Books by Kathleen
Black Panther: The Revolutionary Art of Emory Douglass
Wages of Whiteness /
We Want Freedom /
Target Zero /
* * *
Movements of the 60s and 70s
Response to "Black Fighting Formations . . . "
By Mwalimu Russel
criticism here concerns not so much Mwalimu Russell Maroon Shoat's
essay "Black Fighting Formations: Their Strengths,
Weaknesses and Potentialities," (Liberation,
Imagination, and the Black Panther Party, edited by Kathleen
Cleaver and George Katsiaficas, 1999) or even the Black Panther
Party, sometimes considered "the most significant
revolutionary organization in the later 20th century." My
overall view is that in the Movement of the '60s and '70s, the
participant organizations had no objective of taking state
fatal flaw in the self-determined revolutionaries of the '60s
and '70s — including
the Black Panther Party and the Marxist groupings — resulted in the
defeat of the Movement, and the resultant demoralization of
American Black and working class revolutionaries and rebels.
now regrouping, but we must not make the same mistakes.
Revolutions are not about "speaking truth to
power," "reparations," campaigning and voting for
"progressive Democrats" or "fighting WTO."
Progress toward revolution in America requires the
formation of a working-class party.
To that end, the process requires that we subsume all
relative interests into the universal struggle.
The economical emancipation of the working class is the
task to which all means are subordinate.
Continuing Need for a Class-Conscious Party
The class party in America is necessarily a labor party
that is financially based in the trade unions, exclusively and
socially based in the working-class as a whole, and struggling
to win the battle of democracy with the goal of state power. The ultimate goal is the expropriation of capital, and the
transfer of the productive forces from private to public
it is certainly true that — as Lenin argued
in What Is To Be Done? "without
revolutionary theory, there can be no revolutionary
movement," — there is
epistemological context related to how revolutionary theory
sociopolitical theory is not developed outside society.
Actually, there is no outside.
"[M]an is no abstract being squatting outside the
world. Man is the world of man": relations of production in
society, culture, and the state. (Marx)
Revolutionary theory is developed in the praxis of the
revolutionary class itself, as it struggles to change the world,
and, thereby, changes itself.
absence of conscious, revolutionary objectives — including, but
not limited to, the acquisition of state power — philosophers,
scientists, and intellectuals from other classes defect to the
revolutionary class and bring their prejudices with them.
These defectors believe themselves to be the
"natural" leaders of the oppressed and uneducated
laboring classes and toiling masses.
more backward, less confident members of the revolutionary
cadres in the rising classes internalize this hogwash.
The way out of this impasse is criticism and
during the Movement of the '60s and '70s, the processes involved
in criticism and self-criticism were ritualistic, and
degenerated into ad hominem attacks and counter-attacks,
rather than objective critiques of ideas, strategies, and
tactics. In this
backdrop, the local cops, COINTELPRO, FBI agents, and agent's
provocateurs promoted confusion and violence within the ranks of
the revolutionary cadres.
fatal flaw in the '60s and '70s — that the
revolutionary cadres lacked the objective to take state power — had its basis in American anti-intellectualism and pragmatism
that degenerated into activism.
This became basic rebellion, not revolution, and the
confrontations with the state (for confrontations sake) resulted
in burnouts, deaths, the imprisonment of many comrades, and the
demoralization of others. All
of this was exacerbated by the fact that the ethnic nationalist
movements (e.g., Black and Chicano) were based in shifting
communities. The student-based anti-war movement was also based
in constantly changing and unstable student populations.
cannot be based in a single ethnic community. It must be based
in the class to which ethnic communities belong.
Revolution displaces the the representatives of the existing order,
reorganizes, and structures the new order.
The overthrow of the ruling class by the oppressed
classes is a conscious struggle for class power.
The polemics in the revolutionary class should be
directed at the objective of developing a strategy to take state
It is by
this "practical-critical," "revolutionizing
practice" (praxis) that revolutionary organizations are
formed and revolutionary theory developed.
The objective of taking state power — as part and parcel
of a strategy toward economic transformation — tests ideas and
class-based revolutionary objectives formulated by the
revolutionary class, there can be no revolutionary movement or
is no such thing as a "community based" racial
revolution. The Chinese and Vietnamese wars of liberation were national
in scope, but class in content.
Chinese and Vietnamese revolutionaries fought to displace
"their own" bourgeois and landlord classes, and to
establish the revolutionary dictatorships of the proletariat and
peasantry. The objective was to expropriate bourgeois, landlord, and
imperialist properties in China and Vietnam.
