06 September 2019

The Special Question of Lenin, Harry Hay, and Trans Liberation: An Argument


Not a week goes by where a shit-storm over the recognition of trans women doesn't explode on social media. On one side, there are the so-maligned TERFS [Trans-exclusionary radical feminists], who fight against what they claim is the infringement of space of real women by trans women. The other side fights for the recognition that trans women are in fact women and are accused of ignoring basic science.

And at ground level from these raucous seminar debates, scarcely a day goes by when a trans woman, particularly a trans woman of color, is not assaulted or murdered for being a trans woman.

This makes trans liberation a critical and urgent discussion among radicals and not one to be put off "until later," as many marginalized people are used to hearing from some of our so-called friends in privileged places.

The murders and assaults don't care about our panel discussions.

These debates on social media are rarely productive because the so-called defenders of trans women as women do not go beyond the strident demand that "trans women are women" and maintain anyone who says different is transphobic - the TERFS - and is complicit in the brutalization of trans women. For the other side there seems to be no end of news stories about how a trans woman athlete displaced a cis-woman athlete, and the sky is falling.

It is not helpful that many of the opponents do in fact oppose the existence of transgenders for their very existence, even going to far as to call it a psychiatric disorder.

While solidarity is over due to those activists engaged in the on-the-ground work to stop these assaults against trans women, I will try here to further this rhetorical debate, hopefully break new ground with some more classic references, and bring this argument back to the struggle for liberation.

First, to be clear, I am for the liberation of trans women - and trans men. I don't consider those who think transgender a psychiatric condition any more than I would consider those who consider same-sex attraction a psychiatric condition.

I am similarly for the liberation of lesbians, of gays, of queers, of Same-Gender Loving people, and of women. I am for the liberation of the working class. It is important to put it like this, because I do not pretend that there is an "LGBTQ" community as such - ask an HIV+ Black gay/SGL man or working-class Latina lesbian where this "community" is. But I do acknowledge we face some common obstacles - from the Left and from the Right, just as workers we face common obstacles - from the Left and from the Right.

These are distinct communities with distinct histories they carry to the present times, but we do share common struggles.

I already know my argument will be dismissed by some out of hand, and that I will be accused of making an excuse to hate trans women, etc. Some or all of the people I reference may be dismissed as well. However exact I craft my arguments, I know this cannot be avoided, but I hope some others, whether their minds are changed or not, will appreciate another perspective that does seek liberation, draws from a radical tradition, but rejects out of hand the notion that trans women are women (or that trans men are men) and that this is in any way a radical move toward liberation.

That's why I call this piece "an argument." It is not the last word or a prophecy chiseled into stone tablets.

My thesis is that the call that "trans women are women," despite its radical appearance, is a reactionary position that undermines the liberation not only of women in particular but also trans women in general.

Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Special Questions


These marginalized communities fall under what is sometimes called "Special Questions," with its nod to Marxism-Leninism and Joseph Stalin and the "National Question."

In Lenin's day, transgenders, lesbians and gays were not considered in his discourse, but concepts behind the National Question thesis inspired communists and were progressively expanded from the ethnic minorities of the Russian Empire to ethnic minorities generally, to women, and to Blacks, and eventually to sexual and cultural minorities.

According to Stalin, "a nation is a historically-evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological makeup manifested in a community of culture." [Stalin, Joseph. "Marxism and the National Question: Selected Writings"]

Generally, this short set of criteria constituted a nation, or a national minority, in Marxist-Leninist terms, but as with any idea and any Marxist, it would find broader applications.

The National Question was a debate that even found its way to Territorial, US-occupied Hawaii, where members of the Communist Party of Hawaii debated its application [Reinecke, John. "Hawaii Nationalism: a Non-Question". 1981]

Hay and the Liberation of Cultural Minorities


Cde. Harry Hay of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) was inspired by this concept and expanded it. Hay joined the CPUSA in the early 1930's, though he had been involved in the labor movement before that. Hay, a gay man, was not only a labor organizer but became one of the Party's Marxist educators until his departure in 1951. He was in a unique place not only as a student of Marxism but also a Party educator, and he took the Special Question further than Lenin and Stalin to construct a space within it for lesbians and gays.

The impact of Hay's contribution on the lesbian and gay movement has been glossed over but bears repeating. As Hay biographer, Will Roscoe, notes "without the idea of Gays as a cultural minority there would be no gay identity and no Lesbian/Gay movement." [Radically Gay: Gay Liberation in the words of its founder, Roscoe. 1996]

In contrast to Hay rendering lesbians and gays a cultural minority, if you read the anti-gay laws of Hay's day and of the last 100 years, they do not target gay men as such. Rather, these laws specifically prohibit our sexual acts as being illicit. This is because society long viewed gay men not as gay men but rather as heterosexual men with a mental illness or with a perversion. So the laws often prescribed either imprisonment or chemical castration for the offender.

For example, the infamous US Supreme Court case, Bowers v Hardwick [1986] upheld a Texas anti-sodomy statute designed to proscribe gay sex; it did not prohibit gay men as a group. Such anti-sodomy statutes existed in most states and were used in such disparate ways as denying employment, housing, or allowing some public universities to deny funding for lesbian and gay student groups.

While it seems quaint today, what made Hay's contribution unique in this struggle is he did not accept that lesbians and gay men were mentally ill heterosexuals but rather that we were special and unique persons unto ourselves with special and unique things to contribute.

As Roscoe describes it:

"The cultural minority thesis has been Hay's most profound and lasting contributions to Lesbian/Gay political theory. Hay argues that Lesbians and Gay men differ from heterosexuals much as African Americans, Latinos, Japanese Americans, and other ethnic groups differ from Euro-Americans - in terms of shared values, modes of communication, historical heritage, psychological orientations, and behavioral patterns." [Roscoe, ibid]

Mostly drawing from Marxism-Leninism, Hay's ideas blossomed over time. He also drew from non-Marxist texts, but one work he used in his curriculum had a notable impact. Joseph Stalin's 1913 pamphlet, Marxism and the National Question. To those trained like Pavlov's dogs to growl at the mention of Stalin's name, it must be reminded that all this is well before the so-called Secret Speech by Stalin's successor. In Hay's days in the Party, Stalin was an able theoretician and an international class warrior. Even the leaders of the CPUSA praised him.

At any rate, Hay rejected the Old World, Tsarist paradigm and racist constructs toward national minorities, which was to lessen their cultural differences, obliterate their native language, maintain them as subjects to a racially/culturally superior master class - in the Tsar's case, that was Russian culture and Russian language.

Hay gleaned from the liberatory language afforded from the Special Question an explanation for lesbians and gays and new areas in which to struggle within the broader communist movement. And he had a precedent for expanding the ideas of the National Question right in front of him.

While Stalin had insisted on a firm set of criteria to constitute a nation, the CPUSA had itself for a time expanded this to include Blacks in the US South as an oppressed national minority. According to Roscoe, the Party "hoped to threaten the ruling class with the specter of a peasant war in the rural South allied with proletarian revolution in the industrial North.

Rejecting the reactionary mindset of pre-Revolution Russia, Hay employed the tenets of the Bolsheviks and argued all his life that lesbians and gay men were special beings with a special language and a special culture. So while it would be wrong to say he was alone, Hay was among the first and loudest to protest when the emerging "LGBT" movement veered into the mainstream to aspire to be like heterosexuals - seeking marriage, cleaving away its more risque subcultures, etc.

To Hay, these reactionary fights were not unlike the earlier presumptions that lesbians and gay men were actually heterosexuals.

Most pro-LGBT allies today would reject the notion that gay men were heteros with a mental illness, missing chromosomes, or having a sick perversion, but the tendency toward assimilation, which Hay vigorously rejected, is in affect leading to the same thing. But these same allies would promote the idea that trans women are women.

Trans women as Women a form of Violence

It's strange that just as we once could only conceive gay men as actually straight men, that some now can only conceive various gender identities restricted to just the two which have served very defined roles within developing and late-stage capitalism.

