Huey P Newton: The Making of a Revolutionary Intellectual

Huey P Newton says in his memoir Revolutionary Suicide that when he graduated from High School he was functionally illiterate and tested , measuring 72 on the Binet IQ test. He says he never accept the white world’s measure of his ability or of his humanity. He taught himself to read by reading first his brother Melvin’s books, starting with Plato’s Republic. By the time he went to jail for the first time for political activity he was on his way to being a revolutionary intellectual. He says he found freedom in jail. An ironic situation indeed. The freedom he found was mental; an intellectual freedom. Once he came to terms with material deprivation he was free to think and he did. Quite possibly the intellectual he became had a lot to with the intellectual discipline he developed in jail. But this tells us something quite important about thought, the mind and the development of intellect. First, it requires periods of severe solitude, something similar to social deprivation. Second, this mental discipline must be applied to taking on great books and complex ideas. Huey read difficult books. He didn’t read from the course syllabus from some professor’s course in philosophy or sociology. He chose his books based on how they related to the needs of revolutionary struggle. He read Les Miserable, Das Capital, Wretched of the Earth, Black Reconstruction in America, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind and so on. Third, the mind must be directed to a high purpose. In other words he didn’t read just to read in order to show off in social conversation. In other words he wasn’t a diletente. He read because he knew that knowledge when connected to the masses and related to revolutionary practice could become a world transformative force. George Jackson , one of Huey’s closest comrades in arms, tells a similar story. Jackson a Black Panther Party member, was imprisoned for twelve years of life sentence for stealing from a grocery store. From his memoir Soledad Brother, george Jackson stated “Locked in jail, within a jail, my mind is still free…What if a person was so oriented that the loss of no material thing could cause him mental disorganization? This is the free agent”

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A Tragic Irony

The tragic irony is that our “first Black President” is not actually Black. He does not share our history, knows little about our suffering , is an observer of our cultural life and maintains as much of a distance from us as possible. To the extent that he is black it is as a performance (something like the white rapper Eminem), not an organic connection to us and our history and current struggles. In reality he doesn’t see himself as a part of us.The tragedy is that most Black folk haven’t realized the game that’s being played and are therefore caught up in identify something that is not them as them. Like seeing Eminem as Black. In many ways Obama deals with Black folk the same way a white Democrat or Republican would; maintain discreet and polite, yet not committed connections to the Black community. Political education is the key to our overcoming this dilemma. Du Bois’ theory of double consciousness is a good place to start, Baldwin’s ruthless critiques of white racial practices and black compromise to them, Huey Newton’s vision of revolutionary resistance and internationalism, Toni Morrison’s idea that Black folk seek to physically transform themselves so as to become invisible and thereby acceptable to whites. And then there is Fanon’s notion of having a black skin and a white mind at the same time. And then to all of this Karl marx’s critiques of capitalism and Lenin’s studies of imperialism.

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Christian and Sexual Love: The Common Ground

The greatest obstacle to Christian love in America today is the Christian church. The greatest obstacle to love itself is the oppressive and exploitative capitalist society we live in. Lastly, the greatest obstacle to Christianity is capitalism and racism. Love, at the end of the day, is a form of consciousness tht recognizes the oneness of humanity. At the same time it is a web of complex and intimate human bonds. Romantic, sexual and individual love, rather than the antithesis of social being manifests it. The problem of romantic and sexual love (which are two sides of the same coin) is not those forms of love themselves , but the society within which they exist. In an anti-love, exploitative, thing oriented, war directed society and culture, Christian Love, romantic and sexual love are corrupted and cheapened. And this is not because people are necessarily insincere about love, but because the culture they live in bears down upon them making love difficult and many cases impossible. Because it is human and social it is part of society. Without struggle against a society that cheapens love romantic and sexual love is more often than not a sham and fraud. The promise of flying your lover to the moon, turns out being a one way trip into a living hell, a prison of never to be fulfilled expectations.Many people incorrectly believe that love is transcendent and above society. For most love is viewed as an escape. In the existential sense an escape from the responsibility to free society from the chains of racism and exploitation. Love is this never never land, a paradise, where the proverbial Alice discovers her Wonderland. I call this love as escapism .
The essence of Christianity morality and for that matter the Christian life, and its magnificent spiritual and philosophical contribution to the world (the Good News, if you will), is Love. God is Love, the Bible teaches. However, the Christian Church rather than struggle to help people realize love, by upholding the current system and usually being quiet about injustice, turns out being an obstacle to love in general and Christian Love in particular. to Love in the Christian sense is to serve, to struggle to overturn all forms of injustice. to be a Christian is therefore to be a freedom fighter, a revolutionary. Anything else is a distortion of the meaning of Jesus’ life and the Christian call to love your neighbors as you would yourself. In the end most Christians are not Christians at all, they are American nationalists seeking justification for living in an unjust world while doing nothing to change it.
For me love is first and foremost a revolutionary impulse, a commitment to struggle for freedom and to change society; it is an investment in humanity as such and Black humanity in the first place. My lover is my comrade, my associate in the long journey towards a better world and better humanity. Sexual love is not the end, but a means by which we deepen bonds of ideology, morality and commitment. I love you because we love freedom; I love you because we love humanity; I love you because we hate capitalist exploitation, racism and imperialist wars. Without struggle romantic love is an empty vessel. Without struggle romantic love turns into a prison of disappointments, a house that is not a home, a series of proclamations and high sounding claims that cannot be fulfilled. Lastly, the crisi of love , both Christian and sexual in our society, and especially among black people, is in the end the cris of capitalism and its cheap morality. Capitalist propaganda insists that either in the transcendent Christian love or the escapist romantic love we can find fulfillment in a decadent society. This is one of the Big Lies of out time. To paraphrase Frederick Douglass, Without struggle there cannot be Love. She/He who wants Love without struggle wants the crops without the rain, or the sea without its mighty roar.

