Today’s revolutionary need is to detox ourselves from the old, stereotyped political formulas from 20 or 30 years ago. Without which we cannot deal with neo-colonialism. A while ago i was watching a Malcolm X Day program, and the main speaker ended by militantly reciting Malcolm X’s famous phrase: “The Ballot or the Bullet!” Haven’t you caught the same thing? X, most fresh of all thinkers, is being turned into the equivalent of Lenin or Mao’s corpse on ceremonial display. For when X threw down that slogan a generation ago, it was then timely and on point. Black people were struggling for Freedom against colonial conditions and most had neither the ballot nor the bullet. The militant question was which would be picked up.
Now, the Black Nation is struggling for its life against neo-colonial conditions and New Afrikan people have lots of ballots and lots of bullets. Everywhere you have Afrikan city governments, Afrikan officials and Afrikan executives, Afrikan soldiers, Afrikan shooters and Afrikan posses. You might say that the Black Nation is dying from too much ballots and bullets. But not radical enough truth, perhaps.
Under colonialism the oppressed were largely kept disarmed. Now it’s all reversed. Imperialism as a neo-colonial system races not to disarm (which is hopeless in this age) but to arm the oppressed in its own way, whether it’s posses or paratroopers. Children included, naturally. Feminists say women should get self-defense. Does that threaten imperialism? Then why is S&W making the “Ladysmith”, a .38 snubnose specially sized for women? Is the government of white men doing anything to stop women from owning handguns (the ranks of white women who’ve done so are over 15 million and climbing)? Be real.
In the Ivory Coast and Somalia, men and boys in rags and bare feet have AK-47s and grenades. In New York and Los Angeles, kids too young for learners’ permits got Raven 25s or a deuce-deuce. Or maybe even a TEC-9. What’s the firepower of the old black liberation army compared to the Crips in Compton or to the Jamaican posses just in Flatbush? “Get the uzi!” is successful slang because it plays off reality we all know. More than a few New Afrikan children say personally they got to be more afraid of Black people than white people. So how useful is the liberal-left habit on playing low to the crowd with old anti-colonial rhetoric?
It used to be that dissing the white man was a crime or close to it, dangerous for sure. Life threatening if a Black man or woman did it. Now it’s so tame that Fox or ABC gives it to us as a sitcom. There’s even some college courses on how to dis the white man. He may not like it, but who cares (imperialism doesn’t care, that’s for sure). Even white women are doing it now as a substitute for doing anything real. It’s like running in place. As Rodney, the Guyanese revolutionary scholar, pointed out, it’s counterproductive to solving the neo-colonial situation. Revs still cling to the old ideas and ways, in part because we don’t want to admit how ignorant we are now. This runs deeper, though. Anti-colonial politics are the culmination of 400 years of our struggle. They are the product of the best minds we had, of destroying old societies, of oppressed peoples changing the world in uprisings, pushing further and further. These old views are already fully developed, well-honed. More than that, the old anti-colonial politics are developed in the most profound sense, in having been widely diffused and taken hold of by the oppressed. Put to use already. So when revs talk that old talk, walk that old walk, it’s not only familiar but reassuring and to a certain degree popular.
We all take for granted now the anti-colonial consciousness and changes. It’s become the normal, what’s our due. A few years ago, Nelson Mandela was the most famous “terrorist” P. O.W. in the world. In 1990, when he made his triumphant visit here, he was not only greeted by massive crowds of well-wishers but schools and churches throughout the Black Nation held special programs to honor him. City governments and the u.s. Congress itself had to organize welcomes for him. Like it or not, white men had to smile and applaud him. And last year “By Any Means Necessary” T-shirts with Malcolm’s picture on them were more common on many streets than Budweiser T-shirts, and you can’t take it to mean anything extreme or radical. The old anti-colonial awareness has already been generalized widely, absorbed by people & society itself into daily life. Let’s break that down.
When a tiny klan faction bused from North Carolina to the u.s. capitol for a rally on Labor Day weekend 1990, it took over 2,000 cops in riot gear to hold the angry crowds back. The d.c. New Afrikan community was outraged that any klan dared to march in their city, which is 70% Black, on their territory. Efi Berry, then-wife of the then-mayor, Marion Berry, came out and brought her ten year-old son, too, “I’m overwhelmed,” she said, “that in the year 1990 we still have to deal with this …” Although the white left organization All-Peoples Congress (aka Workers World Party) officially called the protest, put up the posters and set up the banners on the sidewalk at 15th & Constitution (where the kkk was supposed to start marching) they were never in control of the struggle.