Wouldn't it be interesting if part of our struggle to dismantle capitalism included connecting the dots between accepted, dominant-class gender identities, their designed oppression, and their integral part in building capitalism, and that we dismantled them too? Not by erasing them, but rather by widening the terrain to include other identities. This is essentially Hay's pioneering contribution to the lesbian/gay movement.

"Socialists, " Isabelle Bartter of the former ISO writes, "are fighting for a world where bodies are not forced into this or that type labor or class position based on birth lottery. Fundamentally, we are fighting for bodily autonomy, which underpins the fights for abortion, for trans liberation, and for sexual freedom ... " ["How Can We Win Trans and Queer Liberation," from The Socialist Worker, Dec 3, 2018]

What is wrong with being a trans woman?

What would Hay say about the call that "trans women are women"? Just as I am not aware that Lenin or Stalin mused on lesbians and gays, I'm not aware of any exact writings on this by Hay. But given his decades of argument, Hay would apply the same Marxist-Leninist, Special Question to transgender liberation.

Hay would argue that they too, like lesbians, like gay men, were a special and unique being and that this uniqueness is not enhance by, nor is their liberation attained, from imposing established dominant norms on them. They are no more destined to fit into gender norms as gay men are or as Kazakhs were supposed to speak only Russian.

Hay began with Lenin and Stalin, but later complemented those ideas with his study and life among First Nations communities, communities who for thousands of years developed outside of early capitalism and appreciated much broader notions of gender roles. The trans community in general, and trans women in particular, fit his notion of a cultural minority which is defended by his reading of Marxists and those indigenous communities.

The answer is to let transgenders develop their own path, mindful how all of our oppression within pre-defined gender roles are linked to the development of capitalism. White racism against Blacks, for example, is not because we are of African descent but because of the prescribed roles we are supposed to play under this economic system.

While acts of physical violence are abhorrent we must all unite to stop, arguing that "trans women are women" as a form of assimilation and reactionary is a form of cultural violence. Moreover, I further argue it is a form of social violence against women. It quashes the development of s social identity and cultural vocabulary that is the right of national minorities.

Many of the de-platformers and anti-"TERF" people are not part of the resistance but rather more like those supposed friends of the left - friends of Blacks, of Indigenous, of queers - who tell us if we just "toned it down" and weren't "so angry," things would improve. They might mean well - bless their hearts - but their goals are far from liberation and more about accommodation.

While the only thing we share is an abhorrence to violence and marginalization of trans women, and the trans community, rather than accept the diversification of the working class they seek to groom this community to conform to a dominant paradigm with patriarchal scientific thinking.

Liberation is not an all or nothing fight. While I am not an "equality feminist," placing liberation and the dismantling of capitalism as priorities does not negate that civil rights today must be afforded all of these communities. Equality is worthy in itself, but it always risks becoming a panacea from which we cease struggle.

Pessimism for the Future?

Given the furor this issue continues to ignite, I expect vitriol to be heaped upon me. But I hope some others might ponder the argument and trace the roots that Harry Hay established from his time as a studied Marxist-Leninist and engage the arguments. Without these roots there would have never been a lesbian and gay movement at all, and without which there will never be a trans liberation movement. And without such a movement, a nascent vocabulary will not be born and refined.

Trans liberation will demand deeper questions for the roles we assign men and women in capitalist society, and this is why it is intolerable to making them fit into dominant-cultural roles.

I should be pessimistic that this piece will ignite a trans liberation movement, or new levels of discussion between radicals and Marxists, given Hay's own trajectory in radical struggle.

These struggles seem not to bode well.

Bartter directs that "queer and trans people, and everyone fighting for our liberation, need to break from the Democratic Party, which had never thought twice about abandoning us." She correctly notes how the Democrats use "the shallowest gestures" as "collateral" "to keep voter booths full."

But the disaffected, maligned, and misused are just as likely to fill the rolls of that 50% who boycott elections altogether and potentially make way for greater dangers than those "shallowest gestures."

Before Hay, Chuck Rowland, and other gay Party members were expelled from the CPUSA under Cold War fears around lesbian and gay comrades being blackmailed by the FBI, Hay was already organizing a front group from within the Party, formed from his ideas, and aiming to lobby CPUSA-endorsed presidential candidate Henry Wallace. This front group ended with his expulsion.

When they did leave the Party, they went on with their project independently and formed the first gay rights organization in the US in 1951, the Mattachine Society. The Communist Party would not rectify its position against lesbians and gays for more than 50 years, placing it outside some key struggles within the gay liberation movement.

Hay's role as a pioneer is a fact even few lesbians and gays know. Hay, Rowland, and the Communist founders of Mattachine were expelled from that group after just a few years later for being Marxists. The other foot of the Cold War dropping. Many of those comrades disappeared into history.

Not Hay. He would keep reasserting his message until his death in 2002, both within the Gay Liberation Front, railing against continued assimilation tendencies in the 70's and 80's, and later by founding the Radical Faeries in 1979. His mark has been overshadowed by the reactionary counter-revolt that expelled him from Mattachine and has fought for inclusion - rather than eradication - of the dominant, economic paradigm of capitalism. But Hay's ghost overwhelms my abject pessimism and inspires me to write even though it's hard to conceive the trans community being liberated when Gay Marriage, Gay Families, Gay Service members, and Gay Homeowners have overwhelmed our sense of direction.


02 August 2019

Contexts of the Border Crisis, the USSR, and the Struggle Ahead


It's not an honest discussion of the border crisis without bringing in the Soviet Union. Yes, I refer to that much-maligned country that was destroyed by external and internal forces over a generation ago, but who absence is strongly felt in so many areas of our struggle to this day. And because it has been so maligned - for very deliberate, political reasons - it's hard to even bring up its name let alone suggest - as I will - it's significant and power role in geopolitics in general, the migration crises here in the US and in Europe in particular.

The left has done us a great disservice co-conspiring in the campaign of lies and vilification of that Bolshevik experiment. In doing so, it has harmed itself and, by extension, the people it presumes to be fighting for: the working class, Blacks and racial and ethnic minorities, lesbians and gays, the poor.

Because by not appreciating the role the USSR had overall, any analysis to what is happening in any realm of our political life is sorely lacking and plays into the very hands of our captors.

The escalated erosion in the labor movement, for one, can be directly connected to the disappearance of the Soviet Union, as can the brazenness of Western wars for resources, and internal attacks on women's rights. Recall its was just months after the collapse of the USSR that Bush I had the US invade Panama and kidnap its head of state to stand trial in the US on supposed drug charges.

As Fidel noted in his initial speech to the United Nations General Assembly, "the purpose of the United States is the monopolies." That is, the US government functions as the Wise Guy, the errand boy, the fixer for all that is state capitalism and its need for cheap labor and cheap accessible resources.

This meant that any given global South country where the US was doing its dirty business, it required what state department functionaries call "stability." Stability is code for sure and open markets.

Free elections, grassroots organizing, and trade-union movements are existential obstacles to US goals - which are the goals of domestic corporations and the global order. The US liked to employ various tactics to ensure this "stability." Having grassroots and trades-unionists jailed or murdered was not beyond the US scope. Rigging elections was a norm. Having militant, left-wing political parties made illegal was another tactic. Assassinating or removing presidents. And of course invasion and occupation if needed.

Additionally, the US and Europe implemented an immigration policy during the so-called Cold War that annually took in swathes of the global South in order to ease any social tensions in the respective countries.

Where would these social tensions escalate takes us back to the role of the Soviet Union. Because just as the US had its involvement in these countries, the Soviet Union acted as a spiritual, ideological, and material fund for the global South.

All of the post-World War II liberation movements in Africa, including and especially the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, can trace material and ideological support from the USSR and the East Bloc countries, like the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and even the DPRK [North Korea].

