Pantherism and Revolutionary Intercommunalism vs. Sham “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”



By Tom Watts, on behalf of the White Panther Organization (WPO) and the United Panther Movement (UPM) led by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC)

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those who do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think it will be based on the color of the skin…”Malcolm X

There is today a significant dividing line between those who want to end racism and overthrow capitalism and those who seek to make these evils work for them. This extends into “The “Movement” and particularly the petty bourgeois students and intellectuals, who in essence compose the “left-wing” of bourgeois neo-liberalism. Proletarian revolutionaries must draw a clear line between these pseudo-revolutionaries and themselves and refute their attempts to raise the red flag to attack the red flag.

Pantherism, or revolutionary intercommunalism, is illuminated by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and the theoretical and practical contributions of the original Black Panther Party and allied forces. Even after the original BPP ceased to exist as a revolutionary vanguard on the outside, imprisoned Panthers kept the spirit alive and passed it on to younger prisoners, applying the principle of “each one, teach one.” In 2005, the NABPP-PC was formed with a central committee composed of half original BPP members and half new generation Panthers who became radicalized in prison. In 2006, the White Panther Organization (WPO) was formed as an arm of the NABPP-PC. On this occasion, Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, the Minister of Defense of NABPP-PC, wrote a position paper that began with a quote from George Jackson of the original BPP Prison Chapter, “The economic nature of racism is not simply an aside… Racism is a fundamental characteristic of monopoly capitalism.” Rashid went on to write:

“Many people believe that racism – indeed the very concept of race itself – develops automatically when groups of people with different complexions, hair, and body types are brought together.  This is not so!  Actually, the concept of race is barely 500 years old.  The common people have been programmed into accepting “race” as a normal and natural thing, to prevent them from questioning, investigating, and challenging the ideas and roots of race and racism. Race and racism are the inventions of a specific social class, and devised to serve a specific social purpose.  The creators are the oppressor capitalist ruling class, and the purpose is to divide the laboring class that the capitalists exploit against themselves.  This is because, if united, the workers pose the single greatest threat to the capitalist class monopoly over social wealth, power, and control. A dispassionate study will show that in every situation where race has arisen to become a sharp dividing social factor, the hands of the capitalists can be seen pulling the strings, and it is only they who benefit from the conflicts.

“George Jackson clearly recognized this.  He pointed out that while white racism, the dominant form of racism in Amerika, expresses itself as:

“’…the morbid traditional fear of Blacks, Indians, Mexicans, [and] the desire to inflict pain on them when they began to compete in the industrial sectors.  The resentment and the seedbed of fear are patterned into every modern capitalist society. It grows out of a sense of insecurity and insignificance that is inculcated into the workers by the conditions of life and work under capitalism.  This sense of vulnerability is the breeding ground of racism.  At the same time, the ruling class actively promotes racism against the Blacks of the lower classes.  This programmed racism has always served to distract the huge numbers of people who subsist at just a slightly higher level than those in a more debased condition (in the 1870’s the strikes frequently ended in anti-Chinese or anti-Black lynchings) … Racism has served always in the U.S. as a pressure release…’

“The sole concern of the capitalist class is to secure and increase their profits and power. They do not care whom or what they damage or destroy to accomplish this, nor do they care what nationality or complexion the people are whom they exploit, only that they keep the exploited workers unable to unite and mobilize against their conditions of exploitation.  Racism has been the capitalists’ most effective method of accomplishing this. Here in North Amerika, the game began in the late 1600’s.” – “On the Questions of Race and Racism: Revolutionary National Liberation and Building the United Front Against Imperialism” (2006)

After doing a thorough study on the question of racism and how best to defeat it, the CC of NABPP-PC decided it was best to bring the WPO under the democratic centralism of NABPP-PC and have one centralized HQ rather than treat the WPO as a support organization. The White Panthers would primarily be tasked to conduct revolutionary work among the white prisoners and the white communities generally, but they must represent the same ideological political line as the rest of the Party. This subordination not only forced the White Panthers to accept Black leadership and confront their own white nationalism, but it forced the Black leadership to confront their Black nationalism and seriously study how to develop revolutionary work among the white prisoners and the white proletarian masses as a whole in the context of building a Worldwide United Front Against Capitalist-Imperialism, Racism and Police State Repression.

In their recent posting “What to Do With White People?”, an unnamed member of Red Midwest wrote:

“I’m a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist. As far as making revolution and liberating the masses of the oppressed the world over goes, it’s the best we’ve got. I uphold Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and the experiences of the masses united in struggles led by Maoist parties the world over. Maoists learn from our mistakes, and real Maoists don’t engage in idol worship. Each and every revolutionary theorist, fighter, and leader we uphold made mistakes. The PCP (Communist Party of Peru, Sendero Luminoso) shouldn’t have killed 69 people in the town of Lucanamarca in 1983. That sucked. Bad. People’s fighters don’t kill the people. The people tend to get mad at you if you do, and fight you, for good reason. “Stalin shouldn’t have treated comrades like the enemy and blamed everything that went wrong on foreign spies or wreckers. That led to some nasty excesses. And Mao should have thought twice before he said this:

“‘Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles that oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people.’

“We criticize our theoreticians and leaders, realize that they lived in vastly different circumstances and struggled under different conditions than we do today, and were humans that didn’t know everything. But, we uphold and apply to our own conditions the universal parts of their lessons. Everything that our ideological ancestors said wasn’t correct. This is an example. In terms of actual experience with the conditions of the United States, Mao had no knowledge excepting that which he got from Americans with various agendas and who probably didn’t know much of anything themselves, and newspapers. He never came to the United States. As a matter of fact, he left China only twice in his lifetime, both times in the 1950s and both times to the Soviet Union. Simply put, Mao talking about the conditions for black people and who oppresses who in the US is not exactly as light as a feather, but easy enough for me, not exactly a champion weightlifter, to pick up.

“You really should have added some American history to your library.”

Let’s take this point by point. According to Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia:

“In March 1983, ronderos killed Olegario Curitomay, a Shining Path commander in Lucanamarca, a small town in the Huanca Sancos Province of Ayacucho. The ronderos took Curitomay to the town square, stoned him, stabbed him, set him on fire, and finally shot him. .… Abimael Guzmán, the founder and leader of the Shining Path, admitted that the Shining Path carried out the massacre and explained the rationale behind it in an interview with El Diario, a pro-Shining Path newspaper based in Lima. In the interview, he said:

“In the face of reactionary military actions… we responded with a devastating action: Lucanamarca. Neither they nor we have forgotten it, to be sure, because they got an answer that they didn’t imagine possible. More than 80 were annihilated, that is the truth. And we say openly that there were excesses, as was analyzed in 1983. But everything in life has two aspects. Our task was to deal a devastating blow in order to put them in check, to make them understand that it was not going to be so easy. On some occasions, like that one, it was the Central Leadership itself that planned the action and gave instructions. That’s how it was. In that case, the principal thing is that we dealt them a devastating blow, and we checked them and they understood that they were dealing with a different kind of people’s fighters, that we weren’t the same as those they had fought before. This is what they understood. The excesses are the negative aspect… If we were to give the masses a lot of restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, it would mean that deep down we didn’t want the waters to overflow. And what we needed was for the waters to overflow, to let the flood rage, because we know that when a river floods its banks it causes devastation, but then it returns to its riverbed…. [T]he main point was to make them understand that we were a hard nut to crack, and that we were ready for anything, anything.”

— Abimael Guzmán

The Chairman of the Communist Party of Peru, (aka Presidente Gonzolo), made no excuses or apologies and defended the action at Lucanamarca as a necessary act of war to counter the “white terror” of the State through the recruitment of counter-revolutionary ronderos (death squads) from among the peasants. The Party leadership summed up that it was necessary to counter “white terror” with “red terror” to serve as an object lesson. One can debate the effectiveness of this, but certainly one can find many precedents in other civil wars, such as Russia and China, Vietnam and countless others, and in the theoretical writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and so on. One calls to mind a section of Mao’s famous essay, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (1927), titled, “It’s Terrible!” or “It’s Fine!”

