Talking Nonsense Solves No Problems: Reply to an Open Response Letter Allegedly Written by the Amazons-August Collective and NAPLA to the New Afrikan Black Panther Party
I recently received an “open letter” purporting to be from the Amazons-August 3rd Collective (AA3) and New Afrikan Peoples Liberation Army (NAPLA), which claims to respond to an article I wrote elaborating the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter’s (NABPP-PC) line on New Afrikan Liberation. ((My article “Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism” was first published in Right On!, vol. 19 (Spring 2010), newsletter of NABPP-PC, then reprinted in California Prison Focus no. 38, Spring 2012, www.prisons.org. It can also be read at www.rashidmod.com. The article dreww its first critical response from Sanyika Shakur in an article “Get up For the Downstroke,” posted at www.kersplebedeb.com to which I am preparing a reply, but have been put off in completing because of prison officials repeatedly taking texts I am using for references to refute the many erroneous positions taken and arguments made in that article.)) The said letter, however, doesn’t analyze nor respond to our article at all. Instead it goes to some lengths, building momentum as it proceeds, to ridicule and angle to undermine the motives and character of the NABPP-PC in general and me as a leading member in particular.
The letter proves to be based purely on conjecture, where its authors, (whoever they might actually be), admit having little or no factual knowledge or study of the NABPP-PC as an organization, our history, our political and ideological line, our membership, or much else. Yet we are disparaged as unscientific nostalgic adventurists, egotists, glory-seekers, opportunists and more ((To the extent that this “open” letter authentically came from Comrades in the AA3 and NAPLA, it reflects a dangerous tendency, also shown in Comrade Sanyika’s article cited in note 1 above, within the NAIM of comrades passing judgments and formulating critiques without performing the slightest investigation of their subject – in this case, the NABPP-PC. One of the slogans that distinguished the original BPP during its most revolutionary stages was, “No investigation, no right to speak.” This slogan was drawn from the teachings of Mao Tse-Tung, who was one of, if not the most important (and feared by the imperialists) revolutionary teachers and leaders of the era. In elaborating this slogan, he explained, when you speak on something without looking into its present facts and history, without knowing its essense, “whatever you say about it will undoubtedly be nonsense. Talking nonsense solves no problems…” Mao Tse-Tung, “Oppose Book Worship” (1930).)). The letter is obviously geared to lead others to look upon our Party, its work and members with suspicion and ridicule, characterizing us as a threat to the Movement, the People and the struggle that must be “reigned in,” and without a shred of fact to back its critiques.
My first thought on reading this letter was that it reads exactly like a piece of FBI counterintelligence like old COINTELPRO brown mail written by the political police but claiming to originate from some actual or fictitious organization or persyn, which was sent to a targeted group of persyn or otherwise publicized, with the purpose of inciting groups against each other and/or to discredit groups and their members in the public eye. These are old and well-established pig tactics, and ones any student of pig covert actions would readily recognize, and that seasoned Comrades would be conscious to avoid using themselves or playing into.
I especially doubted the authenticity of the letter when I considered that leading cadre of the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM) have admonished the Movement against publicly lambasting other groups in this fashion. For example New Afrikan People’s Organization (NAPO) Chairman Chokwe Lumumba warned the Movement against this in an article ((Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity)) I know the actual AA3 and NAPLA are familiar with, because it was referenced in an article written last year by Comrade Sanyika Shakur which they signed onto. ((ref:1)) Chokwe stated:
“Publicly blasting revolutionary New Afrikan organizations without prior efforts to resolve conflicts and indeed after declining an opportunity to do so behind closed doors (as Malcolm X suggests) has worked to the detriment of the Black Liberation Movement on countless occasions. Garvey vs. the Afrikan Blood Brotherhood, Malcolm vs. Elijah Muhammad, West Coast Panthers vs. NY 21, Panthers vs. cultural nationalists, the Provisional Government Republic of New Afrika Constitutional Crisis of 1969/70 are all examples of the counter-revolutionary consequence of such behavior. The agents of the enemy are drawn to open “wild west” political shoot outs, between revolutionaries like flies are to feces. This type of debate helped to imprison Garvey, discredit the Blood Brotherhood, kill Malcolm, destroy the Panthers and divide the Provisional Government in the 1970’s.
“We emphasize that We do not believe that there should never be public debate or struggle between revolutionary groups. But We do believe that before such exchanges occur, maximum caution should be taken to insure that these debates are not self-destructive.”
He also pointed out that his own NAPO:
“has been engaged in political debate recently with many of the Organizations in the Black Liberation Movement… However, these debates have been and continue to be carried out in a secure and productive manner.
