just so long as it doesn't threaten the settler-order at home and the never ending expanse of capital globally. The Have-Not's meanwhile, due to the present lack of a strong and viable alternative, are increasingly excluded from labor markets, warehoused in prisons, and contained in isolated urban ghetto's or ex-urbanian cantonments seeking economic justice and self-determination.

Manning spent a considerable portion of his political and academic life contemplating what could and should be a viable political alternative for the Have-Not's. As one of his defining political projects, he was unwavering in his resistance to the advance of conservative and reactionary Black nationalist politics, as well he and all of us should be in my own opinion, posing as that alternative. But, he often displayed a somewhat narrow understanding of the complexity of Black nationalism, which often led him to short change revolutionary nationalism and its promise and potential as an alternative in his works and political engagements. However, its clear from reading "Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention", that Manning was not just casting Black nationalism narrowly unintentionally, but that he was committed to seeing that no version or tendency of this phenomenon be projected as an alternative. However, as hard as "A Life of Reinvention" tries to negate the propagation of this ideological and political alternative by its attempted inversion of the political life and legacy of Malcolm X, it largely fails. And it fails because as much a Malcolm X was constantly pushing himself and being pushed by his peers to grow politically, his commitment to the self-determination of African people in the US and throughout the world was unwavering, and no assemblage of minutia can twist this historical fact.

For reference to many of the historical points raised herein, please consider the following sources as a sample of the rich history of the Black Liberation Movement:
1. "Race Against Empire: Black Americans and anti-impmerialism, 1937 - 1957", by Penny M. Von Eschen.
2. "Eye's Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944 - 1955", by Carol Anderson.
3. "Black Reconstruction in America, 1860 - 1880", by W.E.B. Du Bois.
4. "From Civil Rights to Black Liberation: Malcolm X and the Organization of Afro-American Unity", by William Sales, Jr.
5. "Want to Start a Revolution? Radical Women in the Black Freedom Struggle", edited by Dayo Gore, Komozi Woodard, and Jeanne Theoharis.
6. "Revolutionaries to Race Leaders: Black Power and the Making of African American Politics", by Cedric Johnson.
8. "The Golden Age of Black Nationalism, 1850 - 1925", by William Jeremiah Moses.
9. "Black Power in the Belly of the Beast", edited by Judson L. Jefferies.
10. "Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition", by Cedric J. Robinson.
11. "We Will Return in the Whirlwind: Black Radical Organizations, 1960 - 1975", by Muhammad Ahmad.
12. "New Day in Babylon: The Black Power Movement and American Culture, 1965 - 1975", by William L. Van Deburg.
13. "A Nation Within a Nation: Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Black Power Politics", by Komozi Woodard.
14. "Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power", by Timothy B. Tyson.
15. "Negroes with Guns", by Robert F. Williams.
16, "Free the Land", by Imari A. Obadele.

Kali Akuno is the National Coordinator for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXMG) and the Director of Education, Training, and Field Work for the US Human Rights Nework (USHRN). Kali is currently working on a book tentatively entitled "Confronting a Cleansing: Hurricane Katrina, the Battle for New Orleans, and the Future of the Black Working Class". The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of MXGM or USHRN. Email feedback to: 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dancing with the Devil: Lessons from the Libyan Civil War

By Kali Akuno

For a generation that has witnessed few genuine people's movements succeed in transforming the nation-states where they reside and engage in bottom up processes of social revolution, the popular uprisings in Africa (Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Libya) and southwest Asia (Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria) have been very instructive. In the main what these movements reiterate is that "repression does indeed build resistance", although it may take a decades for it to mature or to find the right time and opportunity to express itself. All of these states had been captured and ruled for years, if not decades or longer (in the case of Morocco in fact centuries), by neo-colonial forces that found countless ways to compromise with imperialism and brutality repress and contain the democratic aspirations of the peoples for social revolution. The rebellions of 2011 are more than justified responses to this sad history of neo-colonial reaction and imperialist domination.

While each of the uprisings as individual events deserve to be analyzed and studied in detail, the situation in Libya I would argue is the most pertinent for revolutionary forces around the world to understand. There are some very critical lessons to be learned from the current conflagration in Libya on the does and don'ts of engaging in revolutionary struggle. The most central of these lessons focuses on the importance of self-reliance to the success of peoples' struggles for self-determination, national sovereignty and democratic rights. History painfully illustrates that political forces that aspire to make revolutionary change that don't prioritize self-reliance in all aspects of their endeavors in making change typically don't end up determining their own destiny. Forces that don't adhere to this principle typically gravitate towards opportunism and seek short cuts to victory. Short cuts don't build organization, develop a political base, nor transform consciousness. Short cuts typically embolden counter-revolution and inevitably lead to defeat. Even worse, they open the door for better organized or more powerful players on the world stage to dictate and determine the outcome of the struggles.

