I made the difficult decision to publish this 76 page manifesto through Amazon.com and this is what I wish to discuss here. Of course, the question is continuously being posed to me. “Is there a way I can purchase the book directly from you instead of Amazon? How can you publish through Amazon? They are so exploitative towards their workers? Etc.”
First, let us remind you that we have been engaging in anti-capitalist organizing for decades, long before many people today even knew how to say the word – capitalism. No one can argue that our work has ever compromised our anti-capitalist, pro-socialist, pro-revolutionary Pan-African foundation and principles. So, if that’s true, why Amazon?
There are multiple variables that people, well meaning I’m sure, just don’t understand about organizing work in general and independent African organizing, and even the publishing industry, in particular. First, I understand and respect people being opposed to oppressive corporations like Amazon. I don’t like them either, but unlike many others, I’m not selective and arbitrary in how I engage capitalism. I recall being 18 and just emerging in activist work. At that time, one of the primary issues in the African liberation world was the anti-apartheid movement against racist segregation in Azania, or what you call South Africa. As a student activist, we figured out that Bank of America invested in racist apartheid South Africa. So, we launched a boycott of Bank of America. As we got more engrained in that movement, I learned that to boycott every company that was in bed with apartheid would mean not even being able to have a drink of water. The point there is good intentions are great, but if you look around you right now the reality is the clothes you are wearing were created with exploited resources and labor in Haiti, etc. The device you are using to read this article, talk on the phone, Google whatever, is functional because of exploited African human and material resources from the Congo and Mozambique. The car, bicycle, or public transportation you utilize uses gasoline coming from exploited countries. The metal used to construct your mode of transportation is built from the same exploited materials. So, everything around us is being utilized through a process of exploitation. If you understand this reality than that should expand the conversation beyond the individualistic moral platitudes many of us unwittingly mistake for honest revolutionary principles. In other words, if you are fighting a physical war against the enemy and the weapons available to you are made by Smith & Wesson, a despicable company that bankrolls the racist National Rifle Association, etc., if the enemy is advancing towards you, do you say “I refuse to fire this weapon to save my and my comrade’s lives (and advance the struggle) because I don’t like the company that made the weapon?” or, do you look at it as you will use that weapon, and any weapon available to you, for a greater objective?
And, none of the above is a justification for Amazon and their corrupt practices. What I am saying is as Kwame Nkrumah said in his historic book “The Handbook of Revolutionary Warfare”, the oppressed when organizing must use whatever resources are available to them.
Also, maybe people just don’t understand how this publishing thing actually works, but just so you know, African people are oppressed and exploited everywhere on earth. The oppressed don’t write history because there are no long line of publishers out here looking for revolutionary Pan-Africanist literature or revolutionary literature coming from anyone. The handful of publishers who are out here are mostly over capacity and unable to commit to more projects due to their limited resources to publish. I know this because I’ve spent the last three years I’ve been writing this manifesto, and the last 10 years I’ve been writing and publishing books, talking to them and trying to find a home for my literature. I’ve spoken to many wonderful people from various countries who have expressed great support for the query letter information I’ve sent them about this manifesto while expressing their inability to work with me for various reasons.
The other challenge for those who keep asking me if they can buy the book from me. My response to them is my objective is to place this book in thousands of hands. Hundreds of thousands. Millions of people. I realize folks surely mean well, but I have no publishing resources and machinery to facilitate carrying out that objective. I don’t have a means to ship thousands of books. I don’t have any of those resources just like you don’t. What I do have is a piece of work I’ve created that I’m trying to figure out how to get into people’s hands everywhere, so please don’t ask independent revolutionary authors if you can buy books from them unless they are only intending upon producing enough copies for a small reading group in the same area and nothing beyond that. Also, don’t ask them to give you books. I don’t know if people believe white supremacists when they keep saying rich European bourgeoisie liberals are funding our work, but if that’s true, somebody owes me millions in back money.
For us as revolutionaries, we have to weigh Nkrumah’s axiom to us and when we do that, the strategy we employ by going through Amazon is working to facilitate our objective. Anyone anywhere can buy the manifesto for the extremely inexpensive pricing I arranged of only $8.00 USD for paperback and $5.00 for digital copies (clearly, based on the pricing, our objective was availability, not profitability). As a result of the low pricing and easy availability, the book is being purchased by people in multiple countries. So, you tell me, at the present time, what’s more important, us getting the word to as many people as we can, as quickly as we can, as mass as we can, without having to come out of our pocket to do so, so that we can build that capacity to overrun Amazon and all of these other capitalist thugs? Or, should we continue to employ the type of arbitrary and selective principles some of you apparently feel are the right way which isn’t producing any meaningful capacity for us to do much of anything?
So, we get it. You don’t like Amazon. We don’t either. We also don’t like the company we pay for electricity and gas. We don’t like Target and the supermarket. We don’t like getting gasoline from Shell and Chevron, etc. What we do like is understanding and respecting the lessons of our ancestors. The most successful slave revolts from Carlota from Nigeria/Cuba to Nanny of the Maroons, to Samory Ture in Guinea to Yaa Asantewaa in Ghana, etc., all contained some level of making the slave master believe they were 100% in charge while simultaneously organizing to overthrow them. A lot of people need to learn the difference between principles and strategy and tactics. Principally, we fight for capitalism’s elimination. Strategically, we use whatever tools are available to us to fulfill our capacity to carry out that objective. If this explanation doesn’t convince you, then you probably don’t want to be convinced so don’t support this manifesto or any independent revolutionary, African, Indigenous, etc., work. And, if you have a better organizing method then we do, we sure wish you would stop keeping it such a secret.