Organizing the People: On the Panther Solidarity Organization and Intermediate Organizations — Part One (2021)


schools-of-liberationWHY THE MASS ORGANIZATION?

As Revolutionary Intercommunalists, the Revolutionary Intercommunal Black Panther Party’s (RIBPP) objectives are to change history, to overthrow today’s system of reactionary intercommunalism and transform it into a global socialist system where equality, social justice and fair distribution of resources prevail.

Our strategy is to, “Transform the razor wire plantations into schools of liberation and the oppressed communities into base areas of cultural, social and political revolution in the context of building a united front against capitalist-imperialism, racism and police state repression.” This is a struggle based on uniting the world’s oppressed masses, community by community, to seize control of the means of production and reconstruct the world economy.

As Comrade Mao said, “The masses and the masses alone, are the motive force of history.” Without involving, organizing, and empowering the masses every step of the way, it is impossible to make revolutionary change. But without a revolutionary theory and plan there can be no revolutionary movement, and for that theory and plan to succeed the masses must be organized and united to take it up and implement it.

So how do we bring masses of people, most of whom are politically undeveloped and have vastly different spiritual, cultural and ideological ideas and tendencies (many of them in sharp contradiction with each other) together behind a common revolutionary theory and plan? At the most basic level this is the role of the mass organization.



In the context of the Panther Movement, the Panther Solidarity Organization (PSO) is a specific type of organization with a specific history and purpose. It is foremost a mass organization, and secondly it is the principal mass organization of the RIBPP.

Historically, PSO is the latest evolution of what began as the prison-based Black Brigade and later became the New Afrikan Service Organization (NASO) and the United Panther Movement (UPM) respectively. NASO and UPM were started by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party  (NABPP now RIBPP) as its principal mass organization, with the purpose of organizing the masses to carry out the strategy of Pantherism under the Party’s leadership.

When the RIBPP split with the NABPP in Dec 2020, most of the existing national UPM left with RIBPP and restructured as PSO to remain as RIBPP’s main mass organization. The split and restructuring did not change the strategy of the Panther Movement nor the PSO’s mass organizational role within that strategy.

At the time of the split the organizational structure of the UPM had never been clarified by the NABPP, nor was it explained how the Party’s leadership and accountability within the UPM should operate.

Because of the NABPP’s failure to guide the UPM, the UPM did not develop as a community-based mass organization according to the strategy of Pantherism, but came to be led and organized according to a “professional activist” petty bourgeois model, and was never rooted in, open to, nor composed of the masses in the oppressed urbanized communities. With the development of the RIBPP and PSO, these questions and trends have not been resolved. This is the task now before us.



As a mass organization, PSO must be a voluntary organization that belongs to and its membership composed of the people of the oppressed communities who are largely inexperienced and undeveloped politically. It must reflect and express their interests, and be accountable and open to them to freely join at the levels at which they exist, and respect their right to embrace different views and lifestyles.

Just like a labor union which is open to and invites all workers to join it—in revolutionary movements vanguard cadre create, join, and work within the unions to unite with, educate, and lead the largely undeveloped workers in carrying out revolutionary struggle and ultimately develop them into revolutionaries themselves.

A mass organization (such as PSO) is the opposite of a vanguard party (such as RIBPP aspires to develop into), but there exists a dialectical and mutually supportive relationship between the two forms of organization. One builds and sustains the other.

Where the vanguard practices Democratic Centralism (DC) and its members must be ideologically and politically united and advanced, a mass organization must be broadly democratic in order to bring the undeveloped masses together programmatically with their diverse views. This is why factions are banned within vanguard parties but allowed, even encouraged, within mass organizations.

From early on, the NABPP recognized the need to separate the vanguard and mass levels of organizations, and we explained the lack of such separation as a major error of the original Black Panther Party (BPP).[1] By combining these two forms of organization into one, the BPP brought together conflicting tendencies with different levels of commitment and understanding, making DC impossible and causing constant internal contradictions in political line and practice.

As I pointed out in “On the Roles and Characteristics of the Panther Vanguard Party and Mass Organizations” (2006):

“Until the masses of the people are raised up to the level of the vanguard elements, they are organized into mass organizations. The mass organizations represent and include people of various different political, cultural, ideological and class backgrounds, views, influences and levels of awareness. In the case of New Afrikans, for example, our mass organizations like [NASO] include New Afrikans of different political, cultural and spiritual persuasions. But they are united by a common objective of carrying out programs that serve the needs and interests of the Nation of Afrikans in Amerika. Many of the members of mass organizations are not even revolutionary minded, but they do recognize a burning need to change and improve the social-economic conditions of Black people.

