Thursday, July 26, 2012

Get Up for the Down Stroke: Sanyika Shakur Responds to Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism

In Sankyika Shakur's own words, "i was born Nov 13, 1963. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, by a phenomenal single, working-class, mother. Cut my teeth in the hostile gang culture in South Central from the mid-70's til the late 80's. Was introduced to the New Afrikan Independence Movement, by way of the Spear & Shield Collective, in 1986, while in the SHU at San Quentin. It was also in 1986 that i became a Shakur. I am a founding cadre of the August Third Collective and a combatant in the New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army. I have had an indeterminate SHU term since 1989, for being a threat to the safety and security of the institution - presumably CDCR, though i suspect it's the institution of capitalism. I am an author that has produced pieces for various movement publications over the years as well as a couple of books. Currently working with Kersplebedeb Publishing & Distribution to publish a collection of writings done here in Pelican Bay Security Housing Unit. i am scheduled for release in Black August 2012."

Various writings by Sanyika are posted to the Kersplebedeb website here.

The following is a response that Sanyika wrote to the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter's "Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism," by Kevin "Rashid" Johnson. Rashid is the author of Defying the Tomb, published by Kersplebedeb in 2010.


Get Up For The Down Stroke

A response to: Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism [1]

Sanyika Shakur
4-17-48 adm

Part One

“There’s never been a ‘question’ for us, only a task, a goal: the struggle to REGAIN our independence as a separate people with interests which oppose those of the empire. A goal for us, is a ‘question’ for those outside the nation who have a different nationality, and/or for those inside the nation who have a different ideology, e.g., the phrase ‘national question’ was coined by people trying to determine what position they would take regarding the struggle of colonized peoples – there was never a ‘national question’ for the colonized themselves.” [2]
Sometimes in the course of struggle, whether around theory, philosophy, ideology or tactics, We get tangled, as it were, in ideas so contradictory and muddled that We hardly have the ability to overstand how We reached that point, let alone how to extricate ourselves from it. We’ll often allow such confusion to actually become us, or so We think, and then any critique of the confusion is seen as a personal critique of ourselves rather than an honest and revolutionary attempt to disentangle oneself from ideo-theoretical muck and mire. This is one of the things We’re confronted by in the New Afrikan Black Panther Party–Prison Chapter’s (NABPP) position on the so-called “national question”.

What a mind-blowing tangle of ideo-theoretical mumbo-jumbo this piece/position is. There appears to have been some effort put forth early on to position themselves on an objective plane, for what it’s worth, but that evaporated immediately as the tools they were using to excavate the “facts” faltered and, eventually altogether broke apart in the process of their reasoning. The results were a pathetic attempt at continuing on in spite of having not a fact to stand on.

We find it a bit odd, or perhaps not so at all, that in the NABPP’s piece to supposedly refute, or ideologically combat, the New Afrikan Independence Movement’s (NAIM) position on land – specifically our National Territory – that they’d not use one actual quote of a New Afrikan revolutionary nationalist. And while at the outset they mention the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PG-RNA), the New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO), the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) and the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), they fail to post their positions. What the NABPP does is use everyone except those whose position they are refuting to bolster their position. And throughout their position piece they do what exactly? They attempt to prove that New Afrikans are:
  • A people without a need for a National Territory.
  • A nation within a nation but requiring no self-determination.
  • A nation which, when it exerts its need for land of its own, is somehow separatist and by implication “racist”.
  • A people who, in order to get free, must wait on and then unite with the citizens of the oppressor nation.
  • And finally, that We are sadly misled by our strategies, which according to the NABPP, no longer have any basis for existence.
Of course, in a magnificent feat of ideological gymnastics they switch at one point and say that amerikans are so thoroughly anti-New-Afrikan (citing the response to the Katrina disaster/strategy of depopulation) that our strategy should be to unite with them to keep things from “almost certainly degenerating into an imperialist-sponsored race war.” So in this baffling projection those We must unite with to get free are simultaneously those who will “almost certainly” annihilate us in “an imperialist sponsored race war.”

We are not amused in the least by the hodgepodge of ideological-theoretical claptrap in question. Nor are We altogether surprised. After all, this is a group called the New Afrikan Black Panther Party–Prison Chapter. We have always been struck by this, since it is such a redundancy, such an obvious rip-off and regrafting of ... Well, We’ll save all that for another time. Let’s go on and get into the quicksand mess of this position and work our way thru in hopes of this being a teachable moment. And while We’d like to think that this would help dis-entangle the NABPP from its muddle, We seriously doubt that will be the case, since it never really seemed to want to struggle with the NAIM on this point. Only against us.

As We carry on, We too will use quotes, passages and points of authority to frame certain things or to flesh out positions – though We will use those best qualified to inform the arguments We use. We won’t go get Chairman Mao to instruct us on New Afrikan social development. While We do in fact revere Chairman Mao and have always studied the works of the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Revolution, We feel it best to use our own ideologues to make our own points. And We most certainly will not be using anything from old imperialist Stalin. He may be looked upon as a “comrade” by the NABPP, but not by us.

We opened this response with a quote by Comrad-Brother Owusu Yaki Yakubu, an erstwhile member of the Coordinating Committee of the Black Liberation Army, New Afrikan Prisoners Organization, Provisional Government and the Spear and Shield Collective. Comrad-Brother Yaki is perhaps one of our keenest ideologues and theoreticians and will be quoted at length here, for it was some of his contributions, along with other Comrads in the PG-RNA and NAPO, that were largely responsible for kickstarting the resurgence of the NAIM today. Their words and ideas are as worthy as Chairman Mao is to us.

We had taken for granted that the NABPP-PC was an organization in the NAIM because it uses in its name our national identity.

We overstand and do, to a great extent, anticipate that our national identity – New Afrikan – will take root and evolve into the dominant name used by our people. We feel this because it is a correct idea that projects our aspirations. And, with the mass usage of this will eventually, inevitably, come various class divisions and aspirations. It’s much like when, in the early and mid-1960’s, the young Black Liberation Movement (BLM), as led by Malcolm X and the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), began to use “Black” in place of “Negro” to symbolize and embody not only an objective change in external projection, but also a subjective change of internal dynamics. Which is to say, the BLM was decidedly nationalist and about self-determination. While it saw the civil rights movement as integrationist (bourgeois nationalist) and neocolonial.

Though Malcolm would always make the distinction between a “Black” person and a “Negro”, he’d also let the people know that they shouldn’t be fooled by the term Negro and that it was, in fact, a colonialist-manufactured tool. Thus, he’d always say, “the so-called Negro”. That is, so-called by the oppressor and then used by the unknowing (colonial subjects) and/or, by the aware (collaborators) to realize their class interests. Eventually the term “Negro” got phased out as the “Black” masses exerted themselves and demanded to be dealt with on terms of their own deciding. Of course, it goes without saying, that while it was, at that time in our social development, necessary to distinguish “Black” (nationalist) from “Negro” (integrationist) – as a sense of coming into our own, it wasn’t sufficient. It wasn’t a politically or ideologically sound platform to stand on or from which to launch and sustain National Liberation Revolution.

The first people using the radical term “Black” were, by and large, about essentially the same thing: a sense of self, separate of and determined by our own internal dynamics and informed by objective reality in a dialectical materialist way. National liberation struggles were raging all across the planet. So, as things were perceived at that particular time and in that space, “Black” was an idea whose time had come.

We are approaching that time now in our consciousness. The masses – of all the internal and external colonies – are beginning to stir. Settlers and citizens of the oppressor nations, those in the metropole, are beginning to stir as well. Prisoners across the empire are in the early stages of unity and rebellion (again) as focus is trained on ways to get free, and this is but the beginning. Thus, when We saw this organization, the NABPP-PC, come onto the scene and read bits and pieces of its work here and there, We instinctively mistook their usage of “New Afrikan” to mean they were a Revolutionary Nationalist group aligned with the constellation of organizations within the NAIM. Because, you see, to call oneself New Afrikan, at this early stage, is to be, by and large, about what We in the NAIM are about: Land, Independence and Socialism. What We find, however, with the publishing of its position on the so-called “National Question”, is that it’s really about a “multi-ethnic, multiracial socialist amerika”, i.e., radical integration.

