1964: Malcolm X on “The Ballot or the Bullet”

[In the last year of his life, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (popularly known as Malcolm X), left the Nation of Islam and organized the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  He launched a series of internationalist initiatives, including taking the denial of human rights of Blacks in the United States to international arenas (including the UN).  His life was a series of extraordinary pathbreaking steps for Blacks and for people in the Americas, Africa, and worldwide.  He spoke constantly, determined to open new initiatives and thinking for all who seek justice and freedom.  One April 12, 1964, he delivered the following speech, (The Ballot or the Bullet) detailing the contrary pathways toward justice and debating the prevailing views at that time. While sections promote a black capitalist solution, more compelling are his comments on the nature of the state and the illusory prospects of change within the system, or the necessity of struggling against it.  These comments continue to resound today, amid largely unchanged conditions.  Malcolm X was assassinated (less than a year after this speech was given) on February 21, 1965, at the age of 39. —  Frontlines ed.].

A 38-year-old man in a suit and tie smiles broadly. He wears glasses and has a microphone around his neckThe Ballot or the Bullet (April 12, 1964)

Mr. Moderator, Reverend Cleage, Brother Lomax, brothers and sisters, friends…and I see some enemies. In fact, I think we’d be fooling ourselves if we had an audience this large and didn’t realize that there were some enemies present.This afternoon we want to talk about the ballot or the bullet. The ballot or the bullet explains itself. But before we get into it, since this is the year of the ballot or the bullet, I would like to clarify some things that refer to me personally concerning my own personal position.

I’m still a Muslim. That is, my religion is still Islam. My religion is still Islam. I still credit Mr. Muhammad for what I know and what I am. He’s the one who opened my eyes. At present, I’m the Minister of the newly founded Muslim Mosque, Incorporated, which has its offices in the Theresa Hotel, right in the heart of Harlem that’s the black belt in New York city. And when we realize that Adam Clayton Powell is a Christian minister, he’s the…he heads Abyssinian Baptist Church, but at the same time, he’s more famous for his political struggle. And Dr. King is a Christian Minister, in Atlanta, Georgia, but he’s become more famous for being involved in the civil rights struggle. There’s another in New York, Reverend Galamison I don’t know if you’ve heard of him out here, he’s a Christian Minister from Brooklyn, but has become famous for his fight against a segregated school system in Brooklyn. Reverend Cleage, right here, is a Christian Minister, here in Detroit. He’s the head of the “Freedom Now Party”. All of these are Christian Ministers, but they don’t come to us as Christian Ministers. They come to us as fighters in some other category. I’m a Muslim minister the same as they are Christian Ministers, I’m a Muslim minister. And I don’t believe in fighting today in any one front, but on all fronts. In fact, I’m a Black Nationalist Freedom Fighter.

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Hong Kong’s Leader: “Poor People Would Ruin Elections”

[The ongoing protests in Hong Kong continue in waves of intensity, as the protest struggles for greater organized strength and programmatic unity, and as supporters of the Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y.Leung (a wealthy capitalist closely supported by the restored-capitalist/imperialist Beijing regime) continue to denounce the protests as a US/British plot.  How it will develop, what changes it may bring, is yet to be seen.  But in the meantime, C.Y. Leung who opposes the protester’s demand for more inclusive electoral reform, has let an underlying and unspoken issue come to the surface:  the question of class, of bourgeois rule, and the role of the poor.  While elections cannot solve the problem of capitalist ownership of the state, classes and class struggle cannot be hidden from any major political dispute between state powers and the resistance of the masses.. —  Frontlines ed.]

As protests continue in the crowded city of Hong Kong, thousands of immigrants and low-income families live in tiny subdivided units, unable to afford sky-high rents. Meanwhile, leader Leung Chun-ying lives a lavish lifestyle in an upscale community.


Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung, as police march past

Leung proved today that he is not a “man of the people”. Instead, he came off as an elitist out of touch with the realities of living in Hong Kong.

He said that open elections shouldn’t happen because “many poor” might end up dominating politics.

