Sunday, October 22, 2017

One-on-one With the SADC Boss Lady

Zimpapers Television Network spoke to Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax at the bloc’s headquarters in Botswana last week, focusing on issues like the role of foreign observers in African elections, economic management in Southern Africa and the continent’s place in the comity of nations. The following are excerpts of Dr Tax’s conversation with Zimpapers Head of Television, Nomsa Nkala.

Q: You have been the Executive Secretary of Sadc for the past four years, and you are the first woman to hold that post. What does this milestone mean for you and African women?

A: I appreciate this appointment and the trust bestowed upon me. Such positions are competitive, strategic and politically sensitive. And Sadc, in particular the Heads of State, felt it fit to provide me this opportunity to serve the organisation.

With regard to women, I encourage them that these positions are not for any particular gender. One just has to be confident, prepare themselves and take up the challenge.

Q: Tell me about your relationship with your male counterparts given the strong link between leadership and patriarchy.

A: My relationship is very good; excellent because it depends on how you relate with them yourself. If you go there and say, “I am a woman; here I am, I need favours”, then you might find challenges.

In the region, I interact with Heads of State, ministers, and I get proper guidance and the needed support without being looked at as a woman. I am looked at as the Executive Secretary of Sadc.

I also relate and work closely with my counterparts in other regions. For example, in Comesa we have a tripartite arrangement and we have taskforce of CEOs. We lead and they chair on a rotational basis. In that configuration/arrangement, what I have seen is respect, support and encouragement. I have not felt that I am here and that I have been looked at as a woman. No.

Q: Some former liberation movements in Sadc say regional instability is largely caused by their former colonial masters. Do you agree?

A: Yes and no. I may agree because dependence is still there. We are still very dependent on external partners for many reasons. So you can translate that because of your dependence, one can influence your processes.

But it also depends on how you (play) your cards when you negotiate.

Even if you depend on a partner, you also have to understand your strength; that I am negotiating a trade deal and I am the one who is going to provide the raw materials or whatever else you are coming with.

You have to capitalise on your strength. Yes, you may have that influence, but you have ways to manage that influence, depending on how you play your cards.

Q: Have Sadc countries been able to do that; competently negotiate trade agreements?

A: That is a difficult one. Even though I am an economist, let me look at it from an economic-political point of view.

We have to understand where we have come from and where we are. In most of our countries, some people say you have been independent for 50 years, but we are seeing very little.

But when they do that, they compare with other countries which have been independent for 300 years. So, it is a journey, and I am looking at it from a historical-economic-political point of view.

The focus when we were struggling for independence was to get political and flag independence.

And when we got independence, we were to prepare ourselves to manage our economies. That preparation took different routes because some member states had to define ideology.

Now it depends on the ideological route they took. Also, we had to prepare ourselves in terms of socio-economic requirements, for example, skills development. Before even going to skills development, you had to come up with a vision: Where do I want to go 50 years from now? What is my mission and how do I go there?

I think that is where, maybe, it took some time for most of our countries before coming up with a clear mission and from that mission to say how do I prioritise to make sure that I arrive at that mission?

You need to know what you are prioritising because you have to make sure that you have the elites who are going to manage the administration. How long does that take?

It’s not an activity that you say I am going to see the impact. Maybe, also, it took time in that we had a few people who can negotiate and articulate.

You are seated at a table with a partner from a European country. It’s a team of 20 people, experts in different aspects. And you are a team of five people and you don’t have deep expertise in those areas.

So, you will try your best to negotiate, but you have to understand that you may end up without the best deal. That has been realised now and that’s why you will see that the dynamics have changed completely.

Q: Do you believe most Sadc countries appreciate the role of effectively managing their economies?

A: They do. That’s why now, if you have been following what is going on in most of these economies, first even if you take Sadc as an example, we have now prioritised management of our economies, in particular, resources.

We have our resources and we need to make sure that we manage those resources for our benefit.

And you can see the alignment with the priorities.

Most countries now have focus on making sure our priorities are right. We also understand that for those that we feel are right priorities, how are we going to realise them? What do we need? And if this is what we need, how do we put in place those requirements?

Q: Is it reasonable, in your view, to have taken this long to get to the point of managing our economies?

A: It is not a straightforward question with a straightforward answer. I always listen to the comparison:

There are late-comers, but they have leap-frogged others (I’m avoiding mentioning countries). But those had a benchmark. They learnt from the mistakes of others.

So, it took time because we had to learn. Maybe we learnt the hard way. It has taken time. Perhaps we would have done it much earlier, but it is a process which was expected to take place. It’s not unique to the Sadc region. It was the same process even in other parts of the developing world.

Q: Let’s talk about industrialisation. The Sadc Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap is the region’s guide into coming years. What has been impeding Africa’s quest to industrialise?

A: It’s the same reason; prioritisation. Conventionally, people will talk about lack of skills, lack of finances, infrastructure gap.

But, again, I’m going to (the question) why that? My answer will be appropriate prioritisation and not appreciating the opportunities that exist in utilising co-operation in regional integration.

We started in the Free Trade Area. We knew that we have opened up our market, but did we go a step further to say yes we are opening up our markets, what should we do?

And this is a tough lesson because it is not only within Sadc.

We have also had a number of trade agreements with other parts of the world, but it was very clear that the major challenge has been supply side constraints.

Now it goes back to appropriate prioritisation. If you want to trade, you must make sure that you have the capacity to produce, compete and trade.

Yes, you have a lot of priorities, but which should come first? Is it the social? It is also about balancing your priorities because as a country, you have a lot of competing priorities.

Q: Critics look at the general performance of an individual country and then tie it to that country’s leadership . . .

A: In Sadc, we have micro-economic convergence criteria. We have agreed that for us to measure whether an economy is moving in the right direction, GDP should not be below (a particular level), inflation should not be higher than (a certain point) and debt-sustainability should not be below this, and we are within those ranges. Last year, we had challenges, which were attributed to a number of factors.

We had drought. We had the commodity crisis — worldwide. The only thing that I may (admit) is still a challenge is that yes, we are seeing economic growth but that economic growth has not translated to addressing poverty, which, for us as a region, is our ultimate objective.

What we need to do and are doing now is to understand that if economies are growing as assessed via the micro-economic indicators, why are we not addressing poverty to that level?

And that is what we are now busy trying to see. What kind of measures should we put in place to make sure that we address poverty issues?

Q: When can we begin to see tangible results in this march towards industrialisation?

A: “Tangible results” is subjective and depends on how you define it. Industrialisation is not an event; it is a process. And if you ask me what I am proud of since I joined this organisation; that is one of the achievements which I am seeing but it will take time.

The decision was taken in August 2014. When you say you want to industrialise, it is not just a statement. You must make sure that you have the tools and capacity. (The strategy) is a milestone even though it is not impactful yet. But once you have a strategy, it is not enough.

You need to have a plan. So, the next stage we were now preparing to have was an operationalisation plan, which, again, in one year was put in place, and was approved in March 2016.

The decision was, prepare a strategy and also to start frontloading industrialisation. So, we started working on the value chains we profiled. We have already identified pharmaceuticals, minerals and agro-processing.

We are now moving to coming up with value chains. So, progress is taking place.

Within two years I believe we are going to have value chains in the different countries and then you can see the impact; not only the output but also the outcome of industrialisation.

Q: How would you describe President Mugabe’s chairmanship of Sadc (August 2014-August 2015)?

A: (laughs) I don’t want to assess my leaders, but what I will say is that it was not only President Mugabe, but a number of Chairs.

When you assume chairmanship, there are two things which you do. First, you decide on the theme, and based on the theme, a work programme is prepared.

His theme was “Value Addition and Beneficiation”, and that is what drove industrialisation. Now, I’m throwing this question back to you: Since we started this conversation, how much has industrialisation featured?

That is a clear response that indeed, there has been an impact not only during his tenure but a continuous impact.

Q: Botswana is hosting an American military base and some reason that this is a threat to regional security given the hostile relations between the West and some Sadc countries.

A: I wouldn’t like to comment on that because I have not analysed that matter.

Q: Has the matter come up at Sadc meetings?

A: It’s not part of the Sadc agenda and personally, I have not analysed it.

Q: Zimbabwe will hold elections next year. Based on Sadc standards, what is your assessment of the country’s electoral system?

A: If I analyse the electoral system, it will be premature. I wouldn’t like to present my assessment on assumptions.

And I am saying this because according to our structure and guidelines on democratic elections, before a country goes to elections, we get a notification from member states that “we are going to conduct elections and we invite you to come and observe those elections”.

Before we send the election observation mission, what we do first is send what we call an assessment mission, which assesses electoral preparedness in terms of legislation, the security situation, among other areas.

The last election, as you are aware, was credible as pronounced by Sadc.

And since then, the Government has been in power, and has governed. We have not, as an organisation, received any complaints.

You cannot gauge one election to the other because you are talking of a period of four years, but we have no reason . . . to doubt that things have changed that dramatically to expect that there are going to be massive challenges during these elections in terms of the law, in terms of the environment. We don’t expect that.

Q: Some Western groups attacked the credibility of that election . . .

A: If you go by that, then all the elections on the continent won’t be credible.

Elections in the region are observed by the African Union. Elections are observed by Sadc and other partners. For us, as Sadc, we are part of the African Union, and if it is very clear that our conclusions and African Union conclusions are the same, then we believe that we did our job.

Would it happen that we have differences in terms of conclusions, then it will be an issue of concern. We don’t know what their measures are. We don’t know what their criteria are. We don’t know how they do it, so I cannot align myself with something which I am not party to.

Q: The feeling has been that the presence of Western groups gives more credibility to African elections . . .

A: Is it because we don’t trust our systems? Is it because we feel that we don’t have credible people to do that?

That is now where we also need to understand that we are Africans. It is our continent. It is our region and we have an obligation of leading our continent.

When you go to elections, you have to explain how you want to do it because elections are not about interfering with the internal processes. It’s not about that.

There are instances, I am not going to mention the country (it’s within Sadc), where one of our external partners wanted to be part of the counting process. And they wanted to even count before the electoral commission board. They wanted to go a step further to put their own instrument.

Now, are you observing or you want to be part of the internal processes? We don’t go and interfere in internal processes, but even if you are not sure about the system being used, ask and get an explanation.

That is why we even have pre-election (assessments). How did you conduct your voter registration? This is what we did. Was everybody given an opportunity to be registered? Yes. And we consult widely.

We don’t consult only with the government, but a number of stakeholders.

If you have doubts, you have to communicate those doubts before to enable the government to take the necessary action. Is the electoral commission independent enough? Do you feel that it is independent? Yes. If it’s independent, then let them do their work.

But if you now want to be the electoral board, you want to be the one to conduct the voters’ register, you are not helping. Because what you need (to do) is to help by enabling that country to have the required systems.

Q: So, from the example you have given, is it fair then to say that countries that bar Westerners from observing their elections are justified?

A: I may say they are justified if there are justifiable reasons. And they may not be justified because I don’t have the facts, I cannot rule.

But what I am insisting on is that you need to observe elections based on your guiding principles and also understanding that that is a sovereign country with their legislation. Elections are governed by constitutions and electoral and other laws.

So, you have to understand those laws as well. A country cannot just wake up in the morning and say I don’t want you to come and be part of my elections. There must be reasons.

Now, because I don’t know the reasons, it’s very difficult for me to say this was the case and this is how it happened. But I am trying to explain a (possible) scenario.
Zimbabwe President Mugabe Back from Successful Uruguay Visit
Takunda Maodza recently in Montevideo, Uruguay
Sunday Mail

President Mugabe returned home from Uruguay yesterday after attending the World Health Organisation Global Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases, a meeting that culminated in him being named a WHO Goodwill Ambassador.

NCDs are chronic diseases that cannot be passed from person to person, and include chronic respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, cancer and diabetes.

The President — who was accompanied by ministers Dr Walter Mzembi (Foreign Affairs) and Dr David Parirenyatwa (Health and Child Care) —was welcomed at Harare International Airport by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Also there to welcome President Mugabe were ministers Dr Sydney Sekeramayi (Defence), Happyton Bonyongwe (Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs), Dr Joram Gumbo (Transport and Infrastructure Development) and Miriam Chikukwa (Harare Provincial Affairs); Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet Dr Misheck Sibanda, and other senior Government officials and service chiefs.

In an interview on landing, Dr Parirenyatwa described the conference as a huge success, while also hailing President Mugabe’s appointment as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Africa in the fight against NCDs.

“All the nations came up with a declaration on NCDs to be put up the agenda of prevention,” he said.

Dr Parirenyatwa said among other things, the declaration urges nations to mobilise resources to fight NCDs.

“This is a new page for Zimbabwe. President Mugabe is involved in a big way as Ambassador, and Zimbabwe should be a model in the fight against NCDs,” he said.

Dr Mzembi said Zimbabwe had taken the opportunity to boost diplomatic relations with Uruguay.

“The thrust going forward is linking Zimbabwe with new markets,” he said.

In Uruguay, President Mugabe met that country’s leader, President Tabare Vasquez, and the two explored areas of economic co-operation.

Dr Mzembi and Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa followed that up with their own closed-door discussion.

Dr Mzembi told journalists after that meeting: “I think we have something going with the Uruguayans, very warm people and very genuine. What they have informed me is that their own President has instructed that a delegation be dispatched to Harare to follow up on the Presidential discussion.

“We have refined it a little bit in our own meeting to a position where we are saying the Minister of Agriculture for Zimbabwe and the Minister of Energy for Zimbabwe must first come up here to familiarise with the issues that the two presidents discussed.”

He said the countries would explore co-operation in cattle-ranching and beef production among other aspects of agricultural development.

Another area of possible co-operation is renewable energy.

Dr Mzembi said: “Uruguay does not import energy.

