Source: "Black Capitalism and what it Means," The Black Panther, 23 March 1969, 2-3.
BLACK CAPITALISM AND WHAT IT MEANS
By Landon Williams
While reading the paper the other day, I saw where Oakland has been made a target area for tricky Dick Nixon's BLACK CAPITALISM PLAN. It seems to me that a further analysis of capitalism in general and black capitalism in particular seems to be forthcoming. (When we check the history of various countries on this planet we find that many nations and races have gone through a capitalistic bag. When we check Russian history we find that with the ending of the rule of the Czar, Russian capitalism came to an end. When we check the history of China and yellow capitalism we find that with the coming to power of Mao Tse-tung and the communist party of China, that feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism to which the yellow people in China were subjected had been crushed. When we check the history of other countries that have gone capitalistic, such as India and brown capitalism, we find that today India is in a constant state of turmoil.
I think that in viewing capitalist countries we should take into consideration the basic drives, motivations and the fundamental reasons for the things that occur in capitalistic countries. For instance, in checking the economy we find that in capitalistic countries a high unemployment rate, sometimes 10%-15%, is not something spectacular, but rather that in order for a capitalist country to maintain a balanced economy this type of unemployment rate is essential as a check on inflation. In further checking on capitalism and how it is related to black people in this country, if we want to find out what capitalism has in store for us all we have to do is look around and dig on our present situation because the conditions that black people are in[,] in this country is directly due to capitalism and the exploitation that we have suffered at the hands of the racist capitalist ruling classes here in racist America. We find that during the days of the slave trade, capitalist merchants along this country's Eastern seaboard got filthy rich off of the blood, the tears and the sweat of black people who were transported in the bottoms of ships, packed like sardines, to this racist decadent country to work and slave and die in the fields to build this country.
Capitalism, as we all know, in order to exist, must have something or someone to exploit. What we have here in America is super capitalism, super exploitation; trinkets and heads are being sold to the people for exorbitantly high prices. In dealing with black capitalism or the little of it that we have experienced in this country by checking J. A. Rogers 100 AMAZING FACE ABOUT THE NEGRO we find that prior to the civil war there were small black capitalists in this country. These black capitalists to a certain extent enjoyed some of the benefits and privileges of this country insofar as they were called freemen and as such they could own slaves and property. In checking through history we find that most of these freedmen or miniature black capitalists had no concern or feeling whatsoever for the rest of their black brothers and sisters and in many instances they were more brutal than the white slavemasters and blamed their brothers for keeping them from enjoying all the fruits of the white capitalist class. During the civil war when the North and the South supposedly fought to free the slaves we find that some of these black capitalists in fact fought on the side of the confederacy to help maintain the exploitation over their black brothers. So when black people begin to see words such as capitalism it should appall them.
You see, we've been trained in this country so that whenever we see the word communist, for instance, most black people will be startled but yet they see the word capitalism and it more or less doesn't phase them at all. They just continue on, it's just an everyday word, it's something that they've come up around. But I think that if black people would stop and really check out that word "capitalism" and what capitalism means on an every day basis, they would begin to be appalled by the word. Myself, when I saw this thing, "Oakland" being "in on black capitalism", to me that was a very[,] very terrifying thing because like I've said we've had examples of what capitalism has done.
Black people in this country must begin to form the correct concepts in their minds when they hear the word capitalism. In this country, in schools, the little training they do give us when they deal with America or capitalism,
they deals with democratic capitalism and they teach you about the democracy and not about the capitalism. The results are that when black people see the words "Oakland is in on black capitalism" immediately stanzas of the star spangled banner begin to play through their hands and they see the flag waving when what they should be seeing is the napalming of people of color in Viet Nam and the murder of Che Guevara in Bolivia by racist U.S., C.I.A. agents. Also when we think about capitalism we should think about our brothers and sisters in the Congo. There's a pamphlet called REVOLUTION IN THE CONGO which every black person in America should read and you will find out how capitalism operates. For instance when the U.S. intervened in the Congo and Patrice Lumumba, the people's choice for Premier, was murdered by that traitorous dog Tshombe who was a running dog for the U.S. and Belgian capitalists, and that jive liberal Kennedy. At the time of the U.S. intervention there were large copper mines in Katanga and other provinces in the Congo. There's a firm in the U.S. called Kennecut mines and they control most of the world's supply of copper. Well, at the time of the Congo intervention the supply of copper had begun to outstrip the demand and the price of copper had begun to drop. Well, these capitalists who sit up and control Chase Manhattan Bank and other large banks and industries made millions selling excess U.S. 10,000 lb. bombs to bomb the mining industry and the people of the Congo into rubble, thus beating down the competition.