In other words, it does not see the Provisional Government (People’s Center Council, People’s Revolutionary Leadership Council, New Afrikan Security Forces, etc.) as the State in exile of the Republic of New Afrika. It is not sworn to the Code of Umoja (the New Afrikan National Constitution); has no pledge to the New Afrikan Creed, nor does it recognize the New Afrikan Declaration of Independence. And We know this because these are the official documents/instruments that We in the NAIM stand on and utilize to realize our national independence struggle for self-determination and liberation of our National Territory in the Kush (New Afrika).

“For us,” as Comrad-Brother Yaki so eloquently said, “there was never a national question.” That, he said, was “for those inside the nation who have a different ideology.” [3] – (our emphasis).

We thought that by the NABPP-PC calling itself “New Afrikan” that it was in compliance with Article I, Section 7, of the Code of Umoja which states:
  • All citizens of the Republic of New Afrika who are aware of their citizenship are conscious New Afrikan citizens.
Though, to be fair, Section 7, in Article l, is preceded by: Section l:

  • Each Afrikan person born in America is a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika.

Section ll:
  • Any child born to a citizen of the Republic of Afrika is a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika.
Those aware, We call “conscious citizens.” Those not knowing are referred to as “unconscious citizens.” The unconscious citizens never use “New Afrikan” because they are, as of yet, unaware of it. So, this is how We got confused by the NABPP-PC.
Section lll, Article l says:
  • Any person not otherwise a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika may become a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika by completing the procedures for naturalization as provided by the People’s Center Council.
We’ll come back to Article l, Section lll, of the Code of Umoja, as We go on to combat the NABPP’s distortion of the NAIM as “black separatists”. Though as anyone can see, by the first line of Section lll, this can’t be the case. But let’s move on. Dig this:
“Who are We, those of us who built a national ‘black’ prisoners organization? There is much evidence to show that as each day passes, more and more ‘black’ prisoners identify themselves as New Afrikans and work on behalf of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. Despite the questions many of us may raise concerning them, two of the things which define our movement and guide it, are the New Afrikan Declaration of Independence and the New Afrikan Creed. Our Declaration of Independence states, in part, that We, ‘in consequence of our inextinguishable determination to go a different way, to build a new and better world, do hereby declare ourselves free and independent of the jurisdiction of the united states of amerika and the obligations which that country’s unilateral decision to make our ancestors and ourselves paper citizens placed on us.”
“When We pledge ourselves to the New Afrikan Creed, We do so with the belief that “the fundamental reason our oppression continues is that We, as a people, lack the power to control our lives,” and that the fundamental way to gain that power and end oppression, is to build a sovereign black nation.
“We are guided by the strategic objective of winning sovereignty for our nation, to build a new, socialist society, and to ‘support’ and wage the world revolution until all people everywhere are so free” (New Afrikan Declaration of Independence). If an organization is to be built by those who identify themselves as New Afrikans, whether a national (‘black’) prisoners organization, or a national and/or local (‘black’) students, or tenants organization, it must rest on a foundation of the New Afrikan Declaration of Independence and the New Afrikan Creed. These are integral parts of our ideo-framework, and it’s upon this foundation that all else rests – unity included.” [4]

The National “Question”

Let’s fall into the NABPP’s position on the so-called “national question”. Which is really not what the piece is actually about because the national question was primarily about, as originally debated, whether New Afrikans actually comprised a nation within a nation here. The NABPP conceded that We do, in fact, comprise a nation within the political borders of the empire. That’s not their beef. Their beef boils down to whether We actually are sound in our struggle for land in the National Territory. Our efforts to Free The Land are critiqued, while in the same breath the NABPP-PC advocates the taking of all the land in the empire for a “multi-ethnic, multiracial socialist amerika”. Essentially, a new and improved (reformed) amerika.

This so-called “Reassessment of Black Nationalism” (to use their subtitle) is nothing more than their propagation of radical integration in drag as a “deepened” analysis of Huey P. Newton’s (on intercommunalism). The facts of this will easily bear out as We go forward. Pay close attention. Their position paper on the so-called “national question” could have very well have been titled “The Nation that Needs No Land”, or “Soon Whitey Comes To Help.” At times it’s actually that pitiful in its shameless hat-in-hand plea for oppressor-nation citizens to “save the day.” In one astounding admission of blind hope and child-like idealism, they say that uniting with settler radicals is a step towards uniting all of humanity and “the whole world becoming one people.” But let us not get ahead of ourselves here. We must proceed with caution because this can really raise consciousness.

The opening shots are fired at the Black Belt Thesis (BBT) as developed by Harry Haywood, who was first a member of the African Blood Brotherhood (one of many points the NABPP fails to mention in this piece – this is called deception by omission), and then of the settler Communist Party-USA. In fact, the whole African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) was incorporated into the CP-USA, which effectively liquidated the first actual New Afrikan Communist Organization:
“It was founded in 1919 at the same time as the first Vietnamese communist study groups and the Chinese Communist Party. Yet some forty years later, in a new generation of struggle, New Afrikans once again faced the necessity of building a communist center from ground zero.” [5]
Why, in fact, was this, that in the 1960’s, “New Afrikans had to start building a communist center from ground zero”? Because our first communist organization found it expedient to unite in the same organization (and under its leadership), with settlers who did not share our national interests – no matter what they said to the contrary. Harry Haywood’s so-called “Black Belt Thesis” was doomed from the outset and here’s why:
“We can say that, whether knowingly or not, the CPUSA served the interests of U.S. imperialism by: 1) leading the oppressed away from armed struggle, away from joining the world revolution. 2) Convincing people that national liberation and communism were opposed to each other. 3) Using Third World ‘communists’ to disunite the oppressed nations, while also placing the activities of the oppressed under constant monitoring and meddling of euro-amerikans. ‘Left’ settlerism worked as a counter-revolutionary police for the empire. And their most loyal Third World ‘communists’ become ‘unconscious traitors’ to their own people.” [6] (our emphasis)
The term “Black Belt” entered the national lexicon, however, and came to denote the actual contiguous string of New Afrikan dominated counties – fifty in all – that stretched from the Louisiana Delta to the Atlantic Ocean. But Harry Haywood’s BBT played but a small, nominal, part in our later designation, in 1968, of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as the New Afrikan National Territory. We didn’t need no BBT to inform us where our nationals were. Where We labored, fought, died and buried our ancestors. We knew where “down home” was.
“[The NABPP] fails to mention the small fact that the reason the 1960s revolutionary struggle produced nationalism and separatism is because the masses of oppressed in the struggle themselves demanded it. And wouldn’t have it any other way. It wasn’t because Harry Haywood’s writing was reprinted in 1979 or because someone got an idea about Black ideological nationalism. Saying that is complete b.s., only oppressor thinking. It was all those in struggle themselves who demanded political separation – who forced white civil rights workers out of the movement, who started all-New Afrikan initiatives, projects and organizations. This surge was particularly sharp because of the years of bitter experience, which led to activists becoming tired of euro-settler leftists and liberals intervening in their relationships, manipulating them, lying to them, attempting to stay their rulers with honeyed words and money. Talk about neo-colonialism, there it was.” [7]
But again, We contend that the NABPP’s attack on this position is but a smokescreen masking their true intent. We notice the ideological deficiencies bleeding thru almost immediately as the NABPP can’t seem to decide whether We, as a people, are New Afrikans or “blacks”. It slips easily back and forth in a dizzying array of ideo-theoretical schizophrenia as it attempts to discredit the land requirement/objective of the NAIM, with old tenets which actually have nothing to do with us. We think the NABPP is studying other material and heaping it’s analysis of that work onto us.

