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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp relief the deep structural problems affecting nonwhite racialized workers in the core and periphery. Yet, many social scientific analyses of the global political economy, at least in the pre-COVID era, are race neutral or willfully indifferent to the persistent racial pattern of global inequalities. This piece seeks to understand how the unremitting super-exploitation of Black and other nonwhite racialized labor in the core and the periphery persisted throughout the COVID-19 crisis through the lens of Black radical scholarship on racism and capitalism.
Revolutionary Hope vs Free-Market Fantasies: Keeping the Southern Africa Liberation Struggle Alive – Theory, Practice, Context
This is not a book to rush through, but one to savor as one would a fine wine. The relevance of the analyses goes far beyond Southern Africa, and beyond Africa, but leads one to consider the dimensions and challenges faced by a 21st century emancipatory project.—Bill Fletcher, Jr., trade union activist and co-editor of Claim No Easy Victories: The Legacy of Amilcar Cabral.
A tour de force from a scholar who exemplifies the value of praxis, in this volume John Saul encourages us as always to face grim realities while inspiring us to hope. Also: a cracking good read! — Shireen Hassim, Canada Research Chair, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. She is author of Women’s organizations and democracy in South Africa: Contesting authority.
Both detailed and illuminating, this is a theoretically and historically grounded work from a veteran Marxist scholar on the major challenges facing the struggle for the genuine liberation of Africa. — Karim F Hirji, Tanzanian professor and scholar-activist, author of Under-Education in Africa.
In his careful re-historicizing of so many political personalities and movements, past and present, John Saul has again demonstrated the essence of his prodigious career: more than six decades of a deeply reflected life of public intellectual activism and committed and brilliant Africanist scholarship. — Pablo Idahosa, Professor of African Studies and International Development Studies, York University, author of The Populist Dimension to African Political Thought: Frantz Fanon, Amilcar Cabral, Julius Nyerere
John S. Saul, born and first educated in Toronto, Canada, moved to Tanzania almost sixty years ago and, since then, has also taught in Mozambique and South Africa as well as back in Canada at York University. In Tanzania, he discovered the centrality of the war for freedom from white rule and global capitalist dictate then taking shape further south – in Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. Both his scholarly interest and his activist bent drew him to support and to seek to better understand the struggles in these nations-in-the-making, a political choice that now culminates in a final trilogy of books under the general title, The Rethinking Southern African Liberation Trilogy. The first volume of this trilogy, On Building a Social Movement: The North American Campaign for Southern African Liberation Revisited, was published by Africa World Press / Fernwood Books (2017). The present book is the second in that trilogy, with a third volume entitled Class, Race and the Thirty Years War for Southern African Liberation – A History set to conclude his work to be published by Cambridge University Press in 2022.
Here, Saul’s extended first chapter lays out the broad premises of the thinking that has guided his endeavours, ideas that takes the core reality of economic production and exploitation centrally but that are alive to the tangible impact on outcomes of a wide range of other social realities, including class, race, gender, sexuality, nationalism, the environment, politics and the state. A second section covers the essential unity of theory and political practice that underpins Saul’s findings. And a third and final section paints illuminating pictures of some core aspects of the diverse regional contexts — sites of both recolonization and continuing struggle, and all contexts whose trajectories will be further explored in his forthcoming third volume.
There have been numerous studies done on social media or communication in general. However, most of these studies have neglected a recent and critical element of social media- Social Media Commerce. The present book is one of the first books to focus strictly and solely upon this phenomenon of social accumulation of profits through promoting commercial activities on social media. In this regard, the book presents itself to be a pioneering study within Digital Capitalism Studies.
The introduction will lay out the basics of how communication is being used by capitalism to further oppression and exploitation. It will primarily talk about digital capitalism and the relationship which digital capitalism shares with labour within the society. The introduction will provide a basic framework within which the subsequent chapters can be located. Some of the concepts and ideas which will be highlighted in the introduction are:
- Digital Capitalism
- Usage of Communication as a means of production
- Societal Alienation within digital capitalism
- The element of “Accumulation” within digital capitalism and its importance within capitalism.
The introduction will also provide an overview of Marxist-Humanist theory along with a brief history of its formation. The chapter will initially highlight some of the aspects of the work of Raya Dunayevskaya, the pioneer of the Marxist-Humanist theory. Taking cue from that, the chapter will then mainly discuss Henri Lefebvre, Herbert Marcuse and Erich Fromm, especially the aspects of their work relevant to current book. The chapter will also point out theoretical advances made by contemporary Marxist-Humanists like Kevin Anderson and Peter Hudis.
The first chapter looks at the element of social media commerce in general. It will, at first, explain the fundamental aspects of “Social Media Commerce” and its differences with other modes of digital commercial activities such as e-commerce websites and used-goods-digital storefronts. It will present a chronological description of the evolution of social media commerce, specifically ‘Facebook marketplace’. The chapter will explore the political economic perspective of this mode of commerce and its intersections with the revenue model based on targeted advertisements. The chapter will introduce some of the central concepts used in the book, namely:
- Social Media Commerce
- Real Subsumption
- Social Media as a techno-social system
The second chapter will emphasise the theory of ‘property’. It will highlight the various theories regarding how property has been conceptualised.