In America today the capitalist businessman and landlord exploits you at the store and home and then at the same time he goes to church and kneels his big hypocritical pork chop ass down and talks about brotherhood and do unte others as you would have them do unto you. And when you ask him how does he justify the cutthroat business practices he indulges in, he gives you the simple phrase that business is business. Well, I think we should take a very close look at just what is capitalist business. As I said[,] in the Congo it consists of dropping 10,000 lb. bombs on black people there. Prior to W W II the capitalist in this country who ran the junk yards were making millions of dollars by selling scrap iron and steel to the Japanese imperialists who were waging an un-¬
[continued on p. 3, which has the sub-headline:]
BLACK CAPITALISM MEANS CONTINUING EXPLOITATION
just war of aggression against the Chinese people. Public opinion was very much against this practice. But again the excuse, "business is business" was used.
In the realm of competition the capitalist in this country moves in many ways. With the onset of W W II thousands of our yellow brothers were incarcerated in so-called detention camps which were nothing but concentration camps. The reason given for their imprisonment: they were a security threat but rather [it was] American racism and American capitalism. The racism was clearly shown by the fact that hundreds of thousands of German and Italian nationals were not incarcerated but were instead allowed to run free to sabotage America's war effort.
The Japanese at that time owned considerable rice lands in California; in fact they had the entire rice trade uptight. We find however that when they were moved on they were forced to sell out at ridiculous prices and in many cases their land was just taken from them -- again, business is business. So you can see that they were incarcerated for racist motives and capitalist motives. Going back further and checking out the history of this country we find that after the civil war was over black people in this country were promised forty acres and two mules by the Freedman's Bureau. When we check through history we find out just who got the forty acres and two mules. When we check we find that the large capitalist industries such as Standard Oil got the land. Standard Oil got my forty acres and my two mules. To them though this was just business. Again the massacre of the Indians or Manifest Destiny, that the white man glorifies on TV[,] was nothing but "business is business."
The white capitalist in this country, the mining industries, the oil companies, and the land barons who expected to set up their own small kingdoms, these warlords in America in order to gain more land would instigate incidents with the Indians so that they could call in the U. S. cavalry and Army and thereby rob the Indians of more land, the reason again given us was that "business is business." So that cutthroat competition and that steady drive for self-attainment and personal satisfaction that is preached in capitalist countries, Black people must begin to understand what it's all about. When we go down to the corner store and we find that we're being charged the highest prices for the lowest grades of meat and in many instances the meat is old and rotten. We should begin to form concepts of what capitalism means in a for real, day-to-day basis. Black people run up against this every day.
What has capitalism meant to the vast majority of the peoples of the world? I think that is a question we should be asking ourselves. When we look around we find that the countries where the capitalist in America get most of their resources from, these colonies and semi-colonies that are called the underdeveloped countries of the world. When we look at them we find that there they have the highest infant mortality and death rates in the world and the lowest standards of living. Why is it likes that? Black people cannot accept what our enemy tells us as being all inclusive. Malcolm X said that if you had to rely on your enemy for a job you were in bad shape. It also holds true that if you have to rely on your enemy for information you're in bad shape. Black people must begin to form the proper concepts of just what capitalism is and just what it's all about so that they can begin to deal with the situation in the correct way.
We find, again in checking history, that when capitalists move they move in very devilish, underhanded ways in order to control and manipulate the governments and the people throughout the world. In taking again the example of he Congo they used their favorite gimmick, the phony communist conspiracy type plot, and they said that Lumumba was a pro-communist and that Tshombe was pro-West. Again this is just a trick, a guise or deception that the capitalists use to cover up their filthy underhanded dealings.
