[This statement was originally authored an published by the crew of Onkwehón:we Rising.]
The settler’s work is to make even dreams of liberty impossible for the native. The native’s work is to imagine all possible methods for destroying the settler. – Frantz Fanon
The Present World Situation
Onkwehón:we, Afrikans, Filipinos, Mexicans, Palestinians and other colonized and exploited peoples have been waging a struggle against imperialism, all forms of colonialism and the parasitic capitalist world system in some form or another for the past 500 years. This struggle commenced when Europe stretched out and assaulted the majority of the world in order to enrich itself.
This assault resulted in the mass genocide of onkwehón:we, the theft of our lands and the interring of the remainder of our populations in concentration camps euphemistically called reservations and reserves. It saw the rape of Afrika, the stripping of it resources by European settlers and the chaining of millions of its children in order to be sold into slavery in the world wide empires of emerging capitalism. It saw the transformation of ancient societies in the Far East such as China into nations of dope addicts and producers at the point of a European gun. It continued with the attack on the ailing non-European empire of the Ottoman Turks and the final carving up of the Islamic World.
The situation is not much different today, though the forms have changed. Today under the current capitalist world system is the overwhelmingly majority of humynity, who are located primarily in the peripheral Third World – with a minority in the First World centred within the internal semi-colonies, migrant and prison populations – is ground down and exploited under the weight of a minority of imperialist-led classes.
Imperialism has also brought with it new, alien and oppressive social formations and has imposed them on the masses of the colonized: patriarchy, institutionalized mystery religion, capitalist social relations (including private property) etc. This psychological colonization of the oppressed peoples of the world has historically, and continues to be, one of the primary weapons in the imperialists arsenal.
This social re-ordering and psychological colonization of the oppressed nations of the world by imperialism also goes hand-in-hand with the stunting and deforming of the economic development of the colonized. This leads to the underdevelopment of the colonized nations. To accomplish this the imperialists align themselves with native compradors (traitors) and the most backwards class elements. This has lead to the economies of the colonized nations, especially in the so-called ‘Third World, (mal)developing towards comrador capitalism, bureaucrat capitalism, semi-colonialism and semi-feudalism.
Wealth in the imperialist nations is directly, and dialectically, related to the stunting and underdevelopment of the colonized. The mass channeling away of resources, labour and value from the colonized nations to the imperialists is the source of this divide. Indeed, the very process which transformed European serfs, tied as they were to the land and their feudal lords, to landless wage labourers was powered by the rape of colonial world, a process which german revolutionary, philosopher and economist Karl Marx identified as the ‘primitive’ (meaning first, or initial) accumulation of capital. Marx noted quite correctly that the veiled wage slavery of the industrial European worker required as its base slavery pure and simple in the ‘New World.’
Most worrying perhaps though, even to many of those who benefit from the global imperialist system, today imperialism not only oppresses the colonized nations of the world, but wages a war on the very Earth itself as it attempts to drive profits ever higher. Capitalist industrial civilization now threatens the very continued existence of humyn and animal life as we know it. This model, or rather this worldview, is one which sees the natural world as a source of infinite resources just ripe for exploitation, and something which exists solely to be dominated by humynkind, especially the remaining ‘wild’ spaces. Capitalist industrial civilization has driven Us to a point where the very future of Our planet is in doubt. Massive species die offs are no longer news to Us. Neither are reports of rising global temperatures, ocean acidification levels, coral bleaching, deforestation and desertification. We now stand on the verge of total ecological collapse. The statistics bear out the physical cost of imperialism on the very Earth itself. 90 percent of large fish in the oceans are gone. 97 percent of native forests are now destroyed. 98 percent of native grasslands have been destroyed as well. There is ten times as much plastic in the world’s oceans as there is phytoplankton and the world’s amphibian, migratory songbird, mollusk and fish populations are in states of collapse. Each and everyday imperialism drives 200 hundred species to extinction.
The situation facing the world today is truly grave. We must forge a new path forward.