“They are occurring in a non-public manner, or publicly after notice of the issues, and with preliminary discussion designed to correct gross misinformation and misconceptions in order to minimize the danger of public comment which mischaracterizes on the basis of distortions or mistakes of fact.
“Among genuine revolutionary groups this process helps to minimize enemy provocation and provides a better opportunity for maximum consideration of all factors involves, before any organization has publicly committed itself to that which might easily be shown to be erroneous information or thinking.” ((Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity, note 8, p. 34))
Investigate Then Speak
To the extent this “open” letter is actually the work of AA3 and NAPLA, the NABPP is fully prepared to answer questions or concerns they may have about our organization, line and work. ((If indeed the letter originated from AA3 and NAPLA, we think the comrades should, in light of Comrade Chokwe’s admonition, do a bit of self-criticism, and we invite them to engage in principled struggle with us on any questions or criticisms they may have, beginning with the principle of working in unity, engaging in principled struggle so that we end on a higher level of unity. This is how contradictions within the ranks of the People are resolved, as opposed to contradictions with the enemy.)) In addition, we can refer them to articles we’ve written and our media that explain a lot of what is questioned or challenged in that letter, including what our purpose is, our history, why and how we originated within the empire’s prisons, why we are an aboveground Party formation and not a clandestine organization, the purpose and functions of leading positions and the election to and revocation of such positions within a revolutionary Party organization, etc. I am also in process of having more of our Party materials posted to my website – rashidmod.com
Reviving the Party: A Dangerous Nostalgia or a Revolutionary Necessity?
We can certainly understand Comrades’ confusions surrounding the need, role, function and structure of a revolutionary political Party. In fact, Comrade Owusu Yaki Yakubu aka Atiba Shanna spoke to this tendency years ago:
“The movement and its organization must be re-built – by cadres. We look to the past and see that one of our major weaknesses was the lack of attention given to properly selecting and training cadres. WE claimed to base ourselves on Marxist-Leninist theory (e.g. with respect to party-building), and to be aware of the class dimensions of the national liberation struggle. Yet, we ignored or overlooked the need to use class-based and vanguard criteria in the selection and training of party members and cadres. In point of fact, we were more ignorant of the process of building revolutionary scientific socialist parties than we realized. (There wasn’t much material on this in The Red Book or Mao’s military writings, and by 1970-71, we’d been so disappointed by Huey Newton & Co., and so misguided by our own petty-bourgeois [and lumpen proletarian–Rashid] mentalities and our misinterpretations of certain South American experiences, that we, in effect, abandoned the principle of the need for a party, i.e. the necessity for a party organization if revolutionary struggle is to be effectively generated and successful.)” ((Atiba Shanna, “Notes on Cadre Policy and Cadre Development,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), p. 10. In the same volume of Vita Wa Watu, Owusu stated conclusively, “We aren’t gonna take up space here as if We’re engaged in a debate over the need for a party. For us, the need is a foregone conclusion. He went on to add:
“It’s understood that the party must be suited to our unique conditions and tasks, that its new structure, thought and practice, should be influenced by the lessons acquired from analyses of previous experiences; that it should incorporate those characteristic features of revolutionary parties in other countries which have proven to be essential and relevant, despite differences in time and place, that building the needed type of party is a complicated process which must be undertaken consciously and systematically without skipping any fundamental steps.”
Ibid. p. 19, “On What It Means to ‘Re-Build’ – Part One: Re-Orientation.” This is the exact work the NABPP-PC is engaged in, yet our critics, who are supposed to be students of Owusu, dismiss our efforts to build such a party as “dangeous”, “nostalgia”, and an “unscientific adventure” that the NAIM must close ranks to “rein in.”))
Comrade Safiya Bukhari also recognized and emphasized the need to reconstitute a revolutionary NA Panther Party, as the political vanguard of the NAIM in which she’d long been a leading voice and organizer. ((Safiya Bukhari, The War Before: The True Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith and Fighting for Those Left Behind (Feminist Press, 2010).))
As the “open” letter mentions, various groups since the demise of the BPP in 1982 ((Contrary to our critics’ position that the BPP ceased to exist in 1980, “[t]he year 1982 marks the official death of the Black Panther Party, since that was when many of the Party’s programs, like the once-acclaimed Intercommunal Youth Institute (or primary school), and the publication of the BPP newspaper ceased…” Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004), pp. 232-33.)) have assumed the name of the original Party. But as Comrade Mumia Abu-Jamal observed in his study and political memoir of his experiences as a member of the BPP, these groups have not built upon or continued the legacy of the BPP. ((Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2004), chapter 10, pp. 227-247.)) However, in a 2006 article in support of Comrade Hasan Shakur, the Minister of Human Rights of our NABPP-PC until he was murdered by the State of Texas on Black August 31, 2006, Mumia wrote:
“Hasan has joined the newly-formed New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter, based in Amerika’s prisons and in honor of his commitment in the face of death, the NABPP has named him its Minister of Human Rights.