In China it was the same thing. When the U.S. was supporting the pirate Chiang Kai-shek's regime, they said that Chairman Mao Tse-tung was pro-communist and that Chiang Kai-shek was pro-West. At that time black people in this country generally accepted that without looking into it further and seeing just what did it mean to the pro-communist or pro-West. On deeper examination of the facts we find that the pirate Chiang Kai-shek who was pro-West was also pro-capitalist and pro-exploitation, while Mao Tse-tung who was pro-communist was pro the people and pro-peasants. On the one hand you had Chiang Kai-shek who robbed from the people and was a tool that U.S. imperialism used to help maintain its dominance and exploitation over the Chinese people while Chairman Mao and the communist party of China were fighting for people, power and an end to the exploitation of the people.
We see this same trick today in the news
q[w]hen J. Edgar Hoover says that the Black Panther Party is a threat to the security of the U.S. and that we study from the Red Book and that we are pro-communist -- just what kind of threat did he mean and what is the Red Book? On examination we find that the primary objective of the Black Panther Party is "To establish revolutionary political power for BLACK PEOPLE." And that among the principles we study in the red book are such principles as "without a people's army the people have nothing." Huey P. Newton our founder and Minister of Defense has said, "A people who are unarmed are either slaves or subject to slavery at any time." We know that it is only because the people are unarmed and unorganized that the racist pigs are able to ride roughshod over them.
Whenever we check out a capitalist situation we find the same thing. Earlier I mentioned Czarist Russia; well, if you check out history you'll find that the Czar and the capitalist regime in Russia was ruled and dominated by a few people. You had the filthy rich on the top along with the nobility and the inner circles of the Czarist regime. You had the peasants who were starving, the masses of the people on the bottom. When you check out Chinese history the same situation applied. In the Congo before Lumumba came to power and then after he was assassinated again you had a few people in control of the economy and wealth of the country and the rest of the people were starving. They used to show pictures of China on a TV program called th[e] Twentieth Century. They showed movies of China before and during its revolutionary war. They used to show the filthy rich and the warlords who plundered the Chinese countryside getting richer and richer while the peasants who were very poor, were getting poorer and poorer. Here again the landlords were pro-western or pro-capitalist and the peasants were pro-communist or pro-eastern. When we check this situation out, we find that in all the countries that have moved to gain their national liberation and 'self-determination' that the people there are moving away from capitalistic stands and towards socialistic or communistic stands. The people in these countries when they begin to fight to control their own destinies realize that as long as the power remains vested in the hands of a few capitalists or in the hands of an exploitative capitalistic class then the people will never gain any people's powers.
When we move closer to home and move up to date we can check out the situation in Latin America and we see the same thing occurring that occurred in China and Russia. The all of Latin America is made into a private reserve for the capitalist in America. If you look at Latin America you'll see that before Fidel Castro and the Cuban people took over power in Cuba the power was vested in the hands of Batista. Now, Batista was nothing but a puppet or a tool of U.S. imperialism and U.S. capitalism. At the Hotel Havana Hilton, the rich decadent capitalist pigs of the U.S. used to come to bask in the sun and to carry on "their decadent sexual practices and other perversions." In Bob Dylan's record, "Ballad of the Thin Man" and Mr. Jones, it says that Mr. Jones went to a freak show and paid his money to go in and see the Geak and the Geak was eating raw meat on a bone. Well the Geak gave the bone to Mr. Jones and said "How does it feel to be a freak?" Well, on examination of that we find that what the Geak meant was that he was there eating the raw meat because that was the only way he could survive; but Mr. Jones, who in this case would be the capitalist class in America, was the real freak because he was paying to see someone perform these types of acts. Well, in Cuba, before the power was wrested away from U.S. imperialism and its running dogs, all of Havana was one big U.S. playpen.
The capitalists in this country created mass prostitution, homosexuality and organized crime with their filthy contamination. When Fidel Castro moved and took the power out of the hands of the U.S. capitalist and gave it back to the people we find that U.S. capitalism reacted in a very violent way. Batista was backed to the hilt and excess U.S. 10,000 lb. bombs were sold to Batista and dropped on the Cuban people. Later the U.S. instigated, financed, organized and backed the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba that was crushed by the heroic Cuban people's Army. Today, more than a decade later, we find that U.S. capitalism is engaged in another criminal act against the Cuban people which like all the other capitalist plots is bound to fail. The U.S. economic blockade of Cuba.
