Archive | May 30th, 2017

Africa at the crossroads: AU commemorates 54 years amidst challenges  

 NOVANEWS
Stock&people

History is not as far removed from the crises afflicting Africa today as many people seem to think. Imperialism has fought against the continent’s genuine independence and socialist development over the last five decades. As Nkrumah said, independence was only the prelude to a tougher struggle for the right of Africans to conduct their affairs according to their own aspirations.

May 25 marks the 54th anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the African Union formed in 2002. This continental organization brings together independent nation-states and the still colonized territory of the Western Sahara under Moroccan occupation.

With the readmission of Morocco into the AU this year, some have begun to question the anti-colonial mission of the organization. The monarchy in Rabat has not made any commitment to the United Nations mandated and supervised elections aimed at granting the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic the right to determine its own destiny.

Some African states opposed the reentry of Morocco for this very reason. Either the organization firmly supports the rights of colonized peoples to self-determination or it does not. There is really no room for a middle-ground.

At the founding of the OAU in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1963, the divisions were largely centered on the issues of the character of the African unification process. Should Pan-Africanism be a gradual process of the merging of regional entities or should it develop at a rapid pace?

Africa being carved up during the Berlin Conference of 1884-1885, and events leading up to that critical period in history, laid the basis for the contemporary crises of the 21st century. From France, Britain, Portugal, Spain, the United States, Germany and the Netherlands, the imperialists drained the continent of its human and material resources creating the conditions for the development of Europe and North America and the instability and underdevelopment of the continent.

Yet long before the dawn of the present century during the founding summit of the OAU, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and later president of independent Ghana, appealed in his address delivered on May 24, 1963 to the African heads-of-state for continental unity as the only viable solution to the problems of mass poverty, super-exploitation and the consolidation of neo-colonialism. The events which took place in the former Belgian Congo in 1960-61 where the elected government of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was overthrown through the machinations of the Belgians, the U.S. and the UN illustrated clearly the monumental tasks of acquiring genuine national independence and unity.

Lumumba was eventually driven from the capital of Leopoldville (Kinshasa) where he sought refuge among his supporters in the Congolese National Movement (MNC-Lumumba) in the East of the vast mineral-rich state. Eventually he was captured by the imperialists and their agents.

By late January 1961, Lumumba had been vilified by the western media, unjustly detained, beaten, tortured and executed. This series of events portended much for the future of the struggle for Pan-Africanism, exposing fully the institutional resistance on a global scale to the forward advancement of the oppressed and exploited workers, farmers and youth of the continent.

Nkrumah emphasized in his 1963 speech in Addis Ababa that:

“A whole continent has imposed a mandate upon us to lay the foundation of our union at this conference. It is our responsibility to execute this mandate by creating here and now the formula upon which the requisite superstructure may be created. On this continent, it has not taken us long to discover that the struggle against colonialism does not end with the attainment of national independence. Independence is only the prelude to a new and more involved struggle for the right to conduct our own economic and social affairs; to construct our society according to our aspirations, unhampered by crushing and humiliating neo-colonialist controls and interference.”

Contemporary challenges from Egypt to Nigeria

These words from Nkrumah were indeed prophetic. Looking at the situation today in the North African state of Egypt sheds enormous light on the present crises. Egypt is the third-largest populated country on the continent. It is the gateway to Western Asia where there is a historic link with the ancient civilizations, which shaped the scientific, cultural and intellectual foundations of the modern world.

Nonetheless, this potential is stifled due to the continued domination of imperialism. Egypt is faced with political divisions between Islamist and nationalist forces. The military coup of July 2013 further solidified the role of the military within the state. There is an armed opposition based in the Sinai where natural gas resources abound. These assets cannot be fully utilized for the benefit of the African continent because of the dominant role of the state of Israel and the U.S.

Egypt remains impoverished despite its enormous wealth. At present there is still the failure to resolve the issues surrounding the usage of the Nile River. Ethiopia is constructing a Renaissance Dam which could impact the access of this waterway from Egypt to other contiguous Nile basin states including Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. The peaceful resolution of these disagreements will determine the outcome of any development projects for the region.

In the West African state of Nigeria, the largest populated nation on the continent, with its gargantuan oil and natural gas resources, is battling a renewed economic recession. The price of oil has dropped precipitously over the last three years due to overproduction.

Since the post-colonial African states are dependent upon the purchasing power of the West which determines the price of commodities and the terms of trade, the currency values and foreign exchange reserves have dropped significantly. Nigeria as well is divided through the guerrilla war which has been raging in the northeast since 2009 where Boko Haram has caused havoc among the people of that region, often described as the least developed due to the legacy of British colonialism.

From Somalia to South Africa: The problems of water and resource harnessing

The Horn of Africa has been a source of imperialist intrigue on the continent for at least four decades. In Somalia, where oil resources exist in abundance in the north and offshore in the central and south of the nation, the country is undergoing a calamity of unprecedented proportions.

Millions are threatened with famine as a result of the lack of food and potable water. Crop failures stem from the lack of stability and security. The war between Al-Shabaab and the western-backed government in Mogadishu is by no means subsiding. This is the situation despite the presence of 22,000 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops stationed in the country for the last decade. Obviously the wealth of Somalia is being siphoned off by the transnational corporations based in the West and their allies within government.

South Africa, the most industrialized state on the continent, is suffering from high unemployment, continuing poverty, declining currency values, inadequate service delivery and a burgeoning energy crisis. A sub-continental drought and lack of investment in infrastructure has rendered the nation without the proper capacity to generate power for the much-needed second industrial transformation. There has been a systematic disinvestment by capital since the ascendancy of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 1994 after decades of intense struggle against settler-colonialism and apartheid.

Considerable pressure has been brought on the society from international finance capital to the extent that now there are intense polemics within the tripartite alliance (the ANC, the Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions) over how to proceed in the National Democratic Revolution. All the while opposition forces led by the objectively racist and pro-imperialist Democratic Alliance (DA) is being positioned for the staging of a political coup that would re-institute a form of neo-apartheid. The lessons of Congo (1960-61) and Ghana (1966) are not as far removed as many may surmise. Imperialism has never accepted the advent of genuine independence and socialist development over the last five or more decades.

As Nkrumah also stated in his OAU lecture of 1963, “We are fast learning that political independence is not enough to rid us of the consequences of colonial rule. The movement of the masses of the people of Africa for freedom from that kind of rule was not only a revolt against the conditions which it imposed. Our people supported us in our fight for independence because they believed that African governments could cure the ills of the past in a way which could never be accomplished under colonial rule. If, therefore, now that we are independent we allow the same conditions to exist that existed in colonial days, all the resentment which overthrew colonialism will be mobilized against us. The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people.”

These are some of the lessons of the last 54 years that must guide the AU member-states into the concluding years of the second decade of the 21st century. The alternative to a totally liberated and unified Africa is imperialism in its most profane and exploitative phase.

Lessons from the north

Another series of mass demonstrations have taken place in the North African state of Tunisia where the uprisings beginning in December 2010 led to what has been described as the “Arab Spring.” After Tunisia the situation in Egypt unfolded with huge protests, rebellion and the eventual seizure of power by the military in mid-February 2011. Obviously no revolutionary party or coalition of national democratic forces had the political capacity to seize power on behalf of the people in order to make a clean break with the United States and its imperialist allies.

The events in Tunisia and Egypt prompted demonstrations in Algeria as well. However, in this North African state the color revolution did not escalate to the point of driving the National Liberation Front (FLN) from power. Of course the history of Algeria is quite different from both Tunisia and Egypt. The FLN fought a seven-year guerrilla war against France. This war of independence distinguished Algeria from the historical trajectory of Egypt where the national democratic revolution was engineered by the Free Officer Movement of lower-ranking military figures such as Gamal Abdel Nasser. The seizure of power by Nasser and his comrades in 1952 and the consolidation of power by him in 1954 led directly to the nationalization of the Suez Canal and the subsequent invasion by Britain, France and Israel two years later. Nasser prevailed in 1956 in part due to the inter-imperialist rivalry between Washington, Paris and London.

The administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower opposed the European invasion of Egypt not because of its support for African independence. Instead the U.S. was seeking to consolidate its hegemony as the world’s uncontested imperialist center. Overtures to the emergent national liberation movements were part and parcel of a broader strategy of neo-colonial rule which is predominant in the 21st century.

Tunisians in recent weeks have focused on the failure of the energy industry to provide benefits for nationals. In the south of the country where the unrest began in late 2010, there has been the blockading of extractive outlets aimed at closing down operations. However, security forces have arrested numerous people while others have been injured and at least one person killed.

According to a May 24 report by the Agence France Press (AFP): “Thousands attended the funeral Tuesday of a protester killed during clashes in southern Tunisia as officials warned tensions could escalate amid demonstrations over social and labor issues. Anouar Sakrafi, in his early 20s, died of wounds suffered Monday when he was run over by a national guard vehicle during clashes with security forces at an oil and gas plant, the scene of long-running protests over joblessness. Security forces fired tear gas as protesters tried to storm the El Kamour facility in the desert region of Tataouine, radio reports said. The government said Sakrafi’s killing was accidental.”

The lack of any fundamental socio-economic transformation in Tunisia was even pointed out in an article in Forbes magazine. This is a journal of record for international finance capital and therefore its conclusions would not be the same as anti-imperialists and socialists.

However, Forbes said of the political atmosphere in both Egypt and Tunisia: “A popular uprising that began in Tunisia and Egypt…, calling for an end to corruption and the creation of economic opportunities, has yet to achieve these goals.  In fact, Tunisia and Egypt have not become less corrupt since then, and unemployment continues to remain in double digits.” (May 20)

Undoubtedly the worst outcome of developments in 2011 was the counter-revolution in Libya, which began in February. The suppression of the western-backed rebels by the Jamahiriya under Col. Muammar Gaddafi provided a rationale for the passage of two United Nations Security Council resolutions providing a pseudo-legal cover for the blanket bombing of this oil-rich state for seven months.

Tens of thousands of people died in the aerial bombardments, which destroyed basic infrastructure and provided cover for the rebels to seize control of key cities including the capital of Tripoli by August. The brutal assassination of Gaddafi in Sirte was actually ordered by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Today Libya is a source of instability, terrorism, human trafficking, corruption and neo-colonial intrigue. Numerous attempts to impose a compliant regime that could win the support of the disparate rebel groups installed by the Pentagon, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and NATO have failed miserably.

Only a revolutionary anti-imperialist approach to the crises in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia could provide real hope for stability and reconstruction. Efforts which have taken place in Southern Africa provide a glimpse of possibilities for other regions of the continent.

Legacies of imperialism: Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola

A radical land redistribution program in Zimbabwe in 2000 drew the wrath of the former colonizers in Britain and their allies in Washington and Brussels. Sanctions imposed on this sovereign state in defense of settler colonial economic relations further exposed the actual foreign policy of the U.S., Britain, the European Union (EU) and its partners in Southern Africa.

The ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front Party (ZANU-PF) has held steadfast in defending its independence. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe during his tenure as chairperson of the AU and the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) put forward a Pan-African program urging heads of state and the popular forces to reverse the cycle of dependency upon the West through regional integration and an independent foreign policy based on African interests.

Recently in Namibia, which like Zimbabwe waged an armed mass struggle for national liberation, the ruling Southwest Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) declared its support for the legal claims filed against Germany by the Herero and Nama people for the genocidal policies during the initial colonial period under Berlin between the 1880s and 1915 when the European state lost its colonies in Africa to other imperialist powers such as Britain and France.

In Angola, the continent’s second largest producer of petroleum, the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), which also won its independence through the barrel of the gun and its consolidation through the assistance of internationalist forces from the Republic of Cuba, announced that long time President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was turning over control to a new leadership. Angola has been impacted negatively by the sharp decline in oil prices placing a brake on the rapid economic development inside the former Portuguese colony.

At a SADC Summit held earlier this year, a proposal for a regional industrialization was approved by the body which represents 15 independent states in the region as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Seychelles. Despite the inevitable obstacles to such an ambitious project it represents the future of Africa. In order for sustainable development to be realized the continent must turn inward in order to exert its latent power on the global stage.

Only unity will truly liberate Africa

An Africa Liberation Day radio broadcast aired on 24 May 1964 by President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana spelled out clearly the necessity for continental unity up to the point of the formation of an all-African Union Government. Nkrumah noted that Pan-Africanism and Socialism provide the only viable solutions to the post-colonial stagnation and continued underdevelopment. This historic speech relays in part:

“As I have said time and time again, the salvation of Africa lies in unity. Only a Union Government can safeguard the hard-won freedom of the various African states. Africa is rich, its resources are vast and yet African states are poor. It is only in a Union Government that we can find the capital to develop the immense economic resources of Africa. Only a unified economic planning for development can give Africa the — economic security essential for the prosperity and wellbeing of all its peoples. It is also quite clear that not a single African state can today defend herself effectively. Therefore, many African states are forced to enter defense agreements with their former colonial master. Recent events in Gabon and elsewhere show clearly how these military pacts can be used to subvert the independence and territorial integrity of African states. The only real and lasting solution is a defense arrangement for Africa on the basis of a unified military command.”

During this 54th anniversary of the Organization of African Unity and its successor the AU, the continental organization must review these important issues. The alternative represents more of the same: greater reliance on the imperialists, which has resulted in a renewed burgeoning debt, greater penetration of Pentagon and CIA elements in the region and the further fragmentation of existing nation states.

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Organisational failure of the Socialist movement and its interventional impotence

NOVANEWS
DSM

As in many post-colonies, the Socialist movement in Nigeria has failed due to the organic divorce of the movement from the struggles of the oppressed. Revolution is no longer seen as a practical necessity, largely because of the movement’s petty bourgeoisie class origins. To revive the movement, this class needs a deep and radicalising experience of privation and oppression out of which it can find no escape but revolution.

By organisational failure of the Nigerian Socialist movement we mean its inability to sustain itself as a body of independent, more or less stable and coherent organisations capable of effective effort to connect with, learn from and influence the oppressed social forces in their struggles against the bourgeoisie and imperialism in pursuit of Socialist aims. Quite a few groupings of Socialists exist, some of which self-delusionally describe themselves as “the Socialist Party” or “the Communist Party” of Nigeria. However, the brutal truth is that all of them fail by the crucial criterion of possessing sufficient interventional capacity for sustained and broad-based influence over the agenda, course, pace, and outcomes of the social conflict between the oppressed and the oppressors.

There is certainly no more eloquent testimony of this than the extremely odd phenomenon of the social conflict in Nigeria being at this time primarily of a system-safe and system-reproductive character despite the devastating attacks on the interests of the oppressed occasioned by the bourgeoisie’s programme of neoliberal restructuring of the economy. That an otherwise objectively radicalising material situation has not resulted in a subjectively radicalised mass of the oppressed is, of course, primarily a function of the ideological hegemony of the bourgeoisie. That this hegemony itself has remained unchallenged, however, is in significant part a function of the organisational failure and impotence of the Nigerian Socialist movement.

Nigerian Socialists have sought to explain this failure and impotence by one or a combination of the following: the repression of the Socialist movement by the bourgeois state; the outbreak and consolidation of opportunism within the movement; and the movement’s ideological collapse following the fall of existing Socialism in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

It is indubitable that these factors have indeed featured in the organisational failure of the Nigerian Socialist movement and in its impotence in the social conflict since at least 1966. [1] Repression by the bourgeois state – under colonialism as well as under the military dictatorships of Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida – repeatedly decimated the movement as an organised structure by degrading its capacity to reproduce itself. Employing measures including the detention of activists and leaders without trial, the outright banning of Socialist organisations, and the suppression of public activities by these organisations, these campaigns of decimation have sought to prevent the process of organic interaction and interchanges between the movement as an organised social force and the oppressed social forces, the very process that builds them into a unified social force in the class struggle against the bourgeoisie and its own allied forces.

