Monday, 31 December 2012


"Is Skunk our crack, our cOINTELPRO?"
The taboo subject of skunk and its devastating impact on our communities

*By Sukant Chandan
Sons of Malcolm
31 December 2012

In my mid teens some time around 1995 I was at a house party of a close friend who was in my year group in high school. He had a younger sister one year below us who invited her friends to her place for the party. I remember it was the time that Hip-Hop took a spiritual and ethical nose dive as Dr Dre and Snoop's 'Doggystyle' album was playing on repeat. At the party the younger sister's friends had a running beef with her older brothers and some of my friends who were at the party. The beef was kind of serious for our age, involving such incidents as one group trying to run the other group over with a van at the school playing fields, and fights with chains etc. No guns or knives were generally used in school fights in those days. However, at this party the younger group of friends went into the kitchen and brought out big knives to attack the older group. The younger sister freaked out, the guys took it outside, and somehow and thank God no one was hurt.

By this time in my life I knew through Reggae culture and some eastern cultures especially my own South Asian culture that Marijuana use was linked to being at least chilled out if not a means to accentuate spiritual nourishment. I remember thinking at the time, all these guys were heavily smoking Marijuana, how come after being so high on this stuff could they be so enthusiastically up for stabbing each other? A few years ago someone came to read my gas meter, and it turned out to be one of the leading guys from the younger group. We had a very friendly chat and critically referenced the high school nonsense. Often high school dramas fade away in your late teens, however, these days I am not sure high school dramas involving deaths and critical injuries can fade so quickly.

There were other incidents of violence when high on smoking 'weed' between my peers and it remained a constant thought in my head why they are conducting violence while being high or stoned. While some of my peers must have also been taking cocaine, which makes a person intensely arrogant and obnoxious, the fact was that these violent incidents involving weed smoking by the perpetrators was actually Skunk Marijuana (also often called 'punk' and 'cheese' amongst other names).

I am in no way solely blaming Skunk for this violence, as it is also related to other social problems such as the failure of our education system, the constant promotion of self-hating violence by the white power structure. But rather than helping my peers to chill and reflect in a positive way about anything in life, Skunk seemed to be feeding the negativity. In all honesty I didn't give it much thought beyond the low lying question about it in my mind.

Through university I remember that once having smoked Skunk political discussions were nearly impossible to have because people were so much more irritable and impatient while high off Skunk. I also remember the terrible grogginess and irritability the next day from the previous night of people having smoked it.

Soon into the 2000s it was clear just from my own observations, reading the media, and speaking to people that Skunk production within this country was sky rocketing, and by the end of the 1990s people seemed to be increasingly turning to Skunk as the main type of Marijuana to consume.

It has been a good twenty years since 'Skunk' or high grade marijuana has been introduced on a wide scale throughout Britain. Skunk is a generic word pointing to different genetically modified strains of marijuana that are grown in intense conditions of light and air conditioning (extractor fans essentially) and is a very expensive marijuana as a result, around double or more the price of more 'natural' strains of the plant. There are plenty of stories of bags of Skunk being sold with glass dust added to add more weight to the sale. Glass dust inhaled by people into their lungs is a highly dangerous thing.

Skunk is now the main type of marijuana smoked by people, youth and children in this country. You may not have noticed, but Skunk has been smoked around you on your high streets, in the park etc. Those aware of the smell of Skunk will smell it regularly in inner city areas and large towns.

Marijuana use has taken place since ancient times. The effect of Marijuana accentuates the senses, and depending on the type of Marijuana one consumes (usually through smoking, and more rarely by ingesting often in cakes and other foods) it can either be a general mind opening effect ('up'), or mind closing effect ('down'), but in general the use of Marijuana has been used historically to heighten spirituality and is not known to directly cause death. It is widely used by Yogis and Saadhu's (religious men who give up all material possessions and dedicate their lives to spirituality) and in some religious festivals in South Asia, mainly through being infused with the South Asian yogurt drink - lassi. There is even an Indian cinema song which playfully shows its use at one such festival. It is said by some historians that Marijuana was introduced to the Caribbean by South Asians, where many Rastafarians who introduced it into their faith took it up in a spiritual framework.

In stereotyped and prejudicial modern understanding, Marijuana users are 'dopey', epitomised by the 'Cheech and Chong' movies, it is associated with silly jokes, laziness and stupidity. It is also illegal in most countries in the world, although often seen as not as serious as other harder drugs such as heroin, crack, opium etc.

After nearly two decades of low-level critical reflection on Skunk, I started in the last year or so to really focus on the problematics of the industry, and the consumption of it and the impact it is having on our communities. We now have a generation in their mid and late twenties who if they have smoked Skunk, have done so from their early teens or even from the ages of 10, 11 and 12. I remember doing some political work in Leicester in 2003 on an all white working class estate and I came across three boys, not older than 13, who were smoking Skunk openly in the daylight hours.

It is a kind of taboo in our culture, including in 'conscious', progressive and anti-imperialist circles to critically discuss the possible negative effects on Skunk and its industry. But there have been too many signs that Skunk compounded with many other oppressions in our society is leading and has led to some very disastrous consequences.

Even more recently in the last several months for the first time in my life I started discussing the Skunk phenomenon with people. The responses surprised me, I would say pleasantly surprised me, but the subject matter is too grave for me to be happy in any way to what I have heard.

I heard of a drug dealer who has been working in this field for nearly two decades. He never sells Skunk, but he does sell the more 'natural' strains of 'Thai' and 'Bush' etc. His story is that he tried to do business with Skunk years ago and within days he had rival businesses coming attack him with guns. He went back to the selling the more natural strains.

I have heard about another brother who was a tough street fighter through the late 1970s and 1980s in his youth who commanded a lot of respect in his area and throughout London and England, and who turned to revolutionary struggle by the early 1980s. He smoked then and still smokes Jamaican marijuana (commonly known as 'yard food'), which is nearly as strong as Skunk, but has comparatively little to no adverse psychological effects. He took up smoking Skunk for a short time, and he recounted that while he was high on Skunk every important decision he made was the wrong decision in the circumstances and got him into some quite serious situations. He gave it up within days of smoking it.

I then raised this issue on twitter a few months ago. Somewhat to my surprise a few brothers and sisters around my age tweeted back in agreement with some of the things I was saying. One brother said "skunk is our crack". I am into plain militant speaking, but this comment was surprising, pushing the brother to explain a bit more he argued that the impact of Skunk amongst generations of our youth and in our community is the equivalent in some ways of the way the usa white power structure introduced crack cocaine into Black communities to sabotage the revolutionary organisations and struggles there, destroy and criminalise working class and Black youth and  turn the community in on itself in violent self hate and escalating mental health problems.

The timing of the rise of the Skunk industry and mass consumption is interesting. It has become predominant at exactly the same time Black and Asian and working class communities radical and grassroots organisations and movement subsided and were defeated. The multifaceted offensive against us since the early 1990s, including Skunk, has meant not only have we not recovered and re-developed our struggle to face the worse socio-economic and cultural and moral situation that we are facing, but we have continued to be pushed down as oppressed peoples. The british white power structure is no doubt greatly relieved that we did not develop any effective resistance organisations after the militant struggles, the last of which was the mass campaign of resistance against police brutality and white supremacist attacks around the Justice for Stephen Lawrence Campaign. Is Skunk a central part of our own cointelpro?

The COINTELPRO fbi program in the usa most definitely has its own mirror reflections in our communities here. The problem is that no one does the work of analysing this and pushing it out for debate amongst us.

