by Lil Joe
In the 1963 "Message to Grassroots" Speech at a Detroit Church, The Shrine of the Black Madonna, Malcolm X presented his concept of 'revolution' and of 'Black revolution', which he contrasted to civil rights, civil goals and political methods of civil disobedience and alliance with organized labor. This speech, and Malcolm X's delivery of it against the civil rights movement - its objectives and methods of achieving them through the politics of civil disobedience has become the defining moment of and for what has come to be the ideology and advocates of black nationalism qua 'revolutionary nationalism'.
The way in which Malcolm X achieved this was by demagogy of analogy, fallacies. The fallacy is based upon the false premise that slavery is a biological rather than an economic category, there were black slaves in Muslim Africa -Mali, Songhai - but also 'white' slaves in Greece and Rome, as well as native American slaves in the Aztec, Tolteca, and Inca empires, Asian slaves in Mesopotamia, Assyria, Persia, India, China, Japan &c. Slaves as a class has always been integrated!
In America the indentured servants originally were an integrated class, which, in consequence of the world-market engendered capitalist terms of trade and comparative advantage, the triangular trade favored the African slave trade thus Africans displaced all others to become this economic class.
"The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the aboriginal population, the beginning of the conquest and looting of the East Indies, the turning of Africa into a warren for the commercial hunting of black-skins, signalised the rosy dawn of the era of capitalist production.
"With the development of capitalist production during the manufacturing period, the public opinion of Europe had lost the last remnant of shame and conscience. The nations bragged cynically of every infamy that served them as a means to capitalistic accumulation. Read, e.g., the naive Annals of Commerce of the worthy A. Anderson. Here it is trumpeted forth as a triumph of English statecraft that at the Peace of Utrecht, England extorted from the Spaniards by the Asiento Treaty the privilege of being allowed to ply the negro-trade, until then only carried on between Africa and the English West Indies, between Africa and Spanish America as well. England thereby acquired the right of supplying Spanish America until 1743 with 4,800 negroes yearly. This threw, at the same time, an official cloak over British smuggling. Liverpool waxed fat on the slave-trade. This was its method of primitive accumulation. And, even to the present day, Liverpool "respectability" is the Pindar of the slave-trade which - compare the work of Aikin  already quoted - "has coincided with that spirit of bold adventure which has characterised the trade of Liverpool and rapidly carried it to its present state of prosperity; has occasioned vast employment for shipping and sailors, and greatly augmented the demand for the manufactures of the country" (p. 339). Liverpool employed in the slave-trade, in 1730, 15 ships; in 1751, 53; in 1760, 74; in 1770, 96; and in 1792, 132.
"Whilst the cotton industry introduced child-slavery in England, it gave in the United States a stimulus to the transformation of the earlier, more or less patriarchal slavery, into a system of commercial exploitation. In fact, the veiled slavery of the wage-workers in Europe needed, for its pedestal, slavery pure and simple in the new world.
"Tantae molis erat, to establish the "eternal laws of Nature" of the capitalist mode of production, to complete the process of separation between labourers and conditions of labour, to transform, at one pole, the social means of production and subsistence into capital, at the opposite pole, the mass of the population into wage-labourers, into "free labouring poor," that artificial product of modern society. If money, According to Augier, "comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek," capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt.
Malcolm X was either ignorant of, or if knowledgeable about this actual empirical history deliberately ignored this empirical historical process, which resulted in African slavery in the American South, to thereby instead white wash capitalism by presenting African chattel slaves in America as a racial institution of 'white supremacy'. The Nation of Islam and its leaders, Malcolm X included, never discoursed on capitalist commodity production by chattel slavery in context of the world-market, but the supposed psychology of black slaves and white masters.
Moreover, the Nation of Islam was in no way anti-capitalist, their objective was to have a black petty bourgeoisie displace a Jewish or white petty bourgeois monopoly in the black ghettos, not to have workers unite to expropriate the productive forces and consequently destroy capitalism. The presentation of capitalism as black capitalism=black nationalism was to supplant economic class classification by racial classification, presenting black capitalists as 'black revolutionaries': 'buy black'!
Proletarians selling their labor power to capitalists today are presented by Malcolm X in his Message to the Grassroots speech as the same class as chattel slaves, ignoring the difference that chattel slave labor was directly appropriated by the chattel slave's owners. Malcolm X had to obliterate the economics of class distinctive relations of production in order to deceptively present it as race relations:
To understand this, you have to go back to what [the] young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro - back during slavery. There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes - they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good 'cause they ate his food - what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro.
If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call him today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.
This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa.
On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro - those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call 'em "chitt'lin'" nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That's what you were - a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters.
The field Negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; He wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro - remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try and put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he'd die. If someone come [sic] to the field Negro and said, "Let's separate, let's run," he didn't say "Where we going?" He'd say, "Any place is better than here." You've got field Negroes in America today. I'm a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man's house on fire, you don't hear these little Negroes talking about "our government is in trouble." They say, "The government is in trouble." Imagine a Negro: "Our government"! I even heard one say "our astronauts." They won't even let him near the plant - and "our astronauts"! "Our Navy" - that's a Negro that's out of his mind. That's a Negro that's out of his mind. Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent. That's Tom making you nonviolent. It's like when you go to the dentist, and the man's going to take your tooth. You're going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they're not doing anything to you. So you sit there and 'cause you've got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don't know what's happening. 'Cause someone has taught you to suffer - peacefully.
The white man do the same thing to you in the street, when he want [sic] to put knots on your head and take advantage of you and don't have to be afraid of your fighting back. To keep you from fighting back, he gets these old religious Uncle Toms to teach you and me, just like novocaine, suffer peacefully. Don't stop suffering - just suffer peacefully. As Reverend Cleage pointed out, "Let your blood flow In the streets." This is a shame. And you know he's a Christian preacher. If it's a shame to him, you know what it is to me.
There are no chattel slaves house servants or field working slaves in today's economy.
Malcolm X's 'Message to the Grassroots' is opposed to the concept of the working class has become the means by which bourgeois conservative and reactionary 'black nationalists' masquerade as 'revolutionaries' in their attacks on civil rights and 'white labor', and more specifically communism. The link to the entire speech - Malcolm X' "Message to the Grassroots" is given at the end of this Critique of it and the Nation of Islam, the politics and ideology of which Malcolm here represented and articulated. In the body of this text I will present the statements from Malcolm's speech that have become defining of both 'black nationalism' as 'revolutionary'.
Mao-tse-Tung, Ho Chi Minh, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Kwame Nkrumah, Muhammad Babu, Amil Cabral and other Marxists are appropriated by Malcolm X from the camp of workers and peasants communist revolutionaries and falsely injected into the category of 'black nationalists', not leading workers and peasants revolutions against capitalism and imperialism by 'black revolutions' against 'the white man'!
