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August 16, 2005


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Militant means Umkata We Sizwe, not ANC. A militant organization is subversive and engaged in armed struggle against a political foe. The PLO is radical, but Hamas is militant. If you're not ready for violent action, you're not militant. If you don't have hitmen, you're not militant. Tony Soprano is militant. Malcolm X was not.

Bottom line: militant means military actions. Killing people and destroying property. Nat Turner was militant. Cinque was militant. Marcus Garvey was not militant, he was all about getting the hell out of Dodge. Homeboy who stole the riverboat and navigated through a military blockade- that's militancy. It means making military moves. Not just threatening 'burn baby burn'.


Warfare is not always violent.

Take the Japanese in the 80's, the Koreans in the 90's and the Chinese now. And the Arabs since '75.

I still say black militancy transformed from overthrowing the system to infiltrating and grabbing a stake in capitalism.


cobb, i await your retraction of posts conflating riots with militancy...you simply can't have it both ways...folks on bookerising can pull that off because, from what i've seen, they don't actually have to make sense...but this space can't sustain that post with your contention that the riots in watts, detroit and elsewhere somehow miraculously meet your definition of "military moves." stop playing around...i already appreciate your well developed sense of humor...no need for jokes here.


by the way, tony soprano is not militant, he's a character on a cable television show. and if he were "real," he would not be engaged in an armed struggle with a political foe...unless you consider johnny sac to be that political foe - and not the government...seen any dead cops or politicos on the sopranos lately???


I did not call the Watts or Rodney Kin Riots militant actions, I called them riots. I was explicitly saying that they were not militancy that they did not rise to meet the National Guard or Army with any organization and no militant leaders emerged. I probably engaged in a bit of rhetorical excess by suggesting they were 'insurgencies', but I'd certainly retract that. Insurgencies have leaders and are sustained. All of these fires were put out within weeks.


i don't believe black militancy, as it is narrowly defined on these recent posts, mutated to become black capitalism...the definition is wanting, but what may be perceived as mutating to black capitalism is little more than our ongoing adaptation to the opening of doors in this land...it's not anything different than what randolph and others opened up for black folk in the 1940's. it's not any different than what booker t opened up for black folk in the 1890's...it's not any different than the work achieved by free blacks in Philly and New York and Cincinnati and Boston in the 1700's. it's not any different than the formation of towns like Boley and Langston in Oklahoma or Nicodemus in Kansas. it's the critical work of black folk making a way on the heels of a significant social movement. in the case of the 1940's, it was randolph's labor activism...and there are corollaries in each of these respective instances...but the nationalist strain of black life remains...but it is dynamic because it is not a self-sustaining ideological position...and besides, the loudest folks are usually not the best prepared folks to fill a corporate position - so that's not where they wind up...nationalists (or militants, as narrowly defined) create openings for non-nationalists to assume positions of influence.

our progress has tended to require a radical departure from a particular set of institutional practices...randolph departed from traditional methods of engaging large employers...king departed from traditional methods of engaging jim crow...malcolm departed from traditional methods of articulating urban/north issues and from traditional methods of organizing the nation of islam...etc., etc. there are countless other examples, but my contention is simply that nationalists usually open doors wider than integrationists...while integrationists keep doors open longer than nationalists. in any case, the two approaches are complementary, but are usually not operationalized in a complementary fashion due to differences between individuals and their organizations.

i definitely feel you on the question of Japan, Korea and China, but I would say that the question is a bit different since Japan had the benefit of comprehensive, targeted rebuilding through the Marshall Plan and is intended to serve as a buffer against China. South Korea is distinct from the North but has also benefitted from the type of aid and national stability that encouraged growth - and the situations of Japanese and Korean Americans cannot be viewed apart from conditions in the home country...and dealings with China always include war in the backdrop - always. heck, Condi was just taking about that in Europe not too long ago.

one loves peoples...keep it flowin'.


OK, let's roll with the subversive militaristic approach for a bit.

Isn't it nonsense, then, to tie that approach with the "talking a lot and saying nothing" as McWhorter seems to do?