Had the NABPP been studying the body of work produced by cadres of the NAIM they’d have known early on that our struggle for national liberation (Land, Independence and Socialism) has nothing to do with any Black Belt Thesis, Harry Haywood or the CPUSA/Comintern. We don’t import ideas. And while the NABPP calls its position paper “Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism,” We in the NAIM “reassessed” so-called “Black Nationalism” in the 20th century. The exhaustion of so-called “Black” Nationalism was done with the collapse of the Black Liberation Movement (BLM) and reassessed, in a scientific manner, as the New Afrikan Independence Movement. We are not “Black” Nationalists. We are not about “Black” Liberation. We are Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalists and We are about New Afrikan Independence (Land and Socialism). Had the NABPP been studying our material they’d have easily known this. We don’t base our struggle on the false social construction of “race” or color. We are anti-racists. At one point in this so-called “revolutionary reassessment” the NABPP calls the NAIM the “Black Movement”. A deliberate distortion of our struggle. We resent this. We are the ones who led the ideological struggle for the usage of New Afrikan as our national identity (nationality) over “black” as a racial identity.

In fact, check out the wise words of Comrad-Brother Yaki:
“The de-construction of ‘race’ as a concept and the struggle against racism on the political front starts by understanding ‘politics’ as everything related to our lives, and not just those things related to the electoral arena. More precisely, We can define politics as a concentrated expression of economics, concerned with the acquisition, retention and use of State power, which is used to realize revolutionary interests of society. Politically, the de-construction of ‘race’ attacks the cause, and seeks to prevent the use of ‘race’ to disguise it.” [8]
The NAIM is not about “Black” Nationalism as the NABPP mistakenly postulates. And, it is precisely because We are not about “Black” Nationalism, or an ambiguously defined “Liberation,” that for us there is no “national question.” Nor is there one pertaining to our requirement for land. We are a nation, nations require land to administer the needs of its nationals. It’s not a complicated thing, really.

National Reality

We call into question the material (“tools”) the NABPP is using to make its “Revolutionary Reassessment” since it appears to us that they are hardly talking about New Afrikans. For instance, they refer to colonized New Afrikans as a “rural peasantry.” This is a term used by Russian and Chinese comrades when describing their nationals – in their assessment of their people. Another ill-fitting graft is tied onto New Afrikan social development in order to disguise the obvious weak points and glaring errors in perception. There was no feudalism here. The NABPP says the…
“… Black population within the U.S. is no longer a rural peasantry. It is overwhelmingly a proletarian nation (wage slaves) dispersed across the U.S. and concentrated in and around urban centers in predominantly Black or multi-ethnic oppressed communities.” [9]
Aside from the ideological muddle of terms like “black” and “multi-ethnic” (as if this were Yugoslavia – or worse, one “United States” with just a few “multi-ethnics” inside) the NABPP totally misses the boat on the fact that colonized Afrikans, who evolved into New Afrikans here, were stolen to be used as a permanent proletariat. The New Afrikan nation was born as a working-class nation of permanent proletarians. The fact that We weren’t paid does not preclude the fact that We were workers. What do they think so-called “slavery” (colonialism) entails if not work?
“Afrikans were the landless, propertyless, permanent workers of the u.s. empire. They were not just slaves – the Afrikan nation as a whole served as a proletariat for the euro-amerikan oppressor nation. The Afrikan colony supported on its shoulders the building of euro-amerikan society more ‘prosperous,’ more ‘egalitarian’ and yes, more ‘democratic’ than any in semi-feudal Old Europe … amerika imported a proletariat from Afrika, a proletariat permanently chained in an internal colony, laboring for the benefit of all settlers. Afrikan workers might be individually owned, like tools and draft animals, by some settlers and not others, but in their colonial subjugation they were as a whole owned by the entire euro-amerikan nation.” [10]
The NABPP says We were “dispersed” across the u.s. and it is in fact this “dispersal” out of the National Territory that they go on to use as their basis for our requirement of land being “outmoded.” That the so-called “Black Belt Thesis” (which We don’t use) is no longer relevant because We no longer make up the majority in the National Territory. What a shallow analysis. Yeah, this is really a deepened analysis here, huh? There are more Irish people in the u.s. than there are in Ireland – does this mean they have no claim to, or need for, a national territory? And what of the Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous of Hawaii, who’ve been drastically decimated by settlerism to the point where they are but a fraction of their former selves? What of the Basque?

Our migration out of the National Territory and into amerika was akin to any other oppressed people who, having their own territory mangled and ravished by encroaching capitalism, went in search of sustenance – work to feed, clothe and house themselves. To feel safe and stable – to survive in the tradewinds of a hostile imperialism. We came up outta the National Territory as refugees. Much like Mexicanos and other destitute peoples from Central and South Amerika, who’ve been NAFTA’d into mass migrations for survival. Our nationals, too, sent remittances “back home” to family members still in the Kush. We still listened to Down Home Blues, or Southern Gospel, had fish fry’s and did what We do while in amerika. And our parents would send us home for the summer to be with “Big Momma,” “Nana,” “Aunt Lilly” and our Cousins, who’d never left the National Territory. Our nationals who left (to go up North, back East and out West):
“They were REFUGEES, those who ‘migrated’ from the National Territory during the WWI and WWII years. Our elders were REFUGEES during the years of the ‘Black Codes’ when they fled the National Territory. The cities of amerika were full of New Afrikan refugees who entered them during the 30’s, 40’s, escaping the Klan and the southern prison. One step ahead of the hounds, a few minutes ahead of the lynch mob is how many New Afrikans came North. Refugees from the National Territory.” [11]
The NABPP claims to have “deepened” the analysis put forward by Huey P. Newton of the “original” Black Panther Party. They also claim to have reached this “deepened” state by employing the philosophical tools of dialectical materialism. Hmmm ... Surprisingly, We too have used these same philosophical tools to reach our conclusions on the land issue. Which can easily stand up in objective reality, i.e., the criterion of truth. However, before addressing that, We’d like to clear up another one of those deceptions by omission that consistently pepper this so-called “Reassessment of Black Nationalism.”

Contrary to what the NABPP says about Huey P. Newton being of the original Black Panther Party, the fact of the matter is Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale founded the third organization calling itself the Black Panther Party. The first usage of the panther as a symbol for a political party was done by the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, formed by the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the National Territory (Alabama) - “It was a New Afrikan electoral alternative to the regular Democratic Party doing voter registration gun in hand and running for county offices.” [12]

The second organization to use the panther was the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) which began to, “Use the black panther symbol and start Black Panther Parties in the northern New Afrikan ghettoes. Local BPP offices were set up in New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other cities.” [13]
The BPP that Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale would found would actually be the third organization calling itself the Black Panther Party and would, in fact, have to distinguish itself by putting “For Self-Defense” on its name. And while there were great differences between these organizations, the point is that the original BPP was founded in Lowdnes County, Alabama. Now, while the NABPP claims to have “deepened” the analysis put forward by Huey P. Newton, there certainly appears to be no such deepening of any such analysis in this position paper. If anything, it’s a distortion of Huey P. Newton’s analysis and a grafting on of non-applicable realities that point more to confusion than to any real breakthrough or “deepened” analysis. Seriously, is it deeper that We are a “nation within a nation”? Or is it deeper that they are referring to empire-builder Stalin as “comrade”? Is it deeper that New Afrikans are referred to as a “rural peasantry”? Or is it deeper that “Black” Nationalism is no longer applicable? Is it deeper that euro-amerikans are said to be the key to the “liberation of humanity and the whole world becoming one people”? Wake us up when it really gets deep will you?

