Nabudere: Helping Understand Our Condition

A Worldwide Crisis Based on Imperialism

Pambazuka News published an excellent article, “The Global Crisis of Capitalism and Its Impact,” by Professor Dani Nabudere, executive director of the Afrikan Study Centre in the Netherlands. In it, he discusses how the abstraction known as paper money, plus other financial instruments such as derivatives and futures, “have lost any relationship to the ‘fundamentals’ in the material production of the world economy.”

As in virtually every opinion coming out these days on the so-called financial meltdown, Nabudere’s work remains devoid of statistical data to back up his claims. This criticism also must strike at all opinions on the subject that I have developed as well. However, that does not mean such views derive from metaphysics, because ample facts on the history leading to this period have been well documented in newspapers, financial journals, criminal and civil courts, international treaties like NAFTA, and thru the policies of such bourgeois institutions as the Trilateral Commission, IMF/World Bank, and the World Economic Forum.

Structural readjustment based on Africa’s relationship to international finance capitalism, Imperialism, continues to impose social upheaval thru out the Motherland. Former food staples such as maize, soy and sugar are now being grown for biofuel, triggering widespread food crises. Genetically altered crops are unfit for human consumption, and seed crops have become proprietary to stop self-reliance in its tracks. Sanctions against weak states like Zimbabwe severely undermine the population’s ability to eke out a living. This is the essence of social destabilization as a consequence of Imperialism’s globalized economy.

Whatever chaos goes on in Africa likewise gets duplicated in the US black community, altho at a more manageable level for the State. Black folks have lost more homes due to an inflationary rise in adjustable rate mortgages, the banks’ racist answer to the banned redline. Where armies press gang people into mines to pirate raw material at cut rate prices for companies in places like DR Congo, the US provides one million black prisoners as cheap labor for the industrial sector here. Police repression has not only increased since last November’s election, it has become bolder and outlandish, and with not one word of reform mentioned in the legislative corridors of this nation’s city councils, state assemblies, or Congress.

To make the point succinct, most minds are not in major dispute of the facts what has transpired over the last thirty or forty years. Few folks on the left disagree on the major economic and political trends. Nevertheless, all these facts do not make for an ounce of truth. That is, the facts in themselves demand an interpretation which serves the best interests of the masses, and gives them an ability to act decisively. This seems to be where most revolutionary theories diverge.

Nabudere’s article is an important piece inasmuch that it details many stages which brought us to this period. He talks about the collapse of the gold standard and the “over extension of credit”. This analysis of the credit “problem” continues to be seen as a major contributing factor for contradictions in capitalism. Nabudere accurately asserts the following:

…the US is increasingly unable to repay debts it has accumulated in its Treasury Bonds and Bills, in which the rest of the world have placed their reserves. Most African countries have millions of dollars in these US Treasury bills, which are held as the countries’ ‘reserves.’ China, India and Japan have trillions deposited in these ‘T’ bills and bonds This means that should the world economy collapse under pressure of ‘loose money’ wanting to be given a value (which they do not have) so that the holders of that ‘money’ can preserve their wealth, those holdings in US Treasury bills (or US debt to the rest of the world) will be lost forcing many weak economies to collapse along with it.

To credit Nabudere for his clear and lucid explanation I have labored, under my limited expertise, to demonstrate that paper money has essentially no value, that it represents value as objectively as any elected official represents democracy, and that when people get it thru their heads how the abstraction benefits only a handful of private owners and bosses the people will understand precisely how capitalism exploits them.

Still, the credit issue remains one that most people attribute as the primary contradiction, rather than seeing the crisis as a primary feature of capitalism itself. For instance, the US economy experienced economic crises more often than stability in the 1800s, my apologies for not documenting the source. In fact, until Roosevelt no effective management of the economy existed. While Wilson invented the modern business model, the economy as a whole required decades to stabilize. The credit regime does not appear to be the fundamental problem here; rather it seems to be a lack of liquidity due to the rich having concentrated even greater wealth into their hands over the last thirty years.

