To Build a Kilombo Republic
For centuries Capitalism has ravaged African people. It has enslaved us on our native soil to deplete our land of minerals and herds and trees and people. It has dragged our people across the face of the Earth in its quest for slave labor. Where capitalism has been able to own everything in sight it did, including the workers which made this system possible. Capitalism has been the worst blight ever encountered anywhere by African people worldwide on planet Earth mud.
It must be added that colonialism committed these crimes, and modern colonialism springs out of Capitalist political and economic domination. It forms the primary mode of Capitalist domination so it is, in effect and for all intents and purposes, the very expression of Capitalism and without it the Capitalist system cannot possibly exist.
Only thru colonialism have Capitalists created primitive accumulation. Capitalism accrues wealth at times considered non-capitalist or pre-capitalist economic contributions. However, that view of primitive accumulation no longer justifies the terms “non-capitalist” and “pre-capitalist”.
Interhamwe press gangs in Democratic Republic of Congo dug coltan for Americans to enjoy their SONY Playstations, X-Boxes and other high-tech toys. The press gangs (corvees) were presided over by the interhamwe, the name for Rwandan and Burundi death squads. Such production once fell under the purview of being non-capitalist inasmuch that capitalism doesn’t formally recognize the labor conditions which extracted the raw material for capitalist use. It doesn’t seem to reflect the Adam Smith concept of free markets and laissez faire.
Yet and still, this was all done within the capitalist sphere. It was done for capitalism. It was an aspect of Imperialism and a function made possible thru neo-colonialism. Hence, the term non-capitalist production is inadequate. This is the very essence of a capitalism which seeks the cheapest labor market available. For this reason, and millions more, capitalism must be eradicated.
It is important to get this point across. We can no longer consider “primitive accumulation” to be non-capitalist or pre-capitalist without assuming Adam Smith was correct about capitalism. We have to say Smith was an idealist whose concept was out of touch with reality. Primitive accumulation is capitalism at its most brutal. Primitive accumulation is the place where labor markets are slashed to fire sale and bargain basement prices, to turn a phrase. Primitive accumulation is capitalism at its bloodsucking, murderous best.
It is important for all people, particularly Africans, to understand this part of Capitalism, its development and its origins. If a thing was rotten at its birth, it will be rotten until its death.
African Internationalism elaborates this theory of primitive accumulation, the key to understanding capitalist relationships. All revolutionary theory is based on scientific socialism, and the theory of international working class unity. Elaborating the theory of primitive accumulation (articulated by Rodney, Eric Williams, Galeano and Yeshitela, among others), de-legitimizes Capitalism.
The elaboration of the theory of primitive accumulation deconstructs the mythos of Capitalism being based in the Protestant work ethic or some other force separate from and outside of colonialism. Yeshitela has done great work on this, and giving the field its name, he is not the first nor will he be the last to study and elaborate upon the theory of primitive accumulation, which soils the pristine whitewashed façade of Capitalism and its relationship to democracy, the welfare state, and other public pretenses to Imperialism’s “moral high-ground”.
Plus, Kwame Nkrumah’s critique atop Lenin’s analysis – Imperialism as the highest stage of Capitalism – evinces that neo-colonialism is the last stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah’s definitive contribution here rescues his legacy from the series of half-steps, mistakes and blunders which marked his presidency.
Frantz Fanon also discussed neo-colonialism in A Dying Colonialism, altho he did not give it a name. Mao Zedong talked all around neo-colonialism without actually discussing it. He discussed colonialism and semi-colonialism, compradors, and anti-colonial struggle but missed the analysis of neo-colonialism. Amazingly and oh so artistically, Lorraine Hansberry covered it years before anybody thru a dynamic soliloquy within Raisin in the Sun, a play about struggles and family battles in 1950s urban Chicago.
However, Nkrumah stands heads and shoulders above them inasmuch that he defined the phenomenon, named it and described its relationship to a particular period in capitalist development. Nkrumah analyzed how Imperialism demanded a new relationship with its colonies; that they were still colonies, except the formal ties had been dissolved between the bloodsucking colonial State and the host nation, so that a state could arise where before none had existed. And these states were micro-states, not in that they were small, but because they were ill-formed, immature and unprepared to manage the affairs of flag independence.
Which sums up the basic theoretical work for us except for one last major piece: the reduction of capital as it relates to revolutionary collectivism.
While for dialecticians the field of activity takes place in the streets, churches, union halls, backrooms, bars, forums, classrooms, workplaces, and sometimes in the alleys, fighting to win the hearts and minds of black workers and allies to our cause.
