Course on Anti-Imperialism, War and Peace, Part 8
Exactly how the anti-Imperialist struggle will resolve itself in
Southern Africa, and Africa in general, is
something unpredictable at the tactical level. The question of the armed
defence of revolutionary change cannot be ruled out, and we have examined this
This part of the present series, referenced to the “Beyond Vietnam” speech (linked below) of the late Rev Martin Luther King Junior, is designed to point to the subjective political factor in the anti-Imperialist struggle.
Nowadays it has become commonplace to refer to “international solidarity” as not only a specific, but more so a universal idea. But this concept that we have largely stripped of its particularity, generalising it as a formula, does actually have a tremendous history whose meaning is not fully conveyed by a stock phrase called “international solidarity”.
The anti-Imperialist struggle and the democratic struggle can and should be one. It is not a matter of charity of the rich to the poor. It is also not solely a matter of good-hearted and exceptional individuals (but there have indeed been such individuals - MLK was one of them - and there will be again).
What Martin Luther King describes, and justifies, is: “why I believe that the path from
- the church in , where I began my
pastorate - leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.” Montgomery,
In other words, MLK at the meeting of the “Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam”, in 1967, was preaching the intrinsic, organic unity of the struggle of the common people everywhere. It is not an artificial altruism but it is a unity of purpose, in concerted action against the single enemy that manifests itself everywhere and oppresses us all: monopoly-capitalist Imperialism.
And further than his literal message, there is also the extraordinary power and style of MLK’s oration. We forget this factor of art too easily. Lenin spoke of “insurrection as an art”. It is an art that goes beyond the military, and encompasses all of our activities. Therefore when reading such a piece as MLK’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech, one should regard it as a source of learning of the art of advocacy, which is part of the art of leadership, essential to the art of insurrection.
The question of international solidarity has raised itself very sharply in South Africa recently (August 2011).
Should South Africa be planning “regime change” in Botswana? Of course, not. It is not for South Africa to substitute itself for the Batswana as the agent of history in that country.
Should South Africa be dictating terms to Swaziland, in consideration for extending a loan in advance of moneys that will accrue to Swaziland in the future? No, of course not, and for the same reasons as apply to Botswana.
Our task is to provide assistance, including political education, hospitality, and a joint critique of that Imperialism which is always prepared to fish in troubled waters, and whose signature is always aggression and war.
“Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God...” – Martin Luther King.
Picture: Rev. Martin Luther King, Junior, at the White House,
Washington DC, USA
Please download and read the text via the following link:
Beyond Vietnam, Time to Break Silence, 1967, King (6687 words)
Neo-Colonialism, Last of Imperialism, 1965, Nkrumah (10643 words)
First They Came For The Communists, Niemoeller (1873 words)