It was part of Cold War realpolitik that the US and Western Europe - the former empires - employed all the tactics I just named, and included taking waves of migrants from their former colonies. This was also a propaganda ploy to those former colonies that they too could aspire to immigrate to greener pastures of the West and, thereby, reject the "menace" of communism as a viable alternative.

Since the early 1990's fall of the Soviet Union, not coincidentally, we've seen a synchronized demand to end immigration and a rise in nationalism and white racism in the West. This white racist nationalism has gotten more open, more brazen, more outspoken and more defined. We hear once liberal leaders make excuses for this phenomenon and campaign to it. National leaders, left and right, have all lurched to the right in accommodation of this disturbing tendency.

But the resurgence of white nationalism makes perfect sense.

Ostensibly, disgruntled peoples of the global South no longer present the existential threat to the global market system of the Western countries. There is no longer a need for the safety valve. Ostensibly, without that material and ideological assistance of the Reds, these desperate peoples are no threat.

(As you should see, this view is itself racist since it presumes the global South only took commands from Moscow - the US State Department line, by the way - and that it had no natural impulse of its own to rid itself of colonial domination.)

The Western elites now are perfectly happy feeding the fires of white racism and nationalism because they themselves no longer see a value in that Cold War release valve. So they are perfectly happy keeping migrants of any kind in inhuman camps, on slave auction blocs, and drowning in the Rio Grande or the Mediterranean.

To underline my point, consider what lost in World War II was not fascism broadly but rather German, Third Reich fascism. The fascism of the rest of the Western countries - easily seen in pronouncements and policy of the French, British, and US governments in favor of Hitler - thrived on only to the point it was curbed by the Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union disappeared, the fascism of the rest of the Allies resumed unobstructed.

Sadly, the left I referred to above will not appreciate this because it has abandoned the class war for making accommodations with these national governments and their global market system in order to make gains. This means it keeps getting into bed with some unsavory sorts; worse, it does so and brings nothing to the working class.

This means this left cannot and will not call a spade a spade. It has to pretend and convince the masses that the fascists that comprised the rest of the Allies in WWII are in fact democrats. This left has had to compartmentalize the postwar retaliation against the Communists and Socialists, student activists, Black and Brown and Native activists, and union militants as if it did not come from the same corroded place.

This also implies, and requires a essay on its own, the leaders of the leftist groups and parties must have the mental capacities of intellectual nincompoops, dull blades, butterflies reverse-developing into worms. This is a must because you cannot have this objective analysis within the left any more than you can acknowledge the role of the USSR generally. The left I refer is ultimately but an appendage of the Democratic Party and these liberal movements, which means it's a cohort of state power. Lenin might have already said something about that. Whether they forge a circuitous path or a straight line, it is the same anti-communist liberal Democratic Party that is the default position.

That is why our left organizations are imploding one after another. They are led by the simplest, anti-intellectual thinkers: you need only compare the nonsense they write and say, the strange positions they take, with the leaders that led these movements before the collapse of the USSR.

Nevertheless, the coming chapters of these border crises have already been foretold in the Third Reich. That's why our discourse must be precise and not be led down winding paths to nowhere by people who have nothing to say. The West sees no utility in these Third World peoples, cares nothing about their conditions in their countries of origin, and has been resorting to installing former generals turned presidents to ensure the "stability" the US and Western Europe care about. Rather than hitch our wagon to their death trains, we must be reminded in our internationalism that our common task is as workers, that the injuries done to them today await us tomorrow and will befall other workers the next day, and that left or right capitalism will not resolve this.


09 July 2019

The Problem of Reparations


Reparations was a subject easier to digest when it was a fringe subject among certain Black people I grew up around. We used to call the advocates “Hoteps,” but never to their faces. They were older, very eager, very strident "Afrocentrists". They were among the first to call themselves African before it became more fashionable. Some had the goal to return to Africa, long before we had the benefit of DNA tests to tell us where we were specifically from, but they never seemed to make it there. And also on their list was how the United States owed us descendants of slaves reparations. The Hoteps were part wise, well-read sages, and part comical dashiki-wearers who spiced their conversation with broken Swahili, so I didn't put too much thought in them and selected what I could from their experience. Now that the topic of reparations is mainstreamed, not only by Congressional Hearings but also its advocacy by presidential candidate/Oprah guru Marianne Williamson, my unease with the subject has focused and come down in a surprising place. While hindsight is 20/20, and those Hoteps in retrospect were much wiser women and men ahead of their time, with reparations, I am on the opposition - for principled and practical reasons. An Approach of the South African Communist Party An editorial from the South African Communist Party [SACP] published in 1993 in its journal, The African Communist, tackles an aspect of the reparations issue with a discussion on affirmative action, which is arguably one form of reparations. Entitled "Affirmative Action - Time for a Class Approach," the SACP, the oldest communist party in Africa, makes the analysis of affirmative action that we should to reparations. The SACP "thoroughly rejects" "the promotion of individuals into managerial posts and into shareholding," it writes. The Party then goes on to list issues pertinent to the working class of South Africa, like pensions for the elderly, paving roads and electrifying rural communities, free health care, and free, guaranteed education. "Once you speak of affirmative action in this way, you are on the right track," the article says emphatically. The urgency of the debate, the article goes on to contextualize, was provoked by maneuvers of the leadership of the ANC Youth League of the time, which was reportedly vying for dominant shareholder status in a cellular phone company in order to be financially independent of the ANC itself. "Is financial dependence on the ANC worse than financial dependence on the profitability of the cellular phone business? ... Most progressive formations," the SACP instructs further, "try to build financial independence by relying on their organized base." The SACP nears its conclusion with this warning: "We have said in the past that the imperialists and the local ruling bloc, having failed to smash the ANC, now have as their prime objective the transformation of the ANC. A key component of this strategy is, precisely, to transform leadership elements into a bureaucratic bourgeois stratum by giving them 'a slice of the action'." Keeping the interests of the working class central I relate this analysis to reparations because while the debate is still somewhat in the embryonic stage for some, in the hands of a capitalist country run by two capitalist parties, its unions weakened and labor movement attacked, any reparations risks totally overlooking the negative beneficiaries of chattel slavery - the working class, and this not only includes the Black working class and poor but also the white working class and poor and the First Nations, who have been overwhelmingly devastated at the disruption of their societies and total loss of their lands in order that those plantations be built in the first place. The dominant forces in this country are reactionary and cannot be trusted to implement a correct policy. African descendants in the US are owed reparations. Let's get that clear. But what was pushed by the Hoteps of my youth and being pushed now is not the way. I daresay most in the US give little thought to the several hundreds of years of forced labor; our ignorance about chattel slavery is largely the fault of our so-called educational institutions, the textbook industry, and a political class who resolutely do not want us to think much about the history of slavery, the slave trade, and its consequent enrichment of the West. But this ignorance is deepened when we look further. Reparations are also owed Africans throughout this continent. We’re familiar with the arguments for why reparations are needed here in the US; but the whole of the American continent benefited from African forced labor and our social units broken apart so we could be bought and sold like cattle. And as internationalists we must go even further in this discussion. Reparations must also be paid to Africa itself. Millions of young people - and they were young, many children - were kidnapped from complex, developing societies as part of the “underdeveloping” by Europe of Africa by white colonialism and capitalism. These kidnappings retarded immeasurably the organic processes these various civilizations were going through by depleting countless generations of brain trust from their progressively evolving communities. So justifiably we’ve just doubled or trebled or quadrupled the reparations bill due. Who’s going to write these checks? The Congress of the United States? Even if you believe the Democrats in the House are serious about this issue - and I for one do not - what chance will it have in the Republican Senate? Furthermore, what does it mean to give me a check? And what does this check really mean with this capitalist system still in place? A Black woman working in a typical service-industry job, very low pay, will absorb that check quickly and be no better the next month, or next year, when bills are due; whereas someone of more financial means might be able to invest the check in his 401[k]. By ignoring the class dimensions, the supposed benefit of reparations will be horribly lopsided.