Vietnamese workers and peasants did not struggle for
"community control" of schools or of police, but
struggled for state power by which to transfer private owned
productive forces to public property.
the Chinese and Vietnamese national liberation wars and social
revolutions had the support of the Soviet Union.
It was not [just] the "spirit" of the Chinese
and Vietnamese people that enabled them to defeat militarily
U.S. imperialism, but the material support of the Soviet
Union. In each
case, the Chinese and Vietnamese workers and peasants came to
power as Communists. The
military and political victory of the Vietnamese Tet Offensive
broke the confidence of U.S. Anglo-Saxon patriots.
the material support of the Soviet Union, the Chinese People's
Liberation Army drove the Chinese nationalist bourgeoisie from
mainland China to Taiwan. The
victorious Vietnamese workers and peasants came to power in the
South, reuniting North and South Vietnam.
The Chinese People's Liberation Army came to power as
of Class Conscious Struggles in 1968
consciousness was not sufficient to overcome material limits.
The material conditions did not enable the state-monopoly
capitalist economies of China or the Soviet Union to survive.
In each of these countries today, privatization is
replacing nationalized industry.
study of any revolutionary cadre formation at war with the state
in the '60s and '70s (like, for example, the Black Panther
Party) must be explicated in the context of world events — including the predominantly peasant struggles in China, Vietnam,
the Philippines, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, El
Salvador, Nicaragua, and the proletarian struggles in South
Africa, France, Mexico, and Germany.
1968 was one of great international turmoil, e.g., the May-June
General Strike in France
(where the troops supported the striking workers or, at least,
refused to shoot them); the Vietnamese Tet Offensive; and the
assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., with the resulting 120
U.S. cities in open, flaming rebellion.
It was a wonderful time to be alive!
As Stokely Carmichael said, revolution was "in the
it? In Vietnam,
winning state power was not the goal in all these cases. In
1968, the May-June General Strike in France was the most
important event in the industrialized capitalist world.
It should be thoroughly studied by American workers and
revolutionaries. In Mexico City, students battled the Mexican army, which was
victorious over the students.
But when the students protested in Paris in
were beaten down by the Paris police, the Communist and
Socialist French proletariat took to the streets and confronted
and neutralized the police.
The police retreated.
It could also be said that the police retreated during
the Black, inner-city rebellions in 1968 when 120 U.S. cities
were in flames following the assassination of Martin Luther
difference in the resulting outcomes of these two struggles
differed in the behavior of the [largely working class]
military when ordered by the respective governments to quell the
working class rebellions in America, and the general strike in
France. When the
American military replaced the local police in U.S. city
streets, that military violently suppressed the rebellions.
In France soldiers refused to move against
the workers and farmers, who were 10,000,000 strong on general
strike! The French
General Strike of 1968 ended by way of the Socialist and
Communist Parties using their influence in the French working
class to coax French workers back to work, while at the same
time forcing the state to capitulate to a few bullshit political
Czechoslovakia in 1968, workers led by Alexander Dubcheck were
engaged in rebellions against the Stalinist bureaucracy.
Soviet tanks, however, suppressed these rebellions of the Czechoslovakian workers.
United States, Black, Puerto Rican, Indian, and Chicano workers,
on the one hand — and student and anti-war activists, on the
other hand — confronted the state alone, and not as part of a
class. They were
isolated from racist and patriotic white workers — so-called
"hard hats" — that supported Ronald Reagan in
was the "silent majority" that twice elected and
supported Nixon on the national level.
American workers also twice elected and supported Ronald
Reagan at the national level in the '80s.
experiences of the American working class in 1968 differed
greatly from those of the French proletariat.
In America in
the '60s and '70s, there was no American Labor Party capable of
educating and mobilizing American workers into a class-conscious
class for itself. As
in Europe and elsewhere, the American working class must
create a Labor Party that is financially and socially based in
the trade unions. In
the praxis of electoral political struggles of Labor Party
partisans against Democrat and Republican partisans, American
worker consciousness would have fertile ground to move from
racial patriotism to class conscious communism.
was assassinated in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. represented
the hope for an American working-class conscious political
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and King were
deeply involved in mobilizing a national, multi-ethnic Poor
Peoples Campaign. When
he was assassinated, King was personally involved in a
Sanitation Workers' strike in the Southern U.S. states.
