Beyond Nationalism, But Not Without It
(from Anarchist Panther zine #1)
all kinds of Nationalisms and there are all kinds of reactions to nationalism.
I would like to address this issue from the perspective of someone who
has moved through and grown within some of the Black Nationalisms specific
to the Black Community. I would like to share what that means to me as
it pertains to the questions you raised for this ONWARD theme of Anarchism
Ive taken it from the latest issue of Arsenal #4 (page 4) as it
introduces its own discussion into the very same theme. As a Black anarchist
TIRED of primarily white anarchists just totally dismissing nationalism,
I truly appreciate Arsenal & Onward taking this on as two of the newest
newspaper/mags on the scene.
saved my life, in a sense, as a teenager in the 1960s. It "jarred"
my unconscious acceptance of amerikkanism dogging my peoples and helped
me to see the larger picture. I am a 60s child. There was Malcolm,
there was H. Rap Brown and Stokeley Carmichael of the Black Power movement,
and then there was the Black Panther Party. All were nationalists, all
represent, also, an evolution of nationalism within the black community.
But because of the totally racist, genocidal dynamic within this Babylonian
Empire, the black nationalist understood that we must
must primarily look to ourselves to free ourselves. Point blank. And none
of these thinker felt it was necessary to check in with The
White Man (from the ruler to the revolutionary) to see if it was okay.
Ha! Picture that. It was about our survival as a people, not as that mythical
"working class" or that equally mythical "citizen."
SO, for me, as this teenager who had just witnessed the 60s Rebellions
in my own hometown, my own thoroughly racist hometown, nationalism was
a lifesaver. WE MUST LOVE EACH OTHER. BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL. WE MUST CONTROL
OUR OWN COMMUNITIES. Etcetera, etcetera.
cause as an anarchist searching for some good anarchist shit from the
60s to be able to hold up and show "proof" that the anarchist
were better on the position of Nationalism than the Marxists and Leninists,
I found hardly anything! I found some positive stuff from a "libertarian"
publication but to my surprise they represented the "anarcho-CAPITIALIST
tendency! Yet, I found them to be on point and consistent on RESPECTING
nationalism and national liberation. ("The Libertarian Forum"
of the late 60s and early 70s. Karl Hess, Joseph Peden, and
Murray N. Rothbard). They, at least, understood that black peoples
nationalist struggle was a struggle against the State, the Babylonian
state. They, also, looked at what the nationalist groups were doing in
their actual grassroots practice, like creating concrete defenses against
repression and alternatives in survival institutions. Thus, they liked
what the Panthers were doing on the ground through their programs and
supported that kind of nationalism as being compatible with "anarchism
on the ground." Paul Goodman made similar observations of the early
civil rights movement groups. But it was understood that these groups
were dealing with issues of survival against genocide, and that these
groups were developing their own analyses and programs to rally their
communities. One last thing about the libertarians of LF, they interestingly
enough were critical of the Panthers when the Party turned towards Marxism
and other authoritarian ideologies because in their "on the ground"
practice the survival programs were no longer spontaneous responses to
specific oppressions but increasingly had to be kept under the tight control
of the Party.
and statism are different in that nationalism can be anti-state. But they
can have commonalities in that nationalism may only be against a particular
kind of state, such as a Racist State, or a Fascist State. Anarchism and
nationalism are similar in that they are both anti-statist, but what does
it mean when the specific anarchist movements within a specific country
are racist and dismissive of any and all nationalism, be it reactionary
or revolutionary???? For me, even the nationalism of a Louis Farrakhan
is about saving my people, though it is also thoroughly sexist, capitalist,
homophobic and potentially fascist. Yet, it has played an important part
in keeping a certain black pride and resistance going. Their "on
the ground" work is very important in keeping an anti-racist mentality
going. As a black anarchist, thats MY issue to deal with cuz theyse
MY FOLKS. But it points to where anarchism and nationalism have differences,
and that is in anarchists having NO understanding of what it means to
be BLACK in this fucked up society. We do not have the luxury of being
so intellectual about this excruciating boot on our collective neck, this
modern-day middle-passage into the Prison Industrial Complex, this
As a postmodernist
anarchist, identity politics is important to me. Go back to Audre Lordes
quote. Every time I hear someone talk about my people as if we are just
some "working class" or "proletariat" I wanna get
as far away from that person or group as possible, anarchist, Marxist,
whatever. As a postmodernist anarchist I also find my peoples experience
the font from which we will find our way to liberation and power. Thats
what I get from being the "insurrection of subjugated knowledges.
