[News] Malcolm X’s Internationalism - The Struggle for Liberation in Haiti Today

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 27 11:14:35 EST 2015


Weekend Edition Feb 27-Mar 01, 2015
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/02/27/the-struggle-for-liberation-in-haiti-today/

*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.” –
    Malcolm X[1]

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.[2] 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.[3]

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).[4] 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.”[5] 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.”[6] The enslaved Afrikans in Haiti 
used revolutionary violence to assert that the slogan “equality, liberty 
and fraternity[solidarity]” was applicable to their struggle for 
emancipation.

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.”[7]This Afrikan revolutionary was preoccupied with strategically 
internationalizing the national struggle of Afrikans inside the United 
States.

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.[8]

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.[9]

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 
problem solved.”[10]

Malcolm’s extensive visits to Afrika and Western Asia (Middle East)[11] 
broadened his internationalist perspective and framing of issues such as 
black nationalism,[12] the emancipation of women,[13] capitalism as a 
predator,[14] imperialism as a global system of exploitation,[15] 
cooperation with whites,[16] and the role of one’s religious beliefs in 
the secular struggle for emancipation.[17] 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.[18] 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 
western imperialism.

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[19] and to the “international western power structure’ as 
evidenced by the French state denying him entry onto its national 
territory.[20] 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.[21] 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 
government.[22]

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 
‘‘racial oppression.’’”[23]

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.[24] 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^^[25] and checkmate the feared influence of the former Soviet 
Union and its military support to the Patrice Lumumba-led government.[26]

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 
Security Council.

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[27] 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.[28]

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[29] 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.[30] 
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 
/Fanmi Lavalas 
<http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/11/17/why-aristide-s-party-won-t-vote/>/.

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.”[31] 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 
in Haiti.[32]

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.[33]

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./

[1] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/ (New York: Pathfinder Press, 
1970/1992), 125.

[2] Hakim Adi & Marika Sherwood, /Pan-African History: Political Figures 
from Africa and the Diaspora since 1787/ (New York: Routledge, 2003), 
123-128.

[3] George Breitman, ed., /Malcom X Speaks: Selected Speeches and 
Statements/ (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1965/1989), 217-218

[4] Kevin Edmonds and Ajamu Nangwaya, “The United Nations Will Fail 
Haiti Once Again: Pull Out the Occupation Troops/,” CounterPunch/, 
October 14, 2014. Retrieved from 
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/14/the-united-nations-will-fail-haiti-once-again/

[5] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 124.

[6] Breitman, Malcom X Speaks, 8.

[7] Moshik Temkin, “From Black Revolution to ‘‘Radical Humanism’’: 
Malcolm X between Biography and International History,” /Humanity 
Journal/ 3, 2, (2012): 268.

[8] Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks,/ 49-50.

[9] Ibid., 5-6.

[10] Breitman, /Malcolm X Speaks/, 5.

[11] 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” 
(p. 277).

[12] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 159-60.

[13] Ibid., 179.

[14] Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks/, 120-122.

[15] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 116-17.

[16] Bruce Perry, editor, /Malcolm X: The Last Speeches/, (New York: 
Pathfinder Press, 1989) 147.

[17] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 180; Perry, /The Last 
Speeches/, 157.

[18] Perry, /The Last Speeches, /127.

[19] Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 277.

[20] Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 282-83; Malcolm X, /By Any Means 
Necessary, /167-73;

[21] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 87-88; Breitman, /Malcom X 
Speaks/, 72-87.

[22] Steve Clark, ed., /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People: Speeches in 
the United States, Britain, and Africa/, (New York: Pathfinder Press, 
1965/2002) 79.

[23] Temkin, /From Black Revolution/, 277; ^^[23] Breitman, /Malcolm X 
Speaks/, 84.

[24] Clark, /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People/, 80.

[25] Abayomi Azikiwe, “Congo still struggles for real independence,” 
/Workers World/, July 15, 2010. Retrieved from 
http://www.workers.org/2010/world/congo_0722/

[26] 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. 
Retrieved from 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/17/opinion/17hochschild.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[27] 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 
from http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3853

[28] Clark, /Malcolm X Speaks to Young People/, 58.

[29] Breitman, /Malcom X Speaks/, 14,

[30] 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. 
Retrieved from 
http://www.globalresearch.ca/haiti-two-days-of-demonstrations-and-general-strike-down-with-he-un-occupation-down-with-the-president-and-prime-minister/5430662

[31] Malcolm X, /By Any Means Necessary/, 126.

[32] Ajamu Nangwaya, “Transform your Global Justice Sentiments into 
Action to End the Occupation of Haiti,” /Dissident Voice/, October 23, 
2014. Retrieved from 
http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/10/transform-your-global-justice-sentiments-into-action-to-end-the-occupation-of-haiti/

[33] Ajamu Nangwaya, “We have an anti-imperialist obligation to the 
people of Haiti,” /Rabble.ca/, February 28, 2014. Retrieved from 
http://rabble.ca/news/2014/02/we-have-anti-imperialist-obligation-to-people-haiti

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