So, one old adage helps us understand how capitalism operates, that “all fortunes begin with a crime.” Which is to say, that accumulation of wealth outside of or beyond the “normal” or “legal” forms of Capitalist interchange does not imply that these means are not Capitalist. To admit as much would eliminate entire political economies from the sphere of Capitalist development. It would omit the great economies of today because of their criminal, genocidal origins.
Without what most people consider the criminal and genocidal origins of Capitalism, its roots in primitive accumulation as it were, there would be no Capitalism today.
Here you see, the most conspicuous feature of Capitalism is the crisis in social relations, itself a product of the class struggle between dispossessed workers and their rich, bloodsucking bosses. In fact, the modern worker derives his/her very identity from the labor performed by colonized Africans known as slaves. Capitalism begat the only system-wide economy based on corvee labor (forced work gangs), which is why the term “slavery” doesn’t critically define the role of the colonized worker. Slavery in non-capitalist societies had little comparable (except for Roman galley slaves, and those in mines) to what existed in the Capitalist colonies.
Slavery in Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, Africa and Arabia all had little comparison to the systematic abduction and gang-labor activity that American and European capitalists employed. These privateers stole millions of people from their homes and put them to work on plantations, in mines and factories halfway across the world. This started Capitalism, defended by the musket, financed by looting and plundering, and grown by transforming raw material into finished goods.
Some forces on the Left elucidate Adam Smith’s version of the Capitalist ideal as opposed to what Capitalism actually does, an idea of the free market in contrast to Milton Friedman’s. Yet Smith did not comprehend the genuine origins of Capitalism rooted in royal treasures pillaged by kings and knights to finance expeditions to the Americas, to African kingdoms, to the Asiatic coasts in India, Burma and Cathay. Adam Smith imagined an ideal Capitalism which hurt nobody, in which no slaves existed and servants were all too happy to get the trickle down goodies with dropped from the master’s table like manna from heaven.
That Capitalism never ever existed except in fiction. It was impossible for that pure Capitalism to exist, tho the wealthy insulated themselves from colonial horrors thru masterpieces honed by Monet, Shakespeare, Da Vinci, Beethoven and made even more exquisite by the influx of exotic commodities – like sugar, chocolate, bananas, coffee, mud cloth, kinte, tobacco, cotton and silk – imported from colonized lands.
Markets have always opened to Capitalism thru force of arms rather than free trade.
Friedman also promoted a pristine Capitalism which does not exist. So he dipped into Malthus to promote a Capitalism assisted by the State, just short of a fascist regime, looting public assets and using government to open frontiers for Imperialism to spread. VI Lenin examined this phenomenon in State and Revolution. Lenin explained the role of the state as it facilitates the bourgeois class exploitation of workers and other producing classes. He discussed the predatory warfare of the bourgeois state, that this was a measure to deepen the misery and oppression of the producing classes. Lenin discovered the State as an instrument of class oppression, and (bourgeois) democracy as a tool to hoodwink the masses.
The Friedman model concurs with this view from the opposite end of the spectrum, that is, as a reactionary. Milton Friedman does not openly advocate a police state at the disposal of Capitalism. But he shows no regard for human rights, he lacks consideration for democratic principles and norms, and liquidates working people as the historical force which shapes the forward motion of society. Friedman insisted that the Capitalists define history, and that they have every right and obligation to unilaterally determine the path of society.
Like Adam Smith, Milton Friedman imagined a “pure” capitalism, one unfettered by regulations, agencies, laws, markets, unions, international agreements, tariffs, etc. Friedman spoke as tho he were guided by pure unadulterated idealism yet the man was a rapacious, insatiable bamboozler searching for suckers to implement his vision. This must be emphasized with conviction and clarity, that anytime the concept of purity is introduced into a social critique, that is the viewpoint of an extremist and a fanatic who should not be trusted under any circumstances. From Adam Smith’s concept of pure capitalism to Adolph Hitler’s idea of racial purity to Friedman’s belief in pure markets, history records views which seek to purge the social aspect from society. The idea of purity in society is like Hitler’s paintings of street scenes with no social activity, no people in them, neatly kept streets and cities devoid of the people who built them. That is an anti-social absurdity.