That is why the SACP nailed it: "Once you speak of affirmative action in this way, you are on the right track" - social and physical infrastructures The push of AFRICOM, the French intrusions into their former "Francophone" colonies, apartheid Israel wanting membership in the African Union, and even the Chinese "investments" show the continent is still in play globally. And it is dubious whether any of these entities cares about Africans. Rather, it is what the Africans have that they care about. So what does my reparations check mean in the US when it purchases the continued rape of that Mother Continent as a source of cheap, mineral resources? Again, the SACP "thoroughly rejects" "the promotion of individuals into managerial posts and into shareholding,"
"Collective empowerment, not Black yuppies"


No, like the SACP we too must "thoroughly reject" this current reparation stance, and we must do so with internationalist, anti-capitalist principles and remember where our struggle is. Capitalism has always sought to "transform" sectors of Black and marginalized communities "into a bureaucratic bourgeois stratum by giving them 'a slice of the action'." We have much less polite names for these people too in the Black community.
The SACP directs in its 1993 editorial that "we must never allow ourselves to confuse the advancement of a new middle stratum with the totality of national liberation. In Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union," the analysis continues, "socialism collapsed because the party and the state increasingly substituted for the class they claimed to represent." "We want collective empowerment, not the individual enrichment of a small band of Black yuppies," concludes the SACP in its editorial, clarifying the right stance we should take towards the working class and poor, Black or white, Latin or Asian, First Nation or conquered Pacific Islander Besides that, I suspect this whole reparations production hearing in the House is not about reparations at all, and certainly not about resolving the issues of the working class and poor: it's about steering Black voters to 2020 and delivering us to another bad nominee.


Postscript:
This article was declined by the "editorial collective" of the Communist Party USA's People's World. The rejection doubted the historical accuracy of my work. Excluding my own experience with the Hoteps, I can only speculate what they meant since there was no elaboration. I'm old school. Old school journalism and old school educated in political science and history. I do not make assertions I cannot prove. My own experience was the Hoteps as the ones advocating reparations, and that is why it features in my opinion piece. It was not until much, much later I learned of Audley Moore - Queen Mother Moore - who had been very active as a member and organizer with the Communist Party but quit the Party in the 50's for what she perceived as the Party's abandonment of Black issues. Solid members of the Party dispute this contention that Black issues were ever abandoned, yet this is the contention of those who left and of many academic discourses. It was after quitting Moore was free to take up reparations and other issues once encouraged within the Party, and she is a pioneer. But growing up Queen Mother Moore was not the person I associated with reparations: this, unlike the underdevelopment of Africa by Europe by its thieving of Black generations and resources, cannot be debated.

Here Queen Mother Moore is with Winnie Mandela and Kwame Ture.



04 July 2019

On "No Room for Patriotism in Capitalism Imperialism Colonialism" by the YCL

This position piece was originally published by the Young Communists League of Southern California on its site. As the YCL was dissolved by the CPUSA [and re-instituted in the recent 31st Convention], the site no longer exists, but the article has been posted on a few other sites and discussed widely. Today being the supposed "Independence Day," and this occupied land from which I write being the site of a US overthrow of a sovereign nation, it seems relevant to re-post it here. The thesis of the piece was highly contested at the time, and is highly contested today. The YCL, drawing from Marx, Lenin, and a bit of Mao and Frederick Douglas who reinforce the Marxist point, write " ... the U.S. is distinct in its nation-statehood for its nature in being an oppressor nation with oppressed nations within it, such as African Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Mexicans/Chicana/os, Puerto Ricans, other people of Latin American descent (which really just means indigenous/native people of non-U.S. territory) and indigenous people to both the territory of the U.S. and also below its border." The question being: are Africans in the diaspora, Kanaka Maoli [Native Hawaiians], the Lakota or Couer d'Alene merely ingredients in a melting pot or distinct nations deserving self-determination, language, and cultural integrity like Georgia, Kazakhstan, or Uzbekistan were to those Marxist Bolsheviks? Since the YCL opines to the former - that is, we are oppressed NATIONS within an oppressor, it is our self-determination, liberation, and collective overthrow of imperialism that must be endorsed and fought for. Joseph Stalin, in his Marxism and the National Question [1913] states among his prerequisites "common language," but this would not only exclude the Native Hawaiians, who were prohibited for generations for speaking their language, and the African diaspora who are several hundred years away from their native tongue only due to the exploit of capitalism, but this qualification must exclude the Jewish diaspora who were millennia away from their native language and region - but yet above almost any other despised and harassed minority have nonetheless been afforded this Special Question. So, why not the Africa diaspora, Hawaiians, Chamorros of Guam, et al? The push for patriotism and squeezing the shroud of it around radical archetypes - "communism is as American as apple pie" - in order to make a proof that these disparate and conquered peoples somehow share a role in white-settler colonial independence is profane. This nation-state was founded on genocide and enslavement, and it is its fuel for existence. This is why the liberation of these peoples, the collective upending of capitalism, must necessarily make the United States disappear. As the Lakota American Indian Movement co-founder famously stated: "for America to live Europe must die." As an aside, this YCL chapter shows unusual astuteness noting that people of "Latin American descent" are really indigenous. This also shows a consistency in their argument. The fact that the Otomi people became "Latino" because their civilization lays south of the Rio Grande, while the Choctaw or Navajo are not, is a function of European colonialism and nothing else. The great masses of people fleeing to El Norte are the descendants of those indigenous peoples, not of Spain, whose descendants make up the ruling class of Mexico. So calling them Latin American as distinct from First Nation or Native American is at best problematic. "Patriotism for the U.S. as the world’s leading oppressor nation is irreconcilable with promoting proletarian internationalism," the Southern California YCL writes here. Subsequent to this publication, heated exchanges followed, YCL members were expelled by the CPUSA, and, en mass, the YCL chapter quit the Party altogether. But the debate, like a Donna Summer melody, lingers on ...

29 March 2019

Prostitution is not work. A Communist Party should stand behind women's liberation, not oppression


Below is a contribution of mine to the discussions ahead of the Communist Party's 35th Convention this June]

A raucous debate persists in social media and in the pages of many political magazines. It persists between radical feminists with good intentions. The debate is whether prostitution is a scourge of exploitation against women by capitalist patriarchy or something to be organized as a workforce with trade-unions. The former call the phenomenon prostitution; the latter deem it sex work.

My radical feminism informs me that this is a scourge, and that a communist party that truly believes in liberating women [and men] from the chains of capitalism and exploitation must come out squarely opposed to prostitution as an equally abhorrent phenomenon as chattel slavery or child labor.

My radical feminism, and the radical feminists who've influenced me, inform me that the advocates of so-called sex work have lost their way.

How did they get there, and what do the anti-prostitution proponents want to remind all of us about?

The first- and second-wave radical feminists who fought for women's liberation against capitalism struggled in a very different labor force than the recent feminists, which I more or less date after 1980 and Ronald Reagan. Those earlier, pre-Reagan radical feminists, who comprise over a 100 years of struggle, faced legal and cultural bans from the traditional labor force. Their labor force was not even recognized as such by the broader community. The Communist Party should be proud that up until the Popular Front period, it provided the terrain for women and men members to explore these liberatory tactics [unfortunately, the Popular Front diversion silenced this counter-cultural, anti-patriarchal narrative and turned on women members who dared push it]. I refer to traditional labor force because as the earlier radical feminists will remind you, so-called "women's work" was integral to the labor force and moreover it was free labor [see Selma James, Silvia Federicci].

The traditional labor force was dominated by men, be it the farm or the factory. Women were barred from these areas and whatever meager status that came with it. Even those women who fought their way into higher education to attain medical and law degrees faced legal boundaries.

It is in this context, which persisted into my lifetime, that prostitution was viewed as a social evil because it showed in great contrast how women had to resort to selling their sex for wages with no other recourse. I used to have to remind my high school students that a single woman, living in many major cities of this country, could not rent an apartment or purchase a car in 1970 without the co-sign of a male relative.