“Hasan, through his politicization, has devoted his life to what the NABPP calls “Pantherism,” or a fidelity to the Revolution as taught and practiced by the original Black Panther Party.
“Unlike other recent formations, the NABPP studies the writings of Huey P. Newton Bobby Seale, George Jackson, and other founding and leading members. The words of Malcolm X are important tools for understanding and addressing the challenges of today.
This is refreshing news indeed.” ((Mumia Abu-Jamal, “No Place to be Reborn: The Awakening,” Right On! Newsletter of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter vol. 4 (Summer 2006), p.4.))
Political Work Involves Wide Publicity
What defines our work and structure is what sort of organization we are. The NABPP-PC is not an underground (para)military nor a joint political/military organization, but a “legal” aboveground political Party, that aims to be both flexible and adaptable to changing circumstances. From the extremes of enemy repression to permissive conditions where open political agitation, education and organizing are possible, Revolutionary Parties have existed, communicated, thrived and ultimately succeeded in defeating oppressive systems under much worse conditions than we find ourselves in Amerika or its prisons.
In revolutionary struggle, especially in its developmental stages, political work takes primacy, which entails educating, and agitating amongst the People. Many in the Movement have instead long given primacy to armed struggle. A tendency that Comarade Owusu Yaki Yakubu also criticized. ((Atiba Shanna, “On What It Means to ‘Re-Build’ – Part Two: Re-Organization,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), note 6, pp. 39-58.))
As for widely publicizing revolutionary views and analyses, Mao Tse-Tung noted, in a struggle for liberation:
“there are various fronts, among which are the fronts of the pen and of the gun, the cultural and military fronts. To defeat the enemy we must rely primarily on the army with guns. But this army alone is not enough; we must also have a cultural army, which is absolutely indispensable for uniting our own ranks and defeating the enemy.” ((Mao Tse-Tung, “Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Are,” Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, vol. 3 (Foreign Language Press,1963), p. 69. (emphasis added)))
This is the principle behind revolutionaries publishing their line and analyses as broadly amongst the People as possible, and is what the critics who wrote the “open” letter see in the wide distribution of my art and writings in various media and my having developed working alliances with a wide range of organizations and People.
Doing What We Can: Filling a Void; Leading by Example
Our critics wouldn’t know, because they’ve admittedly done little study of our literature, but the NABPP-PC has repeatedly recognized and publicly acknowledged the limitations that objective conditions place on our ability to be fully integrated with the masses, and be as effective as we’d like in our work. But as Dialectical Materialists, we struggle to understand and work within the laws and limits of objective external conditions, to achieve as much as we can and create more favorable conditions for greater struggle, toward achieving our revolutionary ends. We don’t just “do nothing” because we don’t find ourselves in the most ideal conditions. But we could certainly accomplish much more with the unity and support of AA3 and NAPLA, and vice versa.
We also recognize that today there exists a revolutionary leadership vacuum, and if nothing more we can set an example and offer a blueprint on how a Party organization looks and works, for a Movement that continues to not recognize the fundamental need of a revolutionary Party to lead any revolutionary movement, and for any such struggle to advance and succeed; nor how such an organization is structured and operates. A few articles I’ve written that might be instructive on these points are: “Unity-Struggle-Transformation: On Revolutionary Organization, Leadership, and Cadre Development,” (2012), “On the Vanguard Party, Once Again” (2012), “The New Afrikan Black Panther Party’s Organizational Principles, Policy and Practice: The 3-P’s” (2012), “The NABPP-PC Rules of Discipline and General Directives” (2005). ((The articles can be read online at www.rashidmod.com.))
In any event, we do appreciate and understand the risks and tactical flexibility that goes with this work, and factor that into our line and policies. We are far from naive, reckless or reactionary.
Start from Scratch?!?
