Monday, April 11, 2011

Book Review of "We Are Our Own Liberators" by Jalil Muntaqim

This review originally appeared in Howard University student newspaper "The Hilltop" on April 10, 2011. It can be seen here

On May 18, 1975 Jalil Muntaqim, Herman Bell, and Albert "Nuh" Washington were sentenced for the murder of two police officers. The organization of which they were members, the Black Panther Party, was a target of the FBI's CounterIntelligenceProgram (COINTELPRO).

Although Cointelpro was created in 1956 to repress the Socialist/Communist Party, by the late 1960s its principle goal, according to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, was to "disrupt, discredit, and otherwise neutralize" revolutionary Black Nationalist organizations such as the Black Liberation Army, Revolutionary Action Movement, and Republic of New Afrika. The objective of these organizations was to form an independent Black nation out of five states in the southeastern U. S. where Black people have historically lived and developed through their labor.

Muntaqim follows in a long line of African freedom fighters that have used armed struggle to win land and independence in the Black Belt South. Herbert Aptheker states that in 1526 a group of enslaved Africans in contemporary South Carolina revolted then fled to the hills where they formed an independent maroon community. He asserts there were over fifty maroon communities in the U.S. and many more throughout the Americas. Moreover, exactly two hundred years ago, in 1811, Charles Deslondes led an insurrection of enslaved Africans in Louisiana for complete independence.

During the Reconstruction period, Tunis Campbell set up an independent government and army for Africans in America in what is today the South Carolina Sea islands. In short, as an activist and writer, he is not without precedent.

In the second edition of We Are Our Own Liberators, Muntaqim advances a political and economic program so that another generation can complete the objectives of the Black Power Movement. Following the maxims that "there has never been a successful revolutionary movement without revolutionary theory" and "without a revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary practice" he utilizes the principles of dialectical and historical materialism. This political theory has been employed by such illustrious revolutionaries as W. E. B. Dubois, Kwame Nkrumah, Kwame Toure (Stokely Carmichael), Mao Tse-Tung, Che Guevara and many more.

Muntaqim argues "the approach of most New Afrikans to social problems has always been a pragmatic or problem solving approach which is essentially anti-intellectual." The current generation can no longer afford to attempt to solve each problem as though it were an isolated phenomena.

Towards this end, in the chapter "National Strategy for FROLINAN" he develops a Three Phase Theory for National Independence: 1) Class Struggle for National Unity 2) National Unity for self government and 3) Self Government for National Independence.

In the first stage, we must directly challenge the current comprador negro leadership that collaborates with the U. S. government such as the CBC, NAACP, Urban League, National Action Network etc. At the same time, we must provide basic goods and services to the Black community then demand the Black elite take political positions that serve not just their own class interests but the masses as well.

In clear and unflinching language Muntaqim proclaims "the United States is an empire of monopoly-capitalist domination. The country's existence is based upon the domination (colonization) and exploitation of internal (domestic) and external nations."

Therefore, like Paul Robeson, Dubois and others he posits that the case of political prisoners must be taken to international organizations such as the United Nations and not stay confined to U.S. national borders. According to the U.N., all people have a right to a nationality and end colonial domination by any means necessary. Thus, Muntaqim was well within his human rights to engage in armed resistance against the state.

This book is pregnant with ideas that can give birth to a renewed spirit of Black political mobilization. Suffice to it to say this book must be thoroughly studied by the current generation of Black college students for its lesson from a person educated in revolutionary practice. This edition even includes Muntaqim's poetry which is "spewing molten volcanic ash of revolutionary ideas, casting pregnant black clouds of notions, castigating institutionalized white supremacy."

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