“The peasants’ revolt disturbed the gentry’s sweet dreams. When the news from the countryside reached the cities, it caused immediate uproar among the gentry. Soon after my arrival in Changsha, I met all sorts of people and picked up a good deal of gossip. From the middle social strata upwards to the Kuomintang right-wingers, there was not a single person who did not sum up the whole business in the phrase, ‘It’s terrible!’ Under the impact of the views of the ‘It’s terrible!’ school then flooding the city, even quite revolutionary-minded people became down-hearted as they pictured the events in the countryside in their mind’s eye; and they were unable to deny the word ‘terrible.’ Even quite progressive people said, ‘Though terrible, it is inevitable in a revolution.’ In short, nobody could altogether deny the word ‘terrible.’ But, as already mentioned, the fact is that the great peasant masses have risen to fulfil their historic mission and that the forces of rural democracy have risen to overthrow the forces of rural feudalism. The patriarchal-feudal class of local tyrants, evil gentry and lawless landlords has formed the basis of autocratic government for thousands of years and is the cornerstone of imperialism, warlordism and corrupt officialdom. To overthrow these feudal forces is the real objective of the national revolution. In a few months the peasants have accomplished what Dr. Sun Yat-sen wanted, but failed, to accomplish in the forty years he devoted to the national revolution. This is a marvelous feat never before achieved, not just in forty, but in thousands of years. It’s fine. It is not ‘terrible’ at all. It is anything but ‘terrible.’ ‘It’s terrible!’ is obviously a theory for combating the rise of the peasants in the interests of the landlords; it is obviously a theory of the landlord class for preserving the old order of feudalism and obstructing the establishment of the new order of democracy, it is obviously a counterrevolutionary theory. No revolutionary comrade should echo this nonsense.”

One must acknowledge that despite the hue and cry raised by the bourgeoisie and echoed by “The Movement” in the U.S., the CPP (“Shining Path”) went on to establish red political power in the region with the overwhelming support of the poor peasants. By 1991, the “Shining Path” had control of much of the countryside of the center and south of Peru and had a large presence in the outskirts of Lima. It was a brutal civil war, but one the revolutionaries were winning up until the CIA captured Guzman and most of the top leadership by using advanced spying technology. This, plus the ferocity of the “white terror” unleashed upon the masses, with the backing of the U.S. military and CIA, turned the tide in favor of the imperialists, but the “Shining Path” was never completely defeated and the People’s War in Peru may yet prove victorious. The path of revolution is seldom a smooth or straight one, nor without sacrifice and great suffering by the masses:

“A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” – Mao Tse-tung, “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan” (March 1927), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 28.

Stalin, it must be remembered did defeat all attempts to overthrow socialism – both internal and external as long as he lived. Did he make some serious mistakes, Mao thought he did, though overall he believed he had done a great job:

“Stalin had a tendency to deviate from Marxism-Leninism. A concrete expression of this is [his] negation of contradictions, and to date, [the Soviet Union] has not yet thoroughly eliminated the influence of this viewpoint of Stalin’s. Stalin spoke [the language of] materialism and the dialectical method, but in reality he was subjectivist. He placed the individual above everything else, negated the group, and negated the masses. [He engaged in] the worship of the individual; in fact, to be more precise, [in] personal dictatorships. This is anti-materialism. Stalin also spoke of the dialectical method, but in reality [he] was metaphysical. For example, in the [Short] History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolshevik), he wrote of the dialectical method, [but] put [the theory of] contradictions [only] at the very end. We should say that the most fundamental problem of dialectics is the unity of contradictory opposites. It is [precisely] because of his metaphysical [character] that a one-sided viewpoint was produced, in which the internal connections in a thing are repudiated, and problems are looked at isolatedly and in a static way. To pay heed to dialectics would be to look at problems and treat a problem as a unity of opposites, and that is why it would be [a] comprehensive [methodology]. Life and death, war and peace, are opposites of a contradiction. In reality, they also have an internal connection between them. That is why at times these oppositions are also united. When we [seek to] understand problems we cannot see only one side. We should analyze [it] from all sides, look through its essence. In this way, with regard to [understanding] a person, we would not be [taking the position] at one time that he is all good, and then at another time that he is all bad, without a single good point. Why is our Party correct? It is because we have been able to proceed from the objective conditions in understanding and resolving all problems; in this way we are more comprehensive and we can avoid being absolutists.

“Secondly, the mass line was seen as tailism by Stalin. [He] did not recognize the good points about the mass line, and he used administrative methods to resolve many problems. But we Communists are materialists; we acknowledge that it is the masses who create everything and are the masters of history. [For us] there are no individual heroes; only when the masses are united can there be strength. In fact, since Lenin died, the mass line has been forgotten in the Soviet Union. [Even] at the time of opposing Stalin, [the Soviet Union’s leadership] still did not properly acknowledge or emphasize the significance of the mass line. Of course, more recently, attention has begun to be paid to this, but the understanding is still not [sufficiently] deep.

“Furthermore, class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat were [items] that Lenin had emphasized. At one time, the divergence between Lenin and the Third International and the Second International was mainly along the lines that the Marxists emphasized the class struggle and the dictatorship of the proletariat whereas the opportunists were unwilling to acknowledge them. One of the lessons to be learned from the occurrence of the Polish and Hungarian Incidents, in addition to [the fact that] there were shortcomings in the work [of the Communist parties], is that after the victory of the revolution they had not properly mobilized the masses to weed out thoroughly the counterrevolutionary elements.”  — Speech at the Second Plenum of the Eight Central Committee (Nov. 15, 1956), Version II, WMZ2, pp. 185-6. One excessively long paragraph in the report of this speech has been broken up into three paragraphs for readability purposes. Note that an expurgated version of this speech, which drastically tones down the criticisms of Stalin, is given as “version I” in WMZ2, and was also published in slightly different form after Mao’s death in the Selected Works of Mao Tsetung, vol. V. (An excerpt from “version I” is presented above, just before this item.)

“To counter subjectivist methods of leadership, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China adopted a resolution in June 1943 on methods of leadership. In discussing now the question of collective leadership in the Party, it is still worthwhile for all members of the Chinese Communist Party and all its leading personnel to refer to this resolution, which declared:

“In all practical work of our Party, correct leadership can only be developed on the principle of ‘from the masses, to the masses.’ This means summing up (i.e. co-ordinating and systematizing after careful study) the views of the masses (i.e. views scattered and unsystematic), then taking the resulting ideas back to the masses, explaining and popularizing them until the masses embrace the ideas as their own, stand up for them and translate them into action by way of testing their correctness. Then it is necessary once more to sum up the views of the masses, and once again take the resulting ideas back to the masses so that the masses give them their whole-hearted support . . . and so on, over and over again, so that each time these ideas emerge with greater correctness and become more vital and meaningful. This is what the Marxist theory of knowledge teaches us.

“For a long time, this method of leadership has been described in our Party by the popular term ‘the mass line.’ The whole history of our work teaches us that whenever this line is followed, the work is always good, or relatively good, and even if there are mistakes they are easy to rectify; but whenever this line is departed from, the work is always marred by setbacks. This is the Marxist-Leninist method of leadership, the Marxist-Leninist line of work. After the victory of the revolution, when the working class and the Communist Party have become the leading class and party in the state, the leading personnel of the Party and state, beset by bureaucratism from many sides, face the great danger of using the machinery of state to take arbitrary action, alienating themselves from the masses and collective leadership, resorting to commandism, and violating Party and state democracy. Therefore, if we want to avoid falling into such a quagmire, we must pay fuller attention to the use of the mass line method of leadership, not permitting the slightest negligence. To this end, it is necessary for us to establish certain systems, so as to ensure the thorough implementation of the mass line and collective leadership, to avoid elevation of oneself and individualist heroism, both of which mean divorce from the masses, and to reduce to a minimum subjectivism and one-sidedness in our work which represent a departure from objective reality.” – The Historical Experience of the Dictatorship of the Bourgeoisie. Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1959; pp. 1-20.  The original article, of which this is a translation, appeared in Renmin Ribao on April 5, 1956.

That Stalin failed to rely on the masses to purge the counter-revolutionary elements, doesn’t mean everyone who did get purged was a “good comrade” or “innocent” nor would there be a guarantee that no “innocent” would suffer had the “mass line” been applied. It might have illuminated that the cause of sabotage was not necessarily the result of foreign intrigue or internal Trotskyist wrecking, but was an aspect of the class struggle under socialism, which rather than dying out was intensifying as a new bourgeoisie was emerging in the top ranks of the Party and State.

