Huey P. Newton

The Correct Handling of a Revolution

In Defense of Self Defense, The Black Panther, July 20, 1967

Written: July 20, 1967
Source: The Black Panther Vol. 1 No. 5, July 20, 1967
Transcription/Markup: 2021 by Philip Mooney
Public Domain: Marxist Internet Archive 2021. This work is completely free.

Most human behavior is learned behavior. Most things the human being learns are gained through an indirect relationship to the object. Humans do not act from instinct as lower animals do. Those things learned indirectly many times stimulate very effective responses to what might be later a direct experience. At this time the black masses are handling the resistance incorrectly. The brothers in East Oakland learned from Watts a means of resistance fighting by amassing the people in the streets, throwing bricks and molotov cocktails to destroy property and create disruption. The brothers and sisters in the streets were herded into a small area by the gestapo police and immediately contained by the brutal violence of the oppressor’s storm troops. This manner of resistance is sporadic, short-lived, and costly in violence against the people. This method has been transmitted to all the ghettos of the black nation across the country. The first man who threw a molotov cocktail is not personally known by the masses, but yet the action was respected and followed by the people.

The Vanguard Party must provide leadership for the people. It must teach the correct strategic methods of prolonged resistance through literature and activities. If the activities of the party are respected by the people, the people will follow the example. This is the primary job of the party. This knowledge will probably be gained secondhand by the masses just as the above mentioned was gained indirectly. When the people learn that it is no longer advantageous for them to resist by going into the streets in large numbers, and when they see the advantage in the activities of the guerrilla warfare method, they will quickly follow this example.

But first, they must respect the party which is transmitting this message. When the Vanguard group destroys the machinery of the oppressor by dealing with him in small groups of three and four, and then escapes the might of the oppressor, the masses will be overjoyed and will adhere to this correct strategy. When the masses hear that a gestapo policeman has been executed while sipping coffee at a counter, and the revolutionary executioners fled without being traced, the masses will see the validity of this type of approach to resistance. It is not necessary to organize thirty million Black people in primary groups of two’s and three’s but it is important for the party to show the people how to go about revolution. During slavery, in which no vanguard party existed and forms of communication were severely restricted and insufficient, many slave revolts occurred.

There are basically three ways one can learn: through study, through observation, and through actual experience. The black community is basically composed of activists. The community learns through activity, either through observation of or participation in the activity. To study and learn is good but the actual experience is the best means of learning. The party must engage in activities that will teach the people. The black community is basically not a reading community. Therefore it is very significant that the vanguard group first be activists. Without this knowledge of the black community one could not gain the fundamental knowledge of the black revolution in racist America.

The main function of the party is to awaken the people and to teach them the strategic method of resisting the power structure, which is prepared not only to combat the resistance of the people with massive brutality, but to totally annihilate the black community, the black population.

If it is learned by the power structure that black people have “x” amount of guns in their possession, this will not stimulate the power structure to prepare itself with guns, because it is already more than prepared.

The result of this education will be positive for Black people in their resistance and negative for the power structure in its oppression, because the party always exemplifies revolutionary defiance. If the party is not going to make the people aware of the tools of liberation and the strategic method that is to be used, there will be no means by which the people will be mobilized properly.

The relationship between the vanguard party and the masses is a secondary relationship. The relationship between the members of the vanguard party is a primary relationship. It is important that the members of the vanguard group maintain a face-to-face relationship with each other. This is important if the party machinery is to be effective. It is impossible to put together functional party machinery or programs without this direct relationship. The members of the vanguard group should be tested revolutionaries. This will minimize the danger of Uncle Tom informers and opportunists.

The main purpose of a vanguard group should be to raise the consciousness of the masses through educational programs and certain physical activities the party will participate in. The sleeping masses must be bombarded with the correct approach to struggle through the activities of the vanguard party. Therefore, the masses must know that the party exists. The party must use all means available to get this information across to the masses. If the masses do not have knowledge of the party, it will be impossible for the masses to follow the program of the party.