Spontaneously, young brothers and sisters just took it over by making the action. Pushing past police and infiltrating around police lines, occupying the intersection to block the street. When a white man with a bullhorn from the International Committee Against Racism (aka Progressive Labor Party) got lured out into the street, Afrikan people got that bullhorn from him and started rallying and leading the crowd. After word spread that the klan wasn’t going to show, that the cops had already cancelled their march permit and bused them direct to the Capitol building steps, the really angry crowd of 3,000–5,000 (two-thirds New Afrikan) just went right through the police lines.
It became a chaotic footrace down Constitution, as demonstrators and police in a mixed crowd ran until near the u.s. labor department building at Louisiana Avenue, where police reinforcements finally held. Out of sight, unimportant really, forty-four sorry whites of the christian knights of the kkk posed for reporters. Then got out of town, quick as possible. It’s the kkklowns who are doing the running now.
The Black Nation had made its point. That people weren’t going to put up with these racist insults right in their faces. Mass anti-colonial consciousness took over the scene, even without Black leaders or organization. It was a victory. “We smashed the klan!” “We beat back the klan attack!”, anti-racists reported afterwards.
It showed in practice that people could confront the colonial threat, but not yet the neo-colonial threat. Handfuls of klansmen are a danger on some suburban road or by sneaking around and ambushing someone. Only a fool, however, would think they’re the big threat that liberals, both white and Black, make them out to be. Does anyone dream that those 44 kkklowns could come into Flatbush or Marcy projects and push a million New Afrikans around? Intimidate folks? White hoods in the hood? The picture in your mind makes you laugh. They’d get smoked so pathetic it’d make Gen. Custer look good.
But in 1990, that same hour, the New Afrikan population of Washington d.c. was declining (which the u.s. gov says surprised them). Record numbers of Black residents with steady jobs were scattering before the fist of genocide, moving to the suburbs, breaking to Prince Georges County. Record numbers of other Black residents weren’t moving out but dying out, being shot down and shot up, being imprisoned. Under a “militant” Black mayor, a Black police chief had his Black police make more than 46,000 drug arrests during the 18 months of “Operation Clean Sweep. ” Close to one arrest for every five New Afrikan adult residents of the city. No klan could do this. Then, to make it all kkkomplete, the Black mayor got his neo-colonial self videoed snorting coke and “womanizing.” As that old Nation of Islam song went, “White man’s heaven is a Black man’s hell.” You’re still shooting blanks in a throw-down world.
The white ruling class wants the neo-colonial virus of Black capitalist government; it promotes, pays for and sponsors Black capitalist government. No matter what anyone’s hopes were, in fact today such Black government = Black Genocide. You say something’s crazy, or upside down here? Just as imperialism not only wants to arm millions of Afrikan men indiscriminately and quickly as possible, but it’s offering them a taste of everything “white” (even white women). This runs counter to all the rules of colonialism because it isn’t colonialism. It’s neo-colonialism, the new kid on the block. Neo-colonialism isn’t any less deadly than colonialism, you know. That’s why, even though it means starting from scratch, relearning, we have to understand the neo-colonial world system.
Until we put some light on the change from a colonial to a neo-colonial world, we are locked in cycles of primitive rebellion. We are not saying “primitive” like imperialist culture does, as a racist term implying backward and inferior, but in the true sense of those who came first, the stage that is the start of things. It took the oppressed generations to understand euro-imperialist civilization in its colonial form. To move beyond the primitive theories we first had to explain the social world. And until we did so, we were unable to defeat it.
Time after time, peoples would call on their traditional wisdom and weapons, and courageously hurl themselves against the colonial structures in primitive rebellion, to no avail. Whether it was the Indian Nations fighting back against the white settlers, or the Chinese patriots who fought to uphold their dying empire’s prohibition against the British and amerikkkan opium trade, or the Ibo women of Nigeria, who in the 1915 Women’s War rose up with their clubs by the thousands against the British army with its rifles, these were just but one-sided wars. Even when european armies lost battles, which they often did, they always held the long term strategic advantage. There’s nothing wrong with primitive rebellion and primitive theories, mind you. It’s where struggle starts.