Mental_floss documents six crises which predates the current global one. The Irish potato famine caused widespread starvation in that country because of monoculture. On hyperinflation, compared with Zimbabwe — a microstate which does not even have an industrial sector — in November 1923 in Germany, one US dollar equaled 4.2 billion marks, and even daily staples had to be purchased with wheelbarrows of cash. On the Great Depression, founder of the Chicago School, Milton Friedman later stated that liquidity had been frozen; in any event, by 1932 the economy contracted by 31%, and 13 people million became jobless, a quarter of the workforce. Before the 70s oil crisis, Mental_floss says that Saudi crude cost $1 per barrel to pump out of the sand, but it rose to $10 per barrel following the Yom Kippur War, due to an Arab League embargo. (Why they haven’t embargoed following the recent Israeli strikes on Gaza is an enigma.) Then, in the curious case of the Asian flu, the collapse of the Southeast Asian “tiger” economies of Thailand, The Philippines, Malaysia and South Korea was due in part to financial speculation on their currencies in the interconnected global economy. Finally, Mental_floss touches on the then-bright star of the IMF, Argentina, which underwent runaway inflation in 1992 and going on to default on $140 billion in debt in December 2001.

Showing these crises do not seem to justify the position that I have taken. But they show that capitalism is a system filled with crises. It shows that capitalism is unstable, that it creates instability, and that is the character of any system built upon exploitation and oppression. At any rate, whether the illiquid situation has foundered upon overextended credits or an increased concentration of wealth at the top, or a combination of factors, the masses must become organized around their own political self-determination and collective self-reliance.

Anticipating this period, I wrote “A Dying Imperialism” in early 2007. In that essay, I made these observations:

Recognizing Imperialism’s weak links and how it shifts focus away from pressure provides both strategic and tactical objectivity for revolutionary organizing. Of course, economies remain strong within the Imperialist centers themselves; the United States continues unchallenged as the top industrial sector on the planet. But with relative class peace within the US, a critical problem in social relations is unavoidable. The ecological crises combined with mounting competition for monopoly control of strategic resources, especially petroleum, highlight the basic anarchy in bourgeois relations. Also, America’s domestic colonies, the Ghetto and the Barrio, still struggle valiantly against the bourgeois class peace. Furthermore, the parasitic, multi-national occupation of Iraq presents a long-term disaster for the coalition leaders, the utmost striking failure in international policy. While America seeks military domination as part of its New World Order, that strategy only compounds antagonisms between this country, its competitors, and anti-Imperialist states.

The great professor Nabudere, who has international acclaim as a Pan Africanist thinker, offers a strong critique of capitalism. He says that it is erroneous to conclude that capitalism has the ability to reinvent itself. He condemns the “financial oligarchy” in its efforts to have the State take over their worthless credit instruments and have the producing classes bear their own burdens.

Yet with the new presidency of Barack Hussein Obama, the class peace has become amplified. If capitalism concentrates wealth and power into the hands of the few, then racism is class oppression concentrated as well and for the same purpose. Neo-colonialism, being the dilution of the concentrated class question (racism), appears to operate as a strategy for heading off the dilution of wealth. The only way wealth can be diluted is to redistribute it. But wealth dilution is still capitalist distribution, and neo-colonialism still is the final stage of Imperialism. It can only remain a brief matter of time before Keynesian economics and Obama politics compound into another crisis for a system which by its character must necessarily collapse.

KILOMBO REPUBLIC

African Dialectics:

Build a Black Revolutionary Palenque

(redacted) (dedicated to Troy Davis — Long Live Troy!)


This article was first submitted to the Sons of Africa discussion board. It was a reply to certain individuals who sought to limit to discussion of the US-led financial meltdown the scientific analysis of the crisis by dumping the solution and posing a metaphysical one. This presented a dilemma. These forces, operating in concert,  substituted semantics to deconstruct the analysis that I offered. This resulted in a minor war of words between several internet identities on the one side and myself on the other. Replying that SOA was not intended for conducting English classes but to disseminate information and views of interest to African people, I composed the following piece on dialectics. Now it appears here rewritten, reedited and amplified, and divided into sections for easier reading.

While the grammarians on SOA dissect my sentences to count my errors, rational overstanding depends on another form of analysis called African (historical) materialist dialectics. That involves the study of history thru the filter of African Internationalism, which proposes to the black world that international African unity is the highest expression of Black Political Power. Dialectics studies motion, change, contradictions, opposites and harmony in society. Dialectics studies the primary movement which defines society. So in that spirit, I strive to extend an analysis which serves Africans and all people in our struggle for bread, peace and Black Power.