Wasn't the Montgomery boycotts subversive?

Wasn't the SNCC sit-ins subversive?

OK, they were radical, but there was a lot of speaking loud and a lot of rhetoric. So, saying the talk of militants was the path that "Black leftists" followed, is nonsense.


They were subversive but what was the aim? The aim was integration, it wasn't to defeat the enemy. The aim was bourgeois brotherhood, not control of the resources of the enemy.


Let me put it this way, you cannot be militant and also for 'non-violent social change'.


integration is not the same as ending segregation...check out king's last book, where do we go from here: chaos or community...if you think he was an integrationist seeking bourgois brotherhood after reading that, we should talk...

while he was not about controlling the resources of the enemy, he was more than you suggest...and he was not alone in his sentiments...the young guns brought a different analysis and the fire of youth.

i would have to check, but it would seem that india is about the only place where non-violence was used as the primary tactic of a colonized collective with clear numeric superiority.

but if you're curious about black militancy and the klan check out the deacons for defense...i hope you don't think black folk produced folks like Turner, Prosser, Tubman and Delany then simply decided to let the Klan shoot them whenever a conflict erupted...you really oughta get IN more...inthestacks, baby, in the stacks.


The aim was integration, it wasn't to defeat the enemy.

Desegregation was a defeat of the enemy.


Wait, wait. See you can't just compare pre- and post-Reconstruction and post-Brown. When I'm talking black militants there are basically three: The Panthers, MOVE and the Symbionese Liberation Army. If there was a black equivalent of the Weather Underground, and whomever Chesimard thought she was. Maybe you could count the Fruit of Islam, but that's basically it. Break out the FBI's Cointelpro targets and that's the comprehensive list, most of whom were harmless radical loudmouths which everyone admits, now.


the nationalist strain of black life remains...but it is dynamic because it is not a self-sustaining ideological position...and besides, the loudest folks are usually not the best prepared folks to fill a corporate position - so that's not where they wind up...nationalists (or militants, as narrowly defined) create openings for non-nationalists to assume positions of influence.

That is precisely what I mean. Nationalist got into corporations in the 70's, and held the door open, formed black employee caucus groups, and helped maximize shareholder wealth as they aggrandized themselves. Along the way, they learned a thing or two about achieving goals through others, which many used to help strengthen the black community. That's the sort of role I have tried to assume.

The thing about me is, I was one of Malcolm's Babies. My father and his friends used to listen to "The Ballot or the Bullet," then talk it over with us. The posters in our house included Muhammad Ali and Carlos and Smith in the '68 Olympics. We were members of the Crenshaw Y, and therefore learned about teamwork and accomplishing goals with other black boys, so to me it is a natural thing to be a nationalist. My upbringing was the living embodiment of the social, political and economic philosophy of Black Nationalism, as Malcolm described in TBorTB.

But armed overthrown was never a true option. I'm a lover, not a fighter, anyway, so the next best things for someone like me is to find other blacks exercising the social, political and economic philosophy of Black Nationalism, and be all I can be. Radical, Militant, Nationalist--all labels I think apply to me.


When I'm talking black militants there are basically three: The Panthers, MOVE and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Come on, they weren't major forces in the Black community. The Panthers were probably given more stength in the media than they ever had. The SLA and MOVE won't even be footnotes, except in Philly where the local government went Waco before Waco.


i feel you brotherbrown, but i would be willing to concede that many nationalists entered corporate america...i would not concede that militants (as per the narrow definitions of the original post) did the same.

what we are down to now is that the panthers, etc. were footnotes - and if this is the case, the question is why would mcwhorter pose such an absurd interrogative? if a riot or series of riots defines the breadth and depth of militancy, if you know the names of the dead, not 'leaders and organizers,' why would you ask a dumass question about outcomes that panders to white folks definition of militancy for blacks --- and is divorced from the broader context of relatively successful black military efforts to stave off white intrusions (maroons, ghana, kenya, south africa - for several centuries)? the only rationale, to my mind, is to keep the dough flowin', keep the hoe-in' goin', and keep the folks from knowin'. so whatever j mc is up to, it's weak as water and not intellectually defensible.

just because someone's premise resonates with us doesn't mean that premise makes any damn sense at all. the common sense appeal of mcwhorter is that we recognize the futility of armed resistance in this current manifestation of america...and that's it...but to narrowly classify and summarily dismiss the broader efforts of our collective over time and space is irresponsible, lazy and ridiculous. he can do better and so can those of us who may inadvertently parrot his framing.


mcwhorter is hardly interested in 'the broader effors of our collective over time and space', and neither am i. There is no PanAfricanism left, nor is there a consistent black program that spans generations and nations.