“So, mass organizations will include some open proponents of capitalism, liberals, reformists, activists of various persuasions and everyday apolitical people. But also spread throughout these organizations are cadre of vanguard elements whose role within these organizations is to struggle alongside and learn from the people, to materially serve their needs and interests, to educate, lead and advance their levels of political and ideological consciousness, and to ultimately develop the masses from within these mass structures, to become themselves vanguard elements. As people’s consciousness and their understanding are raised, and they prove their dedication through their work and study within the mass organizations, they are recruited into the vanguard party where they become fully committed leaders, educators and servants of the people.”[2]

The Revolutionary Intercommunalist strategy of Pantherism is to organize locally and think globally. The community forms the basis of our organizing. Which we link together into a global network of liberated base areas. In other words we aim to bring all oppressed communities together in intercommunal unity to consolidate people’s power. This is the basis of developing PSO collectives within the oppressed communities and prisons and composed of the broad masses of the people who live there.

PSO must not be allowed to become a closed group of “professional activists” imposing their own agendas and views of “political correctness” upon the organization and those allowed to join. This is the tendency of the petty bourgeoisie and campus-based groups that pervade the U.S. Left, as they operate out of reach of, out of touch with, and above the common people. In fact the pervasiveness of this organizational model and tendency in the U.S. is a major reason there has been no genuinely revolutionary mass movement in Amerika for quite some time.

The petty bourgeois will always maneuver to usurp and orient political work to reflect and serve their own class perspectives and interests, even as some may genuinely believe their roles and aspirations to be truly revolutionary. As Mao explained:

“It is inevitable that the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie will give expression to their own ideologies. It is inevitable that they will stubbornly assert themselves on political and ideological questions by every possible means. You cannot expect them to do otherwise.”

It is only through the medium of the mass organization that revolutionaries are able to interact with the masses in a programmatic way, bring them into revolutionary political life and impart revolutionary values and ideas to them.

This is why Comrade Lenin stated that Communists must create and join hundreds, no thousands, of mass organizations composed of the multitudes, who must be united, mobilized, and empowered as the force of fundamental change. It was only through such mass organizations as the Peasant’s Associations and Women’s Associations that the Chinese Communist Party under Mao’s leadership developed, organized and mobilized the peasants and women in their millions, as the targeted mass base of the Chinese revolution, into an invincible force that carried that struggle through success after success until they won power.

In any case, the mass organization is composed of and belongs to the masses, and may not be monopolized nor dictated to by the advanced or their parties. They are however, the structures through which the advanced work alongside, learn from, educate, and lead the people, and ultimately develop cadre within to be recruited into the revolutionary party.



Our leadership within the mass organizations is not coercive, but must be taken up voluntarily by the masses. We must win them to accept us through our example and competence. As I’ve previously explained:

“In the work of winning the masses in their millions, leading by example is decisive. The masses must trust us, give us their unconditional support, take up our ideas as their own, and support our Party throughout the long process of struggling to overturn this oppressive system.

“The people must see our credibility in our superior moral characters, our dedication to their interests, our integrity, receptivity to criticism, honesty in facing and correcting errors, and willingness to engage in self criticism; these are qualities that move and win the masses. In this cynical society where social views and values have been molded by the ruling class, the people will only vest their trust and confidence in us if we are genuine Communists in our public and personal lives, and as such we place the interests of the masses above private interests, the general good before any partial good, long-range concerns before short-range concerns.

” The people in the oppressed communities, the lumpen especially, cannot be dictated to, they can’t be compelled into any actions. They must see with their own eyes the benefits of any course of action, shown the likelihood of success of any plan, learn from observation and experience that their predicament can be changed for the better, before they will consciously and willingly take it up. And these plans and ideas must correspond to their actual needs which they recognize themselves, not needs we tell them they have.”[3]

This is why every member of the RIBPP must root themselves in the masses and the mass organizational work. Mao is instructive. He explained that Communists:

“should call upon the whole Party to be vigilant and to see that no comrade at any post is divorced from the masses. It should teach every comrade to love the people and listen attentively to the voice of the masses; to identify himself with the masses wherever he goes and, instead of standing above them, to immerse himself among them; and according to their present level, to awaken them or raise their political consciousness and help them gradually to organize themselves voluntarily and to set going all essential struggles permitted by the internal and external circumstances of the given time and place.”

He went on to emphasize:

“To link oneself with the masses, one must act in accordance with the needs and wishes of the masses. All work done for the masses must start from their needs and not from the desire of any individual, however well-intentioned. It often happens that objectively the masses need a certain change, but subjectively they are not yet conscious of the need, not yet willing or determined to make the change. In such cases, we should wait patiently. We should not make the change until, through our work, most of the masses have become conscious of the need and are willing and determined to carry it out. Otherwise we shall isolate ourselves from the masses. Unless they are conscious and willing, any kind of work that requires their participation will turn out to be mere formality and will fail…. There are two principles here: one is the actual needs of the masses rather than what we fancy they need, and the other is the wishes of the masses, who must make up their own minds instead of our making up their minds for them.”

This method of winning and uniting with the masses is essentially how Party members work within the mass organizations alongside the people.

