The Panther and the Elephant (2005)

The elephant is large and powerful and is unsurpassed in direct confrontation. The Panther is agile and stealthy and is unsurpassed in indirect confrontation. The Elephant relies on his size, thick skin and tusks to meet his enemy head on, while the Panther blends into the night, exercises patience, and employs the art of surprise and ambushes his prey. His intelligence and cunning are greater weapons than his formidable fangs and claws.

In the “Art of War,” the ancient Chinese sage, Sun Tzu, proposes that two types of forces and maneuvers are called for. He called these CHENG and CH’I. These would be regular and special forces and direct and indirect maneuvers. The purpose of CHENG forces is to engage the enemy, and the purpose of the CH’I forces is to defeat the enemy.

In advancing the cause of Black Liberation, both types of forces, CHENG and CH’I, are needed. Or to put it another way, both a vanguard and a mass form of organization is needed. The mass form of organization is based upon programmatic unity, and includes people of various political, spiritual and cultural orientations. In the case of the Black Brigade, its basis of unity is service to the Nation of Afrikans in Amerika. The vanguard form of organization is based upon a higher level of unity, application of the Science of Revolution, which is Historical and Dialectical Materialism, and commitment to being a full time revolutionary.

Classes and Class Struggle

The Proletariat is the class that must sell its labor power to the capitalist class, submitting to exploitation, to survive. In other words, it is the working class, the class of “wage slaves.” This is the only class with nothing to lose but its “chains,” and thus is the only class capable of leading the United Front Against Imperialism to make all the way revolution and advance society to communism or classless society. Other classes have more or less of a stake in the capitalist division of society, even though they are compelled to resist and to revolt against the Monopoly Capitalist Class dictatorship and the imperialist system to some degree.

In this historical period, the most advanced application of the Science of Revolution is Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, but one need not be a communist with a capital “C” to be part of the Vanguard force. However, one must be a revolutionary nationalist, and as Mao put it: “Revolutionary Nationalism is applied Proletarian Internationalism.” There is a difference between the Black Nationalist Movement and the Proletarian Internationalist or Communist Movement, but the two are inexorably intertwined.

The Nation of Afrikans in Amerika is divided into classes, though overwhelmingly it is a Proletarian Nation. There is also a Black Bourgeoisie (Bush-wa-zee), which is divided into National and Comprador sections, the latter being those who objectively serve the ruling class of the white colonial-settler regime. Clarence Thomas and Condoleezza Rice are examples of this grouping. The National Bourgeoisie is more independent, and those who got rich through sports or the entertainment industry are examples.

The Petty Bourgeoisie is the stratum in the middle between the rich class and the working class. It includes the professionals, (like doctors, educators and lawyers), small business owners and middle and lower management. Though they may actually make less money than the upper strata of the industrial proletariat, their relationship to production is less direct, and they are more likely to reflect the outlook of the employing class and to nurture hopes of becoming big bourgeois themselves.

Some sections, such as the intellectuals, or the semi-proletarian artisans, can be won to become relatively firm allies of the revolutionary proletariat. On the other hand, sections of the middle class are the historic base of fascism. The upper strata of the industrial proletariat, or “Labor Aristocracy,” were the vanguard of the unionization movement, but due to the super profits engendered by imperialism and the exploitation of the Third World countries, the monopoly capitalists were able to bribe these strata with a higher standard of living and middle class aspirations. Their class-consciousness was dulled and the white workers particularly were rallied around US national chauvinism and anti-communism.

Now, as a result of increased globalization, this stratum has been greatly reduced by the outsourcing of their jobs overseas by the multi-national corporations and the downsizing of their US workforce. This has greatly reduced the power of the industrial workers and the number of unionized workers overall. The largest section of the Black proletarians are part of the great mass of non-organized workers who have no unions, (and in most cases no health coverage), and live from paycheck to paycheck barely getting by. Linked to them are their dependents and the de-classed poor, welfare and disability recipients, pensioners, the marginally employed, and the jobless and homeless.

There is also the Lumpen Proletariat. “Lumpen” literally means “broken.” The Lumpen make their living by illegal means, as petty gangsters, drug dealers, pimps, con artists and thieves. They reflect the mentality of the big gangsters and monopoly capitalists and feed parasitically off the people, but some have the potential to be won to a proletarian outlook and become revolutionaries. Unlike the big parasites, they do not enjoy immunity from prosecution for their crimes and often end up spending most of their lives in prison.

