By: Trevor Loudon
Socialist revolution and radical Black nationalism has secured a major base in the U.S. South with the election of Chokwe Lumumba as the next Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi.
Chokwe Lumumba, a more than 40 year veteran of the Maoist/black nationalist stream of the American far left, is a founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and the Republic of New Afrika movement, which strives to create an independent black socialist nation in the U.S. South.
Lumumba, a lawyer, has defended some of the country’s worst radicals, including cop killer and prison escapee Assata Shakur, who is currently hiding out in Cuba.
Before Lumumba has even been inaugurated, U.S. radicals are rallying around to support the new Mayor against “racist right wing” attackers and plotting how to best exploit a new revolutionary opportunity.
Larry Hales, a prominent leader of the pro-Cuba/Iran/North Korea Workers World Party and a leader of the People’s Assemblies movement, invoked the example of Venezuela when explaining the revolutionary significance of Lumumba’s surprise victory to a June 14 Workers World Party forum in New York:
The revolution can’t be elected, but elections can be helpful to the progressive and the revolutionary struggles…
In Venezuela, there have been successive electoral victories of progressive governments led by president Hugo Chávez, a valiant anti-imperialist and pro-socialist leader who tragically died after a long battle with cancer this past March. Behind those victories were the forward-moving social movements that supported and deepened the ongoing revolutionary process in Venezuela. And, the same mass movements, armed with a pro-socialist ideology, will ultimately need to expropriate the private property of the Venezuelan ruling class and smash their capitalist state…,
However the recent Jackson, Miss., mayoral election victory of outgoing Black City Councilperson Chokwe Lumumba provides an opportunity for revolutionaries and progressive people not only to analyze what the victory means for Jackson, the Black Belt South, all oppressed peoples and in general but also raises the specter of the need to defend Lumumba and the people of Jackson, a city that is 80 percent Black, from right-wing reaction.
According to comrade Hales:
Lumumba is a long-time revolutionary Black nationalist; an attorney for freedom fighter, Assata Shakur; the former second vice-president of the Republic of New Afrika; and the co-founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
When writing about the developments in Jackson, past and present, it is essential for revolutionaries to understand what’s happening there and to be grounded in an understanding of the national question [the superexploitation of whole nations and their resources by imperialism] and the right of oppressed people to self-determination.
Hales explains the evil that is the United States and how it viciously oppresses the minority “nations,” especially Blacks, forced to dwell within its borders:
The U.S. has eclipsed former Czarist Russia as “the prison house of nations.”
Within the borders of the U.S…. are many nations of Indigenous people, Mexican people in the southwest U.S., Black people and other oppressed peoples who because of colonization, war, political domination and/or economic strangulation have migrated to the U.S.
Black people have been forged into one nation through the process of slavery, where particular cultural and linguistic differences were stripped away by the lash and other genocidal practices. Jim Crow and continuing oppression and repression have created a national identity stemming from a shared historical experience, including culture.
Hale then lumps the non-racist Tea Party movement and John Birch Society in with the overtly racist KKK and White Citizens Councils to illustrate how rich white people have long conspired to oppress and even murder poor black people:
The white paramilitaries like the Klu Klux Klan, the Red Shirts and later the White Citizens Councils and the John Birch Society — co-founded by Fred Koch, of Koch Industries and father to Charles and David Koch, who helped bankroll the Tea Party movement and Americans for Prosperity — terrorized and murdered thousands of Black people. These lynchings deepened the disenfranchisement of Black people.
But Mississppi’s black population has a history of fighting oppression says Hales. Lumumba’s victory is a new chapter in the long fight for emancipation. And it hasn’t come out of the blue – this victory has been some time in the brewing:
The victory of Chokwe Lumumba on June 4, eight days before the 50th year since the murder of Medgar Evers, should be seen in light of the historic struggle of Black people in Mississippi, but also nationally.
The conditions for a movement in Mississippi have grown overripe and putrid. Though there might not necessarily yet be throngs in the streets in Mississippi, the Lumumba election is an indication of the maturity of the oppressed Black working class in Jackson. It also shows the consistency of the political work done there by the organizational and political forms that guided the popular program of Lumumba.
The Jackson People’s Assembly…should be seen as the vehicle for helping to guide the mayoral victory and also Chokwe Lumumba’s City Council victory in 2009.
Lumumba’s “Jackson Plan” is clearly a re-vamp of the socialist/separatist agenda, long promoted by the Republic of New Afrika.
Lumumba’s political history did not scare away voters, nor did the bold and progressive Jackson Plan, which is reminiscent of the Republic of New Afrika’s program of the 1960s, calling for the establishment of an independent Black-led government in six former confederate states…
Upon his win, Mayor-elect Lumumba questioned the validity of the anti-Indigenous Columbus Day holiday, gave an interview in support of Assata Shakur and highlighted the Jackson Plan: A Struggle for Self-Determination, Participatory Democracy and Economic Justice.
Lumumba’s “Jackson Plan” calls for:
*Building People’s Assemblies
*Building a Network of Progressive Political Candidates
*Building a broad-based Solidarity Economy
In other words, a “people’s government,” a network of radical candidates standing on every imaginable position and a taxpayer subsidized economy which will probably invite investment and workers from Leftist or hostile foreign powers.
The bold initiatives laid out by the Jackson People’s Assemblies come from the historical experience of Black people in this country and in particular in Mississippi. It is an attempt to break with a structure and economic system that has built within it the special oppression of certain groups and divisions used as weapons for keeping working people from seeing a common foe.
Hales assures the comrades that there will be reaction, but it is their revolutionary duty to defend, nurture and grow the new socialist/Black Nationalist power base:
It is the duty of progressives and revolutionaries to defend the process unfolding in Jackson and anywhere else it might spread. It signifies that though revolution may be further away than just over the horizon, there are sectors that are ready to struggle and fight in their own interest and are using the electoral arena to choose people who represent their aspirations…
The assembly movement is growing. The win by Chokwe Lumumba is evident of the significance and the power it has and can have.
As reactionary forces — those within the bourgeois government and outside of it — try to stall this movement, there is sure to grow more militant struggle to defend it and push it forward.
Many commentators regard Lumumba’s victory as a curiosity, a historical oddity. Maybe it will prove just that.
Though, judging by the strong interest being shown by the U.S. far left, Jackson, Mississippi may end up becoming a revolutionary center of some significance.
Southern patriotic activists and politicians need to take this victory very seriously and work to overturn it in the shortest possible time.
Mississippi and America shouldn’t take comrade Lumumba and his movement lightly either.