There is a long history of how the ruling classes in Britain and across the west have used different drugs and drug mafias to contain and oppress working class and Black communities within the 'west' and across the world. These are issues and histories seldom discussed by us, but they pertain to imperialist oppression abroad and how it directly has a fall out in working class communities on this island.

Another sister talked/tweeted about how habitual and prolonged Skunk consumption had resulted in her actual sister having schizophrenia. The fact is that all of us know someone who has become paranoid to some extent, paranoid delusional or developed schizophrenia with different drugs but very much Skunk being a clear contributory factor in this.

We are talking about our peers, often our close friends and loved ones having serious mental health problems that can and do result in these people being sectioned and suicide is not tragically unheard of.

There is little solid research that gives one clear answers as to why Skunk such an adverse impact on peoples mental health. Some say it is the unbalanced 'cannabinoids' in Skunk which causes this. The medical research is not clear, but I would argue that if we collectivise the data that we all know about ourselves and our peers who are suffering from frequent and long term Skunk use, the evidence is rather clear to see. The fact that there is such little conclusive nor frankly helpful medical research on something which is having such a wide ranging negative fall out on us, to me points to a greater agenda of the white power structure to introduce Skunk to oppress our communities, and it is doing a great job in that regard.

Around 3 years ago I was walking near my area in a middle class part of my town, the police had made a drugs raid on a middle class looking semi detached house and found seven large bags of Skunk marijuana plants. I asked the senior police why he wasn't clamping down on the crack dens and heroin and crack dealers known to all the residents on the local estate not 5mins walk away, as per usual the senior policeman got aggressively defensive. Skunk production on this island, or the spread of 'homegrown' industry has rocketed in the last decade or so. For poor working class people setting up a Skunk factory is a commercial venture not far from their means and the returns are lucrative. What this does is criminalise vast new swathes of our people, and also bring develop a criminal mafia in our communities, as most of the production is done by larger organised crime outfits. And a related major issue is that because Skunk/weed possession is so high amongst our youth, they tend to be easy prey for police harassment.

How do our youth manage to afford to spend so much on Skunk. For a reasonably strong single cigarette or 'spliff' of Skunk mixed usually with tobacco (usually cigarette tobacco, which is full of chemicals, and without the soft filter full of tar), you are looking at easily three or four pounds, with many packing their spliffs a lot more than that thus making the one spliff a lot more expensive. Skunk is highly addictive or at least something which one can become easily dependent on (if you don't believe me, try and get a regular Skunk smoker to give it up), with the user chasing the highs they first felt when starting Skunk, but that high is unattainable, hence sending the user into a futile race to reach a high they never can achieve.

Many people in our communities argue that the expensive nature of the product and its addictive qualities has meant a general growth in criminal activities amongst our youth who think they have to engage in this criminal life to survive: this has resulted in a noticeable increase in the amount of degree of violence amongst young people and amongst crime amongst our youth. Often our working class youth are used as peddlers for Skunk and other harder drugs by older drug dealers. Then net resut is that the nightmare scenarios of A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies is a very present reality in our communities where our children are killing each other with no sign of us putting things in order. This is a problem that our communities have been unable to address, although some Irish working class communities have taken independent action to address these issues, with some measures of success which is worth studying and learning and applying the lessons to our conditions.

We have a disastrous situation where generations of our youth have been and are starting to smoke Skunk from pre teens; they are growing up in an oppressive society often with deteriorating social conditions such as:

-  violent domestic situations caused by overcrowding, unemployment/underemployment; they are increasingly alienated by the system while assimilating into some of the worst moral and ethical aspects of the system such as a negative sexualisation of relationships with each other as a result of 'sex education' primarily happening through exposure to hard core porn from pre teens (this in itself is causing a massive un-addressed crisis amongst our youth);

- oppression from and failures of the 'education' system with bullying and violence rampant throughout our high schools;

- the disapearnce of liberation theories used by Latin Americans, Africans and Asians for socialist and anti-imperialist liberation and this being replaced by the growth of crack-pot conspiracy theories like "Beyonce is the reptilian devil head who is spewing out chem trails from her dance moves which resulted in the 911 attacks", is promoting the danger of paranoid delusions amongst our peers as they drink, smoke, take drugs, are in a state of oppression and often depression and spend many a night watching crack-pot youtube videos that doesn't help their mental health;

- white power structure oppression resulting in our youth moving away from positively healing spirituality and ethics of our ancestors, families and communities of the homelands in the Global South.

All these issues along with the violent and paranoid state of mind that Skunk and mass use of cocaine and other drugs amongst our youth needs some serious debate and reflection.

The reason I suppose I have honed in on Skunk consumption and industry is because it has become nearly an untouchable issue, it seems to be beyond criticism. People who I can visibly see are suffering as a result of Skunk use keep telling you that it is not a problem at all. Perhaps this is a reflection itself of the way Skunk addiction has informed the taboo nature of the topic? Whatever the case might be, this article would is intended in sparking (excuse the pun) a reasoned and mutually respectful public debate amongst ourselves.

Why don't we take stock of the multifaceted problems we are facing? The near absence of debate on these important issues, the near absence of any grassroots initiatives is worrying, already too many of our loved ones have been taken to the grave or into state mental institutions, while many more are suffering in silence and deepening their dependency on alcohol and drugs to numb the pain they/we feel.


*An edited version of this article will be going into the next edition of I am Hip-Hop Magazine, and serves as a contribution to a wider discussion which will also include a possible joint event between Sons of Malcolm and I am Hip-Hop Magazine in the very near future.

the drug raid on the Skunk factory I mention in the article

Monday, 24 December 2012


US deploying troops to 35 African countries

Russia Today

The United States Army will be deploying troops to nearly three-dozen African nations in the coming year.

Soldiers based out of Fort Riley, Kansas’ 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division will begin training in March 2013 in order to prepare for a project that will send troops to as many as 35 African nations, the Associated Press reports.

Citing a growing threat from extremist groups, including those with ties to al-Qaeda, the Department of Defense is hoping to install American soldiers overseas in order to prepare local troops there for any future crises as tensions escalate.

Earlier this month, DoD sources with insider knowledge told the Washington Post that US troops will soon be en route to the nation of Mali in order to thwart the emerging threat of Islamic extremists, including al-Qaeda aligned insurgents. With the latest news from the Pentagon, though, Mali will be just one of many African nations hosting US troops in the coming year.

According to the AP’s update this week, soldiers will be sent overseas in the new year to assist only with training and equipping efforts, and are not necessarily permitted to participate in military operations. Should the Pentagon ask the troops to engage in battle, however, the secretary of defense could sign off on an order that would allow as much.

"If they want them for (military) operations, the brigade is our first sourcing solution because they're prepared," Gen. David Rodriguez, the head of U.S. Army Forces Command, tells the AP. "But that has to go back to the secretary of defense to get an execute order."

Additionally, the AP says that US troops will head specifically to Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger in order to prepare for any advances from al-Qaeda linked groups. Americans will also train and equip forces in Kenya and Somalia, reportedly, in order to stand up to al-Shabab militants. Despite the troops being deployed to more than half of the countries in Africa, though, the AP reports that Uncle Sam will try to avoid giving the impression that the United States is leaving a substantial footprint across the continent.

"The challenge we have is to always understand the system in their country," explains Rodriguez. "We're not there to show them our system, we're there to make their system work. Here is what their army looks like, and here is what we need to prepare them to do."

Sources speaking with the AP say that the United States has already prepared nearly 100 different exercises and training programs to conduct with African troops during the coming year.


