Review and preview of Dhoruba 2022
Dhoruba bin Wahad visited different European metropoles in a 10-day trip to discuss the analysis of the current political and economic situation, as well as to explore how local activists conduct their political work. Locally in a Europe where the national security state resolutely expands and rolls out its repressive measures. This policy is constantly perfected through the principle of isolation and criminalization of certain positions with the integration of a few to control all.
- The Journey
Dhoruba has visited Vienna, Berlin, Paris, Rome as well as Frankfurt and connected with a vast variety of groups and generations consisting of people working in different fields. People in Palestine, solidarity movements, initiatives against repression from the state, support groups for refugees, militant feminist bookstores, leftist media projects, Muslim self-organizations far away from the institutional efforts to integrate and adaptat, self-organized Grassroots unions in the logistics sector whose members come from over 40 different nations, students who confront organised and academic racism on campus.
Despite all the different situations in those metropoles in the EU/NATO area (especially economically and furthermore politically as well as historically) one can say that there are still great similarities to be observed. Those similarities entail the porous awareness of one’s own history (which does not necessarily equate to knowledge) and the resulting isolation and difficulty to find similarities in a practical policy. The reason why this European sickness is so serious is that the state (and the states) entails all these aspects in its consciousness – the institutional knowledge, how one can turn people against one another, how to prevent them from acting locally and thinking globally.
Based on the tour with Dhoruba bin Wahad, we want to point out two incidents of institutional racism, as we believe that they prove to be symptoms of this foul Europe. On the one hand, there was once again a planned racist intervention by the rectorate of the University of Vienna against Dhoruba bin Wahad, in that the university denied access to the already rented space shortly before the planned event. The initiative for this racist happening stems from the official student’s representation and a Jewish-Zionist settler group at said university which acted under the protection of the World Jewish Congress.
The second racist incident occurred at the security check at Rome Airport (FCO) by Italian border police. Dhoruba bin Wahad was to be subjected to separate “security measurements” which he refused to accept. Several officers tried to forcibly keep Dhoruba away from his travel companions.
Both incidents are not uncommon in the treatment of black activists in Europe who defy the narrative of white supremacy and do not want to silently endure the racism of authorities.
The reaction of the surroundings and the people who witnessed these incidents are not unusual and have to be mentioned. To this day, neither a student group, nor a scientist at the University of Vienna lodged any form of protest or declared solidarity with Dhoruba bin Wahad. No one, except for the Communist Youth Vienna (KJÖ), which stood and still stands by Dhoruba. No one except for one scientist from the University of Vienna.
Many travellers at the airport witnessed the racially motivated incident on Dhoruba and gawked at the situation. We will not forget these two “George Floyd effect” situations. The passive people, the ones who stay silent – they are complicit. Nor will we forget those, who applauded Dhoruba standing at the podium, even though he had yet to speak a single word. These hundreds of people stand opposite the silent onesbv
- The Message
Dhoruba bin Wahad believes that we are living in a historical moment, in which a few can destroy the future of the entire planet by their sole actions. In his lecture, Dhoruba bin Wahad made a leap into history, in which a few states already negatively impacted the future of most parts of the Global South in a persistent manner. Between the Berlin Colonial Congress of 1878 and the end of the first imperialist war of re-division in 1917/18, the European states and later the USA divided the rest of the world among themselves in such a way that a long term, continuous exploitation was guaranteed to this day. The second imperialist war of re-division (1933-1945) was merely a completion of the distribution process, which allowed the emergence of a US superpower.
The arbitrarily drawn borders in Africa and the division of al-Sham (Palestine, Lebanon, Syria) by England and France have constituted the relative powerlessness of the global South for more than a hundred years. In 1917 Lenin could not have predicted the relevance what so aptly analyzed in “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”. It was only reconsidered and reassessed through the experience of anti-colonial struggles. Kwame Nkrumah took this to a new level by updating Lenin’s work in 1965 and elaborating on how neo-colonialism is the final stage of imperialism.
This starting point, or if you will – this main contradiction -, the (neo)-colonial relations, many leftists in Europe refuse to recognize until today, ignore and even defame this fact, so that they run after a white proletariat in their insignificance. Or they celebrate their tolerated free spaces in the niches of the state institution. For the invisibilization of the global proletariat, which fights not for higher wages but for survival, is also a form of the white supremacy culture. For the global proletariat is neither white, nor Marxist educated. People in the Western metropoles have, for the most part, long since ideologically switched from their economic basis to the side of the rulers. And, of course, historical fascism in its bestiality also burned away parts of class consciousness, especially the practiced internationalism in the concentration camps.
Dhoruba bin Wahad sees the emergence of the current White Supremacist mentality in Europe, the U.S. and Israel as a modern version of their mentality in the late 19th century. The elites of Europe at that time were confronted with a collective consciousness of the working masses that made the possibility of revolutionary upheaval likely. Political and economic elites in all countries of Europe had to develop concepts to control these masses who were aware of their ability to seize power from the powerful with the strength generated by their unity.
