“The Crime of Injustice” by Marcus Garvey

In the Service of our Ancestors and African Love,
Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“Two tendencies govern human choice and effort, the search after quantity and the search after quality. They classify mankind. Some follow Maat, others seek the way of animal instinct.” — African Proverb

In Man, the “animal instinct” is Isfet (or Isefet) where Maat is Balance, Order, Justice, Truth, Harmony, Righteousness and Isfet is Imbalance, Disorder, Injustice, Lies, Chaos, Wickedness.  What this tells you is Man can be the highest and lowest of animals; the student of History will see how the Nature of Humankind has been toward one pole or the other: the African toward Maat (the highest), the European and Asian toward Isfet (the lowest).  This Truth misunderstood casts Isfet on our Race and our Earth.  Honorable as he is Garvey misunderstood.  In promoting Joan of Arc, or any other European or Asian, as “Just,” he promoted Isfet as Maat and doomed the foundation of his Organization.  Read for yourself.  Without a separation of Nature, nothing can be reasoned.  And as united as we are, we’ll be defeated.  The African Blood Siblings has studied; we expelled our flaws.  Come study and Organize with us!

The Crime of Injustice
(Written [by Marcus Garvey] from The Tombs Prison, August 2, 1923)
Read “Philosophies and Opinions of Marcus Garvey” here

There is no crime like that of injustice, and it is the cause that will ultimately bring about the ruin of the world.

Men in all ages have demonstrated against this evil, the responsibility for which has caused so many human changes. When we think of the injustice of Henry to John, we, without much difficulty, find the reason of the latter for practicing his revenge upon the former. And so, right through the affairs of the human race, we can trace the cause for the perpetuation of revenge one upon the other. But the crime is not traceable to individuals only, but to races and nations.

The history of the world will show that most, if not all, of the differences between races and nations have been caused through the infliction of injustice of the one race or nation upon the other.

In the family life the son will avenge the injury done to the father by the neighbor, and so on we go to the third, fourth and fifth generations. In the national life the free and developed nation will revenge the crime of the other when it finds itself strong enough to do so, as in the case of France now revenging Germany for the war of 1870, and so of the Germans revenging the French, or the French revenging the English, of the slave revenging his master.

Those who desire the peace of the world and the permanent settlement of all our human ills should not seek to do so by mere economic and political conferences, but first by the establishment of real justice to all men. Not the justice that is based upon the like or dislike of the individual, race or nation, but justice for justice’s sake!

There are but few, if any, of the people of the world who have and practise the true sense of justice.

If we were permitted to see ourselves as we administer justice to others, we would be surprised to realize, if we believe ourselves Christians, how near we approach hell in the exhibition of our supposed good virtues.

The World of Wrong

The world is full of wrong and injustice, the continuation of which will change our civilization and life beyond present recognition. We will go from Czarism, Kaiserism, Monarchism, Republicanism, Sovietism to God knows what; all for the chance of getting “justice.” But, although the world in its political and social systems changes to meet the justice of man, we will find ourselves farther and farther from the ideal.

If we take the political and social systems of England we will find the people divided into many classes, each fighting against the other, under the belief that the crime of injustice is practised against it; and so also of France, Italy and America.

As we witness the struggle of injustice among the classes, so do we have it among the races. No one will gainsay the fact that the injustice of the one race to the Japanese makes them resentful, restless and revengeful, and the same injustice to the Indian and the Negro will ultimately drive them to a union of spirit that may yet develop a new civilization and a new ideal.

As Negroes, no one suffers from the infliction of injustice more than we do. It is practised against us in every walk of life — politically, socially, industrially, educationally, commercially, judicially, and even religiously.

For three hundred years the Negro has cried out against the crime of injustice, and he is no nearer being heard today on his own account than when he first raised his voice. In the general order of things the weak suffers most from the crime of injustice. The strong man will be unjust to the weak, and the strong nation will in like manner oppress the less fortunate. The whole situation, it seems, therefore, hangs on the developed strength of the individual, race or nation. It is the realization of this that causes the Universal Negro Improvement Association to preach the propaganda of “coming together” among Negroes.

If we must have justice, we must be strong; if we must be strong, we must come together; if we must come together, we can only do so through the system of organization.

When the Britons were weak and scattered, they received no justice. When the French were weak and divided, they suffered in the same manner; but with unity, strength was developed, and with strength came national, racial justice. When we can successfully bring together the majority of the four hundred million Negroes of the world, we will have not only racial, collective and individual justice, but national justice as well.

