African Blood Brotherhood
Source: The Communist Review, April 1922, Vol. 2, No. 6.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription: Daniel Gaido
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2006). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
A race without a program is like a ship at sea without a rudder. It is absolutely at the mercy of the elements. It is buffeted hither and thither and in a storm is bound to flounder. It is in such a plight as this that the Negro race has drifted for the past fifty years and more. Rarely ever did it know exactly what it was seeking and never once did it formulate any intelligent and workable plan of getting what it was seeking, even in the rare instances when it did know what it wanted. It is to meet this unfortunate condition and to supply a rudder for the Negro ship of State — a deﬁnite directive force — that the following program adopted by the African Blood Brotherhood is herewith offered for the consideration of other Negro organizations and of the race in general.
There is nothing illusory or impractical about this program. Every point is based upon the historic experience of some section or other of the great human family. Those who formulated the program recognized
(1) the economic nature of the struggle (not wholly economic but nearly so);
(2) that it is essential to know from whom our oppression comes: that is, who are our enemies;
(3) that it is not necessary for Negroes to be able to endorse the program of these other movements before they can make common cause with them against the common enemy; that the important thing about Soviet Russia, for example, is not the merits or demerits of the Soviet form of Government, but the outstanding fact that Soviet Russia is opposing the imperialist robbers who have partitioned our motherland and subjugated our kindred, and that Soviet Russia is feared by those imperialist nations and by all the capitalist plunderbunds of the earth, from whose covetousness and murderous inhumanity we at present suffer in many lands.
Our Motherland, Africa, is divided by the Big Capitalist Powers into so-called “colonies.”
The colonies in turn are parcelled out to white planters and capitalists, some of them colonists, others absentee landlords. To this end the free life of the African peoples have been broken up and the natives deprived of their lands in order to force them to work, at starvation wages, on the lands of these white capitalists. These planter-capitalists have settled down in our country to exploit the riches of the land as well as the labor of our people.
But our people were not tamely submissive and had to be subjugated. They refused to be exploited and rebelled and fought the invader in an unequal struggle. The invaders, armed with weapons of modern technique, and precision, as against the primitive and old weapons of our forefathers, were finally able to subdue our people. But not until many a “British square” had been broken and many a sudden disaster suffered by the forces of all the invading capitalist powers.
And the fight was not yet over. A people living in oppression may be compared to a volcano.
At any moment it may rise like a giant and run its enemies into the sea. To prevent this eventuality the capitalist planters, with the aid of their home governments, have organized “Colonial Armies,” formed and equipped according to the methods of modern technique. And to conquer our militant spirit and win us to slavish acceptance of their dominance they brought in the white man’s religion, Christianity, and with it whiskey. By the white man’s religion our people’s militant spirit was drugged; with his whiskey they were debauched. The white man’s treachery, the white man’s religion and whiskey had as great a part in bringing about our enslavement as the white man’s guns.
But in order to more intensively exploit our rich motherland and the cheap labor power of an enslaved people, it was necessary to bring into our land certain machine industries and certain material improvements, like railroads, etc., and today we may witness, especially in the coast cities of Africa, the steady growth of modern enterprise. With the introduction of industrial equipment the African has learned to wield the white man’s machines, his guns, his methods, and with the possession of this knowledge has grown a new hope and determination to achieve his freedom and become the master of his own motherland.
Indeed, the hope of the Negro people to free themselves from the imperialist enslavers was never more justified than at present. The home governments of the planter-capitalists are weakening day to day, and are trembling under the menace of the Proletarian Revolution. The oppressed colonies and small nations are in constant rebellion, as witness the Irish, Turks, Persians, Indians, Arabs, Egyptians, etc.
While the interior of Africa is as yet barely touched by predatory Capitalism, the tribes fully realize the danger they would be subjected to should the enslavers penetrate more into the interior. Under the leadership of the more able and developed Negroes in the coast district, the tremendous power of the Negro race in Africa could be organized. Towards this end we propose that every effort shall be bent to organize the Negroes of the coast districts, and bring all Negro organizations in each of the African countries into a worldwide Negro Federation. The various sections of the Federation to have their own Executive Committees, etc., and to get in touch with the tribes in the interior, with a view of common action. The Supreme Executive Committee to get in touch with all other peoples on the African continent, the Arabs, Egyptians, etc., as well as the revolutionists of Europe and America, for the purpose of effecting coordination and action.