As pointed out by Chang Chun-chiao (Zhang Chunqiao), Mao’s close comrade in arms:

“Why did Lenin speak of exercising dictatorship over the bourgeoisie? It is essential to get this question clear. Lack of clarity on this question will lead to revisionism. This should be made known to the whole nation.

“Our country at present practices a commodity system, the wage system is unequal, too, as in the eight-grade wage scale, and so forth. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat such things can only be restricted. Therefore, if people like Lin Piao [Biao] come to power, it will be quite easy for them to rig up the capitalist system. That is why we should do more reading of Marxist-Leninist works.

“Lenin said that ‘small production engenders capitalism and the bourgeoisie continuously, daily, hourly, spontaneously, and on a mass scale.’ They are also engendered among a part of the working class and of the Party membership. Both within the ranks of the proletariat and among the personnel of state and other organs there are people who take to the bourgeois style of life.” – “On Exercising All Round Dictatorship Over the Bourgeoisie,” by Chang Chun-chiao, (1975)

But the heart of the “What to Do With White People” piece is directed at Mao’s analysis of the Black struggle, and I think the shots taken at Guzman and Stalin are just appeals to a liberal prejudice and “guilt by association.” What was it Mao said that made the comrades of Red Midwest so upset? He said:

“Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles that oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people.”

Maybe this old Chinese “stick in the mud” just wasn’t up to par on his world knowledge, as the unnamed author at Red Midwest suggests: “You really should have added some American history to your library.” Maybe he should have read some George Jackson:

“The blanket indictment of the white [so-called] race has done nothing but perplex us, inhibit us. The theory that all whites are the immediate enemy and all blacks our brothers (making them loyal) is silly and indicative of a lazy mind (to be generous, since it could be a fascist plot). It doesn’t explain the black pig; there were six on the Hampton-Clark kill. It doesn’t explain the black paratroopers (just more pigs) who put down the great Detroit riot, and it doesn’t explain the pseudo-bourgeois who can be found almost everywhere in the halls of government working for white supremacy, fascism and capitalism.” – George Jackson, (Soledad Brother p221-222), (From Blood in My Eye, p 4-5)

“So what’s happening with a guy who says he is for us but not against the government? Or one who says he’s for us and against all whites – except the ones who may kick his ass? There is a great deal of cowardice and treachery and confusion here. The black bourgeoisie (pseudo-bourgeoisie), the right reverends, the militant opportunists, have left us in a quandary, rendered us impotent. How ridiculous we must seem to the rest of the black world when we beg the government to investigate their own protective agencies. Aren’t the wild hip-shooting pigs loose among us to protect the property rights of the people who formed the government?

International capitalism cannot be destroyed without the extremes of struggle. The entire colonial world is watching the blacks inside the U.S., wondering and waiting for us to come to our senses. Their problems and struggles with the Amerikan monster are much more difficult than they would be if we actively aided them. We are on the inside. We are the only ones (besides the very small white minority left) who can get at the monster’s heart without subjecting the world to nuclear fire. We have a momentous historical role to act out if we will. The whole world for all time in the future will love us and remember us as the righteous people who made it possible for the world to live on.

“The capitalist Eden fits my description of hell. To destroy it will require cooperation and communication between our related parts; communion between colony and colony, nation and nation. The common bond will be the desire to humble the oppressor, the need to destroy capitalist man and his terrible, ugly machine. If there were any differences between us in the black colony and the peoples of other colonies across the country, around the world, we should be willing to forget them in the desperate need for coordination against Amerikan fascism.

“We must accept the spirit of the true internationalism called for by Comrade Ché Guevara…. We need allies, we have a powerful enemy who cannot be defeated without an allied effort! The enemy at present is the capitalist system and its supporters. Our prime interest is to destroy them. Anyone else with this same interest must be embraced, we must work with, beside, through, over, under anyone, regardless of his or her external physical features, whose aim is the same as ours in this. Capitalism must be destroyed, and after it is destroyed, if we find we still have problems, we’ll work them out. That is the nature of life, struggle, permanent revolution; that is the situation we were born into. There are other peoples on this earth. In denying their existence and turning inward in our misery and accepting any form of racism we are taking on the characteristic of our enemy. We are resigning ourselves to defeat. For in forming a conspiracy aimed at the destruction of the system that holds us all in the throes of a desperate insecurity we must have coordinating elements connecting us and our moves to the moves of the other colonies, the African colonies, those in Asia and Latin Amerika, in Appalachia and the south-western bean fields.

“We must establish a true internationalism with other anticolonial peoples. Then we will be on the road of the true revolutionary. Only then can we expect to seize the power that is rightfully ours, the power to control the circumstances of our day-to-day lives.

“The fascist must expand to live. Consequently, he had pushed his frontiers to the farthest lands and peoples. This is an aspect of his being, an ungovernable compulsion. This perverted mechanical monster suffers from a disease that forces him to build ugly things and destroy beauty wherever he finds it.

“We must fall on our enemies, the enemies of all righteousness, with a ruthless relentless will to win! History sweeps on, we must not let it escape our influence this time!!!!” – (Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, p 202-204, Bantam Ed., pub. 10/70)

Or maybe Mao should have read some Fred Hampton:

“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.  “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!” – Fred Hampton, “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” – (SPEECH DELIVERED AT OLIVET CHURCH, 1969)

Then again, maybe Mao was spot on, and it is the comrades at Red Midwest who need to study up on American History, and more importantly to engage in practice with the oppressed masses and learn from them. Throughout U.S. History, there are few but significant examples of Black revolutionaries addressing the struggle from the perspective of building unity between oppressed Blacks and whites in opposition to the capitalist-imperialist ruling class. Two that stand out are the African Blood Brotherhood (ABB) founded in 1919 and the original Black Panther Party (BPP) founded in 1966.

The ABB came into existence in response to the “Red Summer of 1919” as white racist riots spread across the country, it came into existence as a Black separatist, armed, clandestine, community self-defense and propaganda group led by Cyril Briggs, editor of The Crusader in Harlem. At first, Briggs and the ABB were very influenced by Marcus Garvey, and organized as a faction within his UNIA. But, step by step, and very rapidly, they became alienated by Garvey’s right-wing racialized world view and his alliance with the KKK, his scams that exploited the common people, and his clownish mummery and cult of personality. By the second international convention of the UNIA in NYC, in 1922, the ABB brought a white woman from the newly formed Workers (Communist) Party to address the convention. They proposed UNIA adopt a position of uniting with white workers to build a united workers’ movement, and with other Black organizations to build a united Black movement. Garvey expelled them from the convention and the organization.

Claude McKay, the great poet of the Harlem Renaissance and an ABB leader, expressed the contradictory feelings he and others were experiencing as on the one hand they were enflamed by the “Red Summer” and the rise of the KKK to national prominence and on the other inspired by the Russian Revolution and the rise of a revolutionary worker’s movement in the U.S. He wrote:


By Claude McKay

Think ye I am not fiend and savage too?
Think ye I could not arm me with a gun
And shoot down ten of you for every one
Of my black brothers murdered, burnt by you?
Be not deceived, for every deed ye do
I could match — out-match: am I not Afric’s son,
Black of that black land where black deeds are done?
But the Almighty from the darkness drew
My soul and said: Even thous shalt be a light
Awhile to burn on the benighted earth,
Thy dusky face I set among the white
For thee to prove thyself of highest worth;
Before the world is swallowed up in night,
To show thy little lamp; go forth, go forth!

