“I have not given up on any of the basic principles that I stood for 30
years ago. I feel the task we started 30 years ago remain unfinished.
National Liberation was important question in the 1960s and it remains
important today. I consider myself a Marxist-Leninist – Marx for philosophy
and Lenin for how yo do it. But I consider myself more Maoist than anything
else. Based on my expereince, I’ve seen where unity among the races has
yielded positive results. I don’t see any other way for people to gain
freedom, justice and equality here but by being an internationalist.”-Richard
Aoki interview with Dolly Veale of the RCP, USA.
In recent days comrades have found themselves in a new frame of mind
with the controversy that has arisen from the accusation that Richard
Aoki, the honorary titled Field Marshal of the Black Panther Party, was a
FBI informant. This indeed is troubling considering the iconic figure Aoki
is to many comrades, in particular those comrades of Asian-American descent
who see in Aoki, a figure who united the struggle of people of
Asian and Afrikan descent. In fact he was a leader of the Third World
Liberation efforts in UC Berkeley around ethnic studies. Aoki was a central
figure in the initial development of the Black Panther Party, as a close
friend of Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. He helped armed and train
Panthers in the utilization of self-defense methods against the state.
It is claimed by the recent accusations that Aoki was a developed
informant, a person recruited by the FBI in high school. It is claimed he
informed the FBI on the internal situation of the Communist Party, the Socialist
Workers’ Party, and of course the Black Panther Party. As of 1967 a FBI
document named Aoki an informant coding him T-2. The seriousness of these
charges can’t be denied, however far be it from us to accept them at face value as some
have already done. We must be cautious insofar as the charges carry
with them an ideologically determined position of the opportunist and
reformist section of the Left. That said it is also true the validity of the accusation can’t be determined from the angle of mere political functionalization, but that the truth is indeed “complex” while remaining all too simple.
We are thus in a position here to speak of the matter in a
properly political way and develop some thought experiments in that regard.
The seriousness of the matter can’t be lost in the narrative of any subjectivity. Whether or not Aoki was an informant at this stage remains unclear, and in a spirit which demonstrates at least “respect” for this colossal figure it must be gone over carefully . Its truth or falsehood as determined in investigation will give us new clues as to the “complex” manner in which
the agency of the State intervenes in our struggle.
This said it must also be put quite sternly to all genuine comrades who are disheartened with the possibility that Aoki was an informant for the FBI. That if these allegations are factual
it is necessary to put Aoki to death again after his own suicide.
We should have no room for the possibility of a sentimentality that attempts to unite in spirit with an agent-provocateur. The seriousness of the matter can’t be lost in the emotional indulgence of our subjectivity. The matter is all too simple – treachery is treachery. The only real solution to such treason is effective punishment by the sternest means available to us. However siding with caution in the details of these accusations is to reiterate of the upmost importance for us.
Agents of the state are inevitably a fixture of our movement – from its
most liberal progressive positions to our most revolutionary. However it is
in the most revolutionary camp, in those places where revolution is seen in
its final summation as the overthrow of one class by another, that there is
the most danger from the state even in its infancy. It is now well established
that the state is very much active in participating in and fostering activity that can smash revolutionaries in their initial orientation of creating the foundations for defense and attack.
This is certainly the case in the state’s contemporary work against revolutionary leftists and radical Islamists.
The state ultimately plans not simply to infiltrate movements to gain
valuable information but to actually mobilize them in conformity to its own
longer term strategy for stability, it could even be that differing
elements within the very same state body and agencies may not know
fully the details of each others work in this manipulation. The height of conspiracy here is indeed troubling to think about and its ultimate dangers are very real to us.
Axiomatically we proceed from understanding that the State as a body is
indeed the instrument of class rule. That it is a specialized layered
instrument precisely because of the historical process of developing
complexity of society, but in its simplicity it relies on basic methods and
mechanisms that primitively succeed in asserting its dictatorship over all
Communists on the other hand are the organic and real expression of the
other-side of capitalism in its movement towards the socialization of
labor. We’re the real combination of this movement of capitalism, its
production of grave-diggers, with its scientific heights. Communists are
the political expression, in real content, of the world class war. We’re
ultimately the main enemy of the existent bourgeois states because we seek
ultimately and quite vulgarly to upend them in the process of an objective
war that they wage.
War is the objective location of Communists in relation to the state, we
should never for one instance ultimately lose sight of the fact that the
utility of spies, double agents, agent-provocateurs is but one aspect
With the inevitability of such methods being deployed against us, what are
Communists to do? There is a tendency which arises from such issues that seeks safety in the arms of clandestinity which is ultimately inappropriate to the objective of seeking a
popular war of the whole class against the state. Our general strategic
positions need to be popularly known for the very reason of
securing the basic safety of the general tendency of Communists within the
mass forces. Whether such clandestinity amounts to focoism of a certain sort or dried up big-talk scholastics and archivism of the sort we see among the orthodox Trotskyist or post-Maoist tendencies is a matter of preference.
Communists must ultimately rely upon organizational strength, clarity of
line, and professionalism in their work to undermine all informants and agent
provocateurs. The state employs methods that present the worst danger to
those forces who are so amateur and primitive that the right placement of
the wrong person can put the entire enterprise of a revolutionary organization in
jeopardy. We are in many respects, and this is key, unable to secure the
entirety of our operations but with professionalism and a clear line of
march, our activities are more secure.
