“Vanguard of the Revolution” is Liberal History, Strips and Omits Socialism from History of the Black Panther Party

[Bruce Dixon provides an important (but beginning) critique of the new Stanley Nelson film, which portrays the Panther’s iconic nature as helpful survival programs and electioneering.  The film shows the Panthers as beaten by police, but gives no lessons for contemporary self-defense or revolutionary systemic challenge.  The film in this sense plays a similar role as SELMA:  a superficial memorial.  The strengths and weaknesses of the film are being discussed and debated.  Reactionaries and white supremacists hate it, liberals love it, but revolutionary organizers today will not find it contributing much to the materials which could guide new efforts on the ground today. — Frontlines ed.]
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Stanley Nelson’s documentary on the BPP is “history” by and for lazy American liberals. He turns the BPP into a pop culture icon a T-shirt. Nelson mentions guns hundreds of times, big naturals and swagger a few dozen times but not the word “socialism” once in 2 hours. The BPP described its Breakfast For Children and Free Medical Clinics every day as “socialism” in person and in our newspaper, to each other and to the neighborhoods we served.

“Vanguard of the Revolution” is Liberal History, Strips and Omits Socialism from History of the Black Panther Party

by Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce A.Dixon, February 17, 2016
“Stanley Nelson is what Americans call a “liberal” and that’s what Vanguard of the Revolution is…. a liberal’s take on the BPP.”
 

I used to have a Che Guevara T-shirt. It was a pretty good shirt, but it told me nothing about the man or his life’s work. It had Che’s face on it, but by itself the face is just a pop culture icon, shorthand or short-brain for everything you want to know, or everything think you already know about it. That’s what Stanley Nelson’s film, Black Panthers, Vanguard of the Revolution does to the Black Panther Party. He made the movement of my youth an icon. A T-shirt.

On the plus side, it’s a pretty good T-shirt. Vanguard of the Revolution contains some great interview footage from Erika Huggins, Elaine Brown, the freedom fighting Freeman brothers and Wayne Pharr, my old comrade Michael McCarty and several others. On the minus side, Nelson omits and obscures the domestic and global political context the BPP came out of and thrived in. According to Vanguard of the Revolution, the BPP arose out of black northern frustration after the passage of civil rights legislation. It caught on due to the irresistible appeal of its naturals, big guns, the murdermouthing rhetoric of Eldridge Cleaver, downright sexiness, and black is beautiful, all of which earned the BPP pop culture stardom. And pop culture stardom needs no further explanation. Cue the music, fists in the air, and power to the people…

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Semi-“Left” Debate: Defy the Electoral Disorientation, or Buy Into It?

[Throughout the history of settler colonialism and its offspring, capitalism-imperialism, the most effective tool for disorientating, fracturing, disarming, and destroying the popular opposition to the state-administered systems of class exploitation and white privilege has been the routine electoral baits and traps, every two years (local) and four years (national).  Once again the stage is set for electoral “novocaine” (as Malcolm X called it) to help people suffer “peacefully.”  Frontlines will stay on this issue as long as the suffering people are being asked to suffer “peacefully.”  We reprint the following article from 2014, published by Black Agenda Report (www.blackagendareport.com/), which is a crucial ongoing voice of opposition to deceptive electoralism.  —  Frontlines ed.]

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Making the Case for an Election Boycott: Why the Left Should Refrain from US Imperialism’s Electoral Charade

Black Agenda Report 06/17/2014

Image result for what kind of choice is this? lesser evil.  boycott. burn the ballot

The left should not participate in, “and thus provide consent for, the rule of imperialism every four years.” Say “No” to the charade. “Barack Obama’s two-term presidency has been a lesson for the entire left that voting for a Wall Street politician within the imperialist state can only bring more misery and political confusion, not less.”

by Danny Haiphong

The two-party US political system more clearly than ever works exclusively in the interests of the imperialist ruling class.”