For the Socialist movement – the possessor and material embodiment of the most advanced and best-organised consciousness of the proletariat in its pursuit of its immanent and transcendent interests – is effectual in the social conflict only to the extent that it transforms in its own image the consciousness and practice of the class and its allies. This transformation cannot take place except by this organic interaction between the movement and the oppressed; theory cannot grip the masses and become a material force in the social conflict except by the two-way interaction of the two. By preventing this interaction, the bourgeois state sought to prevent the establishment of the organic relationship between the movement and the oppressed, which is necessary for the interventional capacity of the former; it sought to prevent theory from becoming a material force. The effectiveness of this campaign of repression is certainly a key factor in the impotence of the Nigerian Socialist movement.

The cancer of opportunism in the movement is similarly a key factor. If state repression aimed to incapacitate the socialist movement by preventing its interaction with the oppressed masses, opportunism functioned objectively – i.e. irrespective of the intentions or rationalisations by its agents in the movement – to subject the extent and terms of that interaction to the accumulation and career interests of these agents.

Sacrificing the interests of the whole working class and other oppressed groups for their own sectional interests, these agents built a Socialist movement whose organisation, operation and intervention in the social conflict was governed not by the dictates of the struggle of the oppressed but by those of their personal interests. Thus, “the struggle” meant for these agents and the Socialist movement they created not really the engagement of the oppressed with the oppressor but the conflict with rival groups (of other opportunists in some cases but also of genuine revolutionaries in others) over control of power and the resources of the movement’s organisations.

In other words, the dynamics of conflict in the Socialist movement found its basis, just like those of conflict in the bourgeois polity, in the contradictions of the process of accumulation of power and wealth. This, rather than any serious ideological, programmatic, or strategy differences, has been the principal source of the long and pernicious history of factionalism and splits within the movement, even to this day. Driven by the imperatives of personal accumulation, a leader (and the group built around him or her) who cannot gain control or adequate access to the resources of the organisation would rather destroy it or split off to create another that would be under his or her own control.

Similarly, as the demise of the 1964 Joint Action Committee demonstrates, these leaders prefer to lead tiny organisations over which they have personal control – although such organisations have little capacity to intervene in and influence the social conflict – than to merge them into a larger and more effective organisation over which, however, they would have no personal control or over whose resources they would not have unrestricted access. This has been a key factor in the organisational failure of the Nigerian Socialist movement.

Finally, there is the ideological collapse of the Nigerian Socialist movement, by which we mean the more or less complete disintegration of its organic body of premises, methodological principles, theories, concepts, practical goals, ethics, and strategies that receive their logical coherence and social rationale from the transcendent interests of the proletariat and that constitute the movement’s instruments of ideological intervention in the social conflict as an organised social force. This collapse involved any one or combination of the following in the political practice of the organisations or individuals that previously constituted the Socialist movement and many of which still considered themselves socialists:

1.  Rejection of a proletariat-led Socialist revolution in Nigeria as a socio-historical necessity whose realisation should be the goal of immediate political practice;

2.  Abandonment of the perspective of the proletariat in the analysis of social reality;

3.  Abandonment of Socialist propaganda among the oppressed classes in the practical social conflict.

Crisis of existing Socialism

Babangida’s war on the Socialist movement left its organisational structure in tatters and severely degraded its interventional capacity. However, the movement would probably have recovered subsequently and begun to rebuild its organisations and capacity, especially in the less repressive environment that came with the demise of General Sani Abacha in 1998 and the advent of bourgeois civilian rule in 1999. That it did not do so was due primarily to its ideological collapse following the fall of existing Socialism in the last years of the 1980s and the early ones of the 1990s.

This ideological collapse of the socialist movement resulted directly from the crisis and collapse of the formations of existing Socialism and of the ideology of their ruling classes. In its history having attained a generally high degree of theoretical development, Socialist thought in Nigeria – especially in its dominant tendencies – always was susceptible to a sterile dogmatism that equated existing Socialism with the only socialism possible in existing world conditions and took the ideology of its ruling classes to be the true Marxism of the epoch. Thus, for the dominant sections of the Nigerian Socialist movement, the crisis of the countries of existing Socialism translated more or less directly into the crisis of Socialism and of Marxism, and the eventual collapse of those countries meant for these sections the collapse of Socialism as a historical project and of Marxism as a worldview and a science of society.

The ideological collapse paralysed much of the movement and threw it into disarray. Having lost its own ideological bearings, the movement could not provide enlightenment and ideological leadership as an organised body representing a viable alternative to the variety of bourgeois ideologies present in the mass of the oppressed. Indeed, in many a case, the Socialist organisation simply collapsed and expired, or, what amounts to the same thing, lost itself in bourgeois ideologies in the self-delusion of radicalising them.

These are the principal explanations socialists have offered of the organisational failure of the Nigeria socialist movement. However, deeper thought reveals these to be only immediate and contingent factors in a mediated causation with deeper and in fact structural roots. This becomes obvious as soon as we consider the fact that many Socialist movements across the world and particularly in the capitalist periphery have experienced these same conditions without then suffering organisational failure in such a sustained and apparently intractable manner as has the Nigerian movement.

The socialist movements in Brazil and other South American countries in the 1960s and 1970s and in South Africa and other Southern African countries all through the 1960s to the late 1980s suffered repression of such brutality, intensity, duration, and totality as the Nigerian socialist movement has never experienced. Yet they were able to sustain themselves in most cases and for most of these periods and after as a body of more or less coherent and effective organisations with the capacity to intervene in the social conflict on a class-wide basis. Even granting for a moment that the Nigerian movement has experienced repression with similar features and that this has played a key role in the persistency of its organisational failure, it still remains to explain this failure in periods relatively devoid of such repression. The movement has experienced the sort of repression capable of incapacitating it and decimating its organisational structure only under the Babangida regime (and to a much lesser extent under the military regime of Obasanjo). Before, between, and after these episodes of repression–which in all cases were relatively brief–the political conditions were relatively benign (even if not conducive) and the Socialist movement could have reconstituted itself organisationally, even if only operating illegally. Why could it not do this?

The problem of opportunism does not answer this question satisfactorily. Many Nigerian Marxists have given a correct explanation of opportunism in the movement. The question is why it has produced organisational failure in the Nigerian movement when it has not in many others. For opportunism has been a global problem in the world Socialist movement since the rise of imperialism in the later decades of the 19th century. It has not, however, had the same organisational result in all the national Socialist movements: some have disintegrated under its influence but others have not. What differentiates the first group from the second? Why has opportunism resulted specifically in organisational failure in the Nigerian Socialist movement when it has not in many others?

Similarly, the ideological collapse of the movement cannot be taken as given datum but must itself be problematised. This collapse only took place in the late 1980s and early 1990s; yet the problem of organisational failure has been with the movement since its inception in the 1940s. While it is certainly a factor in explaining the current organisational state of the movement, this collapse itself still needs explanation. For not all national Socialist movements experienced ideological collapse due to the fall of existing Socialism. Why was the Nigerian socialist movement so ideologically susceptible to the fall?

This indeed is the crux of the matter: why has the Nigerian movement been so susceptible to the organisationally destructive effects of repression, opportunism, and ideological collapse when other socialist movements have not? Why have these important but nonetheless contingent and immediate factors resulted in its organisational failure when they have not in other movements?

Organic divorce from the oppressed

As we already said above, the causation of this problem is mediated and has structural roots. These consist in the organic divorce of the Nigerian Socialist movement from the oppressed and their struggle, i.e., the fact that its organisations have functioned not as organic instruments of the struggle of the oppressed, but either as interventional instruments in that struggle by an affinitive but nonetheless extraneous social force or as instruments for the internalisation of alien conflicts. [2]

As an organic instrument of the struggle of the oppressed, the Socialist organisation is called up by the objective necessities of the domestic struggle of the oppressed and is given both its purpose and reason by those necessities. As we have said above, the organic interaction and interchanges between the Socialist organisation and these oppressed social forces build both into a unified social force in the class struggle. On the one hand, this makes the organisation not just a necessary product of the struggle but also a necessary instrument for furthering it, which gives the oppressed a stake in its survival and effective operation. [3] On the other, the interests of the oppressed and the demands of the struggle for those interests become the governing imperatives of the organisation’s operation and self-reproduction, defining what practices, attitudes, and beliefs are acceptable and what are not, i.e. defining its organisational morality. Thus, the necessities of the struggle provide not only the being and purpose of the organisation, but also its morality and the enforcer of that morality.