This chapter will lay out the differences between personal and private property within capitalist social structures. The chapter will take references primarily from Marx’s Capital (All 3 Volumes) along with some of Engels’ works. In addition, the chapter will also provide an overview of the anarchist idea of property, mainly focusing on Proudhon and his debate with Marx and Engels. The final section of this chapter will also outline a theory of ‘digital and information’ property, which will be engaged with in details
The third chapter will focus on the usage of social media commerce within the Global North, primarily focusing on the study conducted by the author in Aotearoa New Zealand. The chapter will talk about how social crisis and human needs play a part in making these practices popular within the non-capitalist classes. Apart from the general results of the study which has used volunteer sampling and in-depth interviews to gather the qualitative data, two detailed accounts of social media commercial sellers will also be included. One of the two subjects of the study is an immigrant from the east, which will aid in establishing the relationship between race and social media commerce.
The chapter will emphasise the concept of “Property” within capitalism and the relationship between personal and private property from a political economic perspective. The chapter will analyse the relationship between these digital platforms and the other tangible methods of profit accumulation within capitalist and semi-capitalist economies. Finally, the chapter will put forward how under real subsumption, contemporary capitalism has transformed itself by inventing new modes of accumulation, which hinge upon dissolving the differences between personal and private property holdings.
The final pre-conclusive chapter attempts to provide an overview of how accumulation proceeds through social media within the Global South. This chapter will be primarily based on the study conducted by the author within the city of Hyderabad in India, with questions similar to those used in the case of the Global North. This chapter will emphasise upon the concept of “freedom” from a Hegelian-Marxist perspective and its manipulation within social media commerce by capitalism. The methodology adopted for the chapter will remain same as that of the previous chapter, i.e., volunteer sampling along with in-depth interviews, a rationale for which will be provided.
The chapter will analyse, or rather evaluate, the various elements of socio-economic crisis and human needs, as laid out in the previous chapter, within the context of the Global South. In doing so, this chapter will present a comparative analysis of social media commerce and its associated processes within the Global North and the Global South. The chapter will emphasise the various aspects of social structures, which play a pivotal role within capitalist accumulation processes. Specifically speaking, the third chapter will be about creating an intellectual dialogue between the Global North and the Global South, in terms of the relevance and usage of social media commerce by capitalism in both the contexts.
The conclusion will start with putting forward the importance of digital spaces within the general social space. Taking cue from this, the conclusion will talk about how abject alienation within the social spaces renders the alienation within these digital spaces invisible. The chapter will mainly focus on the perspectives developed by Raya Dunayevskaya and Henri Lefebvre, in putting forward a Marxist-Humanist account of contemporary capitalist exploitation within digital capitalism. The conclusion will bring out the importance of human subjectivity in addressing the questions of capitalist exploitation.
The conclusion will also focus on the factors of the successes of models like AIRBNB, in the Global North, and Oyo Rooms, in India. By doing so the conclusion will present a causal relationship between social alienation and the success of these models of capitalist exploitation. At the end, the conclusion will proceed towards analysing the usage of established communicative networks by capitalism to exploit the working class both digitally and physically, and the need of addressing this mode of exploitation from a Marxist-Humanist perspective, which takes an adequate cognisance of both human subjectivity and political economy.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Marxist-Humanist Theory
Chapter 1 Social Media and the Commerce Therein
Chapter 2 The Theory of Property
Chapter 3 Accumulation in the Global North
Chapter 4 Accumulation in the Global South
Conclusion: Marxist-Humanist Approach to the Issue
This monumental compendium of cosmopolitical provocations and decolonial insights does more than just correct the misreadings that have threatened recently to engulf and mystify Fanon’s work. These exhilarating essays and commentaries put his incendiary contribution back where it belongs: in the insurgent speculations and reconstructive efforts of creative thinkers struggling to transform the imperiled predicament of our planet. —Paul Gilroy, founding Director of the Sarah Parker Remond Centre for the Study of Race and Racism at University College London
This is a wonderful book. It succeeds in extracting Fanon’s thought (the Wretched/Damned of the Earth in particular) from the realms of academia, Cultural Studies and Afropessimism and to locate it squarely where it originally belonged: within the domain of political practice, outside of which it makes very little sense. In academic reading, one remains a prisoner of the limits of the text itself; in a political reading, the text becomes a vehicle for addressing the problems raised by active militancy. Gibson has succeeded in bringing together an international array of brilliant contributors who all prove to be eloquent witnesses to the continued relevance of Fanonian concepts—such as the Manichean character of (neo)colonialism and racism, the corrupt nature of the so-called ‘national bourgeoisie’ and the continued relevance of ‘national consciousness’—in the contemporary expanded reproduction of racial capitalism on a world scale. What is particularly fascinating is the way in which intense studies of Fanon’s writings within the United States carceral system and South African informal settlements among other locations have enabled the production of political thought that takes Fanonian dialectical categories beyond their original subjective context, into concrete political practices combining the necessary experiences of particular struggles with conceptions of universal freedom. This is a militant work for militant readers. —Michael Neocosmos, Emeritus Professor in Humanities, Rhodes University, South Africa.