‘‘It is actually self-sufficient to an extent where it is producing 70 percent of its energy from wind and the rest is biomass and hydro-electric.”
Government in Drive to Contain NCDs •Inter-ministerial Task Force on Cards: President •National Policy Framework in Place
October 19, 2017

President Mugabe addresses a plenary session of the World Health Organisation Global Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases in Montevideo, Uruguay, yesterday. In attendance were Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi and Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa. — (Picture by Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo)

Takunda Maodza in MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay
Zimbabwe Herald

Government is making efforts to establish an Inter-Ministerial Task Force on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) because such diseases need a multi-sectoral response, President Mugabe has said. NCDs are chronic diseases that cannot be passed from person-to-person and include cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Addressing the World Health Organisation Global Conference on NCDs, which was officially opened by Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez yesterday, President Mugabe, who arrived here on Tuesday, said Zimbabwe had adopted several strategies to combat challenges posed by new health outbreaks, including NCDs. He said the country, through the Ministry of Health and Child Care, had also developed a national NCDs policy.

“Efforts are also underway to establish an inter-Ministerial Task Force on Non-Communicable Diseases through the Ministry of Health and Child Care. This initiative comes from our awareness that non-communicable diseases need a multi-sectoral response, and comes on the back of our highly-acclaimed Aids Levy. We have established Health Levy Fund, an innovative financing mechanism to raise resources for the procurement of medicines, supplies and equipment for the management of non-communicable diseases, among other conditions. This fund is derived from a five percent surcharge of mobile communications usage,” he said.

“In the case of non-communicable diseases, Zimbabwe has adopted a National Health Strategy spanning from 2016-2020, which we have dubbed ‘Equity and Quality in Health: Leaving No One Behind’. The strategy provides the framework that guides the efforts of our Ministry of Health and Child Care and all stakeholders in contributing to the attainment of the SDG3 (Sustainable Development Goal)”. President Mugabe said Zimbabwe had a policy on NCDs.

“Zimbabwe has also developed a national non-communicable diseases policy, a palliative care policy, and has engaged United Nations agencies working in the country, to assist in the development of a Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control strategy to cover the period 2016 to 2020.” President Mugabe said like all developing countries, Zimbabwe was harmstrung by the lack of adequate resources for executing programmes aimed at reducing NCDs and other health conditions afflicting the people.

“My Government thus remains committed to work closely with the World Health Organisation, the private sector and the donor community, in efforts to mobilise resources for programmes aimed at reducing non-communicable diseases,” he said. President Mugabe expressed gratitude for Zimbabwe’s election as the chair of the 71st World Health Assembly from 2018 to 2019. The country was elected two months ago in Victoria Falls at the WHO Afro-regional meeting.

“It is an honour we receive with great humility, mindful of the responsibilities which it carries. We are all committed to address the global non-communicable diseases, which threaten the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. NCDs are primarily linked to common risk factors like harmful use of alcohol, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity. This means changing lifestyles and adoption of a regimen of exercise can help prevent NCDs. President Mugabe said developing countries were struggling to move from commitment to action because of resource constraints and lack technical capacity. This has been worsened by global economic challenges facing fragile economies negatively impacting on national health systems.

“Against this inauspicious backdrop, the importance of strong national health systems and interventions cannot be overemphasised. And these are predicated and should underline the need to strengthen health systems, health care infrastructure, human resources for health and social protection systems, particularly in developing countries,” said President Mugabe.

He said in the fight against NCDs, the onus must fall on all parties – principally governments, all development partners, civil society and communities. President Mugabe acknowledged the leading role played by WHO as the primary specialised agency on health matters.

“Through it, international cooperation must be marshalled in support of national, regional and global plans for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases. This should be done through the exchange of best practices in the areas of health promotion, legislation, regulation, strengthening of health systems, training of health-care personnel and the development of appropriate health-care infrastructure and diagnostics,” said President Mugabe.
Zimbabwe, Uruguay Seek to Boost Ties
October 21, 2017

PRESIDENT Mugabe on Thursday met Uruguayan President Tabare Vasquez at his offices in Montevideo, the country’s capital, where the two leaders discussed ways to boost bilateral and economic ties. President Mugabe was joined by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Walter Mzembi in the meeting. Dr Mzembi later met Uruguay Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Rodolfo Nin Novoa at his offices. Briefing the media on the two meetings, Dr Mzembi said Zimbabwe would soon dispatch a delegation to engage Uruguay in areas covering energy and agriculture. Uruguay, which is home to 3,5 million people, has excelled in agriculture and renewable energy production.“It is a follow-up to a meeting the two Presidents held in the morning, (to) which I accompanied our own President. I think we have something going with the Uruguayans, very warm people and very genuine. What they have informed me is that their own President has instructed that a delegation be dispatched to Harare to follow up on the Presidential discussion. We have refined it a little bit in our own meeting to a position where we are saying the Minister of Agriculture for Zimbabwe and the Minister of Energy for Zimbabwe must first come up here to familiarise with the issues that the two Presidents discussed,” said Dr Mzembi.

Dr Mzembi said Uruguay had distinguished itself, particularly in cattle ranching, to such the extent that it now exported to most countries around the world. He said such an experience was critical for Zimbabwe’s experience in the same sector.

“The first aspect being the area around cattle ranching and beef production, where Uruguay is excelling to the extent where, despite the fact that it is one-tenth the size of Zimbabwe, they actually host 20 million heads (cattle), and they are exporting to 140 countries; and clearly that provides a very useful benchmark study for our Minister of Agriculture,” said Dr Mzembi.

“In addition, they are actually – notwithstanding that they are a 3,5 million population country – growing food enough to feed 30 million people, so they are exporting to feed more than 26 million people across the globe.” Zimbabwe, Dr Mzembi said, could also learn how to include renewable energy as part of its energy mix.

“The second aspect is of course where the emphasis is on renewable energy production,” he said. “Uruguay does not import energy. It is actually self-sufficient to the extent where it is producing 70 percent of its energy from wind and the rest is biomass and hydroelectric. Again, we think that this will be a useful benchmark study for the Energy Minister and his officials. Thereafter, when they go back, it will be followed by a delegation from Uruguay who will come to explore business opportunities between the two countries.” President Mugabe is in Uruguay for the World Health Organisation Conference on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). WHO on Wednesday appointed President Mugabe its goodwill ambassador for Africa in the fight against NCDs. NCDs are diseases that cannot be passed from one person to another such as cancer and diabetes.
Africa’s Changing Literary Scene
October 23, 2017
Ainehi Edoro

Today we are witnessing the emergence of an African literary market. Independent publishers have sprouted all over the continent: Cassava Republic and Farafina in Nigeria, Modjaji Books, Chimurenga, and Jungle Jim in South Africa, Kwani in Kenya. But there’s a catch.

This industry is emerging at one of the most difficult times in global publishing. Aside from grappling with the issues everyone else is facing, African publishers have problems of their own. First, Africa lacks a strong tradition or infrastructure for publishing. Second, the $14 it costs to buy a Penguin Classic is what many Africans earn in a week.

Finally, within the continent, African literature has to compete in a media space monopolised by Nollywood and the thriving pop music industry.

According to a recent UNESCO study, there is one library to every million Nigerians. Unlike western publishers who depend on library sales and the bookstore circuit, the African publisher depends solely on an extremely volatile and unregulated market run by daredevil pirates and colluding customers looking for a cheap buy.

Still Bibi Bakare, the founder of Cassava Republic, is convinced that the future of African literary publishing is bright. “Our golden age is in front of us,” she tells me. The solution, she believes, lies in taking seriously the ongoing changes in the contemporary African literary scene.

Perhaps we should begin by debunking the claim that Africans don’t read — a long-held view that is widely touted in conversations about African publishing. Claims like this often conflate reading and buying.

A reading culture does not necessarily depend on a standardised book market. Africa has always had a vibrant reading culture sustained by an informal economy of books consisting in piracy and an informal culture of book-lending.

Data from digital reading platforms also suggests the opposite. The expansion of mobile technology in Africa is creating a reading culture that embraces a staggeringly wide variety of texts — romance, inspirational books, religious writing, and so on.

The more interesting question becomes: How can African publishers leverage this unorthodox reading culture to establish a functional literary market?

The contemporary “audience for African literature,” Bakare explains, “is more discerning. They make more demands on their writers. They expect more. They don’t expect to be patronised.

They feel like I can choose, I don’t have to be bogged down reading African literature if I don’t want to. They don’t feel a sense of anxiety about their taste as they may have done in the past.”

When Bakare speaks of the past, she has in mind the literary culture of the older generations. It was a time when the taste and interests of the reader did not drive the content of fiction. Achebe’s 1965 essay “The Novelist as Teacher,” was not only metaphorical, it was also quite literal.

For Achebe’s generation, African fiction existed primarily within the context of education. Heinemann, the prominent publisher of African fiction at the time, published fiction to serve the needs of an educational system that was also its primary buyer. In this context, the African reader was, first and foremost, imagined as a student.

With the establishment of a literary market on the continent, African readers are seen as consumers. Their taste and their power as buyers are beginning to exert a tangible influence on content creation.

For example, a recent survey shows that Africans love reading romance, primarily consumed digitally on mobile platforms. Cassava Republic, it would seem, was already aware of this. A few years ago, they began work on a new imprint called Ankara Press, marketed as “a new kind of romance” providing “thrills of fantasy…in a healthier and more grounded way.” All six books debuted last year as e-books at affordable prices. Bakare says it has been so successful that they are working on releasing new titles in addition to expanding the brand.

Ankara Press is a good example of how literary content is inspired by popular taste. But it is also part of a growing trend of popular fiction in Africa. Jungle Jim’s pulp-fiction magazines, Mukoma wa Ngugi’s Nairobi novels, and Sarah Lotz’s pseudonymous erotica are just a few examples. Globally, publishers are more likely to turn a profit with popular fiction than with the so-called highbrow fiction. E.L. James’s “Fifty Shades of Grey” has sold 125 million copies since its publication three years ago. In contrast Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” — one of the most significant texts of the twentieth century, has sold 12 million copies over the last 50 years.

The Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina has said that African publishers cannot build a market on the kinds of books written by the Adichies and the Teju Coles of the world. “None of these books are going to build industries,” he insists. “Chimamanda’s books are not going to build industries.” Wainaina believes that the game-changing move will occur when African publishing goes pop. “What will build industries is having thousands and thousands of romance books, of kids’ fantasy books, of transporting our children away, getting them hooked on these things . . . like Nollywood.”

Wanaina’s comparison of a potentially profitable African publishing industry to Nollywood is interesting because Africa’s literary gatekeepers have tended to vilify Nollywood as the poster child for all that is wrong with African pop-culture. Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka describes Nollywood as an “unprepossessing monstrosity” that provides little more than the “thrill of the grotesque.” Wainaina disagrees, instead he sees Nollywood as proving that there is power in those forms of storytelling that capture popular imagination. In other words, writing stories that speak to the masses is not just about selling books, it is about making sure that African literature remains relevant as a mode of expressing popular consciousness. It is about convincing Africans, especially the continent’s younger generation, that African literature can represent a familiar way of life — just like Nollywood or the African pop music industry.

An openness to popular fiction has yielded other unexpected outcomes and has enlarged the circle of what counts as African fiction. Those who follow the history of the African novel are familiar with the war of words between Chinua Achebe and Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah during the 1980s. Achebe questioned the authenticity of Armah’s novel, “The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born”. He saw the existential drift of the story as Armah “imitating the style . . . of some other people,” by which he meant Europeans. For experimenting with European forms, Achebe accused Armah of “using his talent in rather unproductive ways.” Today, there is a less restrictive and prescriptive literary culture in Africa. African writers are eager to explore different forms and are able to push boundaries as they please.

— Ventures Africa.
Closing UN’s ‘Africa Week,’ Assembly President Says Continent’s Vision Getting Close to Reality
General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák addressing the Assembly’s annual joint debate on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the ‘2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa.’ UN Photo/Cia Pak

20 October 2017 – Addressing the final event of this year’s Africa Week at the United Nations, General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák on Friday highlighted the continent’s transformative changes driven by the African Union’s development agency.

“First, I want to acknowledge the importance of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD),” Mr. Lajčák told an Assembly plenary meeting, referring to the programme first established in 2001 and then integrated into the African Union’s structure to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of continental and regional priority projects.

“NEPAD was something of a trailblazer […] Since its adoption in 2001, NEPAD has led to transformative change,” Mr. Lajčák said, noting that it predates the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063 by more than a decade.

For example, he said, NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme has improved agricultural productivity on the continent, changing the lives of many African farmers.

Additionally, NEPAD has led to big strides in the integration of African trade. The finalization of the tripartite free trade agreement this summer among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern African Development Community(SADC) and East African Community (EAC) was an important step.

“The continental free trade area is no longer a distant dream. It could very soon be a reality,” he said.

However, faster progress needs to be seen, not only in the two sectors of agriculture and trade, but also in infrastructure, industry, economic diversification and poverty eradication, said Mr. Lajčák.

He went on to stress that no development in Africa can take hold unless it is led from within, noting that there are many exciting developments at the national level, and African countries are also building their capacities for domestic resource mobilization, and tackling illicit financial flows.

Yet, in an increasingly globalized world, the efforts within Africa need to be supported by a revitalized partnership with development partners, including UN bodies and Member States, as well as by investment and financial and technical assistance.

Also the root causes of conflict and suffering must be addressed. “The signing of a trade agreement will mean little to a mother whose young child is very sick from malaria. Similarly, foreign direct investment is not on the mind of someone who is running from a shower of bullets,” he said.

“Africa has a very clear vision” – one which involves all layers of society benefiting from growth and development; one in which malaria or other diseases do not serve as death sentences for hundreds of thousands of people every year; one in which early warning signs of conflict lead more often to successful mediation than to violence; and one in which institutions are strong, women and youth both lead and participate, and good governance is the norm, he said.

“This vision is getting closer to reality,” he concluded.

