Class Antagonisms Inside the Fundamental Contradiction of National Oppression
7–4–47 ADM (11)
Having just passed the 19th, & quickly approaching the 20th, anniversary of the L.A. Rebellion, We should be reminded here of what Rodney King whimpered as he stood in front of a bank of microphones surrounded by class enemies & neo-colonial politicians.
We should remember how he’d been dressed in that non-threatening cardigan sweater, white shirt, & black tie. How his hair had been tortured into submission by a jheri curl. We should reflect, as well, upon how timid & spooked he looked & on how concerned & stern those who flanked him were as well. That was a Kodak moment. It was staged to foster an image of contrition & resignation. Submission. A victim.
Rodney King had been led to believe, thru a bourgeois sense of reasoning, that the Rebellion was really about him. That the reason New-Afrikans & Mexicanos took to the streets of South Central was the result of his filmed beating.
That, of course, is typical of mechanical, bourgeois thinking. What it’s not typical of however, is someone from the ‘hood. And this cuts both ways. No one in the ‘hoods & barrios, ever thought it was about Rodney King. We’d all seen the film, over & over like everyone else. But that was par for the course. We’d always seen that – long before anyone had caught it on tape.
Actually, We’d experienced much more than that. Why, it’s safe to say, that hoods have gone to War with each other, in vicious waves of internal (intra-class) combat, for much less than that. Tho’, because of a general colonial mentality, which prevents the challenging of (from bottom up) oppression, the same “hood” forces will not, in any systematic way, wage war on the pigs! Or for Freedom, Land & Socialism.
Rodney King, alone & of his own accord would not have thought to hold a press conference to ask the asinine question (in the form of a whimpered request), “Can’t We all just get along?” The fact of the matter was We were getting along. New Afrikans & Mexicanos were getting along just fine. What we couldn’t overstand was why he was admonishing Us for getting at the exploiters of our communities? The impression he gave, with his handlers’ hands up his back, like a ventriloquist doll, was that a “Race Riot” was going on. As if we had begun to kill each other, or burn & rob each other’s homes. His handlers compelled him to send up a false flag – a diversion. But, you see, this was the very thing that exposed the class interests & reactionary politics of the Uncle Toms that had been designated to handle him & by extension Us!
Let’s go back for a minute, let’s talk social development (“history”). There exists a fundamental contradiction in Our lives that, like an elephant in the room, no one wants to acknowledge. Here’s the thing, as a consequence of the war waged upon various Afrikan Nations by European powers, those of Us captured & kidnapped where taken out of Our own self-determining social developments & violently forced into Euro-amerikan his-tory. This is not simply a clever play on words. This is a reality. We lost the ability to control Our own destiny. Read that again.
From that time until now, the fundamental (basic) contradiction between the U.S. oppressor Nation & Our own oppressed, & colonized Nation, has been the governing imperialist relationship. Which is to say, Us not being in control of the qualitative factors that determine Our lives as a people. A Nation!
Our tradition of struggle against this fundamental contradiction has taken on many faces – some hidden or obscured, & some open & hostile. But all of these have been to resolve the fundamental contradiction & to regain Our independence. While there have been bona fide struggles to resolve the contradiction, there, too, have been reactionary, neo-colonial struggles, waged by internal enemies loyal to the oppressor Nation & culture, that have tried time & time again to subvert & control Our destiny for the benefit of the capitalists.
They’ve come among Us, always imposed from above, stirring up emotions & giving lip service to “progress”, “equality”, “justice” & “prosperity”. These always within the colonial confines of the oppressors’ arrangements. And none, collectively, ever materialize, because without a resolution of the fundamental contradiction – that is, the freeing of Our productive forces from U.S. imperialism & the governing of Our own affairs, We’ll remain a “minority” within the Amerikan system (as opposed to a majority in Our own) & subjected to the established bourgeois social contract, i.e. colonialism. Neo & Post.
We can parade all thru the empire with “black” congressman, “black” mayors, “black” governors, “black” police chiefs, “black” supreme kourt justices – hell, even a “black” president – & absolutely nothing will alter the genocidal relationship that governs Our national oppression here because the “blacks” are a part of the colonial apparatus. They have made a strategic alliance with the capitalist-imperialists to act as go-betweens in Our oppression & exploitation.