I am not trying to invent any new theory here. Yet I hope to amplify, define and clarify positions already staked out in the African liberation movement. African Internationalism is Nkrumah’s Pan Africanism boiled down for the working classes. As articulated by the self-led African proletariat (working class revolutionary), it is Pan Africanism for the masses with an improved class articulation.

This theory also takes from Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Walter Rodney, Abdul Alkalimat, Omali Yeshitela and many others. My contribution to these giants is to simplify the race issue by properly defining it as a question of class. Who ever who learns dialectical-historical materialism gets taught that the class struggle in capitalism defines social relations.

Therefore, all relationships based on racial identity must also be defined in terms of class.

The classic black dialectic on race (this derives from the Stalinist-era CPUSA effort to grapple with the question) is that race reflects the ideology of colonialism or white supremacy. But this is an error. White supremacy is the ideology of colonialism and Imperialism. White supremacy formulated the notion that race forms the basis of conflict in society. White supremacy invented race as a social stratification when colonialism came into conflict with indigenous peoples, or shanghaied whole societies to work as slaves and coolies. White supremacy invented racial stratification as a form of class to maintain power and control over the subjugated masses. It states that whites are the ruling class and all others are enslaved by reason of their inherent racial inferiority. White supremacy has formerly used religion and philosophy to justify relegating even the most talented members of non-white nationalities to the most abject status. Racism concentrates class contradictions by subjugating colonized societies beneath even the lowest strata of the colonizers.

Hence, from these origins, racism arose as the concentrated class question within colonialism. Struggles within capitalist society have always exposed the shallow logic of racism. Firstly, and most importantly, the capacity and resolve of the masses to resist colonialism had an impact on bourgeois leaders. The people’s forceful resistance to press gang work — rendering them for execution as slaves, “zombies” and coolies when no longer useful on plantations and in mines — upset the natural order as seen by the colonizers. It did not fit what their Bibles told them. It contradicted what their leading thinkers had written on the subject. The oppressed should have been happy and content.

This view fit perfectly with the original sin of capitalism, as Karl Marx called primitive accumulation. Capitalism is a form of accumulation. Workers and other groups produce actual value. This means they transform raw materials into finished products. Workers take land and transform it into real estate. They take forests and transform them into lumber and then into products as varied as furniture and houses. The workers dam rivers and make them navigable while also fitting them with turbines, made by other workers, to generate hydroelectric power. So on and so forth, these products have worth created by the workers.

Value, which the workers produce, is stripped away from them as a class. This process occurs at the point of production, where the value is produced and as it continues to produce. The value made by the workers gets transformed and concentrated, that is, it is changed into something workers no longer recognize as something they made. Workers are then given just what they need to exist, while the capitalists who produce nothing live in opulence. Just like the masters taking living off the labor of the slaves. Marx calls this alienation, and it gains a social character. When workers become alienated from value, it is actually their own value which they lose. So the alienation assumes different forms. It has a statistical expression, further signs of how the bourgeoisie have alienated the workers. Suicide rates, unemployment, crime, violence, preventative health problems and all other forms of social instability derive from and are directly attributable to capitalism’s devaluation of the worker as a human being. These antagonisms become intensified, magnified, and even concentrated, amongst the colonized working classes.

So, as in all class societies, one group appropriates the value created by another group. Under capitalism, slaves are the workers who defined organized labor when they rose up and struck against the masters.

Accumulation which is non-capitalist or pre-capitalist in its apparent mode is categorized as “primitive”. This includes all forms of human trafficking such as slavery and serfdom, and prison labor under fascism; primitive accumulation also involves organized crime, plus the theft of land by colonizers. In all these examples, the illogic of capitalist relations expresses itself thru the ideology of white supremacy, anything which justifies, perpetuates or involves an economic empire.

In the Imperialist centers, capitalism has been trying to rectify its idiot-logical theories at every step and turn of its existence. For this reason and a few others, today Imperialism needs to dilute the concentrated class struggle. Neo-colonialism is Imperialism’s dilution of the concentrated class struggle. Diluting the concentrated class struggle works as a two-edged sword. At the same time that it blunts the anti-colonial movement, neo-colonialism also blunts racism itself, thereby effectively removing the material and ideological basis for white workers to support Imperialism.