Control of the working and disenfranchised masses in Europe could not be done only by destroying the collective, but something else ideal had to be given to the people: the nation and the race. Dhoruba bin Wahad refers to Gustav leBon’s 1885 book “Psychology of the Masses,” which strongly influenced the fascist movements in Germany and Italy. It was these movements that eventually gained control of the masses in Germany and Italy, where revolutions were predicted, speaking rhetorically of the “common” and “social,” but eradicating collectivity – first in the consciousness and then in the extermination camps. The emergence of a mob mentality requires alienation from oneself and one’s classes to then go after marginalized, segregated and “alienated” sections of society for the sake of the nation and the race. The declassed ones themselves take over the “borrowed” consciousness (Marx) and it also becomes, after Gramsci’s bitter experience, their “own” consciousness.
Dhoruba also repeatedly mentioned the storming of Capitol Hill when Donald Trump was voted out of office as an example. People filmed themselves storming it and thus provided the evidence themselves for the subsequent criminal proceedings. They did this out of a deep conviction that they had every right to do so. Rights they would never grant to a black person. Dhoruba’s point is to teach us about the danger of stupid and ignorant people because they are unpredictable in a mob.
This form of self-alienation of the masses in European society did not dissolve with the end of fascism, but instead deepened. Deepened and further developed under the conditions of liberal democracies. This is the reason why Dhoruba speaks of Democratic Fascism, in which the methods of the state in crisis are covertly or overtly fascist, but politically suggest participation and democracy through elections.
The reason why there is a relative calm that prevails, or easily controlled unrest, despite the continuously growing political and economic crises in western countries, is our collective disability to recognize current realities.
The internet and so-called social media have proven to be the most perfect tool for control, where not only individualism has become an even more extreme form of European culture. Perception becomes reality and instead of the content, the medium becomes the message. The foundation of social debates, whether they are conducted in progressive or right-wing circles, are based on images and sequences in short videos. The smudged rubber boots of a political leader surveying a flood or the broken cell phone display of a professional soccer player become the start and end of discussions of the righteousness or respectability of a person. Perception becomes reality. And the medium becomes the message, because the smeared rubber boots or the broken cell phone display only take on meaning via corporations like Instagram, Twitter or TikTok. They get real meaning because they mobilize the mob and can thus become a real threat. The red hat with “Make America Great Again” written on the head of a white cracker in a small Montana town is irrelevant. It is the personal expression of white supremacist culture. The phrase takes on meaning when it is posted on Twitter by the PR office of the US president. Then the medium of the elites (Twitter, Insta, …) becomes the mobilizer of the masses, directly leading to deadly police attacks on black people or fuelling militias in planning their pogroms.
This problem is not limited to certain parts of Western societies. It has become an integral part of the Western lifestyle, and it is precisely groups and individuals who see themselves as leftist or progressive who are subject to these mechanisms of modern and more interactive media and opinion production. The reason being that, despite criticizing state actions, they see the post-1945 state and the (media) industries it protects as neutral.
When a black activist at a pro-Palestinian demonstration holds a speech that lasts several minutes in which he relates the silence about injustice in Palestine to the silence of many people in the time of German fascism and in doing so demonstrated a Hitler salute, the supporters of the European settler state reduce the speech to only this gesture. But the fact that supposed circles of solidarity then jump on the bandwagon of “perception is reality” and (want to) discuss this gesture is an enormous contribution for the traffic on Twitter and similar social media platforms. This reinforces the reproduction of control and domination.
In 2018, Dhoruba bin Wahad called on Western societies, that is us, to perform open-heart surgery, or we would be lost. Well, there is not much hope. Sometimes one has the impression the debates repeat themselves from year to year. They become more and more hollow, but they also constantly reinvent themselves. In this trend, Dhoruba often sees himself transported back to the time of the Black Panther Party for self-defence, when the state consciously allowed and integrated certain debates with its institutions in order to isolate and encapsulate radical policies of fundamental change. In a bourgeois democracy, this encapsulation only works using hybrid methods. This includes, of course, covert, and overt repression by the police and the judiciary. But it is also flanked by state-directed drug policies to keep the masses quiet. Public debate starts at the other end of this encapsulation policy. The constant relativization of state racism and war policy by intellectuals. These examples of a so-called civil society, which feels uncomfortable in the face of the contradictions of capitalist politics, but instinctively has to refuse change because this would mean giving up privileges. This is where the perceptions of the new mass media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, …) play a significant role. By taking part in such debates, the self-proclaimed (radical) leftist civil society (for example the german/austrian ANTIFA, an outlet of german foreign policy) continuously legitimizes the expansive and war-mongering state.
This system only works because we are all disconnected from a history of our own (the history of the non-rulers) and the state has institutionalized its own history.
- The Task
Those who manage to escape a politics of symbolism (Oranienplatz policy),
Those who do not orient their debates to the narrative of EU/NATO politics,
Those who position themselves clearly and unambiguously,
Those who want to escape the pseudo-politics of social media platforms (Twitter, Instagram, …),
Initiate a United solidarity front:
1. against EU rise of right-wing fascism and US militarism employing NATO forces.
2. demanding AFRICOM and EU/NATO out of Africa and West Asia.
3. against EU racist policies, Islamophobia and Migrant discrimination.
4. supporting and solidarising with BDS and other Palestinian Solidarity Campaigns and Movements.
5. unifying Political Prisoner Freedom campaigns.