The Black Panthers and Maoism

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Apr 2 2007 10:09
The Black Panthers and Maoism

Split from binned thread

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Mar 31 2007 00:23
tsiatko wrote:
quasi-maoist ideologies, Black Panthers

Hang the fuck on angry

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Mar 31 2007 01:20
madashell wrote:
tsiatko wrote:
quasi-maoist ideologies, Black Panthers

Hang the fuck on angry

???

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Mar 31 2007 01:23

The Panthers might have had their Maoist trappings, but you can't lump them in with the "new left" and idiot anti-imperialism.

Jason Cortez
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Mar 31 2007 08:50

Well funny enough movements often have contradictions esp between rethoric and pratice. So lumping anything under

Quote:
"new left" and idiot anti-imperialism.

rather than analysing there actual actions is pretty unconstructive (unless your Revol of course, then it's the unfolding of the dialectial materialism of subjectivity in relation to concrete movement of commumism in the discorparated realm of every day life) but hey it so much easier. smile

Terry
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Mar 31 2007 11:26

New Left basically means any err new left group from about 56 onwards that was critical of social democracy and official Leninism, in so far as there is a current of thought running through that this was a shift in a libertarian direction. Can't understand why "new left" would be bad, except that it, mostly ended up as the 'old left' in the English speaking world, particularly in Trotskyism. I actually think it is the movement and historical period that contemporary revolutionaries should pay the most attention to, to see what they did right, and where they went wrong, as the times they operated in far more resemble our own than pre-WW 2 times.
Don't know why anarchists are particularly enamoured of the Black Panther Party. They were very authoritarian, - there is an article from their paper I think called anarchism and petit bourgeois individualism denouncing party members who refused to clean the leaders' cars. They were a mixed bag though, but very 'Third Worldist'.

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Mar 31 2007 11:51

are they dancing or doing bayonet practice on a spain '36 budget?

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Mar 31 2007 17:32
madashell wrote:
tsiatko wrote:
quasi-maoist ideologies, Black Panthers

Hang the fuck on angry

OK, I guess I have to talk slow for the Peanut Gallery ;-P

The BBP was politically quasi-maoist. While the founders started the Party on a black-nationalist model they soon moved left towards maoism. When i started reading the Black Panther newspaper in 1973 or so, it was most definately a maoist orientation, but then again, mao was the political flavor of the month - much like anarchism in the 1990s. Of course, Mao could have paraphrased Marx and said "I am not a Maoist".

Mao was very influencial to BBP for several reasons:

1) The leading Maoist in the country was a former CPUSA African-American leader named Harry Haywood. As he was based in NYC, he probably didn't have as huge influence with the California based BBP, but his writings were very well regarded in Black Nationalist circles. The CPUSA had done much good and principled work alongside US Blacks and the CPUSA and it's black leaders were (and still!) held in high regard in the black community.

2) Being based on the Pacific Coast, the BBP had ties with various Chinese radicals. The only outlet for PR China goods in the entire US was in San Francisco at that time. I heard Bobby Seale talk one time and said that the BBP needed money so they went down to the Chinese bookstore and bought as many copies of Mao's Quoted as they could at 25 cents per. They went back to Berkeley to the campus and sold them for $1. Seale laughed saying that they hadn't even read Mao yet, but that's how Mao was introduced to Berkely radicals and the BBP!

3) The BBP wasn't founded upon any particular political platform outside of some 10 reforms which just sounded "just". They built their politics as they went. Mao talked allot about nationalism and freeing oppressed nations, which Black Nationalists of course saw themselves as. Because Maoism is politically a anti-colonialist programme based of state-capitalism, it fits well with indeginous politics of oppressed nations being able to run their own business models. If you look at the BBP's 10 points program, there's no talk of abolishing capitalism, just it's better and more just administration.

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Mar 31 2007 17:37
guydebordisdead wrote:
Terry wrote:
Don't know why anarchists are particularly enamoured of the Black Panther Party.

Because they had style

No, because the BBP were black and presented themselves with a certain machoism. Typical American anti-intellectualism.