Leung gave the interview to the Financial Times, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal and reiterated his position that free elections were impossible:

“If it’s entirely a numbers game—numeric representation—then obviously you’d be talking to half the people in Hong Kong [that] earn less than US$1,800 a month. You would end up with that kind of politics and policies.”

Leung made millions in real estate and has the nickname “emperor of the working class.” Already he has been hung in effigy, depicted as Dracula, and openly told to go to hell during the protests in Hong Kong. Continue reading

US election: Who will wage — and win — the battle for full health care and reproductive rights?

[For all the talk of democracy that fills the air and sucks all the oxygen out of the air preventing honest discussion, the capitalist / imperialist system continues to maintain the system of bourgeois class rule with its essential pillars of patriarchy/misogyny/traditional familial property relations, white supremacy/black and brown oppression, xenophobia/exclusion/aggression, Christian club membership, and, bottom line, class exploitation and privilege.

At election times, competing candidates — who have been fully vetted (by the bourgeois powers-that-be) as potential administrators of these systems of power and privilege, oppression and despair — spew volumes of hype and fatuous solutions to the more contentious divides.  But none, ever, speak to the root cause of these systems in the structures of capitalist power, which have invented and/or maintained these pillars throughout its time in power, (and have re-worked and re-branded,  from time to time, these systems).

So, with the Democrats, there has been an embrace of the process of making full use of women workers, professionals, and technicians in service to imperialism.  Upholding women’s reproductive rights including abortion is a critical part of women’s inclusion, BUT it has been steadily restricted (and in many places, practically eliminated and non-existent) on the resource level for poor, working, migrant, imprisoned, unemployed, black, brown, and undocumented women, under every recent President including Obama.  There does not appear to be any effort by the Obama administration or the national Democratic Party to block and roll back these restrictive measures at the state level.  Activists and pro-choice Democratic politicians on the state level have been losing round after round without help from their national party. In this sense, Obama and the national Democratic Party are silent partners and complicit in the growing restrictions on abortion rights.  Obama Democrats have formally supported Roe v Wade but have still let the substantive rights go.  But because rich and professional/petty-bourgeois women have not suffered the loss of reproductive and abortion services — and most people tend to look at these services through their access by privileged classes, (as that is how the mass media tends to frame the issue) — they are praised, though the poor have increasingly lost access to these basic health services.

The other capitalist/imperialist presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, in line with the Republican party program, has cast the issue as a formal rejection of public-financed reproductive rights, and toward the formal elimination of Roe vs Wade.  Given the way power works, a Romney in the White House would likely appoint a fellow Christian misogynist to the Supreme Court, which could lead to elimination of Roe vs Wade.  For poor women, this would mean the expansion of forced pregnancies and childbirth, and rapid re-establishment of illegal abortion mills on a massive scale.  At the same time, for privileged women, abortion services would be concealed within readily available and re-named health services, and continued as a class privilege.

Some will vote against Romney this year with hopes that this will secure reproductive rights.  But since this election bears no prospect of eliminating the systems of privilege and power which continue to require restrictions on reproductive rights, no electoral solution  is at hand.  Capitalism vs socialism is not on the ballot.  In the period ahead, as grassroots forces organize and set an independent course from the degrading and confusing bourgeois electoral process, there must be an emphasis on building  and struggling for grassroots health services, including contraceptive and abortion services.  And the importance of developing programmatic unity on these issues — as part of fighting to establish free and complete medical service for all — is essential for the development of the revolutionary forces.

The following article from the New York Times (representing the bourgeois forces who advocate continued administration of the system by Obama) which argues the view that Romney’s program would create more problems.  —  Frontlines ed.]


How Romney Would Treat Women

By , New York Times, OP-ED COLUMNIST,  November 3, 2012
IN this year’s campaign furor over a supposed “war on women,” involving birth control and abortion, the assumption is that the audience worrying about these issues is just women.

Give us a little credit. We men aren’t mercenaries caring only for Y chromosomes. We have wives and daughters, mothers and sisters, and we have a pretty intimate stake in contraception as well.

