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Africa, imperialism & the global class struggle

Published Dec 2, 2008 6:49 PM

Abayomi Azikiwe
WW photo: G. Dunkel

Most researchers and writers on African affairs, both bourgeois and historical materialist, have recognized the African origins of human society. The contributions of successive African civilizations and cultures have been well documented in various publications.

These efforts to re-correct the distortions in the way African history has been narrated and interpreted are important in understanding the significance and character of political events that are occurring on the continent today. In order for Africa to overcome the legacy of the Atlantic slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism, there must be a struggle to transform the exploitative and oppressive conditions which have been imposed by world imperialism, with a leading role played by the ruling class in the United States.

This African struggle is taking place with greater intensity in the first decade of the 21st century. What is taking place on the continent is a direct result of the continuing efforts by the imperialist countries to dominate the resources, labor and political institutions in all of the African states.

Progressive and revolutionary thinkers and tacticians have stressed the dialectical relationship between the economic development of Western Europe and the United States and the consequent underdevelopment of Africa. Activists and chroniclers of African and African-American history have maintained that the profits accrued from the exploitation of Black labor, land and resources played a central role in the rise of world capitalism.

This historical materialist approach to analyzing the past as a guide to understanding the present and preparing for the future was discussed by the Russian revolutionary V.I. Lenin.

Beginning a historical analysis from this perspective leads us into understanding that the underlying social forces that fuel the conflicts that transform society are rooted in the struggle between dominant and subjugated classes.

The class struggle in Africa & the African-American national question

The class struggle is not limited to the so-called advanced Western capitalist countries. With the expansion of colonialism throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, South Pacific, Indian Ocean region and within North America itself, class and national divisions were institutionalized by the imperialists to ensure the domination of finance capital.

Kwame Nkrumah, the founder of Ghana’s independence movement after World War II, who later became the chief strategist of the African revolutionary struggle that emerged during the 1950s and 1960s, applied the theory of class struggle advanced by Marx, Engels and Lenin to developments on the African continent.

Nkrumah emphatically stated that “A fierce class struggle has been raging in Africa. The evidence is all around us. In essence it is, as in the rest of the world, a struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed.

“The African Revolution is an integral part of the world socialist revolution, and just as the class struggle is basic to world revolutionary processes, so also is it fundamental to the struggle of the workers and peasants of Africa.” (Nkrumah, “Revolutionary Path,” 1973)

The contributions of Workers World to the understanding of the central role of Africa and the other former colonial and semi-colonial nations in the global class struggle has been reviewed over the last year through various articles that are reprinted on a weekly basis. In studying and analyzing developments that emerged during the post-World War II period, Sam Marcy and other co-founders of the party clearly recognized the political significance of the revolutions in China, Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and on the African continent.

Today, Workers World covers the struggle against U.S. intervention in various parts of Africa, including, but not limited to, the efforts to destabilize Sudan in order to seize its oil; to isolate Zimbabwe over the land question; to dominate Somalia because of the people’s refusal to submit to a foreign, imperialist-financed and-coordinated occupation.

The impact of the multinational oil and other extractive industries is noted in the ongoing struggles taking place in Nigeria, Mauritania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and South Africa, to name a few.

As anti-imperialists and proletarian internationalists, we will continue to work in solidarity with all genuine mass movements as well as progressive and revolutionary organizations in Africa. The role of the Africa Command (AFRICOM) and other militarist schemes to subjugate the continent will be defeated by the organizational weight of the African workers and farmers in conjunction with a class-conscious proletariat in the Western countries.

Finally, the understanding and appreciation of the role of the African continent in the global class struggle also relates to the pivotal importance of resolving the problem of racism in the United States—what Marxists call the national question. The more than 40 million people of African descent in the U.S. have always maintained recognition of the continent as their historical homeland. Consequently, the history and contemporary affairs of Africa are of major concern to the African-American people.

The most progressive and revolutionary elements in the African community in the United States have always taken great consideration of the struggle for liberation by the peoples of the continent as an important objective in their own efforts aimed at achieving total freedom in this country.

Workers World has always understood the Leninist principle upholding the right to self-determination of oppressed nations under capitalism and imperialism. The party has never wavered in supporting and defending the inherent right of African Americans to determine the form and method of their struggle for liberation.

Workers World analyzed the significance of the social forces that propelled President-elect Barack Obama into an electoral victory where he will become the first African-American president of the United States. At the same time, the newspaper defended him and Michelle Obama against every racist attack by the right-wing and exposed the threats posed by the character of the McCain-Palin political base.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. Go to panafricannews.blogspot.com