The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Culture Corner—Inglorious Empire & Who Killed Malcolm X

Dec 6, 2021

Book: Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India by Shashi Tharoor, 2017.

This book exposes the lie that the British Empire helped develop a backward colony. In this time of Brexit isolationism, increased racism and anti-immigrant hate, this book battles the lingering misconception that colonizing a country brings benefits to it.

Pre-colonial India was a wealthy, cultured society. Britain played on existing class and regional divisions to divide and conquer, or just used brute force to murder thousands who stood in its way, to loot and plunder India’s wealth. In addition to the looting, the book shows how it also used India as a cash cow by imposing a horrific tax system that combined to decrease the average life span to only 30 years, caused millions and millions of deaths and periodic widespread famine, and finally left the country impoverished. The cumulative effect is devastating.

Film Miniseries: Who Killed Malcolm X, a six part documentary series on Netflix, 2020.

This series has been in the news lately, as its release created a huge stir: After 55 years (!), it forced New York district attorneys to exonerate two men falsely convicted of murdering Malcolm X, men who spent decades behind bars. But the documentary is much more than a “crime story.”

The man behind the search for the truth, Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, was three years old when Malcolm X was assassinated. As a result of police brutality when he was 14, he was inspired by Malcolm X, joined the Nation of Islam, and spent his life pursuing the truth behind Malcolm’s murder. The film shows him interviewing people and researching documents, including the FBI and Red Squad surveillance tapes and papers, and he reports on the cover-ups, untruths, and unanswered questions. The film shows, through archival footage, Malcolm’s growth, and his electrifying and unifying impact, and how that threatened the power establishment and corrupt individuals.

The film provides a rich biography and leaves hanging questions that are still unanswered today.