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 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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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?


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.

07 December 2017

Purging is not a Cure for Patriarchy

At this writing, I can only imagine who in the celebrity world will be next exposed as a sexual predator. These revelations are coming with such frequency, I wonder if Ted Koppel needs to revive his daily tally on the bottom of the TV screen, as he had at the start of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Recall, this nightly spotlight ticking off the days, weeks, and months the US embassy staff was held was the birth of Koppel's long-running program, "Nightline", and furthered his television career.

Koppel did not free a single hostage, but it is said that his nightly spotlight of the hostage crisis, and the meticulous tally of the elapsing days - which went into the 300's - was one nail among several in the coffin of Jimmy Carter's one-term presidency, and it paved the way for last century's right-wing buffoon, the Acting President and FBI snitch, Ronald Reagan.

Could a sage female journalist, like Barbara Walters, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, or Connie Chung, do a nightly news program, tallying the latest sexual assault, delving deep into the power/lack-of-power dynamic between men and women in our advanced societies?

Could a tally bring down patriarchy?

Not likely. But if it ever did it would have to go back 500+ years to the European conquest and genocide of First Nations and Native peoples; it would have to document the voices of countless African girls kidnapped from their homelands and communities to work in the forced-labor camps that we quaintly call plantations. It would have to excavate quite a few unsavory roots to the phenomenon of the oppression of women.

The Dilemma

Dismantling patriarchy would demand a lot of work. And yet, in the wake of these present and ongoing revelations how these men acted upon women, men, girls, and boys, we're not doing the Work.

What we are barraged with are women encouraged to tell their stories.

We are admonished to believe them.

We are asked, what is to be done with these perpetrators?

Should he resign? Is a week of therapy enough? Should his series be cancelled?

What have more than one dozen testimonies done to the current US president, who boasted not only sexually assaulting women, he sexualized his daughter, and suggested he could commit murder in New York City?

These oral histories from the victims could be conducted by the late, great reporter Studs Terkel, we could wear "I believe you" buttons, flood social media with "Me Too" hashtags, and indictments could be filed and jail sentences imposed, and none of these things would address what must be done when it comes to patriarchy.

These public confessionals, with the invariable close-up of the traumatized woman being made to relive her trauma on national television is the bread and circuses of the elites. Elites do not want to talk about power, so instead we focus on victims or on who attorney Gloria Allred will defend next for a close-up and how sordid and debauch was the behavior.

If it is testimonials you really want, how many immigrant women working as agricultural laborers have been abused by their employers, and why don't we hear about the Black women working as domestic laborers, not only in the South, who faced sexual assault from their male bosses? I wonder why Gloria Allred won't seek them out to defend in a class-action suit.

Testimonials just scratch the surface to understanding how power works. They do prove there is in fact a problem, but they do not deal with the problem. Like the convening of a committee by a municipal body, they are often meant as a distraction rather than promote real restructuring.

Purging is not a cure for bulimia.

Because while women - and particularly women of color - have faced and do face enormous challenges and exploitation under capitalism, like sexual assault of various kinds from their workplace superiors, like wage theft through legal pay disparities, and like sex trafficking, the structure of this oppression finds its source in our authoritarian workplaces and nuclear families. This is where we nurture our children to comply with these powerful structures, supposedly for their long-term benefit, we teach them to suffer in silence, and to labor out of fear that one's very livelihood can be extinguished in a moment by one's employer.

This is where patriarchy finds its most eager accomplices among some women, who have been taught the path to their liberation is through being the equal of men.

Equality under Patriarchy

Germaine Greer

                            Sylvia Federici

Audre Lorde

The equality battle risks being a pillar upholding patriarchy. This is where focusing on increasing the presence of women in local police forces or imperialist militaries, or corporate boardrooms, is to cosign the very authoritarian regimes that demand not only the silence of women, teach all the wrong social lessons to them, and subject them to assault, but these authoritarian regimes subject all workers to these antisocial lessons of staying silent for fear of one's future.