The second key part of this analysis demands revolutionary action. It is something to the effect that scientific socialists must bring down Imperialism; it cannot just be allowed to fall. To do so will unleash the forces of reaction. Not only that, but we have to destroy the economic fodder of capitalism. We must set about doing this as part of revolutionary activity. That is the gist of it; we must diminish the power of asset-backed paper and all forms of capital, which is simply value in concentrated form. Not because we have significant amounts of paper, since we don’t. But because without so doing the Imperialists will still use money as a function of power. As long as people trade with asset-backed paper of any form, capitalists will buy whatever they need including armies to control communities and exercise force in private as well as political matters. Scientific socialism as a working-class State turns society upside down, and places the masses in power to eradicate the ruling classes.

For this reason, what continues to transpire within the Imperialist economic mode remains of utmost importance for us to grasp. We must not allow Imperialism to collapse, but we must be the agents of its demise. Those who remain interested in the dialectical approach may muster the courage to take on Imperialism. And for those who strive to build a society of maroons or a kilombo republic, that is, a fighting black soviet that we may also call a “community of resistance”, this agitational-organizational work aims to achieve that.

News

State of the Black World Conference Policy Declaration

November 19 – 23, 2008, more than 1,000 people of African descent
convened under the auspices of the Institute of the Black World
21st Century in New Orleans for the first major gathering of Black
people after the election of Barack Obama as President of the
United States of America. Filled with hope and expectations for 
the dawning of a new era in the history of this nation and the 
world, the participants came to celebrate a monumental achievement 
but also to somberly assess the state of Black people in America 
and the world. Centered on the theme Return to the Source: 
Restoring Family, Rebuilding Community, Renewing the Struggle, New 
Orleans was selected as the site for the conference because it is 
the metaphor for the myriad of maladies that afflict urban 
communities across this nation as a consequence of massive 
disinvestment, deindustrialization, globalization and decades of
blatant neglect. (...)

For the complete presentation by Ron Daniels, plus commentary,
go to The BlackList.

