Greetings from the desk of Tricontinental Pan-Africa, this time in collaboration with the Pan Africanism Today (PAT) Secretariat.
Capitalism has no solutions for the problems that confront humanity.
This is the unequivocal conclusion of around 800 leaders from 260 left progressive organisations in 51 countries, alongside forward-looking intellectuals and political leaders, who have been convened together in the last few years by PAT and other regional articulations of the International Peoples’ Assembly. From political parties to peasant networks, trade unions, and housing movements, we have been engaged in a long process of bringing together a range of left progressive organisations, only naming a few here. For these people, any illusion that there are redeeming qualities to capitalism has been shattered by the coalface of the concrete conditions facing most peoples of the world.
The III International Dilemmas of Humanity Conference which just took place in Johannesburg, South Africa, this October was in some ways the culmination of these efforts. It brought people from across the globe together to debate and strategise about how to confront the deep-seated poverty, inequality, and the environmental crises that are only worsening today. All images in this newsletter depict those who continue daily to build the process collectively.
But, this has been a long process of exchange, meeting, debate, education, and campaigning. In Africa, the process of building relations, coordinating collective campaigns, and constructing a common conjunctural outlook has been met with significant challenges. Separation by the inequalities of poverty (not of our own making), the challenges of regional specificities surrounding language and culture, the scope of our gigantic continent of over 1.4 billion people (where the median age is 19 years old), and the diversity of our sociological outlooks are definitive factors to overcome. How does a young Tanzanian woman who coordinates the food sovereignty struggles among MVIWATA’s peasant base, come to relate to the shop steward from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa striking for the enforcement of labour rights? How does a new member of the Socialist Movement of Ghana, who joined the group to protest gendered economic injustices, view the struggles of cadres in the Workers’ Democratic Way party calling attention to deteriorating political freedoms in Morocco?
In part, the moment of history we are living in has brought with it openings, cracks and opportunities for fundamental change. The capitalist system in its imperialist stage, that is fed by leeching off of the wealth of our labour and extracted from our lands, has reached a level of parasitism that is daily being questioned and contested by diverse but endless popular resistance.
In the Sahel region of Africa, patriotic uprisings, that called for the expulsion of the French from the region in the last four years, were met with mass swells of support and deafening applause. In Palestine, despite the century of colonial, Zionist humiliation, which started with the Balfour Declaration of 1917, armed resistance has buttressed the resolve of the Palestinian people in their cry for dignity and freedom. Despite the hegemonic power of the US-funded conservative right wing in Latin America and the Caribbean, faced with flailing economies and militarised states, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean still cast electoral votes for progressive parties. Even in Eastern Europe, which has been throttled into submission by Western imperialism, Russia’s rejection of NATO’s eastward expansion has constituted a shift in the global order.
We are witnessing an unprecedented shift, not seen in decades, where the demands for sovereignty, dignity, and self-determination are at a boiling point.
In this context, peoples’ movements and organisations need to act, and do so collectively. We have spent years in dialogue with one another to galvanise a common analysis of our concrete conditions and we have worked tirelessly to organise across colonially-imposed borders and neocolonial economic and political structures.
Crucially, we understand that the cracks in the system are not inherently progressive; these shifts are, instead, riddled with contradictions. The purpose of deepening the debates among our organisations has been to navigate a complex world of challenges and opportunities. Ultimately, our task is to seize the moment to break new ground in securing fundamental change for the sake of all humanity; this while jealously guarding the gains we have already made. In the end, the struggles for dignity must be waged within the messiness of reality.
This is why more than 260 trade unions, peasant organisations, political parties and social movements decided that the time has come to go beyond analysis and critique. What should the response of the working class, the peasants and all those committed to a better future be to the dilemmas of humanity? Dilemmas which we did not create, but which we have to overcome.
The ‘Letter from Johannesburg’ sums up the current moment, and calls on us to recommit ourselves to the struggle for socialism through: relief, recomposing the working class, rescuing collective life, and rebuilding the culture of struggle. You can read more about these pillars in the letter.
It is time to celebrate the seeds of socialism that our peoples’ movements and organisations have already planted which must be collectively nurtured and grown. Our historic task is to chart the path from where we are, subject to a depraved system of dehumanisation, to where we want to be: in a world where dignity is no longer an aspiration but a description.
To do any of this takes efforts to organise and mobilise, to push for the long-term interests of the oppressed and take advantage of any opportunity that can shift the balance of power in the world. Whilst doing so, we remain attentive to the fact that we must simultaneously use our collective creativity to address the material, day-to-day needs of our people. As South African communist leader Chris Hani would always remind us:
Socialism is not about big concepts and heavy theory. Socialism is about decent shelter for those who are homeless. It is about water for those who have no safe drinking water. It is about health care, it is about a life of dignity for the old. It is about overcoming the huge divide between urban and rural areas. It is about a decent education for all our people. Socialism is about rolling back the tyranny of the market. As long as the economy is dominated by an unelected, privileged few, the case for socialism will exist.
|Jonis Ghedi Alasow is the executive director of Pan Africanism Today (PAT). He coordinates the work of the PAT secretariat and the Kwame Nkrumah Political School. He works closely with the Tricontinental Pan Africa team and can be reached at [email protected].