As either interventional instruments of extraneous social forces or instruments for the internalisation of alien conflicts, the Socialist organisation is called up by the necessities of an alien struggle or of the ideological persuasion of an extraneous social force, and it receives both its purpose and reason from those necessities, which become the governing imperatives of its operation and self-reproduction. Unless it somehow transforms into an organic instrument of the domestic struggle, such a Socialist organisation has little need for the organic interaction with the oppressed that we have described above and its interaction with them remains entirely theoretical, perfunctory, and decorative; for its real driving force is external to their struggle. Thus, the oppressed have little stake in it and no reason to take an interest in its survival and proper operation, and the organic interstices created by its divorce from the necessities of the domestic struggle become room for the sprouting and flourishing of practices, attitudes, and moralities other than those disciplined by those necessities.

Thus, the organic socialist organisation is disciplined by the necessities of the struggle of the oppressed of which it is an instrument; those necessities define the mores of the organisation, provide the enforcers of the mores, and furnishes them with a powerful incentive for action to enforce them. The non-organic organisation lacks this disciplining force and the disciplining mechanism it creates. Its discipline is only as strict as the personal discipline and morality of its individual members and no external force exists to control its internal conflicts.

The foregoing provides the basis for understanding the structural susceptibility of the Nigerian socialist movement to the devastating organisational effects of opportunism, repression and ideological collapse.

The dominance of opportunism (as opposed to its mere presence) and its resulting in organisational failure in the Nigerian Socialist movement are a structural function of the absence of an organic relationship between Socialist organisations and the struggle of the oppressed masses. Freedom from the harsh discipline of the necessities of this struggle invites into these organisations persons who cannot bear that discipline and provides liberty for opportunism to flourish in them and to overwhelm them. For, here, the governing principle in every discussion and manoeuvre is not the implications for the interests of the oppressed as a whole but the implications for the personal or factional interests of the leaders and members of the organisation. This freedom from the discipline of the struggle at once also prevents the development of any mechanism that can counter and correct the flourishing of opportunism. Since the organisation is not to the oppressed a necessary instrument in the struggle to achieve their goals, they have no reason to become part of it or, if they are members, to enforce the morality of the struggle in its theory and practice. Either they shun it or themselves become more or less willing instruments of the opportunism of its leaders. Thus, where this opportunism is not only an ideological one but also involves the pillage of the resources of the organisation – as it has often been in Nigeria – there exists no mechanism to control the avarice of the leaders and to subject it to the dictates of the struggle. The conflict over the pillage of the organisation, therefore, knows no bounds and it spirals until it destroys the organisation.

This absence of an organic relationship between the socialist organisations and the struggle of the oppressed masses also explains the absence of organisational tenacity and durability in the Nigerian socialist movement in the face of repression, why repression so easily results in the failure of its organisations. A socialist organisation that functions as an organic instrument of the struggle of the oppressed is a practical necessity, one that drives Socialists who are committed to this struggle: if the organisation does not exist, they must create it; if it exists but is under repression, they must protect it; if it existed but has been destroyed by repression, they must re-create it. Thus, they invest every ingenuity they possess into creating and sustaining the organic socialist organisation. Although repression could be so severe as to cripple such an organisation and to make its open operation impossible, it has hardly ever been so severe anywhere as to make absolutely any operation impossible. Even in the face of the most severe repression many Socialist movements have been able to undertake measures to sustain their organisations and to maintain some level of operation, including going underground, relocating their command and control organs beyond the reach of the repression, etc. That the Nigerian Socialist movement has collapsed under repression in most cases – i.e. dissolved its organisations – is a function of the absence of an organic relationship between those organisations and the struggle of the oppressed masses, a function of their structural superfluity in the struggle.

Ideological dependence

The ideological collapse of the Nigerian socialist movement in the face of the fall of existing Socialism was immediately a function of the ideological dependence of the bulk of the movement on the states of that Socialism, which itself was due to the absence of an organic relationship between Nigerian socialist organisations and the struggle of the oppressed masses. Governed by the necessities and challenges of the struggle of the oppressed, an organic socialist organisation develops its theories, programmes and strategies under the imperative of achieving the goals of that struggle. Although it may borrow ideas, lessons, and insights from another Socialist movement, its perspectives and borrowings are determined in the final analysis by the needs and realities of the struggle in which it is a necessary, organic instrument. [4] This is because its performance – in terms of the correctness of its perspectives, programmes, strategies and tactics, and of their effectiveness in the struggle – determines not only the fate of that struggle but also its own fate as an organisation; for it will quickly lose relevance in the struggle if it keeps failing in it. It, therefore, cannot afford to depend blindly – i.e., uncritically – on a foreign socialist movement for its theories, programmes, and strategies.

This imperative does not exist for the non-organic Socialist organisation, which can therefore afford such ideological dependency. That the bulk of the Nigerian Socialist movement was so ideologically dependent on foreign Socialist movements and for so long is supreme evidence of its organic superfluity in the struggle of the oppressed. That is why with a very few exceptions it has made little contribution of any great significance to Socialist theory but has engaged mostly in wooden and deadbeat academic Marxism, or in merely exhortatory and declamatory popular Marxism. Lacking that organic interaction with the practical struggles of the oppressed that at once grounds theory in concrete reality and yet challenges it to soaring flights of creativity and insight, Nigerian Marxism has mostly just waddled and hopped along the ground after Soviet Marxism like a quacking duckling after Mother Duck.

Now, how do we explain this organic divorce of the Nigerian socialist movement from the struggle of the oppressed? The movement has failed to establish an organic relationship with the oppressed, not simply because of its predominantly petty bourgeois class origins, but because the Nigerian petty bourgeoisie as a class has until the advent of neoliberal structural adjustment generally escaped the extreme privation and oppression that the labouring classes have experienced. It has yet to have a deeply and generally radicalising experience, an experience of privation and oppression out of which it can find no escape but revolution.

The class was generally comfortable and upwardly mobile in the pre-SAP period, receiving a good share of the surplus from the exploitation of the labouring classes and the dispossession of the oil-bearing communities. Although the neoliberal restructuring of the neocolonial formation has occasioned a drastic reduction in state-mediated transfers to the petty bourgeoisie, the class still receives a significant portion of the social surplus through various sources. These include transfers through expanded employment by foreign monopoly capital operating in Nigeria, foreign and domestic grants to non-governmental organisations, and legitimate and illegitimate enrichment through politics and political activities. Occupational emigration (the brain-drain problem, American Visa Lottery, etc.) and the booming music and film industries serve as important options and escape routes for many of those who cannot find accommodation within these other mechanisms. Although unemployment and underemployment are rife within the petty bourgeoisie – as within the proletariat – a large and growing portion of the class staves off complete destitution by entering into the informal sector.

The class has also experienced little political repression. The period of its most intense and extensive repression – Babangida’s and Abacha’s war from 1986 to 1998 to squash anti-SAP and anti-military rule forces – ended in a bourgeois civilian rule that has restored many liberties of the class almost completely. Thus, this general absence of an objectively radicalising situation has enabled the bulk of the petty bourgeoisie to still see options and escape routes from its situation and to continue nursing hopes of actually escaping.

Those who have come to the struggle of the oppressed have, therefore, not done so as of practical necessity but in most cases as an expression of ideological conviction or as the necessary conclusion of their theoretical analysis. Others have come out of occupational necessity (trade union and human rights workers, for instance). In both cases, they have come to the struggle of the oppressed as extraneous social forces and their Socialist organisations have served as interventional instruments without organic links to that struggle. This has also made possible the transformation of these organisations into instruments of the internalisation within it of alien conflicts.

Thus, Socialists who are absolutely committed to the struggle of the oppressed have been few and far between. Their efforts at forging organic links with the oppressed have been generally hindered and frustrated by the majority who cannot or will not make that commitment. That is why they are heroes.

It follows from the foregoing that the structural basis for overcoming the organic divorce between the Nigerian Socialist movement and the struggle of the oppressed – and, therefore, of overcoming the organisational failure of the movement – is that the Nigerian petty bourgeoisie (at least a significant portion of it) must undergo an experience of privation and oppression out of which it can find no escape but revolution. The movement’s history provides strong evidence of this.

