All revolutions and counterrevolutions are premised on some kind of a social and political ontology. The categorization of particular beings in order to inflict some kind of violence and impose a way of being is invariably premised on certain anthropological and ontological propositions. This makes all revolutions to be fundamentally epistemological. The political ontology is complemented by a political structure which forces a particular people to exist in accordance with it in the interest of the powerful. Power and revolution commence at the level of ideas. The African revolution will certainly not be an exception in this regard. In this short essay we will proffer some kind of prolegomenon to any philosophical anthropology and political ontology of an African revolution. This prolegomenon will draw from the philosophy of Ubuntu and connect this African philosophy with Radical Garveyism to ground what we will designate a dyadic dialectical ontology as opposed to a triadic dialectical ontology which is rampant at this stage. The difference between these two dialectical ontologies will become manifest as this essay unfolds.
At the very core of culture and civilization is the notion of being and being human. Everything a culture and civilization produce or create is fundamentally a reflection of its notion of the latter as per the given linguistic structure. The evolution of culture and civilization are the expression of the idea of being and being human as it is formulated and refined over time. When different cultures and civilizations encounter each, they have already developed different notions of being and being human. What confuses people from these different cultures and civilizations encountering each is the attempt to see in each other what they already know of themselves. The encounter fundamentally raises the question, are they human to an extent that we understand the human? The question of course emanates from dissimilar worldviews and cultures and for particular political purposes. The answer can either be positive or negative and political consequences are at stake here. The clash or compatibility between these people depends on the interpretation of the notions of the human emanating from this encounter. In many instances the conclusion arrived at can be a matter of life and death. The survival of a whole culture and civilization can hinge on whether or not they think the other people they are encountering are human and whether or not these people think they are human. This is because the question which arises is, if they are not human what then? And if they think we are not human what then?
The notion of the human which a culture and civilization create is the fundament of its power in the world. Cultures and civilizations are powerful to an extent that they can define themselves as human and be able to live in accordance with this definition. Some cultures and civilizations attain power to an extent that they not only define themselves as human and live in accordance with this definition but also to an extent that they can force and persuade other people to see themselves on their terms and to live in accordance with these terms. Power is fundamentally epistemological. Power sometimes is not about whether a particular view is true or false but whether or not it advances the interest of a particular culture and civilization (the notion of truth is not purely epistemological, but it is also political). It is the idea of reality (and not merely its epistemic status) which a culture and civilization create and defend that founds and sustains Power. At the very constitutive level of the idea of reality is the notion of being and being human.
To live within an idea of reality that is incompatible with a particular culture and civilization is to accept the gradual death of the human (in the epistemological and physical senses) of this culture and civilization. The ontological status of a people is the foundation of its power and survival. Clarity and deeper understanding of one’s notion of the human is a question of life and death. Abandoning one’s notion of the human or mistaking the other as human can put a people’s survival in question.
The disastrous coming of the Europeans inaugurated the attempt to impose the political ontology and philosophical anthropology of these eternal enemies of the Africans. At the core of European conquest is a European philosophical anthropology and political ontology which advance the interest of the Europeans to the detriment of the Africans. European philosophical anthropology and political ontology are not compatible with African philosophical anthropology and ontology which preceded the catastrophic coming of the Europeans. It is significant to bear in mind that not only was the physical process of European conquest violent, but the imposition of the philosophical anthropology and political ontology of these European conquerors was a violent process. Thus, physical violence was premised on epistemological violence. The violence at the level of the idea precedes and grounds violence at the material level. Here the violence of discourse was concretized as a violent praxis in the form of military conquest. Thus, the need for an African philosophical anthropology and ontology is a historical necessity as a counter-process. This implies that our exercise in formulating an African philosophical anthropology and ontology is an affirmation of the role of culture in the liberation struggle as accentuated by the likes of Amilcar Cabral. The fundamental reason why the philosophical anthropologies of the Europeans and the Africans are not compatible is that both of them stem from irreconcilably dissimilar worldviews and cultures. This fact of irreconcilable dissimilarity is the crucial reason why, not only are nonracialism and multiculturalism mistaken in calling for the recognition and celebration of the cultures and civilizations of the Europeans and Africans but also for the harmonious coexistence between the Africans and the Europeans. A fundamental impossibility.