Published in Pearson’s Magazine [New York], v. 38, no. 3 (Sept. 1918)

McKay became even more convinced of the need for proletarian revolution by his visit to Russia as a delegate to the 4th Congress of the Communist International (Comintern). If he had any doubts that white people could be comrades, he shed them in Russia:

“In Moscow I met an old Jewish revolutionist who had done time in Siberia, now young again and filled with the spirit of the triumphant Revolution. We talked about American affairs and touched naturally on the subject of the Negro. I told him of the difficulties of the problem, that the best of the liberal white elements were also working for a better status for the Negro, and he remarked: ‘When the democratic bourgeoisie of the United States were execrating Tsardom for the Jewish pogroms they were meting out to your people a treatment more savage and barbarous than the Jews ever experienced in the old Russia. America,’ he said religiously, ‘had to make some sort of expiatory gesture for her sins. There is no surfeited bourgeoisie here in Russia to make a hobby of ugly social problems, but the Russian workers, who have won through the ordeal of persecution and revolution, extend the hand of international brotherhood to all the suppressed Negro millions of America.’ I met with this spirit of sympathetic appreciation and response prevailing in all circles in Moscow and Petrograd. I never guessed what was awaiting me in Russia. I had left America in September of 1922 determined to get there, to see into the new revolutionary life of the people and report on it. I was not a little dismayed when, congenitally averse to notoriety as I am, I found that on stepping upon Russian soil I forthwith became a notorious character. And strangely enough there was nothing unpleasant about my being swept into the surge of revolutionary Russia. For better or for worse every person in Russia is vitally affected by the revolution. No one but a soulless body can live there without being stirred to the depths by it. I reached Russia in November — the month of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International and the Fifth Anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The whole revolutionary nation was mobilized to honor the occasion, Petrograd was magnificent in red flags and streamers. Red flags fluttered against the snow from all the great granite buildings. Railroad trains, street cars, factories, stores, hotels, schools — all wore decorations. It was a festive month of celebration in which I, as a member of the Negro race, was a very active participant. I was received as though the people had been apprised of, and were prepared for, my coming. When Max Eastman and I tried to bore our way through the dense crowds, that jammed the Tverskaya Street in Moscow on the 7th of November, I was caught, tossed up into the air, and passed along by dozens of stalwart youths. …. The Moscow press printed long articles about the Negroes in America, a poet was inspired to rhyme about the Africans looking to Socialist Russia and soon I was in demand everywhere — at the lectures of poets and journalists, the meetings of soldiers and factory workers. Slowly I began losing self-consciousness with the realization that I was welcomed thus as a symbol, as a member of the great American Negro group — kin to the unhappy black slaves of European Imperialism in Africa — that the workers in Soviet Russia, rejoicing in their freedom, were greeting through me.” – McKay: Soviet Russia and the Negro [Dec. 1923]

In addressing the Congress, itself, McKay recalled the invaluable service Marx and the European workers had rendered to the abolition of slavery in the U.S. by preventing their governments from intervening on the side of the Confederacy in the U.S. Civil War:

“As Marx fought against chattel slavery in 1861, so are present-day socialists, his intellectual descendants, fighting wage slavery.

“If the Workers Party in America were really a Workers Party that included Negroes it would, for instance, in the South, have to be illegal, and I would inform the American Comrades that there is a branch of the Workers Party in the South, in Richmond, Virginia, that is illegal — illegal because it includes colored members. There we have a very small group of white and colored comrades working together, and the fact that they have laws in Virginia and most of the Southern states discriminating against whites and blacks assembling together means that the Workers Party in the South must be illegal. To get round these laws of Virginia, the comrades have to meet separately, according to color, and about once a month they assemble behind closed doors.

“This is just an indication of the work that will have to be done in the South. The work among the Negroes of the South will have to be carried on by some legal propaganda organized in the North, because we find at the present time in America that the situation in the Southern States (where nine million out of ten million of the Negro population live), is that even the liberal bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeoisie among the Negroes cannot get their own papers of a reformist propaganda type into the South on account of the laws that there discriminate against them. The fact is that it is really only in the Southern States that there is any real suppression of opinion. No suppression of opinion exists in the Northern states in the way it exists in the South. In the Northern states special laws are made for special occasions as those against Communists and Socialists during the War — but in the South we find laws that have existed for fifty years, under which the Negroes cannot meet to talk about their grievances.

“The white people who are interested in their cause cannot go and speak to them. If we send white comrades into the South they are generally ordered out by the Southern oligarchy and if they do not leave they are generally whipped, tarred and feathered; and if we send black comrades into the South they generally won’t be able to get out again — they will be lynched and burned at the stake.” – “Report on the Negro Question: Speech to the 4th Congress of the Comintern, Nov. 1922,” by Claude McKay, Published in International Press Correspondence, v. 3 (Jan. 5, 1923), pp. 16-17

When Cyril Briggs and other leading ABB cadre joined the Worker’s Party of America (WPA), which would later become the CPUSA, there were but a handful of Black members, but over the next decade they would bring in tens of thousands of Black workers and sharecroppers into unions and mass organizations organized by the Party. They won the Party to adopt their position of calling for self-determination for the Black Belt South, with the support of Lenin, Stalin and the Comintern, and this was the CP’s policy from 1928 until the 1950’s, when the CP switched to support for the Civil Rights Movement. According to Wikipedia:

“The Sixth Congress of the Comintern held in 1928 changed the party’s policy drastically; it claimed that blacks in the United States were a separate national group and that black farmers in the South were an incipient revolutionary force. The Comintern ordered the party to press the demand for a separate nation for blacks within the so-called “Black Belt“, a swath of counties with a majority-black population extending from eastern Virginia and the Carolinas through central Georgia, Alabama, the delta regions of Mississippi and Louisiana and the coastal areas of Texas. The party leadership was deeply divided into rival factions, with each eager to show its fealty to the Comintern’s understanding of conditions in the United States. It promoted the nationalist policy.

“Other left organizations ridiculed this policy, and it did not receive wide support from African Americans, either in the urban north or in the South. They had more immediate, pressing problems and the CPUSA had little foothold. While the party continued to give lip service to the goal of national self-determination for blacks, particularly in its theoretical writings, it largely ignored that demand in its practical work.

“The party sent organizers to the Deep South for the first time in the late 1920s. The party focused its efforts, for the most part, on very concrete issues: organization of miners, steelworkers and tenant farmers, dealing with utility shutoffs, evictions, jobs, and unemployment benefits; trying to raise awareness of and prevent lynchings, and challenging the pervasive system of Jim Crow. It hoped to appeal to both white and black workers, starting in Birmingham the most industrialized city in Alabama. Black workers were attracted to the party, but whites stayed away.

“The party also worked in rural areas to organize sharecroppers and tenant farmers, who worked under an oppressive system. In Camp Hill, Alabama in 1931 white vigilantes responded by murdering one leader, and local authorities charged and prosecuted black farmers for murder who had tried to fight off the mob. Attorneys with the International Labor Defense succeeded in having the charges dropped against all of the defendants. The Share Croppers’ Union, formed after these events, continued organizing. After leading a strike in 1934 that won higher prices for cotton pickers despite intense hostility from local authorities and businesses, its membership increased to nearly 8,000.

“The CPUSA’s influence went beyond its black members, who did not exceed several hundred. In Alabama and other parts of the nation, the International Labor Defense, which focused on civil rights issues, had up to 2,000 members. The Sharecroppers’ Union had up to 12,000 members in Alabama. Other related organizations were the International Workers Order, the League of Young Southerners, and the Southern Negro Youth Congress. Through these organizations, the CPUSA could be seen to ‘touch the lives easily of 20,000 people.’”

Initially, the Worker’s (Communist) Party was composed primarily of immigrants who were most concerned with their own ethnic communities and issues. Gradually, the CP membership shifted to include more white American-born workers and intellectuals. This coincided with a trend towards economism and building a “Popular Front” with socialists, liberals and others in opposition to fascism. Under the misleadership of Earl Browder, the Party adopted the slogan “Communism is 20th Century Americanism” and suckled up to the “New Deal,” alienating many of the militant cadre including many of the Black comrades.  Eventually, Browder tried to liquidate the Party altogether. The Party was restored under William Z Foster, but it had ceased to be a revolutionary vanguard.

That role fell to the Black Panther Party founded by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California in 1966. Much like the history of the ABB, it began as a Black nationalist group focused on armed self-defense. Again the nation was being swept by racial violence, but this time it was Blacks uprising in the ghettos.  The Panthers did not support rioting, but they did advocate everyone getting a gun and organizing against police state repression. Most fundamentally, they advocated building community-based people’s power and intercommunal solidarity with other ethnic-based community organizations, including working class white groups like the White Panther Party, the Young Patriot Party, SDS, the Peace and Freedom Party, and others.

In 1963, on the occasion of a visit by Robert Williams, who had set an example of armed resistance to KKK terrorism, Mao issued his first statement in support of the Afro-American struggle “Oppose Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism”:

“An American Negro leader now taking refuge in Cuba, Mr. Robert Williams, the former President of the Monroe, North Carolina, Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has twice this year asked me for a statement in support of the American Negroes’ struggle against racial discrimination. I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Chinese people, to express our resolute support for the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination and for freedom and equal rights.

