That's why its so important to stop and acknowledge the concrete contributions of principled fighters for justice like George Padmore. Born Malcolm Nurse in Trinidad in the Caribbean in 1903, Padmore grew up witnessing the contradictions imposed on our people from colonialism and capitalism. As a result, as a young man, he got involved by joining and participating in organizations that led to his active participation within the Communist Party of the USA (CPUSA) after he moved to the U.S. Padmore's proximity to colonialism in the Caribbean and racial segregation within the U.S. permitted him to understand clearly any discussion about violence has to start and end with the violence initiated and systemically implemented by the oppressing forces of capitalism and imperialism. He knew at a very young age that any talk of attempting to impose the mantle of violence on the people standing up against oppression is absurd. In the early 1930s he was writing about the empire being the cause of any violence despite whatever methods oppressed people chose in which to fight back.
Padmore's dedication to the Leninist ideas he initially learned permitted him to develop a class consciousness against exploitation, but his direct experience with racial oppression prevented him from adopting a class consciousness with a blind eye and this manifestation of his character caused him problems within the then Soviet led worldwide socialist movement. Padmore never abandoned his understanding that nationalism, serving the purpose of uniting oppressed and colonized people, is not the same bourgeoisie nationalism that Europe has a history of repeating. His commitment to organizing around this concept within the CPUSA caused conflict for him, especially from other African communists at the time like A. Philip Randolph and Cyril Briggs, among others.
Still, it was Padmore's hardcore opposition to fascism, and his clear understanding that fascism and anti-colonialism must never be separated, that caused significant consternation within CPUSA. In 1933, during the rise of the Third Reich, Adolph Hitler, and Nazi Germany, Padmore was living and organizing in Germany at the time. The Nazi regime immediately deported him because of this work and all of those experiences solidified his commitment to fighting fascism, but he was not willing to do that in isolation of his understanding of the role of colonialism in also advancing fascism. During that time Padmore began writing regularly about these contradictions and his landmark book "How Britain Rules Africa" was a major early contribution to the discourse around how capitalism today was developed off of the colonial system of oppression. As a result of this contradiction, Padmore was writing and organizing in the 1930s around the understanding that the U.S., Britain, and the other so-called "allied" countries were no less fascist than Nazi Germany. The unwillingness of the white left to acknowledge this glaring contradiction and the strange inability of African communists to recognize this error led to Padmore leaving his position as political secretary to Joseph Stalin in the late 30s. Padmore could not reconcile the Soviet Union claiming itself to be the bastion of socialist development while making a unity pact with the Western capitalist countries, including the U.S. Padmore's landmark book "Pan-Africanism or Communism" lays out his argument about why the correct path for African revolutionaries must be centered around the liberation of Africa and that our struggle is nation (race), class, and gender, not just class as the white left has spent the last 100 years attempting to jam down our throats. Another central contribution of "Pan-Africanism or Communism" that is rarely pointed out is its clear articulation of fascism originating from colonialism and how that reality negates the ability of the capitalist countries to point the finger of fascism at Germany alone.
This contradiction is highlighted today by the many memes and efforts by people to try and signify those who fought in World War II against Germany as those who were fighting fascism. The capitalists role in that war is today commonly identified as them being heroes against "the rise of fascism." If it were not for the tragedy of this confusion it would be laughable. Padmore's growing awareness and eventual break with the so-called Marxist/Leninism of the CPUSA was centered with his disagreement with the Soviet pathway of reconciling with capitalist countries. In order to take this position, Padmore was also very clear, 90 years ago, that the level of oppression those capitalist countries initiated and sustained in Africa e.g. apartheid regimes in the Congo, Azania (South Africa), Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, etc., made it impossible for those capitalist countries to be anything except fascist regimes. Padmore's thesis argument in "Pan-Africanism or Communism" was not that our struggle isn't also a struggle for communism. Kwame Nkrumah, one of Padmore's chief mentees, clarified that question when he concluded "Class Struggle in Africa" by stating that Pan-Africanism is defined as one unfiied socialist Africa. And, for us, the achievement of Pan-Africanism is simply our African contribution to (paraphrasing Nkrumah's quote) the worldwide movement to achieve worldwide communism. Padmore's point in 1936 needs to be repeated often in 2019 and beyond. Fascism cannot exist without the oppression imposed upon colonized peoples and the countries they originate from. There can be no movement against fascism that isn't rooted in anti-colonialism, the eradication of zionist control of occupied Palestine, the total liberation and unification of Africa, the return of the Americas to the Indigenous people's of the Western Hemisphere, etc. Any talk of doing this that doesn't center those elements is no anti-fascist movement, regardless of if you all sucker punch a million nazis.
Perhaps the primary reasons very few people today know anything about George Padmore is because of this highly unpopular (even today in left circles), but principled position he took almost 100 years ago around this issue. Still, he should always be acknowledged for his contribution to this consciousness because back in the 30s he was practically the only person writing and organizing from this perspective. And, despite the fact his struggles with Marcus Garvey during that period probably prevented him from giving Garvey credit for his enormous contributions much the same way people today are unable or unwilling to credit Padmore the same way, his work cannot be disputed.
Padmore went on to work with Kwame Nkrumah, Amy Jacque Garvey (the widow of Marcus), ,W.E.B. DuBois, and others to organize the historic 5th Pan-African Congress which propelled the African independence movement which propelled the U.S. civil rights movement/Black Power movement, etc. Eventually, Padmore settled in Ghana as an invited adviser to the socialist government of Kwame Nkrumah and he resided there until his death in 1959. Today, there is the George Padmore Library in Ghana as a monument to the outstanding contributions of the great son of Africa. Our best tribute to him will be the continued realization that fascism is a byproduct of capitalism and colonialist domination, not something separate and independent from it.