Malcolm X, seemingly authoritatively, declared:
I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the black revolution and the Negro revolution. There's a difference. Are they both the same? And if they're not, what is the difference? What is the difference between a black revolution and a Negro revolution? First, what is a revolution? Sometimes I'm inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word "revolution" loosely, without taking careful consideration [of] what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind. http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1145
We shall see that Malcolm X's authoritative stance was pretentious and seeming to be informed was in fact uninformed, as for being a revolutionary there was at the time an antinomy of his style and rhetoric concerning what is and is not a 'revolution' in contrast to the actual doctrines and policies of the Nation of Islam, which he at the time represented. We shall also see that the charge of civil rights activists calling the reforms they advocated 'revolution' was really nothing but a straw man, as specially as attributed to Martin Luther King Jr, who is always the implicit target of these Malcolm X critiques.
One of Malcolm X's examples of 'revolution' was the Chinese Revolution:
"The Chinese Revolution - they wanted land. They threw the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah, they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I read an article - don't be shocked when I say I was in prison. You're still in prison. That's what America means: prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the trigger 'cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of Uncle Toms - just wiped them out. And within ten years that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more Toms in China. And today it's one of the toughest, roughest, most feared countries on this earth - by the white man. 'Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there." (ibid.) http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1145
Actually, the Chinese Revolution was not a liberation war against the British, to the extent that it was a national war it was a War of Resistance of the vicious Japanese invasion and occupation forces, and in this war the Nationalist Chinese Kuomintang was in an alliance with the Chinese proletarian Communist Party and its peasant based Peoples' Liberation Movement. http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_11.htm">http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/selected-works/volume-2/mswv2_11.htm
The Kuomintang (National People's Party) was established in 1912 by Sun Yat-sen and Song Jiaoren. When the party was suppressed in 1913 Sun Yat-sen and his military commander, Chiang Kai-Shek, escaped to Japan.
With the help of advisers from the Soviet Union the Kuomintang gradually increased its power in China. In 1924 it adopted the "Three Principles of the People" (nationalism, democracy and social reform).
Sun Yat-sen died on 12th March 1925. After a struggle with Wang Ching-Wei, Chiang Kai-Shek eventually emerged as the leader of the Kuomintang. He now carried out a purge that eliminated the communists from the organization. In 1928 the reformed Kuomintang captured Beijing and was able to establish a government in Nanjing.
When the Japanese Army invaded the heartland of China in 1937, Chiang was forced to move his capital from Nanking to Chungking. He lost control of the coastal regions and most of the major cities to Japan. In an effort to beat the Japanese he agreed to collaborate with Mao Zedong and his communist army.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Chiang and his government received considerable financial support from the United States. General Joseph Stilwell, head of American Army Forces in China, Burma and India (CBI), disagreed with this policy, arguing that Chiang Kai-Shek was an inept leader and was ignorant of the fundamentals of modern warfare. Stilwell was accused of being pro-communist and in October 1944 Stilwell was recalled to the United States and was replaced by General Albert Wedemeyer.
During the Second World War the communist forces were well led by Zhu De and Lin Biao. As soon as the Japanese surrendered, the communists began a war against the Nationalists. The communists gradually gained control of the country and on 1st October, 1949, Mao announced the establishment of People's Republic of China. Chiang Kai-Shek and the remnants of his armed forces fled to Formosa (Taiwan).
The presentation of the Chinese Revolution, led by the proletarian based Chinese Communist Party and it's peasant based People's Liberation Army as a revolution of nationalist Chinese against 'the white man' - Britain in particular - is either irresponsible disinformation based on ignorance on Malcolm X's part, or a conscious lie by him to buttress his claim that nationalism is 'revolutionary'. The war was not against Britain, but against Japan, and Elijah Muhammad's faction in the Black Islam group supported Japanese imperialism. It was the Japanese who were defeated in context of World War II, and the Kuomintang was the Nationalist Party that was driven from China on a class basis. Like the Nation of Islam, the Kuomintang was representative of capitalism and as such was/is reactionary nationalism.
The Kuomintang was supported by British and US imperialism, the Chinese Communist Party and Peoples Liberation Army was supported by the Soviet Union, the Allies and Elijah Muhammad's faction supported Japan and therefore the Germany-Italy-Japanese Axis alliance.
Britain and the United States were allies with the Soviet Union and China against Germany and Japanese fascism. Elijah Muhammad was a supporter of Japanese fascism and aggression in China. http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/bhm/bio/muhammad_e.htm
JAPANESE OCCUPATION OF CHINA
Of the estimated 20 million people that died as a result of the Japanese hostilities during World War II, about half of them were in China. China claims that 35 million Chinese were killed or wounded during the Japanese occupation from 1931 to 1945.
An estimated 2.7 million Chinese were killed in a Japanese "pacification" program that targeted "all males between 15 and 60 who were suspected to be enemies" along with other "enemies pretending to be local people." Out of the thousands of Chinese prisoners captured during the war only 56 were found alive in 1946.
The first phase of the Chinese occupation began when Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931. The second phase began in 1937 when the Japanese launched major attacks on Beijing, Shanghai and Nanking. By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 they were firmly entrenched in China, occupying much of the eastern part of the country. http://factsanddetails.com/china.phpitemid=59&catid=2&subcatid=5
It is ahistorical and hypocritical for Malcolm X, as the national representative and spokesperson for Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam to now switch its ideological alliance from Japan and the Axis to the Chinese and the Allies, and is a lie to claim the war was against Britain, and even more so to call the Chinese Communist Party nationalist party and the Kuomintang, the actual Nationalist Party 'uncle Toms', thus associating them implicitly with the civil rights movement which Malcolm called 'uncle Toms'. Like the Nation of Islam, the Kuomintang are the 'nationalists', so if the KMT is 'uncle Tom', then so is the NOI!
Malcolm X said:
So I cite these various revolutions, brothers and sisters, to show you - you don't have a peaceful revolution. You don't have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. There's no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. [The] only kind of revolution that's nonviolent is the Negro revolution. The only revolution based on loving your enemy is the Negro revolution. The only revolution in which the goal is a desegregated lunch counter, a desegregated theater, a desegregated park, and a desegregated public toilet; you can sit down next to white folks on the toilet. That's no revolution. Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/ch18.htm
No, a revolution is not based on loving your enemy, and there is no such thing as a Negro revolution or a Black revolution, a revolution is not based on race but on class interests - 'a revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another' (Mao). A workers revolution in America - and 90% of Black Americans are proletarians - is a communist revolution. Mao said "every Communist must grasp this truth, political power grows out of the barrel of a gun". Whether a communist revolution can be won through electoral politics or by armed insurrection, or a combination of the two, it will be based on class interests and not race. Communist revolution requires the unification of all workers of every ethnicity, gender and sexual preference, which is what Malcolm X and the Muslims opposed.
What Malcolm X said against the Civil Rights movement was also a straw man, it never called itself a 'revolution'. It was a rebellion against racial segregation, disenfranchisement, discrimination and violence. What Malcolm X didn't tell the Black audience, was that he and the Nation of Islam were working with the Ku Klux Klan to get land from them without violence, in payoff for opposing the Civil Rights Movement by denouncing its leaders as "Uncle Toms".