The NABPP is attempting to view New Afrikan social development through the socio-political lens of 1930s China. Or 1940s Russia. Instead of critically applying the tools of dialectical materialism to reach the truth, as it is, they are blowing dialectical materialist smoke, while lazily placing over the top of New Afrika, vis-a-vis the u.s. empire, a Chinese or Russian political lens. What’s being touted as a philosophical conclusion, reached through the application of dialectical materialism, is actually a slow-witted political graft. We know this because not one thing in this whole piece is new or the result of any “deepened” analysis. The NABPP says that our struggle for the National Territory is hopelessly wrong, or as they put it:
“... outmoded ideas and formulations that no longer fit the current situation.”
When did a National Territory, the landbase of a nation(ality), become “outmoded”? They say this, then go right along to say, it’s necessary to lead a “multi-ethnic, multiracial” struggle for a “socialist amerika” – where, on the moon? No ... on this land – a National Territory, dig?

Watch your step, please, the inconsistencies and contradictions are all over the place. There is some “idealism” going on here, but it’s wholly manufactured and promoted by the NABPP.

The NABPP, when compiling this position paper, would have fared much better We think in reaching this so-called “deepened” analysis, had they studied our (New Afrikans’) social development as documented by cadres of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. We have a vast body of ideo-theoretical work. We are reminded here of a masterstroke of constructive criticism delivered to the reactionary African Peoples Socialist Party (APSP), on practically the same points We now find the NABPP postulating, by Comrad Brother Chokwe Lumumba, Chairman of the New Afrikan Peoples Organization. [14] Truly a teachable/learning moment. We feel the NABPP would do well to check the actual foundations upon which the NAIM stands before venturing to critique us based on what’s “believed” to be our position from the 1930s.

National Liberation or Radical Integration

The whole title of the NABPP’s position paper is a false flag distortion of what’s actually on the table here. Well, either that or the NABPP is simply dull.

“Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism” – that’s the whole title. Pretty lofty, huh? The thing is, though, the NABPP uses the word “BLACK”, perhaps over 22 times in describing New Afrikans – who they claim to recognize as a nation – so, this would mean.... that it’s a “Black Nation”? So, in their “revolutionary reassessment” of “Black Nationalism” they can’t seem to extricate themselves or “deepen” their “analysis” enough to stop using the socially constructed binary terms of “race”? Watch your step, please. See, this is what We mean about a false flag, a distortion. It’s not now nor has it really ever been about “a revolutionary reassessment of Black Nationalism.” No, this is about radical integration. Which, of course, is not new and is certainly not the result of a “deepened” analysis. Let us share something that We laid out in 1988:
“In terms of re-orientation, the movement must adjust to objective reality and establish new principles (or to reinforce old ones). For instance, We ain’t calling ourselves a ‘civil rights movement’ or an ambiguously defined ‘Black Power’ or ‘Black Liberation’ movement. We ain’t adopting lines from the CPUSA and saying We gonna form United Fronts Against Fascism, which the BPP did under the leadership of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. Nor are We adopting lines from the Trots and saying We gonna establish a ‘black dictatorship’ in amerika. The line for this stage says We’re waging a New Afrikan National Liberation Revolution, i.e. it’s a struggle for national independence and socialism.” [15]
The NAPP is posturing as if it is somehow involved in some great new debate about the insufficiency of “Black” Nationalism as a strategy for freedom. It further propagates this erroneous subtitle of a “revolutionary reassessment” as if it has somehow made a “miraculous breakthrough” – a great leap forward – in some “deepened analysis” about why our position on the National Territory is “outmoded.” Why, in fact, We need no Land, even though We are a nation. You wanna know, really, how new this is? This is what pig President Thomas Jefferson said, as offered by Professor Peter S. Onuf:
“He did know, with as much certainty as his own experience and observation could authorize that [New Afrikan] slaves constituted a distinct nation. The crimes against slaves therefore had to be understood first in National terms. ‘Virginia slaves,’ said Jefferson, ‘were a people without a country, a captive nation.’” [16]
Not only had We become a “distinct nation”, but We had human rights, as well. And, with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in 1865, We’d been given land under Field Order No. 15. But this was too much like right, so aside from New Afrika being granted its freedom with the 13th Amendment, the imperialists doubled back on us and made the unilateral (single, without our consent) decision to make us “paper citizens,” that is, on paper only – with the 14th Amendment. This Amendment reversed Field Order No.15 which gave us land for our free nation and with it they said essentially, “Now, you don’t need any separate land for yourselves – you’re citizens: all this land is yours!”

And this is what the NABPP is saying as well. While it claims to recognize that New Afrikans are a “distinct nation,” it advocates that We forego any struggle for our own land, for self-determination, in a Socialist Republic of New Afrika, unite with the settler citizens (like the liquidated  African Blood Brotherhood) and struggle in a “multiethnic, multiracial” way for a “socialist amerika”. Radical integration, We repeat, is not new.

Aside from the erroneous points made by the NABPP about our struggle for land being based on the Black Belt Thesis of Harry Haywood, We have to say that We stand firm, instead, on the Precepts of the New Afrikan Creed, Number 7, which says:
“I believe in the Malcolm X Doctrine: that We must organize upon this land, and hold a plebiscite, to tell the world by vote that We are free and the land independent, and that, after the vote, We must stand ready to defend ourselves establishing the Nation beyond contradiction.” (Changes approved May 5, 1991 – People’s Center Council).
There’s nothing in our documents about any BBT, or Harry Haywood. Here’s the thing, amerika is a prisonhouse of nations. And no matter how much distortion is applied to this reality, it ain’t going away. This is an empire. It is as much an empire as Stalin’s USSR was. Whole nations are submerged under the grand illusion of a “United States,” just as it was under the grand illusion of a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. People We never knew existed were under there – denied their national independence. Subjugated, colonized and politically distorted. And here We find in this piece the NABPP saying:
“National ‘Liberation’ has therefore proved empty of substance to oppressed Third World peoples, absent the defeat of imperialism, just as it would in a struggle for New Afrikan national ‘liberation’ in the Southern U.S. territory absent the defeat of imperialism. Moreover, any such struggle would almost certainly degenerate into an imperialist-sponsored race war, similar to what went down in the Kosovo conflict.”
We’re not altogether sure why they chose to put ‘liberation’ in single quotations, since the word alone only means freedom and carries no political connotations, but that’s pretty indicative of this whole so-called “reassessment” position. The lack of consciousness is evident here where they begin by saying “National Liberation has therefore proved empty…” Now, forgive us if We seem a little slow here on the uptake, but what – We wonder – would be the result of “… leading the whole working class,” as the NABPP says in another part of this piece, “and the broad masses in pulling down the capitalist-imperialist system and achieving social justice for all,” if, not NATIONAL LIBERATION?? It would be National Liberation of/for a “multiethnic, multi-racial socialist amerika.” And that, dear reader is the rub –  radical integration. Pay lip service to New Afrikans being a nation, but actively block our struggle for self-determination, while promoting a “multiethnic, multi-racial socialist amerika.” Stalin, whom the NABPP refers to as “Comrade J.V. Stalin,” would be proud. Hey, and if the submerged nations begin to struggle you all can simply exile us some place, right?

Since when has fighting for National Liberation become “empty” to Third World people? Did the ETA get that memo? We in the New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army sure as hell didn’t. We don’t think the EZLN or Macheteros got that one either. Here’s the thing, there are two types of nationalism: revolutionary nationalism and bourgeois nationalism. Check out what Huey Newton himself had to say:
“There are two kinds of nationalism: revolutionary nationalism, and reactionary nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism is dependent upon a people’s revolution with the end result being the people in power. Therefore, to be a revolutionary nationalist you would by necessity have to be a socialist. If you are a reactionary nationalist, you are not a socialist, and your goal is the oppression of the people.”
The NAIM is a revolutionary nationalist movement. Our nationality is New Afrikan. Our nation is called the Republic of New Afrika. Our National Territory lies in the southeast quadrant of North Amerika. Ours is a war of national liberation. That’s our get down. Land, Independence and Socialism.

