Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Racist Thought Police Attack “Critical Race Theory”

June 28, 2021 

Georgia African Americans obtain education during the 1890s. | Photo: Georgia Historical Society

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Racist Thought Police Attack “Critical Race Theory” – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

An exchange between the United States Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, and several Republican Congressmen in Washington, D.C. on June 23, illustrates the level of hysteria prevalent among ruling circles as it relates to what can and cannot be taught within educational institutions including the military.

Gen. Milley was questioned about a “diversity training” program within the military which utilized reading materials to which some members of Congress strongly object.

This questioning of Milley took place within the context of attempts by the Pentagon to supposedly uncover “extremists” within its ranks who are harboring racist right-wing views. Some members of Congress are even calling for a cutback in funding to the Pentagon claiming that conservatives are being targeted and accused of racism and neo-fascism.

The top U.S. military general said in response to the questioning, that:

“I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. What is wrong with understanding, having some situational understanding about the country for which we are here to defend? And I personally find it offensive that we are accusing the United States military, our general officers, our commissioned, our noncommissioned officers, of being ‘woke.'”

Of course, Gen. Milley is by no means a proponent of anti-racist education. The reasoning of the Pentagon is related to the need for some form of cohesion within the ranks of the various divisions of the military forces. Events in recent months, particularly the right-wing mob attack on Capitol Hill on January 6, could easily prefigure a split within the security apparatus of the U.S. Such divisions which undoubtedly exist between white soldiers and their counterparts from the oppressed communities, would hamper the operational capacity of the Pentagon to engage in combat internationally as well as domestically.

Among the ranks of those involved in the Capitol Hill attack on January 6 were veterans of the military. Milley also said before Congress:

“I want to understand white rage, and I’m white. And I want to understand it.”

Earlier Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who is an African American career military officer, was questioned on the same topic by conservative lawmakers. Austin disassociated the Pentagon and its training academies from what is being referred to as “critical race theory.”

Austin emphasized before Congress:

“We do not teach critical race theory. We don’t embrace critical race theory and I think that’s a spurious conversation. We are focused on extremist behaviors, and not ideology.”

These discussions are taking place across the length and breadth of the U.S. In several states, legislative bodies are debating and approving bills which ostensibly ban the teaching of “critical race theory.” In Oklahoma, the governor was asked to leave a state commission on the Tulsa Race Massacre of a century ago after he signed into law a bill which prohibits teaching about the realities of the U.S. being a racist society, born in the forced removal and genocide of Native Americans, and the centuries-long enslavement and national oppression of African Americans.

The U.S. military are the guardians of this racist, capitalist and imperialist system which has extended its tentacles around the globe. Their ability to function as a fighting force necessitates a common viewpoint about who their adversaries are and what needs to be done from an imperialist perspective.

This holds true for U.S. society as a whole in regard to the nature and character of the educational system. To demonize the study and analysis of the actual history and social development of the country can only foster more tensions between the races.

Defining “Critical Race Theory” and Its Origins

What is interesting in the discourse about “Critical Race Theory” is the inability of the right-wing critics to define what they are against. Judging from their public pronouncements and legislative actions, it becomes quite obvious that it does not matter what “Critical Race Theory” is and why it came about in the U.S.

As a field of academic study, the plight of African people in the U.S. and around the world has always been controversial as far as the ruling class is concerned. The fact that education itself was systematically denied to enslaved Africans is a strong indication of the politics of knowledge acquisition and production.

An entry in the online Encyclopedia Britannica describes this school of thought as:

“[C}ritical race theory (CRT), [is an] intellectual movement and loosely organized framework of legal analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of color. Critical race theorists hold that the law and legal institutions in the United States are inherently racist insofar as they function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites, especially African Americans.”

If this definition is accepted in part or in its entirety, then the dominant approach of most African world scholars since the 18th and 19th centuries would fall under this category. The early narratives written by enslaved Africans such as Frederick Douglass were sharp indictments against racist exploitation and its social consequences.

African American women writers and public figures such as Maria Stewart, Mary Ann Shadd, Francis Watkins Harper, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Anna Julia Cooper, among others, during the 19th and 20th centuries, published books, newspapers, pamphlets and speeches which served to raise the consciousness of African people. A censorship regime in denial about institutional racism and national oppression, would not allow the works of these pioneers in Africana Studies and mass organizing to be read within the public school system.

During the 20th century, books by scholars such as W.E.B. Du Bois, William Leo Hansberry and Drusilla Dunjee Houston laid the foundations for the African and Black Studies programs which emerged during and after the 1960s. Similarly, as in the 21st century, these scholars were subjected to political attacks by the ruling interests of the time.

Du Bois, a Harvard graduate with a doctoral degree in History awarded in 1896, was never invited to teach or lecture at the private institution. After being labelled a troublemaker and later communist, his name and works were generally ignored within higher education.

Hansberry, also a Harvard graduate, was unable to acquire a Ph.D in African Studies in the 1920s and 1930s due to the fact that not one university in the U.S. had anyone that could supervise his dissertation. Efforts were made to have him removed from the same African Studies program he created at Howard University, the first in the U.S. Later in life, Hansberry’s contributions were recognized when a former student of his, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, the first president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, invited him to establish an African Studies program at a leading institution in that West African state.

Houston worked as a journalist and publisher in Oklahoma and other states during the early 20th century. Her prodigious research on African history in the eastern region and West Asia remains a source of discussion today.

Education as an Arena of Struggle

Almost all of the Black, Latinx, Asian and Gender Studies programs at universities and colleges around the U.S. emerged as a result of mass demonstrations during the 1960s, 1970s and beyond. These programs and hiring of staff and faculty from African American and other oppressed communities were the products of political pressure exerted by student and community organizations.

African Americans in several former Confederate states created the framework for public education during the 1860s and 1870s. One source on the history of Georgia noted:

“Before the Civil War (1861-65), Georgia had no system of public education. Its school tax assisted poor white children with tuition at private schools. In 1870 the state made its first effort to create public schools and found that, in the Black community at least, the rudiments of such a system were already in place.  Reconstruction-era legislation required segregated schools and allowed discrimination in the distribution of school funds to white and Black schools.”

Therefore, recent and long past events suggest that the attempts to outlaw the teaching of African American, Latinx, Asian, Native Indigenous and working class histories which are rooted in the experiences of these peoples, will prompt the continuation of the struggle against racism in all its forms.

Kenneth Kaunda, 97, Played a Major Role in the African Liberation Struggle

June 28, 2021

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Kenneth Kaunda, 97, Played a Major Role in the African Liberation Struggle – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

A leading light in the campaigns to overthrow white minority rule and to foster African unity, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda, has died in Zambia at the age of 97.

Kaunda was born on April 28, 1924 in Lubwa Mission in Chinsali, an area then known as Northern Rhodesia and controlled by Britain.

This colony along with Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, were established by the capitalist colonizer Cecil Rhodes during the late decades of the 19th century. Rhodes created the British South African Company leading the economic and consequent political seizure of the land and resources of the indigenous African people.

After the land seizures by the settler-colonialists, Africans were forced to work in the mines and plantations of the British corporations. Africans revolted against the encroachment during a series of wars in 1896-1897. Eventually, through the force of superior armory, the British maintained control over Northern and Southern Rhodesia until the mid and late 20th century.

The young Kaunda was the eighth child of a minister father and school teacher mother. His father died while Kaunda was quite young leading to many hardships. Kaunda would continue his education becoming a teacher within the colonial educational system.

By 1949, at the age of 25, Kaunda had become involved in mass politics with the Northern Rhodesian African National Congress. He would later form other more militant organizations such as the Zambian African National Congress and eventually founded the United National Independent Party (UNIP), which played an essential role in the liberation struggle of the 1960s.

Kaunda was imprisoned by the British colonial authorities on several occasions in the 1950s and early 1960s. He would later come to dominate political life in the country under the leadership of UNIP. By 1964, the colony had gained independence and changed its name to Zambia.

