The Base: Part III

“People used to say that Maoist military strategy, protracted people’s war and all that, couldn’t work in the US or any other imperialist country. I myself was skeptical. That is, until I saw it being proved in practice. It’s no use to go on and on and on about how something may work or may not. ALL KNOWLEDGE COMES THROUGH SOCIAL PRACTICE. The thing is to prove it through practice.”

“YO WHITE BOY YOU PAYING ATTENTION?”

The political instructor, a skinny black dude with a raggedy camo Fidel hat with a hastily sewn red star that looked almost as old as his (40?) years glared at Martin from the front of the room and 15 students, most of them black, turned around, giving similar looks. The instructor had drawn a few diagrams and quotes from Mao Zedong’s “On Practice” were all over the whiteboard in this building that had once been one of Saint Louis’s many closed schools but had been reclaimed by the Party as a school for “sharpening political level of the masses of workers”, of which Martin was now one.

“Yeah.”

“What did I just say?”

“Uh…Maoism works?”

“Jesus Christ. Okay, let’s use white boy here as an example.”

“Yo man his name Martin, Toussaint say stop calling him ‘white boy’” — spoke up a kid of not any older than 21 wearing an eyepatch from the seat nearest the door.

“Man fuck Toussaint. OK, Martin. You from Saint Charles, right? What did you think about all this shit before you come here?”

“Uh…they said you guys were…uh terrorists that wanted to kill off all the white people.”

“You been here some months. You alive, right?”

“Uh…yeah.”

“Thought so. See how white bo…shit…MARTIN has learned through practice? He white, he used to think we wanna kill all the white people. We didn’t have no politics except ‘Kill Whitey’. He seen white people in our army, in our Party, in the fields, refurbishing buildings, and doing all sorts of shit. Now his consciousness has shifted because he has gotten social practice.”

A wave of yeahs and um-hmms swept through the room.

“And you realize that we are waging a revolution for the liberation of the entire working and exploited people of this country, right? Including your dusty ass, whether you have come to realize it or not?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You GUESS? Man, we are the only place in this whole area where somebody like you wouldn’t be paying high ass taxes or at risk of being stabbed to death, shot by some ex-cop, or chained and sent to work in some mine somewhere by a warlord, and you say you GUESS? You’ll learn soon enough. Rest of y’all dismissed. You stay here.”

The rest of the class walked out and Martin stayed, sweating in his chair and picking at the patch on his coat. The instructor lowered his voice.

“Stop that. A lot of people have been raising concerns about you. You work too slow, it looks like it’s on purpose. You don’t pay attention when we studyin’. You don’t wanna do shit. You don’t read. The circumstances which you arrived here under was suspicious enough, you know what I mean? We all took a chance, we could have just shot you and if you had stumbled into the South Side that’s what they woulda done. But that ain’t how the Party and the People’s Army move. We need everybody and we transform everybody. You here. Tell me what you think. Don’t lie, I’ll know.”

Martin thought.

“Well…uh. I like it. I think that there’s good stuff going on here. But why are you so hard on white people.”

The instructor said ‘shit’.

“I’m hard on everybody, man. I been criticized for it before. When you watch your momma die from an OD when you 12 you kinda lose that loving, tender touch. I seen motherfuckers die in 2,000 different ways, plus one. That’s why I’m in this shit. Because we have to do better. As for your whiteness, we oppressed nationalities, I know Toussaint gave you a long lecture on what those are, have been oppressed for centuries under whiteness. The very concept of whiteness is against black. We in the movement been sold out and shot at by white folks. We right to oppose whiteness. I do guess I shouldn’t single you out though.”

“Fair enough.”

“You shouldn’t be thinking too hard about being white here, though. Nobody gonna have all that much sympathy on you going around bawling about how hard it is to be a cracker in a country built for crackers. The thing is for you to reject your crackerdom and be one with the people. The Party thinks that’s possible and we have many white folks that hate whiteness even more than I do. We in a war zone. I ain’t gonna keep lecturing to white folks with hurt feelings. You feel me?”

“Yeah.”

“Good. Dismissed. You working at Fairgrounds Park this month, opening up new land for cultivation. Get going.”