“There are more than nineteen million Negroes in the United States, or about eleven per cent of the total population. Their position in society is one of enslavement, oppression and discrimination. The overwhelming majority of the Negroes are deprived of their right to vote. On the whole it is only the most back-breaking and most despised jobs that are open to them. Their average wages are only from a third to a half of those of the white people. The ratio of unemployment among them is the highest. In many states they cannot go to the same school, eat at the same table, or travel in the same section of a bus or train with the white people. Negroes are frequently and arbitrarily arrested, beaten up and murdered by U.S. authorities at various levels and members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists. About half of the American Negroes are concentrated in eleven states in the south of the United States. There, the discrimination and persecution they suffer are especially startling.

“The American Negroes are awakening, and their resistance is growing ever stronger. In recent years the mass struggle of the American Negroes against racial discrimination and for freedom and equal rights has been constantly developing.

“In 1957 the Negro people in Little Rock, Arkansas, waged a fierce struggle against the barring of their children from public schools. The authorities used armed force against them, and there resulted the Little Rock incident which shocked the world.

“In 1960 Negroes in more than twenty states held ‘sit in’ demonstrations in protest against racial segregation in local restaurants, shops and other public places.

“In 1961 the Negroes launched a campaign of ‘freedom riders’ to oppose racial segregation in transport, a campaign which rapidly extended to many states.

“In 1962 the Negroes in Mississippi fought for the equal right to enroll in colleges and were greeted by the authorities with repression which culminated in a blood bath.

“This year, the struggle of the American Negroes started in early April in Birmingham, Alabama. Unarmed, bare-handed Negro masses were subjected to wholesale arrests and the most barbarous repression merely because they were holding meetings and parades against racial discrimination. On 12 June, an extreme was reached with the cruel murder of Mr. Medgar Evers, a leader of the Negro people in Mississippi. These Negro masses, aroused to indignation and undaunted by ruthless violence, carried on their struggles even more courageously and quickly won the support of Negroes and all strata of the people throughout the United States. A gigantic and vigorous nationwide struggle is going on in nearly every state and city in the United States, and the struggle keeps mounting. American Negro organizations have decided to start a ‘freedom march’ on Washington on 28 August, in which 250,000 people will take part.

“The speedy development of the struggle of the American Negroes is a manifestation of the constant sharpening of class struggle and national struggle within the United States; it has been causing increasingly grave anxiety to the U.S. ruling clique. The Kennedy Administration has resorted to cunning two-faced tactics. On the one hand, it continues to connive at and take part in the discrimination against and persecution of Negroes; it even sends troops to repress them. On the other hand, it is parading as an advocate the ‘defense of human rights’ and the ‘protection of the civil rights of Negroes’, is calling upon the Negro people to exercise ‘restraint’, and is proposing to Congress so-called ‘civil rights legislation’ in an attempt to numb the fighting will of the Negro people and deceive the masses throughout the country. However, these tactics of the Kennedy Administration are being seen through by more and more of the Negroes. The fascist atrocities committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Negro people have laid bare the true nature of the so-called democracy and freedom in the United States and revealed the inner link between the reactionary polices pursued by the U.S. Government at home and its policies of aggression abroad.

“I call upon the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie, and other enlightened personages of all colors in the world, white, black, yellow, brown, etc., to unite to oppose the racial discrimination practiced by U.S. imperialism and to support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimination. In the final analysis, a national struggle is a question of class struggle. In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world. I am deeply convinced that, with the support of more than ninety per cent of the people of the world, the just struggle of the American Negroes will certainly be victorious. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism grew on along with the enslavement of the Negroes and the trade in Negroes; it will surely come to its end with the thorough emancipation of the black people.”

Malcolm X and Mao Tse-tung were the two principle influences on the BPP, along with Ché and Castro, Afrikan liberation leaders like Nkrumah, Fanon and Amilcar Cabral, Ho Chi-minh and Võ Nguyên Giáp in Vietnam, Kim Il Sung in North Korea and José María Sison in the Philippines. Every Panther carried a copy of Quotations of Mao Tse-tung and most could quote chapter and verse from “The Little Red Book,” and this was true also for members of the Panther affiliated groups. In 1968, right after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Mao issued his second statement on the Afro-American struggle:

“A New Storm Against Imperialism

[“Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression” (April 16, 1968)]

“Some days ago, Martin Luther King, the Afro-American clergyman, was suddenly assassinated by the U.S. imperialists. Martin Luther King was an exponent of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the U.S. imperialists did not on that account show any tolerance toward him, but used counter-revolutionary violence and killed him in cold blood. This has taught the broad masses of the Black people in the United States a profound lesson. It has touched off a new storm in their struggle against violent repression sweeping well over a hundred cities in the United States, a storm such as has never taken place before in the history of that country. It shows that an extremely powerful revolutionary force is latent in the more than twenty million Black Americans.

“The storm of Afro-American struggle taking place within the United States is a striking manifestation of the comprehensive political and economic crisis now gripping U.S. imperialism. It is dealing a telling blow to U.S. imperialism, which is beset with difficulties at home and abroad.

“The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It is a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. On behalf of the Chinese people, I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.

“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.

“In 1963, in the ‘Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,’ I said that the “the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people.” I still maintain this view.

“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.”

When MLK was assassinated, the membership in the BPP doubled overnight. Rioting broke out in 125 cities, and the property damage was enormous. White businesses were targeted, and so was slum housing, but relatively few people were killed, and these mostly by the police. Unlike the “race riots” of 1919, these were not riots directed at white people but uprisings against the oppressive conditions. Unfortunately, conditions only worsened. Inner cities were allowed to rot. Police were militarized and the strategy of mass incarceration was begun. “Law and Order” was the rallying cry of the Nixon administration, and the “War on Drugs” was the cover story for targeting black, brown and radical white youth for imprisonment.

As Mao had pointed out, the world revolution had entered a new period in which it had become possible to bring down capitalist imperialism and advance society beyond the Epoch of Exploitation, and the key was the latent revolutionary potential of the oppressed Black masses in the U.S. acting as a catalyst upon the other oppressed communities within the U.S. and the Empire and the multi-ethnic U.S. working class. Mao did not say it would be easy or fall into our hands like magic fruit. What he said was: “The future is bright, but the road is tortuous.” Pointing out that:

“In social struggle, the forces representing the advanced class sometimes suffer defeat not because their ideas are incorrect! but because, in the balance of forces engaged in struggle, they are not as powerful for the time being as the forces of reaction; they are therefore temporarily defeated, but they are bound to triumph sooner or later. Man’s knowledge makes another leap through the test of practice. This leap is more important than the previous one. For it is this leap alone that can prove the correctness or incorrectness of the first leap in cognition, i.e., of the ideas, theories, policies, plans or measures formulated in the course of reflecting the objective external world. There is no other way of testing truth. Furthermore, the one and only purpose of the proletariat in knowing the world is to change it. Often, correct knowledge can be arrived at only after many repetitions of the process leading from matter to consciousness and then back to matter, that is, leading from practice to knowledge and then back to practice. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge, the dialectical materialist theory of knowledge. Among our comrades there are many who do not yet understand this theory of knowledge. When asked the sources of their ideas, opinions, policies, methods, plans and conclusions, eloquent speeches and long articles they consider the questions strange and cannot answer it. Nor do they comprehend that matter, can be transformed into consciousness and consciousness into matter, although such leaps are phenomena of everyday life.”

Our critic from Red Midwest fits Mao’s description of a metaphysical idealist who ignores the contradictions that shape reality and operates from a one-sided viewpoint:

We should say that the most fundamental problem of dialectics is the unity of contradictory opposites. It is [precisely] because of his metaphysical [character] that a one-sided viewpoint was produced, in which the internal connections in a thing are repudiated, and problems are looked at isolatedly and in a static way. To pay heed to dialectics would be to look at problems and treat a problem as a unity of opposites, and that is why it would be [a] comprehensive [methodology]. Life and death, war and peace, are opposites of a contradiction. In reality, they also have an internal connection between them. That is why at times these oppositions are also united. When we [seek to] understand problems we cannot see only one side. We should analyze [it] from all sides, look through its essence. In this way, with regard to [understanding] a person, we would not be [taking the position] at one time that he is all good, and then at another time that he is all bad, without a single good point. Why is our Party correct? It is because we have been able to proceed from the objective conditions in understanding and resolving all problems; in this way we are more comprehensive and we can avoid being absolutists.”