There are many dangerous trends emerging from progressive and revolutionary forces in the US. One of the most concerning is a growing focus on electoral campaigns as a tactic to achieve grassroots objectives.  The electoral victories of Kshama Sawant, Chokwe Lumumba (Rest in Power), and Ras Baracka are a clear indication of popular discontent with austerity, gentrification, and privatization in US cities under capitalist siege.  However, whatever encouragement these victories provide cannot resolve the contradictions of US capitalism. The primary purpose of US capitalism’s state machinery is to manage the affairs of the ruling class. This poses the important question of whether electing representatives into political office is a worthy tactic for the left or whether it should be abandoned all together.  Continue reading

Why Bill Clinton’s Apology and Barack Obama’s Prison Drive-By, Token Clemencies Are Cynical Election Year Posturing

[Beware, the electoral season is upon us and the masters of political deception and fraud are invading every home.  In the US, every four years, presidential elections are theatrically staged, designed to confuse and disrupt popular movements against class exploitation and racial oppression, and other democratic movements. The elections claim to be “the way democracy works”, and people “must vote” for politicians to represent their interests. Whoever wins, the people’s interests are lost in the shuffle, and their independence and political initiative and action has been suffocated or destroyed.  Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have in their Presidencies continued the mass incarceration, predominantly black and brown men and women, at world-record levels, and now they have made a dramatic last minute cosmetic relief to cleanse their legacy, at least rhetorically, so that Hillary Clinton’s campaign may not have to apologize to potential black voters for the Bill and Barack legacies.  They cannot avoid blame for things too many know.  —  Frontlines ed.] 
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, 07/17/2015

Ten whole years ago, back in July 2005 when the Black Agenda Report crew was still at Black Commentator, I wrote that

With under 5 percent of the world’s people, the US accounts for 25 percent of the planet’s prisoners.  More than half its 2.2 million prisoners come from the one eighth of its population which is black.  Today, an astounding 3 percent of all African Americans languish in prisons and jails, and nearly as many more are on probation, parole, bail, house arrest or court supervision… Right now, the shadow of prison squats at the corners of, and often at the center of nearly every black family’s life in this nation.”

Yesterday President Obama repeated some of these same figures, and they are pretty much the same. Total US prisoners are still 2.2 or 2.3 million, and a slight drop in the black incarceration rate makes us now a little less instead of a little more than half, but the overall picture is unchanged in a decade. The president then announced the release of forty-some nonviolent federal drug offenders out of a total of about 70,000, and stopped in at a federal prison Thursday. The same day, ex-president Bill Clinton offered a half-hearted “apology” for his 1990s crime bills, which he admitted “set the stage” for state and federal governments to nearly double the US prison population.

Why? Why did President Obama wait six and a half years into his presidency to say the basic damning numbers and free a token handful of drug war prisoners? And how come Bill Clinton, fifteen years out of office chose this week to publicly admit that black mass incarceration was maybe not the best public policy?

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Democrats Hope to Bury Black Lives Matter Under Election Blitz

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

Black Agenda Report, June 10, 2015

The Democrats hope the Black Lives Matter movement, like the Occupy Wall Street movement, will disappear amid the hype of the coming election season. “The Democrats have mounted a systematic cooption-repression response that will intensify as the election season – and Black cities – heat up.” The Democrats understand that, for the movement to succeed, their party’s power over Black America must be broken.

“The movement is inevitably on a collision course with the Democratic Party, although this may not yet be clear to many activists.”

The movement that is emerging under the banner Black Lives Matter is not yet one year old, but it will be dead before it reaches the age of two if the Democratic Party has anything to say about it. The movement’s greatest challenge will be to survive the impending mass mobilization of Black Democratic officeholders and operatives in a $5 billion presidential election season.The current Black-led grassroots campaign is, in very important ways, even more vulnerable to Democratic cooptation and dismantlement than was the white-led Occupy Wall Street movement, which succumbed to a combination of Democratic infiltration and repression – on top of its own contradictions – in the early months of 2012.

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Cowardly, Hypocritical, Subservient Congressional Black Caucus Endorses Israeli Apartheid and Current War Crimes in Gaza

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Israeli president Shmon Peres meets with Marcia Fudge, chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus, and a delegation of the Congressional Caucus at the president's residence in Jerusalem. (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO/FLASH90)

                                         Israeli President Shimon Peres hosts Marcia Fudge, chair of the US Congressional Black Caucus, and a delegation of the caucus at the president’s residence in Jerusalem.  (February, 2014)

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, July 30, 2014

Back in the 1970s, when the Congressional Black Caucus began calling itself “the conscience of the Congress,” that was almost literally true. CBC members could be relied upon not just to reliably vote for raising wages and expenditures on housing, health care and education, but to keep the issues of full employment and opposition to unjust war near thefront of their public agendas.