The vanguard party is never underground in the beginning of its existence, because this would limit its effectiveness and educational processes. How can you teach people if the people do not know and respect you? The party must exist above ground as long as the dog power structure will allow, and hopefully when the party is forced to go underground the message of the party will already have been put across to the people. The vanguard party’s activities on the surface will necessarily be shortlived.

This is why it is so important that the party make a tremendous impact upon the people before it is driven into secrecy.

At this time, the people know the party exists, and they will seek out further information on the activities of this underground party.

Many would-be revolutionaries work under the fallacious illusion that the vanguard party is to be a secret organization that the power structure knows nothing about, and the masses know nothing about, except for occasional letters that come to their homes by night. Underground parties cannot distribute leaflets announcing an underground meeting. These are contradictions and inconsistencies of the so-called revolutionaries. The so-called revolutionaries are in fact afraid of the very danger that they are advocating for the people. These so-called revolutionaries want the people to say what they themselves are afraid to say, and the people to do what they themselves are afraid to do. This makes the so-called revolutionary a coward and a hypocrite.

If these imposters would investigate the history of revolution, they would see that the vanguard group always starts out above ground and is later driven underground by the aggressor. The Cuban Revolution exemplifies this fact; when Fidel Castro started to resist the butcher Batista and the American running dogs, he started by speaking on the campus of the University of Havana in public. He was later driven to the hills. His impact upon the dispossessed people of Cuba was very great and received with much respect. When he went into secrecy, Cuban people searched him out. People went to the hills to find him and his band of twelve. Castro handled the revolutionary struggle correctly. If the Chinese Revolution is investigated, it will be seen that the Communist Party was quiet on the surface so that they would be able to muster support from the masses. There are many areas one can read about to learn the correct approach, such as the revolution in Kenya, the Algerian Revolution, Fanon’s THE WRETCHED OF THE EARTH, the Russian Revolution, the works of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, and a host of others.

A revolutionary must realize that if he is sincere, death is imminent due to the fact that the things he is saying and doing are extremely dangerous. Without this realization, it is impossible to proceed as a revolutionary. The masses are constantly looking for a guide, a Messiah, to liberate them from the hands of the oppressor. The vanguard party must exemplify the characteristics of worthy leadership. Millions and millions of oppressed people might not know members of the vanguard party personally or directly, but they will gain through an indirect acquaintance the proper strategy for liberation via the mass media and the physical activities of the party. It is of prime importance that the vanguard party develop a political organ, such as a newspaper produced by the party, as well as employ strategically revolutionary art and destruction of the oppressor’s machinery. For example, Watts. The economy and property of the oppressor was destroyed to such an extent that no matter how the oppressor tried to whitewash the activities of the black brothers, the real nature and the real cause of the activity was communicated to every black community. For further example, no matter how the oppressor tries to distort and confuse the message of Brother Malcolm X, Black people all over the country understand it perfectly and welcome it.

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense teaches that in the final analysis, the amount of guns and defense weapons, such as hand grenades, bazookas, and other necessary equipment, will be supplied by taking these weapons from the power structure, as exemplified by the Viet Cong. Therefore, the greater the military preparation on the part of the oppressor, the greater is the availability of weapons for the black community. It is believed by some hypocrites that when the people are taught by the vanguard group to prepare for resistance, this only brings the man down on them with increasing violence and brutality; but the fact of the matter is that when the man becomes more oppressive, this only heightens the revolutionary fervor. The people never make revolution. The oppressors by their brutal actions cause the resistance by the people. The Vanguard Party only teaches the correct methods of resistance. So, if things can get worse for oppressed people, then they will feel no need for revolution or resistance. The complaint of the hypocrites that the Black Panther Party for Self Defense is exposing the people to deeper suffering is an incorrect observation. People have proved that they will not tolerate any more oppression by the racist dog police through their rebellions in the black communities across the country. The people are looking now for guidance to extend and strengthen their resistance struggle.