Every now and then I have the honor of reading an article or blog post about Pan-Africanism and Marcus Garvey. 99% of the time the article gets both subjects wrong. It bothers me. I won't go out beheading people about it, but when there is a blog entitled "Garvey's Ghost" I would think that some kind of deference to such a site would be done by those who wish to discuss Pan-Aficanism and/or Garveyism. If not that we could at least look to Tony Martin on the subject. No instead, folks discus Garvey as if no one out there knows any better. Indeed the sad truth is most people have no clue and so believe just about anything they find on the subject.
Shay Riley of Booker Rising wrote:
Pan-Africanism argues that all black folks have (1) shared cultural traditions, as part of an African diaspora and preservation of a black cultural heritage; and (2) a common history of struggle against colonialism, racism, etc. and should work together for one another's empowerment, self-determination and freedom from oppression. The philosophy got a big jump in 1900, when W.E.B. DuBois organized the 1st Pan-African Congress in London, England. This idea also has part of its roots in Marcus Garvey (the Jamaican whose work was heavily influenced by Booker T. Washington), who was a mass movement pro-capitalist who unsuccessfully sought to unite the world's black populations via trade between the United States, Caribbean and Africa. He argued that communism (socialism) robs individuals of their personal initiative and called enemies of capitalism the enemies of human advancement.
This statement is based upon Garvey's writing as found in Philosophies and Opinions entitled: capitalism and the state
Capitalism is necessary to the progress of the world, and those who are unreasonably and wantonly oppose and fight against it are enemies to human advancement; but there should be a limit to the individual or corporate use or control of it.
No individual should be allowed the possession, use or the privilege to invest on his own account, more than a million, and no corporation should be allowed to control more than 5 million. Beyond this, all control, use and investment of money, should be the prerogative of the State with the concurrent authority of the people...
Modern wars are generally the outgrowth of dissafected capitalistic interests either among foreign or strange peoples or nations.
Until a universal adjustment takes place the State or nation should have the power to conscript and use without any obligation to repay, the wealth of such individuals or corporations through whose investments or interests, in foreign countries, or among foreign or strange people wars are fomented and made;...
The trick of the selfish capitalist is to stir up local agitation among the nations; have them shoot or kill some citizen of the capitalist's country, then he influences the agencies of his Government to call upon the home authorities for protection...
What was Garvey's issue with Communism?
In the essay entitled The Negro, Communism, Trade Unionism And His(?) Friend:
The danger of Communism to the Negro, in countries where he forms the minority of the population, is seen in the selfish and vicious attempts of that party or group to use the Negro's vote and physical numbers in helping to smash and over-throw, by revolution, a system as injurious to them as the white underdogs. the success of which would put their majority group or race still in power, not only as communists but as whitemen. To me there is no difference between two roses looking alike, and smelling alike even if some one calls them by different names. Fundamentally what racial difference os there between a white Communist, Republican or Democrat?
So reading these passages from Garvey we realize that Garvey was no capitalist. His clearly written positions on limiting individual wealth and control of investment by government simply would not fly with the so called "free-enterprise" folks at Booker Rising. Garvey was bright in that he understood how to play the corporate game and the necessity of economic development among black people globally. The issue is that capitalists have somehow cornered the market on defining business. It's either you're a capitalist and you like business or you don't and therefore you are a communist. It's a simple and silly dichotomy played out to keep people dazed and confused. Africans have always been and will continue to do business but by no means should africans become capitalists.
Pan-Africanism has stunted because the philosophy's socialist thrust stunts black progress, which has underdeveloped Africa, the Caribbean, and black communities elsewhere by not focusing on building market economies and creating wealth. Black moderates and conservatives have ceded this territory to black liberals and leftists, to detrimental results for black countries and black communities. Yet there is nothing that says that Steps 1 and 2 of Pan-Africanism must inherently lead to a socialist result. Is there space for a capitalist version? I believe so, and it is already underway.
Pan-Africanism does not have anymore a socialist thrust then it does a capitalist thrust. Oddly in places outside the US there are countries with politcal parties and ideologies called "Social-Democrats." Some of those countries have higher living standards than the US. This shows that one can be influenced by varying ideologies without becoming dogmatic about any particular one. To see what Neo-Garveyite Pan-Africanism is one should go here:
But it is laughable, utterly LAUGHABLE to say that black conservatives and moderates ceded Pan-Africanism to anyone. Garvey and his ideas were hated by those to his left AND those to his right. have been taken by various black groups and divorced from it's racial origins.
Shay also states:
Visiting Africa in the 1920s, Mr. Du Bois wrote that his chief question was whether "Negroes are to lead in the rise of Africa or whether they must always and everywhere follow the guidance of white folk." The socialist version of Pan-Africanism has become obsessed with whiteness, and about handouts. The free-market version understands that we can do stuff without white folks. How about getting more African countries to trade with one another? Levering black Americans' $728 billion per year GDP - which would be the world's 16th largest economy on our own - to kick start market economies in our own communities? So what would a free-market agenda look like?
Are we serious? What kind of Pan-Africanism is she talking about? Does she have a clue? Dubois may have had a fixation on white folk and handouts but that cannot be said of Garvey. Heck it can't even be said of Kwame Toure, who was himself Socialist-Pan-Africanist (See the All African Peoples Revolutionary Party). Perhaps Shay is mistaking Mugabe or some other African mis-leader as being Pan-Africanists. Perhaps she thinks the AU is an actual Pan-African entity. Wrong on all points.
Like I said, if we want to talk Pan-Africanism then ask an actual Pan-Africanist. You want to talk about Marcus Garvey, find a Garveyite otherwise all we get is misinformation.