So, in spite of the NABPP posturing against our revolutionary nationalism, they are nationalists themselves. They just want a “Socialist Amerika” – still a nation – of a “multi-ethnic, multi-racial” character. That’s called radical integration. Let’s be clear. For the whole Third World the NABPP has reached the conclusion that “National Liberation is empty of substance absent the defeat of imperialism…” We better hurry and get this memo out to all the Third World national liberation struggles: NO USE IN TRYING, IT’S NOT GOING TO WORK! GO HOME, YOU HAVEN’T A CHANCE IN HELL!” See how crazy that sounds? We can’t make this stuff up, folks.

The Oppressor Nation

As We said before, the u.s. is an empire, under which is submerged many nations. Both internally and externally the u.s. casts its pale over the lives of millions in a neo-colonial relationship so refined and perfected that the masses themselves easily campaign for and work in support of their own oppression. All to the squealing delight of the bourgeoisie. And the settler citizens of the empire, who have always been loyal to their ruling class against all forms of struggles which genuinely push for real revolutionary change, are right there with them reaping the benefits of empire.

The settlers don’t mark their wealth by the accumulation of ideas – that’s fool’s gold to them. They got their freedom, or so they think (which is arguable), they ain’t going to unite with a movement that puts their “things” in jeopardy. The NABPP can run from suburb to suburb trying to organize some “multiethnic, multi-racial” mass and they’ll be debating with IRA accounts, 401ks, car notes and retirement plans. What better lives could the settlers hope for? Their bread is buttered on the side that holds loyalty to the empire.
This has proven true even of the settlers calling themselves “communists.” The CPUSA has a sickening history of collaboration with empire against oppressed nations. False nationalism and false internationalism are not new phenomena. And, We’d like to say We are not against alliances with genuine revolutionaries. We are internationalists, however We are realistic as well. The 26th of July Movement had to liberate Cuba before Cuba could become the internationalist contributor it is today. We know that the greatest contribution to internationalism (world revolution) is the primary struggle of self-determination. Of national liberation.
“We all know that the ‘United States’ is an oppressor nation; that is, a nation that oppresses other nations. This is a characteristic that the U.S. shares with other imperialist powers. What is specific, in particular about the U.S. oppressor nation is that it is an illegitimate nation.
“What pretends to be one continental nation stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific is really a euro-amerikan settler empire, built on colonially oppressed nations and peoples whose very existence has been forcibly submerged. But the colonial crime, the criminals, the victims and the stolen lands and labor still exist. The many Indian nations, the New Afrikan nation in the South, Puerto Rico, the Northern half of Mexico, Asian Hawaii – all are now considered the lands of the euro-amerikan settlers. The true citizens of this u.s. empire are the European invaders and their descendants. So that the ‘United States’ is in reality not one, but many nations (oppressor and oppressed). We see the recognition of amerika as a ‘prisonhouse of nations’ as the beginning – no more no less – of the differences between revisionist and communist politics here. We hold that once this outward shell of integration into a single, white dominated ‘USA’ is cracked open – to reveal the colonial oppression and anti-colonial struggle within – then the correct path to a communist understanding of the u.s. empire is begun”. [17]

From Self-Doubt to Denial

The colonial mentality is insidious insofar as it blinds its victims with a dual sense of self-inadequacy. On the one hand, making the target people feel and believe that they in fact have no means by which to stand up, shake off and destroy the malady of apprehension and, on the other, that only the colonizing culture, its people included, have the answers, ability and means to solve any and all problems.

The colonial mentality is the 2.0 version of what We used to call the “slave mentality.” It’s a new and improved means of control, distraction and self-destruction. Wilson Goode, mayor of Philly, who greenlighted the bombing of the MOVE home, on May 13, 1985 – 2.0 version. Clarence Thomas, one of the u.s. conservative supremes – 2.0. Rock Bottom, presidential front man for the u.s. ruling class – 2.0. But these are the obvious ones, too easy to point out and light up. What of those who are so thoroughly imbued by a sense of self-inadequacy that they’d campaign for us to integrate our struggle – the only thing that We have maintained control over – into the so-called “workers movement” because, they say this “... is a step towards the total liberation of humanity and the whole world becoming one people”? Can’t you just hear Louis Armstrong coonin’ with that toothy grin, “What a Wonderful World”?

“Moreover”, says the NABPP, “any such struggle [for National Territory] would almost certainly degenerate into an imperialist-sponsored race war, similar to what went down in Kosovo.” (Cut the Louis Armstrong and queue the DMX – “Who We Be”)

This is where basic logic, let alone political (revolutionary) consciousness, begins to fly completely apart from its center. What the NABPP is miserably failing to realize is that colonialism is an “imperialist-sponsored race war”!  NOW. It was one when the euros invaded Afrika, South Amerika, Asia and North Amerika. You think not? Ask the remnants of genocided peoples.

We use the words nation and nationalities to differentiate peoples and cultures, because We know that there really is no “plurality of races” on the planet. However, this usage of words doesn’t necessarily alter – in fact, cannot alter – the  fact that 13% of this planet are people of European descent and the other 87% are peoples from Afrika, South Amerika, North Amerika and Asia – or those considered of “color”. Yet, the minority – who just “happens to be” from Europe – control the globe to their benefit and our demise.

Oh, there’s a “race war” going on alright, but the colonial mentality has blinded you behind a curtain of semantics which prevent the obvious conclusions. Either that or.... well, here’s the thing: it has been us, the oppressed, who have prevented our total annihilation by waging national liberation struggles to repel pig aggression. The “imperialist-sponsored race war” of colonialism (and neo-colonialism) has the NABPP so dazed and confused that they cannot recognize it for what it is. So, they project it instead into the future, as if it will “almost certainly” happen IF We struggle for National Liberation. That’s a manifestation, a symptom, of the colonial mentality. “Ooh, Momma, there go that man again!”

We found it curious that they’d project the “almost” certain “imperialist-sponsored race war” into the future, when Christopher Columbus, sponsored by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain (certainly imperialists), landed in the Caribbean in 1492. Cortes, de Gama, Pizzaro, Magellan, Custer, Pershing, Westmoreland, Schwarzkopf, etc. – imperialists have always sponsored colonialist exploits. Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Devin Brown, Lovell Mixion, MLK, and countless other murders of our nationals can easily attest to the state of our existence, NOW. And We have social development, not to mention gaping holes in our cultures, to prove the past.

What We do know is that all this will continue if We do nothing. Or if We stand around nicely waiting for the very people, the 13%, who benefit from our oppression to unite with us in order or to get free! We question with all seriousness the logic in this. We trust We are not alone.

Now, the same forces the NABPP attempts to threaten us with – those who the imperialists will “sponsor” – the NABPP says We should unite with because they “....are committed to supporting Black (sic) Liberation because it serves the cause of liberating all of humanity from imperialism and exploitation…” (queue the Benny Hill theme song). Where is self-determination in all of this? New Afrika is a working-class nation – with nothing to lose. Why not go deeper into our own nation for “support” in “liberating all of humanity”? When did the settlers get so “committed to supporting Black Liberation”?

The greatest “support” the settlers who are “committed” can offer the New Afrikan Independence Movement is to organize their nationals and start taking the fight to their bourgeoisie. That’s their responsibility. Not uniting with us, or any other National Liberation struggle. They have to build their own and handle their business. We’ll run alliances when necessary, but their obligation is to not be “Good Americans,” like the Germans were “Good Germans” during the Nazi era - they just went right along with their government’s genocidal programs because they were beneficial to them. So, that’s really the situation.

