Friday, September 27, 2013

Fanon and Cabral : A contrast in theories of revolution for Africa

LENIN set the tone for most successful revolutions in the twentieth
century when he altered traditional Marxism to suit the conditions of
Russia. Mao Tse-tung followed Lenin's example when he too adjusted
Marxism (and Leninism) to a Chinese environment. It seems to follow,
therefore, that attempts at revolution everywhere should not be mere
imitations of previously successful upheavals but should, instead, be
tailored to fit specific circumstances. Thus, African revolutions should
be made on the basis of African conditions. But such conditions are not,
in general, always easy to discern, nor are separate analyses of those
conditions certain to be similar. This is especially true of the theories of
revolution of two of the most important and influential figures in recent
African history: Frantz Fanon (1925-61) and Amilcar Cabral (I925-

Although a native of Martinique, Fanon's ancestry was African. He
studied medicine in France, became a psychiatrist, and then practiced
in Algeria where he soon found himself involved in the Algerian
Revolution. Fanon's thoughts on revolution were based mainly upon his
knowledge of and experience in much of Africa, especially Algeria.l
Cabral was the organiser and leader of the revolution in the country
of his birth, Guinea-Bissau (formerly Portuguese Guinea). His theories
were a result of his experiences, beginning as a student in Lisbon,
continuing as an agronomist who surveyed the agricultural resources

* Associate Professor of History at California State College, San Bernardino, and co-editor
(with Clifford T. Paynton) of Why Revolution? theories and analyses (Cambridge, Mass., I97I).
1 Fanon's life and thought may be surveyed in the following: G. K. Grohs, 'Frantz
Fanon and the African Revolution', in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge),
vi, 4, December 1968, pp. 543-56; David Caute, Frantz Fanon (New York, 1970); Renate
Zahar, L'Oeuvre de Frantz Fanon (Paris, 1970); Peter Geismar, Fanon (New York, I971);
Pierre Bouvier, Fanon (Paris, 1971); Philippe Lucas, Sociologie deFrantz Fanon (Algiers, 197I);
Paul A. Beckett, 'Frantz Fanon and Sub-Saharan Africa: notes on the contemporary
significance of his thought', in Africa Today (Denver), xIx, 2, Spring 1972, pp. 59-72;
Emmanuel Obiechina, 'Frantz Fanon', in Ufahamu (Los Angeles), III, 2, Fall I972, pp. 97-
116; Irene L. Gendzier, Frantz Fanon: a critical study (New York, 1973); and L. Adele Jinadu,
'Some Aspects of the Political Philosophy of Frantz Fanon', in African Studies Review (East
Lansing), xvi, 2, September I973, pp. 255-89. ROBERT BLACKEY
of his country for the Portuguese Government, and concluding as a
nationalist and revolutionist.1 Both Fanon and Cabral dealt with many
of the aspects of revolution, the former more as an abstract theorist, the
latter more as a party organiser. They examined the nature of revolu-
tion in Africa, the social structure, the utility of party and leadership,
the value of violence, and the role of culture, while they also speculated
upon post-revolutionary society.

The purpose of this article is to discuss and illustrate the differences
and similarities between the theories of these outstanding and original
revolutionists. While it will be the task of others to determine where the
ideas of one or the other, or of anyone else for that matter, are especially
applicable to a given African situation, it is hoped that this attempt at
contrast will be a contribution towards understanding African revolu.
tions and the continent's search for identity.

Fanon and Cabral were essentially men of peace. Neither plunged
immediately into the troubled waters of revolution without first trying
more tranquil currents. Fanon practised at a hospital in Algeria and
tried to work through legitimate channels before he felt compelled to
join the rebels. He explained his position in his letter of resignation
from the hospital at Blida in I956: 'The function of a social structure
is to set up institutions to serve man's needs. A society that drives its
members to desperate solutions is a nonviable society, a society to be
replaced.'2 In the same year a handful of men led by Cabral formed
the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde
(P.A.I.G.C.) - the Cape Verde Islands are some 600 miles off-shore and
considered part of Guinea-Bissau. Earlier attempts at reform had failed,
but for three years the P.A.I.G.C. employed peaceful means to gain
independence. When this also proved unsuccessful other means had to
1 Although there is no biography of Cabral his ideas are discussed in the following:
Ronald H. Chilcote, 'The Political Thought of Amilcar Cabral', in The Journal of Modern
African Studies, vI, 3, October I968, pp. 373-88; Gerard Chaliand, Armed Struggle in Africa:
with the guerrillas in 'Portuguese' Guinea (New York, 1969); Basil Davidson, The Liberation of
Guine: aspects of an African revolution (Baltimore, 1969); Bernard Magubane, 'Amilcar Cabral:
evolution of revolutionary thought', in Ufahamu, II, 2, Fall 197 , pp. 7 I-87; Eduardo Ferreira,
'Theory of Revolution and Background to his Assassination', in Ufahamu, II, 3, Winter 1973,
pp. 49-68; Maryinez L. Hubbard, 'Culture and History in a Revolutionary Context:
approaches to Amilcar Cabral', in Ufahamu, III, 3, Winter 1973, pp. 69-86; and Charles
McCollester, 'The Political Thought of Amilcar Cabral', in The Monthly Review (New York),
xxIV, 10, March I973, pp. Io-21.
2 Frantz Fanon, 'Letter to the Resident Minister' (X956), in Toward the African Revolution

be employed. 'In the beginning', wrote Cabral, 'we thought it would
be possible to fight in the towns, using the experiences of other countries,
but that was a mistake. We tried strikes and demonstrations, but ...
realized this would not work.'l At these points both men became
On the nature of the African revolution Fanon and Cabral were in
general agreement, differing only over emphasis and detail, some of
which, however, is very important. Of the two, Cabral was far more
explicit, but both expected revolution to be more than just a struggle
for independence. For Fanon, revolution was part of the process of the
regeneration of man and society, of self-liberation and rebirth. Only
through revolution could a suppressed people undo the effects of
colonisation. As a psychiatrist, Fanon was particularly interested in the
psychological effects which revolution would have on the colonised
man. For true liberation to occur, he asserted, independence must be
taken, not merely granted; it must be the work of the oppressed them-
selves. It was through the actual struggle that liberation would come,
restoring integrity and pride, as well as the past and the future. 'True
liberation is not that pseudo-independence in which ministers having
a limited responsibility hobnob with an economy dominated by the
colonial past. Liberation is the total destruction of the colonial system.'2
The oppressed must bring all their resources into play because the
struggle is at once total and absolute.
The African revolution, and the larger liberation struggle of colonial
people everywhere, is the fundamental characteristic of the advance of
history in this century, according to Cabral.3 Such a revolution means
the transformation of life in the direction of progress which, in turn,
means national independence, eliminating all foreign domination, and
carefully selecting friends and watching enemies to ensure progress.
'The national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical
personality of that people, its return to history through the destruction
of the imperialist domination to which it was subjected.'4 A people
must free the process of development of the national productive
forces. Thus the struggle is not only against colonialism, but against
neo-colonialism as well.
1 Quoted in David A. Andelman, 'Profile: Amilcar Cabral', in Africa Report (New York),
May 1970, p. 19.
2 Fanon, 'Decolonization and Independence' (1958), in Toward the African Revolution,
p. 105.
3 Amilcar Cabral, 'Guinea and Cabo Verde Against Portuguese Colonialism' (1961), in
Revolution in Guinea: selected texts by Amilcar Cabral (New York,. I969), p. I4.
4 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory' (I966), in ibid. p. Io2. Cabral possessed a vision that encompassed the broad spectrum of
revolution; he had an appreciation of the crucial everyday work of the
struggle that Fanon lacked. He stressed that revolutionists must not
fight for ideas alone, but for material benefits, improved conditions,
and a better future for children. The fight must not be merely for
abstract ideas of liberty and independence, but for local and pressing
grievances and problems.
National liberation, the struggle against colonialism, working for peace and
progress, independence - all these will be empty words without significance
for the people, unless they are translated into real improvements of the
conditions of life. It is useless to liberate a region, if the people of the region
are then left without the elementary necessities of life.1
In other words, it is through gaining supporters by arguing for local
grievances that revolutionists will open the prospect for a better future
wherein the more abstract ideas could be incorporated.
Proceeding further, Cabral emphasised that although the goal of
national independence was unquestionably vital, the struggle itself, to
be truly successful, must continue on three levels: political action,
armed action, and national reconstruction. This means: (i) that
political work must be maintained at all levels of society to establish and
preserve national unity; (ii) party organisation and discipline must be
strengthened and adjusted to the evolution of the struggle to correct
mistakes and hold leaders to proper principles and goals; (iii) the armed
forces must be strengthened and the enemy isolated; (iv) liberated
areas must be defended, kept tranquil, and developed for the benefit
of the people there; (v) more cadres of complete revolutionists must be
trained to be able to go out in the countryside and educate the people;
and (vi) ties must be strengthened with other African nations, and with
anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist forces everywhere.2
Cabral was thorough as he linked the revolution to the daily needs
of the people. But this might have come to nothing without sufficient
education and preparation beforehand. Here Cabral's contribution to
the concept of revolution is especially valuable and, perhaps, unique.
He used his position as a government agronomist during I952-4 to
travel about his country and acquire an intimate knowledge of the life
of his people, thus laying the groundwork for a later time when he would
combine the theory and practice of revolution: 'nobody has yet made a
successful revolution without a revolutionary theory',3 he said, echoing
1 Cabral (I965), quoted in Lars Rudebeck, 'Political Mobilisation for Development in
Guinea-Bissau', in The Journal of Modern African Studies, x, i, May 1972, p. 3.
2 Cabral, 'The Development of the Struggle' (I968), in Revolution in Guinea, pp. 125 f.
3 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory', p. 93.