Sunday, 23 December 2012


Excellent words from the leader of Lebanese Hizbullah, and one of the greatest Arab anti-imperialist leaders ever.

He makes very important points here in relation to Syria.

Nasrallah makes clear that it is rather disengenous to talk of the 'people of Syria' as only those who are in the nato-backed opposition, that those who support the Baathist government, arguably by most accounts a majority of the people of Syria, are also: people!

He then makes one of the most important points for anti-imperialists to grasp, that the current situation in Syria is the status that white imperialism and its regional allies want. This is the perfect way to destroy forces and sap the unity and stability of Syria, to destabilise Lebanon and others countries, and to bog down the Arabs and Muslims in a dirty way against each other rather than uniting against the common enemy of imperialism and zionism (both white supremacist entities).

Nasrallah also makes it clear that Al-Qaeda are being manipulated by imperialism's interests, and furthermore, that these groups in Syria are bringing a intensely sickening and horrific trajectory to that country, just as they have in every other country that have had or have a presence.

Great points from Nasrallah that everyone might do well to spend some time to reflect on. One has to say, shame he did not take the same analysis of the situation in Libya which was near identical to that of Syria, Libya remains a counterrevolutionary base after the fall of Gaddafi organised exactly against Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.

But perhaps all our allies and ourselves fall for imperialism's tricks now and again, and that despite however grave the mistake, despite those brave and good people who have suffered, that we have lost and continue to suffer losses in Libya, this does not turn our allies into hostile parties despite how hard making the intelligent decision it is. Of course, if I was an anti-imperialist Libyan who would be lucky enough to be alive today in Libya, I might feel differently, which does not make it right to have that position, but it is understandable.

Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Saturday, 22 December 2012


[One of Africa's greatest liberation and socialist leaders - Robert Mugabe - was the only African leader 
to attend the presidential inauguration of President Kabila]

DR Congo Crisis: Zimbabwean troops advance into North Kivu province

20 dec 2012

Zimbabwean troop into North Kivu - Zimbabwean troops, some of them on military tanks, have been advancing progressively into several places in North Kivu province, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), marking the escalation of tension near the border with Rwanda, PANA reported, quoting journalists reporting from that part of Congo.

They said that the movement had affected the recent calm in the area.

Zimbabwean infantry units were reported present in Goma and Bukavu's suburbs (North and South Kivu), according to Rwanda's newspaper online ''.

They said the M23 rebel fighters in North Kivu were readying their weapons to repulse any offensive likely to be launched by a joint Congo regular forces-Zimbabwean troops.

The Zimbabwean movement has come as a surprise since Robert Mugabe's government had previously shown reluctance to deploy its troops to DRC to help drive out M23 rebels from some strategic cities under its control.

Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia mobilized troops in 1998 to help DRC, under Laurent Desire Kabila, beat back armed rebel groups about to overrun Kinshasa, the DRC capital.

Congo-Kinshasa: SADC to Activate Stand-By Force

09 dec 2012

Dar es Salaam — The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has decided to activate its stand-by force and dispatch it to the troubled eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where rebels of the M23 movement are fighting against the Congolese government.

The unit will be under the auspices of the Neutral International force (NIF), and its commander will be appointed by Tanzania.

This decision was taken on Saturday, during an extraordinary one day summit of SADC heads of state and government in Dar es Salaam, chaired by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, in his capacity as the current SADC chairperson.

SADC has about a week to activate its stand-by force, and the entire deployment could cost about 100 million US dollars. Part of this sum has already been made available by the DRC itself. Tanzania and South Africa have promised to send a battalion and logistical support to the NIF.

The idea for such a neutral force, to be placed along the border between the DRC and Rwanda, was backed by the African Union in September, after frustration at the failure of the United Nations force in the region (MONUSCO) to deal with the M23 rebellion.

In SADC’s understanding, MONUSCO has been unable to cope with the problem, and so the summit urged the UN to change the mandate of MONUSCO, granting it the power for direct armed reaction to any attacks.

To date, MONUSCO’s physical presence only exists to guarantee humanitarian activities. Such activities are of dubious value in an area where murder, rape and looting by armed groups are reported every day.

The summit reaffirmed the indivisibility of the DRC, and respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity. It expressed deep concern at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the eastern DRC and strongly condemned the M23 for its attacks against civilians, the UN forces and humanitarian agencies.

“We are open to dialogue, but we are also not prepared to continue watching as defenceless people are killed”, said Guebuza at a press conference held immediately after the close of the summit.

He did not specify in what way Mozambique would support the Neutral International Force, but declared that the decision was “important and necessary”. He stressed that other countries will also decide how to support the force, “because the foundations for this have already been laid”.

Guebuza stressed that SADC will work with the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), the African Union, and the United Nations itself, in search of support that can ensure success for the activities of the NIF.

The current ICGLR chairperson, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who was invited to take part in the summit, said that the UN force was engaged in nothing more than “military tourism”, since its presence in the DRC had made no difference.



Thursday, 20 December 2012


Has to be said in a time where most people think political radicalism is negative, nasty, bullying  facebooking and twittering with a 'politically radical' wrapping, or that watching and listening to 'concious' music etc, that actually building our struggles is actually about DOING and BUILDING in our communities in at the grassroots and also the other plank is RE-building our internationalism which is in a pathetic and cowardly state for the most part.

The other point is that we need to critically reflect on why we are constantly using western dance music sounds to convey a message of internationalism, when the white power structure is using exactly the kinds of forms to conduct a so far successful cultural genocide against our peoples languages, culture, ethics, dress, dance etc.

I thought it was bigger than hip-hop, but too often it seems hip-hop is bigger than all these other important problematic dynamics.

Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


My interview with MSNBC ignites a conservative media firestorm -- and exposes America's dangerous double standard