While We appreciate Revolutionary Solidarity, We first of all question any people as to what they are doing to tear down their ruling class and its machine? That’s the criterion for solidarity. And why is that, you ask? Because:
“In a settler empire, one that is both a ‘prisonhouse’ of Third World nations and peoples as well as the No. 1 imperialist power, for young revolutionaries to be uncertain about proletarian internationalism inescapably means being in practice uncertain about parasitism, uncertain about solidarity, and so on.” [18] (our emphasis)
And being “uncertain” means being dead or captured. Radical integration and a blind, god-like allegiance to “super white folks” who are the only ones capable of helping us get free - if they don’t,  as the NABPP threatens, kill us all, in a “race war” - while literally having no faith in ourselves is, again, a symptom of colonial war mental disorder (colonial mentality). The only substantial treatment and cure for this is a deeper submersion of oneself into revolutionary consciousness through class suicide and struggle. Anything short of this will only perpetuate the malady.
“Some people talk about a ‘nation’ but don’t really wanna be one (independent), as evidenced by their efforts to crawl back on the plantation. How can We tell? You can identify those trying to crawl onto the plantation by the way they identify themselves, i.e., ‘blacks’, ‘Afro-Amerikans’, ‘Afrikan-Amerikans’, ‘ethnic group’, ‘minority nationality’, ‘national minority’, ‘underclass’ – anything and everything except New Afrikans, an oppressed nation. Amerikkka is the plantation, and continuing to identify yourself within the amerikkkan context is evidence of the colonial (‘slave’) mentality. Ain’t no two ways about it.” [19]
The NABPP says:
“That We New Afrikans are now a predominantly proletarian nation and one without a National Territory – is an advantage to the cause”....
Wrong again. New Afrikans have always been a proletarian nation. So much so in fact, that from 1619 to at least 1865, there was no unemployment in New Afrika – no woman, child nor man was exempt. (Imagine that). It was called “slavery”. And while the NABPP says We are “without a National Territory,” the NAIM designated Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina as the National Territory as early as 1968.
“On March 28, 1971, 150 New Afrikans held a ‘Nation Time’ ceremony, consecrating 20 acres of newly-purchased land just west of Jackson, Mississippi. The land was designated as the future capital of the nation, named El Malik after Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik Shabazz). Fifteen new citizens took the ‘Nation Oath.’ President Imari Obadele officiated at a New Afrikan wedding ceremony. Uniformed men and women of the Black Legion, the regular military of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, patrolled the perimeter with rifles. Educational workshops, a meeting of the PG-RNA’s People’s Center Council, and other ceremonies filled the day.” [20]
So, again, as Yaki pointed out, for us there’s never been a “question” – “only a task, a goal.” The NABPP says that in 1978 our struggle for land was “revived” by the production of Harry Haywood’s BBT. And yet in Black August of 1977, the New Afrikan Prisoners Organization wrote:
“This piece was purposely concentrated on defining the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments as instruments of national oppression because We believe that this is not only the most correct conception; but also because We believe this will contribute to raising the level of national consciousness among New Afrikan people and consequently to successful revolutionary nationalist war – a war for the independence of New Afrikan people, A WAR TO REGAIN The NATIONAL TERRITORY; a war which will lead to the establishment of sovereignty for New Afrika and its socialist development.” [21] (our emphasis)
We repeat, this is from 1977. Our eyes have never left the prize. So, We have a National Territory, it’s just in the radical integrationist politics of the NABPP to first disagree that this is so, then attempt to distort this reality and, failing that, to use deception through omission. Why, you may ask, would they do that? Well, according to them by us being
“… without a National Territory is an advantage to the cause of building a multi-ethnic, multi-racial socialist amerika.” (our emphasis)
And there it is – radical (reformist) integration. It is in their interests to disagree, distort and omit the facts in this regard. Which is why We believe that this piece on the so-called “national question”, while titled “Black Liberation in the 21st Century,” actually did little, if anything, towards “A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism.” It wasn’t meant to do any such thing. It was designed to propagate radical (reformist) integration. We in the NAIM were simply a handy target.

If radical integration is their thing – well, that’s their thing. They could very well have put forth their line without dragging us into it. If that’s your bag, push it. We’ll push ours. Ultimately, the masses will decide which line best suits their aspirations. But the NABPP has to come out with an attack on our line in their headlong rush in search of some imaginary “multi-ethnic, multi-racial” mass to lead. But wait, hmmm ... where have We heard this before (digging in the crates) oh yeah, here it is:
“When the U.S. empire vamped on the BPP and they were, despite their intentions, unable to defend themselves, the Party strategy had failed. A new strategy was adopted. The Oakland BPP leadership turned to their natural ally, the euro-amerikan petty-bourgeoisie. The Party leadership didn’t turn to the New Afrikan proletariat because they neither knew how to organize the Nation nor did they really trust their own people. Their neo-colonial class unity with the white petty-bourgeoisie came to the front in the crisis. This was justified as some kind of internationalism, of supposedly winning needed ‘allies’ to the liberation movement”. [22]
But wait, there’s more:
“The Oakland leadership became committed to uniting with the settler petty-bourgeoisie, if necessary (and it was) against their own national movement and against their former comrades.” [23]
The NABPP does another sleight of hand deception by omission when it speaks about Chairman Fred Hampton, of the Chicago chapter of the BPP, attempting to pass off his Rainbow Coalition as a paradigm for radical integration because there was an alliance with Mexicanos, Puerto Ricans, amerikans and New Afrikans. Here’s what the NABPP conveniently failed to mention: the Brown Berets were a Chicano Nationalist Organization struggling to free their nation of Aztlan (Northern Mexico: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Nevada); the Young Lords Organization were Puerto Rican Independistas struggling for the independence of their homeland. The New Afrikans in the Party at that time were still functioning under the Party’s first line of New Afrikan nationalism. The settlers were struggling for a socialist amerika. So, it was an alliance of forces struggling for the national liberation of their respective productive forces – not to get together and sing Kumbaya. In the 70’s things broke down, but when Chairman Fred was still alive, and in 1968, 69, this was the deal.

No Need for a Nation State?

In a disturbingly blind-eyed distraction, the NABPP says:
“… Without need of pursuing a struggle to achieve a New Afrikan Nation State, We have achieved the historical results of bourgeois democracy at least as far as transforming ourselves from a peasant to a predominately proletarian national grouping through the ‘Great Migration’.”
What? Again, We can’t make this stuff up folks. We’ve always felt a need to pursue a New Afrikan Nation State. The struggle, on our side of the line, has always been about Freedom (Land), Independence (self-determination) and Socialism. In the New Afrikan Creed We find the following:
3. I believe in the community as more important than the individual.
4. I believe in constant struggle for freedom, to end oppression and build a better world. I believe in collective struggle, in fashioning victory in concert with my brothers and sisters.
5. I believe that the fundamental reason our oppression continues is that We as a people, lack the power to control our lives.
6. I believe that the fundamental way to gain that power, and end oppression, is to build a sovereign Black nation.
We have continuously pursued the need for a Nation State. The fact that We erected a Provisional Government, in 1968, should be testament enough. The fact of the matter is, there has always been, as in all things, a two line struggle in our nation. There has been a struggle to get out, free and independent of the empire, and another to get in to reform and wield the power of empire. That now We’re faced with radical integrationism, in drag as some crackpot theory called “intercommunalism,” doesn’t change the twin essence of the two line struggle. This is nothing new.

The NABPP goes on to say:
“… We have achieved the historical results of bourgeois democracy.”
We have? Now, wait, is it bourgeois democracy or neocolonialism? See, here’s the very real difference in ideology. It is, as the Comrad Yaki would say, “the contradiction surfacing and sharpening.” If We are a part of a “multi-ethnic, multi-racial” “national grouping” (as the NABPP says) then yes, “We have achieved bourgeois democracy.” That is, after all, what “multi-ethnics” get – you know, like the settler-garrison/citizens-of-empire, who came from Europe? Or, perhaps Oprah, Jordan, Rock Bottom and Wilson Goode. They get and can enjoy “bourgeois democracy” – that’s the velvet glove. The masses of the oppressed nations, the internal colonies (New Afrika, Puerto Rico, Aztlan, and Indigenous), well, We get the ol’ iron fist of neo-colonialism, casino-freedom, common-wealth hegemony, Barrio blues and ghetto prisons. But, of course, since We’ve had such success in “transforming ourselves from a peasant to a predominantly proletarian national grouping …” it’s what? Better now? – No, it’s “an advantage to the cause of building a multi-ethnic multi-racial socialist amerika.” What a wonderful thing, huh? Hey, here’s a novel idea, why not all the internal colonies struggle to free the(ir) land and We break the empire apart like what happened with the USSR-empire? Too complicated, huh? “Comrade” Stalin wouldn’t approve?