Democracy and Racism

The Black Dialectic in Post-Neocon America

by I. Langalibalele

Many people in the black community have an aversion to the class question. That is, people avoid discussing relationships between the haves and have nots in any serious way. This seems due to the lack of any real democratic rights black working class and poor people may have in America. Everywhere our issues are raised, others seem intent on drowning out our voices or speaking up for us, ultimately with the goal of diluting our message.
It is the responsibility of organizers to break thru our temerity and elevate a class analysis that penetrates the broad masses of African people and repudiates Imperialism and especially the right-wing.
A close examination of racism shows that it is an expression of the class conflict which forms the basis of capitalist social relations. Racism is an expression of colonialism, and the backwards color theory of racist confrontation bases itself upon subjugating all colonized people so that mobility can be concentrated within the oppressor nation. African people understand how racism operates. Racism places the lowest caste among the colonizers above the best of the colonized.
For instance, white racist Byron de la Beckwith felt free to assassinate NAACP leader Medgar Evers in 1963 because de la Beckwith knew the system would not punish him for killing a black man. Same thing with James Earl Ray. In the Tulsa riots of 1921, whites destroyed the black business district because that meant black progress and they had to stop black people from having anything more than they owned. The racist, neocon opposition to affirmative action, equal opportunity and other legal remedies — aimed at reversing the effects of 500 years of racist oppression in North America — exists because white racists view blacks as a lower caste. We are supposed to be, as Booker T Washington paraphrased from the Biblical ‘drawers of water and hewers of wood for white people in this country.’
Some people attribute violent white behavior to emotional responses such as jealousy or hatred. Yet emotions begin with the racism people get taught in church, school, at home and in other cultural and political settings. Whites have been conditioned for 500 years to think of themselves as superior to everybody else and consider the colonized niggers of the world as their do-boys.
In Vietnam, American soldiers considered the people there gooks, slopes or rice niggers. If the Arabs were whites instead of towel heads or sand niggers, the Zionists would never have any support in America. Eskimos are ice niggers in Sarah Palin’s Alaska and cowboys routinely call the American Indians prairie niggers. Every colonized group is some kind of nigger. That is all the word mean is you are a slave under capitalism and Imperialism.
Racial conflict hones the very sharp edges of the class struggle. Since politics is economics concentrated, then racism concentrates the class question. However, during the rise of monopoly sector capitalism in the Twentieth Century, it became increasingly more difficult to maintain the strict, rigid class barriers that had been defined via racism. The years foreshadowing World War II forced competing ideas within the capitalist spheres to come into direct conflict. Capitalism’s collapse during the Great Depression instigated important social movements which began the decline of strict, race-based (colonial) relationships.
In Europe, the global economic disaster flushed out the most reactionary sections of the capitalist class. Germany, Italy, Portugal and Spain led the fascist movement which threatened to engulf Europe. At the 1940 Berlin Olympics, Hitler’s Aryan supermen competed against America’s nigger sons in track and boxing and came up short. This competition also caused America to seriously reevaluate its racist Jim Crow policy, tho change did not begin in earnest until the mid Fifties. Eventually, the most parasitic forces of reaction started a war the extreme right-wingers of Imperialism couldn’t finish.
Today, Imperialism — also known as international finance capitalism  (“monopoly sector capitalism”) characterized by the proliferation of powerful corporations that function like actual nation states — has reached its apex. It has totally saturated the entire globe at one level or another, and redefined the way people live. It imports and exports capital assets, it hides wealth by concentrating it into “asset-backed commercial paper,” documents which represent millions of dollars in value, which can be packed into a briefcase or a wallet and negotiated anywhere on the planet. Imperialism has become as rotten ripe as it can possibly become and Imperialism is also the highest stage of capitalism.
Now that capitalism is undergoing another economic crisis like it did in the Thirties and Forties, the forces of reaction in America have become let loose. They want a fascist dictatorship like the ones which reduced Europe to a rubble in the Forties. The neocons forget or don’t kno that fascism arose because of the economic crisis; fascism is an emergency political regime that is based upon repression. Hitler, known to the pigs as the leech who rebuilt Germany in twelve years, is also the one who employed armed managers (the Gestapo, the SS and the army) to enforce production quotas from workers. Mussolini, Franco and Salazar used similar tactics.
While the neoconservative reactionaries in this country try to stampede the masses by saying they don’t want socialism, the Keynesian capitalism upon which FDR modeled the US economic recovery still was based upon Jim Crow and colonialism. African people have walked away from slavery and Jim Crow, and we will fight to the death before we ever return to that. We refuse to submit to any system referred to as “voodoo economics” by its own neocon proponents.
We must be clear, as black workers in America, that our efforts have built this country and so we have an important voice to be raised. The interests which we seek to articulate must no longer be coopted by interpreters or middle class aspirants. Let them speak for themselves or their own class interests. We can speak for ourselves, and we have little to no relationship to the Democratic Party or the GOP.
Our interests involve economic and political control of our own community. We want the Black Panther Party program. We want the Uhuru Movement program. We demand reparations and an end to the neo-fascist prison industry built on our backs. If white people don’t want socialism, fine and good, but we want something which will move our community forward and out of dependency on Imperialism.
There is a black dialectic which differs from mainstream capitalist culture; it differs from what most preachers say in church on Sunday, and it differs from what black commentators say in black newspapers. It is something which you might read over the blogosphere or get in a conversation with somebody on the bus or on a corner. However, it is not the discussion on the radio or on BET.
And the efforts of the self-led black proletariat to distill this discussion into a political message represents a polemic against capitalism which deserves to be broadly articulated.
This is the message that has been shouted down, denied any democratic forum in American politics, and treated as tho it were a criminal or terrorist ideology. One thousand Byron de la Beckwiths exist for every African who has clarity about the role of black workers and poor people in US society. One thousand James Earl Rays rise up every time an organizer fights to advance conditions inside our community as a matter of anti-racist struggle. Our communities across this country look like the aftermath of the Tulsa riots and yet we are supposed to remain quiet, and be afraid of what the reactionaries call “socialism”. We must demand socialism, we must demand change more than we kno the capitalist system is willing to concede, but we must demand what we kno we can get if it takes sweat and blood to get it.