Revolutionary Intercommunalism: Not Some Cool Idea

“We develop new principles for the world out of the world’s own principles. We do not say to the world: Cease your struggles, they are foolish; we will give you the true slogan of struggle. We merely show the world what it is really fighting for, and consciousness is something that it has to acquire, even if it does not want to.”

— Karl Marx, Letter from the Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher to Ruge (1843)

Revolutionary Intercommunalism is not just some cool idea Huey P. Newton had as in a utopian pipe dream. It is in fact the logical and necessary next step in human social evolution/revolution. Huey, and the central committee of the original Black Panther Party (BPP), arrived at this theory by applying Marxism (Dialectical Materialism) to make a fresh analysis of how the world was hooked up at that time (1970) and the trajectory of its development. This was necessary, because they were serious revolutionaries, and as Marx explained:

“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.”

― Karl Marx, 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852)

To be dialectical means to see the duality in things, that everything exists as a unity of opposites and that there is both unity and struggle between the opposing aspects of a thing. This struggle determines the development of the thing, and one aspect is always principal. When the secondary aspect of a thing becomes the principal aspect, a revolution takes place that changes the character of the thing. Things exist in relation to other things and are affected by them, but the principal cause of change is internal to the thing. Plants grow to reach for the sunlight because internally they need the sunlight to live and to grow healthy. The struggle to survive drives the internal contradiction within the plant.

In any complex set of contradictions, there is always one that is principal influencing the development of the other contradictions in a major way. In the United Panther Movement (UPM) led by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC), we say the principal contradiction in the world at this time is between the need of the monopoly capitalist ruling class to consolidate their global capitalist-imperialist hegemony and the chaos and anarchy they are unleashing by attempting to do so, including the danger of instigating nuclear war.

This is manifesting itself all over the world – and particularly in the Middle East and the Ukraine, and increasingly in Afrika, Latin America and Asia – and also here in the U.S., and we can see it in how the Presidential election is unfolding. Hillary Clinton appears to be the monopoly capitalist oligarchy’s choice to replace Obama, but as his Secretary of State, she is closely tied to his legacy of unleashing chaos in the Middle East, and particularly the debacle in Libya and the ongoing proxy war in Syria. She’s got a lot of blood on her hands.

Bernie Sanders appears to have been tapped to pull younger, more progressive, voters back into the Democratic Party and then to close ranks with Hillary after she wins the nomination to defeat the Republican Party candidate. This seems likely to be Donald Trump, who seems to have been taped to play the role of racist-populist demagogue to rally the party’s chaotic right-wing base and alienate the moderates to switch tickets and support Hillary. After eight years of working to undermine the Obama administration and fanning the flames of racism, Trump is releasing the pent up frustration of the white middle and working class base Agnew dubbed the “silent majority.” But they are no longer the majority and if Trump is defeated, they are unlikely to be silent. If he should win, they would be empowered and able to give rein to their hate against Blacks, Mexicans, Muslims, Gays, Jews, immigrants, leftists, atheists, disabled and so on. Trump is unleashing forces he cannot control and playing with a polarization that could unleash serious anarchy and civil war.

Bernie Sanders, a Jew and self-styled “Socialist,” would seem to be the logical target for their hate, but they seem to be too focused on hating Hillary and the political class of insiders she represents. Many of Trump’s supporters also consider voting for Sanders if he gets the Democrat Party nomination. Even if Sander’s supporters vote for Hillary to block Trump, they are unlikely to support her foreign and domestic policies. In any event, the polarization of the masses into “left” and right camps is likely to continue and intensify no matter who gets elected. In other words, the two party system that has stabilized the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie (bush-wah-zee), or capitalist-imperialism, is pulling apart and will likely continue to do so.

The Weapon of Theory

“The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism of the weapon, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter. But, for man, the root is man himself.”

— Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction (1843)

The Theory of Revolutionary Intercommunalism recognizes that the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution, which began in Marx’s time, has entered a new phase as Mao Tse-tung predicted. As Mao pointed out:

“At present, the world revolution has entered a great new era. The struggle of the Black people in the United States for emancipation is a component part of the general struggle of all the people of the world against U.S. imperialism, a component part of the contemporary world revolution. I call on the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intellectuals of all countries and all who are willing to fight against U.S. imperialism to take action and extend strong support to the struggle of the Black people in the United States! People of the whole world, unite still more closely and launch a sustained and vigorous offensive against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism, and its accomplices! It can be said with certainty that the complete collapse of colonialism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation, and the complete emancipation of all the oppressed peoples and nations of the world are not far off.”

– Mao Tse-tung, “A New Storm Against Imperialism” (1968)

The principal aspect of this “new era” is the global hegemony of U.S.-centered capitalist-imperialism, which makes the existence of independent national economies and political autonomy impossible. Like it or not, the only way to escape the clutches of empire is to end it. As Mao explained:

“Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progressives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.” – Ibid.