Internationalism, Real or False?

In a stunning turn in their already wildly contradictory and inconsistent phraseology, the NABPP says:
“There are many white comrades (communists, socialists, anarchists and progressives) who are committed to supporting Black Liberation because it serves the cause of liberating all of humanity from imperialism and because it strengthens the workers’ movement.”
If these comrades are communists, socialists, anarchists or progressives (whatever that is?) why would the NABPP feel a need to tell us their complexion? What would their so-called “color” have to do with anything if they were comrades? See how subtle that is – it’s like a magic spell – “white comrades”. That’s that colonial mentality bleeding thru – that which has the NABPP hypnotized is what they attempt to hypnotize others with. It’s a subtle whimper that squeaks: “We can make it now, the dominant culture – mighty whitey – is with us.” And the Comrades in the NABPP may not even be altogether aware of this, but it is what it is. If there are communists, socialists, anarchists and progressives – (what the hell is that?) who are amerikans, Canadians or French, English, Irish or German who are “committed to supporting “Black Liberation,” then the best way to do that is to organize your people and attack your ruling class. If you got any extra weapons, slide them our way, please.

But having to explain that these comrades are “white” says more about the NABPP than it does about those who want to help. Another thing, isn’t it strange how this so-called position on the national question is called “A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism” but the NABPP is the main one clinging to terms which reinforce the false construct of “race” – like “white” and “black”? And, what about the fact that when it’s National Liberation it’s unbelieving scare quotes on Liberation – but when it’s about “white comrades who are committed to supporting Black Liberation” the unbelieving scare quotes miraculously vanish? All of a sudden Black Liberation is something to “support”?

What’s also puzzling – and We’d hate to come off as knit-picking, but the NABPP says the “white comrades” are committed to supporting “Black Liberation because it serves the cause of liberating all of humanity from imperialism and because it strengthens the workers’ movement.”

What workers’ movement? Does anyone else smell that?

Check this out:
“… There are many individual euro-amerikan workers but they do not make up a genuine proletariat. That is, settler workers are a non-exploited labor aristocracy, with a privileged lifestyle far, far above the levels of the world proletariat. They might be called a pseudo-proletariat, in that individual settlers do work in factories and mines, but as a group they do not perform the role of a proletariat. Settler workers neither support their society by their labor, nor is their exploitation the source of the surplus value (or profit) that sustains the u.s. bourgeoisie. The life-giving role of the proletariat in the u.s. empire is relegated to the proletarians of the oppressed nations, which is why ‘nations become almost as classes’ under imperialism. The shrinking number of settler workers actually live as part of the lower petty-bourgeoisie and have no separate political existence. Classes in the u.s. empire themselves reflect the primary contradiction between imperialism and the oppressed nations.” [24]
No wonder the NABPP says the settlers will support us – “it strengthens the workers’ movement,” and furthermore, “The cause of uniting the Black liberation struggle with the proletarian class struggle is a step towards the total liberation of humanity and the whole world becoming one people.”

Now it’s the “Black Liberation struggle”? What would that struggle be for? Pursuing a Nation State maybe? Land? So, We are to forego our struggle for Land, Independence and Socialism, to unite with who? “The proletarian class” – We are the proletarians!! And how ‘bout that “liberation of humanity and the whole world becoming one people”? White folks sure are powerfully magic, ain’t they, sah? Yes, sah, mighty powerful! (hat in hand, staring off into the distance, mouth agape like an idiot).

This is radical – and at times comical – integration – it’s more of what We’ve always had. Nothing new here. No groundbreaking great leap forward. We’ll close out with a quote by a Comrad in hopes of some receptive ear feeling the vibrations of revolutionary nationalism. Dig this:
“The key to the destruction of the empire lies stirring within it. Not outside. The head and heart, brain and nerves – all vital organs essential to the perpetuation of life – are all inside, not outside.
“What will be critical, what is fundamental and essential for the initiation of a socialist world, is the eventual liberation of New Afrika, and other oppressed nations inside the belly of the amerikkan empire.
“Not 1917 or 1978 Russia. Not 1949 or 1978 China. Not Cuba, Vietnam, Mozambique, Angola, Zimbabwe or Azania; not Brazil, Chile – neither of these nor any other place outside the belly of the empire will alone or together truly free the world from the grips and threats of amerikkkan capitalism, imperialism, colonialism or neo-colonialism.
“They may help. They will cause change of conditions and create a climate offering greater potential, higher probabilities and increased chances of success… but not until the head and heart, brain and nerves – until the vital organs are destroyed, the empire will simply re-adjust. Re-form. Make new alliances. It will change form, but it will live – so long as New Afrika is subjugated. So long as Puerto Rico is a colony or neo-colony. So long as Native nations don’t have sovereignty over their lands and lives.” [25]
The struggle is for Land, Independence and Socialism. We’ll see you in the whirlwind!

Free The Land!
Sanyika Shakur
August Third Collective
New Afrikan People’s Liberation Army

Approved for publication and distributed by the NAPLA-General Command

4-17-48 adm (12)

[1] California Prison Focus, Number 38, Spring 2012,
[2] Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book #12, Spear and Shield Publications, 1988. Owusu Yaki Yakubu.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Notes From A New Afrikan P.O.W. Journal, Book #3, Mbili Shanna, Spear and Shield Publications.
[5] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle, E. Tani and Kae Sera  (Seeds Beneath The Snow, 1985).
[6] Ibid.
[7] Internal communication with an elder Comrade.
[8] Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings, Owusu Yaki Yakubu, (Kersplebedeb, 2010).
[9] “Black Liberation in the 21st Century,” NABPP.
[10] Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat, J. Sakai, (Morning Star Press, 1989).
[11] Meditations on Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth: New Afrikan Revolutionary Writings.
[12] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement, Chokwe Lumumba.
[15] Vita Wa Watu: New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book #12.
[16] Re-thinking New Orleans, Butch Lee, J. Sakai, (Kersplebedeb).
[17] Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat.
[18] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle.
[19] Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book #12, O.Yaki Yakubu.
[20] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle.
[21] Notes from a New Afrikan P.O.W. Journal, Book Two, Spear and Shield Pub, 8-31-77.
[22] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat.
[25] False Nationalism, False Internationalism: Contradictions in the Armed Struggle.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Blog Hacked

So Sketchy Thoughts was hacked, not sure how, and while all of the blog posts are safe the template was redirecting people to, probably so that whoever is trying to sell that domain can show off how many hits they are getting...

In any case, what that means is that i reverted to one of the classic templates, which means for the time being at least, things like my blogroll, and many of the tweaks i had made to the blog, are gone. Hopefully i will be able to recover them, but not sure right now...

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Workers Dreadnought Reviews David Gilbert’s, “Love and Struggle: My Life in SDS, the Weather Underground, and Beyond”.