Radical, second-wave feminist, Germaine Greer, said in 2010:

"I never wanted equality. It's a meaningless idea. A nonsensical idea. I certainly don't want the life of an 'organization man' or a corporate lawyer or a bond trader or a diplomat or even a parliamentarian because you're simply recycling the same injustice and misery. What I look forward to is a complete reversal of priorities so that the things we take for granted as trifling, like housekeeping,... become major. For example, we need to housekeep this planet. We need to really bring in principles of domestic economy so we're not behaving in a way that is depleting the resources of the planet, reducing its biodiversity, which is our real inheritance. Everything else is nonsense: all the 'great houses' and silliness. Even the works of art are nothing compared to biodiversity. But in order for that to become so important that people will accept a fall in their standard of living and live in a more frugal and austere way, we've really got to have completely different mindset. Consumerism has got to be as no-no as drinking and driving."

Further, we nurture young girls and encourage women to offer their labors for free within all domestic contexts (marriage, motherhood, children, and house work), and not to complain when offered less in the public arena.

In a 2015 interview, Marxist radical feminist, Sylvia Federici, undermines concepts of "women's work" in her critiques of capitalism:

"When women fight for the wage for domestic work, they are also fighting against this work, as domestic work can continue as such so long as and when it is not paid. It is like slavery. The demand for a domestic wage denaturalized female slavery. Thus, the wage is not the ultimate goal, but an instrument, a strategy, to achieve a change in the power relations between women and capital. The aim of our struggle was to convert exploitative slave labor that was naturalized because of its unpaid character into socially recognized work; it was to subvert a sexual division of labor based on the power of the masculine wage to command the reproductive labor of women, which in Caliban and the Witch I call 'the patriarchy of the wage'."

The Dilemma: the Workplace and Work

Dismantling patriarchy has to include how we are all our collectively complicit in sustaining it. It must note the gross hypocrisy in eliciting women's testimony in tearful public displays, telling them "we believe you," while making their suffering in silence for low wages noble, and discouraging their complaints, litigious and otherwise.

Newer revelations and hearing testimonies about what we should already know and feigning shock will not advance the demise of the authoritarian culture that patriarchy thrives in, especially if we keep pushing our daughters and encouraging our sisters to succeed from within it.

The "organization man" that Greer alluded to is a watched, reviewed, and vetted man. He does not go from one promotion to the next without proving, like any good Mafioso, his loyalty to the system. And loyalty to the system is not the liberation of other women, especially not of women of color.

Recall when in 1979 the late Black lesbian poet, Audre Lorde, admonished a conference of mostly white feminists, white feminists who had empaneled mostly white women:

"If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clear your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of color?"

As we still commemorate the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, we must also commemorate the social institutions created and inspired from it for the benefit and radicalizing of working people - to nourish a democratic mentality. Workplace councils, though not always perfect, became the norm, as were neighborhood councils. But the point isn't their imperfections: these gave workers and their communities contexts to imagine and actualize better conditions.

This tradition stands in marked contrast to what can only be called the authoritarian workplaces in our so-called leading democracies, the military command structures, the write-ups, arbitrary firings, union-bashing, and, yes, sexual predators among upper management. These things go hand in hand.

For us, workers collectivizing informally as in grassroots committees, or formally, as in unionizing, are direct threats to our management-centered culture. It was the strength of the union movement that, not ironically, narrowed the gender pay gap; and so, predictably, as unions are allowed to whither under Republican and Democratic indifference, that gap widens. Given that so much of our lives are spent having to work, the persistence of these authoritarian workplaces would bely our boast of being a global democratic leader if actual, meaningful discussions were to be had. The goal of these social institutions is not to become partners with management, cannot be to "share the wealth" with Wall Street. These social institutions must, in the final analysis, dismantle the authoritarian regimes and empower workers to control their communities and their workplaces. This is democratic.