Lenin. Before the armed struggle was launched, Cabral and his fellow
leaders made a careful analysis of their society; they came to under-
stand the position of the tribal chiefs vis-d-vis the villagers; they exam-
ined the social structure in the towns; they investigated the views of
those who lived without chiefs; and they studied the ways in which
Portuguese colonial exploitation actually affected the every-day life of
the population. This earlier political preparation made the struggle
possible. The tireless work of listening and talking, of directing and
explaining, of relating the P.A.I.G.C. to the people, and vice versa, was
what apparently made the difference between success and failure.
By I960 P.A.I.G.C. members were out in the countryside explaining
their aims and mobilising the people; Cabral had come to believe that
their struggle would need massive rural support before the revolution
began. The small guerrilla band, or foci, as espoused by Che Guevara
and Regis Debray, would not have been enough to spark the struggle.
Instead, a period of two years preparatory political work was under-
taken. This was especially difficult since Guinea-Bissau had an illiteracy
rate of some 99 per cent, a shockingly small number of university
trained men (only 14 prior to I960), and no military academy to teach
tactics and strategy. A political school was founded in Conakry (in the
neighbouring Republic of Guinea) in which, at first, party members
received political instruction and were trained how to mobilise the
masses. Then those peasants and youths who had been recruited went
to the school, whereupon they embarked on an intensive education
programme so that they too could return to the countryside to con-
vince others to join the struggle. The attempt to gain followers avoided
generalisations and pat phrases, using instead questions and informa-
tion that would relate directly to those involved.
We started from the concrete reality of our people. We tried to avoid having
the peasants think that we were outsiders come to teach them how to do
things; we put ourselves in the position of people who came to learn with the
peasants, and in the end the peasants were discovering for themselves why
things had gone badly for them.l
This political preparation was probably the hardest work of the
revolution, but it was also the most useful. By 1962-3 the P.A.I.G.C.
was ready to fight, and the years of preparation proved invaluable.
Fanon, as indicated above, paid little attention to the details of
making a revolution; he was more interested in encouraging their
occurrence. Analysis for the sake of analysis was for intellectuals;
Fanon wrote to arouse, to anger, and to warn against the dangers of
1 Cabral, 'Practical Problems and Tactics' (1968), in Revolution in Guinea, p. I59. I96 ROBERT BLACKEY
exploitation. But he expected the African revolution to proceed along
two stages. First, there would be a period of physical struggle during
which a national programme has to emerge to act as a unifying element
in order to achieve independence. (This was no easy task, and Fanon,
unlike Cabral, did not give it much attention.) Secondly, after inde-
pendence the energies of the revolutionists must be directed into
building a socialist state. Fanon did not encourage a chauvinistic type
of nationalism; as a pan-Africanist he recognised that it was necessary
to hold a people together. But he did favour a nationalism based upon
the genuineness and individuality of the indigenous culture which
would, in turn, unite with other anti-colonial and socialist movements;
such a nationalism, however, has proved elusive.
Fanon's affinity for socialism was, like Cabral's, primarily the result
of circumstance; he was not doctrinaire about it, nor did he feel that
traditional Marxism-Leninism was completely suitable to Africa.
Specifically, neither Marx nor Lenin dealt with the question of race,
probably because it never occurred to them. Fanon took aspects of
Marxism-Leninism and injected the race factor: 'you are rich because
you are white, you are white because you are rich'.l Although he did
not consider himself a Marxist he was sympathetic with the Marxist
approach to revolution. But Fanon emphasised 'underdeveloped
countries' as the agency for change, not 'social class'. Moreover, not
only did Fanon wish to be free from capitalism, but also from any
institutionalised form of communism as well. In fact, it was with
sanguine - though it seems unrealistic - expectations that he looked to
the Third World to create a humanistic society, apart from and inde-
pendent of capitalism and communism.
Cabral similarly did not consider himself a Marxist and modified
Marx on the subject of class in a way only slightly different from
Fanon. 'We agree that history ... is the result of class struggle, but we
have our own class struggles in our own country; the moment imperial-
ism arrived and colonialism arrived, it made us leave our history and
enter another history.'2 Therefore, while the class struggle has con-
tinued it has done so in a modified way. Africa's struggle is against
the ruling class of the imperialist countries; this has given the class
struggle another connotation, and has meant a different evolution for
the African people. 'In colonial conditions no one stratum [or class]
can succeed in the struggle for national liberation on its own, and
1 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (New York edn., 1968), p. 40.
2 Cabral, 'Brief Analysis of the Social Structure in Guinea' (I964), in Revolution in Guinea

therefore it is all the strata [or classes] of society which are the agents
of history.'l Thus, in colonial countries traditional Marxism does not
work; the class struggle does not command history - the entire colonial
state does.
It is in their analysis and discussion of classes where we find the
sharpest contrasts between Fanon and Cabral. It is here that their
fundamental differences lie, and where students of the African revolu-
tion must devote most of their attention, not only in order to make or
understand revolutions, but also because of the foundation 'class'
provides for post-revolutionary society.
There is no doubt that in Africa the peasantry comprises the largest
single group in society. For most of recorded history, as well as for
traditional Marxism, peasants have been the poorest revolutionists.
Fanon recognised their conservatism, and accepted the premise that in
industrial countries they were, generally, the least aware, the worst
organised, and the most reactionary class. Even in the Third World
the peasants were often retrograde and prone to religious fanaticism
and tribal warfare. But in the twentieth century, especially in China
and Vietnam, the peasantry has become revolutionary when provided
with an appropriate ideology, capable leadership, and efficient organ-
isation. Fanon was aware of this, and believed that under stress or
provocation the peasants were capable of uncontrollable rage. Peasants,
he said, had 'bloodthirsty instincts' and were capable of brutality and
violence. Because of this Fanon concluded that they must be an integral
part of the African revolutionary elite since they were the only true and
spontaneously revolutionary force. 'It is clear that in the colonial
countries the peasants alone are revolutionary, for they have nothing
to lose and everything to gain.' Peasants would answer the call of
revolution, thinking of their liberation only in violent terms. 'The
starving peasant, outside the class system, is the first among the ex-
ploited to discover that only violence pays. For him there is no com-
promise, no possible coming to terms.'2
Fanon also selected the peasants as part of the revolutionary elite
because, in the absence of a significant African proletariat, they were in
1 Ibid. p. 69.
2 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 61. For an evaluation of his views on the peasantry,
as well as on class in general, see B. Marie Perinbam, 'Fanon and the Revolutionary Peasan-
try- the Algerian Case', in The Journal of Modern African Studies, xI, 3, September I973,
pp. 427-45; and Martin Staniland, 'Frantz Fanon and the African Political Class', in
African Affairs (London), LXViII, 270, January I969, pp. 4-25. the majority. In addition, the other classes had to be evaluated and
utilised in terms of the peasantry, whose thinking is 'pure' and un-
hampered by the inconsistency and compromise of the urban pro-
letariat and bourgeoisie. For Fanon, even in the post-revolutionary
society the peasants must be central and pivotal; when they become
the politically decisive arm of the revolution the nation will become a
living reality to all its citizens.
Like Fanon, Cabral recognised the importance of the peasants
because their very numbers provided the main strength of the opposi-
tion to foreign domination. Experience taught the P.A.I.G.C. that the
rural masses would 'be the principal force in the struggle for national
liberation '. Also, more than other groups, they have kept their culture
and identity intact. But the peasants in Guinea-Bissau proved to be
most difficult to convince that they were being exploited. Therefore,
although the struggle must be based upon the peasants, Cabral did not
see them as a revolutionary force per se. Here he distinguished between
a physical force, which the peasants are, and a revolutionary force,
which they are not. Admittedly, they comprise most of the population,
control most of the nation's wealth, and do most of the producing. But
to convince them to fight was difficult because, unlike in China, the
peasants of Guinea-Bissau had no tradition of revolt and therefore did
not welcome the revolutionists readily.2 Thus, Fanon and Cabral both
saw the peasants as perhaps central to any African revolutionary
movement although, as we shall see, unable to lead a revolution them-
selves. Where they differed, however, was in the relative faith each had
in the peasants: Fanon saw them as a spontaneous revolutionary force,
whereas for Cabral they were a vital, but difficult to persuade, physical
The two men also differed concerning the roles played by the pro-
letariat and the lumpenproletariat. (Since they did not consider them-
selves Marxists, it is doubtful that they used these words, along with
'bourgeoisie', because they believed in them. Rather, it is suspected,
they employed them symbolically as a basis for comparison with
European revolutionary theory and because they were writing, in
large measure, to a western audience familiar with such terminology.)
The urban or colonial proletariat Cabral preferred to call 'wage-
earners'. Although they were hardly a traditional proletariat, many
became committed to the revolution because, in comparing their
1 Cabral, 'At the United Nations' (1962), in Revolution in Guinea, p. 38. Also see Cabral,
'Identity and Dignity in the National Liberation Struggle', in Africa Today, xix, 4, Fall 1972,
P. 47.
2 Cabral, 'Brief Analysis of the Social Structure', p. 6I.