The plenary featured a debate by UN Member States on NEPAD as well as the decade 2001-2010 to roll back malaria in developing countries, particularly in Africa.
Graham: 'The War is Headed to Africa'
By Sophie Tatum
6:00 PM ET, Fri October 20, 2017

Graham: There will be more missions, not fewer

Washington (CNN)Americans should anticipate more military operations in Africa as the war on terrorism continues to morph, Sen. Lindsey Graham warned Friday.

"This war is getting hot in places that it's been cool, and we've got to go where the enemy takes us," Graham told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The South Carolina Republican's comments came after a meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis and followed the news that four US servicemen were killed in action in Niger in an ambush by ISIS fighters.

"The war is headed to Africa, Graham said. "It's beginning to morph. As we suppress the enemy in the Mideast, they're going to move, they're not going to quit."

Graham also said "the rules of engagement are going to change," and explained that the US approach to counterterrorism operations will be more aggressive, moving to what he called "status-based targeting."

"So, if you find somebody who's the member of a terrorist organization, then we can use lethal force, they don't have to present an immediate threat," he said.

Graham added that authority for decision-making will also shift from the White House to the field, echoing some of President Donald Trump's plans for the United States in Afghanistan.

"Micromanagement from Washington, DC, does not win battles," Trump said in August.

Graham argued that with more autonomy in the field, it will be necessary for the administration to keep Congress informed, "because if we don't like what you're doing we can cut off the funding. But for us to make that decision, we got to know what you're doing."
Niger Raid Highlights US Military's Growing Role in Africa
Agence France-Presse
October 21, 2017 · 9:45 AM EDT

The killing of four American special operations soldiers in Niger has highlighted the increasing role elite units are playing across Africa, which is rapidly becoming a major center of US military action.

Their mission is to counter the advances of a slew of jihadist movements across the continent, including al-Shabab in Somalia, ISIS affiliates in the Sahel region and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Of the 8,000 special forces troops deployed globally this year, more than 1,300 are in Africa, according to officials from the US Special Operations Command, which is based in Tampa, Florida.

Another 5,000 or so are in the Middle East. In five years, the number of US commandos in Africa has tripled from only 450 in 2012.

"The war is morphing," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Friday.

"We're going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You're going to see more aggression by the United States towards our enemies, not less," he told reporters, adding that US forces would be getting greater leeway in their rules of engagement.

Typically, the highly trained and well-armed commandos are grouped in teams of about a dozen, who work for two or three months as instructors to classes of about 300 soldiers from an African nation.

On any given day, the operators are deployed across about 20 nations, SOCOM said, though it did not provide a list of nations or the numbers of troops concerned.

According to a report to Congress by General Thomas Waldhauser, who heads the US Africa Command, American forces have a notable presence in Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda and Kenya.

Officially, the United States only has one military base in Africa — Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

But special forces outfits, including the Green Berets, the Navy SEALs and Marine and Air Force commandos, also use an air base at Moron in southern Spain for Africa operations.

'Persistent facilities'

And the United States has "persistent facilities" in host countries, according to an AFRICOM official.

"We do have persistent facilities that we conduct engagements in and when one team leaves, the next comes in to the same location," the official said on condition of anonymity.

"But all this is done at the request of those nations. It's done in support of the host nation, at the invitation of those nations and it's done in coordination with our partners."

The official said the goal is not to conduct unilateral operations.

"We are not going out and doing stuff without the support of those nations," the official added.

The troops are not technically on combat missions, but are deployed to "train, advise and assist" local partners.

However, various incidents in recent months show their operations sometimes stray beyond that remit.

In early May, a US soldier who was on a train-and-advise mission was killed in a raid against Somali Islamists.

Details around the Oct. 4 operation with Nigerien partners near the Mali border remain scarce.

The US-Nigerien patrol was supposedly to visit tribal chiefs.

But the soldiers were attacked in a violent ambush that claimed eight lives; four American and four Nigerien.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday said the US troops were in Niger to help the locals defend themselves, but acknowledged the risks of such operations.

"There's a reason we have US Army soldiers there and not the Peace Corps," he said.

"We carry guns and so it's a reality, part of the danger that our troops face in these counterterrorist campaigns," he added.

"It's often dangerous, we recognize that."

The United States is supporting the French military operation in five Sahel nations: Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Niger and Burkina Faso, leaving to France the task of directing the actual fighting against Islamist militants.

The United States has been helping provide aerial refueling to French planes and is exchanging information with the old ally. 
Where Does the U.S. Have Troops in Africa, and Why?
Oct 22, 2017 6:51 PM EDT
CBS News

The deaths of four U.S. soldiers in Niger earlier this month -- and the ensuing controversy surrounding President Trump's calls to their families -- has thrust a little-discussed country into the spotlight, and could lead to a reevaluation of the U.S. presence on the African continent more generally.

The Pentagon has slowly been bolstering the U.S. presence in Africa in recent years to partner with African nations to thwart various extremist terrorist organizations like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Boko Haram and al Qaeda. The four troops slain in an ambush earlier this month -- Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright -- were in Niger to help the Nigerien government fight extremists.

The U.S. has roughly 800 military personnel temporarily deployed to Niger, and roughly 8,000 military personnel spread across the continent, according to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). Many of those troops are there to support African partners, alongside allies like France, with the goal of increasing the African nations' own security capabilities and stabilizing the region. AFRICOM only began initial operations 10 years ago, in October 2007.

Niger offers a glimpse of that growing presence. In February 2013, former President Barack Obama announced a 40-person increase in Niger, bringing the total number of U.S. military personnel to 100. Back then, Obama described it as an "intelligence collection" mission. Now, the number of soldiers in the country is eight times higher.

A handful of African nations host the bulk of U.S. military personnel, who are generally deployed on rotations for a few months at a time. Djibouti, situated across the Gulf of Aden from Yemen, is one of the world's smallest countries but currently hosts more U.S. military personnel than any other African nation. Roughly 2,000 -- or about one in four U.S. military personnel on the continent -- are temporarily deployed to Djibouti.

U.S. troops have been in Djibouti for years. Camp Lemonnier is the only permanent U.S. base in Africa, and serves as a key outpost for surveillance and combat operations against al Qaeda and other extremist groups in the region.

The country with the second most U.S. military personnel deployed there is Niger, with roughly 800, according to AFRICOM. Next comes Somalia, Djibouti's neighbor, with roughly 400 U.S. military personnel. The fourth nation in terms of U.S. military personnel is Cameroon, with more than 100.

The U.S. does have some military presence in virtually every African nation, even if it's small. Most nations, according to June figures from the Pentagon, have at least a handful of active-duty personnel temporarily deployed there.

The U.S. strategy in Africa, as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said, is mainly to equip African forces and help allies like France abroad to build those nations' security capacities, and stabilize the region.

"We call it foreign internal defense training, and we actually do these kinds of missions by, with and through our allies," Mattis said on Thursday.

Violent extremist groups based in northern Mali and across the Sahel region in Africa, have proven to be resilient, flexible and capable of carrying out attacks across the border, according to AFRICOM. The groups there have relative freedom to move around, making attacks easier and posing a threat to Niger, other African countries and U.S. military personnel.

Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser, commander of U.S. Africa Command, called Africa an "enduring interest" for the U.S.

"Africa is an enduring interest for the United States," he said in a statement provided by AFRICOM.

"Small, but wise investments in the capability, legitimacy, and accountability of African defense institutions offer disproportionate benefits to Africa, our allies, and the United States, and importantly, enable African solutions to African problems."

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.
Nick Turse
October 22 2017, 11:16 a.m.

WHEN THE PENTAGON peers into its crystal ball, the images reflected back are bleak.

On May 23, 2023, in one imagining from the U.S. military, terrorists detonate massive truck-bombs at both the New York and New Jersey ends of the Lincoln Tunnel. The twin explosions occur in the southern-most of the three underground tubes at 7:10 a.m., the beginning of rush hour when the subterranean roadway is packed with commuters making their way to work.

The attack kills 435 people and injures another 618. Eventually, we’ll come to know that it could have been much worse. The plan was to drive the trucks to “high profile targets” elsewhere in Manhattan. Somehow, though, the bombs detonated early.

This spectacular attack, which would result in the highest casualties on U.S. soil since 9/11, isn’t the hackneyed work of a Hollywood screenwriter — it is actually one of the key plot points from a recent Pentagon war game played by some of the military’s most promising strategic thinkers. This attack, and the war it sparks, provide insights into the future as envisioned by some of the U.S. military’s most important imagineers and the training of those who will be running America’s wars in the years ahead.

The “5/23” terror attack was a small but pivotal part of a simulated exercise conducted last year by students and faculty from the U.S. military’s war colleges, which are the training grounds for prospective generals and admirals. Sprawling and intricate, the 33rd annual Joint Land, Air and Sea Strategic Special Program (JLASS-SP) brought together 148 students from the U.S. Air Force’s Air War College, the Army War College, the Marine Corps War College, the Naval War College, the Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy, the National War College, and the National Defense University’s Information Resources Management College. They collaborated for several weeks of remote war-gaming conducted via “cyberspace tools, telephones and video teleconferencing,” according to Pentagon documents obtained by The Intercept. It culminated in a five-day on-site exercise at the Air Force Wargaming Institute at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama.

The materials used in JLASS-SP — obtained via the Freedom of Information Act — detail the chaotic tenure of an imaginary 46th president, Karl Maxwell McGraw, and offer a unique window into the training of the Armed Forces’ future leaders. The documents consist of hundreds of pages of summary materials, faux intelligence estimates, fictional situation reports, and updates issued while the exercise was in progress — The Intercept is publishing one of these fictional situation updates here. They are highly detailed and, at a time when the press and lawmakers are increasingly asking questions about U.S. military involvement in Africa, offer a stark assessment of the potential perils of armed action there. While it is explicitly not a national intelligence estimate, the war game, which covers the future through early 2026, is “intended to reflect a plausible depiction of major trends and influences in the world regions,” according to the files.

MCGRAW, A FORMER independent Arizona senator who rode his populist “America on the Move” campaign to victory in the 2020 election, ushers in a wave of equally independent congressional candidates and the promise of “TRUE change” in Washington. His presidency is, instead, buffeted by a seemingly endless string of crises.

Just after entering office, in February 2021, a cyberattack shuts down the control system of the Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Berwick, Pennsylvania, “shaking the confidence of the American people in the government’s ability to protect critical infrastructure.” For the next two years, while dealing with the fallout from an Asian economic crisis, state-sponsored cybercrime, and the rise of new anti-globalism and right-wing extremist groups, the McGraw administration claims success in thwarting numerous overseas terror attacks, including a plot to bomb a number of U.S. embassies and consulates throughout Europe. But in West Africa, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is expanding its presence and building on long-running failures of U.S. anti-terrorism efforts in the region, including U.S. support for French and African military operations that began in 2013 and now appear more or less permanent.

By 2021, according to the war game’s scenario, AQIM boasts an estimated 38,000 members spread throughout Algeria, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and a network of training camps in Mauritania, as well as outright bases in Western Sahara. At the same time, AQIM strengthens its ties with the terror groups al Shabaab in Somalia and Boko Haram in Central Africa’s Lake Chad Basin to create a “network of synchronization across the African continent and beyond,” including shared funding, training methods, and IED-making materials. As this pan-African Islamist terror cartel grows, so does AQIM’s global reach, eventually allowing it to carry out the devastating attack on the Lincoln Tunnel and another, that same day, on the Canadian Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania’s capital, killing 135 people including the Canadian Ambassador and his staff.

With near-complete congressional backing and the assent of the government of Mauritania, President McGraw joins forces with Canada to launch Operation Desert Strike. A major U.S. and Canadian ground force, backed by air and sea power, lands in Mauritania on June 15, 2023 with McGraw promising the American people a “well-planned, rapid, and efficient operation that would conclude in three years.” As with so many other American wars and interventions since 1945, however, U.S. military operations do not go as planned and instead seem to follow the well-worn path of America’s many other forever wars.

“WE ARE FACING a tough and adaptive enemy,” Major General Roger Evans, the commander of Operation Desert Strike, tells the press in January 2026. “But this coalition is tougher and more adaptive.” Even in wargames, however, there’s a credibility gap between what imaginary generals say about fictitious wars and the (made up) facts on the ground. Exercise documents offer a more pessimistic assessment of the three-and-a-half-year-old war. “A steady increase in violence in northern Mauritania and Mali continues to frustrate Operation Desert Strike commanders as they struggle to counter a stubborn enemy,” reads a report. According to the fictional files, during December 2025 attacks are up a staggering 90% over November’s numbers.

Mounting terrorist strikes — like the Christmas Eve bombing outside a Canadian base in eastern Mauritania that kills eight coalition troops and wounds another 15, an assault on a U.S. military convoy that claims the lives of seven American soldiers, and an ambush that kills one Green Beret and sees another reportedly captured by al Qaeda-allied militants – are just one indicator of the rapidly deteriorating situation in the Maghreb. As the conflict enters its fourth year, weapons and militants continue to freely pour into the war zone. “We’re doing our best to work with the nations in the region to control the flow of enemy fighters and weapons into Mali, Mauritania, and Algeria, but there are not enough forces to be everywhere,” coalition spokesman Colonel Byron Scales admits.

That coalition, too, is frequently a problem in and of itself. In November 2025, the United States is slated to begin transferring responsibility for the war to the African Union and decrease its military footprint. But that deadline comes and goes as the AU demands more money and fails to adequately scale up its efforts. That, coupled with Canadian Prime Minister Richard Baker beginning to withdraw his forces on April 1, 2026 and NATO rebuffing President McGraw’s request for additional support, makes it clear that the war would become ever more American and grind on far beyond McGraw’s own withdrawal deadline of December 2026.