Within the PSO, RIBPP members must respect and uphold the organization’s rules, which may be created by local collectives addressed to local conditions. Those rules should embody certain basic principles however, such as the democratic rights of all members to speak, vote, elect, and be elected, and the right to criticize, recall and replace elected leaders; that members of the government, and their agents and informants may not join the PSO, and so on. However, if rules develop within a PSO collective that conflict with the Party’s rules or what we believe is appropriate for the mass level organization, the RIBPP will withdraw its members, sponsorship and support from the collective.

Otherwise we uphold the right of PSO members to believe as they choose and their democratic right to express their views, even if we disagree with them. We will oppose and struggle against suppression of free speech. The people have the democratic right to hear and decide what they believe to be true. But of course RIBPP members also uphold the right and practice of criticizing what we believe to be untrue and harmful to the people’s interests.

The basis of unity between the RIBPP and PSO and leadership of the Party within PSO is the mass organization’s upholding the 10 Point Program of the RIBPP. It is around the very basic principles of the 10 Point Program that the Serve the People (STP) community service programs are to be developed, with the goal of developing them into community-based infrastructure and institutions of dual power.

The mass organization serves to raise and develop resources for and to staff the STP programs to serve community needs. Party cadre will concentrate on political agitation, education and organizing within the mass organizations while working alongside their members in community service work.

Within PSO, Party members enjoy no special privileges and have the same rights and responsibilities as every other PSO member. They have only a single vote like everyone else, and are subject to the same discipline as others. Party members may not constitute more than 1/3 of the members of any mass organization or its leadership.

Like the RIBPP and our intercommunal strategy, PSO is compartmentalized into Black, Brown, and White panthers to reflect the demographics of the communities in which they are working. So there will be PSO-Black Panthers, PSO-Brown Panthers and PSO-White Panthers respectively, which RIBPP cadre will work within according to its own compartments of Black Panthers and its brown and white arms, the Revolutionary Intercommunal Brown Panther Organizing Committee (RIBPOC) and Revolutionary Intercommunal White Panther Organization (RIWPO).

Prior to the split, I had written on this link between the Party and its mass organization (then the NABPP and UPM), and the compartmentalization of this mass organization under our strategy of Pantherism. See for example my 2014 article, “Purpose and Practice of the United Panther Movement,” at I also spoke there of the UPM serving as a “Big Umbrella” under which many other mass organizations and groups could unite, by embracing community service under the Party’s 10 Point Program. This is now the role of the Panther Solidarity Movement (PSM).

But there is a distinction between auxiliary organizations (like RIBPOC and RIWPO) and allied organizations (like PSO and those under PSM). The former are internal to RIBPP and the latter are external. The RIBPOC and RIWPO are internal divisions of the Party, subordinate to the Central Committee (CC). PSO, PSM and other mass organizations are external to the Party, having their own leadership bodies and chains of command independent of the Party. But under direction of the CC and the appropriate ministries, Party cadre work within these mass organizations.



Because the mass organization must be open and accessible to, and composed of, the broad and largely undeveloped masses of the oppressed communities, special candidacy and political education requirements may not be created to qualify nor disqualify people from joining a mass organization like PSO. All that should be required to create a PSO collective within a community or prison is that three or more people unite around the RIBPP’s 10 Point Program and adopt rules as outlined above. The principal basis of organizing PSO collectives is that aspiring members share a common desire and objective to implement programs that serve and meet the needs of the oppressed communities where they exist.

The function of any intercommunal Secretariat or Steering Committee should be only to help facilitate sharing resources, labor, or communications between local PSO collectives, developing new collectives or chapters, or bringing in new members. It should not act to impose criteria on people to create, validate, or join local PSO collectives.



Our aim is to unite the entire communities at the grassroots around programs of collective change based upon the general principles laid out in the 10 Point Program.

This is how a mass movement oriented to making genuine change, empowering the masses, and winning them to take up greater struggle for more fundamental change must develop. To win and involve the masses PSM must be non-sectarian and open to the people in all their ideological, cultural, spiritual and social diversity.

The PSM is the overall movement (a genuine Rainbow Coalition) to implement Pantherism on a global scale. The concept underlying PSM is to create an umbrella that includes the oppressed masses of the world based on collectivizing our common needs and struggles for survival and collectively creating people power based upon intercommunal solidarity.

As a global grassroots movement, PSM must be democratic, and tolerant of people’s diverse beliefs and practices, even when they differ or conflict with each other and our own.

Any community based groups and organizations that unite with the RIBPP’s 10 Point Program may join PSM, so long as they are democratic and uphold the same basic rules as the PSO and principles of serving the communities as described above. They may be religious groups, cultural groups, and so on.

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




[1] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “On the Roles and Characteristics of the Panther Vanguard Party and Mass Organizations”(2006)

[2] Ibid

[3] Kevin “Rashid” Johnson, “Revolutionizing the Masses in Three Stages” (2021) at


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