by Andile Mngxi, President of South Africa Black First Land First (BLF)
Between the people and the enemy stands pseudo revolutionaries. This is the iron law of all revolutions over the ages, from Haiti, to the Russian revolution, and until today. The pseudo-revolutionary forces delay the revolutionary process and that’s why all revolutions have to deal with this third element of the revolution in order to progress.
Contemporary revolutionary movements do not pay enough attention to the dangers of the counter-revolution that presents itself as the representatives of the revolutionary process. There are instructive parallels between the challenges of counter-revolution presented by Black Lives Matter (BLM) for Black Hammer Organisation (BHO) in the USA and the difficulties presented by the pseudo-revolutionary forces of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of Julius Malema to Black First Land First (BLF) in South Africa/Occupied Azania. There is an urgent need to provide some clarity as to how these reactionary forces (BLM and EFF) consume space and revolutionary energy to confuse and delay the revolutionary process. This criticism is aimed at provoking debate on both sides of the Atlantic so we can clarify the revolutionary process and advance the course of revolution to free ourselves from colonialism and white supremacy. This task is now urgent.
The trouble presented to the revolution by fake revolution is as old as the first encounter between the native and settler, the black and the white. The South African resistance historiography is embedded in the idea of the “Amaqaba” versus “Amagqobhoka.” Malcolm X presents the divide in the simple binary of Field Negro versus House Negro. Amaqaba, the field negro, refused to enter colonial modernity, they refused the white god, the white culinary expressions, they even refused colonial sartorial representations. Chinua Achebe presents the Amaqaba ethic more fully in his classical work Things Fall Apart. The character Okonkwo refuses to accept the colonial monster, he chooses to take his own life than to accept defeat. This Amaqaba ethic was not so long ago brought to popular imagination by Beyonce’s Lemonade and specifically the song “Love Draught” with that powerful image referencing the Igbo Landing. Those Africans chose death than the plantation. Amagqobhoka, the house negro, are those who have accepted the terms of defeat and often actively fight to protect the status quo against the field negroes who want to burn down the whole thing.
Lenin, during the Russian Bolshevik revolution, spent a lot of time presenting a critique not so much of the Tsarist regime but rather of the liberals and reactionaries in the ranks of the revolutionary movement, as well as critiques of the more organised pseudo-revolutionary formations like the Mensheviks. This is not a function of personal hatred but a key revolutionary responsibility which cant be shirked. In South Africa/Occupied Azania, Steve Biko spent a lot of energy in the 1970s on exposing the white liberals as an impediment to black liberation. Steve Biko was very concerned that black people were trapped in the spectre of white liberal resistance and their pseudo battle against the apartheid regime. Biko laboured to expel from the revolutionary war room these white liberals as a prerequisite of launching a real struggle against the apartheid regime. Biko is scathing toward white liberals and their black friends who push a false struggle again the oppressor and who dupe the oppressed into believing that this liberal, pseudo-struggle was going to liberate them! This is the biggest betrayal of the oppressed: creating the impression that a revolutionary struggle is going on when in fact it’s all about preserving the oppressive status quo.
The pseudo revolutionaries, the force that stands between the people and the oppressor, often monopolize the full image of a revolutionary movement. This makes the real revolutionary movement to struggle to organise and launch the real battle. The enemy knows this, and where a counter-revolutionary movement doesn’t exist the enemy generally sponsors its creation and operations. The leaders of the pseudo-revolution are promoted through the mass media owned by the enemy, and its programs are also well funded by the enemy. The idea is to crowd out the real revolutionary movement. The pseudo-revolutionary movement is opportunistic and is able to chase real events where the enemy has transgressed against the people and mobilise the anger of the people to dissipate the development of revolutionary consciousness and ultimately quell any real confrontation.
In the USA, Black Hammer Organization is a revolutionary movement that presents action and analysis that seeks to uproot the entire white colonial setup. However, it comes face to face with Black Lives Matter (BLM) which itself has assumed the position of being the primary movement fighting for justice for black people. BLM is praised globally as the defender of black people, but really its bureaucracy has merely perfected the art of monetising black pain by herding black people into the hands of the enemy. The hegemony of BLM in the popular imagination as the defender of black people is entrenched and in fact in many ways promoted by the colonial repressive ideological apparatus. This poses an additional hurdle because of the manufactured emotional attachment black people have for BLM means that any kind of criticism against it is nearly impossible.
Ironically, the hegemony of BLM as a force of change is in fact supported by each act of murder of black people by the USA state through the white supremacist militia otherwise known as the police. Each time the USA police murder a black person, spontaneous and authentic rage against the machine adopts the BLM hashtag which then becomes the organising symbol. We have to make a distinction here between the authentic acts of resistance by the masses who organise under the hashtag and the bureaucracy which has the copyrights over the hashtag and are able to convert the actions of the people on the ground into political capital to opportunistically bargain with white power.
