Jeff Brown: Comrade Mumia, please share with us your arc of awareness growing up in the United States as a black man and what inspired you to fight for social and economic justice for the 99%? Your encouragement is invaluable to those who are hesitating to join the cause.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: When I think of the sixties, I remember times of vast movements across many communities for national independence, for freedom, for self-determination against state repression and against imperialist wars like Vietnam. This period, in retrospect, was one of convergence of many social movements coming together with a broad, deep vision of another country—one tied not to slavery and oppression, but to a liberating vision that ignited a generation or seemed to.
The system used all of its tentacles to pull people apart, chiefly racism, and muddy that vision to one of cool acquiescence. Remember that movie The Big Chill? Such times as these are visionary errors: when and where people look over the walls of their prisons for a brief glance at freedom, the freedom offered by possibility. Because Fred Hampton not only had this vision and acted to craft it into being, he was killed in his bed by the state to darken the eyes of a generation.
Movements are made by collectives of people who have hope for social transformation or, as anthropologist Margaret Mead said, here I paraphrase, “Never doubt that a small group can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has.” To grow up in such a time was truly remarkable and a wonderful thing.
Jeff Brown: These days Black Lives Matter, BLM, a non-governmental organization, NGO, is splashed all over the global mainstream media and has broad popular support. However, it’s not all such a rosy revolutionary picture. Soon after forming it, it took 100 million in donations via the Ford Foundation and affiliate NGOs. Just recently, the George Soros foundations have pumped 220 million into black justice groups, as well as Antifa and many others. These are astronomical sums of money. It is widely known that Ford Foundation and left-wing philanthropists are largely fronts for the CIA and deep state hiding behind their liberal image. This strongly suggests that BLM, Antifa, and their ancillary groups are being used as managed opposition to satisfy the ambitions of our oligarchic 1% and are likely fully infiltrated by agents and fifth columnists. Occupy Wall Street was another prime example of this happening. What to do? If you were handed the BLM movement, what would you do to try to right the ship? Was MOVE infiltrated? I read the Black Panthers also had and I assume still fight the same problem. What recommendations do you have for anti-imperial, anti-capitalist people who want to organize and take their movement to the next level without becoming managed opposition?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: As I contemplated your last question, I remembered a book I read several years ago, entitled The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. It illustrated how the right used its excess capital to build and sustain thinktanks which intellectually supported the system of capitalism. The wealth of the left had no correlate for its excess capital went to social services but not the erection of ideological structures.
The authors essentially instructed activists to not get caught in these webs of the wealthy. But when you think about it, doesn’t it makes sense? Why should it surprise us that the system perpetuates the system? Who expects capitalism to build revolutionary structures that are inherently anti-capitalist?
BLM is not the BPP, except in the mind of Rudy Giuliani, perhaps. The BPP was nominally politically independent because its newspaper funded its operations. When poor black people organize, the wealthy seek to control and moderate it. When that doesn’t work, it unleashes its hitmen to extinguish such movements, hence the ferocity of the attacks on groups like the BPP and MOVE. It unleashes its corporate media to demonize those who resist the forces of exploitation.
Remember this: American revolutionaries were invariably rich guys who fought to preserve a system of slavery, captive labor. George Washington was one of the richest men in the colonies, owning hundreds of people and vast tracks of land. Thomas Jefferson also owned hundreds of black captives, but had the decency to write that one hour of slavery’s misery was worse than ages of British rule over America that sparked revolution.
Oppressive systems continue to buy off people so that those systems can continue to function. There’s an old saying: “He who takes the king’s coin dances to his tune.”
If BLM were mine, hmm, I’d institute an intense study of history to show how systems try to defang popular movements. I’d develop an independent economic stream to support organizational frameworks, and I’d teach COINTELPRO efforts to destabilize social change movements. That said, BLM are smart, informed young folks who may not want nor need anything from an old-head like me. That’s because youth movements must be youth movements. That is their essence. That is who they were born to be.
Jeff Brown: How do you compare the AFC’s liberation movement and Nelson Mandela’s cause to eventually be released from political prison to that of the Black Panther Party, MOVE, your efforts to gain your freedom?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: I found your historical analysis interesting, but of course, history may be similar, but rarely exact. That’s because the struggles of black people are different when we consider nationalism and so-called citizenship rights. For example, the ANC fought for a majority-ruled state. Black Americans tend to struggle for rights within the U.S. empire, rarely rights to a national homeland, such as the Republic of New Afrika or the original nation of Islam for example.
That said, both movements struggled for black dignity and self-determination against the racist state power. That, to my view, is a significant degree of difference. Plus, ANC had to surrender some of its key positions to grasp state power as is often the case when two sides begin to negotiate.