There is not one time, not one aspect of the world’s experience, that does not give credence to Fanon’s precepts. Our collective human history has taught us that the human is bound to face attempts to crush her or his integrity, to condemn them to despicable exploitation, treacherous oppression. It is in the very nature of that experience that we have learned how Fanon shall never die. For his precepts and action remain always universally relevant. This is also what Fanon Today affirms. The book is fundamentally relevant and useful. It reminds us that in the face of exploitation and repression, the human and the humanist will always find ways to combat those. Dense and eclectic, strategically thought out and organized, critically stimulating, this book is as incisive as it is compelling. —Hanétha Véte-Congolo, President of the Caribbean Philosophical Association
In this collective labor of love of the here and the now, voices of the damned—that pathologized, incarcerated, and evicted majority of the world’s population—rise! From Algeria to Brazil, Ireland to Kenya, Palestine to Portugal, South Africa to Trinidad and beyond, they are breathing life into and actively humanizing our precious and oh-so-fragile earth. Meeting brutal structural violence with the courageous construction of democratizing institutions that nurture mental health, well-being, and solidarity, Fanonian praxis emerges in each chapter. Evincing a thoughtful agency that questions everything, the volume forges new relations spanning generations and locales. Through it, sixty years since the publication of Les damnés de la terre, Fanon’s insights reach out to us, beckoning us to carry on the tireless work of building a world of the “we.” —Jane Anna Gordon, author of Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement
Coming out of the pandemic, the greatest challenge is how we express our anger, how we make it a digna rabia, a “dignified rage”, as the Zapatistas say. Fanon must be part of the answer. This magnificent collection of essays helps us to focus our minds on that challenge, to direct our anger to the task of making a different world. An important book, an exciting book. —John Holloway, author of We are the Crisis of Capital: A John Holloway Reader
Fanon Today: Reason and Revolt of the Wretched of the Earth, edited and cordinated by Nigel C Gibson, gives the opportunity to several intellectuals and activists with different backgrounds from Brazil to Algeria, from Pakistan to South Africa, to tell how the struggle against injustice and racism inscribe itself into the continuity of the Fanonian visionary legacy. Not to be missed! —Hassane Mezine, Photographer, Film Director of Fanon hier, aujourd’hui
This is an indispensable book. It brings together many among the overlooked communities for whom Fanon actually wrote—the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the organic voices rising from the depths of misery on the verge of despair. What better way to commemorate the six decades since the publication of Les damnés de la terre than to remind readers of that great work that the people in solidarity with whom its ideas were generated not only speak but also write? Read and learn from these voices as, in those proverbial revolutionary words, the struggle continues. —Lewis R. Gordon, author of Freedom, Justice, and Decolonization
*In Fanon Today, Nigel Gibson brings to life the Fanonian project of exploring the implications of radical theory in contemporary sites of struggles. This groundbreaking book commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Wretched of the Earth by exploring its significance in the work of intellectuals and organizers active in radical social movements. Fanon Today is a timely book about the turbulent present and its connections to the long history of racial capitalism. It is a landmark addition to the field of Fanonian studies and an absolutely necessary reading for anyone interested in decolonial thought and social movements. —Yasser Munif, author, The Syrian Revolution: Between the Politics of Life and the Geopolitics of Death
Fanon Today does not just bring Fanon into the immediate present, it also restores Fanon as a thinker of praxis, of organisation and struggle. There are a growing number of attempts to retrieve Fanon’s thought from its immediate historical context and put it to work in the present. But there are very few that show much interest in the fact that most of Fanon’s work was produced and grounded within struggle, within popular struggle. In keeping with Fanon’s own internationalism his thought is brought into struggles in Palestine, Pakistan, Ireland, South Africa, Kenya, the prisons in the United States and more. The worldliness of the work gathered here speaks, implicitly but lucidly, to the spirit of a thinker who was, always, in motion towards the world. Edited by Nigel Gibson, a leading Fanon scholar, including work by a group of exciting younger thinkers, and graced by a contribution from Ato Sekyi-Otu, also one of the best Fanon scholars, and a singular philosophical presence in the examination of the contemporary African condition, the book has real intellectual heft. It is essential reading for anyone who aims to engage Fanon as a comrade in struggle rather than solely as an interlocutor in more isolated and abstracted forms of academic theorizing. — Richard Pithouse, Editor, New Frame and author of Being Human After 1492
Edited by Nigel C Gibson
Frantz Fanon died sixty years ago in December 1961. In less than a decade, from 1952 to 1961, he wrote three books (Black Skin White Masks, (1952), A Dying Colonialism (1959) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961)) that have become recognized as classics of decolonization. After nearly four years working at Blida-Joinville Psychiatric Hospital in colonial Algeria, he officially joined the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) and began working full-time for the Algerian revolution while continuing his work as a psychiatrist in Tunis, where he opened a day hospital in 1958. Later, he became part of the Provisional Algerian Government (GPRA) as Ambassador to Ghana and represented the GPRA across West and North Africa.
