Excerpts from George Jackson’s “Letter to a Comrade”

Blood in My Eye is a seminal work of New Afrikan revolutionary theory, practice, and politics. It is essential that all revolutionaries study this work collectively and meditate on the positions that Com. George Jackson worked out from behind bars to develop a firm understanding of the world in which we live and how to change it. These excerpts come from the first (quite long) selection of this piece, titled Letter to a Comrade, written March 28, 1971. As we approach the 50th anniversary of his murder, I will be sharing more excerpts that hold weight in our current era from this book.

“We must accept the eventuality of bringing the USA to its knees; accept the closing off of critical sections of the city with barbed wire, armored pig carriers crisscrossing the streets, soldiers everywhere, tommy guns pointed at stomach level, smoke curling black against the daylight sky, the smell of cordite, house to house searches, doors being kicked in, the commonness of death.” (Introduction)

“I have to browbeat them every day down here. They think they don’t need ideology, strategy or tactics. They think being a warrior is enough. And yet, without discipline or direction, they’ll end up washing cars, or unclaimed bodies in the city state’s morgue.”

“You must teach that socialism-communalism is almost as old as man, that its principles formed the basis of almost all East African cultures (there is no word for possession in the original East African tongues). The only independent African societies today are socialistic. Those which allowed capitalism to remain are neo-colonies. Any Black who would defend an African military dictator is as much a fascist as Hoover.”

Revolution within a modern industrial capitalist society can only mean the overthrow of all existing property relations and the destruction of all institutions that directly or indirectly support existing property relations. It must include the total suppression of all classes and individuals who endorse the present state of property relations or who stand to gain from it. Anything less than this is reform.”

If the 1% who presently control the wealth of the society maintain their control after the reordering of the state, the changes cannot be said to be revolutionary…Revolutionary change means the seizure of all that is held by the 1%, and the transference of these holdings into the hands of the 99%. If the 1% are simply displaced by another 1%, revolutionary change has not taken place.”

To the slave, revolution is an imperative, a love-inspired, conscious act of desperation. It’s aggressive. It isn’t cool or cautious. It’s bold, audacious, violent, an expression of icy, disdainful hatred!”

If revolution is tied to dependence on the inscrutability of long-range politics, it cannot be made relevant to the person who expects to die tomorrow.”

The principal reservoir of revolutionary potential inside the USA lies in wait inside the Black Colony. Its sheer numerical strength, its desperate historical relation to the violence of the productive system, and the fact of its present status in the creation of wealth force the Black stratum at the base of the whole class structure into the forefront of any revolutionary scheme.”

In other words, the old guard must not fail to understand that circumstances change in time and space, that there can be nothing dogmatic about revolutionary theory. It is to be born out of each popular struggle.”

If terror is going to be the choice of weapons, let there be funerals on both sides.”

“If people are going to understand and relate to revolutionary violence, they must be educated into an acceptance of the fact that there is no alternative, or that the alternative is less inviting than a fight.”

Recall: our Mao teaches that when revolution fails, it isn’t the fault of the people, it is the fault of the vanguard party. The people will never come to us and say “let’s fight”. There have never been any spontaneous revolutions. They were all staged, manufactured by people who went to the head of the masses and directed them. The liberal slogan ‘You can’t get ahead of the people’ is meaningless. From what other position can one lead?”

Recall: we had people who felt that conditions weren’t right in the 1930s also. The government’s bread lines were backed up around every corner, and baseball was at its peak. Private ownership of public property should have been destroyed in that decade, but ‘the conditions weren’t right’. The vanguard elements betrayed the people of this nation and the world as a result of their failure to seize the time.”

Lenin, Guevara and Fanon, all in their particular fashion, postulate that before revolution can take place, all other forms of redress must be exhausted, clearly exhausted. Electoral processes must have broken down, the confidence of the electorate in any of the old forms must be completely shattered, confidence in the ability of the old system to honestly organize any aspect of public life shaken to the core.”

Years and years ago it may have been an acceptable tactic to organize a people’s ticket of solid worker and revolutionary credentials and arm it with an ideal platform — only to be defeated by a mud-slinging opportunist warlord, demonstrably inferior, scum swilling pig. Then pass out a pamphlet to explain to the people how the system has failed them, or speak in Pershing Square, or, years ago, in the campus hall. Today it’s not a tactic, it’s counterrevolution.”

“Years ago, working with and attempting to influence union leadership may have been judicious, but the government has long since infiltrated and bought off this leadership and legislated away the strike. Union hall speeches and pamphlet passing are playing at revolution.”

“When we participate in elections to win, instead of disrupt, we’re lending to the fascist system’s credibility, and destroying our own. With all the factors of control over the electoral process in the hands of the ruling class, the people’s party will be made to be isolated and unimportant.”

The ruling class approaches with a what to think program, we must use a how to think program.”

The debate between the vanguard elements must end. The argument that the prestige of power will allow itself to be educated away is to stupid to be allowed to stand.”

The only valid form of union activity is the seizure of union leadership by any means necessary. We must call strikes to enforce our demands on capital. To enforce the strike we must stop the plant’s power source. Standing in the gateway with a placard and a pamphlet will not dull a worker’s short term interest in wage slavery. The very first impulse is to eat.”

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