Despite – or perhaps, increasingly, because of – the presence of 70,000 U.S. forces and their Canadian allies, civilians in the region continue to suffer mightily. In 2025, the terror group Boko Haram, reinvigorated by the war, carries out 12 suicide bombings in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, alone. That December, the group rampages through the Nigerian town of Damaturu, killing more than 100 people in a series of coordinated bombings and gun attacks. Days later, AQIM’s Christmas Eve bombing of the Canadian military base in Mauritania claims the lives of 83 civilians shopping in the nearby marketplace.

“WE WILL CONTINUE to work with our partners to root out and destroy al Qaeda. We are making progress, but it will take time,” Major General Evans tells the public in early 2026. Just how much time and how much progress, however, is only offered in a private assessment sent to the head of U.S. Africa Command on March 8, 2026. In that communique, Evans catalogues the many setbacks plaguing Operation Desert Strike: the resilience of AQIM, the upcoming loss of Canadian forces, the weakness of Malian and Mauritanian troops, and the African Union’s reluctance to provide soldiers, among them. Even a decade into a fictional future, however, the recommendations for another failing, forever war-in-the-making sound far less like futuristic thinking and far more like the predictable solutions to America’s present-day military adventures:

I recommend that we delay our pullout from Mauritania and Mali for a minimum of 12 months. Additionally, given the loss of the Canadian forces, and the desire not to “give-back” the gains we have made in their sector, I recommend a surge of three additional Army [brigade combat teams], or [U.S. Marine Corps] Regiments, for a period of 12 months. While this is a difficult scenario given the competing global demand for forces, the mission will fail if some adjustment is not made to keep forces on the ground here in Northwestern Africa.

Evans’ message is the last issued for the Operation Desert Strike segment of the war game, so we don’t know the AFRICOM commander’s response or what President McGraw eventually decides when presented with the options to either double down on the war to avenge the deaths of a devastating terror attack, or to “fail.” Given the range of responses over the last decade-plus to setbacks in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Somalia, Yemen and Libya, you don’t need a crystal ball, or to attend a U.S. military war college, to have a pretty good idea of President McGraw’s decision. It seems safe to assume that America’s fictitious war in West Africa will continue into the 2030s, just as its wars of the 2000s have staggered into the late 2010s. One can almost imagine the fictional military officers of President McGraw’s fantasy world conducting their own wargames, charting out their own fictitious forever wars that grind on without end into distant fictional futures.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Notes on the World Socialist Movement from the Soviet Union to the Bolivarian Republic
A century of struggle against world capitalism and imperialism

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire
Published on October 20, 2017

Note: These remarks were prepared and delivered in part for a class with youth comrades and ranking stalwarts on Sun. Sept. 24, 2017 in Detroit, Michgian. The presentation is divided into four sections covering: The Material Basis for Socialist Revolution; A Survey of Socialist Revolutions internationally; National Liberation and Gender Emancipation; and the Role of Socialists in North America.

I. The Material Basis for Socialist Revolution

Socialism prior to the advent of the writing and activities of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels during the 1840s was shrouded in idealism and utopian visions of a better world. In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, published by Engels in 1880, the writer reviews the history of socialist thought and concludes that the economic mode of production and social relations created by the advent of industrial capitalism provided the material basis for the realization of a socialist society, where the workers had the potential to control the conditions under which they toiled and lived.

There is the transformation from slavery to feudalism giving rise to mercantilism and capitalism through the mass production of commodities resulting in a further globalization of labor and resource exploitation along with international trade. Nonetheless, the unplanned character of capitalist production results in recurrent crises of overproduction and hence economic downturns which render large segments of the workforce idle.

Yet the organizational character of the capitalist production system creates a large disciplined working class which through its own experiences and the development of consciousness of its being lays the basis for the overthrow of the exploitative system and the realization of a just and egalitarian society. As in previous epochs of economic systems such as communalism, slavery and feudalism, capitalism eventually outlives its capacity to grow and develop. Henceforth, through a process of conscious organization and mobilization of the workers and the oppressed through a revolutionary party, the masses are able to remove the capitalist ruling class and the state apparatus which reflects its dominance and move toward establishment of Scientific Socialism.
Engels notes in the last section of Socialism: Utopian and Scientific that the resolution of these contradictions within human history can only be found in the conscious movement of the workers and oppressed.

The writer says:
“Proletarian Revolution — Solution of the contradictions. The proletariat seizes the public power, and by means of this transforms the socialized means of production, slipping from the hands of the bourgeoisie, into public property. By this act, the proletariat frees the means of production from the character of capital they have thus far borne, and gives their socialized character complete freedom to work itself out. Socialized production upon a predetermined plan becomes henceforth possible. The development of production makes the existence of different classes of society thenceforth an anachronism. In proportion as anarchy in social production vanishes, the political authority of the State dies out. Man (and woman), at last the master of his (her) own form of social organization, becomes at the same time the lord over Nature, his own master — free. To accomplish this act of universal emancipation is the historical mission of the modern proletariat. To thoroughly comprehend the historical conditions and this the very nature of this act, to impart to the now oppressed proletarian class a full knowledge of the conditions and of the meaning of the momentous act it is called upon to accomplish, this is the task of the theoretical expression of the proletarian movement, Scientific Socialism.” (
With respect to the material basis for national revolutionary and socialist revolutions in non-industrialized colonies and semi-colonies, there are the observations of the Communist Party of China (CPC) during the 1930s when they fought against the historic role of British, French and Japanese imperialist powers. China was a largely rural society with the peasantry constituting the overwhelming majority of the population.

These occupations were carried out by military conquest and the imposition of treaties which facilitated the exploitation of the Chinese people also prompted the introduction of capitalist methods of private accumulation. Mao Tse-tung and other Communists wrote in 1939 saying: “The imperialist powers operate many enterprises in both light and heavy industry in China in order to utilize her raw materials and cheap labor on the spot, and they thereby directly exert economic pressure on China's national industry and obstruct the development of her productive forces.” (

Even though the industrial proletariat did not make up a large segment of the people, the Chinese nation as a whole was exploited in the process of colonial occupation. In order to sustain and reproduce the system of colonialism and semi-colonialism a comprador bourgeoisie arose to serve the interests of the imperialists. These junior partners of the foreign-based occupation forces were encouraged to adopt alien lifestyles and values through education both at home and abroad along with the acquisition of the trappings of a consumer culture fostered by the colonialists.

Although the proletariat in China at the conclusion of the 1930s accounted for less than one percent of the population, the Communist Party views this class as the vanguard of the revolution. The leadership role of the working class is essential in the ultimate defeat of foreign occupation and the construction of a socialist society.

Mao and the Chinese Communist Party notes that: “First, the Chinese proletariat is more resolute and thoroughgoing in revolutionary struggle than any other class because it is subjected to a threefold oppression (imperialist, bourgeois and feudal) which is marked by a severity and cruelty seldom found in other countries. Since there is no economic basis for social reformism in colonial and semi-colonial China as there is in Europe, the whole proletariat, with the exception of a few scabs, is most revolutionary. Secondly, from the moment it appeared on the revolutionary scene, the Chinese proletariat came under the leadership of its own revolutionary party--the Communist Party of China--and became the most politically conscious class in Chinese society. Thirdly, because the Chinese proletariat by origin is largely made up of bankrupted peasants, it has natural ties with the peasant masses, which facilitates its forming a close alliance with them. Therefore, in spite of certain unavoidable weaknesses, for instance, its smallness (as compared with the peasantry), its youth (as compared with the proletariat in the capitalist countries) and its low educational level (as compared with the bourgeoisie), the Chinese proletariat is nonetheless the basic motive force of the Chinese revolution. Unless it is led by the proletariat, the Chinese revolution cannot possibly succeed.”

The links between the peasantry and the proletariat was a key element in the organization and mobilization of the masses in Africa as well. In the Union (1910-1960) and later Republic of South Africa after 1961, many Africans living in the rural areas suffered from forced removals, economic super-exploitation through the agricultural system which rendered many to the level of an agricultural proletariat. Millions were forced off the land due to the demands of the burgeoning mechanization of agricultural production through large-scale corporate farms that robbed Africans of any semblance of subsistence.
Govan Mbeki, a leading figure in the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) published a groundbreaking study in 1964 entitled “The Peasant Revolt.” Mbeki systematically chronicles a series of mass protests and violent rebellions among the rural populations throughout a cross-section of African nationalities which stemmed directly from the European settler-colonial system of apartheid.

Chapter 8 of the Peasant’s Revolt entitled “Chiefs in the Saddle: Transkei Test Case”, Mbeki observes how: “The deterioration of the peasant economy has reached a dangerous point. The decline in productivity and the absence of local industries have forced increasing numbers of peasants on to the labor market, while the general economy has not expanded sufficiently to absorb the landless army of peasants. The migration to the towns has given rise to appalling slums, while far worse, from the government point of view, has been the incompatibility between the steep rise in urban African population (over one million between 1951 and 1960) and its professed aim of separate development.” (

This same writer continues saying: “It was obvious, and the Tomlinson Report so recommended, that something would have to be done to arrest the deterioration in the reserves. The government began by implementing proposals that had been put forward as far back as 1945 under the title of ‘a new era of Reclamation’. This envisaged the removal of landless peasants to towns or urban settlements within the reserves, whose residents would depend on wages earned by men employed either in local industries or in the big towns. Peasants who remained on the land would be expected to farm under supervision on so-called ‘economic plots’ of about eight acres each. Grazing and cultivated land would be controlled. These measures inevitably antagonized the peasants, who were suspicious of any interference by a hostile authority in their traditional way of life. Above all, those who were being pushed off the land were bitterly resentful. They forfeited the right to graze stock and had to abandon the one form of security to which they clung — the occupation of an arable plot with the right to share the common pasturage.”

Therefore, the worsening conditions of the peasantry and rural proletariat through the seizure of their lands, the impoverishment of the people as a result of the imposition of an increasing capitalistic methods of agricultural production and the forcing of people into the urban areas provides a social basis for the recruitment and organization of greater numbers into the revolutionary liberation movements and communist parties.   

II. A Survey of Socialist Revolutions:
--The USSR
--Socialism in East Asia
-- Socialism in Eastern and Central Europe
-- Socialism in Africa
--Socialism in West Asia
--Socialism in Latin America

The Russian Revolution and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) From 1917-1991

This year represents the centenary of the Russian Bolshevik Revolution of October (November) 1917. Our approach to the advent of socialism in Russia, the USSR and other geo-political regions from Asia, Africa to Latin America, will be approached from the standpoint of public policy. Future classes can examine the social dynamics surrounding the revolutionary process and the role of various political parties, liberation movements and individuals within the transformative process.

After the seizure of power by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, concrete measures were enacted which distinguish the political system from capitalism. After the February 1917 Revolution, a social democratic regime took power which maintained capitalist property relations and continued Russian involvement in World War I.

In the immediate aftermath of the taking of state power, the Bolshevik government withdrew its military forces from first imperialist war (World War I). A treaty was signed with the Central powers, Brest-Litovsk, on March 3, 1918, ceding territory and claims to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire.

The Bolsheviks changed their name from the Russian Social Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP-B) to the Communist Party. Almost immediately the country was plunged into a civil war between the communists and an alliance of monarchists, socialist revolutionaries and capitalists. The heaviest battles of the civil war were fought between the Red Army of the Communist Party and the White Army representing the anti-Bolshevik elements.

Counter-revolutionaries in Russia were backed in an invasion of the country by the armed forces from various imperialist states including Britain, France, Japan and the U.S. The fighting raged from 1918 to 1921. Recognizing the futility of the situation militarily, the imperialist states began to withdraw their forces as early as 1919 allowing for the eventual consolidation and expansion of territory held by the Russian Soviet government in Moscow. 

By 1921, the Communists had largely defeated their enemies although fighting continued in the peripheries for an additional two years. Estimates indicate that more than a million deaths occurred in the war many of whom were civilians.

During the civil war the economic policy has been described as “War Communism.” It was a command structure where the Communist Party members effectively managed the nationalized plants and agricultural production.

By December 1922, an agreement was signed for the creation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The USSR was initially a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics).  Eventually, the USSR encompassed 15 republics–Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Belorussia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

After the conclusion of the civil war the New Economic Policy (NEP) came into existence. This represented a retreat from strict communist planning and implementation by decree.
In a document by V.I. Lenin entitled: “The New Economic Policy and The Tasks of The Political Education Departments, Report to the Second All-Russia Congress of Political Education Departments, October 17, 1921”, the leader of the Soviet Union states emphatically:
“The New Economic Policy means substituting a tax for the requisitioning of food; it means reverting to capitalism to a considerable extent—to what extent we do not know. Concessions to foreign capitalists (true, only very few have been accepted, especially when compared with the number we have offered) and leasing enterprises to private capitalists definitely mean restoring capitalism, and this is part and parcel of the New Economic Policy; for the abolition of the surplus-food appropriation system means allowing the peasants to trade freely in their surplus agricultural produce, in whatever is left over after the tax is collected—and the tax takes only a small share of that produce. The peasants constitute a huge section of our population and of our entire economy, and that is why capitalism must grow out of this soil of free trading.” (

However, Lenin points out that the Communist Party must maintain control of the process of the restoration of some capitalist methods of economic policy. If this does not succeed then the struggle for socialism will fail.

Lenin says in this regard: “The whole question is who will take the lead. We must face this issue squarely—who will come out on top? Either the capitalists succeed in organizing first—in which case they will drive out the Communists and that will be the end of it. Or the proletarian state power, with the support of the peasantry, will prove capable of keeping a proper rein on those gentlemen, the capitalists, so as to direct capitalism along state channels and to create a capitalism that will be subordinate to the state and serve the state.”

He goes on to observe: “The dictatorship of the proletariat is fierce war. The proletariat has been victorious in one country, but it is still weak internationally. It must unite all the workers and peasants around itself in the knowledge that the war is not over. Although in our anthem we sing: ‘The last fight let us face,’ unfortunately it is not quite true; it is not our last fight. Either you succeed in uniting the workers and peasants in this fight, or you fail to achieve victory. Never before in history has there been a struggle like the one we are now witnesses of; but there have been wars between peasants and landowners more than once in history, ever since the earliest times of slavery. Such wars have occurred more than once; but there has never been a war waged by a government against the bourgeoisie of its own country and against the united bourgeoisie of all countries.”