The fundamental antagonism between Africans (Abantu) and Europeans (abelungu) is the core of the nature of an African revolution in terms of Radical Garveyism. Any conception of the essence of an African revolution which does not factor in the irreconcilable ontological difference between Abantu and abelungu will eventuate in absurd liberation ramifications. This fundamental anthropological and ontological difference is not only permanently irreconcilable, but it is constitutively antagonistic. Abantu can only flourish as Abantu to an extent that there are no abelungu in the physical/biological sense anywhere in the world. The theory of nonracialism does not comprehend the constitutive anthropological and ontological antagonism between Abantu and abelungu. This theory of nonracialism whether it is propagated by Sobukwe through the “African tree”, Biko’s African table or the Congress tradition as embodied in among other historical documents, the Freedom Charter and the current constitution is oblivious to the antagonistic nature or essence of European culture and worldview. Europeans/abelungu are not just different ontologically and anthropologically but they are hostile to the existence and flourishing of other modes of being and being human in the world, fundamentally the African…
At the level of culture, the Europeans are the progeny of the Aryans whose identity is fundamentally premised on what Diop appellates the Northern cradle, which is characterized among other things by the desire for conquest and violence. The antagonistic nature of European identity was further reinforced by the Greek philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle whom the Europeans claimed as their intellectual ancestors. The antagonism between the Greek and the barbarian as inferior and a natural slave was formulated by Aristotle. This paucity of hospitality at the anthropological and ontological level as manifested by Aristotle in the form of the fear and hatred of strangers reflects what Marimba Ani designates the asili (the seed) of a culture. In other words when Aristotle was formulating this antagonistic ontology of the Greeks and barbarians he was consciously or unconsciously tapping into a cultural energy and force already embedded in this Aryan culture since its early formation in the glacial environment. The emergence of the European identity at the time of Reconquest of Spain and Portugal was an extension of the antagonistic asili of Aryan culture. While Aristotle formulated at the philosophical level an antagonistic identity for the Greeks of his time as the progeny of the Aryans, the King and Queen of Spain and Portugal in 1492 were formulating and inaugurating at the historical and political level a European identity in an antagonistic fashion in relation to the Africans and the Arabs of the time. The Aryans of Spain and Portugal of 1492 became Europeans to an extent that they were not African or Arab despite the fact that the Arabs are also like the Aryans, the “everlasting enemies” of the African race at least since 639/40 AD to this day and also deserve the same fate as the Aryans/Europeans. At the phenomenological level one can posit that European identity emerges as a Self in opposition to the African and Arab Other (the same process was applied by the Arabs in relation to the Africans). Thus, in the Hegelian sense this constitutively hostile European identity can only sustain itself through domination for fear of being overpowered by the Other who is fundamentally its anthropological and ontological enemy. This historical phenomenology of European identity is one of hostility and violence as per the Northern cradle.
It is important to bear in mind this genealogy of the Aryan/European idea of the Self both collectively and individually. Before 1492, the historical phenomenology of European identity was manifested through the Crusades since 1096 with the anthropological and ontological permutation of the Aristotelian antagonistic ontology and anthropology. This permutation took the form of the Christians and the non-Christians as the enemy of Christ. This means that those who were not Christian (as if everyone is supposed to be one), were not allowed to be who they are apart from being Christian. The Saracens/Arabs as the Other of the phenomenology of European Self-identity were made the successors in title to the Aristotelian barbarians. Thus, the popes of the Crusades were also tapping into the centuries-old asili of the Aryan culture. Their xenophobia which is central to the Northern cradle was reinforced at this particular period of European history to formulate at the religious and political level a constitutively antagonistic European identity. The King and Queen of 1492 in Spain and Portugal were the partners in crime of the popes in developing a historical phenomenology of European identity in line with the Northern cradle and its philosophical formulation by Aristotle.