Global Class in the Modern World
Because of the ‘wages of imperialism’ the majority of the peoples, including workers, in the First World countries are net-exploiters. In other words they receive an income greater than the value that they create. This is the result of the heightened exploitation of the majority of the Earth’s peoples, again who are located principally in the Third World. This combined with other benefits in the form of social democracy and the status of Whiteness (particularly in europe and the european settler-colonies of amerika, kanada, quebec, australia, israel and new zealand) has deadened class struggle by way of suppressing the otherwise antagonistic contradiction between the working classes and bourgeoisies of the imperialist nations, creating social peace. This is not a new process either, instead reaching all the way back to the parasitic origins of capitalism in primitive accumulation, though the era of capitalist-imperialism heightened and intensified it. Because of this the workers of the exploiter nations do not fit Marx’s classical definition of the proletariat as being “those who have nothing left to loose but their chains.” They are what Lenin, himself drawing on Engels, labelled an “aristocracy of labour’ or a ‘labour aristocracy’. Indeed these workers have historically organized against the most exploited and oppressed sectors within their own countries and have generally acted as agents of oppression and capitalist-imperialism globally.
The most important effect of this process has been the shifting of the world revolutionary centre away from the working classes of the imperialist nations. In fact, some would argue that it was never there to begin with. The contradiction between the masses exploited by imperialism and the minority of classes which benefit from imperialism is primary today. It is the struggle to free the oppressed and exploited masses of the of the Third World, as well as those ‘minority’ peoples in the core, that will bring about global new democracy, which in turn lays the foundations for socialism and then communism.
The failure to understand the class composition within the imperialist countries as well as the general alignment of forces globally is the key reason for the failure of ostensibly revolutionary forces to organize serious opposition to capitalism and imperialism within the imperialist core, currently and over the course of the last century. A correct understanding of the internal class composition of the imperialist core countries and an understanding of class formations globally is essential for the success of the modern revolutionary project.
While white liberal and social democratic forces in the imperialist centre push consumerist, capitalistic solutions to the crisis facing us, the oppressed people of the world know the truth. Imperialism must be brought down and capitalism destroyed. A new global social order must be brought into existence and build on the ruins of the old world. Only this will save the world on which we live.
Revolutionary Struggle Has Always Been the Only Way Forward
Colonized and exploited people though have never been simple passive victims though. They have fought the advance of parasitic imperialist world system with its attendant patriarchy and ecological destruction every inch of the way. They fought battles of all sizes, from the large to the small, and lead many attempts to shake off imperialism. We saw this in China with the Boxer Rebellion. We saw it in captive Afrikan populations in North America and Haiti with Nat Turner’s revolt and the great Haitian revolution lead by Toussaint Louverture. We saw it among the indigenous peoples of the Americas numerous times as well, from Túpac Amaru II to Tecumseh to Crazy Horse.
The most important anti-imperialist breakthroughs though came in the 20th century with two great waves of revolution. The first great wave was defined by the 1917 October Revolution in Russia led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. At the time Russia was far behind the rest of Europe in terms of capitalist development and was a semi-feudal country. Beyond the Bolsheviks this period was also marked by the courageous attempt at anti-imperialist revolution in Ireland, the Mexican revolution which produced such heroes as Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, the incredible mass mobilization of Afrikan people all around the world for Afrikan liberation and unification lead by Marcus Garvey, and the great national awakening and anti-monarchial Xinhai revolution in China led by Sun Yat-sen.
Lenin and the Bolsheviks lit the torch of revolution. However the revolution in Russia began to stagnate and decay after the death of Lenin during the leadership of Stalin. Stalin, faced with total imperialist encirclment and the threat (eventually actualized) of fascist/imperialist invasion, took a more conservative course in the direction of the Soviet Union. In particular he overturned Lenin’s revolutionary foreign policy, which under Lenin had been genuinely internationalist. This had nearly disatrous effects on the Chinese revolutionary struggle and other revolutionary and anti-imperialist movements. Within the Soviet Union Stalin moved backwards on issues relating to womyn’s and queer liberation. Stalin’s policies, while they can be understood within the context in which they were formed, did ultimately lay the foundations for the development of revisionism and the eventual restoration of capitalist social relations and the emergence of the Soviet Union as an imperial power by the 1950s after his own death.