status to that of European workers doing the same job but earning
more, they developed a consciousness of their exploitation.1 They are a
'little proletariat' and helped to make up the backbone of the revolu-
tion. Nevertheless, the cities themselves are strongholds of colonialism,
and revolutionary activity there must be of a limited and clandestine
nature.2 Fanon, however, had absolutely no use for the colonial pro-
letariat; in fact, he was contemptuous towards African workers who, he
insisted, were like the bourgeoisie in industrial countries: a favoured
class. 'In the colonial territories the proletariat is the nucleus of the
colonized population which has been most pampered by the colonial
regime.'3 They were in a 'comparatively privileged position', and thus
reluctant to attack a system which both created them and guaranteed
their existence. 'In the colonial countries the working class has every-
thing to lose; in reality it represents that fraction of the colonized
nation which is necessary and irreplaceable if the colonial machine is to
run smoothly.'4 To rely on the proletariat, said Fanon, is to try to
transpose European conditions on Africa.
Fanon and Cabral are equally far apart on the question of the
lumpenproletariat. Marx thought this group was incapable of any con-
structive action. Cabral agreed to the extent that they were not to be
trusted because of the assistance they usually give to the colonialists.
But Cabral distinguished between two categories of lumpenproletariat.
He expected nothing from the traditional diclassis, the beggars, prosti-
tutes, pimps, and petty criminals. But the other group of declassis are
those 'young people who are connected to petty bourgeois or workers'
families, who have recently arrived from the rural areas and generally
do not work'.5 This group is astute enough to compare its standard of
living with the colonialists and, with the close relations it has with both
the rural areas and the towns, has the potential for revolutionary
Fanon did not draw a similar distinction between categories of
lumpenproletariat. After beginning in the countryside, he said, the African
revolution would filter into the towns through the lumpenproletariat,
'that fraction of the peasant population which is blocked on the outer
1 Ibid. pp. 62 f.
2 Cabral, 'At the United Nations', p. 37. 3 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. Io8.
4 Ibid. p. 109. Fanon's position on the proletariat, especially in its relationship with the
peasantry, has made subject to criticism by Marxists. See Nguyen Nghe, 'Frantz Fanon et les
problemes de l'independence', in LaPensde (Paris), I07, February 1963, pp. 22-36; andJack
Woddis, Jew Theories of Revolution: a commentary on the views of Frantz Fanon, Rdgis Debray, and
Herbert Marcuse (New York, 1972), pp. 25-175. 5 Cabral, 'Brief Analysis of the Social Structure', p. 59. fringe of the urban centers, that fraction which has not yet succeeded
in finding a bone to gnaw in the colonial system'. Once politicised this
group would be the 'urban spearhead' of the revolution. 'For the
lumpenproletariat, that horde of starving men, uprooted from their tribe
and from their clan, constitutes one of the most spontaneous and the
most radically revolutionary forces of a colonized people.'l Unlike
Cabral's more precise analysis, Fanon's discussion here is highly
romanticised. He expected 'the pimps, the hooligans, the unemployed
and the petty criminals ... all the hopeless dregs of humanity' to be
able to 'recover their balance, once more go forward, and march
proudly in the great procession of the awakened nation'.2
The final class to be evaluated by both men as they formulated their
theories of revolution was the bourgeoisie (i.e. the merchants, business-
men, civil servants, professional people, and a few agricultural land-
owners). To Fanon it was a useless, parasitical class, not even a true
bourgeoisie, but a 'greedy caste, avid and voracious ... It remembers
what it has read in European textbooks and imperceptibly it becomes
not even a replica of Europe, but its caricature.'3 And unlike in Euro-
pean countries, the bourgeois phase in the history of underdeveloped
countries is a useless one, not even promoting an economy to make a
socialist revolution possible. The national middle class which takes over
power at the end of the revolution is underdeveloped itself, and is in
no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country. It
is engaged neither in production, building, nor labour. 'It is completely
canalized into activities of the intermediary type. Its innermost vocation
seems to be to keep in the running and to be part of the racket.'4
Because the national bourgeoisie
is strung up to defend its immediate interests ... sees no further than the end
of its nose, [and] reveals itself incapable of simply bringing national unity
into being, or of building up the nation on a stable and productive basis ...
[it] should not be allowed to find the conditions necessary for its existance
and growth.5
The bourgeoisie only tries to replace the colonial class that had been
removed by the revolution, whereas for Fanon the aim is to redistribute
the productive energies of the nation, not to substitute black bourgeoisie
for white.
Fanon wrote that the bourgeoisie must betray its classical role and
not act like selfish, national bourgeoisie; it must think of the nation
1 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 129.
2 Ibid. p. 130. 3 Ibid. p. 175.
4 Ibid. p. 150. 5 Ibid. pp. I59 and 174f.

above itself and join with the revolutionary forces 'to repudiate its own
nature in so far as it is bourgeois, that is to say in so far as it is the tool
of capitalism, and to make itself the willing slave of that revolutionary
capital which is the people'. But Fanon was not hopeful that the bour-
geoisie would 'follow this heroic, positive, fruitful, and just path;
rather, it disappears with its soul set at peace into the shocking ways
... of a traditional bourgeoisie'.1 Therefore, it must be replaced since
by exploiting the country it is endangering the future.
Fanon resented the national bourgeoisie for another reason. As a
pan-Africanist he was ambivalent towards nationalism which he viewed
as a tool of liberation only. He wanted revolution to overflow national
boundaries to create a new humanism in all of Africa. But the national
bourgeoisie, he feared, put obstacles in the path of his dream. 'This is
why we must understand that African unity can only be achieved
through the upward thrust of the people, and under the leadership of
the people, that is to say, in defiance of the interests of the bourgeoisie.'2
Cabral saw the same alternative facing the bourgeoisie - i.e. joining
the revolution or betraying it - but he expected different results.
Fanon's 'national bourgeoisie' is Cabral's 'native petty bourgeoisie'.
This group emerges out of foreign domination and is indispensible to
the system of colonial exploitation. It stands midway between the
masses and the local representatives of the foreign ruling class. Even
though it is native, the petty bourgeoisie strives to be like the foreign
minority and become integrated with them. But the colonial system
is such, observes Cabral, that this is impossible. Those of the African
middle class 'do not succeed in overcoming the barriers thrown up by
the system. They are prisoners of the social and cultural contradictions
of their lives. They cannot escape their role as a marginal class.'3 The
petty bourgeoisie is the class which inherits power as a result of their
European education and service to the colonial regime; their role in
the African bureaucracy is indispensable. From this situation a feeling
of bitterness and frustration develops which leads to them questioning
their marginal status and rediscovering their identity. This group
among the petty bourgeoisie (as opposed to those committed to, or
compromised with, colonialism) is the only one capable of leading the
revolution, since the peasants are a non-revolutionary force and the
working class is in an embryo state.
The revolutionary petty bourgeoisie must then return to the masses
Ibid. p. 150.
2 Ibid. p. I64.
3 Cabral, 'Identity and Dignity', p. 4

and completely identify with them. This process is slow and uneven,
with many among the bourgeoisie being indecisive. But it is only
through the struggle that they can hope to identify with the masses;
from the African bourgeoisie there arises 'the first important step
toward mobilizing and organizing the masses for the struggle'.' With
the success of the struggle the petty bourgeoisie must continue to lead.
'The moment national liberation comes and the petty bourgeoisie
takes power we enter, or rather return to history, and thus the internal
contradictions break out again.'2 When this happens 'the petty
bourgeoisie can either ally itself with imperialism and the reactionary
strata in its own country to try and preserve itself as a petty bourgeoisie
or ally itself with the workers and peasants'.3 This, finally, means that
for the petty bourgeoisie to fulfil its r6le in the revolution it 'must be
capable of committing suicide as a class in order to be reborn as revo-
lutionary workers, completely identified with the deepest aspirations
of the people to which they belong'.4 This, said Cabral, is the dilemma
of the petty bourgeoisie in the struggle. It is also the fulcrum upon
which turns the success of the revolution.
Thus, although both men could agree on the nature of the dilemma
facing the indigenous bourgeoisie, the results of their respective analyses
pointed in opposite directions. Fanon's bourgeoisie would fail the
revolution and try to use the struggle for its own selfish ends; other
groups would have to ensure the success of the struggle. But Cabral's
bourgeoisie, in sufficient numbers, would- no, must -join forces with
the masses, and become reincarnated in the condition of workers and
peasants to bring about a successful revolution. This is one of the most
important differences between their theories.
Lenin made a distinctive contribution to the theory and practice of
revolution when he substituted party for class as the motive force. The
party, he said, showed the masses the way.5 Virtually all revolutionary
theorists since then have utilised Lenin, in one way or another, in their
analyses of parties and leadership. Fanon and Cabral each recognised
Ibid. p. 47.
2 Cabral, 'Brief Analysis of the Social Structure', p. 69.
8 Ibid. p. 70.
4 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory', p. x o.
6 For a discussion and evaluation of Lenin's theory on, and contribution to, the concept of
revolution, as well as those of others, see Robert Blackey and Clifford T. Paynton, Revolution
and the Revolutionary Ideal (Cambridge, Mass., forthcoming)

