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a counter-revolutionary demand upon African peasants to return African land

 to White capitalists and Imperialist property interests



Choosing Sides: Zimbabwe Peasant Land Expropriations

By Lil Joe


In the wake of land expropriations by Zimbabwean peasants -- officially called the "Zimbabwean Land Redistribution Act" -- the British and American governments have ordered economic and political sanctions against Zimbabwe.  An "Open Letter to Mugabe" from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical Congress, Trans-Africa, and other Americans who happen to be Black, has placed the signatories in bed with the British and American governments in denouncing the Zimbabwean government for allowing land expropriations by landless Zimbabwean peasants.

In denouncing Mugabe, these American organizations are providing references for British and American governments: "See, our economic and political sanctions against Zimbabwe are not racist imperialism.  The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical Congress, and even Trans-Africa are denouncing Mugabe, ZANU-PF and the 'lawlessness' of the expropriation of lands owned by White farmers."

The leadership of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Trans-Africa, and the Black Radical Congress have joined with British and U.S. imperialism -- and transnational capital that they represent -- in attacking landless Zimbabwean peasants in their efforts to expropriate the expropriators of Zimbabwean land.

These lackeys of American imperialism attack the African peasants of Zimbabwe for being "lawless."  In particular, they reduce the natural occurrence of Zimbabwean peasants taking back the land stolen from their Zimbabwean forefathers to the private motives of a single individual: Robert Mugabe, the head of the ZANU-PF government in Zimbabwe.  Furthermore, they reduce these mass acts of expropriation by Zimbabwean peasants to Mugabe "initiating" same in order to get re-elected.

On the defensive because opposed by African-Americans in the United States who support the land expropriations in Zimbabwe, the Black Radical Congress has been circulating a February 14, 2001 speech made by Zwelinzima Vavi, COSATU General Secretary, in which he denounced the African peasants in Zimbabwe for seizing the lands that were stolen from their forefathers.

(See COSATU Speeches).

Zimbabwe is still characterised by unequal distribution of land -­ still largely in the hands of whites. At the core of the liberation struggle in Zimbabwe was the land question and it is important that this be addressed in an orderly manner. However, we could not associate ourselves with the chaotic and anarchic  fast track land resettlement programme unleashed by the Zimbabwean government in 2000. This programme was in flagrant disregard of the law and unleashed a wave of violence that threatened the very stability of the society.

This snip tells the real story!  The snip is taken from a statement by a labour bureaucrat in South Africa that -- instead of engaging in a struggle to expropriate the capitalist-owned mines and industries in South Africa have attacked the African peasant movement in Zimbabwe to take back their historic land!  The real deal in Zimbabwe is the land issue, and not "democracy" or "corruption," as is masqueraded in the British and American media on one hand, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Black Radical Congress, and Trans-Africa on the other.  These are the kind of Negroes that are described by Nathan Hare as Black Anglo-Saxons.  Whether they are conscious of it or no, their Open Letter to Mugabe for instance indicate that for all their claimed Blackness they have internalized of Anglo-American views and are promoting Anglo-American imperialist interests in Africa. 

Similarly COSATU looks at the world from the perspective of the English colonizer instead of the Black proletariat.  Rather than view the land expropriations as rightfully instigated by indigenous Zimbabwean peasants, this South African COSATU bureaucrat, Zwelinzima Vavi, accuses the Zimbabwean government of "unleashing" the African peasants in a "wave of violence."  This says a lot about the world-outlook of a South African trade union bureaucrat. Are African peasants "savages" -- wild men and women as animals that need to be kept on a leash?  This COSATU union bureaucrats seem to think so!!

What of the issue of "law"?  Do all working-class militants, socialists, and communist workers in Africa and the world not understand that the State is an instrument of class rule?  Capitalists today own the world.  Except for Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and parts of China where the land and industry remain nationalized or/and publicly-owned property, capitalists and imperialists who are, in comparison and in contrast to the vast majority of workers and peasants, a tiny minority of exploiters, own the world's productive forces.

Democracy is nothing but a bullshit ideology insofar as capitalist class society is concerned.  The "tiny minority of exploiters" historically has determined which party is the ruling party, and capitalist class parties in every so-called "democracy" has written constitutions and legislated "laws" that govern civil society in their interests.  Since they see themselves as the last best representatives of humanity, bourgeois politicians identify capitalist interests as "human rights."  So-called International law is nothing but agreements between bourgeois governments on rules by which they have consensus on how to govern the world.