26 October 2017

Slaying Dinosaurs and Dragons or when the young confront their elders and the elders show their unworthiness to be elders

[Trevor Hill, left, is an economics student at New York University. Eliecer Avila, right, was a student at the Universidad de las Ciencias Informáticas]

Two infamous incidents reveal a glaring problem with our activism and our movements

Trevor Hill vs. Nancy Pelosi

The first is from a young college student, Trevor Hill, who confronts California Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi [San Francisco] about young people's attitudes toward socialism.

Note in this interview with the Democratic Socialists of America where Hill says he was supposed to ask a different, “softball” question?

He went off script, thankfully, and Pelosi essentially said “we don’t hear you.” There is something encouragingly, but thinly, Marxist about her answer, when she attributes the wealth created as being created by the workers: unfortunately, she believes this wealth belongs to the owners, and that we are supposed to beg for it. But it makes me mindful that we too handpick our audiences to ask softball or scripted questions.

It also makes me regret that my party, the Communist Party USA, needs to be picking up young women and men, like Hill, who are ripe for the picking.

Eliecer Avila vs Ricardo Alarcon

This interaction reminds me of another off-script moment, which was just as ridiculous but was widely mocked and manipulated in the Western, bourgeois media for other reasons.

That is when another young student, Eliecer Avila, a young Cuban technology student, asked Ricardo Alarcon, then president of Cuba’s National Assembly of People's Power about why Cubans had to work for pesos and buy goods in dollars:

“That means a worker has to work two or three days to buy a toothbrush.”

Avila asked Alarcon why Cubans were forbidden from hotels and tourist shops, to which Alarcon replied incongruently that when he was stationed in New York City non-Anglo people were treated badly in stores.

Avila asked about restrictions on foreign travel, to which Alarcon responded if everyone flew there’d be catastrophes in the skies.

I say this not to mock Alarcon, who served the Revolution well, better than millionairess Pelosi has served the working class, Blacks, and the poor, but this Cuban upper statesman and member of the Politburo doesn't seem to have a clue what the young people are thinking any more than Pelosi, and the recent purges within the Democratic National Committee of leftists and Sanders supporters proves this.

Antiques Road Shows

This means we not only have an economic problem called capitalism, which siphons money and resources from the poor and guarantees the rich, but we have a generational problem, where old guards exceed their relevance and become those antiques we think are valuable but then the appraisers from "Antiques Roads Show" assess them as fakes.

This is the class of people who love to shoot invective at undemocratic regimes, when I don't think they care two bits about democracy. Just power and privilege.

One-time mayor of San Francisco and right-wing Democratic US Senator, Dianne Feinstein has just announced she is seeking yet another term at 84 years old. This is a pitiful story arc that needn't have happened. At ne time, Feinstein was a rising female Democrat in an establishment of men; she was considered vice presidential material because she lead [thanks to the assassinations of the Mayor and city councilman, Harvey Milk, because her bid to become mayor failed] a major US city. But the longer she stayed in that sun, the more the system steeped her.

Hill was able to join the DSA, and they are damn lucky to have him I'm sure. Avila, who had described himself as a Revolutionary, was effectively exiled for his impertinence and lives today in Havana where he gets harassed by the authorities for speaking out against the shortcomings of Cuban policy. It has been suggested, though not proven, he is being funded now by the Miami Mafioso. This is as dark a story arc as Feinstein's and it didn't have to be.

Our radical coalitions have barely dealt with the race issue, where often the leadership looks exactly like those Polo shirt-wearing, Tiki torch-carrying white nationalists in Charlottesville. And the men's club is often exactly as a younger Dianne Feinstein found the Democratic Party in the 1970's. So to burden our radical movements with more requirements might seem too much, it is necessary. It is necessary that the young be put there.

Those who are too fragile can be made into kindling.

22 October 2017

The People's Republic of China and Africa: Ideological Hypocrisy or One-Calorie Maoism?

Amilcar Cabral and Fidel Castro in Guinea Bissau

The problem with those leftists celebrating the People's Republic of China's role in Africa is not that they're unknowingly lifting their talking points from the Economist, but rather that they don't show the nasty flip side of the coin to this involvement - as even the Economist does.