As it relates to the objectives of achieving communism within the Soviet Union, Lenin soberly notes: “We must not count on going straight to communism. We must build on the basis of peasants’ personal incentive. We are told that the personal incentive of the peasants means restoring private property. But we have never interfered with personally owned articles of consumption and implements of production as far as the peasants are concerned. We have abolished private ownership of land. Peasants farmed land that they did not own—rented land, for instance. That system exists in very many countries. There is nothing impossible about it from the standpoint of economics. The difficulty lies in creating personal incentives. We must also give every specialist an incentive to develop our industry. Have we been able to do that? No, we have not! We thought that production and distribution would go on at communist bidding in a country with a declassed proletariat. We must change that now, or we shall be unable to make the proletariat understand this process of transition. No such problems have ever arisen in history before. We tried to solve this problem straight out, by a frontal attack, as it were, but we suffered defeat. Such mistakes occur in every war, and they are not even regarded as mistakes. Since the frontal attack failed, we shall make a flanking movement and also use the method of siege and undermining.”

These statements taken from Lenin’s report represent the dilemma of socialist construction in a single country. It is this observation which in part gave rise to differences between various factions within the Communist Party. The manifestations of these differences were resolved in many cases violently with the expulsion of the forces surrounding Leon Trotsky in 1927 and the later purges in the 1930s involving Zinoviev, Kamenev, Badek and Bukharin. 

Also some leading Soviet Red Army officials were accused of disloyalty and sympathies towards fascism.  Many were purged and executed during the late 1930s.
However, the official Soviet historical accounts suggest that during this same period socialism was consolidated within the USSR with the elimination of unemployment, homelessness and other problems associated with capitalism. The Soviet Union played the leading role in the fight against Fascist Germany after it invaded the country in the early 1940s.

The USSR provided a model for other working and oppressed people in their struggle against capitalism and imperialism. Communist parties were formed in both the industrialized capitalist states of the West as well as the colonial and semi-colonial territories in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

With the rise of Communist parties in underdeveloped regions of the world inevitably the historical experiences of non-European peoples were brought into a renewed evaluation of Socialism and Communism through the ideological prism of Marxism-Leninism. As was the situation with the Russian Soviet Revolutions as well, which occurred in relatively weak capitalist and feudal states, where the majority of the people were within the class of peasants.

Socialism in East Asia: Vietnam, Korea and China (1945-1954)

France had conquered Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the late 19th century under the guise of bringing civilization to whom they referred to as the Indochinese people. Resistance movements sprang up over the course of the late 19th and early decades of the 20th century.

In 1925, the Vietnamese Revolutionary Youth League was formed with the Communist Youth League, led by the man who became known as Ho Chi Minh, playing an integral role. By 1929-30, the Vietnamese Communist Party, soon known as the Indochinese Communist Party (ICP), was formed.
By 1941, the League for the Independence of Vietnam (Vietminh) was reactivated by the ICP to fight both French and Japanese imperialism.  After the March 1945 Japanese coup against the French colonial administration in Vietnam collapsed, the Vietminh and the renamed Communist Party of Vietnam declared the country independent.

France, backed by the United States, sought to maintain French colonial rule in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam based in Hanoi and to prevent a national referendum on unifying the Northern and Southern regions of the country. A failed attempt at negotiations in 1945-46 led to a revolutionary war during the period of 1946-1954. Paris suffered a humiliating defeat at Dien Bien Phu from March to May 1954.

The French imperialists were forced to negotiate a settlement after their positions were overrun and thousands of their troops killed and captured by the Vietminh. During the following years of the late 1950s and early 1960s, the U.S. took over the French colonial role in the South. Starting in 1961, President John F. Kennedy began to deploy Pentagon “advisors” to South Vietnam and by the time of his assassination on November 22, 1963, thousands of American troops were stationed in the country.

Beginning in 1965, the-then U.S. President Lyndon Johnson deployed hundreds of thousands of Pentagon troops. Johnson later ordered the “secret” bombing of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in the North.

After the defeat of French imperialism in 1954, the DRV maintained its sovereignty as a socialist-oriented state. When U.S. military forces completely withdrew from South Vietnam in April 1975 following their defeat after two decades of war, the People’s Revolutionary Party and Army, which provided leadership within the National Liberation Front (Vietcong) in the South and the DRV united the country and organizations into the Vietnamese Communist Party once again.

Since the 1990s, the leadership body of the Vietnamese Communist Party, the National Congress, has described its present state as a “Socialist-oriented Market Economy.” The Party maintains that the state is dominant even within the private sector.

Now known as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Southeast Asian nation has undergone rapid economic growth and development over the last forty years. Its economy has emerged as a significant player in the Asian and global situation.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (1948-2017)

There has been much coverage within the international media surrounding the worsening relations between the DPRK and the U.S. These events cannot be fully appreciated without some indication of the history of warfare and political struggle over the continued occupation of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South by U.S. imperialism.
Kim Il Sung, the founder of the DPRK, was an anti-Japanese imperialist fighter dating back to the 1930s. Kim served in both the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was engaged as well in battles to defeat the Japanese invaders who had occupied Korea since 1905-1910, and the Soviet Red Army during World War II.

The Korean Communist Party (KCP) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA) were supported by the Soviet Union under Stalin during the period immediately following the conclusion of World War II when Red Army forces established a presence north of the 38th parallel. Discussions were held between the KCP and the New People’s Party (NPP) in 1946 leading to the merger of these organizations along with the Democratic Party to form the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), headed by Kim Il Sung.

In 1948, the DPRK was founded with support from throughout the North and Southern regions of the Peninsula. Prior to the formation of the DPRK, the Republic of Korea in the South was established in alliance with the U.S.

By June 1950, the WPK had taken huge swaths of territory in the South. The U.S. and British military forces invaded the South under the banner of the United Nations on June 25 of the same year.

The war lasted until July 1953, when an armistice agreement was signed to end the fighting after an estimated 1.5 million North Koreans and Chinese were killed and wounded along with approximately 36,000 plus U.S. and British troops. Thousands more soldiers from other allied states fighting behind imperialist leadership under the UN banner, were killed, captured and wounded in the war. In addition, well-over one hundred thousand casualties within the U.S. and British forces were documented. There has never been a lasting peace treaty signed by the DPRK, ROK and Washington after 64 years of still being technically at war.

By December 1950, U.S. and British forces had entered the DPRK and made advances are far north as the Yalu River near the border with the People’s Republic of China. Understanding the threat to the Chinese Revolution which had taken power the previous year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) deployed 500,000 Volunteer People’s Army (VPA) forces into the battle where the combined military units of the DPRK and the PRC exacted heavy losses on the imperialist forces compelling them to retreat south of the 38th parallel.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the DPRK made strides in industrializing the country. The development trajectory of the socialist state far exceeded those of the South during this era.

Under the Trump administration, hostilities have reached unprecedented levels not seen since the early 1950s. The U.S. president threatened to destroy the DPRK during a speech before the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City during the week of September 18, 2017. Trump came under criticism for his warmongering speech from several heads-of-state and foreign envoys, including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Russia, China, Iran and the foreign minister of the DPRK.

Although the U.S. attempts to portray the DPRK as a poor and marginalized state, taking into consideration its educational, scientific, military and cultural development over the previous decades, the country is one of the most advanced socialist states in the 21st century. Having developed a deterrent through the production and testing of Inter-continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) systems as well as nuclear weapons, notwithstanding its conventional military forces of several million men and women, constitutes a formidable obstacle to U.S. imperialist interests and aspirations in Asia.

The Chinese Revolution (1949-2017)

In less than 70 years, China has emerged from being an underdeveloped semi-colony of Britain and later Japan, to becoming the second largest economic power internationally, exceeded only by the U.S. The Communist Party of China (CPC) is the largest Left organization in existence having held power since 1949.

PRC socialist policy has undergone various transformations since the early years of the 1950s when it sought to industrialize rapidly through the assistance of Soviet technical advisors and later the “Great Leap Forward.” Problems associated with the differences in approach to economic and foreign policy with Moscow led to the Sino-Soviet Dispute beginning in the late 1950s and intensifying into open polemics by 1963. In 1969, the PRC described the USSR as “social imperialist.”

During 1966, the Cultural Revolution erupted aimed at eradicating transgressions within the CPC and the Chinese state. Mao consolidated his leadership role within the Central Committee of the CPC by appealing directly to the masses through the Red Guards who attacked those considered to be betraying the cause of socialist construction.

The differences between the CPC and Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) created an opening for the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the U.S. under President Jimmy Carter in January 1979. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon traveled to China and met with Chairman Mao Tse-tung in early 1972.

After the death of Mao and the ascendancy of Deng, the PRC was opened up to U.S. and other western capitalists for investment and trade. After the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S., Washington recognized Beijing as the representatives of the Chinese people several years after the admittance of the world’s most populace state to the UN in 1971.

China today could be categorized as a socialist-oriented market economy. The state led by the Communist Party maintains control of the overall policy related to production and international trade.

The government has encouraged the development of economic relations with various geo-political regions of the world including North America, Latin America, Africa and the Asia-Pacific. These advances in global trade are based upon the mutual interests of its economic partners and the non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Since 2000, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has enhanced trade and cooperation between Beijing and African Union (AU) member-states. The PRC invests heavily in infra-structural projects in the areas of medical, scientific, cultural and educational affairs.

Socialism in Eastern and Central Europe: Poland, Romania, German Democratic Republic and Yugoslavia

 As the second imperialist war became inevitable in 1939, the Soviet Union under Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact on August 23. This agreement led to the effective partitioning of Poland by both Nazi Germany in the West and the USSR in the East.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was ended with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. It would take another two years to defeat Nazi military forces in the Soviet Union in a series of fierce battles the most notable taking place at Stalingrad extending from August 1942 through February 1943.
Soviet Red Army units reentered Poland in 1944 liberating large swaths of territory from the fascists. Eventually a Polish Committee of National Liberation (PKWN), also known as the Lublin Committee, was established on July 22 with strong backing from Moscow. A provisional government formed in December by the PKWN challenged the authority of the western-allied Polish Government in Exile based in London.

A Polish military was rebuilt with Soviet officers playing a dominant role. Two politicians emerged as the dominant personalities of the post-WW II Socialist government in Warsaw, Boleshaw Bierut, who had been a longtime Communist serving in the Soviet intelligence services and military during the intervention of the Red Army after 1944, and Wladyslaw Gomulka, an advocate of more Polish-centered approach to socialist development.

The Polish United Workers Party (PUWP) was formed through a merger of the Worker’s Party and the Socialist Party during a unification congress in December 1948. Gomulka was forced out and imprisoned after 1948 resulting from a factional dispute with the more Stalinist-oriented Bierut.

However, by 1956, Bierut died under what some claimed to have been mysterious circumstances in Moscow after attending the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) where Nkita Krushev delivered his famous speech denouncing the excesses of Stalinism and the cult of personality. Events in Poland led to protests by workers in Puznan that same year. A faction of the PUWP wanted Gomulka rehabilitated as a reformer within the socialist system.

Gomulka played the role of a reformer during the 1956 crises in both Poland and Hungary, where an armed rebellion against the socialist system led to the suppression of the opposition with Soviet military backing. Nonetheless, Gomulka’s reforms remained within the socialist framework and he supported the Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to suppress the so-called “Prague Spring.”

By the end of 1970, Gomulka had been forced to resign after the killings by security forces of dozens of workers in protests against the economic conditions prevailing in Poland. Over a decade later, Marshall Law was declared in Poland and at the end of the 1980s the Socialist system collapsed under the weight of the decline of the Soviet Union and the rise of the anti-communist trade union movement Solidarity.

The ascendancy of a socialist government in Romania in 1946 came in the aftermath of the country’s involvement on the side of the Nazis during World War II. Ion Victor Antonescu, a military officer credited with suppressing a peasant revolt in 1907, utilized his position to advance the cause of the Third Reich. After the war he was put on trial and executed by the Romanian government.

Antonescu had been overthrown in 1944 in a struggle where the Communist Party played an important role with the participation of the monarch King Michael I, resulting in a break with the Axis and an alignment with the Allied powers. The Left forces in Romania formed a coalition with Petru Groza’s Ploughmen’s Front taking the lead in these efforts. A rebellion during 1945 against the post-war regime of Nicolae Radescu brought about the rise to power of the Bloc of Democratic Parties with Groza as the head-of-state. Eventually the monarchy was forced to abdicate leaving the Left coalition as the sole political force within Romania.
The Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, at the aegis of the Soviet Union, merged to form the Romanian Worker’s Party in 1948. This party functioned under the same name until 1965 when it became the Communist Party (PCR) once again under the leadership of Nicolae Ceausescu, the secretary general and later president of the country. Ceausescu also changed the titled of the state from the People’s Republic to the Socialist Republic of Romania.

After the departure of the first Communist leader Gheorge Gheorghiu-Dej who ruled from 1947-1965, when he died, there was a stronger emphasis on the national characteristics of the application of socialism in Romania. In August 1968, when the Soviet military intervened in Czechoslovakia, the-then President Ceausescu denounced the removal of the Prague government of Alexander Dubcek, the general secretary of the Czechoslovakia Communist Party, in a speech delivered during the period.

Although it has been said that Romania was more in line with the Stalinist tradition of internal organization of the Party, its apparent independence related to Bucharest’s foreign policy drew the attention of the U.S. and Europe. The Western capitalist states began to make large loans to the socialist government during the 1970s and 1980s including the financing of an oil refining project. As an oil producer, the Ceausescu administration sought to build Romania into a significant supplier of petroleum.

Nonetheless, by the time the refinery was built the price of oil on the international market had declined in the early 1980s. These developments created economic problems for the government which halted the borrowing of funds.