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Christian and Sexual Love: The Great Contradiction

Christians are too often is the greatest obstacle to Christian love . This because the deamnds of Christian love as articulated by Jesus and his closest followers, challange the very foundations of the society that makes it possible for the church to thrive. The other thing is that Christian love is a revolutionary force, demanding more of the bleiever than mere kindness, but the destruction of the conditions that lead to the inhumanity of man/woman towards man/woman. Moreover, the greatest obstacle to love itself is the oppressive and exploitative capitalist society we live in. In the end, the greatest enemies to Christianity are not the non believes, atheists or agnostics but capitalism and racism. Love, at the end of the day, is a level of consciousness that recognizes the oneness of humanity. At the same time it is a web of complex and intimate human bonds. Love, rather than the antithesis of social being manifests it. Love is not transcendent, but concrete and human. It is about people and the transformative power inherent in people. Sexual and romantic love (individual manifestations of love) must always be measured against the larger collective and all embracing love of humanity and the struggles for freedom and justice. The problem and contradictions of romantic and sexual love (which are two sides of the same coin) is not those forms of love themselves , but the society within which they exist. So often condemned to fail because they are sabotaged by a society which says that the highest good is the individual and her or his wellbeing. Thus romantic love fails because it is undermoined by a society which gives it little sapce to flourish and grow. In an anti-love, exploitative, thing oriented, war directed society and culture, Christian , romantic and sexual love are corrupted and cheapened. And this is not because people are necessarily insincere about love, but because the culture they live in bears down upon them making love difficult and in many cases impossible. Because it is human and social it is part of society. Without struggle against a society that cheapens love romantic and sexual love is more often than not a sham and fraud. The promise of flying your lover to the moon, turns out being a one way trip into a living hell, a prison of never to be fulfilled expectations.Many people incorrectly believe that love is transcendent and above society. For most love is viewed as an escape. In the existential sense an escape from the responsibility to free society from the chains of racism and exploitation. Love is this never never land, a paradise, where the proverbial Alice discovers her Wonderland. I call this love as escapism .
The essence of Christian morality and for that matter the Christian life, and its magnificent spiritual and philosophical contribution to the world (the Good News, if you will), is Love. God is Love, the Bible teaches. However, the Christian Church rather than struggle to help people realize love, by upholding the current system and usually being quiet about injustice, turns out being an obstacle to love in general and Christian Love in particular. to Love in the Christian sense is to serve, to struggle to overturn all forms of injustice. to be a Christian is therefore to be a freedom fighter, a revolutionary. Anything else is a distortion of the meaning of Jesus’ life and the Christian call to love your neighbors as you would yourself. In the end most Christians are not Christians at all, they are American nationalists seeking justification for living in an unjust world while doing nothing to change it.
For me love is first and foremost a revolutionary impulse, a commitment to struggle for freedom and to change society; it is an investment in humanity as such and Black humanity in the first place. My lover is my comrade, my associate in the long journey towards a better world and better humanity. Sexual love is not the end, but a means by which we deepen bonds of ideology, morality and commitment. I love you because we love freedom; I love you because we love humanity; I love you because we hate capitalist exploitation, racism and imperialist wars. Without struggle romantic love is an empty vessel. Without struggle romantic love turns into a prison of disappointments, a house that is not a home, a series of proclamations and high sounding claims that cannot be fulfilled. Lastly, the crisi of love , both Christian and sexual in our society, and especially among black people, is in the end the cris of capitalism and its cheap morality. Capitalist propaganda insists that either in the transcendent Christian love or the escapist romantic love we can find fulfillment in a decadent society. This is one of the Big Lies of out time. To paraphrase Frederick Douglass, Without struggle there cannot be Love. She/He who wants Love without struggle wants the crops without the rain, or the sea without its mighty roar.

