The Anti-violence and Anti-war Mass Movements (cont.)
Part Sixty- Five
We are continuing the speech which I did in 1981 regarding two motions or movements or two major issues of that time. They were Anti-war and Anti-violence. I was fascinated by the striking similarity of that time and the present. I thought it would be of interest particularly for those persons who are students of history, the Peace and Civil Rights Movements.
Date: April 4th, 1981
Let me try something out on you. We are always expressing our anti-Americanism. We have heavy rhetoric on our hatred for everything American, justifiably so. America deserves all the anger we have towards it. But what does this do? It wins some "yeahs" and "right on’s" from the brothers and the sisters, but it keeps ordinary brothers and sisters neutralized for the most part, or at least does not expand our support among our own people.
In addition, to run a heavy anti-American "I hate the flag" wrap, gives our enemies more ammunition. Posturing themselves as gleaming patriots, they condemn us for being unpatriotic, which we are according to their definition and the definition they have made people accept. If you talk in those anti-American terms, the adversary will label you a socialist, communist, etc. We would be wise to reject our enemy's definition of the kind of society we want. We should say, "you can call us what you want, you can call us what you will, we are describing a social order."
You see, Socialists, Communists, Revolutionary, are terms you should be very careful about using, because the people of the United States have been brainwashed to believe that anyone who is described as a Socialist, Communist, or a Revolutionary, is some kind of monster. To accept a Socialist, Communist, or Revolutionary is to put you at an unnecessary disadvantage. Suppose we were to say, "let's make America what America ought to be." First of all, it takes the moral, patriotic posture away from the enemy. Secondly, to say you want to make America what America ought to be, would mean all of the things we talk about in our wildest dreams. What is it that America ought to be? If you had the power, what would you make America? Well, it ought to be the land of freedom, justice, and equality. A land where there is quality education for all, medical services for all, employment for all. A land where democracy and economic fairness exists. Where there is war against racists, fascists, imperialists, and regimes anywhere. A land that supports freedom, and helps human struggles throughout the world, and opens its doors to all who are feeling oppression; can anybody argue with that?
As a person and or movement grows it or they must find language to express their expanding vision. And if the vision is authentic, it must encompass the world, yet include in a special way, the most oppressed. The greatness of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. surely was due to their universality and their particularity. They were the highest expression of humanity. And so, they were ever growing, and therefore ever reaching for language to articulate their universality. There are at least three principles we must remember in organizing:
1. Out moralize your enemy. The most effective way to accomplish this is to beat him at his own code, laws, traditions, holy books, and sacred documents. Show the world your enemy is the hypocrite. Demonstrate that you are really doing what your enemy is supposed to be doing. If your enemy talks about democracy, show the world you are truly the democratic force. You are the one who is for democratic ideals, while your enemy only mouths this idea, while still denying human rights. Significantly, in America, your accusation would be true and would give greater force to your moral argument.
2. Always organize within the experience of your own people, and outside the experience of your enemy. That is why any movement which does not take seriously the religious nature of black folks, is due to fail. The organizations and movements that have made the biggest impact among black people have all had a religious base or dimension. Marcus Garvey, Father Divine, Elijah Muhammad, etc. to name a few – anything with which your people are familiar and your enemy is unfamiliar can be used with great success.
3. We must win the loyalty of our people. Whatever else we do we must win the loyalty of our people. We cannot be so bad that we scare our own people away from us. Let us not forget our enemies are always trying to isolate us – always trying to show that we do not represent the people, that we are a handful of hoodlums bent on self-destruction. We must say, we represent the highest aspiration of democratic ideals and economic equality. We have the support of the people. We are the people's representatives; the people are with us. We are the people.
Keep Priorities Clear -
In our merger, as we build our coalition, we must keep our priorities clear. We must never forget this is still a racist society. Whatever else it is, it is still a racist society, and the very people who march with us can be turned to the system. But we can never go back. We have nowhere to go. We have no country we can call our own. Moreover, the very organization which dawned the movement, might have a history of racism. And view their interests as a link to the ruling class interest. Therefore, our role must be, at woe to us if we do not fulfill it, to keep our priorities in place, and to insist upon prioritizing our objectives.
Two-Fold Objectives -
Now, what are our objectives? They are two-fold. Long range and short range. Our short-range objective is an immediate end to racist violence; Violence by the abuse of police power, violence by mass murder, and violence by the KKK, etc. We must have an end to racist violence. Our short-range objective must be concerned for employment, medical services, responsiveness and sensitivity from political and bureaucratic representatives, quality education, control of or influence over our community institutions.
We need not be quiet about it or bullied into silence by charges of reformism. Whatever we get, it belongs to us. We have labored for it, and we have never been paid. So, whatever we get, is due to us. Moreover, it is hard to be ideological when you are hungry. You cannot expect to win people through philosophical or ideological positions when there is no employment, no food, no clothes, the house is falling down, and rats and roaches have to fight for crumbs. We must let the people's priorities set the agenda. We must do what we have to do today where we are, with what we have, and with whomever is with us. So we can do what we want to do tomorrow. So we can achieve what we want to achieve in the future. This comes to me that we must continue to rally against the issues at the local level, which is consistent with the National Black United Fronts resolution, policies, and programs. We must struggle at the local levels in the local communities, but at the same time the National Black United Front must identify or allow local communities to identify issues that can be addressed nationally.
Two Essentials -
There are two essential developments that must emanate from any organization or movement if it is to grow to its full potential.
1. Protection for the people - It must develop the capacity to protect people. Without security, nothing means anything. That is why the National Black United Fronts march against racist violence and the leadership it has provided in this regard is so important. The people must be protected! Whoever protects the people will win the loyalty of the people. We must assume the responsibility to organize a self-defense force. And while I would not dismiss any kind of self-defense, still I don't think it is wise to give public expressions to some forms of self-defense. I still feel, however, that it would be the right act, the noblest, wisest, course of action to develop a visible community patrol. To control the community and transportation system to say to our people, we are from the National Black United Front, and we are here to protect you. If you have problems, let us know, we are in hearing distance. This would surely win the appreciation of the people. I still believe that to save several people from danger would be the right thing to do from every respect.
Yes, for those who like to talk revolution, it would be the revolutionary thing to do. Because it would mean winning the loyalty of the people, and every genuine revolutionary knows that without the people you don't have anything… You must win the loyalty of the people! You must win the loyalty of the people!
2. Win something for the people - The second imperative for a viable organization, must translate motion into possession. We must win something, some time, with the people and for the people. What we win may on the surface seem small, but to oppressed people having internalized a using habit and the idealism of their oppressors, there is no such thing as a small victory. Any defeat of the enemy…. even a gurgle defeat, is a major victory.
Our movement must not go beyond the people. We must carry the people with us from victory to victory. Now an inch, now a yard, now a job, program, now a school district, now an economic institution, now a community, now a city, and now a.... Each victory must be seen as setting the stage for another victory. If we can achieve security and possession, the Anti-violence and Anti-War Movement will gather momentum, ever expanding, ever growing, and moving us to the second objective of long-range objectives.