Author Archives: 4struggle

Against Capitalism: To Exist We Must Resist (2012)

By Rashid Johnson

Capitalism’s Insane Logic

Capitalist logic proclaims no one has the right to exist, to be here, except the wealthy. This illogic inheres in the very system itself.

Early capitalist economists like Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo expressed it without shame. They explained, in a world ruled by capitalism only the rich have rights. Everyone else exists solely to serve them; to enhance their wealth. Those of no profitable use should receive nothing. For sharing their wealth would only lead to the wealthy’s own impoverishment; making them equals of the common people, which was unthinkable.

Therefore, according to Malthus, those sad unprofitable souls, whom he deemed a surplus population, should just “go somewhere else.” [1] Like to a prison labor camp or to some distant land. Ricardo explained that these are unalterable capitalist principles, “the principle of gravitation,” [2] as he called it. For those unable to “go somewhere else,” it was proposed that they be disposed of by artificially created plagues, wars, and famines.

Capitalism goes viral

In those early days of capitalist development, Europe was sending expeditionary forces throughout the non-European, non-capitalist, world searching out new bases to set up shop, newer sources of wealth, profit, and plunder. These were found in the Amerikas, Afrika, Asia, Australia, and so on. This expansion called for conquering the indigenous peoples of these “new” lands, subduing and putting them and their lands to profitable uses; requiring that some millions be displaced here, while other millions corralled there, that some millions be enslaved in other places, and other millions be outright exterminated. All carried out with the utmost brutality.

Clearing those lands of their native peoples in turn provided that “somewhere else” for Europe’s unprofitable poor to go. But these lands were quickly overrun and subjugated by the invading hordes of Europe’s poor, and those who overflowed her prisons, along with her freebooters, mercenaries, missionaries, merchants, aspiring wealthy, and, of course, many who were already accomplished in wealth and privilege. And soon, capitalism cast its grisly shadow across the globe: expanding into imperialism.

Its victims resisted the forced implantation of a system that put profiteering for a few over the needs of the many. But with the combined power of the world’s stolen wealth and technologies, a mass of European invaders united under a manufactured “master race” philosophy, and driven by an insatiable and compassionless greed, the predatory capitalist system won out; and its insane logic took hold everywhere.

And as in Europe, the unprofitable ‘surpluses’ of native peoples were repeatedly driven “somewhere else”, until with capitalism spreading like a plague, they were cornered with nowhere else left to go. Alongside wars, plagues, and famines, the cycle of extermination and corralling masses of people into prisons and economically unviable urban enclaves (ghettos and shantytowns) and reservations continued, also negating the right of the common people to exist. Running its course, capitalism overran, polluted, degraded and razed the land, also negating the right of the natural world to exist.

Capitalism’s Chickens Come Home to Roost

Today we approach the endgame. The deadly cycle has spiraled continuously until now everyone’s existence (including that of the foolishly self-centered wealthy), and the balance of nature are compromised. Capitalism’s chickens are definitely coming home to roost. Yet, the harebrained capitalists still persist.

For those whose forefathers encroached upon, and who today have inherited from the land, wealth, labor, and destroyed the lives of billions; for those who yesterday participated or were silent and tacitly acquiesced when in the name of expanding profits and seeking out wealth in new lands, whole societies were crushed and the land defiled; today fate is coming full circle. You now stand to suffer loss of your own prized civilizations and cherished lives, but on a vastly greater scale, since now nature itself is resisting the excesses of capitalism. And nature has the decided advantage, since she is the very source of all our existence.

And unlike people, she doesn’t discriminate. She sees neither skin color, nationality, nor status. She’s ruthlessly indifferent to age, gender, sexual preference, and such. She crushes, burns, freezes, and sweeps away whatever – and whoever – stands in the way of her restoring the natural balance she evolved over billions of years, which we as tools of fools have upset in only a few centuries; more so in just the last hundred years. And because the damage we’ve caused and the system we’ve implanted is global in proportions, today we don’t have the option to “go somewhere else”. We’re painted into a corner. But there is a choice.

 Us Against Them or Nature Against Us All

Collectively and of our free will we can choose to put down this predacious system a few profiting at all our expense, and build in its place a new mass-oriented socialist system of mutual cooperation, fair and equal distribution, and respect for nature, to all our benefit. Or we can continue being fools’ agents, and stand by idly and ostrich-like (with our heads in the sand) as many did yesterday, while this system continues devouring, defiling and wasting land, resources, people, and the planet.

But in either case, capitalism’s day of reckoning is coming. And if we don’t act, we will share that fate alongside the greed-driven idiots who created this havoc. Remember the billions who’ve already suffered horribly and died – and continue to – at the designs of these madmen. Now think of our children who will thank us for an inheritance of bones and ashes, of massive die-offs and unimaginable crises.

The intensifying economic troubles, plagues, resource depletions, wars, unparalleled environmental and natural disasters we’re witnessing today, are but early warning signs of what’s to come. The planet is on an independent course of exercising its own right to exist. And the wealthy know worse is yet to come. They know too that we have the collective power not only to stop them and right their wrongs, but to restore the balance between human society, and nature.

But to do this compels stripping away their power, wealth, prestige, and influence. They know this too. And would rather watch the world suffer and die then give up what was never rightfully theirs to begin with. So they stand indifferent as always to the devastating effects of their system, driving us all “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes”, while spreading conspiracy theories and apocalyptic culture to have us believe the doom they’re driving us towards is really the work of secret societies, aliens, or supernatural forces beyond our power to challenge, change, or correct.

Secret and supernatural have nothing to do with it! There’s a very natural, very open, and very human cause of our problems. And one can challenge, change, and correct. But there is also a time factor. It will take our collective effort, to first snatch these fools out of the saddle who dare hoard wealth and power without performing a day’s labor, and then smash their system, and rebuild an entire new one oriented towards meeting the needs of working people, the poor, and our environment. Otherwise we and our progeny will go “somewhere else”, but it won’t be on this planet or in this world.

The People’s Endgame

As a Party of struggle, the New Afrikan Black Panther Party – PC is rooted in revolutionary optimism. We not only believe that a bright future is possible, but we’re committed to the united struggle to make it happen. So we join with and aspire to arouse and organize all the world’s oppressed – and especially unprofitable – people to stay right where you are, to liberate the ground under your feet, and join together in consolidating it into a collective base of worldwide revolutionary resistance against capitalism and imperialism in the name of the people’s and the planet’s right to exist.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the people!

Notes:


  1. See, Patricia James, ed., Thomas R Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University press, 1989)(based on Malthus 1803 edition), vol. II, ch. 6, pp 127-28
  2. David Ricardo, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, (N.Y.: E.P. Dutton, 1911) (Original 1817 – 1821) ch. 5, p. 23

On the Vanguard Party, Once Again (2012)

The following is from an interview by correspondence with Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party–Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC), conducted by Anarchist Comrade Anthony Rayson of the South Chicago ABC Zine Distro.

Anthony Rayson: You’ve expressed admiration for Hamas, the revolutionary Palestinian group. (1) They’ve managed to build popular support and established social/survival programs, even under horrific occupational conditions–extreme violence, poverty, etc.–yet they are not an explicitly Marxist–Leninist group, but rather a national liberation organization, with a strong religious (Muslim) component. These popular organizations have come in many flavors, including Communist and Anarchist. Why do you believe so strongly in the traditional Leninist model (Vanguard Party/Democratic Centralism, etc.) in this uniquely racialist, consumerist, extreme capitalist country, with such a moribund, marginalized and subservient (to Moscow) Marxist tradition?

Rashid: Why in today’s struggle do I promote the need for a Marxist–Leninist–Maoist (MLM) style party leadership? This is a question asked often of and by many avowed Communists, which many can’t answer. Many also reject the ‘Vanguard’ party concept as you do because it’s been frequently misapplied and misunderstood. But to me, the answer seems pretty simple–common sense really–once you get past rhetoric and stereotypes, and face the concrete realities and needs of revolutionary struggle. I’ll begin with this question, then move on to your other points.

Why the Vanguard Party?

Once you understand that class lies at the center of any genuine struggle against capitalism, namely the struggle between the working class (proletariat) and the capitalist class (bourgeoisie), then it becomes clear that there’s need to awaken the consciousness of workers (as a common class) to the fact and cause of their exploitation and oppression, and the criminal rule of the bourgeoisie. Also the working class needs to be united and organized to challenge their oppression. Furthermore they need to understand that overcoming their exploitation compels coordinated struggle on many fronts, beyond merely seeking better wages/work conditions, job security/benefits, etc., which is the typical extent of what workers struggle for when left to their own spontaneous activism. They must realize that it is a broad political struggle, and the bourgeoisie oppresses many sectors other than just the working class. To accomplish this, and uniting them with other oppressed sectors against the bourgeoisie, requires a proletarian–based leadership structure.

But the critical problem which opponents of the Vanguard Party have never answered in over 100 years of debate is the theoretical and practical question of how to unify the broad and fragmented working class into a united movement wherein it is conscious of itself (and its interests) as a class. Only genuine ML(M) parties have solved this problem, and been able to awaken and maintain working class consciousness and unity, and on a level of struggle higher than mere trade union politics (what Lenin called Economism).

Many on the ‘Left,’ (including Anarchists and avowed Communists) because they can’t resolve this problem, avoid, downplay, distort or have altogether abandoned the question of class struggle and its central role in any genuine anti-capitalist revolutionary movement, or they otherwise endlessly speculate how working class success might be achieved.

Karl Marx expressed early on that capitalism could be destroyed and a free and equal society ultimately achieved, only by the proletariat first overthrowing the bourgeois class, and then exercising its own (economic, political, military and cultural) dictatorship over the bourgeoisie. Failure to suppress the bourgeoisie after its power was overthrown would only result in its regaining state power. This he witnessed first hand.

Because proletarian struggle was only in its infant stages during his day, Marx was unable to answer how it could effectively defeat and exercise its dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. But his studies of those early workers’ struggles, specifically the Paris Commune of 1871, gave him some ideas on the methods that the workers were in process of discovering. He did recognize, although he supported the commune as an heroic effort, that it could not successfully hold onto its power because the French proletariat was not yet sufficiently class conscious, united and organized.
Subsequently, Lenin, who analyzed and actively participated in the day to day fight against the even more advanced, consolidated and powerful capitalist system (monopoly capitalism or imperialism) of his era, furthered Marx’s analyses and was able to devise and apply a definite organizational form and tactics with which to unite and organize the proletarian struggle. He realized that a disciplined Party, committed explicitly to the interests and philosophy of the working class, was needed to awaken the proletariat on a nationwide scale to their common class identity and interests, to unite and organize them upon this common class stand against and to overthrow the bourgeoisie, and to hold onto that power and repress the bourgeoisie.

And his method – the ML Party–above all others, worked. In fact, it achieved the first working class Socialist state (in Russia in 1917), which doesn’t discount that in the process many mistakes were made alongside the achievements. And errors were to be expected, since it was the first successful struggle of its type, and met with determined resistance from the capitalist class in Russia and the major imperialist powers, all of whom promptly invaded Russia attempting to overthrow the new Socialist state.

Unlike much of today’s academic and petty bourgeoisie ‘Left,’ Lenin and company did not refuse to take the lead for fear of failure or a fight, nor get bogged down in moral dithering. Instead they stoutly took the lead, defied and endured the severest state repression, applied theory to practice, refined their tactics, and gave the world and those to follow an invaluable standard of leadership and struggle to learn from and build upon.

In China, Mao Tse-Tung, studying and observing Marx’s, Lenin’s and Russia’s examples, further advanced the ML Party concept, and adapted it to his own people’s struggles against multiple advanced imperialist powers and internal class enemies of the Chinese masses. From this experience Mao discovered that even after a proletarian revolution succeeds in defeating the bourgeoisie and achieving a Socialist society, the class struggle continues–often in forms more complicated than the initial struggle to overthrow capitalist state power. This because, although overthrown, the bourgeoisie and its influences still exist within the new society, and they will struggle unceasingly to regain power. To combat this tendency he found that a series of revolutions in culture had to be waged to wipe out bourgeois influences and values, and that class struggle had to continue especially within the Vanguard Party itself and upper levels of the Socialist state, to keep the party loyal to the proletariat and ensure it wasn’t subverted by aspiring and regenerated bourgeois elements into their own vanguard. This required giving the masses greater oversight and control over the party and state, and active power to combat bureaucratic degeneration. He thus enhanced Party democracy.

But in any event, the Party structure is indispensable. The key issue is what class’s interests it serves and is loyal to. It’s ironic that many people ask why the working class–which is infinitely larger and thus more difficult to organize than the bourgeoisie–(or oppressed nationalities of people) need a leading Party to unite and organize them in struggle against the imperialist class and system. Yet no one ever questions–nor even recognizes–that the capitalist class also has and needs its own political organizations to successfully exercise and organize its own unity and dictatorship over the working class and everyone else. Lest we forget, bourgeois political structures and leaders preceded, and led, every movement where capitalism and imperialism overthrew feudal, slave-owning, etc. political economies (especially here in Amerika…. what indeed were the Whigs, Democrats, Republicans, Tories, etc. but parties of the existing or aspiring ruling classes?) And it is these parties that rule in capitalist societies in the interests of the bourgeoisie.

In case you didn’t notice, it’s the wealthy minority who the entire political system and its Parties serve in capitalist society, and it’s against the working class, poor and other marginalized groups that their laws, courts, police, military, prisons, etc. exert control. This is why you have no genuine ML Parties (I should say MLM Parties) operating legally in any capitalist country.

The bourgeoisie everywhere is very class conscious; and remains vigilant in keeping the workers atomized; divided against each other along racial, gender, national, religious and other lines; and focused on immediate individual survival needs.

To counter this, to awaken, unite, organize and coordinate the proletariat as a common class against bourgeois rule, requires a leading organization that is totally committed in theory and practice to, and is rooted in, the working class. This is what the MLM revolutionary vanguard Party is all about and why it’s needed.

What is a Vanguard?

Since we both use the term to refer to the MLM Party, and because in many circles the term has taken on a distorted meaning equivalent to a four letter word, I want to comment on what a “vanguard” actually is.

As any dictionary will tell you, vanguard simply means ‘leadership,’ whether of a class, society, army, movement or opinion. Essentially it is an advanced sector or group that unites, informs, organizes and guides a larger sector or group. Just like the Central Nervous System (CNS) unites, informs, organizes and guides the activities of the body’s organs and major muscle groups, while it also remains an organic part of and draws information from the very body it serves. Only when the vanguard or leadership is unhealthy or represents the interests of a body other than the one it directs, does it become an oppressive thing. Keep this in mind.

Societies, movements, armies, etc. are complex social structures that require a centralized leadership to unite, coordinate, draw practical lessons from, organize and guide them. In fact there has never existed a society without a centralized leadership, whether you’re looking at communal pre-state band or village, or slave-owning , or state level feudal or capitalist societies, they all had a centralized leading body: from clan mothers and head matrons, to big men, head men, chiefs and elder’ councils, from monarchs to political parties with legislative, executive and judicial branches or a combination of these.

Even esteemed Anarchists like Noam Chomsky agree that it’s impossible to organize a society without leaders. Again, the key question turns on whose interests the leaders serve. Are they leaders who exist as an organic part of the society and movement they lead, or are they representatives of a small specialized group that aims to impose its own will and values upon everyone else? (Whether by force, fraud or otherwise). And in all cases of leadership, a combination of democracy and centralism is used. The question is whether it is democracy exercised by and among the masses and their genuine leadership, or by and among a select minority acting against the masses. Which brings me to the concept of Democratic Centralism (DC), which you imply is something unique to MLM Parties.

On Criticism and DC

Let’s look at communal Afrikan villages for example, (of the pre-colonial types), which many anti-authoritarians and anti-‘vanguardists’ hail as genuine models of social equality and democracy. It may be relevant to point out to some of our readers that many Afrikans kidnapped and brought to the Amerikas in chains came from such societies. Consequently, many of the escaped slave societies here in the western hemisphere, known as the Maroons, modeled their more egalitarian societies after those pre-colonial communal villages.

In those Afrikan societies there existed a very centralized authority which resided in an elder’s council that spoke through a head elder. This council was composed of respected elders who presided over various traditional social and civil functions in the village. The head elder was appointed and could be removed or replaced by vote. Many people confuse the terms chief and head elder, or think they denote the same type of leadership, which I should distinguish. Unlike the head elder, the chief rules over a patriarchal clan society, he inherits his position by heredity (instead of by vote), and he can only be deposed by defeat in war. Many Maroon societies were also ruled by such chiefs. The chief also had command over a specialized body of warriors. Unlike the chief, the head elder, had no power to force her/his will on the village because s/he had no special army or police. Instead, decisions announced by her/him had greater force (moral authority) because it was actually the decision reached by collective agreement of the village’s most respected members (the elders’ council), with participation and input from the society as a whole.

Once a decision was reached by the council in a dispute, or in selecting a head elder, or other matters, it was binding on everyone, including those who disagreed with it. Those who bucked the social will were also taken before the village council and masses if the offense were serious enough. If found guilty in the mass hearing they were punished accordingly, which could include banishment from the village. This is in essence DC. In fact it is duplicated almost exactly in the model of organization and decision making used by the MLM Party, which I’ll demonstrate momentarily.

