On Violence

Black Like Mao
7 min readFeb 13, 2018

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The purely military viewpoint is very highly developed among a number of comrades in the Red Army. It manifests itself as follows:

1. These comrades regard military affairs and politics as opposed to each other and refuse to recognize that military affairs are only one means of accomplishing political tasks. Some even say, “If you are good militarily, naturally you are good politically; if you are not good militarily, you cannot be any good politically” — this is to go a step further and give military affairs a leading position over politics.

2. They think that the task of the Red Army like that of the White army, is merely to fight. They do not understand that the Chinese Red Army is an armed body for carrying out the political tasks of the revolution. Especially at present, the Red Army should certainly not confine itself to fighting; besides fighting to destroy the enemy’s military strength, it should shoulder such important tasks as doing propaganda among the masses, organizing the masses, arming them, helping them to establish revolutionary political power and setting up Party organizations. The Red Army fights not merely for the sake of fighting but in order to conduct propaganda among the masses, organize them, arm them, and help them to establish revolutionary political power. Without these objectives, fighting loses its meaning and the Red Army loses the reason for its existence.

3. Hence, organizationally, these comrades subordinate the departments of the Red Army doing political work to those doing military work, and put forward the slogan, “Let Army Headquarters handle outside matters.” If allowed to develop, this idea would involve the danger of estrangement from the masses, control of the government by the army and departure from proletarian leadership — it would be to take the path of warlordism like the Kuomintang army.

4. At the same time, in propaganda work they overlook the importance of propaganda teams. On the question of mass organization, they neglect the organizing of soldiers’ committees in the army and the organizing of the local workers and peasants. As a result, both propaganda and organizational work are abandoned.

5. They become conceited when a battle is won and dispirited when a battle is lost.

6. Selfish departmentalism — they think only of the Fourth Army and do not realize that it is an important task of the Red Army to arm the local masses. This is cliquism in a magnified form.

7. Unable to see beyond their limited environment in the Fourth Army, a few comrades believe that no other revolutionary forces exist. Hence their extreme addiction to the idea of conserving strength and avoiding action. This is a remnant of opportunism.

8. Some comrades, disregarding the subjective and objective conditions, suffer from the malady of revolutionary impetuosity; they will not take pains to do minute and detailed work among the masses, but, riddled with illusions, want only to do big things. This is a remnant of putschism. — Mao Zedong, On Correcting Mistaken Ideas in the Party

Violence is a thing that is misunderstood heavily on the white left. On one hand, we have liberals who seem to think that any manifestation of violence is wrong. These are the people who snitch on people that throw rocks and water bottles at protests, tone police angry black revolutionaries like me, and work with cops. These people need bricks to the head. They are objective enemies of the revolutionary development and by turning over black revolutionaries to the state, are objective enemies of our people. On the other hand, we have ultra-leftists, the people who go into black neighborhoods and pick fights with the police and then run off, or act as if the only expression of political activity and the test of revolutionary consciousness is one’s ability to commit acts of violence which may or may not be conducive to the development of the revolutionary movement. These types are quite proud of themselves for owning weapons, standing off with the pigs, what have you, ignoring the fact that the average black person in the United States has done both and it really isn’t all that impressive. These types also need bricks upside the head. Most of the time, they’re either agents provocateur or idiots. Both have no place among us. Violence is a tool. We aren’t going to liberate ourselves without it. Most importantly, we aren’t going to liberate ourselves without the correct application of it informed by a revolutionary political line determined by the correct application of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory to our concrete conditions as Black people in the United States.

My own experience with violence: I was raised in Ferguson, Missouri (before the riots) and North Saint Louis City. The neighborhood that I used to live in routinely had bodies found in vacant lots and dumpsters. When I was 18, I narrowly escaped being caught up in a hail of gunfire from across the street that left one person dead. I was smoking on the back porch. If I was on the front, I probably wouldn’t be here today. So, violence, gunfire, police sirens and helicopters, that stuff isn’t interesting or amusing in the slightest. I’ve lost several members of my family to violence at the hands of the police or other black people. This is the typical background of a black person from the class position that my family occupies in the United States. Before I was born, my 14 year old uncle was shot in the head by a Saint Louis Metropolitan Police officer because he was in a vacant building. Long before I was born, one of my great uncles was dragged behind a car in Mississippi. So, yes, violence is quite a familiar thing to us. There is a distinction between revolutionary and reactionary violence, however. Reactionary violence, senseless fights in the streets, fratricidal shootings, domestic abuse — these are not things that are wanted or needed in our communities. Nobody wants to see black youth from the working class hurting each other. Of course, it happens, but we don’t want it to, by and large. A bad fight is something life altering. Thousands of black people are in prison because of senseless and meaningless acts of violence. So, when I see white “leftists” cheapening the lives of my people by acting as if this violence is something positive or “hardening”, it shows how those who claim to be most revolutionary are not only the most distant from the actual conditions my people face, but also do not truly value or care for our lives and well being in anything but the abstract. My people are not objects that are only valuable when dead. I sure as hell ain’t.

Furthermore, the fact that a person is not willing to engage in senseless, adventurist acts of violence at the behest of what may very well be a police agent makes them quite intelligent, not a coward. A coward is one that orders others to do things that they will not do. I am not going to go and try to kill a cop by myself, or throw a brick at one. When my black ass is lying dead in a gutter, you’ll do nothing but turn me into a hashtag. Half of y’all won’t even show up to my funeral. My life is very precious to me. If you’re stupid enough to go do that, by all means, be my guest. It’s about time white people started putting their money where their mouths are. Let’s see some whites being killed off and going to prison for the revolution. Enough of us have gone as it is. Also, yes, I’m a college student. That in no way means that I hang out in coffee shops or am any less militant. Students aren’t a class, and being a student does not mean one’s politics are poor. Even if I did hang out in coffee shops, who cares? This habit of playing “more revolutionary than thou” is an idiotic and subjectivist one influenced by nothing more than the desire for posturing and revolutionary credibility. I’ve had white people tell me to “stick to writing college papers and let us who are willing to do the heavily lifting put in the work”. A soldier with no political training is a bandit, pulled here and there and subject to anything that comes along. Theory and arms are needed. This is also racist as fuck. I’m not a bit of cannon fodder subject to the whims of white people, I have a brain and an ability to grasp and teach theory, so I’m going to use it. If you want to drop out of school or never go and work at McDonald’s, that’s entirely your business. You are also free to publicly announce your plans to attack the police on Twitter and Facebook and invite state repression. I’ll put money on your books.

So, back to violence. Fratricidal violence among Black people, it is generally agreed, must end. We are tired of seeing Black people shooting, stabbing, and otherwise killing each other and then going to prison for the rest of their lives. For white people to act as if this culture is good, or, even worse, aping it poorly, along with our speech and dialectical patterns, is a mockery and an insult. It’s not amusing to us, it’s not funny to us, it’s not endearing to us. It shows that you’ve never been around us and you think life is like movies. Our violence, when we use it productively, will tear this country to pieces and will liberate millions. To get to that point, we must stop killing each other first.

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