Pioneering Stalwart of the Pan-African Movement of the Post World War II Era

Tributes to Kaunda have been articulated throughout the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) as a whole.

The co-founder and longtime president of the mineral-rich nation formerly known as Northern Rhodesia under colonialism, emerged from the national oppressive conditions imposed by British imperialism beginning in the late 19th century. Kaunda at a very early age began to understand the character of institutional racism and state tyranny.

During his tenure as president of Zambia, the country hosted numerous national liberation movements from throughout Southern Africa and other regions. Despite his stated commitment to nonviolent social change during the efforts to win independence in the 1950s and early 1960s, after attaining power Kaunda provided a base for liberation movement organizations which advanced armed struggle as an important means to break the chains of European domination.

Radio Freedom, the Voice of the African National Congress (ANC), was broadcast from Lusaka, the capital of the country. Radio Freedom relayed information to people inside South Africa under apartheid bringing a message of resistance and organizational culture to the masses of people seeking to unleash their fury against the racist system of colonial exploitation and social degradation.

An article published by Al Jazeera based in Qatar, says of the Kaunda legacy that:

“Leaders across Africa have paid tribute to Zambia’s founding president, Kenneth Kaunda, who died on Thursday at the age of 97, declaring several days of mourning in their respective countries. While in power, Kaunda hosted many of the movements fighting for independence or Black equality in other countries around the continent, standing up to white minority rule in countries such as Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.”

The development policy of the UNIP was based upon the nationalization of key economic assets principally in the mining sector which were owned by foreign capital. Zambia under President Kaunda expanded access to primary and secondary education which had been denied in the colonial era.

At the time of independence in October 1964, very few Zambians had acquired secondary education and far fewer were able to attain post-secondary training. Consequently, in 1966, Kaunda founded the University of Zambia in Lusaka. The University contained numerous faculties along with a medical school. The country became a center for regional education throughout Southern Africa.

Zambia maintained close economic and political ties with the People’s Republic of China during the era of leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong. In addition, the UNIP government developed good relations with the Soviet Union and the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia.

When threatened by the military power of the former South African Defense Forces (SADF) under the apartheid regime, Kaunda had requested to purchase sophisticated military equipment from the U.S. The request was denied. Soon after Kaunda was supplied with MIG-25 fighter aircraft from the USSR. The Humanism of the UNIP in Zambia resembled other efforts aimed at non-capitalist reconstruction in the post-colonial independence period.

Modern Ghana, founded by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in the 1950s and 1960s, adopted policies aimed at industrialization and the mass education of the population. Nkrumaism, a term given to the thoughts, ideas and organizational work of the former prime minister and president of the First Republic, represented an attempt to apply socialist theory to the concrete conditions as they existed in Africa at the time.

Other post-independence African states such as Guinea-Conakry under President Ahmed Sekou Toure, Egypt (United Arab Republic) during the era of President Gamal Abdel Nassar, Tanzania as well, while former President Julius Nyerere was in power, among others, all advanced ideological and political policies designed to achieve genuine independence guided by internationalism in alliance with the struggle for world socialism.

The Significance of Kaunda and the Legacy of the Independence Struggle

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa paid tribute to Kaunda acknowledging publicly the Zambian leader’s role in the eradication of the racist apartheid system since 1994. Kaunda spoke at the funeral of former President Nelson Mandela in December 2013 conveying the importance of the alliance between the Frontline States and the liberation movements which clinched the defeat of white minority rule in Southern Africa.

Kaunda was a co-founder in 1980 along with the late President of Mozambique, Samora Machel, of the Southern African Development Coordinating Council (SADCC), the predecessor to SADC, founded in 1992. SADC convened a summit beginning on June 23 where tribute was paid to Kaunda.

An article appearing in the state-controlled Zimbabwe Herald on the visit of President Emmerson Mnangagwa to the SADC summit being held in the Mozambican capital of Maputo emphasized:

“The summit is taking place at a time when the region is mourning the death of Zambian founding father Kenneth Kaunda who died last week at the age of 97. Flags are flying at half mast at this summit in reverence to the late Pan Africanist.”

President Kaunda was removed from office after the1991 election in Zambia. The UNIP government had been under pressure by global finance capital through the pressure exerted upon the country by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF and World Bank caused tremendous social dislocation during the early independence decades in Africa through the imposition of economic conditionalities which directly sought to remove nationalization policies, free public education and the growth in industrialization projects which sought to build economic independence from imperialism.

Kaunda eventually abandoned the one-party political system which guided the national development strategy based upon his theory of Humanism. After other political parties were allowed to contest national elections with the support of the western powers, UNIP fell from power.

Although the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) led by Frederick Chiluba won the 1991 elections saying their grouping would end corruption and inefficiencies, Chiluba and subsequent administrations over the last three decades have faced the same contradictions as UNIP under Kaunda. In fact, corruption increased within Zambia during the 1990s while the country lost its leading role in African and international political arenas.

The historical trajectory of the post-independence African states should be studied by the current generation of activists and political organizers. Any serious review of the period extending from the late 1940s through the 1990s will clearly conclude that Kaunda earned an important place within the struggle for African emancipation.

Malian Whirlwinds: AFRICOM and the Military Presidency

June 28, 2021 

Malian Whirlwinds: AFRICOM and the Military Presidency – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Photo: Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union of 1960 with Nkrumah, Toure and Keita

By Abayomi Azikiwe

In the aftermath of a second military coup within nine months in the West African state of Mali both the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) are calling for a speedy return to civilian rule.

ECOWAS and the AU suspended the coup leaders from the regional organizations while France has threatened to reduce its military presence in Mali until the political situation is stabilized while suggesting that a more “internationalized” force is needed.

Mali has been a center of attention by the United States and its former colonial rulers in France for many years. The most prevalent notion about the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and Paris’ Operation Barkhane in West Africa is that these foreign military forces are there to assist in the wars against Islamic rebels.

Yet long before the threat of armed groups in northern Mali, the U.S. was already making preparations to militarize the country. Concurrently, France has always sought to maintain a military involvement in its former colonies and other independent states for the purpose of protecting and expanding its economic interests in the region.

An attack on Operation Barkhane forces in central Mali on June 21 may give the imperialist power pause in regard to its downsizing of military troops. A car bomb explosion was reported in the Kaigourou neighborhood in the city of Gossi injuring several troops. Eyewitnesses say that there was a flurry of military helicopters racing towards the scene of the attack to evacuate wounded soldiers.

Such operations are attributed to the Islamist armed groups which are ostensibly fighting the central government in the capital of Bamako which is in the south of the vast country. Several days prior to this incident, France had reported the arrest of a rebel leader inside of Mali.

The group which the rebel leader was heading is known as the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (EIGS). This is one of several rebel organizations which have been battling the Malian government and its French military backers since 2013.

Mali is not the only state within the Sahel region which is facing similar security issues. An area which connects Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso has been a focal point for jihadist activity prompting the interventions of Operation Barkhane and AFRICOM.

These three states have resources which are important to the western industrial complex. Mali and Burkina Faso have gold and Niger is a major source for uranium. The basis for colonial intervention on the African continent beginning in the 15th century was to acquire slave labor, mineral resources, agricultural commodities, and new avenues for transnational commerce.

After the collapse of the Atlantic Slave Trade and classical colonialism during the 19th and later 20th centuries, the phenomenon of neo-colonialism came to the fore. This new form of economic and political domination can only be carried out if the African continent and other nationally oppressed regions remained under the domination of the global capitalist system.

The imperialist governments have consistently interfered in the internal affairs of the AU member-states to the extent that the national security of these nations remains elusive. Since 2012, France has admitted that 5,100 troops under their command have served in the tri-state territories of Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso along with Mauritania and Chad. Yet these countries remain sources of instability throughout the West and Central African regions.

With specific reference to the present situation in Mali and other contiguous states, the news agency France24 says:

“Dadi Ould Chouaib, also known as Abou Dardar, was arrested on June 11 in the flashpoint ‘tri-border’ region between Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, the site of frequent attacks by jihadist groups, according to the French military….  The extremists, affiliated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State militant group, have moved from the arid north to more populous central Mali since 2015 where their presence has stoked animosity and violence between ethnic groups in the area.”