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A Crisis That Could Lead to Revolution: What Is To Be Done?

No jobs created in the month of August, the economy on the verge of a Great Depression, poverty, homelessness, illness , three wars, the rise of racist, fascist and right wing forces, headed by the Tea party, the two dominant political parties turning into self serving , billionaire controlled instruments of the big banks and corporations;the question is , what is to be done. Significant elements of the billionaire class see fascism and out and out dictatorship of the right as their answer to growing mass anger and militant action. Revolutionary young people are being targetted and spyed on, and calls for socialism are being called unpatriotic and threats to social order. Black and Latino communities are being bled through horrific unemployment and inprisonment.We are nearing a revolutionary crisis; that is a crisis that can only be addressed and resolved through a revolutionary change in the social system. Already the government is putting in place measure to attack potential uprisings in our cities and to protect the rich. A new leadership in the African American community must be forged. This leadership must see itself as a vanguard of the people in the way the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party did. The concept of vanguard leadership is a unique and specific one. It is almost always applied to revolutionaries and revolutionary leadership. Reformist, bourgeois and petit bourgeois leadership, while capable of joining and supporting a progressive and revolutionary movement, seldom lead it. They usually lead from behind the masses , wishing for compromise and capitulation to the elite class and dominant political forces. Petit bourgeois leaders establish themselves as media personalities, television talk show hosts, and celebrities. Vanguard leadership is formed and constituted from the masses of working and poor people and out of the day to day hard work of understanding the world, analyzing the current crisis , explaining the direction of events and coming forth with programs of ressitance and social change that the people can support. A revolutionary situation is defined when the ruling elite cannot rule in the old way and the working class , the poor and the middle classes will not be ruled in the old way. This is what we saw in South Africa as apartheid crumbled, it is what occured as the Cuban revolutkionaries marched on Havana in 1959, it is what occured in China as Mao and the Communist Party took power in Beijing, we saw something similar to this in the 1960’s and 70’s in the US, especially among African Americans; we are coming close to this in the US now. Revolutionary circumstances require revolutikonary ways of thinking. The young generations must learn from the past and study it. Seasoned revolutionaries must learn from the youth. Theory and ideologies of social transformation must be at the center of the life worlds of young and old revolutionaies. Let’s think in new ways and prepare for the difficult future we face. This crisis will not be resolved within the framework of free market capitalism. This moment is both the best of times and the worst of times.

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The Immortal Child and the Inevitability of Revolutionary Love

W.E.B Du Bois wrote, “In the treatment of the child the world foreshadows its own future and faith. All words and all thinking lead to the child,–to the vast immortality and wide sweep of infinite possibility which the child represents.” The immortal child and immortal children are the highest value and therefore the foundation of revolutionary love. The love of the child forces us to question the value of bourgeois, or romantic love, and its selfish individualism. It is such , because all values and beliefs in capitalist morality lead back to the individual. Romance, love and desire, must be placed within the context of a larger and all embracing love of freedom from oppression and injustice. Du Bois insists upon a larger love, which might not take the name love after all; something more embracing that ultimately centers upon the immortal child. As to whether Black folk should have children and should we commit our children to live in this frightful world, he says, “Have we any right to make human souls face what we face? The answer is clear: If the great battle of human rights against poverty, against disease , against color prejudice is to be won, it must be won, not in our day, but in the day of our children’s children. Our is the blood and dust of battle; theirs the rewards of victory…It is our duty, then, to accomplish the immortality of black blood, in order that the day may come in this dark world when poverty shall be abolished, privilege be based on individual desert, and the color of a man’s skin be no bar to the outlook of his soul.” If revolution is an act of love of the immortal child, those who claim to love , and especially those who claim to love children, must commit to revolutionary struggle. In these times the highest manifestation of love is struggle and the highest form of struggle is revolutionary struggle to creat a new social and economic system and hence a new world worthy of children.