This is a conscious class stand. The “black” petty- bourgeoisie is not innocently confused, like say Mrs. Johnson across the street is about our national oppression. About the existence & subjugation of New Afrika. They are well read, have travelled & are experienced – they have just chosen sides against Us & in favor of Our historical enemies! And, the sooner We recognize & internalize this, the better off We’ll be.
Black ain’t nothing but a color. As a designation of Our national Identity it has played out. It is a superficial overstanding at best & a foolish & dangerous analysis at worst.
We have no collective control over the qualitative factors which determine our lives. We do not, in other words, control Our destiny. Not as a people (Nation) or a state (government). We are not a free, self-determining people. We were, before contact, kidnapping & national oppression – but not now. And until this fundamental contradiction is resolved, until New Afrika is independent of U.S. imperialism & neo-colonial domination, We will remain at the continual mercy of Our historical enemies & their warped worldview. A worldview that breeds, promotes, encourages & finances predation & exploitation!
Which brings Us back to Rodney King & “Can’t We All Just Get Along”. The question that begs an answer is: Who is this “We” he spoke of? The rebellion was against what was generally perceived as the system & particularly against exploiters who parasitically attached themselves to Our oppression, chose to bleed our communities of the little finances we were able to have. The masses, in their choice of targets, were only re-appropriating the wealth they’d invested in these stores & businesses that were then taking that wealth out of the ‘hoods & barrios & giving it to the enemies of Us all. So “We”, the poor & exploited, were already “getting along” with each other. Who We didn’t get along with were those who’d exploited Us. Who’d bled our areas dry of finances while flooding our areas with a bunch of crap & b.s.
It wasn’t the Crips, Bloods or Surenos who’d pulled Rodney King out of his car & beat the hell out of him. Nor was it the Black Libertarian Army or the Brown Berets. So, why was his press conference directed at Us in the ‘hoods
& barrios? This also alerted Us to whom had arranged this press conference. The next question in line with his request is: What exactly did he mean by “Get along?“ As in, “Can We All Get Along?”
Didn’t Our “Getting Along” with national oppression lead Us to this point? Didn’t We “just get along” after they kidnapped Us, colonized Us, hung Us, neo-colonized Us, imprisoned Us, ghetto-ized Us, miseducated Us, un-employed Us, assassinated Our leaders, drugged Us, infected Us & sent our youth to fight other oppressed peoples for them? Didn’t We get along during all that? Getting “along” with U.S. imperialism & our own genocide, has gotten Us into this sordid ass state.
“Getting Along” allowed the pigs to feel comfortable with pulling Rodney King out of his car & beating the hell out of him. The pigs didn’t fear reprisal from the Black Liberation Army for harming one of Our nationals because when they imprisoned Our combatants We “just got along” with that. Re-read that.
But you see, here’s the thing – that was not Rodney King’s words, nor his thoughts. Probably not even his will. No, those who were pulling his vocal cords were those who had a vested interest, a stake, in the system – as it was before the Rebellion. Those who had made a political & economic (class) alliance – with the imperialists! His now famous quote was actually a message from our class enemies by way of someone who they thought we could identify with. But, of course, his (their) words fell upon deaf ears because those who’d been treated just as bad (& some even worst) were out in the streets looking for a better day.
All the things people labored so hard to manufacture, at minimum wage jobs, but could not afford to buy, they got for FREE. People were getting food, clothing, diapers, shoes & whatever else they could never afford, but always needed. And this in an Empire who’s wealth began upon their conquests & continues upon their exploitation today. Let Us not forget that the U.S., as an Empire, has never supported itself – EVER! It was born a parasite & grew to prominence – as a parasite. It is today a parasite. But in the wealthiest Empire on the planet, in the history of the world, people are starving, hopeless & generally without.
The repression required to keep Us “just getting along” is a massive effort undertaken by every branch of the oppressor government: Executive, Legislative & Judiciary. In fact, laws are enacted to maintain bourgeois hegemony over both internal & external colonies. Both Federal (National) & State (Regional) laws function to keep the oppressed tethered to the floor of the Empire. There is a general & a permanent state of war that governs all relations between oppressor & oppressed. Sometimes it’s hidden & tactically called something else – usually something with a benign name that sounds well-meaning. You know like “War on Poverty”, or “War on Drugs” – “War on Gangs”. They militarize everything having to do with relations between oppressed & oppressor Nations. It’s all part & parcel of the general & permanent state of war between Us & them! And just because We ain’t ready, organized & responding to it don’t mean it’s not a war. The ‘hoods, barrios & reservations are virtual prisons. The schools are half-way houses & the prison industrial complex is doing big business. It’s a war alright. Ready or not.