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Mar 31 2007 17:56
guydebordisdead wrote:
They're doing the mash, the monster mash.

grin

And it WAS a graveyard smash!! groucho

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Apr 1 2007 00:39

Well here's one reason I think the BPP was quasi-maoist. Funny, I never see the pro-BPP anarchists flashing this about:

Kim Il-Sung represent! Whooo!

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Apr 1 2007 02:18
tsiatko wrote:
Well here's one reason I think the BPP was quasi-maoist. Funny, I never see the pro-BPP anarchists flashing this about:

Kim Il-Sung represent! Whooo!

The miltiant black left in the U.S. was an ad hoc of politics and allegiances. Its a mistake to underestimate the positive influences the Panthers had and the variety of influences they took in during the organizations development. A significant porion of the BLA moved towards militant anarchism at a time in the U.S. when anarchism was the sole purview of a tiny milieu of self-indulgent white academics and empowerment cultists. Oh wait...

While the anarchists were playing at the counter-culture personal development psychosis, the authoritarian left was providing material support to the Panthers. People in danger tend to pay attention to the politics of the people that actually help them. Go figure.

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Apr 1 2007 03:05
thugarchist wrote:
The miltiant black left in the U.S. was an ad hoc of politics and allegiances. Its a mistake to underestimate the positive influences the Panthers had and the variety of influences they took in during the organizations development. A significant portion of the BLA moved towards militant anarchism at a time in the U.S. when anarchism was the sole purview of a tiny milieu of self-indulgent white academics and empowerment cultists. Oh wait...

While the anarchists were playing at the counter-culture personal development psychosis, the authoritarian left was providing material support to the Panthers. People in danger tend to pay attention to the politics of the people that actually help them. Go figure.

I kind of agree with you Duke. The BPP was multi-tendancied, basically whatever a local did, it was OK. But you assume that the BPP moved towards Maoist politics because they were endanger, I think it's a more complex issue than that. The BPP was coming out of a certain milieu (Black Nationalism) and were open to certain tendancies. As I said above, the BPP in Oakland introduced Maoism into the student groups, not vis versa. If it's true that groups pay more attention to those aiding them, the BPP would have become more Liberal, as it was a bunch of Liberal White Musicians and Actors which financed the party a great deal. The National Lampoon had a great fake Joan Baez Song whose chorus was:

Pul the Trigger, N******
I'll stand right behind you all the way
From safe across the bay

As for positive influences, of course there are. As I said above, the CPUSA did really good things with American blacks. i hate the CPUSA, but have to realize they did good works and learn from their experience. It's the experience of the working class after all. But the BPP was also in many ways a band of thugs. Shooting the accountant who discovers the leadership was skimming funds? Or how about the stated role of women in the BPP: "On their backs"

But i don't think the anarchists who cling to the BPP are seeking the positive influences. They are romantics looking for a short cut to a militancy they are incapable of initiating. I don't think they look at, much less learn fromm the failures or successes of the BPP.

Besides, what did the BLA do? I much rather study the uber-Stalinsts of the DRUM movement in Detroit!

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Apr 1 2007 03:28
tsiatko wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
The miltiant black left in the U.S. was an ad hoc of politics and allegiances. Its a mistake to underestimate the positive influences the Panthers had and the variety of influences they took in during the organizations development. A significant portion of the BLA moved towards militant anarchism at a time in the U.S. when anarchism was the sole purview of a tiny milieu of self-indulgent white academics and empowerment cultists. Oh wait...

While the anarchists were playing at the counter-culture personal development psychosis, the authoritarian left was providing material support to the Panthers. People in danger tend to pay attention to the politics of the people that actually help them. Go figure.