At the same time, we recognize that it took generations of change to work from there to the storm of the national liberation wars, which were the high point back in the 20th century in the strategic negation of imperialism. It wasn't until revolutionary socialism led modern national liberation movements that Western colonialism as a crude system of iron handcuffs was overthrown. The revolutionary socialism of the 20th century had many faults, but it also had one historic virtue—that it was able to militarily defeat the full power of Western imperialism (that’s why they hate it so badly). Not once but many times, in nation after nation. For the first time in 500 years the white man was no longer the conqueror but the loser. You can see the difference by how easily the Pentagon invaded neo-colonial Iraq thousands of miles away, but its flinch reflex about invading a Cuba only 90 miles offshore.
Now the world struggle between oppressors and oppressed is starting all over again, on new ground. What we do today relative to the present neo-colonial situation is just as primitive as those early neo-colonial rebellions. Anti-klan meetings and stoning the hasidics in Crown Heights (and the hasids are no better or worse than the klan) are as futile as going begging to the supreme court or chanting “Run, Jesse, run.” These are remembered moves from anti-colonial days, which now only serve to vent anger harmlessly.
In like fashion, the search for political answers has begun again with primitive theories. For the great radical politics that once moved the lives of millions have been used up by history. Patriarchal socialism or “marxism”, the old national liberation, and white feminism all lie discharged, drained, behind us in the colonial past, and no longer illuminate the road ahead.
Today the proliferation of primitive theories dominates the mass intellectual life of the Black Nation, where the tremendous pressure of Black Genocide cries for answers. The more these primitive theories veer off from the amerikkkan mainstream, of course the more interest they stir up on the street (tasting of both Revelation and forbidden fruit). From the vulgar materialist climate theory of “Ice people vs. Sun people” to Shahrazad Ali’s argument that the problem is Black women’s refusal to submit to her “Blackman … as the ruler of the universe and everything in it. Including the Blackwoman.”
The 1960s radical Black nationalism, which was intellectually more sophisticated, exists now only as sentiment. Not as practical vision. For its dream of liberation unity had its roots, its material base, not solely in the slave experience or the Afropast, but in the modern working-class Black Nation. A community in which colonized New Afrikan people were overwhelmingly in one productive class, living one certain un-amerikkkan culture united beyond individual will. That class structure is gone with the migrating factory and the vanishing farm. As gone as the buffalo hunt. Replaced by Equal Opportunity and warlordism. Which is why young brothers and sisters have put aside those old radical programs to explore the new wave of crude and primitive political theories.
This stage of primitive theory is unable to comprehend Black Genocide, any more than a century ago the colonized peoples could at first explain the white man’s superiority over all of us. One theory is that it’s all a Jewish world conspiracy, while other men debate whether white men’s envy of the supposedly larger Blackman penis is responsible for Black Genocide. Any flattering shallow idea that seems to come from an anti-white angle can be considered. Primitive theory also takes the shape of dead answers. Trying to grab the razor sharp neo-colonial present with old preconceptions from the colonial past. Folks reassure themselves with trueisms we never question because they seem “naturally” true or “must be” true. So while it’s popular now to cry the alarm “Black Genocide!”—people still don’t get it. Are still afraid to really get it.
Isn’t “strengthen the Black family” the most agreed upon remedy? It’s glibly proposed by everyone from Mrs. Barbara Bush to Minister Louis Farrakhan. Everyone seems to agree on that, on trying to make a future out of a better past. Yet it isn’t any more real than dopehead dreams or whiskey courage. Would “strengthen the Jewish family” have saved the day in Hitler’s gas chambers? Or do you believe that Cherokees died of starvation and disease on the Trail of Tears because they had single parent households? Have you thought about this?
Peoples’ lips are saying “genocide” but their minds are still thinking discrimination. Trying to counter Black Genocide with old theories about racism and economics from colonial days. But our present has raced far beyond that. To not understand neo-colonialism is to not fully live in the present. Even radical Black nationalist thinking on this has gone beyond its expiration date. The river of genocide is here, now, but it’s a dividing line so different from what people say.
And the struggle against the neo-colonial empire has only begun.