Labor organizations should be formed in the industrial sections in order to protect and improve the conditions of the Negro workers.
No opportunity should be lost for propagandizing the native soldiers in the “colonial armies” and for organizing secretly a great Pan-African army in the same way as the Sinn Fein built up the Irish Army under the very nose of England.
Modern arms must be smuggled into Africa. Men sent into Africa in the guise of missionaries, etc., to establish relations with the Senussi, the various tribes of the interior, and to study the topography of the country. The Senussi already have an “army in existence,” a fact that is keeping European capitalist statesmen awake o'nights.
Every effort and every dollar should be spent to effect the organization of a Pan-African army, whose very existence would drive respect and terror into the hearts of the white capitalist-planters, and protect our people against their abuses. Remember: MIGHT MAKES RIGHT — ALWAYS DID AND ALWAYS WILL.
Whatever interest the capitalist displayed in the Negro was always [motivated] by considerations of cheap labor power.
It was early recognized that the Negro people were the most [enduring] in the world, and when the New World was discovered the rich exploiters organized expeditions to enslave our people and forcibly carry them into New World lands, there to build empires and create wealth where otherwise none would have been possible. This is the history of most Negro populations in foreign lands.
In the United States, as is well known, the Negroes but a few decades ago were exploited according to the most crude and primitive system of exploitation: chattel slavery. This chattel slavery prevailed in the South, while in the North the modern capitalist method of exploitation (wage slavery) prevailed. The two systems could not exist side by side and therefore the so-called war of liberation, in which Northern Capitalists and their retinue, in a smoke of idealistic camouflage, went to war against feudal capitalists in the South in order to decide supremacy between the two systems in the Americas. Northern Capitalists won and chattel slavery in the South was abolished with lurid speeches and clamor about Liberty, Democracy, etc.
But the Negroes were not to have even the comparative liberty which the great Capitalist Czars tolerate under the wage-slavery system. They were scrupulously disarmed, while their former owners with their henchmen remained armed. To repress all Negro aspirations for real freedom and suppress all desires to better their condition, secret murder societies like the Ku Klux Klan were organized by the former owner class, who tortured and murdered secretly in cold blood thousands of defenseless Negroes and many whites, whenever the humanitarian instincts prompted them to champion the Negroes’ cause. And the victorious Capitalist “Liberators” of the North not only did not move a finger to enforce justice bus suppressed the facts of this terrible persecution of the Negro and his few white friends. Through years of terror exercised by these white cracker societies the Negro again became totally subjugated, and peonage is the lot of many today in the Southern States, while many are lynched or massacred every year. Lately the New Negro has come upon the scene and in response to his rebellious spirit and that of the exploited in general, we see the resurrection of the Ku Klux Klan.
As a result of continued oppression and maltreatment in the South, many thousands of Negroes have managed to escape to the North, and today every big Northern city has a large Negro population.
The comparative freedom of the North is propitious for great organizations and cultural activities, and it is here that the vanguard and general staff of the Negro race must be developed.
In order to build a strong and effective Movement on the platform of Liberation for the Negro People and protection of their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” etc., all Negro organizations should get together on a Federation basis, thus creating a united centralized movement. Such a movement could be carried on openly in the North, but would have to be built up secretly in the South in order to protect those members living in the South and to safeguard the organization from premature attack. Within this Federation a secret protective organization should be developed — the real Power — to the membership of which should be admitted only the best and most courageous of the race. The Protective organization would have to function under strict military discipline, ready to act at a moment’s notice whenever defense and protection are necessary.
Millions of Negroes have come North and are employed as laborers and mechanics, etc., in the various industries and capitalist enterprises of the North. Being unorganized, they are compelled to work at the meanest jobs and under the worst conditions. When depression in industry appears they are the first to suffer. The white workers, through their labor organizations, have not only compelled the capitalists to give them more money and a shorter workday, but also partial employment during slack times. And when better times arrive, the white workers, through their organization, are ready to take full advantage of the situation. Negro workers, whenever organized in Labor Unions, have improved their living conditions, won shorter hours, more money, and steadier employment, as witness the sleeping car conditions, the Negro Longshoremen of Philadelphia, etc. And since the strength of a people depends upon the degree of well-living by that people, we must by all means strive to substantially improve the standard of living, etc. All worthwhile Negro organizations and all New Negroes must therefore interest themselves in the organizing of Negro workers into Labor Unions for the betterment of their economic condition and to act in close cooperation with the class-conscious white workers for the benefit of both.