The doctrine of Discover which spearheaded the so-called voyages of discovery (global criminal campaigns by Europeans) was premised on an antagonistic European identity which rationalized the conquest of the Africans and their domination. At the time of these so-called voyages of discovery European identity was being reformulated in the secular sense to effect a transition from a religious one to a secular one as Sylvia Wynter has posited. The European Man and being were now the epitome of a global and dominant anthropology and ontology. An anthropology and ontology of European humanism was becoming dominant through European Imperialism. This anthropology and ontology of European humanism as much as it was dispersed through Imperialism was later embraced by even the opponents of the latter, the so-called radicals and nationalists. European Man and being became the thesis and the identity in opposition be it Africans/blacks to this thesis became the antithesis. The ultimate synthesis of this anthropological and ontology of European Imperialism and its anti-imperialism was to be true humanity or radical humanism. Fanon and Biko envisaged the emergence of true humanity while Sobukwe held on to the idea that the only race is the human race. This means that “the terms of order” of European Imperialism were not abandoned but were critiqued and reformulated in the interest of all. The resultant mess of this process of epistemological violence was African humanism and black humanism. This epistemological violence was so powerful that it even penetrated the Indigenous notions of being and knowing which are grounded in the Southern cradle. It is important to fathom the idea that there was a dual process in this process of epistemological violence.
The first one of course in the forceful imposition of European humanism and the second process is the reworking within both the terms of order of European Imperialism and the Sothern cradle by these nationalists and radicals. This misguided reworking process eventuated in the absurd syncretism of European humanism and Indigenous notions of being and being human ala African humanism and the absurd extension of the category and status of Abantu to Europeans and other non-Africans. Nonracialism and humanism as propagated by nationalists and radicals in reaction and opposition to European Imperialism are an embodiment of what we designate triadic dialectical ontology and anthropology. In essence this triadic dialectic is premised on the Hegelian dialectic in the sense of thesis, antithesis and synthesis. European bourgeois humanism is castigated for being racist and exclusive while the Indigenous notion of being human is absurdly expanded to include the European Man of bourgeois humanism provided, he repents and relinquishes power, a ridiculous impossibility. European conquerors(abelungu) can now “go native” and become Abantu!! They do not have to be anthropologists and philosophers who are merely interested in studying the natives, but they can successfully immerse themselves in the native way of being in the world as a way of life and not just a method of research. What an amazing and dangerous nonsense.
Underlying this ridiculous process of syncretism is both the devastating impact of the epistemological violence of European Imperialism and the operation of the asili of African culture in terms of the Southern cradle. The xenophilia of the Southern cradle is coalesced with the terms of order of European humanism to propagate some kind of one humanity. The African tree and table metaphors of Sobukwe and Biko as well as the radical humanism of Fanon are grounded in this misguided process. Thus, the pitfalls of African nationalism, Black Consciousness and African Marxism. The former embodies the antithesis to the thesis of European Imperialism and its racist bourgeois humanism. Racist humanism is redeemed in the form of radical humanism, true humanity/humanism and nonracialism. Though fundamental to this absurd synthesis resulting in the latter is the misguided following of the xenophilia of the Southern cradle in the context of enemies who are embedded within the Northern cradle, there is another historical and political process at work here. This invidious process is spearheaded by the nationalists and radicals who in reacting to European Imperialism and its racist bourgeois humanism are as a result of their European miseducation in Carter Woodson’s sense are part of the bourgeois sphere. This bourgeois sphere of courses traces itself to the salons in Europe as Jurgens Habermas posited. This bourgeois sphere comprises of the European “terms of order” to use Cedric Robinson’s phraseology. Christianity and the categories of thought of the European Man suffuses this bourgeois sphere. Many of our nationalists and radicals like Sobukwe, Biko and Fanon are immersed in this bourgeois sphere despite their trenchant critique of European Imperialism as spearheaded by the European bourgeois which accounts for the existence of the bourgeois sphere.