The NABPP certainly looks to carry forward our People’s centuries old struggle. But it is impossible to advance any struggle across generations without building on the shoulders of those who went before. Indeed, one reason our movements have met with repeated setbacks is because we don’t maintain organizational and historical continuity. Lacking political organizations that retain, build upon, and pass down the memories and lessons of our past achievements as well as failures, and thereby enrich and develop our work, culture and persynality, we find ourselves struggling to reinvent the wheel every few years and repeating the same errors over and over along the way. We suffer organizational and political amnesia. And our critics seek to raise this tendency to a political principle [?!]. “Starting from scratch” is what has us never getting past the opening stages of this race – running only a few yards, falling over some obstacles, then turning around, returning to the starting line and repeating this same process again and again. Instead we should be studying and correcting past mistakes, developing winning methods and techniques, mastering the track and its obstacles, training and preparing, lining up our best runners (and having reserves trained and in place), adjusting to and preparing for changes on the track, in the weather, etc., then running the race, staying the course, and passing the torch to each successive generation of runners until the race is won. That’s organizing to win!
Are We Flippin’ the Scripts of the BLM or NAIM?
The NABPP-PC is a product, part and continuation of the BLM and NAM, and seeks to link and advance them into the larger struggles to overthrow this imperialist system and to achieve genuine liberation, not just for New Afrikan peoples, but our Afrikan peoples the world over and all others who suffer under the yoke and lash of imperialism. This entails a multi-faceted strategy, that requires the sort of political organization and United Panther Movement (UPM) we are struggling to build, and working in alliance with various other vanguard and mass organizations.
As to our stand on the National Liberation strategy embraced by AA3, NAPLA and other RNA affiliates, the NABPP is no more antagonistic to them than was the original BPP. And as we will show, our line is consistent with ones that have long existed within NAIM, indeed we are part of NAIM, which explains in part why we in the NABPP account ourselves “New Afrikan” (which in any event is our People’s Nationality, which exists independent of any organizational or political affiliation.) ((New Afrikans are a nation of People whether we have a piece of land we call our own nation-state or not. Political borders, patriotic holidays, national anthems, and a flag are not what makes a people a nation. Chokwe defined a nation thusly: “A nation is a people who have shared a long history of inhabitation in a common identifiable territory, while developing a common culture, language and economy; or with regard to economy, a nation is a people who have been collectively subjugated to an imperialist economic system, which has prevented them from developing and organizing an economic life of their own.” Chokwe Lumumba, The Roots of the New Afrikan Independence Movement: Revolution Requires Political Maturity, note 3, p. 12. According to the second definition, all the groups oppressed by U.S. imperialism constitute a nation, which would include the multi-national and multi-racial working class; also Afrikan People would constitute a Pan-Afrikan nation (both those in the diaspora and on the continent collectively) under this definition which comports with our analysis set out in my article cited in note 1. As to the first definition, it conforms exactly to that set out by Comrade Joseph Stalin in 1912, which contradicts Comrade Sanyika who, in his article cited in note 1, claimed of the RNA, “We don’t import ideas” and disparaged those who do. Here’s how Stalin defined the nation: “A nation is a historically constituted, stable, community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture. “Marxism and the National Question,” (1912). Actually, Stalin’s definition became the standard Marxist-Leninist analysis, and was embraced by Communists and Revolutionary Nationalists the world over. In 1913 Comrade V.I. Lenin wrote that Stalin’s work on the national question should be given “prime place” in revolutionary theoretical literature. Lenin, “The Program of the R.S.D.L.P.,” (1913). And it was under Stalin’s leadership that the International Communist Movement recognized and supported the right of New Afrikans to a national territory in the Southeast U.S.))
Our critics charge that we’re changing the ideology of the original BPP to fit the times. Is that wrong? Do they expect us to live in the 1960s? But they accused us of dangerous nostalgia! And yes, we actually have repudiated the lumpen-proletarian ideology that the BPP adhered to (an ideology very similar in any respects to that of the petty bourgeoisie). As we set out long ago in one of our founding documents: “The NABPP-PC: Our Line” (()) we specifically embrace the class line of the revolutionary proletariat in contrast to that of the lumpen. And while we’re criticized as “foul” for this, yet another book that AA3 and NAPLA have endorsed also repudiates the lumpen ideology. Namely E. Tani’s and Kae Sera’s, False Nationalism False Internationalism, which was also cited in Sanyika’s article. (())
Are we “lazy” because we’ve embraced the Black Panther legacy and symbology? Certainly no lazier than were Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, since before they co-founded their BPP, there were two other Black Panther formations, one was the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), the underground militant organization founded in 1962 at Ohio’s Central State College, of which RNA’s first “president” Robert Williams was chairman in exile. The other was the Alabama-based civil rights Lowndes County Freedom Organization, from which RAM adopted the Black Panther symbol. Furthermore, Huey developed the BPP’s mass line by struggling ideologically against underground groups like RAM.