But first I’d like to give actual examples of such centralized authority (a vanguard) in the communal Afrikan village and how they applied internal popular democracy, or what many MLM’ists call “self-criticism.” Ojinga Odinga described the head elders role in his pre-colonial Luo village in Kenya:
“A [head elder] did not issue orders, he sounded out the elders, met them in consultation and when he said “this is my decision,” he was announcing not his personal verdict but an agreed upon point of view. His function was not to lay down the law, but to consult and arbitrate to learn the consensus of opinion and to keep unity of his people. Elders were men of substance and integrity, and recognized as outstanding individuals. Even when they came from leading lineages they did not inherit leadership but had to earn it….”(2)

Frantz Fanon described the internal public democracy practiced by Afrikan societies as “tradition,” a process used by MLM Parties, which communists call criticism and self-criticism. He furthermore observed that this practice counteracts the anti-communal mental habits of the western intellectual types:
“Self criticism has been much talked about of late, but few people realize that it is an African institution. Whether in the djeemas of North Africa or in the meetings of Western Africa, tradition demands that the quarrels which occur in a village should be settled in public. It is a communal self-criticism, of course, and with a note of humor, because everybody is relaxed, and because in the last resort we all want the same things. But the more the intellectual imbibes the atmosphere of the people, the more completely he abandons the habits of calculation, of unwonted silence, of mental reservations, and shakes off the spirit of concealment. And it is true that already at that level we can say that the community triumphs, and that it spreads its own light and its own reason.”(3)

So we see a centralized leadership structure, a vanguard, in Afrikan communal society, and the combination of public democracy and centralized enforcement of the collective will in their decision making and dispute resolution processes. But these are concepts rejected by anti-authoritarians because they don’t really understand them. Just as they don’t understand, or otherwise tend to stereotype, or idealize, many things, due to failing to objectively search out and draw truth from facts instead of opinions, or responding to the oppressive system with emotion rather than reason.

Now allow me to show you the parallels between the DC of communal societies as described above and that of the genuine MLM Parties, by quoting none other than Mao himself critically explaining DC to his own Party Comrades, who failed to grasp and apply what he called “unity of the leadership and the masses,” or simply the “mass line method”:

“It seems that some of our comrades still do not understand the democratic centralism which Marx and Lenin talked of…. They are afraid of the masses, afraid of the masses talking about them, afraid of the masses criticizing them. What sense does it make for Marxist-Leninists to be afraid of the masses? When they have made mistake they don’t talk about themselves, and they are afraid of the masses talking about them. The more frightened they are, the more haunted they become. I think one should not be afraid. What is there to be afraid of? Our attitude is to hold fast to the truth and be ready at any time to correct our mistakes. The question of right or wrong, correct or incorrect in our work has to do with contradictions among the people. To resolve contradictions among the people we can’t use curses or fists, still less guns or knives. We can only use the method of discussion, reasoning, criticism and self-criticism. In short, we can only use democratic methods, the method of letting the masses speak out.
“Both inside and outside the Party there must be a full democratic life, which means conscientiously putting democratic centralism into effect. We must conscientiously bring questions out into the open, and let the masses speak out. Even at the risk of being cursed we should still let them speak out. The result of their curses at the worst will be that we are thrown out and cannot go on doing this kind of work – demoted or transferred. What is so impossible about that? Why should a person go up and never go down? Why should one only work in one place and never be transferred to another? I think that demotion and transfer, whether it is justified or not, does good to people. They thereby strengthen their revolutionary will, are able to investigate and study a variety of new conditions and increase their useful knowledge. I myself have had experience in this respect and gained a great deal of benefit.”(4)

Having thus explained that Party democracy is a process of decision making that compels openness, and draws upon and implements the collective will of Party cadre and the masses, Mao went on to explain Party centralism as all Party cadre being bound by the decisions reached collectively through the democratic process, (5) just like in the communal village.

Furthermore, the MLM Party’s central committee (CC) is organized horizontally much like the elders council. Like the council, the CC consists of elected social members who preside over specifically defined social and civil functions (ministries). As you’re aware I preside over the Defense Ministry of our NABPP-PC. The democratically elected chair persyn or secretary corresponds to the head elder. The Party’s general membership is drawn from the proletarian class of the people it leads and represents, or its members must have developed the proletarian class stand and integrated themselves with the people. Leadership positions are democratically bestowed, based upon proven ability and commitment, and are subject to revocation by vote. Party leaders and their practices are to be openly scrutinized by Party members and the masses it proposes to lead. There is thus “unity of the leadership and the masses” in purpose and practice, just as the bourgeoisie and their parties are linked together. Indeed the Party is directly connected to the masses by party organs and mass organizations, just like the CNS is connected to the body’s organs and muscles by the peripheral nervous system.

It’s a Class Struggle

As I’ve noted, a vanguard becomes problematic when it represents and pursues the interests of those other than it leads. What recommends the MLM Party is its ideological orientation to countering such subversion. It first of all emphasizes its proletarian orientation, and recognizes that so long as there is class society and class struggle (which continues even under Socialism), there is always and in all places going to be struggle for domination between the classes. In capitalist societies where the bourgeoisie rules, its values and its own vanguard dominate the society, economy, culture and institutions. And it will maneuver and strive ceaselessly to prevent the development and rise of a genuine vanguard of the proletariat, subjecting the masses to the rule and influences of its own vanguard. In socialist societies where the proletariat is in power, the overthrown bourgeoisie will struggle at every turn to subvert the proletarian Party and state, and to regain power. This is what class struggle means. It is because many don’t understand class struggle, that they’ve witnessed reversals of Socialist gains, the overthrow of Socialist Parties and states and their reversion to Capitalist systems, and splits and struggles within revolutionary parties, yet failed to recognize these were the product of ongoing struggle between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. What we Communists call the “two line struggle.”

Therefore, any aspiring revolutionary vanguard must be conscious to resist being infected, influenced and infiltrated by the class values of the enemy. This means the Party must be uncompromisingly committed to the working class. It is impossible to prevent elements that share, harbor or develop enemy class values from creeping into or cropping up within a revolutionary Party. This is why Lenin promoted splits as the health of the Party and Mao promoted cultural revolutions arousing the masses to rise up against bourgeois influence and elements within the revolutionary Party and state.

Attempts to maintain unprincipled unity between genuine revolutionaries and bourgeois elements within such Parties have led time and again to their being subverted by counter-revolutionaries, such as occurred in Afrika – in the African National Congress when Winnie Mandela was purged and Chris Hani assassinated in the early 1990’s and power was ‘given’ to capitalist turncoat Nelson Mandela; in the PAIGC when Amilcar Cabral was assassinated in 1972 and his brother Luis was purged, and so on.

Answer to Comrade “Maroon”

There was an article written a few years ago by Comrade Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, called “The Dragon and the Hydra”, which was a response to my own earlier article on the role and need of vanguard Parties. (6) In that article Comrade Maroon leveled charges against ML Parties, claiming they have a legacy of internal factionalism, sterile practice and betraying the very people they are supposed to lead in struggle against oppression. Since these charges are relevant to this discussion, and I haven’t had the opportunity to finish my formal reply, (7) I want to briefly respond here.

I’ve just answered the point on factionalism, to which I might add that Maroon’s article completely overlooks the role of class in revolutionary struggle; and even proposed that Anarchists, anti-authoritarians and proponents of ultra-democratic movements, share organizational concepts with the Maroon societies that had elders and chiefs and were in no form ultra-democratic or decentralized. But to further illustrate my point, imagine that several committed conscious prisoners came together to form a leadership group to educate and unite others to struggle against the administration and guards’ abuses. So they develop a solid line of theory and tactics to achieve this end. And it meets with initial success in winning over and organizing other prisoners. This group answers to and is committed to its prisoner base and grows as they educate more prisoners into their class line.

As soon as the pigs see their authority and monopoly on influence and power challenged, they’re going to try and repress the leadership group in various ways, including by trying to ‘turn’ its supporters and members, using both the carrot and the stick. Inevitably you’re going to have some driven by their own power agendas, pig inducements, or other motives to become agents, infiltrators and turncoats. These subversives will maneuver to increase and consolidate their influence and numbers, and to subvert and sabotage the gains and goals of the genuinely committed cadre. So what do you do? Do you go along with them? Do you maintain an unprincipled unity with them inside your organization or movement where they are privy to your plans, identities, etc. enabling them to subvert the entire group and movement? Of course not! What you do is expose them and distinguish yourself and your position from them before the people. If they are enemy agents you ‘correct’ them, if they are not but persist in their reactionary aims you purge them from your ranks (if their numbers are not so great), or (if their numbers are substantial) you and the serious cadre split off from them into a separate organization. This is all done within the structure of democratic centralism of course and distinguishing your commitment to the masses from their opportunism, self-interest, or reactionary politics.

This isn’t mere factionalism. It is part of the class struggle. Part of the struggle to keep the Peoples’ vanguard loyal to the class it represents and not subverted by the enemy of that class. That’s how the enemy controls us right now. Using Judases who look, talk and/or act like us, but who really aspire toward and serve them, or have other ulterior interests at heart. To counter this, only the MLM Party specifically and explicitly adheres to the ideological and political lines of the proletariat and no other.

As Lenin observed, Marx warned that when communists unite with others in struggle, “they enter into agreements to satisfy the practical aims of the movement, but do not allow any bargaining over principles, do not make theoretical ‘concession’.” (8)  In other words, while we may compromise and adapt our tactics to align ourselves with allies, we must never compromise our class stand. Our commitment is to the ideological and political line of the revolutionary proletariat and no other. This is why Mao emphasized that political and ideological line determines everything, particularly the success or failure of revolutionary struggle. The moment we allow influences of the bourgeoisie, petty bourgeoisie, lumpen and other less than revolutionary sectors to seep in and sway us, we betray the working class. By not adhering to the proletarian class line as Marx cautioned, is how many revolutionaries have been turned from the course of revolutionary class struggle to one of reaction.

As for ‘sterile’ practice. This critique doesn’t apply to genuine MLM elements, because as with the elders’ councils, a vanguard isn’t a vanguard simply because it calls itself one, or because it forces its leadership on the people. It becomes a vanguard because a substantial part of the people voluntarily accept and follow its leadership, which it earns through correct analysis, practice and example. If it ain’t doing nothing and the people don’t recognize it, it ain’t their vanguard. Like with the NABPP-PC. We aren’t a New Afrikan vanguard yet, only the nucleus of one. But we definitely aspire to this.

So you see this is complicated.

Before turning to the next issue, I should make a few final points regarding Comrade Maroons’s article. The Maroon Societies which he promotes as models of revolutionary organizations never attempted to nor were capable of overthrowing the slave system—a system much weaker and less organized than today’s imperialist one. Furthermore, they co-existed with the slave system, fed off it, and many became its agents and slave catchers, and were often manipulated into fighting each other by the planters.

The Maroons were not revolutionaries but rebels who fled and defied the slave societies, but left them intact to oppress others. SO in relation to the masses of slaves left behind, one could say the maroons had a legacy of betraying the oppressed masses, sterile practice, and factionalized among themselves. Exactly like the hydra that comrade Maroon uses to symbolize the rebel Maroon societies, they amounted to a common class of oppressed peoples but composed of many contending heads, unorganized, uncoordinated, often bickering, fighting, and contending with each other, and thus unable to lead the collective body in struggle to defeat the common enemy. A task which the one-headed dragon — the MLM party — once awakened, has proven eminently capable of leading its collective body in achieving. Consider also, how easily the European imperialist powers overran Afrika’s separate village societies, instituting colonialism across the entire continent, during the late 1800s and early 1900s, exactly because those societies lacked a unifying leadership. Yet, Comrade Maroon promotes such localized forms of social organization as models of resistance against today’s even more advanced imperialism?! Then contrast this with the fact that the only time a society of many separate communal villages held their own and ultimately defeated imperialist forces was when they were united, organized and coordinated by an ML/M Party: the Chinese defeated multiple imperialist powers under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, the Vietnamese defeated the French in 1954 and then the U.S. in the Vietnam War  under the leadership of the Vietnamese Communist Party, etc.

It also speaks volumes that the only slave uprising that actually overthrew slave systems, were those organized under a conscious class leadership, albeit that of an aspiring bourgeois one (The Haitian Revolution, 1791-1803).

This last point answers the comrade’s point about betrayals of the masses. Again, any group that does this is not a mass based vanguard, or it has been subverted, which is what happens when you don’t struggle against, purge and/or ultimately split with subversive influences and elements to maintain the health and class integrity of the party.

Speaking admirably of Hamas

Speaking of a party’s remaining true to its base, this brings me to Hamas. Yes, I’ve spoken admiringly of Hamas on this very basis. Which is not to say that I agree with their politics or tactics per se. Hamas, as you pointed out, is not a working class party. Actually, it wasn’t initially a Palestinian national liberation group either. In fact Hamas began as an Islamist organization that clashed not only with the Israeli occupation forces, but with secular nationalists and communists as well. It actually rejected the concept of Palestinian nationalism, promoting instead an abstract Islamic theocracy. Secular politics were left to other groups like the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)—later becoming co-opted by the US and Israel and changing its name to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Hamas’s focus was instead on spreading its Islamist ideology and responding to the immediate needs of the Palestinian people, particularly their physical need of basic services, and psychological need to resist Israel’s brutal and racist military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank.

Hamas became a political structure because the Palestinian people made it that, choosing Hamas over the corrupt PLO that outright sold out their struggle for national liberation by signing the OSLO agreement with Israel in 1993. The people put their might behind Hamas, electing its functionaries into positions of local leadership, then ultimately as their overall national leadership. To its credit, Hamas’s leadership and membership always remained indigenous to its operational bases in Gaza. Only members of its political bureau lived in exile and thereby interfaced with other Arab states and regional actors, where Hamas got most of its funding from. It also has a leadership branch within Israeli prisons, where more that 10,000 Palestinian resistance leaders are confined. Therefore Hamas remained free of pressures and influences of outside forces, and was always able to keep informed of the needs, interests and desires of the Palestinian people.

It was the will of the Palestinian people that made Hamas their national liberation organization and moved Hamas’s military arm to take up arms against Israel and its illegal settlements that has been mass murdering Palestinians — especially children — and increasingly stealing their land. It was the Palestinian will that moved Hamas to set up social support programs to help provide for basic needs like food, medical care, etc. that Israel is blocking. And it was the Palestinian will that elected Hamas in 2006 as their national political leadership in place of the PA despite knowing the US and Israel would retaliate by cutting all funding they were giving to prop up the neo-colonial PA, and crumbs they were tossing to the already ruined Gaza economy. So Hamas is a reflection of Palestinian spontaneity. But remaining confined to Gaza with its mass base, it evolved to reflect their developing political consciousness in response to desperately oppressive conditions, and a thriving culture based in keeping alive the Palestinian historical memory – something that New Afrikans have been robbed of because we do not have a vanguard party to keep alive and unite us around our own collective historical experiences, struggles, and consciousness. We are therefore like a people suffering historical amnesia or Alzheimers.

So here again we see the confirmed role and need of organized leadership, to unite an oppressed people around a collective identity, consciousness, and resistance, even without revolution being the organization’s explicit aim.

And in case you didn’t realize, Hamas has – or at least it had – an organizational structure similar to a ML party’s. They practice DC, although with less open mass participation and publicity due to operating under Israeli military occupation. And as noted they are mass based and generally responsive to the will of the people. Its organizational structure which has always distinguished Hamas as the most disciplined and organized – and therefore most feared – Palestinian organization. While I don’t suppose it has changed drastically since 2004, I’m most familiar with the structure Hamas had under its founder Sheikh Ahmad Yasin, who was assassinated that same year by the Israeli Military.

Hamas relied on group leadership and consensus decision making, with Yasin as the spokesman or chairman. Although he did have plenary power to make unilateral decisions, he seldom exercised it. To make collective decisions reflecting the popular will under the extreme conditions of military occupation, the organization would circulate written policy options among activists for discussion and decision, who would then give their feedback to “knowledgeable people in [their] area.” This way the group could “make a decision acceptable to the widest possible base of our ranks which, at the same time, would preserve the movement’s achievements and remain faithful to its goals and principles” (9)

As already mentioned, like a communist party, Hamas has a politburo. But having some of the same organizational features of a MLM party doesn’t make Hamas the equivalent of one. In fact not only is Hamas not specifically a working class group, it isn’t opposed to capitalism. No Islamist group is, despite the formal rejection of secular politics by many of them. As I noted, most of Hamas’s funding came from capitalist Arab states, organizations and individuals. Indeed, Islamism, or “Political Islam,” has been used by the U.S. as an agency of imperialist expansion and intervention in the Middle East. As Samir Amin observed:

“We should not be surprised that the U.S. is pleased by the services that Political Islam renders to its project of world hegemony. With the exception of Hamas in Palestine and Hizbollah in Lebanon (pre-911), no movement of Political Islam is designated as an enemy by Washington. The pre-911 designation of Hamas and Hizbollah as “terrorist organizations” was clearly an accident of political geography, since both are opposed to the state of Israel, which evidently takes precedence in U. S. considerations over everything else. Hamas and Hizbollah are the only manifestations of Political Islam fighting foreign military occupation, where as the others direct their violence only at their compatriots. Double standards and hypocrisy – can we expect anything else from the imperialist?” (10)

Akin to Hamas, is another modern Middle East organization, just mentioned, that single-handedly repelled a pretty vicious Israel invasion of southern Lebanon in 2006. Namely, Hizbollah. It too has an organizational structure similar to the model you reject as moribund and marginalized. Hizbollah has, in fact, proven almost impossible to penetrate and monitor, yet it too has won broad popular support and sunk deep roots with in Lebanese civil society.

Hizbollah also has a politburo that interfaces with an Executive Council which mirrors a central committee. The Executive Council members preside over specific social and civil functions like civil defense, health care, regional offices, education, labor unions, etc. Even the commander of Hizbollah’s resistance fighters is elected to his position. But because it combines both a military and political structure, the organization is a bit more centralized in its decision making than Hamas. However, instead of a general chairman, the group is presided over by a seven-member consultative council, which does have a chairman. There is then a special security branch that reliably protects the leadership and acts as security via liaison committees in Hizbollah base areas.