By the late 1980s, a gaggle of former CBC staffers had moved through the revolving doors of elite affirmative action to become corporate lobbyists, with the same ethics and table manners as their white colleagues, but with black faces. Thanks in large part to their efforts, by 2000 a tsunami of corporate cash began filling up the coffers of incumbent CBC members, their black replacements, or in the cases of Alabama’s Earl Hilliard and Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney, their black opponents.

Only a single member of the CBC, Rep. Barabra Lee opposed President Bush’s blank check for invading anywhere he pleased in Septermber of 2001, and by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, four CBC members, some of them swimming in donations from military contractors, raced down to the White House to have their pictures taken with Bush as the bombs were about to explode over Baghdad.

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Black Agenda Report on what happens when you believe the hype

Doing Us Proud: Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report, 11/07/2012

When a Bush, a McCain, or a Romney condones corporate crimes against the rest of us, lies to us, tortures and imprisons at will and murders civilians at a whim, it’s a moral disaster. When a black Democrat does it, it’s nothing personal, just business. And we are soooo proud. What’s wrong with us?

Black America Has Lost Its Moral Compass

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

At our October 12 affair at Harlem’s Riverside Church, Black Agenda Report’s executive editor Glen Ford said that the most damning and lasting result of the Obama presidency might be that black America was losing its moral compass

Those of us, this author included, who reached adulthood in the brief eight or nine year heyday of the modern Freedom Movement got to see our elders shuck the shackles of what was proper and legal and take to the streets in defiance of evil in authority. We learned that going door to door, organizing our friends, our neighbors, our fellow workers on the job, calling meetings and demonstrations, and standing up to unjust authority, at whatever cost was the highest duty of citizenship and the only way things ever changed.

During the eight years Obama will have served in the White House, Ford observed, black youth can expect to see nothing like this. Where we learned to be skeptical of what our government, and often our elders told us, they are learning to believe, or pretend to believe whatever they’re told. Where we learned the highest goal of the struggle was improving the lives of ordinary people, they are learning that the highest goals are the big house, the prestigious career, the large lifestyle of those who serve the power and unlock the mysteries of the Market. Continue reading

Tired Old So-Called Leftists Give Same Old Excuses For Supporting Obama in 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Bruce A. Dixon, Black Agenda Report
Barack Obama: "Obey" --Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher, standing by their man

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Abject and unwavering support of President Barack Obama on the part of blacks and what used to be called “the left” has made them pretty much irrelevant since Obama emerged as a viable presidential candidate back in mid-2007. After five years of the Age of Obama, four of them as president, one would imagine there are lots of new reasons to endorse him. But even his abject supporters can’t find any.

Tired Old So-Called Leftists Give Same Old Excuses For Supporting Obama in 2012

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

For more than four years now, we at Black Agenda Report have chronicled the self-silencing and growing irrelevance of black America and what calls itself “the left” in the age of Obama. Black America has arrayed itself as a veritable wall around the First Black President. But it’s not a wall that protects him from racists or Wall Street predators or Pentagon warmongers. The truth has always been that when we stifle our own tongues and circle the wagons trying to silence critics of the White House we only protect the president and his party from accountability to their supposed base: us.

Some African Americans and self-identified leftists relish their irrelevance so much they feel called to preach it. Early this week Carl Davidson and Bill Fletcher published a 5,900 word screed at Alternet.Org with the clumsy and contradictory title The 2012 Elections Have Little To Do With Obama’s Record … Which Is Why We Are Voting For Him.

5,900 words is pretty long. Out of respect for our readers’ precious time we here summarize its tired, recycled and profoundly un-original arguments in the order they were made, as 12 one-sentence bullet points. Some are repeated in whole or in part, because that’s what Davidson and Fletcher did, for who knows what reason. Here they are: Continue reading