And another thing – the BPP didn’t begin as a community-based Party any more than did the NABPP-PC. Huey and Bobby started it on the campus of Oakland, California’s Merrit Junior College. A setting where they admitted political work was isolated from the oppressed New Afrikan masses. Only after Huey (who was the BPP’s leading theoretician) refined its ideology through extensive study and debate with other campus groups, and procured seed money by selling Mao’s Little Red Book at the school, did they leave the campus to build the BPP in the oppressed communities.
One might also ask, if the vast numbers of imprisoned people amongst whom the NABPP-PC was founded don’t qualify as “the masses”, or at least a substantial portion of the oppressed New Afrikan masses, what are they? Especially considering that prisons are the one place in Amerika where New Afrikans are a social majority, and most severely repressed. But with the time we have on our hands, these prisons – which Malcolm X called “the poor man’s university” – are also an environment conducive to revolutionary study and learning. Where indeed did Malcolm, George Jackson, Owusu and even myself develop? In fact it was in prison that Sanyika evolved to his present state from an unlettered gang-banger.
So we know, with history and strategy as our guide, that revolutionary cadre and at the very least the nucleus of revolutionary organizing can be developed inside these warehouses of the oppressed, then transitioned to the streets upon these comrades’ release. Developed consciously and step-by-step under such conditions our cadre and organizations will be strong, resilient, adaptable, healthy and capable of self-regeneration like a weed, as opposed to those developed under sheltered and plush conditions like fragile hothouse flowers. We will therefore be suited to confront and adapt to any challenge and hardship. Just like Lenin’s and Mao’s parties became and proved to be the most capable revolutionary leadership by developing and evolving in the teeth of the enemy’s most repressive conditions.
And like the BPP, Mao co-founded the Chinese Communist Party from among the cadre of a university study group, and from there rooted it among the Chinese masses. Similarly, Amilcar Cabral developed schools where his Party cadre were systematically trained and organized, then reintegrated them with the masses to lead one of Afrika’s most decisive revolutionary national liberation struggles.
We tend to agree with the line advanced by Comrade Huey P. Newton in his September 13, 1969, letter to the RNA, on the occasion of the return of RNA President Robert Williams from exile. In fact we feel conditions today — in particular the replacement of colonialism with today’s far more advanced and refined neo-colonialism – validate Huey’s position eve moreso. Based upon carious critiques we have read of our line on New Afrikan liberation from Comrades who embrace the RNA line, it seems Huey’s letter has been lost or forgotten within RNA circles. It is an important historical document we feel, and therefore bears quoting at length. The letter was entitled Huey P. Newton to the Republic of New Afrika, and read:
This is Huey P. Newton at Los Padres, California 1969, September 13. Greetings to the Republic of New Africa and President Robert Williams. I’m very happy to be able to welcome you back home. I might add that this is perfect timing. And we need you very much, the people need you very much. And now that the consciousness of the people is at such a high level, perhaps they will be able to appreciate your leadership, and also be ready to move in a very revolutionary fashion.
Some time ago I received a message from the Republic of New Africa with a series of questions concerning the philosophy of the Black Panther Party; and very detailed questions on certain stands, and our thinking on these positions. At that time I wasn’t prepared to send a message out. I’ve had to think about many of the questions, and due to the situation here it’s very difficult for me to communicate, so this explains the lapse of time between question and answer. I won’t be able to expound on all the questions but I would like to give some general explanations of the Black Panther Party’s position, as related to the Republic of New Africa.
The Black Panther Party’s position is that the Black people in the country are definitely colonized, and suffer from the colonial plight more than any ethnic group in the country. Perhaps with the exception of the Indian, but surely as much even as the Indian population. We too, realize that the American people in general are colonized. And they’re colonized simply because they’re under a capitalist society, with a small clique of rulers who are the owners of the means of production in control of decision making. They’re the decision making body, therefore, that takes the freedom from the American people in general, and they simply work for the enrichment of this ruling class. As far as Blacks are concerned, of course, we’re at the very bottom of this ladder, we’re exploited not only by the small group of ruling class, we’re oppressed, and repressed by even the working class Whites in the country. And this is simply because the ruling class, the White ruling class uses the old Roman policy of divide and conquer. In other words the White working class is used as pawns or tools of the ruling class, but they too are enslaved. So it’s with that historical policy of dividing and ruling, that the ruling class can effectively and successfully keep the majority of the people in an oppressed position; because they’re divided in certain interest groups, even though these interests that the lower class groups carry doesn’t necessarily serve as beneficial to them.