It was surely no coincidence that the most successful bottom-up organising effort of the Socialist movement – in which it established a nationwide network of base and intermediate structures with good links with the struggle of the oppressed – occurred during the 1978-1995 structural crisis of Nigeria’s neocolonial formation and during the worst years of the structural adjustment programmes pursued by the bourgeoisie and imperialism to resolve it at the expense of the working people and the middle classes. While the problems of opportunism and infantile schism were abundantly in evidence in the movement in this period, it is a telling fact that it took the brutal campaign of repression by the Babangida regime to break the developing organic links between the movement and the oppressed masses and to decimate the movement itself as an organised force. The privation and oppression suffered specifically by the petty bourgeoisie in the period was such a radicalising experience for the class that it was driven increasingly to revolution and increasingly to make efforts at forging organic links with the urban working masses, in the realisation that it could not make revolution without them. In addition to Babangida’s war against the movement, the momentum toward an organic socialist movement was frustrated by the de-radicalising effects of, on the one hand, the massive infusion of funds from countries of the capitalist centre into the growing civil society movement and, on the other, the corruption-fuelling introduction of “free money” into the economy by the military regime.

Similarly, we find that in South Africa, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil and many other countries, the radical petty bourgeoisie predominantly formed an organic link with the oppressed masses in the social conflict when and where they suffered such privation and oppression as they could find no escape from but by the revolutionary path. To the extent and as long as they saw or thought they saw a way out of their situation, they tended to pursue a reformist approach and built alliances with the oppressed masses only to harness them to their reformist programme.

More directly relevant to the question we are dealing with, those who in these circumstances nevertheless chose a revolutionary path tended to intervene in the struggles of the oppressed masses as extraneous agents acting on their behalf, as messiahs bringing salvation to the hapless multitudes; and their organisations tended to remain insulated from the masses. In other words, although they intervened in the struggle of the oppressed masses and in many cases made great sacrifices in aid of that struggle, they did not build organic relations with the oppressed masses and their struggle. They did not themselves become one with the oppressed and their organisations did not become the oppressed themselves organised for their struggle against their oppressors; they remained an extraneous, alien social force intervening in the struggle of the oppressed on their behalf.

A radicalizing experience

Any meaningful prospect, therefore, of the Nigerian socialist movement becoming organic, i.e. developing organic links with the oppressed masses on a structural basis, depends on the petty bourgeoisie – or at least significant sections of it – having a radicalising experience of privation and oppression so severe, total, and implacable that it can find no way out but through revolution. It is, of course, in the very nature of historical things that we cannot predict them with exact scientific rigour. It is, therefore, not possible – and in fact not necessary – to fix exactly when and exactly how this radicalising experience will occur. Yet Marxism would not be the revolutionary science that it is of society in both its diachronic and synchronic dimensions if it did not consist in analytical tools enabling thought to grasp the material premises and logic of social dynamics and statics.

We are, therefore, able to offer the prognosis that the current immiseration and pauperisation of the Nigerian petty bourgeoisie will worsen in the course and immediate aftermath of the next structural crisis of the neocolonial formation if it is grave and long enough. As we have said above, we believe the probability of such a crisis to be very good in light of the current structural crisis of global capitalism and given the structural vulnerability of the Nigerian formation to the vicissitudes of the global capitalist system.

Already, the crisis in the countries of the capitalist centre is occasioning deep cuts in development aid for sub-Saharan Africa, with the result that the externally-dependent civil society is experiencing a funding crisis that is causing many CSOs to downsize drastically or even to suspend operations. The crisis is causing a slowdown in the economies of the centre, thus limiting their capacity to absorb migrant labour from the periphery and especially from Africa. If the analyses of Marxists like Samir Amin and Istvan Mészáros are correct, we should expect the crisis to be persistent and to grow worse over time, with any recovery being weak, short-lived, and followed by another long and intractable crisis.[5]

Should the Nigerian neocolonial capitalist formation go into a prolonged and severe structural crisis in these circumstances, the situation will indeed be most dire for the working masses but also for greater sections of the petty bourgeoisie. This will block off the routes of escape for more and more of the latter and almost certainly drive more of their numbers to revolution, creating simultaneously objective and subjective grounds for the forging of organic relations between them and the struggle of the oppressed.

This is not to say, however, that all effort at building a socialist movement with such relations with the struggle of the oppressed must wait until the next structural crisis. That would be to subscribe to the most brutish sort of mechanistic determinism; it would be to reject the Marxist notion of the dialectical determination of the superstructure by the substructure. For such crude determinism is completely alien to Marxism, a scientific worldview that accords full recognition to the creative and thus active role of the subjective factor in the historical labour process both of reproducing the existing social relations and of fashioning a new society.

That is surely the import of the first of Marx’s Theses on Feuerbach: “The chief defect of all hitherto existing materialism – that of Feuerbach included – is that the thing, reality, sensuousness, is conceived only in the form of the object or of contemplation, but not as sensuous human activity, practice, not subjectively…” [6] Thus, all through its history there have been individuals and organisations in the Nigerian socialist movement who have tried to build organic links with the oppressed and their struggles, even in the periods of greatest affluence ever enjoyed by the petty bourgeoisie.

The task of building an organic socialist movement in Nigeria must commence today even as we anticipate the next structural crisis of the neocolonial formation and the infinitely more favourable circumstances it will create for success at the task. The question is how to do that.

End notes

[1] Edwin Madunagu, The Tragedy of the Nigerian Socialist Movement and Other Essays (Calabar, Nigeria: Centaur Press Ltd., 1980), p.2.) dates the impotence of the movement from 1966, but this is tenable only if one accepts his implied conflation of the socialist movement and the workers movement (Ibid.). We insist, however, on differentiating them from each other. We therefore define the socialist movement as that body of organisations and individuals engaged in the struggle to abolish the social relations undergirding Nigeria’s neocolonial capitalist formation and to replace them with socialist ones. This at once differentiates between the two movements. For it is obvious that not all organisations of the workers movement are engaged in the struggle for socialism, some of them limiting their goals only to achieving the immanent (bourgeois) interests of the working class. They reject its transcendent (communist) ones – the latter however being precisely those that demand the abolition of capitalist social relations and their replacement with socialist ones. Based on this distinction, it becomes possible and indeed necessary to reconsider the question of dating the impotence of the socialist movement. For instance, was the 1944 General strike or even that of 1964 evidence of the potency and interventional capacity of the socialist movement as such or of the workers movement under the influence of bourgeois radicalism rather than socialist ideology? This is one of the very few flaws in Madunagu’s otherwise splendid (although too brief) study of the Nigerian socialist movement.

[2] For instance, the global struggle between the USA and the USSR, or between Maoism or Trotskyism and Stalinism.

[3] Fanon said something relevant to this in connection with the nationalist party in the decolonisation struggle. See Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1982).

[4] We see this clearly in the case of Maoism, for example. See Isaac Deutscher, “Maoism: Its Origins, Background, and Outlook,” The Socialist Register 1, no. 1 (1964): 11–37. The South African Communist Party furnishes an interesting case of a socialist organisation that experienced a measure of ideological dependence on the Soviet Union but survived the collapse of Existing Socialism and struggled to re-establish its own independent ideological bearings. See “Focus on Socialism,” South African Labour Bulletin 15, no. 3 (September 1990); and “Towards a New Internationalism?,” South African Labour Bulletin 15, no. 7 (April 1991). See also the continuation of the debate in the pages of The African Communist.

[5] See the following by Samir Amin: “A New Phase of Capitalism, or Rejuvenating Treatment for Senile Capitalism,” accessed December 4, 2012, http://www.forumtiersmonde.net/fren/index.php?option=com_content&view=ar… of-capitalism-or-rejuvenating-treatment-for-senile-capitalism&catid=54:critical-analysis-of- capitalism&Itemid=116; and Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism, trans. Victoria Bawtree (Cape Town, South Africa: Pambazuka Press, 2011). See also the following by Istvan Meszaros: “A Structural Crisis of the System,” interview by Judith Orr and Patrick Ward, Socialist Review, January 2009, http://www.socialistreview.org.uk/article.php?articlenumber=10672; “Structural Crisis Needs Structural Change,” Monthly Review 63, no. 10 (2012), http://monthlyreview.org/2012/03/01/structural-crisis-needs- structural-change; and The Structural Crisis of Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2009), http://www.readingfromtheleft.com/Books/MR/structural%20crisis%20of%20ca…http://monthlyreview.org/press/books/pb2082/.