Although concentrated along Israel’s northern border, Hizbollah kept such a low profile that Israel believed it could successfully invade southern Lebanon and seize valuable territory and waterways it had been plotting on for decades. In the summer of 2006, the Israeli army invaded, and was swiftly corrected by Hizbollah and made to retreat empty-handed back into Israel.

Because Hamas and Hizbollah generally trail behind mass spontaneity, they do not unify and raise the consciousness of the masses above immediate needs, nor empower them through class struggle to seize power from their class enemies and imperialist domination. This distinguishes them from a MLM party. Moreover, their mass bases have forced them to become national liberation groups to a greater or lesser degree.

Now I can’t agree that there are or have been any popular based anarchist organizations. Actually that’s a sort of oxymoron. I’ve never heard of nor seen Anarchists ‘organize’ and coordinate anyone other than a handful of people, and certainly not in any sort of organized leadership structure.

Which is not to invalidate the invaluable help and support that quite a few Anarchists, especially the ABCs (Anarchist Black Cross) have given to oppressed groups within the USA, particularly to prisoners—and including me. You all have been genuine Comrades and I recognize and regard you as such. But, you cannot deny—in fact you’ve often complained to me—that these groups and their memberships have remained small in number. Also, as a principle, they reject the role and responsibilities of leadership, although by working to influence the ideas and actions of prisoners through the literature and line they spread, they are in fact acting as leaders. Thus they leave those they “lead” without the needed guidance and organization to apply those ideas and change their oppressed condition. I talk about this a bit in a recent article: “Unity — Struggle — Transformation: On Revolutionary Organization, Leadership and Cadre Development.”

A Moribund and Marginalized Method?

Other reasons I promote the MLM Party model … well, because it works, it is infinitely adaptable and it is the most effective model of political leadership in mass-based revolutionary movements. Even the imperialists admit this. It can’t be so “moribund” and “marginalized” as you allege since a Maoist movement just a couple of years ago toppled the oppressive monarchy in Nepal.  A Maoist people’s war presently controls most of rural India, and Maoists are giving the neo-colonial puppet governments of the Philippines and Peru nightmares. And lets not forget that despite Colombia’s being the hemisphere’s largest recipient of U.S. financial and military aid, the FARC-EP, a ML party has won broad popular support and is holding its own against the Columbian military and multitudes of U.S. and Colombian government backed deaths squads.

Somehow you seem to overlook that today there are millions being led in active resistance against imperialism by ML/MLM parties, and billions supporting or influenced by such struggles. That’s a large portion of the world’s population being led by such parties. To call such a vast number of people “marginal” smacks of imperialist country chauvinism, since most of these numbers are in the third world, and I can’t find anything that anti-authoritarians have contributed to their livelihoods and struggles.

Indeed, contrast this all with the fact that the last and only revolutionary victory that Anarchists claim responsibility for (and that was with communist help that they turned on) was in Spain, way back in 1936. And that was localized and very brief – lasting only a few months – and furthermore paved the way for Francisco Franco’s decades long fascist dictatorship. Whereas in the former Soviet Union and China, it took decades to dismantle socialism and reinstate capitalism after their revolutions.

With only one revolutionary victory to its name occurring almost a century ago, and being a small counter-cultural trend among white middle class folks and youth, what would you call Anarchism if not “moribund” and “marginalized” ?

Again, even the imperialists acknowledge that the Maoist strategy is still, above all others past and present, very relevant, very much alive, and the most revolutionary, political and threatening to their class, because it appeals to and mobilizes the entire population (how’s that for “marginal”) against a common class enemy. Meaning it provides a leadership that remains true to its base. At West Point, the US Army’s “distinguished” war college, Mao’s works are mandatory study, and they still admit inability to contend with the Maoist strategy. Similarly here’s what the imperialist hired guns, the U.S. Army, says of that strategy, led by a MLM party, in its Army Field Manual # 100-20:

“Peoples war is the invention of Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist Party. Although the era of Communist-sponsored wars of national liberation has apparently ended, any serious insurgent would be advised to consider carefully the effectiveness of People’s War, the most political of all insurgent strategies. The Maoist or Mass Strategy attempts to mobilize a whole people against their government. The most sophisticated of insurgent strategies, it emphasized organization and its relationship with the entire population. It is also the most military in its latter stages as it attempts to raise an army within the affected country and to challenge the government on the field of battle. The Maoist mass strategy has many imitators. The Vietnamese Communists used it to great effect, and it has been emulated in Peru, the Philippines and elsewhere. Thus the mass strategy deserves special attention.”

It was Mao who made clear that the MLM party’s leadership was the key to waging any successful revolutionary mass struggle, including the one he successfully led in China.

“A well disciplined Party armed with the theory of Marxism-Leninism, using the method of self-criticism and linked with the masses of people; an army under the leadership of such a party; a united front of all revolutionary classes and all revolutionary groups under the leadership of such a party – these are the three main weapons with which we have defeated the enemy.” (11)

“If there is to be a revolution, there must be a revolutionary party. Without a revolutionary party, without a party built on the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary style, it is impossible to lead the working class and the broad masses of people in defeating imperialism and its running dogs.” (12)

And as I pointed out elsewhere:

“Mao’s vanguard party walked its talk. Not only did it repel a Japanese imperialist invasion, defeat the imperialist-backed KMT army and seize power in 1949, empowering and improving the living conditions of China’s millions, but with a peasant army — and fresh from a civil war — it repelled the world’s most powerful combined military forces, the US and UN, from its borders in the Korean War (1950-1953)” (13)

And we’re talking about a party that united, organized and led a nation of multiple distinct nationalities and ‘races’ of people, that composed fully 1/5 of the world’s entire population. Mao was fond of pointing out that China was so vast that when the sun was setting on the western border of China, it was rising on the eastern border. Is that marginal?!

Subservient to Moscow?

As for MLM Parties being “subservient to Moscow,” because the concept was first developed by Lenin in Russia; that sounds a lot like the rhetoric of cultural nationalists and subjective reverse racists who reject the vanguard party concept because Lenin was “white.” James and Grace Lee Boggs long ago answered such arguments:

“In the United States, as the black movement struggles to define its goals and true means to achieve them, the question of what constitutes a black revolutionary party is going to become increasingly the center discussion and controversy. In order for this discussion and controversy to be meaningful, the Black movement will have to make a serious study of the concept of the vanguard party as developed and practiced by its originator. To believe that the Black revolutionary movement can evade such a study because Lenin was white and a European would be just as ridiculous as for an African freedom fighter to forego to fly in airplane because the Wright brothers were white Americans. Blacks don’t refuse to drive Cadillacs because they are made by General Motors or to watch television because Philco (Ford) manufactures TV sets. What has been achieved in human history, whether technological or political, Blacks have a right to inherit. The very high development of the theory and practice of the vanguard Party as originated by Lenin in Russia, and subsequently developed by Mao and Ho in Asia and Amilcar Cabral in Africa, belongs to all oppressed people of the world, providing those who seek to end the domination of man by man with guidelines which they ignore at their peril. It must be borne in mind at the same time that these guidelines can be applied only in relation to the specific conditions of a particular country and only by an organization that has developed out of indigenous forces and is not totally dependent upon external or foreign aid for is existence.” (14)

They went on to point out:

“until the Black revolutionary movement is ready to take seriously the scientific approach to revolution developed by Marx, Lenin, Ho and Giap, it will still be depending upon mystical or external guidance to achieve the power which can only be achieved by the most rigorous scientific appraisal of social forces. Mao, Ho and Cabral did not reject the necessity for a scientific approach to revolution because the founders of the approach were white. They used the method of Marx and Lenin, being careful at the same time to distinguish between the specific conditions of their own countries and those of Europe and Russia.” (15)

So not only were the various revolutionary movements under ML style Parties also not “subservient to Moscow” in the sense of trying to duplicate what occurred in Russia in their own countries, but, although he upheld Stalin’s achievements while criticizing his errors, Mao explicitly refused to allow the Soviet Union and Stalin to direct the struggle in China. I’ll let Mao tell you about it.

“The Chinese revolution won victory by acting contrary to Stalin’s will… During the quarrel with Wang Ming from 1937 to August 1938, we put forward ten great policies; while Wang Ming produced sixty policies. If we had followed Wang Ming’s, or in other words Stalin’s, methods the Chinese revolution couldn’t have succeeded. When our revolution succeeded, Stalin said it was a fake. We did not argue with him, and as soon as we fought the war to resist America and aid Korea, our revolution became a genuine one [in his eyes]. But when we brought out ‘On the Correct Handling of Contractions Among the People’ we talked about this question but they didn’t. And what’s more they said we were going in for liberalism, so it seems we were not genuine again. When this report of ours was published, the New York Times printed it complete, and also carried an article which claimed that China was being ‘liberalized’. It is quite natural for the bourgeoisie to clutch at straws when drowning. But bourgeois politicians are not altogether without discernment. For example when Dulles heard about our report he said he wanted to see it. Within a couple of weeks he had come up with a conclusion: China was bad through and through; the Soviet Union was a little better. But the Soviet Union couldn’t see it, and sent us a memorandum because they feared we were moving to the right. When the Anti-rightist movement started, naturally our ‘liberalization’ vanished.

“In short, our basic line is universal truth, but details differ. This applies to each country and to each province. There is unity and there are also contractions. The Soviet Union stressed unity, but doesn’t talk about contradictions, especially the contradictions between the leaders and the led.”(16)

On the latter point Mao was criticizing Stalin for deviating from the principles of DC and the “Mass Line Method” in the practice of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. An error which led to the alienation of the Party from its mass base, the regeneration and concentration of aspiring bourgeois elements with the upper ranks of the party and state of the  USSR, and a capitalist clique seizing power upon Stalin’s death. Unlike Mao, Stalin had not come to terms with the reality that class struggle continues even under socialism, and within the revolutionary party itself. So it’s clear Mao’s Party line was not “subservient to Moscow.”

Without a Head the Body Will Fall

A revolutionary mass struggle needs a MLM party style leadership, like the body needs a healthy central nervous system. The masses without their own revolutionary party is like a body without a healthy CNS, in that they only react spontaneously (reflexively) to their pain and discomfort and look to outside forces to think for them and control their choices and actions. They can’t effectively unite, organize and coordinate their activities or even be conscious of themselves as a common organism (class), nor intelligently analyze, judge and solve their problems, especially more complex ones that require deeper study and analysis.

How many of us, because of being controlled by external forces and/or not thinking beyond reflex, emotion, impulse, prejudice and rhetoric, cause ourselves pain, injury and even death, or readily attack and destroy others for little or nothing? This is because at the class, nation and individual levels, we lack a healthy CNS (mass based leadership) that genuinely and organically recognizes and serves our bosom interests.

Just as a centralized leadership is needed in the communal village to organize and “keep the unity of the people,” so too do we as vastly larger and more complex oppressed classes and nationalities need the same. Only the MLM Party structure has proven able to do this.

You can have an Anarchist bookstore or bakery, and be quite successful. But we’re not talking about something so localized, simple and basic. We’re talking about overthrowing the monopoly capitalist ruling class and transforming the political economy and social relations of the whole world to end all oppression and exploitation. This is not so simple and cannot be done in an Anarchistic fashion.

Taken together, these are the reasons I promote the MLM style Party leadership.

Dare To Struggle Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

Notes:

  1. My prior discussions of Hamas can be found in Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin “Rashid’ Johnson, Featuring Exchanges With an Outlaw (Montreal: Kersplebedeb, 2010) pp. 49-50, 135-136” (1967) p. 12
  2. Ojinga Odinga, Not Yet Uhuru: The Autobiography of Ojinga Odinga (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967), p. 12.
  3. Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth (1966).
  4. Mao Tse-Tung, Chairman Mao Talks to the People — Talks and letters: 1956-1971 (NY:Panteon; 1947) pp. 160-161
  5. Id: at pp. 163-165
  6. Op. cit. note 1, p 351
  7. The discussion between Comrade Maroon and me was disrupted by the untimely illness and hospitalization of the persyn who was facilitating the exchange. I remained out of touch with that persyn for several years afterward, and found no one to fill in for them and supply desired reference materials, to fully prepare a reply to Maroon.
  8. V.I. Lenin, Introduction to Marx, Engels, Marxism (N.Y.: International Publishers, 1987) (1988, edition) p.20 (emphasis added)
  9. Shaul Mishal, et al., The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence and Coexistance (N.Y., 2000) pp. 121-131.
  10. Samir Amin, “Political Islam” (2001)
  11. Mao Tse-Tung, “On the people’s Democratic Dictatorship” June 30, 1949.
  12. Mao Tse-Tung, “Revolutionary forces of the world unite, fight against imperialist Aggression!” November 1948
  13. Op. cit. n. 1 p. 367
  14. James and Grace Lee Boggs, “the role of the vanguard party,” Monthly Review, April 1970. pp. 10-11
  15. Id. P 12f
  16. Op. cit. n.4 pp.102-103

It’s Raining Pigs, Rats and Moles! Vermin Culture, ‘Good Cop’ Brainwash, and National Oppression in Amerika (2012)

by Kevin Rashid Johnson

The ‘Good Cop’ Brainwash

In Amerika, government-empowered forces (military, police, spy agencies, jailers and their proxies) have been the key forces of persecution and violence against minority nationalities and people of color. Whether the military, slave patrols, slave drivers and overseers, or lynch mobs and racist paramilitary groups; whether COINTELPROs and urban police or the Prison Industrial Complex; whether the Wars on Drugs, Crime and Gangs in pretended response to the U.S. government itself flooding the ghettos and barrios with narcotics, military grade firearms, and inciting gang wars, or the blatant multi-agency declaration of war (Martial Law) against Louisiana’s desperate, stranded and officially abandoned Black Hurricane Katrina victims and subsequent policy of ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, etc. Executive forces have been anything but our servants and protectors.

Yet the entertainment media (the real CBS: Central Brainwash System) is infested with fantasy images of romanticized vermin (pigs, moles and rats): hero cops, and military action figures, spy agent intrigue and shifty informants. But nowhere do they show the actual violence, oppression and terror these vermin inflict on poor people of color every day across Amerika. And what’s worse is the conscious effort to cast these good cop images in Blackface.

From Ice Cube (of “Fuck the Police” rap fame) as a cop in All About the Benjamins, to Ice T (who back in the day also spit anti-police rhymes like “Cop Killer”) starring in Law and Order as a cop and as a snitch in Boyz in the Hood; even activist actor Mel Gibson as a cop in the Lethal Weapon series; Will Smith as an urban cop alongside Martin Lawrence in the Bad Boys series, as an Air Force pilot in Independence Day (commemorating July 4th, a holiday celebrating a war fought in large part to keep Black folks in slavery and exterminate Natives), and as a futuristic cop in I-Robot; Samuel L. Jackson, in The Negotiator, who only as a cop could rise above the law and resort to ‘crime’ (taking hostages and multiple shoot-outs with other cops) to clear himself of being framed by cops with killing another cop [!?]; Martin Lawrence, again as a cop (impersonator) in Blue Streaks. Then there’s Chris Tucker alongside Jackie Chan in the Rush Hour series, and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice and Stealth, Denzel Washington in Training Day and as a rogue spy in Safe House, DMX in Exit Wounds, Morgan Freeman in Kiss the GirlsAlong Came a Spider and so on ad nauseam. In most all other roles Blacks are cast as criminals and villains.

It’s ‘Good Cop Brainwash’ and criminal stereotyping projected in modern minstrel shows, which the system finds necessary to gloss over the continued growth in size and violence of Pigs in the Hood, and to perpetuate a criminalized image of the poor urban people of color that they brutally occupy.

Indeed, in the era of the War on Drugs (on government-supplied drugs that is), heavily armored paramilitary SWAT teams have become everyday parts of oppressive urban policing, while TV gives a totally distorted portrayal of their role. As one critical race writer, Steve Martinot, observed, “Swat team operations are presented on TV cop shows as well-choreographed high-tech raids in dangerous situations. But 80% of their “raids” are to serve warrants on people of color for non-violent crimes.”[i]

Preeminent critical intellectual Noam Chomsky revealed:

Recently there’ve been some very interesting studies of urban police behavior done at George Washington University, by a rather well-known criminologist named William Chambliss. For the last couple of years he’s been running projects in cooperation with the Washington, D.C. police, in which he has law students and sociology students ride with the police in their patrol cars to take transcripts of what happens. I mean, you’ve got to read this stuff: it is targeted against Black and Hispanic populations almost entirely. And they are not treated like a criminal population, because criminals have constitutional rights – they’re treated like a population under military occupation. So the effective laws are: the police go to somebody’s house, they smash in the door, they beat the people up, they grab some kid they want, and they throw him in jail.”[ii]

Cops don’t make our communities safer, nor do they positively impact the people’s security needs, nor reduce ‘crime,’ nor the drug plagues. Even Malcolm X recognized, decades ago, that when the police presence increases yet community problems only worsen, the police are obviously a big part of the problem. Steve Martinot gave a vivid example of this in the tragic story of Adam Hakim, a Black New York youth who was the victim of a massive ‘search and kill’ police manhunt, which concluded in his being beaten and paralyzed by guards, because he refused to sell drugs for local cops in his neighborhood.[iii]

I’ve previously written in some detail about the well-documented practice and designs of U.S. police in persecuting, murdering, then attempting to replace popular independent New Afrikan political leaders like prominent Black Panther Party members, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others.[iv]  Also, their roles in facilitating crimes, violence, gang wars and the drug plagues in our oppressed communities, then in turn expanding the police presence and violence, and mass imprisoning us where we cannot reproduce and fathers are torn away from our families and communities – also well documented.[v]

So, the media image projected of the pig establishment is a far cry from, indeed the very opposite of, reality. Their role has been to make war on, contain, criminalize and cripple our communities, which the drug plague plays a key role in.