The post-1980 radical feminists have struggled in a different world. Civil Rights laws have broken down the legal barriers; in fact, many have been demolished and whereas affirmative action has had a bad rap for Black and Brown people, its greatest beneficiaries have been women. Women are now in every sector of the labor force and are even CEO's or major weapons manufacturers.

The question is now: is this breaking of barriers an advancement or a regression? The first- and second-wave radical feminists argue this is a further regression. And I agree.

But it is within this context that the post-1980 radical feminists argue on behalf of sex workers instead of struggling to upend it. The post-1980 radicals see this as just another of the spaces women deserve equality.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
We first- and second-wave radicals would argue that the exploitation has just been more generalized. This is why radical feminists, like early heroines Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sylvia Pankhurst, or later ones like Germaine Greer and Andrea Dworkin, argued against fighting for Equality. Further, this is why gay liberation's prouder days also argued against it. None of us wanted access into capitalism but rather its obliteration, or t find ways outside of it [see Harry Hay].

The post-1980 radicals are actually accommodationists. If you understand and accept the construction of femininity [Greer] within a capitalist patriarchy, this is the reactionary image that prostitution/sex work promotes. This is what we still teach our little girls [and our little boys]. The post-1980 radical feminists miss this fact and argue that sex workers are like any workers: they are like retail workers having to sell their labor.

I maintain if we argue that sex work is work on that level we as a communist party are promoting a gender role that was invented by men to disadvantage women. The underpaid retail worker is an area for radical struggle, but the retail worker is not having to normalize the self-hating, psychological duress of being a Barbie doll, which is just as grotesque as how some Black, male prostitutes have internalized a "Mandingo" self-hatred to allure white male patrons.
Barbara Smith
bell hooks
Actress Bea Richards [formerly CPUSA]
Audley Moore [formerly CPUSA]
Of course, everything in this narrative has to contain the parenthetical that it references the white world. The labor forces mostly referred to are white. Within Black and Brown communities, the limited range of work was accessible by women and men both. Black women have always worked and for many more years than not our labor, both male and female, was unpaid labor. Worse, the horrors visited upon Black women's bodies by white settlers is domestic terrorism; the fact it was unpaid is inconsequential at this point. And first- and second-wave Black women radical feminists, inside the Communist Party USA and outside, have fought for liberation over accommodation [see Grace Campbell, Williana Burroughs, Claudia Jones, Audely "Queen Mother" Moore, Bea Richards, bell hooks, Barbara Smith, Audre Lorde].

The Black and white examples of first- and second-wave radicals are the examples the Communist Party should draw from if it is to garner and maintain a stature of a radical party and not one that further seeks accommodation not only with capitalism and patriarchy but also promoting the gender and racial castes designed by the master class for its subject workers. Opposing prostitution is not equal to vilifying its victims; this is not about advocating incarceration. But we should take a principled, radical position on the range of ways capitalism oppresses women, Black, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Island, and white workers, physically and psychologically. We should always seek liberatory forms, even rhetorically. And of course this includes our discourse around retail workers too.

15 March 2019

Reconsidering the Popular Front

The Communist Party USA's 1939 Convention

[Below is a contribution of mine to the discussions ahead of the Communist Party's 35th Convention this June]

I'll try to be uncharacteristically brief if the better scholars in the Party will acknowledge with me that this is a very complex topic on which dissertations can be written.

It's becoming clear to me that while the Popular Front, which began in 1935, saw its successes and gains - and these have been enumerated by respected stalwarts in the Party, equally engaged comrades at the time were very suspicious and outright resistant to its implementation.

The dissenting voices number a breadth of our Party - men and women, Black and white,and maybe even lesbian and gay [but this is hard to say since the Party purged them, a backward move I do not reference off topic but very much related to this discussion point].

If I had to distill the drawbacks of the Popular Front from the dissenting side, it would be thus:

We traded Marxist-Leninism in for cheap left populism and sought to recast the Party as part of the heritage of a settler-colonial state.

We defaulted to the misogyny of the "traditional roles" for women, which maybe not a grotesque as the hard right, made women the empty vessels to be filled with patriarchal, masculinist ideas in order to attain "equality" [vs. liberation on their own right].

We sought coalition with mainstream organizations and championed their reformist goals as our own.

I draw these conclusions from a few sources who were engaged and put their bodies and minds to the mission of this Party. I'd argue further that the remnants of their work - which was the Party's work - is what draws many people to join the Communist Party. Once they get here, these new members find a Party not engaged in the real, rhetorical, ideological, and on-the-ground struggles but mimicking the line of the social democrat, the capitalist reformist, the local Democratic Party cluster which encourages the ambitious to "work their way up," when in actuality only the reformist-minded metastasize into the large Democratic Party structure.

The Communist Party must be better than that. We must be different than that. But the Popular Front has put us on a different trajectory since 1935, and most especially since the 1950's.

It is my contention that the Popular Front, again, for all its good (i.e., the CIO), laid the groundwork for some reactionary tendencies in the Party. Our abandonment of Black self-determination, our failure there to even use this thesis for First Nations [Native Americans], occupied Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and the Marianas, and those subject populations who have also been robbed of self-determination, our opposition to waging labor strikes during WWII.

I further argue the accommodation-minded, "broad" coalition-think nurtured by the Popular Front allowed the Party to look the other way at the internment of Japanese during World War I, even those Japanese comrades within our Party, and to the eventual expulsion en mass of all lesbian and gay comrades, like Harry Hay and Chuck Rowland.

Harry Hay, in 1989, when he lived not too far from me in San Francisco

Chuck Rowland, in an undated photograph.

To put it crudely, the Party did this to have a place at the popular table at a high school.

Hay is an important figure to note here, not just a tremendous personal hero of mine. He joined the Party before the Popular Front, was inspired by Stalin's writings to craft the beginnings of the gay liberation idea. While he and Rowland began this within the Party, the Mattachine Society was founded after their expulsion. I argue that Hay represents a lot of unresolved discomfort for this Party due to the groundwork of the Popular Front: his open sexuality, his militancy, and his own linking gay liberation with some things he read from Stalin. These are topics the Party has become so reformist and social democrat to countenance. Hay lived his whole life exemplifying the idea he encountered in this Party, not only in gay liberation but also for First Nations. Hay rejected the call for "equality" as gross accommodation to capitalism, hetero-normativity, and patriarchy.

I have cringed to hear some Party leadership call people like Hay "left militants," when in actuality the Party has become the delinquent.

So what we are lacking is exploring new ways to fight and to escalate the class war, engaging and perfecting Marxist-Leninism, and we are instead seeking new ways to form "broadest" coalitions with any group that seems to have a seat at the table without questioning how these groups have positioned themselves to get those seats. We need to analyze the costs, reassess, and determine if these are worth the values of a communist party. I say these accommodations are worthless, but this is my editorial.

Whatever the Party collectively decides, this should be seriously talked about and an assessment made, not dismissed out of hand as an "attack" on the Party. Please know that the words are written by someone whose heart is filled with inspiration at the people and goals that ranked in this 100 year-old Party.

02 February 2019

Are We All Queer Now?


An article in the January 2019 edition of The Atlantic Magazine makes a provocative proposal. Its author suggests we drop the "LGBT" from usage and use only the Q, for "queer," to cover everyone. It's ironic that I, as a member of what was Queer Nation/San Francisco, would oppose this suggestion. We employed the term back in the late 80's, to the horror of some our own lesbian and gay elders at the time, to distinguish ourselves and to forge new ground in the area of sexuality and radical politics.

During one media conference in San Francisco at the time, the late playwright Edward Albee harangued us younger self-styled "queers" for using the term and for snapping our fingers rather than applauding with our hands. We never made our point, and Albee never recovered the audience. We just heckled each other during what was supposed to be his speech.

Before Queer Nation began its steady implosion into oblivion, the term "queer" briefly crossed the mote into academia. The moment I began to see a flurry of thick books by aspiring academics I'd never heard of, making dissertation material out of the word, I knew we were over as a radical political movement.

