Knowledge Session: Huey P Newton’s Speech at Boston College 18th November 1970


Speech at Boston Col­lege, 18 Novem­ber 1970

Power to the people, broth­ers and sis­ters. I would like to thank you for my pres­ence here tonight because you are respons­ible for it. I would be in a max­im­um-secur­ity pen­it­en­tiary if it were not for the power of the people.

Chair­man, for Ericka Hug­gins, for Angela Dav­is, for the New York 21 and the Soledad Broth­ers. For all polit­ic­al pris­on­ers and pris­on­ers of war. On the 28th and 29th of Novem­ber we will have a People’s Revolu­tion­ary Con­sti­tu­tion­al con­ven­tion in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. We can­not have that con­ven­tion if the people do not come. After all, the people are the makers of world his­tory and respons­ible for everything.

How can we have a con­ven­tion if we have no people? Some believe a people’s con­ven­tion is pos­sible without the people being there. As I recall, that was the case in 1777.

Tonight, I would like to out­line for you the Black Pan­ther Party’s pro­gram and explain how we arrived at our ideo­lo­gic­al pos­i­tion and why we feel it neces­sary to insti­tute a Ten-Point Pro­gram. A Ten-Point Pro­gram is not revolu­tion­ary in itself, nor is it reform­ist. It is a sur­viv­al pro­gram. We, the people, are threatened with gen­o­cide because racism and fas­cism are rampant in this coun­try and through­out the world. And the rul­ing circle in North Amer­ica is respons­ible. We intend to change all of that, and in order to change it, there must be a total trans­form­a­tion. But until we can achieve that total trans­form­a­tion, we must exist. In order to exist, we must sur­vive; there­fore, we need a sur­viv­al kit: the Ten-Point Pro­gram. It is neces­sary for our chil­dren to grow up healthy with func­tion­al and cre­at­ive minds. They can­not do this if they do not get the cor­rect nutri­tion. That is why we have a break­fast pro­gram for chil­dren. We also have com­munity health pro­grams. We have a bus­ing pro­gram. We call it “The Bus for Rel­at­ives and Par­ents of Pris­on­ers,” We real­ize that the fas­cist régime that oper­ates the pris­ons through­out Amer­ica would like to do their treach­ery in the dark. But if we get the rel­at­ives, par­ents, and friends to the pris­ons they can expose the treach­ery of the fas­cists. This too is a sur­viv­al pro­gram.

We must not regard our sur­viv­al pro­grams as an answer to the whole prob­lem of oppres­sion. We don’t even claim it to be a revolu­tion­ary pro­gram. Revolu­tions are made of stern­er stuff. We do say that if the people are not here revolu­tion can­not be achieved, for the people and only the people make revolu­tions.

The theme of our Revolu­tion­ary People’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Con­ven­tion is “Sur­viv­al Through Ser­vice to the People.” At our con­ven­tion we will present our total sur­viv­al pro­gram. It is a pro­gram that works very much like the first-aid kit that is used when a plane falls and you find your­self in the middle of the sea on a rub­ber raft. You need a few things to last until you can get to the shore, until you can get to that oas­is where you can be happy and healthy. If you do not have the things neces­sary to get you to that shore, then you will prob­ably not exist. At this time the rul­ing circle threatens us to the extent that we are afraid that we might not exist to see the next day or see the revolu­tion. The Black Pan­ther Party will not accept the total destruc­tion of the people. As a mat­ter of fact, we have drawn a line of demarc­a­tion and we will no longer tol­er­ate fas­cism, aggres­sion, bru­tal­ity, and murder of any kind. We will not sit around and allow ourselves to be murdered. Each per­son has an oblig­a­tion to pre­serve him­self. If he does not pre­serve him­self then I accuse him of sui­cide: reac­tion­ary sui­cide because reac­tion­ary con­di­tions will have caused his death. If we do noth­ing we are accept­ing the situ­ation and allow­ing ourselves to die. We will not accept that. If the altern­at­ives are very nar­row we still will not sit around, we will not die the death of the Jews in Ger­many. We would rather die the death of the Jews in Warsaw!

Where there is cour­age, where there is self-respect and dig­nity, there is a pos­sib­il­ity that we can change the con­di­tions and win. This is is a pos­sib­il­ity that we can change the con­di­tions and win. This is called /revolutionary enthusiasm/ and it is the kind of struggle that is needed in order to guar­an­tee a vic­tory. If we must die, then we will die the death of a revolu­tion­ary sui­cide that says, “If I am put down, if I am driv­en out, I refuse to be swept out with a broom. I would much rather be driv­en out with a stick because if I am swept out with the broom it will humi­li­ate me and I will lose my self-respect. But if I am driv­en out with the stick, then, at least, I can claim the dig­nity of a man and die the death of a man rather than the death of a dog.”