Additionally, the link was being made between the
economic struggles of Black workers (like the sanitation
workers' strike), the struggles of Black and poor workers for
food, clothing and shelter, and the anti-war movement.
of Class Conscious Struggle
X represented a "revolutionary" alternative to Martin
Luther King, Jr.'s "integrationist reformism."
However, Malcolm X was assassinated before he could lead
the potentially revolutionary Black workers' movement into a
class-conscious socialist direction.
Potentially revolutionary Black workers got stuck in
racial politics. The
Black Panther Party succeeded in filling the void left by
Malcolm X. In the
tradition of Malcolm X, Black Students Unions came on the scene
on college campuses.
minority revolutionary workers and student anti-war protestors
read Mao tse-Tung and Che Guevarra — as well as Malcolm X,
Frantz Fanon, E. Franklin Frazier, and Nathan Hare.
However, revolutionary Black, Indian, Puerto Rican and
Chicano workers and students — and anti-war protestors — were
unable to penetrate the trade unions.
Student anti-war protests and ethnic minority workers'
struggles were isolated from the American working class, and
suffered violent state repression.
leaderships and the ranks of American trade unions are
anti-communist, patriotic, and tied to the Democratic Party.
Only a trades union based Labor Party engaged in an
electoral struggle for power could provide the basis for change
in the reactionary, racial and patriotic consciousness that has
made the American working-class politically backward
compared, for instance, to the French proletariat.
American ethnic nationalists, and White anti-war
activists, never thought of — let alone planned for — the
conquest of political power by which to expropriate capital.
They never strategized a workers' state that would
transfer the productive forces from capitalist to public
militant faction of the American trade unions created an
American Labor Party in 1996.
However — much like the Black Panther Party of the '60s — the American Labor Party is directed at social issues rather
than at the conquest of political power.
The American working-class can become a class-conscious
proletariat only by way of the struggle for class power.
The objective of that class power would be to snatch the
means of production and distribution from the clutches of the
Black Revolutionaries in the '60s and '70s were influenced by
the Vietnamese and Algerian wars of independence.
However, they saw armed struggle as the common thread
instead of the struggle for class power.
The Algerian liberation warriors had fighting tactics
similar to Hamas in Palestine today, and to the Iraqi resistance
fighters in occupied Iraq today.
American Black and White revolutionaries in the '60s and
'70s picked up the gun to emulate the Battle of Algiers, but did
not recognize that the isolated Algerian underground lost.
Possible Revolutionary Scenario
success today would be the conquest of state power on the road
to liberating the productive forces from their capital forms,
and to ending capitalist commodity production and wage-labor.
To accomplish this, the thinking of the American
working-class must be radically transformed.
This is where "winning the battle of democracy"
comes in: in effect, beating the bourgeoisie at its own
electoral game. For
a Labor Party to become a class party — exclusively and
financially based in the trade unions, and accountable to those
unions — it must be socially based in the multi-ethnic
working-class as a whole, and be cosmopolitan in its worldview.
The political objective must be state power by winning
elections to the House of Representatives.
House of Representatives, our [working] class party would author
legislation for fighting unemployment by way of reducing the
hours of the working day from surplus to necessary labor time —
say to a 5 hour working day — with continual reductions
in the hours of the working day with every technological advance
in labor productivity.
Furthermore, our [working] class party
legislation to open borders (that could potentially and
immediately bring immigrant workers into the trades unions),
legislate a living wage at median income (about $25 an hour),
legislate universal health care (financed by the profits of
capital, which profits, in the first place, are derived from the
exploitation of wage-labor by capital), and legislate open
enrollment of college students with resulting free college and
university education and training.
All of this legislation would be financed by the profits
of capital. The
American laboring classes would begin to benefit from the wealth
we create, and from increasing productivity.
the American working class views Labor Party partisans on CSPAN — fighting for working class legislation, and debating with
Democrats and Republicans — Labor Party membership and
Congressional representatives would increase geometrically.
The growth of the Labor Party would force Democrats and
Republicans out of the House of Representatives
— including the
so-called Congressional Black Caucus and the Latino Caucus.
In 10 years, the Labor Party could have the majority in
the House of Representatives.
At that time, the class war will change qualitatively as
the working-class begins to battle in the House of
Representatives and on CSPN every day.
The growth of an American Labor Party, and of Labor Party
partisans in the House of Representatives, would peak the
interests of American workers.
conscious workers would then start reading the Labor Party Press, rather
than the bourgeois New York Times.
This qualitative change in class-consciousness spreading
quantitatively across America will result in quantitative
changes in Labor Party members in the House of Representatives.