As far as our stand on separation, we’ve demanded, as you very well know, a plebiscite of the U.N. to supervise, so that Blacks can decide whether they want to secede the union, or what position they’ll take on it. As far as the Black Panther Party is concerned we’re subject to the will of the people, but we feel that the Republic of New Africa is perfectly justified in demanding and declaring the right to secede the union. So we don’t have any contradiction between the Black Panther Party’s position and the Republic of New Africa’s position it’s simply a matter of timing. We feel that certain conditions will have to exist before we’re even given the right to make that choice. We also take into consideration the fact that if Blacks at this very minute were able to secede the union, and say have five states, or six states, it would be almost impossible to function in freedom side by side with a capitalist imperialist country. We all know that mother Africa is not free simply because of imperialism, because of Western domination. And there’s no indication that it would be any different if we were to have a separate country here in North America. As a matter of fact, by all logics we would suffer imperialism and colonialism even more so than the Third World is suffering it now. They are geographically better located, thousands of miles away, but yet they are not able to be free simply because of high technological developments, the highest technological developments that the West has that makes the world so much smaller, one small neighborhood.
So taking all these things into consideration, we conclude that the only way that we’re going to be free is to wipe out once and for all the oppressive structure of America. We realize we can’t do this without a popular struggle, without many alliances and coalitions, and this is the reason that we’re moving in the direction that we are, to get as many alliances as possible of people that are equally dissatisfied with the system. And also we’re carrying on, or attempting to carry on a political education campaign so that the people will be aware of the conditions and therefore perhaps they will be able to take steps to controlling these conditions. We think that the most important thing at this time, is to be able to organize in some fashion so that we’ll have a formidable force to challenge the structure of the American empire. So we invite the Republic of New Africa to struggle with us, because we know from people I’ve talked to, (I’ve talked to May Mallory, and other people who are familiar with the philosophy of the Republic of New Africa), they seem to be very aware that the whole structure of America will have to be changed in order for the people of America to be free. And this again is with the full knowledge and full view of the end goal of the Republic of New Africa to secede. In other words, we’re not really handling this question at this time because we feel that for us that is somewhat premature, that I realize the psychological value of fighting for a territory. But at this time the Black Panther Party feels that we don’t want to be in an enclave type situation where we would be more isolated than we already are now. We’re isolated in the ghetto areas, concentrated in the north, in the metropolitan areas, in the industrial areas, and we think that this is a very good location as far as strategy is concerned, as far as waging a strong battle against the established order. And again I think that it would be perfectly justified if Blacks decided that they wanted to secede the union, but I think the question should be left up to the popular masses, the popular majority. So this is it in a nutshell.
As l said before, I don’t have the facilities here to carry on long discussions. I look forward to talking with Milton Henry [later known as Gaidi Obadele–Rashid] in the near future, if it’s possible, (I know that he has his hands full now) or representatives of the Republic of New Africa, so we can talk these things over. There are many things I heard, things I read, I’m in total agreement with. I would like for the Republic of New Africa to know that we support Robert Williams, and his plight at this time; that we support him one hundred per cent, and we’re willing to give all services asked of us, and we would like to find out exactly what we can do that would be most helpful in the court proceedings coming up, what moral support we could give. Perhaps we could send some representatives, and we will publish in our paper, “THE BLACK PANTHER,” the criminal activities that he’s been victim of for some eight or nine years. I would also like to request of the Republic of New Africa to give us some support to Bobby Seale our Chairman of the Black Panther Party. Bobby Seale is now in prison as you know in San Francisco, he has a case coming up in Chicago, and one in Conn., and we invite the Republic of New Africa to come in support. We would like this very much, and whatever moral support they could possibly give, we would welcome it. We should be working closer together than we are and perhaps this would be an issue that we could work together on. The issue is the political prisoners of America, and people as one to stand for the release of all political prisoners; and this might be a rallying point where all the Black revolutionary organizations and parties could rally around. Because I truly believe that some good comes out of every attack that the oppressor makes, so perhaps this will be a turning point in both our organizations and parties. So I would like to say, “ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE, AND MORE POWER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF NEW AFRICA, ROBERT WILLIAMS.”
So, like the original BPP, the NABPP-PC doesn’t negate the right of New Afrikans to secede, the question is at what point is secession a practical and genuine answer to the oppressed condition of New Afrikans – before or after defeating the Amerikan imperialist structure? And in either case the ultimate decision if to secede is one for the People to make . And that decision must be informed so that they know and understand their options pro and contra. Also, consistent with the original Panther line, the NABPP-PC believes – and we have a very developed practical strategy for building a viable movement to deal imperialism the coup de grace – that so long as the imperialist system exists, secession right on its border would not “liberate” us. So there is no major line departure from the original BPP as our critics claim, only the NABPP-PC has gone deeper into the question especially in relation to the development of neocolonialism.