A permanent state of war must exist in order to maintain fear in & control over the internal colonies. This permanent state of war is called colonialism. When they allow someone who looks like you to govern you, for them – this is called Neo (New) Colonialism. And, when they let a “black” run the business, as in Rock Bottom being president of the U.S. – this is called post-neo-colonialism. But colonialism all the same. The system is capable of morphing at moment’s notice in order to survive & continue to oppress. As Butch Lee pointed out, “it can even appear as its opposite in order to evade destruction.” The slogan popularized by the old Black Liberation Movement, “By Any Means Necessary”, actually embodies what the U.S. system of capitalism is really about. In practice. Always.
They will select a “black” sock puppet to be the president to demonstrate to their investors that they are color blind – turn right around & imprison 800,000 New Afrikans. Then, the sock puppet president, turns around & appoints various women to his team to show the people it is not patriarchal – but the same system is waging an authoritarian war on women & children. Tho especially women & children of color – those from the internal colonies (New Afrika, Puerto Rico, Aztlan & Indigenous Nations).
And, of course, We have to contend with the loyal–enemies of the Empire. These are the ones who go hooping & hollering about “racism” & “discrimination” – boo-hooing about how exclusionary the system is – and yet they really only want in. They want “equality” – to be equal with the very ones they claim are “racists”. They use terms like “OUR government”, or “OUR troops in Afghanistan” – “OUR police Force”. They are clamoring against “discrimination” because they feel they, too, should be allowed to prey on people. They want to be “equal” in the system of capitalism. They don’t want to stop the problem – they want to be a part of it. Why else would they ask for “equality” without calling into question the entire grotesque apparatus?
This is what makes the petty bourgeois class of “blacks” so dangerous. They have the resources, approval & backing of the imperialists to carry on their campaigns of accepted forms of protests, even when it appears to question the bourgeois laws of the enemy. For instance: they’ll support both a new trial & the release of Mumia Abu Jamal, only because we can prove that he was wrongly convicted as a part of a frame-up . And while We go on to link this frame-up with a total array of colonial maneuvers carried out to keep New Afrika oppressed & exploited, they’ll pull back at “racism” and ignore Our need for self-determination. This, because their class interests reach an ending at calling into question the fundamental contradiction. We can demonstrate this by the fact that there is no support for Sundiata Acoli, Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga or any other New Afrikan prisoners of war. Anything that points to the challenging of the fundamental contradiction – that calls into question the actual National Oppression of New Afrika – the petty bourgeoisie will ignore, reject or outright deny support for. This would not be in accord with their class interests as parasites upon Our misery, their collaboration with our oppressors. So, within the framework of their accepted forms of protests, as loyal enemies (as oppo-sames), they can call Mumia’s capture, incarceration & conviction “racist”, “discriminatory” & “questionable”. But that’s where it will end. That’s the parameters. That’s the function of this class. To appear as staunch defenders of “black”, or “Afrikan American”, rights, progress & equality only within the boundaries of established imperial rule. Which is to say only as “citizens” of the oppressor Nation – as “minorities” needing special handling. Victims.
And here we are back at Rodney King. Once the spontaneous L.A. Rebellion had run its course, brought under control only secondarily by the National Guard – it’s primary weakness, of course, was its spontaneity – the U.S. government enacted a counterinsurgency policy called Weed & Seed. This directive was issued straight from the White House, from then president George H.W. Bush. And, let Us not forget, that this same pig had, from February 1976, to November of that same year, been Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. So he was no stranger to counterinsurgency programs.
Weed & Seed was a counterinsurgency program much like the Phoenix Program run previously on the Vietnamese people to, it explicitly said, “neutralize the Viet Cong by assassinating its cadres, destroying its bases among its people & strategically winning over the Vietnamese population”. That is exactly what Weed & Seed was about as well. In the ‘hoods & barrios of South Central.
