[News] Malcolm X’s Internationalism - The Struggle for Liberation in Haiti Today
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Fri Feb 27 11:14:35 EST 2015
Weekend Edition Feb 27-Mar 01, 2015
*Malcolm X’s Internationalism *
The Struggle for Liberation in Haiti Today
by AJAMU NANGWAYA
“…when you select heroes about which black children ought to be
taught, let them be black heroes who have died fighting for the
benefit of black people. We never were taught about Christophe or
Dessalines. It was the slave revolt in Haiti when slaves, black
slaves, had the soldiers of Napoleon tied down and forced him to
sell one half of the American continent to the Americans. They don’t
teach us that. This is the kind of history we want to learn.” –
February 21, 2015 marked the 50^th anniversary of the assassination of
Malcolm X who is is firmly located within the ranks of the foremost
luminaries of Pan-Afrikanism. As such, he was very much concerned
with the fate of Afrikans across the globe. The broadness of Malcolm’s
humanity and sympathy informed his internationalism, which included all
oppressed peoples, especially the racialized ones who have experienced
the lashes of global white supremacy.
This year, 2015, also marks the commencement of the 100^th anniversary
of the United States’ invasion and occupation of Haiti, the 11th
anniversary of the Western-backed coup against the
democratically-elected government Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the current
MINUSTAH occupation, and the 5^th anniversary of the devastating 2010
earthquake. The outlook of this ardent Pan-Afrikanist and
internationalist, Malcolm X, ought to have relevance to the organized
solidarity that anti-imperialists and Pan-Afrikanists should be
demonstrating toward the labouring classes in Haiti.
One of the most important anti-imperialist struggles in the Americas
today is the occupation of Haiti by western imperialism by way of the
/United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti /(MINUSTAH). As long
as this military occupation is in effect, the individuals and
organizations who claim to be champions of the self-determination and
independence of oppressed people should be organizing to end it. The
people of Haiti are actively resisting the neocolonial regime and the
occupation force that have been imposed on them. Are we,
internationalists, playing our part as comrades-in-arms with “the
wretched of the earth” in Haiti?
Haiti’s legacy of materially contributing to the independence struggles
in South America and Central America, and accelerating the end to
slavery in the Americas ought to inspire a higher level of commitment
for its popular struggle on the ground. The Haitian Revolution clearly
demonstrated the creative genius, boldness, resilience and self-reliance
of a dispossessed people when they are motivated by a compelling idea or
vision. Hence, the labouring classes in Haiti are heirs to a
revolutionary tradition that affirms the capacity of the socially damned
to assert themselves on the stage of history as dramatic actors.
It was not an accident that Malcolm made connection to the Haitian
Revolution in his effort to achieve human rights for Afrikan Americans.
He expressed admiration for its example of militancy and courage in
checkmating white supremacy, enslavement and colonialism, “[Frederick]
Douglass was great. I would rather have been taught about Toussaint
L’Ouverture. We need to be taught about who fought, who bled for freedom
and made others bleed.” Malcolm told his followers that history was a
very instructive and wise teacher and worthy of emulation. He encouraged
them to “examine the historic method used all over the world by others
who have problem similar to yours.” The enslaved Afrikans in Haiti
used revolutionary violence to assert that the slogan “equality, liberty
and fraternity[solidarity]” was applicable to their struggle for
One of the most admirable and central elements of Malcolm’s contribution
to the Afrikan Revolutionary Tradition was his internationalist and
Pan-Afrikanist thoughts and politics. Temkin states that there are much
to learn from engaging the internationalist thoughts of Malcolm in areas
such as “human rights, the politics of citizenship, the impact of
decolonization, anti-imperialism, the global and black left, and the
tension between geopolitics and individual or collective political
action.”This Afrikan revolutionary was preoccupied with strategically
internationalizing the national struggle of Afrikans inside the United
He saw the significance of connecting the global struggles for
emancipation of the peoples of Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and
Afrika. This ideological orientation is evidenced in this declaration:
1964 will see the Negro revolt evolve and merge into the worldwide black
revolution that has been taking place on this earth since 1945. The
so-called revolt will become a real black revolution. Now the black
revolution has been taking place in Africa and Asia and Latin America;
when I say black, I mean non-white – black, brown, red or yellow.