Though the American Labor Party
dominated the House of
Representatives, the Senate, the Presidency, and the Judiciary
would continue to represent the capitalist class. Struggles between the House and Senate will become open class war that will further educate and evolve the American
working-class into a class-conscious proletariat.
The House of Representatives will derive the practical
necessity to legislate the abolition of the Senate, Presidency
and Judiciary, and call a new Constitutional Convention of
workers, farmers, and ethnic minorities to write a New
the course of this struggle the Pentagon dismisses the civilian
government — and they will — the elected worker-legislators
and trade unions would have the elected authority to call a
general strike, and to call on the rank and file of the U.S.
military to reject the officer core, side with the striking
workers, and to support the duly passed legislation of the House
If this results in civil war it
will be class war, and not race war.
posted 7 November 2007
* * *
Their Strengths, Weaknesses and Potentialities
Mwalimu Russsell Maroon Shoats
positive side, membership skyrocketed!
Chapters were formed throughout the West Coast, in the
Midwest, Northeast and South.
The BPP became a magnet for most of the smaller local
organizations who were of a similar mind.
And with the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in
1968, even more people were eager to join the BPP.
By this time no Panthers were carrying guns in public;
however this did nothing to stop the onslaught.
BPP offices and homes were raided from coast to coast.
Police agents who had infiltrated the ranks were
provoking deadly confrontations with the police and other Black
members were even hunting and killing each other because of the
The Panthers were a potentially strong Black fighting
formation that was forced to take to the field before they were
ready. As a result
"...the field of battle (was) a land of standing
were dying in the streets, they were dying in raids, and in
prison (Soledad, San Quentin, Attica...Atmore-Holeman)...it was
"war to the knife!"
Panthers were not the only Black fighting formation; there were
other revolutionaries and "free shooters" that were
just as committed, armed and involved.
For example, Fred "Ahmad" Evans and a squad of
Black guerrillas trapped the Cleveland, Ohio police in a deadly
ambush. A number of
officers were killed and wounded, some guerrillas were also
killed or wounded and Ahmad Evans was imprisoned (where he
Essex (free shooter) held off an army of police officers atop a
high hotel in New Orleans.
Officials had to call in a helicopter
gunship to kill him, but not before he had inflicted
casualties on them. Jonathan
Jackson walked into a courtroom in San Rafael, California and
pulled a submachine gun from his duffel bag.
disarming all of the sheriffs, he gave pistols and a shotgun to
James McClain, William Christmas and Ruchell "Cinque"
Magee, three Black prisoner comrades of his brother, George
rounded up the white judge, district attorney and a number of
jurors as hostages; after forcing their way past the rest of the
sheriffs and police officers, their getaway van was riddled with
bullets, killing Jackson, McClain and Christmas.
Ruchell "Cinque" Magee was wounded, but
they died they blew the judge's head off with the shotgun they
had taped under his chin. The
district attorney and jurors were also shot but survived.
George Jackson was a field marshall in the BPP.
He was killed the following year in San Quentin but not
before three prison guards and two "inmate snitches"
were knifed to death. It
was later learned that all of those brothers were set up by an
"agent provocateur" who had infiltrated their
agent, Louis Tackwood, had married one of their sisters.
revolutionary Republic of New Afrika (RNA), once headed by
Robert F. Williams, gunned a number of
Detroit police down after they tried to storm a meeting
their leaders were holding at a church.
A few years later they killed a sheriff after their
headquarters were raided in Jackson, Mississippi.
That raid sent their entire leadership to prison.
Free shooters were killing police officers in sniper
attacks in Philadelphia, Chicago, St. Louis and New Orleans
"Rap" Brown became a fugitive after a bomb went off
outside of a court building in his comrades' car.
A year or so later he was wounded and captured after a
running gun battle between his liberators (from east St. Louis)
and the New York City police.
A number of liberators were also captured.
Police officers were killed while they sat in their cars,
or directed traffic; this was war.
There were brothers and sisters hijacking passenger jets
to Cuba and Algeria where the BPP had a branch of fugitives
headed by Cleaver (he had left the country to avoid going back
to prison for his participation in the shootout which left
"Little" Bobby dead).
very sobering for BPP members.
All of the early flash and high profile began to
dissipate even as the Panthers searched desperately for ways to
regain the initiative and plug the security gaps.
Finally, it was decided that an autonomous strike force
that could handle all armed actions was needed.
Other BPP members would continue with and expand
community programs such as free breakfast, educational and
sickle cell testing, clothing donations and so on.