Therefore, the ongoing role of Operation Barkhane and AFRICOM is not resolving the security issues in the Sahel region. Quite to the contrary, not only is the level of uncertainty escalating, the conflicts between various groupings within these states are worsening.

Malian Coup Leader Trained by the Pentagon

Of course, the situation in Mali and throughout the Sahel region in Africa illustrates the detrimental impact of imperialist militarism. Since the military coup led by Col. Assimi Goita even the Voice of America (VOA), a U.S. propaganda radio, television and print media outlet funded by the State Department, has openly admitted that this individual who has staged two coups in contravention of the protocols of the AU and ECOWAS was indeed trained by the Pentagon.

According to an article published on August 22, 2020 by the VOA:

“[T]he Pentagon acknowledged that Goita previously has participated in training with U.S. Africa Command and its special forces as part of multinational efforts to counter violent extremism in the region. But the Pentagon also condemned the mutiny, which it said runs counter to the training it has provided. ‘Colonel Goita and many other Malians have participated in Flintlock training exercises focused on countering violent extremist organizations, the rule of law in armed conflict, professionalism, and the primacy of civilian authority,’ Col. Christopher P. Karns, spokesperson for the U.S. Africa Command, said in an email to VOA. Flintlock is an annual special forces exercise organized by AFRICOM. ‘U.S. Africa Command has had a partnership and engaged with the Malian armed forces to confront violent extremism in the Sahel, a common interest and mutual concern.’”

Although the Pentagon and the U.S. government as a whole are saying they disapproved of the military usurpation of power by Col. Goita, this is not the first instance of Pentagon-trained officers in Mali seizing power from an elected administration. In 2012 a similar situation developed when lower-ranking army officers took control of the government after an escalation in attacks by Tuareg and Islamist fighters in the north of the country.

The 2012-2013 recrudescence of military coups against civilian governments was linked to the failure of the administration of President Amadou Toumani Toure to quell the Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country. Another mid-level military officer, Amadou Sanogo, led a coup against the government in March of 2012.

Sanogo as well was given instructions in Pentagon-controlled military training facilities in the U.S. where he purportedly studied counter-terrorism tactics. Therefore, the link between counter-terrorism training, military coups against civilian governments and the continuing problems of insurgencies indicate that the existing policies towards Africa by the imperialist states can only result in more underdevelopment and political stagnation.

Whither Mali and the Sahel?

These are profound lessons for the post-colonial African administrations attempting to build their state structures and economies in a world system still controlled by international finance capital. In the U.S., the newly elected administration of President Joe Biden has yet to articulate a foreign policy towards Africa which distinguishes itself from the previous regimes of Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

In fact, it was the Obama administration which engineered the imperialist war against Libya resulting in the destabilization of North and West Africa. The dislocation from Libya has been cited in the resurfacing of the regional conflict in Mali only this time it involves the presence of Islamist rebel groups.

These same Islamist groupings were utilized in Libya as a means to justify the sanctions, blanket bombings and overthrow of the former government of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Since 2011, the problems of displacement have intensified leading to the migration of tens of millions of people not only from Libya and neighboring states, notwithstanding the initiation of a war in Syria and Yemen, contributing to further instability and forced migration as refugees.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Mali under the political leadership of Modibo Keita, was a leading force in Pan-Africanism and non-capitalist development. Keita along with President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and President Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea-Conakry formed a coalition known as the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union. They pledged to integrate the economies and political structures of their countries as a first step towards continental unification.

President Modibo Keita was overthrown by the military leader Moussa Traore in November 1968. Nkrumah was removed from office at the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in February 1966. President Toure of Guinea died in April 1984 in the U.S. while receiving medical treatment and his government headed by the Democratic Party of Guinea (PDG) was removed from office by lower-ranking military officers soon after his death.

All three countries: Ghana, Mali and Guinea-Conakry, have never been able to reclaim their vanguard role within the African Revolution since these respective time periods when they fell victim to imperialist intrigue and opportunism. Consequently, the role of the military in post-colonial Africa has largely been a reactionary one. These historical trends can only be reversed when the masses of workers, farmers and youth take control of the state structures to construct socialism and African unification.

Wisconsin People’s Power Summit

June 29, 2021 

By Bryan Pfeifer

In a tremendous display of unity and solidarity, participants from across North America joined the People’s Power Summit June 11-12 in Maribel, Wisconsin.

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. We do not have time for despair. There’s no place for self pity. There’s no need to stay silent. And there is no room for fear. We speak. We write. We sing and we do language. And that is how we move forward to heal where we are in the current climate,” said Summit Cultural Arts Chair Bernadette B.J. Lark in a promotional video prior to the event.

Lark continued:

“Those words were spoken by another beautiful artist Ms. Toni Morrison. She said: “‘I know the world is bruised and bleeding and though it is important not to ignore the pain, it’s also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge even with wisdom, like art.'” So as an Artivist, I’m excited to come share what it is that we’ve been preparing. We’re so thankful that the community there in Wisconsin have opened their arms to welcome us in. And, there is no stopping us now. A better way to say it: Ain’t no stopping us now!. We are on the move. I love you all. I’m so excited I want to see you there.”

Those attending the Summit came from seven states, from over 35 towns, villages and cities and from over 15 counties in Wisconsin. Every sector of the working class, many political tendencies and numerous mass organizations were represented at the Summit. These included leaders and members of the Family Farm Defenders, the Wisconsin Farmers Union, Black Lives Matter, Veterans For Peace, unions, disability rights, women, faith-based, the unemployed, legal aid, migrant, environmental, youth/student and LGBTQ organizations. Members of three Indigenous Nations – the Menominee, the Oneida and the Chickasaw – presented. A delegation of a dozen traveled from Virginia to participate. Presenters also traveled to the Summit from Denver, Detroit, Boston, New Jersey and New York City. (A full schedule, videos, photos and more here: peoplespowersummit.org)

Completely independent politically and organizationally, the Summit was organized in about three months by the volunteer labor and other resources of poor and working people. Goals included: Consolidate progressive networks and individuals to enable more effective organizing; to develop working class infrastructure to build our people’s power in rural, semi-rural and urban areas.

Held on a farmer’s space in Maribel just south of Green Bay, the over 200 participants remarked on the accomplishment of having the Summit in a state such as Wisconsin which has become a right-wing model nationally but which has a rich progressive history of people’s struggles. From set up to take down, the Summit was infused with a progressive people’s culture, program and organization. All work before, during and after the Summit was done by volunteers including food production and serving, sound and much more. Participants of all ages, orientations and backgrounds appreciated the opportunities to develop relationships and learn about a variety of people’s struggles currently taking place. Many participants agreed that the Summit is a general model for the coming period and could take a variety of forms such as people’s or worker’s assemblies.

Summit participants agreed to convene again June 27 for an MLK Day Manitowoc organizing meeting to discuss a 2022 MLK Day rally and march in Manitowoc, WI.

The General Strike of 2021

June 28, 2021 

By David Sole  The General Strike of 2021 – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

In what can only be described as the General Strike of 2021, millions upon millions of workers across the United States are refusing to go back to work as the COVID-19 pandemic wanes in this country. Employers are bewailing the lack of applicants as “Now Hiring” signs fail to attract qualified workers in a wide variety of workplaces.

The general strike has been a serious weapon of the working class world-wide. In other countries they have been of varying lengths of time, often covering an entire nation. In the United States the general strike has a long history of being used to address outrageous conditions in one city or another.

In all previous cases the general strike has been planned and led by the labor unions often with wide community support and involving the highest levels of organization. They included widespread shutdowns of industry, business and transportations, sometimes resulting in pitched battles with police and troops as the ruling capitalist class tried to force the workers to return to work.

