Date: Thu, 20 May 1999 02:32:52 -0700 (PDT)
The Legacy of Malcolm X: Carry it forward by taking up his political stand
By Owusu Yaki Yakubu, Crossroad Support Network, 20 May 1999
Malcolm's thought and action were not based upon unalterable concepts and formulas, but rather upon the data provided by his study of actual conditions and the creative development of new situations. Malcolm would not continue to hold onto old concepts and formulas devised on the basis of conditions that no longer exist.
We can form hypotheses regarding the probable content and character of Malcolm's ideological and programmatic development had he lived and continued to pursue the course indicated by the words and deeds of his last days. However, no matter what meaning We give to the things Malcolm said and did, and no matter what We think that Malcolm would be saying and doing were he alive today, We must decide upon the legacy that We want to leave for future generations.
We know with certainty that Malcolm left a legacy of unselfish commitment to the struggle of Afrikans in the u.s. for the realization of our national and revolutionary interests. In the last months of his life, Malcolm was developing positions which were more genuinely and consistently revolutionary and scientific.
We can begin to carry this legacy forward, with respect for Malcolm, by taking up his political stand and by making our contributions to its development.
The essence of that stand is a concern to master nature, society, and one's self; to strive to understand the world, and to use one's understanding in order to help change the world; to engage in an on-going process of formulating and testing ideas through revolutionary practice in the struggle to end the domination of u.s. and world capitalist- imperialism, and to place political/state power in the hands of the people.
The stand that We take up should be one resting on a perception of the natural and social orders as being subject to objective laws of development that can (and must) be utilized to help us make better lives for ourselves through struggles for national independence and social revolution.
Like Malcolm, We should understand that We exist in the world as social beings, as integral parts of a whole. Our stand is the stand of a people, of an oppressed nation vis-a-vis the forces of capitalist oppression. More particularly, our stand is the stand of the most revolutionary class of the nation, the working class. The stand of Malcolm, the stand that We must take up and creatively develop, is the stand of the nation for its independence, and of the working class for social revolution; it is representative of the consciousness of the nation and the revolutionary class, an awareness of our historic position and mission in the system of the world order, and of our fundamental, long-term interests.
Afrikans in the u.s. join other oppressed peoples as gravediggers of capitalism and imperialism. Our interests are fundamentally opposed to the continued ideological, political, and economic hegemony of the u.s. and its allies and puppets. Our mission is to regain absolute control of our natural and human resources, and to direct their use toward the all-round development of each person, according to the principles of collective mastery.
Also characteristic of Malcolm's stand is the search for a scientific revolutionary theory, and a corresponding attempt to build an organized structure that would test the theory in the course of practical revolutionary activities with the masses of our people and with our allies, under the leadership of the working class.
Central to the stand that We must take up is a focus on the acquisition, use, and retention of state power -- our only guarantee for an ultimate solution to our problems in all spheres of socioeconomic life. Only state power, exercised according to our development of scientific socialist principles, can secure our long-sought "freedom, justice, and equality."
Malcolm based his ideas and actions upon what he called a "proper analysis" of conditions and of interests, so that We can know what the "stakes" in the struggle really are. For Malcolm, the "stakes" were material and human resources, the control of land, the ownership of major means of production and distribution on national and international levels.
When Malcolm said, "I'm not an American," he was expressing a conclusion that he had arrived at after a thorough analysis of the concrete historical conditions that have confronted Afrikans in the u.s. Malcolm described those as colonialism. Today, he might call them neo-colonialism.
The colonial oppression of Afrikans in the u.s. helped Malcolm to understand colonialism elsewhere, and helped him to begin forming bonds of worldwide solidarity with other colonized peoples against capitalist imperialism, "as the slave system in the West is called." Malcolm's understanding of the world system of imperialism, in turn, sharpened his understanding of the colonial oppression of Afrikans in the u.s.
Malcolm's analysis of the concrete conditions inside the u.s. and throughout the world led him to the conclusion that the fundamental contradiction in the world -- the fundamental problem facing Afrikans in the u.s. -- was one posing "them" against "us." Malcolm initially posed this contradiction in racial terms, and later he more accurately pointed toward "international capitalism" as the real enemy, because Afrikans in the u.s. and elsewhere were and are oppressed "for economic reasons," and not because of the color of our skin, i.e., "racism" is a mere tool used by international capitalism and colonialism; it's a shadow that far too often diverts our attention away from the substance.
With our attention now on the "substance," where and how do We begin? We could look toward Malcolm for some examples, and We can say that he began with proper orientation, study, and struggle.
We will receive our orientation from our philosophies, ideologies, and theories. At this stage of struggle, much of our orientation will be provided by a common strategic line on the need to concentrate our efforts among the masses, in work to realize a "revolutionary democratic program."
At bottom, no matter what may be our differing philosophical, ideological, or theoretical positions, We all must work with and for the masses, around "food, clothing, and shelter" issues -- or be left by the wayside. We can tackle these issues in our usual separate and ineffective ways, or We can tackle them together, combining and coordinating our resources in the form of national revolutionary democratic front.
More than this, however, our orientation must be genuinely and consistently revolutionary. Putting all nuance and vacillation aside, the only way to be genuinely and consistently revolutionary in the real world is to fight to bring about the downfall of international capitalism and for the rise of socialism. Anything less than this would not be a creative development of Malcolm's legacy.
This is the kind of orientation that We must have, and it's the kind of orientation that We must promote in our work among the masses. Only the insincere or the misguided, or people who otherwise aren't carrying forward Malcolm's legacy, would hesitate to promote such revolutionary concepts and programs among the masses of our people. That such concepts won't be readily embraced in most quarters is no excuse for not promoting them. That capitalism needs to fall, and socialism needs to rise, is the truth. And, as Malcolm would say, We're gonna tell the truth whether people like it or not.
Initial orientation must be reinforced, refined. We must study. Again, turning to Malcolm, We see that, once oriented, he began to prepare himself for the many battles that he knew were ahead of him. Not only did he raise his basic literacy skills, but he studied a variety of subjects. He sharpened and tested skills and ideas (e.g., debates), and he began to teach as part of his learning process. He dialectically combined theory and practice, study and struggle.
We can begin in a similar way, by consciously organizing and orientating our study groups, our networks, our social investigation committees, our research projects, our community action task forces, our strategic studies institutes, and our international policy boards.
All thought, all theory and ideas must be linked to forms of practice. When We organize "study groups" We're organizing people. The objective is to organize people that aren't already organized or that aren't organized to carry forward Malcolm's legacy.
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