What there *is* is a lingering sentiment that black rage can be converted into black militancy and that this is an effective political strategy. That's a myth, and McWhorter just exploded it.


mcwhorter did nothing of the sort...and besides, who do know of that is working to operationalize this debunked myth...this lingering sentiment? certainly not the NOI...they've never tried to build an effective political strategy (it's not a political organization, per se)...that was never the purpose of the organization...if anything the NOI was clear that black rage COULD NOT be turned into black militancy BUT black rage MUST NOT be internalized and expressed as intranecine strife and struggle...that has been a losing battle for the NOI and many other black organizations for the past few decades. as we are still net importers of rage and its consequences, i hardly think you and j mc can list, delineate, identify, or scare up organizations that sought to move black rage to black militancy as an effective political strategy...by definition, those groups would be offensive, rather than defensive - and as such, the overwhelming majority of black groups simply don't fit the bill.

even the panthers and the deacons were not organized principally to respond to "lingering sentiment" - but to respond to objective/material conditions that required a specific remedy...the deacons accompanied CORE voting rights activists on their journeys in the south where they were routinely attacked by klansmen...the deacons were effective for a limited time and their presence sped the timeline for the federal government to provide 'aerial' support for voter registration activists. the panthers provided a number of fundamental, essential health and healing services not being provided by state or local institutions...the question of police brutality (before trafficking in narcotics became pervasive) was foremost in the minds of black folk...the panthers use of guns and related tactics were directly related to their application of the bill of rights and their opposition to the existing practice of the PD.

so the notion of lingering sentiment is really a reflection of revisionist conservatives looking back at the 60's and 70's - and a restructured argument that seeks to paint black folk as principally emotional and reactionary, rather than operating from a sound, rational base...this is not to say these groups were not without emotion...that's hardly the point (emotion worked for the sons of liberty and for garibaldi and for many others).

the question of black militancy over time and space is not a question of pan africanism...it's a question of definition. pan africanism is not under the microscope...we're not talking about whether folks in maroons in jamaica communicated with seminoles in florida...we're talking about defining military engagment with an enemy and the outcome...if the question is 'black militancy' - the maroons probably qualify...as do struggles on the continent. y'all just sloppy maaan. is that 'cause y'all know most folks don't know no better or 'cause y'all jes figure ain't nobody else gon' say nuthin??

i don't know where you and j mc will retreat to next, but you're running out of nooks and crannies. miscasting black organizations and/or black actions to suggest the limitations of black progress is about as nonsensical as it gets. one u dese days, ima jes write down all them logical fallacies and flow like that 'cause maaan i can't keep cleaning this stuff up...a straw man here, a straw man there. work with me.

one love peoples.

Dell Gines

Who is it above the narrowly defined militancy as 'armed aggressive fighting'? If that is the case, no group in America has ever been militant.

Militancy is symbolic of the aggression by which you speak. It is the act of resisting dogmatically, and fighting dogmatically a perception, culture, or situation in which you find yourself opposed to or is effecting you negatively. When conjoined with Black, then you have black folks fighting for blackness or against white supremecy dogmatically and agressively.

It really is that simple.


thank you DG.


i agree with DG on the broader definition, but even with the narrow definition, there are peoples and groups which would qualify...the chiricua apache, the lakota sioux, the seminoles, the Weathermen, SDS, la cosa nostra (especially during prohibition), and there are several others...but the problem of definitions for cobb and j mc will likely go unanswered.

what cobb has done to further narrow the term is to suggest these groups also needed to be success and to win over time...

damn, the british couldn't even do that and they set it off. the discussion was over before it began because the nation itself is the result of militancy - specifically of GANGS like the Sons of Liberty, etc.