The best that we can do is to work and pray for the hastening of the time when we, too, will have become a united and strong people able by our force of character and achievement to demand not sympathy but justice from all men, races and nations. Let us not waste time in breathless appeals to the strong while we are weak, but lend our time, energy and effort to the accumulation of strength among ourselves by which we will voluntarily attract the attention of others.

Jack Johnson, Harry Wills and Firpo attract the attention of other men because they have developed their bodies and muscles to protect themselves against the attack of their rivals. England, France, Italy, Japan and America attract the attention of other nations because of their powerful military and naval strength; and so the Negro can only arrest the attention of the rest of mankind in the quest for justice, for fair play, when we can produce to the world the “real stuff” that makes man feel, if he doesn’t hear.

There can be no argument against the Negro’s acquisition of strength and power. This is needed, not only in our racial life but in our national life. We must have a country — and government — of our own. We must make our own impression upon a world of injustice and convince men by the same means or methods of reasoning as others by their strength do.

No Justice But Strength

Don’t be deceived; there is no justice but strength. In other words, might is right, and if you must be heard and respected you have to accumulate nationally, in Africa, those resources that will compel unjust man to think twice before he acts.

Our consolation should be, however, that each and every race will have its day; and there is no doubt that the Negro’s day is drawing near. We may not trust to the abnormal strength and progress of others to believe that the world and humanity are settled, for in the twinkling of an eye all creation can pass away, and men, races and nations be no more. In a short hour Pompeii fell, and in a shorter time still Germany was crushed beyond the hope of immediate resurrection, to say nothing of ancient Greece and Rome. What has happened in the past to other races and nations will happen again, so let us work and pray, for surely our day of triumph and authority to mete out justice will come and Africa may yet teach the higher principles of justice, love and mercy, yea, true brotherhood.

Some of us become at times drunk with our power and authority, and, in the fullness of our narrow conceit, wreak our vengeance upon others under the guise of justice. Oh, how wanton is man! Irresponsible in his conceit! Vain in the realization of his power! Even vicious to the point of vengeance! But we glory in the fact that he is only man, and in the natural course of life will pass away, the wretch, with injustice written upon his soul, like the dog, to be unwept and unmourned, in the higher spiritual sense; to be another subject of hell, perdition and the dust from which no pleasant memory springs.

Some of us think that we live only in the physical; but are we not really conscious of a higher life? If there is, and there is, then why die like the dog? Why not die like a Christ, a John the Baptist, a St. Augustine, a Caesar, even at the base of Pompey’s statue, a Joan of Arc, even with the fagots around her; a Robert Emmet, with his head upon the block; a Terrence MacSwiney, in Mountjoy jail. Oh, what honor and glory we give to man for the service he renders unselfishly to his brother! With what disgust we curse the wretch who lives for self, and for those of his kind around him; yes, he who has no knowledge of truth, whose soul is filled with corruption, bribery and injustice!

Negroes, shall we not choose between right and wrong? Shall we not pattern the lives of those men, races and nations that have prospered by justice? Surely we shall, for in so doing we will have removed ourselves from the curse of a heartless, sinful, unjust world to a new temporal sphere, where man will live in peace and die in the consciousness of a new resurrection.

Such will be Africa’s day, when a new light will encircle the earth, and black men lift their hands to their God and Princes come out of our country. For this we will not give up hope, but fight and struggle on, until the Angel of Peace and Love appears.

World Materialism

The wonderful force of organization is today making itself felt in every branch of human effort. Whether in industry, society, politics or war it is the force of organization that tells; hence, I can advise no better step toward racial salvation than organization among us.

We have been harassed, trampled upon, and made little of, because of our unfortunate condition of disorganization. The disorganization of our race for hundreds of years made us easy prey to those who sought profit out of human slavery, and with a similar disorganization we are bound to lose out in the great scramble of life for the survival of the fittest group.

The Universal Negro Improvement Association is a movement that seeks unlimited racial union and co-operation. We desire to draw humanity closer together than we have been before, for we realize that with East pulling against West, North pulling against South, there will be nothing left to us but utter ruin.

We can well imagine ourselves as one great united people, having one aim, believing in one God and having one destiny. To see four hundred millions of us standing together as one man is the desire of those of us who lead the Universal Negro Improvement Association.