Of course, our real desire is to live, but we will not be cowed, we will not be intim­id­ated.

I would like to explain to you the meth­od that the Black Pan­ther Party used to arrive at our ideo­lo­gic­al pos­i­tion, and more than that, I would like to give to you a frame­work or a pro­cess of think­ing that might help us solve the prob­lems and the con­tra­dic­tions that exist today. Before we approach the prob­lem we must get a clear pic­ture of what is really going on; a clear image divorced from the atti­tudes and emo­tions that we usu­ally pro­ject into a situ­ation. We must be as object­ive as pos­sible without accept­ing dog­ma, let­ting the facts speak for them­selves. But we will not remain totally object­ive; we will become sub­ject­ive in the applic­a­tion of the know­ledge received from the extern­al world. We will use the sci­en­ti­fic meth­od to acquire this know­ledge, but we will openly

acknow­ledge our ulti­mate sub­jectiv­ity. Once we apply know­ledge in order to will a cer­tain out­come our objectiv­ity ends and our sub­jectiv­ity begins. We call this integ­rat­ing the­ory with prac­tice, and this is what the Black Pan­ther Party is all about.

In order to under­stand a group of forces oper­at­ing at the same time, sci­ence developed what is called the sci­en­ti­fic meth­od. One of the char­ac­ter­ist­ics or prop­er­ties of this meth­od is dis­in­terest. Not unin­terest, but dis­in­terest: no spe­cial interest in the out­come. In oth­er words, the sci­ent­ist does not pro­mote an out­come, he just col­lects the facts. Nev­er­the­less, in acquir­ing his facts he must begin with a basic premise. Most basic premises stem from a set of assump­tions because it is very dif­fi­cult to test a first premise without these assump­tions. After an agree­ment is reached on cer­tain assump­tions, an intel­li­gent argu­ment can fol­low, for then logic and con­sist­ency arc all that is required to reach a val­id con­clu­sion.

Tonight I ask you to assume that an extern­al world exists. An extern­al world that exists inde­pend­ently of us. The second assump­tion I would like for you to make is that things are in a con­stant state of change, trans­form­a­tion, or flux. With agree­ment on these two assump­tions we can go on with our dis­cus­sion.

The sci­en­ti­fic meth­od relies heav­ily on empir­i­cism. But the prob­lem with empir­i­cism is that it tells you very little about the future; it tells you only about the past, about inform­a­tion which you have already dis­covered through obser­va­tion and exper­i­ence. It always refers to past exper­i­ence.

Long after the rules of empir­ic­al know­ledge had been ascer­tained, a man by the name of Karl Marx integ­rated these rules with a the­ory developed by Immanuel Kant called rationale. Kant called his pro­cess of reas­on­ing pure reas­on because it did not depend on the extern­al world. Instead it only depended on con­sist­ency in manip­u­lat­ing sym­bols in order to come up with a con­clu­sion based upon reas­on. For example, in this sen­tence “If the sky is above my head when I turn my head upwards, I will see the sky” there is noth­ing wrong with the con­clu­sion. As a mat­ter of fact, it is accur­ate. But I haven’t said any­thing about the exist­ence of the sky. I said “if” With rationale we are not depend­ent upon the extern­al world. With empir­i­cism we can tell very little about the future. So what will we do? What Marx did. In order to under­stand what was hap­pen­ing in the world Marx found it neces­sary to integ­rate rationale with empir­i­cism. He called his con­cept dia­lect­ic­al mater­i­al­ism. If, like Marx, we integ­rate these two con­cepts or these two ways of think­ing, not only are we in touch with the world out­side us but we can also explain the con­stant state of trans­form­a­tion. There­fore, we can also make some pre­dic­tions about the out­come of cer­tain social phe­nom­ena that is not only in con­stant change but also in con­flict.

Marx, as a social sci­ent­ist, cri­ti­cized oth­er social sci­ent­ists for attempt­ing to explain phe­nom­ena, or one phe­nomen­on, by tak­ing it out of its envir­on­ment, isol­at­ing it, put­ting it into a cat­egory, and not acknow­ledging the fact that once it was taken out of its envir­on­ment the phe­nomen­on was trans­formed. For example, if in a dis­cip­line such as soci­ology we study the activ­ity of groups – how they hold togeth­er and why they fall apart – without under­stand­ing everything else related to that group, we may arrive at a false con­clu­sion about the nature of the group. What Marx attemp­ted to do was to develop a way of think­ing that would explain phe­nom­ena real­ist­ic­ally.