What is different in 2021? This general strike has emerged from the year long lockdown as most of the nations across the globe tried to stem the crisis of the COVID-19 viral spread. Now Wall Street industrialists and bankers feel it is time to renew their exploitation of labor. Workers, mostly unorganized, are not moving fast enough to satisfy the business interests.

During the pandemic many sectors of the capitalist economy came to a grinding halt. To save their tottering capitalist system the ruling class and its politicians pumped unimaginable amounts of money into the pockets of the big business and banking coffers. A much smaller amount was offered to alleviate the destitution of the unemployed and poor families so that they could continue to buy necessities and keep some wheels of commerce turning. Small businesses often got little to nothing.

One of the election promises of the 2020 Democratic campaign of Joseph Biden was to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. This really modest proposal did not materialize after Biden’s victory and inauguration. It is now 5 months since Biden took office with the Democratic Party holding a majority in both houses of Congress and there is still no prospect for a raise in the minimum wage.

So it seems, without union organization, without leadership, without means of coordination, millions of workers simply do not want to go back to work for “peanuts.” Federal supplemental unemployment benefits of $300 per week have been given in this transition period to those collecting unemployment benefits. (This is much smaller than the $600 per week extra doled out at the height of the crisis last spring and summer.) The $300 Federal weekly bonus is set to expire in September, but 26 states (25 led by Republicans) announced that they are no longer going to participate months earlier. These politicians claim workers are getting too much money and need to be driven back to work.

The mass media is full of comments blaming the workers for not wanting to work. Rarely is it suggested that businesses in need of workers should raise the wages they are offering.

Many workers also are simply unable to return to work because of the collapse of the daycare industry. In many locations schools are not yet back to face to face classes and daycare providers are nowhere near the level they were before the start of the pandemic.

This general strike is massive but spontaneous. It could be raised to a higher level of organization and consciousness if the trade union movement would forcefully articulate the needs of the entire working class, establish unemployed committees in every locality and put its resources and staffs to combat the right-wing attacks on the workers and their families.

A program for an immediate living wage, higher than $15 an hour, national health care, subsidized childcare, affordable housing and inflation protection could mobilize a real working class fight against all the ills that have been exposed to the masses in the past year and a half.

Detroit Says “Block the Boat”

IN SOLIDARITY WITH PALESTINE

June 17, 2021 

By Fighting Words Staff  Detroit Says “Block the Boat” – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

There was a demonstration on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in Romulus, Michigan, located west of Detroit and near the Metropolitan Airport.

The location of the protest was at an office of the ZIM Shipping company, which handles Israeli cargo.

This action was in solidarity with the successful efforts by a coalition led by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) in the Bay Area of California, which blocked ZIM cargo ships from docking and being unloaded at the port in Oakland. AROC, who led the successful Block the Boat campaigns, both in 2014 and currently, had called for an International Week of Action to ”Block Zim Everywhere “ and let them know that “Profiteering from Israeli Apartheid is not welcome anywhere!”

There were several organizations involved in the Detroit manifestation including the Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM), the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN), Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Yemeni Liberation Movement, Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice (MECAWI), Detroit Will Breathe (DWB), among others.

A “Block the Boat” coalition is being formed in the area to work in coordination with national and international forces. In South Africa, the Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU), an affiliate of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), also has successfully blocked ZIM Shipping from docking at the port in Durban. 

Stop Racial Profiling Across 8 Mile

June 16, 2021 

By Fighting Words Staff  Stop Racial Profiling Across 8 Mile – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

A second annual rally and march to highlight the problem of racial profiling of Black and Brown motorists, cyclists and pedestrians by police was held in Detroit along the 8 Mile Road border with the northeastern and northwestern suburbs on Sat. June 5, 2021.

The event consisting of two rallies featuring speakers and cultural presentations began at 8 Mile and Dequindre.

Later participants marched to 8 Mile and Woodward for the second rally.

Racial Profiling Across 8 Mile Committee coordinated an alliance of organizations including Moratorium NOW! Coalition, Detroit Will Breathe, Warriors on Wheels, Michigan Liberation, Fight for $15, 313 Care Collective, among others, all of which carried out the action.

The rallies were chaired by Allen Dennard of Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) and addressed by a host of activists and artists including Jae Bass, Kenya Fentress, One Single Rose, Tameka Citchen-Spruce, Rebecca Phoenix, Sarah Torres, Abayomi Azikiwe, etc.

The Racial Profiling Across 8 Mile Committee has been waging a billboard campaign since November with large and boldly designed announcements about the dangers of police misconduct.

Einstein Warned About Zionist “Fascism”

June 15, 2021

Palestinian refugees flee in the aftermath of Nakba

By Fighting Words Staff

Einstein Warned About Zionist “Fascism” – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

This is a letter written and signed by Albert Einstein and several other prominent Jews to the NY Times on December 4, 1948 about the massacre at Deir Yassin that same year. Einstein and others believed in the Jewish and Palestinian communities living peacefully together in Palestine, without an Israeli state or army. He was actually offered the presidency of Israel in 1952 but declined because of these fundamental differences.

Einstein’s support for the Zionist dream was not straightforward. The Tel Aviv newspaper Haaretz, in a 2015 article, describes Einstein’s thinking:

World Zionist Organization leaders kept minders on hand during Einstein’s trips to America and Palestine lest he say something out of turn. Right up until the founding of the State of Israel, in 1948, Einstein spoke out against the idea of a Jewish state. Einstein’s vision of a Middle Eastern nation that welcomed Jews would look more like the binational state that so many Jews today fear rather than the two-state solution so many people crave.

As Isaacson notes in his biography, Einstein feared that the influx of Jews to Palestine during the 1920s could lead to friction with Palestinian Arabs. In 1929 he told the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann that if Jews could not coexist peacefully with Arabs, “then we have learned absolutely nothing during our 2,000 years of suffering.”

Even in 1946, when the horrors of the Holocaust were still raw, Einstein’s views were unchanged. In an interview with the Forverts, Einstein warned that a “Jewish commonwealth” where a majority of the population is Arab would be “unjust and impractical.” Testifying in Washington that same year to an international committee examining the Palestine question, Einstein said, “The state idea is not in my heart.”

This letter is certainly relevant to the ongoing occupation, oppression, and horrendous attacks against the Palestinian people today that has sparked widespread Jewish opposition in particular.

Letters to the Editor

New York Times

December 4, 1948

TO THE EDITORS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES:

Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy, and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin [became Israeli Prime Minister in 1977 through 1982], leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement. The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants: 240 men, women, and children – and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans- Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin. The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model. During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

Discrepancies Seen

The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a “Leader State” is the goal.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.

ISIDORE ABRAMOWITZ

HANNAH ARENDT

ABRAHAM BRICK

RABBI JESSURUN CARDOZO

ALBERT EINSTEIN

HERMAN EISEN, M.D.

HAYIM FINEMAN

M. GALLEN, M.D.

H.H. HARRIS

ZELIG S. HARRIS

SIDNEY HOOK

FRED KARUSH

BRURIA KAUFMAN

IRMA L. LINDHEIM

NACHMAN MAISEL

SEYMOUR MELMAN

MYER D. MENDELSON

M.D., HARRY M. OSLINSKY

SAMUEL PITLICK

FRITZ ROHRLICH

LOUIS P. ROCKER

RUTH SAGIS

ITZHAK SANKOWSKY

I.J. SHOENBERG

SAMUEL SHUMAN

M SINGER

IRMA WOLFE

STEFAN WOLF.

New York, Dec. 2, 1948

Minneapolis Erupts Again

ANOTHER AFRICAN AMERICAN IS KILLED BY A FEDERAL TASK FORCE

June 13, 2021

Minneapolis Erupts Again – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

Minneapolis demonstration calling for the removal of the head of the U.S. Marshal Service, June 8, 2021 Minneapolis demonstration calling for the removal of the head of the U.S. Marshal Service, June 8, 2021. | Photo: Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Demonstrations have taken place in Minneapolis since June 3 when news quickly spread throughout the city saying yet another Black man was gunned down by law-enforcement.

