By BO Staff Writer
The “Marxist-Leninist-Fanonist” ideological perspective has long been clarified for the purpose of uniformity of thought and clarity of vision by its founder the erstwhile Commissar for Land and Agrarian Revolution of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Andile Mngxitama, who is the current President of the black consciousness organization Black First Land First (BLF). The text of the meditation by Mngxitama is featured in “The Coming Revolution”, that was published by the EFF, as well as in the EFF’s Frequently Asked Questions issued in 2014. It is clear that the Marxist-Leninist-Fanonist ideological perspective was intended to put black liberation at the core of the EFF’s endeavors. Moreover Frantz Fanon’s insistence that under colonialism, “the economic substructure is also a superstructure”; “the cause is the consequence”; “you are rich because you are white”; and “you are white because you are rich”, is instructive. Drawing from Fanon, Mngxitama correctly points out that “this formulation remains true for “post colonial” societies that have chosen the path of neo-liberalism” and that in such societies like South Africa (SA) “race still defines class by and large“. Fanon clearly offers a developed theory of race which makes him the father of black consciousness. Fanon made it possible for the EFF to articulate black demands and to thrust black liberation at the centre of its efforts. In the context of the EFF now officially declaring that it is Fanonist but NOT black consciousness, Black Opinion, brings you the EFF’s position (written by Mngxitama), on the Marxist-Leninst-Fanonian Thought, to indicate how far the Reds of Mazzotti have deviated from their black consciousness roots:
“The EFF adoption of Marxist-Leninst-Fanonian Thought as its guiding ideological and philosophical frame work completes a historical process of developing revolutionary theory and practice. This development finally settles the bitter ongoing acrimony between Eurocentric and racist arrogance of the West that is not limited to the right wing justifications of colonialism but also afflicts the white Left globally. EFF finally liberates, Marxism and Leninism from the racist clutches that dictates that the African and black experience must be viewed from the perspective of the West and that the horrors of anti black racism and colonialism be reduced to a mere “epiphenomena”. Bringing Fanon into the great duet of Marx and Lenin completes the anti capitalist, anti imperialist and anti racist circle which is the only real basis for true liberation.
The triumvirate of Marx, Lenin and Fanon signify a breakthrough of historic significance in the struggle against capitalism and white supremacy. This, ipso facto, places EFF at the forefront of reconceptualizing what it means to be free in the 21st century without abandoning the most important contributions in the battle against capitalism over the ages. It is indisputable that Karl Marx is the foremost anti capitalist theoretician of all times. It’s also no secret that Vladmir Lenin is the most accomplish implementer of Marxist thought and a student of state and revolution of the last century. Equally, there is little contest that Frantz Fanon is one of the most important thinkers of the race question. EFF recognizes the reality that to be a Marxist Leninst does not in itself insulate one from anti black racism. Marxist practices in the Communist Parties has historically been elaborated within a Eurocentric ideological perspective thereby relegating the race question to the sidelines and disregarding this question as being central to the realization of total freedom. Consequently, the uniqueness of the black experience in the modern world starting from the nightmare of slavery has traditionally been glossed over in any “concrete” analysis of the material conditions and subsequent political program of action. Fanon in particular brings to the center the African and black agenda to the great experience of the anti capitalist struggle. Marx and Lenin without Fanon are western figures offering an underdeveloped theory of race. The presence of Fanon completes this picture. This EFF’s ideological rubric does not present a hierarchy and must not be read in a hierarchical fashion. It must instead be understood as three equally important moments which constitute a composite whole. Fanon’s most important contribution is not framed by an anti Marxist ethic as claimed by those who like to distort his magnificent clarity of thought. Fanon recognized that, “Marxist analysis should always be slightly stretched every time we have to deal with the colonial problem. Everything up to and including the very nature of precapitalist society, so well explained by Marx, must here be thought out again.” Fanon correctly insists that in colonial settings, “… the economic substructure is also a superstructure. The cause is the consequence; you are rich because you are white, you are white because you are rich”. This formulation remains true for “post colonial” societies that have chosen the path of neo-liberalism. In these societies such as South Africa, race still defines class by and large.
