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)




26 April 2018

Thoughts on Us, Silence, and the Cosby Verdict

What's disconcerting about the verdict against Bill Cosby and I don't know how many trials that have led up to this, which itself seems unprecedented, is the lack of debate from the Black intelligentsia and so-called Black leadership. Like someone noted in a different vein how all of our international law school theorists from the best, most-renowned Ivy Leagues, have been deaf, dumb and mute about US violations of international law, like the recent US attack against the sovereign state, and UN member, Syria.

The silence of our public Black intellectuals about Cosby in particular, about the illegal wars, about US foreign policy priorities, about the missing Black men from the US economy, etc., in general, signal our dire situation having worsened.

The Black radical tradition is not nurtured by silence or default complicity with white power.And like the Left's current romance with "humanitarian intervention" and salvation at the hands of the Democratic Party, as if imperialism and Wall Street no longer existed, as if capitalism had set aside its mechanism to do, for once, a social good instead of its habitual harm, the Black voices that had joined the mob against Cosby seemed to totally forget the orchestrated and escalating attacks on Black men that have gone on since the first African rebelled against this apartheid system centuries ago.

It was as if COINTELPRO and the sustained assaults on the Black radical leadership by local, state, and federal authorities had never, ever happened.

Some will have read this far and asked: "debate what?" Bill Cosby is guilty. TODAY he was found guilty in a court by a jury, but over the last several years the guilt was determined by the media, those who called attention to this minor fact were said to be diminishing the testimonies of the women, and the only articulate voice on his side seemed to be his stellar lawyer, Monique Pressley. She would not have fallen asleep had she been on the case, as his new lawyer apparently did. I even think the case might have taken a different turn had she been retained. Where was the vigorous debate, where was the suspicion based on an historical record? Why the automatic complicity?

To charge the indicted in one case, the prosecutors kept widening and widening the net of "circumstances" to encompass cases that could never be tried. Was Cosby's new lawyer asleep as this happened, or was he helpless against a justice system that had to produce a specific result?

I do not know what this means for Bill Cosby now, but I know the Black voices within the range of these words must continue to awaken and utilize their consciences, as the best of us have done, regardless what the state deemed appropriate and expeditious. We cannot drift to the right, like so many on the Left have done and are doing.

Summon the spirits of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Paul Robeson, Chris Hani, Walter Rodney, Claudia Jones, Thomas Sankara, Harry Haywood, Audley Moore, Louise Patterson ... ibaye baye tonu

08 February 2018

The DPRK, African Liberation, and US Human Rights Violations

   Kim Il-sung [center] with the leaders of SWAPO, the Namibian liberation movement

While Western commentators - and revealingly some of our friends on the far left - will predictably mock the Institute of International Studies (IIS) recent report, "White Paper on Human Rights Violations in the U.S. in 2017," the report should be taken seriously and prompt some deeper questions.

It's not only because the US is once again being scrutinized for its human-rights abuses that will cause cognitive dissonance in a chattering class of that can only see the United States as a city on a hill, lit with a halo, but this white paper will be dismissed because this IIS is not in Washington DC or London but in Pyongyang, North Korea [DPRK].

It should be amazing at this late and dire hour that the Democratic Party, for all its failings and broken promises and neglect, can still do no wrong, and be advocated as any kind of ally for working and poor people, while the DPRK, which has not done a single slight to the Black community, should remain an object of ridicule.

But it's not really amazing given that Washington, London, and Paris are still considered global leaders of democracy and civilization.

MANUFACTURING THE DPRK NARRATIVE

The DPRK narrative has been effectively hijacked by the US State Department and, reflexively, much of US journalism. This dominant narrative of the West has been so effective that no one seems to notice how unbalanced it is.

Even the most mundane issues among the Washington consensus will pretend to be shown with two sides, usually a Republican who seems to favor a hard capitalism opposing a Democrat favoring a soft capitalism.

But with the DPRK, I challenge you to find even the alternative media daring to present a rhetorical counter narrative but rather US State Department jargon picked up by reporters and commentators.

Instead of any semblance of other narratives, the DPRK is synonymous with human rights abuses, run by a family of madmen, and, lately, intent on nuclear destruction of the world. Et cetera.

We should have asked ourselves a long time ago why the DPRK, which has never dropped a nuclear weapon on a country, invaded, or overturned a foreign government, never assassinated a foreign head of state, neither created a doctrine of preemptive strike nor meddled in anyone's elections should deserve the tarnishing it has gotten, while the United States, UK, France, and Belgium have volumes of such history attached to it and whose white papers are received earnestly.

Nevertheless, if anyone has the moral authority to address the human rights abuses of the United States, on behalf of its victims, the DPRK ranks on that list because of the insurgent history of North Korea and its Workers Party in the global South - the former colonial world.

When we pull ourselves away from the inside the beltway, Washington consensus narrowed narrative of much of US journalism and academia, the DPRK emerges as one of those countries who stood on the right side of anti-colonial liberation while our supposed victors - the US, NATO, and Western Europe - stood firmly on the wrong side.