On June 3-4 numerous businesses were damaged, and property taken, when crowds gathered during a police examination of the area where the shooting occurred. Nine people were arrested in the immediate hours after the killing.

Tensions had already escalated earlier on June 3 when the city removed a barrier erected around what has become known as “George Floyd Square”, marking where the horrendous police execution took place on May 25 of 2020. Residents in the area quickly set up other barriers preventing normal traffic at the thoroughfare around 38th and Chicago.

Initial reports in the corporate media from the Uptown section of the municipality indicated that the victim wanted on a murder warrant was shot to death by County sheriff deputies. Several hours after, however, it was revealed that the man was not wanted for murder and was killed by a multi-jurisdictional squad operating within a fugitive task force attempting to serve a warrant. News reports were later corrected to indicate that the victim was not wanted for murder.

The Marshals claim that the victim, identified as Winston Boogie Smith, Jr., 32, a father of three, was being arrested on a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Even the local Minneapolis StarTribune was forced to print a correction in regard to the circumstances surrounding the killing of Smith.

Witnesses in the vicinity said that they heard several gunshots in connection with the incident which occurred in a parking structure. The deputies involved in Smith’s death have been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation by the federal agencies.

Federal law-enforcement agents claim that Smith was sitting in a parked car and purportedly failed to comply with commands by the officers. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under which the agents are assigned have said that Smith had produced a weapon prompting a fatal response.

Emergency medical personnel summoned to the incident later pronounced Smith dead at the scene. A spokesperson for the U.S. Marshals was quoted in the Star Tribune saying that the warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued in the state of Minnesota.

There was a woman in the vehicle with Smith who was injured by flying glass. No information is available about the number of police agencies involved in the task force. Media reports say two officers fired their weapons at the vehicle occupied by Smith and the unidentified woman.

A friend of Smith, Shelly Hopkins, questioned the official narrative being promoted by the Marshals. The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear while the federal law-enforcement agencies attempt to justify the death of Smith.

Hopkins was quoted by the Associated Press as saying:

“I wasn’t there. I don’t know exactly what happened. But I know him. And he didn’t deserve that… He had the best heart out of anybody I’ve ever met in my life.”

Another close friend of Smith, Waylon Hughes, told the Associated Press as well that she was not aware that the victim carried a firearm. Her assessment of Smith was that he cared very much about his children and friends.

The victim’s brother, Kidale Smith, questioned the law-enforcement version of events which resulted in Winston’s shooting death. Smith emphasized:

“This man had a family, and he’s just like anybody else. (People) always try to pin something on a man and try to identify him as a criminal, especially if he’s Black. You’ve got seven unmarked cars and you shoot a man in his car. You don’t even give him a chance to get out… You’re the U.S. Marshals. You’re supposed to be highly trained men, and you can’t handle a simple situation?”

Smith’s family is demanding transparency in the investigation. Reports indicate that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and the U.S. Marshals Service does not allow its agents and officers from other law-enforcement units assigned to its task forces to wear body cams.

Activists have been protesting everyday since the killing of Smith. At least two different organizations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and Black Lives Matter in Minneapolis, are calling for the removal of the head of the U.S. Marshals Service in the state of Minnesota. Demonstrations are being held outside the home of Ramona Dohman, the director of the Marshals Service.

According to the Minnesota CAIR’s executive director Jaylani Hussein:

“The system in this state is fundamentally flawed, and the federal oversight is also fundamentally flawed. We need transparency and accountability.” 

Black Lives Matter Minnesota co-founder Monique Cullars-Doty described the law-enforcement killing of Smith as “reckless.”  She accused all agencies involved of being “completely reckless” and acting with “an intentional lack of transparency and an intentional lack of accountability.”

Since the police killing of Smith, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General in the region has ordered the usage of body cams for federal agents. Whether this will be implemented remains to be seen.

Black Man Killed by Hawaiian Police

Meanwhile earlier during the month of April in the U.S.-occupied state of Hawaii, another man was killed by the Honolulu police. Lindani Myeni, 29, was a South African immigrant married to a Caucasian woman whose family has lived in Hawaii for three generations.

Myeni and his wife, Lindsay, had moved to Hawaii from Denver with their two children in the hopes that the racism they experienced in Colorado would not be present in the Pacific islands state. The circumstances under which he was killed by police remain obscured due to the lack of information from the state authorities and the U.S. government.

Lindsay Myeni said that apparently Lindani had entered a home in Honolulu after taking off his shoes. He was wearing a traditional Zulu head covering representing his ethnicity from South Africa. His shooting death occurred after he had exited the home.

The South African government has repeatedly demanded information on the incident from local authorities and the U.S. State Department. South African diplomatic personnel in the U.S. have persistently sought an explanation for the killing of Myeni.

South African Minister for International Relations, Naledi Pandor, issued a statement on the position of the African National Congress (ANC) led government in regard to the police killing of one of its citizens. Pandor emphasized on behalf of her ministry that:

“The department also conveyed to the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria the concerns of the government about the lack of a comprehensive report on the circumstances that led to the death of Mr. Myeni and the utterances by the Mayor of Honolulu that the police had acted correctly. A request was made that the State Department should intervene to obtain a report as soon as possible and that the personal belongings of Mr. Myeni should be returned to the family. A follow-up request was later made to the U.S. Embassy for Mr. Myeni’s belongings, including his cellphone, to be returned to his family without further delay. As of 25 May 2021, the Consul-General in Los Angeles reported that the requested police report was still outstanding. The lawyers of Mrs. Myeni undertook to inform the Consul-General once there are new developments on the matter.”

Lindsay Myeni took her husband home for burial in Richards Bay located in KwaZulu-Natal Province and is currently living with her in-laws in South Africa. She has applied for permanent residency in South Africa and does not want to return to the U.S. in the immediate future.

Failure of the U.S. Congress to Pass the George Floyd Policing Act

These two incidents of police killings of men of African descent, one from the U.S. and another from the continent, illustrate the continuing crisis in police-community relations. A George Floyd Policing Act designed to institute reforms on a national level has still not been passed by the Senate.

The family of George Floyd visited the White House on May 25, the one-year anniversary of the brutal police execution, to push for the immediate adoption of the bill. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives along party lines in March due to a Democratic majority. It has yet to be voted on in the Senate which is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Nonetheless, the police abuse, brutality and killings continue despite the mass demonstrations and rebellions which have taken place over the last year since the killing of Floyd. What is required is the total dismantling of the existing system of law-enforcement and criminal justice which has its origins in the forced removals of Indigenous people and the enslavement and national oppression of Africans and other communities of color in the U.S.

Africa Day 2021

THE NEED FOR A CONTINENTAL RESPONSE TO THE GLOBAL CRISIS

June 13, 2021

Africa Day 2021 – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

African migrants off the coast of the continent in the Mediterranean African migrants off the coast of the continent in the Mediterranean. | Photo: AP

By Abayomi Azikiwe

It has been 58 years since the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner to today’s African Union (AU) which was inaugurated in 2002.

Since 1963, Africa has undergone tremendous social change and political re-awakenings where in 2021 there are 55 member-states within the AU with only one, the Western Sahara, lacking national independence.

Africa Day for this year was called under the theme “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want.” The resurrection and enhancement of the African Personality is essential in the efforts to realize a better standard of living based upon the interests of the majority of workers, farmers, women and youth within the AU region.

Yet the AU region is by no means free of the clutches of imperialism. The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities of the 1.3 billion people on a continent which remains dependent upon former colonial and present neo-colonial powers that drain the economic resources found in such abundance.

Similar to the situations in the Caribbean, Central America, South America and large areas of the Asia-Pacific geo-political regions, the AU member-states along with Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), the provisional government of the Western Sahara which is recognized also by the United Nations, continue to struggle for genuine liberation and sovereignty. The Western Sahara was conceded to the Kingdom of Morocco in 1975 after the departure of colonial Spain.

