Our Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton, pointed out in his essay on Anarchists and Individualists that, "This is a class society; it always has been." The majority of the people that become Panthers are from the lowest class. One of the major characteristics of this class is to think and act as an individual. This tendency was, and is, perpetrated by the ruling class (capitalists) in its rhetoric and in its governmental documents such as the declaration of independence, constitution, bill of rights, etc. Having people thinking and acting individually is an aid to the ruling class in its exploitation and oppression of people around the world in general, and the exploitation and oppression and the perpetration of racism against Black people in particular. All laws and institutions of the society are structured to create individual thinking and action. This prevents oppressed and exploited people from seeing their problem as a collective one, such as the exploitation and racism perpetuated against all Blacks. Therefore, collective thinking and action is required if oppressed and exploited people are to wage a successful struggle to gain their freedom and liberation.
All things having a dual nature, let us examine what can be called the positive aspects of individualism on the part of the masses of Black people in this present society.
Due to exploitation, oppression and racism of this society, the masses of Black people are mainly unemployed or under-employed. Therefore, means of survival other than employment were developed by Black people. Prime Minister Stokley Carmichael says, "Y ou get things three ways: you work, you beg, or you take." Although Black people employ all three methods to fulfill their desires and needs, the latter receives priority.
Many Black people become very revolutionary in the process in their action if not in their thought. They develop ways of surviving on this society but not in this society. This is done individually or in very small groups, never collectively. These are the people who most readily see the Black Panther Party as a means to change their lot in particular and the lot of the Black people in general.
When these people come into the Party they bring these individualist tendencies with them. Within the Party these tendencies prevent Party policies from being carried out well or not at all. On the one hand, an individual trying to survive in the presen t society following only the rules and laws that serve you individually and rejecting those that do not is revolutionary by nature. On the other hand, coming into the Party and continuing to obey only orders and directions of the Party that please or satisfy you individually is counter-revolutionary and is called ultra-democracy.
A few examples are: "the Panther Party should apply democratic centralism from the bottom to the top, or should let the lower levels discuss all problems first and then let the higher levels decide." On an individual level, a Panther was told by an officer to clean one of the Panther cars, and he responded by saying, "I don't drive the car; therefore I won't clean the car." This is ultra-democracy. If it is not eradicated it will damage or completely wreck the party organization.
Some methods of correction are as follows: (a) Education of the rank and file to destroy the roots of ultra-democracy. (b) To ensure democracy under centralized guidance (1) the leadership must give correct guidance and solve problems when they arise in order to establish themselves as centers of leadership; (2) the leadership must know the life of the masses and be familiar with the situation in the rank and file in order to have an objective basis for correct guidance; (3) at no level in the Party should decisions be made casually in solving problems; (4) all major decisions and policies made by the leadership of the Party must be immediately communicated to the rank and file; (5) the rank and file must discuss decisions and policies of the leadership of the Party in order to understand them and decide on the methods of carrying them out.