The common experience of colonialism and white supremacy created the
basis for unity of purpose in the eyes of Malcolm. This political
sensibility informed his framing of the resistance of the racialized
world to European colonialism and the thrust toward independence. It is
important to note that this United States-based internationalist held
the national resistance struggle of Afrikan Americans as an integral
part of the “worldwide black revolution.”
This fight for liberation from white supremacy and imperialism made
solidarity and mutual aid among the racialized world majority an
objective and existential necessity, from the vantage point of Malcolm’s
internationalist outlook. It is for the preceding reason that Malcolm
lavished unbridled, albeit unnuanced, praise on the 1955 /Bandung
Conference/ that pulled together independent Afrikan and Asian states to
further economic cooperation and provide collective resistance to the
colonialism and hegemony of the white imperial or major powers.
The work that took place at the /Bandung Conference/ led to the
emergence of the /Non-Aligned Movement/ of states that stood outside of
the West and the former Soviet Union and its state socialist Eastern
European allies. Bandung’s unity was seen by Malcolm as a “model for the
same procedure you and I [Afrikans in America] can use to get our
Malcolm’s extensive visits to Afrika and Western Asia (Middle East)
broadened his internationalist perspective and framing of issues such as
black nationalism, the emancipation of women, capitalism as a
predator, imperialism as a global system of exploitation,
cooperation with whites, and the role of one’s religious beliefs in
the secular struggle for emancipation. Malcolm’s political
development led him to see the “worldwide revolution” in revolt against
an “international western power structure” or a “giant international
combine” (imperialism) that ruled the peoples and exploited the
resources of the global South. From the time of Malcolm’s /Message
to the Grassroots/ in late 1963 to his “worldwide revolution” speech on
February 15, 1965, one can see a drastic shift from the overly
racializing of the struggle against imperialism to the integration of an
economic analysis into his understanding of global white supremacy and
Malcolm’s understanding of class and race oppression and a developing
gender analysis informed his framing of Afrikan American oppression
within a radical internationalist framework. This internationalizing of
the struggle made him a dangerous figure in the eyes of the United
States and to the “international western power structure’ as
evidenced by the French state denying him entry onto its national
territory. The preceding state of affairs which indicate the
willingness of the forces of oppression to collaborate or act as one
across borders in order to maintain their systems of domination. As
such, it is a moral and political obligation, on the part of the
oppressed, to strategize and cooperate transnationally, otherwise a
revolution in one country would be quite vulnerable.
What lessons or insights should we draw from Malcolm’s international
solidarity and global justice orientation on the question of MINUSTAH’s
occupation of Haiti and the popular struggle against neoliberal
capitalism and the occupier?
A central component of Malcolm’s attempt at internationalizing the
struggle of Afrikans in the United States was to seek intervention
before international bodies such as the United Nations (UN), the
Organization of African Unity (OAU) and the Organization of American
States. He was especially fixated on the UN as the forum in which
the classification of the racist oppression of Afrikan Americans as a
struggle for human right as opposed to one for civil rights, would have
placed it “completely out of the jurisdiction of the United States
The OAU, a body of strongmen, neocolonial agents and kleptocrats, was
seen by Malcolm as a body that would demonstrate solidarity with the
human rights struggle of Afrikan Americans. However, when this
continental group had the opportunity to openly and vigorously challenge
the trampling of the human rights of Afrikan Americans, the OAU took the
path of least resistance by passing a “moderate resolution against
Malcolm overestimated inexplicably gave too much credit to the
usefulness of the two-thirds votes of the “continent of Africa, coupled
with the Asian and Arab bloc” in the General Assembly. The Security
Council is the seat of power and action at the UN and each of the five
permanent members (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States)
wields a veto over its decisions. For example, the UN’s Security Council
intervention in the Congo in July 1960 was a classic case of the UN
being used by western powers to retain this country within its sphere of
influence^^ and checkmate the feared influence of the former Soviet
Union and its military support to the Patrice Lumumba-led government.