Yesterday, during a cable news discussion of gun violence and the Newtown school shooting, I dared mention a taboo truism. During a conversation on MSNBC’s “Up With Chris Hayes,” I said that because most of the mass shootings in America come at the hands of white men, there would likely be political opposition to initiatives that propose to use those facts to profile the demographic group to which these killers belong. I suggested that’s the case because as opposed to people of color or, say, Muslims, white men as a subgroup are in such a privileged position in our society that they are the one group that our political system avoids demographically profiling or analytically aggregating in any real way. Indeed, unlike other demographic, white guys as a group are never thought to be an acceptable topic for any kind of critical discussion whatsoever, even when there is ample reason to open up such a discussion.
My comment was in response to U.S. Rep. James Langevin (D) floating the idea of employing the Secret Service for such profiling, and I theorized that because the profiling would inherently target white guys, the political response to such an idea might be similar to the Republican response to the 2009 Homeland Security report looking, in part, at the threat of right-wing terrorism. As you might recall, the same GOP that openly supports profiling — and demonizing— Muslims essentially claimed that the DHS report was unacceptable because its focus on white male terrorist groups allegedly stereotyped (read: offensively profiled) conservatives.
For making this point, I quickly became the day’s villain in the right-wing media. From the Daily Caller, to Fox News, to Breitbart, to Glenn Beck’s the Blaze, to all the right-wing blogs and Twitter feeds that echo those outlets’ agitprop, I was attacked for “injecting divisive racial politics” into the post-Newtown discussion (this is a particularly ironic attack coming from Breitbart – the same website that manufactured the Shirley Sherrod fiasco).
The conservative response to my statement, though, is the real news here.
Let’s review: Any honest observer should be able to admit that if the gunmen in these mass shootings mostly had, say, Muslim names or were mostly, say, African-American men, the country right now wouldn’t be confused about the causes of the violence, and wouldn’t be asking broad questions. There would probably be few queries or calls for reflection, and mostly definitive declarations blaming the bloodshed squarely on Islamic fundamentalism or black nationalism, respectively. Additionally, we would almost certainly hear demands that the government intensify the extant profiling systems already aimed at those groups.
Yet, because the the perpetrators in question in these shootings are white men and not ethnic or religious minorities, nobody is talking about demographic profiling them as a group. The discussion, instead, revolves around everything from gun control, to mental health services, to violence in entertainment — everything, that is, except trying to understanding why the composite of these killers is so similar across so many different massacres. This, even though there areplenty of reasons for that topic to be at least a part of the conversation.
Recounting the truth of these double standards is, of course, boringly mundane, which means my comment on television summarizing them is an equally boring and mundane statement of the obvious. However, as evidenced by the aggressive attempt to turn those comments into controversial headline-grabbing news over the weekend, the conservative movement has exposed its desperation — specifically, its desperation to preserve its White Victimization Mythology.
In this mythology, the white man as a single demographic subgroup can never be seen as a perpetrator and must always be portrayed as the unfairly persecuted scapegoat. In this mythology, to even reference an undeniable truth about how white privilege operates on a political level (in this case, to prevent a government profiling system of potential security threats even though such a system exists for other groups) is to be guilty of both “injecting divisive racial politics” and somehow painting one’s “opponents as racist” — even when nobody called any individual a racist.
In this mythology, in short, to mention truths about societal double standards — truths that are inconvenient or embarrassing to white people — is to be targeted for attack by the right-wing media machine.
Of course, just as I didn’t make such an argument yesterday on MSNBC, I’m not right now arguing for a system of demographically profiling white guys as a means of stopping mass murderers (that’s right, the headline at Beck’s website, the Blaze, is categorically lying by insisting I did make such an argument, when the MSNBC video proves that’s not even close to true). After all, broad demographic profiling is not only grotesquely bigoted in how it unduly stereotypes whole groups, it also doesn’t actually work as a security measure and runs the risk of becoming yet another Big Brother-ish monster (this is especially true when a lawmaker is forwarding the idea of deploying a quasi-military apparatus like the Secret Service).
Additionally, I’m not saying we should avoid the complex discussion about myriad issues (gun control, mental health, violence in Hollywood products, etc.) that we are having in the aftermath of the Connecticut tragedy. On the contrary, I believe it is good news that those nuanced conversations — rather than simplistic calls for punitive measures against a demographic group — are able to happen, and it’s particularly good news that they are persisting in the face of pro-gun extremists’ best effort to polarize the conversation.
But the point here is that those tempered and nuanced conversations are only able to happenbecause the demographic at the center of it all is white guys. That is the one group in America that gets to avoid being referred to in aggregate negative terms (and gets to avoid being unduly profiled by this nation’s security apparatus), which means we are defaulting to a much more dispassionate and sane conversation — one that treats the perpetrators as deranged individuals, rather than typical and thus stereotype-justifying representatives of an entire demographic.
While such fair treatment should be the norm for all citizens, the double standard at work makes clear it is still a special privilege for a select white few. That’s the issue at the heart of my comment on MSNBC — and it is a pressing problem no matter how much the conservative media machine wants to pretend it isn’t.
David Sirota
David Sirota is a best-selling author of the new book "Back to Our Future: How the 1980s Explain the World We Live In Now." He co-hosts The Rundown with Sirota & Brown on AM630 KHOW in Colorado. E-mail him at, follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at

Monday, 17 December 2012


We Call This Progress

By Arundhati Roy
December 17, 2012

From a speech at the Earth at Risk conference, Roy on the misuses of democracy and the revolutionary power of exclusion.

I don’t know how far back in history to begin, so I’ll lay the milestone down in the recent past. I’ll start in the early 1990s, not long after capitalism won its war against Soviet Communism in the bleak mountains of Afghanistan. The Indian government, which was for many years one of the leaders of the nonaligned movement, suddenly became a completely aligned country and began to call itself the natural ally of the U.S. and Israel. It opened up its protected markets to global capital. Most people have been speaking about environmental battles, but in the real world it’s quite hard to separate environmental battles from everything else: the war on terror, for example; the depleted uranium; the missiles; the fact that it was the military-industrial complex that actually pulled the U.S. out of the Great Depression, and since then the economies of places like America, many countries in Europe, and certainly Israel, have had stakes in the manufacture of weapons. What good are weapons if they aren’t going to be used in wars? Weapons are absolutely essential; it’s not just for oil or natural resources, but for the military-industrial complex itself to keep going that we need weapons.

Today, as we speak, the U.S., and perhaps China and India, are involved in a battle for control of the resources of Africa. Thousands of U.S. troops, as well as death squads, are being sent into Africa. The “Yes We Can” president has expanded the war from Afghanistan into Pakistan. There are drone attacks killing children on a regular basis there.

In the 1990s, when the markets of India opened, when all of the laws that protected labor were dismantled, when natural resources were privatized, when that whole process was set into motion, the Indian government opened two locks: one was the lock of the markets; the other was the lock of an old fourteenth-century mosque, which was a disputed site between Hindus and Muslims. The Hindus believed that it was the birthplace of Ram, and the Muslims, of course, use it as a mosque. By opening that lock, India set into motion a kind of conflict between the majority community and the minority community, a way of constantly dividing people. Finding ways to divide people is the main practice of anybody that is in power.

The opening of these two locks unleashed two kinds of totalitarianism in India: one was economic totalitarianism, and the other was Hindu fundamentalism. These processes manufactured what the government calls “terrorism.” You had Islamist terrorists and you had what today the government calls “Maoists,” which means anybody who is resisting the project of civilization, of progress, of development; anybody who is resisting the takeover of their lands or the destruction of rivers and forests, is today a Maoist. Maoists are the most militant end of a bandwidth of resistance movements, with Gandhists at the other end of the spectrum. The kind of strategy people adopt to resist the onslaught of global capital is quite often not an ideological choice, but a tactical choice dependent on the landscape in which those battles are being fought.

Since 1947, ever since India became a sovereign republic, it has deployed its army against what it calls its own people. Now, gradually, those states where the troops were deployed are states of people who are fighting for self-determination. They are states that the decolonized Indian state immediately colonized. Now, those troops are actually defending the government’s rights to build big dams, to build power projects, to carry out the processes of privatization. In the last fifty years, more than thirty million people have been displaced by big dams alone in India. Of course, most of those are Indigenous people or people who live off the land.

The result of twenty years of this kind of free market, and this bogey of terrorism, is in the hollowing out of democracy. I notice a lot of people using the word democracy as a good word, but actually, if you think of it, democracy today is not what democracy used to be. There was a time when the American government was toppling democracies in Latin America and all over the place. Today, it’s waging wars to install democracy. It has taken democracy into the workshop and hollowed it out.

In India, every institution, whether it’s the courts, or the parliament, or the press—has been hollowed out and harnessed to the free market. There are empty rituals to mask what actually happens, which is that India continues to militarize, it continues to become a police state. In the last twenty years, after we embraced the free market, two hundred and fifty thousand farmers have committed suicide, because they have been driven into debt. This has never happened in human history before. Yet, obviously when the establishment has a choice between suicide farmers and suicide bombers, you know which ones they are going to encourage. They don’t mind that statistic, because it helps them; they feel sorry, they make a few noises, but they keep doing what they are doing.

Today, India has more people than all the poorest countries of Africa put together. It has 80 percent of its population living on less than twenty rupees a day, which is less than fifty cents a day. That is the atmosphere in which the resistance movements are operating.

