Philosophy and Opinions OF MARCUS GARVEY
We are living in a civilization that is highly developed. We are living in a world that is scientifically arranged in which everything done by those who control is done through system; proper arrangement, proper organization, and among some of the organized methods used to control the world is the thing known and called “PROPAGANDA.”
Propaganda has done more to defeat the good intentions of races and nations than even open warfare.
Propaganda is a method or medium used by organized peoples to convert others against their will.
We of the Negro race are suffering more than any other race in the world from propaganda – Propaganda to destroy our hopes, our ambitions and our confidence in self.
Slavery is a condition imposed upon individuals or races not sufficiently able to protect or defend themselves, and so long as a race or people expose themselves to the danger of being weak, no one can tell when they will be reduced to slavery.
When a man is a slave he has no liberty of action; no freedom of will, he is bound and controlled by the will and act of others; as of the individual, so of the race.
Slavery is not a condition confined to any one age or race of people. Slavery has been since man in the different distribution of himself, scattered here, there and everywhere, has grown and developed, wherein one race will become strong and the other race remains weak. The strong race has always reduced the weak to slavery. It has been so in ages past, it is so now in certain parts of the world, and will be so until the end of time.
The great British nation was once a race of slaves. In their own country they were not respected because the Romans went there, brutalized and captured them, took them over to Rome and kept them in slavery. They were not respected in Rome because they were regarded as a slave race. But the Briton did not always remain a slave. As a freed man he went back to his country (Britain) and built up a civilization of his own, and by his self-reliance and initiative he forced the respect of mankind and maintains it until today.
The powers opposed to Negro progress will not be influenced in the slightest by mere verbal protests on our part. They realize only too well that protests of this kind contain nothing but the breath expended in making them.
They also realize that their success in enslaving and dominating the darker portion of humanity was due solely to the element of FORCE employed (in the majority of cases this was accomplished by force of arms.)
Pressure of course may assert itself in other forms, but in the last analysis whatever influence is brought to bear against the powers opposed to Negro progress must contain the element of FORCE in order to accomplish its purpose, since it is apparent that this is the only element they recognize.
To be learned in all that is worth while knowing. Not to be crammed with the subject matter of the book or the philosophy of the class room, but to store away in your head such facts as you need for the daily application of life, so that you may the better in all things understand your fellowmen, and interpret your relationship to your Creator.
You can be educated in soul, vision and feeling, as well as in mind. To see your enemy and know him is a part of the complete education of man; to spiritually regulate one’s self is another form of the higher education that fits man for a nobler place in life, and still, to approach your brother by the feeling of your own humanity, is an education that softens the ills of the world and makes us kind indeed.
Many a man was educated outside the school room. It is something you let out, not completely take in. You are part of it, for it is natural; it is dormant simply because you will not develop it, but God creates every man with it knowingly or unknowingly to him who possesses it – that’s the difference. Develop yours and you become as great and full of knowledge as the other fellow without even entering the class room.
Some of the men of the Negro race aggravate the race question because they force the white man to conclude that to educate a black man, to give him opportunities, is but to fit him to be a competitor for the hand of his woman; hence the eternal race question.
But not all black men are willing to commit race suicide and to abhor their race for the companionship of another. There are hundreds of millions of us black men who are proud of our skins and to us the African Empire will not be a Utopia, neither will it be dangerous nor fail to serve our best interests, because we realize that like the leopard we cannot change our skins.
The men of the highest morals, highest character and noblest pride are to be found among the masses of the Negro race who love their women with as much devotion as white men love theirs.
Prejudice of the white race against the black race is not so much because of color as of condition; because as a race, to them, we have accomplished nothing; we have built no nation, no government; because we are dependent for our economic and political existence.
You can never curb the prejudice of the one race or nation against the other by law. It must be regulated by one’s own feeling, one’s own will, and if one’s feeling and will rebel against you no law in the world can curb it.
Prejudice can be actuated by different reasons. Sometimes the reason is economic, and sometimes political. You can only obstruct it by progress and force.
“Radical” is a label that is always applied to people who are endeavoring to get freedom.
Jesus Christ was the greatest radical the world ever saw. He came and saw a world of sin and his program was to inspire it with spiritual feeling. He was therefore a radical.
George Washington was dubbed a radical when he took up his sword to fight his way to liberty in America one hundred and forty years ago.
All men who call themselves reformers are perforce radicals. They cannot be anything else, because they are revolting against the conditions that exist.
Conditions as they exist reveal a conservative state, and if you desire to change these conditions you must be a radical.
I am, therefore, satisfied to be the same kind of radical, if through radicalism I can free Africa.
Government is not infallible. Government is only an executive control, a centralized authority for the purpose of expressing the will of the people.
Before you have a government you must have the people. Without the people there can be no government. The government must be, therefore, an expression of the will of the people.
Evolution brings us changes that sometimes make us fail to recognize ourselves even after a lapse of centuries.
When the great white race of today had no civilization of its own, when white men lived in caves and were counted as savages, this race of ours boasted of a wonderful civilization on the Banks of the Nile.