It is true that twentieth century materialism has so scattered the interests of races and nations that the realization of human ideals becomes more remote, but we dare not sink or destroy holy principles because of the wantonness and soullessness of our age. Time cannot save itself; it is for us to save and redeem Time; hence, the work that lies before us is not so much to identify ourselves with the scattered purpose and greed of others, but to create for ourselves a central ideal and make our lives conform to it in the singling out of a racial life that shall know no end.

It is unfortunate that we should find ourselves at this time the only disorganized group. Others have had the advantage of organization for centuries, so what seems to them unnecessary from a racial point of view becomes necessary to us, who have had to labor all along under the disadvantage of being scattered without a racial aim or purpose.

No race or people can well survive without an aim or purpose. We must know beforehand the progress of our existence. Our racial program of today is a united, emancipated and improved people.

We need improvement in every line — socially, religiously, industrially, educationally and politically. We need the creation of a common standard among ourselves that will fit us for companionship and equitable competition with others.

Man and God to Settle the World

The world is not in the disposition to divide the spoils of materialism, but on the contrary every group is seeking the aggrandizement of self at the expense of those who have lost or who ignore the trend of human effort in the direction of self-preservation.

The Negro, surrounded as he is, has no other alternative than going forward in the atmosphere of racial self-interest, working for the generation of the present and providing for those of our posterity. In the service of race the Universal Negro Improvement Association finds its program, and for its advocacy or promotion we offer no apology.

It is foolish for us to believe that the world can settle itself on chance. It is for man and God to settle the world. God acts indifferently and His plan and purpose is generally worked out through the agency of human action. In His directed, inspired prophecy He promised that Ethiopia’s day would come, not by the world changing towards us, but by our stretching out our hands unto Him. It doesn’t mean the mere physical test, but the universal and independent effort to surround ourselves with the full glory of man.

No human apologies are needed for the moving or going forward of any people, so none will expect that we will apologize for the efforts we are making to unite our race the world over, and the creating for ourselves of a political superstate wherein we will find the representation and protection that will make us secure in the selfish adjustment of a material world.

Go ahead, Negroes, and organize yourselves! You are serving your race and guaranteeing to posterity of our own an existence which otherwise will be denied them.

Ignore the traps of persuasion, advice and alien leadership. No one can be as true to you as you can be to yourself. To suggest that there is no need for Negro racial organization in a well-planned and arranged civilization like that of the twentieth century is but to, by the game of deception, lay the trap for the destruction of a people whose knowledge of life is incomplete, owing to the misunderstanding of man’s purpose in creation.

Vision of New Life

With the vision of a new life the Universal Negro Improvement Association shall direct the course of the four hundred million members of our race, enemies from within and from without notwithstanding.

The campaign of abuse against your leaders and their imprisonment is but a part of the plan to harass and discourage you on the way towards destiny. But no sober-minded Negro will allow himself to be fooled by the design of the wicked. The wicked we have always had, and will ever have. The wicked and unjust have opposed reforms in every age and under all circumstances. They crucified a Christ and drove His apostles from pillar to post. They made, by their wicked acts, martyrs of those who have lived and died for a principle and an idea; so let them go on. They, too, in this age shall drink the bitter dregs of sorrow and remorse, even as succeeding generations of those who crucified Christ and persecuted His disciples have become the cursed creatures of righteousness. Let our traitors sell themselves to the propaganda of the enemy who seeks to destroy the race! They, too, like the character of old, will find no use for the bits of silver.

Let us pray for our enemies, whosoever they be! Let us all over the world pray daily for God’s handling of our enemies! Pray hard and earnestly, at least twice a day, for God’s dealing with our enemies. At twelve o’clock midday and twelve o’clock midnight let us in silent prayer for thirty seconds send up our supplications and appeal to God for the correction of those who oppose us even against His divine will that we should stretch out our hands unto Him.

Surely God will answer our prayers against the wicked and unjust and strengthen us for the great work that must be done in His name and to His glory. Remember, our duty is to be firm in the Faith.

Personally, I am glad to suffer for the cause. My contribution to the race and to Africa is small, but it is gladly given without any regrets. Some of us will contribute through our ability and our lives, others through service of other kind; but whatever it be, let us give it freely.

Do not falter or faint by the wayside, but let us, with confidence in ourselves and our God go forth in the call for service to our race and to Ethiopia.

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