Every Third World Liberation movement was "illegal" as far as imperialist "laws" were concerned -- imperialist "laws" were written against the liberation of indigenous people.  Every hitherto existing labour movement started out "illegally."  When trade unions are organizing, "laws" are usually written to declare their organizing activities and actions to be "illegal."  For example, in the United States "wildcat" strikes, secondary strikes, and secondary boycotts are illegal -- the Taft-Hartley Act is governing "law" related to these united worker activities.  Were American workers, say a Black labour struggle in a Detroit plant to take to the streets in a wild-cat strike, would the Coalition of Black Trade Unions, the Black Radical Congress, and COSATU denounce them for "lawlessness"? 

I remember reading somewhere that in a discussion between Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. regarding the civil rights demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama in 1962-3, Kennedy said that what the Blacks were doing in Alabama was "illegal."  To Kennedy, King replied: "Yes, and everything that the NAZI government did in Germany was "legal"!  It was "against the law" for Blacks and Chicanos to sit in the front seats of buses, enter segregated restaurants, swimming pools, and drink from "White Only " water fountains.

"Laws" do not exist in the abstract, as some kind of independent, universal determination of ethical principle.  Men and women in power write "Laws," and men and women in power represent class interests.  Most all "laws" in place today were written and legislated by capitalist class parties in place to represent capitalist economic or/and political interests -- in every capitalist country, including the United States, South Africa and, yes, Zimbabwe the "rule of law" is the articulation of capitalist class interests in the form of laws backed by the armed might of the state. 

The end of apartheid in South Africa did not change property relations -- Black capitalists merged into a now ethnically integrated, economically determinate class, the bourgeoisie, joined the White capitalists.  The South African Constitution and its legislated laws still today protects capitalists from worker expropriations!  It seems to me that rather than denouncing the Zimbabwe government for "unleashing" African peasant expropriations in Zimbabwe as violating the law that instead COSATU would be plotting to do a little law violating of their own: that is, expropriating the productive forces in South Africa!

The "rule of law" is nothing but class rule.  The Lancaster Accords set the laws on the books in Zimbabwe in place.  The objective of these "accords" was to trade off for political independence to the African bourgeoisie in Zimbabwe in exchange leaving capitalist property rights in place, and that includes imperialist ownership or/and partnership in owning the productive forces in Zimbabwe.

Neither COSATU in South Africa, nor the "Black radicals" in the United States criticized ZANU-PF for the Lancaster Accords sell-out of the Zimbabwean peasants, leading directly to the necessity of violating the Lancaster Accords' laws by the peasant expropriations.  Africans should be attacking the Lancaster Accords "laws" in place, which COSATU is defending.  Those are the laws leaving the majority of arable land in the clutches of the children and grandchildren of settler-colonialists.  Compensation of white settlers for land they expropriated from the people of Zimbabwe, reminds one of the French imperialists forcing the Haitian revolutionaries to "compensate" their former slave-owners/land owners, in order to be recognized as a self-governing republic.

The land issue/resolution in Zimbabwe today is no trick of the ZANU-PF.

The times of that superstition which attributed revolutions to       the ill-will of a few agitators have long passed away. Everyone knows nowadays that wherever there is a revolutionary convulsion,       there must be some social want in the background, which is prevented, by outworn institutions, from satisfying itself. (Karl Marx, Revolution and Counter Revolution)


Land seizures are not new to Zimbabwe.  Groups of landless peasants have invaded white-owned farms numerous times since 1980.  The present land seizures were not, nor could it be engendered by Mugabe nor ZANU-PF.  The final cause in this wave of land seizures is engendered by the factual situation on the ground.

That is, land seizures by peasants presupposes that there existed (exist) a condition of landlessness among the peasant masses themselves.  The landless peasants have taken matter into their own hands.  

What is different is that Mugabe or/and ZANU-PF have recognized the inevitable, and stepped aside to let nature run its natural [economic] course.

It is a tautology to say were the peasants not landless there would be no land seizures.  My criticism of ZANU-PF is not that these peasant land seizures are allowed without State suppression -- that's what the so-call "rule of law" would mean in Zimbabwe: suppression of the peasants movement -- but that the government suppressed them in the past.  The "rule of law" -- based on the Lancaster Accords (Agreements) was enforced by the government until 2000, when ZANU stepped to the side.

The return to the "rule of law" as is demanded by the COSATU labour bureaucracy, the BRC, Trans-Africa, the so-called "Coalition of Black Trade Unionists," and other representatives of capitalist law and order, is nothing but a counter-revolutionary demand upon African peasants to return African land to White capitalists and Imperialist property interests.