 The presence of drugs gets people fighting among themselves over the money generated by trafficking. Massive drug presence in a community produces a strung-out and desperate populous, increasing petty crime and gang warfare over control of the trade. A tide of actual criminality emerges, feeding stereotypes that have criminalized those communities before the fact. Ostensibly to stem this tide, police departments demand bigger appropriations from state legislatures. They expand to become very powerful political forces in urban areas, which they manifest through increased militarization and aggressiveness. That power is now nationally coordinated and centralized through the Law Enforcement Assistance Act passed under Nixon.[vi]

Why the ‘Good Cop’ Brainwash?

Why indeed is there the perpetual onslaught of Good Cop brainwash?

First off, glamorizing pigs and generating preoccupation with crime and punishment are essential elements of fascism. Dr. Lawrence Britt observed this in his comparative study of various fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several in Latin America. Among 14 common features of fascism, Britt listed:

Obsession with crime and punishment – under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

Supremacy of the Military – Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

Other features common to fascist systems relevant to this discussion are:

 Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes the media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in wartime, is very common.[vii]

 Second, as the U.S. economy slips further towards acute depression, the line dividing the haves (the capitalist imperialists) and their vermin gunslingers, and the have-nots (the working class and the poor) is being drawn more sharply. With economic want and instability comes doubt and distrust of the masses in those in power. In turn society becomes increasingly polarized between those who conform and those who oppose the status quo. As resistance increases the vermin become more extreme in repressing and villainizing it. These are the dynamics, the dialectic, which generates mass revolutionary struggle to overthrow oppressive and exploitative systems, like we live under. Thus conformity versus resistance must be cast in a “law abiding” versus “criminal” light, placing malcontents on one side and the ruling class, vermin and their conformists on the other. The masses are driven to choose sides. Indeed for oppressed community youth, the only options presented to them, early on, by the system is to become either “criminal” or “cop.”[viii] Hence the media glorification of the Black soldier/cop role and preoccupation with ‘crime and punishment.’

Third, up to and during the 1960s-‘70s high tide of revolutionary struggle in Amerika, the blatant official violence against people of color here and abroad, and open persecution and government-orchestrated murders of popular independent New Afrikan leaders and activists, exposed the real oppressive character of the pigs and U.S. vermin culture, driving mass resistance against the system. In “Protect Our Leaders Defend Our People,” I pointed out that a 1970 survey found that brutal police violence against the Black Panthers led some 80% of urban Blacks “to believe that Black people must stand together to protect themselves” against the police, who were certainly not seen nor embraced as our heroes or helpers. I quoted comrade Sundiata Acoli’s observation that the increasing role of Black cops in the media was a conscious effort to repair the pigs’ image and conceal their real function:

 . . . a large part of the part of the programs on TV are still ‘police stories’ and many of the roles available to Black actors are limited to police roles. A lot of this has to do with the overall process of still trying to rehabilitate the image of police from its devastating exposure during the Panther era, and to prevent the true role of the police in this society from being exposed again.[ix]

To achieve this effect today, and counter Black opposition to pig oppression, popular Black entertainers with independent street credibility (rap artists, comedians, etc.) are ‘turned’ and used to popularize and glamorize pigs and vermin culture to the very people they oppress, and to project criminal stereotypes of their own people, culture and communities. Note too that the vermin are always portrayed as wealthy or upper middle class, and possessing the material trappings of Amerikan “success”: large homes, flashy cars and clothes, beautiful women, etc. And they are literally above the law, with the power to execute or set-up and thereby dispose of opponents and exact revenge, usually without consequences to themselves.

Fourth, by casting vermin as the only legitimate models of social heroes and objects of achievable power and respect to be held in awe and sympathy by the oppressed, the system teaches aspirations toward and conformity to pig “authority,” and counters a possible resurgent revolutionary mass culture which would instead promote the masses of people as the real heroes, and the only legitimate power holders who should and can take control of their own communities’ security needs. This is also why the common people are always portrayed in these dramas as helpless, especially in response to “corrupt” pigs. Vermin culture projects pigs as invulnerable and imperious to challenge by the common people, who must suffer passively and hope some hero good cops will rescue them. However, the oppressed communities can rid themselves of death dealing dope peddlers and their pig supply lines, and gangsters who prey on the people, and resist killer cops and paramilitary goons like the KKK. If the people come to see themselves as the true heroes and agents of real change, as capable of being organized and united to meet their own economic, political, cultural and security needs, this would eliminate their conditioned belief that we need to turn to the pigs and system to solve our problems, which they have never done anyway!

Allowing such ideas to take root and spread is intolerable to any enslaver, since it reveals to the enslaved whom he profits off and rules by force and fraud that they don’t need him, and they can seize and exercise their own formal independence. This would deprive the enslaver of the very source of his wealth and power. Namely us. This is what the Black Panther Party was teaching urban New Afrikans and other oppressed people through its “Serve the People” community survival programs. For pigs to be able to function or even exist in our communities requires our cooperation and communication with them. Recall the instant media and industry backlash to suppress the popular grassroots “Stop Snitching” movement a few years back? Now all one sees are pig dramas where if folks aren’t joining forces with the pigs, copping out to them or snitching on themselves, they’re informing on everyone and his grandma. The pigs took similar measures when the FBI tried to prevent the release of Uptight, a 1970s Blacksploitation era movie starring Julian Mayfield with the theme that snitching has bad consequences.

How easily the system and its racist mass imprisonment practices could be frustrated by folks simply refusing to talk to the cops, period. In fact, the vast majority of those warehoused in these razor wire plantations plea-bargained, were informed on, or told on themselves.[x]

Without our most basic cooperation the pigs are powerless. Our communities must provide for their own security.

Pig-In-Chief

In several articles I’ve discussed U.S. government policy, beginning with Assistant FBI Director William C. Sullivan in 1964, and formalized in 1978 in National Security Council memorandum, #46, to destroy and repress popular independent leadership, and then replace it with misleaders groomed and “approved” by the system. As Sullivan predicted,

 When this is done, and it can and will be done, obviously much confusion will reign, particularly among the Negro people . . . . The Negroes will be left without a national leader of sufficiently compelling personality to steer them in the proper direction . . . .[xi]

 Actually, planting U.S.-trained “dark faces in high places” is how Amerika subverted all the revolutionary socialist national liberation struggles across Afrika and Asia during the 20th century, and maintained Western imperialist control over their natural resources and economies.

So it is no real accomplishment or surprise that a man of color was implanted as Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. executive branch in 2008 – i.e. Barack Obama. In fact, it can be clearly seen as a tactical move in large part to counter and contain growing Black unrest.

Obama’s role as Amerika’s highest-ranking cop served to redeem the legitimacy of pig authority to Black Amerika right in the midst of our growing disaffection and outrage with the U.S. government. How many of us went from raging against the pig machine (in response to our treatment during Hurricane Katrina, Jena 6, the increasing scourge of cops killing and brutalizing our youth, gentrification, mass displacements and breaking up of Black communities, cutting already substandard and inadequate social services, massive imprisonment, police racial profiling, etc.) to rallying in support of it, solely because of Obama’s presidential campaign and victory? His nomination and victory sent waves of euphoria bordering on mass hysteria through our communities.

We instantly forgot reality.

All it took to defer our reviving dreams of struggle for real power and change was to plant a dark skinned prostitute in a suit in the Oval Office, a prostitute beholden to the same corporate powers as the 43 white ones that preceded him. Mere color don’t make a brother.

And what is Obama but an entertainer – a play actor? A role-playing politician whose business is to woo and inspire false hope in desperate people with slick sounding rhetoric, clever sounding turns of phrases, and empty promises totally unrelated to reality. The real litmus test for us is to question what substantial positive changes have taken place in the oppressed communities since his election? Absolutely.

The dope-dealing CIA, that operates right out of the White House, still floods our communities with narcotics and the attendant social chaos. The government is still enlarging its militaristic posture and aggressiveness against us while keeping us under increasingly closer surveillance. We are still murdered, brutalized, race-profiled and railroaded en masse into prison by the cops, then consequently disenfranchised and stripped of access to public housing and social “benefits”! Our third world level infant mortality and child hunger rates continue to rise, while the availability and quality of already substandard health care and social services for us continues to fall in the face of our steadily rising health needs and problems and the HIV/AIDS/HCV pandemics we face. Our poverty and depression level unemployment rates continue to grow. Our community, family and individual security needs remain unmet. Basic human and civil rights don’t exist for us. In fact, the court system remains inaccessible and financially out of reach for purposes of litigating to enforce our interests and basic rights. Indeed, our plight has deteriorated markedly under the Obama administration. We remain victims of a system of racial and national oppression, economic exploitation, neo-colonialism, imprisonment, impoverishment and police impunity, and all-round insecurity and desperation.

But, emotionally, we can tolerate it all a little better when a Black cop is the U.S. Pig-In-Chief. The Good Cop Brainwash worked like a charm.

Who Controls the Brainwash System?

 Now let’s look at the broader picture and explore who controls the Brainwash system, how, why, and how it works to control the People’s thinking.

The Central Brainwash System (CBS) operates on two levels. The first is the elite media that indoctrinates the upper “educated” sector of the population. The second is the mass media that indoctrinates and distracts the general public so they don’t understand or interfere with the decision making power in society. The media is a cultural weapon of mass influence and control.

The “educated” sector who participate in society’s decision making processes are indoctrinated through corporate controlled school curricula (of “higher” learning), and such “high level” media as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.

For the general masses (the other 80%-90% of the population) there’s football (and other spectator sports) and violence and sex themes to excite and stimulate the lower passions and inhibit critical thinking. The mass entertainment media portrays the most sordid, animalistic and cynical characters or emphasizes escapism and fantasy. Just like on the old slave plantations, the common people are kept preoccupied in their leisure time with irrelevance and “fun” to distract and discourage them from knowing how the world works, and learning of their actual power to impact and change its conditions. The news (info-tainment) media also works to distort and conceal reality. In a speech given at CIA headquarters, Washington Post publisher, Katherine Graham, stated:

There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn’t. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows.[xii]

 On this point I refer the reader back to Dr. Britt’s observation that just such “controlled mass media” is a common feature of fascist systems. We can also see how independent media and whistleblowers that critically expose the true oppressive face of the pigs are persecuted, villainized and suppressed, like Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and PFC Bradley Manning today.

Also, I refer the reader to the fact, pointed out in Kill Yourself[xiii] that the government and media jointly concealed that, beginning in the early 1980s, the CIA with the U.S. Justice Department’s “okay,” began dumping tons of crack cocaine and guns into Black ghettos and inciting gang wars over drug turf. Over a decade later journalist Gary Webb broke the story. The CIA then destroyed his career, and he ultimately was found dead from gunshots to the face, which was dismissed as a suicide.

So the common people face, not only indoctrination and deception, but effective depoliticization, to prevent their developing a mass culture based upon critical popular media that acquaints them with the real world, with what’s going on, and why and how they can change it in profound ways. It was in this light that Afrikan revolutionary, Comrade Amilcar Cabral, observed in the context of leading a mass movement for Guinea Bissau’s national independence:

 When Goebbels, the brain behind Nazi propaganda, heard culture being discussed, he brought out his revolver. That shows that the Nazis – who were and are the most tragic expression of imperialism and of its thirst for domination – even if they were all degenerates like Hitler, had a clear idea of the value of culture as a factor of resistance to foreign domination.”[xiv]

 It’s important to remember the U.S. government adopted Nazi methods into its propaganda, military and intelligence systems.[xv]

Which brings us to the really important question of who controls society – who has the real power? In the U.S., it’s not those with government authority who are the real power holders. Those vermin are merely the servants and protectors of those in power. So the pigs do actually serve and protect . . . just not you and me. Instead, they serve the owners of society, the super rich 1% who hoard social wealth and are the big business interests behind Wall Street and the multinational corporations.  And it is the common people, the masses of working class and poor, the pigs serve and protect the wealthy against.

The established media is the tool of the wealthy. It serves them and exists by their design. The system and process breaks down very simply.

Big media exists and survives because big business pays for it through advertisements. Without advertisements the mainstream media would collapse or remain very small and weak.[xvi] Because the wealthy keep big media in business, these outlets air only programming and information that serves and promotes the interests and values of big business, which is to indoctrinate the educated elite, distract and depoliticize the poor and working class, and glorify the wealthy to all.

An example of how a popular media is crippled without the support of big business occurred in England with such labor newspapers as The News Chronicle and The Daily Herald, which reported world conditions and events to working class people from a perspective that opposed big business. Although both papers had a very wide readership, they went out of circulation for lack of funds. Subscription fees alone are never sufficient to maintain media.[xvii]

Here in Amerika, many examples present themselves as well. For example, the wealthy promote media that report business and investment trends, stocks, etc. to middle and upper level investors and corporate shareholders. Therefore, they invest and advertise extensively in media that carry such “news.” In turn, these media outlets act as virtual mouthpieces of the business communities and appeal especially to the elite educated sector.

Similarly, they invest and advertise in and promote “dumbed down” entertainment media that distracts, misinforms and depoliticizes the general masses, and indoctrinates them with pro-business values to “spend, spend, spend” and “buy, buy, buy,” chasing sensory gratification, high-tech toys, gizmos and trinkets, meaningless status symbols, and ever-changing fads that are advertised for mass consumption, day in and day out, via multi-million dollar ads and commercials. Sponsoring and promoting entertainers, music, art, etc. works the same way. Big business creates the market then supplies it, and advertises to “tell” the people what to believe and want, what to like, what to buy, while using the labor power of the same working class people, entertainers, artists, musicians, etc. to produce the goods, services and materials they advertise – which always conforms to the values and interests of the wealthy.[xviii]

One can routinely hear rap artists explain that they rap about what the industry promotes (which are irrelevant and degenerate themes), and not about “conscious” issues or reality because the industry won’t promote that. This was a major topic of discussion in recent years, debating whether “Hip hop is dead.” Likewise, actors find themselves playing roles or in movies and TV shows that the industry (and not them) promotes and makes available. A principled actor just won’t have a lucrative career. If it isn’t about sex, pimping, murder, money, cops and crime, fantasy or escapism, the big producers, recording labels, promoters, or advertisers won’t back it. And by being bombarded with such asinine themes, we generally can’t and don’t think outside the box of degenerate topics, irrelevance and worshipping materialism. It’s a process of mass brainwash, indoctrination and miseducation imposed on us by outside forces that replace our self-defining and authentic culture and identity. The U.S. government is now even promoting programs of sending rap artists, sports entertainers and others abroad to influence people in other countries with U.S. values.

And it’s not that people don’t want “conscious,” authentic music, art, movies, etc., but that industry executives realize such music, art, etc. runs counter to their brainwash. That it may get people thinking the wrong things. Like how the wealthy leech off the working class and poor, or that the system is the cause of urban poverty and crisis, or that we can collectively change things for the better on our own, or that the pigs are our oppressors, not our heroes. So they don’t promote it. And neither will the so-called “independent” music labels that expect to compete in the industry for market sales.

Thus “conscious” musicians, like independent media, must operate “underground” with very limited resources, few advertising options, and a small “fan” base. Otherwise, they must sell their souls and “cross over” to the mainstream and promote the values, images and messages desired by big business, which is why so many rappers who yesterday were authentic voices of the oppressed and expressed their displeasure with the pigs now promote pig culture and lifestyles of the rich and famous in Blackface.

Remember, the pigs are the protectors of the powerful, and exist to keep the powerless in line. And, it’s the Central Brainwash System that has us infatuated with sex, money, murder, and now pigs.

Conclusion

 In this light we can clearly see that not only does big business and government go hand-in-hand, but that glamorizing vermin culture – especially to the most oppressed, and therefore most potentially revolutionary, sectors of the population – is essential to maintaining the power of the bloodsuckers who own society and the stability of their system. It was Benito Mussolini, the man credited as the creator and founder of fascism, who defined it very simply as the merger of the interests of private corporations and the state. So now you know. And knowing is half the struggle. The other half is applying this knowledge to actively change the world in favor of the oppressed.

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!

All Power to the People

[i] Steve Martinot, “The Question of Fascism in America,” Socialism and Democracy, Vol. 22, no. 2 (July 2008), p. 18, n. 3.

[ii] Noam Chomsky, Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky (NY: The New Press, 2002), p. 373.

[iii] Op. cit. note 1

[iv] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Protect Our Leaders Defend Our People (2007)

[v] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, Kill Yourself or Liberate Yourself: The Real U.S. Imperialist Policy on Gang Violence versus the Revolutionary Alternative (2008)

[vi] Op. cit. note 1, p. 29. See also Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow: How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American Under Caste.” Socialist Viewpoint, Vol. 12, No. 3 (May/June 2012) p. 24:

The drug war has been brutal – complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods – but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought. This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than Black youth. Any notion that drug use among African Americans (sic) is more severe or dangerous is belied by the data. White youth, for example, have about three times the number of drug-related visits to the emergency room as their African American (sic) counterparts.

That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation’s prisons and jails, overflowing as they are with Black and brown drug offenders. In some states, African Americans [sic] comprise 80 percent-90 percent of all drug offenders sent to prison.