In his/her one-sided viewpoint, there were no white Abolitionists, no Civil War, no Reconstruction, no white opposition to “Jim Crow” segregation, no white support of Civil Rights, because there weren’t two sides to a contradiction.  There is no sense that class struggle ended chattel slavery, that white people (indeed white men) voted to give Black men the right to vote after fighting a bloody Civil War, that every advance has been countered by the capitalist class. He/she mentions rural Pennsylvania with dread: Go to rural Pennsylvania or some parts of South Saint Louis County talking about Communism and Presidente Gonzalo and you’ll get shot or worse.” During the height of the 60’s upsurge, we had White Panther collectives all over rural Pennsylvania, in factory towns, coal towns, and just plain rural farm country, as well as in the urban centers. We had clashes with white racists, even KKK, but we wore our Mao buttons and carried Red Books proudly, and we were prepared to defend ourselves. This was possible because of the vanguard role the BPP was playing, and that Mao, the Red Guards and the revolutionary masses of People’s China were playing, that the Vietnamese were playing, and revolutionary people all over the world were playing at that time.

History advances in waves, and each new generation must continue the struggle until class struggle resolves itself with the elimination of classes. That is what revolution is all about, it’s not about righting old wrongs or “getting even,” it is about getting out from under the class dictatorship of the rich and seizing power to create a worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat to carry out socialist reconstruction globally. In the prisons, it is pretty obvious that only when Black, Brown and Whites unite do the prisoners as a whole have any power. That’s why the guards try to play one group against another. It is the same in society as a whole.

Within the Black community, there has long been a tendency to seek accommodation with the white ruling class and not alliance with the white workers. This was the position of Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey. As the KKK points out on their website: “Garvey not only rejected the idea of political alliance with White leftists, preferring an understanding with White racialists to achieve segregation; he also rejected the idea of an alliance between White and Black workers, preferring an understanding with White employers.” – (Marcus Garvey: A Black “Moses,”

The alignment of the Black political class with the white capitalist establishment allows the white political class to manipulate the Black masses. Does anyone remember the outcry of the Black political class when the Clinton administration was massively incarcerating Black youth from the oppressed communities? No? It was for more police and stiffer sentences while they fawned over Bill Clinton as the “First Black President!” As a Black former prosecutor from Los Angeles, Antonio Moore, wrote recently on the Huffington Post:

“While African American politicians facing communities devastated by the results of Reganomics and the crack epidemic were desperate to deal with violent crime leading to their support of many tough-on-crime measures. They did not foresee the results of your policies, being that large parts of their communities would be placed in prison, and stripped of welfare.

Today there are more African American men incarcerated in the U.S. than the total prison populations in India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel and England combined. These nine countries in total represent over 1.5 billion people, in contrast, there are only 18.5 million black males in the United States, counting children.” – (“President Bill Clinton Gets It Wrong On Mass Incarceration,” Huffington Post, Updated Apr 11, 2016)

One might well ask, “What to Do with the Black Petty-Bourgeoisie?” To simply blame poor and working class whites and white people in general for racism not only lets the class that has political and economic power off the hook, but also the Black political class that has historically promoted accommodation with racism and scapegoating the most oppressed whites, while collaborating with the white exploiters. As Comrade “Spider,” the former national spokesman of WPO pointed out:

“’White Power’ not only fails to empower poor white people, it is a psychological trap that masses of people fall into that renders us politically impotent. We become unwitting tools of our own oppression. It blocks our only avenue of advancement which is through class consciousness and unity. It makes us the unwitting tools of oppression of not only non-white people but ourselves as well.

“There are various levels of white racism, each with its own material base, psychological motives, and ideological and material manifestations. The most far-reaching manifestation was that which served as the justification for the Afrikan slave trade. Economic gain was the motive, but the belief in white supremacy was necessary to carry out such horrible deeds over generations.

“Blacks were held to be a sub-species of human beings, inferior to whites in every respect, with no ‘souls’ in the Judo-Christian understanding of the term, and therefore their enslavement was no different than the domestication of any other ‘wild beast.’ Making them ‘beasts of burden’ was justified, and by a subtle twist of this twisted logic, it was doing them a favor by ‘civilizing’ and “Christianizing” them.

“Of course, being non-whites, they could never become our equals, which would get in the way of exploiting them. Either way, whether they had no ‘souls’ or we were saving them, the prime consideration of capitalism was that they were to remain un-free.

“When enslavement of non-whites began to be put on trial as immoral by Christians like John Brown and the Abolitionists, it challenged the capitalists to invent more subtle definitions of white supremacy to fit their continued exploitation as ‘sharecroppers’ or wage workers. And colonialism still had to be justified including the incorporation of non-white functionaries of colonial administration and exploitation.” – (“Why ‘White Power’ Makes Whites Powerless,” by Comrade Spider, 2006)

As regards the growth of “white power” gangs and organizations in prisons, he notes that this was a response to the rapid increase in the numbers and percentages of Black and Brown prisoners under the strategy of mass incarceration:

“To no small degree, their pent up rage is in reaction to the very real class oppression they experience but lack the class consciousness to identify, which brings me back to my main point, which is that ‘White Power’ is doing nothing to empower poor white people. The White Panther Organization (WPO) has no problem with the concept of poor white people empowering themselves, but the mantra of ‘White Power’ in the Aryan, Nazi, KKK or other racist sense is founded upon ludicrous assumptions and non-scientific premises, motivated by fear and other reactionary tendencies, and cunningly promoted by our very real class enemies to weaken and divide us while they indiscriminately exploit and oppress all of our class.

“Poor whites are tricked and deceived into believing that Blacks and other people of color are at the root of their problems, while the true perpetrators – the monopoly capitalists and their lackeys – never bear the brunt of their misplaced rage. White workers are deceived into believing that their shrinking wages and job insecurity are caused by immigrants and minorities stealing ‘their’ jobs. In the same manner, white prisoners have been fooled into believing that Black and other people of color are taking over ‘their’ prisons.” – (Ibid.)

What was Mao pointing out besides the real class interests of poor and working class whites and how they coincide with those of the rest of the poor and working class people here and around the world? Isn’t that what Communists are supposed be doing and what “The Movement” in Amerika has failed miserably to do, and even cowardly claims it dares not do for fear of the masses. This author pays lip service only to Marxism while spewing out nothing but negativity and contempt for the principle of uniting the oppressed Black masses and the proletariat to act in solidarity and coordination to smash the system of wage slavery. Grudgingly, the author admits that the white proletarians might be needed to win a revolution here, but then takes a piss on the idea of building such unity:

“It’ll be necessary to win over as many elements of the white proletariat as possible to ensure the success of any revolution in this country. This is a simple numerical question. But, it would be simple right opportunism to not struggle against or even acknowledge racist and anti-people attitudes among the white proletariat. We don’t want racist communists who’ll fight the class war and then fight a race war! At this stage, and at every stage in American history, it is not incorrect at all to say that the white proletariat, in the United States, is for the most part, racist, upholds white supremacy in various forms and degrees of intensity, is willing to kill nonwhite people for little to no reason, and is more backwards, as a group, than nationally oppressed working classes. It doesn’t take a lot to stir up the white proletariat to violence. Emmett Till was castrated and thrown in a river because he supposedly whistled at a white woman. A black man supposedly accosted a white woman in an elevator in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 and white people burned the whole black part of the city down. Black people raised up in rebellion in Ferguson and a white kid from the working class went into a Black church and murdered several people, and white people have been buying up guns left and right since 2014 in expectation of a race war. After 9/11, white working class youth joined the military in droves to destroy the Middle East, and those that didn’t join the service stayed at home and voted for Bush in 2004, just like their parents and grandparents voted for Nixon in 1968 and ’72, and broke up anti-war demonstrations with hard hats on. Not a class war to rise up against the bourgeoisie, fucking ethnic cleansing.

