Tuesday, October 18, 2011

From the Ground Up: The Strategy and Tactics of Pan-African Internationalism in the Current Period



The struggle for African liberation is a long one. It has spanned centuries, its history full of victories and defeats. In every period of struggle, we have witnessed our fight for freedom move forward and then pushed backwards. At each stage, we eventually learn from our mistakes and expand on our strengths in ways that ultimately produce the next surge of forward movement. Generally, these surges forward begin on a small scale and if given the right kind of input, develop into large-scale mobilizations of African people towards the end of freedom.

At this point in the history of our struggle, we find ourselves between the close of the last period of our resistance and the beginning of the next major surge. It has become common among the revolutionary and progressive sectors of the African liberation struggle to speak of what must be done next, and there is no lack of ideas and programs being developed and pursued to answer that question. Pan-African Internationalism is among the proposed answers to the question.

It is clear that there is a growing tendency among African people to reject the ideas and way of life pressed on us by forces other than ourselves. This tendency, along with the growing crises of the capitalist-imperialism, continues to prepare the ground for the African liberation movement to make its next great leap forward. Pan-African Internationalism is a part of this tendency, and seeks to advance the cause of our people in a significant way; it seeks to open a new era of struggle and achieve the kind of progress that our movement must have.

However, what separates Pan-African Internationalism from the vast majority of other ideas within the African liberation movement is its ability to see the reality of our struggle clearly and without dogmatic adherence to philosophies and opinions which are no longer, if ever, valid. Pan-African Internationalism recognizes that the attempt to make struggle in this period in the same way it was made in the last period, is a mistake. The practices which characterized the African revolutionary period of the 1960’s and ‘70’s, while still having some value, are no longer capable of propelling us forward. What we know and believe about waging struggle must be updated to reflect the reality we live in now, while retaining a clear understanding of what happened in the past.

What this means is that, in order for African people to advance into the next stage of our struggle, we must rework our strategies and tactics and wage our fight in ways that are best for current times, as opposed to trying to turn back the hands of time and relive the struggle of the 1960’s.

However, before a new set of strategies and tactics can be developed, we must first establish a clear view of where we are now, and under what conditions we must wage our fight. In this way, we can be sure that the conclusions we come to about what must be done are correct because they are based on realistic judgments and not romantic idealism that is divorced from the real world.

Summing Up the Current Period

The African liberation movement, as it is right now, must be summed as being weak. While there are pockets of strength in various places, the main character of our movement is that it lacks the strength necessary to overcome the obstacles which stands in our path, and resolve the internal problems which slows us down. The historical ability of the African liberation movement to organize and mobilize great masses of people has been so eroded that it is difficult for the movement to organize more than a hundred committed people, much less mobilize anything close to thousands in a sustainable way. What we are left with is a movement full of all kinds of contradictions and that spins its wheels more so than it moves forward. 

To some, this assessment may seem cynical or defeatist. It may strike a chord with the sincere and committed forces that labor daily to make advances. It may insult the sentimentality of our comrades in struggle. The hard fact is, regardless of our feelings towards our work we must be rigorously honest with ourselves and spare no feelings in summing up our general reality. If we are going to build a successful revolutionary movement, which brings the masses of African people into direct conflict with our oppressors, we must have a winning strategy. If we are going to develop such a strategy, then we must have the best possible understanding of where we have been and where we are now.

The African Liberation Movement: Headless and Divided

The weakness of the African liberation movement have two main aspects: reactionary counterrevolutionary struggle waged against us by the bourgeoisie and the absence of deep, principled unity throughout the movement.

The first aspect is not so well understood, as some forces would claim. The fact is the counterrevolutionary struggle that the ruling class has waged against us was no simple matter. More correctly, it was a multi-level complex system of attacks that amounted to the military defeat of the African revolution and the ongoing repression of anything that might become revolutionary. This process is correctly defined as counterinsurgency warfare, and it has effectively sought to root out our struggle at the most basic levels. However, the very fact that the bourgeoisie ruling class exists means that there will never be a time when the germ of revolutionary resistance does not exist, no matter how small because as long as there is exploitation and oppression, there will be rebellion and resistance. Still, we must be clear that the ruling class engaged in total war against the African revolution and once it liquidated the major revolutionary forces and organizations of the last period, it turned its attention to the repression of the masses of African people.

To this day, a significant part of understanding our struggle is the task of understanding our opposition. We must firmly understand that the ruling class has been continuously undermining all attempts to win the people to struggle via political repression, economic bait and hooks, and social integration. The sophisticated machinery of the capitalist-imperialist state, along with their neo-colonial sub-states and representatives, has made revolution look either impossible or undesirable to our people. The weakness of the African liberation movement cannot be correctly summed up without identifying the counterinsurgency war as the main force that holds back our progress.

On the other hand, we must also sum up the internal contradictions that contribute to the current weakness of the African liberation movement. This internal weakness appears as a deep level of disunity and disarray. It is no secret that there are probably as many different organizations as there are ideologies within our movement. The disunity among the best forces of our movement in addition to the existence of significant fringe ideologies, plus the under-organization of the masses of our people amounts to what academics call hyper-pluralism. There is an overabundance of factions in our movement, and all of them vie with each other for influence and seek their own interests. This creates the current situation where one the hand, there are a large quantity of organizations but a low quality of work being produced. On the other hand, African liberation organizations are concentrated in certain areas and almost non-existent in others. It follows then that there are large gaps in our movement. Pan-African Internationalism understands that in order to achieve our end goal, a critical number of people from the masses of African people must be won into some form of active unity with the aims of the struggle. This being the case, it can be seen that the extremely uneven development of our struggle is a major part of our weakness.