The antithesis of the bourgeois sphere is the counter-sphere/the native sphere within which the Indigenous people are grounded in part due to their less exposure to European miseducation. Within the bourgeois sphere one encounters the terms of order for nonracialism and humanism of the nationalists and radicals. In the counter-sphere/native sphere on the other hand one encounters among other things Indigenous abelungu are not Abantu/ makgowa are not Batho and the Garveyite idea and sentiment of Africa for the Africans to the exclusion of all non-Africans such as Europeans, Indians and Arabs. This idea and sentiment are then subjected to transmogrification by the nationalists and radicals in the interest of their European masters. This discursive attempt to change this idea and sentiment by the Indigenous participants of the bourgeois sphere manifests itself in the contradiction between the ideas of the nationalists and radicals and the political praxis of the Indigenous people in terms of the counter-sphere/native sphere. The prominent example is between PAC and POQO. While within the PAC there is a sense of nonracialism and one human race as formulated by Sobukwe as a participant in the bourgeois sphere, the operatives of POQO departed from the fundamental premise of all Europeans deserving nothing but elimination through the slogan “one settler one bullet”.
This POQO slogan is an embodiment of the Garveyite idea and sentiment of Africa for the Africans thus Europe for the Europeans. This idea and sentiment of the counter-sphere/native sphere while it is radical in contrast to the African tree and table and radical humanism, it must be regarded as failing to take Garveyism to its logical conclusion. Within Azania as a premise of an Azanian revolution it is a good starting point, but it is not sufficient. ALL Eurasians for examples Europeans and Indians in Azania and by extension Arabs on the continent of African should be eliminated by any means necessary. This is clearly in line with historical Garveyism. This historical Garveyism is currently reformulated by Chinweizu in the form of Black Power Pan Africanism. Fundamental to this reformulated version is the call for an African Power-State which is industrialized enough to have nuclear power to protect all Africans across the globe. While this historical Garveyism accepts the global coexistence of Africans and Europeans provided that each has to occupy their continent, this essay calls for a Radical Garveyism which will take its historical version to its logical conclusion. Even though historical Garveyism is not necessarily premised on triadic dialectical ontology of the nationalists and radicals such as Sobukwe, Biko and Fanon, it still accepts the future existence of Europeans in Europe. This means that this historical Garveyism still accepts the coexistence of Africans and Europeans but only suggests the African possession of power as a way of coexisting with Europeans.
Radical Garveyism which this essay calls for is fundamentally premised on the ultimate elimination of the Eurasians for example the Europeans and Arabs (what Ayi Kwei Armah calls the predators and destroyers) from the face of the earth. Dyadic dialectical ontology is the foundation of Radical Garveyism. In terms of this dyadic dialectic the asili of Aryan/European culture is regarded as permanent and thus making Europeans the “everlasting enemies” of Africans to use Chancellor Williams’ locution. According to this dyadic dialectic the European sense of being in the world and being human are constitutively premised on them being in power over the Africans by any means necessary. The Northern cradle as the fundament of the European Self-identity is permanent and thus making Europeans irredeemably dangerous to the biological existence of the African race. Thus, Radical Garveyism as premised on dyadic dialectical ontology pursues the total killing of the European race and other enemies of the African race like Arabs and then ordering the world on African terms of order. Radical Garveyism is basically POQO’s “one settler one bullet” at the global level and not just in Azania (Radical Garveyism= one European one bullet). In other words, Radical Garveyism represents Pan African revolution and the new African-world order in terms of Maat and the supremacy of the African race. Since in the beginning the world was Africa in the end the world shall be Africa.
This essay has endeavoured to formulate an African political philosophy which will ground an African revolution whose teleological objective is the total elimination of the “everlasting enemies” of Abantu, namely abelungu everywhere on the face of the earth. While it would have been ideal to ground this African political philosophy is some kind of a Race-first philosophy of history which foregrounds the idea that nature has produced the African race as the original race and the natural guardians of the earth with special responsibility to preserve itself and by extension the cosmos by any means necessary, the brevity of this essay is not amenable to this very important philosophical foundation of an African revolution in terms of Radical Garveyism.