The Black Nation in Amerika

Black people were forged into a nation in Amerika under conditions of slavery and segregation. Stripped of their national cultures, languages and identities under slavery, they were amalgamated into a new nation based upon their common Afrikan origin and features. Four hundred years of oppression and exploitation shaped the national identity and culture of this nation. Originally centered in the “Black Belt,” or “Cotton Belt,” of the Deep South, where most Blacks and many poor whites were reduced to a condition of being made share-cropping peasants after the overthrow of slavery. KKK terror and Jim Crow segregation laws denied them a political voice even though they were the majority, and the region was made an internal colony of the US with Third World-like conditions.

Mechanization of cotton picking and the demand for industrial workers in the industrial centers, particularly during WWI and WWII, encouraged a massive exodus of Black people from the South to the North and the West. Huge urban ghettos sprang up and become new internal colonies of the US. From Harlem to Compton, these centers defined the faster-paced urbanized culture of Black Amerika in the 20th Century. New music and worldliness replaced the rural life style and outlook.

The national liberation struggles of the people in the former European colonies in Afrika and throughout the Third World were echoed in the civil rights and Black Nationalist movements within the US. Revolutionary Black Nationalist groups, like the Black Panther Party, sprang up to challenge both racism and imperialism and begin the struggle for socialist revolution. The high tide of struggle in the US in the 60s and 70s coincided with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in People’s China and the Vietnam War and numerous other national liberation struggles and attempts to establish socialism in Afrika, Latin America and Asia.

The US emerged victorious from the Cold War, and the ebb in struggle internationally, (with the right-wing coup in China following Mao’s death, the collapse of the former Soviet Union and Socialist Bloc and the defeat of socialist forces in Afrika and elsewhere), was mirrored by a decline in the Black Liberation Struggle here too. But the emergence of the New World Order and sole-superpower domination only served to intensify exploitation and the aggressive and predatory nature of US imperialism.

Neither the Neo-Liberals nor the Neo-Conservatives saw a need to continue the pattern of Cold War Liberalism and concessions to common people. The decline of the Left was more than matched by the rise of the extreme Right. Backing both Islamic and Judeo-Christian religious fundamentalism, the stage was set for the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and increased pressure on all the oil-producing countries by US-Anglo imperialism. Under the cover of the “War on Terror,” major attacks on the democratic rights and protections of the Amerikan people have been made and steps have been taken to build a more efficient police state.

Since the end of the Cold War, a massive increase in the number of people incarcerated in the US has taken place, (mostly Black and other people of color), so that Amerika now accounts for nearly half the imprisoned people in the world. Affirmative action programs have been cut back and social welfare programs have been dramatically slashed. The ruling class is aggressively waging class struggle against the working class and poor while the Neo-Cons are aggressively suppressing the Neo-Liberals, characterizing them as the “Radical Left.”

The white, capitalist, colonial-settler state was built upon genocide and dispossession of the indigenous nations and the kidnapping, enslavement and exploitation of the Afrikan people, and this oppression continues to this day. Legal desegregation has not altered the condition of super-exploitation of Black people in Amerika or in Afrika. Civil Rights is still an issue. White Racism is still an issue. The right to self-determination and national liberation is still an issue. The Nation of Afrikans living in Amerika has the right, and the necessity, to struggle for solutions to its problems as a nation. This includes the right to define and govern its own territory and to transform the internal colonies of exploitation into base areas of cultural, social and political revolution.

At the same time, it also includes the right to fight for full civil rights for all within the US, including prisoners and those convicted of felonies and the so-called “illegal aliens.” We say: “NO INCARCERATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION!” and: “AMEND THE 13TH AMENDMENT TO ABOLISH SLAVERY FOR ALL!” And we say: “IF YOU ARE HERE, YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO VOTE AND TO RESPECT OF YOUR CIVIL RIGHTS!” It is the white-settler colonial regime that are the real illegal aliens. Every bit of this land was stolen from the indigenous nations. These indigenous nations have historically been the main ally of the Afrikan people in Amerika. Long before there was an “Underground Railroad,” the path to freedom led to the Indian nations. Many of the so-called “illegal aliens” are in fact Native Americans from south of the border drawn by the whites. The Red-Black Alliance is key to national liberation within the US.


Just as Afrikan people were formed into a new nation in Amerika, so too Afrikan people internationally have been formed into a new type of nation by conditions of colonialism, slavery and racism. This Pan-Afrikan movement and nationalism links the primarily proletarian New Afrikans of Amerika and Europe with the primarily peasant Afrikans of Afrika. The Afrikan Diaspora created new conditions for both building All African Unity and advancing World Socialist Revolution.

The anti-colonial wars of national liberation following WWII, led to numerous attempts to build Afrikan socialism in several countries. Undermined by CIA and European-hatched assassinations, coups and tribal conflicts, these were rolled back, and a destabilized condition of neo-colonial domination prevails in Afrika. Dire poverty and conditions exist across Afrika. Famine, AIDS, alcohol and drug addiction, warlordism and religious and inter-tribal strife weigh heavily on the Afrikan peoples. Rich in natural resources, Afrika remains the poorest place on Earth, while everywhere people of Afrikan descent are faced with racial discrimination.