When atoms col­lide, in phys­ics, they divide into elec­trons, pro­tons, and neut­rons, if I remem­ber cor­rectly. What happened to the atom? It was trans­formed. In the social world a sim­il­ar thing hap­pens. We can apply the same prin­ciple. When two cul­tures col­lide a pro­cess or con­di­tion occurs which the soci­olo­gists call accul­tur­a­tion: the modi­fic­a­tion of cul­tures as a res­ult of their con­tact with each oth­er. Marx called the col­li­sion of social forces or classes a con­tra­dic­tion. In the phys­ic­al world, when forces col­lide we some­times call it just that — a col­li­sion. For example, when two cars meet head on, try­ing to occupy the same space at the same time, both are trans­formed. Some­times oth­er things hap­pen. Had those two cars been turned back to back and sped off in oppos­ite dir­ec­tions they would not be a con­tra­dic­tion; they would be con­trary, cov­er­ing dif­fer­ent spaces at dif­fer­ent times. Some­times when people meet they argue and mis­un­der­stand each oth­er because they think they are hav­ing a con­tra­dic­tion when they are only being con­trary. For example, I can say the wall is ten feet tall and you can say the wall is red, and we can argue all day think­ing we are hav­ing a con­tra­dic­tion when actu­ally we are only being con­trary. When people argue, when one offers a thes­is and the oth­er offers an anti -thes­is, we say there is a con­tra­dic­tion and hope that if we argue long enough, provided that we agree on one premise, we can have some kind of syn­thes­is. Tonight I hope I can have some form of agree­ment or syn­thes­is with those who have cri­ti­cized the Black Pan­ther Party.

I think that the mis­take is that some people have taken the appar­ent as the actu­al fact in spite of their claims of schol­arly research and fol­low­ing the dis­cip­line of dia­lect­ic­al mater­i­al­ism. They fail to search deep­er, as the sci­ent­ist is required to do, to get bey­ond the appar­ent and come up with the more sig­ni­fic­ant. Let me explain how this relates to the Black Pan­ther Party. The Black Pan­ther Party is a Marx­ist-Len­in­ist party because we fol­low the dia­lect­ic­al meth­od and we also integ­rate the­ory with prac­tice. We are not mech­an­ic­al Marx­ists and we are not his­tor­ic­al mater­i­al­ists. Some people think they are Marx­ists when actu­ally they are fol­low­ing the thoughts of Hegel. Some people think they are Marx­ist-Len­in­ists but they refuse to be cre­at­ive, and are, there­fore, tied to the past. They are tied to a rhet­or­ic that does not apply to the present set of con­di­tions. They are tied to a set of thoughts that approaches dog­ma – what we call flun­key­ism.

Marx attemp­ted to set up a frame­work which could be applied to a num­ber of con­di­tions. And in apply­ing this frame­work we can­not be afraid of the out­come because things change and we must be will­ing to acknow­ledge that change because we arc object­ive. If we are using the meth­od of dia­lect­ic­al mater­i­al­ism we don’t expect to find any­thing the same even one minute later because “one minute later” is his­tory. If things are in a con­stant state of change, we can­not expect them to be the same. Words used to describe old phe­nom­ena may be use­less to describe the new. And if we use the old words to describe new events we run the risk of con­fus­ing people and mis­lead­ing them into think­ing that things are stat­ic.

In 1917 an event occurred in the Sovi­et Uni­on that was called a revolu­tion. Two classes had a con­tra­dic­tion and the whole coun­try was trans­formed. In this coun­try, 1970, the Black Pan­ther Party issued a doc­u­ment. Our Min­ister of Inform­a­tion, Eldridge Cleav­er, who now is in Algeria, wro­te a pamph­let called “On the Ideo­logy of the Black Pan­ther Party.” In that work Eldridge Cleav­er stated that neither the pro­let­ari­ans nor the indus­tri­al work­ers carry the poten­ti­al­it­ies for revolu­tion in this coun­try at this time. He claimed that the left wing of the pro­let­ari­ans, the lumpen pro­let­ari­ans, have that revolu­tion­ary poten­tial, and in fact, act­ing as the van­guard, they would carry the people of the world to the final cli­max of the trans­form­a­tion of soci­ety. It has been stated by some people, by some parties, by some organ­iz­a­tions, by the Pro­gress­ive Labor Party, that revolu­tion is impossible. How can the lumpen pro­let­ari­ans carry out a suc­cess­ful social­ist trans­form­a­tion when they are only a minor­ity? And in fact how can they do it when his­tory shows that only the pro­let­ari­ans have car­ried out a suc­cess­ful social revolu­tion? I agree that it is neces­sary for the people who carry out a social revolu­tion to rep­res­ent the pop­ular majority’s interests. It is neces­sary for this group to rep­res­ent the broad masses of the people. We ana­lyzed what happened in the Sovi­et Uni­on in 1917. I also agree that the lumpen pro­let­ari­ans are the minor­ity in this coun­try. No dis­agree­ment. Have I con­tra­dicted myself? It only goes to show that what’s appar­ent might not actu­ally be a fact. What appears to be a con­tra­dic­tion may be only a para­dox. Let’s exam­ine this appar­ent con­tra­dic­tion.