The PCR in Romania during the late 1980s maintained that it was not going to transform into a neo-liberal state as others were doing in the Soviet-allied countries in Eastern and Central Europe.  Held in November 1989, the XIVth Congress of the PCR reelected Ceaușescu, who was 71, for another five years as secretary general. At the Congress, Ceaușescu delivered an address castigating the anti-Communist reversals throughout the rest of Eastern Europe.

Nonetheless, in late December, one month later, the PCR government collapsed amid protests in Timișoara and Bucharest. The military went on national television to tell the population that the army would not fire upon the people. Ceausescu’s own protection units attempted to put down the coup to no avail.

Eventually the Nicolae and Elena, his wife and comrade, were forced down while flying in a helicopter and taken into custody by the military. A show trail was quickly convened to prosecute the Communist leaders. Both Elena and Nicolae were found guilty of serious crimes and sentenced to death. They were then taken to the back of the building where the trial took place and executed by a firing squad.

Romania was the last state to undergo a counter-revolution within the Eastern and Central European Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). The Soviet Union continued until the end of 1991 after a complete counter-revolution that replaced Michal Gorbachev and the CPSU as leaders of the USSR. The Soviet Union was dissolved by decree leading to the break-up of the first Socialist federation after nearly seventy years.

During this same period, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was being pressured by reform elements to abandon its socialist path. The Socialist Unity Party (SED) had been in power since the formation of the GDR in 1949.

The German Left movement had been strong even dating back to the period of the late 19th century. Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were born in Germany although the Social Democratic Party in that country in later years entered parliament and became quite moderate. Leading up to World War I, the party voted in favor of the bourgeois regime entering the conflagration.

At Basle Conference of 1912, all of the social democratic parties had pledged to oppose any imperialist war which appeared even then to be on the horizon. Most of the parties abandoned these resolutions in 1914-1915 with the exception of Russia, Italy, Poland and Bulgaria where the social democratic presence was far smaller in the body politic.
During the course of World War I in 1915, two leading German left social democrats, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Leibknecht founded the Spartacus League which attempted to organize resistance to the imperialist war. Luxemburg and Leibknecht were imprisoned during the concluding years of the war and their release in late 1918 coincided with a national rebellion of the working class and military troops. 

This rebellion erupted in the German Navy known as the Kiel mutiny when the soldiers refused orders to attack the British military. The atmosphere of unrest spread to various regions of the country with the establishment of workers and soldiers councils. After the release of Luxemburg and Leibknecht, the two then broadened the Spartacus League into the German Communist Party (KPD). They entered the upheaval with the objective of overthrowing both the monarchy and the German bourgeoisie declaring a socialist republic.

The monarchy headed by Emperor Wilhelm II abdicated and fled the country. However, the Germany Social Democratic Party (SPD) opposed the seizure of power by the workers and soldiers councils along with the KPD, instead forming an alliance with the German army which set out to violently crush the uprising in January 1919.

Both Luxemburg and Leibknecht were arrested, tortured and executed. A parliamentary system was established known as the Weimar Republic with the SPD playing a leading role in alliance with conservative bourgeois parties.

The KPD continued to maintain significant support through the 1920s leading up to the election of Adolph Hitler of the Nazi Party as Chancellor by the German parliament in early 1933. The KPD was outlawed by the Hitler regime and functioned underground during the years of fascist rule culminating in World War II.

The Soviet Red Army took control of the eastern section of Germany as a result of its leading role in the anti-fascist war. When the country was partitioned between the U.S. and the USSR under Stalin, the KPD and the SPD at the urging of Moscow merged to form the Socialist Unity Party (SED). The SED ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) from its inception in 1949 to 1989 when the socialist state collapsed in a wave of counter-revolution which swept Eastern and Central Europe at the end of the decade.
Contrasting the situation in the GDR and other Soviet-allied states, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) always had an independent character due to its history and the leadership of Josip Broz Tito. The anti-fascists fought gallantly against the Nazis during the course of WWII.

 The SFRY was a socialist state and federation governed by the League of Communists of Yugoslavia composed of six republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia with the city of Belgrade being its capital. Also the SFRY encompassed two other autonomous provinces within Serbia, Kosovo and Vojvodina.

SFRY had its origins on November 26, 1942 when the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia began during World War II. After the defeat of the Nazis, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was announced in November 1945 in the aftermath of the overthrow of King Peter II, ending the monarchy. Initially the socialist federation did align itself with the other Eastern bloc states prior to the Tito–Stalin split of 1948. Eventually, Yugoslavia became a co-founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in 1960-1961 alongside Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Nehru of India, among others.

Tito and the SFRY refused to abide by the directives of the USSR under Stalin. It later received assistance from the U.S. and other western states in their attempts to drive a wedge within the world socialist camp. Despite these divisions with the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia continued to maintain an internationalist position in support of national liberation movements in colonial and semi-colonial territories.

The crisis of the SFRY was intensified after the death of Tito in early 1980. During the course of the decade, ethnic unrest escalated in Kosovo and later in Croatia and Slovenia. By the early 1990s, a civil war had erupted leading to the eventual dissolution of the Socialist Federation of Yugoslavia. With the refusal of the Serbian Socialists to concede to a further balkanization of the country, the U.S. and NATO began a bombing campaign against Yugoslavia in early 1999 which lasted over two months.

Even with the compromises made with the imperialists after 1999 through the withdrawal of Yugoslav troops from the Kosovo region, the government of President Slobodan Milosevic was overthrown in a coup during 2000 after a disputed election. On April 1, 2001, Milosevic was arrested by the successor government and transported to the Netherlands to stand trial in the International Crimes Tribunal on Yugoslavia (ICTY).

Immediately the former president rejected the legitimacy of the courts and conducted his own defense. In 2006, Milosevic died in The Hague supposedly of heart disease. No definitive evidence was cited in the Tribunal which implicated Milosevic in war crimes committed during the process of the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Socialism in Africa: Ghana, Ethiopia and Angola

During the post-World War II period the national liberation movements in Africa gained strength in the struggle to overturn colonial rule, to establish independent nation-states and in the most progressive countries the promotion of continental unity and politico-economic integration. The first mass political party to emerge during this period was the Convention People’s Party (CPP) of the Gold Coast, later named Ghana.

Kwame Nkrumah, who spent ten years studying at Lincoln University and the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S., returned to the Gold Coast in 1947 to work as an organizer for the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC). He would found the Evening News in 1948, which would later become a pioneering daily publication in Africa advocating for national independence, Pan-Africanism and Socialism.

As a result of the domination of the UGCC by moderate and petty-bourgeois interests, on June 12, 1949, the Committee on Youth Organization (CYO), founded by Nkrumah, encouraged the anti-colonial nationalist leader to form a mass party which would play a vanguard role in the acquisition of state power. After organizing a nationwide strike in January 1950, Nkrumah was imprisoned by the British colonialists.
Nonetheless, the CPP would take advantage of a reform constitution growing out of the Coussey Committee initiated in response to the unrest of February 1948, where ex-servicemen and others were massacred by the British security forces. Nkrumah’s party won an overwhelming majority in the February 1951 poll. Nkrumah was released from prison after one year and appointed as the Leader of Government Business in a transitional arrangement leading to full independence by March 6, 1957.

Nkrumah was heavily influenced by the World Socialist Movement and Pan-Africanism while he was a student in the U.S. in the years from 1935-1945 and in Britain during 1945-1947. He served as a lead organizer, co-convener and secretary of the historic Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, England in October 1945.

Ghana under the CPP founded the First Republic in July 1960 signaling a further shift to the Left by Nkrumah. In that same year, the Ghana-Guinea-Mali Union was formed providing the rudimentary structures for the eventual realization of an All-African Socialist Government for the continent. Nkrumah was instrumental in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in May 1963 encompassing over 30 member-states.

Nonetheless, the majority of African governments which became independent in the early 1960s remained within the political and economic framework of western imperialism. This resulted in a split between a minority of anti-imperialist and socialist-oriented states (Casablanca Group) and the larger number of moderate and pro-capitalist governments labeled as the Monrovia and Brazzaville Groups, which took on a gradualists approach to African unity and national reconstruction.

Nkrumah and the CPP were overthrown in February 1966 by an imperialist plot led by the U.S., Britain and Canada utilizing a coterie of lower-ranking military officers and police agents driving the president into exile in Guinea-Conakry. Nkrumah sought to reformulate his approach to African Liberation and Socialism writing a series of book and pamphlets in the years of 1966-1971.

In an article entitled “African Socialism Revisited”, published in 1967, Nkrumah stresses: “Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialized if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves. There is only one way of achieving socialism; by the devising of policies aimed at the general socialist goals, each of which takes its particular form from the specific circumstances of a particular state at a definite historical period. Socialism depends on dialectical and historical materialism, upon the view that there is only one nature, subject in all its manifestations to natural laws and that human society is, in this sense, part of nature and subject to its own laws of development. It is the elimination of fancifulness from socialist action that makes socialism scientific. To suppose that there are tribal, national, or racial socialisms is to abandon objectivity in favor of chauvinism.” (

Nonetheless, the struggle for national liberation and socialism intensified during the late 1960s through the 1980s. The focus of the theoretical and political work surrounding the anti-imperialist struggle shifted from Accra to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania after 1966. Liberation movements, which were based there and in other regions of the continent, made profound contributions to the theoretical and practical aspects of the evolving struggle.
An armed phase of the African Revolution saw an extension of the process of guerrilla movements taking the lead in the independence struggles as was developed in Algeria during its war with French imperialism (1954-1961). In Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa, revolutionary movements fought monumental struggles to win their national liberation from Portugal, Rhodesia and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

In Ethiopia, the mass struggle of workers and youth resulted in the overthrow of the monarchy of Haile Selassie in 1974. The Provisional Military Administrative Council (Dergue) took power to oversee massive land reform programs and the nationalization of industry.

A nationwide radio and television address was delivered by Lt. Col. Mengistu Haile-Mariam, the Chairman of the Dergue, on June 7, 1978. This speech was entitled “The National Revolutionary War in the North.”

Mengistu in outlining the gains of the Ethiopian Revolution said: “The nationalization of rural land, the means of production and distribution, insurance companies and banks, and urban land and extra houses—the very means of feudo-bourgeois exploitation—is one major triumph. The mass organization of people in urban and rural areas from the kebele to the national level, and more particularly the establishment of the All-Ethiopia Trade Union and recently the All-Ethiopia Peasants Association are sweet fruits of the revolution gained through bitter struggle. Although our revolution has made these significant victories possible during the last four years, it still faces numerous phases of struggle ahead.”
By the mid-1980s, the Workers Party of Ethiopia (WPE) was formed as the ruling organization of the state.  This revolutionary process however was not able to ameliorate the conflicts in various regions of Ethiopia including Eritrea, Tigray, Oromo and the Ogaden.

By 1991, with the decline of the USSR and the allied Socialist governments in Eastern Europe, Ethiopia was taken over by the current ruling party, the Ethiopia People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). Since the 1990s, massive investments in the military and commercial sectors have been made by the U.S. and other western-allied states.

The development of the armed struggle in the former Portuguese colony of Angola was instrumental in the further clarification of the political and social dimensions of the African Revolution. Beginning in 1961, the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) embarked upon a war of liberation which last for fourteen years.
This period in African history represented one of the most fulfilling conjunctures where the independence of a national territory, the implementation of Pan-African solidarity and internationalism converged to open up avenues for the total liberation of the sub-continent. At the First Congress of the MPLA in 1977, the organization committed itself to building a Marxist-Leninist party. The Congress added “Party of Labor” to its name and continued this orientation for many years.

Angola, backed by 350,000 Cuban Internationalists deployed in defense of its independence and sovereignty from 1975-1989, served as a rear base for other national liberation movements fighting to secure the total emancipation of Southern Africa. Oliver Tambo, the-then Acting President of the African National Congress (ANC) in his presentation before the MPLA-Workers Party First Congress upheld: “The heroic anti-colonial struggles of the peoples of Africa for national independence, including, in particular, the armed struggles of the people of Algeria, Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique, culminated in the epoch-making collapse of Portuguese colonialism in Africa. The earth-shaking victories of FRELIMO and MPLA brought southern Africa to the crossroads. But the revolutionary experience accumulated during the liberation wars ensured that the people`s advance towards social emancipation would not be halted. Thus it is that as the year 1977 opened with the third Congress of FRELIMO, so it is ending with the first Congress of MPLA. Both Congresses are the collective voice of the Mozambican and Angolan peoples, proclaiming the continuation of the revolutionary struggle at a higher plain, more arduous but no less glorious than the earlier struggles. The historic significance of the first Congress of MPLA is precisely that, for southern Africa, like the FRELIMO Congress, it blazes a new trail out of the crossroads towards the conquest of a socialist future for the peoples - a future free of exploitation.” (

In the recent period when the MPLA convened its 7th Ordinary Congress during August 2016, the resolutions spoke to the worldwide economic crisis engendered by the continuing dependency of independent African states on the whims and caprices of the international energy and commodities market. Angola went from phenomenal economic growth to a rapid escalation of national debt when after 2014 the price of oil dropped by over 65 percent.   

During the period of the 1950s through the 1990s, National Democratic Revolutions, Non-Capitalist development and Socialist-orientation emerged in a number of African states including Ghana, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Conakry, Guinea-Bissau, Zambia, Benin, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Somalia and Madagascar. The OAU was transformed into the African Union (AU) in 2002 with greater emphasis on continental unity, military cooperation and economic integration.

