Friday, April 29, 2011

Face2FaceAfrica Book Review: "Barack Obama and 21st Century Politics: A Revolutionary Moment in the USA"

Campbell argues that Obama was caught in this revolutionary moment, though he is not a revolutionary (p 271). As a major actor in the revolutionary moment, Obama leveraged the values and lessons of his upbringing and his training. He had been influenced by the humanist values of his mother and by the lessons he learned as a student of the black liberation struggles (p xiii). Also, his worldview of the historical struggle against domination had been broadened by his reconnection with his African heritage in Kenya (p 29). Read more

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Libya Must Not Be Partitioned

The raging debates at the highest levels of the US National Security establishment and various interests within NATO over the current military ‘stalemate’ in Libya conceals an even more competitive effort on the ground in Libya by petroleum interests who are keen on dividing up the territory to ensure access to the vast oil resources of Libya. At the forefront of this aggressive partitioning effort is the French military, political and oil establishment that has not only recognised the transitional government in Benghazi but has also been the most pushy on advancing military options even in the face of opposition from other NATO members such as Germany, Greece, Spain and Turkey. Although in public the US military and the opportunistic force of the US Africa Command are supporting the military option, in Congressional testimony and in press reports in the United States, the secretary of defense, Robert Gates has stated that any oresident who would commit ground troops to a place such as Libya ought to have his head examined. Gates has also noted that the events in Libya were ‘a real formula for insecurity.’ These comments were restated by the ‘New York Times’ in the same paragraph where the paper stated that ‘Mr. Obama’s decision to join the military intervention in Libya may well be judged a failure if the initial result is a muddle or a partition of the country.’

Who will benefit from partitioning Libya? Why did the same US foreign policy establishment pour cold water on the peace initiatives of the African Union? Why did the head of the CIA proclaim early after the start of the rebellion that Gaddafi and his family will prevail? These questions are urgent in the face of the clear political and ideological weaknesses of the transitional authority of Benghazi who have failed to inspire the urban oppressed inside Tripoli to rise up and demand freedom. Instead, this political leadership continues to call for support from the military forces of NATO, even after NATO bombed their convoy, claiming ‘mistaken identity.’ Some sections of this rebellion hope to overcome inexperience and disorganisation through the involvement of ground troops and Special Forces from NATO. These ‘rebel’ leaders have forgotten the most recent history of the Chalabis and those Iraqis who pushed vigorously for US military involvement in Iraq. Those sections of the US military who understand clearly that the United States cannot afford to be seduced into another creeping war are opposed to the current NATO military exercise while those sections of the military/intelligence forces allied to Israel and the oil interests view the Libya operation as forward planning to be able to thwart the maturation of the Egyptian revolutionary process as it unfolds.

The tinderbox of the evolution of the changed politics of Africa and the Middle East contain the seeds of a wider conflagration if peace and justice forces do not actively oppose the partitioning of Libya and the planning for war and counter-revolution. I will join with those forces in Africa calling for the African Union to be more forthright in its initiatives for peace and call upon Brazil, Russia, India, China and Vietnam to press the Security Council to withdraw the open ended mandate of Resolution 1973 that called for ‘all necessary measures to protect civilians.’ France, Britain and the USA have gone beyond the mandate and Africans at home and abroad must rein in the NATO forces and call on the UN Secretary General to replace NATO with UN peacekeepers that are not compromised by petroleum interests. This secretary general is coming up for re-election and should be aware that European and US political interests are not the same as those who want peace. The partitioning of Libya will not support peace and reconstruction in Africa and it is in the face of this partitioning where the forces of pan African unity and peace must advance the ideas of people centered unity to isolate militarists within and outside Africa.


At the same time while the French political establishment was pretending to support democratization and rebellion against injustice in Libya, the French society was in the midst of implementing laws that targeted the dress of women who followed the Islamic faith. President Sarkozy who has not hidden his racist ideas about Africans and Arabs had given the green light to the neo-conservative and far right elements within France by courting the support of the neo-fascist National Front electorate. In a society where the impact of the economic recession was taking its toll on French workers with manifestations all over the country, Sarkozy was championing anti-immigrant sentiments and claiming that French involvement in Libya was to prevent a flood of Africans from crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Sarkozy is facing re-election in the coming year and is setting out a robust domestic and foreign policy based on xenophobia and French imperialism in Africa and the Middle East. Read more

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Manning Marable and the March Towards a Socialist America

Manning Marable, who passed away on Friday 1 April 2011 in New York City, belonged to the traditions of Black radicals who were not afraid of red baiting, and therefore he spoke out clearly against the capitalist system and the associated values of greed, individualism, sexism and exploitation. Like Ella Baker, W.E.B. Dubois and Paul Robeson, Marable used his intellect to challenge the system of injustice and this was clear in his first major book, ‘How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America: Problems in Race, Political Economy, and Society’. This book was a thorough critique of the evolution of US capitalism. Marable made it clear through the chapters that one could not fight against racism without fighting the capitalist mode of production. In the last section of the book, Marable raised the issue of the genocidal tendencies of the capitalists and concluded with his vision of the need to organise and mobilise towards a socialist America.

Throughout his earthly life, Manning Marable never forgot the imprint of chattel slavery on the United States and the concomitant crimes against humanity. Hence, Marable understood the limitations of liberal democracy and natural propensity of the system towards militarism and warfare. He opposed the wars against the people of Vietnam as a young man, just as he opposed the war against the people of Iraq and the imperial pursuit of US policies. He worked within the radical left in the United States. As he passed away on 1 April 2011, the challenges of building a socialist alternative were becoming clearer in the middle of the capitalist crisis, in which the capitalist class is moving to take away the basic rights of collective bargaining from US workers.


Since 1993, Manning Marable was the M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies at Columbia University. He was also the founding director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies and the Center for the Study of Contemporary Black History at Columbia University. Before joining the faculty at Columbia, Manning had taught and directed Black Studies programs at Ohio State University, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and at Colgate University in New York. He was also a former director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University. Manning used his position in academia to further the knowledge of the social system and the institutions of oppression; his scholarly activities over the past 30 years have furthered the Black radical and socialist traditions that have raised a generation of distinguished Black intellectuals.

As a teacher and mentor of students, Manning Marable built a base from inside the belly of Columbia University that was essentially viewed as an occupying power in Harlem. For decades this university, like so many others in urban areas, has been encroaching on the black community, displacing people from their neighborhoods. Thus, Manning Marable understood that he had to work inside and outside academia to build one front for the struggle for change within the very corridors of the same institution that legitimised capitalist oppression in New York.

Marable was a prolific writer. Apart from the book, ‘How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America’, Manning Marable authored and co-edited more than 20 books including, ‘African and Caribbean Politics from Kwame Nkrumah to the Grenada Revolution’ (1987), ‘Race, Reform and Rebellion’ (1991), ‘Beyond Black and White’ (1995), ‘Black Liberation in Conservative America’ (1997), ‘Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism’ (1996), ‘Black Leadership’ (1998), ‘Let Nobody Turn Us Around’ (2000), ‘Freedom: A Photographic History of the African American Struggle’ (with Leith Mullings and Sophie Spencer-Wood, 2002), and ‘The Great Wells of Democracy’ (2003).

His most recent book, ‘Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention’ (2011), was issued on Monday 4 April 2011, three days after he joined the ancestors. Read more