Where, I do not care to know, are all those Routledge publications with Queer in the title?



ORIGINS OF A CONSTRUCTED "COMMUNITY"

At about the same time, the Advocate was the only national "gay" magazine. In fact, that is how it presented itself on its masthead - as a "gay magazine" - until the competing, short-lived, "OutWeek" came out of New York staffed by activists and troublemakers, like journalist Michaelangelo Signorile, and aspiring writers, like me. "OutWeek's" masthead read "Lesbian and Gay Magazine," which was groundbreaking, and this eventually pressured the Advocate to follow suit and include lesbians.

From where I do not know, around this same time bisexuals and transgenders were added to an acronym that flowed cumbersomely over the tongue: LGBT. But at no point, no where, was the radical posture embraced by queers ever adopted by the rest of the acronym; just the opposite.

As Black empowerment and health activist Dr.Cleo Manago has pointed out numerous times, it was white men who expanded the "LGBT" acronym, but Black gay men have seen little benefit. The liberation movement that became an nonprofit-funded equality movement skipped right over Black men, who still bear a disproportionate HIV infection rate, lack of access to care, higher mortality to AIDS-related maladies, and poverty.

This acronymizing might have come from the same squeamish Victorian-era convention of referring to the legs, thighs, and breasts of chicken as "white meat" and "dark meat" because certain body parts, like non-confirming sexualities, cannot be uttered in polite company or in the New York Times, which, by the way, stuck for too long to the term "homosexual" as its standard.

Granted we in San Francisco were living in a bubble, but none of us knew exactly where the bisexual or transgender movements were. I do not say we did not knew where bisexuals or transgenders were; they were all around us. And for maybe the span of one full moon in the very early 80's, bisexuality became sort of a fad among certain celebrities. David Bowie confessed in a Time Magazine interview of going out and picking up guys while his wife was cruising females.

But there were no marches of bisexuals.

Then the HIV/AIDS pandemic hit, and those rare self-proclaimed bisexual celebrities, like Bowie, went back into the walk-in closets and to posing with their red-carpet spouses.

Meanwhile, gay men and lesbians responded with a survival movement.

It was within a belated sexual revolution that conversely exposed gay men to the risks of a mysterious pandemic and launched this survival movement. But it was as queers that a new generation of radical lesbians were empowered and forced issues drawn already from the feminist movement into activist circles.

So by abandoning most of the LGBTQ acronym, the question remains where this came from, but also more importantly have we reached a pinnacle in our activism where the lesbian and gay distinction can be dropped?

Hardly, I'd argue.

REACTIONARY SETBACKS

Right before our eyes, we have seen major setbacks in the feminist and broader radical movements, including the labor movement. This dilution of the term queer must be seen in this context.

I not only think the dropping of the "LGBT" is poorly timed, but also that removing it is part of this regression against a broader liberatory movement, a regression that seeks to undermine feminism, neuter what is left of the former "gay liberation" struggle, by re-centering patriarchal and capitalist priorities and anti-labor tendencies.

After Clinton's compromising "Don't Ask Don't Tell," it was reportedly Black lesbians who suffered the highest expulsion rate from the US military, but the movement taking shape gave little hint of this. The obsession seemed to be on young white men who could double as cover boys for Calvin Klein ads.

Radical feminism was similarly marginalized, a move as old as the attacks against militant elements from labor organizing. Not coincidentally, they are often one and the same.

In the last generation, alternative voices permissive of pornography and prostitution within the feminism have emerged. The resistance to "prostitution" as misogynist and exploitative has fallen out of favor. Organizing the "sex worker" in unions is in; and the idea that pornography is degradation and commodification of women has been replaced. It is an act of empowerment for women's sexuality.

The alternative voices have refurbished reactionary priorities with a radical veneer. Battle lines within the left are drawn.

Andrea Dworkin in 1968
Germaine Greer in 1970

Those of us who resist this shift, and those older, radical feminists, like Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer, who have built their activist lives, in part, on the abolition of pornography and prostitution and liberation from capitalism had thought their next battle was the slave labor of women's domestic work, pioneered as far back as Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Margaret Sanger, Sylvia Pankhurst, and Claudia Jones. Recently, this is has been prioritized by Silivia Federicci, Selma James, and Angela Davis (Davis admittedly occupies both camps as she has made women's unpaid work an issue but also advocates for "sex workers")

REACTIONARY FEMINISM

In a piece with a terribly unfortunate and divisive title, Australian feminist and academic Caroline Norma, professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, chronicles the careful but deliberate dismantling of the feminist gains barely made by the more radical second-wave feminists.

The Australian Broadcast Corporation [ABC] site published the Norma piece, regrettably titled "Transgenderism: the Latest Anti-Feminist Wedge Issue." This title is obviously unfortunate because it frames, as so many reactionaries would, the trans community as having some sort of dysfunction. In doing so, the title alone is a repellant to those of us who know that all proletariat are valuable in the class struggle against capitalism and deserve our solidarity as much as we deserve theirs.

But the title signals that Norma is about to wade into the latest, raucous debate among the left on the side seeming to some as unevolved and out of touch as Mr. Albee's as he scolded us over our heckling. Or is her broader point that the advocacy of "transwomen are women" is a reactionary Trojan Horse, by allegedly "alternative" voices, which risks further silencing of radical feminism itself?

Norma traces the beginning of the modern attack against second-wave radical feminism to 1980, when the "malaise" of the Carter Administration and winters of discontent under British Labour were transformed into the reactionary Reagan's "morning in America" and Thatcherism. I don't think this is coincidental to the attacks on the women's movement under discussion. The Right came out renewed to annihilate any threat to its status.

A new McCarthyism was employed tactically against the remaining vestiges of the radical left, targeting especially labor, women, and sexual minorities. Recall Reagan's firing of the air-traffic controllers and Thatcher branding the coal miners "the enemy within."

Prof. Norma makes some salient arguments in the piece that demand our attention. I have wondered the irony that a radical feminist like Greer, who has devoted 50 years of her life to dismantling the roots of femininity as a patriarchal construct and, therefore, a construct of capitalism, should herself be silenced and cast aside by the left.

Norma's thesis is that these reactionary moves by activists cloaked as leftists is to dismantle the radical feminist movement altogether by purging feminists like Greer just as certainly as the labor movement was dismantled by purging Communists, and that there will be, in the final hour, no one to defend it.

MAXIMIZE RADICALISM

This is why, even as a proud member of what Queer Nation was at its height, the suggestion that we remove lesbians and gays, as entities, is as premature as removing the distinction between men and women, or white and non-white. This is no time to obscure our differences as expressed through radical demands. The late CPUSA organizer and gay liberation advocate, Harry Hay, argued that we "maximize our differences." It is from our distinct experiences as women and men, lesbian and gay that we fulfill the broader liberation project as a proletariat truly dismantling all evidences - and dependencies - of capitalism, racism, and patriarchy. Our disparate communities still have much to offer the word queer, if it is to fulfill what its originators wanted for it. Queer is not finished. Radical feminists must be heard. Black gay men must be recognized. The original inhabitants of these North American lands and their views of sexuality and the universe, must be appreciated.

We still have work to do.



19 May 2018

The Memorandum of 1969


Introduction: "The Memorandum" refers to a searing criticism of the armed, anti-colonial, anti-apartheid movement in South Africa in particular, southern Africa in general, that was being waged from the early 1960's until the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) unilaterally and without consultation with that armed wing brought it to an abrupt end in 1992. This armed resistance extended beyond South Africa and included present-day Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. The document is sometimes called "The Hani Memorandum," after Chris Hani, one of the principle leaders of the armed resistance, Umkhonto we Sizwe. Hani, a South African Communist Party member, and its future general-secretary was assassinated in 1993 in front of his home by a lone Dutch man who reportedly flew all the way from Europe to do so because he hated communism. Hani's signature to this document only made its words that much more potent and a matter of urgen concern for the ANC leadership.