Building Pan-Afrikan Unity is vital to the uplifting of the Afrikan people everywhere and particularly here in the US. Conversely, supporting the Black Liberation Movement here is vital to continuing the struggle for liberation and socialism in Afrika. This calls for new forms of organization and struggle as well as the renewal of previous forms. The Black Panther Party needs to be renewed not only in the US but also internationally and the Black Brigade needs to be built both nationally and internationally.

In supporting and building ties with Afrika, it is important to include elements of the national bourgeoisie and all classes in contradiction with imperialism and neocolonialism uniting all who can be united. The principles of New Democratic Revolution need to be applied.

New Democratic Revolution

National liberation involves a two stage revolutionary process to advance to the building socialism. First your have to liberate the country from imperialist neo-colonial domination and their agents and address the question of: “LAND TO THE TILLERS.” Since the emergence of Monopoly Capitalism and modern imperialism, the bourgeoisie has proven incapable of leading democratic revolution against remnants of the old feudal order, and this duty has fallen to the proletariat and its vanguard.

The national bourgeoisie can be a vacillating ally in this struggle, in which the peasantry is the main force, but the ideological and political leadership must come from the proletariat. Even within the internal colonies of the US, the principles of New Democratic Revolution have some relevance, particularly in overturning the feudal remnant of the 13th Amendment, which perpetuates the status of slave for those convicted of crimes, and the unfinished civil rights struggle.

In the 3rd World, the New Democratic Revolution is advanced by means of People’s War, surrounding the cities from the countryside and creating people’s power on a national level before liberating the urban centers and consolidating state power. The people’s war in Nepal is a classic example of this strategy.

Strategy and Tactics

The Black Brigade is needed to confront and engage the colonial-settler power structure frontally creating institutions of people’s power locally. The basic unit of people’s power must be neighborhood councils composed of the veteran fighters and respected elders of the community. We can then organize programs for the people’s security and social welfare under these committees.

Private security firms can be created and licensed to operate under contract to the neighborhood councils, supported by voluntary neighborhood security patrols. These can present offenders with the option of having their cases decided by the people’s council instead of being turned over to the municipal authorities. The council can levy fines, order that restitution be paid and/or mandate community service. It can also banish offenders from the community.

The security officers would be armed, equipped and trained to handle this role in a professional manner. Besides dealing with the problem of crime in the neighborhood, the people’s security force can also monitor and collect evidence on police complicity and corruption. Over time, it can displace the police as the force most relied upon by the people to handle their security issues, empowering the people’s councils to function as a parallel government.

Besides addressing the issue of the people’s security, the neighborhood councils would also initiate and coordinate all manner of social service and survival programs taking up the slack of government cut backs and responsibility to see that the hungry are fed, the homeless are given shelter, the sick and injured are provided with medical care and health services and in general that the needs of the people are addressed. In addition, the councils would work to promote the political economy of the neighborhoods by assisting in the creation of worker’s coops and consumer’s coops and in the countryside grower’s coops.

An important link to be forged is between the urban oppressed communities and the rural communities where most of the prisons are located. Regular transportation and housing for families visiting prisoners need to be established. As part of the drive to extend voter rights to prisoners, uniting with the progressive forces in the communities where the prisons are located is important. These include family members who have relocated to be close to their loved ones.

Our general strategy must be to: “TRANSFORM THE IRON HOUSES OF OPPRESSION INTO SCHOOLS OF LIBERATION, AND TO BUILD THE OPPRESSED COMMUNITIES INTO BASE AREAS OF CULTURAL, SOCIAL AND POLITICAL REVOLUTION.” There is a dialectical relationship between these tasks. The more we are able to succeed at one aspect the better we will do at the other.

The vanguard force has the principal task of providing political education to the masses and making them conscious. They must represent the broad and revolutionary viewpoint of the proletariat. They must also act as shock troops and jump in as needed when a highly motivated and disciplined force is called for.


While a revolutionary situation does not at present exist in the US, as Sun Tzu pointed out: “BATTLES AND WARS ARE WON OR LOST BEFORE THEY ARE FOUGHT!” The Panther and the Elephant, the CH’I and CHEN warriors and forces of the people, must be organized now so that when a revolutionary situation does present itself, the people will not be unprepared.

“IT IS RIGHT TO REBEL!” against tyranny and national oppression, and we must “SEIZE THE TIME!” and “DARE TO STRUGGLE AND DARE TO WIN!” Many fine comrades and heroes of the people have sacrificed themselves to illuminate the path forward. We have our duty to the future generation.  POWER TO THE PEOPLE!


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