However, despite the failure of the Russian Revolution there is much we can learn much from the Soviet experience.
The second great wave of anti-imperialist revolution began following the end of the second great inter-imperialist war. Although the united states emerged as the paramount imperialist world power in this period, the near total obliteration of imperialist Europe (especially britain, france, germany and italy) overall weakened imperialism as a world system. This opened a window to colonized and exploited people the world over to rise up against their oppressors.
This period was opened up by the Asian revolutionary wave, lead by Chairman Mao Zedong and the Chinese Revolution. With the October 1, 1949 declaration of the People’s Republic of China one quarter of humynity stood up to shake off imperialism and build a better future. In 1950-53, the combined might of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (which came into existence the year before the PRC) stalemated the world’s paramount imperialist power in the Korean War. The early 1950s also saw the defeat of french imperialist forces in Indochina at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ.
This second wave peaked in the 1960s and 70s, in particular between 1966 and 1976. Launching the 1960s was the great internationalist revolution in Cuba lead by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. Liberation wars intensified in Afrika, especially in occupied Azania (South Africa), Zimbabwe, Namibia, the Congo and the Portuguese colonies of Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe. In Indochina, where amerikan imperialism had replaced the french, a second wave of anti-imperialist struggle brought liberation to the peoples of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. In 1966 Mao, along his allies Lin Biao, Jiang Qing (his wife), Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which attempted to actively revolutionize the superstructure of society.
The second great wave of revolution also saw a split in the communist movement between those forces that supported the new revisionist, social-imperialist leadership of the USSR and those who supported the genuinely revolutionary pole which was centred in China. Some countries, such as Viet Nam, the DPRK and Cuba either tried to remain independent or take a middle path between the USSR and China, and made their own powerful and lasting contributions to the global revolutionary struggle. However attempting to take a neutral role ended in stagnation.
This wave also saw the rising up of colonized peoples within the settler-colonial countries of kanada, australia, new zealand, israel and the united states. In the united states there emerged a number of mass movements and revolutionary vanguards from within the colonized population, most notably the American Indian Movement, Brown Berets, Young Lords, August 29th Movement, I Wor Kuen, Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, New Afrikan People’s Organization and the Uhuru Movement.
The second wave of world revolution went into decline with the victory of the counter-revolution in China lead by Deng Xiaoping following the death of Mao in 1976. Holdouts of revolution remained, particularly in the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania, which under Enver Hoxha had sided with the Chinese communists against Soviet revisionism and social-imperialism. However following the death of Mao Hoxha committed a number of errors and Albania slowly descended into dogmatism,
However, today we stand on the cusp of a third great wave of revolutionary struggle, led by the colonized and exploited people of the world. While we must uphold in a critical, general, and non-dogmatic way the contributions of the Russian, Chinese and other revolutions, we also need new revolutionary science that will show us where past revolutions have gone wrong and how we can move forward into socialism, and then our final goal, the total liberation of communism.
From occupied Turtle Island, to Afrika, to the Philippines, to India, to Afghanistan, to Iraq, to Palestine the resistance to imperial and colonial domination by the oppressed and exploited nations of the world is the vanguard of the revolutionary struggle to bring down the capitalist world-system and put an end to the destruction of the Earth. With their heroic sacrifices the warriors of the colonized and exploited have not only continued to resist but also to shine a light on the path to a fairer, more humane, sustainable world.
Onkwehón:we Rising stands resolutely in this revolutionary tradition.
Death to Imperialism!
Defend Mother Earth!
Victory to the Colonized and Exploited Peoples of the World!
Long Live Our Martyrs!