Unfortunately, it was again too little too late.
of mistrust had been sewn by the agents and their handlers (the
were cultivated in an environment of youthful and inexperienced
leadership demonstrated little understanding of intelligence,
and counterintelligence activities, or how to combat them. More
importantly they held but a fleeting grasp on "the art of
war." which as a critical component of their growth and
survival could not have been overemphasized.
Still they pressed on.
Orders went out to the field marshals to begin organizing
separating guerrilla groups (a Black Liberation Army).
important opportunity was missed at this point.
The BPP had made some half-hearted attempts to recruit
street gangs, however they were unsuccessful.
They overlooked the fact that street gangs were typically
only responsive to programs that focus primarily on fighting.
As we've seen the old BPP wanted cadres who were
political and military workers.
Almost invariably gang members responded to recruitment
efforts with a, "Get back when its time to fight..."
When the time to fight did arrive, in their haste to go
into the new phase, they pushed that knowledge out of their
minds...Of course it would not have been easy to slow down at
this point but a little foresight would have indicated the
strategic benefits of doing so.
* * * *
Russeull Maroon Shoats, "Black Fighting Formations: Their
Strengths, Weaknesses and Potentialities, an analysis taken from
the book LIBERATION, IMAGINATION AND THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY
edited by Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiaficas, New Political
Science (Vol 21:2) June 1999.
book brings together a unique collection of scholars and
activists whose reflections on the history of the Black Panther
Party is meant to understand an organization whose mythological
stature oftern obscures its political meaning.
Original research as well as fresh historical accounts
combine to situate the BPP realistically, to analyze carefully
its internal dynamics and to properly assess its strengths and
opposed to hypercritical attacks and fawning glorifications,
this anthology offers a more reasoned perspective and features
previously silenced voices.
* * * *
Russell Maroon Shoats has been incarcerated for thirty years
in Pennsylvania. His
behavior has been that of model prisoner.
Most of his time has been in solitary confinement and he
little access to the outside world. He
has also faced health challenges that have been minimally looked
after by the corrections facility.
He is also housed in the same prison as Bro. Mumia Abul
Jamal. If you would
like to correspond with him please write Russell Shoats,
#AF-3855, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesbiurg, Pa. 15370-8090.
* * *
Liberation, Imagination, and the Black
A New Look at the Panthers and Their Legacy
Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiasficas's
volume of essays only offered us
documentation and insight into the
contributions and wide-ranging influence of
the Black Panther Party, it would have
immense historical significance. But
Kathleen Cleaver's and George Katsiasficas's
collection does much more. It creates
intriguing and provocative conversations
among scholars, activists, contemporary
political prisoners and original members of
the BPP that invite us to extricate
ourselves from the numbing nostalgia that
often accompanies invocations of black
berets and leather jackets. It invites us to
re-imagine our relationship to this past and
to think critically about the meaning of
Y. Davis, Professor, History of
Consciousness, UC Santa Cruz
The history of the
Black Panther Party is an indispensable part
of the dramatic account of black struggle in
this country, and this book is an important
contribution to that history. The essayists
have impressive credentials as either
members of the Party or keen observers of
its activities, and because they carry the
story into the present day the book becomes
Zinn, author of A People's History of the
Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist
By Edwidge Danticat
is an eloquent and moving expression of
Danticat's belief that immigrant artists
are obliged to bear witness when their
countries of origin are suffering from
violence, oppression, poverty, and
In this deeply personal book, the
celebrated Haitian-American writer
Edwidge Danticat reflects on art and
exile, examining what it means to be an
immigrant artist from a country in
crisis. Inspired by Albert Camus'
lecture, "Create Dangerously," and
combining memoir and essay, Danticat
tells the stories of artists, including
herself, who create despite, or because
of, the horrors that drove them from
their homelands and that continue to
haunt them. Danticat eulogizes an aunt
who guarded her family's homestead in
the Haitian countryside, a cousin who
died of AIDS while living in Miami as an
undocumented alien, and a renowned
Haitian radio journalist whose political
assassination shocked the world.
Danticat writes about the Haitian novelists she
first read as a girl at the Brooklyn Public Library,
a woman mutilated in a machete attack who became a
public witness against torture, and the work of
Jean-Michel Basquiat and other artists of Haitian
descent. Danticat also suggests that the aftermaths
of natural disasters in Haiti and the United States
reveal that the countries are not as different as
many Americans might like to believe..—CaribbeanLiterarySalon
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
update 4 March 2012