Friedman unintentionally proved Lenin’s principle, that politics is nothing but economics concentrated. Only politicians could swing his theories into motion; Friedman’s ideas could not exist without government collaboration, altho he propagated the false notion that capitalism can only work effectively without government. Friedman’s ideology spawned fascist dictatorships thru out Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. This notion defines the current period of Capitalism. It was yet to be tested in the United States, until Ronald Reagan tried it. Friedman’s ideas influenced the entire neo-conservative movement from Reagan thru to Bush 43.
Where stagflation had set in during Carter’s old boy administration, Reagan’s voodoo economics caused massive unemployment and housing failures that lasted until the end of Bush 41. The Great Communicator’s maxims – like supply-side economics, trickle down theory, catsup is a vegetable and greed is good – all encapsulate the mentality of the neo-conservative movement.
Reagan still believed in the Constitution, in rugged individualism and private property, yet he was unable to completely implement his strategy. Reagan succeeded in dropping trade barriers, and that began the massive export of capital resources from strategic US industrial centers. Reagan ran up incredible deficits based on supply-side theorem, cut and spend policies, and increased militarism. His policies set the stage for the disastrous ideas promulgated by Bush 43.
Bill Clinton followed the Reagan-Bush era by naming Alan Greenspan chairman of the Fed, and his policies seemed to remedy the housing/construction crisis. But Clinton’s burgeoning prison system derives from Friedman’s dictates. Clinton – having never countered the ideology of greed and selfishness started by the Reagan neo-cons – created policy that, on the one hand, spawned an entire prison-industrial archetype, supported by welfare-fraud laws to criminalize black women, and three-strikes sentencing codes to deepen the black prisoner-base. This became the fastest growing segment of the US economy.
Today, the fastest growing segment of US capitalism includes the bail out industry initiated by swindler banks to the tune of $5.1 trillion, and the $12 billion per month war economy. While Greenspan lowered interest rates and stimulated housing and construction, Bernanke raised them and caused their collapse, the ripple effect of which became felt all the way thru to the oil industry. The deep pocket investors who rolled their money on Wall Street demanded deregulation of oil so they could recoup their gambled plunder via speculation in the oil market. Same guys, same game, same crap table except this time they are rolling bigger stakes in a bigger hustle. Behind every boom follows a bust.
Those sworn to bring down Imperialism must understand these things. Slavery, human trafficking, forced labor gangs and drug wars exist because of Capitalism, not in spite of it. The limited duration and limited usage of capital force private owners into ever more desperate efforts to make greater piles of money. This is the Capitalism which has defined black life in the US and everywhere else African people live. It defines life from A to Z, America to Zimbabwe, and many places in between.
So it is, the Black Liberation dialectic has become blurred with the struggle for survival in a hostile capitalist world economy. South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique have all become tinderboxes where Imperialism has sworn to destabilize their victories over it. Zimbabwe has been singled out for special demonization, with black-skinned critics leading the charge. Yet, while the right to criticize is upheld, the spirit of that criticism departs from the liberation of the Zimbabwean African massed. It is also linked with increasing criticism of South Africa because of recent attacks inside the country characterized as “xenophobic pogroms”, as well as the fact the South Africans were slow to pressure the Zimbabwean government for its missteps.
America, the great enemy of black liberation, drags its black slaves out of the ghetto and around the World to showcase its purported democracy, based on a new colonialism. This neo-colonialism fragments the unstable US black community, and further separates us from other Africans because the racist “culture war” maintains victory by dashing Black unity to pieces.
Neo-colonialism, having reached near total saturation, screams out to the masses to join in on the genocide against their own class and nation. It first screamed out in a most obvious form, from the open collaborators with Imperialism. Now it makes its voice heard from the corners and podiums of what poses for the Black Liberation Movement. However, Imperialism cannot genuinely accommodate this saturation level. America lacks the democratic space and the political will to achieve justice for all those whom it invites into its fold.
This limitation defines the essential contradiction rooted within the financial crisis sweeping thru American neighborhoods, factories, and banks. It is the fundamental limitation of capitalism, the inability to relieve oppression and repression and exploitation, since Capitalism’s very existence remains based in perpetuating reactionary, subhuman conditions.
America tenders not one cent toward helping African people transform their economies from anti-black colonial slave centers. These valiant workers and peasants inherited economies slanted entirely against them, weighing them down in the race for development, and having only a handful of educated and trained personnel to help make the transformation. America has done nothing to expedite their prosperous ascension within the family of nations. America has never recognized their uphill fight against the fascism of apartheid and colonialism. Yet the United States has been quick to condemn the errors of the Black Liberation Movement, and its hindered efforts.
