Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X were born today, colonialists fucking tremble.
(Picture via freedom road socialist organization)
Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X were born today, colonialists fucking tremble.
— Malcolm X, Murdered today in 1965.
— Malcolm X
The mentality perpetuated by anarchists and liberals creates a peculiar line between the “good” and “bad” socialists. It seems that anarchists and liberals vehemently support communists/socialists who didn’t win their revolution (yet), or were swiftly defeated, such as: The Black Panthers, Communists who suffered under the Pinochet regime in Chile, American Communists black-listed under McCarthy, Malcolm x, academics like Walter Benjamin, and the occasional exception being support for Che, who they absurdly distance from communism and the Cuban revolution. Granted there are some people reactionary enough to distance themselves from all of these fighters.
The “Bad” communists are those who made their revolutions and held on, Castro, Lenin, Kim Il-Sung, Mao, and of course Marx and Engels themselves…
Liberals tend to rely on paying lip-service to radical figures, while distancing their legacy from the actual ideas they represented. They repackage revolutionary figures into “democracy safe” distortions. Radical histories become legitimate expressions of anger, but locked in their particular time period: the illusion being that legal methods have developed to address all of the ailments radicals have historically confronted.
Anarchists pretend to take the historical moral high ground by distancing themselves from all notable instances where the character of a revolution would be tested; or else they rewrite events like Makhno’s military dictatorship to be the epitome of anti-hierarchical egalitarian perfection. This way the difficult questions are never asked, and their politics are never put to the test— Questions like “Do we dare to win?” , and “How are we going to suppress the bourgeoisie counter-revolution?” (you know, that thing that has happened after every working-class revolution EVER?) Purity in intention subsumes all practical demands, and history is cherry-picked to present a story of the courageous martyrs with an uncompromising vision of liberty, and the tyrants who played the role of opportunist.
By taking authority out of the equation instead of seeing it as a problem to be solved, the difficult tasks of serious revolutionary activity are sidestepped. The stage is set for future coup attempts, and self-righteous anger when the legitimate revolutionary forces don’t cave to the minority vanguard of moral champions. This is not paranoid, this is already happening, and whereas many of us may not be totally sympathetic to “Stalinists”, and probably nearly none of us are sympathetic to the cultish RCP, the attitudes reflected in this attack are not isolated, but represent a historical continuity. When the weak and diffused anarchists outlets find themselves burnt out time and time again, and are sick of making grungier versions of Church style charity institutions, they get violent at other leftists groups, because it gives them the illusion that they are not utterly powerless. Let me be clear: this is not true of all anarchists by any means. Many anarchists supported the Bolsheviks, and fought alongside them. Many anarchists today are legitimately interested in left solidarity and wouldn’t dream of attacking other left groups; but in history and in modern practice we have to be aware and prepared of such profoundly counter-revolutionary sentiments from anarchists, and wingnut left-communist groups.
I am proud to stand in the legacy of revolutionary fighters from nearly every country on earth who were informed by Marxism-Leninism; I accept our historical faults and problems, and confront them directly. Struggle doesn’t mean having the right belief system, and it doesn’t mean not making mistakes, it means analyzing historical trends, adapting and evolving. To throw the baby out with the bathwater is to erase the most profound and successful tools the working class has developed to fight bourgeoisie class oppression. It is to distance yourself from global anti-colonial struggle, and resistance against imperialism. A-historical categories like “State” and “Power” say nothing about the current character of a revolutionary struggle: sometimes it is progressive to support people, places, or things, that you don’t agree with, or are doing something you think is “fucked up”, because there are larger conditions at work. Sometimes revolution isn’t about your desires.
“Discussions about the alleged breakdown of the black family and the need for strong African American male role models serve as an important backdrop to the resurgence interest in and celebration of Malcolm X. Spike Lee’s X, which has, unfortunately, become the final word on Malcolm X for millions of Americans, is but an expensive Hollywood ending to a much longer period of reconstructing his memory. One of the many distortions has been the conspicuous inattention to gender politics. Malcolm’s own view of women, as well as the implications of a largely masculinized version of the black freedom movement, is uncritically accepted by many who invoke his memory.
In this revisionist reconstruction of the past, and especially in Lee’s film, Malcolm has been amputated from the larger social and political context of the 1960s to stand on his own as representative of an entire movement and era…What we are also left with is an erasure of the grassroots component of the Black Power and Civil Rights movements, especially the role of grassroots women organizers, who were the very backbone of groups like SNCC (the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), MFDP (Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party) and, in a different way, the Black Panther Party. Organizers like Fannie Lou Hammer and Ella Baker have been literally “X’d” out of the popular—and unfortunately, most academic—histories, African American youth and others are left with the disempowering misperception that only larger-than-life great men can make or change history, and that this process of an individual rather than a collective venture. The struggle for black liberation is thus equated solely with the struggle to redeem black manhood, and with individual triumph over adversities and indignities.”
“What has been created in popular culture, according to historian Robert D.G. Kelley, is a “Malcolm safe for democracy.” While most portrayals of Malcolm, even twenty-second sound bites, display his incisive critique of racism, they systematically exclude any reference to his positions on other crucial issues such as imperialism, colonialism, capitalism, and, of course, gender…In most accounts, Malcolm’s patriarchal and sexist ideas, which regrettably remained static through most of his life, are either ignored, downplayed, or reinforced. For example, in the movie X, Betty Shabazz is portrayed uncritically as “the strong woman behind the great man.” No mention is made of the fact that she left Malcolm after the birth of each of their five children, or of her subordinate status within the context of their male-headed family. Furthermore, no mention is made of Malcolm’s own effort to grapple with and challenge the sexism that characterized most of his adult life. In a correspondance to his cousin-in-law, Hakim Jamal, in January 1965, Malcolm himself confronts this issue:
I taught brothers not only to deal unintelligently with the devil or the white woman, but I also taught brothers to spit acid at the sisters. They were kept in their places—you probably didn’t notice this in action, but it is a fact. I taught the brothers to spit acid at the sisters. If the sisters decided a thing was wrong, they had to suffer it out. If the sister wanted to have her husband at home with her for the evening, I taught the brothers that the sisters were standing in their way; in the way of the Messenger, in the way of progress, in the way of God Himself. I did these things, brother. I must undo them.
…The hero worship of Malcolm as a great black father and the uncritical acceptance of his retrograde views on gender, a weakness that he himself recognized, is quite consistent with the new culture of poverty theorists, who blame African American people—women, in particular—for perpetuating our own oppression, and who propose strong male-dominated families as the solution.”
—From the essay ‘Black Popular Culture and the Transcendence of Patriarchal Illusions,’ by Barbara Ransby and Tracye Matthews, anthologized in Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought.
Fidel Castro meeting with Malcolm X
Words of wisdom to all of our comrades in Chicago! Destroy NATO! No remorse for the disgusting swine of the Chicago Police Department!
Happy Birthday to Malcolm X, hero in the struggle of all oppressed peoples against racism and capitalism.
“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”
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