In an article written about the stance of the SADR and its politico-military wing, the Polisario Front, in relationship to Africa liberation, it says:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) affirmed today that the ‘declaration of the leaders of independent African countries at the beginning of the sixties of the last century on the constitution of a continental organization has the objective of promoting and supporting the peoples of the continent who fight against colonialism and Apartheid ‘. In a statement made public on the occasion of the celebration of Africa Day, the Saharawi MF highlighted that ‘today we celebrate, like the other African peoples, the day on which Africa commemorates the 58th Anniversary of the founding of the Organization for African Unity, on May 25, 1963. The founding of this continental organization represented a strong reason that contributed to accelerating the independence processes in African countries and highlighted its unique character that framed its objectives and priorities in the fight for human rights, self-determination and independence’”.

Morocco and Spain are now involved in a diplomatic dispute due to the medical treatment of Polisario Front leader and President of the SADR, Brahim Ghali, for Covid-19 in a Spanish hospital. Morocco has expressed its opposition through official diplomatic channels with Spain.

In response to the anger of Rabat, the government has allowed the outmigration of thousands of people seeking entry into the Spanish controlled territories off the coast of Morocco. Most of the migrants, who come from Africa and West Asia, have been returned to Morocco soon after arriving in Spanish controlled territory.

The problem of migration is not exclusively centered in Morocco. Other North African states such as Libya and Tunisia have the same difficulties of being largely forced to detain migrants fleeing from the horrendous conditions which have their origins in imperialist militarism.

Large scale migration has been utilized by right-wing politicians in Europe to form parties which call for a total ban on those in need of asylum. This same atmosphere prevails as well in the U.S. when the political landscape became even more polarized with the advent of the previous administration of President Donald Trump and the failure of the current presidency of Joe Biden to take bold initiatives aimed at lessening racial oppression.

Imperialism and Militarism in 21st Century Africa

The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was operationalized in February 2008 with its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. During 2007 and 2008, no African government was willing to accept offers by the then President George W. Bush to host the primary base of AFRICOM.

However, with the advent of Bush’s successor, President Barack Obama, AFRICOM was strengthened and enhanced. There is currently an operational base of AFRICOM in the strategically located Horn of Africa state of Djibouti which houses over 3,000 Pentagon troops.

An investigative report done by the South African-based Mail & Guardian in 2020 stated that:

“Although U.S. commandos operate on the African continent with the agreement of host governments, ordinary Africans are rarely told about the full extent of U.S. activities — nor offered a say in how and why Americans operate in their countries. Even basic information, like the sweep and scope of deployments by elite U.S. troops and clandestine combat by American commandos on the continent, is mostly unreported across Africa…. In 2019, U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in 22 African countries: Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte D’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, Tanzania and Tunisia.

This accounts for a significant proportion of U.S. Special Operations forces’ global activity: more than 14% of US commandos deployed overseas in 2019 were sent to Africa, the largest percentage of any region in the world except for the greater Middle East.”

Despite the interventions of AFRICOM for more than a decade, the security situation in many African states is far worse than in 2008. In Nigeria, an insurgency which began in 2009 in the northeast of Africa’s most populous state has not been defeated. The current President Muhammadu Buhari, a former military general with ties to the U.S. Pentagon, has asked for the construction of an AFRICOM base in Nigeria.

Although Buhari declared while running for the presidency in 2015 that he would eliminate the threat of Boko Haram within six months, there are today other criminal groupings which have emerged causing instability through theft, murder, kidnappings for ransom and recruitment. During April, Buhari said he had requested from the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a virtual meeting that:

“I asked the U.S. to consider re-locating the AFRICOM HQ from Germany to Africa — near the Theatre of Operation; against the backdrop of growing security challenges in West & Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region & the Sahel,” Buhari said in a Twitter post after the meeting.”

Such a controversial request by a former military general now heading a government with, in excess, of 200 million residents, illustrates the degree to which neo-colonialism has penetrated the African continent. Nigeria due to police misconduct faced a national rebellion late last year where scores were killed and billions in property damages occurred. There was sharp criticism levelled against Buhari inside of Nigeria while many military experts in the U.S. believe that the relocation of AFRICOM headquarters to West Africa would be highly unlikely. Nonetheless, the desperation of U.S. imperialism in its competition with China and other rivals, cannot be ignored in its efforts to remain dominant militarily in Africa and internationally.

African Unification and Socialism Provides the Only Real Alternative to Neo-Colonialism

The present role of the national military structures in Africa has proved incapable of guaranteeing the material interests of the majority of working people, farmers, youth and women. These mass elements within African societies must be empowered before genuine development can be realized.

Development and regional security are inextricably linked. In Chad, Mali, Libya and other states, the military forces have been trained by the Pentagon, France, Great Britain and other NATO countries. Until there is a categorical break with these imperialist governments and their military institutions, genuine independence and sovereignty will remain elusive.

A continental-wide military high command is called for within the charter of the AU. However, the mandate for taking responsibility for the internal security of Africa is in essence a political question. This necessity will be achieved by a revolutionary movement that is region-wide and committed to the abolition of capitalism and imperialism along with the construction of socialism.

Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the architect of the modern state in Africa, spoke and wrote extensively against foreign economic and military intervention on the continent. One analyst of African affairs and the role of AFRICOM said of the Nkrumah legacy:

“Nkrumah addresses foreign military intervention directly and warns that ‘military aid … marks the last stage of neo-colonialism and its effect is self-destructive.’ Moreover, he argued that African unity would not be possible until the ‘defeat of neo-colonialism,’ and argued for an African High Command. While Nkrumah envisioned the African High Command to be led by Africans and directly oppose foreign meddling, at its core AFRICOM is American-devised and managed, leading us to believe that Nkrumah would in fact be vehemently opposed to the establishment of an AFRICOM headquarters in Accra, or anywhere on the continent.”

These ideas are just as relevant if not more so in the 21st century as when Nkrumah articulated them during the period from the conclusion of World War II up until the time of his death in 1972. The AU member-states are at a critical juncture and the decisions made in the current period will determine the outcome of the struggle for the control of Africa, its people and resources.

Block the Boat Campaign is Underway Once Again!

STOP THE APARTHEID-PROFITEERING ZIM SHIPPING LINE FROM DOCKING AT YOUR PORTS #BDS

June 13, 2021 fwstaff  Block the Boat Campaign is Underway Once Again! – Fighting Words (fighting-words.net)

#BlocktheBoat #BDS #ShutdownAparth. | Photo:AROC

By Arab Resource and Organizing Center

Block the Boat – Longest Blockade of Israeli ZIM Ship in History

In May 2021, the world witnessed the resilience, strength, and resistance of Palestinians in the face of a brutal onslaught of forced displacement, lethal bombings, raids, and militarized policing at the hands of the apartheid state of Israel. In an inspiring, and in many ways unprecedented popular unity, Palestinians everywhere, from Gaza, the West Bank, historic 1948 Palestine, and the diaspora, observed a general strike and took to the streets in their millions to rise up, demanding liberation, return of refugees, justice, and an end to Israel’s ongoing regime of apartheid and settler-colonialism.

In response to Israel’s ongoing atrocities, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and a large coalition of all major Palestinian workers unions and professional associations have called on their fellow trade unions and workers worldwide to boycott Israel and businesses that are complicit with its apartheid regime. They specifically urge “refusing to handle Israeli goods” and “supporting [union] members refusing to build Israeli weapons.” This call for solidarity is a renewed call from 2014, the last time that Israel indiscriminately bombed the Gaza Strip, and builds on dockworkers’ solidarity actions in South Africa and California in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

During Israel’s massacre in Gaza in 2008-09, the BDS movement called on dockworkers to refuse to load and offload Israeli ships. In response, in 2009, the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) in Durban was the first in the world to refuse to offload an Israeli ship.

Earlier this month, and in response to the above appeal from Palestinian trade unions, South African trade unions, in alliance with the South African BDS Coalition, again refused handling cargo from an Israeli ship in Durban. Dockworkers in Italy have also successfully blocked a recent shipment of munitions and armaments destined for Israel. After calling a strike for June 3 and announcing their refusal to load the containers, the shipowner decided to forgo the cargo. Dockworkers in several Italian ports have mobilized against arms shipments to Israel.