In other words, Mao saw that the principal contradiction had shifted away from that between the colonial and semi-colonial countries and the imperialist countries. In summarizing Huey’s theory, Comrade Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense of NABPP-PC, pointed out:

“The Party [BPP] first based itself on nationalism because, he [Huey] said, he believed, as did many, that a subjugated people could gain their freedom by forming their own independent nation states. But this proved inadequate; even for socialist nations, because Amerika had grown to become a literal world ‘empire’ and so effectively integrated and dominated the world’s economy, lands and peoples, that none could truly break away from that system to exist or develop as free and independent states.

“The condition of colonialism had evolved to such a level that Amerika fed off the wealth and resources of the entire world, but without need of maintaining its own administration or settler presence inside the foreign domains, as the old colonial system had. But the concept of neo-colonialism did not adequately define this relationship either, he said, because all the old colonies were not merely ruled over by local lackeys, but rather the entire societies had been integrated into a globally interconnected system like that of so many communities, instead of as an arrangement of separate sovereign nations. He called this system “Reactionary Intercommunalism.”

“Because they could not decolonize, (become independent and free nation states with control over their own economic development and institutions), nationalism and internationalism made no sense. As he noted the basis of decolonization or national independence is that a colonized people be able to reclaim or return to their previously existing stages of development or otherwise develop their own productive forces.

“But he saw this world system with its interconnected technologies, cultures and communication systems as able, if brought under collective control of the masses rather than that of a small circle of super-rich administrators, to provide for everyone’s needs, solve all the world’s problems, and create a communal culture that could end the prevalence of perpetual war and social chaos. This new social order he called Revolutionary Intercommunalism, or World Socialism, and a precursor to the Communist World (a world free of oppression and exploitation) which Marxists aspire to.”

– Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “In Search of the Right Theory for Today’s Struggles: Revisiting Huey P. Newton’s Theory of Revolutionary Intercommunalism (2015)

With some 900 U.S. military bases in some 153 out of 257 countries in the world, not to mention military alliances, overthrowing the U.S. empire must necessarily be a world revolution fought on many fronts.  Having achieved victory and defeated the ruling class, and seized control of the basic means of production and expropriated the assets of the big bourgeoisie, it would be necessary to establish a world proletarian dictatorship to carry out socialist reconstruction of the world economy. Global people’s war must necessarily unite the world proletariat under a common banner and revolutionary headquarters. Speaking to a conference of non-aligned nations and movements in Havana in 1966, the great Afrikan revolutionary leader Amilcar Cabral stated:

“It is with the intention of making a contribution, however modest, to this debate that we present here our opinion of the foundations and objectives of national liberation in relation to the social structure. This opinion is the result of our own experiences of the struggle and of a critical appreciation of the experiences of others. To those who see in it a theoretical character, we would recall that every practice produces a theory, and that if it is true that a revolution can fail even though it be based on perfectly conceived theories, nobody has yet made a successful revolution without a revolutionary theory.

“Those who affirm — in our case correctly — that the motive force of history is the class struggle would certainly agree to a revision of this affirmation to make it more precise and give it an even wider field of application if they had a better knowledge of the essential characteristics of certain colonized peoples, that is to say peoples dominated by imperialism. In fact in the general evolution of humanity and of each of the peoples of which it is composed, classes appear neither as a generalized and simultaneous phenomenon throughout the totality of these groups, nor as a finished, perfect, uniform and spontaneous whole. The definition of classes within one or several human groups is a fundamental consequence of the progressive development of the productive forces and of the characteristics of the distribution of the wealth produced by the group or usurped from others. That is to say that the socio-economic phenomenon ‘class’ is created and develops as a function of at least two essential and interdependent variables — the level of productive forces and the pattern of ownership of the means of production. This development takes place slowly, gradually and unevenly, by quantitative and generally imperceptible variations in the fundamental components; once a certain degree of accumulation is reached, this process then leads to a qualitative jump, characterized by the appearance of classes and of conflict between them.

“Factors external to the socio-economic whole can influence, more or less significantly, the process of development of classes, accelerating it, slowing it down and even causing regressions. When, for whatever reason, the influence of these factors ceases, the process reassumes its independence and its rhythm is then determined not only be the specific internal characteristics of the whole, but also by the resultant of the effect produced in it by the temporary action of the external factors. On a strictly internal level the rhythm of the process may vary, but it remains continuous and progressive. Sudden progress is only possible as a function of violent alterations — mutations — in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership. These violent transformations carried out within the process of development of classes, as a result of mutations in the level of productive forces or in the pattern of ownership, are generally called, in economic and political language, revolutions.”