The same principle applies to the small Negro farmers and farm laborers. They must get together to resist exploitation as well as to protect themselves against peonage and other injustices.
Whenever cooperation with white farmers is possible it is of course desirable.
There has developed among our people the naive belief that permanent employment, better conditions, and our salvation as a race can be accomplished through the medium of Negro factories, steamship lines, and similar enterprises. We wish to war against putting too great dependence along this line, as sudden ﬁnancial collapse of such enterprises may break the whole morale of the Liberation Movement. Until the Negro controls the rich natural resources of some country of his own he cannot hope to compete in industry with the great financial magnates of the capitalist nations on a scale large enough to supply jobs for any number of Negro workers, on substantial dividends for Negro investors. Let those who have invested in such propositions tell you whether they have obtained either jobs or dividends by such investment.
The only effective way to secure better conditions and steady employment in America is to organize the Negro’s labor power as indicated before into labor organizations. Every big organization develops certain property in the shape of buildings, vacation farms, etc. In prosperous times they may even develop cooperative enterprises such as stores, etc., but such enterprises must be cooperative property of all members of the organization, and administered by members elected for the purpose. Under no circumstances should such property be operated under corporation titles written over to a few individuals to be disposed of at their pleasure. But experience has proven that such enterprises can only exist when the oppressed class is well organized. Without adequate organization an industrial crisis like the present would sweep them off their feet. But where backed by adequate organization the cooperative idea can be worked to advantage. Unlike the corporation, which lifts a few men on the shoulders and life-savings of the many, the cooperative is of equal benefit to all.
There can be only one sort of alliance with other people and that is an alliance to fight our enemies, in which case our allies must have the same purpose as we have. Our allies may be actual or potential, just as our enemies may be actual or potential. The small oppressed nations who are struggling against the capitalist exploiters and oppressors must be considered as actual allies. The class-conscious white workers who have spoken out in favor of African liberation and have a willingness to back with action their expressed sentiments, must also be considered as actual allies and their friendship further cultivated. The non-class conscious white workers who have not yet realized that all workers regardless of race or color have a common interest, must be considered as only potential allies at present and everything possible done to awaken their class-consciousness toward the end of obtaining their cooperation in our struggle. The revolutionary element which is undermining the imperialist powers that oppress us must be given every encouragement by Negroes who really seek liberation. This element is led and represented by the Third International which has sections in all countries. We should immediately establish contact with the Third International and its millions of followers in all countries of the world. To pledge loyalty to the flags of our murderers and oppressors, to speak about alliances with the servants and representatives of our enemies, to prate about first hearing our proven enemies before endorsing our proven friends is nothing less than cowardice and the blackest treason to the Negro race and our sacred cause of liberation.
It is the Negroes resident in America — whether native or foreign born — who are destined to assume the leadership of our people in a powerful world movement for Negro liberation. The American Negro, by virtue of being a part of the population of a great empire, has acquired certain knowledge in the waging of modern warfare, the operation of industries, etc. This country is the base for easy contact with the whole world, and the United States is destined, until the Negro race is liberated, to become the center of the Negro World Movement. It is in this country, especially, that the Negro must be strong. It is from here that most of the leaders and pioneers who will carry the message across the world will go forth. But our strength cannot be organized by vain indulgence in mock-heroics, empty phrases, unearned decorations and titles, and other tomfoolery. It can only be done by the use of proper tactics, by determination and sacrifice upon the part of our leaders and by intelligent preparatory organization and education.
To be kidded along with the idea that because a few hundreds of us assemble once in a while in a convention that therefore we are free to legislate for ourselves; to fall for the bunk that before having made any serious effort to free our country, before having crossed swords on the field of battle with the oppressors, we can have a government of our own, with presidents, potentates, royalties, and other queer mixtures; to speak about wasting our energies and money in propositions like Bureaus of Passports and Identification, diplomatic representatives, etc., is to indulge in pure moonshine, and supply free amusement for our enemies. Surely, intelligent, grown-up individuals will not stand for such childish nonsense if at all they are serious about fighting for Negro liberation! We must come down to earth, to actual practical facts and realities, and build our strength upon solid foundations — and not upon titled and decorated tomfoolery.