However, neo-colonialism has remained as the major impediment to the consolidation of genuine independence and socialist construction. Nkrumah in his 1965 book entitled “Neo-Colonialism: The Last State of Imperialism”, writes: “Faced with the militant peoples of the ex-colonial territories in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, imperialism simply switches tactics. Without a qualm it dispenses with its flags, and even with certain of its more hated expatriate officials. This means, so it claims, that it is ‘giving’ independence to its former subjects, to be followed by ‘aid’ for their development. Under cover of such phrases, however, it devises innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism. It is this sum total of these modern attempts to perpetuate colonialism while at the same time talking about ‘freedom’, which has come to be known as neo-colonialism.” (
Madame Fathia Nkrumah, Dr. We.E.B. Du Bois, Dr. Kwame
Nkrumah and Mrs. Shirley Graham Du Bois in Ghana on February
23, 1963.
Nkrumah continues noting that the: “Foremost among the neo-colonialists is the United States, which has long exercised its power in Latin America. Fumblingly at first she turned towards Europe, and then with more certainty after world war two when most countries of that continent were indebted to her. Since then, with methodical thoroughness and touching attention to detail, the Pentagon set about consolidating its ascendancy, evidence of which can be seen all around the world. Who really rules in such places as Great Britain, West Germany, Japan, Spain, Portugal or Italy? If General de Gaulle is ‘defecting’ from U.S. monopoly control, what interpretation can be placed on his ‘experiments’ in the Sahara desert, his paratroopers in Gabon, or his trips to Cambodia and Latin America? Lurking behind such questions are the extended tentacles of the Wall Street octopus. And its suction cups and muscular strength are provided by a phenomenon dubbed ‘The Invisible Government’, arising from Wall Street’s connection with the Pentagon and various intelligence services.”

Socialism in West Asia: Syria, Iraq and South Yemen

Three states in the so-called Middle East (West Asia) underwent revolutionary transformations in the aftermath of World War II. The rise of Arab Baath Movement, the Arab Socialist Movement and the Arab Baath Socialist Party stemmed from the anti-colonial struggle against France and Britain. 
Michel Aflaq, a Greek Orthodox Christian born in Syria in 1910, is often cited as the philosophical founder of the Baath ideology and political movement. Aflaq was considered a brilliant student while attending the French mandated schools in Syria. Eventually he studied at the Sorbonne in France beginning around 1930 where he developed a serious interest in national liberation and Arab unity.

After returning to Syria, he and Salah ad-Din al Bitar, founded the Arab Baath Party which held its first public conference in 1947. The party called for the unification of what they described as the Arab world in West Asia and North Africa.

A biographical entry on reports on this historical figure saying: “ʿAflaq first saw nationalism as centering upon the issue of imperialism; he especially resented the French, who after World War I (1914–18) held a mandate over Syria and Lebanon. In 1929–34, however, he studied at the University of Paris, and his political thinking took on a Marxist orientation. He came to believe that the nationalist struggle had to oppose both the native aristocracy and the foreign ruler. By 1940 he was ready to devote his full efforts to organizing a political party, although he did not officially establish the Baʿth Party until 1946. ʿAflaq’s role was that of teacher, theorist, and organizer; he seldom held public office.” (

This same article goes on to note that: “ʿAflaq’s political thinking linked the themes of unity, freedom, and socialism. He saw the Baʿth’s main goal, the unification of all the Arab states into a single socialist nation, as a regenerative process that would reform Arab society and character and as a vital creative force that would foster the emergence of a morally ideal society. He saw the final achievement of the Baʿth’s goal as the product of a profound and nonviolent overthrow of the status quo.”

The formation of the Baath party coincided with the rise of nationalism throughout the entire Middle East and Africa. With the defeat and fragmentation of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, a series of treaties imposed by the Western imperialist governments divided the region into six separate states.

Syrian nationalists declared the country independent of France in 1941 after the ascendancy of the pro-Nazi Vichy regime was installed by Hitler in Paris the previous year. Nonetheless, it was not until 1944 that the independence of Syria was recognized, leading to the withdrawal of French troops on April 17, 1946 and the formal liberation of the country.

Despite these developments, intellectuals such as Aflaq, al-Bitar and Akram al-Hawran, sought to create a national democratic and socialist-oriented Syria in alliance with similar movements throughout the region. Al-Hawran, was born in 1912 in the central region of Hama. He would form the Arab Socialist Movement and the later Arab Socialist Party in 1950. The Arab Socialist Party merged with the Arab Baath Movement in 1954, becoming the Arab Baath Socialist Party.

Al-Hawran served in the Syrian parliament between 1947 and 1962. He would go into exile as a result of the withdrawal of his faction from the ABSP in 1963.

Syria and Egypt under President Gamal Abdel Nasser merged their governments in 1958 forming the United Arab Republic (UAR). This configuration collapsed in 1961 over differences with the Nasser government in regard to the composition and authority of each respective state.

Another split within the ABSP occurred in 1966 when Aflaq left Syria and ultimately settled in Iraq. In later years Aflaq retained his position as secretary general of the ABSP in Baghdad. His role appeared to have been largely advisory where the actual work of the party within the governments of Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr and President Saddam Hussein after the July 17, 1968 Revolution, brought the ABSP back to power after being deposed in 1963, then only governing Iraq for several months.
Although as mentioned above, the issue of who originated the Baath Movement has been subject to dispute in part deriving from the fracturing of the ABSP after 1966 between the two wings of the party, one based in Syria and the faction in Iraq. Zaki al-Arsuzi, also born in Syria, has been noted as well as the founder of the Baathist philosophy and organization.  Al-Arsuzi, born in 1889, had been a member of the League of National Action in the early 1930s. He had studied at the Sorbonne in France prior to both Aflaq and al-Bitar. Al-Arsuzi specialized in the study of language and its relationship to culture. In 1943 he published a book entitled “The Genius of Arabic in Its Tongue.”

Later Al-Arsuzi formed the Arab Baath, which initially was a separate organization from the Arab Baath Movement of Aflaq and al-Bitar. The two organizations merged with the formal founding of the Arab Baath Party in 1947.

The Syrian-led ABSP has characterized Aflaq as a "thief".  They claim that Aflaq had stolen the ideology and philosophy from al-Arsuzi claiming that he had been the originator. Al-Arsuzi was held in a high regard by Hafiz al-Assad, the former leader of Syria, as the initiator of Baathist thought. While the Iraqi wing of the party continued to proclaim Aflaq as the founder of the movement.

Former President Hafiz al-Assad characterized al-Arsuzi as the "greatest Syrian of his day" and claimed him to be the "first to conceive of the Ba'ath as a political movement." The Syrian ABSP built a statue of al-Arsuzi in the aftermath of the 1966 split. A more objective view maybe that the Baath movement developed with the essential contributions of all three of these figures, al-Arsuzi, Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar.

The military section of the ABSP became dominant in both Syria and Iraq during the 1960s and 1970s. The party was overthrown and officially disbanded in Iraq with the U.S. invasion and occupation of 2003.

Events in Syria beginning in 2011, where the U.S., Britain and other NATO states have sought to remove the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the son of the former leader. Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah intervention in defense of the Syrian government has been critical in the driving out of western-backed Islamists and other counter-revolutionary elements from the provinces of Syria.

Operating alongside the Arab nationalist and Pan-Arab movements has been the Syrian Communist Party. Founded in 1924 as the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon in Beirut, the party later opposed the Vichy government and was recognized by the “Free French” who took control of Syria in 1944. In that same year the Lebanese and Syria wings of the party became separate.
Earlier in 1933, the future party leader Khalid Bakdash, went into exile to the Soviet Union as a result of political repression under French rule.  In Moscow he studied at the Far East University.

After returning to Syria in 1936, Bakdash was appointed as the Secretary General of the party, a position he held through the formal founding of the Syrian Communist Party (SCP) in 1944 and beyond. Two years before in 1942, the anti-Vichy forces took control of Syria and legalized the party.

Bakdash was elected to the Syrian parliament in 1954, becoming the first Communist to serve in a legislative body within the West Asia region. The principle issues facing the Left and nationalist organizations were the questions of Arab unity and socialism.
The SCP supported the unification with Egypt in 1958 although it became critical of Nasser due to his suppression of the Egyptian Communist Party and the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the UAR, the SCP was suppressed forcing Bakdash to leave the country again for Moscow where he remained until 1966. The UAR fell apart in 1961 while the “separatist” government in Syria lost considerable support among the population. The SCP welcomed the dissolution of the UAR causing factional disputes and defections.

On March 8, 1963, a coup occurred in Syria. The new government appeared to want reunification with Cairo. However, this second attempt at unity never materialized. Bakdash was allowed to return to Syria in 1966 under the terms that he not become involved in politics.

In 1970, Hafez al-Assad came to power and two years later enacted a policy of political pluralism under the dominance of the ABSP. A National Progressive Front (NPF) was formed in 1972 including ten parties. The SCP joined this alliance and therefore is part of the legislative branch of the Syrian government (People’s Council of Syria).

A split occurred within the SCP after 1986 when differences of opinion arose over the reforms implemented by the Soviet government and party under Mikhail Gorbachev. Bakdash rejected the glasnost and perestroika policies while Deputy Secretary General Yusuf Faisal accepted them. Currently there are two SCPs with both serving in the NPF which is the leading force in Syrian politics.

Further reforms in Syria were adopted in the midst of the civil war. In 2014, a further loosening of control by the administration of President Bashar al-Assad allows for greater maneuvering on the part of opposition parties. A Popular Front for Change and Liberation is recognized as the official opposition coalition in parliament. This alliance is a small minority and has agreed to pursue its objective within the existing political system.

For the purpose of this section on socialism in West Asia, we will conclude with the history of the People’s Republic of Yemen which was founded in 1967. The South of Yemen was ruled separately by the British from the mid-19th century until the time of independence in late 1967.

Agitation for national independence in the South led to an armed struggle beginning in 1963 involving the National Liberation Front. After achieving freedom in 1967, the country established itself as the People’s Republic of South Yemen. Eventually the name was changed to the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in 1970.
In relationship to the political dynamics surrounding independent South Yemen, Abdul Fattah Ismail founded the Yemen Socialist Party (YSP) in 1978. The creation of the YSP followed a policy of unification of the revolutionary nationalists and left forces from both the South and the North.

The base of the YSP evolved from the Unified Political National Front Organization which derived from the merging of three parties, being the National Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (NLF), the Democratic Popular Union Party (Marxist) and the Popular Vanguard Party (a left-wing Ba'athist party), as well as the Yemeni Popular Unity Party in North Yemen.

Yemeni Popular Unity Party was also the result of the merging of five left-wing organizations, namely the Revolutionary Democratic Party of Yemen, the Popular Vanguard Party in North Yemen, the Organization of Yemeni Revolutionary Resistors, the Popular Democratic Union and the Labor Party. The YSP became the only legal party in the PDRY.

Due to its united front character, factional disagreements arose and intensified during the 1980s.  Abdul Fattah Ismail served as the de facto leader of the Yemen Revolution from 1969-1980.  He was reportedly incapacitated by medical problems in 1980 and travelled to the Soviet Union for treatment.

Ismail’s successor was President Ali Nasser Muhammad, who adopted a more conciliatory tone in comparison to the pro-Soviet line of Ismail. Nasser Muhammad set out to repair relations with South Yemen's neighbors along with the West.

Eventually antagonism between the two factions led to the South Yemen civil war in early 1986 which resulted in the death of Abdul Fattah Ismail. After the fighting subsided Ismail’s ally Ali Salim al-Beidh took control of the YSP, while the more moderate Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas became president. As the principal allies of the PDRY in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union weakened and collapsed, the leaders of the government negotiated a reunification of both the North and the South.

Al-Beidh and al-Attas held positions in the government of a reunified Yemen until the 1994 civil war. Parliamentary elections were held in October 1986, and although the YSP remained the sole legal party, independent candidates were allowed to contest the elections, winning 40 of the 111 seats, while the YSP won the majority of positions with 71 seats.

Today there is a movement in the South of Yemen calling for the reestablishment of an independent republic. The current crisis in Yemen is a direct result of U.S. efforts to halt the influence of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout the region of West Asia on the Arabian Peninsula and within the Persian Gulf states.

The Ansurallah (Houthis), a Shiite-based movement which is supported by Tehran politically, has taken over large swaths of Yemeni territory in the North, Central and Southern regions of the country. An alliance of anti-Ansurallah forces in the South has been able to halt and push back the advances of the Ansurallah.

Since March 2015, the Saudi Arabian-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has engaged in massive aerial bombardments of Yemen including the capital of Sanaa. Thousands of people have been killed and wounded while the country is battling a major cholera outbreak stemming from the targeting of infrastructure by the GCC, destroying ports, neighborhoods, hospitals, water supply systems and power grids.

These air campaigns are supplemented by ground operations where supporters of ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi are fighting against the Ansurallah which has formed an alliance with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was removed from office after massive protests in 2011. Hadi is backed by Saudi Arabia and the GCC.

The Pentagon and British defense forces supply the Saudi-GCC with the fighter aircraft utilized in this military campaign which has continued for over two years. In addition, the U.S. Defense Department provides refueling technology and intelligence coordinates which have been essential in inflicting damage to the governance structures established by the Ansurallah and its allies in Yemen.

It is not clear whether the reemergence of an independent South Yemen would result in a socialist-oriented government pursuing anti-imperialist policies. Nonetheless, these issues will in all likelihood not be resolved until the U.S.-backed war is brought to an end.

These historical developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen illustrate the potential for revolutionary transformation in the so-called Middle East or West Asia. However, until a broad alliance of anti-imperialist forces consolidate their approaches to the process of nation-building and socialist construction, the imperialists, led by Washington and their allies, will continue to destabilize and dominate the peoples of this region.