I kind of agree with you Duke. The BPP was multi-tendancied, basically whatever a local did, it was OK. But you assume that the BPP moved towards Maoist politics because they were endanger, I think it's a more complex issue than that. The BPP was coming out of a certain milieu (Black Nationalism) and were open to certain tendancies. As I said above, the BPP in Oakland introduced Maoism into the student groups, not vis versa. If it's true that groups pay more attention to those aiding them, the BPP would have become more Liberal, as it was a bunch of Liberal White Musicians and Actors which financed the party a great deal. The National Lampoon had a great fake Joan Baez Song whose chorus was:

Pul the Trigger, N******
I'll stand right behind you all the way
From safe across the bay

As for positive influences, of course there are. As I said above, the CPUSA did really good things with American blacks. i hate the CPUSA, but have to realize they did good works and learn from their experience. It's the experience of the working class after all. But the BPP was also in many ways a band of thugs. Shooting the accountant who discovers the leadership was skimming funds? Or how about the stated role of women in the BPP: "On their backs"

But i don't think the anarchists who cling to the BPP are seeking the positive influences. They are romantics looking for a short cut to a militancy they are incapable of initiating. I don't think they look at, much less learn fromm the failures or successes of the BPP.

Besides, what did the BLA do? I much rather study the uber-Stalinsts of the DRUM movement in Detroit!

I'm not attempting to defend either the BPP or the BLA's politics. Just throwing out that they developed in a social context that makes a lot of sense.

As for why they weren't drawn more to the white liberals... there're a lot of basic reasons for that. The BPP was founded by politicized street criminals and the hustle fit nicely into the internal culture. More importantly the militant stances around arms and military fetishism was a response to the internal liberal and social justice politics of black america coupled with a smart understanding of their communities being fed up with rampant police brutality as southern blacks migrated west.

Clearly there's a romanticization by nascent white radicals. I just think it doesn't matter that much in trying to analyze what is useful to take away from a particular movement from a particular time.

The BLA funded an awful ot of things I respect. A lot of things that people today still reap the benefits from while not even knowing how and why it was started. Does that mean I think the expropriation program was the thing to do? No in the least. I do think that knee-jerk reaction against the BPP and BLA (and others) by anti-authoritarians puts blinders on useful analysis.

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Apr 1 2007 04:36
thugarchist wrote:
The BLA funded an awful ot of things I respect. A lot of things that people today still reap the benefits from while not even knowing how and why it was started. Does that mean I think the expropriation program was the thing to do? No in the least.

What did the BLA fund? Serious question to fill in some ignorance.

thugarchist wrote:
I do think that knee-jerk reaction against the BPP and BLA (and others) by anti-authoritarians puts blinders on useful analysis.

Can we agree that knee-jerk criticism is as bad as knee-jerk adoration?

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Apr 1 2007 04:42
tsiatko wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
The BLA funded an awful ot of things I respect. A lot of things that people today still reap the benefits from while not even knowing how and why it was started. Does that mean I think the expropriation program was the thing to do? No in the least.

What did the BLA fund? Serious question to fill in some ignorance.

thugarchist wrote:
I do think that knee-jerk reaction against the BPP and BLA (and others) by anti-authoritarians puts blinders on useful analysis.

Can we agree that knee-jerk criticism is as bad as knee-jerk adoration?

1. I think there's a reason for above ground organizations and social programs to not trumpet some of their early funding sources.

2. I haven't been disagreeing with you.

pgh2a
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Apr 1 2007 18:45

Have either of you read Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party: A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy (Paperback)
by Kathleen Cleaver (Co-editor), George Katsiaficas (Co-editor) ?

It has essays from folks who were invovled with different branches of the party and from some different tendencies. It also has some source documents at the back which help trace the Panther's political development (on paper, at least).

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Apr 1 2007 19:14
pghwob wrote:
Have either of you read Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party: A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy (Paperback)
by Kathleen Cleaver (Co-editor), George Katsiaficas (Co-editor) ?

I haven't. What did you think of it? I haven't been too impressed by George Katsiaficas' work, it always seems like he's confirming what he already believes.

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Apr 2 2007 10:41

I haven't read it. In my younger days I spent some amount of effort meeting and talking with a number of folks from the 60's and early 70's militant movements. It made it difficult reading material about them, mostly because I got a sense of who they are as people and it often contradicted the mythology in books.