Once you see New Afrikans as an internal, colonized Nation & not simply as a “black minority of discriminated against U.S. citizens”, you’ll begin to overstand the interchangeability of military tactics used against other colonies around the world. Not only did Weed & Seed implement a weeding out of “troublemakers”, i.e. combatants, leaders & political adversaries, but it seeded points of contention & distrust amongst the various participants in the Rebellion & Resistance that grew eventually into what’s happening now between almost every ‘hood & barrio. These conflicts did not fall from the sky. Their origins are on Earth, issuing from designs that serve someone’s needs. The idea is to follow the conflicts to the point of interest. Which is to say, who is benefiting from the conflicts? Keep the term Weed & Seed in mind as We go forward here.
Nationals of two oppressed & colonized Nations (Aztlan & New Afrika) are involved in shooting wars. Yes, these conflicts largely involve lumpen (criminal) elements. Those involved in street org activity. The lumpen element to a degree played some significant roles in the Revolution of the 60’s & early 70’s. Especially those who were able to transform their criminal mentalities into conscious Revolutionary mentalities. Even tho’ it’s largely lumpen elements in contention in the ‘hoods/barrios, regular, working-class people, students & children, are also being affected by these clashes. But the thing is, the combatants are nationals of oppressed Nations – those the U.S. government has already deemed “social dynamite” & have slated for liquidation thru one of its various methods of collective death & destruction. So, once the enemy culture saw the mass unity during the Rebellion, measures thru Weed & Seed, were undertaken to divide, so as to be in a better position to CONQUER, these elements who obviously had no qualms about rebelling against oppression.
Here’s one of the tactics they used: On Florence & Normandie Avenues, the acknowledged point of origin of the Rebellion, New Afrikans were shown on film pulling a Mexicano priest from his car, yanking his pants down, while he has on the ground, & spray painting his private parts black. This was not what it actually was reported to be. While this priest was, in fact, Mexicano, he’d been pointed out by a Mexicano as a child molester & was thus disciplined by the first group that got to him. But because those who got him were New Afrikan & he was obviously a Mexicano & no sound was attached to the video, the media was allowed to mis-interpret the scene as they wished.
And this is what they did. So, there was Reginald Denny layed out after being pulled from his truck – after he’d yelled “get your black asses out of the street” to the Rebels – & then beaten. And across the street was the Mexicano priest, pants pulled down, private parts painted black – & the Rebels were seemingly targeting anyone who wasn’t New Afrikan as they passed. This is what it looked like from the helicopter & after the news people interpreted it as such. But that wasn’t true.
The Rebels, the lumpen, had just had a very physical brawl with a few dozen L.A.P.D. pigs over their manhandling of a fellow by the name of Marc. During the Rebels’ battle to free Marc from the pigs clutches, a radio call came out which instructed the pigs to retreat – to leave the area. They got into their cars & left. Then the Rebels walked up to Florence Avenue & were attempting to secure the intersection from all vehicle traffic – that is: all vehicle traffic. Any motorists that attempted to pass had their vehicles bombarded with stones, sticks & bottles. The tactic was to secure the intersection against the eventual return of the L.A.P.D. Which, is must be added, has its 77th Division (a notoriously aggressive & hostile station) right down the avenue of Florence at Broadway. So, the idea, on a purely spur of the moment level, was to secure the main intersection from any & all flowing traffic. What is interesting to note is that the young Rebels & lumpen weren’t trying to “start” the L.A. Rebellion. And it certainly wasn’t about the Rodney King beating or verdict. Tho We’d all seen that too. Where earlier in that fateful day the four L.A.P.D. pigs were acquitted after a trial for the taped beating. While it most definitely wasn’t the central factor, it was however one more nail in the coffin of belief in the system. This, if only for a few days, while Rebels re-appropriated various goods & demolished certain structures they knew were used to exploit & extract wealth out of the area. Local, mom & pop shops, were not destroyed or looted.
However, by showing over & over the corner of Florence and Normandie, Reginald Denny’s stoning, the priest’s painting & the chaotic attempts by the Rebels & lumpens to secure the corner, the impression of “Madness” & “Racism” was projected out into the city, region, state & the Empire. And, of course, like most things involving a challenge to capital, exploitation & private property, the states’ propaganda machine put its own spin on these events. With a few agents on the ground, in key places, doing whisper campaigns, it wasn’t too hard to convince right-wing street (& prison) organizations that it was the “Racist blacks attacking Mexicans”. Thus began the acrimonious flow of orders to “get even” that issued from the tombs of the SHU units. Check the stats – after the ‘92 Rebellion, the hoods & barrios across L.A., Watts, Compton & Lynwood erupted in lethal clashes that have culminated in the hostile stand off that exists today. In the midst of the Rebellion nevertheless, there came a ceasefire order observed by some of the most dangerous & combative street orgs within the New Afrikan communities. Eighty percent of the sets complied with the cease fire. Bitter enemies blended across color lines in South Central, Watts & Compton. This was in the historic spirit of the 1965 Watts Rebellion that saw a ceasefire & blending of the older New Afrikan street orgs in favor of United Action Against the L.A.P.D. & National Guard. Weed & Seed was to prevent this from happening again.