In 2014, the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) took up the call from Palestinian workers in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine and led a massively successful BDS effort, with community supporters and workers, launching the Block the Boat Coalition. The initiative aimed at stopping the Israeli ZIM company – Israel’s largest and oldest cargo shipping company – from docking and unloading its goods at the Port of Oakland, California, an action that inspired dockworkers elsewhere in the U.S. to follow suit. In line with their legacy of standing with people’s struggles everywhere, Oakland port workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 respected AROC’s picket and refused to handle Israeli cargo in solidarity. Following this major and historic defeat, the Israeli ZIM ships have never returned to Oakland since.

Today, in the midst of a widespread Palestinian upheaval against Israel’s latest brutal assault, AROC has learned that ZIM-operated ships are planning to return to California’s San Francisco Bay Area for the first time since they were blocked in 2014. AROC is tracking the ZIM shipping line, monitoring its schedules, and preparing to mobilize whenever it docks.

The #BlockTheBoat campaign is underway again! We did it once and we can do it again. AROC is calling on communities in the San Francisco Bay Area to participate in the picket as soon as we learn that ZIM is about to dock at the Port of Oakland. We call on our partners across the world to hold solidarity actions in your areas by building relationships with your local unions, raising awareness about Block the Boat, and amplifying the Palestinian workers’ call for BDS and meaningful worker solidarity.

Let’s send the message that Israel’s regime of settler-colonialism and apartheid and ZIM’s apartheid-profiteering are not welcome in our ports, as was done against apartheid South African ships. We will send a message to the world that workers support the BDS movement for freedom, justice and equality.

The ZIM-operated ship may attempt to dock in Oakland as soon as  May 27, 2021.

To stay up to date on solidarity actions, text your name to 181BLOCKZIM,  follow @AROCBayArea on Twitter or Instagram, and visit blocktheboat.org.

Please join AROC and the BDS National Committee in Palestine in sharing this call to action widely across your communities and networks. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Words to Intellectuals, 60 Years Later

Needed today are new readings of Fidel’s “Words,” and awareness of the context in which they were presented, including the various cultural tendencies active in this arena after the triumph of the Revolution

Author: Elier Ramírez Cañedo | internet@granma.cu

June 29, 2021 09:06:49

The passage of time requires new readings of Fidel’s “Words to Intellectuals.” More than a few members of younger generations are not familiar with this memorable speech by the leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, delivered on June 30, 1961 at the National Library, or the circumstances in which it was presented, after many hours of conversation between the country's leadership and representatives of Cuba’s artistic and intellectual vanguard, on the 16th and the 23rd. "Within the revolution everything, against the revolution nothing," is the phrase that is recalled, in many cases, as the only reference to the historic comment.

Unfortunately, his other remarks have not been published, in particular those he made on the 16th and 23rd, which provide insight into the context in which Fidel presented his “Words…” which were not a speech properly speaking, but a commentary constructed from the notes he made as he patiently listened to the rest of the participants, making only brief inquiries and occasionally interupting. Many eyewitnesses, however, left to posterity their memories of the meeting and the audio of Fidel's words is also preserved, allowing us to appreciate the climate of the event and the tone he used.

The meeting was triggered by the prohibition of screenings of the documentary PM (Past Meridian). Although the short 14-minute film had been broadcast on Cuban television, on a Monday early in the month of May, its presentation in the country's movie theaters was canceled after Alfredo Guevara, as president of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (Icaic), informed Edith Garcia Buchaca, secretary of the National Council of Culture, that Icaic's Commission for the Study and Classification of Films was opposed to its massive screening.

The film, by Orlando Jimenez and Sabá Cabrera Infante, featured the extravagant nightly entertainment enjoyed by a portion of the population in Havana’s bars and nightclubs, a seemingly inconsequential topic in today's light, but that in the context of 1961, when the country was mobilized and facing constant imperialist attacks, could lend itself to other readings, as in fact it did. The documentary, although it did not fail to garner praise and positive reviews from critics, was questioned as extemporaneous and harmful to the interests of the Cuban people and its Revolution.

In view of the disagreements that arose with the censoring of the film, a meeting was called with a group of artists and writers on May 31 at the Casa de las Americas, but after a heated discussion, no definitive conclusions were reached. It was proposed that the film be analyzed by mass organizations and that the population would have the last word, but the consultation did not take place. On June 2, the newspaper Hoy published the decision made by Icaic’s Commission for the Study and Classification of Films, making the atmosphere even more tense. Guillermo Cabrera Infante wrote a letter of protest to Nicolás Guillén, president of the Association of Writers and Artists. It then became necessary to postpone the Congress of Writers and Artists that was being prepared, and Prime Minister Fidel Castro asked the National Council of Culture to convene a broad meeting with artists and intellectuals in which all tendencies would be present.

Beyond censorship of the documentary PM, which served as a catalyst, more fundamental issues were circulating within the environment, which urgently needed to be addressed by the leadership of the Revolution - especially the issue of forging unity within the Cuban artistic and intellectual movement and incorporating this process within the dialogue that was already underway between other sectors of society and the forces that had led the struggle against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. This would be one of the most immediate accomplishments of the meetings at the National Library: The successful first Congress of Writers and Artists which led to the founding of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (Uneac), with national poet Nicolás Guillén as its first president, in August of the same year.

A few months later, the cultural supplements Lunes and Hoy Domingo, in the newpaper Revolución, were dropped, opening the way for the journal Unión and the magazine La Gaceta de Cuba, both published by Uneac.

Fidel was fully aware that an internal struggle was sharpening for control of the country’s cultural apparatus, between tendencies with different and even conflicting positions on the relationship between politics and culture, thus posing the immediate challenge of intervening to settle the disagreements without favoring one group over another, in order to clearly define a position, not in relation to what occurred around the documentary, but rather the path the Revolution should take in terms of cultural policy.

The mapping of tendencies and groups with different perspectives and visions of the relationship between state power and culture is a very complex task, but, at the risk of oversimplifying, they can be grouped into two large blocs. One group was centered around Revolución’s cultural supplement and Carlos Franqui - who had been expelled from the Popular Socialist Party (PSP), originally the Communist Party of Cuba, before joining the July 26th Movement, and, in addition to several television stations, directed the newspaper Revolución, the official voice of the July 26th Movement, which beginning in March of 1959, published Lunes, edited by Guillermo Cabrera Infante.

This group defended a militant commitment to the Revolution on the part of artists, but also political non-interference in cultural affairs and freedom without class-based or ideological formulations. They maintained a critical position toward figures they considered decadent representatives of the cultural past and the old generation, which led them to commit sectarian errors, publishing unnecessary attacks on artists and intellectuals essential to the national culture, including: José Lezama Lima, Cintio Vitier, Samuel Feijóo, Alejo Carpentier and Alicia Alonso, which far from contributing to the creation of an intergenerational bloc in support of the revolutionary process, led to the development of an unproductive generation gap and undermined unity on the cultural front.

Members of this group also published more than a few sharp criticisms of the PSP in the supplement, emphasizing its past mistakes, contrary to the goal of the Revolution’s leadership to overcome previous errors and unite the principal political forces that had fought against the Batista dictatorship, with a view toward the future.

They frequently insisted on incorporating more of the international legacy into Cuban culture, as well as experimentation and the incessant search for new paths in art. They spoke out against any hint of Stalinism, but some used this position to mask their deep anti-communism. The PM incident served as a pretext for some members of the group to incite unfounded fears that the excesses of the USSR against creators would be repeated in Cuba. Nonetheless, Revolución Lunes, as a printed publication, left an important historical legacy, recording the pulse of national and international cultural events of the time and conducted valuable informative work.