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W.E.B DU BOIS ON MARRIAGE

‘We want to impress on the emerging generations of Negroes in America, the ideal of plain living and high thinking, in defiance of American noise, waste and display; the rehabilitation of the indispensable family group, by the deliberate planning of marriage, with mates selected for heredity, physique, health and brains, with less insistence on colour, comeliness, or romantic sex lure, mis-called love; youth should marry young and have limited number of children; the home must be a place of education, rather than of cleaning and cooking, with books, discussion and entertainment”

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For Black Self Assertion in the Time of a Historic Economic Crisis

The capitalist system teeters on the edge of a new and deeper economic crisis which will deliver devastating blows to Black folk and our communities.We lack a radical and revolutionary leadership to confront this crisis and to educate the masses. We must consider, in these very difficult times, where we are going as a people and how and by what means we plan to get there. Most Black folk view progress in terms of how far we, or at least the elite of our race, have gone towards becoming American, that is like white folk. In a historic essay written in 1960 Du Bois asked the question Whither Now and Why? He wrote,
“Because what we must now ask ourselves is when we become equal American citizens what will be our aims and ideals and what will we have to do with selecting these aims and ideals. Are we to assume that we will simply adopt the ideals of Americans and become what they are or want to be and that we will have in this process no ideals of our own? that would mean that we would cease to be Negroes as such and become white in action if not completely in color. We would take on the culture of white Americans doing as they do and thinking as they think. Manifestly this would not be satisfactory. Physically it would mean that we would be integrated with Americans losing first of all the physical evidence of color and hair and racial type. We would lose our memory of Negro history and of those racial peculiarities which have long been associated with the Negro. We would cease to acknowledge any greater tie with Africa than with England or Germany. We would not try to develop Negro music and Art and Literature as distinctive and different, but allow them to further degraded as is the case today. We would always, if possible, marry lighter-hued people so as to have children who are not identified with the Negro race, and thus solve our racial problem in America by committing racial suicide.” I
He goes on to say that this assimilationist/racial suicide program has been in the minds of Negroes for generations, but it is now being stated openly and broadly welcomed. He argued that among other things a program of struggle that included Pan Africanism was necessary to offset the dangerous and unacceptable “Americanization” of Black folk.

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Towards The Black Family of a New Type: W.E.B Du Bois’ Family Values

One of W.E.B Du Bois’ major concerns was the creation of the African American family of a new type, one that drew upon our African past, yet resisted the lures of the white American family type. He suggested a family that was African, African American and modern. here is how he put it,
“Unless a new type of Negro family the burden of this duty (socializing a new generation of black intellectuals and activists), we are destined to be, as we are largely today , a bad -mannered, unclean crowd of ill-bred young men and women who are under the impression they are educated. For this task we have got to create a new family group; and a cultural group rather than a group merely biological. the biology and blood relationship of families is entirely subordinate and unimportant as compared with its cultural entity; with the presence of two persons who take upon themselves voluntarily the sacrificial preisthood of parents to children, limited in number and interval by intelligent and scientific birth-control, who can and will train in the elements of being civilized human beings: how to eat, how to sleep, how to wash, how to stand, how to walk, how to laugh, how to be reverent and how to obey.”
Du Bosi went on to say that it is not entirely our fault that we have forgotten the place and function of the family; however, in the interest of our progress as a race it was our duty to rediscover its traditions and to reinvent a Black family of a new type to face the challenges of the future.

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A Crisis That Cries Out For Revolutionary Alternatives to The Existing Situation

Evidence continues to accumulate that the European and American economic and political order are close to collapse. Polls show that national leaders are increasingly rejected by their people. In the US 80% of the people say the nation is going in the wrong direction. Only 18% believe Congress is doing an adequate job, and a mere 25% approve of Obama’s performance on the economy. Rising discontent follows the rise of unemployment and the collpase of the economy. The dismal display of bourgeois politicians clawing and scratching for political advantage with no regard for the conditions of the people, angers people and turns them off to the political game. What is needed is organization and political clarity. The two go together. For instance a PEW poll taken this past summer showed that most African Americans expressed optimism about the future of the country. Most other people polled were pessimistic about the future. This while Black are worse off and hit hardest by unemployment and mortgage foreclosures than any other group. The principle explanation of this is the “Obama effect” . The hope that the first Black president does well. The belief that Obama is one of us and on our side is a major defect in Black consciousness and an obstacle to organization and militant struggle. This situation cries out for a new type of leadership in the African American community, something along the lines of what Du Bois called a guiding one hundred. This vanguard of the people must rise to clarify the nature of the struggle, the dimensions of the crisis and propose ways out. This vanguard must come from the day to day life of Blak folk, it must be courageous, politically and intellectually honest and trained in fields as diverse as political economy, political science, psychology, anthropology, social work, education, law and international relations. But most of all it must see radical and fundamental social change as necessary and as a science; and therefore must study revolutionary experiences from throughout the world. This vanguard must take on the question of how to move from a capitalist economy in crisis to socialism and must be honest enough to say to Black folk that capitalism as a system is done and a new model of economic life has to be developed. But it must fight for a new peoples culture of resistance and struggle in opposition to the corporate invented pop culture of selfishness, individualism, celebrity worship,violence and non resistance. Culture is a necessary part of struggle and bringing political education and clarity to the people.

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