This pseudo-movement has become a multibillion-dollary industry as liberal beurocrats ride the wave of legitimacy and bargain with colonial powers. The most shocking development is that global financial speculator, and driver of global neoliberalism, George Soro has made $200 million available for fighting racism in the USA. This money is tailored to fund BLM-type activities including the call for “defunding” the police. Incidentally, this development shepherds the masses’ energy into supporting BLM bureaucracy and legitimising the Democratic Party as a liberatory option for black people. This is herding black people into the arms of the killer machine. This is the crux of the problem of presenting reaction as a revolutionary move.
BLM has almost consistently distanced itself from revolutionary acts of resistance that include direct action such as the courageous acts of brother Micah Johnson in Texas who went down taking five pigs with him. BLM essentially denounced the martyrdom of brother Johnson. The monetisation of resistance requires that the movement tames any acts which transgress against the sanctity of whiteness. It’s all good to undertake symbolic acts but whiteness as a material, physical entity must not be threatened. In fact, one of the most important traits of the fake revolutionary project is the mandatory denunciation of any real revolutionary activity. These counter-revolutionary movements that stand between the people and the enemy are the bodyguards of the oppressor who appropriate the language and symbols of resistance to prevent any possibility of actual resistance.
In South Africa/Occupied Azania, Black First Land First (BLF) is confronted with the same problem of fake revolutionaries in the form of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Given the EFF’s visibility, media coverage, its leader’s rhetorical dexterity, these have ensured its image as the leading revolutionary act in Azania. Many revolutionaries outside occupied Azania, and even inside our country, actually believe that EFF is the main resistance movement against white power! Just like the case of BLM which capitalises on each act of transgression against black people, the EFF has mastered the art of simulating resistance when in fact its actions are always aimed and giving white power an alibi so that it can continue to maintain itself. Just like BLM in the USA, each action that seems like addressing an issue is actually just used to entrench the image of EFF and give it bargaining power for the benefit of its gluttonous opportunistic leaders. It’s a sophisticated dance of surrender presented and resistance.
It’s little known outside South Africa that the EFF has in fact gone into a political coalition with a racist white supremacist political organisation called the Democratic Alliance (DA). The coalition ensures that the racist party in fact controls some strategic cities including the financial capital Johannesburg and the capital city Pretoria. Under the pretext of fighting corruption, the EFF openly joined hands with the most powerful white capitalist families in South Africa to remove the former President Jacob Zuma who was threatening the interests of white power by abandoning western neoliberalism for more redistributive policies. The irony here was that each time such a right-wing shift occurred, the EFF was actually presented more as a left radical organisation. This idea was sponsored by the very enemy of black people.
Recently there were two examples of this kind of talking black but walking white.
First, the country went into a collective rage against a conglomerate in the retail sector which published a blatantly racist advert. Unilever was the culprit, through its subsidiary Tresme that places products in the local Clicks store. EFF quickly enacted protest actions across the Clicks outlets which forced the conglomerate into a negotiation table. A meeting behind closed doors yielded nothing tangible for black people. In fact, it was such a bad sellout that the some philanthropic pre-planned programmes of these entities were announced as a victory. Amongst them was the promise of sanitary pads. These things had been done by these companies anyway. The culprits who were responsible for the advert and who we believe to be white colonizers were given protection by the EFF.
The second, and perhaps more devastating anti-black defence of the status quo involved the recent murder of white settler. SA/Occupied Azania has a population of 58 million people, and while 90% of them are black, 35,000 white settlers occupy 80% of the land. Life on farms is hell for black people. Last month a white settler was murdered, and the popular belief was that it was an act of resistance by the oppressed. White farmers in these farms murder blacks with shocking frequency and impunity even 26 years after the start of so-called democracy. Again, the response of EFF was swift and carried out with massive media fanfare. Just like in the case of Micah Johnson, they quickly denounced any blacks who may have committed the revolutionary act, and said nothing of the settlers who attacked the courthouse where two black suspects were held. EFF leader Malema took the side of the settler and the state and denounced the alleged “black boy” who is suspected to have committed the acts. Malema told the nation that,
“Comrades […] We are not there to protect a murderer that killed a white farmer. We’ve no business with murderers. That black boy who killed a white man must go and rot in jail. It’s not our problem. We do not protect criminals.”
EFF chided and belittled black anger, and instead ignored that these white colonial thieves were rioting in the streets.
These acts of sabotage of the revolutionary process by these pseudo-revolutionary forces demand that we have a stronger systematic critique to assist young revolutionaries to avoid being hoodwinked into reaction. The symbolic hegemony of both BLM and EFF as representatives of people needs to be debunked ruthlessly if we wish to make progress in building resistance across the Atlantic. The critique must not just take the form of polemics but also must manifest in the types of actions the authentic revolutionary movements like Black Hammer and Black First Land First undertake in defence of the people and in advancing the struggle of the people for liberation. Whether in occupied Azania or in the USA, it’s extremely urgent that we as revolutionaries invest the energy into exposing the pseudo-revolutionaries, these reactionary forces within the revolutionary process.