The Memorandum, and its "16 Points,"  was disseminated from the trenches in 1969 out of tactical defeats and as some of the armed resistance became aware of concerns described in the document. Its dissemination initially got Hani suspended from the ANC, and there was talk of having him killed. His standing as a leader and the intervention of a few prominent ANC and SACP members averted this.

Of the signatories, only one comrade did not come back into the ANC or SACP, and he became an informer for the apartheid South African security services and was himself assassinated by the ANC in 1977.

It is clear from this criticism of the liberation struggle that was becoming corrupted that dealing with traitors with assassination was uncontroversial and supported by the signatories. They say so. The Memorandum opposes the "veil of secrecy" under which these executions happen, implying those in prestige are merely liquidating opposition.

Since I support this tactic it is important to qualify the difference between the signatory who became an informant for the racist, apartheid government and Hani himself who was clearly trying to improve the movement for the success that has evaded it to this hour.

When Mandela in talks with the white government agree to an end of the armed struggle, Hani was vocal in opposing this but, like a good soldier, relented.

And so it follows that the suspicions around Hani's assassination are warranted since assassination was a blunt instrument in the arsenal. It was assumed that Hani, by this time general-secretary of the SACP, would either become South Africa's first democratically elected president post-apartheid or would certainly succeed Mandela. By extinguishing him and severely marginalizing Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, what the "new" South Africa would look like was forecast.

Since institutions - even communist ones - are conservative by nature and suspicious of growth and change, insular, incestuous, and afraid of its young, every radical movement needs a Hani Memorandum to clean its Herculean stables. We certainly need one now, as many of the Memorandum's pointed criticisms can be laid at the feet of our ostensibly "leftist" political parties.


THE HANI MEMORANDUM [1969]

The African National Congress [ANC] in Exile is in a deep crisis as a result of which a rot has set in. From informal discussions with the revolutionary members of Umkhonto we Sizwe [M.K., the armed wing of the ANC] we have inferred that they have lost all confidence in the ANC leadership abroad.

This they say openly and in fact show it. Such a situation is very serious and in fact a revolutionary movement has to sit down and analyze such a prevailing state of affairs.

The situation is further aggravated by the fact that accredited members of the Organization are no longer consulted or no longer participate in policy-making decisions of the Organization – there have been two or three conferences when the leaders met or did not consult or inform the membership of the resolutions. The inference is that we are no longer considered members of the ANC. As the leading revolutionary core of the Organization it is imperative for members of M.K. to participate in all matters affecting the revolutionary struggle in South Africa.

We raise the above points so as to arrest the present trend.

We, as genuine revolutionaries, are moved by the frightening depths reached by the rot in the ANC and the disintegration of M.K. accompanying this rot and manifesting itself in the following way:

1. The ANC Leadership in Exile has created a machinery which has become an end in itself. It is completely divorced from the situation in South Africa. It is not in a position to give an account of the functioning branches inside the country. There has never been an attempt to send the Leadership inside since the Rivonia Arrests. There has been an overconcentration of people in offices – this has become a fully fledged activity in itself, (e.g., you get a Director of Youth who maintains no liaison with the home front.

There are other departments, such as the Treasury Department, which is to all intents and purposes catering for activities outside, and whose functioning is only limited and known to a few people. The Department of the Secretary-General, which has not furnished any reports on political activities in the various regions in the country. The Department of Publicity, which is giving out propaganda geared only to external consumption. The quality of information is not revolutionary and is out of step with the existing political situation inside the country. Its material hardly gives a deep analysis of the prevalent situation inside).

We strongly feel that time has come that the department should make every effort to reach the masses of our people by seeing to it that more and more of its revolutionary propaganda is written in the language of our people.

2. We are disturbed by the careerism of the ANC Leadership Abroad who have, in every sense, become professional politicians rather than professional revolutionaries.

We have been forced to draw the conclusion that the payment of salaries to people working in offices is very detrimental to the revolutionary outlook to those who receive such monies. It is without doubt that such payments corrupt cadres at any level and have the effect of making people perform their duties or fill offices because of money inducement rather than dedication to the cause – they become in effect merely salaried employees of the movement. It is high time that all members and cadres of the ANC, be they in M.K. or not, should receive equal treatment and be judged only on the basis of their dedication and sacrifice to the cause we serve. The principle of thorough selection of cadres should be on the basis of merit and such selection should never be delegated to an individual – this will prevent individuals owing allegiance to those who appoint them rather than to the Revolution.

3. The Leadership of the ANC abroad must be committed to a resolution and program of going home (to South Africa) to lead the struggle there, which resolution and program must be seen to be implemented. Presently there is a Leadership vacuum as all the leaders are either locked up in Vorster’s prisons or are in exile. This has deprived the South African masses of leadership which is so vital at this crucial moment of our Revolution. A situation where our people, because of this vacuum will be deceived by opportunists of all shades is strongly developing. We feel that the number of leaders attending international conferences and other globetrotting activities should be cut down to a reasonable few and the remainder should work around the clock working on the home front.

4. There are certain symptoms which are very disturbing and dispiriting to genuine revolutionaries. These comprise the opening of mysterious business enterprises which to our knowledge have never been discussed by the leadership of the Organization. For instance, in Lusaka, Zambia, a furniture industry is being run by the ANC. In Livingstone, Zambia, a bone factory whose original purpose was to provide cover for underground work in Botswana is now being used as a purely commercial undertaking.

As a result of these enterprises more and more M.K. men are being diverted to them.And some of the people in charge of these enterprises are dubious characters with shady political backgrounds. We are therefore compelled to conclude that there is no serious drive to return home and carry on the struggle. This is disturbing because the very comrade, Thabo More, who is supposed to be planning, directing, and leading the struggle in South Africa is fully involved in these enterprises. Now he has assumed complete responsibility for the running of these enterprises in collaboration with others, and it is extremely doubtful that with his attention so divided he can do justice to the armed struggle in South Africa, which should be his primary and absolute concern. The Leadership of the ANC can’t but be blamed for this state of affairs.

5. An equally disturbing situation is that M.K. is being run completely independently of the Political Organization. The Political Leadership Abroad is not aware of the activities and plans of M.K. We therefore infer that M.K. is separate from the ANC; that there is conflict between the ANC and M.K.; that the ANC has lost control over M.K.; that there is no co-ordination between the ANC and the M.K. All this has brought about a situation where the ANC is run single handed by the Commander-in-Chief who appoints and dismisses arbitrarily – as a result there is a tendency among members of the Headquarters to owe allegiance to the individual who appoints and dismisses them and it takes a genuine revolutionary to challenge him. We are compelled to blame the National Executive for this anomalous situation.

6. The Security Department is internally directed. It is doing nothing against the enemy. It has achieved nothing of military importance. The failure of the so-called Security Department has been shown by its inability to furnish the Organization with the fate of our most dedicated comrades in Zimbabwe. Or how is it possible that so many comrades have been able to desert so successfully? In the prosecution of its internally directed activities the Security Department has become notorious. Those who serve in it have the central task of suppressing and persecuting dedicated cadres of M.K. who have nothing to lose by participating in the struggle except their chains.

There is no Security Department in our Organization. For instance the arrest of Msomi and Matthews was inevitable as the fact of their presence in South Africa was common knowledge; as well as of comrades bound for home. This situation is tantamount to betrayal of comrades. In Morogoro, Tanzania, Joseph Cotton, Shadrack Tladi, and Boy Otto are openly flirting with the Peace Corps, an international known C.I.A. Front, a counter-revolutionary and espionage organization. The first two handle vital information as they are connected with the Radio transmission service relaying Organization material. Boy Otto is moving between Zambia and Tanzania transporting M.K. personnel and war material.