The Sovi­et Uni­on, in 1917, was basic­ally an agri­cul­tur­al soci­ety with very large peas­antry. A set of social con­di­tions exist­ing there at that time was respons­ible for the devel­op­ment of a small indus­tri­al base. The people who worked in this indus­tri­al base were called pro­let­ari­ans. Len­in, using Marx’s the­ory, saw the trends. He was not a his­tor­ic­al mater­i­al­ist, but a dia­lect­ic­al mater­i­al­ist, and there­fore very inter­ested in the ever-chan­ging status of things. He saw that while the pro­let­ari­ans were a minor­ity in 1917, they had the poten­tial to carry out a revolu­tion because their class was increas­ing and the peas­antry was declin­ing. That was one of the con­di­tions. The pro­let­ari­ans were destined to be a pop­ular for­ce. They also had access to the prop­er­ties neces­sary for car­ry­ing out a social­ist revolu­tion.

In this coun­try the Black Pan­ther Party, tak­ing care­ful note of the dia­lect­ic­al meth­od, tak­ing care­ful note of the social trends and the ever-chan­ging nature of things, sees that while the lumpen pro­let­ari­ans are the minor­ity and the pro­let­ari­ans are the major­ity, tech­no­logy is devel­op­ing at such a rap­id rate that auto­ma­tion will pro­gress to cyberna­tion, and cyberna­tion prob­ably to tech­no­cracy. As I came into town I saw MIT over the way. If the rul­ing circle remains in power it seems to me that cap­it­al­ists will con­tin­ue to develop their tech­no­lo­gic­al machinery because they are not inter­ested in the people. There­fore, I expect from them the logic that they have always fol­lowed: to make as much money as pos­sible, and pay the people as little as pos­sible – until the people demand more, and finally demand their heads. If revolu­tion does not occur almost imme­di­ately, and I say almost imme­di­ately because tech­no­logy is mak­ing leaps (it made a leap all the way to the moon), and if the rul­ing circle remains in power the pro­let­ari­an work­ing class will def­in­itely be on the decline because they will be unem­ploy­ables and there­fore swell the ranks of the lumpens, who are the present unem­ploy­ables. Every work­er is in jeop­ardy because of the rul­ing circle, which is why we say that the lumpen pro­let­ari­ans have the poten­tial for revolu­tion, will prob­ably carry out the revolu­tion, and in the near future will be the pop­ular major­ity. Of course, I would not like to see more of my people unem­ployed or become unem­ploy­ables, but being object­ive, because we’re dia­lect­ic­al mater­i­al­ists, we must acknow­ledge the facts.

Marx out­lined a rough pro­cess of the devel­op­ment of soci­ety. He said that soci­ety goes from a slave class to a feud­al­ist­ic class struc­ture to a cap­it­al­ist­ic class struc­ture to a social­ist­ic class struc­ture and finally to com­mun­ism. Or in oth­er words, from cap­it­al­ist state to social­ist state to non­state: com­mun­ism. I think we can all agree that the slave class in the world has vir­tu­ally been trans­formed into the wage slave. In oth­er words, the slave class in the world no longer exists as a sig­ni­fic­ant for­ce, and if we agree to that we can agree that classes can be trans­formed lit­er­ally out of exist­ence. If this is so, if the slave class can dis­ap­pear and become some­thing else – or not dis­ap­pear but just be trans­formed – and take on oth­er char­ac­ter­ist­ics, then it is also true that the pro­let­ari­ans or the indus­tri­al work­ing class can pos­sibly be trans­formed out of exist­ence. Of course the people them­selves would not dis­ap­pear; they would only take on oth­er attrib­utes. The attrib­ute that I am inter­ested in is the fact that soon the rul­ing circle will not need the work­ers, and if the rul­ing circle is in con­trol of the means of pro­duc­tion the work­ing class will become unem­ploy­ables or lumpens. That is logic­al; that is dia­lect­ic­al. I think it would be wrong to say that only the slave class could dis­ap­pear.