Moving again closer to home we find that here in our black communities if black people want examples of what capitalism is and what its effects are all they have to do is look around in the various prisons and jails. It's not just a coincidence that in all colonies and semi-colonies you have a so-called high crime rate. The rate is directly [related —Transcriber] to the exploitation and oppression by the ruling capitalist class. The crime rate and prostitution rate in our communities is due directly to poor education, poor housing, poor clothing, no jobs, and an ever present hungry stomach. These things again are directly attributed to capitalism and exploitation. The ghettoes in this country are not here by accident. They're a place where a readily available source of cheap manpower can be dumped and stored until it is needed and as a market place for dumping billions of dollars worth of inferior goods and corrupt services. So the ghettoes here in America are not here by accident. They're set up and maintained by capitalists in this country for a specific purpose and design.
Again checking history we find that in the days of slavery there were two classifications. There was the field nigger and there was the house nigger. The field niggers have always outnumbered the house niggers, but the house niggers have worked in conjunction with the slavemaster to help maintain the oppression of their black brothers and sisters. Today we find that these black capitalists that are being set up and fostered by Nixon and the capitalist ruling circles in this country are nothing but the modern day counterparts of the old house niggers, and where the house Negro would get the scraps off of the master's plate, these black capitalists will get the scraps off of these racist white capitalists' plates. To take a particular case in point, we have the example of the Negro who owns the Rainbow Car Wash in East Oakland who says that the only thing that will save the black race is for it to become like the white race and that black people are inferior to white people. We can see just how far a perversion this quest for the scraps from the master's table can become. Also we have the fools who backed Wallace in this last presidential election. In the Bible there is a parable that closely relates to what we are talking about where Christ talked about a crawling Lazarus begging at the gate. This is the same thing as these so-called black capitalists who are begging the white man to let them into the system of exploitation instead of rising up and destroying the very system of exploitation and thereby ridding themselves once and for all of this problem. The slavemaster who in this case is the modern day capitalist is no fool and as long as he could get by without giving up anything he didn't give anything up. Now that black people have increased their cry for justice and freedom and begun to consciously wage guerrilla warfare the capitalist ruling classes in this country who are just world-wide slavemasters, have moved to offer scraps from their table to the people.
Checking around we find that Premier Thieu and Vice-President Ky of South Viet Nam are in the positions of house niggers. They are house niggers of Viet Nam. Of the money, prestige and power that rest in their hands little if any of it ever reached down to the people. In China it was the same way. Chiang Kai-shek who was nothing more than a Chinese house nigger, a Chinese capitalist. None of the money and
dpower that was vested in his hands got down to the masses of the Chinese people. All they ever got was the iron boot and the clubs and bullets from Chiang Kai-shek's bandit troops. When we check Cuba the same situation existed. Batista, who was another house nigger, all the people ever got from him w w[a]s surplus 10,000 lb. bombs and U.S. airforce napalm. And in this country black capitalists have the same positions as the Batista's and the Chiang Kai-shek's and the house niggers of American slavery. Of the scraps that are given to them few, if any of them, ever find their way down to the starving masses of people.
So what black people have to realize is that anything that the enemy offers you as a solution to your problem is not correct because your enemy will never give you anything that will aid you in defeating him. What we must do is to make our own definitions and analysis of the situation in order to come up with solutions that will concretely deal with the problem confronting us. In the BLACK PANTHER PARTY we have a plank of our 10-point platform that specifically deals with capitalism. Point No. 3[:] "We want an end to the robbery by the white man of our black community." When we say this we mean that we want an end to all types of robbery. An
d end to the robbery of our youth by sending them off 8,000 miles to be murdered and butchered and used as cannon fodder to help sustain a war of imperialist aggression. An end to the robbery and destruction of our children's minds by racist schools and administrations. An d end to the robbery and rape of our sisters' bodies by racist capitalist perverts who don't deserve to be called males. An end to the robbery of black men of action by murder and imprisonment on down to the co-opting of so-called black leadership by plans such as Nixon's black capitalist plan.
The Black Panther Party is a party that is determined to move by any means necessary to obtain good ends. We in the Black Panther Party refuse to be fooled by the word "Black." We realize that capitalism, bureaucratic capitalism as it exists in the world today right now here is our main enemy, and no matter what color prefix you put on it, it still comes out the same. Just as bloody and just as vile as eve[r]. And when we think about capitalism we immediately get frames of reference of napalm and jets in Viet Nam, C.I.A. murders in the Congo and Bolivia, racist pigs. U.S. paratroopers, and national guard troops running amuck in the black community, and the peoples of the world being murdered. If black people indeed need some outside direction on how to deal with capitalism let us look to the vali
e[a]nt Vietnamese for the proper types of examples.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Transcriber's comment: If I were to highlight things in this article that illustrate MC5's points in MT #10, I would have to highlight basically everything.(1) This whole article, one of many like it written and distributed by the Black Panthers, is a wake-up call for those who would slander the BPP as being narrow nationalists. Clearly, the early Black Panthers did have a "class thing." Not only that, it was a Maoist class thing.
Below, Landon Williams emphasizes class, rather than nation, almost to the point of seeming to deny the existence of a Black national bourgeoisie. It's as if all Black capitalists were comprador. However, Williams recognizes a distinction between national and comprador bourgeoisies, and focuses on the Blacks participating in Nixon's "black capitalism" programs. Williams says in conclusion: "We realize that capitalism, bureaucratic capitalism as it exists in the world today right now here is our main enemy." This raises the interesting question of whether whites' investing in "black" enterprises is a way of extracting super-profits. Williams doesn't get into that here, but he does talk about "super capitalism" and "super exploitation" in the form of Blacks' being charged higher prices for goods.
Williams' evidence of higher meat prices is more relevant to what he is getting at than what he says about expensive cultural "trinkets and heads." Regardless, Williams is correct to point out that wages are defined by actual access to consumption, not the number written on a paycheck. $7/hr for a white persyn can be more than $7/hr for a Black persyn; although, things are so fucked up that both of these hourly "earnings" tend to represent an exploitive relationship with Third World workers, and some "overpriced" Third World products may be priced under value even in Black neighborhoods. White-nationalist social-democrats and crypto-Trotskyists whine about u.$. white "workers" supposedly having to buy cars, insurance, etc., to survive, but many Blacks, Latinos, and Asian-descended and First Nations persyns, who are several times more likely to use public transportation than whites, are familiar with the reality of being stuck with having to buy relatively higher-priced products from the nearest stores.
Another interesting point Williams raises is that Third World peoples get the brunt of u.$. capitalist oppression. This comes through when Williams talks about capitalism developing into either imperialism or bureaucrat capitalism. Third World countries get bombed. Williams warns his readers that Blacks' getting "a piece of the (capitalist) action" means death for Third World peoples and entrenchment in a system that creates poverty for Blacks, too, and puts Black people in prison. Williams could be criticized in this article for failing to mention any progressive role for a Black national bourgeoisie, but Williams is responding to a certain reality: due to imperialist parasitism, it is easier for capitalists of the internal semi-colonies to become pro-imperialist.
Lastly, this transcriber did notice Landon Williams' unqualified remark about u.$. imperialists' having "created" homosexuality in tourist cities in Cuba. If I were a nihilist, I would not have bothered to retype this article that might make the BPP "look bad" to Liberals with their identity politics. The below article was printed in The Black Panther more than once, appearing in an earlier issue. This was a little more than three months before the Stonewall Riots. The BPP would later admit their ignorance on the gay question, make significant self-criticism for their view on the gay question, and unite with gays and lesbians, and gay activists in different ways.(2)
1. MC5. "Maoism Restored: The Black Panther Newspaper, 1968-69." 2003. <http://www.prisoncensorship.info/archive/etext/mt/mt10bpp.html> (27 January 2005).2. For example: "The Women's Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements : Speech given by Huey Newton, founder of the Black Panthers, August 15, 1970." <http://www.unboundbooks.org/harmfulmatter/queer/hueynewton.html> (27 January 2005).