It wasn't until years after the Message to the Grassroots that Malcolm X admitted that while he was spouting rhetoric about 'black revolution' in opposition to the civil rights movement's war to tear down walls of racial segregation, discrimination, disenfranchisement and violence, that he had been sent to Atlanta to accompany Jeremiah X, the local Muslim minister of Atlanta, to a secret meeting with members of the Klan in December 1960:
"I was in the home of Jeremiah, the [NOI] minister in Atlanta, Georgia. I'm ashamed to say it, but I'm going to tell you the truth. I sat at the table myself with the heads of the Ku Klux Klan, who at that time were trying to negotiate with Elijah Muhammad so that they could make available to him a large area of land in Georgia or I think it was South Carolina. They had some very responsible persons in the government who were involved in it and who were willing to go along with it. They wanted to make this land available to him so that his program of separation would sound more feasible to Negroes and therefore lessen the pressure that the integrationists were putting upon the white man. I sat there I negotiated it. I listened to their offer. And I was the one who went back to Chicago and told Elijah Muhammad what they had offered." - Malcolm X: The Last Speeches
Malcolm X concluded: "From that day onward the Klan never interfered with the Black Muslim movement in the South."
So when Malcolm in 1963 was saying:
I would like to make a few comments concerning the difference between the black revolution and the Negro revolution. There's a difference. Are they both the same? And if they're not, what is the difference? What is the difference between a black revolution and a Negro revolution? First, what is a revolution? Sometimes I'm inclined to believe that many of our people are using this word "revolution" loosely, without taking careful consideration [of] what this word actually means, and what its historic characteristics are. When you study the historic nature of revolutions, the motive of a revolution, the objective of a revolution, and the result of a revolution, and the methods used in a revolution, you may change words. You may devise another program. You may change your goal and you may change your mind. Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed.
One would have assumed from what Malcolm said in opposition to civil disobedience as the method of the civil rights movement to end segregation, that on the contrary the 'army' of the 'nation' of Islam - the 'Fruit of Islam' - were in training to invade the South, kill 'the white man' and expropriate 'the land' by violence to set up an 'independent nation' of Black people. But, instead of making war on the organization which made war on Black people, the Ku Klux Klan, the State and the land owners and taking land from them, on the contrary the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X on their part in particular had 'negotiated' a 'non-violent' transfer of land from the 'white man' to the 'black man'.
When we therefore analyse rather than being mesmerised by Malcolm's style and demagogic charisma, to critically consider what he said and what he did, viz: "Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed" we see an antinomy, a disconnect.
If 'revolution' was 'based on land', and could only be carried out with 'bloodshed', but the Ku Klu Klan, the land owners and the State of Georgia or South Carolina were peacefully handing over to the NOI land, that not only self-refutes the claim or formula revolution=land expropriation by violence, but more importantly raises the question why was this formula put forward if known to be untrue? It was not the NOI policy to arm and train a cadre to imitate armed liberation movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America, waging armed struggle to expropriate land violently, but to negotiate a 'peaceful revolution', which they said is impossible, by collaborating with the Ku Klu Klan and Southern States against the civil rights movement. The actual policy of the NOI was to collaborate with the KKK and the State behind the scenes and without violence to recieve land from them on the quit, and at the same time loudly preach violent revolution to hypocritically contrast themselves to 'Christians', to by demagogic rhetoric denounce the civil rights movement's strategy of non-violent civil disobedience.
So, notwithstanding the violent rhetoric of revolution seizing land from 'the white man', the actual NOI policy was "non-violent revolution", or rather collaboration with the violence of the Ku Klux Klan against civil rights activists in exchange for land as payment for denouncing those civil rights activists, ridiculing their objectives and styling as violent:
[The] only kind of revolution that's nonviolent is the Negro revolution. The only revolution based on loving your enemy is the Negro revolution. The only revolution in which the goal is a desegregated lunch counter, a desegregated theater, a desegregated park, and a desegregated public toilet; you can sit down next to white folks on the toilet. That's no revolution. Revolution is based on land.
When Malcolm said in this same speech to this Black audience in Detroit:
We have a common enemy. We have this in common: We have a common oppressor, a common exploiter, and a common discriminator. But once we all realize that we have this common enemy, then we unite on the basis of what we have in common. And what we have foremost in common is that enemy - the white man. He's an enemy to all of us. I know some of you all think that some of them aren't enemies. Time will tell.
What Malcolm failed to mention the Nation of Islam/Ku Klux Klan alliance against civil rights for Blacks and that the Klan was using their wealth and political representatives in Southern governments to provide NOI members with land in Georgia or South Carolina. In the NOI/KKK relationship this 'white man' was not an oppressor, exploiter and discrimnator against those 'black men', but their benefactor and supplier of 'land', so if 'land is the basis of independence' the Ku Klux Klan was the liberator of the Nation of Islam!
The NOI/KKK quid pro quo was that every time the KKK did the NOI the favor of killing Blacks, it enabled the NOI to denounce the civil rights movement in the interest of the white supremacists, and to do so with militant sounding rhetoric about retaliation if the Klan killed one of the NOI, knowing damn well that the NOI/KKK pact precluded this possibility.
The NOI members were of the only black organization that Klansmen didn't kill. Not out of fear of retaliation, but because they were allies of the KKK, having a 'common enemy' in the civil rights movement. Even as they murdered Medgar Evers, forced Robert F.Williams into exile, bombed the home of Martin Luther King Jr and bombed the Baptist Church that was the center of the civil rights movement in Birmingham Alabama, this same Ku Klux Klan proved they were not the 'enemy' of the Nation of Islam, but their comrade in common opposition to the Black rebellion against racial sagregation, disinfranchisment, discrimination and violence.
In the classic study piece of the 1960s "Black Nationalism" by E.U. Essien-Udom it is related:
Muhammad teaches all his followers that they must submit to the just acts of those in authority in public or private life, provided these do not conflict with their religious beliefs. In a speech in Detriot in 1959 he advised his followers to 'obey those in authority' and admonished them: 'Be yourself - Yourself as a righteous Muslim. Follow the Golden Rule ... Be polite, courteous and respectful so that you may inspire respect from the police officers. ... if you are attacked when peaceful, God comes to our rescue. If you are aggressive, you must fight your own battle without Allah's help. . If attacked he says fight back".
To be further clarified further on:
"Questioned about his attitude toward civil authority, Minister James 3X responded 'I have all respect for civil authority. I learnt early in life that there can be no peace and stability in society without the highest respect of the citizens for the constituted authority. I would respect the laws of any land provided they do not conflict with the Holy Quran'" http://books.google.com/books?id=60puRMJB6z4C&pg=PA266&lpg=PA266&dq=elijah+muhammad+submit+to+those+in+authority
Malcolm X concurred:
Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery. Malcolm X Speaks, 1965 http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/1882.html
What Elijah Muhammad, James 3X and Malcolm X have in common is advocacy of submission to State Power, the "authority" of its agents on one hand, that is obedience to the laws by which the material interests of the most powerful, politically dominate economic classes subordinate those of the oppressed classes on one hand, and then the fake militant rhetoric of 'fight back' when directed at individuals who themselves violate this social contract by attacking individual blacks.
"Self-defense" by individuals against violent individuals is a Constitutional right, and is legal and by no means 'revolutionary'. It has nothing to do with class war. The Nation of Islam never spoke of self-defense as collective response to Klan or State violence against Negroes. Not only were the NOI in league with the Klan, but the Southern Dixiecrat State, and the State itself by using religion to preach workers to submit.