Marx was a very intel­li­gent man. He was not a dog­mat­ist. Once he said, “One thing I’m not, I’m not a Marx­ist.” In those words, he was try­ing to tell the Pro­gress­ive Labor Party and oth­ers not to accept the past as the present or the future, but to under­stand it and be able to pre­dict what might hap­pen in the future and there­fore act in an intel­li­gent way to bring about the revolu­tion that we all want.

After tak­ing those things into con­sid­er­a­tion we see that as time changes and the world is trans­formed we need some new defin­i­tions, for if we keep using the old terms people might think the old situ­ation still exists. I would be amazed if the same con­di­tions that exis­ted in 1917 were still exist­ing today.

You know Marx and Len­in were pretty lazy dudes when it came to work­ing for some­body. They looked at toil, work­ing for your neces­sit­ies, as some­thing of a curse. And Lenin’s whole the­ory, after he put Marx’s ana­lys­is into prac­tice, was geared to get rid of the pro­let­ari­ans. In oth­er words, when the pro­let­ari­an class or the work­ing class seized the means of pro­duc­tion, they would plan their soci­ety in such a way as to be free from toil. As a mat­ter of fact, Len­in saw a time in which man could stand in onc place, push but­tons and move moun­tains. It sounds to me as though he saw a pro­let­ari­an work­ing class trans­formed and in pos­ses­sion of a free block of time, to indul­ge in pro­duct­ive cre­ativ­ity, to think about devel­op­ing their uni­verse, so that they could have the hap­pi­ness, the freedom, and the pleas­ure that all men seek and value.

Today’s cap­it­al­ist has developed machinery to such a point that he can hire a group of spe­cial­ized people called tech­no­crats. In the near future he will cer­tainly do more of this, and the tech­no­crat will be too spe­cial­ized to be iden­ti­fied as a pro­let­ari­an. In fact that group of tech­no­crats will be so vital we will have to do some­thing to explain the pres­ence of oth­er people; we will have to come up with another defin­i­tion and reas­on for exist­ing.

But we must not con­fine our dis­cus­sion to the­ory; we must have prac­tic­al applic­a­tion of our the­ory to come up with any­thing worth­while. In spite of the cri­ti­cism that we have received from cer­tain people, the Party has a prac­tic­al applic­a­tion of its the­or­ies. Many of our activ­it­ies provide the work­ing class and the unem­ployed with a reas­on and a means for exist­ing in the future. The people will not dis­ap­pear-not with our sur­viv­al pro­grams they will not. They will still be around. The Black Pan­ther Party says it is per­fectly cor­rect to organ­ize the pro­let­ari­ans because after they are kicked out of the fact­ory and are called unem­ploy­able or lumpen, they still want to live, and in order to live they have to eat. It is in the proletarian’s own best interest to seize the machinery that he has made in order to pro­duce in abund­ance, so he and his brethren can live. We will not wait until the pro­let­ari­an becomes the lumpen pro­let­ari­an to edu­cate him. Today we must lift the con­scious­ness of the people. The wind is rising and the rivers flow­ing, times are get­ting hard and we can’t go home again. We can’t go back to our mother’s womb, nor can we go back to 1917.

The United States, or what I like to call North Amer­ica, was trans­formed at the hands of the rul­ing circle from a nation to an empire. This caused a total change in the world, because no part of an inter­re­lated thing can change and leave everything else the same. So when the United States, or North Amer­ica, became an empire it changed the whole com­pos­i­tion of the world. There were oth­er nations in the world. But “empire” means that the rul­ing circle who lives in the empire (the imper­i­al­ists) con­trol oth­er nations. Now some time ago there exis­ted a phe­nomen­on we called-well, I call – prim­it­ive empire. An example of that would be the Roman Empire because the Romans con­trolled all of what was thought to be the known world. In fact they did not know all of the world, there­fore some nations still exis­ted inde­pend­ent of it. Now, prob­ably all of the world is known. The United States as an empire neces­sar­ily con­trols the whole world either dir­ectly or indir­ectly.

If we under­stand dia­lectics we know that every determ­in­a­tion brings about a lim­it­a­tion and every lim­it­a­tion brings about a determ­in­a­tion. In oth­er words, while one for­ce may give rise to one thing it might crush oth­er things, includ­ing itself. We might call this con­cept “the neg­a­tion of the neg­a­tion.” So, while in 1917 the rul­ing circle cre­ated an indus­tri­al base and used the sys­tem of cap­it­al­ism they were also cre­at­ing the neces­sary con­di­tions for social­ism. They were doing this because in a social­ist soci­ety it is neces­sary to have some cent­ral­iz­a­tion of the wealth, some equal dis­tri­bu­tion of the wealth, and some har­mony among the people.