Most disturbing is that a comrade raised this matter with the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Duma Nokwe, who agreed that the matter of the above comrades flirting with the Peace Corps was true and that it should be furnished in writing, but no action was taken. This is very disturbing and discouraging to serious revolutionaries who know fully well that these three comrades are close to the leading figures of the ANC and M.K. For instance, Joseph Cotton is the son of Moses Kotane the Treasurer-General of the ANC and General Secretary of the South African Communist Party (S.A.C.P).

Shadrack Tladi is relative of Thabo More who is Commander-in-Chief of M.K. and member of the National Executive of the ANC Abroad. This has made us and many other comrades conclude that there is nepotism in the ANC.

An equally perturbing fact is that Mrs. V. Nokwe, the wife of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, Comrade D. Nokwe is presently working for Amiran-Israel, an internationally known Israeli intelligence Organization operating under the cover of an Import-Export firm. This Amiran-Israel is a coordinating center for Israeli Intelligence Services (Shinbet) in Southern Africa, Central Africa including Congo-Brazzaville, and Congo-Kinshasa.

Israel is a nest of imperialism, which is actively sabotaging the National Liberation. Presently it has colonized parts of Arab territories and is maintaining close links with the most reactionary and fascist governments, such as South Africa and the revanchist Federal Government of [West] Germany. We demand an explanation for this anomalous situation, and we demand that we should cut links with the counter revolutionary organization forthwith, and should there be any other links with the Israelis, the ANC should sever them in the interests of our Revolution.

7. The tragedy of the Zimbabwe campaigns is the fact that we have been unable to analyze our operations so as to be able to assess and draw lessons that would make it possible for us to formulate a correct strategy and tactics vis-à-vis the enemy.

8. It is a cause for serious concern that comrades who have come back from the battle front have not been accorded a comradely reception and the fact that there has been no re-appraisal of their combat experience.

We are shocked by the criminal neglect of our most dedicated comrades who have either fallen in battle, sentenced to death, or serving long-term imprisonment in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia). These men are heroes who have performed their revolutionary tasks gallantly without flinching. How can we possibly keep quiet over these valorous sons of South Africa?

Is this not an indication of callousness and irresponsibility on the part of the leadership? The behavior of the Secretary-General and Chief of Security of the ANC, D. Nokwe, and his attitude towards Comrade J. Mlenze, when we petitioned for a meeting, disturbed us greatly. For him to have said he did not know, did not recognize Mlenze is a height of indifference and cynicism and we are really very worried about it. Here is a comrade from the battle front, a Commander of a unit, and a Security Chief of a vital region, namely Transkei (a Bantustan established by the apartheid South African government in southeast Africa), accorded this type of snub.

9. We are perturbed by the fact that certain members of M.K. are receiving payments from the External Mission, e.g., the Commander-in-chief and the C.P.O. who as a matter of fact are getting allowances and the fact that the Commander-in-Chief has a posh and militarily irrelevant car at his disposal. The fact that these soldiers are paid has a very demoralizing effect on the other Revolutionaries.

10. Individual leaders keep cars and run them and this coupled with the fact that they receive salaries as allowances is in every way building them up as a middle class in our revolutionary organization and in M.K.

11. A strange and alarming trend is developing whereby secret trials and secret executions have been carried out. We are not against the execution and liquidation of traitors, but we are against the veil of secrecy. We are having in mind the trials of Zola Zembe, Wellington Mbata, Phalanyane, and Bopela.

It is a shame that we should have been witnesses to the emergence of extremely reactionary methods of punishment in M.K. There have been instances when offenders in M.K. have been dumped in dugouts filled with several drums of water without blankets or any other protective material for periods of up to about 22 days. The cases in point are those of Daphne Zwane, Tallman Ndlovu, Bob Zulu, Erends, and Joseph Ndlovu. This type of punishment, among others, is, from any angle, criminal and inhuman, and must have been designed to break the physical and moral integrity of its victims.

12. The ANC is the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle in South Africa, and it is strange that its leaders have not been obliged to take the M.K. oath. We strongly feel that there is no difference between the leaders of the ANC and men of M.K. who are obliged to take the oath, for such an oath might have dealt with J. Radebe’s desertion and will definitely deal with any other leader harboring right-wing designs of sabotaging our revolution.

13. The development of the Revolution has necessitated a renewal and rejuvenation of those who are leading it. We must guard against the fossilization of the leadership as this is likely to hinder the progressive development of the Revolution. There has been a tendency to appoint people to the National Executive outside. We would like to know what is the yardstick for these appointments. After proper consultation with all the members of the ANC a method should be found of changing leadership and the fact that there have been no conferences involving all our members at home should not be used as an excuse for not renewing the leadership. We should not depend on mandates given at national conferences 10 or more years ago. We have been forced to conclude that a few individuals are monopolizing posts in the Organization. This has brought about a situation where members of the Planning Council are also members of the National Executive.

14. It is very alarming that double standards as regards to health of the members of the Organization are maintained. Whenever leaders are sick arrangements are made for them to receive excellent medical attention without delay, but this sort of concern is hardly shown to the rank and file of the movement. We maintain that all of us are important in so far as the Revolution is concerned and should thus be accorded the same treatment.

15. We consider the youth in M.K. as the most revolutionary. We strongly feel that we should be consulted on matters affecting the youth. For instance, we must be informed about the revolutionary International Youth gatherings, and we should be given priority in the sending of delegates. The farce of the Bulgaria ANC Youth delegation should never be repeated and those responsible should acknowledge the mistake they made. The Youth of South Africa is not located in London or in any European capital. We therefore take particular exception to the appointment of certain students as leaders of the ANC Youth. Thabo Mbeki who went to London on a scholarship sponsored by the National Union of South African Students [NUSAS] is a leader of ANC’s bogus Youth Organization.

We are convinced that the ANC leadership in Exile is according better treatment and attention to the students. This attitude and practice has had a disastrous effect of diverting many would-be revolutionaries into the academic field. We feel that it is high time that the M.K. personnel, which is in fact the core of our Revolution, should be given the best treatment by virtue of having volunteered with their lives to give the supreme sacrifice for the Revolution.

Another disturbing symptom is the glaring practice of nepotism where the leadership uses its position to promote their kith and kin and put them in positions where they will not be in any physical confrontation with the enemy. The sending of virtually all the sons of the leaders to universities in Europe is a sign that these people are being groomed for leadership positions after the M.K. cadres have overthrown the fascists.

We have no doubt that these people will just wait in Europe and just come home when everything has been made secure and comfortable for them playing the typical role of the Bandas and others. As opposed to the treatment of the students, we find complete indifference and apathy to the heroes and martyrs of our Revolution who have fallen in South Africa and Zimbabwe. We have in mind the gallant sons of our country, who without doubt lay their lives in the struggle against imperialism. These include, among many, Patrick Mosedi, one time President of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL), and former treason [defendant], Benson Ntsele the tireless Commissar, the young cream of our country, Sparks Moloi, Chris Mampuru, James Masimini, and Andries Motsepe.

We have not forgotten those who have defiantly and stubbornly refused to be frightened by the hangman’s noose in Rhodesia following the heroic example set by our murdered martyrs Vuyisile Mini, Zinakile Mkhaba, Diliza Khayingo, W. Bongco, and others. These comrades are the dedicated Alfred Mninzi known to many of us as James Harmanus, Tamane known as Zami, the son of that great revolutionary and women’s leader Dora Tamane, the young Rhodes Msuthu Ngamlana known to us as Charles Mhambi, and Tula Bophela.


16. We call for a full definition of the ANC-Zimbabwe African People’s Union. alliance, its form and content.

We demand that a serious and genuine effort should be made towards the intensification of ways and means of going home. This should be one actively involving the most dedicated members of M.K. and it should be on the basis of a correct strategy.

In conclusion all these problems must be resolved by a conference between the ANC Leadership and members of M.K. and not just handpicked individuals.

[Signed]

M.T. Hani (Chris), W. Hempe, Z.R. Mbengwa (Jeqe), Tamana Gobozi (Mikza), Leonard Pitso,G. S. Mose (Mlenze), Ntabenkosi Fipaza (Mbali)