Of course, it has a media—I don’t know any other country with so many news channels, all of them sponsored or directly owned by corporations, including mining corporations and infrastructure corporations. The vast majority of all news is funded by corporate advertising, so you can imagine what’s going on with that. The prime minister of the world’s largest democracy, Manmohan Singh, who was more or less installed by the IMF, has never won an election in his life. He stood for one election and lost, but after that he was just placed there. He’s the person who, when he was finance minister, actually dismantled all the laws and allowed global capital into India.

One time I was at a meeting of iron ore workers, and Manmohan Singh, the prime minister of that time, had been the leader of the opposition in Parliament. A Hindi poet read out a poem called “What is Manmohan Singh doing these days?” The first lines were: “What is Manmohan Singh doing these days? What does poison do after it enters the bloodstream?” They knew that whatever he had to do was done, and now it’s just a question of it taking its course.

In 2005, which was the first term of the present government, the Indian government signed hundreds of Memorandums of Understanding, or MOUs, with mining companies, infrastructure companies, and so on, to develop a huge swath of forestland in Central India. India has up to an estimated one hundred million Indigenous people, and if you look at a map of India, the minerals, the forests, and the Indigenous people are all stacked up, one on top of the other. Many of these Memorandums of Understanding were signed with these mining companies in 2005. At the time, in the state of Chhattisgarh, which is where this great civil war is unfolding now, the government raised a tribal militia, which was funded by these corporations, to basically go through the forest to try and clear it of people so that the MOUs could be actualized. The media started to call this whole swath of forest the “Maoist Corridor.” Some of us used to call it the “MOUist Corridor.” Around that time, they announced a war called “Operation Green Hunt.” Two hundred thousand paramilitary began to move into the forests, along with the tribal militia, to clear it of what the government called Maoists.

The Maoist movement, in various avatars, has existed in India since 1967, which was the first time there was an uprising. It took place in a village in West Bengal called Naxalbari, so the Maoists are sometimes called Naxalites. Of course it’s an underground, banned party. It now has a People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army. Thousands of people have been killed in this conflict. Today, there are thousands of people in prison, and all of them are called Maoists, though not all of them are really Maoists, because as I said, anybody who resists today is called a terrorist. Poverty and terrorism have been conflated. In the Northeastern states we have laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which allows soldiers to kill on suspicion. In all of India we have the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which basically makes even thinking an anti government thought a criminal offense, for which you can be jailed for up to than seven years.

This is the atmosphere that was being created, and the media was in this orgy of these “Maoist-terrorists.” They were conflating them with the Lashkar-e-Taiba, so you’d see them on TV with ski masks and AK-47s, and the middle class was literally baying for their blood. At this time, I had written a couple of articles about the whole thing, television anchors would look around at me like I was crazy when I mentioned mining. What was the connection between pure evil guerrillas and good mining corporations? In my book, Field Notes on Democracy, there’s a part about how the Supreme Court of India actually gave a judgment saying you cannot possibly accuse a corporation of malpractice. In so many words, it just says so.

                 *                      *                     *
If you look at the history of the struggle for land in India, what is really sad is that after India became independent, land reform was one of the biggest things on the agenda of the new government. This was of course subverted by the politicians, who were upper-class people, landowners. They put so many caveats in the legal system that absolutely no redistribution happened. Then, in the 1970s, shortly after the Naxalite movement started, when the first people rose up, it was about the redistribution of land. The movement was saying land to the tiller. It was crushed; the army was called out. The Indian government, which calls itself democratic, never hesitates to call out the army. Today, people have completely forgotten the idea of redistribution. Now, they are fighting just to hold on to what little they have. We call that “progress.” The home minister allegedly says he wants 70 percent of India to live in cities, meaning he wants five to six hundred million people to move. How do you make that happen, unless you become a military state? How do you do that, unless you build big dams and big thermal projects and have nuclear power?

In so many ways, we have regressed. Even the most radical politics are practiced by people that are privileged enough to have land. There are millions and millions of people who don’t have land, who now just live as pools of underpaid wage labor on the edges of these huge megalopolises that make up India now. The politics of land in one way is radical, but in another way it has left out the poorest people, because they are out of the equation. We don’t talk about justice anymore. None of us do; we just talk about human rights or survival. We don’t talk about redistribution. In America, four hundred people own more wealth than half of the American population. We should not be saying tax the rich, but instead we should be saying take their money and redistribute it, take their property and redistribute it.

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Today, one of the biggest battles being fought in India is over the extraction of bauxite, the ore that makes aluminum, which is at the center of the military-industrial complex. There’s something like four trillion dollars’ worth of bauxite in the mountains of Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Bauxite mountains are beautiful; they are flat-top mountains. Bauxite is a porous rock, and when it rains the mountains absorb the water; they are like water tanks. They let the water out through their toes, and they irrigate the plains. Mining companies, who have bought the bauxite for a small royalty to the Indian government, have already traded it on the future’s market. For local people, the bauxite in the mountain is the source of their life and their future, their religion and everything. For the aluminum company, the mountain is just a cheap storage facility. They’ve already sold it, so the bauxite has to come out, either peacefully or violently.

Now, the Indian government—the largest democracy in the world—is planning to call out the army in Central India, to fight the poorest people in the world.

A lot of the Indian government’s violence and repression is outsourced to the mob; it’s not always acting as a state. Often, academics or journalists or these moronic anchors in TV studios will initiate a debate based on the question, is violence moral or immoral? (SMS your answer to the studio now.)

Of course, people don’t necessarily function like that. You can be a Maoist in the forest and a Gandhian on the street. You can change identities based on what suits you tactically; it’s not like you have to swear to be this thing or that thing or the other thing. Some people do, some don’t. I think what happens in India is that there is something false about this debate, because it’s infused with a kind of false morality. After all, if people from the middle class were to support that fight—which is an oxymoron; they won’t—then I can understand saying we should all get together and go on a hunger strike. But, if you’re going to distance yourself from that village that has been surrounded by a hundred policemen and is being burned, then it’s immoral to try and lecture to those people how they should protect themselves.

Quite often, when you see what is being done to people, it creates rage in you and humiliation if you keep quiet. People ask me why I write, and I say it’s in order to not be humiliated. I don’t write for anything else except to not be humiliated. Every time I write, I keep telling myself that I won’t do it again, but it’s like I can’t contain it inside my body; I write, and it’s a relief.

As a writer, if you know something and then you keep quiet, it’s like dying. Between the various choices of fear, I still choose to write rather than not write.

                 *                      *                     *

For many years, I have been writing and following resistance movements and the new economic policy. I’ve always found that the chances of coming upon despair are much greater in middle-class households, than on the ground where people are actually fighting. Middle-class people have the choice between hope and despair, just like they have the choice between shampoo for dry hair and oily hair; they have the choice between doing politics and interior design. People who are fighting don’t have a choice; they are fighting and they are focused and they know what they are doing. They are arguing with each other a lot, of course, but that’s all right.

When I landed in New York, one of the first things I did was to go to the Wall Street occupation, because I wanted to see who they were, what it was about, and how it connected to the things that we’ve been fighting and writing about. Regardless of what all of the various trends are, and the fact that the movement doesn’t have demands, and that it doesn’t have identifiable leaders, there is clearly still a connection between what is going on in the Occupy movement and what is going on in India. That connection is that of exclusion. These are people who are excluded. They are clearly not the four hundred families who own more wealth than half of Americans. They are not the hundred people in India who own 25 percent of India’s GDP.