This isn’t like a tampon commercial on television, leaving men awkwardly examining their fingernails. When it comes to women’s health, men as well as women need to pay attention. Just as civil rights wasn’t just a “black issue,” women’s rights and reproductive health shouldn’t be reduced to a “women’s issue.”

To me, actually, talk about a “war on women” in the United States seems a bit hyperbolic: in Congo or Darfur or Afghanistan, I’ve seen brutal wars on women, involving policies of rape or denial of girls’ education. But whatever we call it, something real is going on here at home that would mark a major setback for American women — and the men who love them.

On these issues, Mitt Romney is no moderate. On the contrary, he is considerably more extreme than President George W. Bush was. He insists, for example, on cutting off money for cancer screenings conducted by Planned Parenthood. Continue reading

Obama’s Destructive Foreign Policy and Black Disillusionment

Black Agenda Report, Tuesday, October 9, 2012

It is painfully distressing to witness members of my community so willfully complicit with lethal war policies simply because they are coming from a brown skinned man,” writes the author. “African-Americans’ honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America’s imperialist wars is quickly eroding.”

by Solomon Comissiong

We must undo the mental spell placed upon us by the Democratic Party and their Trojan horse – Barack Obama.”

The anti-imperialist war legacy of African (black) people in United States is a rather long one. Most American born Africans have historically opposed Euro-America’s bloody legacy of global military engagements aimed at everything from regime change to plunder to flat out planetary domination. Prominent African leaders like Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, not only opposed Euro-America’s voracious appetite for death and destruction, by way of war – these leaders were outspoken in telling the world exactly why they opposed these wars. For instance, it was in 1967 at Riverside Baptist Church [5] in New York City that Dr. Martin Luther King said:

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask — and rightly so — what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

 Dr. King, like countless other Africans, simply could not accept the US’s deadly imperialist war in Southeast Asia. It clearly weighed heavily upon his conscience. He was not fearful that his rightful opposition to the Vietnam War would greatly distance himself with President Lyndon Johnson – doing the right thing mattered much, much more. Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war.Professional athletes, like Muhammad Ali, were also among the great number of Africans who took courageous stances, vociferously speaking out against the war in Southeast Asia. I say all this to, not only provide historical context, but also to contrast history to the present day.

Dr. King was not alone; a critical mass of African people refused to support this war.”

It distresses this African author to slowly come to the realization that African-American’s honorable legacy of opposing Euro-America’s imperialist wars is quickly eroding. This is by no means a rush observation on my part; my assessment dates back to 2008. It was in 2008 that a United States senator named Barack Obama was elected president. I was definitely within the minority of Africans who made the strong decision not to vote for either corporate candidate (Barack Obama & John McCain).  Senator Barack Obama made it clear that he intended to expand the war in Afghanistan if he was elected – and he more than made good on that promise. This is merely one of the reasons I had for not supporting Barack Obama as president. And if there was no better option for me, I would simply not have voted in that election. I don’t buy in to the lesser of two evils argument; if you do you are ultimately still voting for evil. Continue reading

Massive fraud in Haiti’s presidential election ignites protests

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November 29 -Haiti’s voting stations have closed amid the chaos and confusion that has marked most of the election.


Haiti on edge as credibility doubts taint elections

Haitians run on the street while tires burn during a protest in Port-au-Prince November 28, 2010.

Mon, Nov 29 2010

By Pascal Fletcher

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Earthquake-hit Haiti’s political future hung in the balance on Monday after Sunday’s turbulent elections were roiled by popular protests and repudiated by most of the presidential candidates.

The international community faces a difficult decision of whether to endorse the voting on Sunday that was at best confused and at worst flawed. This could complicate hopes of achieving a stable, legitimate government to lead the Caribbean country’s recovery from a devastating January 12 earthquake.

A declaration by local electoral authorities that the polls had been largely a success flew in the face of widespread popular anger over voting problems and a public denunciation of “massive fraud” by 12 of the 18 presidential contenders. Continue reading