The Wretched of the Earth reflected his ongoing philosophy about liberation. What would become “The Pitfalls of National Consciousness” was presented to the National Liberation Army at Ghardimao on the Algerian-Tunisian border. Notes from psychiatric cases, as well as his critique of the Algeria school of ethnopsychiatry, would be reframed in the chapter, “Colonial Wars and Mental Disorders,” and his presentation at The Congress of Black Writers and Artists conference in Rome was included in his chapter “On National Culture.” The presentation opened with the words, “each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it.”
If these words are but one expression of the Fanonian measure, then the ideas this book offers revolve around the importance of Fanon thought to the various peoples and cultures being subjugated by colonialization. How can Fanon help them in their quest to be free from subjugation? Alongside the courage of all those participating in these movements, counter-revolution, most brutally seen in its almost permanent state in Syria, aided by global and regional powers, demands a real reckoning.
Fanon was one of the first theorists of the anticolonial revolution to warn that the counter-revolution was not simply external. It is importantly internal and often aided by neo-colonial forces. Fanon found that one of the greatest weaknesses of anticolonial movements was their failure to consider, let alone create, a genuinely decolonized society, because they lacked an explicit revolutionary-humanist philosophy grounded in the experience of the masses. The tragedy of the anticolonial struggles, Fanon argues, is framed by the macro-political outlooks of the anticolonial movement leaders, and by the intellectuals who fetishize political power and see taking over the colonial apparatus as their prize. Fanon’s insights have proved essential to our understanding of the failure of countless anticolonial struggles. From our present retrogressive reality, this book demands that we recast our vision and ask: What might this generation of intellectual revolutionaries and social movements ask of Fanon, and what might have Fanon asked of them?
If we wish to move forward, everything, Fanon writes in The Wretched, needs to be thought out again, and new beginnings should be fashioned in line with those caught up in local struggles. This return to the people is by no means transparent, Fanon warns, because demoralization has been buried deep by years of colonization. He insists that “the sense of time must no longer be that of the moment or the next harvest but rather that of the rest of the world.” Fanon’s sharp critique of the wreckage wrought in the name of humanity does not tempt him to reject ideas of humanism as the master’s tools; rather, his quest, “new humanism,” is evoked throughout his work and makes especially relevant arguments for radical activists who are committed to promoting social change, dignity and equality.
Sixty years is a long time in the afterlife of any thinker, and for Fanon, who was for many years dismissed not only as a humanist and advocate of violence but also as simply passé, the veracity and indeed recent popularity of his thought has been reflected in both the new editions and translations of his work. This collection will further develop some of the latest thinking on Fanon by asking questions from another standpoint—as Fanon called it, the “rationality of revolt.” Fanon reminds us in The Wretched of the Earth that the anticolonial intellectuals, enamoured with state politics and state power as the object of politics, often deny these movements any traction. At best, popular revolts are viewed as supporters for elitist plans, so, as Fanon puts it, any criticisms become quickly silenced. What unites the attitudes of some left critics, as well as those of local and state governments, is the idea that the poor cannot speak for themselves; indeed, when they speak out they must be speaking for other interests and forces. The nationalist intellectuals, Fanon argues, is incapable of rationalizing popular praxis because of their “incapacity to attribute it any reason” (2004: 97). This idea is essential to Fanon’s critique in The Wretched of the Earth, as he emphasizes a dialectical relationship between thought and activity. This is the essence of what I have called “Fanonian practices.” In Fanonian Practices in South Africa: From Steve Biko to Abahlali baseMjondolo I argued that just as revolutionary thought and the development of new concepts in conversation with Fanon, such as Black Consciousness in South Africa, can give radical action its direction, mass movements, often from outside of the realm of the political give direction to radical theoreticians. The engagements with Fanon in Fanon Today: The Revolt and Reason of the Wretched of the Earth begins from these spaces—by shifting the geography of reason to the revolt of the discounted and marginalized. This collection will ask and answer the question: How can Fanon help think through and understand the myriad global crises we confront?