[vii] Dr. Lawrence Britt, “Fascism Anyone?” Free Inquiry (Spring 2003), p. 20

[viii] See, Kenneth Saltman. Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools (NY: Routledge, 2003):

Military generals running schools, students in uniforms, metal detectors, police presence, high-tech ID cards, dog tags, real-time internet-based surveillance cameras, security consultants, chain link fences, surprise searches – are all part of the investment the military industrial complex is embedding in U.S. public schools as they increasingly resemble the military and prisons. Militarism and the promotion of violence as virtue pervade foreign and domestic policy, popular culture, educational discourse and language. In addition to promoting recruitment, military education plays a central role in fostering a social focus on discipline. In short, to speak of militarized schooling in the United States context is inadequate to identify the ways that schools increasingly resemble the military and prisons. This phenomenon needs to be understood as part of the militarization of civil society exemplified by the rise of militarized policing, increased police powers for search and seizure, anti-public gathering laws, ‘zero tolerance’ policies and the transformation of welfare into punishing workfare programs.

[ix] Op. cit. note 5, quoting Sundiata Acoli, “A Brief History of the Black Panther Party and Its Place in the Black Liberation Movement” (1985).

[x] 96.4% of all criminal cases (97% of all federal and 94% of all state criminal cases) end in plea bargains. New York Times, March 20, 2012.

[xi] Quoted in Church Committee, U.S. Congressional Report: Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans. 94th Congress, 2nd Session, report no. 94-755 (1976) (Washington, U.S. Government Printing Office), book III, p. 136.

[xii] Regardie’s Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 5, January 1990, pp 90f.

[xiii] Op. cit. note 5

[xiv] Amilcar Cabral, National Liberation and Culture (1970).

[xv] Michael McClintock, Instruments of XStatecraft: U.S. Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency and Counter-Terrorism 1940-1990 (NY: Pantheon, 1992).

[xvi] See, for example, Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon, Unreliable Sources: A Guide to Detecting Bias in the News Media (NY: Lyle Stuart, 1990), p. 59 (“TV and radio get nearly 100 percent of their income from advertisers, newspapers, 75 percent, and magazines about 50 percent…. Between 60 and 70 percent of newspaper space is reserved for ads, while 22 percent of TV time is filled with commercials.”); Erik Barnouw, The Sponsor: Notes on a Modern Potentate (NY: Oxford University Press, 1978), on the influence advertising has on media content; Ben H. Bagdikian, The Media Monopoly, 5th ed. (Boston: Beacon Press, 1997), esp. chs. 6-9; James Curran et al., Power without Responsibility: The Press and Broadcasting in Britain (London: Routledge, 1981, pp. 118-132; Alfred M. Lee, The Daily Newspaper in America: The Evolution of a Social Instrument (NY: MacMillan, 1937).

 [xvii] Although the readership of the workers’ press in Britain surpassed the readership of the combined business papers, the workers’ press was destroyed by lack of sufficient advertising. James Curran, “Advertising in the Press,” in James Curran, ed., The British Press: A Manifesto (London: MacMillan, 1978), pp. 229-267.

 [xviii] An outstanding analysis and exposé of the mass media is Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman, Manufacturing Consent (NY: Pantheon, 1988), where they elaborate a “Propaganda Model,” summarized thus:

 A propaganda model focuses on [the] inequality of wealth and power and its multilevel effects on mass-media interests and choices. It traces the routes by which money and power are able to filter out the news fit to print, marginalize dissent, and allow the government and dominant private interests to get their messages across to the public. The essential ingredients of our propaganda model, or set of news “filters,” fall under the following headings: (1) the size, concentrated ownership, owner wealth, and profit orientation of the dominant mass-media firms; (2) advertising as the primary income source of mass media; (3) the reliance of the media on information provided by government business, and “experts” funded and approved by these primary sources and agents of power; (4) “flak” as a means of disciplining the media; and (5) “anti-communism” [today it’s anti-terrorism] as a national religion and control mechanism.

 These elements interact with and reinforce one another. The raw material of news must pass through successive filters, leaving only the cleansed residue fit to print. They fix the premises of discourse and interpretation, and the definition of what is newsworthy in the first place, and they explain the basis and operations of what amount to propaganda campaigns.

The New Afrikan Black Panther Party’s Organizational Principles, Policy and Practice: The 3-P’s

By Kevin Rashid Johnson

Organizational Aims

In several past articles we have expressed the need to resolve various questions of Party organization and cadre development and training. We want to begin now working on resolutions, starting with ensuring that comrades understand and adhere to the organizational aims and structure of our Party.

Presently we are a Prison Chapter (PC), which means the New Afrikan Black Panther Party’s (NABPP) membership is based primarily within the Empire’s prisons. So long as we remain a Prison Chapter there are obvious limits on what we can achieve, and on our ability to collectively decide a lot of matters. So, in this respect, we are not able to fully integrate with, and exercise Democratic Centralism within our mass base. Our mass base consists principally of the oppressed urban New Afrikan peoples and those confined within the prisons.

We aspire to advance from a mere PC, to an outside party structure based in the oppressed communities, and ultimately into an international vanguard party of all oppressed and urbanized Afrikan peoples the world over.

To make the transition to the outside requires that cadre trained in our political and ideological lines and committed to our 10 Point Program and Platform, hold a founding Party Congress, elect a free world Central Committee, organize a Politburo and draft a Party program. Developing these cadres is part of our aim in educating and politicizing prisoners, so they can, upon their release, form the nucleus of that outside Party. We are also educating comrades on the outside. Towards developing the International BPP, we look to develop cadre in other countries and all areas where Afrikan people are concentrated to found chapters of the party, and consolidate them into the IBPP.

The White Panther Organization (WPO) and Brown Panther Organization (BPO) are arms of the NABPP (which are also primarily prison-based at present), who carry the line and work of the Panthers into the poor and working-class white, Red, Brown and Yellow communities, to serve these oppressed sectors, and to unite all oppressed peoples into an United Front Against Imperialism. We aim to see these organizations also transition into outside structures based in the oppressed communities of their respective national and “racial” groups, and ultimately into international structures operating under the leadership of the IBPP as a United Panther Movement.

This explains the basic organizational aims of the Party. We now will elaborate the structural outline of the Party.

 

Organizational Structure

Structurally, the NABPP-PC breaks down at three levels: National (Chapter), State (Branch), and Local (Unit). The outside NABPP once constituted will also be structured much the same. The IBPP once developed will simply add a fourth level: the International.

 

I. Chapter

At the National level is the Chapter. The Chapter is presided over by the Party’s highest decision-making body, the Central Committee (CC). The CC oversees, and its decisions are to be obeyed by, the entire Party. The Chairperson is the spokesperson of the CC and the Party, and its highest-ranking member. The Politburo (political bureau) of the CC is composed of the heads of the Party’s various ministries. The present ministries within the NABPP – PC consist of the Ministries of:

1. Culture
2. Defense
3. Education
4. Finance
5. Health and Welfare
6. Human Rights
7. Information
8. Justice
9. Labor

The CC will also have a General Secretary. Each arm of the Party (viz., WPO and BPO) will have a national spokesperson, each of whom will also have a seat on the CC. The CC thus consists of the Chairperson, the heads of the Party’s Ministries, the General Secretary and the National spokespeople.

CC decisions are reached by means of Democratic Centralism (DC), which we will explain more fully below. But as said, we are not able to fully implement DC due to communication barriers created by our being confined in various prisons across the Empire. CC members are to be elected to their positions by peer vote with input from Party members and the masses at all levels, and may be removed from these positions in the same manner. Election to these positions shall be based upon qualifications, integrity, commitment and work in the struggle proven in practice.

 

II. Branch

At the State levels are the Branches. The Branches are the intermediary Party structures beneath the Chapter. Each state will have its own Branch, and each Branch is presided over by a Branch Committee (BC) composed of Party members who reside in the state in which that particular Branch presides. For example, the BC of Connecticut will preside over the entire Connecticut Branch of the NABPP-PC, etc.

The BC operates beneath the CC and works to implement and coordinate CC decisions and goals at the statewide level, and also to implement and coordinate other work at this level consistent with the Party’s work, programs and goals.

Each Ministry within the Party will have a Branch level delegate or “deputy,” for example: Deputy Minister of Culture, Deputy Minister of Defense, and so on, who together compose the Branch level Politburo. There will also be a Deputy Chairperson, who is the highest ranking member at the Branch level, and a Branch Secretary. Together these Deputies, along with Deputy Spokespersons of the WPO and BPO form the BC.

BC decisions will also be reached by means of DC at the Branch level, and will govern activities of the entire Party Branch in the state in which it presides.

BC members are also appointed or withdrawn by election of members at the Branch level and with input of the masses. Until the Party is fully operational, individual CC members may appoint provisional deputies (for example the Minister of Culture may appoint a provisional deputy to his/her ministry in Branches where there is no functional Party leadership), who may be later confirmed or withdrawn and replaced by vote of Branch members upon that membership’s being enlarged and organized.

Deputies answer and report on developments in their area to the Chapter head of the Ministry, Chair, etc. which they belong to. For example the Deputy Ministers of Culture report and answer to the National Minister of Culture, etc.

 

III. Unit

At the Local levels are the units. The units are the basic Party structures beneath the branches. Each prison or jail will have its own unit, (as will each city, county or town upon the development of the outside Party). Each unit is presided over by a Unit Committee (UC) composed of Party members who are confined in the prison or jail in which that particular unit presides. For example, the UC of Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) will preside over the entire Party within PBSP.

The UC operates beneath the BC of the state in which it exists, (for example, the UC of PBSP operates under the California BC), and works to implement and coordinate BC decisions and goals (and those of the CC directly, in absence of a BC or when otherwise appropriate), and also to carry out other work consistent with the Party’s work, programs and goals at the unit level.

Each Ministry within the Party will have a unit level delegate or “Captain,” for example: Cultural Captain, Defense Captain, and so on, who together compose the Unit Politburo. There will also be a Chairperson Captain, who is the highest-ranking member at the unit level, also a Secretary Captain. Together these Captains, along with Captains of the WPO and BPO form the UC.

UC decisions will also be reached by means of DC at the unit level, and will govern activities of the entire Party unit within the prison or jail in which it operates.

UC members are also appointed or withdrawn by election of members at the unit level and with input of the masses.

The most basic groups within the Party are collectives or local cells consisting of comrades living or working together within a prison or jail. The unit will be composed of various collectives in the prison headed by a Captain or elected Lieutenant.

At the unit level it will be much easier for comrades to interact regularly and often without intense enemy scrutiny, therefore DC can be most effectively exercised at this level, especially for comrades in the general population settings. We therefore encourage comrades to exercise and become experienced in the practice and application of DC.

Unit Captains answer and report on developments in their prison or jail to the Deputy of the Ministry, Chair, etc. to which they belong and in the state in which they operate. For example, the Cultural Captain for PBSP reports and answers to the Deputy Minister of Culture for the California Branch.

 

Reports

The object is to achieve an organizational system of accountability and transmitting ideas and information from the lowest to the highest levels of the Party and vice versa, while allowing comrades flexibility and creativity in applying our line and directives to the particular conditions in their area (state, prison and/or jail).

To this end Party cadre should hold regular meetings when and where they can, to sum up work in their area, and prepare and submit reports up to the next highest body or up to the CC. For example, those presiding over unit groups should prepare and submit reports to their Branch Chairperson. And the Branch should do the same and sum up unit reports to the National Chairperson. In the absence of Branch membership or leaders, unit groups should submit reports directly to the National Chairperson.

 

Organizational Principles

The fundamental organizational principle of the party is DC.

At all levels leading bodies within the Party are elected and subject to recall by democratic decision.

Leading bodies within the Party shall regularly report on their work at general membership meetings or to the chairperson, listen and pay heed to the opinions of the masses in and outside the Party and submit to their supervision. All Party members have the right to criticize Party organizations and leading members at all levels and make recommendations to them. If a Party member disagrees concerning decisions or directions of a Party organization, although s/he must abide by those decisions/directions, s/he may reserve her/his views and has the right to bypass the immediate leadership and report directly to higher bodies, up to and including the CC and the CC Chairperson. We must maintain a political environment with both centralism and democracy, both unity and struggle, both discipline and freedom, and both collective unity of purpose and individual mental ease, and which is energetic and active. This political climate should exist both within and without of the Party, because without it we will be unable to motivate and inspire cadre to work vigorously and effectively or the masses to take up the struggle.

 

Democratic Centralism: The Purpose, The Method

As our central organizational principle it is imperative that all Party members and the people clearly understand what DC is, its purpose and how it works.

DC applies the principles and processes of collective decision-making and conflict resolution practiced by communal societies, and proves to be the most effective and correct method, because it corresponds to the basic needs and principles of social or group psychology. DC understands that within any society or group there will exist different ideas and disagreements amongst its members about important issues and how to address and resolve them. And unless the most correct ideas are brought forward and the group is able to unite in implementing them, then the group will be unable to solve its problems and there will be disharmony. So it is in the interest of the group that its members cooperate towards common goals.

But how does a group resolve incompatible ideas and bring forward the best most correct ones, and unite its members in applying them? This can only be done through methods that promote compromise and mutual concession. DC is the only method that allows this and in a way that enables all members to participate in reaching decisions. For people most willingly embrace decisions that they participate in that gave ear and consideration to their views and concerns, and where all members are invited to contribute and are willing to make concessions and compromises toward reaching and implementing the most correct decisions. People able to contribute to decisions are empowered and are able to feel greater responsibility for and satisfaction with the terms of the decision. This is what DC applies.

 

Democracy

DC as its name implies combines both democracy and centralism. The object of genuine democracy is to bring out all ideas. To give everyone, not merely small groups or “special” individuals, the right and opportunity to speak up and express their views, to openly and honestly criticize people and practices high and low that are believed to be in error and harming the interests of the whole. This so that problems may be identified and solved.

In this process various different ideas are allowed to struggle with each other through reasoned debate and discussion, not coercion or violence. And people are allowed to vent anger and frustration but not to spite others. The object is to encourage open speech not to attack people’s minor flaws or ridicule them.

DC draws on the collective wisdom of the group and its experiences at all levels. The emphasis of DC is on mass participation and learning their interests, views, needs, and concerns, whether of social conditions or related to the Party and its members. The Party must give the masses our hearts, encouraging them to freely voice their grievances and opinions and speak out. For this is the only way to bring them forward and eagerly into the struggle. When they see we are concerned with, empowered by, and committed to their interests and voice, they will enthusiastically support the Party, join the mass organizations, and take up the struggle alongside us.

But if we attempt to silence them, to make them feel their ideas are of no value, or that we are scorned and offended by their criticisms and refuse to examine and correct our errors and ourselves before them, if we seek to dominate and coerce them, the oppressed masses will not embrace us as their Party. They will not feel responsibility for or satisfaction with decisions made or advice given by the Party, and they will not support us. Therefore, we will not be their vanguard.

Without democracy, without allowing Party members and people to express themselves, how can we learn the actual conditions under which we and the masses are struggling? How will we know what works and what doesn’t? How will we determine when resources or work needs to be diverted into certain areas or when there is a surplus or extra manpower in another place that can be sent to needy areas? How will we know when the masses are not content with our work or the performance of particular comrades?

We are not talking about that form of so-called democracy that the bourgeoisie uses against not for the people, where the masses have no say so in decisions that affect them but can only rush to the polls every few years to choose between Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum, both of whom serve the same corporate masters, and bleed the people to serve their benefit. We’re talking about functional participatory mass democracy where the people have a say in every important decision that affects them; and this Party is their party not the tool of the capitalist class.

Our inner-Party democracy serves to ensure that upper levels of the Party know, understand and are responsive to what is happening down below. So comrades are able to evaluate things from all sides, and not make evaluations based on one-sided accounts or bits and pieces of information. This way we draw on the collective wisdom of the entire Party and the people in reaching decisions. Only thus can we discuss and unite together to reach correct ideas.

So there must first be open struggle (democratic discussion) of ideas before there can be unity (centralism) of ideas – of all ideas – within the group or society. These principles – democracy and centralism – go hand-in-hand.

 

Centralism

Centralism is what we arrive at when, after broad discussion (the process of democratic struggle), our understanding of things reaches unity. It is the centralization of correct ideas; upon which we can then have unity in understanding policies, plans, organization, command, action, etc. This is called “centralized unification,” which cannot be reached if the people and Party are not able to openly express their ideas and concerns, have them seriously considered, and allow them to contribute and participate in developing all-sided views of problems. So the foundation of our centralism is democracy.

Once we reach unity on ideas and there is agreement by majority vote, we all unite to apply the agreed upon policies, plans, etc. Applying the agreed upon ideas then proves or disproves the correctness of our decisions in practice. If proven incorrect, we then return to democratic discussion to reach a new level of unity and revise our plans, then return to practice again.

Essentially centralism means once a decision or course of action has been agreed upon through democratic discussion, debate, and vote, all members must whole-heartedly unite in applying that decision or course of action. Those who disagree with the majority decision must still abide by and apply it, but may reserve their disagreements and appeal them up to higher Party levels or bring them up for discussion and debate again at the next committee session.

 

Inner-Party DC

Mao-Tse-tung gave an important explanation of inner-Party DC:

“The Party Committee at various levels is the organ which implements centralized leadership. But the leadership of the Party committees is a collective leadership: matters cannot be decided by the first secretary alone. Within Party committees democratic centralism should be the sole mode of operation. The relationship between the first secretary and the other secretaries and committee members is one of the minority obeying the majority. For example, in the Standing Committee and the Political Bureau situations like this often arise: when I say something, no matter whether it is correct or incorrect, provided that everyone disagrees with me, I will accede to their point of view because they are the majority. I am told that the situation exists within some provincial Party committees, whereby in all matters whatever the first secretary says goes. This is quite wrong. It is nonsense if whatever one person says goes. I am referring to important matters, not to the routine work which comes in wake of decisions. All important matters must be discussed collectively, different opinions must be listened to seriously, and the complexities of the situation and partial opinions must be analyzed. Account must be taken of various possibilities and estimates made of various aspects of a situation: which are good, which bad, which easy, which difficult, which possible and which impossible. Every effort must be made to be both cautious and thorough. Otherwise you have one-man tyranny. Such first secretaries should be called tyrants and not ‘squad leaders’ of democratic centralism.”