And whereas, on the neo-conservative side Clarence Thomas once cited Malcolm X to express his neo-colonialist ambition at the expense of African people, the negro-colonial Left currently repudiates Malcolm and quotes Cabral to preface their public betrayals of the Black Liberation Movement. However, dialectics and revision do not go together, and all remarks by the neo-colonialist sector cannot taint Malcolm X’s martyrdom in the hearts of the masses.
Mao Zedong discussed, in Selected Military Writings, the interior lines and exterior lines of combat. He talked about this because of the dialectic involved in maintaining principled and steeled revolutionary clarity. Neo-colonialism within the Black Liberation Movement may present a paradox, yet it exists because Imperialism needs to undermine the workers struggle.
The Black Liberation Movement is for the masses of African people, for them to seize and exercise power. Black liberation overthrows and dismantles the instruments of exploitation and oppression which rules over Africans, and builds a human social system to abolish private ownership, arms races and wars, and the crises in production and social relationships.
Clearly, the Black Liberation Movement must forcefully mark its territory. It must create splits thru out the neo-colonialist infrastructure. It must make its ideological attacks on Imperialism. Capitalism itself supplies a vast source of agitational material for revolutionary organizers.
Black revolutionary workers have a duty to undermine confidence that the system will straighten out this crisis. We must make short shrift of the State ideology, the functions of its branches, its relationship to big Capital, and its alienation from the masses of people.
The Imperialist power structures, or capitalist central committees, have failed to realize the deep set aversion to occupation war – and hence its obsolescence – within their societies. With the bailouts of parasitic banks in the midst of a widespread housing crisis, the Imperialist power structure has overestimated society’s tolerance for exploitation. Energy prices have shot up because of supply-side deregulation, a doctrine of neo-conservative government, which also auctions off public assets to the highest bidder. Anti-democratic laws from the Telecom Act to the Patriot Act undermine workers rights and set the stage for sweeping repression.
Capitalism is a class-based system which dominates relationships between nations, between societies and classes, the rich and the poor, the great and the small, and between women and men. This degenerate system, birthed in human trafficking and genocide, today strives for validation thru the ascendancy of black slaves to positions of power formerly reserved for Imperialism’s white colonial masters. Today, Capitalism is in crisis, grasping for anything to keep it afloat. The role of black revolutionaries is to make sure this system drowns.
Revolutionary Collectives for the Reduction of Capital
Making sure capitalism drowns is a task set for real organization. It turns to the theory of the reduction of capital. By reducing all forms of capital as the primary means of economic activity, the capitalists find their wealth becoming useless. This means that they cannot use their wealth for power, or to buy their way out of jams. It levels the playing field, and forces them to distribute their assets, otherwise those assets will be seized, eventually.
The reduction of capital calls for the building of revolutionary workers collectives. These collectives operate in all places of production. They form the basis of factory takeovers, mine takeovers, etc. But the collectives also operate in government and elsewhere. The Russians called them soviets. We call them maroon societies, palenques and kilombos. These organizations are based on democratic-centralism, mutual aid, revolutionary action, and dual and contending political power.
While the Black Panther Party build the biggest, most widespread and successful system of revolutionary collectives, the Panthers did not realize how important and crucial this activity was in undermining the Imperialist power structure. None of the organizations which have critiqued the Panthers have attempted to build anything similar. Organizations which ran parallel to the Panthers (AAPRP, APSP-Uhuru, RNA, RAM) have built upon the Panthers’ ideological legacy, but not upon its structural links to the masses thru free breakfast programs, food and clothing giveaways, childcare, and other institutions.
This is not to say these groups have not had similar institutions, but they have not been permanent, entrenched institutions within these organizations.
(In the last 40 years, North America’s white Left has contributed very little to these struggles. It has lagged ideologically, and has allowed the trade union movement to suffer staggering defeats. Yet it was the Black Liberation Struggle in North America which took the brunt of repression, so that the white Left could have shown some courage and character by comradely struggle. For this reason, the self-led proletariat must be African Internationalist and assume leadership over the entire revolutionary center in North America.)
Now, by taking capital out of circulation to distribute wealth amongst the masses is a form of economic erosion. By taking wealth out of circulation for mass distribution, and in so doing no currency is exchanged by a significant section of society, that erodes the capitalist system. Even if no collectives have formed at this point, the trend moves in that direction. As people notice how the stress of living under capitalism places them in competition and conflict with one another, they understand that working collectively relieves that stress. The point of production no longer is a point. It is no longer an edge, no longer a blade, a bullet, a bomb a tank a cop a prison or a factory boss. The point of production no longer arrives as a 1040 form biting off your wallet. There is no more point now but a movement which threatens capitalist production, the status quo, and world wide Imperialism.