Given the current occupation of Haiti by the UN on behalf of western
states such as Canada, France and the United States, it is clear that
this international institution and its Security Council are not allies
in the struggle for human rights in the global South. The UN’s General
Assembly may serve, at best, as the conscience of the world and a place
for moral victory for causes related to the oppressed. We could look at
the case of the United States economic embargo against Cuba or the
Palestinians’ quest for self-determination enjoys solid support in the
General Assembly, but have foundered on the shore of inaction at the
The UN tends to intervene in a country when it is in the interests of
western states to do so. Its military presence in Haiti provides
legitimacy to western powers’ and the local ruling elite’s attempt to
weaken the development or strengthening of a people’s movement that
might undermine capitalism and the geo-strategic interests of imperialism.
Malcolm’s appeal to states or international bodies and the questionable
efficacy of such an approach ought to lead us in the direction of
movements from below as the principal way to challenge imperialism in
Haiti, and everywhere. The operators of the state are fearful of the
autonomous organizing of the people. As such, they will seek to
undermine the existence of independent, oppositional organizations and
movements. The state might do so through co-opting the leaders with
material incentives or use the security services to repress both leaders
and members by way of the security services.
It was the mobilization of the masses or the fear of them being
mobilized that pushed colonial powers such as France and Britain in
Afrika and the Caribbean to embark on the path of formal
independence. Malcolm claimed that the pre-independence nationalism and
consciousness of the people in Afrika had been “fanned from a spark into
a roaring flame” and made things too hot for colonialism.
Malcolm’s faith in the “grass roots out there in the streets” acting
independently of the politically compromised leadership and driving fear
in the power structure is a more fruitful direction in which to
oppose the occupation in Haiti. In fact, this is the very approach that
the popular movement in Haiti has been using to challenge the
western-backed president Michel Martelly and MINUSTAH’s occupation.
In 1986, a mobilized Haitian populace brought an end to the Duvalier
regime and paved the way for the emergence of Jean-Bertrand Aristide and
the organizational expression of their self-determination in the form of
In spite of state violence being directed at the masses in the streets,
they continue to demand a future that centres their economic, social and
political interests. Malcolm’s evolving international solidarity
politics calls for active involvement with the masses in revolt. He
would have encouraged people outside of Haiti to stand with the people
of Haiti, given his admiration of the Haitian Revolution. He told a
group at a public lecture in France that an effective way to help
Afrikan Americans would be to intervene when the police “grab and arrest
us, let them know, well, that they shouldn’t have done it.” While
Malcolm did not specify the range of actions that should be taken by
these would-be internationalists, we have at our disposal a number of
initiatives that can be taken to express our solidarity with the people
After all, the struggle in Haiti is a part of the worldwide “black
revolution” and the fight against the “international western power
structure.” All freedom loving peoples across the globe, and especially
those living in the Americas have an anti-imperialist obligation to
support the people of Haiti as they resist the oppressive forces that
are aligned against them.
A number of Latin American states have contributed military and police
personnel to MINUSTAH’s occupation of Haiti. Many organizations in that
region have started to organize to force an end to the occupation of
Haiti. Internationalists in North America, Europe, Afrika and Asia need
to systematically mobilize, educate and organize the people to drive out
the occupation and allow the people of Haiti to determine their own path
to development. The victory of Haiti in ending slavery and asserting its
political independence lit the flame of freedom across the Americas.