However, what the masses of our people do is a direct reflection to the kind of leadership they unite with. It must be said, without any intention of slandering African working class people, that our people have been won over, in large part, to the uniting under the leadership of capitalist imperialism. Because of this unity, the African proletariat has become more interested in acting on the bourgeoisie agenda than acting in its own interests, as a class. This is a direct reflection of the most critical contradiction in the African liberation movement: the lack of a strong, capable working class vanguard. The lack of a leading social force within the African working class has given the bourgeoisie all of the room it needs to win our people to itself. The faithfulness that African workers demonstrated to the ruling class is not a genuine one, but a faithfulness to what our people perceive as being our best option. The lack of a vanguard force means that there is no serious alternative to the current conditions that our people can really grasp onto. While the African liberation movement offers certain kinds of alternatives to life as an oppressed worker, the fact is, we have yet to develop the infrastructure in the real world that people need to meet their basic needs. This is at the root of the weakness of the African liberation movement. The effectiveness of the counterrevolution in liquidating leading revolutionary forces and organization has left our movement without capable leadership. This lack of leadership is the basis on which the hyper-pluralism of our movement has developed.

The Main Objective of Pan-African Internationalism In the Current Period

So, with a clear understanding of the main problem that holds our movement back, we must come to a point where we recognize what we must do to solve the problem. The most important work of the African liberation movement in this period is the development of a revolutionary, vanguard force. Once the movement has developed its own leadership, one that is capable and effective, one that can lead the African working class forward in sustainable struggle, the work to rebuild the African revolution can be consolidated and our struggle will advance. This is the main objective of Pan-African Internationalism in this period. With this objective established, we must then turn to developing a plan of action that seeks to amplify our strength, and minimize our weaknesses; takes full advantage of the opportunities presented to us, and reduces or removes the threats which undermines our work.

The work to develop a vanguard force is not a simple one, yet it is not a task that is new to us. In each period, the African working class has produced its own leadership that was capable of leading the masses of African people into new periods of struggle. However, it is clear that the best forces of the African liberation movement have yet to develop the conditions necessary to produce the vanguard. This is a reflection of the fact that we, collectively, have yet to update our view of what must be done to meet the current needs of our struggle. There are forces that have the potential to be vanguard forces, yet, they have not been able to win sustained leadership of the African liberation movement. At the heart of this contradiction is the fact that our leading forces have lost sight of the need of revolutionaries to win influence among our people. Leadership is the result of having influence with the people to be led, and until we develop influence, we cannot win our people to struggle. It is the position of Pan-African Internationalism that in this period, we must develop the capacity to build the kind of institutions and infrastructure that supports the lives of our people. In doing so, we demonstrate to our people that participating in the movement is actually in their best interests. When the masses of African people begin to believe that involvement with the struggle will benefit them that they will begin to unite with participating in the African liberation movement.

Controlling the Ground: The General Strategy of Pan-African Internationalism

The main strategy of Pan-African Internationalism, in this period, is to organize and mobilize the masses of African people to fight for and gain control over the territory that we occupy. On the one hand, we must continue to engage in direct political struggle with the class and national enemies of African people, however, in this period, we must finally perfect the work of establishing dual and contending power.

Dual and contending power is the ability to establish an alternative system of political, economic, and social organization that is in direct contention with the system of capitalism. It seeks to engage oppressed people to participate in the work to develop projects, programs, and institutions that serve our needs in a revolutionary way. In doing so, we begin to undermine the ability of the ruling class to control the lives of our people through their power to administer our communities. The establishment of dual and contending power weakness the ruling class from below, in a manner that force the ruling class to reveal its true nature. As we continuously deepen this basic form of self-determination, the ruling class will perceive its own loss of influence and begin to act to antagonize our work. The combination of dual power, continued political engagement, and the open reactionary response of the ruling class will push more African people to abandon their unity with the ruling class and take up unity with the African liberation movement. As a result of their participation in the movement, more and more African workers will become developed into leading revolutionary forces. The combination of an abundance of well developed, organized, revolutionary African workers and growing material resources and infrastructure controlled by the movement will produce the conditions that are necessary to finally organize an African working class vanguard. Based on solid forces and real material capacity, this rebuilt vanguard will then be capable of leading our people in a serious, effective way.

The re-established vanguard must then combine ongoing political action, aimed at advancing and defending the interest of African people, and dual and contending power that functions to develop independence among the African working class. Once these two elements of our movement have are being conducted on a consistent basis, the various elements of the African liberation movement will either be won over to the vanguard or exposed as be counterrevolutionary, eventually leading to the consolidation of our fractured movement into a single force.

Developing influence with the African working class through the consolidation of a vanguard force which can effectively lead African working class people to establish dual and contending power alongside sustain political action constitutes the main strategy of Pan-African Internationalism in the current period.

By Bcde. Abasi Shomari Baruti

1 Response(s):

I really appreciate this piece and the summation that now is the time to build dual and contending power structures in the Afrikan Working Class Neighborhoods! The form this should take is a Interdependent Network Of Afrikan Communes! I call for the construction of a Federation Of Independent Afrikan Communes or FIAC!

Cde. Ajamu Bandele (Black Star Action Network)