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Rising of the Damned
PART I. FANONIAN MILITANTS
1. The Particular Lived Experience of the Black in Portugal
Flavio Zenun Almada
2. Black Mind in Motion
3. Setting Afoot of a New People: Prison Intellectuals, New Afrikan Communism and the Making of Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth
4. Looking for Justice in a Compartmentalized World: Mothers and Police Killings in Kenya
5. From ‘Caliban’ to ‘Cockroaches’: The Construction of Profane Space, Wretched Others and Political Agency in a Postcolonial ‘Ghetto’ Johannah-Rae Reyes and Levi Gahman
6. The Power of Abahlali and Our Living Politic Has Been Built with Our Blood
7. Fanon and Palestine: The struggle for justice as the core of mental health
Samah Jabr and Elizabeth Berger
8. Reading the Term ’White Syrian’ through Fanon: An Anti-Colorist Feminist Critique
9. Voice of the Revolution: Radio and Women’s Empowerment
PART II. STILL FANON
10. Pakistan The Immediacy of Frantz Fanon
11. All Quiet in this Non-Settler-Postcolony
12. The Still Wretched of the Earth: A Critique of Imaginary Decoloniza- tion
13. Of Signs, Symptoms, and Stereotypes: Fanon, Institutional Racism, and Institutional Subjectivity
Miraj U. Desai
14. Fanon, Movement and Self-Movement
Nigel C. Gibson
PART III. FANONIAN PRACTICES
Section A: Fanonian Homes
15. When Black Liberation Mattered: Frantz Fanon in the Theory and Practice of Pan-Africanism in the Black Power Era, 1965-1975
Lou Turner and Kurtis Kelley
16. Fanon, Postcolonial Criticism and Theory: Notes in Latin American Contexts
Alejandro de Oto
17. “‘Ó Bhun Aníos’: The Irish Language Revival in the North of Ireland Power, Resistance and Decolonisation
Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh
18. Generals to the Dustbin, Algeria Will Be Independent The New Alger- ian Revolution as a Fanonian Moment
19. Discussing Fanon
Abahlali baseMjondolo and Nigel C. Gibson
Section B: Fanonian Practices in Brazil
20. The Influence of Frantz Fanon’s Thought on Black Female Intellectual Production in Brazil
Rosemere Ferreira da Silva
21. The Wretched by COVID-19 and the Colonial Faces of Black Genocide in Brazil
22. Territorializing Existence as Resistance: a Fanonian Reading on the Munduruku and the Riverside Peoples Collective Self-determination Processes in Amazonia
This collection of essays celebrates the work of Ato Sekyi-Otu as a scholar, teacher and friend, marking his extraordinary contribution to the philosophy, politics and praxis of liberation. As Ato Sekyi-Otu has argued in his most recent book, Left Universalism, Africacentric Essays (Routlege 2019), universalism is an ‘inescapable presupposition of ethical judgment in general and critique in particular, especially indispensable for radical criticism of conditions of existence in postcolonial society and for vindicating visions of social regeneration’. Universalism must and can only be partisan. Edited by Gamal Abdel-Shehid and Sofia Noori, the collection includes essays by Stefan Kipfler, Patrick Taylor, Sophie Mcall, Gamal Abdel-Shehid, Jeremy M. Glick, Nigel C. Gibson, Jeff Noonan, Esteve Morera, Tyler Gasteiger, Olúfeṃ́i Táíẃò, Susan Dianne Brophy, Nergis Canefe, Chistoher Balcom, Lewis Gordon, and by Ato Sekyi-Otu himself.
Responding to the invitation ‘to re-member severed but shareable things’, these lovers of truth, freedom, and dignity celebrate the searing intellect, generosity, wit, and compassion of the person and the scholar Ato Sekyi-Otu. … Combined with Sekyi-Otu’s autobiographical reflections of learning to be Black in the United States and insistence that Afropessimism turns the perverse ontology of the antiblack world into a Black ontology, this is a precious contribution. Not to be missed! —Jane Anna Gordon, author of Statelessness and Contemporary Enslavement and co-editor (with Drucilla Cornell) of Creolizing Rosa Luxemburg
Ato Sekyi-Otu’s thought is one of the most important and exciting in Africa today. The texts compiled in this volume celebrate and engage with the work of Sekyi-Otu … They bear eloquent witness to Sekyi-Otu’s stature as a thinker and to his consistent commitment to the universalization of humanity in both theory and practice. Deeply anchored in African cultures and modes of life, Sekyi-Otu has shown how ideas of human universality are ingrained in African popular sayings and proverbs and are regularly reflected in artistic creations. — Michael Neocosmos, Emeritus Professor in the Humanities, Rhodes University, South Africa
Preface by Ato Seyki-Otu
• Fanon for a post-imperial world: On universals and other human matters – Stephan Kipfer
• The Sea Menagerie: Esi Edugyan’s Atlantic – Patrick Taylor
• Reconsidering Fanon’s language of recognition in Indigenous studies – Sophie McCall
• On Fanon and Lacan: Continuities and structural psychiatry – Gamal Abdel-Shehid
• Aimé Césaire’s Two ways to lose yourself: The Exception and the rule – Jeremy M Glick
• Universality: Notes towards rethinking the history of philosophy – Esteve Morera
• Husserl and Tran Duc Thao: Crisis, renewal, and the ontology of possibility – Tyler Gasteiger
• Can Kwame Gyekye’s moderate communitarianism take the individual seriously? – Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò
• Speaking for, speaking through, speaking with – Jeff Noonan
• ‘Innocuous Nihilism’, social reproduction and the terms of partisanship – Susan Dianne Brophy
• Universalism and immanent critique in ’The End of Progress and Left Universalism’ – Christpher Balcom
Afterword by Lewis R Gordon
• About the contributors
A piercing historical explanation of poverty and inequality in African societies today and the social impact of resource-driven growth, Extracting Profit explains why Africa, in the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century, has undergone an economic boom. Rising global prices in oil and minerals have produced a scramble for Africa’s natural resources, led by investment from U.S., European and Chinese companies, and joined by emerging economies from around the globe. African economies have reached new heights, even outpacing rates of growth seen in much of the rest of the world. Examined through the lens of case studies of the oil fields of the Niger River Delta, the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline and the East African infrastructure boom, this period of “Africa rising” did not lead to the creation of jobs, but has instead fueled the extraction of natural resources, profits accruing to global capital, and an increasingly wealthy African ruling class.