While many of us believe in revolution, and believe that the system must be brought down, right now, the least we can ask for to begin with is a cap on all of this. I’m a cappist and a liddite. We do need to say a few things: one is that no individual can have an unlimited amount of wealth. No corporation can have an unlimited amount of wealth. This sort of cross-ownership of businesses really has to stop.

In India, the Tatas are the biggest company. They own iron ore mines, steel manufacturing plants, iodized salt, and television providers. They manufacture trucks, they fund activists, they do everything. There’s an iron ore and steel company called Jindal. They have iron ore mines, steel-making plants. The CEO is a member of Parliament. He also started the National Flag Foundation, because he won the right to fly the national flag on his house. They run a global law school just outside Delhi, which is like a Stanford campus in the midst of the most unbelievable squalor you can imagine. They have faculty flown in from all over the world paid huge salaries. They fund and promote cutting-edge artists who work in stainless steel. They recently had a protest workshop where they flew in activists to this unbelievably posh campus and then had protest poetry and protest slogans. They own everything; they own the resistance, the mines, the Parliament, the flag, the newspapers. They don’t let anything go. These are some simple things that have to stop. Berlusconi indirectly controls 90 percent of the media in Italy; so what if he’s not the prime minister?

It’s a kind of insanity that could have some simple solutions, too. For example, perhaps children shouldn’t inherit the wealth their parents amass. We can all find some simple solutions like this that would point us in the right directions.


Nasser through African eyes

On the anniversary of Nasser's death, Gamal Nkrumah considers Nasserism's Pan-African legacy


Whenever Arab-African ties come into question, one cannot help remembering the days when colonialism was the threat closer to home and one Arab leader was always at hand to lend support to those Africans who wished to throw off its yoke. That was the time of solidarity, of a common Arab-African dream, of nations taking their first steps to freedom. That was Nasser's time.

The solidarity between Arab and non-Arab Africans is not a historic accident. It is rooted in a common vision, drawn from a common cause. It all started in the late 50s and early 60s, when Africa's leaders-to-be were still freedom fighters, and Nasser was their closest ally.

For Nasser and his fellow African leaders, African liberation was a historic duty. They lived and died for the cause of national liberation. Few Arab leaders of Nasser's stature were involved as intimately as he was in the struggle to liberate Africa from colonial rule. It was this dedication to the cause of African liberation that endeared him to like-minded African leaders. What they had in common was a radical agenda of social change, a task they knew would not be easy, a mission that remains, to this day, incomplete.

It is difficult for me to write about the icon that Nasser was without mentioning something of the man. His role in rescuing my family from possible perdition in the aftermath of the bloody 24 February 1966 coup that overthrew my father, Kwame Nkrumah, has been documented elsewhere. Nasser's personal involvement with the fortunes of his fellow African leaders and their families was based on a political outlook characteristic of the time. Personally, I have had an unusual opportunity to watch Nasser's Pan- African contribution at close quarters and observe the close friendship he had with those who spearheaded the anti-colonial struggle in Africa.

"With feelings of great bitterness and shock, we, in the United Arab Republic, have heard of the sad events to which the people of Ghana were exposed ... I agree with you that the forces of colonialism are always trying to undermine the independence of African states, and to draw them again into spheres of influence in order to continue exploiting their resources and shape their fates. What has happened in Ghana is actually part of this imperialist plan. To face colonialism in the African continent requires of us all continuous efforts and a sustained struggle to liberate it from old colonialism and neo-colonialism. The setback that has occurred in Ghana must act as a driving force for all of us to continue the struggle for the consolidation of the independence of African peoples and their liberation from imperialist forces," Nasser wrote Kwame Nkrumah less than 48 hours after the coup which toppled the latter's government.

Nasser's commiseration letter to Ghana's first- ever president was typical of the friendship Nasser had with African leaders of his time; such as Guinea's President Ahmed Sekou Toure and Congolese Premier Patrice Lumumba. As comrades, to use the parlance of the period, they developed a sense of personal solidarity within the larger context of African liberation. "I thank you for your kind felicitations on the Ramadan Bairam and send my best wishes to you and your family," stated a letter from Nasser to Nkrumah dated 25 January 1967.

Nasser's African connection was in no way restricted to the Nkrumah family. Indeed, he took a special interest in the resettlement of Lumumba's family after the Congolese leader was brutally assassinated at the hands of the henchmen of the Mobutu Sese Seku, the late Zairean military strongman. Lumumba's widow and children fled to the safety of the Egyptian embassy in Kinshasa and they were spirited away to Cairo in a harrowing rescue mission. Nasser's gallant gesture further enhanced his stature in the entire African continent. Nasser's Egypt became the Lumumbas adopted home.

Curiously enough, Mobutu Sese Seku later emerged as a staunch proponent of the establishment of a League of Black African Nations as a counterbalance for the Arab League. Membership of Mobutu's League was to be strictly limited to African states south of the Sahara to the express exclusion of Arab African states.

Egypt's July Revolution was an inspiration to people who lived under colonial rule across the world, especially for Arabs and Africans. For the first time in three millennia, Egypt was ruled by an Egyptian, one who was just as proud of his African heritage as of his Arab identity.

Nasser embarked on a radical policy of land reform and redistribution. He confiscated 2,430 square kilometres of farmland from the tiny land-owning elite and gave them to dispossessed peasant families. Nasser's socialist-inspired policies prompted him to nationalise banks and major industries. But the turning point, perhaps, was his nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956. This was the act that brought him instant admiration across the Third World, and the wrath of former colonial powers, particularly Britain and France. Soon after the evacuation of British troops from the Suez Canal zone in June 1956, Britain, France and Israel attacked Egypt in what became known in Egypt as the Tripartite Aggression.

Now, 32 years after Nasser's death, is any of the above still relevant? I believe so. There have been growing calls in Africa for reparations over the mediaeval Arab slave trade. There is open hostility to a perceived "Arab agenda" in the African continent. The ongoing Sudanese civil war has mistakenly been portrayed in the international media as a conflict between Arab Muslims on one hand and African animists and Christians on the other. This conflict was made to look as if it is an unavoidable consequence of a fault line separating Arab and non-Arab Africa.

The Israeli and far right lobbies in the United States and the West have been fanning anti-Arab and anti-Muslim resentment among African Americans and the predominantly Christian and non-Muslim parts of Africa.

Africa may have its own grievances with the Arab world. But these grievances are not mediaeval, and certainly not atavistic. When oil prices surged spectacularly in the wake of the 1973 war, African countries hoped for Arab economic aid and financial assistance, and were sorely disappointed. Arab countries, even with their newly acquired wealth, were developing countries, after all. They didn't have the technological and administrative means of promoting economic development in Africa. The frustration was understandable. But the insidious plots, when they happened, were hatched in other lands.

African leaders like Nasser and Nkrumah were aware that the world was watching their political, social, and economic endeavours. It was the success, not the failure, of Nkrumah's policies that triggered the CIA-inspired coup of 24 February 1966. Nkrumah, like the core leftist African leaders of his generation, looked to Nasser's Egypt as a bulwark against colonialism and imperialism. Socialist leaders in Africa watched closely the agrarian reform and the ambitious industrialisation drive of Nasser's Egypt.

Just as Egypt had built the High Dam in Aswan, Ghana, too, embarked on the construction of a dam to harness the country's vast water resources and its largest river, the Volta. Nkrumah's Ghana needed electricity for its ambitious industrialisation programmes. The inauguration of the Volta Dam in January 1966 brought Ghana close to economic independence. Nasser and Nkrumah had a similar outlook. Both espoused a philosophy of national liberation infused with a strong dose of socialism. While Nasser propagated what was known as Arab socialism, Nkrumah opted for what he termed scientific socialism.