Amilcar Cabral, “The Weapon of Theory” (1966)

What Comrade Cabral was getting at here is the unevenness in development of classes and class struggle in the different countries and communities in the colonial and neo-colonial countries, and in contrast to the imperialist countries. He stated:

“Another important distinction between the colonial and neo-colonial situations is in the prospects for the struggle. The colonial situation (in which the nation class fights the repressive forces of the bourgeoisie of the colonizing country) can lead, apparently at least, to a nationalist solution (national revolution); the nation gains its independence and theoretically adopts the economic structure which best suits it. The neo-colonial situation (in which the working classes and their allies struggle simultaneously against the imperialist bourgeoisie and the native ruling class) is not resolved by a nationalist solution; it demands the destruction of the capitalist structure implanted in the national territory by imperialism, and correctly postulates a socialist solution.” – Ibid

Fifty years later, colonialism has almost everywhere been replaced by neo-colonialism and integration into the global economy dominated by capitalist-imperialism. “Dollar Diplomacy” and IMF “structural readjustments” have subordinated the newly “independent” countries of the “Third World” to neo-liberal policies and corporate penetration of the countries’ basic institutions. In many cases the U.S. has replaced the former colonial powers in training their military establishment as well as arming and equipping them. A national solution becomes ever more unlikely and a socialist solution ever more necessary. By developing struggle and the revolutionary movement inside the U.S., we will create more favorable conditions for anti-imperialist struggle and revolution in the neo-colonial countries and every country under the yoke of capitalist-imperialism. Building a global United Panther Movement to lead the struggle of the urban poor will have a “blow-back” effect here that will empower our struggle.

Whose Lives Matter?

“Black Lives Matter” is a correct slogan but not necessarily the best one. With the exception of the movement led by the original Black Panther Party (BPP), the Black movement against racial discrimination and oppression in the U.S. has historically been aimed at appealing to the rich ruling class whites, the 1%, to make concessions, whether it be integration, affirmative action, reparations or self-determination. Whether humbly begging or militantly demanding, the thrust is attempting to reform the capitalist system without altering the foundation of class exploitation and global imperialism.

When the Panthers put forward the slogan “Power to the People,” they unleashed a whirlwind that resonated well beyond the Black movement. They were aiming at and appealing to all the oppressed people – in Amerika and around the world – not begging for reforms but uniting for fundamental and revolutionary change. As Fred Hampton said:

“Power anywhere where there’s people. Power anywhere where there’s people. Let me give you an example of teaching people. Basically, the way they learn is observation and participation. You know a lot of us go around and joke ourselves and believe that the masses have PhDs, but that’s not true. And even if they did, it wouldn’t make any difference. Because with some things, you have to learn by seeing it or either participating in it. And you know yourselves that there are people walking around your community today that have all types of degrees that should be at this meeting but are not here. Right? Because you can have as many degrees as a thermometer, if you don’t have any practice, then you can’t walk across the street and chew gum at the same time…

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.

“We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.”

– Fred Hampton, “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” (1969)

Comrade Fred didn’t get killed in his sleep because he was some Black racist terrorist or gangster, but because he was “Speaking Truth to Power!” The greatest fear the exploiter has is the masses of the oppressed and exploited people coming together to take back what it rightfully ours – power over our lives. Liberation is not slavery without shackles and leg irons, it is not the opportunity to become a Black capitalist or a Brown capitalist or whatever, and perpetuate this rotten system of class privilege and oppression. Liberation is getting free of all that and ending it for future generations. Liberation is revolution to achieve ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!

Create Public Opinion Seize Power

Mao summed up revolution as “create public opinion seize power.” Our first and primary duty is to create public opinion in favor of overthrowing the capitalist-imperialist system, racism and police state repression. As Malcolm X summed up, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” In combatting racism, we must confront the lie that there is anything normal about racism and expose that the very idea of separate races and racial superiority was the invention of the capitalists to excuse their many crimes against humanity, and particularly chattel slavery in the Americas.

“We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun. It flows from the barrel of a gun!” – Ibid

We have to be conscious that the enemy sends his agents among us and their job is to mislead the people, misdirect the people, and play one section of the people against another. They do it in the white community, the Black community and every other community. These so called “community leaders’” job is to “dumb down” the masses and feed them racist, nationalist and in general reactionary ideology. They do on a small scale what Donald Trump is doing on a big scale right now, and we have to expose that shit for what it is. As Fred Hampton said:

“So what did we do? We were out there educating the people. How did we educate them? Basically, the way people learn, by observation and participation. And that’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we got to do here in this community. And a lot of people don’t understand, but there’s three basic things that you got to do anytime you intend to have yourself a successful revolution.

“A lot of people get the word revolution mixed up and they think revolution’s a bad word. Revolution is nothing but like having a sore on your body and then you put something on that sore to cure that infection. And I’m telling you that were living in an infectious society right now. I’m telling you that were living in a sick society. And anybody that endorses integrating into this sick society before its cleaned up is a man who’s committing a crime against the people.