Now, I will give you roughly some char­ac­ter­ist­ics that any people who call them­selves a nation should have. These are eco­nom­ic inde­pend­ence, cul­tur­al determ­in­a­tion, con­trol of the polit­ic­al insti­tu­tions, ter­rit­ori­al integ­rity, and safety.

In 1966 we called our Party a Black Nation­al­ist Party. We called ourselves Black Nation­al­ists because we thought that nation­hood was the answer. Shortly after that we decided that what was really needed was revolu­tion­ary nation­al­ism, that is, nation­al­ism plus social­ism. After ana­lyz­ing con­di­tions a little more, we found that it was imprac­tic­al and even con­tra­dict­ory. There­fore, we went to a higher level of con­scious­ness. We saw that in order to be free we had to crush the rul­ing circle and there­fore we had to unite with the peoples of the world. So we called ourselves Inter­na­tion­al­ists. We sought solid­ar­ity with the peoples of the world. We sought solid­ar­ity with what we thought were the nations of the world. But then what happened? We found that because everything is in a con­stant state of trans­form­a­tion, because of the devel­op­ment of tech­no­logy, because of the devel­op­ment of the mass media, because of the fire power of the imper­i­al­ist, and because of the fact that the United States is no longer a nation but an empire, nations could not exist, for they did not have the cri­ter­ia for nation­hood. Their self-determ­in­a­tion, eco­nom­ic determ­in­a­tion, and cul­tur­al determ­in­a­tion has been trans­formed by the imper­i­al­ists and the rul­ing circle. They were no longer nations. We found that in order to be Inter­na­tion­al­ists we had to be also Nation­al­ists, or at least acknow­ledge nation­hood. Inter­na­tion­al­ism, if I under­stand the word, means the inter­re­la­tion­ship among a group of nations. But since no nation exists, and since the United States is in fact an empire, it is impossible for us to be Inter­na­tion­al­ists. These trans­form­a­tions and phe­nom­ena require us to call ourselves “inter­com­mun­al­ists” because nations have been trans­formed into com­munit­ies of the world. The Black Pan­ther Party now dis­claims inter­na­tion­al­ism and sup­ports inter­com­mun­al­ism.

Marx and Len­in felt, with the inform­a­tion they had, that when the non-state finally came to be a real­ity, it would be caused or ushered in by the people and by com­mun­ism. A strange thing happened. The rul­ing reac­tion­ary circle, through the con­sequence of being imper­i­al­ists, trans­formed the world into what we call “Reac­tion­ary Inter­com­mun­al­ism.” They laid siege upon all the com­munit­ies of the world, dom­in­at­ing the insti­tu­tions to such an extent that the people were not served by the insti­tu­tions in their own land. The Black Pan­ther Party would like to reverse that trend and lead the people of the world into the age of “Revolu­tion­ary Intercommunalism.”This would be the time when the people seize the means of pro­duc­tion and dis­trib­ute the wealth and the tech­no­logy in an egal­it­ari­an way to the many com­munit­ies of the world.

We see very little dif­fer­ence in what hap­pens to a com­munity here in North Amer­ica and what hap­pens to a com­munity in Viet­nam. We see very little dif­fer­ence in what hap­pens, even cul­tur­ally, to a Chinese com­munity in San Fran­cis­co and a Chinese com­munity in Hong Kong. We see very little dif­fer­ence in what hap­pens to a Black com­munity in Har­lem and a Black com­munity in South Amer­ica, a Black com­munity in Angola and one in Mozam­bi­que. We see very little dif­fer­ence.