My nationalism gave me that kind of pride because it was such a rejection
of White thinking or at least a decentering of the primacy of white thought,
capitalist, socialist, whatever. I say this to say that folks outside
of our experience need to respect that they aint got no monopoly on revolutionary
thinking and dam sure aint got none on revolutionary practice. It is easy
to sit back and intellectualize about our nationalism from the modernist,
eurocentric framework of rational, scientific, materialist models. While
one does that, it is our nationalism which constantly rally our people
come together, remember our history, love ourselves, dream on and fight
back. Black anarchists and anti-authoritarian revolutionaries understand
the limitations of nationalism in terms of its historical sexism, hierarchy,
or its modernist trappings in general. But we also recognize anarchism
modernist trappings in the form of American racist privilege when it comes
to people of color.
of Lorenzo Komboa Erving, Greg Jackson and others to build an organization/federation
of black community partisans/organizers is an example of uniting black
revolutionary nationalism and anarchism. I believe that Black Fist, even
if called generally a people of color or third world anti-authoritarian
organization, understood the necessity to be grounded in the experiences
of black and brown communities. Thus, the experiences of the Panthers
and the Brown Berets and other like groups were essential. The question
seems to be whether white anarchists and anti-authoritarians can work
with such groups. Even if those two groups no longer exists, their experiences
need to deal with being ANTI-RACIST ALLIES to folks of color communities
and activists. Activists in particular because we are usually whites
entry point into any possible relationship with our communities.. Anarchist
theory and practice cannot take the form of a mere adherence to the founding
fathers and canonal practices, such as Kropotkin, Bakunin, and the Spanish
Civil War. Tired of hearing it! Anarchism HERE in Babylon must reflect
our unique problems and possibilities for struggle. Our struggles are
not just against capitalism. Too simple. Our struggles are not just against
racism. Thats, also, too simple. Theres all kinds of negative
isms we are fighting against and just as importantly, all kinds of worlds
we are fighting for. Thats why I feel that the whole idea and practice
of "convergences" and "spokescouncils" are sooooo
important to activists in general to learn from and enhance because they
are about making space for all "Voices" to be heard and factored
into the decision-making so that whatever activities comes forth from
it prefigures the kind of new worlds we truly want.
right? My apologies. I end this by advising: WHITE ANARCHISTS, DEAL WITH
BEING THE BEST ANTI-RACIST ALLIES YOU CAN. WE NEED YOU BUT WE WILL DO
THIS SHIT WITHOUT YOU.
To my folks
a world, of worlds within our world where theres principled co-existence
within the wonderful diversity of the Black Community.
Spanish harlems / watts / hip-hop communities / villages of the Carolina
coast / college communities / gay-lesbian-transgender communities / zulu
nation / new afrikan / religious communities that come together mainly
on Saturday or Sunday / squatter communities / outlaw communities / kemetic
communities / ibo-ghanaian-sierra leonean-ethiopian-rasta neighborhoods
/ nomadic poet-artist tribes / and then those of us who just be plain
ignant and harmless and crazy when we have to be and fun-loving and like
to journey through and between communities and sometimes just create new
WHAT IF ?
and HOW ?
said we can do it if we can trust ourselves and get away from leadership-led
revolution; Kwesi Balagoon said we can do it if we willing to create a
chaos that will shut this mutha down; Audre Lorde said we can do it if
we LEARN TO LOVE AND RESPECT OUR BEAUTIFUL DIVERSITY and reject the tools
of our oppressors; Harriet Tubman daid aint a better way t live THAN AT-WAR
FOR A RIGHTEOUS CASUE; and Franz Fanon said if we smack that mutha across
the face, drive that pig outta your territory at the point of a gun IS
LIBERATING FOR THE SOUL.
WHAT IF ?
Newtons community of communities, BEYOND NATIONALISM and fully self-determining,
embracing our diversity of beliefs, lifestyles and non-exploitative economic
arrangements, reuniting Earth-loving peoples with a loving Earth.
Through the Imagination, All is possible.