The psychoanalytical "analysis" of Mugabe, as an individual engendering these objective material processes in order to be re-elected as President, has no basis in empirical science, but is ESP! (Mind Reading!)  Because no one knows what are or aren’t Mugabe's personal motives unless they have ESP or can provide empirical documentation.  The imperialist critics have not presented any documentation, nor have their Negro mouth-pieces (COSATU, BRC, Trans-Africa, &c.).

There are no revolutionary socialists or communists in the COSATU labour bureaucracy, the BRC, Trans-Africa, the so-called "Coalition of Black Trade Unionists," nor among the other opponents of the peasant's expropriation of imperialistic/settler colonist lands.  Were they representatives of the African or/and African-American working-class, as such their criticism of Mugabe and ZANU-PF would not be that he supposedly "initiated" these "land grabs" -- nor that the lion's share is going to his cronies in the Black or African bourgeoisie because redistribution of the land is a bourgeois demand.  Rather, if they were socialists or communists their criticism would be that the expropriations are limited to the bourgeois-democratic stage while the proletarian expropriation of capitalistic property -- that is, the tobacco farms, the mines, and the factories are NOT on the agenda!

African Communists and Socialists in South Africa, e.g., the Socialist Party Of Azania (SOPA), should defend and support the African peasants in Zimbabwe, understanding it as an historical process objectively determined and not about Mugabe or even ZANU-PF or/and personal motives.

The issue is progress in the peasants revolution: bourgeois-democratic land expropriations, into proletarian revolution: socialist expropriations by wage-labour-employees of agribusinesses, mines, factories, financial institutions and of course the state by which these expropriations will be achieved.  The point is to make the peasant's expropriations in Zimbabwe continental and thereby permanent revolution in that the proletariat in the industrialized African countries will expropriate capital.

Of course the revolutionary proletarian expropriation of the means of production is "illegal"!  Since COSATU is opposed to peasant's expropriation of land, and its bourgeois redistribution to the rural petty- bourgeois (peasants) and bourgeois, it is anticipated that COSATU will oppose the "illegal" expropriations by African wage-workers of capital.  

It has been said -- even in the statement by COSATU's Zwelinzima Vavi -- that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"  (This statement in the COSATU statement is attributed to having originated with Mandela, but it is an old Christian statement based on the myth of original sin without taking it to its logical conclusion: God the omnipotent is absolutely corrupt!)

In any case, the productive forces in every country in Africa are in the hands of the bourgeoisie or/and Western-based transnational capitalists.  They are a cosmopolitan but small minority of capitalist exploiters of wage-labour. COSATU and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists as working-class organizations should be pushing for the extension of the peasant's expropriation of single farms into the expropriations of the landed plantation estates, the agribusinesses by the working-class.  COSATU and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, were they actually representing a proletarian solution to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, they would be pushing for the expropriation of the mines, and factories, along with agribusinesses by the working class.

If COSATU does not think that the landless African peasants are expropriating the settler-colonists land the correct way, then they should show them the right way to do it by initiating in South Africa a process of landless African peasants expropriations of the capitalist and imperialist owned agribusinesses in South Africa!  South Africa is the most industrialized country in Africa.

South Africa therefore has the largest, and most class conscious and best-organized proletariat in Africa.  Therefore, COSATU ought to be about making the expropriations of land by African peasants regional in combination with workers expropriations of mines, agribusinesses, factories and banking institutions, under workers control throughout the region.  And throughout Africa!  This is proletarian internationalism in the Pan-African context.

As to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists they are American Negroes who have not even taken over and radicalized the American trade unions.  The American AFL-CIO supports anti-communist coups in Third World countries -- most recently the attempt to overthrow the left-government in Venezuela.  And the AFL-CIO is presently supporting the American wars on Muslim and Arab countries, and the Anglo-American colonization of Iraq.  It would seem that the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists would be trying to get their own reactionary house of labour unions in order, rather than joining in with the AFL-CIO leadership in endorsing U.S. and British imperialism economic and political sanctions on Zimbabwe by denouncing ZANU-PF.

The American trade union bureaucracy, and large sections of its rank and file are the most reactionary in the world and this includes the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. Rather than publishing "Open Letters" to Bush and Blair denouncing the economic and political sanctions on Zimbabwe, on the contrary, they stand in the camp of U.S. imperialism demanding that Mugabe resign: "regime change."

The anti-colonial struggle in Africa was bourgeois-democratic, which led to the Lancaster Agreement.  The present expropriation of land by landless peasants is the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution.  It is not therefore surprising that in these expropriations based on capitalist redistribution, that the Black bourgeois represented by ZANU-PF is getting the lions share.

The same thing happened in the English Revolution in the 17th century, and the French Revolution in the 18th century, and so on.