the value of efficient leaders for a successful revolution but, as with the
other factors we have surveyed, there are both similarities and dif-
ferences in their considerations.
Fanon, as emphasised above, recognised the conservative nature of
the peasants, as well as their potential for collective and spontaneous
violent action. But peasants lack adequate intellectual leadership
without which the revolution would fail. Such leadership, according to
Fanon, will come from the revolutionary elite in the cities who other-
wise have no base for action. It is crucial for revolutionary leaders to
intervene at the precise moment when peasant hostility erupts against
the colonial force. With outside leadership, momentum can be main-
tained and the insurrection of the peasants can be transformed into a
revolution.' Thus, Fanon hoped to turn peasant violence into an angry
awareness of injustices by merging it with revolutionary leadership.
When peasant revolts occur it is the duty of revolutionary leaders to
move in and direct them.
What Fanon found wrong with most national political parties in
colonial countries was that they were reformist and alienated from the
peasants. He opposed single-party regimes as 'the modern form of the
dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, unmasked, unpainted, unscrupulous,
and cynical'.2 Instead, he urged the more radical and militant members
of those national parties to join with the peasants, and together become
the basis for the political organisation of the revolution. Although he
was not especially specific regarding this organisation, he did develop
the idea of a minority or illegal party, composed of the urban radicals
acting as the ideological vanguard and the masses as their numerical
base.3 This illegal party, then, is led by deviant nationalists who have
reacted against the enclosed character and limited nature of the tradi-
tional national party. They are pushed out of the city to the countryside
where they discover that the peasants, unlike the urban proletariat, are
not indifferent. In this way the role of the peasants in the illegal party
is crucial; the party is the product of the fusion of the peasants with
the urban revolutionary elite (to which the galvanised lumpenproletariat
are later added).
Perhaps because he was in more of a central leadership role in his
revolution than Fanon was in Algeria, Cabral employed greater pre-
cision in discussing the role of party and leadership. Like Fanon he
shared a fear of elites but the P.A.I.G.C. had a real structure that
i Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 'Spontaneity: its strength and weakness', passim.
2 Ibid. p. I65.
3 Ibid. pp. 125-8.

Fanon's vaguer illegal party lacked. 'In our circumstances the Party
equals the State because there is no other means of making the State a
truly national, truly liberating organism',1 wrote Cabral. He sought a
government that would emerge during the struggle, grow from village
roots, and avoid the perils of becoming a privileged minority or an
oligarchical network. 'The Party is the people', said Cabral. 'For us
the people's opinion ... is extremely important, because the Party is
fighting for the people.'2 Cabral's study of the social structure of his
country indicated that for victory to be achieved all the groups of
Guinea-Bissau would have to be united, and not just Fanon's peasants,
lumpenproletariat, and urban leadership. Therefore, one of the primary
functions of the P.A.I.G.C. would be to minimise the conflicts and
contradictions among the various groups and classes making up the
struggle. Only a politically aware, revolutionary party can distinguish
between true national independence and fictitious political indepen-
dence, and then make it known, through the struggle, to the masses.3
During the struggle, liberated areas must be organised so that
colonial rule can be replaced effectively. Autonomous regions must be
eliminated to prevent local potentates from exercising power, selfishly,
over the people. Everything must be tied to the party's central organisa-
tion, with military leadership a part of (and not separate from, nor
superior to) the political. But military effectiveness is vital because the
revolutionists must show the masses that they are at least as powerful as
the colonial army; otherwise they might lose the support of the masses.
Therefore, the party must also train and organise forces to follow-up
the political groundwork. Simultaneously, care must be taken to keep
the guerrillas in contact with the masses and to encourage local
participation. All this is the task of the party for Cabral.
Fanon is probably best known for his views on violence and revo-
lution, a subject about which there is considerable debate.4 Although
he was not especially consistent in his pronouncements on violence,
1 Quoted in Davidson, op. cit. p. 138.
2 Quoted in Chaliand, op. cit. p. 68.
3 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory', p. 105.
4 See A. Norman Klein, 'On Revolutionary Violence', in Studies On The Left (New York),
vi, 3, 1966, pp. 62-82; Barbara Deming, 'On Revolution and Equilibrium', in Liberation
(London), xII, I, February 1968, pp. I0-2I; Louis Coser, 'Fanon and Debray: theorists
of the Third World', in Irving Howe (ed.), Beyond the New Left (New York, 1970); Horace
Sutton, 'Fanon', in Saturday Review (New York), 17 July I97I; Gendzier, op. cit.; and

much of what he said can be understood if all of his views are considered.
Cabral's thoughts on the subject were somewhat similar, although he
was not as preoccupied with violence as Fanon.
During the revolutionary process of seizing freedom, violence,
according to Fanon, is necessarily applied because the very structure of
colonialism is fundamentally violent.
Decolonization, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously,
a program of complete disorder . . . [Colonialism] is violence in its natural
state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.l
Decolonisation involves 'vomiting up' foreign values and this pro-
duces new men. Through violence Africans come to realise that the
colonialists are no different from themselves, that their lives and their
skins are the same. This discovery, according to Fanon, 'shakes the
world in a very necessary manner. All the new, revolutionary assurance
of the natives stems from it.'2 Thus, violence 'makes it possible for the
masses to understand social truths and gives the key to them. Without
the struggle . . . there's nothing but ... [the masses], still living in the
middle ages.'3 Violence and revolution are not only rewards in them-
selves, but means to a greater end as well.
Yet, Fanon admitted that other means may be appropriate if the
situation dictates it. 'If need be, the native can accept a compromise
with colonialism, but never a surrender of principle.'4 A colonised
people must win their war of liberation, he insisted, 'but they must do
so cleanly, without "barbarity" . . . The underdeveloped nation that
practices torture thereby confirms its nature, plays the role of an under-
developed people.'5 The rest of the world, in order to accept a colonised
nation setting itself up as an independent nation, must see the colonised
people, in every one of its acts, as lucid and self-controlled.
Because we believe one cannot rise and liberate oneself in one area and sink
in another, we condemn, with pain in our hearts, those brothers who have
flung themselves into revolutionary action with the almost physiological
brutality that centuries of oppression gave rise to.6
An explanation for this apparent inconsistency may lie in the North
African context in which Fanon found himself, and in the emotional
nature of much of his writing. In Algeria the French were deeply
entrenched with a large colon or settler population, and were determined
to hold on, whatever the cost; the Algerian revolutionists had no
1 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, pp. 36 and 6i.
2 Ibid. p. 45. 3 Ibid. p. I47.
4 Ibid. p. I43. 5 Fanon, A Dying Colonialism (New York edn., I965), p. 24.

alternative to violence. Therefore, when Fanon wrote of violence as 'a
cleansing force . . [freeing] the native from his despair and inaction',l
he was probably referring to Algeria only; he was not celebrating
violence per se. In-fact, he acknowledged that while 'in Algeria the test
of force was inevitable . . other countries through political action and
through the work of clarification undertaken by a party have led their
people to the same results'.2 Thus, Fanon wrote only of a reactive
violence that was an integral part of justice and non-compromise.
Cabral did not devote very much attention to violence, though like
Fanon he realised that it was the essential instrument of imperialist
domination. Revolution and national liberation, he believed, cannot
without the use of liberating violence by the nationalist forces, to answer the
criminal violence of the agents of imperialism . . . Imperialist domination
implies a state of permanent violence against the nationalist forces. There
is no people on earth which, having been subjected to the imperialist yoke
(colonialist or neo-colonialist), has managed to gain its independence
(nominal or effective) without victims.3
Violence needs to be used not only in response to the violence of
imperialism, but also to ensure true national independence. Com-
promises with imperialism, as experience taught Cabral, do not work.
But, as opposed to the French in Algeria, who were well settled, there
have been other colonialists who have not been interested in establishing
that kind of colony. Therefore, in such a situation, as in Guinea-
Bissau with the Portuguese, terrorism need not be employed. A military
struggle is often enough.4
As with most of the components of revolution we have considered,
especially where the two theorists tend to share similar ideas, Cabral
was more organised and attentive to detail than Fanon. But when both
men defined the role of culture in a revolutionary situation, and
speculated about the future, the differences between them are less pro-
nounced. Each employed more generalisations than usual- though
Cabral still less than Fanon - and each was essentially optimistic.
One of the greatest evils of colonialism, according to Fanon, is that
'it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts, disfigures,
Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 94.
2 Ibid. p. I93.
3 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory', p. Io7.
4 Cabral, 'Practical Problems and Tactics', p. 135

and destroys it'. It warns Africans that if the settlers depart then they
'would at once fall back into barbarism, degradation, and bestiality'.1
Colonialism had 'generously' lightened their darkness. But this negative
situation can only be countered when the native turns backwards
towards his unknown roots - then he 'turns himself into the defender of
his people's past; he is willing to be counted as one of them, and hence-
forth he is even capable of laughing at his past cowardice'.2 The purpose
of culture is to utilise the past to open the future, to be an invitation to
action and a basis for hope. 'To fight for national culture means ... to
fight for the liberation of the nation, the material keystone which
makes the building of a culture possible. There is no other fight for
culture which can develop apart from the popular struggle.'3 Thus,
culture aims not only to counteract the evils of colonialism but to
construct the future.
A national culture is the whole body of efforts made by a people in the sphere
of thought to describe, justify, and praise the action through which that
people has created itself and keeps itself in existence. A national culture in
underdeveloped countries should therefore take its place at the very heart
of the struggle for freedom which these countries are carrying on.4
Culture is a vital part of a people's identity in its struggle for freedom.
Cabral agreed. In fact, he went so far as to assert that it is impossible
to create and develop a revolution unless a people keep their culture
alive in the face of continued organised repression of their way of life.
'It is cultural resistance which at a given moment can take on new
forms - political, economic, military-to fight foreign domination.'5
Cabral further observed that in the colonial situation the cultural
influence of the imperial power is limited to the capital and other
urban centres, and then only to small numbers of petty bourgeoisie and
urban workers. As for the masses, they are either completely or almost
untouched by the culture of the colonial power. Since foreigners are not
even interested in promoting culture for the masses, the latter, in turn,
'find that their own culture acts as a bulwark in preserving their
The future, to Fanon's mind, would be bright. Every victory in the
revolutionary struggle 'is a defeat for racism and for the exploitation
of man ... [inaugurating] the unconditional reign of Justice'.7 Fanon
1 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, pp. 21 of.
2 Ibid. p. 2I8. 3 Ibid. p. 233. 4 Ibid. 5 Cabral, 'Identity and Dignity', pp. 40f.
6 Ibid. p. 41.
7 Fanon, 'Algeria Face to Face with the French Torturers' (1957), in Toward the Africa