By living among the people, even in times of intense enemy repression and surveillance when open meetings are not feasible we can still exercise DC, by investigating problems through observation and inquiry of the masses, drawing out informal discussions, and keeping our ears close to the ground. What we learn and experience at lower levels should be conveyed to higher levels to inform decisions made there.

Also comrades should not fear, avoid or seek to repress the masses’ criticisms of them or their conduct. But they should be humble and willing to examine themselves. The people should be encouraged to speak out as we are committed to truth. Those unable to accept the truth of their own actions and errors being exposed and criticized, are not suited to serve as the people’s vanguard leadership, because our commitment is to serve the masses first and foremost. The same holds true for those who cannot stand to hear their ideas contradicted or challenged.

No one is always right or above criticism, even if sometimes we are wrongly criticized. To deal with truth we must be able and willing to be contradicted and disputed. If our views or actions are wrong we must honestly examine and correct them. This is the only way forward. Those unwilling to accept supervision and criticism of the people are not their genuine leaders, but are capable only of oppressing them, of placing individual pride before collective principle. Attitudes of this sort act as a corrosive and undermine unity.

At bottom, inner-Party DC enables the CC to make strategic decisions upon the broadest consideration of all available information. The entire Party is bound by these decisions. At the intermediate and lower levels the Branch and Unit committees are allowed great flexibility and initiative in determining how best to implement those decisions at their levels. In the process of doing so they collectively analyze and sum up their experiences, achievements and failures and report on them to other Party levels, and also share them with comrades in other areas to inform, test and refine theory and practice all round in carrying out the Party’s goals. This is how DC works. A process many organizations have claimed to apply but which few even grasped. Indeed most lacked the humility and commitment to the mass line and revolutionary proletarian ideology – and no other – necessary to genuinely implement it.

At times of enemy repression of political activity, greater centralism and restricted democracy applies to protect cadre and our work, however, when conditions are permissive, we should apply democracy arousing and engaging the masses as broadly and openly as possible. Our Party must be adaptable to changing conditions and flexible. Only in this way can we stay ahead of enemy subversion and remain true to the cause of leading the oppressed working people and marginalized poor in struggle to defeat this imperialist system and its puppets.

 

The Role of the Party

Our role is not to exercise political or state power over the people, (which is their prerogative), but to influence them, to set positive examples. When our outside structure unfolds and we are able to lead the masses to form their own popular governing bodies such as Community Councils, our cadre will be free to accept election as delegates of these popular political structures: but only as delegates with no greater power than any other delegate. Our leadership role is one voluntarily embraced by the people, based upon our unity and demonstrated ability to lead them in solving difficult problems and winning majority support. This sort of leadership is based on education, reasoned persuasion, and active involvement in the daily lives and struggles of the oppressed peoples.

This will lead to the Party’s winning a certain level of prestige among the people we serve, based upon our commitment to them and proving to put forward correct policies that serve their interests. This involves our leading by example, actively participating in all mass organizations, systematically educating the people, and proving our devotion to the people by being the most principled, committed and self-sacrificing.

There will always be those who will find their way into our ranks whose personal qualities and ambitions run counter to the Party’s principles. This is another reason DC is important and valuable. It will allow such elements to be examined and exposed by and before the masses. This is why comrades should be upright and sincere, and willing and able to accept the supervision and criticism of the people: because like it or not, the people will expose them. And it explains why organizations that are not genuinely committed to the interests of the oppressed masses cannot and do not integrate with them, and while many have professed to, very, very few have really practiced DC.

Dare to struggle! Dare to win! All Power to the People!

The Rising Tide of Hate in Amerika: A Sign of the Times

By Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

It’s definitely true as Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed, that one can determine the level of civilization of a society by looking inside its prisons. This is because prisons are but a reflection in miniature of the contradictions in the society that produces them, and with much of the pretense stripped away.

Take Oregon for example. I was transferred into its prison system from Virginia’s in February 2012. The experience has allowed me a sobering opportunity to learn from a new angle a bit about the level of civilization in Oregon, and by extension Amerika. And the inside and outside definitely correspond.

The Outside Hate

Shortly after reaching Oregon I developed correspondence with several local politically active people. One of them being a working class white trade unionist, who’s lived in Oregon’s capital, Salem, for 15 years. One of the first observations he made to me – a New Afrikan/Black persyn myself – in a letter was:

“I think you will find fitting into Oregon pretty difficult. I’ve lived here 15 years and I barely fit in, which is a real problem for political work. There are very few African-Americans (sic) here and my impression is that Oregonians can be very passive-aggressive. The now-existing means of production here gives rise to particular petty bourgeois [middle class] prejudices and cultural formations.”

I’ve found much truth in his words, and quite a bit more.

Sometimes I’m able to get a hold of and read Oregon’s daily paper, The Oregonian. In the August 12, 2012 issue, a small front page article caught my eye and put a few things into perspective. The article was entitled, “Neighborhood Should See This,” with a sub-caption, “As a lesson, racist graffiti is left intact for awhile on a black-owned Masonic lodge in North Portland.” The story was about John Bryant, a New Afrikan/Black owner of the Portland, Oregon based Sons of Haiti Masonic Lodge, described in the article as “one of the last black-owned buildings on Portland’s gentrified North Mississippi Avenue.”

What struck me was not so much that the lodge had been vandalized with spray-painted swastikas, images of lynchings, and such words as “Die Nigger,” which white neighbors and passersby found shameful and abhorrent, but the nonchalance in admitting the very neighborhood in which this occurred was one gentrified by the very people who acted appalled by the vandalism.

Everyone rushed to console Bryant – who obviously needed no such consolation, not from them anyway – and volunteered to quickly paint over the scurrilous words and images, even at their own expense and with their own labor. Bryant declined their offers, however, wanting people to see the words and images. In doing this, he compelled his apologetic white neighbors to face a reality they obviously desired to keep hidden in the most recessed areas of their unconscious, namely that racism is alive and well in Amerika, and thriving right in their midst. A fact that oppressed nationalities and folks of color know all too well because we live it every day. Which Bryant too was obviously conscious of. Particularly where the article observed:

“Bryant was raised just a few blocks away from the vandalized building, which [has] been home to the Sons of Haiti for 30 years. He watched as white businesses, shoppers and residents replaced black ones during the past decade. He said he’s one of the two black property owners on the thoroughfare that runs through historic Mississippi District. The other is his elderly mother.”

Again this is all openly stated in a front-page article in Oregon’s major daily. To its writers and readers, the only thing they find shameful about the story is the racist graffiti. No one found anything wrong in the admitted gentrification. That this occurred in a neighborhood from which New Afrikan/Blacks had been – to use a more accurate term — “ethnically cleansed” for the economic benefit of encroaching whites.

Everyone seems oblivious to the fact that such “removal” and displacement of “other” races and nationalities, to the economic benefit of another dominant race and nationality, is what the entire German Nazi project was all about. It was the very reason Gypsies, Slavs, Jews, Poles and other “non-Aryans” were herded off to concentration camps by the SS. The Nazis claimed that the Aryans “destiny as a people” and superior culture, economy, etc. entitled them to displace and take over the land and resources of others who weren’t “properly” using them. [1] These were the exact pronouncements of Nazi leaders including Hitler himself. [2]

Today in Amerika such encroachments are made by way of banks instead of Brown shirts, blitzkriegs and bombs; domination via investment. This way US ethnic cleansing is sanitized of the stigma of being no different in purpose and effect than the Nazi program (what one might call “the cleansing of ethnic cleansing”). And why would the ongoing aims of the Amerikan project be any different than the Nazis? Especially when Hitler himself learned from and was inspired by Amerika’s own history of stealing land and wealth. [3] Lest we forget, every inch of claimed US territory was stolen by use of concentration camps, mass murder, genocide and deliberate deceptions – i.e., ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people.

So Bryant can be seen as one of the last standing “natives” whose entire community has been swept away by a clearly racialist program of domination and ethnic removal in the name of white “progress.”

It is no wonder he wanted the graffiti left where it was, while the neighboring whites wanted it cleaned away quickly. Since it served to expose real the real ugly face hidden beneath a smiling mask. The real face of thoser who’d displaced and pushed his people out of their community in pursuit of a continuing jingoist and racist agenda as old as Amerika itself, only disguised to fit with changing times.

In fact the cruder displays of Amerikan racism (e.g. Ritual festive lynchings, racist verbal insults, Jim Crow segregation, etc.) were phased out and rendered politically incorrect after World War II, in large part because overt racism became identified with the German Nazis, not because Amerika’s values had changed at all.

The vandalism exposed that the very presence of Bryant’s white neighbors was the result of a racist agenda no different from that of the Nazis. They bthus had much to feel guilt over, prompting them to rush forward with apologies and efforts to erase and distance themselves from the crude work of one of their own less sophisticated members that exposed and indicted them all.

The Inside Hate

And while the mainstream postures to project racism as a thing of te past, its rabid forms persist. Which I found upon my imprisonment in Oregon, where in contrast to most everywhere else in Amerika, the prison population is overwhelmingly white and thus feels no compulsion to conceal its bigotry. Security in numbers.

Coming from Virginia I’m accustomed to seeing whites as no larger than 15% and Blacks at about 80% of the prison population. So Virginia’s racial demographics weren’t conducive to open and proud displays of “white power.” The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) by contrast basically reverses these demographics with whites at about 80% of its prison population. So here, they are seen to openly flaunt neo-Nazi, skinhead and similar affiliations, brazenly exhibiting white supremacist tattoos, etc. There are over a dozen such cliques operating openly in the ODOC, with at least half of the ODOC’s prisoner population being members.

I quickly learned the name of each group and how to identify many of their members. They being: skinheads, Aryan Brotherhood, Dirty White Boys, Aryan Family, Nazi Lowriders, Irish Pride, Bootboys, European Kindred, Insane Peckerwood Society, Aryan Death Squad, Organized Aryan Criminal Syndicate, Fat Bitch Killers, etc.

I still recall my near visceral reaction when on my first day in Oregon’s general population (GP), two whites walked past my cell en route to the breakfast meal, one flaunting a large swastika tattoo on the side of his neck, the other with a series of similar smaller tattoos across his face. Then yet another passed with a huge iron cross on his forearm. I found that all the whites freely associated with these sorts of racialist elements, which indicated that no one took issue with the white supremacist culture at all. On talking to several I discovered nthis is what they grew up around. Yet the mainstream media and politicians promote the lie that such rabid embodiments of racism are outmoded in Amerika.

Furthermore, the less blatant white supremacists, which are most, embody everything in their mannerisms, character, intelligence, etc. that Amerika proudly portrays as models of white suburbia. They do not fit the vulgar, stupid, doped-out, drop-out stereotypes projected of wihte supremacists. Most could easily slip into a suit and tie and intelligently hold forth in corporate boardrooms or are the types you’d envision toting books on a college campus. Quite a few were actually headed in these directions, or come from these backgrounds.

One such fella who wavers on the status quo was open to critically examine the racial question. His name is Anthony Lazarides. On reading a recent article I wrote on the Jim Crow segregationist practices at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP) [4], he exclaimed, “I really didn’t realize how racist we actually are. I’ve seen it all my life yet never recognized anything wrong. It’s just how things are.” He went on to tell me how, in his own experiences, a lot of whites when around New Afrikan/Blacks are respectful, friendly and deny racism. But behind their backs and when with fellow whites they love to use racist epithets and show their real racist faces. I told him I was somewhat aware of this. That various studies have exposed this tendency. [5]

The Violent Hate

So what I found in the ODOC was an open reflection of the jingoism and racism of the larger Oregon (and Amerikan) society denuded of its pretensions, which I actually prefer to the artificial smiling liberalist approach.

I also found on observing white ODOC guards a prevailing lynch mob mentality, but also cloaked behind a polite, fake friendship, smiling facade. And while I’ve witnessed and experienced many an instance of abuse by guards against prisoners in Virginia, by accounts of victims and witnesses here in Oregon, when ODOC guards get rabid it’s consistently directed at national and racial “minorities,” gays and the mentally disturbed (the same groups that Nazis considered “degenerates” to be purged), and it’s extremely brutal. Systematically so. I’ll give four of many examples; selected because in these cases the victims both consented and wanted to have their identities publicized. They being:

Shua Tilahun, #15493938 (Black);
Nathan Goninan, #17079611 (Native American); and
Daniel Loos, #13783862 (Gay)

Shua’s incident occurred on August 4th, 2012 at Oregon’s Two Rivers Prison, where he was taken into an office while in GP by two sergeants and a corporal (all white) to “talk.” On entering the office they instructed him to submit to being handcuffed, whereupon he protested that he “didn’t do anything.” At that point they maced him in the face and proceeded to systematically beat him. Several times pinning his body down and continuously kicked, punched and stomped him. They repeatedly dug their fingers down into his eye sockets, attempting to dig out his eyes. The beating lasted an extensive period of time. Following which he had to be rushed to the emergency room, where he was treated for multiple lacerations to his head, contusions across his eyes, and an MRI found he had multiple fractures to both his cheekbones, his nose and the orbital lobe of his eye; also a dislocated shoulder.

On August 6th he was transferred to OSP and moved into a segregation unit where I was also housed and saw him enter. His severe facial injuries were blatantly apparent. Two large black rings around his eyes drew taunts from several white prisoners that he looked “like a raccoon.” His face was so badly deformed, another prisoner who knew him well from the streets and was housed in the cell next to him didn’t recognize Shua until he heard his name. Shua described his attack and sought eagerly for help. He stated multiple photographs were taken of his face at Two Rivers and OSP. I took down his name and the facts, tried to advise him on some options, and told him I’d try to generate exposure and help him find help. Shortly afterwards we were separated. Although not himself a very good writer, Shua reads well and is very articulate verbally.

Goninan has been targeted numerous times at OSP. Two incidents stand out because they involve the same white guard, D. Smith. On January 15th, 2012 Smith (whom I have witnessed repeatedly drunk on the job) set Goninan up to be forcibly extracted from his cell by a mob of guards in riot armor and using a taser. Upon being forcibly taken down and handcuffed from behind, he was held kneeling on the cell floor, abdomen against the bedframe, and bent over with his upper body and face pressed flat to the bed. While one guard kneeled on his head to hold him immobile, another female guard pulled down his pants and underwear, pressed the contact electrodes of the taser between his buttocks and repeatedly electrocuted his rectum. The entire event was captured on portable audio-video camera.

Subsequently Goninan filed a Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) complaint and delivered it to a lieutenant Erickson who gave him a copy and filed it. He also called the prison’s PREA hotline and repeatedly filed complaints up to present, with no responses received and no investigations ever conducted.

On July 15th, 2012 Goninan was involved in a fight with another prisoner. In response guards sprayed O.C. gas and ordered them both to lay on the floor, which they did. Smith and another guard, Tryon, entered the unit and handcuffed Goninan from behind and leg-shackled him. Upon raising Goninan to his feet and “escorting” him toward the front of the unit, Smith, for no reason, punched him several times in the back and side of the head and slammed him face first to the floor. Throughout this time yelling obscenities and racist names at him. Still being verbally abused, Goninan was lifted to his feet again and upon taking a couple of steps, Smith snatched the shackle chain from behind, forcefully pulling Goninan’s feet back and upward without warning, causing him to crash, face forward, to the floor, breaking multiple upper and lower teeth and pushing one back and sideways. Smith then began punching him continuously in the head, side and back, as Goninan protested he wasn’t doing anything and to stop hitting him.

The entire unit of prisoners witnessed the attack (several of whom later wrote and gave Goninan sworn written statements of what they saw), and many began kicking and banging on their doors and protesting. Tryon then dragged Goninan out of the unit into a holding cell, where Smith forcefully clamped the handcuffs and shackles down as tightly as they would go on his wrists and ankles. Then tried to hang him by his wrists behind his back from the top of the holding cell door frame, using a long nylon leash connected to the handcuff chain, ripping his shoulder muscles. Several prisoners could still see this and were protesting, so Tryon told Smith to take him to another floor for fear of inciting a riot. They then took Goninan to a holding cell on another floor and left him tied to the door by the leash. For over 72 hours he was denied medical care and did not see a dentist for 10 days; when seen the dentist told him he’d have to have his broken teeth capped and shaved down to repair them.

Smith once escorted me to a medical appointment at OSP, during which time he boasted to another guard how he’d beaten and even killed “Hajjis” (a racist term used by US soldiers against Arabs) while in the Army.

Daniel Loos’s incident occurred at Oregon’s Snake river prison on December 11th, 2010. Loos is an extremely effeminate gay prisoner with long hair. He was being “escorted,” handcuffed from behind, to the disciplinary segregation unit by two guards, for being in a housing unit he wasn’t assigned to. While in a hallway area, one of the escorting guards asked, “Hey fag wanna play?” At which point he was slammed face first to the floor, lacerating his brow, and was systematically beaten, being kicked, punched, stomped and having patches of hair ripped from his head. He suffered a broken wrist and hand and a laceration requiring 10 stitches, and extreme bruising and swelling to his head, face and body. Presently he has a federal lawsuit pending on the matter. Snake River officials, in obvious attempts to aid the guards who beat Loos, erased and “lost” surveillance camera footage of the beating.

These are but four of numerous “hate” motivated attacks by white ODOC guards, resulting in broken bones and teeth, in which ODOC had acted to cover up.

Dark Faces in High Places – A Defense Mechanism

Oregon is not my first exposure to national and racial oppression and hate. It was particularly prevalent in Virginia’s remote supermaxes, Red Onion and Wallens Ridge State Prisons, where I spent the last 14 years before transferring to ODOC. The guards, drawn from the local rural mountains of southwestern Virginia, were especially bigoted. But in Virginia racial division between prisoners is pretty much non-existent.

Today, there’s a virtual kneejerk response to exposures of official racism, namely placing a token Black or Brown figurehead into a high position within the “exposed” institution, which changes nothing in fact, but instead actually serves as a cover that permits greater abuses, which when complained against prompts the defense, “Hey we can’t be racist, we’ve got a [person of color] in charge!” I’ve seen it happen over and again.

It was done at both of Virginia’s supermaxes, following repeated exposures of racist brutality that earned them national notoriety as two of Amerika’s most racist and abusive prisons. A Black warden was appointed to Red Onion during 2001 following intense outside protest of racist abuses of prisoners. Under this warden, Daniel Braxton, things got worse. The same occurred during 2011 at Wallens Ridge with the appointment of Gregory Holloway as warden, and the appointment of Harold Clarke as the first Black director of the notoriously racist Virginia prison system.

It was also done here in Oregon, at the Snake River prison where I’m presently confined. Snake River is by all accounts ODOC’s harshest, most remote prison, where white staff are particularly racist, which prompted widespread protests by prisoners over the years. Consequently a Black warden, Mark Nooth, and a Black security manager, A. Hannon, were brought in, changing nothing but the curtains…window dressing..

At all of the aforementioned prisons Blacks are practically non-existent in the staff bodies, which are controlled by the local entrenched white supremacist status quo, which these Black tokens go out of their way to avoid making waves with.

One can also see the same method employed with the nomination and election of Barack Obama as president in 2008, at just the point when New Afrikans/Blacks were reaching peak outrage with the US government, in response to one abuse piled on another. From our treatment during the Hurricane Katrina crisis and subsequent policy of ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, Jena 6, increased police racial profiling (especially “stop and frisk” practices), mass displacements and breaking up and closing down of Black communities, gentrification, rising instances of police murders and brutalizing Black youth, cuts in already inadequate social benefits to our poor and needy and the elderly, to mass imprisonment and racist selective drug laws, etc. Mass unrest reminiscent of the 1930s and 1960s was admittedly feared. Suddenly the Democrats – the same party that was used by the John Kennedy administration to coopt and subvert the threatened Black siege of the nation’s capital in 1963 – nominated a Black man for president. The same loyal Black token who was used to quell mass outrage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, by making grand photo op appearances alongside Bill Clinton, visiting Black hurricane victims in Louisiana hospitals.

These tokens are always those proven most loyal not to the oppressed peoples, but to the oppressive system, who can be trusted not to make waves, and to do absolutely nothing to alter the status quo, much less to even acknowledge any problems. Just as Obama did by denouncing his own religious leader, Jeremiah Wright, because Wright criticized US government abuse and neglect of New Afrikan/Black people.

This is in fact how these self-interested opportunists who have no connection with the masses of Blacks rise in the ranks of the system. And when it suits their masters they’re appointed as window-dressing “to disprove the evidence of racism.” With the predictable result that things only get worse. In fact Obama’s presidency has seen absolutely nothing improve for the masses of struggling Blacks in Amerika. Ask John Bryant did it allow the “return” of his ethnically cleansed Black neighbors, or change the rabid white supremacist sentiments that were scribbled on his building or that I see all around me in the ODOC on both sides of the cell door (prisoners and guards), of course not! Which is what’s to be expected, when an oppressed people allow the sources of their oppression to only throw up defense mechanisms, to distract them from throwing up real solutions.

Festering Hate, a Seedbed of Reaction

What I’ve seen in Oregon has led me to reflect on pre-Nazi Germany, when the Weimar Republic was in power. There was a lot of social disaffection and a major economic downturn caused by the mismanagement inherent in a global capitalist system, creating a large destabilized middle class and youth facing economic insecurity. Minority groups believed themselves generally accepted and integrated into Germany society. Including the Jews who’d for centuries been persecuted and repressed just like New Afrikan/Blacks in the US. Some of them had achieved prominent positions in government and business, just like Blacks today. Then Hitler arose, challenging the republic and arousing the masses with race-baiting and “Aryan” nationalism, blaming the Gypsies, Slavs, Jews, and other “non-Aryans,” and gays and the mentally disabled, as scapegoats for Germany’s problems. He proved a master at mobilizing hate, appealing largely to the middle class and youth, who took up his cause with blind violence nurtured by a festering subculture of racial and rightwing nationalist sentiments, that had long been hidden under cover of racial tolerance. Millions were slaughtered, and not just Jews. The “Holocaust” touched many national and ethnic minorities.

No one believed it could happen, even as they themselves were being swept up, herded into concentration camps and exterminated. All thought Germany – like Amerika today – was too intelligent and developed an industrial society to descend to such barbarism. But descend it did.

One cannot but see the stark parallels between pre-Nazi Germany and today’s Amerika. And as Oregon reveals, there is a thriving culture of racial animosity already primed tot carry out the dictates of a far right agenda should one come to the fore.

Steps are already in place to implement an overt fascist clampdown at anytime in the name of a national emergency or insurrection. Post-Katrina Black New Orleans was just a trial run.

When I look at these guys around me, guards and prisoners, I can very easily see them in the roles of consolidated martial law forces on US soil, just like those cobbled together in New Orleans in 2005. Forces held to no accountability by civilian laws, because suspended under declaration of martial law, or better yet overthrown in a rightwing takeover (which is basically the same thing). In fact as The Oregonian reported on August 21st, 2012, no less than 14% of Oregon’s prisoners are veterans, with half or more of the prisoner population active white supremacists and most of the rest neutral or sympathizers, that accounts for a lot of white supremacists – and people inclined to lawlessness – in the military. Or is the military breeding criminals? Remember the Southern Poverty Law Center’s report “A Few Bad Men”, by David Holthouse that exposed extensive activity of white supremacist groups in all branches of the US military?

And career special operations veteran Stan Goff revealed that the military’s special ops units – its most elite infantry combat forces – are composed predominantly of white racists and systematically exclude and weed out Blacks from their ranks. [6] It is no wonder he admitted that, “on the ground, at the infantry level, wars of domination in every instance become race wars.” [7] And let’s remember that accused Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was a white supremacist and product of the US military. As was Wade Page, who shot up the Sikh temple in August this year, killing six worshippers and himself. Why is it all these so-called “bad apples” come from the same bunch?

From the same forces that would occupy the ‘hood in a martial clampdown as they did in New Orleans, which brings to mind some very troubling reports of things that occurred there, like this account for example:

“During the time we were across the street from the Convention Center, these cops – I don’t know if they were police but they were all in black, they had these guns, and they were banded real close together – they came up the street, and they were screaming all kinds of obscenities, and all kinds of racial slurs. And they were pointing guns at folk and demanding you to lay down.

“At this particular time, I had really gotten tired of using the rest room on the sidewalk, and so I’m trying to get across the street into the Convention Center to use the rest room. At this point, these cops, whoever they were, they came up the street, they got these guns with the lights on them, you know, they pointing them at people saying, ‘Sit your so-and-so so-and-so down before I blow you so-and-so head off, you black so-and-so.’

“I mean, God. At that point, it really felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. They’re treating us like criminals. But everyone had to adhere to what they said, so once they passed me, I pretty much stayed low, in just about a crawling position, trying to get across to the other street to get into the Convention Center to use the rest room.

“What I seen when I came out I will remember for the rest of my life… At this time, I’m crouched trying to get back into the parking lot… Everybody is sitting on the ground with their hands in the air. The cops are stationed in different spots, with their guns aimed on people. I look at my 5-year-old granddaughter, Baili McPherson, and the light from one of the guns was actually on her forehead.

“My oldest daughter, Gayness, she’s like, you want to go ballistic when you see someone do something like this to your child but you can’t do nothing because, guess what, you and your child both might get killed. Baili is sitting with her hands in the air. And she’s just past afraid, she’s terrified. And she’s asking her mama, Gayness, ‘Am I doing it right?’ because even babies know the police kill in New Orleans. So she’s asking her mama, “Mama am I doing it right, am I doing it right?’” [8]

This, despite the delusions of many, is the level of civilization in Amerika, which one sees reflected in Oregon prisons, where a rabid racist culture parades openly stripped of pretense and lying in wait for the moment it can be given free violent expression. It reveals that oppressed nationalities have a long way to go (as does the feeble and divided white Left, just like the Left in pre-Nazi Germany), and a lot of preparation for self sufficiency and community defense capability to develop. Especially when we consider that free speech and protest are under attack, and a major clampdown seems in the works. Our segregated communities are already corralled, surveilled and terrorized by militarized police, and we fill US prisons to overflow. Homeland Security (previously FEMA), the very same department that coordinated the martial law operations in New Orleans), is hiring to staff all its detention centers (concentration camps) around the country, and they’ve ordered tons of hollow points (.40 cal), rounds which are illegal for use by the military. Also a consortium of bankers are pulling together an army of private mercenaries around the murderous old Blackwater crew of Iraq and New Orleans ill fame. And economists say we’re due for another big crash.

Our only solution is to unite and organize those who can be united of every nationality and “race” to overthrow this imperialist system, and build an all-new society based on cooperation and mutual support instead of competition, hate and barbarism in the wings. A barbarism that history teaches we should struggle with all our collective might to ward off and without delay, before the true face of Amerikan civilization sheds its pretentious mask and consumes us all with hate, whether as victims or villains, from inside out.

Dare to Struggle, Dare to Win!
All Power to the People!

[1] See generally, Michael Burleigh, Germany Turns Eastwards: A Study of Ostforschung in the Third Reich (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1988).

[2] See generally, Robert Cecil, The Myth of the Master Race: Alfred Rosenburg and Nazi Ideology (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1972).

[3] Hitler’s genocidal programs were based on his study of US treatment of Native Americans. See, John Toland, Adolph Hitler (New York: Doubleday, 1976), p. 702 (“Hitler’s concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boor prisoners in South Africa and for Indians in the wild west, and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America’s extermination by starvation and uneven combat – of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.”); Joachim c. Fest, Hitler (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1973), p. 214 (Hitler’s “continental war of conquest” was modeled “with explicit reference to the United States.”); Richard Rubenstein, “Afterword: Genocide and Civilization,” Isidor Wallimann, eds., et al, Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1987), p. 288 (“Hitler saw the settlement of the New World and the concomitant elimination of North America’s Indian population by white European settlers as a model to be followed by Germany on the European continent.”) In fact Hitler stated in his own writings his aim was to reproduce in Europe a “continental bloc” on the same model as what Amerika had created. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1939), pp. 403, 591; also Hitler’s Secret Book (New York: Grove Press, 1961) pp. 46-52

[4] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “The South is Risen: Old Jim Crow Thrives Inside Oregon Prisons,” Socialist Viewpoint, September/October, 2012.

[5] In Two-Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage sociologists Joe Feagin and Leslie Picca, revealed research on social behavior and attitudes among whites in Amerika todaay. They had 626 college students keep record of every incident they witnessed that was race-related. Of which 9,000 incidents were recorded and 7,500 of which were outright racist words or actions by whites when around other whites, most of whom have friends and associates of color and promote Black athletes and entertainers.

[6] Stan Goff, Full Spectrum Disorder – the Military in the New American Century (NY: Soft Skull, 2004).

[7] Stan Goff, “Training The White Nation,” Truthdig, 2006.

[8] Lola Vollen and Chris Ying, eds., Voices From the Storm: the People of New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina and its Aftermath (San Francisco, CA: McSweeney’s Books, 2006), pp. 128-129.

Reparations or Revolution? (2007)

Introduction

During the weekend of June 22, 2007, the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA), sponsored a gathering in Philly.  The aim of the conference was to build and channel a broad base of mass energy towards winning reparations for Blacks in Amerika; to repair the ongoing suffering and negative effects we’ve suffered as a result of slavery, segregation and racism.

In light of the amount of work put into this conference and the overall campaign, we thought it important to say a few words on the question of reparations, to challenge the focus of this energy and to contrast it with working towards revolution.  As revolutionary nationalists and internationalists, we feel working towards revolution should be the main focus of the New Afrikan Nation in Amerika.

No one can argue that the past exploitation of Black people in Amerika did not enrich the white capitalists or that it played an insignificant part in making the U.S. today’s sole imperialist superpower.  Moreover, the capitalist ruling class continues to super exploit and oppress Black people in the U.S. and internationally.  The point and the solution, however, is not to beg for a monetary settlement but to settle accounts by putting an end to the system of capitalist imperialism altogether.

This means revolution, and we believe that this should be the focus of our energy and what we are down with organizing.  It is not a simple task, but it is pure idealism to believe that the U.S. government is going to pay out trillions of dollars to Black people simply because we make a compelling moral argument that they should.  At best all they will give is a carefully worded apology.

What we see within this talk about keeping money in the Black community is a plea by aspiring Black capitalists to get a bigger piece of the profits made off the exploitation of the Black masses.  There is nothing new about a section of the Black community profiting in this way.  It is the same old neo-colonial trickery that was used to derail the revolutionary struggles of people of color throughout the 20th century.

Capitalism is the problem, and there were Black people all along who profited from our exploitation going back to our ancestors’ enslavement back in Afrika.  There were Black overseers on the plantations and even some Black slave-owners.  Historically, Black businessmen and gangsters have fronted for white businessmen and gangsters in the Black community, and this is still the case.  Black “illegal capitalists” are a big part of the problem in the Black community, but so too are the “respectable” Black bourgeoisie.

We’re not saying that there is not some room for making tactical alliances in furtherance of building a united front against capitalist imperialism, but this class cannot lead us to liberation.  Their class interests don’t go that way.  These Black bourgeoisie and bourgeois nationalism cannot lead to the liberation of Black people in Amerika anymore than they have in Afrika.

The Nation of New Afrikans in Amerika is in a unique situation.  We cannot achieve our national liberation by separating from the white supremacist United States nor by integrating with it—only by overthrowing it and putting an end to capitalist imperialism.  So long as this system exists, it will maneuver its money and power and its military force and neo-colonial agents to keep us down and exploited.  Divided, the colonized people who have struggled for national liberation could not escape the bonds of neo-colonial economic and political domination.

Much less could we secede from the U.S. and form our own republic in the Black Belt South.  Such dreams and schemes are a diversion from what must be done.  We must pull the system down.  Black people are not the only ones exploited and oppressed by capitalist imperialism—the whole world is!  This comes down unevenly—with some people being more oppressed and more exploited than others—but almost everybody stands to gain from proletarian socialist revolution and sweeping capitalist imperialism onto the trash heap of history.

With the U.S. economy in crisis, where would reparations come from?

The U.S. government and economy is headed towards bankruptcy.  In fact it is running on borrowed money now!  Whereas the U.S. used to be the #1 lender nation, it is now the #1 debtor nation.  As the national debt grows, more and more of the GNP must be channeled towards servicing that debt.  The U.S. ruling class is doing to the U.S. economy what it has done to the 3rd World.  It is cannibalizing it.  How will it get out of the crisis it is creating?  It won’t.

No wonder leading ruling class figures are talking about the “End Times” and “Revelations.”  Imperialism is the last stage of capitalism, and globalization has only sped up the decline . So in the face of this growing economic crisis, how can any sane persyn imagine that the U.S. government would borrow trillions more to pay for the past exploitation of Black people?  And who would be the caretakers of this vast sum of money?  This is just pandering to the Black capitalist element with dollar signs in their eyes.

It’s a diversion from the real need of the Black masses to end their exploitation and oppression by organizing to make a revolution when a truly revolutionary situation presents itself—as it will.  Since 1987, when N’COBRA was founded, the situation for the masses of Black people in Amerika has steadily declined.  Unemployment has risen, and so has incarceration for millions of Black and other oppressed people.  Social service programs have been dramatically cut, and social problems have dramatically worsened.

But instead of rebuilding the Vanguard Party and mass movements of the 60s and 70s, many Black activists shifted towards accommodation with capitalist imperialism and the U.S. government.  Stripped of its nationalistic rhetoric, that is just what this reparations movement is about.

Imperialist payoffs as classic neo-colonialism

Whether given out in the name of “economic aid,” “debt forgiveness” or “reparations,” large sums paid out by the imperialists to “imperialist-approved” leaders of oppressed people is a classic neo-colonialist tactic.  It serves a purpose—namely that of propping up their control over the oppressed people and countries.  The aspiring capitalists of oppressed nationalists serve to hold in check and divert the oppressed masses from the struggle for their liberation from all oppression and channel their energy into substituting one master for another—a master through whom the imperialists can rule indirectly.

This has happened across the 3rd World, from Afrika to Palestine, to Latin America, to Native America; from Cape Town to Harlem.  The native bourgeois act as front men in the exploitation of “their own” oppressed masses.  Is this national liberation?  We think not!  It is classic neo-colonialism, which is the preferred means of domination by the U.S. Empire.  It can then talk about promoting “Democracy” and “Independence,” while reserving the “right” to effect “regime changes” whenever it suits its interests, and dollars are more cost efficient and less obvious means of control than colonial administrators.

If the oppressed people choose leaders the U.S. doesn’t approve of, it can cut off payments, as the U.S. did when Hamas was elected last year by the Palestinians.  And then there is the option of sanctions and U.S. invasion and occupation as in Afghanistan and Iraq.