Mao taught us to seek truth from facts, and even more importantly to be all sided in making analysis. Recent crime statistics do not support the conclusion that white proletarians are typically “willing to kill nonwhite people for little to no reason.” Based on DOJ violent crime statistics for 2012-2013, whites (excluding the police) choose to attack Blacks only 3.6% of the time as opposed to other whites:

“Using figures for the 2013 racial mix of the population–62.2 percent white, 17.1 percent Hispanic, 13.2 percent black–we can calculate the average likelihood of a person of each race attacking the other. A black is 27 times more likely to attack a white and 8 times more likely to attack a Hispanic than the other way around. A Hispanic is eight times more likely to attack a white than vice versa.

“We can also calculate how often criminals of each group choose victims of other races. As indicated below, when whites commit violence they choose fellow whites as victims 82.4 percent of the time, and almost never attack blacks. Blacks attack whites almost as often as they attack blacks, and Hispanics attack whites more often than they attack any other group, including their own.”

In other words, violent and aggressive whites are far more likely to attack each other, excepting the small number of active racists who target Black victims. The police are quite a different story, and they – as any Communist or class-conscious worker knows – are part of the ruling class, not the proletariat. Even if we assume that the DOJ statistics are slanted because of police reports incorrectly naming who attacked whom, the amount of interracial incidents is still very low and does not support the author’s portrayal of reality. It is quite obvious that when white supremacist groups like the KKK or Nazis call rallies or demonstrations, they cannot turn out more than a handful of supporters, and these appear to be more lumpen than proletarian and are easily outnumbered by counter-demonstrators. This is not the 1920’s or even the 1960’s, when we had to be prepared for their counter-demonstrations, particularly in poor white communities. But I assure you, we never let them back us down in rural Pennsylvania.

As for white workers in hard hats breaking up anti-war demonstrations, I only recall one such incident in NYC, organized by the FBI and gangster union officials, in response to the Anti-Vietnam War Movement targeting Wall Street. It was a media event staged for government propaganda. Masses of rank and file workers did participate in the Anti-Vietnam War Movement, and often in union-organized contingents. Masses of white workers also supported the Civil Rights Movement. Masses of whites joined or organized protests against the police brutality in Ferguson, against the murder of Trayvon Martin, and many others, including the victims of the Charleston church massacre. Dylann Roof, was not from the working class, but the petty bourgeois. His father owns a contracting company. Masses of white people, including proletarians protested the Iraq War at the outset, and until the Obama supporters pulled the teeth of the Anti-War Movement.

As for volunteering for the Army after 911, I think the ratio for Blacks was disproportionately higher than any other ethnic group. Presently, Blacks make up 26.1% of the active duty Army. As already pointed out, Blacks are only 13.2% of the total population. Not that I think Blacks are more patriotic, there are economic reasons why poor Blacks join the military, and there are economic reasons for poor whites to join as well. We live in a time unlike any previous period in U.S. or World History. Decades of neo-liberal “adjustments” have altered the scene for both the Black and white masses and for everybody else on the planet. There are die-hard reactionaries, to be sure, some are rallying to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, but only because they realize that America is in decline – that capitalism is in decline – and as Marxists we know this is the era of imperialism, and it is the final stage of capitalism. It is the era of capitalism in decline and proletarian revolution. In Lenin’s words:

“We must now try to sum up, to draw together the threads of what has been said above on the subject of imperialism. Imperialism emerged as the development and direct continuation of the fundamental characteristics of capitalism in general. But capitalism only became capitalist imperialism at a definite and very high stage of its development, when certain of its fundamental characteristics began to change into their opposites, when the features of the epoch of transition from capitalism to a higher social and economic system had taken shape and revealed themselves in all spheres. Economically, the main thing in this process is the displacement of capitalist free competition by capitalist monopoly. Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentration of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions. At the same time the monopolies, which have grown out of free competition, do not eliminate the latter, but exist above it and alongside it, and thereby give rise to a number of very acute, intense antagonisms, frictions and conflicts. Monopoly is the transition from capitalism to a higher system.

“If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism. Such a definition would include what is most important, for, on the one hand, finance capital is the bank capital of a few very big monopolist banks, merged with the capital of the monopolist associations of industrialists; and, on the other hand, the division of the world is the transition from a colonial policy which has extended without hindrance to territories unseized by any capitalist power, to a colonial policy of monopolist possession of the territory of the world, which has been completely divided up.

“But very brief definitions, although convenient, for they sum up the main points, are nevertheless inadequate, since we have to deduce from them some especially important features of the phenomenon that has to be defined. And so, without forgetting the conditional and relative value of all definitions in general, which can never embrace all the concatenations of a phenomenon in its full development, we must give a definition of imperialism that will include the following five of its basic features:

“(1) the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life; (2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this ‘finance capital,’ of a financial oligarchy; (3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance; (4) the formation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and (5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed. Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun, in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

“We shall see later that imperialism can and must be defined differently if we bear in mind not only the basic, purely economic concepts—to which the above definition is limited—but also the historical place of this stage of capitalism in relation to capitalism in general, or the relation between imperialism and the two main trends in the working-class movement. The thing to be noted at this point is that imperialism, as interpreted above, undoubtedly represents a special stage in the development of capitalism. ….

“Imperialism is a striving for annexations—this is what the political part of Kautsky’s definition amounts to. It is correct, but very incomplete, for politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction.” – (V.I. Lenin, Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, 1917)

The period following World War II through the 1960’s was a period of unprecedented prosperity and upward mobility for the masses of people in the U.S. “Cold War” liberalism, called for major economic concessions to the workers and a nurturing of a large upwardly mobile middle class, and with it a strong dose of anti-Communism and belief in the “American Dream.” This is what Trump is alluding to, with his rhetoric. But, he represents the same neo-liberal agenda as Hillary. Whichever of these puppets becomes the next President, the same monopoly capitalist oligarchy will be pulling the strings and the masses, as Fred Hampton defined them, are going to get screwed worse than they are already. The illusion that Trump, or Bernie Sanders for that matter, does not represent the ruling class is pure idealism.

It is also idealism to think masses of poor and working class people don’t already realize that. What is lacking is not masses of people of all ethnicities who are fed up with politicians, the superrich and capitalist-imperialism in general, but a revolutionary vanguard to apply the “Mass Line” and illuminate a path forward to revolution. The petty-bourgeois “Movement” is not such a vanguard. It is fundamentally anti-working class and reformist, not revolutionary. The very idea of the dictatorship of the proletariat is more frightening to them than the status quo. Workers with guns! Workers’ councils making new rules and dealing with counter-revolutionaries, ‘Oh My!’ The Black petty-bourgeoisie is no different, they don’t want to end capitalism, they want to get in on it. They don’t want to end racism, they want to capitalize on it.

Like Malcolm X said, a clash is coming, and it won’t be based on skin color. “Show me a capitalist and I’ll show you a bloodsucker,” he said:

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck. Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, the capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.” – Malcolm X

When Comrade Lenin wrote Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, the world was already in the midst of the first world war brought on by Capitalist-Imperialism. At that time:

“We see three areas of highly developed capitalism (high development of means of transport, of trade and of industry): the Central European, the British and the American areas. Among these are three states which dominate the world: Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Imperialist rivalry and the struggle between these countries have become extremely keen because Germany has only an insignificant area and few colonies; the creation of “Central Europe” is still a matter for the future, it is being born in the midst of a desperate struggle. For the moment the distinctive feature of the whole of Europe is political disunity. In the British and American areas, on the other hand, political concentration is very highly developed, but there is a vast disparity between the immense colonies of the one and the insignificant colonies of the other. In the colonies, however, capitalism is only beginning to develop. The struggle for South America is becoming more and more acute.

“There are two areas where capitalism is little developed: Russia and Eastern Asia. In the former, the population is extremely sparse, in the latter it is extremely dense; in the former political concentration is high, in the latter it does not exist. The partitioning of China is only just beginning, and the struggle for it between Japan, the U.S., etc., is continually gaining in intensity.” (Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter VII)

World War II resolved the issue of hegemony in the West in favor of the U.S., but under Lenin’s leadership, Russia had been liberated by the proletariat and socialism had been consolidated under Stalin and China was being liberated under Mao’s leadership. The “Cold War” between the West and the “Socialist Camp” was largely a struggle over the former colonial countries who were waging their own national liberation struggles with support from the “Socialist Camp.” Under the cover of “spreading and defending democracy,” U.S. Imperialism was busy consolidating its hegemony and installing reliable puppet regimes everywhere it could.