In its quest to depose the Gaddafi government, the Libyan opposition has violated the principle of self-reliance, and has made a fateful deal with the devil that has likely sealed its fate. In calling upon outside forces to intervene in the attainment of a key strategic objective - in this case to provide it with aerial superiority, military intelligence, arms, and training (all in clear violation of UN resolution 1973) - the Libyan opposition is engaging in a critical short cut that can only lead to a Pyrrhic victory. The "no-fly zone" administered by the US and NATO, under the banner of UN legitimacy, not only changes the overall balance of forces in this struggle, it has insured that imperialism will ultimately determine the outcome to its liking and/or strategic needs, as favors are not awarded for free. Imperialism will make sure that any new Libyan regime (which despite many confused claims about the opposition, particularly by a number of left forces, is being lead by key elements drawn from the Gaddafi regime, who have opportunistically jettisoned it in the hopes of administering their own imperialist sponsored fiefdom) is a neo-liberal state that will keep the oil spigot flowing, enable aspects of oil production to be further privatized, and fully serve the economic and political needs of transnational capital. What this means for the opposition, and more importantly for the Libyan people, is that at best they will have UN monitored and sanctioned "democratic elections" that will merely substitute one puppet regime for another.

In all fairness to the Libyan opposition, the opportunism and expediency it is demonstrating in appealing for US and NATO military support, is in part the result of its insufficient organization and political unity. The Libyan opposition is not a consolidated entity. It is, at best, a mixed and incongruous patchwork of forces, brought together by the unique circumstances of the popular African and Arab uprising of 2011. It is also safe to say that not all of the forces within the opposition support imperialist aid and intervention. Some level of awareness of the dangers posed by imperialist intervention was clearly expressed in statements that the opposition wanted no western "boots on the ground" as it were during the initial public requests for imperialist intervention. However, the cautions of this faction of the opposition were clearly minimized and eventually cast to the side, as CIA and other special forces of imperialism are now openly operating on the ground (and likely have been all along).

Despite the uneven experiences and variances in political orientation amongst the opposition forces, a dominant orientation and leadership is being exhibited and promoted, and it is this leadership that is currently leading the Libyan uprising down a dead end road of subservience and dependency to imperialism. One can only hope that this mis-leadership won't be as treacherous as to follow the path of so many other opportunist forces in history and embark on a course of liquidating its left flank after being granted the reigns of state power to eliminate the possibility of anti-imperialist resistance and the demands for genuine transformative justice. The spectre of left liquidation in Indonesia, Iran, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Mexico, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt and so many other examples should not be taken lightly. To safe guard against such a development, it is imperative that the revolutionary forces within the opposition consolidate themselves and be prepared to engage in long, protracted struggle on three fronts against the Gaddafi regime, reactionary and collaborationist forces within the opposition (including the many defectors from the Gaddafi regime operating within the Transitional National Council), and most importantly, against imperialism and its many tentacles.

There is no evading or getting around the importance of self-reliance in revolutionary struggle. Attempts to tactically exploit contradictions amongst imperialists forces to one's advantage are a definite part of revolutionary strategy. But, in an era such as the present, where the US government serves as the principle organizer and alliance shaper of the enforcement of the dictates of transnational capital, there are few genuine inter-imperialist rivalries to exploit in any substantive way. While there are many faces and manifestations of imperialism - some forms seem to be regional in nature, like the European Union; others to be engaged in joint frontal initiatives, like the US, France and Canada in Haiti and others still to be in contention with each other, like BRIC versus the G8 - there are none, as of yet, in open challenge to US hegemony. Let us hope that the Libyan opposition, and all the principled forces of the African and Arab popular uprising, assimilate the hard lessons of history regarding the need for self-reliance and not fall pray to short-sighted opportunism which will only allow imperialism to distort the revolutionary process and destroy its transformative potential.


Kali Akuno is the National Coordinator for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXMG) and the Director of Education, Training, and Field Work for the US Human Rights Nework (USHRN). Kali is currently working on a book tentatively entitled "Confronting a Cleansing: Hurricane Katrina, the Battle for New Orleans, and the Future of the Black Working Class". The views expressed in this article do not reflect those of MXGM or USHRN. Email feedback to: