First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 7, No. 3, November 1969
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Brutal ruling class attacks against Black Panther leaders show primarily paramount fear of black workers. We would like to repeat the fundamental point we have made for some time: The ruling class was rocked by the massive sweep of black rebellions. It saw for the first time since the thirties a significant section of the working class rise up because of extreme oppression. The black masses fought heroically against the armed might of the state. What was particularly frightening to the moguls was the idea of armed self-defense against police terror. This idea was catching on as a mass issue among people.
The rebellions raised the question among black workers of the need to defeat the system. The rebellions encouraged this profound development among other sections of the population as well. The black rebellions and the U.S. war of aggression in Vietnam exposed U.S. bosses as never before. Revolutionary ideas became mass ideas–not limited to a few people who happened to have read Lenin.
The Panther organization–whatever its weaknesses–was the only important organization that emerged in the ghettos during the period of rebellions. The Panthers spoke of Marxism-Leninism, armed self-defense and revolutionary violence to counter ruling class terror in order to win, unity with white forces, the thought of Mao Tse-tung and mass action around programmatic goals. These were all a welcome and formidable set of ideas.
To deal with this threat the ruling class resorted to the time tested tactics of terror-racism-bribery and–perhaps most significant–using the “Communist” Party to infiltrate the Panther leadership in order to win and buy them to its programs. Police murders in Chicago and police attacks against Panther leaders in Los Angeles are a continuation of these tactics. It is obvious that police broke into the home of the Panther leaders in Chicago and murdered them in their beds. And surely the Panthers in Los Angeles were the victims of police terror. Actually, the legalisms of the matter aren’t important. The essence is the fact that the bosses are out to use the Panthers as an example to black workers. The ruling class wants no more rebellions and it wants no more political organizations to emerge that would reject “Communist” Party politics and genuinely adopt Marxism-Leninism. The ruling class is using the Panthers as an example to all. It wants the class struggle to end.
War resistance, campus rebellions, militant strikes, G.I. actions against Army brass and the black rebellions have created a political crisis for the ruling class. By crushing the Panther organization the ruling class wants to appear omnipotent. As long as the Panthers respond to police terror with pleas for more black cops, U.N. investigations, and reliance on various politicos and churchmen in the black and white communities, bosses haven’t much to worry about. By whipsawing the Panther leaders between Gestapo terror and “Communist” politics, bosses are keeping the Panthers in a vise. In addition, the bosses want to frighten all anti-imperialist forces into submission. We are all supposed to view the plight of the Panthers as the inevitable consequence of a fight against the ruling class. And, of course, the bosses would be delighted if all fighters against imperialism dissipated their energies by supporting the “Communist” Party line for more black cops and U.N. intervention.
It won’t work! Many people in the movements won’t be fooled or frightened. The black community will become angrier; wholesale terror is nothing new to black workers. The bigger problem is to mobilize masses away from rightwing-liberal politics and to Marxism-Leninism. Victory over the bosses and their cops can be accomplished only be rejecting obsolete Maginot Line tactics. A few people holed up in an apartment can’t defeat the cops. It can be done only by base-building among workers.
Thousands of workers and thousands in the antiwar movement will learn that “CP” politics won’t end police terror. When workers are won to Marxism-Leninism the tide will unequivocally turn. When we speak against revisionism, saying it is a matter of “life or death,” it is not an empty cliche. You can’t play ball with the local “CP” and their foreign counterparts like Kim Il Sung or Castro. This will only lead to inevitable defeat. An attack by the enemy can be turned into victory only if work is going on among workers to win them to Marxism-Leninism.
There are many in the ghettos, shops, Army and the antiwar movement who are being won to Marxism-Leninism. Panthers are being won and will continue to be won to working class politics. This will be borne out by more people actually responding to one of Mao Tse-tung’s more important ideas: Slight the enemy strategically and take him into full account tactically. Unfortunately, many good people reverse this brilliant idea. They are then unable to build strength among workers. Also necessary is Mao’s idea of “protracted struggle.” This idea doesn’t exclude militancy, but it does exclude foolish, get-rich-quick schemes. Work among workers and a long-range outlook of struggle helps to avoid revisionist politics. It also means reliance on the masses, not on lawyers.
A large campaign must be launched to expose racist murders and attacks on all black people. This campaign should show the class nature of the attacks. Obviously, there is a close correspondence between U.S. bosses’ atrocities in Vietnam and in Chicago. These attacks are also related to bosses having cars and trucks driven into picket lines at the G.E. plant in Schenectady. Let us be clear: In order to maintain maximum profits and retain political power, the bosses will kill workers in the United States just as they do in Vietnam. We must remember that there are no good bosses. An important part of revisionism is the illusion that some bosses are good, or at least better than others, and that therefore we must ally with them against the truly evil ones. We believe that the United Nations is all bad. It is an organization created by American bosses and their flunkies. Therefore, why should we call on our enemies to help us?
No combination of terror and revisionism will stop the class struggle. The workers will overcome these roadblocks. They are doing so now in mass battles. It is the task of all communists, and others, to join these struggles and relate their goals to the fundamental goal of revolution.