Extracting Profit argues that the roots of today’s social and economic conditions lie in the historical legacies of colonialism and the imposition of so-called “reforms” by global financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The chokehold of debt and austerity of the late twentieth century paved the way for severe assaults on African working classes through neoliberal privatization and deregulation. And while the scramble for Africa’s resources has heightened the pace of ecological devastation, examples from Somalia and the West African Ebola outbreak reveal a frightening surge of militarization on the part of China and the U.S.
Yet this “new scramble” has not gone unchallenged. With accounts of platinum workers’ struggles in South Africa, Nigerian labor organizing and pro-democracy upheavals in Uganda and Burkina Faso, Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.
And in an updated Preface, the author analyses the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic and escalating climate emergency, as both the crises and resistance to extraction accelerate across the continent.
“Lee Wengraf’s Extracting Profit – Imperialism, Neoliberalism and The New Scramble for Africa is at once historical and contemporary. It unpacks ongoing resource crimes by analytically exposing its historical roots and pointing to ways by which the oppressed can cut off the bonds that lock in their subjugation.” —Nnimmo Bassey, Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation
“Lee Wengraf provides an important reminder that Africa’s position within the world economy is heavily determined by its unequal insertion into the global capitalist system and ongoing manifestations of imperialism.” –James Chamberlain, Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute
“Lee Wengraf’s Extracting Profit provides a breathtakingly detailed account and analysis of some of the major socioeconomic ills that have been plaguing Africa for centuries. Amongst the host of issues she tackles, arguably the most consequential are mass poverty in African societies, their indefensible economic inequalities and the steady plundering of the continent’s resources, starting from the slave-trade era up till the present-day.” –Remi Adekoya, Review of African Political Economy
“Extracting Profit offers several narratives of grassroots organizing and protest, pointing to the potential for resistance to global capital and fundamental change, in Africa and beyond.” –Developing Economics
“Evidently, this book is well-researched and it contributes to the expansion of the frontiers of Marxist scholarship on Africa’s development dilemma within the global capitalist order. This book lends credence to the pioneering works of such notable radical scholars as Andre Gunder Frank, Walter Rodney, and Samir Amin among several others. It should be read by students and teachers of political economy, development studies, Marxism and philosophy.” –Marx & Philosophy Review of Books
“Extracting Profit provides a great arch of scutiny from the earliest carve-up of the African continent, through colonialism, war, imperialism, to the recent neoliberal takeover. The book demonstrates the continued importance of Marxist analysis on the continent, asserting the centrality of class analysis and a project of revolutionary change. Wengraf provides us with a major contribution, that highlights contemporary developments and the role of China on the African continent that has perplexed and baffled scholars. An indispensable volume.” —Leo Zeilig, author of Frantz Fanon: The Militant Philosopher of Third World Revolution
“The history of resource frontiers everywhere is always one of lethal violence, militarism, empire amidst the forcing house of capital accumulation. Lee Wengraf in Extracting Profit powerfully reveals the contours of Africa’s 21st century version of this history. The scramble for resources, markets, and investments have congealed into a frightening militarization across the continent, creating and fueling the conditions for further political instability. Wengraf documents how expanded American, but also Chinese, presence coupled with the War on Terror, point to both the enduring rivalry among global superpowers across the continent and a perfect storm of resource exploitation. Wengraf offers up a magisterial synopsis of the challenges confronting contemporary Africa.” —Michael Watts, University of California, Berkeley
“One of the most well-known stylized facts of Africa’s recent growth experience is that it has been inequality-inducing in ways that previous growth spurts were not. Lee Wengraf, in her new book Extracting Profit , expertly utilises the machinery of Marxian class analysis in making sense of this stylized fact. Along the way we learn much about Africa’s historical relationship with imperialism and its contemporary manifestations. This book should be required reading for all those who care about Africa and its future.” —Grieve Chelwa, Contributing Editor, Africa Is A Country
“In recent years countries in the African continent have experienced an economic boom—but not all have benefited equally. Extracting Profit is a brilliant and timely analysis that explodes the myth of “Africa Rising,” showing how neoliberal reforms have made the rich richer, while leaving tens of millions of poor and working class people behind. Lee Wengraf tells this story within the context of an imperial rivalry between the United States and China, two global superpowers that have expanded their economic and military presence across the continent. Extracting Profit is incisive, powerful, and necessary: If you read one book about the modern scramble for Africa, and what it means for all of us, make it this one.” —Anand Gopal, author, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes
“Thorough and thoughtful, Wengraf’s book has a radical depth that underscores its significance. It’s definitely a must-read for anyone who cherishes an advanced knowledge on the exploitation of Africa as well as the politics that undermines Africa’s class freedom.” —Kunle Wizeman Ajayi, Convener, Youths Against Austerity and General Secretary of the United Action for Democracy, Nigeria
“Extracting Profit is a very important book for understanding why the immense majority of the African population remain pauperised, despite impressive growth rates of mineral-rich countries on the continent. It continues the project of Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. And in several ways, it also goes beyond it, capturing the changing dynamics of global capitalism 45 years after Rodney’s magnus opus.