I must admit that it is difficult for me to write an honest review about Com. David Gilbert’s “Love and Struggle” (you can purchase your personal copy here), especially because of the enormous respect that I have for him and the sacrifices that he has made for the revolutionary cause, and a fear that any criticism of his work will be regarded as unfair, un-comradely and disrespectful. However, simultaneously I believe that such a review is absolutely necessary because Com. David’s life and politics have often intersected at key points in my own development as an activist, although completely unbeknownst to him. The first time was when I became involved around the anti-war movement against the second Iraq war, and some of us watched and hotly debated Sam Green’s documentary about the Weather Underground Organization (WUO), and saw me reading a lot of the existing literature at the time; the second time was during a difficult three-month strike that I was deeply involved in at my home institution during which I devoured Dan Berger’s authoritative book, Outlaws of America (which interestingly was the result of a long relationship with Com. David himself); and the third was when I returned from Nepal and became increasingly interested in the question of the universality of protracted people’s war, and the parallel between the WUO and the Jhapa Uprising. I will not discuss these points of intersection further because I think that they distract from the task at hand, but needless to say, Com. David’s politics and life experiences have been something that I have consistently wrestled with throughout my own political development, and thus I do not take this book review lightly.

Thus in frank honesty, I must admit that I did not care for the first third of the book. The first hundred and twenty pages suffer from two major problems: 1) Com. David very little new information about the development of the revolutionary movement on the campuses across the USA, except for the fact that Com. David was not as central to the SDS leadership and Weather Underground leadership as I had previously thought (although I was interested to learn about his initial theoretical work in New Left Notes which resulted in an early fall from revolutionary grace); and 2) I found it to be too pedantic, and structured through a series of lesson-plans. Indeed, often the first-third of the book, due to the little new information – especially for a reader familiar with much of the existing literature on the topic, including Dan Berger’s aforementioned excellent book – often came across as a kind of an Anti-Oppression 101 class with Com. David’s life serving as scenarios which ought to be discussed to develop a form of best practices that should orient our organizing. Indeed, this structure is replete with every sub-chapter heading being followed with a small-italicized synopsis that read like an Anti-Oppression 101 scenario, which we are supposed to collectively figure out, but without having Com. David present to debate with, which is less than ideal for any kind of revolutionary pedagogy. Furthermore, we are forced to replace such debate with Com. David’s own resolution. I am not trying to suggest that there is anything particularly wrong with anti-oppression training, although I do think that often this has replaced a critical revolutionary framework, however, the result was that the narrative became disrupted and choppy. This disrupted narrative with little new information made evident the lesson-plan structure to the reader, which in turn blunted the effectiveness of the structure itself. This unfortunately resulted in Com. David coming across as too eager to provide solutions through which to demonstrate his continued belief in a form of revolutionary humanism. I must admit that I found this to be quite annoying, partially because of my own theoretical suspiciousness about revolutionary humanism (a debate for a different place), but also became I did not want to have Com. David to serve as a revolutionary ideal type, but rather, as an interlocutor in the revolutionary struggle. However, luckily both of these problems recede to the background as the narrative becomes stronger and very interesting information is provided to the reader about Com. David’s time underground, in Denver and during the Brinks trial in the latter 2/3rds of the book.

I know the exact moment at which I became excited about the content of the book and it is on page 124 when Com. David discusses criticism/self-criticism. It was fascinating to read about the WUO’s attempts to implement criticism/self-criticism in their practice as professional revolutionaries, and Com. David’s own self-criticism about how said practice was carried out (indeed, Com. David mentions that only a few times did he feel that the self-criticism sessions were actually aiding his development as a revolutionary). Indeed, an endearing aspect of this book is how humble and self-critical Comrade David is, although as I mentioned earlier, these aspects can also be quite irritating within the best practices format. This moment is important, as it is the point in which Com. David, unlike in first part of the book, does not demonstrate that there is in fact some easy best practice that young activists can follow. Rather, it actually shows the ambiguities and difficulties that come with putting any of these political methods in practice. And reminds us about the need for us to be consistently being critical about, and bettering, organzinational practices and individual work. Furthermore, the pedantic lesson-oriented teaching plan, whilst remaining partly in place, takes more and more a backseat to the narrative and allows the reader space in which to develop his/her own critical opinions about a given matter, which is what I consider to be an absolute necessity for any revolutionary.

Additionally, it was truly eye opening to read the rudimentary methods that the WUO developed to deal with security issues, especially in the context of being underground. Com. David, himself admits that these the methods are largely outdated in our contemporary context, but demonstrate the creativity and vigilance of the WUO during their underground years, and reaffirm the possibility of actually going underground and fighting in the heart of the beast. It was also interesting to learn a little about the debates within the WUO and how, once again, Com. David was not, besides a very brief time, a central figure in the WUO. However, I would have liked to learn more about the debates inside the organization, especially about their practice and conception of their conjuncture, but was interested to learn about the summer schools that they organized to improve the ideological quality of their cadre. It was interesting to learn about the debate in the organization around its relationship to the white working class, and its liquidation of the original line of the organization regarding the relationship to nationality struggles, and the role that Com. David played in it. It was impressive to learn that Prairie Fire (of which I own a copy) had originally been produced without any fingerprints on it. But, I do wish that there had been more information about the infamous Hard Times conference, which seems to remain a truly traumatic and pivotal event in the development of the WUO, and resulted in the building of the May 19th Communist Organization which became important in the context of the Brinks Robbery.

Com. David’s life aboveground in Denver, after the dissolution of the WUO, and his involvement with Men Against Sexism and the subsequently painful experience of dealing with multiple movements that came into loggerheads with one another, was very informative and again reflective of the complexities that arise in the course of the struggle. At this point in the narrative the lesson-plan structure seems to have completely evaporated which results in the reader being left to grapple with the contradictions within the revolutionary movement, alongside Com. David. I am not sure whether this was something that Com. David intentionally wanted to do or was a byproduct of the difficulties in providing any best practices in such complicated and textured inter-group/political relationships. I found it be particularly informative to learn about this period of his life, and was surprised to learn that Comrade David too had gone aboveground with the collapse of the WUO.

In perhaps one of the shortest sections of the book, and one about which I was very eager to learn more about, Com. David discusses his second and last time underground, especially his involvement in what has come to be known as the Revolutionary Armed Task Force and the notorious Brinks robbery and trial. It was intriguing to learn more details about the actors and politics involved in the Brinks Robbery, and facts like the Black Liberation Army not having a central command thus allowing autonomous collectives in the BLA to organize actions on their own accord (something that Com. David himself only came to learn about during the Brinks Trial). However, I must admit that I hungered for more information about Com. David’s relationship with the BLA and members of the May 19th Communist Organization in this second period, but recognize that these and a number of other aspects of his second period underground is something that Com. David likely decided to omit for good reasons.

Finally, it is noteworthy that Com. David spends a good section of the last part of the book discussing his family life with his imprisoned partner and newborn son, because I too have a loving revolutionary partner and also would like to have children someday. Indeed, this aspect was particularly important as it demonstrated a ‘softness’ to which male revolutionaries are not allowed to admit to. This obviously speaks to the macho attitude in many revolutionary groups and organization about the role of the family in the struggle, especially the armed struggle. Indeed, unfortunately often the two are put into juxtaposition to one another and rendered incompatible, thus requiring the revolutionary to ‘sacrifice’ the former in favor of the latter. Indeed, I can think of several autobiographies and interviews well well-known revolutionaries in which the revolutionary figure fails to even mention that he has a partner and children! And if and when they are mentioned, it is only in passing, and always in the context of sacrificing a relationship with them in the name of the revolutionary struggles. Thus, it was particularly inspiring to read about how Com. David was able to forge a relationship with his partner and son during his time in prison, despite all of the obstacles, and how this relationship was something that was negotiated with a revolutionary politics playing a central role. The only thing that one can say that is neglected in this last section of the book is the role that Com. David has played in the prison movement, both in his correspondence with activists outside, and with prisoners and political prisoners inside the prison system.

In closing, this is not a book to be simply read, enjoyed and tucked away on some bookshelf, forgotten, although it is an enjoyable read. It is a book that simply begs to be put into practice. What aspects a given reader wants to be put into practice is something that Com. David leaves the reader to decide, but he provides us with a wealth of life experience which we should all seriously consider. He gives us both the good and the bad. Comrade David is humble about his accomplishments and readily admits to his faults, he is an honest storyteller, and eager with his lessons for a new generation of activists.