did not elaborate upon what would happen after the success of the
revolution. His emphasis was on redistribution rather than upon
material creation. Moreover, he viewed the struggle for liberation as
part of a larger African-wide movement for a democratic and social
revolution. But in pursuing this goal, Fanon warned, none of the
African nations could afford to imitate western and capitalistic ways
of life; in fact, none should dare imitate the West because it would only
lead to a similar moral and spiritual debasement. He tried to minimise
the differences between Arab Africa and Black Africa because they, as
well as the other divisions of the continent, in no way reflected tribal
differences, geographic realities, or economic and social factors. They
were, instead, the 'gift' of Europe to Africa. Fanon believed that
common interests should bring Africans together in order to 'try to set
afoot a new man'.1
Cabral also believed in looking to the future, beyond the struggle for
national liberation, to the economic, social, and cultural evolution of
the people on their road to progress. He, too, opposed 'narrow national-
isms which do not serve the true interests of the people' and favoured
instead an 'African unity, on a regional or continental scale, inasfar as
it is necessary for the progress of the African peoples'.2 Although he
expected tribal differences to disappear with the success of the struggle
as they were absorbed by the new social order, he still recognised that
everyday conditions must also be changed. The most important thing
of all, he said, 'is an understanding of our people's situation . . .We
must assure [them] that those who bear arms are sons of the people and
that arms are no better than the tools of labor.'3 The purpose and goal
of the revolution is to protect the man with the tool.
Fanon was more concerned with making the revolution than with
predicting the future in much detail. His writings were intended to be a
part of the war against colonialism and imperialism. He saw hope for
Africa in all the people of the continent coming to grips with the
problems of unity and solidarity, so that they could collectively pursue
the best interests of all concerned, especially those of the masses, in the
quest for total liberation. Fanon was a brilliant propagandist of revolu-
tion, a prophet of hope for the oppressed.
1 Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, p. 316.
2 Cabral, 'Guinea and Cabo Verde Against Portuguese Colonialism', p. 17.
3 Quoted in Chaliand, op. cit. p. 35

Less emotional than Fanon, Cabral was also a prophet of hope. He,
too, was primarily concerned with making the revolution, but he
placed it under the microscope of analysis in a way Fanon did not.
More than any other revolutionist in this century, with the exception of
Lenin and Mao Tse-tung, Cabral lived, breathed, and thought through
his people's revolution as a unique event. He was laying down a
cardinal principle when he said that 'it is necessary for each people to
find its own formula for mobilizing for the struggle'.l Each country
entering upon a path of revolution must look to its own internal con-
tradictions and problems.
Our own reality - however fine and attractive the reality of others may be -
can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by
our own sacrifices . . . However great the similarity between our various
cases and however identical our enemies, national liberation and social
revolution are not exportable commodities.2
He was a high-principled but practical and far-sighted revolutionist.
In lieu of Cabral's advice no conclusion that unequivocably decides
in favour of either revolutionist would be in order. Fanon, to be sure,
is the better known and more widely read. His words pound on the
doors of consciences; what he says comes from the heart and swells the
body to action. But Fanon, as we have observed, is sometimes con-
tradictory and his generalisations often lack supportive evidence.
However valuable Fanon may be, he should not be taken as the sole
guide for the African revolution. Cabral is more an excellent companion
than an alternative, while their differences can be overcome by follow-
ing his advice to find the proper formula for a given situation.
Both Fanon and Cabral fell victim to a cancer, the former to the
kind medical science is attempting to conquer, the latter to the variety
for which revolution seeks a cure. The differences in their theories of
revolution are important to evaluate, but it must also be noted that
they were seeking a similar future for their people.
1 Cabral, 'Practical Problems and Tactics', pp. 159f.
2 Cabral, 'The Weapon of Theory', p. 92.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Weapon of Theory - Amilcar Cabral 1966

Address delivered to the first Tricontinental Conference of the Peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America held in Havana in January, 1966.

