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+1 vote

1 Answer

+4 votes
I'll take the bait.

The Black Liberation Army was (not is) a nationalist group, not an anarchist one, and never to my knowledge minced words about that. The New Afrikan (I believe this is the accepted spelling) movement is a nationalist movement and therefore not anarchist. There is however a history that could be useful in understanding why someone might say "the New Afrikan anarchist tendency," and guessing where there are coming from, if not what they actually mean.

Several former members of the BLA publicly expressed an anarchist turn during the 80s, 90s and 2000s, notably Ojore Lutalo (there is some discussion of his politics and involvement in the Anarchist Black Cross Federation here: ), Ashanti Alston (who has argued for a compatibility between nationalism and anarchism), and Kuwasi Balagoon (who criticized Fredy Perlman's "Continuing Appeal of Nationalism" in passing in his "The Continuing Appeal of Anti-Imperialism"). This turn was, at least in part, the product of a cross-pollination between some Anarchist Black Cross chapters and imprisoned BLA members during those years.

It is not surprising that political words and their meaning have changed and are changing, with a tendency to seem less cut and dry, more messy. Partly this is because the political base and cohesiveness of the 60s and 70s groups was largely destroyed, while there has been a growing need to put all radical political ideas in anarchist-friendly terms (this may mean anarchists have gained some kind of capital, but it does not mean it's a capital that ultimately helps us, much less that we have won something). On the flip side, many anarchists want to be comrades with everyone and want anarchism to mean as big and all-encompassing of a vagueness as possible. My personal experiences with the Anarchist Black Cross Federation, for example, made this desire abundantly and coldly clear to me.

These are the moments when I question my own attachment to the terms anarchy/ist/ism, where I remember the decision I made years ago, telling myself "Just this one -ist, just this one identity, because of its negativity," and think that Perlman probably made a better choice, by saying the only -ist he was, was a cellist. A friend wrote "Anarchy as conflict with the existing order, both state and capital and also its conceptual framework, is an infinite endeavor." In this infinite, the question of whether the word Anarchy is worth fighting for is a situational question, and at some point we will abandon that fight; at some scale the word is (or was) a useful tool, a temporary point of secession.
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