- Category: Revolutionary Strategy
- Created on Saturday, 02 April 2011 05:18
- Written by Mike Ely
by Mike Ely
Examples are not models. We can no more lift and adopt the Panther model than we can simply imitate Mao's Yenan base area. But we can learn methods instead of models -- and we can (in particular) aspire to cutting to the heart of the times in a way that draws and galvanizes real forces.
The videos of the Panthers remain shocking still today.
But it is hard to recapture how profoundly they spoke to (and for) many of the new advanced and revolutionary forces -- saying what needed to be said, modeling what needed to be done, raising what needed to be raised. Many of "the left" (then and now) thought they were unacceptable (not following the right script, not seeking respectability, not promoting the right orthodoxy, etc.) But in the hearts of 100,000 Black youth (and in the hearts of many "white mothercountry radicals," their actions spoke with great power... and the goal was put before us all: To be a revolutionary, to dare, to act, to speak the truth, to take risks, to take the point and then call on the rest to follow.
The movement for Black liberation had run into a series of roadblocks, and the upsurge of the people raised challenges more rapidly than previous organization could catch up. In many ways, the Panthers did not (themselves) solve the main strategic questions of revolution or lasting organization. They served as a pole and they pointed in a direction -- that wasn't enough, but it was certainly something. And without summing them up here, we can say that the distance between them (and the exhausted left around them), and the impact they had (on a real and growing revolutionary sentiment) is something we can learn from.
Revolutionary presentation must be in the times, and at the edge of the possible. Such forms can't be lifted out of time and place. There is a lot of work to do, to extract the method from the form, to separate the positive from the negative of previous experiences.
But we can (if we think through what they represented in their context) free our own imaginations. And prepare ourselves to see the opportunities that only revolutionaries can seize, and then to seize them.
For examples, it was said that "The Black Panther Party ideologized the gun back into politics." Which is true and very much forbidden by established authorities (authorities in the society, but also the self-appointed authorities of the left).... It was very much a demand of those times which had elements of leading up to a revolutionary clash.
What should we be ideologizing back into politics, and how can we do it in ways that make many hearts race and many ears turn our way? Both now in these times of doldrum-amid-turmoil, and later when the tinder has started to smolder?