So, what has actu­ally happened, is that the non-state has already been accom­plished, but it is reac­tion­ary. A com­munity by way of defin­i­tion is a com­pre­hens­ive col­lec­tion of insti­tu­tions that serve the people who live there. It dif­fers from a nation because a com­munity evolves around a great­er struc­ture that we usu­ally call the state, and the state has cer­tain con­trol over the com­munity if the admin­is­tra­tion rep­res­ents the people or if the admin­is­tra­tion hap­pens to be the people’s com­mis­sar. It is not so at this time, so there’s still some­thing to be done. I men­tioned earli­er the “neg­a­tion of the neg­a­tion,” I men­tioned earli­er the neces­sity for the redis­tri­bu­tion of wealth. We think that it is very import­ant to know that as things are in the world today social­ism in the United States will nev­er exist. Why? It will not exist because it can­not exist. It can­not at this time exist any­place in the world. Social­ism would require a social­ist state, and if a state does not exist how could social­ism exist? So how do we define cer­tain pro­gress­ive coun­tries such as the People’s Repub­lic of China? How do we describe cer­tain pro­gress­ive coun­tries, or com­munit­ies as we call them, as the Demo­crat­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea? How do we define cer­tain com­munit­ies such as North Viet­nam and the pro­vi­sion­al gov­ern­ment in the South? How do we explain these com­munit­ies if in fact they too can­not claim nation­hood? We say this: we say they rep­res­ent the people’s lib­er­ated ter­rit­ory. They rep­res­ent a com­munity lib­er­ated. But that com­munity is not suf­fi­cient, it is not sat­is­fied, just as the Nation­al Lib­er­a­tion Front is not sat­is­fied with the lib­er­ated ter­rit­ory in the South. It is only the ground­work and pre­par­a­tion for the lib­er­a­tion of the world-seiz­ing the wealth from the rul­ing circle, equal dis­tri­bu­tion and pro­por­tion­al rep­res­ent­a­tion in an inter­com­mun­al frame­work. This is what the Black Pan­ther Party would like to achieve with the help of the power of the people, because without the people noth­ing can be achieved.

I stated that in the United States social­ism would nev­er exist. In order for a revolu­tion to occur in the United States you would have to have a redis­tri­bu­tion of wealth not on a nation­al or an inter­na­tion­al level, but on an inter­com­mun­al level. Because how can we say that we have accom­plished revolu­tion if we redis­trib­ute the wealth just to the people here in North Amer­ica when the rul­ing circle itself is guilty of tres­pass /de bon­is asportatis/. That is, they have taken away the goods of the people of the world, trans­por­ted them to Amer­ica and used them as their very own.

In 1917, when the revolu­tion occurred, there could be a redis­tri­bu­tion of wealth on a nation­al level because nations exis­ted. Now, if you talk in terms of plan­ning an eco­nomy on a world-wide level, on an inter­com­mun­al level, you are say­ing some­thing import­ant: that the people have been ripped off very much like one coun­try being ripped off. Sim­ple repar­a­tion is not enough because the people have not only been robbed of their raw mater­i­als, but of the wealth accrued from the invest­ment of those mater­i­als-an invest­ment which has cre­ated the tech­no­lo­gic­al machine. The people of the world will have to have con­trol – not a lim­ited share of con­trol for “X” amount of time, but total con­trol forever.

In order to plan a real inter­com­mun­al eco­nomy we will have to acknow­ledge how the world is hooked up. We will also have to acknow­ledge that nations have not exis­ted for some time. Some people will argue that nations still exist because of the cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences. By way of defin­i­tion, just for prac­tic­al argu­ment, cul­ture is a col­lec­tion of learned pat­terns of beha­vi­or. Here in the United States Black people, Afric­ans, were raped from the mother coun­try, and con­sequently we have lit­er­ally lost most of our Afric­an val­ues. Per­haps we still hold on to some sur­viv­ing Afric­an­isms, but by and large you can see the trans­form­a­tion which was achieved by time and the highly tech­no­lo­gic­al soci­ety whose tre­mend­ous mass media func­tions as an indoc­trin­a­tion center. The rul­ing circle has launched satel­lites in order to pro­ject a beam across the earth and indoc­trin­ate the world, and while there might be some cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences, these dif­fer­ences are not qual­it­at­ive but quant­it­at­ive. In oth­er words, if tech­no­logy and the rul­ing circle go on as they are now the people of the world will be con­di­tioned to adopt West­ern val­ues. (I think Japan is a good example.) The dif­fer­ences between people are get­ting very small, but again that is in the interest of the rul­ing circle. I do not believe that his­tory can be back­tracked. If the world is really that inter­con­nec­ted then we have to acknow­ledge that and say that in order for the people to be free, they will have to con­trol the insti­tu­tions of their com­munity, and have some form of rep­res­ent­a­tion in the tech­no­lo­gic­al center that they have pro­duced. The United States, in order to cor­rect its rob­bery of the world, will have to first return much of which it has stolen. I don’t see how we can talk about social­ism when the prob­lem is world dis­tri­bu­tion. I think this is what Marx meant when he talked about the non-state.