Haiti could once again become the trailblazer of emancipation and
revolutionary fortitude. Internationalists who are in agreement with
Malcolm X’s internationalism and global justice commitments ought to
actively support the fight for self-determination, independence and
development of the labouring classes in Haiti. It is not enough to issue
meaningless praises for Malcolm’s internationalism or be infatuated with
the Haitian Revolution. We need to demonstrate our international
solidarity with Haiti by working in organizations in our respective
countries to support and complement the work being carried out by
Haitians to secure their liberation.
/*Ajamu Nangwaya, *Ph.D., is an educator and organizer. He is an
organizer with the Campaign to End the Occupation in Haiti and the
Toronto Haiti Action Committee./
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/ (New York: Pathfinder Press,
 Hakim Adi & Marika Sherwood, /Pan-African History: Political Figures
from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787/ (New York: Routledge, 2003),
 George Breitman, ed., /Malcom X Speaks: Selected Speeches and
Statements/ (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1965/1989), 217-218
 Kevin Edmonds and Ajamu Nangwaya, “The United Nations Will Fail
Haiti Once Again: Pull Out the Occupation Troops/,” CounterPunch/,
October 14, 2014. Retrieved from
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 124.
 Breitman, Malcom X Speaks, 8.
 Moshik Temkin, “From Black Revolution to ‘‘Radical Humanism’’:
Malcolm X between Biography and International History,” /Humanity
Journal/ 3, 2, (2012): 268.
 Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks,/ 49-50.
 Ibid., 5-6.
 Breitman, /Malcolm X Speaks/, 5.
 Temkin, From Black Revolution, 277. According to Temkin, the United
States was startled by the leaders that Malcolm was associating with,
“He met with a number of heads of state, including Kwame Nkrumah of
Ghana, Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Jomo
Kenyatta of Kenya, Ahmed Se ´kou Toure ´ of Guinea, and Ahmed Ben Bella
of Algeria—charismatic postcolonial leaders who saw themselves as
defying the Western powers and whose varying fusions of African-style
socialism and Pan-Africanism (or Pan-Arabism) appealed to Malcolm X’s
evolving conception of power politics. What made American ofﬁcials most
nervous about Malcolm X’s comings and goings was that they considered
all these leaders either potential or active allies of the Soviet Union”
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 159-60.
 Ibid., 179.
 Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks/, 120-122.
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 116-17.
 Bruce Perry, editor, /Malcolm X: The Last Speeches/, (New York:
Pathfinder Press, 1989) 147.
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 180; Perry, /The Last
 Perry, /The Last Speeches, /127.
 Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 277.
 Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 282-83; Malcolm X, /By Any Means
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 87-88; Breitman, /Malcom X
 Steve Clark, ed., /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People: Speeches in
the United States, Britain, and Africa/, (New York: Pathfinder Press,
 Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 277; ^^ Breitman, /Malcolm X
 Clark, /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People/, 80.
 Abayomi Azikiwe, “Congo still struggles for real independence,”
/Workers World/, July 15, 2010. Retrieved from
 Tom Eley, “Fifty years since the murder of Patrice Lumumba,” /World
Socialist Web Site/, January 22 2011, Retrieved from
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/01/lumu-j22.html; Adam Hochschild,
“An Assassination’s Long Shadow,” /New York Times/, January 16, 2011.
 Firoze Manji, “What’s Left in Africa? Reflections on the failure
of left, working class movements to take root in most of Africa,”
/International Viewpoint/, February 5, 2015 5 February 2015. Retrieved
 Clark, /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People/, 58.
 Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks/, 14,
 Kim Ives & Isabelle Papillon, “Haiti: Two Days of Demonstrations
and General Strike: “Down with the UN Occupation”, “Down with the
President and Prime Minister,”” /Global Research/, February 11, 2015.
 Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 126.
 Ajamu Nangwaya, “Transform your Global Justice Sentiments into
Action to End the Occupation of Haiti,” /Dissident Voice/, October 23,
2014. Retrieved from
 Ajamu Nangwaya, “We have an anti-imperialist obligation to the
people of Haiti,” /Rabble.ca/, February 28, 2014. Retrieved from
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