If any of us came to Cuba with doubts in our mind about the solidity, strength, maturity and vitality of the Cuban Revolution, these doubts have been removed by what we have been able to see. Our hearts are now warmed by an unshakeable certainty which gives us courage in the difficult but glorious struggle against the common enemy: no power in the world will be able to destroy this Cuban Revolution, which is creating in the countryside and in the towns not only a new life but also — and even more important — a New Man, fully conscious of his national, continental and international rights and duties. In every field of activity the Cuban people have made major progress during the last seven years, particularly in 1965, Year of Agriculture.
We believe that this constitutes a particular lesson for the national liberation movements, especially for those who want their national revolution to be a true revolution. Some people have not failed to note that a certain number of Cubans, albeit an insignificant minority, have not shared the joys and hopes of the celebrations for the seventh anniversary because they are against the Revolution. It is possible that others will not be present at the celebrations of the eighth anniversary, but we would like to state that we consider the ‘open door’ policy for enemies of the Revolution to be a lesson in courage, determination, humanity and confidence in the people, another political and moral victory over the enemy; and to those who are worried, in a spirit of friendship, about the dangers which many be involved in this exodus, we guarantee that we, the peoples of the countries of Africa, still completely dominated by Portuguese colonialism, are prepared to send to Cuba as many men and women as may be needed to compensate for the departure of those who for reasons of class or of inability to adapt have interests or attitudes which are incompatible with the interests of the Cuban people. Taking once again the formerly hard and tragic path of our ancestors (mainly from Guinea and Angola) who were taken to Cuba as slaves, we would come now as free men, as willing workers and Cuban patriots, to fulfill a productive function in this new, just and multi-racial society, and to help and defend with our own lives the victories of the Cuban people. Thus we would strengthen both all the bonds of history, blood and culture which unite our peoples with the Cuban people, and the spontaneous giving of oneself, the deep joy and infectious rhythm which make the construction of socialism in Cuba a new phenomenon for the world, a unique and, for many, unaccustomed event.
We are not going to use this platform to rail against imperialism. An African saying very common in our country says: “When your house is burning, it’s no use beating the tom-toms.” On a Tricontinental level, this means that we are not going to eliminate imperialism by shouting insults against it. For us, the best or worst shout against imperialism, whatever its form, is to take up arms and fight. This is what we are doing, and this is what we will go on doing until all foreign domination of our African homelands has been totally eliminated.
Our agenda includes subjects whose meaning and importance are beyond question and which show a fundamental preoccupation withstruggle. We note, however, that one form of struggle which we consider to be fundamental has not been explicitly mentioned in this programme, although we are certain that it was present in the minds of those who drew up the programme. We refer here to the struggle against our own weaknesses. Obviously, other cases differ from that of Guinea; but our experience has shown us that in the general framework of daily struggle this battle against ourselves — no matter what difficulties the enemy may create — is the most difficult of all, whether for the present or the future of our peoples. This battle is the expression of the internal contradictions in the economic, social, cultural (and therefore historical) reality of each of our countries. We are convinced that any national or social revolution which is not based on knowledge of this fundamental reality runs grave risk of being condemned to failure.
When the African peoples say in their simple language that “no matter how hot the water from your well, it will not cook your rice,” they express with singular simplicity a fundamental principle, not only of physics, but also of political science. We know that the development of a phenomenon in movement, whatever its external appearance, depends mainly on its internal characteristics. We also know that on the political level our own reality — however fine and attractive the reality of others may be — can only be transformed by detailed knowledge of it, by our own efforts, by our own sacrifices. It is useful to recall in this Tricontinental gathering, so rich in experience and example, that however great the similarity between our various cases and however identical our enemies, national liberation and social revolution are not exportable commodities; they are, and increasingly so every day, the outcome of local and national elaboration, more or less influenced by external factors (be they favorable or unfavorable) but essentially determined and formed by the historical reality of each people, and carried to success by the overcoming or correct solution of the internal contradictions between the various categories characterising this reality. The success of the Cuban revolution, taking place only 90 miles from the greatest imperialist and anti-socialist power of all time, seems to us, in its content and its way of evolution, to be a practical and conclusive illustration of the validity of this principle.
However we must recognize that we ourselves and the other liberation movements in general (referring here above all to the African experience) have not managed to pay sufficient attention to this important problem of our common struggle.
The ideological deficiency, not to say the total lack of ideology, within the national liberation movements — which is basically due to ignorance of the historical reality which these movements claim to transform — constitutes one of the greatest weaknesses of our struggle against imperialism, if not the greatest weakness of all. We believe, however, that a sufficient number of different experiences has already been accumulated to enable us to define a general line of thought and action with the aim of eliminating this deficiency. A full discussion of this subject could be useful, and would enable this conference to make a valuable contribution towards strengthening the present and future actions of the national liberation movements. This would be a concrete way of helping these movements, and in our opinion no less important than political support or financial assistance for arms and suchlike.
It is with the intention of making a contribution, however modest, to this debate that we present here our opinion of the foundations and objectives of national liberation in relation to the social structure. This opinion is the result of our own experiences of the struggle and of a critical appreciation of the experiences of others. To those who see in it a theoretical character, we would recall that every practice produces a theory, and that if it is true that a revolution can fail even though it be based on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory.
Those who affirm — in our case correctly — that the motive force of history is the class struggle would certainly agree to a revision of this affirmation to make it more precise and give it an even wider field of application if they had a better knowledge of the essential characteristics of certain colonized peoples, that is to say peoples dominated by imperialism. In fact in the general evolution of humanity and of each of the peoples of which it is composed, classes appear neither as a generalized and simultaneous phenomenon throughout the totality of these groups, nor as a finished, perfect, uniform and spontaneous whole. The definition of classes within one or several human groups is a fundamental consequence of the progressive development of the productive forces and of the characteristics of the distribution of the wealth produced by the group or usurped from others. That is to say that the socio-economic phenomenon ‘class’ is created and develops as a function of at least two essential and interdependent variables — the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership of the means of production. This development takes place slowly, gradually and unevenly, by quantitative and generally imperceptible variations in the fundamental components; once a certain degree of accumulation is reached, this process then leads to a qualitative jump, characterized by the appearance of classes and of conflict between them.
Factors external to the socio-economic whole can influence, more or less significantly, the process of development of classes, accelerating it, slowing it down and even causing regressions. When, for whatever reason, the influence of these factors ceases, the process reassumes its independence and its rhythm is then determined not only be the specific internal characteristics of the whole, but also by the resultant of the effect produced in it by the temporary action of the external factors. On a strictly internal level the rhythm of the process may vary, but it remains continuous and progressive. Sudden progress is only possible as a function of violent alterations — mutations — in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership. These violent transformations carried out within the process of development of classes, as a result of mutations in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership, are generally called, in economic and political language, revolutions.
Clearly, however, the possibilities of this process are noticeably influenced by external factors, and particularly by the interaction of human groups. This interaction is considerably increased by the development of means of transport and communication which as created the modern world, eliminating the isolation of human groups within one area, of areas within one continent, and between continents. This development, characteristic of a long historical period which began with the invention of the first means of transport, was already more evident at the time of the Punic voyages and in the Greek colonization, and was accentuated by maritime discoveries, the invention of the steam engine and the discovery of electricity. And in our own times, with the progressive domesticization of atomic energy it is possible to promise, if not to take men to the stars, at least to humanize the universe.
This leads us to pose the following question: does history begin only with the development of the phenomenon of ‘class’, and consequently of class struggle? To reply in the affirmative would be to place outside history the whole period of life of human groups from the discovery of hunting, and later of nomadic and sedentary agriculture, to the organization of herds and the private appropriation of land. It would also be to consider — and this we refuse to accept — that various human groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America were living without history, or outside history, at the time when they were subjected to the yoke of imperialism. It would be to consider that the peoples of our countries, such as the Balantes of Guinea, the Coaniamas of Angola and the Macondes of Mozambique, are still living today — if we abstract the slight influence of colonialism to which they have been subjected — outside history, or that they have no history.
Our refusal, based as it is on concrete knowledge of the socio-economic reality of our countries and on the analysis of the process of development of the phenomenon ‘class’, as we have seen earlier, leads us to conclude that if class struggle is the motive force of history, it is so only in a specific historical period. This means that before the class struggle — and necessarily after it, since in this world there is no before without an after — one or several factors was and will be the motive force of history. It is not difficult to see that this factor in the history of each human group is the mode of production — the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership — characteristic of that group. Furthermore, as we have seen, classes themselves, class struggle and their subsequent definition, are the result of the development of the productive forces in conjunction with the pattern of ownership of the means of production. It therefore seems correct to conclude that the level of productive forces, the essential determining element in the content and form of class struggle, is the true and permanent motive force of history.
If we accept this conclusion, then the doubts in our minds are cleared away. Because if on the one hand we can see that the existence of history before the class struggle is guaranteed, and thus avoid for some human groups in our countries — and perhaps in our continent — the sad position of being peoples without any history, then on the other hand we can see that history has continuity, even after the disappearance of class struggle or of classes themselves. And as it was not we who postulated — on a scientific basis — the fact of the disappearance of classes as a historical inevitability, we can feel satisfied at having reached this conclusion which, to a certain extent, re-establishes coherence and at the same time gives to those peoples who, like the people of Cuba, are building socialism, the agreeable certainty that they will not cease to have a history when they complete the process of elimination of the phenomenon of ‘class’ and class struggle within their socio-economic whole. Eternity is not of this world, but man will outlive classes and will continue to produce and make history, since he can never free himself from the burden of his needs, both of mind and of body, which are the basis of the development of the forces of production.
The foregoing, and the reality of our times, allow us to state that the history of one human group or of humanity goes through at least three stages. The first is characterized by a low level of productive forces — of man’s domination over nature; the mode of production is of a rudimentary character, private appropriation of the means of production does not yet exist, there are no classes, nor, consequently, is there any class struggle. In the second stage, the increased level of productive forces leads to private appropriation of the means of production, progressively complicates the mode of production, provokes conflicts of interests within the socio-economic whole in movement, and makes possible the appearance of the phenomena ‘class’ and hence of class struggle, the social expression of the contradiction in the economic field between the mode of production and private appropriation of the means of production. In the third stage, once a certain level of productive forces is reached, the elimination of private appropriation of the means of production is made possible, and is carried out, together with the elimination of the phenomenon ‘class’ and hence of class struggle; new and hitherto unknown forces in the historical process of the socio-economic whole are then unleashed.
In politico-economic language, the first stage would correspond to the communal agricultural and cattle-raising society, in which the social structure is horizontal, without any state; the second to feudal or assimilated agricultural or agro-industrial bourgeois societies, with a vertical social structure and a state; the third to socialist or communist societies, in which the economy is mainly, if not exclusively, industrial (since agriculture itself becomes a form of industry) and in which the state tends to progressively disappear, or actually disappears, and where the social structure returns to horizontality, at a higher level of productive forces, social relations and appreciation of human values.
At the level of humanity or of part of humanity (human groups within one area, of one or several continents) these three stages (or two of them) can be simultaneous, as is shown as much by the present as by the past. This is a result of the uneven development of human societies, whether caused by internal reasons or by one or more external factors exerting an accelerating or slowing-down influence on their evolution. On the other hand, in the historical process of a given socio-economic whole each of the above-mentioned stages contains, once a certain level of transformation is reached, the seeds of the following stage.
We should also note that in the present phase of the life of humanity, and for a given socio-economic whole, the time sequence of the three characteristic stages is not indispensable. Whatever its level of productive forces and present social structure, a society can pass rapidly through the defined stages appropriate to the concrete local realities (both historical and human) and reach a higher stage of existence. This progress depends on the concrete possibilities of development of the society’s productive forces and is governed mainly by the nature of the political power ruling the society, that is to say, by the type of state or, if one likes, by the character of the dominant class or classes within the society.
A more detailed analysis would show that the possibility of such a jump in the historical process arises mainly, in the economic field, from the power of the means available to man at the time for dominating nature, and, in the political field, from the new event which has radically clanged the face of the world and the development of history, the creation of socialist states.
Thus we see that our peoples have their own history regardless of the stage of their economic development. When they were subjected to imperialist domination, the historical process of each of our peoples (or of the human groups of which they are composed) was subjected to the violent action of an exterior factor. This action — the impact of imperialism on our societies — could not fail to influence the process of development of the productive forces in our countries and the social structures of our countries, as well as the content and form of our national liberation struggles.
But we also see that in the historical context of the development of these struggles, our peoples have the concrete possibility of going from their present situation of exploitation and underdevelopment to a new stage of their historical process which can lead them to a higher form of economic, social and cultural existence.
The political statement drawn up by the international preparatory committee of this conference, for which we reaffirm our complete support, placed imperialism, by clear and succinct analysis, in its economic context and historical co-ordinates. We will not repeat here what has already been said in the assembly. We will simply state that imperialism can be defined as a worldwide expression of the search for profits and the ever-increasing accumulation of surplus value by monopoly financial capital, centered in two parts of the world; first in Europe, and then in North America. And if we wish to place the fact of imperialism within the general trajectory of the evolution of the transcendental factor which has changed the face of the world, namely capital and the process of its accumulation, we can say that imperialism is piracy transplanted from the seas to dry land piracy reorganized, consolidated and adapted to the aim of exploiting the natural and human resources of our peoples. But if we can calmly analyze the imperialist phenomenon, we will not shock anybody by admitting that imperialism — and everything goes to prove that it is in fact the last phase in the evolution of capitalism — has been a historical necessity, a consequence of the impetus given by the productive forces and of the transformations of the means of production in the general context of humanity, considered as one movement, that is to say a necessity like those today of the national liberation of peoples, the destruction of capital and the advent of socialism.
The important thing for our peoples is to know whether imperialism, in its role as capital in action, has fulfilled in our countries its historical mission: the acceleration of the process of development of the productive forces and their transformation in the sense of increasing complexity in the means of production; increasing the differentiation between the classes with the development of the bourgeoisie, and intensifying the class struggle; and appreciably increasing the level of economic, social and cultural life of the peoples. It is also worth examining the influences and effects of imperialist action on the social structures and historical processes of our peoples.
We will not condemn nor justify imperialism here; we will simply state that as much on the economic level as on the social and cultural level, imperialist capital has not remotely fulfilled the historical mission carried out by capital in the countries of accumulation. This means that if, on the one had, imperialist capital has had, in the great majority of the dominated countries, the simple function of multiplying surplus value, it can be seen on the other hand that the historical capacity of capital (as indestructible accelerator of the process of development of productive forces) depends strictly on its freedom, that is to say on the degree of independence with which it is utilized. We must however recognize that in certain cases imperialist capital or moribund capitalism has had sufficient self-interest, strength and time to increase the level of productive forces (as well as building towns) and to allow a minority of the local population to attain a higher and even privileged standard of living, thus contributing to a process which some would call dialectical, by widening the contradictions within the societies in question. In other, even rarer cases, there has existed the possibility of accumulation of capital, creating the conditions for the development of a local bourgeoisie.
On the question of the effects of imperialist domination on the social structure and historical process of our peoples, we should first of all examine the general forms of imperialist domination. There are at least two forms: the first is direct domination, by means of a power made up of people foreign to the dominated people (armed forces police, administrative agents and settlers); this is generally called classical colonialism orcolonialism is indirect domination, by a political power made up mainly or completely of native agents; this is called neocolonialism.
In the first case, the social structure of the dominated people, whatever its stage of development, can suffer the following consequences: (a) total destruction, generally accompanied by immediate or gradual elimination of the native population and, consequently, by the substitution of a population from outside; (b) partial destruction, generally accompanied by a greater or lesser influx of population from outside; (c) apparent conservation, conditioned by confining the native society to zones or reserves generally offering no possibilities of living, accompanied by massive implantation of population from outside.
The two latter cases are those which we must consider in the framework of the problematic national liberation, and they are extensively present in Africa. One can say that in either case the influence of imperialism on the historical process of the dominated people produces paralysis, stagnation and even in some cases regression in this process. However this paralysis is not complete. In one sector or another of the socio-economic whole in question, noticeable transformations can be expected, caused by the permanent action of some internal (local) factors or by the action of new factors introduced by the colonial domination, such as the introduction of money and the development of urban centers. Among these transformations we should anticipate a progressive loss of prestige of the ruling native classes or sectors, the forced or voluntary exodus of part of the peasant population to the urban centers, with the consequent development of new social strata; salaried workers, clerks, employees in commerce and the liberal professions, and an instable stratum of unemployed. In the countryside there develops, with very varied intensity and always linked to the urban milieu, a stratum made up of small landowners. In the case of neo-colonialism, whether the majority of the colonized population is of native or foreign origin, the imperialist action takes the form of creating a local bourgeoisie or pseudo-bourgeoisie, controlled by the ruling class of the dominating country.
The transformations in the social structure are not so marked in the lower strata, above all in the countryside, which retains the characteristics of the colonial phase; but the creation of a native pseudo-bourgeoisie which generally develops out of a petty bourgeoisie of bureaucrats and accentuates the differentiation between the social strata and intermediaries in the commercial system (compradores), by strengthening the economic activity of local elements, opens up new perspectives in the social dynamic, mainly by the development of an urban working class, the introduction of private agricultural property and the progressive appearance of an agricultural proletariat. These more or less noticeable transformations of the social structure, produced by a significant increase in the level of productive forces, have a direct influence on the historical process of the socio-economic whole in question. While in classical colonialism this process is paralyzed, neo-colonialist domination, by allowing the social dynamic to awaken (conflicts of interests between native social strata or class struggles), creates the illusion that the historical process is returning to its normal evolution. This illusion will be reinforced by the existence of a political power (national state) composed of native elements. In reality it is scarcely even an illusion, since the submission of the local ‘ruling’ class to the ruling class of the dominating country limits or prevents the development of the national productive forces.
But in the concrete conditions of the present-day world economy this dependence is fatal and thus the local pseudo-bourgeoisie, however nationalist it may be, cannot effectively fulfill its historical function; it cannot freely direct the development of the productive forces; in brief it cannot be a national bourgeoisie. For as we have seen, the productive forces are the motive force of history, and total freedom of the process of their development is an indispensable condition for their proper functioning.
We therefore see that both in colonialism and in neo-colonialism the essential characteristic of imperialist domination remains the same: the negation of the historical process of the dominated people by means of violent usurpation of the freedom of development of the national productive forces. This observation, which identifies the essence of the two apparent forms of imperialist domination, seems to us to be of major importance for the thought and action of liberation movements, both in the course of struggle and after the winning of independence.
On the basis of this, we can state that national liberation is the phenomenon in which a given socio-economic whole rejects the negation of its historical process. In other words, the national liberation of a people is the regaining of the historical personality of that people, its return to history through the destruction of the imperialist domination to which it was subjected.
We have seen that violent usurpation of the freedom of the process of development of the productive forces of the dominated socio-economic whole constitutes the principal and permanent characteristic of imperialist domination, whatever its form. We have also seen that this freedom alone can guarantee the normal development of the historical process of a people. We can therefore conclude that national liberation exists only when the national productive forces have been completely freed from every kind of foreign domination.
It is often said that national liberation is based on the right of every people to freely control its own destiny and that the objective of this liberation is national independence. Although we do not disagree with this vague and subjective way of expressing a complex reality, we prefer to be objective, since for us the basis of national liberation, whatever the formulas adopted on the level of international law, is the inalienable right of every people to have its own history, and the objective of national liberation is to regain this right usurped by imperialism, that is to say, to free the process of development of the national productive forces.
For this reason, in our opinion, any national liberation movement which does not take into consideration this basis and this objective may certainly struggle against imperialism, but will surely not be struggling for national liberation.
This means that, bearing in mind the essential characteristics of the present world economy, as well as experiences already gained in the field of anti-imperialist struggle, the principal aspect of national liberation struggle is the struggle against neo-colonialism. Furthermore, if we accept that national liberation demands a profound mutation in the process of development of the productive forces, we see that this phenomenon of national liberation necessarily corresponds to a revolution. The important thing is to be conscious of the objective and subjective conditions in which this revolution can be made and to know the type or types of struggle most appropriate for its realization.
We are not going to repeat here that these conditions are favorable in the present phase of the history of humanity; it is sufficient to recall that unfavorable conditions also exist, just as much on the international level as on the internal level of each nation struggling for liberation.
On the international level, it seems to us that the following factors, at least, are unfavorable to national liberation movements: the neo-colonial situation of a great number of states which, having won political independence, are now tending to join up with others already in that situation; the progress made by neo-capitalism, particularly in Europe, where imperialism is adopting preferential investments, encouraging the development of a privileged proletariat and thus lowering the revolutionary level of the working classes; the open or concealed neo-colonial position of some European states which, like Portugal, still have colonies; the so-called policy of ‘aid for undeveloped countries’ adopted by imperialism with the aim of creating or reinforcing native pseudo-bourgeoisies which are necessarily dependent on the international bourgeoisie, and thus obstructing the path of revolution; the claustrophobia and revolutionary timidity which have led some recently independent states whose internal economic and political conditions are favorable to revolution to accept compromises with the enemy or its agents; the growing contradictions between anti-imperialist states; and, finally, the threat to world peace posed by the prospect of atomic war on the part of imperialism. All these factors reinforce the action of imperialism against the national liberation movements.
If the repeated interventions and growing aggressiveness of imperialism against the peoples can be interpreted as a sign of desperation faced with the size of the national liberation movements, they can also be explained to a certain extent by the weaknesses produced by these unfavorable factors within the general front of the anti-imperialist struggle.