Another group, generally speaking, held a Marxist-Leninist position emphasizing political commitment, although subtle but significant differences existed among members regarding the relationship between art and politics. Included in this group were outstanding figures like Alfredo Guevara, Edith García Buchaca and Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, from the Hoy newspaper and its Sunday cultural magazine: Hoy Domingo. Within this group, and especially the editors of Hoy, the recovery and re-evaluation of Cuba’s cultural past was considered a strength in the battle against U.S. imperialism, but some of its members clearly assumed or approached the tenets of "socialist realism" to promote these objectives. Of course, at the level of individuals, ideological positions were more varied.

Fidel is the Compass

On June 30, 1961, the last day of a series of meetings with Cuban artists and intellectuals, Fidel delivered a speech that would become a cornerstone of revolutionary cultural policy

Author: Pedro de la Hoz | pedro@granma.cu

June 25, 2021 14:06:22

Photo: Juvenal Balán

José Martí National Library Assembly Hall, June 16, 1961. A large group of writers and artists responded to a call from the leadership of the revolutionary government to present their opinions, air concerns, clarify questions, resolve problems and address issues related to literary artistic creation and its promotion.

This was the first of three meetings; the last would take place in the venue itself on June 30, a day when Fidel, summing up the series of conversations, would deliver a speech which, from that moment on, would be known as “Words to the intellectuals,” a cornerstone of revolutionary cultural policy.

Opening the gathering, Osvaldo Dorticós, then President of the Republic, shared a conviction and a desire: the historical responsibility of the protagonists of intellectual life to "put their talents, their artistic abilities and their sensitivity at the service of the people and the Revolution," and the need for absolutely open, cordial exchanges: "Rather than directing, we come here to be directed by you, to converse in order to reach conclusions."

Since then, permanent and fruitful dialogue between the political and intellectual vanguards has been essential in the development, implementation and successive updating of cultural policy. Even when situations and processes needed to be rectified and redirected, dialogue has been a dynamic and decisive factor.

Sixty years later, that seminal experience is strengthened and multiplied, providing principles of action for cultural institutions, creators' organizations (Uneac and the AHS) and the current political and governmental leadership.

For both vanguards, Fidel is the compass. As stated by First Secretary of the Party Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, at the closing of the 8th Party Congress: "In the ideological battle we must turn to Fidel, who taught us not only that culture is the first thing to be saved, but that, to save it, we must be in constant interaction with our intellectuals and artists." 

We Are Alive

For the twenty-ninth time, the UN condemns the U.S. blockade of Cuba, with 184 nations supporting the resolution calling for an end to the criminal policy, two against and three abstaining

Author: Pedro de la Hoz | pedro@granma.cu

June 24, 2021 10:06:09

Photo: Tomada de Facebook

They threw us to our death, but we are alive. Díaz-Canel has said it and we know it, the many, many, millions of us, who day after day overcome the enormous difficulties that stand between what is possible and what is real, in a besieged, harassed, attacked country.

They threw us to our death, denying us access to a total of 32 pieces of equipment and supplies needed for the production of our COVID-19 candidate vaccines and the execution of different stages in the clinical trials process, including equipment for the purification of the candidates, attachments for production machinery, filtration tanks and capsules, potassium chloride solution, thimerosal, packaging and reagents.

As if this were not enough, they work hard to get us to kill ourselves, to leave us discouraged, irritated, and desperate. Looking to provoke an explosion.

As none of this has happened, the trending lie is that we are afraid to rebel. A hysterical youtuber and (coincidentally?) an academic, who I cannot respect or take seriously, based on hasty and incomplete readings, attempts to sell the idea that here we live in an Orwellian atmosphere, in an oppressive country.

But we are alive. With candidate vaccines that have proven to be effective, benefiting Cubans, without distinction of any kind. Alive and very well accompanied in the battle against the blockade.

Cuba stands tall, alive, unafraid and outspoken, from one end of the island to the other. Defending our dignity, what we are and what we will never renounce being.

IN CONTEXT

Upon learning of the vote at the United Nations, Communist Party of Cuba First Secretary and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, tweeted: This is how the world reacts to Cuba’s demand. It's now been 28 years of worldwide rejection of the blockade. The blockaders have run out of arguments. Those in solidarity strengthen support.

By consensus, the world community approved the Cuban resolution entitled “The necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

The accumulated damages caused to our country by the blockade, over almost six decades, have reached 147,853,300,000 dollars, at current prices, and taking into account the depreciation of the dollar as compared to gold on the international market, quantifiable damages are equivalent to more than 1,377,998,000,000 dollars.

Vilma Chose to Live on the Side of Duty

On the 14th anniversary of Vilma Espin’s death, Cubans recall her as someone in love with life, who long after abandoning this world, continues at our side

Author: Madeleine Sautié Rodríguez | informacion@granmai.cu

June 18, 2021 10:06:23

Death is a definitive word, but there are beings for whom it is hardly fitting, since dying means that something has ended. Vilma is among those who, in love with life, would give it up for her people, to live on in glory. Even after abandoning this world 14 years ago, she continues at our side.

We could say a great deal about what she did, about the girl from Santiago - the second Cuban woman to graduate in Chemical Engineering – who chose a path that took her away from a comfortable existence, to Revolution.

Among the many images that come to mind is that of the young student conspiring to put an end to a corrupt, subservient regime, who began writing pamphlets and went on to become a member of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee and Political Bureau and president of the Federation of Cuban Women, the FMC, a huge organization fighting for women´s rights and dignity.

Lucid and confident, her words shone just as brightly alongside Frank País, in the early days of the July 26th Movement, as they did in every struggle she undertook. She was indispensable in the underground; in the Sierra Maestra; in the educational mission she assumed within the Revolution, changing mentalities and challenging prejudices; on the international stage, where she defended Cuba’s revolutionary work; whenever she spoke, with the warmth of her spirit, on any subject.

She chose to live on the side of duty; overcoming fear in the face of horror, never trembling; participating in events that others would have avoided; building the first childcare centers with other FMC members; supported by the family she founded, to serve as an example of a woman in Revolution, speaking to us every time we recall all that we have achieved.

Vilma: The feminine force shaped by your teachings, which today defends Cuba in Revolution and our people’s irrevocable decision never to return to the past you fought, are more than enough evidence to confirm that your death is a lie.

Over 9,000 Patients Have Received Regenerative Medicine Treatment in Villa Clara

The Regenerative Medicine Services Center in this central province has improved patients’ quality of life for over ten years and recently treated lung lesions in those recovering from COVID-19

Author: Ángel Freddy Pérez Cabrera | freddy@granma.cu

June 18, 2021 10:06:25

Members of the stem cell team, pictured with patient Yaquelín Collado, a nurse they treated during her recovery from a severe case of COVID-19. Photo: Freddy Pérez Cabrera

SANTA CLARA.— The Regenerative Medicine Services Center in the central province of Villa Clara has treated over 9,300 individuals since its creation ten years ago. Mainly serving those living in the region, they have significantly improved quality of life with the use of innovative techniques.

“The use of regenerative medicine seeks to repair, replace and regenerate cells, tissues and organs with the aim of restoring or recovering the regular functioning of the body,” explains Dr. Manuel Antonio Arce González, researcher at the Unit of Biomedical Research in Villa Clara and head of the Regenerative Medicine Services in the territory. He also said that, given the qualities of this medicine, it is recently used to treat lung lesions in patients who recovered from COVID-19.

Related to this therapy, it is included the use of autologous stem cells in the treatment of conditions such as osteoarthrosis of the knee and the hip and pseudo arthrosis. People who suffer from herniated intervertebral discs, ischemic heart disease, Peyronie’s disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, have required these services as well.

Another novelty of this service is the use, for the first time in Cuba, of a fibrin biomaterial rich in platelets and leukocytes, a highly useful product in the repair of damaged tissues, whose one of its qualities is its possibility to adapt to any part of the organism, its regenerative action and its capacity to speed up the recovery of damaged tissues.

Researchers at the Unit of Biomedical Research, from the University of Villa Clara, work in new variants of tissue regeneration, such as the liquid forms, which have shown very promising results in the treatment of functional dysphonia in the field of otorhinolaryngology, something new in Cuba and the world.