Neither is the NABPP-PC an interloper nor outside the NAIM because we advocate building a socialist Amerika as a precondition to any realistic option for New Afrikan secession, if secession be the People’s choice. We’ll refer to a leading theoretical voice and veteran of NAIMto make the point viz. Comrade Jalil Muntaqim, whose recently republished book We Are Our Own Liberators (Liberators) has been instructive to many in the NAIM, including those grouped around the teachings of Owusu. Indeed, Owusu’s own theoretical writings have been based on Jalil’s work. ((Atiba Shanna, “On What It Means to ‘Re-Build’ – Part Two: Re-Organization,” Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book 12 (April 1988), note 11.))
In the very beginning of Liberators, Jalil admits that three alternative strategies on New Afrikan Liberation have long existed within NAIM, not just one. They being, in his own words (and presented as questions at that): Are we to fight for an integrated Social Democratic capitalist America?  Are we to lead the fight to build a multi-national Socialist United States?  Are we to fight for democratic self-determination and independence of a Republic of New Afrika?
If this be true, the RNA tendency (the third listed by Jalil) is only one of several within the NAIM, and because we in the NABPP-PC promote the second tendency as a precursor to considering or advancing the third one, does not put us outside of nor make us antagonistic to NAIM. Indeed, according to Comrade Jalil our line and we are no less authentically part of the NAIM than the RNA’s line and the RNA. This, being true, collapses the entire foundation of the criticisms made in the “open” letter. Also, as we have already demonstrated, by founding a NA Panther Party aspiring to carry forward the work and set an organizational example for political leadership of the NAIM, the NABPP-PC has acted consistent with what leading voices in the NAIM (e.g. Owusu and Safiya) have stated is an indispensable need in our movement. And prominent veterans of the original BPP have recognized our efforts to carry on and advance the work of the original Panthers, standing on the shoulders of those who went before us. That we’ve taken this initiative while existing under the harshest and most limiting of social conditions, should inspire advanced NAIM elements to join us in building this organization and making it as effective as it can be, rather than attempting to undermine it.
And like Chokwe, in Liberators Jalil emphasized that within NAIM those who embrace different strategic views should engage in principled struggle, and not allow these differences to generate division and contention.
Exposure versus Protecting Political Leadership
Interestingly, while the “open” letter criticizes us as being too exposed, it goes on to contradict this charge by admitting ignorance of and curiosity as to who our members are, where they are based, etc. Also to question our position or membership with respect to wimyn, gays and transgender people. Since we really have no need to publicize this, not knowing where this letter really originated, we’ll answer the letter by quoting from our founding Rules of Discipline which state in relevant part:
“2) We will practice and promote respect for the rights of individuals, oppressed nations and peoples, including the disabled, wimyn, children, elderly, gay/lesbian, all ethnic and racial groups, and especially the working classes of all nations and nationalities.
“10) We will not practice discrimination within the Party’s ranks based upon gender or sexual orientation. All ranks and leadership positions within the Party will be equally available to men and wimyn, and their qualifications being determined by their proven abilities and commitment, and they will be equally respected and obeyed by lower ranks.” ((The full document can be read at www.rashidmod.com.))
For further elaboration of our line on wimyn’s oppression and the indispensable role of wimyn in revolutionary struggle, see my 2008 article “Wimyn Hold Up Half the Sky!: On the Questions of Wimyn’s Oppression and Revolutionary Wimyn’s Liberation versus Feminism.” ((This article is posted on www.rashidmod.com.))
And I might add, as far as being adventurist and “showing off” with macho posturing, etc., this is something we specifically oppose, and specifically spoke to as counter-revolutionary lumpen tendencies. Again see my 2005 article “The New Afrikan Black Panther Party-Prison Chapter: Our Line.” Also “Don’t Shank the Guards: Legal Recourse to Guards’ Harassment, Brutality and Rape” (2005). ((These articles are posted on www.rashidmod.com.)) Being adventurist and reactionary, by the way, also includes jumping out the window in response to pig provocations, as our critics imply we should be doing, although this was the pig tactic that put Comrade George in their crosshairs.