I was at Alex Haley’s house some time ago and he talked to me about his search for his past. He found it in Africa but when he returned there shortly after­ward, he was in a state of pan­ic. His vil­lage hadn’t changed very much, but when he went there he saw an old man walk­ing down the road, hold­ing some­thing that he cher­ished to his car. It was a small tran­sist­or radio that was zer­oed in on the Brit­ish broad­cast­ing net­work. What I’m try­ing to say is that mass media plus the devel­op­ment of trans­port­a­tion make it impossible for us to think of ourselves in terms of sep­ar­ate entit­ies, as nations. Do you real­ize that it only took me approx­im­ately five hours to get from San Fran­cis­co to here? It only takes ten hours to get from here to Viet­nam. The rul­ing circle no longer even acknow­ledges wars; they call them “police actions.” They call the riots of the Viet­namese people “domest­ic dis­turb­ance.” What I am say­ing is that the rul­ing circle must real­ize and accept the con­sequences of what they have done. They know that there is only one world, but they are determ­ined to fol­low the logic of their exploit­a­tion.

A short time ago in Detroit, the com­munity was under siege, and now six­teen mem­bers of the Party are in pris­on. The loc­al police laid siege on that com­munity and that house, and they used the same weapons they use in Viet­nam (as a mat­ter of fact, two tanks rolled up). The same thing hap­pens in Viet­nam because the “police” are there also. The “police” are every­where and they all wear the same uni­form and use the same tools, and have the same pur­pose: the pro­tec­tion of the rul­ing circle here in North Amer­ica. It is true that the world is one com­munity, but we are not sat­is­fied with the con­cen­tra­tion of its power. We want the power for the people.

I said earli­er (but I strayed away) that the the­ory of the “neg­a­tion of the neg­a­tion” is val­id. Some schol­ars have been won­der­ing why in Asia, Africa, and Lat­in Amer­ica the res­ist­ance always seeks the goal of a col­lect­ive soci­ety. They seem not to insti­tute the eco­nomy of the cap­it­al­ist. They seem to jump all the way from feud­al­ism to a col­lect­ive soci­ety, and some people can’t under­stand why. Why won’t they fol­low his­tor­ic­al Marx­ism, or his­tor­ic­al mater­i­al­ism? Why won’t they go from feud­al­ism to the devel­op­ment of a cap­it­al­ist­ic base and finally to social­ism? They don’t do it because they can’t do it. They don’t do it for the same reas­on that the Black com­munity in Har­lem can­not develop cap­it­al­ism, that the Black com­munity in Oak­land or San Fran­cis­co can­not develop cap­it­al­ism, because the imper­i­al­ists have already pre-empted the field. They have already cent­ral­ized the wealth. There­fore, in order to deal with them all we can do is lib­er­ate our com­munity and then move on them as a col­lect­ive for­ce.

We’ve had long argu­ments with people about our con­vic­tions. Before we became con­scious we used to call ourselves a dis­persed col­lec­tion of colon­ies here in North Amer­ica. And people argued with me all day and all night, ask­ing, “How can you pos­sibly be a colony? In order to be a colony you have to have a nation, and you’re not a nation, you’re a com­munity. You’re a dis­persed col­lec­tion of com­munit­ies.” Because the Black Pan­ther Party is not embar­rassed to change or admit error, tonight I would like to accept the cri­ti­cism and say that those crit­ics were abso­lutely right. We are a col­lec­tion of com­munit­ies just as the Korean people, the Viet­namese people, and the Chinese people arc a col­lec­tion of com­munit­ies-a dis­persed col­lec­tion of com­munit­ies because we have no super­struc­ture of our own. The super­struc­ture we have is the super­struc­ture of Wall Street, which all of our labor pro­duced. This is a dis­tor­ted form of col­lectiv­ity. Everything’s been col­lec­ted but it’s used exclus­ively in the interest of the rul­ing circle. This is why the Black Pan­ther Party denounces Black cap­it­al­ism and says that all we can do is lib­er­ate our com­munity, not only in Viet­nam but here, not only in Cam­bod­ia and the People’s Repub­lics of China and Korea but the com­munit­ies of the world. We must unite as one com­munity and then trans­form the world into a place where people will be happy, wars will end, the state itself will no longer exist, and we will have com­mun­ism. But we can­not do this right away. When trans­form­a­tion takes place, when struc­tur­al change takes place, the res­ult is usu­ally cul­tur­al lag. After the people pos­sess the means of pro­duc­tion we will prob­ably not move dir­ectly into com­mun­ism but linger with Revolu­tion­ary Inter­com­mun­al­ism until such time as we can wash away bour­geois thought, until such time as we can wash away racism and reac­tion­ary think­ing, until such time as people are not attached to their nation as a peas­ant is attached to the soil, until such time as that people can gain their san­ity and develop a cul­ture that is “essen­tially human,” that will serve the people instead of some god. Because we can­not avoid con­tact with each oth­er we will have to develop a value sys­tem that will help us func­tion togeth­er in har­mony.

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.