At this point let us digress to consider the best known (perhaps little
known to our newest comrades) case of a pig infilitrator – Roman
Malinovsky. Malinovsky was a Bolshevik deputy in the Duma (Russian Tsarist
puppet Parliament), one of the most capable Russian Bolshevik organizers
(next to Stalin and Sverdlov) and insurrectionists. He was
simultaneously a Tsarist police agent sitting right in the seat of
leadership in the Bolshevik Party. He was responsible for countless arrests
of Bolsheviks (including famously of Stalin, Sverdlov, and others). His
betrayal was unbelievable even to Lenin. However accusations were
leveled against him long before their conclusive conformation in a post-revolution
trial by the Bolsheviks in which Malinovsky admitted to his guilt (though
attempting like many rats to claim a noble position, even having some
honest relation to the Bolshevik cause).
Lenin however assessed Malinovsky in an interesting way – it was of course true that Malinovsky wrecked work as a provocateur, but because of the professionalism of the organization,because of its consistent line, Malinovsky was forced to be a link in a
strong chain of cadre and was therefore forced in many respects to carry
forward the work of the Bolsheviks regardless. Lenin writes:
“It is obvious that by helping to elect an agent-provocateur to the Duma and
by removing, for that purpose, all the competitors of the Bolshevik
candidate, the secret police were guided by a vulgar conception of
Bolshevism, or rather, a distorted caricature of Bolshevism. They imagined
that the Bolsheviks would “arrange an armed insurrection.” In order to keep
all the threads of this coming insurrection in their hands, they thought it
worth while departing from their own standpoint and having Malinovsky
elected both to the Duma and to our Central Committee.
But when the police achieved both these aims they found that Malinovsky was
transformed into a link of the long and solid chain connecting in various
ways our legal base with the two chief organs by which the party influenced
the masses, namely Pravda and the Duma fraction. The agent-provocateur had
to protect both these organs in order to justify his vocation.
Both these organs were under our immediate guidance. Zinoviev and myself
wrote daily to Pravda and its policy was entirely determined by the
resolutions of the Party. Our influence over forty to sixty thousand
workers was thus secured. The same applies to the Duma fraction,
particularly to Muranov, Petrovsky and Badayev, who worked more and more
independently of Malinovsky, strengthened their connections with and
extended their influence over the workers.
Malinovsky could and did ruin individuals, hut he could neither hold back
nor control the growth of the Party nor in any way affect the increase of
its importance to the masses, its influence over hundreds of thousands of
workers (through strikes, which increased after April 1912, etc.). I should
not be at all surprised if the secret police used the following argument
for Malinovsky’s removal from the Duma: that Malinovsky had turned out to
be too closely involved with the Duma fraction and with Pravda, which were
carrying on their revolutionary work among the masses much too
energetically to be tolerated by the police.”
Professionalism in organization means the correct development of a party of a new type
and its cadre. Where professionalism is fleeting will be where provocative activity of the state will bloom among would-be revolutionaries. Where the gun is under command of a democratic centralist Party, mature and properly developed, we are enabled more effectively by the headquarters and able to keep its line consistently in the practice of the
For all the agents to infiltrate the Bolsheviks, they were not able in the
end to ultimately delay its movement, smash it from existence, or set it up
for premature action. The history of the Black Panther Party is decisively
different. As comrades like Kevin Rashid Johnson have demonstrated so fully
in his polemic against those elements of Black Liberation Army who summed
up the essential error as Democratic Centralism.
It was to the contrary the lack of a real functioning vanguard party, with the BPP emerging in a spontaneous manner as a coalescence of vanguard elements in a moment when objectively the civil rights movement had transformed into the black liberation struggle. The BPP formed from a small nucleus in one locality and quickly integrated various left militant cells
throughout the country. The degeneration of the Communist Party and the
inability for anti-revisionist forces to build a new Communist Party set the
stage for a certain spontaneity in the development of the emerging vanguard
forces which was ultimately to their their detriment.
This leads to our final summation of things the need for comrades to look
thoroughly at the political context of the debate. Thus far we’ve
seen liquidationists and opportunists come out the gate to assert an
opinion that attempts to bury the history of armed struggle and
its practical application today in favor of their own particular reform oriented
social-movement styled politics. Thus it is correct for a comrade like
Fred Ho to immediately contend with someone like Scott Kurashige on the
matter, who in his “nuanced” approach gives aid to the very social-movementism being put in question.
Kurashige has already publicly responded that while he agrees with 90% of what Ho is putting out, he ultimately too thinks we need to reconsider the revolutionary role of
figures like MLK jr. But that is the very heart of the issue where Aoki is
concerned. MLK jr. and his trajectory represented the trend of integrationism among the national and petty-bourgeoisie. TheBPP represented a break from this in the direction of struggle not for integration but liberation of the Black masses under proletarian (and lumpen proletarian) leadership. The BPP was a dangerous expression of the most revolutionary
classes of the nation at that point. MLK jr. came directly against these
positions in Memphis where he attacked the branch of the BPP known as the
Invaders. No doubt MLK jr. was a progressive, but revolutionary? This leads
to a longer conversation that we must continue in other pieces about the whole generation of activists who have become the NGO and academic expression of the liquidationist and opportunist sections of the New Communist Movement and their more or less moribund attempts to build a popular front for “popular democracy.”
Forward Comrades in Class War!
Prepare the Masses for Struggle!
Keep Safe and Smash the State!