In this book, Lee Wengraf debunks the myth of “Africa Rising” and the supposed expansion of an entrepreneurial middle-class, revealing “reforms” imposed by international financial institutions as mechanisms for fostering imperialism in an era of sharpening contradictions of the global capitalist economy. The adverse social, economic, political and environmental impact of these are elaborated on as a systemic whole, through the book’s examination of the sinews of capital’s expansion in the region: the extractive industries.
But, Wengraf does not stop at interrogating the underdevelopment of Africa. Her book identifies a major reason for the failures of national liberation projects: while the working masses were mobilised to fight against colonial domination, the leadership of these movements lay in the hands of aspiring capitalists, and intellectuals. The urgency of the need for a strategy for workers’ power internationally, she stresses correctly, cannot be overemphasized.
Reading Extracting Profit would be exceedingly beneficial for any change-seeking activist in the labour movement within and beyond Africa.” —Baba Aye, editor, Socialist Worker (Nigeria)
Transforming ourselves, Transforming the World: An open conspiracy for social change – Second Edition
You can watch / listen to a conversation between the author, Brian K Murphy, and David Austin here.
This is a new edition of the book originally published by Zed Books in 1999. The book includes an Introduction written by David Austin and an Afterword from the author, Brian Murphy.
This book is for all those – community workers, adult educators, social activists of every kind – who want to overcome pessimism and play a part in changing society in the direction of peace, justice and dignity for all human beings. As author Brian Murphy— the independent analyst, organizer, educator and writer, and former staff member of the social justice organization, Inter Pares—points out, many of us are pessimistic about our ability to change the world when confronted by destructive political and corporative forces and the destruction they wreak. Murphy reveals the social and personal dilemmas which hold people back from social engagement, and argues that the various constraints we face can be overcome.
In this new edition, David Austin explains in his Introduction why this book, first published in 1999, is perhaps more relevant to our times than ever, offering insights from his own experiences of engaging critically with the book and with others. (David Austin is author of Dread Poetry and Freedom: Linton Kwesi Johnson and the Unfinished Revolution, Fear of a Black Nation: Race, Sex, and Security in Sixties Montreal and the editor of Moving Against the System, The 1968 Congress of Black Writers and the Making of Global Consciousness.)
And in his new afterword, Brian Murphy reflects on the continued relevance of the original text, emphasizing how our humanity is being corroded and commodified. To reclaim our humanity, he argues, we must transform ourselves to transform the world.
Brian Murphy’s immensely inspiring book,Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World, deeply challenges us to think and rethink everything we knew and thought we knew.—Nnimmo Bassey, Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation & Right Livelihood Award Laureate in 2010
We need more conversations like the one in this book, which are rooted in hope while honestly working through a foundational way of seeing and understanding ourselves in the bigger picture.— Christina Warner, Co-Executive Director and Director of Campaigns and Organising, Council of Canadians.
This is one of the coolest, enjoyable and important books I have read in recent years. Written from the heart as well as the head, it is a breathtakingly visionary, unique and insightful take on the life of the ultimate activist.—Hope Chigudu, Feminist activist
The republication of Transforming Ourselves, Transforming the World is a gift for our troubled times. All of us who share the drive to change our society will find encouragement and nourishment. This book offers a break from an all-too-common type of “activism” that demands harmful suppression of our individual creativity, freedom and health. What we have here is a celebration — and an entirely convincing validation — of a way of changing the world that is always nurturing and open-ended; a process of possibility and becoming, as we build on humanness to realise greater humanness. As Murphy puts it: “‘I will act, because it is sane, and healthy, and human to do so. We will act together, because it is sane, and healthy, and human, and more effective to do so. … This is how we can begin to develop an open conspiracy’”. I’m energised to sign up to this “open conspiracy”, and I’m sure many more readers will be too. — Mark Butler, co-author with Church Land Programme (South Africa) of in, against, beyond, corona
Table of Contents
Introduction to Second Edition: David Austin
Preface and Acknowledgements
1 The Courage to Be
2 The Dilemma of Action and the Psychology of Inertia
3 Confronting the Dilemmas: Beyond Inertia
Possibilities in Process
4 The Missing Link
5 The Individual, the Visionary
6 Challenging the Established Rationality
7 Imperatives for Modern Education
The Open Conspiracy
8 The Open Conspiracy: Allies for Health and Action
9 Theatres and Strategies: Embracing the Future
10 Education and the Open Conspiracy
Eclectic Notes on Knowledge and Action
Afterword to the Second Edition – Brian Murphy
We inhabit extraordinary times: times in which we are acutely aware of the intensity of what revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon called “the glare of history’s floodlights.” The velocity and scale at which the revolt against police murder that began in Minnesota after the death of George Floyd on May 25th and moved throughout the US, and then other parts of the world, was astonishing. It was impossible to predict, but then, in retrospect, it is George Floyd’s death becomes a nodal point: calling for action as well as rethinking and self-clarification. Thinking about this moment with the world revolutionary Frantz Fanon, we need to be aware of continuities and discontinuities — or, as he puts it, opacities — between the ages, his and ours. Fanon is always speaking to us, but often in ways we cannot hear. We have to work to listen to him and to understand the new contexts and meanings in relative opacity. It is this constant dialogue that helps illuminate the present and enable ongoing fidelity to Fanon’s call in the conclusion of The Wretched of the Earth the necessity to work out new concepts to confront one of Fanon’s greatest concerns, the betrayal of the revolutionary movement. In this pamphlet we consider how Fanon’s idea of liberation is connected with “the rationality of revolt.” The practice of engaging Fanon not only with revolt but with the reason or rationality of revolt connects with Fanon’s idea of how this liberated humanity is a product of a new consciousness of collectivity open to rethink everything.