While the rhetorical and material supports from the former USSR are hard to rival, African liberation movements had junior partners to assist them as well. The late Nelson Mandela, the African National Congress, and South African Communist Party praised Libya under Col. Muammar Qaddafi for its assistance in fighting the US/UK-backed apartheid regime. The GDR [East Germany] is included in this number of friends.

THE RECORD VS THE RHETORIC

The DPRK, beginning with its first leader, Kim Il-sung, who was also a member and freedom fighter with Mao in the Communist Party of China, have been allies with African anti-colonial resistance movements since the 1960's.

The DPRK and its Workers Party of Korea lent aid and support to such far-left movements as ZANLA in Zimbabwe, SWAPO in Namibia, FRELIMO in Mozambique, ANC in South Africa, and the MPLA in Angola. And just as the former Soviet Union had done, and Cuba continues to do, the DPRK exhibited true internationalism by training many Africans in Pyongyang in technical and specialized fields.


                     Statue of Samora Michel of FRELIMO, built by the DPRK in Mozambique

Recall that during these same anti-colonial struggles, the Western countries trained mercenaries and built bombs - like the bombs the US and UK dropped to excess all over a rebellious North Korea during the Korean War. In fact, the US/UK alliance dropped so many bombs, they ran out of targets and bombed rubble.

EXCERPTS FROM THE WHITE PAPER

The white paper is replete with indicting, elementary data about the "world's moral leader," that richest country on the planet:

" ... in the US, a self-styled 'model country of democracy,' all national organs are staffed with those representing the interests of monopoly capitalists, and the working masses are thoroughly excluded from politics" the report notes, holding a special light to the current administration.

"In the US, between January and September 2017, the cases of searching and confiscation against journalists account for 12 and the same goes for 11 cases of violation against them. Moreover, 19 persons in the domestic press circles and 4 foreign journalists were arrested or detained and suffered fascist outrageousness," the IIS report reveals.

The infamous Klan march in Charlottesville was also noted in the IIS white paper:

"Hundreds of gangsters including the notorious Ku Klux Klan members and neo-fascists openly staged a demonstration in advocacy of White supremacy, and drove a truck over the protestors, killing and wounding 20 of them.

"What was more surprising is that at a press conference Trump, who has a title of president, denounced the protestors as 'peculiar Left' and backed the advocates of White supremacy by saying that 'both sides are to blame'."

The US has its fill of elected officials, local, state, and national, wringing their hands over the dire crisis of homelessness, and among the loudest are Democratic strongholds, like San Francisco and the blue state of Hawaii. And yet nothing in the last generation seems to get accomplished to even stop the rising numbers themselves, let alone fix the problem altogether. This hypocrisy does not escape the DPRK think-tank:

"House prices across the country skyrocket every year, showing a rise of 7% in one year until November over the corresponding period of the previous year. This resulted in the rapid increase in number of the homeless wanderers.

" … According to what the US administration made public, in 2017 the homeless numbered 554,000, about 10% increase as compared to that two years ago, and the poor families, living in rented rooms devoid of elementary facilities for living, numbered approximately 8,300,000."

These are indictments of the most obvious nature that should be the daily report of our own Western media, and yet mysteriously we are distracted with nonsense about Oprah's speech at the Grammy Awards, how empowering it supposedly was, and whether she will run for president, among other minutiae.

We look for allies and discourse under the biggest rocks and delude ourselves that the underlying slime is on the side of the radical, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-misogynist, anti-queerphoic Left.

STATES ARE VIOLENT INSTITUTIONS

You don't have to be a DPRK flag waver to recognize its contributions and appreciate its stature to speak about these issues. It has earned the right to do so. These revelations, after all, do not come with threats to sanction or impose blockades on the United States.

Recall Noam Chomsky's reply about the United States, and any state: "you can never be proud of it. States are violent institutions."

The continuing problem with the West is its blatant hypocrisy to hold others to an exacting, high standard, while it gives itself a pass. African leaders have noticed this of late with the use of the International Criminal Court to favor indictments of global South leaders while overlooking the perpetrators of Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition, and torture sites, not to forget the occupation of Palestine, the northern part of Ireland by the UK, and the subversion of Catalonia's sovereignty and the imposition of an outdated monarchy on the Spanish state.

It would be a different matter if the critics took Chomsky's somewhat anarchist line and applied it to all states, not just those of the former colonies.

This hypocrisy so infects the Left one must look elsewhere from political ideology as the cause. This is not merely a function of the Republicans or neoconservatives but also parts of the so-called "progressive" wings. Is it racial? Is this hypocrisy a function of white power/white rule and extensions of the hundreds of years of white colonialism?

RENAISSANCE FOR WORKERS

Radical solidarity across races and ethnicities is critical, but does it have limitations so long as its implicated in white rule? The answer must be yes.


                                     African Renaissance, built by the DPRK, in Senegal

There is a beautiful statue in Senegal called the African Renaissance. It was built by the DPRK to commemorate the continent's many liberation struggles and North Korean's involvement in them. Like the Statue of Liberty in the US, Motherland Calls in Volgograd [formerly Stalingrad], African Renaissance must be made an historical reference point for everyone fighting on the right side of history against those on the wrong side who continue to distract our best, militant efforts for worker empowerment, worker democracy, and socialism.