I want to present to Readers the historical continuity and class based interests of these Statements from Elijah Muhammad, James 3X and Malcolm X.
In political society, religion is transformed from a cultural to a political function. The high priest and the priesthood are part and parcel of the wealthy, which places its high temple in the capital, working hand and hand with the palace. The high priesthood works hand and glove with the bureaucracy in the political government. In such political societies religion cannot avoid the political.
The political function of religion in class relations is to provide the status quo, the ruling class and the state government with a spiritual justification. The power of religion is its spiritual authority, supposedly derived from gods. Religion predates civilization, by which I mean political class society, in which the wealthy do not work and those that work are not wealthy. The most powerful of the wealthy classes determine the politics which control society.
The pre-political religion cemented a tribal communal people on the basis of common held beliefs, rituals, and taboos. But this religion transforms into a political party that provides by its historical authority ordination of the economic order which inheres in extremes of wealth and poverty and uses its authority to sanction, to authorize (if you will) the political state, which is an apparatus of violence and of oppression representing the general interests of the ruling classes. Thus this politicized religion joins with the state to engender a culture of domination, authority and subordination, obedience.
Religious laws came to reflect the material interests of the proprietors against the propertyless. The chief-priests or priest-king, or "prophet" or "messenger" of gods thus by invoking god's ordinance declares divine authority of the courts protecting property rights.
From the "priest-king" Hammurabi's "Code":
# 6. If any one steal the property of a temple or of the court, he shall be put to death, and also the one who receives the stolen thing from him shall be put to death.
# 7. If any one buy from the son or the slave of another man, without witnesses or a contract, silver or gold, a male or female slave, an ox or a sheep, an ass or anything, or if he take it in charge, he is considered a thief and shall be put to death.
# 8. If any one steal cattle or sheep, or an ass, or a pig or a goat, if it belong to a god or to the court, the thief shall pay thirtyfold therefor; if they belonged to a freed man of the king he shall pay tenfold; if the thief has nothing with which to pay he shall be put to death.
Similarly from the "prophet" Moses 10 Commandments:
Deuteronomy 9 "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor's... .
15. "Thou shalt not steal.
The Torah's "Thou shalt not steal" is stated in the Qu'ran chapter 5 verses 38-9: "As for the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands, but those who repent. After a crime and reform shall be forgiven by God for God is forgiving and kind."
Thus the Code of Hammurabi and the Law of Moses presuppose societies comprised of property-owners and non-owners, rich and poor, patriarchal families, and classes - poor peasants, and rich landed aristocrats, slaves and slave owners, and so on. Thus, those laws were written in the economic interests of the rich against the poor, of men against the women, of slave-owners against the slaves, and so on.
Moreover, the court system in class society is a class court. By attributing the laws that defend the economic interests of the economic dominant classes to the "will of god," the priests and prophets articulate and give divine sanction to the laws, and its penalties for breaking these laws. Political religious authorities represent class power, whether that authority be sacred texts or ordained priests.
The politicization of religion in the early political societies, Mesopotamia and Egypt occurred 6,000 years ago, a thousand years before Moses and two thousand before St. Paul. With St. Paul the political function of religion is systemic and complete.
In the 13th chapter of Paul's Epistle to the Romans he states:
1: Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2: Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3: For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5: Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6: For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7: Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
To the Ephesians, in the 6th chapter Paul wrote:
5: Slaves, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6: Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7: With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:
In his instruction to his disciple Titus, in chapter 2, Paul wrote that as part of his ministry, preaching to servants and slaves, Titus should:
9.Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10: Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
The Quran condones slavery as well:
23:5-6 "And who guard their modesty - Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess."
24:31 "And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands' sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves."
24:58 "O ye who believe! Let your slaves, and those of you who have not come to puberty, ask leave of you at three times (before they come into your presence)."
33:25-26 "Allah repulsed the disbelievers in their wrath; they gained no good. Allah averted their attack from the believers. Allah is ever Strong, Mighty. And He brought those of the People of the Scripture who supported them down from their strongholds, and cast panic into their hearts. Some ye slew, and ye made captive some.
33:50 "O Prophet! Lo! We have made lawful unto thee thy wives unto whom thou hast paid their dowries, and those whom thy right hand possesseth of those whom Allah hath given thee as spoils of war."
The political function of religious priests and doctrines serves the interests of the wealthy classes, the property owners and slave owners, landlords and capitalists and slaves are told to be obedient and go an extra mile of servitude with gladness of heart, rather than motivation by fear of punishment. This includes obeying the laws of the state, to regard the police and the courts and jailers as agents of god, and thus acknowledging their power to imprison or/and execute "criminals" as ordained of god, doing god's will.
The presupposition of the materialist critiques, on the contrary, by coming into play when there is a sociopolitical schism that undermines the authority of priests and rulers, represent the new, rising class forces in challenging that authority, therefore the gods and their laws. (Lil Joe @ http://laborpartypraxis.org/PhilRelPol.html)
Thus it is evident that the presentation by the Nation of Islam of political power and its justification by religious authority is universal in every religion and philosophy based on the class power of the owning classes appropriating the labor of the propertyless working classes and toiling masses.
Elijah Muhammad taught workers and share croppers in the nation of Islam to submit to the just acts of those in authority in public or private life, provided these do not conflict with their religious beliefs it is understood that slavery didn't conflict with the Quran, and neither did serfdom or does wage slavery of the proletariat. It means therefore that the wage workers must obey not just those in authority in public - that is the police and the courts - but in the private economy, the capitalist's who hired them.
The State - the political power of bureaucratic-military representatives of the material interests of the most powerful, economically dominate classes as correspondingly the most powerful, politically dominate class - has always used metaphysical language and Idealist concepts, religious or philosophical makes no difference, because these ideas of the dominant class politics are conjured by priests, philosophers, politicians and lawyers to justify the necessity of bureaucratic-military State power and its brutality as necessary for "peace and stability in society".
It is ironic that the Ministers of the Nation of Islam denounce the Southern Christian Leadership Council as slavish uncle Toms, when it is these 'Muslims' who preach obedience to the State, its laws, including unjust racial laws, whereas it is those Christian preachers in SCLC who are the one's disturbing the 'peace and stability' in the racially oppressive society.
In jail, and criticized by fellow Christian ministers as well as the Nation of Islam for breaking the laws by civil disobedience, Martin Luther King Jr wrote in defense of civil disobedience:
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.
I am not advocating for Christianity or Islam and I don't base my arguments on Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, both of whom were ideological representatives of the ruling classes of their day. I only show that whereas the Muhammad, James 3X and Malcolm X used the conservative side of Judeo-Christian teachings of Saint Paul on the State and advocate obedience to those in authority to get on the good side of the police, that Martin Luther King Jr. associated the radical and rebellious behavior of Jesus who declared man was not made to serve the law: Jesus overturning the money changers tables and whipping them out the Temple was a rebellious act of civil disobedience and he was a week later arrested and tried, executed by the Roman State for sedition. Elijah Muhammad, James 3X and Malcolm X claim they object to the picture of 'Jesus' painted by European artists into European features, but perhaps what they really objected to was his radical and rebellious behavior? Certainly they objected to the civil disobedience of King and the civil rights movement.