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Apr 2 2007 21:22

David Hilliard's autobiog 'This Side of Glory' and James Carr's 'Bad' shed light on the internal problems of the Panthers as well as the external ones of 'Cointelpro' targeting by the state. But the hierarchical structure of the Party arguably made it all the easier for the FBI to ferment paranoia within the organisation and the new left generally - factions competing for control and influence were all too ready to believe rumours they were fed about their rivals.

The Panthers were never black nationalists; Seale and Newton explicitly rejected that ideology when they encountered it on campus and they set up the BPP as a more relevant response to ghetto life. They began as a mix of a 10 point radical-reformist programme, some 3rd worldism and pro-stalinism (i.e. Cuba, China etc), in ideology and form, but did develop towards a confused kind of anti-statism later in their history.

Quote:
After Panther leader Huey Newton came out of prison in August 1970, some new ingredients were added to the Panthers' ideological stew. While the basic stock remained Leninism, Newton began adding new elements, stating that the party was now "to take the philosophy of Marx to its final goal. That is , to create a world that has an absence of statehood...that is why I emphasise we are no longer revolutionary nationalists. We don't believe what's commonly called Nationhood for America. We believe that America must now subscribe to strict internationalism... We think we have taken Marxism-Leninism to an even higher level than it's ever been in history, because history has not yet created the communist world, it has only created a socialist world, which is also based on statehood. So the next stage would be a communist world where statehood no longer exists. We will take the banner of the people's struggle, the black and red banner, to final victory."

Confusingly, in the same interview, he rejected black capitalism in favour of a "proportional representation in a socialist framework that is to expropriate and nationalise the private industries." (Our emphasis.) Perhaps the (partial and conditional) rejection of statehood reflects some influence of libertarian tendencies in the atmosphere at the time, or perhaps dialogue with the anarcho-situationist "Up Against The Wall Motherfucker" group? (For more information see Black Mask and Up Against The Wall Motherfucker; Unpopular Books and Sabotage Editions, London 1993.)

http://libcom.org/library/james-carr-black-panthers-all-that

http://libcom.org/library/bad-review-aufheben-5

There was a UK TV program on last week about John Lennon's harassment by the CIA and there was a short clip of Bobby Seale being interviewed by Lennon, with Seale saying how the Party had rejected nationalism.

The Panthers were drawn to white liberals for fundraising, as described by Tom Wolfe in 'Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers'. He describes how some very rich liberals would hold fundraising parties for the Panthers, often temporarily dismissing their regular black servants for the night and hiring in whites to wait on the guests.

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Oct 6 2010 14:44

The BPP were a mix of political ideologies or they sought out loose allies in and around the world, basically looking to anyone even "socialist" countries who were engaged in war or tense political discussions with "the west". It is a point of contention for alot of people when learning or reading about the BPP but support for the BPP always reemerges because of the BPP's theory attached to practice: breakfast programs, (early) armed patrols, assistance for the elderly, free ambulance service, etc...

The BPP developed their own theory and called it Revolutionary Intercommunalism which was not far away from Negri's understanding of Multitude/Empire in that they both recognize that capitalism is transitioning away from harnessing its power through nation-states and opting for an international or imperial sovereignty to then reconstitute social relationships of production. The BPP said it simply and Negri said it in an academically dense manner.

When it comes to anarchists embracing the BPP its about the image but that itself is another discussion because that needs to be discussed with insight from Debord, Butler, etc.....

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Oct 6 2010 16:45

If not done so already folk might like to read an interview done in 2000 with two anarchist ex-Black Panthers. The article is, 'Black Autonomy
Civil Rights, the Panthers and Today'.

You can find it here:

http://www.eco-action.org/dod/no9/panthers.htm

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Jan 3 2011 09:28

I know this is an old thread, but has anyone read The Black Panther Party (Reconsidered)?

The essay in there called Lumpenization: A Critical Error of the Black Panther Party was really interesting. I tried to find it online to put it in the library, but its only available on academic bullshit sites that require payment to look at the content.