“If you walk past a hospital room and see a sign that says “Contaminated” and then you try to lead people into that room, either those people are mighty dumb, you understand me, cause if they weren’t, they’d tell you that you are an unfair, unjust leader that does not have your followers’ interests in mind. And what we’re saying is simply that leaders have got to become, we’ve got to start making them accountable for what they do. They’re goin’ around talking about so-and-so’s an Uncle Tom so we’re gonna open up a cultural center and teach him what blackness is. And this n****r is more aware than you and me and Malcolm and Martin Luther King and everybody else put together. That’s right. They’re the ones that are most aware. They’re most aware, cause they’re the ones that are gonna open up the center. They’re gonna tell you where bones come from in Africa that you can’t even pronounce the names. That’s right. They’ll be telling you about Chaka, the leader of the Bantu freedom fighters, and Jomo Kenyatta, those dingo-dingas. They’ll be running all of that down to you. They know about it all. But the point is they do what they’re doing because it is beneficial and it is profitable for them.

“You see, people get involved in a lot of things that’s profitable to them, and we’ve got to make it less profitable. We’ve got to make it less beneficial. I’m saying that any program that’s brought into our community should be analyzed by the people of that community. It should be analyzed to see that it meets the relevant needs of that community. We don’t need no n*****s coming into our community to be having no company to open business for the n*****s. There’s too many n*****s in our community that can’t get crackers out of the business that they’re gonna open.” – Ibid

Revolutionary intercommunalism provides a theoretical basis, based on the practice of the original BPP, to unite all the oppressed – both within the U.S. and around the world – with the common objective and strategy to overthrow capitalist-imperialism and socialize ownership of the basic means of production in the global economy.  There are different forces out there calling themselves “revolutionary” or claiming to be “Black Panthers” who are promoting an ideological-political line that is opposed to Pantherism. In this period, making revolution requires a higher level of political consciousness. Nationalism doesn’t cut it. At best it is insufficient and at worst it is deliberate misdirection in the service of capitalist-imperialism.

One Divides into Two

“The splitting of a single whole and the cognition of its contradictory parts … is the essence … of dialectics.” – Vladimir Lenin in his Philosophical Notebooks

Revolutionary Nationalism is a combination of the nationalism of the oppressed with socialism and proletarian internationalism, but at a certain point this ideological-political orientation must make a qualitative leap into revolutionary intercommunalism to become “all-the-way revolutionary” in this time period. In doing so it must cast off nationalism and embrace a globalized revolutionary proletarian world view. Who we are and who our enemies are can only be answered in terms of the class struggle, and the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution which is its highest form.

“Revolutionary leadership is explicitly addressed in Lenin’s masterpiece, What is to be done?. He starts from the description of a trade union leader: ‘The ideal leader, as the majority of the members of such circles picture him, is something far more in the nature of a trade union secretary than a socialist political leader. For the secretary of any, say English, trade union always helps the workers to carry on the economic struggle, he helps them to expose factory abuses, explains the injustice of the laws and of measures that hamper the freedom to strike and to picket (i.e., to warn all and sundry that a strike is proceeding at a certain factory), explains the partiality of arbitration court judges who belong to the bourgeois classes, etc., etc.’

“But, as Lenin continues, that is not enough. The revolutionary leader must be ‘the tribune of the people, who is able to react to every manifestation of tyranny and oppression, no matter where it appears, no matter what stratum or class of the people it affects; who is able to generalise all these manifestations and produce a single picture of police violence and capitalist exploitation; who is able to take advantage of every event, however small, in order to set forth before all his socialist convictions and his democratic demands, in order to clarify for all and everyone the world-historic significance of the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat.’

“For Lenin, revolutionary leadership is not just a matter of individuals but of the revolutionary party. He emphasizes that they must be in touch with and serve as a leader for all oppositional strata of the society, not just the working class: ‘We must take upon ourselves the task of organising an all-round political struggle under the leadership of our Party in such a manner as to make it possible for all oppositional strata to render their fullest support to the struggle and to our Party. We must train our Social-Democratic practical workers to become political leaders, able to guide all the manifestations of this all-round struggle, able at the right time to “dictate a positive programme of action” for the aroused students, the discontented Zemstvo people, the incensed religious sects, the offended elementary schoolteachers, etc., etc.’” – Strategy for Revolution in the 21st Century

We must amplify this to a global scale and consciously carry out our tasks of agitation, education and organizing of the masses and building people’s power in the oppressed communities in the context of building a worldwide united front against capitalist-imperialism, racism and police state repression. We must recognize that we must play a vanguard role in relation to all the oppressed and unite to fight and overthrow the whole capitalist-imperialist system.



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