But, the issue raised by Malcolm X that is more important from an historical point of view is what is a revolution. It is a straw man where Malcolm X projected unto King that the civil rights rebellion was a 'revolution'. King had studied the English Revolution, the French Revolution, the peasant wars in Germany, Hegel, Marx, Lenin and Trotsky, and the Chinese Revolution and the Cuban as well as the Indian independence movement, so he knew the difference between revolution and reform. He pointed out that a revolution is a class war, that is the majority rise up and win the military rank and file to their ranks, the destruction of the State power by armed uprisings:
"Occasionally Negroes contend that the 1965 Watts riot and the other riots in various cities represented effective civil rights action. But those who express this view always end up with stumbling words when asked what concrete gains have been won as a result. At best, the riots have produced a little additional antipoverty money allotted by frightened government officials, and a few water-sprinklers to cool the children of the ghettos. It is something like improving the food in the prison while the people remain securely incarcerated behind bars. Nowhere have the riots won any concrete improvement such as have the organized protest demonstrations. When one tries to pin down advocates of violence as to what acts would be effective, the answers are blatantly illogical. Sometimes they talk of overthrowing racist state and local governments and they talk about guerrilla warfare. They fail to see that no internal revolution has ever succeeded in overthrowing a government by violence unless the government had already lost the allegiance and effective control of its armed forces. Anyone in his right mind knows that this will not happen in the United States. In a violent racial situation, the power structure has the local police, the state troopers, the National Guard and, finally, the Army to call on all of which are predominantly white. Furthermore, few if any violent revolutions have been successful unless the violent minority had the sympathy and support of the nonresistant majority. Castro may have had only a few Cubans actually fighting with him up in the hills, but he could never have overthrown the Batista regime unless he had the sympathy of the vast majority of Cuban people." http://www.indiana.edu/~ivieweb/mlkwhere.html
In other words, King knew that the objectives of the civil rights movement on the part of an isolated and relatively powerless racial minority could fight and win reforms, to mobilize their positives, as workers and consumers, to boycott, demonstrate, protest and stage mass political rallies with allies in the working class, and through mass civil disobedience to win concrete legal reforms within the system of capitalism, whereas the advocates of 'black revolution' didn't know what revolution was or is, and in their actual demands and gains were at best also reforms in the prison system of capitalism.
Revolution is neither defined nor is it necessarily determined by the use of violence but by the economic, the objective of social class politics: A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
Revolutions and revolutionary wars are inevitable in class society, and without them it is impossible to accomplish any leap in social development and to overthrow the reactionary ruling classes and therefore impossible for the people to win political power. "On Contradiction" (August1937) , Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 344.* http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/mao/works/red-book/ch05.htm
Mao advocated insurrectionary violence as a means of achieving 'revolution', but this is defined not by violence but by the historical political context's engendendered determination to achieve the class objective of expropriation.
"The peasants' revolt disturbed the gentry's sweet dreams. ... To overthrow these feudal forces is the real objective of the national revolution. In a few months the peasants have accomplished what Dr. Sun Yat-sen wanted, but failed, to accomplish in the forty years he devoted to the national revolution. ... If your revolutionary viewpoint is firmly established and if you have been to the villages and looked around, you will undoubtedly feel thrilled as never before. Countless thousands of the enslaved--the peasants--are striking down the enemies who battened on their flesh. What the peasants are doing is absolutely right, what they are doing is fine! "It's fine!" is the theory of the peasants and of all other revolutionaries. Every revolutionary comrade should know that the national revolution requires a great change in the countryside.
True, the peasants are in a sense "unruly" in the countryside. Supreme in authority, the peasant association allows the landlord no say and sweeps away his prestige. This amounts to striking the landlord down to the dust and keeping him there. The peasants threaten, "We will put you in the other register!" They fine the local tyrants and evil gentry, they demand contributions from them, and they smash their sedan-chairs. People swarm into the houses of local tyrants and evil gentry who are against the peasant association, slaughter their pigs and consume their grain. They even loll for a minute or two on the ivory-inlaid beds belonging to the young ladies in the households of the local tyrants and evil gentry. At the slightest provocation they make arrests, crown the arrested with tall paper hats, and parade them through the villages, saying, "You dirty landlords, now you know who we are!"
Doing whatever they like and turning everything upside down, they have created a kind of terror in the countryside. This is what some people call "going too far", or "exceeding the proper limits in righting a wrong", or "really too much". Such talk may seem plausible, but in fact it is wrong. First, the local tyrants, evil gentry and lawless landlords have themselves driven the peasants to this. For ages they have used their power to tyrannize over the peasants and trample them underfoot; that is why the peasants have reacted so strongly. The most violent revolts and the most serious disorders have invariably occurred in places where the local tyrants, evil gentry and lawless landlords perpetrated the worst outrages. The peasants are clear-sighted. Who is bad and who is not, who is the worst and who is not quite so vicious, who deserves severe punishment and who deserves to be let off lightly--the peasants keep clear accounts, and very seldom has the punishment exceeded the crime. Secondly, a revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.
A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. A rural revolution is a revolution by which the peasantry overthrows the power of the feudal landlord class. Without using the greatest force, the peasants cannot possibly overthrow the deep-rooted authority of the landlords which has lasted for thousands of years. The rural areas need a mighty revolutionary upsurge, for it alone can rouse the people in their millions to become a powerful force. All the actions mentioned here which have been labeled as "going too far" flow from the power of the peasants, which has been called forth by the mighty revolutionary upsurge in the countryside. It was highly necessary for such things to be done in the second period of the peasant movement, the period of revolutionary action. In this period it was necessary to establish the absolute authority of the peasants.
Although Malcolm contrasted the reform objectives civil rights movement and its politics of civil disobedience as non-revolutionary to his rhetoric of violent black revolution. In this speech Malcolm X tried to appropriate the legacy of "Mao" and the Chinese Revolution - Malcolm always carefully evaded associating with the Chinese Communist Party and the Peasants based People's Liberation Army as institutions, he never quoted Mao's Statement that 'every Communist must grapse the truth, that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun' in class warfare. It was Martin Luther King Jr and the Civil Rights Movment, its objectives and strategy of political civil disobience that Mao tse-Tung and the Chinese Communist Party embraced, not Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm X and Nation of Islam were embraced by the Ku Klux Klan, and the American Nazi Party which embraced them.
For all the rhetoric about 'black revolution', Malcolm X never advocated the expropriation of the productive forces from the capitalist class by the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. Malcolm X wasn't talking about the creative revolutionary solidarity of American workers "striking down the enemies" - capitalists, landlords, bankers, &c. - "who fattened on their flesh" or the "overthrow of the deep-rooted authority" of the capitalists, the landlords, the banks, the courts and the police.
Rather the opposite, the Nation of Islam was teaching working class blacks to be respectful of their authority and obedient to their power, to be refined, courteous and obedient in order that individual members of 'the nation' become members of the capitalist class, or a black petty bourgeois at any rate. In advocating 'violence' as 'revolution based', Malcolm X was not talking about revolution but violence as a principle.