While we are by no means pacifists and uphold the right to self-defense, we recognize that before one can be a hammer they must first be an anvil. My experience and practice is what has qualified me in the collective judgment of NABPP-PC Comrades to maintain the position of Defense Minister, which is no more an empty “lofty” title than that of the “President” and other “officer” ranks in the PG-RNA. But we again understand NAIM comrades’ unfamiliarity with the structure of a revolutionary Political Party, in particular the organization of a Central Committee and Political Bureau (Politburo) composed of Ministers who preside over specific civil functions and institutions. As Comrade George noted, all many comrades who come to the struggle from the streets relate to is “the gun.” But as all seasoned and successful revolutionary leaders, from Amilcar Cabral to Mao Tse-Tung have emphasized, the gun must be controlled and guided by the Political Party, that indeed the Party is the source of a revolution’s success or failure.
Also, our critics seem confused as to whether they want to condemn me as a “macho macho tough guy” or as someone incapable of self-defense. They also accuse me of trusting the pigs’ legal system. Again, since they admittedly haven’t read much on our line, and have no direct experience with me, their confusion is understandable. In either respect a few points made under our 2005 Rules of Discipline (()) might shed some light on our position:
“Another thing we must avoid is falling into the trap of ‘Legalism,’ and believing that just because our actions are legal that the enemy won’t break the law to set us up on bogus charges, violate our rights, or commit illegal acts, including murder, to silence us. This is a fascist dictatorship! The window dressing of “Legality” and “Democracy” cannot be taken for reality.
“The necessity of doing legal, aboveground work makes us vulnerable, and retaliation only plays into the state’s hands and allows them to brand us as ‘terrorists’ and escalate their attacks. There is no safety in being a revolutionary, even in a non-revolutionary situation, and we have to accept that. We also have to minimize the danger by relying on the masses to defend us, by exposing the true nature of the beast, and by making the enemy pay a high price in exposure when they commit crimes to attack us.
“Millions of people get screwed by the system, get railroaded into jail or prison, or murdered by the police, just because they are Black, Mexican, Indian, or Puerto Rican. These are not revolutionaries, but this is a class dictatorship! Even poor and working class whites… get screwed every day. This class dictatorship is a criminal enterprise through and through, and that is why we need a revolution.
“We have to steel ourselves for struggle and be strong, have courage, and do what must be done. If we worry too much about what they might do to us, they will automatically win, because we will be distracted from what must be done.”
And while political leaders are especially valuable, vulnerable and therefore principal enemy targets, we must structure our organizations so when/if they are successfully targeted we have cadre trained, qualified and ready to pop right up and fill their positions, ((Our critics inform us that a Liberation Movement must advance by strategy. True indeed! But what they seem to overlook is the revolutionary Party is the source of the Movement’s strategies. And furthermore, the defense of that leadership falls both to the People and the armed component of the Movement, which like the Party must be mass-based. We might also pull our critics coats to the historically proven reality that the old foco model has proven only to result in disaster, a lesson the Movement hasn’t quite seemed to grasp nor to advance from… again because of the lack of a revolutionary vanguard organization to impart those lessons to it, and formulate more workable and effective strategies suited to the time.)) we can’t completely insulate our leadership from being targeted by the enemy. But we can organize ourselves so we ensure such collective forms of leadership were losing one or a few won’t destroy our organizations, and so that cadre are trained and able to rebuild our organizations’ branches from scratch as necessary, and whenever they may find themselves. That’s the key. And again that is the sort of organizational example we are trying to establish and set for the Movement.
Applying these principles is one of the most frustrating features of Hamas (although a bourgeois organization), that Israel has confronted in trying to crush Palestinian resistance in Gaza and the West Bank. Israel began its campaign of targeting Hamas’s leadership by assassinating its founding leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin in 2004. But, as in Yasin’s case, every time Israel has succeeded in assassinating one of Hamas’s leaders, one or more equally qualified members popped right up to fill the position. And Hamas is operating under conditions of military occupation, in what has been called the world’s largest open air prison, namely Gaza strip. Conditions in Gaza are many times worse and more regimented than in any U.S. prison. Yet Hamas has devised, as did Lenin under the repression of the Russian Tsar with his Bolshevik Party, ingenious ways of maintaining secure lines of communication between its cadre and leadership in Gaza, the West Bank and Israeli prisons. The struggle for a Palestinian State is closer to realization than at any prior stage in history since their land was stolen in 1947. Their struggle is “against the law” in Gaza, the West Bank, etc. to a much greater extent than is ours in Amerika. In fact participation for them is subject to summary execution, missile strikes, bombed schools, bulldozed and confiscated homes, massacred children, and worse. But they have organized to win. If they can do it so can we!
Dare to Struggle, Dare to win!
All Power to the People!
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