Unbeknownst to the Panthers, that is what they had done. They had developed a style of work which threatened to shape into a form of broad-based economic activity. What made this lack of competition such a threat to the system? It competed with the notion of competition, the notion of turning workers into crabs in a barrel, crawling over one another to escape. The Panthers smashed the idea of capitalism as the ultimate economic system and replaced that notion with clarity about our roles as human beings, our social responsibility towards one another. They invented something new in America, and it threatened the status quo. It is our job to resurrect their work, to rebuild the work they had done to take capital out of circulation and redistribute it amongst the masses in the form of fighting soviets, maroon societies, palenques and kilombos.
The fighting workers collective marks a decisive battleground for Imperialism. Where people decide to make a stand, to separate from the capitalist state and society, to define revolutionary culture and activity, will be the site where Imperialism will be buried. This place has to be where capital is taken out of circulation and divvied up into pieces for society to share. As many instruments of capital as exist are as many forms of wealth that have been concentrated into the hands of a small class of people. By taking away the authority of those instruments – asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) in the form of bonds, arbitrages, money-manager funds, bearer bonds, sureties, stocks, chips, and other sundry abstracts for everything from energy and agricultural futures to real estate and multi-national firms – and reducing them to nothing more than their concrete economic forms, capital is therefore diminished. It is no longer transferable in liquid form. The power to buy a private army to shield the capitalist from public scrutiny and power disappears.
For some people, they believe that violent revolution will be the burial ground of Imperialism. It will play the first critical role. But as Socialism must grow as a worldwide phenomenon, there will be pockets of “post-capitalist” society, as it were, fighting against socialism or at least politicizing for capitalism. However many purges and massacres of ruling class elitists follow, that will not solve the problem of dead enders who continue to luxuriate in or defend (even if only in their hearts) capitalism. What will solve that contradiction is the massive redistribution of wealth and the reduction of all forms of commerce to the simplest forms of currency. Notes held in private must become worthless. Whenever these things are presented, they must be confiscated. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.
Personal property differs from private property in that it is small and insignificant and does not require legal transfer following ones death. Personal property is not a form of wealth, and plays no role in commerce. It is something which is out of circulation for everybody except perhaps pawnbrokers. Your house is real estate, but you usually have no interest in selling it as a commodity because it is collectively possessed by your family. While you owe the bank up to the last payment, the real owner, whose controlling interest is the mortgage until that last payment is made, this is the closest thing to private property that the working class experiences.
Private property involves real estate and other substantial forms of wealth. While it is bought and sold at the owners discretion, it is a form of commerce. The capitalist class considers everything something which can be bought and sold, including labor. If it were able to outright own labor, as it once did, the capitalists would be delighted with that as a form of power. That capitalism has to pay for labor is a great source of discontent for Imperialism, as it seeks cheaper labor markets to produce simple goods and services.
For this reason the export of capital has been an important feature of the Imperialist stage of capitalism, as well as a feature of neo-colonialism. Capital export has several functions. In some cases it is to stabilize micro-states; in this instance, it assumes the form of an outright grant or a loan that must be repaid. The micro-state, itself nothing more than a bureaucratic shell overseeing raw material extraction, usually has a highly paid and oversized military, this for enforcing production and putting down dissent and rebellion. Other than that, the micro-state is useless.
Another form of capital export has to do with simply building factories and support structure for pursuing cheap labor markets. Of course, cheap labor markets can mean anything from sweatshop workers to press gangs (corvees) in mines and on plantations. Support structure means roads and ports for material transport, packing facilities, and communications. Sometimes this includes workers housing, but mostly they are on their own.
So in the reduction of capital, these workers would take over all facilities. They would rely neither on the State nor the bosses, forming their own ruling councils, linked to a central authority supportive of their demands. This authority must articulate the ambitions of the workers councils, or fighting soviets (or palenques, maroon societies, or kilombos), and the goal of reducing capital transfers. The palenques must commandeer experts, elites and others who have skills which facilitate their production efforts, and the distribution of their product.
Filed under: Adam Smith, collectivism, colonialism, fascism, Friedman, interhamwe, laissez faire, micro-state, Nkrumah, primitive accumulation, SONY, stagflation, Voodoo Economics | Leave a comment »