Mao's concept of revolutionary violence was not a principle but a method by which peasants and workers undertook the siezing of the productive forces and, by this class violence, the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry establishing themselves as ruling class, the State. This wasn't what Malcolm X advocated, but retaliatory personal fights of individuals against individuals with no revolutionary class content objectives whatsoever. In this connection Malcolm didn't even address expropriations or State power in the speech, and when he did address it elsewhere it wasn't to advocate proletarian expropriations and smashing the bourgeois bureaucratic-military State by workers militias, but that black individuals become capitalists with their own proletarians to exploit, and that Muslims submit to the existing capitalist State and its authority, obey its laws and thus he denounced civil rights civil disobedience.
On the other hand, although it was by the strategy of non-violent civil disobedience to win civil rights reform and not an advocacy of proletarian revolution, the civil rights movement was a social movement with social objectives and it was supported by Mao tse-Tung:
Statement Supporting the American Negroes
In Their Just Struggle Against Racial
Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism
(August 8, 1963) Mao Tse-tung
[Note: We reprint this statement in commemoration of the third anniversary of the day Chairman Mao made it. -Peking Review Ed.]
An American Negro leader now taking refuge in Cuba, Mr. Robert Williams, the former President of the Monroe, North Carolina, Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, has twice this year asked me for a statement in support of the American Negroes' struggle against racial discrimination. On behalf of the Chinese people, I wish to take this opportunity to express our resolute support for the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination and for freedom and equal rights.
There are more than 19 million Negroes in the United States, or about 11 per cent of the total population. They are enslaved, oppressed and discriminated against - such is their position in society. The overwhelming majority are deprived of their right to vote. In general, only the most backbreaking and despised jobs are open to them. Their average wages are barely a third or a half those of the white people. The proportion of unemployment among the Negroes is the highest. In many states they are forbidden to go to the same school, eat at the same table, or travel in the same section of a bus or train as the white people. Negroes are often arrested, beaten up or murdered at will by the U.S. authorities at various levels and by members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists. About half the American Negroes are concentrated in eleven southern states, where the discrimination and persecution they suffer are especially shocking.
The American Negroes are awakening and their resistance is growing stronger and stronger. Recent years have witnessed a continuous expansion of their mass struggle against racial discrimination and for freedom and equal rights.
In 1957 the Negro people in Little Rock, Arkansas, waged a fierce struggle against the barring of their children from public schools. The authorities used armed force against them, creating the Little Rock incident which shocked the world.
In 1960 Negroes in more than twenty states held "sit-in" demonstrations protesting against racial segregation in local restaurants, shops and other public places.
In 1961 the Negroes launched the "freedom riders" campaign to oppose racial segregation in public transportation, a campaign which rapidly spread to many states.
In 1962 the Negroes in Mississippi fought for the equal right to enrol in colleges and met with bloody suppression by the authorities.
This year, the American Negroes started their struggle early in April in Birmingham, Alabama. Unarmed and bare-handed Negro people were arrested en masse and most barbarously suppressed merely for holding meetings and parades against racial discrimination. On June 12 Mr. Medgar Evers, a leader of the Negro people in Mississippi, was murdered in cold blood. Defying brutality and violence, the indignant Negro masses waged their struggle even more heroically and quickly won the support of Negroes and other people of various strata throughout the United States. A gigantic and vigorous nationwide struggle is going on in nearly every city and state, and the struggle is mounting. American Negro organizations have decided to start a "freedom march" on Washington on August 28, in which 250,000 people will take part.
The speedy development of the struggle of the American Negroes is a manifestation of sharpening class struggle and sharpening national struggle within the United States; it has been causing increasing anxiety among U.S. ruling circles. The Kennedy Administration is insidiously using dual tactics. On the one hand, it continues to connive at and take part in discrimination against Negroes and their persecution, and it even sends troops to suppress them. On the other hand, in the attempt to numb the fighting will of the Negro people and deceive the masses of the country, the Kennedy Administration is parading as an advocate of "the defence of human rights" and "the protection of the civil rights of Negroes," calling upon the Negro people to exercise "restraint" and proposing the "civil rights legislation" to Congress. But more and more Negroes are seeing through these tactics of the Kennedy Administration. The fascist atrocities of the U.S. imperialists against the Negro people have exposed the true nature of so-called American democracy and freedom and revealed the inner link between the reactionary policies pursued by the U.S. Government at home and its policies of aggression abroad.
I call on the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie and other enlightened persons of all colours in the world, whether white, black, yellow or brown, to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practised by U.S. imperialism and support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination. In the final analysis, national struggle is a matter of class struggle. Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles who oppress the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists headed by the United Slates, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are oppressing, committing aggression against and menacing the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. We are in the majority and they are in the minority. At most, they make up less than 10 per cent of the 3,000 million population of the world. I am firmly convinced that, with the support of more than 90 per cent of the people of the world, the American Negroes will be victorious in their just struggle. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people.
Notice that Mao tse-Tung - who certainly knew the difference between reform and revolution and of the nature of violence in class warfare, violent revolution - "warfare is politics with bloodshed, politics is warfare without bloodshed" - knew the reformist objectives of the civil rights movement, to end racial discrimination, integrate schools, buses, public accomodations, and State as well as racist violence, voting rights and protections, and so on, and he and the entire Chinese Communist Party and government supported both those objectives and the civil rights movement's political strategy of civil disobedience -"politics is warfare without bloodshed".
Malcolm X didn't know what he was talking about when he said:
The Chinese Revolution - they wanted land. They threw the British out, along with the Uncle Tom Chinese. Yeah, they did. They set a good example. When I was in prison, I read an article - don't be shocked when I say I was in prison. You're still in prison. That's what America means: prison. When I was in prison, I read an article in Life magazine showing a little Chinese girl, nine years old; her father was on his hands and knees and she was pulling the trigger 'cause he was an Uncle Tom Chinaman, When they had the revolution over there, they took a whole generation of Uncle Toms - just wiped them out. And within ten years that little girl become [sic] a full-grown woman. No more Toms in China. And today it's one of the toughest, roughest, most feared countries on this earth - by the white man. 'Cause there are no Uncle Toms over there.
Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you've got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. And once you see how they got theirs straight, then you know how you can get yours straight. There's been a revolution, a black revolution, going on in Africa. In Kenya, the Mau Mau were revolutionaries; they were the ones who made the word "Uhuru" [Kenyan word for "freedom"]. They were the ones who brought it to the fore. The Mau Mau, they were revolutionaries. They believed in scorched earth. They knocked everything aside that got in their way, and their revolution also was based on land, a desire for land. In Algeria, the northern part of Africa, a revolution took place. The Algerians were revolutionists; they wanted land. France offered to let them be integrated into France. They told France: to hell with France. They wanted some land, not some France. And they engaged in a bloody battle.
So I cite these various revolutions, brothers and sisters, to show you - you don't have a peaceful revolution. You don't have a turn-the-other-cheek revolution. There's no such thing as a nonviolent revolution. [The] only kind of revolution that's nonviolent is the Negro revolution. The only revolution based on loving your enemy is the Negro revolution. The only revolution in which the goal is a desegregated lunch counter, a desegregated theater, a desegregated park, and a desegregated public toilet; you can sit down next to white folks on the toilet. That's no revolution. Revolution is based on land. Land is the basis of all independence. Land is the basis of freedom, justice, and equality.