“Imperialism is a striving for annexations—this is what the political part of Kautsky’s definition amounts to. It is correct, but very incomplete, for politically, imperialism is, in general, a striving towards violence and reaction. For the moment, however, we are interested in the economic aspect of the question, which Kautsky himself introduced into his definition. The inaccuracies in Kautsky’s definition are glaring. The characteristic feature of imperialism is not industrial but finance capital. It is not an accident that in France it was precisely the extraordinarily rapid development of finance capital, and the weakening of industrial capital, that from the eighties onwards gave rise to the extreme intensification of annexationist (colonial) policy. The characteristic feature of imperialism is precisely that it strives to annex not only agrarian territories, but even most highly industrialised regions (German appetite for Belgium; French appetite for Lorraine), because (1) the fact that the world is already partitioned obliges those contemplating a redivision to reach out for every kind of territory, and (2) an essential feature of imperialism is the rivalry between several great powers in the striving for hegemony, i.e., for the conquest of territory, not so much directly for themselves as to weaken the adversary and undermine his hegemony. (Belgium is particularly important for Germany as a base for operations against Britain; Britain needs Baghdad as a base for operations against Germany, etc.)” – (Ibid.)

Lenin was correct in his refutation of Kautsky’s theory of “Ultra-Imperialism” and peaceful consolidation of global monopoly capitalism, as was proven by World Wars I and II, but none-the-less, the trend towards global monopoly capitalist hegemony was violently advancing and in contradiction to the advance of international socialism. As Huey P. Newton explained:

“In 1917 an event occurred in the Soviet Union that was called a revolution. Two classes had a contradiction and the whole country was transformed. In this country, 1970, the Black Panther Party issued a document. Our Minister of Information, Eldridge Cleaver, who now is in Algeria, wrote a pamphlet called “On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party.” In that work Eldridge Cleaver stated that neither the proletarians nor the industrial workers carry the potentialities for revolution in this country at this time. He claimed that the left wing of the proletarians, the lumpen proletarians, have that revolutionary potential, and in fact, acting as the vanguard, they would carry the people of the world to the final climax of the transformation of society. It has been stated by some people, by some parties, by some organizations, by the Progressive Labor Party, that revolution is impossible. How can the lumpen proletarians carry out a successful socialist transformation when they are only a minority? And in fact how can they do it when history shows that only the proletarians have carried out a successful social revolution? I agree that it is necessary for the people who carry out a social revolution to represent the popular majority’s interests. It is necessary for this group to represent the broad masses of the people. We analyzed what happened in the Soviet Union in 1917. I also agree that the lumpen proletarians are the minority in this country. No disagreement. Have I contradicted myself? It only goes to show that what’s apparent might not actually be a fact. What appears to be a contradiction may be only a paradox. Let’s examine this apparent contradiction.

“The Soviet Union, in 1917, was basically an agricultural society with very large peasantry. A set of social conditions existing there at that time was responsible for the development of a small industrial base. The people who worked in this industrial base were called proletarians. Lenin, using Marx’s theory, saw the trends. He was not a historical materialist, but a dialectical materialist, and therefore very interested in the ever-changing status of things. He saw that while the proletarians were a minority in 1917, they had the potential to carry out a revolution because their class was increasing and the peasantry was declining. That was one of the conditions. The proletarians were destined to be a popular force. They also had access to the properties necessary for carrying out a socialist revolution.

In this country the Black Panther Party, taking careful note of the dialectical method, taking careful note of the social trends and the ever-changing nature of things, sees that while the lumpen proletarians are the minority and the proletarians are the majority, technology is developing at such a rapid rate that automation will progress to cybernation, and cybernation probably to technocracy. As I came into town I saw MIT over the way. If the ruling circle remains in power it seems to me that capitalists will continue to develop their technological machinery because they are not interested in the people. Therefore, I expect from them the logic that they have always followed: to make as much money as possible, and pay the people as little as possible – until the people demand more, and finally demand their heads. If revolution does not occur almost immediately, and I say almost immediately because technology is making leaps (it made a leap all the way to the moon), and if the ruling circle remains in power the proletarian working class will definitely be on the decline because they will be unemployables and therefore swell the ranks of the lumpens, who are the present unemployables. Every worker is in jeopardy because of the ruling circle, which is why we say that the lumpen proletarians have the potential for revolution, will probably carry out the revolution, and in the near future will be the popular majority. Of course, I would not like to see more of my people unemployed or become unemployables, but being objective, because we’re dialectical materialists, we must acknowledge the facts.

“Marx outlined a rough process of the development of society. He said that society goes from a slave class to a feudalistic class structure to a capitalistic class structure to a socialistic class structure and finally to communism. Or in other words, from capitalist state to socialist state to nonstate: communism. I think we can all agree that the slave class in the world has virtually been transformed into the wage slave. In other words, the slave class in the world no longer exists as a significant force, and if we agree to that we can agree that classes can be transformed literally out of existence. If this is so, if the slave class can disappear and become something else – or not disappear but just be transformed – and take on other characteristics, then it is also true that the proletarians or the industrial working class can possibly be transformed out of existence. Of course the people themselves would not disappear; they would only take on other attributes. The attribute that I am interested in is the fact that soon the ruling circle will not need the workers, and if the ruling circle is in control of the means of production the working class will become unemployables or lumpens. That is logical; that is dialectical. I think it would be wrong to say that only the slave class could disappear.” – (Huey P. Newton, “Speech at Boston College,” 1970)

The collapse of the “Socialist Camp” and the victory of U.S. Imperialism in the “Cold War” has accelerated the decline and crisis of capitalist-imperialism. The tendency of the rate of profit to decline, forces the capitalist-imperialists to more fully automate and globalize production to reduce labor costs, and to consolidate its global hegemony, in particular over the new capitalist oligarchies in the former “Socialist Camp” (Russia and China) and over the neo-colonies of Asia, Afrika and Latin America (and particularly the Middle East and Afrika). NABPP-PC and the United Panther Movement sum up that the principle contradiction in the world today is between the need of the Monopoly Capitalist ruling class to consolidate its global hegemony and the chaos and anarchy, including the threat of nuclear war, it is unleashing by attempting to do so.

Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia defines “neo-liberalism” as:

“Neoliberalism (or sometimes neo-liberalism) is a term which has been used since 1938, but became more prevalent in its current meaning in the 1970s and ’80s by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences  and critics primarily in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Its advocates avoid the term ‘neoliberal’; they support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.  The implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 as one of the ultimate results.”

This is the end game of Capitalist-Imperialism Mao was referring to when he wrote: “…the world revolution has entered a great new era. [in which] 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.” The time has come to apply dialectical materialism to reanalyze how the world is hooked up today, as Huey Newton and the CC of the original BPP did in 1970.

As Huey pointed out, the industrial proletariat in the U.S. is declining while the lumpen-proletariat is increasing, and the lumpen will necessarily have to play a vanguard role in making revolution as the “left-wing of the proletariat.” But the political-ideology of the revolutionary proletariat must lead and the lumpen must, by their struggle and their agitation, education and organizing, act as a catalyst upon the whole proletariat and masses of people to “SEIZE THE TIME!” and rise up against the monopoly capitalist ruling class, smash their class dictatorship, expropriate their wealth, seize control of the principle means of production globally and create a worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat to carry out socialist reconstruction of the world economy and build worldwide proletarian socialist revolutionary intercommunalism as a stepping stone to classless, stateless, global communism.

To accomplish this, it will not do at all to let the capitalist imperialists off the hook for the oppression of the Black masses and other poor people of color, and tail behind the Black bourgeoisie (and pseudo-bourgeoisie) in blaming all whites – and poor and working class whites in particular – in our agitation and propaganda. This serves only the “divide and rule” strategy of the capitalist-imperialists. It is un-Marxist and fundamentally untrue. Mao’s statement that: “Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles that oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people,” expresses the greater truth, the dialectical materialist truth, that cuts to the essence of the question.

Unquestionably, there will be civil war, and there will be “white terror” and there will be “red terror” too. There will be counter-revolutionary white proletarians and there will be counter-revolutionary Black and Brown people who will fight on the side of – and in the service of – the capitalist-imperialists. There will be purging of traitors and counter-revolutionaries within our own ranks, and it will not be a “dinner party.” To think otherwise is pure idealism!

The path illuminated by Mao and the original BPP is still the correct path!



Tom Watts 7/8/2016

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