ON METHOD, TIME, AND REVOLUTION
By ELDRIDGE CLEAVER
Many people can absolutely agree on the inescapable necessity of destroying the system of oppression under which we now suffer, and for replacing it with something better. But what divides us is the questions of How? and When?
How do we move, precisely, to successfully accomplish our goal without, in the process, negating our goal?
When do we move?
Once we realize what has to be done and also how to do it, we enter the political movement, and after that, the way that we move defines us politically. The explanation as to why we choose to move in a certain way requires a psychiatrist-for us, Fanon. (By now, we should all have studied Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth.)
We believe that Huey P. Newton, after carefully defining our present situation, discovered the form that our struggle must take in order to successfully achieve our goal. And he also showed us when to move.
Huey defined the situation of Black people inside the United States as a domestic colony of U.S. Imperialism. A colony inside the very lair of the rapacious beast of imperialism. A colony sharing the same land mass as the colonizers, the population of the colony dispersed throughout the population of the colonial power. Neither separated by either land or water.
Huey defined the police department as the strong-arm force used by the imperialists to suppress the colonized people, terrorize them, and keep them in check. This is a constant process of brutalization, because the people are constantly moving to break their chains. Huey said that the police departments occupy our Black communities in the same way and for the same purpose as a foreign troop occupies conquered territory. To free ourselves from the system of oppression, Huey said that we had to liberate ourselves from this strong-arm force. We had to break the power of the gun which this strong-arm force relies on to keep us at bay. Because of the very nature of the conflict, Huey said that we must use guns to offset the guns of the pigs.
"We must organize ourselves in a political fashion and take up arms," Huey would say.
When looking at Black people as a whole, Huey saw that the brothers and sisters off the block, the Black Lumpen within the urban centers, constituted the explosive point, that section of our people so situated that they have no choice but to move. Historically, the White racist system of oppression and exploitation has held out only death and destruction to our people as an alternative to slavery.
The prospects for brothers and sisters off the block are prison, death, the U.S. Armed Forces, or a short, hard, and bitter life. All alternatives provided for us by the system have in common that we are unnaturally destroyed-destroyed by the very functioning of the system of oppression, which is controlled by other men of another social class. The only redeeming path left open to us is the path of total war against the system of oppression against which each succeeding generation of our people have struggled for 400 years.
Pigs stand in line with programs and games of disaster to run down on Black people. But now that Black people have begun to run down a program for themselves, pigs get uptight. The foundation of the Black Panther Party is the 10-Point Program and Platform. This is why the hand-picked apologists for the system of oppression always try to criticize and belittle our Program and Platform. Some of them say that it is not revolutionary. Others say that it is full of hate. But it is our own program and platform, drawn up for ourselves by ourselves. And it will be us who will change it or revise it when and if we see fit. Our ideology is reality and our program and platform is designed to cope with and control the reality of our daily lives, our destiny.
The real daily life of oppressed people is Political Education. Reality becomes their ideology. With them, theory is united with practice because they know that literally they are struggling to survive against odds, against a gigantic international system of oppression that is specifically designed to destroy them. There are other classes of people to whom the oppression is abstract. In a poetic fashion, they know that, theoretically, they are also oppressed, etc. They relate to news of events and we compose the event itself. We relate to the event, they relate to news of the event. We are in a category of our own. America is a class and ethnic society, and the systematic oppression and exploitation of Black people is specifically structured and well-placed in the design of Babylon.
Brother Malcolm made it clear that history defined is ideology. The Black Panther Party says that the historical experiences of Black people is the foundation of our ideology. We transform our history into our ideology when we interpret it with scientific principles of universal application.
When Huey and Bobby launched the Black Panther, the only people who were willing to follow them then, were the stone lumpen. The stomp-down Black lumpen proletariat is the backbone of the Black Panther Party. Without this backbone, the Party would only be a reflection of one of those mother country debating societies that take Marx and Lenin for their text.
The Black Lumpen, the brothers and sisters off the block, can relate to their party, the Black Panther Party, but they cannot relate to the category of the Working Class. From their perspective, the Working Class is part of the problem-at least the right wing of the Working Class.
THE CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THE LUMPEN PROLETARIAT AND THE RIGHT WING OF THE WORKING CLASS IS QUALITATIVELY INDISTINCT FROM THE CONTRADICTION BETWEEN THE LUMPEN AND OTHER CATEGORIES OF PIGS.
Before our people were crushed down into the position of slaves, we were well organized. Our history since that time has been an unbroken struggle to get reorganized. Only by organizing ourselves can we get the freedom, security, and respect that we lost. There are more Black people in the United States than there are pigs of the ruling class. Our population is larger than many sovereign nations of the earth. But only by relentlessly struggling can we smash out of the trickbag that we have been placed in.
Pigs, White racist pigs, say that Black people should not fight for their rights, that they should be peaceful, moderate, and reasonable. History will show that Black people have pursued their freedom and liberation with the utmost restraint, with patience, and long suffering. In fact, history will show that pigs drove us to our knees, and that, down on our knees in the LutherKing position, we begged for mercy. Down on our knees we begged White racist pigs for mercy. And not only did these pigs deny us justice, they denied us mercy. They denied us humanity itself. So let them criticize our weapons all they want to; Let us move on them, criticizing them with our weapons.
'Mercy' is not a word one should throw around loosely. Mercy is the other side of the coin of Pity. Mercy and Pity are civilized notions. They are, in fact, essential elements of a true civilization. When Mercy and Pity are absent in any social organization, that society cannot be classified as civilized. Measured by that standard, Babylon must be totally destroyed-and with Pity -Pity each pig heart that we cut out of a pig's chest, Pity it to death.
When we begged for Mercy we were the Blues People. We are not begging anymore and we are Black people. And pigs can't dig it, can't relate to it. For instance, they have provoked us to madness.
Madness. People are right when they say that Black people are not in a position to face down the pigs on their level. But we are in a position to implement head-up murder. We can guarantee the total destruction of Babylon-with a form of struggle that pigs will call madness. But madness is the Black man's hydrogen bomb inside BabyIon, and we must unleash this hydrogen bomb, now, because pigs are carrying out a genocidal conspiracy of extermination against our people. And since we have everything in the pot, why shouldn't everything and everybody in Babylon be in the pot with us? The name of the pot is BabyIon.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Eldridge Cleaver Minister of Information
Black Panther Party.