It may sound good for some Negroes to say that they were born here or there, and they do not intend to go anywhere else but where they saw the light of day. But let me say to you men, the world is small and humanity in the many and various race groups, is growing larger every day.
A race that was ten millions fifty years ago is today sixty millions. A race that was thirty millions fifty years ago is today ninety millions; how many will they be tomorrow and the world is not growing larger?
What will happen through the multiplication of all these various race groups, of those who are in power, of those who are strong, those who have at their command the forces of nature; through which they can exploit the weak and ultimately exterminate them? What will happen to you, the weak and unprepared, when the strong becomes more numerous even though the world remains at its present size?
Ah, if you will but think down the future and compare the possibilities of that future with the happenings of the past you will come to the conclusion that there is no other salvation for the Negro but through a free and independent Africa.
Whilst geographically speaking the world has ever been in its natural divisions as we know it, and see it, yet, politically speaking, the world has changed, and is still changing. Yesterday we had the Roman Empire, we had the Grecian Empire, we had even before the Carthaginian, the Assyrian and the Babylonian empires. What has become of them? They have gone into the oblivion of the past, because of human progress, because of the development of certain races as aginst the stagnation of others; but even yesterday we also had the great German Empire; we had the Russian Empire; we had the Empire of Austria and Hungary. Where are they now? They too, are travelling toward the oblivion of the past. Today we have the great French Empire, the British Empire and other great commonwealths. Will they stand ?
Ah, methinks not, because evolution and human progress bring changes, and in the changes no man can tell what will happen tomorrow as against what exists today. Therefore, I say to the four hundred million Negroes of the world, prepare yourselves for the higher life, the life of liberty, industrially, educationally, socially and politically.
A hellish state to be in. It is no virtue. It is a crime.
To be poor, is to be hungry without possible hope of food; to be sick without hope of medicine; to be tired and sleepy without a place to lay one’s head; to be naked without the hope of clothing; to be despised and comfortless. To be poor is to be a fit subject for crime and hell.
The hungry man steals bread and thereby breaks the eighth commandment; by his state he breaks all the laws of God and man and becomes an outcast. In thought and deed he covets his neighbor’s goods; comfortless as he is he seeks his neighbor’s wife; to him there is no other course but sin and death. That is the way of poverty. No one wants to be poor.
Power is the only argument that satisfies man.
Except the individual, the race or the nation has POWER that is exclusive, it means that that individual, race or nation will be bound by the will of the other who possesses this great qualification.
It is the physical and pugilistic power of Harry Wills that makes white men afraid to fight him.
It was the industrial and scientific power of the Teutonic race that kept it for years as dictator of the economic and scientific policies of Europe.
It is the naval and political power of Great Britain that keeps her mistress of the seas.
It is the commercial and financial power of the United States of America that makes her the greatest banker in the world. Hence it is advisable for the Negro to get power of every kind. POWER in education, science, industry, politics and higher government. That kind of power that will stand out signally, so that other races and nations can see, and if they will not see, then FEEL.
Man is not satisfied or moved by prayers or petitions, but every man is moved by that power of authority which forces him to do even against his will.
Humanity everywhere is struggling toward political freedom and economic opportunity. In this struggle we are confronted with the rivalry of the keenest minds of the age; each race and nation seeking to present its best to the world.
So much is expected of each by the different rivals, that it becomes impossible to reach an amicable settlement and to establish universal confidence.
It can be plainly seen that no one race or nation trusts the other. There is a UNIVERSAL SUSPICION that hovers over the conduct of every great leader representative of his race or nation. It is this suspicion that limited the Washington Four pact Treaty; it is this suspicon that caused the failure of the Genoa Conference; it is this suspicion that is going to wreck ultimately many of the nations and empires of today, thereby throwing into obscurity many of the races that now dominate the affairs of men. We as a race, are called upon to play our part, and we must do it well.
In the spread of this universal suspicion that causes nation to distrust nation, and race to distrust race, we also have our distrust which makes it impossible for us to believe in anyone else but ourselves.
Man is the individual who is able to shape his own character, master his own will, direct his own life and shape his own ends.
When God breathed into the nostrils of man the breath of life, made him a living soul, and bestowed upon him the authority of “Lord of Creation,” He never intended that that individual should descend to the level of a peon, a serf, or a slave, but that he should be always man in the fullest possession of his senses, and with the truest knowledge of himself.
But how changed has man become since creation? We find him today divided into different classes – the helpless imbecile, the dependent slave, the servant and the master. These different classes God never created. He created MAN. But this individual has so retrograded, as to make it impossible to find him – a real man.
As far as the Negro race is concerned, we can find but few real men to measure up to the higher purpose of the creation, and because of this lack of manhood in the race, we have stagnated for centuries and now find ourselves at the foot of the great human ladder.
After the creation, and after man was given possession of the world, the Creator relinquished all authority to his lord, except that which was spiritual. All that authority which meant the regulation of human affairs, human society, and human happiness was given to man by the Creator, and man, therefore, became master of his own destiny, and architect of his own fate.
In process of time we find that only a certain type of man has been able to make good in God’s creation. We find them building nations, governments and empires, as also great monuments of commerce, industry and education (these men realizing the power given them exerted every bit of it to their own good and to their posterity’s) while, on the other hand, 400,000,000 Negroes who claim the common Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, have fallen back so completely, as to make us today the serfs and slaves of those who fully know themselves and have taken control of the world, which was given to all in common by the Creator.
I desire to impress upon the 400,000,000 members of my race that our failings in the past, present and of the future will be through our failures to know ourselves and to realize the true functions of man on this mundane sphere.
Some Negro leaders have advanced the belief that in another few years the white people will make up their minds to assimilate their black populations; thereby sinking all racial prejudice in the welcoming of the black race into the social companionship of the white. Such leaders further believe that by the amalgamation of black and white, a new type will spring up, and that type will become the American and West Indian of the future.
This belief is preposterous. I believe that white men should be white, yellow men should be yellow, and black men should be black in the great panorama of races, until each and every race by its own initiative lifts itself up to the common standard of humanity, as to compel the respect and appreciation of all, and so make it possible for each one to stretch out the hand of welcome without being able to be prejudiced against the other because of any inferior and unfortunate condition.
The white man of America will not, to any organized extent, assimilate the Negro, because in so doing, he feels that he will be committing racial suicide. This he is not prepared to do. It is true he illegitimately carries on a system of assimilation; but such assimilation, as practised, is one that he is not prepared to support because he becomes prejudiced against his own offspring, if that offspring is the product of black and white; hence, to the white man the question of racial differences is eternal. So long as Negroes occupy an inferior position among the races and nations of the world, just so long will others be prejudiced against them, because it will be profitable for them to keep up their system of superiority. But when the Negro by his own initiative lifts himself from his low state to the highest human standard he will be in a position to stop begging and praying, and demand a place that no individual, race or nation will be able to deny him.
A form of religion practised by the millions, but as misunderstood, and unreal to the majority as gravitation is to the untutored savage. We profess to live in the atmosphere of Christianity, yet our acts are as barbarous as if we never knew Christ. He taught us to love, yet we hate; to forgive, yet we revenge; to be merciful, yet we condemn and punish, and still we are Christians.
If hell is what we are taught it is, then there will be more Christians there than days in all creation. To be a true Cbristian one must be like Christ and practice Christianity, not as the Bishop does, but as he says, for if our lives were to be patterned after the other fellow’s all of us, Bishop, Priest and Layman would ultimately meet around the furnace of hell, and none of us, because of our sins, would see salvation.
God placed man on earth as the lord of Creation. The elements – all nature are at his command – it is for him to harness them subdue them and use them.
Edison harnessed electricity. Today the world reflects the brilliancy of his grand illumination.
Stephenson, through experiments, has given us the use of the steam engine, and today the railroad train flies across the country at a speed of sixty miles an hour.
Marconi conquered the currents of the air and today we have wireless telegraphy that flashes news across the continents with a rapidity never yet known to man.
All this reveals to us that man is the supreme lord of creation, that in man lies the power of mastery, a mastery of self, a mastery of all things created, bowing only to the Almighty Architect in those things that are spiritual, in those things that are divine.
In the fight to reach the top the oppressed have always been encumbered by the traitors of their own race, made up of those of little faith and those who are generally susceptible to bribery for the selling out of the rights of their own people.
As Negroes, we are not entirely free of such an encumbrance. To be outspoken, I believe we are more encumbered in this way than any other race in the world, because of the lack of training and preparation for fitting us for our place in the world among nations and races.
The traitor of other races is generally confined to the mediocre or irresponsible individual, but, unfortunately, the traitors among the Negro race are generally to be found among the men highest placed in education and society, the fellows who call them selves leaders.
For us to examine ourselves thoroughly as a people we will find that we have more traitors than leaders, because nearly everyone who essays to lead the race at this time does so by first establishing himself as the pet of some philanthropist of another race, to whom he will go and debase his race in the worst form, humiliate his own manhood, and thereby win the sympathy of the “great benefactor”, who will dictate to him what he should do in the leadership of the Negro race. It is generally “You must go out and teach your people to be meek and humble; tell them to be good servants, loyal and obedient to their masters. If you will teach them such a doctrine you can always depend on me to give you $1,000 a year or $5,000 a year for the support of yourself, the newspaper or the institution you represent. I will always recommend you to my friends as a good fellow who is all right.” With this advice and prospect of patronage the average Negro leader goes out to lead the unfortunate mass. These leaders tell us how good Mr. So and So is, how many good friends we have in the opposite race, and that if we leave everything to them all will work out well.
This is the kind of leadership we have been having for the last fifty years. It is nothing else but treachery and treason of the worst kind. The man who will compromise the attitude of his country is a traitor, and even so the man who will compromise the rights of his race can
be classified in no other way than that of a traitor also.
Not until we settle down as four hundred million people and have let the men who have placed themselves in the lead of us realize that we are disgusted and dissatisfied, and that we shall have a leadership of our own and stick by it when we get it, will we be able to lift ourselves from this mire of degradation to the heights of prosperity, human liberty and human appreciation.
Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey, edited by Amy Jacques Garvey (Atheneum, New York 1977).