“Liberation has always worked to oppose neo-colonialism, economic exploitation and the racism that underpins them.”
By Roger McKenzie, General Secretary of Liberation.
Liberation was founded in 1954 as the Movement for Colonial Freedom and is one of the oldest and most respected human rights organisations in the UK. For nearly 70 years, having changed its name to Liberation in 1970, the organisation has campaigned against imperialism and racism alongside partners based in the UK and internationally. With a history like that it is no wonder that I am honoured to be elected as the organisations new general secretary.
Liberation has always worked to oppose neo-colonialism, economic exploitation and the racism that underpins them. Our long established partnerships with anti-colonial forces internationally and bodies such as the United Nations in Geneva and the International Labour Organisation give us a reach that can make a real difference.
With past presidents including Fenner Brockway, Tony Benn, Stan Newens and Jeremy Corbyn, Liberation has deep roots within the labour and trade union movement. This link to the Labour left as well as to the trade union is the bedrock of Liberation.
Liberation has a rich history but it is also its future that excites me.
I am a child of immigrants from Jamaica. My parents both came to the UK in the early 1960’s having lived under colonial rule only to find signs warning them that they were not welcome. The racism experienced in this country by my parents and many like them was not disconnected from the racism endured under colonial rule. It was a product of the White supremacist ideology that was manufactured to sustain colonialism as well as the institution of slavery that preceded it.
These systems of supremacy are never fully dismantled. Instead new forms of control are put in place by the ruling class, such as through debt or military dependency. This is the legacy that millions of people across the globe continue to suffer.
White supremacy requires the loss of memory by the oppressed and enables the ruling class to develop a language that paints the colonised and their descendants as inferior. Liberation has always fought against this loss of memory over the history and impact of colonialism. We will make sure that the organisation is fit to effectively face up to that and the ever increasing challenges of modern day imperialism. To do this we will work to build more trade union involvement and a wider activity base in the UK and internationally.
Whether it is backing the struggles for progressive sovereignty in the face of Western imperial interests in the Global South, promoting peace and justice in the Middle East, Africa, Central and South America, taking on Big Pharma by campaigning for a COVID-19 People’s Vaccine, the impact of the climate emergency and, of course, fighting against racism in the UK, we will build an organisation that is able to make a real difference in these challenging times.
Liberation will work with respected organisations, such as the Marx Memorial Library, to develop education programmes whilst, at the same time, using our influence to lobby and change the course being plotted by governments and bodies such as the UN and the ILO. We want to make sure that the anti-imperialism message reaches a new audience eager to participate in the struggle for real change.
If you agree with me that the time for talk is long gone and that we need a vibrant anti-imperialist and anti-racist movement that can help not just to expose the continuing impact of colonialism but that can organise to do something about it then come and join us. Become a part of building Liberation to face up to the challenges of the future. Join us through our website www.liberationorg.co.uk and help us to take Liberation forward.
Liberation has a proud history. It also has an exciting future. Come and be part of it.
- Roger Mckenzie is general secretary of Liberation and a long-time trade union and anti-racism organiser. You can follow him on twitter here.