[6] Karl Marx, Theses on Feuerbach, 1888

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Syrian army ‘will ignore’ US air force border fight threat

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Morning Star 

SYRIA’S armed forces made clear yesterday that they will not obey US air force instructions to halt military operations near the Tanf border crossing with Iraq.

An army officer told Al-Masdar News that, despite the US air force dropping leaflets over Syrian army positions in south-east Homs at the weekend, army units will continue fighting against Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Isis militants until the entire Iraqi border with south-east Syria is sealed.

“Any movements toward Tanf will be considered hostile and we will defend our forces,” the US-led coalition leaflet read.

The officer added that the Russian military is deeply embedded with the Syrian army and their allies in southeast Homs and is backing continued operations.

Government forces greatly outnumber the Western-backed FSA in the region and the US allies also do not have the backing of the Iraqi government or the Shi’ite Popular Mobilisation Units that operate both in Iraqi desert areas west of Mosul and alongside Syrian government forces in south-east Homs.

US warplanes hit pro-Syrian government Palestinian fighters on May 18 on the pretext that they posed a threat to US troops and allied rebels near the border with Jordan.

Syrian army and allied paramilitary forces continued their successful campaign in the eastern Aleppo countryside yesterday afternoon, breaking through Isis defences and capturing the Ras al-Ayn village and its surroundings, heightening the pressure on the Isis stronghold of Maskanah.

The last batch of jihadist insurgents and their family members were transported in government-provided buses from the Barzeh suburb of east Damascus to Idlib province yesterday.

Their departure means that the Syrian government has full control of this suburb for the first time since late 2011.

Several rebels opted to remain in Barzeh and will have six months to resolve their status with the government.

Four members of the pro-Syrian government Harakat al-Nujaba militia, together with two Syrian army soldiers, were freed from year-long captivity in jihadi-controlled province Idlib on Sunday night after Nujaba fighters launched a behind-the-enemy-lines raid.

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Palestinian women’s center to keep name despite pressure from UN, Norway

NOVANEWS

Poster of Dalal al-Mughrabi, published by Al-Asifah in 1978 (Source: The Palestine Poster Project Archives)

BETHLEHEM – Days after Norway pulled its sponsorship from an occupied West Bank women’s community center and demanded a refund for construction costs from the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the United Nations (UN) promptly pulling its backing as well, the center has reportedly said it will not change its name, which the UN said “glorifies terrorism.”

The Dalal al-Mughrabi Women’s Community Center — named after a fighter in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who played a role in a 1978 attack that left over 30 Israelis and 12 Palestinian fighters dead, including al-Mughrabi herself — was built in the Nablus-area village of Burqa in the northern West Bank.

The center was sponsored by both the UN and the Norwegian government, who provided partial financial support for the construction of the center, which had remained nameless until it was officially inaugurated earlier this month.

Official PA-owned Wafa news agency reported Tuesday that the head of the Burqa village council, Sami Daghlas, said “the center has no intention of caving in to the pressure and changing its name.”

Daghlas told Wafa that the center was built “to serve and empower young women in the village and to help them develop to become active members in society.”

According to Daghlas, the name Dalal al-Mughrabi was chosen by the villagers “to commemorate a Palestinian hero who sacrificed herself for her country and therefore they have no intention to change its name, regardless of the price.”

“Instead of fighting a community center that does not exceed 50 square meters in area and works on serving young women in the community, they should be objecting to regular attacks by (Israeli) settlers against the village and its people and to allow farmers to reach their land that was taken away from them,” Daghlas said, as he expressed his surprise at the actions of the UN and Norway, which he said were done “to satisfy Israel.”

The Times of Israel reported last week that the Norwegian Foreign Minister had condemned the PA for the name choice of the center, saying “Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way,” and demanded that the PA reimburse Norway for the costs contributed to the center.

In his interview with Wafa, Daghlas said that the people of Burqa did not object to returning the money to Norway, which he said “was only few thousand dollars used to repair and refurbish the building, and would never capitulate to pressure and blackmail.”

One day after Norway’s move to pull funding from the center, the UN pulled its sponsorship from the center, which it called “offensive.”

“The United Nations disassociated itself from the Center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future,” the Times of Israel said, quoting a statement from Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“The glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the UN statement said, adding that the UN had requested that the logo of UN Women be removed from the building.

According to Wafa, Daghlas said that the UN was responsible for funding some projects put on by the center.

Wafa also quoted Ahmad Majdalani, member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, as saying that “Israel glorifies Jewish terrorists and pays them money and no one objects to that,” referencing the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other Jewish extremists convicted of attacking and killing Palestinians and Israelis, who Majdalani said still receive Israeli government stipends through the national insurance plan.

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Palestinian women’s center to keep name despite pressure from UN, Norway

NOVANEWS

Poster of Dalal al-Mughrabi, published by Al-Asifah in 1978 (Source: The Palestine Poster Project Archives)

BETHLEHEM – Days after Norway pulled its sponsorship from an occupied West Bank women’s community center and demanded a refund for construction costs from the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the United Nations (UN) promptly pulling its backing as well, the center has reportedly said it will not change its name, which the UN said “glorifies terrorism.”

The Dalal al-Mughrabi Women’s Community Center — named after a fighter in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) who played a role in a 1978 attack that left over 30 Israelis and 12 Palestinian fighters dead, including al-Mughrabi herself — was built in the Nablus-area village of Burqa in the northern West Bank.

The center was sponsored by both the UN and the Norwegian government, who provided partial financial support for the construction of the center, which had remained nameless until it was officially inaugurated earlier this month.

Official PA-owned Wafa news agency reported Tuesday that the head of the Burqa village council, Sami Daghlas, said “the center has no intention of caving in to the pressure and changing its name.”

Daghlas told Wafa that the center was built “to serve and empower young women in the village and to help them develop to become active members in society.”

According to Daghlas, the name Dalal al-Mughrabi was chosen by the villagers “to commemorate a Palestinian hero who sacrificed herself for her country and therefore they have no intention to change its name, regardless of the price.”

“Instead of fighting a community center that does not exceed 50 square meters in area and works on serving young women in the community, they should be objecting to regular attacks by (Israeli) settlers against the village and its people and to allow farmers to reach their land that was taken away from them,” Daghlas said, as he expressed his surprise at the actions of the UN and Norway, which he said were done “to satisfy Israel.”

The Times of Israel reported last week that the Norwegian Foreign Minister had condemned the PA for the name choice of the center, saying “Norway will not allow itself to be associated with institutions that take the names of terrorists in this way,” and demanded that the PA reimburse Norway for the costs contributed to the center.

In his interview with Wafa, Daghlas said that the people of Burqa did not object to returning the money to Norway, which he said “was only few thousand dollars used to repair and refurbish the building, and would never capitulate to pressure and blackmail.”

One day after Norway’s move to pull funding from the center, the UN pulled its sponsorship from the center, which it called “offensive.”

“The United Nations disassociated itself from the Center once it learned the offensive name chosen for it and will take measures to ensure that such incidents do not take place in the future,” the Times of Israel said, quoting a statement from Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“The glorification of terrorism, or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts, is unacceptable under any circumstances,” the UN statement said, adding that the UN had requested that the logo of UN Women be removed from the building.

According to Wafa, Daghlas said that the UN was responsible for funding some projects put on by the center.

Wafa also quoted Ahmad Majdalani, member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, as saying that “Israel glorifies Jewish terrorists and pays them money and no one objects to that,” referencing the assassin of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and other Jewish extremists convicted of attacking and killing Palestinians and Israelis, who Majdalani said still receive Israeli government stipends through the national insurance plan.

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Japan wants US parachute drills grounded amid Okinawa anger

NOVANEWS

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Japan is opposed to a two-day parachuting drill that the US plans to conduct near the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. Local residents have protested such drills in the past, and this would be the third in two months.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the US military failed to notify the Japanese authorities seven days ahead of the exercise, as they are supposed to. In fact, Japan learned of the Americans’ plans from a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) filed with the aviation authorities, which is meant to keep civilian aircraft out of airspace where US military planes are flying during the exercise, NHK reported.