What is different in 21st century in southern Africa is that in Zimbabwe and especially South Africa there is developed industry in place, and a large class of wage-workers that is capable of organizing itself into a regional class party, and culminate the present bourgeois-democratic land redistribution in socialist expropriations of the agribusinesses, the mines, the banks, the factories, and so on.

But to do this the class conscious working-class has to develop relations with the landless peasants not in calling for the return to submission to the rule of law, bourgeois law, but to act independently of the ZANU-PF by breaking all the laws in expropriating the land reserved for big "farmers," Black and White alike.  The industrial working-class and mine working proletariat in Southern Africa by forming an alliance with the poor and landless peasants supporting land to the tillers by their direct expropriations in collaboration with proletarian expropriations of mining and industrial capital.

The objective of class conscious wage-labour in Zimbabwe is the same as the class conscious working-class objectives in South Africa, indeed of class conscious workers in every advanced industrial capitalist country: organize the workers into a party, overthrow of bourgeois supremacy, conquest of political power by the working-class.  The working-class will use this power to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie.  But, in southern Africa, given the momentum of the peasants expropriations of land, this could engender proletarian expropriations of the agribusiness, that for ZANU-PF is a no no.

The expropriation of landed capital could easily engender, by its extension to the mining proletariat working-class expropriations throughout southern Africa.

"Zimbabwe's Changed Land" by Carolyn Dempster in Harare 28 February 2003 BBC News Online reports:

Black farm workers who stayed on after the invasions and violent eviction of their former white employers are now co-operating with the new settlers to eke out a living, using the seeds and implements abandoned by the white farmers.  Close to two million farm workers and their families were profoundly affected by the  land resettlement programme.  The Farm Community Trust of Zimbabwe says up to 70% of farm workers lost their jobs and a means of income as a direct result.

This situation can be remedied by the co-operation of workers and peasants expropriations reorganizing production and distribution as co-ops.

I suggest that the African working-class study what the Argentine working-class is doing, already it is expropriating factories.  The defense of these expropriated factories engendered nation-wide, class-consciousness in confrontation with the state. 

Under conditions of land expropriations in Zimbabwe, and factory occupations in Argentina, the world working-class movement is being brought to a new, higher level of class-consciousness, the future of working-class goals and activities.

The Zimbabwean peasants expropriations and the Argentine workers occupations represent the future in the present. 

The real issue in Zimbabwe is not Western style bourgeois democracy, but a social revolution in peasant's expropriations of the land taken from their forefathers.  The radical critique of "Mugabe," i.e., ZANU-PF, is not that the land seizures are going too far but that they are limited, the expropriations must be extended to the agribusinesses, mines, and factories.

June 20, 2003  See also:

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Launching the Pedagogical History of Africa Project in Harare yesterday [5 September 2011] , President Mugabe said . . . "The history that must be written by our African scholars and academics here is the history that focuses on African people in struggle as creators of their own destiny rather than mere consumers of stories written about them by passive on-lookers who oftentimes happen to be non-African outsiders . . . . Real history belongs to a people in struggle and not to the interpreters of history. The people themselves are the makers of history and therefore the real historians. The interpreters are mere raconteurs of history and not the actual history-makers as is often wrongly implied . . . Only this way can we avoid history written by colonialists as 'winners'. Our real winners are the people, whose real history or struggle the so-called winners would like to distort and suppress . . . You cannot be a historian of African people if you do not share their cry or their laughter. No. The African sensibility, reflected in African culture and worldview, is the only accurate compass to guide a historian who is genuine about writing African history. . . . Slavery and colonisation do not themselves constitute African history. They disrupt and falsify the trajectory of African history. They dehumanise Africans to fit into the scheme of European capital. The ideology of racism is created as a parallel process to rationalise the oppression of Africans. . . . I need not stress that it is imperative to edify educational systems, which embody the African and universal values so as to ensure the rooting of youth in African culture in the context of a sustainable and participatory development. This way we continue to foster the spirit of unity in Africa as embodied in the African Unity Charter”AllAfrica

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

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According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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By W. E. B. Du Bois

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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Related files: Empires and Lynching  The Real Trouble with Zimbabwe    The Lynching of Robert Mugabe (Ogbunwezeh)   Black Africa's duty to help Zimbabwe    No to invasion of Zimbabwe! (Molefe) 

Western Hypocrisy   Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism (Goodman)  Look What I Found (video)  Choosing Sides  Trans Africa & Progressives on Mugabe  Colin Powell on Mugabe  

Sanctions on Zimbabwe  Zimbabwe's Lonely Fight for Justice     Reporting Zimbabwe    President Robert Mugabe's UN Speech   A Shattered Dream  Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism