Monday, August 02, 2010

Sanyika Shakur On Meditations: A Weapon for Struggle

Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles

The following is a review of Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings by James Yaki Sayles. The review is written by New Afrikan Communist Sanyika Shakur, the author of the international bestseller Monster: the Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, and a comrade of Yaki's.

On Meditations: A Weapon for Struggle

We have here ideo-theoretical gold. A presentation of New Afrikan Communism so profound, clear & precise that if utilized correctly & with consistency, will raise consciousness & sharpen practice. The material here in Yaki's Meditations On Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, runs comprehensively thru a coherent theme: a brief preface by Comrad Hondo; an editorial introduction allowing the reader to "meet" Our late comrad Yaki - which does a great job at highlighting some of the political & social circumstances & conditions that ultimately shaped this illustrious Brotha into the dynamic New Afrikan Communist he became.

We see his involvement with the student orgs & demos; his community service & his military actions, leading to his capture & imprisonment. In the kamps tho the comrad poured in on & evolved into the ideo-theoretical giant that touched Us all. Rightfully, the editors began at the beginning. Then they expertly connect the dots that will ultimately raise the consciousness & heighten the struggle.

* First, with the "War for the Cities" - which is a lesson he always taught Us which is to function with the People in the area in which you live. Deal with the People who are "off the block." The old tired & true From The Masses to The Masses. The rad was from Chicago, so it stands to reason that this would be where he'd concentrate his initial efforts. It's where he knew best. And yet as We see he doesn't just say "Oh Chicago is such a bad place" - as if We can only clean-up Chicago We'd be alright. No, Yaki ties "War for the Cities" into the whole colonial matrix of u.s. imperialism. The language is precise, clear & conscious. is any ghetto - it is but one of the urban reservations that We find Ourselves stranded on.

* Second, after establishing the fact of a war - of national oppression & genocidal violence - We fall into the "Free the RNA 11: Prisoner of War" chapter - brilliant! Both Yaki's piece & the editorial placement. Cause We are reading, studying & meditating the things that are engaging Our social consciousness: Him (Yaki); How (National Oppression); What (War); Where (New Afrika - inside amerika, "a prisonhouse of nations"); Why (capitalist-imperialist exploitation for wealth & profit) - but let me not get ahead of myself here.

In explaining who the RNA 11 are, Comrad Yaki diligently explicated how, why, where & when the Provisional Government was formed. Crucial this is because most New Afrikans, while natural citizens, remain woefully oblivious to these facts. And as such, they go unknowingly along with the current colonial-settler government of amerika because they see or know of no other alternative. Truthfully, the masses aren't necessarily down with the U.S. government, but without an alternative they cling to what is available. So, presenting this piece after "War for the Cities" highlights the realization of Our alternative to U.S. settler government. Simultaneously it points up the lengths to which the oppressive arrangement will go to keep it's position firm & crush any opposition. Over 500 New Afrikan Nationalists signed the New Afrikan Declaration of Independence. No more than seventy five euro-amerikans signed the U.S. declaration of independence. Imagine that. The difference? Class. Cats will get caught up on that nationality thing, or as the cultural nationalists stress, "black race", & miss the boat altogether on the class significance that is the concrete under any struggle. But as always, Comrad Yaki blows away all that foolishness here. Yes, it's a good thing to be around New Afrikans - but i'd rather be around Communists.

* Third, lest We forget, the Comrad (& again the editorial geniuses) goes right into "On Transforming the Colonial & 'Criminal' Mentality." i remember when i first read & studied this piece back in the mid-1980s - it was shocking to me. No, seriously, because up until that time i was thinking like the old Eldridge Cleaver, that the criminal or outlaw was just like a revolutionary. That as long as he or she was breaking the law or shooting pigs they were somehow on Our side. That when the revolution matured & We hit the streets, in confrontation with the state, they'd be with Us against the law. But "On Transforming..." shattered that line of thinking & brought the truth right down front! And, in so doing, taught a fantastic lesson in dialectics.

The criminal has no qualm with capitalism, colonialism or imperialism. In fact, the criminal is in league with these evils. Why, the capitalist is who the criminal wants to be. The criminal can only flourish under capitalism - with some degree of impunity. The criminal is an individualist, a greed driven parasite, just like the capitalists. The criminal has more in common - as far as class aspirations - with the oppressor than he or she has with the working class &/or revolutionaries. Again We are confronted with class & class interests. How practical it is to run this chapter right after the "RNA-11: POW" piece; lest people get the notion that packing heat & correcting pigs is the be all & end all to revolution. To transform one's mentality is, in essence, to commit class suicide. To alter one’s class allegiance. Of course it's dialectical, far from static, so it can go either way, i.e. a rev can commit class suicide by becoming a capitalist or criminal. Conversely, a backward, or lumpen, individual can transform into a rev.

Also, while skilfully explaining this process, the difference between the two (rev vs. criminal) & how to go about actually doing it (thru study, struggle & practice) - the rad lays down some very important definitions: Captive Colonials (those New Afrikans captured who are not revs, but natural citizens of the Nation); Political Prisoners (New Afrikans captured for non-military anti-imperialist activity) & Prisoners of War (those New Afrikans who are captured for carrying out military strikes against the state). Also included within these definitions is the category of PP or POW where one who is already in a kamp, who has transformed his or her colonial/criminal mentality, makes political/military assertions & is consequently locked in a SHU/Control Unit for it, is recognized by Our Movement.

These definitions, along with the whole "Transforming..." piece on the criminal/colonial mentality, is of the utmost importance to have in Our ideo-theoretical arsenal because they give Us concrete lines to follow, to adhere to & to apply in Our overstanding of struggle in the belly of the beast.

* Fourth, "Scenes from the Battle of Algiers". Now, i've read, studied & meditated on the "Transforming..." piece, i have read the paraphrased version of Ali Aponte's scene in question - but i never saw the movie. Thought the Comrad's paraphrased version was sufficient. That is until i read the actual scenes from the film! A master stroke by the editors to bring the actual scenes in. It totally brings to life what the Comrad wrote in the "Transformation" piece. It's like seeing it as it happens & if you're a real studier (like me) you won't be able to help yourself from going back to the "Transformation" piece after you've read the actual "Scenes". The fact is the transformation must be genuine & thorough - not an emotional commitment based on "race", or an imagined slight, but a genuine & authentic transformation of class allegiance & interest. And this must be tied into the struggle for National independence & Socialism. i feel this piece is pivotal in the work as a whole.

* Fifth, the "Raids on Chicago Public Housing - Fact Sheet" - here We see the rad going back to the block or the hood in an effort to point up the continuing genocidal violence perpetrated under the guise of bourgeois law & order. And while this was written for Crossroad in 1989, it is just as relevant today as it was then. But what can We learn from this? We can see that We need to be more conscious & active in Our particular areas of operation - to document, study & struggle with the people who are in these conditions. Again, from the masses to the masses. And, again, like everything else, the Comrad keeps politics in command by tying the Chicago Housing Raids into the overall genocidal violence of U.S. capitalism against internal nations. Get out, get active, get involved in what's going on where you live. Learn from the masses, keep your politics in command, transform the conditions under which you live.

* Sixth, We have the "From One Generation to the Next" piece. Again, right out of the New Afrikan P.O.W. Journals, Books 1-7. Also in abbreviated form in False Nationalism False Internationalism: Class Contradictions in the Armed Struggle. This, too, was/is beautifully placed because it clearly puts into perspective the continuity of struggle & migration. And isn't it poignant today with what's going on with immigration (so-called) issues with Mexicanos? Our New Afrikan ideological formulation instructs Us that just like Mexicano people (or other immigrants) who are coming across the artificial & political border in search of work & better conditions, so too did New Afrikans migrate out of the National Territory & into amerika in search of better jobs & nicer "white" folks. And, true to the social development of others, before & to come, the Northern cities proved to be devastating to Our cultural unity & awareness.

This is essentially what "From One Generation to the Next" points out. "That Ours is a struggle with continuity, unbroken except occasionally in Our own mind."
Now, if you're not aware at this point of Yaki's consciousness & energy; the class nature of the struggle; the National reality of New Afrika as an internal neo-colonized Nation; or of the existence of Our Provisional Government, Declaration of Independence & the war waged against oppressed nationalities & Our efforts to extricate Ourselves from U.S. capitalist-imperialism & the need to transform your colonial (allegiance to the oppressor nation) & criminal (allegiance to individualism, exploitation & capitalist class interests) mentality - while constructing a proletarian/revolutionary mentality - then you're not reading, studying or meditating on this work.

But read on - read over & think deeply, cause this is the truth!

Where else are you gonna find quotes by Martin Luther King, jr. on: "Extremism, Capitalism, Imperialism"? Read on.

* Seventh, "Malcolm, Model of Personal Transformation" - here, no clearer, is the actual transformation of the colonial/criminal mentality in Brother Malcolm X. And altho We know that his early stages of consciousness with the patriarchal theocracy of the NOI was hardly complete, We know that he continued to grow, transform & develop his revolutionary mentality. It's unfortunate for Us all, however, but it is a testament to his seriousness & commitment (and correct line) that he was targeted & assassinated by reactionaries in league with the settler government. Continuously, We are confronted with class alliances that go above & beyond what's perceived as "race". The leadership of the capitalist Nation of Islam had more in common, on a class level, with the U.S. ruling class, than it did with people of its own Nation. So when Malcolm pointed out that the hit on Kennedy was a "case of the chickens coming home to roost" - & the bourgeois press reported it (knowing Elijah Muhammad's class allegiance) - Elijah Muhammad acted swiftly to show his class allegiance with capitalism & submission to imperialism. He silenced Malcolm for ninety days.

Malcolm, however, had that infernal thirst for truth & genuine freedom & kept on studying & investigating other struggles that resembled Ours only to find that "every revolution fought has been against capitalism & for some type of socialism."

We can learn a whole lot from the steadfastness of Malcolm in the face of varying degrees of adversity that rushed upon him. He committed class suicide in prison; he overcame his addiction; he became an excellent orator, recruiter & military strategist; he read, studied & meditated constantly - never being satisfied with what was. He associated with other movements & struggles. He travelled & made alliances. And, too, We must overstand that when he left the petty-bourgeois Nation of Islam, according to what his beliefs were initially, he wasn't just going against Elijah Muhammad, but against Allah himself. Elijah Muhammad had propped himself up as the "Messenger of Allah", so to oppose him was to oppose Allah. No easy feat, huh?

Once he found orthodox Islam he was relieved, i'm sure, to learn that that b.s. old Elijah was kicking was just that. So, Malcolm was a true revolutionary - he was the message he brought. And it is this sort of fortitude, thoroughness & conscious effort that We must strive to emulate. This is, of course, a strong piece & a well placed piece in the work. Props to the rad & kudos to the keen eye of the editors.

* Eighth, "Reflections on Victor Serge's ‘What Everyone Should Know About (State) Repression’". Perfect piece, perfect placement. i know i keep saying this, but building a book of this magnitude, of this depth & seriousness, is like arranging an album of classic jazz - some Bird, or Coltrane. The layout has to be coherent & consistent in order to maximize the effect. In order to realize the intent - which of course, is to heighten awareness so as to see things both as they really are as well as they can be.

So, the "Model of Personal Transformation" of Malcolm is followed by "What Everyone Should Know About (State) Repression" - can you dig that? They were able to repress & eliminate Malcolm, the Muslim Mosque Inc. & the Organization or Afro-American Unity (both of his young orgs) because their security wasn't tight. Because there was no real culture of security.

i remember when this piece first was sent to me in 1988, the actual pamphlet the Comrads printed it in was called: "Study Notes On Secure Communications: So That We Don't Fool Ourselves Again". It was an eye-opening piece then & it's still - more so - an eye popper now! Especially in the day & age of Patriot Acts & Homeland Security! It's timely & precise. It reminds Us that any anti-imperialist activity is against the law & expect to be surveilled. Therefore work overtime to create a culture of security & need to know. The stress throughout this piece is consciousness. Overstand your situation, believe that the enemy is always alert, act always as if your phone is tapped, your mail is being opened & that anyone can be turned. It's not about being paranoid - it's about being secure. But again, all this stems from being conscious, overstanding your politics, keeping them in command & maintaining a working-class stand. "Never say anything over the phone that you wouldn't say to a police officer." Why? Because the police are your class enemy - they represent the settler state as a first line of defense & offense.

We have to overstand, dialectically, that weaknesses of every kind begin within - as a qualitative degeneration. That the primary cause of change is within a thing - anything. And that the secondary, or quantitative development is what alters the time & the space of the thing. So We know that Our old Movement was destroyed by its primary weaknesses - by the internal, or qualitative, deficiencies - & only secondarily by the outer or quantitative make up of the contradiction.

The internal was Us, Our orgs & the class make up of them & how they in turn related to each other & the masses. With no clear class-based criterion for recruitment, Our qualitative center was weak, unsound & not ready for prime time with the imperialist state. The secondary make up of this contradiction was the imperialist state as represented by its various security agencies, foundations, social orgs & loyal citizens. We learned that the FBI, or Cointelpro didn't "destroy" Our Movement. Didn't scatter Our forces. On the contrary, Our Movement was weakened from within. We, as the rads say, "Fooled Ourselves". Like the New Afrikan in this piece who after discussing surveillance & knowing that others' cars had been tagged, still refused to "be an espionage agent" - to secure himself. It's almost as if We have grown biased against Our own safety & security. And this discussion, as pointed out by Comrad Yaki, took place at the so-called height of consciousness. And yet & still, stunning strikes were able to be made against Us by the oppressive forces.

We are not emphasizing security & safety in order to just be "safe & secure" - We are emphasizing security & safety in order to carry out Our activity of re-building. In order to raise up cadres who can relate to the masses in order to replenish ranks, in order to re-build Our Movement, in order to get free & build Socialism. If We are to do these necessary things We need to survive, to have a sense of safety & security. And of course, to make strikes. Can you see how things are building with this work? We are climbing up a ladder of consciousness, circling & spiraling towards a heightened state of revolutionary awareness. You see, the Comrad has both the practical & the theoretical experience that he brings to the table here & lays out. This work is important.

i remember what Comrad Yaki would do was type out position papers, policies & long theoretical tracts & send them out to Us wherever We happened to be. That way We'd all have the same things & then he'd expect Our comments, positions & feedback. So a lot of these Meditations on Wretched - especially Parts One, Two & Three - We (Comrads of the NAC) got in raw letter form. i can remember thinking as these papers arrived, how was he able to see things as he did - so vividly, so astoundingly clear? The answer, of course, is study & meditation. The Brotha was a "beast" - seriously. And trust me, We need beasts more than ever.

We come now upon the actual Meditations on Wretched of the Earth, the primary namesake of the work. If you've read my first book, Monster, you'll know then that on page 345, i wrote about my initial arrival at San Quentin SHU (the hole) & a fellow prisoner sending me Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth. This was '85 or early '86. Admittedly the book was over my head - i couldn't overstand what Fanon was saying. i even admitted this in the book. i wanted to, tho, cause i'd heard that it was considered the "Panther Bible". Well, it now appears that not even they completely overstood Wretched of the Earth. A small consolation to what's left of my ego...

When We started receiving these Meditations i was so grateful that the Comrad had taken the time to break down Wretched from a New Afrikan Communist perspective. This work will last a hundred years because it is the truth. And it is rich with substance & dialectical-materialist reasoning. It’s solid & concrete. It is a true weapon for Our struggle & should be read, studied, discussed, meditated upon & practiced in order to realize a better world than that in which We now live. This work will take its place next to Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat, by J. Sakai; Night-Vision: Illuminating War & Class on the Neo-Colonial Terrain, by Butch Lee & Red Rover; False Nationalism False Internationalism: Class Contradictions in the Armed Struggle; Coming of Black Genocide, by Bottomfish Blues. i won't go into the Wretched Meditations, by now you should be ready to go forth. Trust me, this is ideo-theoretical gold! Lets get free!

Sanyika Shakur
New Afrikan Communist

You can write to Sanyika at:

s/n Kody Scott D#07829
Pelican Bay State Prison
PO Box 7500
Crescent City, CA

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