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Jan 3 2011 17:43

Do you have a link? Is it a book or journal? I've got access to most academic sites and can look it up for you.

wojtek
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Feb 2 2012 03:07
Quote:
Ken Knabb wrote in his autobiography 'Confessions of a Mild-Mannered Enemy of the State' (1997), 'How I became an anarchist':

...As I became more “active” in the PFP [Peace and Freedom Party] (though never more than in banal subordinate capacities: attending rallies, stuffing envelopes, handing out leaflets) I was progressively “radicalized” by the more experienced politicos, especially the Black Panthers. Looking back, it’s embarrassing to realize how easily I was duped by such crude manipulation, in which a handful of individuals appointed themselves the sole authentic representatives of “the black community,” then claimed the right to veto power, and in practice to virtual domination, over the PFP and any other groups with which they condescended to form “coalitions.” But they were obviously courageous, and unlike the black separatist tendencies they were at least willing to work with whites; so most of us naïvely swallowed the old con: “They’re black, and are being jailed, beaten and killed; since we are none of the above, we have no right to criticize them.” Practically no one, not even supposedly antiauthoritarian groups like the Diggers, the Motherfuckers and the Yippies, raised any serious objections to this racist double standard, which among other things amounted to relegating all other blacks to the choice of supporting their self-appointed “supreme servants” or being intimidated into silence...

...It is common nowadays to blame the collapse of the movement on the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation, which included planting disinformation designed to sow suspicion between various radical groups, use of provocateurs to discredit them, and frameups of certain individuals. The fact remains that the authoritarian structure of the Panthers and other hierarchical groups lent itself to this sort of operation. For the most part all the provocateurs had to do was encourage already delirious ideological tendencies or inflame already existing power rivalries.

For me the last straw was the Panthers’ “United Front Against Fascism” conference (July 1969). I dutifully attended all three days. But the conference’s militaristic orchestration; the frenzied adulation of hero-martyrs; the Pavlovian chanting of mean-spirited slogans; the ranting about “correct lines” and “correct leadership”; the cynical lies and maneuvers of temporarily allied bureaucratic groups; the violent threats against rival groups who had not accepted the current Panther line; the “fraternal” telegram from the North Korean Politburo; the framed picture of Stalin on the Panthers’ office wall — all this finally made me sick, and led me to look for a perspective that was more in line with my own feelings...

http://www.bopsecrets.org/PS/autobio1.htm

Quote:
Juan Conatz wrote:

I know this is an old thread, but has anyone read The Black Panther Party (Reconsidered)?

The essay in there called Lumpenization: A Critical Error of the Black Panther Party was really interesting. I tried to find it online to put it in the library, but its only available on academic bullshit sites that require payment to look at the content.

I can't find it on JSTOR or elsewhere on the internet, but I ordered it at the weekend, so it should have arrived by now (at another address). I'm looking forward to reading the book and will try to scan the essay onto libcom once I've read it.

I'm going to take out Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party: A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy by Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiaficas from the library tomorrow as well.

wojtek
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Jul 22 2012 14:29

https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/3005

RedHughs
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Jul 23 2012 18:34

I recall I looked up the Lumpinization article that Juan refers to.

The thing about the article is that in using the concept of "mistake", it seems to take a Leninist approach to the Panthers' trajectory - as if "Lumpinization" was a single decision made by the central committee which could be rescinded in favor of "workerization" or something.

The point that the Panthers arose from whatever political material was local and so their lumpinization was more or less inevitable for a movement of their size and their time (as I recall, the Lumpinization article does good specifics on the Panthers but it seemed to me these specifics supported my argument rather any analysis in terms of "mistakes").

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Jul 24 2012 18:03

FYI - The Lumpenization article is on LibCom as a PDF: http://libcom.org/library/lumpenization-critical-error-black-panther-party

wojtek
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Oct 28 2012 18:16

Black Panthers (Agnès Varda 1968)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zT0xKSDJro

There's a host of the party newspaper The Black Panther, 1967 - 1970 here. A few choice articles...

Huey Newton: In defense of self-defense... or why anarchists don't believe in organisation, are historically incorrect and why black peeps have to put the central committee, sorry 'black liberation' before themselves.

Virtual Murrell: Panther Purge

Field Marshal D.C.: What is ultra-democracy?

Boston Purge