“We asked [the Americans] not to conduct the training and to delete the NOTAM. So far we have not received a response from the US site,” Inada told reporters on Tuesday after a cabinet meeting.

The parachuting exercises, which are planned for Wednesday and Thursday, would be conducted off the coast of the city of Uruma. Similar drills were conducted off the Kadena Airbase on the night of May 10 and on April 24.

The previous two drills sparked protest among Okinawans, who have not seen such exercises since 2011. After the second training, Deputy Okinawa Governor Moritake Tomikawa filed a protest with Japan’s Defense Ministry, expressing outrage and saying that such exercises cannot become routine.

Defense Minister Inada called the US move “regrettable,” saying the US should observe a 1996 bilateral agreement under which parachuting exercises should be conducted on the remote island of Iejima, off Okinawa’s main island, with the Kadena base used only as an exception.

“The United States did not offer sufficient explanation on why the exercise conducted (Wednesday) amounted to an exceptional case,” Inada said at a regular news conference. “It is extremely deplorable that it took place at Kadena Air Base without Japan and the United States able to share the same perception in advance,” she stressed.

The Kadena Airbase is one of several US military installations on Okinawa, a southern Japanese island that hosts some 70 percent of the US troops in Japan and is home to some 20,000 US service members, contractors, and their families.

During a parachuting drill in 1965, a trailer airdropped into a local village inadvertently landed on a schoolgirl, killing her.

The protest over the latest planned drill comes a day after Okinawa police arrested a US airman assigned to the Kadena base following a drunk hit-and-run. Staff Sergeant Miguel Angel Garza allegedly hit a car on Monday and fled the scene. The female driver of the second vehicle sustained minor injuries, Japanese authorities said.

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South Korea’s new leader orders probe into ‘unauthorized’ US deployment

NOVANEWS
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South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has ordered an investigation into the “unauthorized” deployment of four additional THAAD missile launchers by the United States to the country’s soil.

Presidential spokesman Yoon Young-chan said Moon was “shocked” to hear that the four additional launchers of the so-called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system were installed without being reported to the new government or to the public.

“President Moon was briefed on such facts by National Security Office (NSO) chief Chung Eui-yong and said it was very shocking,” the spokesman told a news briefing on Tuesday.

The system was initially deployed to South Korea in March with just two of its maximum load of six launchers with the declared aim of countering North Korean threats.

The South Korean official further said the president had “ordered his senior secretary for civil affairs and the NSO chief to find the truth behind the unauthorized entry of the four rocket launchers.”

The deployment of THAAD, which came amid tensions with North Korea, was met with strong opposition from people in South Korea, including the residents of Seongju County, where the missile system is installed.

The installation was agreed by the government of Moon’s predecessor Park ­Geun-hye, who was impeached and ousted over a corruption scandal.

During his election campaign prior to the May 9 election, Moon had urged a parliamentary review of the controversial deployment, which has angered Pyongyang.

Russia and China have also expressed deep concern over the controversial deployment of the American missile system on the Korean Peninsula.

Chinese officials argue that the US system would interfere with their radars and could pose a threat to Chinese security.

Moscow has also warned that the deployment would only fuel tensions in the region.

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ISIS Declares It Will kill Palestinians “One By One”’, Says At The Same Time That Allah Commands Them Not To Fight ‘Israel’

NOVANEWS

ISIS militants said that Siam was killed due to the fact he was “a partner in a declared war against religion and against Muslims, working for the heretical government in Gaza”.

Americans.org report:

The attack was conducted by ISIS-affiliated Salafist rebels who have also warned local residents to stay away from Hamas offices and buildings as it plans to carry out more attacks.

The conflict between Hamas and ISIS in Gaza started when Palestinian forces demolished a makeshift mosque used by Ansar al-Bayt al-Maqdis in early May.

Ansar al-Bayt al-Maqdis is an Egyptian Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to ISIS and has been recruiting Palestinians for the Islamic State.

After demolishing the Almtahabin mosque, Hamas then arrested seven men, including a local Salafist Sheikh Yasser Abu Houli.

ISIS claims it will kill Palestinians “one by one” and that it knows the names and addresses of all the officers working for the Palestinian Intelligence agency.

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Happy anti-racist African Liberation Day 2017!

It is important to understand the political significance of this Day. It is not just a Day to celebrate our African pride but also a date to remember the freedom fighters of the continent and to keep in mind all the battles still to be fought for the definitive liberation from neocolonialism. It is a Day to denounce all foreign interference in Africa.

African Liberation Day is celebrated on 25 May of each year. The origin of the event is at the First Conference of Independent African States held in Ghana on 15 May 1958. It was the first Pan-African conference held in the African Continent and in a newly independent nation.

The first President of Ghana Dr Kwame Nkrumah gathered in Accra the leaders of the then eight independent African nations: Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia. Representatives of the liberation movements of Cameroon, Algeria and other territories still under European colonial occupation also participated. The conference was instituted on May 15 as Africa Freedom Day to symbolise the determination of the African people towards freedom from colonial exploitation.

Session of the All-African Peoples Conference in Accra, Ghana 1958. Photo: Wikimedia.

This conference was followed by the All African Peoples Conferences of December 1958, January 1960 and March 1961 which advanced the agenda of the struggle against colonialist oppression. Subsequently, in 1963, after the founding of the Organisation of African Unity in Ethiopia by 32 newly freed African states, the day was renamed African Liberation Day. Today it is also known as The Africa Day.

Kwame Nkrumah and his Family with Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser at the 1965 OAU Summit. Photo: Wikimedia.

It is important to understand the political significance of the Africa Day. It is not just a day to celebrate our African pride and culturally express ourselves but also a date to remember the freedom fighters of the continent and to keep in mind all the battles still to be fought for the definitive liberation from neocolonialism. It is also a day to denounce all foreign interference operations that continue to occur: Libya, Ivory Coast, Somalia…

At present, there are many movements and organisations that celebrate the anniversary. For those of us who understand that Africa and its diasporas are still in struggle until full liberation, this will always be the African Liberation Day; and generally for those people and organizations who do not know the political meaning of the day or prefer to highlight the cultural pride aspect of the celebration, today is the Africa Day. In any case, it is very important to understand that the day was born as a way of merging all the liberation struggles of the whole continent, of all African peoples in all corners of Africa. It can not, therefore, be claimed by only one of these peoples, as some movements claim, particularly in the United States, even if it is undoubtedly the largest majority in Africa and the most oppressed, exploited and massacred people in the world.

Omowale Malcolm X, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, Mecca, 1964. Photo: profoundbandit.tumblr.com

The Afro-American perspective has been very useful in providing content for black liberation, but it is also true that African-American leaders must raise from the oppressive environment of American racism in order to see the struggle, in all its dimensions with greater realism and a broader view. That was the case of Omowale Malcolm X who came into contact with the African and Arab realities after his abandonment of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and greatly expanded his vision of the problem of white supremacism and Arab supremacism, which also exists. If we stick with a single part of his thinking, we will not understand what racist oppression has been in the world and how are we going to to get out of it.

The intellectual basis of the Pan-Africanist movement is antiracist since racism is a Western and Arab invention used for the oppression of the enslaved and colonised. There should not be any confusion about it. Every African in Africa and the Diaspora, and every sincere friend of Africa, whether or not African, regardless of origin, as long as they have the Africa and its Diaspora liberation and unity as primary objectives, is welcome to our fight. Pan-Africanism must not be confused with movements which, by defending something that is legitimate, recall to essentialist thoughts illegitimate for any human being. This essentialism undoubtedly will drive out of the movement those more ethically aware of the need to be consistent with our own thinking and thus will distance us from the goal of unification and empowerment of the African Continent. The All-African Peoples Conference was never the Most-African Peoples Conference or the Some-African Peoples Conference.

African liberation is an inspiration to many peoples of the world. This infographic is in Indonesian. Source: http://sahabatmkaa.com/

To demand the emancipation and independence of thought and action for black people is not racism but legitimate resistance, since the worst of historical oppression has been suffered by racialized black people. In the same way, one must demand respect for the diversity of colours, origins and cultures present in Africa because the contrary means assuming the fallacious categories of the oppressor. This is the spirit of the creators of Pan-Africanism, particularly Du Bois and Nkrumah, a Pan-Africanism that fights against all forms of oppression, including racism.

