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What are some different Anarchist views of the Black Panther Party ?

+3 votes
When reading through different literature, I noticed many different takes on the Black Panther Party, ranging from positive conceptions of their free food/education programs to negative views of the Marxist-Maoist and Black Nationalist roots of the Black Panther Party (sexism seemed to be a huge problem as well according to accounts by Elaine Brown and Angela Davis.)

What are some of the views of people on this website and/or literature that details Anarchist's views of the Black Panther Party ?
asked May 7, 2013 by Artificiality (10,180 points)
just to quickly throw something out there that I think is obvious, whatever we might feel is good about their food programs and such, they are a political party, explicitly, vying for political power
I agree, jingles.

2 Answers

+4 votes
 
Best answer
you said it. there were good things about them - including not just their food and education programs, but also their explicit self defense of themselves and their folks, and there were sucky things about them - including their maoism.

not sure what else there would be to say. the anarchists who mostly talk about the panthers are into them, for the good things that they did and because being into them is an easy anti-racist stance to take. these anarchists, predictably, tend to be pro-activist, and not particularly nuanced in their anarchist theory. scott crow's book is an example.
answered May 7, 2013 by dot (57,680 points)
edited May 7, 2013 by dot
0 votes
You can read Peter Gelderloos' "How non violence protects the state", where he returns to another history of the Black Panthers. Especially arguing (without denying the BPP's sexism) that they were not much sexist than most of organisations of the Left and militants groups at this period of history (and maybe not very much more than many of today). Whether they had been violent (as the weather underground and the violent sexism between its members, or the italian red brigades who took a clear antifeminist stance, for example), or even non-violent figures as Gandhi or  Luther King's SCLC and his misogyny and homophobia, etc, etc.

At least as the panthers were black and assumed the need of revolutionnary violence, their sexism was emphasized as an argument to discredit them. But the reality is a little bit more complicated. You can read more here (and in the rest of the book) : http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/peter-gelderloos-how-nonviolence-protects-the-state#toc5

Otherwise, there is a good text criticizing the black panther party on an anarchist perspective, but still anecdotally. It's "How I became an anarchist ?" (http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/ken-knabb-confessions-of-a-mild-mannered-enemy-of-the-state#toc8 ), written by an oakland anarchist which is none other than Ken Knabb, who lived there at the time and where the BPP was founded. It points some criticism against the black panther party on its very caricatural orthodox marxist organisation and some other pretence. Still incomplete as it don't point at all the positive radical aspects, but interesting.   

Much complete on a theorical point of view, is Murray Bookchin's "Anarchy and organization : a letter to the Left", which is a short text written in response to Huey Newton (founding member of the Black Panthers) attack against anarchist forms of organization. You can read it here : http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/bookchin/leftletterprint.html

And last but not least, this text of Bookchin is on the "suggested readings" of Ashanti Alston's "anarchist panther zine" website. This guy is a ancient black panther, ancient member of the black liberation army who get jailed for years and became an anarchist in prison. Even he have a very special interpretation of anarchism (as a mix of some psychological critical thinking, maoist and "revolutionnary left nationalist" influences) he developped a very intersting criticism of his own experience and of the Left on an anarchist perpsective with an insider experience of the movement and of course as a black man. You can read it here : http://www.anarchistpanther.net/index.html

I suggest you to begin with the text called "One journey into and out of the anarchist... BLACK !", which is a good introduction to his words and particular writing style.
answered May 9, 2013 by okapy (2,740 points)
edited Oct 29, 2013 by okapy
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