C'mon, the Klan was militant, the Redshirts were militant, the mafia was militant, Tammany Hall was militant, Eugene Debs was militant, and we already mentioned Prosser, Turner and Tubman, a list to which John Brown must be added.

What I'm hearing is that nobody wants or needs to be responsible for the Watts riots, and that makes perfect sense to me. It's rather simple, conditions were such that black people were pushed to the wall and they struck back. But whereever there is a riot anywhere on the planet at any point in history, people make some determination as to which way is best to resolve the problem. My point, whether it dovetails with McWhorter or not, is that militancy was not a logical option, and nobody should pretend that there was any latent genius in these riots. It was rage and nothing more.

However since it was the rage of blackfolks, there have been many attempts to channel that energy into political capital. But the pitchforks and torches crew are not being effective. Yet time after time, whether it be for Stanley Miller (oops upside the head) or some other undeserving criminal, the Coalition of the Damned takes to the streets.

But let's get down to it shall we? Militants oppose the police. Even if they are the kind of 'militants' who lack the testicular fortitude of the rock-throwing Palestinians, those who say 'off the pig' have the militant pose down pat. So what is the future of the Coalition? When the next helicopter chase brings them together, then what?

When are these posers going to work together with people in power to rid their neighborhoods of the scums that be? Or is it impossible to decriminalize the ghetto to suburban standards? What indeed is the fate of the Forty Percent and what political lessons of the successful fight against Desegregation are they going to take to heart? Can politics even be of service to the ghetto, or has its usefulness been completely exploited? Is this as good as it gets? Will there be no further investment?

I think that we Americans have a hard time dealing with the idea of Sherwood Forest - that there are going to be people who live in permanent squallor. All of our cities are new, but some are getting older. Maybe we think the renewal of New York is something that can happen everywhere. Maybe we think that it is impossible to have any other destiny but bourgie brotherhood and that our falling off the pace of the Civil Rights Movement is an aberration. I'm not so sure. It's not because I am heartless and cruel, its because I believe that people can live cheaper than we do in America, and Americans need to learn how.

The Struggle ought to be about living in peace. That is a revolution of mind, but I think it's one that is looking for the wrong kind of leadership to pierce through the veil of the ghetto. The barrier is the ghetto itself and the mentality it fosters.

People keep assuming and asserting that there is some unfathomably powerful force against blackness that cannot survive integration into the mainstream of American society, and yet nothing could be further from the truth. The entire notion of a separate destiny for blacks in America is a fallacy which only reinforces the veil of the ghetto. There is no separate destiny and there is no ghetto love that's different from love. People need to test the spiritual qualities of black life in the material realities of the American mainstream... black militancy and white supremacy are just extreme hype looking for a big fake wrestling match. Ain't nobody shooting, so get over it already.


that's a lot of horses$!$#$ homzz...bounce that off of fleet and all the other banks that get busted down for redlining and then bounce that off the employment firms that have been busted down for their steering practices, then bounce it off the real estate brokers, then bounce it off the administrators of the subpar schools and hospitals...then bounce it off the wall...and see what sticks.

the sloppiness continues...the klan was NOT militant against the police because they were essentially the same organizations in the south...nathan bedford forrest was a confederate soldier...so their militancy was not contrary to, but a continuation of a broadly pursued policy to restrict the rights and movements of black folk...i won't say anymore until you start cleaning some of this stuff up.

between my posts and those of kenyatta, you'll be swamped. and don't change the subject to your belief in america, blah blah blah...cause that ain't the point right now - even though your optimism is respected and applauded.


What there *is* is a lingering sentiment that black rage can be converted into black militancy and that this is an effective political strategy.

There is a lingering sentiment that Black dissatisfaction can be converted into action. There is a difference.

That's a myth, and McWhorter just exploded it.

It's a myth he created and exploded. So, that's called a strawman, right?

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