India under British rule was an early archetype of neo-colonial domination, and the U.S. learned from this model.  Under British domination, India was administered by Indians for 200 years.  This “Jewel of the British Empire” was primarily administered by an Indian elite and garrisoned by brutal Indian soldiers who oppressed the Indian people.

Even under Apartheid in South Afrika, it was Black soldiers and police who did most of the dirty work of oppressing the people.  But more revealing is that after the fall of Apartheid, a native Black elite was substituted for the white colonial settler regime and given a cut of the profits from the exploitation of the still miserably poor Black masses while, the local white elite and imperialists continue to control the economy.

This neo-colonial process is how the U.S. keeps Latin America under its thumb and controls its wealth of resources.  These countries are run by imperialist agents who receive U.S. “economic aid” and depend upon a military system that props up the local elite and allows U.S. economic exploitation of their oppressed masses.  The poor are kept poor and “in line.”

The same would be the case with New Afrikans, if we did manage to convince the U.S. Government to pay us reparations.  It would go into the hands of the Black bourgeoisie elite for services rendered to the Empire.  But they don’t need to do that.  Not when straight up exploitation and oppression are doing just fine.

There are those who want to protest and seek to reform this rotten system and those who was to end it, overthrow and bury it, and move on to build a new, radically different kind of system based upon serving people’s needs through socialist ownership of the basic means of production and people’s power.  The New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter and our allies are quite clear where we stand and on the absolute need for revolution.  That is what our ideological and political orientation—“Pantherism”—is based upon.

Yes, we will and do protest the many outrages perpetrated by this system, and we do demand certain reforms, but not as ends in themselves and not to reach any accommodation with imperialism.  We do so only to build a truly revolutionary movement and to create more favorable conditions for struggle.  We need to agitate, educate and organize to this end.

To make revolution, we must have a revolutionary vanguard party that is steeled in struggle, a mass movement that builds mass revolutionary consciousness, and a revolutionary united front that is both national and international.  The Party must be guided by the most advanced revolutionary theory and organized along tried and proven revolutionary lines to facilitate the maximum amount of democratic discussion and unity in action.

The Debt We Owe 

A nation is a continuum.  It includes those who have passed on and those yet to be born.  As a nation, the most fundamental question we New Afrikans should be asking is: “What do we owe our ancestors and to future generations?”

To those whose bones lie at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and under the black soil of the South, to those who will come after us bearing our DNA, we owe our life’s blood.  We owe the determination to carry the struggle against exploitation and oppression forward to victory, so that our progeny will not labor for exploiters or suffer cruel oppression because of the color of their skin.

Beyond the Nation, we owe it to our class—to all who labor for their daily bread—here and around the world—to break the chains of servitude and subjugation—to bring to an end the Epoch of Exploitation—and to advance humyn social evolution to a higher stage.

The system of capitalism—which arose with the kidnapping and enslavement of our ancestors from Afrika—will only perish when we New Afrikans rise to lead the world proletarian revolution.  Can anyone put a price on that?

Capitalist imperialism is the final stage of capitalism.  It is capitalism in its most rotten and decadent form—rotten ripe for revolution.  It imposes poverty on the masses worldwide to serve the enrichment of a small class of social parasites.  It destroys the natural environment and wastes precious resources.  It devalues humyn life, destroys families and communities, and promotes alienation and shallow individualism and consumerism.

It is the final stage of the long Epoch of exploitation that began with the overthrow of Mother Right and the imposition of Patriarchy.  Slavery was thousands of years old before it brought our ancestors to Amerika.  So who owes the descendents of the slaves of Afrika, Asia and Europe reparations?  The evolution of class exploitation with all its suffering—wars, rapes, tortures, hunger and poverty—the suffering of slaves, serfs, tenant farmers and wage slaves—has brought us to this point it time when it can be finally ended once and for all.

The possibility of social justice for all is now a reality if we but dare to SEIZE THE TIME and take history into our own hands.  The globalization and socialization of production and advances in technology cry out for liberation from private ownership to serve the needs of all humanity.  The possibility of providing everyone on the planet with a decent standard of living, with decent health care and persynal liberty exists now.

All that is needed is the courage and conviction to take the power into our hands to do it.  The Nation of New Afrikans in Amerika has the moral responsibility to stand up and lead this revolution.  We who live within the “Belly of the Beast,” the sole imperialist superpower that was built upon the backs of our ancestors, we owe it to them, to our posterity and to ourselves not to seek accommodation with capitalist imperialism but to dig its grave and bury it!

In the words of our late comrade, Hasan Shakur, an innocent man murdered by the state of Texas because of the color of his skin: “The sooner begun the sooner done!”

All Power to the People!

Dare to Struggle Dare to Win!

Promoting Proletarian Consciousness as Prisoner Rehabilitation (2007)

Since our inception, the NABPP-PC has emphasized the leading role of the proletariat in any genuine revolutionary struggle.  In our founding article, “the NABPP-PC: Our Line,” we explained this position and contrasted the revolutionary character of the proletariat with the counter-revolutionary character of the lumpen (or “broken”) proletariat.  That discussion bears quoting at length:

“Many people when presented with the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist idea that only the proletariat can lead in making all-the-way revolutionary class struggle question why it is, and why some other class (without changing its class perspective) cannot lead such a struggle.  One reason is because the proletariat is the only class that has no real stake in preserving the class relations of the capitalist system, but has everything to gain in taking control over the social wealth it has itself created by its labor and the tools it uses to create it.  Another reason is that the proletariat (in contrast to the lumpen), has the conditioning in patient work, social unity and cooperation necessary to wage the protracted class struggle required to abolish all exploitation and oppression.  Basically, it is our social practice that determines how we think and not how we think that determines our social practice.

“The proletariat has a strong sense of family commitment and unity and a sense of respect and commitment to the community.  These values grow out of the routine of going to work each day in the social environment of the workplace to provide for the needs of one’s family and not only maintaining employment but also engage in domestic labor in the home, rearing children, and taking part in the social life of the community.  This requires and instills stability, discipline and responsibility as well as cooperation with one’s peers.

“The class conscious worker can be of two sorts: the militant and the revolutionary.  The militant worker takes the sense of commitment beyond the family into the workplace and will stand up to the bosses for workers’ rights, even to the extent of jeopardizing one’s employment, freedom, and safety by participating in strikes and job actions.  The revolutionary worker takes the sense of commitment even farther and challenges the oppressive social order to change the social relations for all and put an end to class exploitation and oppression once and for all.  The revolutionary is inspired by a great love for the people and sense of duty to the masses and to future generations.

“The revolutionary worker doesn’t swagger or boast and has little sense of ego.  He or she is serious-minded and self-disciplined.  The revolutionary knows that like a strike, the revolutionary struggle must be a unified mass struggle, and that it will take quite some time to succeed.  Each contribution is important, and the end result is to benefit the overall society.  In contrast to the proletarians’ practice and outlook, the lumpen schemes and preys upon others to acquire survival needs and personal wealth, which renders him or her indifferent to the effects visited upon others and society as a whole.

“The lumpen mentality mirrors—on a smaller scale and with less sophistication—that of the big gangster (the monopoly capitalists), and amounts to a ruthless drive for immediate self-gratification, power, control and “respect” (even though their lifestyle is anything but respectable), through deception, corruption, violence and intimidation of others.  These tendencies are what lies behind certain lumpen aspiring to be perceived as “crazy” and unpredictably violent.

“Translated into the revolutionary movement, the lumpen tendency has some thinking that militant swaggering, posturing, and “talking shit,” is acceptable behavior for revolutionaries which is very wrong and demonstrates political immaturity and lack of a true proletarian outlook.  Such posturing leads to actions of a reactionary, adventurist and provocateur nature, that invites enemy attack that the movement is unprepared to deal with and alienates the masses…

“Also because they are conditioned to seek immediate and short term benefits in their practice, the lumpen generally lack the resolve to pursue and stick with tasks that require hard work and patience…

“The motives behind revolutionary violence are fundamentally different from the reactionary violence of the lumpen who model their violence after that of the big gangsters.  Revolutionary violence is rooted in the collective resistance of the masses organized against the violence of the big gangster bourgeoisie system of oppression and exploitation…

Without remolding their class outlook, the lumpen will pursue ultra-leftist militant acts of exhibitionism and spew forth, “Off the pig!” rhetoric and when this provokes repression from the Establishment they will flip-flop to right opportunism, turn rat and become enemy agents or run for cover.  Lacking correct analysis, self-discipline and patience, they will vacillate left to right and they will confuse one stage of the struggle for another and try to skip the stages that require hard work and tenacity.

“These elements disdain to apply the mass line, ignore the Democratic Centralism of the Party, fear criticism and self-criticism and lean towards individualism and “commandism,” indulging in personal attacks and attempts at intimidation and coercion of other Party members and the masses through threats and force.  Their unremolded lumpen ideology is a corrosive to building Party unity and maintaining discipline and it makes them easy prey for recruitment by the enemy.  The lumpen are capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices, or of the basest banditry and dirtiest corruption.”

“A large part of our work in the NABPP-PC is to properly educate and re-orient the lumpen through ideological and political training and bringing as many of them who are capable of “the most heroic deeds and the most exalted sacrifices” into the active work of the struggle as possible…”

Because lumpen values have been deeply ingrained in the New Afrikan and general urban and prison culture, advancing revolutionary proletarian ideology is essential to building our Party, organizing our mass organizations, revolutionizing prisoners and the oppressed masses in general, and consolidating the struggle against capitalist imperialism.

As quoted above, we promote proletarianizing prisoners through ideologically and politically training them in the principles and practices of class struggle and in the science of Revolution (Historical and Dialectical Materialism).  But, there’s yet another approach (which can turn a negative into a positive), namely by genuinely transforming prisoners’ economic statuses from that of slaves into wage earning proletarians.

This can be done within the prison setting.

Our Party has already taken a firm stand in promoting abolishing prisoners’ slave status (including amending the 13th Amendment to strike the clause that legalizes convict slavery) and granting them the right to vote (which is the fundamental component of citizenship), and abolishing the racist death penalty, indefinite solitary confinement, physical and mental torture, and other humyn rights abuses.  But an additional step in organizing prisoners, advancing our revolutionary consciousness and ranks, and preparing us for a more stable and productive reentry in to society is to demand prisoners’ right to work for minimum wage and to union representation.

As part of and in addition to advancing proletarian consciousness, paying prisoners a real wage for their labor could help them support their families and build up a nest egg for when they get out to get a place to live, a car, survival and therefore greatly reducing recidivism.  They could pay off fines and restitutions before they get out and be more likely to sustain relationships on the outside as well as retain legal services.

This would counteract warehousing of prisoners and reducing us to slaves, and instead promote proletarian consciousness and aspirations as a means of rehabilitation, which would include the right to organize and to strike.  This would not be a move to legitimize the Prison Industrial Complex and the use of convict labor for profit (which the imperialists are already doing).  But turning the conditions that they have created against us to our benefit and that of revolutionary organizing.

As Karl Marx pointed out, productive work is essential to womyn and mankind’s very existence, that independent of meeting financial needs, people need productive labor—enforces idleness, corrupts and deteriorates the humyn character and is itself a humyn rights violation.

The lumpen are distinguished from unemployed workers because they do not look for work and avoid it—it is in this sense that they are “broken.”  If given a choice, they prefer to steal, deal, hustle or pimp, living as parasites and preying on others—even killing their fellow humyns.

Proletarianizing the lumpen is the highest and only legitimate form of “rehabilitation.”  Prisoners have a right to be rehabilitated as opposed to the humyn rights violation of being merely warehoused (unless the “criminal justice” system admits its real design and intentions to be that of creating and unleashing predators to prey upon the general society), and this means freedom to sell their labor power and to collectively bargain over the terms of sale.

Enforced slavery contradicts the “inalienable” rights, as declared in the US Declaration of Independence, of all people to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Beyond the security consideration inherent in incarceration, the state cannot be allowed to kill, cannot be allowed to deny the right—the liberty—to be a proletarian or to pursue meaning and purpose in life.

If society accepts that one must do time as punishment for a crime, then it follows that the time must productively serve the needs of the society by promoting the genuine rehabilitation of the incarcerated individual so that s/he will function as productive members of the society upon release.

Enslavement does not teach one how to be free.  Abuse does not promote good citizenship or emotional stability.  A criminal justice system will still be needed under socialism—to deal with anti-social criminal behavior.  But our model must be a “school of liberation.”  The principles of a genuine correctional system must be articulated and struggled for as part of the overall revolutionary struggle.  The question is how should these prisons be run and what rights should the prisoners have that are inalienable and will promote rehabilitation and good citizenship.

Revolution is a birthing process, the new society forming in the womb of the old one.  Through struggle we create more favorable condition for greater struggle.  Nothing comes instantly.  Changing social and economic relations must proceed and develop from a lower to a higher level.

As revolutionaries we want to transform the prisons into “Schools of Liberation” to provide the revolution with trained cadre and fighters.  But on a deeper level we want to revolutionize social relations under capitalism to better enable us to revolutionize social relations under socialism and in the advance to a classless society.

Our goal is not to make acceptance of wage-slavery more palatable and thus prolong the inequality, exploitation and injustice of capitalist-imperialism.

Our goal is to serve and advance the interests of the world proletarian revolution to abolish the system of capitalist-imperialism.

Toward this end we should seek to proletarianize the prisoner population through revolutionary political education, promoting revolutionary culture and as much as possible drawing them into proletarian social relations to the means of production.

Can the system altogether oppose the demand for the right to work and to collective bargaining through union representation?  They do want to exploit convict labor.  A concession on this issue would force the state to expand work industries bringing more prisoners into the workforce and counter the present model of long-term segregation.

Free world unions could be won to support the prospect of 2.5 million new dues paying members and an equally large electoral voting bloc.  It’s also possible to win criminologists and people in the criminal justice system to support this program.

Organizations like the National Council on Crime and Delinquency are already actively advocating increasing prisoners’ wages to free world levels.  The policy statement of the NCCD’s Board of Directors reads in part:

“The present condition of prison industries limits the value of [work programs].  The deficiencies vary from prison to prison… The pay for inmates employed in prison is too low to be regarded as wages.  The average prison laborer receives from ten cents to 65 cents a day.  Few institutions pay inmate workers for a day’s work what the federal minimum wage law requires for an hour’s work.  The rate of pay…is only a token…a daily rebuke to the inmate, reminding him [or her] of society’s power to exploit at will.

“This counterproductive prison labor system must be changed.  An inmate receiving equitable payment for work performed will be able to provide some support for his [or her] family, continue payments on social security…make some payment for room and board, and save money to assist himself [or herself] upon return to society.

“Therefore the National Council on Crime and Delinquency urges the introduction of federal and state legislation requiring that an inmate employed at productive work in a federal, state, or local institution shall be paid no less than the minimum wage operative nationally or in his [or her] state.”

Developing prison labor unions is also a practical goal, as such institutions presently exist with beneficial results in other countries.

“Prison labor unions are not an American invention.  The first successful prisoner labor union was organized in Sweden.  Since 1966, the union, which represents the vast majority of Swedish prisoners, has carried out a long series of successful negotiations with the government.  Every effort has been made to make the prisoners’ wages the same as free wages.  Prisoners pay rent for their cells and board for their food.  They are encouraged to pay their debts in the free community, including restitution to the victims of the crimes.  They pay taxes and generally have enough left at the end of the month to save around $50.

“Additional benefits from unionization have been a good working relationship with Swedish industry, widely available vocational training, safer prison factories, eligibility for workmen’s compensation and, perhaps most important of all, the democratic involvement of prisoners in forming their own destiny.

“The union is credited with diminishing violence in prisons, lowering recidivism and making prisons more open institutions in Swedish society.”

–Paul Comeau, Labor Unions for Prison Inmates

Amerika’s liberal democratic revolution of 1776, of which the Civil War (1861-1865) was a continuation, remains an unfinished revolution.  The most glaring examples of this are the U.S. prison system and the continuation of the status of “slave,” the racist death penalty (legalized lynching) and the institutionalized racism, sexism and humyn rights abuses that constitute “legally sanctioned torture.”  Until the inalienable rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is extended to all in Amerika—including those convicted of crimes—the Liberal Democratic Revolution remains unfinished.  To bring this stage to its completion and move forward to socialism the proletariat must lead this struggle.  Democracy leads to socialism and Democratic revolution leads to Socialist revolution.

The slave emancipates her/himself by becoming a proletarian and the proletarian emancipates her/himself by the abolition of classes.  Recognizing that the bourgeoisie are no longer a progressive and revolutionizing force as they were in 1865 when they overthrew the chattel slave system, in fact they have become reactionary to the core and increasingly fascist and anti-democratic, the proletariat must lead in completing the democratic revolution and carry it forward to make socialist revolution to put an end to the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

We are not calling for an all new Democratic revolution, but there is unfinished business that clearly falls under liberal democracy, and resolving it moves us forward towards socialist revolution.

Towards this end, the New Afrikan Service Organization (NASO) should outline a comprehensive program for Transforming the Razor Wire Slave Plantations into Schools of Liberation.  This program should include amending the 13th Amendment, abolishing the death penalty and life without parole, establishing voting rights for prisoners, job training and the right to work and union representation, education and cultural programs, religious freedom and self-help programs, freedom of correspondence between prisoners, an end to political censorship, etc.  It should call for a national task force of humyn rights abuses and institutionalized racism and sexism to investigate the federal, state and local prisons and jails.

The program should be based upon the NABPP-PC’s 10 Point Program in its minimal form—ending the slave status for prisoners and establishing our status as proletarians, and from there moving forward to proletarian socialist revolution.

Dare to struggle—Dare to win!

All Power to the People!