Anyone who comes from a working class/lumpen-proletarian Black household is at least passingly familiar with the recent rhetoric put forth by New York Nets player Kyrie Irving and rapper/artist Kanye West. Irving has attracted scorn for promoting a variety of conspiracy theories and recently promoted a mythologized and anti-Semitic film. Kanye West has been off the rails for years and chose to seek attention once again through an anti-Semitic rant. These behaviors and this rhetoric is not foreign to our community. From the Hebrew Israelites to the Moorish Science Temple to the Nation of Islam to the Nuwabian Moors to the variety of people who insist that Africans are indigenous to the United States, we can trace a solid thread of reactionary sentiment and utter foolishness that is not only ahistorical and harmful to Jewish, Indigenous American, and other oppressed comrades, but actually serves the forces of capital.
First, some history. Black people are indigenous to Africa. We were the very first people. Africans migrated to different parts of the world and developed different physical features to adapt to variations in the environment, but when you trace our roots as anatomically modern humans back as far as they will go, you will end up in our Motherland. Wherever in the world we live, we trace our roots back to the cradle of mankind, and that of civilization. The historical research of Basil Davidson and Cheikh Anta Diop directly contradicted the work of European racist archaeologists and researchers who sought to steal our heritage and divorce us from our roots. Many people to this day deny the Black African origins of the Egyptian civilization, for example. To our historical credit and the treasury of humankind we add the civilizations of Nubia, Ethiopia, Nok, Kongo, Mali, Songhay, Zimbabwe, the Horn of Africa, and others too numerous to mention. We developed advanced surgeries, astronomical measurements, mathematical equations, works of art and literature from which Europe stole and tried to claim for her own. The direct root of many of these attempts of historical revision come from reactions to European racists attempting to bury our real history and attribute our heritage to the work of “lost” Greeks, Romans, Phoenicians, and others. As a result, certain groups in the diaspora, instead of rooting themselves in true knowledge, sought instead to claim our status as the “true Jews”, “lost-found nations”, “Moors” (a common epithet from medieval Europe to refer to anybody from Africa), and Indigenous Americans. Our true history was hidden from us, so as a result we attempted to reconstruct for ourselves an identity using already mythologized and whitewashed stories of other peoples. With this comes another reaction, denunciation of Europeans as devils, aliens, creations of a mad scientist, etc. None of this has any basis in historical or scientific fact, all of it was made up out of thin air by con-artists and disgraced, frustrated intellectuals, but it serves as a salve to a downtrodden and oppressed people. You may be beaten by the police and last hired, first fired at your job, but you can take solace in the fact that you have hidden and mystical knowledge and those who are oppressing you are really just the products of Yakub’s jealous experiment, bound for destruction at the hands of Allah.
In the era of the Internet, it is no surprise that conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, and other idealist tendencies have spread like wildfire among the proletariat and lumpen/proletariat of the New Afrikan people. Intellectual con artists who need nothing more than an active imagination, a video camera, and a dictionary are able to conjure up entire mystical worldviews, many of which build on preexisting traditions of bullshit. The Nation of Islam, for example, has generated a handful of splinter groups, many of which have hundreds of members and an even wider cultural footprint. Black rappers, actors and athletes, many of which come from proletarian backgrounds and prisons where such mysticism spreads like wildfire, make references to such groups, which arouses the interests of their millions of followers, since the bourgeoisie tells us that our leaders are to be multimillionaire basketball players and rappers, not those who have given their lives to the people and who have, through study and practice, mastered revolutionary Communist and nationalist theory. Rambling about Freemasonry and UFOs is far easier than organizing or preparing for revolution, it allows one to profess great knowledge without effort. These groups feed off each other and support each other, joining hands with colonizer led cults which promote similar nonsense, as demonstrated by NoI head Louis Farrakhan’s gravitation towards Scientology and the relationship between the crypto-fascist Black Hammer cult and anti-vaxxers. Among many segments of the proletariat and lumpen/proletariat, “wokeness” (itself a postmodern and elitist term) is directly related to one’s knowledge of ridiculous theories about Masons controlling the world, anti-semitic nonsense, and UFOs abducting people with government collusion.
When we look at the demographics of these reactionary cult groups, we are looking at the most cast-off and oppressed of the cast-off and oppressed. Black prisoners more often than not are conversant in the rhetoric of the Nation of Islam and cults such as the Nuwaubian Moors notoriously recruited people who felt alienated by mainstream churches and by society as a whole, who fell right into the hands of the groomer and pedophile York. These groups take them in, feed them, clothe them, make them feel special, offer them employment in businesses owned by the group or its members, give them protection in numbers, and offer them a ready made worldview that explains in simple terms why they are so fucked over and fucked up. In short, they work among the same circles that we should be working in, except they are more tantalizing and tempting to the politically uninitiated as they offer solutions to horrible material conditions right then, whereas we Communists offer painstaking work at the grassroots and the remote possibility of dying covered in blood and shit in a ditch in a revolution. Communists do not have alternative structures for people to plug into right now, nor do we have red infrastructure that is needed to relieve people’s immediate conditions, although this seems to be changing with the rise of pragmatic Maoist groups that are able to cast dogma aside, get off the campuses, and actually get down and dirty with the people in our finest yet seemingly forgotten tradition.
Revolutionary theory and practice must be made accessible to the people, otherwise such groups as I have discussed will continue to proliferate and win out in the minds of the masses. When the Nation of Islam has a ready made solution to every problem you face, a culture with firm roots in the community, and opportunities to actually help tackle problems infecting our communities (their work on crime and drugs is particularly renowned), yet it is also teaching anti-Semitic rhetoric and pushing Scientology, the task of the Communist is to simultaneously struggle with brothers and sisters who hold such views (while respecting the people themselves, lest you drive them further into the arms of these groups), while offering an alternative that fills the hole in our collective soul that drives people to join these groups in the first place, and seek mystical explanations for their problems. In the 1930s our people were into dream books, Father Divine, and the tarrying tradition in church, now they are into Hidden Colors, anti-vaxxing, and UFOs. They share videos espousing these ideologies with their coworkers and partners, they discuss them at barber shops and flea markets, and they send their kids to Kanye’s school. Every Communist must always be ready to explain, teach, learn, and struggle for every working class person who has fallen prey to reactionary mysticism, as every worker is a treasure. The government makes people disappear, aliens have nothing to do with it. It is the bourgeoisie who is robbing you of your hard earned pay, not your Jewish neighbor or colleague. It is the capitalist ruling class who controls the world, not the Masons.