By Carlos Martinez
In my opinion, Revolutionary Suicide is a crucial contribution to the field of revolutionary strategy and tactics, particularly for those working in the ‘belly of the beast’ – the imperialist countries of Europe and North America. …
In terms of learning from Huey’s ideas about building a revolutionary movement, I think the following points from ‘Revolutionary Suicide’ are some of the key things for us to consider:
- BUILD UNITY THROUGH REAL STRUGGLE. Learning to fight the oppressor is the way to stop fighting each other. Huey communicates this idea by relating the story of how, at his high school, the black students created unity in response to the dominance of white racist gangs.
- BUILD UNITY THROUGH SHARED GOALS. Nobody agrees on everything, and yet left organisations insist on defining themselves on the basis of petty differences with each other. Work out a basic platform and move on it.
- BUILD A SENSE OF COMMUNITY. Modern capitalism takes away our sense of community, of togetherness, or shared purpose. It promotes individualism and fear. Any revolutionary organisation or movement must seek to build unity and cooperation in the communities it works within. Socialism is built from the ground up.
- BUILD ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION. The education system fails oppressed people. It teaches self-hate and subservience. The revolutionary must be an educator. Raising consciousness is a long-term, arduous, essential project and needs constant attention.
- MOBILISE AMONG THE MOST OPPRESSED. Although the traditional US left was focusing its attentions on the industrial working class, the Panthers realised that this was not the most revolutionary class in society, as it had largely been bought off and was enjoying the fruits of imperialism and racism. Huey points out that a revolution must be built on the basis of those elements in society that have nothing to lose; that are ready to go against the system.
- REVOLUTION STARTS NOW. Meet the survival needs of the people, in the here and now. Build power in the communities. Take responsibility. Political power doesn’t drop from the skies; it is built in real life, and that process begins now with the fight for survival. “Revolution is not an action; it is a process.”
- ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS. You can’t engage people with a load of talk and dogmatism. Find ways to get the attention of those people you want to revolutionise. Be relevant, be visible, get people moving in the struggle for real goals. No left-wing organisation that I know of in Britain gets anywhere near to this, as they have no roots in oppressed communities and therefore are not on the right wavelength.
- BE RELEVANT. You don’t have to dumb down your ideas to be acceptable to the masses; you don’t have to take ‘popular’ positions; but you *do* have to be relevant. Many groups fail because they are completely divorced from the masses, and because they adopt an alienating, doctrinaire, superior attitude in relation to oppressed people.
- STUDY THE ART OF REVOLUTION. Learn how others have developed movements and won freedom, and let their strategies inform yours.
- BUILD YOUR OWN PLAN. While learning from others, remember that your struggle has its own unique characteristics, and therefore you must develop your own unique strategy based on a deep analysis of concrete conditions, rather than relying on blueprints or dogmas.
- FIGHT THE POWER. Develop the skills to deal with the system on a daily level. Know your rights – with police, in school, with bailiffs etc. This is key for building pride, confidence and solidarity.
- THE OPPRESSED MUST LEAD. Organisations have a definite need for people with what Huey calls “bourgeois skills” – middle class radicals with good writing, computer, administration skills etc. In many organisations unfortunately these skills bring leadership status to those that have them. This should be avoided!
— Antonio Gramsci, ‘Prison Notebooks’ (via indizombie)