The white man knows what a revolution is. He knows that the black revolution is world-wide in scope and in nature. The black revolution is sweeping Asia, sweeping Africa, is rearing its head in Latin America. The Cuban Revolution - that's a revolution. They overturned the system. Revolution is in Asia. Revolution is in Africa. And the white man is screaming because he sees revolution in Latin America. How do you think he'll react to you when you learn what a real revolution is? You don't know what a revolution is. If you did, you wouldn't use that word.
In the first place, of all our studies 'history' is least qualified to 'reward all research', from the standpoint of revolutionaries, who realize the the ruling ideas of an epoch are the ideas of the ruling classes, the dominant material relationships grapsed as ideas. The possessing classes supplied the politicians, courts, scholars, priests ... the scribes, philosophers, and the historians. All the business, economic, political, juridical and military documents, for instance a bill of sale of land or slaves is between land and slave owners or merchants or by their representatives, the serfs or slaves sold with the land or alienated by individual sale do not participate in the negotiation and have nothing to do with the business, legal or court document, any more than do a sold/purchased horse, cow or chicken.
Those who wrote and signed the American colonied 'Declaration of Independence' on the part of the Continental Congress were either themselves planter-slave owners, merchant capitalists, finance capitalists or else their respective political, legal and ideological representatives. They hid material and economic interests behind platitudes of then existing contemporary flowery rhetoric:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Malcom X was culturally assimilated into this false consciousnes of and concerning the American colonies war of independence, confused with revolution.
Look at the American Revolution in 1776. That revolution was for what? For land. Why did they want land? Independence. How was it carried out? Bloodshed. Number one, it was based on land, the basis of independence. And the only way they could get it was bloodshed. The French Revolution - what was it based on? The land-less against the landlord. What was it for? Land. How did they get it? Bloodshed. Was no love lost; was no compromise; was no negotiation. I’m telling you, you don’t know what a revolution is. 'Cause when you find out what it is, you'll get back in the alley; you'll get out of the way. The Russian Revolution - what was it based on? Land. The land-less against the landlord. How did they bring it about? Bloodshed. You haven't got a revolution that doesn’t involve bloodshed. And you're afraid to bleed. I said, you’re afraid to bleed.
The French Revolution did have a landed component, but it wasn't 'white nationalism based on land' as Malcolm misrepresented it in the speech. It was a bourgeois revolution against the landed aristocracy and monarchy, the rural peasants land expropriations were bourgeois expropriations. The French revolution was class struggle, that brought the bourgeoisie to power in politics to correspond to their power as capitalists in the economy. The Russian Revolution was also a class war, not a racial war 'for land', it was not what Malcolm claimed in the speech white nationalism.
When you want a nation, that's called nationalism. When the white man became involved in a revolution in this country against England, what was it for? He wanted this land so he could set up another white nation. That's white nationalism. The American Revolution was white nationalism. The French Revolution was white nationalism. The Russian Revolution too - yes, it was - white nationalism. You don't think so? Why [do] you think Khrushchev and Mao can't get their heads together? White nationalism. All the revolutions that's going on in Asia and Africa today are based on what? Black nationalism. A revolutionary is a black nationalist. He wants a nation.
The French Revolution was national in the sense that it established the first European bourgeois republic, the nation state with its citizens in contrast to the feudal kingdom with its subjects. But, even this revolution has a cosmopolitan character, as it was supported by the bourgeois and republicans throughout Europe, and the Napoleonic wars were revolutionary wars that crossed borders. On the other hand, the Russian Revolution was bourgeois democratic in the extent that the peasants siezed lands from the aristocratic classes, but their allies here weren't the bourgeois as in France, but the Revolutionary proletariat. The Bolshevik leaders of the Russian Revolution were not 'nationalist' but proletarian internationalists who established the Communist International!
The Communist International
1919 - 1943
Petrograd Parade welcoming Comintern delegates in 1920
Founding of the Communist International http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/index.htm
It was the Communist International and the Soviet Union that knew national liberation movements were 'bourgeois dempocratic indepence struggles', and not proletarian communist revolutions. But, regarded these movements as historically justified reforms in the international order. (See Lenin's The Rights of Nations to Self-Determination) and in solidarity with oppressed colonial subjects the Communist International and the Soviet Union provided political and military support and aid to the national liberation movements in Asia and Africa, and to Cuba.
In the United States Communists and Socialists did not believe that the civil rights movement or its leaders were revolutionaries fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat
"The League of Struggle for Negro Rights was organized by the Communist Party in 1930 as the successor to the American Negro Labor Congress. The League was particularly active in organizing support for the "Scottsboro Boys", nine black men sentenced to death in 1931 for crimes they had not committed. It also campaigned for a separate black nation in the South, one of the CPUSA's principal tenets in the early 1930s, and against police brutality, the Italian occupation of Ethiopia and Jim Crow laws, while also advocating a more general policy of opposition to fascism and support for the Soviet Union. Langston Hughes became its President in 1934. Harry Haywood was its General Secretary. The organization largely disappeared after 1935, when the Communist Party, as part of its Popular Front strategy, joined with other non-communist organizations and individuals to form the National Negro Congress.
No one has ever presented the civil rights movement as 'revolution', one need not be a revolutionary to oppose lynching, racial profiling, segregation and racial discrimination against Negroes and other oppressed minorities in America.
But one must not confuse national liberation with revolution, just because the liberation movements had strategies of armed conflict against colonial armed occupation. Whereas the liberation wars in China, Vietnam and Korea were also revolutions led by Communists, thus based on workers and peasants expropriations of aristocratic and bourgeois property, it is completely wrong to present the liberation movements in Kenya and Algeria as 'revolutions'. The workers and peasants didn't come to power in Kenya and Algeria, and there were no expropriations of imperialist or bourgeois property by them - neither were these the objectives of either the Mau Mau or any party in Kenya or Algeria. To be a revolutionary is not to be a 'black nationalist', to be a revolutionary is to be a Communist.
Malcolm X's model of revolutions were not the actual English Revolution of 1640 and the Civil War or French Revolution, which reached its highest stages with the Jacobin Terror and Babeuf's Conspiracy of Equals, he did not present to consideration the Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions in France, Italy, Germany and Poland in 1848, or the most significant of all the Paris Commune of 1871 - or the actual class content of the Russian Revolutions of 1905-7 and 1917 Soviet power, or Mao's Investigation of the Peasant's movement in Hunan.
As an American Negro, socialized and educated here into the belief of American exceptionalism and the myth of the "American example" which all others want to emulate. Malcolm X reviewd world history from this American perspective, calling the American War of Independence a 'revolution'.
The American war of independence was no revolution.
It was not an insurrectionary act of violence by which one class overthrew another. The same property owning oligarchy which owned the productive forces and were politically represented in the Continental Congress, continued to own this same property after independence was won. There were no exprioriations of the property of planter-slave plantations by those slaves, no expropriation of manufacture by workers, but the mode of production with its corresponding mode of appropriation of labor's relations of production.