Dialectics of revolution : Hegel, Marxism, and its critics through a lens of race, class, gender, and colonialism
This book collects four decades of writings on dialectics, a number of them published here for the first time, by Kevin B. Anderson, a well-known scholar-activist in the Marxist-Humanist tradition. The essays cover the dialectics of revolution in a variety of settings, from Hegel and the French Revolution to dialectics today and its poststructuralist and pragmatist critics. In these essays, particular attention is given to Lenin’s encounter with Hegel and its impact on the critique of imperialism, the rejection of crude materialism, and more generally, on world revolutionary developments. Major but neglected works on Hegel and dialectics written under the impact of the struggle against fascism like Lukács’s The Young Hegel and Marcuse’s Reason and Revolution are given full critical treatment. Dunayevskaya’s intersectional revolutionary dialectics is also treated extensively, especially its focus on a dialectics of revolution that avoids class reductionism, placing gender, race, and colonialism at the center alongside class. In addition, key critics of Hegel and dialectics like Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Antonio Negri, Pierre Bourdieu, and Richard Rorty, are themselves analysed and critiqued from a twenty-first century dialectical perspective. The book also takes up the dialectic in global, intersectional settings via a reconsideration of the themes of Anderson’s Marx at the Margins, where nationalism, race, and colonialism were theorized alongside capital and class as key elements in Marxist dialectical thought. As a whole, the book offers a discussion of major themes in the dialectics of revolution that still speak to us today at a time of radical transformation in all spheres of society and of everyday life.
This is a collection of essays of paramount importance written by one of the most noteworthy authorities on Marx and Hegel within the field of Western Marxism. … Anderson is uniformly brilliant in his analysis of Marx as a multidimensional thinker who developed a multilinear pathway for revolution for societies outside of Western Europe, putting to rest the charges of determinism and Eurocentrism and patriarchal thinking that had tempted many in the left away from critical engagements … Dialectics of Revolution makes it clear why Anderson is among the leading lights writing on Marxism and revolution today. —Peter McLaren, author of Che Guevara, Paulo Freire, and the Pedagogy of Revolution
Kevin Anderson’s Dialectics of Revolution collects four decades of Anderson’s studies of Hegel, Marx, dialectics, and revolution. … Anderson provides much provocative material in developing critical theory and revolutionary practice for the contemporary era. —Douglas Kellner, author of Herbert Marcuse and the Crisis of Marxism
This deeply intellectual, and yet highly accessible, work breathes new life into dialectical Marxism, reconciling the debates over identity politics and class struggle and positing a dialectical Marxist-humanism. … that recognizes that the revolutionary struggle for freedom is the struggle against class, racism, sexism, and all forms of oppression. … This book is not only timely and relevant but urgently necessary. — Lilia Monzo, author of A Revolutionary Subject: Pedagogy of Women of Color and Indigeneity
Part 1: Marxism and Hegel
- Dialectics in brief
- Hegel, the French revolution and after
- Lenin’s encounter with Hegel
- Lenin, Bukharin, dialectics, and imperialism
- Marcuse, Hegel and critical theory
- Lukács on the young Hegel
Part 2: Dialectics today
- Dialectical reason and its critics
- Derrida on Marx: Return or deconstruction?
- Resistance vs. emancipation, from Marx to Foucault
- Class, Gender, Race, and Colonialism
- Marx at the Margins: Ten years later
It is important to see both Marx’s brilliant generalisations about capitalist society and the very concrete ways in which he examined not only class, but also gender, race, and colonialism, and what today would be called the intersectionality of all of these. His underlying revolutionary humanism was the enemy of all forms of abstraction that denied the variety and multiplicity of human experience, especially as his vision extended outward from Western Europe. For these reasons, no thinker speaks to us today with such force and clarity.
It is clear today that the emancipation of labour from capitalist alienation and exploitation is a task that still confronts us. Marx’s concept of the worker is not limited to European white males, but includes Irish and Black super-exploited and therefore doubly revolutionary workers, as well as women of all races and nations. But, his research and his concept of revolution go further, incorporating a wide range of agrarian non-capitalist societies of his time, from India to Russia and from Algeria to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, often emphasising their gender relations. In his last, still partially unpublished writings, he turns his gaze Eastward and Southward. In these regions outside Western Europe, he finds important revolutionary possibilities among peasants and their ancient communistic social structures, even as these are being undermined by their formal subsumption under the rule of capital. In his last published text, he envisions an alliance between these non-working-class strata and the Western European working class.