Nasser was the first Egyptian leader to put Egypt firmly within its African context. Successive Egyptian and other North African regimes followed that trend. For Nasser, Egypt's identity drew upon three circles: the Arab, the Islamic and the African. Nasser saw no contradiction in Egypt belonging to the Organisation of African Unity, the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Conference. Prior to Nasser, Egypt's rulers were mostly Mediterranean, if not outright European, in their outlook. Nasser deliberately shifted the focus with his introduction of the Arab, African and Islamic "circles" as expounded in his The Philosophy of the Revolution. Nasser's stress on those three circles brought him into close contact with the leaders of the African liberation struggle.

Nkrumah, too, had a similar vision for the African world. In his Consciencism: Philosophy and Ideology for Decolonisation, Nkrumah says that the African personality draws upon three major elements: the African, the Western Christian and the Arab Islamic. Nasser's The Philosophy of the Revolution, echoes the same sentiment.

On a personal level, however, the two men were quite different. Nasser was one of the first ordinary Egyptians to ever graduate from the prestigious Military Academy. Previously, admittance to the Military Academy was strictly permitted to members of the country's predominantly Turco-Circassian elite. Nasser took part in the disastrous 1948 War against Israel. Upon his return from the battlefront, he joined the Free Officers, the secret group that was later to topple the monarchy.

Nkrumah, meanwhile, only learnt how to use a gun when he was well into his 50s. He was educated in the West, first in the United States (where he attended the University of Lincoln, Pennsylvania, then reserved for African Americans) and then in London. As a young man, he was very active in student politics in both the US and Britain and was heavily influenced by the African American experience. Pan- African leaders like WEB Du Bois and Marcus Josiah Garvey were Nkrumah's mentors. He drew much inspiration from their writings and was particularly influenced by Garvey's political activism and his Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) and its paper The Negro World.

Because of Egypt's geographical location at the crossroads of Africa and Asia and because the country was, and still is, the cultural heart of the Arab world, Nasser was inevitably drawn into the vortex of Arab politics.

The 1958 unification of Egypt and Syria in the United Arab Republic, UAR, was the first successful attempt at Arab unity. Egypt and Syria were soon joined by Yemen. Still, the UAR unceremoniously broke up in 1961 and with it floundered the dream of Arab unity. In Africa, several attempts were made at unification initiatives. One was the Ghana, Guinea, Mali Union in the early 1960s. Another was the short- lived union between Nkrumah's Ghana and Lumumba's Congo, signed a few months before Lumumba's assassination. The parallels were many. The Arabs and Africans were exchanging notes.

"In Accra, Kozonguizi and I contacted the special representative of President Gamal Abdel- Nasser of Egypt, who came to attend the Positive Action Conference. He gave us a very sympathetic hearing. Egypt's first practical help came from President Nasser's special representative who gave £100 (sterling) to each of us. With part of the money I was given, I bought an Olivetti portable typewriter, which I used for many years during the struggle and which I still have," wrote Namibian President Sam Nujoma in his autobiography Where Others Wavered.

"At the beginning of March 1961, I attended the third All-African People's Conference in Cairo ... I requested President Nasser to offer the opportunity of military training to SWAPO members. Nasser assured me of such opportunities if I could get a group of SWAPO members from South West Africa. He urged all African independent countries to render the necessary assistance to the national liberation movements, including military training, in order to free their countries from colonial occupation and foreign domination. He also urged the independent African states not to allow the imperialist powers to maintain and promote neo-colonialism and disunity among the African countries," Nujoma said in his tribute to the late Egyptian president. This was how July Revolution inspired African leaders throughout the 1950s.

"When in 1963, the first group [of Namibian freedom fighters] went for military training in Cairo, this was possible because President Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt had offered me training and tickets. Nasser was a dedicated supporter of African liberation," Nujoma added. Small wonder that when Nasser passed away on 28 September 1970, many Africans felt the loss.

"The world has lost a great man and all those who fight for freedom and human dignity have lost a brother in the struggle. The people of Namibia join you in mourning President Nasser's tragic death," Nujoma, still a political exile and freedom fighter lamented. Nujoma attended Nasser's funeral in Cairo. "Nasser had inspired us in Namibia as far back as 1956 when he fought against the British, French, and Israelis after he had taken the Suez Canal. When we read about the fighting, in the newspapers in then South West Africa, we were firmly on the Egyptian side," Nujoma said.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


"So the concept is this, basically. The whole black nation has to be put together as a BLACK ARMY. And we gon' walk on this nation, we gon' walk on this racist power structure, and we gon' say to the whole damn government - STICK 'EM UP MOTHERFUCKER! THIS IS A HOLD UP!We come for what's ours."

 - Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party


How the resistance in Gaza has refocused the Arab spring

Friday, December 21, 2012
6:00pm until 10:00pm

Goldsmiths University
New Cross 
SE14 6NW

This is an event that seeks to understand the latest developments of the Palestinian resistance and its ramifications for the region from an anti imperialist internationalist perspective.

This event will discuss how the Palestinian Resistance of deploying Fajr5 missiles has impacted the regional struggle against zionism and imperialism, but will ALSO discuss how our struggle is international, that Gaza, Palestine is inextricably connected to all our fronts of struggle across the world, that is why we will also be bringing in the African perspective and struggle into this event. 

Speakers (more speakers tbc):

GHADA EL-NAJJAR, (speaking in personal capacity via skype) from Gaza, Palestine. Front line nurse during Second/Al-Aqsa Intifada and senior Oxfam in Gaza.

SAMEH HABEEB, editor of the Palestinian Telegraph from Gaza, Palestine

NARGESS MOBALLEGHI, prominent Press TV correspondent, covered operation cast lead day and night at the time.

FRED DAHLMANN, Brussels based Pan Africanist analyst and activist

DAN GLAZEBROOK, independent journalist

SUKANT CHANDAN, Sons of Malcolm (Chairperson)


This event is an initiative of Sons of Malcolm 

Saturday, 15 December 2012


[perpetrators of the columbine high school massacre in april 1999]

Considering the massacre that took place in connecticut  I thought readers might find these two extracts on violence towards children from the Chinese government's report on human rights in the usa. Anyone who knows about western societies  especially britain and the usa, know very well how children and teens are subject to incredible amounts of violent pressure, mostly in the form of bullying. Bullying has taken massive proportions now thanks to the internet. God help our children who are on twitter and facebook through high school as they often become forums for very nasty bullying which turns into very nasty actual real life and violent bullying. 

Imho, I think its best to keep our children and youth away and off from 'social network' sites (really should be called 'anti-social networks') for as long as possible.

Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

"In the United States, about 30,000 people die from gun wounds every year (Update 2-Senate Passes Gun Bill in Response to Rampage, Reuters, December 19, 2007). The USA Today reported on December 5,2007 that gun killings have climbed 13 percent overall since 2002. An estimated 25 percent of all violent crime incidents were committed by an armed offender. The presence of a firearm was involved in 9 percent of these incidents (Criminal Victimization 2006, U.S. Department of Justice, According to a report by the U.S. Department of Justice on December 2007, among students ages 12-18, there were about 1.5 million victims of nonfatal crimes at school in 2005. In the same year, 8 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported being threatened or injured with a weapon in the previous 12 months. From July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006, among youth ages 5-18, there were 17 school-associated violent deaths (Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2007, U.S. Department of Justice, On April 16, 2007, the Virginia Tech University witnessed the deadliest shooting rampage in modern U.S. history with 33 killed and more than 30 others injured (AFP, April17, 2007). On February 12, 2007, two separate gun killings in the Salt Lake City and Philadelphia claimed eight lives and injured several other people (The Associated Press, February 13, 2007). On June 9, in Delevan, Wisconsin, a gunman killed four adults and two infants (Chicago Tribune, June 11, 2007). "



"A report published by the US Department of Justice on Sept 15, 2011, revealed that in 2010 the US residents aged 12 and above experienced 3.8 million violent victimizations, 1.4 million serious violent victimizations, 14.8 million property victimizations and 138,000 personal thefts. The violent victimization rate was 15 victimizations per 1,000 residents ( The crime rate surged in many cities and regions in the United States. In the southern region of the United States, there were 452 violent crimes and 3,438.8 property crimes per 100,000 inhabitants (in 2010) on average (The Wall Street Journal, Sept 20, 2011). Just four weeks into 2011, San Francisco saw eight homicides - compared with five during the same time of the previous year, with Oakland racking up 11, when the previous year in the same period it had four (The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 29, 2011). Grand larcenies in the subway in New York City increased from 852 in 2010 to 1,075 cases in the first nine months of 2011, a 25 percent jump (The China Press, Sept 24, 2011). Homicide cases in Detroit in 2011 saw a 13.5 percent rise over 2010 ( Between January and October 2011, a total of 123,924 serious crime cases took place in Chicago ( An anti-bullying public service announcement declared in January 2011 that more than six million schoolchildren experienced bullying in the previous six months (CNN, Mar 10, 2011). According to statistics from the Family First Aid, almost 30 percent of teenagers in the United States are estimated to be involved in school bullying ("



Friday, 14 December 2012


A very good article from perhaps the best website promoting revolutionary Black anti-imperialist analysis from Black Agenda Report.

One thing this article leaves out is the yankee and french hands that run deep in the on going crisis in Mali, which I have posted about especially in these posts HERE and HERE, and also this article is important in relation to Mali.

Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm

Arab/Black Conflict: A Colonial Gift to Africa That Keeps on Giving
by Mark P. Fancher
Black Agenda Report

The U.S. and European media frame “racial” conflicts among the peoples of Africa as endemic to the continent, rather than a legacy and tool of colonial rule. However, “the crisis in Mali is not a simple conflict between two racial groups that can’t get along, even if race is somewhere in the mix.”

“The fingerprints of imperialism are all over the crisis.”

West Africa teeters on the brink of disaster because of an armed conflict in Mali that escalated after a Tuareg secessionist movement gained control of northern regions in the country. The situation became even more intense when, according to reports, the armed movement was hijacked by extremist elements that are alleged to have used torture and mutilation to enforce what is purported to be Islamic law. These extremist forces are also accused of having connections to terrorist formations.

Although the situation in Mali is rooted in a claimed desire for self-determination for the region that secessionists call “Azawad,” there are no doubt many outside of Mali regard it as yet another conflict between Arab and/or Islamic communities and “blacks.” A BBC News report stated: “The pale-skinned Tuaregs, who inhabit northern Mali, have long complained of neglect and discrimination by the government dominated by [southerners] in far-off Bamako.” The story reports that a Malian arson victim complained of retaliation for the Tuareg insurrection. “People started attacking anything Tuareg. They burnt houses, cars and attacked anyone with white skin – even Arabs.”

Mali is not the only place in Africa where a conflict has lent itself appropriately or inappropriately to a solely racial analysis. With varying degrees of accuracy the media and other observers have posited this Arab versus black paradigm in Sudan. In Libya, there actually were racial conflicts that were underreported. In that country, among those who sought Gadhafi’s overthrow were explicitly anti-black forces that carried out racially targeted torture and killings. Some even called themselves “The Brigade for Purging Slaves, Black Skin.”

Little is gained by trying to understand the crisis in Mali, or other African conflicts, with only a racial analysis. Race may play a significant role, but the complexity of the history and context of seemingly racial conflicts is explained very well by Frantz Fanon in his classic work, The Wretched of the Earth. He described how actual and perceived racial antagonism can be traced back to European colonizers. He said the bourgeois elements in Africa have “…totally assimilated colonialist thought in its most corrupt form…” and they have established “…a racial philosophy which is extremely harmful for the future of Africa…”

Fanon elaborated by explaining: “Africa is divided into Black and White, and the names that are substituted – Africa South of the Sahara, Africa North of the Sahara – do not manage to hide this latent racism. Here, it is affirmed that White Africa has a thousand-year-old tradition of culture; that she is Mediterranean, that she is a continuation of Europe, and that she shares in Greco-Latin civilization. Black Africa is looked on as a region that is inert, brutal, uncivilized, in a word, savage. There, all day long you may hear unpleasant remarks about veiled women, polygamy, and the supposed disdain the Arabs have for the feminine sex…”

Fanon condemns both black and Arab bourgeoisies for the racist thoughts that travel in both directions - north and south of the Sahara by saying: “By its laziness and will to imitation, [the bourgeoisie] promotes the engrafting and stiffening of racism which was characteristic of the colonial era.” Even the post 9-11 “niggerization” of Arabs and Muslims has not completely erased much of the racial division Fanon observed in the 1960s.

Racial confusion serves well the interests of imperialism because race becomes the quick, easy explanation for wars when a more detailed analysis would reveal the true nature and extent of exploitative practices of external political and corporate forces. Mali is a case in point. It is not racial conflict, but a U.S.-trained captain in Mali’s army who can be largely blamed for having escalated tensions to crisis level. Amadou Sanogo led a military takeover of Mali’s civilian government purportedly to devote more resources to crushing the secession movement. However, it was during the post-coup confusion that secessionists were able to make their move and gain control of northern territories.

Hilary Clinton and the leadership of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) have been busy behind the scenes trying to pressure regional African governments to intervene in Mali militarily. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) recently resolved to send 3,300 soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso and other African countries to regain control of northern Mali. This was certainly welcome news for the U.S. because the prospect of a “terrorist” stronghold in northwest Africa must be an imperialist’s nightmare given the amount of oil imported from countries in the region.

Algeria has resisted the call for intervention in Mali because of the potential for a regional war. Algeria’s terrorism and security advisor said: “The question in Mali is an internal matter and there is no need to further internationalize it.” Another Algerian official said: “We have not stopped emphasizing that a way out of the crisis, through dialogue between the Malian authorities and the rebel groups in the north is completely possible.”

Clearly then, the crisis in Mali is not a simple conflict between two racial groups that can’t get along, even if race is somewhere in the mix. The fingerprints of imperialism are all over the crisis. Lessons should be learned from Sudan, where the U.S. lurked and meddled while claiming there were racial tensions. After the balkanization of the country the U.S. slithered in and began making preparations to ease or avoid sanctions that had prevented U.S. oil companies from competing with China for access to South Sudan’s oil.

Until “Arabs,” “blacks” and other racial and ethnic groups in Africa become simply “Africans,” the U.S. and others in the imperialist camp will remain able to engage in low-profile political manipulation and military intervention by creating, exploiting or fanning the flames of mistrust that exist among the many diverse communities that live on the African continent. Notwithstanding interracial feelings that range from simple suspicion to, in some quarters, intense hatred, it remains possible for Africans of all backgrounds to recognize shared political interests even if, in some cases when it comes to culture, religion and social relations there is no common ground.

Mark P. Fancher is an attorney who writes frequently about the U.S. military presence in Africa. He can be reached at