This thought which fights both for the physical and mental liberation of the black person as well as for that of the rest of Africans should not be contaminated by irrational thinking. African liberation is and should be the inspiration for all anti-imperialist struggles. For a true social liberation to happen, we must first liberate us from the mental bonds of the categories imposed by the slaveholders, colonialists, neo-colonialists and racists, and therefore, as Pan-Africanists, we must demand a scrupulous respect for the African people in Africa And outside it, in all its diversity.

Siku ya Ukombozi was Afrika!

¡Feliz Día de la Liberación Africana!

Happy African Liberation Day!

 

 

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African Liberation Day represents expansion of human freedom

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Some 130 years ago, European powers met in Berlin to hatch an agenda of subjecting Africa and its peoples to mere vassals, property to be possessed and exploited for the benefit of white people. African Liberation Day celebrates the African people’s successful resistance to this oppression. The Day is also a proud commemoration of the role Africa has played in the advancement of human freedom.

Today marks the 54th anniversary of African Liberation Day, since it was proclaimed at the founding meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963. It is an important day in our political life as the people of Africa, as it commemorates the founding ideals of unity and liberation, which were the cornerstone of the OAU, the forerunner to the current African Union (AU).

This day was used by Africans on the continent and in the diaspora to rally together and with other freedom loving peoples of the world to fight against colonialism, oppression and injustice.

When it was formed, the OAU did much to help advance the liberation and independence of many African countries, which were still colonies and dependent territories of Europe . Today, five decades after its inception, the entire African continent is free from direct colonialism, albeit still under the yoke of neo- colonialism and Western dependency. We note also, sadly, that Western Sahara continues to suffer under an aggressive and illegal occupation by Morocco.

The OAU established a dedicated organ, the Coordination Committee for the Liberation of Africa, otherwise known as the Liberation Committee, to heighten solidarity and to garner support for countries that were struggling against colonialism and white minority rule. Many Southern African liberation movements benefitted immensely, morally and materially, from this solidarity.

As a liberation movement, the Azania People’s Organization (Azapo) honours this day to remind ourselves of the vision of the founding fathers, mothers and martyrs like Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure, Haile Selassie, Julius Mwalimu Nyerere, Steve Biko, Yaa Asanteewa, Mmanthatise, Onkgopotse Tiro, Abu Baker Asvat, Robert Sobukwe, Japhta Masemola and many more.

All Africans, Black people and those who value freedom and democracy, should observe African Liberation Day as a poignant marker in our liberation calendar, and in the role Africa has played universally towards the advancement of human freedom.

Human freedom is today imperilled, not so much by physical occupation and the brutal force that was synonymous with colonialism, but by a more insidious and  dangerous selective amnesia, as recently displayed by the former leader of the white liberal Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, who is in denial about the human cost and  destruction colonialism wrought upon Africa.

This curtailment of human freedom is also evinced by the capture of our economic and political institutions by private interests, which erodes the hard-won democratic freedoms and rights of citizens and workers. We see this presently being played out in our country, in the gladiatorial contest between the Guptas and White Monopoly Capital.

Both sides of the capitalist divide are only driven by their avaricious desire to subvert our economic and political sovereignty, and to intensify their exploitation of our labour and land. Their interests are diametrically opposite to Black liberation.

For us in Azania, we recall the many sacrifices that were made by African countries and the peoples of the world, who afforded us human solidarity to defeat the demon of apartheid and to erase the scourge of institutionalised racism off the face of our country.

Africa Liberation Day must be seen as a direct response by Africa to counteract the evil designs of the 1884 Berlin Conference. Some 120 years ago, European powers gathered in that German city, to hatch an agenda of subjecting Africa and its peoples to mere vassals, and property to be possessed and exploited for the benefit of white people.

The conclusions of this infamous meeting led to the so-called Scramble for Africa, which resulted in Africa being carved up into blocks owned primarily by France, Britain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Spain. The consequence of this was the total domination, erasure and destruction of Africa’s humanity, institutions, and culture and land rights. 90% of African lands became official territories of Western powers. Nowhere else was this vulgarity more crudely represented, than in the then King of Belgium, Léopold, claiming the whole of the present-day Democratic Republic of Congo, as his own personal property.

African Liberation Day stands as a remarkable tribute to the OAU. Within 54 years after its founding, the bold efforts that were undertaken by Africans to free themselves and their continent from the clutches of foreign domination and settler colonialism were achieved, despite the underdevelopment that remain as its legacy. This goal was attained through advancing a moral vision and value for justice, freedom and democracy, but also through waging valiant liberation struggles and acts of resistance.

The independence leader of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah, was a committed pan- Africanist and socialist revolutionary, who worked untiringly for the freedom and unity of Africa. He played a pivotal role in lifting our vistas beyond narrow nationalism, ethnicity, tribalism and the slumber induced by pseudo-independence. We recall his evocative words at the founding of the OAU, during his famous We Must Unite or Perish speech:

“African unity is above all, a political kingdom which can only be gained by political means. The social and economic development of Africa will come only within the political kingdom, not the other way round.

Is it not unity alone that can weld us into an effective force, capable of creating our own progress and making our valuable contribution to world peace?”…So many blessings flow from our unity; so many disasters must follow on our continued disunity. The hour of history which has brought us to this Assembly is a revolutionary hour. It is the hour of decision. The masses of the people of Africa are crying for unity. The people of Africa call for the breaking down of the boundaries that keep them apart…

The founding leaders of the OAU and African Liberation Day were anchored on a strong moral compass, whose cardinal points were human freedom, solidarity and development.

Human freedom should be a continuing objective of all democratic forces, especially now, when powerful blocs seem bent on putting limits to its further expansion in Africa and throughout the universe. We bear witness to this when European governments suppress the rights of political and economic refugees from Africa and elsewhere, by detaining them in subhuman camps, with the collusion of rogue Arab states and undemocratic governments, in violation of international human rights conventions and laws.

The unnecessary deaths of Africans at sea in the Mediterranean while attempting to cross to Europe in places like Lampedusa, are avoidable and preventable. The African Union and African governments must insist on humane treatment of African refugees and for international protocols on migrants being upheld.

The Black Consciousness Philosophy upon which Azapo is premised is framed by values of human solidarity and freedom contained in The Black Students’ Manifesto, a basic document that was adopted at the establishment of our movement by the South African Student’s Organisation (Saso) in 1967. It puts accent on this when it states:

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Steve Biko’s martyrdom. The Black Consciousness  Movement  will rededicate itself to the course of Black Solidarity, which he propagated, as we observe African Liberation Day.

As South Africans, we must also use today to reflect on whether our country is on track towards building a developmental and ethical state based on good governance. We stand at a precipitous democratic and social moment as a nation, with the seeming entrenchment of corruption within the state. The spate of violence and crime in our society, and the arrested development of our youth and labour force, point to a failure in the nation-building project. Azapo will join hands with other patriots to rescue the promise of freedom, before it is completely lost.

The spread of femicide, kidnappings and killing of young women as well as the recent horrendous death of 35 informal miners in disused mines, are also indicative of the moral and social decay that is gripping our society.  We implore government and all our citizens to utilize this Africa Liberation Day, to recommit ourselves to the goals of the liberation struggle – freedom, equality, peace and development, which must always undergird  our social transformation programme.

Repossession of our land, restoring our culture and languages, including the redistribution of wealth to the masses and workers of our country and the continent, are the surest way to realise the noble aspirations of the  visionary leaders who originated the African Union and Africa Liberation Day.

We draw inspiration from the hope that springs from the poem of Jorge Rebelo, a  Mozambican and a FRELIMO freedom fighter, when he writes:

Come say to me ‘Here

my hands have been crushed

because they defended

the land which they own

 

Come, tell me all this, my brother

And later I will forge simple words

Which even the children can understand

Words which will enter every house

Like wind

And fall like red hot embers

On our people’s souls

 

In our land

Bullets are beginning to flower.

On this 54th African Liberation Day, may the bullets that liberated our people and  continent, truly begin to flower for all  her daughters and sons.

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