They also happen mostly to be white and fall into that chauvinism that anything a white person, or a white nation, does or believes to be done, for the lesser races, is a good thing. Even when they fuck up [viz., the narrative the US had "good intentions" by invading Vietnam, which still pollutes newsfeeds and Ken Burns].

These supporters will cite such things as hundreds of billions "invested," but may not mention it was for things like an extensive railroad. If they mention the railroad, they won't mention that it's to move raw materials from Addis Ababa to coastal Djibouti and to a port that China has built.

Further, how much of this investment billions comprises the low wages of imported Chinese laborers that bristle the rising unemployed African laborer? (Locals often assume because these Chinese laborers are dressed in identical jumpsuits that they are prison labor, which bristles even more). Investment is a pretty broad, ideologically blank page on which one can put almost anything - like a loan to a bank to repay a loan held in Paris.

In places like SOWETO in South Africa and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, local vendors and craftspeople are anxious as Chinese investment comes, their own markets are downgraded or dry up completely. Opposition movements are getting more vocal against the Chinese while their governments continue to make more and more deals.

The ongoing convention of the Communist Party of China has been watched closely, President Xi Jinping's words measured by left and right as closely as we used to measure Federal Reserve chairman Allan Greenspan's riddles. Analysis is interesting. Rhetoric indicative. But so are actions.

Xi Jinping is General Secy of the Central Committee of the CPC and President

The visuals of the auditorium are a thing of beauty to a communist. The red flags. The giant hammer and sickle. Lenin. This contrasts sharply to Cuba's Communist Party congresses, where only the Cuban flag is prominent, no hammer and sickles, and the images are of Cuban liberation fighters.

From the visuals alone, one might conclude the PRC is staunchly Marxist-Leninist and that revolutionary Cuba has centered itself on a purely nationalist, anti-imperialist fight.

But actions mean things too, like Cuba's renowned internationalism, and how even after the collapse of the USSR it sustained its support of armed liberation forces in the Americas. Almost 40 years since the death of Chairman Mao, the PRC has not only not lent its support to liberation movements of the global South but has made these business deals and lucrative “investments” with the shady characters that Western capitalism has installed in power, as reliable African leaders.

A good place to start a wakeup call is to read Marxist historian Walter Rodney’s HOW EUROPE UNDERDEVELOPED AFRICA to get a sense on the various tactics employed by Europeans to rape Africa and build its capitalist super world. Then read some of Kenyan historian and African Pan-nationalist Ali Mazrui, author of THE AFRICANS: A TRIPLE HERITAGE, THE AFRICAN CONDITION, etc. Mazrui was no communist, but he was able to distinguish, like other communists and nationalists on the continent, “development without industrialization.” He was decrying this at least as far back as the 80’s and would find, for instance, the malls in Namibia filled to the brim with Chinese manufactures indistinguishable from what the French, Portuguese, and USAID were implementing over a generation ago.

Guyanese-born Walter Rodney [left] and Kenyan-born Ali Mazrui [right]

Someone told me I was obscene for comparing the PRC with Western imperialists. The PRC has no invading armies, I was told. Besides the fact that there are PRC troops in Africa – like, the 10,000 in Eastern Africa – has no one heard of neocolonialism? The PRC needn’t shoot communists and labor militants if the post-apartheid South African government will shoot them instead. This is what neocolonial governments do. This is why they are well funded and handpicked by Western power brokers to secure “our interests.” It cannot be beyond consideration that these same regimes benefit the Chinese designs in Africa, and this is counter-revolutionary.

Whatever Xi Jinping says of Mao and Marx and Lenin and Stalin from the floor of the CPC conference, whatever the PRC’s domestic policy, these results remain to be seen within China itself. But I see none of these luminaries influencing the PRC’s foreign policy where it regards Africa, which disempowers workers and communities and can at best be called a grossly reformulated Maoism Lite..