Once the streets orgs agreed upon a ceasefire in 1965, they, unlike the Crips & Bloods of 1992, had a social movement to join as an alternative. A social movement that was increasingly becoming an armed revolution. Malcolm had been murdered earlier that year, in February. The Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) was active, & nightly on the bourgeois news, images of civil rights protests were being shown. There existed a more obvious exposure of the fundamental contradiction. New Afrika was being rapidly de-colonized. The system of capitalism was morphing again, looking, searching, for new ways to maintain its control over the internal colonies, while simultaneously struggling to get new colonies in Vietnam, South Amerika & Afrika. The following year, in October, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense would start. And, too, would the United Slave Organization. Most of the street org combatants who’d come together in a cease fire during the 1965 Watts Rebellion, would go on to join either the Panther Party or the United Slaves. A move that wasn’t lost on the FBI who, thru its Counterintelligence Program (Cointelpro) worked tirelessly to exacerbate pre-existing conflicts between individual combatants that inevitably spilled over into gunfights & murders.
The same tactics were used against the Crips & Bloods under Weed & Seed, after the 1992 Rebellion. Same war, different names of the maneuvers, same objective. What should come across as evident to Us as We reflect on the various tactics used against Us over the centuries is that the enemy has more faith in Our ability to get free than we do. Put another way, the enemy has had to implement so many ploys, to hold, control, exploit & now to eliminate Us that for Us to sit & point these things out make even the most astute observer appear as a wing-nut conspiracy theorist. Tho of course, it’s no theory when its actually happening, as Butch Lee & J. Sakai point out in Rethinking New Orleans, it ain’t a conspiracy when it’s done out right & in the open – it’s a strategy. Why else would the imperialists have to implement plan after plan – sometimes elaborate & varied – to contain New Afrika (or any other colony) if for (1) it wasn’t capable of breaking Free, (2) it wasn’t an asset & (3) it wasn’t able to turn it’s oppression into the actual defeat of the empire itself?
Oftentimes the reaction to an issue can be a lesson unto itself. In this instance the enemy’s reaction to Our very existence is quite enough for those with eyes & ears, to recognize the vast potential in our collective ability to break de chains. Of course, the fact remains that the chains which bind – that at this stage are psychological – are so thoroughly in place that the masses have to be convinced that they are oppressed. Consciousness will not fall from the sky. Nor will people be moved to action by mere thoughts, or ideas in anyone’s head. On both accounts material, earthbound, tangibles – food, clothing, shelter, Land, & control of destiny (Socialism) will motivate the masses. People are moved by interests.
So, in closing, it never was about Rodney King, the verdict, or any singular thing at all. These, however were accelerants, or sparks, at any given time, but the basic most fundamental thing that causes Us to struggle, to resist, is that We are not collectively free to determine Our own destiny. That we are under the thumb of U.S. imperialism. And this imperialism is administered thru colonialism – colonial violence (violence both armed & unarmed). Violence does damage (physically or mentally) – in the streets or in the schools. Thru police shootings or cultural hegemony. The colonialism is in place to exploit Us through capitalism. Let’s be clear on this. Because whether the people are conscious of this or not, it is the reality We are in. And it follows that it will be Our recognition, challenge to & resolution of this fundamental contradiction that will end Our National oppression. Without overstanding this, We’ll continue to be played on Amerika’s Ferris Wheel of “citizenry” – dazed & confused. Being led by the “black” bourgeoisie to meekly just “get along” with Our oppression. Hau!
Sanyika Shakur in a New Afrikan Communist currently held in Pelican Bay’s Security Housing Unit; you can write to him at:
Kody Scott D#07829
PBSP-SHU / C-7-112
PO Box 7500
Crescent City, CA
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