Incidentally it was Fanon’s teacher and mentor Aime Cesaire, the father of Negritude, who came face to face with the racism of the French Communist Party that forced him to write the classic resignation letter in 1956 to the General Secretary of the French Communist Party Maurice Thorez. The “Letter to Muarice Thorez”, gives us in a concentrated form the devastation of the “unconscious” racism of communist practice and the need to locate the black experience at the center of the battle against capitalism, imperialism and colonialism. Cesaire pulls no punches:
“One fact that is paramount in my eyes is this: we, men of color, at this precise moment in our historical evolution, have come to grasp, in our consciousness, the full breadth of our singularity, and are ready to assume on all levels and in all areas the responsibilities that flow from this coming to consciousness.
The singularity of our “situation in the world,” which cannot be confused with any other. The singularity of our problems, which cannot be reduced to any other problem. The singularity of our history, constructed out of terrible misfortunes that belong to no one else. The singularity of our culture, which we wish to live in a way that is more and more real.
What else can be the result of this but that our paths toward the future — all our paths, political as well as cultural — are not yet charted? That they are yet to be discovered, and that the responsibility for this discovery belongs to no one but us?”
Cesaire, places squarely on the shoulders of African and Black people the task to liberate themselves, by acting and thinking for themselves without the paternalism and racist supervision of white compatriots who are themselves driven by a missionary impulse even as they proclaim communism. Its worth returning to Cesaire when he declares:
“I believe I have said enough to make it clear that it is neither Marxism nor communism that I am renouncing, and that it is the usage some have made of Marxism and communism that I condemn. That what I want is that Marxism and communism be placed in the service of black peoples, and not black peoples in the service of Marxism and communism”.
We cannot agree more with Cesaire’s sentiments. The need to recognize racism as a structure of oppression which is deeply ingrained in the DNA of capitalism was already suggested by Karl Marx in his heated exchange with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in the “Poverty of Philosophy”. There Marx shows that central to the emergence of capitalism is slavery. He avers:
“Without slavery, North America, the most progressive country would be transformed into a patriarchal country. Wipe out North America from the map of the world and you have anarchy- the complete decay of modern commerce and civilization. Abolish slavery and you will have wiped America off the map of nations”.
It is precisely slavery that marks racism as the key category in the struggle for liberation. This is so because, as Fanon shows, where the black is concerned the “base super structure” model of Marx must be complicated. Such a rethinking helps us understand why white supremacy is a structure of domination that encompasses and even drives the capitalist logic whilst at times even assuming an autonomous existence to it. The limitation of Marxism is in its recognition of exploitation and alienation as the two most important categories of suffering under capitalism. Marxism up to now has not been able to account for what some scholars like Frank Wilderson have termed “fungibility”; the fact that one does not merely sell one’s labour power (exploitation), but one is sold as a commodity (slavery). Slavery therefore inaugurates not only super-exploitation but is essentially based on ‘gratuitous violence” where the black is concerned. Here we are forced to strengthen Marxism beyond exploitation and alienation, to a third moment in the dialectical motion – fungibility. No more shall the struggle against capitalism become an excuse to perpetuate colonial and Eurocentric anti black racism!
By adopting Marxist-Leninist-Fanonian thought, EFF is placed in the unique position to articulate black demands without shame or hesitation. EFF is not wobbled by concerns of what the white section of the anti capitalist tradition thinks of feels, but it places black liberation at the core of its endeavors whilst extending an invitation to all peoples and races to participate in the struggle for economic emancipation for all. Accepting the uniqueness of the African and black experience liberates the language that shapes the demands that the EFF makes and the claims it presses against oppression. The meeting of Marx ,Lenin and Fanon is the most wholesome development in the history of struggle against imperialism, capitalism and racism. This conceptualization that completes the circle may be recognized by generations of fighters to come as the most important gift of liberation.”