 Socialism in Latin America: Cuba and Venezuela

On January 1, 1959, the July 26th Movement seized power in the Caribbean Island-nation of Cuba breaking with the centuries-old legacy of slavery and colonialism. Prime Minister Fidel Castro heading the Cuban state began to initiate reforms through the elimination of institutional racism, the oppression of women, land reform and the eventual nationalization of industry and the construction of socialism.
By 1960, the U.S. began to take measures that deliberately sought to remove Castro and his government. The following year in April 1961, the White House under President Kennedy authorized a mission by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow the revolutionary government in Cuba. Known as the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the plan failed miserably resulting in the deaths and capturing of hundreds of counter-revolutionary Cubans and CIA agents. The Cuban Revolution grew stronger in the aftermath of the defeat of U.S. imperialism at the Bay of Pigs and would the following year be threatened with nuclear war during October 1962, in the incident known as the Missile Crisis involving Havana, the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Cuba established firm relations with the national liberation movements and revolutionary governments in Africa. Cuban internationalist forces assisted in the defense of the sovereignty of the Algerian Revolution in 1963. Two years later, Che Guevara, the Minister of Economic Planning in the Cuban government, participated in a failed campaign aimed at seizing power on behalf of the forces defending the legacy of Congolese Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, who was overthrown and executed at the aegis of imperialism in 1960-61.
President Fidel Castro greets President Ahmed Sekou Toure of
Guinea, President Agostino Neto of Angola and President Luiz
Cabral of Guinea-Bissau.
A decade later, the Cuban Internationalists were deployed in Angola to work alongside the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) in consolidating independence in this former Portuguese colony beginning in October 1975. Cuban forces remained in Angola until early 1989, after the defeat of the racist apartheid South African Defense Forces (SADF) leading to the independence of neighboring Namibia in 1990. These advances created the conditions for the release of political prisoners in South Africa in 1990, the beginning of negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and the apartheid regime which culminated in the adoption of an interim constitution, the holding of non-racial elections and the ascendancy of the ANC to power in May 1994.

Socialism in Cuba has, under most unfavorable conditions imposed by the U.S. blockade, made tremendous gains for the people. The elimination of illiteracy, the training of physicians and other health care workers, universal free education, scientific research, its internationalism and Pan-Africanism related its participation in the campaign for the total liberation of Southern Africa and other regions of the continent, provides a sterling example of the role of a socialist state within a world still dominated by imperialism.

The Bolivarian Revolution in the South American state of Venezuela is currently under serious threat by U.S. imperialism and its allies in the region. There are concerted attempts being made by Washington to destabilize and topple the government led by the United Socialist Party (PSUV) and President Nicolas Maduro.
Since the rise of former President Hugo Chavez, successive U.S. governments through George Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump have taken a hostile position towards Venezuela. In 2002, the Chavez government was removed for several days by a section of the military kidnapping the revolutionary leader. Soon enough the masses mobilized to reverse the coup, marking a new mood both within South America and other former colonial nations.

Under the leadership of Chavez, poverty was greatly reduced in Venezuela. Reforms related to land redistribution, price controls, the development of state-owned enterprises operated on behalf of the workers, providing social benefits for women workers, the recognition of the Indigenous and African heritage of the country, an enhancement of anti-imperialist foreign policy deepening relations with Africa, China, Iran and other geo-political regions. Venezuela was a co-founder of the Africa-South America (ASA) Summit which has held high-level meetings over the last several years.

The creation of a Constituent Assembly in Venezuela has provided an opening to resume an offensive posture against imperialism and the construction of socialism. Anti-government disturbances have subsided while Trump at the UN General Assembly 72nd Session in September 2017 issued a new round of threats against President Maduro.

III. Socialism Advances National Liberation and Gender Emancipation

Two essential aspects of socialist construction involve the proper resolution of national oppression, the relations between nationalities and the right of peoples to self-determination and sovereignty. In addition, the emancipation of women is a prerequisite as well to the full realization of a socialist and communist society.
Lenin from his earliest days as a political theorist and organizer paid close attention to the status of women within Russian society. His decades-long comrade, advisor and wife, Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya, who worked as the secretary of the RSDLP-Bolshevik press, teacher of party cadre, and after the Revolution, the Deputy Minister of Education and the eventual chair of the Education Committee of the Soviet state, compiled and published a collection of writings, speeches and resolutions in 1933 chronicling the development of the Leninist view on gender equality related to socialist construction.

Nadezhda K. Krupskaya in the Preface to “The Emancipation of Women: From Writings of V.I. Lenin”, affirms that: “In the course of his revolutionary activities Lenin often wrote and spoke about the emancipation of working women in general and peasant women in particular. To be sure, the emancipation of women is inseparably bound up with the entire struggle for the workers' cause, for socialism. We know Lenin as the leader of the working people, as the organizer of the Party and Soviet government, as a fighter and builder. Every working woman, every peasant woman must know about all that Lenin did, every aspect of his work, without limiting herself to what Lenin said about the position of working women and their emancipation. But because there exists the closest connection between the entire struggle of the working class and improving the position of women, Lenin often--on more than forty occasions, in fact--referred to this question in his speeches and articles, and every one of these references was inseparably bound up with all the other things that were of interest and concern to him at the time.”
Another leading Marxist theoretician and organizer was Clara Zetkin of Germany. Zetkin was a member of the German Social Democratic Party and after 1915 joined with the Independents who opposed World War I. She was a co-founder of the German Spartacus League which would later form the German Communist Party (KPD). Zetkin eventually moved to Moscow and became a close collaborator and friend of V.I. Lenin.

In an address delivered on October 16, 1896 at the Congress of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, she emphasized the class character of the women’s movement in Europe. Zetkin pointed out that: “The investigations of Bachofen, Morgan and others seem to prove that the social suppression of women coincided with the creation of private property. The contrast within the family between the husband as proprietor and the wife as non-proprietor became the basis for the economic dependence and the social illegality of the female sex. This social illegality represents, according to Engels, one of the first and oldest forms of class rule. He states: ‘Within the family, the husband constitutes the bourgeoisie and the wife the proletariat.’ Nonetheless, a women’s question in the modern sense of the word did not exist. It was only the capitalist mode of production which created the societal transformation that brought forth the modern women’s question by destroying the old family economic system which provided both livelihood and life’s meaning for the great mass of women during the pre-capitalistic period. We must, however, not transfer to the ancient economic activities of women those concepts (the concepts of futility and pettiness), that we connect with the activities of women in our times. As long as the old type of family still existed, a woman found a meaningful life by productive activity. Thus she was not conscious of her social illegality even though the development of her potentials as an individual was strictly limited.” (

In this same address, Zetkin continues saying: “Bourgeois society is not fundamentally opposed to the bourgeois women’s movement, which is proven by the fact that in various states reforms of private and public laws concerning women have been initiated. There are two reasons why the accomplishment of these reforms seems to take an exceptionally long time in Germany: First of all, men fear the battle of competition in the liberal professions and secondly, one has to take into account the very slow and weak development of bourgeois democracy in Germany which does not live up to its historical task because of its class fear of the proletariat. It fears that the realization of such reforms will only bring advantages to Social-Democracy. The less a bourgeois democracy allows itself to be hypnotized by such a fear, the more it is prepared to undertake reforms. England is a good example. England is the only country that still possesses a truly powerful bourgeoisie, whereas the German bourgeoisie, shaking in fear of the proletariat, shies away from carrying out political and social reforms. As far as Germany is concerned, there is the additional factor of widespread Philistine views. The Philistine braid of prejudice reaches far down the back of the German bourgeoisie. To be sure, this fear of the bourgeois democracy is very shortsighted. The granting of political equality to women does not change the actual balance of power. The proletarian woman ends up in the proletarian, the bourgeois woman in the bourgeois camp. We must not let ourselves be fooled by Socialist trends in the bourgeois women’s movement which last only as long as bourgeois women feel oppressed.”

As it relates to the historical experiences of African people within the context of liberation movements and the construction of independent states specifically within the framework of a national democratic revolution, socialist-orientation and construction, the role of women has been highly significant, although oftentimes unacknowledged by historians, social scientists and many politicians themselves. Serious study of the events in Egypt during the uprising of 1919, the burgeoning South African struggle against the dreaded pass laws and the broader policy of legalized segregation (apartheid) during the 1950s, as well as the armed phase of the African Revolution in colonies such as Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Zimbabwe and Namibia, the contributions of women contain tremendous lessons for the overall process of radical social transformation.

The Convention People’s Party (CPP) of the Gold Coast and later Ghana relied on the efforts of women in the important fields of propaganda, fundraising and mass mobilization in support of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah. Ghana under Nkrumah purposely promoted women to higher levels of involvement in the party press, legislative positions, social services and education.
Josina Machel of FRELIMO.
Samora Machel, the leader of the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) in the wake of the assassination by Portuguese colonial agents of founder Eduardo Molande, characterized the liberation of women as a prerequisite for the success of the national liberation struggle. These revolutionary views distinguished the legitimate liberation movements from those which sought compromise with the imperialist system after independence leading directly to neo-colonial dominance.

During the armed struggle against Portugal, FRELIMO held the First Conference of Mozambican Women on March 4, 1973. Machel in his address to the gathering stressed: “The liberation of women is not an act of charity. It is not the result of a humanitarian or compassionate position. It is a fundamental necessity for the Revolution, a guarantee of its continuity, and a condition for its success. The Revolution's main objective is to destroy the system of the exploitation of man by man, the construction of a new society which will free human potentialities and reconcile work and nature. It is within this context that the question of women's liberation arises. In general, the women are the most oppressed the most exploited beings in our society. She is exploited even by him who is exploited himself, beaten by him who is tortured by the palmatorio, humiliated by him who is trod underfoot by the boss or the settler. How may our Revolution succeed without liberating women? Is it possible to liquidate a system of exploitation and still leave a part of society exploited? Can we get rid of only one part of exploitation and oppression? Can we clear away half the weeds without the risk that the surviving half will grow even stronger? Can we then make the Revolution without the mobilization of women? If women compose over half of the exploited and oppressed population, can we leave them on the fringes of the struggle?” (

This African revolutionary leader goes on to surmise that: “In order for the Revolution to succeed, we must mobilize all of the exploited and oppressed, and consequently the women also. In order for the Revolution to triumph, it must liquidate the totality of the exploitative and oppressive system, it must liberate all the exploited and oppressed people, and thus it must liquidate women's exploitation and oppression. It is obliged to liberate women.”

Combined with the liberation of women in the revolutionary struggle is the necessity of grappling and solving the question of national oppression. The liberation of the oppressed colonial and neo-colonial peoples is part and parcel of the struggle for the construction of a socialist society. Lenin wrote about this even during the early years of the 20th century. He engaged in polemics on the issue with German Social Democrat and later Communist, Rosa Luxemburg, who despite her revolutionary courage and commitment to the abolition of capitalism and imperialism disagreed with Lenin on the right of nations to self-determination.

Lenin wrote in 1916 during his time in exile that the right of self-determination of peoples cannot be glossed over in the path towards the international proletarian revolution. He maintains in this thesis that: “The right of nations to self-determination means only the right to independence in a political sense, the right to free, political secession from the oppressing nation. Concretely, this political, democratic demand implies complete freedom to carry on agitation in favor of secession, and freedom to settle the question of secession by means of a referendum of the nation that desires to secede. Consequently, this demand is by no means identical with the demand for secession, for partition, for the formation of small states. It is merely the logical expression of the struggle against national oppression in every form. The more closely the democratic system of state approximates to complete freedom of secession, the rarer and weaker will the striving for secession be in practice; for the advantages of large states, both from the point of view of economic progress and from the point of view of the interests of the masses, are beyond doubt, and these advantages increase with the growth of capitalism. The recognition of self-determination is not the same as making federation a principle. One may be a determined opponent of this principle and a partisan of democratic centralism and yet prefer federation to national inequality as the only path towards complete democratic centralism. It was precisely from this point of view that Marx, although a centralist preferred even the federation of Ireland with England to the forcible subjection of Ireland to the English.” (
The founder of the first socialist state goes on to illustrate this point made more than a year-and-a-half prior to the triumph of the Bolshevik Revolution saying: “The aim of socialism is not only to abolish the present division of mankind (humanity) into small states and all national isolation; not only to bring the nations closer to each other, but also to merge them. And in order to achieve this aim, we must, on the one hand, explain to the masses the reactionary nature of the ideas of Renner and Otto Bauer concerning   so-called ‘cultural national autonomy’ and, on the other hand, demand the liberation of the oppressed nations, not only in general, nebulous phrases, not in empty declamations, not by ‘postponing’ the question until socialism is established, but in a clearly and precisely formulated political program which shall particularly take into account the hypocrisy and cowardice of the Socialists in the oppressing nations. Just as mankind can achieve the abolition of classes only by passing through the transition period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, so mankind can achieve the inevitable merging of nations only by passing through the transition period of complete liberation of all the oppressed nations, i.e., their freedom to secede.”

These observations by Lenin were important in the continuation of the struggle for socialism and national liberation long after his death in 1924. Whether in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East (West Asia) and within the oppressor (imperialist) states themselves, the movements against racism, national oppression and for the emancipation of the dark peoples of the world has proven to be the life blood of the ongoing struggle for the realization of proletarian internationalism.

IV. Conclusion: Our Role in Building a Socialist Movement in North America

This has been a brief description of the application of the principles of Marxism-Leninism and Scientific Socialism through experiences of parties and national liberation movements that have achieved state power. More work in this area needs to be done in order to provide a detailed analyses of the contradictions which emerged within these organizations and governments.
The lessons learned from the historical development of the World Socialist Movement is essential for the making of genuine revolutionary anti-imperialist cadre in North America in the 21st century. Since the early 1950s, efforts have been underway to bring the thinking of Western Marxist-Leninists and other revolutionaries in line with actual events within Socialist revolutionary processes which have taken place in the former Soviet Union, Asia, Africa and Latin America.
It is important that the study of historical materialism and dialectical materialism is applied in the real world. As Marx observed in the 19th century, Philosophers have merely interpreted the world the point is to change it.

 In order to change the world there must be a revolutionary party to give expression to the workers and oppressed in their continuing struggle against capitalism and imperialism in the U.S. and indeed throughout the world. The internationalization of the capitalist markets and production process provides the material basis for the formation of a socialist system on a global scale.