On the internal level, we believe that the most important weaknesses or unfavorable factors are inherent in the socio-economic structure and in the tendencies of its evolution under imperialist pressure, or to be more precise in the little or no attention paid to the characteristics of this structure and these tendencies by the national liberation movements in deciding on the strategy of their struggles.
By saying this we do not wish to diminish the importance of other internal factors which are unfavorable to national liberation, such as economic under-development, the consequent social and cultural backwardness of the popular masses, tribalism and other contradictions of lesser importance. It should however be pointed out that the existence of tribes only manifests itself as an important contradiction as a function of opportunistic attitudes, generally on the part of detribalised individuals or groups, within the national liberation movements. Contradictions between classes, even when only embryonic, are of far greater importance than contradictions between tribes.
Although the colonial and neo-colonial situations are identical in essence, and the main aspect of the struggle against imperialism is neo-colonialist, we feel it is vital to distinguish in practice these two situations. In fact the horizontal structure, however it may differ from the native society, and the absence of a political power composed of national elements in the colonial situation make possible the creation of a wide front of unity and struggle, which is vital to the success of the national liberation movement. But this possibility does not remove the need for a rigorous analysis of the native social structure, of the tendencies of its evolution, and for the adoption in practice of appropriate measures for ensuring true national liberation. While recognizing that each movement knows best what to do in its own case, one of these measures seems to us indispensable, namely, the creation of a firmly united vanguard, conscious of the true meaning and objective of the national liberation struggle which it must lead. This necessity is all the more urgent since we know that with rare exceptions the colonial situation neither permits nor needs the existence of significant vanguard classes (working class conscious of its existence and rural proletariat) which could ensure the vigilance of the popular masses over the evolution of the liberation movement. On the contrary, the generally embryonic character of the working classes and the economic, social and cultural situation of the physical force of most importance in the national liberation struggle-the peasantry-do not allow these two main forces to distinguish true national independence from fictitious political independence. Only a revolutionary vanguard, generally an active minority, can be aware of this distinction from the start and make it known, through the struggle, to the popular masses. This explains the fundamentally political nature of the national liberation struggle and to a certain extent makes the form of struggle important in the final result of the phenomenon of national liberation.
In the neo-colonial situation the more or less vertical structure of the native society and the existence of a political power composed of native elements-national state-already worsen the contradictions within that society and make difficult if not impossible the creation of as wide a front as in the colonial situation. On the one hand the material effects (mainly the nationalization of cadres and the increased economic initiative of the native elements, particularly in the commercial field) and the psychological effects (pride in the belief of being ruled by one’s own compatriots, exploitation of religious or tribal solidarity between some leaders and a fraction of the masses) together demobilize a considerable part of the nationalist forces. But on the other hand the necessarily repressive nature of the neo-colonial state against the national liberation forces, the sharpening of contradictions between classes, the objective permanence of signs and agents of foreign domination (settlers who retain their privileges, armed forces, racial discrimination), the growing poverty of the peasantry and the more or less notorious influence of external factors all contribute towards keeping the flame of nationalism alive, towards progressively raising the consciousness of wide popular sectors and towards reuniting the majority of the population, on the very basis of awareness of neo-colonialist frustration, around the ideal of national liberation. In addition, while the native ruling class becomes progressively more bourgeois, the development of a working class composed of urban workers and agricultural proletarians, all exploited by the indirect domination of imperialism, opens up new perspectives for the evolution of national liberation. This working class, whatever the level of its political consciousness (given a certain minimum, namely the awareness of its own needs), seems to constitute the true popular vanguard of the national liberation struggle in the neo-colonial case. However it will not be able to completely fulfill its mission in this struggle (which does not end with the gaining of independence) unless it firmly unites with the other exploited strata, the peasants in general (hired men, sharecroppers, tenants and small farmers) and the nationalist petty bourgeoisie. The creation of this alliance demands the mobilization and organization of the nationalist forces within the framework (or by the action) of a strong and well-structured political organization.
Another important distinction between the colonial and neo-colonial situations is in the prospects for the struggle. The colonial situation (in which the nation class fights the repressive forces of the bourgeoisie of the colonizing country) can lead, apparently at least, to a nationalist solution (national revolution); the nation gains its independence and theoretically adopts the economic structure which best suits it. The neo-colonial situation (in which the working classes and their allies struggle simultaneously against the imperialist bourgeoisie and the native ruling class) is not resolved by a nationalist solution; it demands the destruction of the capitalist structure implanted in the national territory by imperialism, and correctly postulates a socialist solution.
This distinction arises mainly from the different levels of the productive forces in the two cases and the consequent sharpening of the class struggle.
It would not be difficult to show that in time the distinction becomes scarcely apparent. It is sufficient to recall that in our present historical situation — elimination of imperialism which uses every means to perpetuate its domination over our peoples, and consolidation of socialism throughout a large part of the world — there are only two possible paths for an independent nation: to return to imperialist domination (neo-colonialism, capitalism, state capitalism), or to take the way of socialism. This operation, on which depends the compensation for the efforts and sacrifices of the popular masses during the struggle, is considerably influenced by the form of struggle and the degree of revolutionary consciousness of those who lead it. The facts make it unnecessary for us to prove that the essential instrument of imperialist domination is violence. If we accept the principle that the liberation struggle is a revolution and that it does not finish at the moment when the national flag is raised and the national anthem played, we will see that there is not, and cannot be national liberation without the use of liberating violence by the nationalist forces, to answer the criminal violence of the agents of imperialism. Nobody can doubt that, whatever its local characteristics, imperialist domination implies a state of permanent violence against the nationalist forces. There is no people on earth which, having been subjected to the imperialist yoke (colonialist or neo-colonialist), has managed to gain its independence (nominal or effective) without victims. The important thing is to determine which forms of violence have to be used by the national liberation forces in order not only to answer the violence of imperialism, but also to ensure through the struggle the final victory of their cause, true national independence. The past and present experiences of various peoples, the present situation of national liberation struggles in the world (especially in Vietnam, the Congo and Zimbabwe) as well as the situation of permanent violence, or at least of contradictions and upheavals, in certain countries which have gained their independence by the so-called peaceful way, show us not only that compromises with imperialism do not work, but also that the normal way of national liberation, imposed on peoples by imperialist repression, is armed struggle.
We do not think we will shock this assembly by stating that the only effective way of definitively fulfilling the aspirations of the peoples, that is to say of attaining national liberation, is by armed struggle. This is the great lesson which the contemporary history of liberation struggle teaches all those who are truly committed to the effort of liberating their peoples.
It is obvious that both the effectiveness of this way and the stability of the situation to which it leads after liberation depend not only on the characteristics of the organization of the struggle but also on the political and moral awareness of those who, for historical reasons, are capable of being the immediate heirs of the colonial or neo-colonial state. For events have shown that the only social sector capable of being aware of the reality of imperialist domination and of directing the state apparatus inherited from this domination is the native petty bourgeoisie. If we bear in mind the aleatory characteristics and the complexity of the tendencies naturally inherent in the economic situation of this social stratum or class, we will see that this specific inevitability in our situation constitutes one of the weaknesses of the national liberation movement.
The colonial situation, which does not permit the development of a native pseudo-bourgeoisie and in which the popular masses do not generally reach the necessary level of political consciousness before the advent of the phenomenon of national liberation, offers the petty bourgeoisie the historical opportunity of leading the struggle against foreign domination, since by nature of its objective and subjective position (higher standard of living than that of the masses, more frequent contact with the agents of colonialism, and hence more chances of being humiliated, higher level of education and political awareness, etc.) it is the stratum which most rapidly becomes aware of the need to free itself from foreign domination. This historical responsibility is assumed by the sector of the petty bourgeoisie which, in the colonial context, can be called revolutionary, while other sectors retain the doubts characteristic of these classes or ally themselves to colonialism so as to defend, albeit illusorily, their social situation.
The neo-colonial situation, which demands the elimination of the native pseudo-bourgeoisie so that national liberation can be attained, also offers the petty bourgeoisie the chance of playing a role of major and even decisive importance in the struggle for the elimination of foreign domination. But in this case, by virtue of the progress made in the social structure, the function of leading the struggle is shared (to a greater or lesser extent) with the more educated sectors of the working classes and even with some elements of the national pseudo-bourgeoisie who are inspired by patriotic sentiments. The role of the sector of the petty bourgeoisie which participates in leading the struggle is all the more important since it is a fact that in the neo-colonial situation it is the most suitable sector to assume these functions, both because of the economic and cultural limitations of the working masses, and because of the complexes and limitations of an ideological nature which characterize the sector of the national pseudo-bourgeoisie which supports the struggle. In this case it is important to note that the role with which it is entrusted demands from this sector of the petty bourgeoisie a greater revolutionary consciousness, and the capacity for faithfully interpreting the aspirations of the masses in each phase of the struggle and for identifying themselves more and more with the masses.
But however high the degree of revolutionary consciousness of the sector of the petty bourgeoisie called on to fulfill this historical function, it cannot free itself from one objective of reality: the petty bourgeoisie, as a service class (that is to say that a class not directly involved in the process of production) does not possess the economic base to guarantee the taking over of power. In fact history has shown that whatever the role — sometimes important — played by individuals coming from the petty bourgeoisie in the process of a revolution, this class has never possessed political control. And it never could possess it, since political control (the state) is based on the economic capacity of the ruling class, and in the conditions of colonial and neo-colonial society this capacity is retained by two entities: imperialist capital and the native working classes.
To retain the power which national liberation puts in its hands, the petty bourgeoisie has only one path: to give free rein to its natural tendencies to become more bourgeois, to permit the development of a bureaucratic and intermediary bourgeoisie in the commercial cycle, in order to transform itself into a national pseudo-bourgeoisie, that is to say in order to negate the revolution and necessarily ally. In order not to betray these objectives the petty bourgeoisie has only one choice: to strengthen its revolutionary consciousness, to reject the temptations of becoming more bourgeois and the natural concerns of its class mentality, to identify itself with the working classes and not to oppose the normal development of the process of revolution. This means that in order to truly fulfill the role in the national liberation struggle, the revolutionary petty bourgeoisie must be capable of committing suicide as a class in order to be reborn as revolutionary workers, completely identified with the deepest aspirations of the people to which they belong.
This alternative — to betray the revolution or to commit suicide as a class — constitutes the dilemma of the petty bourgeoisie in the general framework of the national liberation struggle. The positive solution in favor of the revolution depends on what Fidel Castro recently correctly called the development of revolutionary consciousness. This dependence necessarily calls our attention to the capacity of the leader of the national liberation struggle to remain faithful to the principles and to the fundamental cause of this struggle. This shows us, to a certain extent, that if national liberation is essentially a political problem, the conditions for its development give it certain characteristics which belong to the sphere of morals.
We will not shout hurrahs or proclaim here our solidarity with this or that people in struggle. Our presence is in itself a cry of condemnation of imperialism and a proof of solidarity with all peoples who want to banish from their country the imperialist yoke, and in particular with the heroic people of Vietnam. But we firmly believe that the best proof we can give of our anti-imperialist position and of our active solidarity with our comrades in this common struggle is to return to our countries, to further develop this struggle and t

o remain faithful to the principles and objectives of national liberation.
Our wish is that every national liberation movement represented here may be able to repeat in its own country, arms in hand, in unison with its people, the already legendary cry of Cuba:
Patria O Muerte, Venceremos!
Death to the Forces of Imperialism!
Free, Prosperous and Happy Country for Each of our Peoples!