It was only because of his education and assimilation in American cultural context that Malcolm X believed this bourgeois rhetoric as though statements of the actual material and economic objectives. It was nothing but a clever mix of Spinoza's metaphysical pantheism The Ethics and political liberalism Political and Theological Treatise together with the Deism of the French Enlightenment [Jefferson on Diderot and Epicurus, the Bible; Thomas Paine The Age of Reason] -the clap trap about "Laws of Nature and Nature's God" was written to appeal to French radicals for supporters, and appropriations in it from John Locke and Rousseau about "all men created equal" [i.e. born free'] and thus governments of men "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed" was to appeal to the British as well as French bourgeois radicals - especially based in Locke's Second Treatise on Government and Rousseau's The Social Contract : that "whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government". The only thing new, or 'original' that was uniquely American contributed to this is the phrase "among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them". Seperate and equal station"...
But, that's just the point, isn't it?
Previous political theory dealing with the issue of revolution, in opposition to or in support of it has been concerned with internal tensions and strife, whether or not it is justified of one political group displacing the other - viz. e.g. Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Paricles, Solon, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas, John Ball, Jack Straw, Luther, Munzer, Hobbes, Locke, Burke, Helvetius, Holboch, Rousseau, Marx, Lenin, Mao ...none of these writers about or participants in revolution defined it as 'seperation' from one body of government', leaving it in place, to establish their own elswhere. This was the American war of Indepence that established this principle, not as a 'revolution', however. The Declaration of Independence was not a Declaration of Revolution.
The American War of Independence was not a revolution - not even a bourgeois democratic revolution as Britain was itself already a Parliamentary Democracy. The Parliamentary revolutions in England occurred in 1640 -1688, the feudal system was overthrown, nobles became capitalists. In the US, the property relations of production, based on capitalist commodity production by chattel slavery in the South and capitalist commodity production by wage slavery in the North remained the same after the War of Independence as prior to it. There was no revolution in this country until the Civil War - when the Industrial Northern capitalist commodity producer based on wage labor, through the Union Army destroyed capitalist commodity production in agriculture based on chattle slavery.
What is interesting is all of the 'examples' of 'revolution' Malcolm chooses it was the American War of Independence which was his model, into which he tried to present liberation wars as 'revolution'. It was not a revolution. On the other hand, Malcolm X ignores the bloody, violent and uncompromising revolutionary Civil War's emancipation of chattle slaves from the status of legal property. Notice I didn't say 'freeing the Negro". There is no such thing as 'freedom'. The War between the States wasn't about 'race', and the term 'freedom' is nothing but bourgeois ideological clap trap.
The War between the States was a conflict of irreconciliable factions of the American capitalist ruling classes, a class conflict between industrial capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labor that dominated the North, represented by the Union, and agricultural capitalist commodity production by chattel slave labor that dominated the South, represented by the Confederacy. The victory of the Union industrial capitalists was the revolutionary transformation of the southern economy, not because it 'freed the Negroes' but because it abolished the mode of appropriation of chattel slave labor, which abolition laid the foundation for the triumph of capitalist commodity production on the basis of wage labor in the South today.
The next revolution in America will be on the basis of the results of the Civil War: the war of wage labor against capital and will not be blacks, immitating Malcolm's examples of the War of Independence to 'seperate from white folk', spouting rhetoric about 'freedom, justice and equality'. The overwhelming majority of descendents of African slaves in the United States are completely merged into the American proletariat, and will participate in a united proletarian revolution the objective of which is the abolition of capitalist commodity production and wage labor by the workers siezing of the productive forces, by winning the battle of democracy to legislate the transfer of the productive forces from the private possession of capitalist classes to the public property of the working classes.
Malcolm X was talking racial confusion among black proletarians in Detroit when he based his concept of revolution as racial, his concept of 'revolution' as of independence. Thus the disinformation of presenting revolutions as race wars rather than class wars, was very wrong and misleading when he said:
In Kenya, the Mau Mau were revolutionaries; they were the ones who made the word "Uhuru" [Kenyan word for "freedom"]. They were the ones who brought it to the fore. The Mau Mau, they were revolutionaries. They believed in scorched earth. They knocked everything aside that got in their way, and their revolution also was based on land, a desire for land. In Algeria, the northern part of Africa, a revolution took place. The Algerians were revolutionists; they wanted land. France offered to let them be integrated into France. They told France: to hell with France. They wanted some land, not some France. And they engaged in a bloody battle.
The Mau Mau were not revolutionaries and there was no revolution in Kenya or in Algeria. Malcolm's trick of disinformation was to associate Blacks [Africans] killing whites [Europeans] as 'revolution, on the American independence model of the Continental Army killing British Red-Coats to win independence. The closer to revolutionary in Africa wasn't nationalists Dedan Kamathi or Jomo Kenyatta in Kenya, or the Muslim Ben Bella in Algeria, but the Marxist pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana, whose independence movements achieved their objectives by mass civil disobedience, non-violent politics of 'positive action'.
Kwame Nkrumah and Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ghana, March 1957 by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah hosts Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ghana during the independence celebrations, March 1957
Kenneth Kaunda and Martin Luther King making a joint statement against US investment in South Africa at the UN in 1965. Kaunda was the former leader of the United National Independence Party which led Zambia to independence. by Pan-African News Wire File Photos.
Former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. , the leader of the SCLC. Kenneth Kaunda and Martin Luther King making a joint statement against US investment in South Africa at the UN in 1965. Kaunda was the former leader of the United National Independence Party which led Zambia to independence.
[ ["Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression" (April 16, 1968)]
Some days ago, Martin Luther King, the Afro-American clergyman, was suddenly assassinated by the U.S. imperialists. Martin Luther King was an exponent of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the U.S. imperialists did not on that account show any tolerance toward him, but used counter-revolutionary violence and killed him in cold blood. This has taught the broad masses of the Black people in the United States a profound lesson. It has touched off a new storm in their struggle against violent repression sweeping well over a hundred cities in the United States, a storm such as has never taken place before in the history of that country. It shows that an extremely powerful revolutionary force is latent in the more than twenty million Black Americans.
The storm of Afro-American struggle taking place within the United States is a striking manifestation of the comprehensive political and economic crisis now gripping U.S. imperialism. It is dealing a telling blow to U.S. imperialism, which is beset with difficulties at home and abroad.
The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It is a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. On behalf of the Chinese people, I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.
Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progessives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers' movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.
In 1963, in the "Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism," I said that the "the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people." I still maintain this view.
At present, the world revolution has entered a great new era. The struggle of the Black people in the United States for emancipation is a component part of the general struggle of all the people of the world against U.S. imperialism, a component part of the contemporary world revolution. I call on the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intellectuals of all countries and all who are willing to fight against U.S. imperialism to take action and extend strong support to the struggle of the Black people in the United States! People of the whole world, unite still more closely and launch a sustained and vigorous offensive against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism, and its accomplices! It can be said with certainty that the complete collapse of colonialism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation, and the complete emancipation of all the oppressed peoples and nations of the world are not far off.
Malcolm X: Message To The Grassroots @
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