The BPP wanted to establish a revolutionary anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist government over a new nation. MOVE wanted to be free of what they called external government so it could live in a state of natural freedom, free also from corporate influence and control. So the world seems a little complex, eh?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: This was in the alternative media today, which you might find interesting. The title of the article is “Get The FK Out! Watch Chicago Residents Confront BLM Protesters’ Intense Standoff.” Here’s the article: residents of Chicago’s Inglewood community angrily accosted a group of Black Lives Matter protesters who showed up to demonstrated at a police station where hostilities between locals and activists nearly boiled over into a brawl. A BLM protest marched from Inglewood to Chicago Seventh District police station on Tuesday ended in a showdown with community members, at times devolving into shouting matches as locals insisted the demonstrators were giving their neighborhood a bad name.”If you ain’t from Inglewood, get the FK out of here!” long-time southside resident Darryl Smith was heard shouting at the protesters who he said were not from the community. Some 400 officers were deployed to the downtown shopping district to quell the looting on Sunday, making over 100 arrests aimed at what mayor Lori Lightfoot dubbed an assault on the city. What do you think Mumia?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Dear brother Jeff, I hope you’re well. The [inaudible] questions actually haven’t come to mind, but I was intrigued by the Chicago “get the f**k out” story and somewhat sadden by it as well. That’s because it reflects not just the low-level consciousness of black Chicago but the high level of oppression that they have and are suffering from. Essentially what Inglewood old is saying is “You’re going to get us in trouble if you tell the truth about what they, meaning the police, are doing to us!” It is all the path of what might’ve been heard on a slave plantation when a Harriet Tubman came or when John Brown tried to raise the sufferance to freedom. It ain’t an indictment of BLM, but a real statement about how oppressed people are living in U.S. freedom in black American ghettos. It’s truly sad but telling.
Jeff Brown: I’m going to have to ask you to brag on yourself a little here so friends, fans, and followers of China Rising Radio Sinoland can learn more about you and your mission.
Mumia Abu-Jamal: You know, when I get a question like this, about my faith, I recall the conversation I had years ago with the sci-fi award-winning writer Terry Bisson. He said it’s like asking a father to say who is his favorite child? It’s impossible. That’s my answer, Jeff. I dig all the works I’ve ever written, because they spoke for the time they were written. Plus it really doesn’t matter what my faith is. It matters to the readers, so they really decide this question. That’s my answer, man.
Jeff Brown: Over the last four months, we’ve spent time getting to know each other as revolutionary friends and comrades. You know, I lived and worked in China for 16 years. What would you like to ask me about this amazing nation?
Mumia Abu-Jamal: Ah, flip the script? Huh? Actually I would, for 16 years is a considerable amount of time to dwell on a place, specifically a foreign nation. I wonder, based on that long 5,000 year history of Chinese civilization that you mentioned, what are the continuities that you see that have survived the 1929 revolution?
Jeff Brown: This is really an excellent question, Mumia, because Mao Zedong worked really hard to create a quote, “new China,” end of quote, to be people-powered by quote, “new Chinese,” end of quote, not the ones in their leaders who let western and Japanese imperialists rape, plunder, and supply them with illegal drugs from 1839 to 1949, which is known as China’s century of humiliation. For sure Mao succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination at these two goals. If he hadn’t, China would have already been suborned to western oligarchic capitalism only to be only to be turned into a continent-sized, balkanized resource whore like Indonesia or an occupied narco-state like Columbia.
I always say that half the Chinese like Deng Xiaopong’s market-oriented reforms and opening up. The urbanites, the rural folks, less so, but 95% of them agree with Mao’s geopolitical worldview that is: imperialism, colonialism and global capitalism are the enemy of China and its communism and socialism.
For this reason, the Chinese are some of the most aware and savvy people about history and current events. That being said, Mao could not undo five millennia of continuous civilization. Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are a very powerful and influential guiding force in the mentality, spirituality, and daily contact of the- of the daily conduct of the people and always were after 1949, even when the official and public focus was on the revolution.
While Mao’s quote, Little Red Book, end of quote, is among the most sold titles in history, the Chinese people continued to and still love their ancient literature, poetry, paintings, calligraphy, sculpture, dance, acrobatics, opera music, and their- and their version of vaudeville.
From the very start in 2012, president Xi Jinping’s administration began to synthesize this vast cultural and historical repository with the Communist Party of China as the Vanguard Party. This was to protect the people from western sabotage of their highly successful socialism with Chinese characteristics and communist way of- communist way of life, thus making it possible for the nation to prosper, develop, and progress in its own interests—not those of your Euro-Anglo-Land. It all comes full circle.
This is similar to the Black Panthers establishing their Vanguard Party to protect and empower the people to provide for themselves and prosper while drawing on global and national black cultural and historical reserves to help maintain the spirit of solidarity.