“I have a plan, I will give, and give, and give of myself until it proves our making or my end.”
As we honor the 76th birthday of our beloved, Comrade George Jackson, Field Marshall of the Black Panther Party behind prison walls, may we remember his revolutionary ideas and practice, his mentors and his sacrifice.
Author of two books, Soledad Brother: the Prison Letters of George Jackson, a 1970 bestseller reprinted three times and translated into several languages; and Blood In My Eye, published posthumously and recently reprinted.
In a 1971 New York Times editorial titled, Death of a Brother, the late Tom Wicker described George as a “talented writer, a sensitive man, a potential leader, and a political thinker of great persuasiveness.”
Born in Chicago, George was one of five children, three girls and two boys, Jonathan the youngest. His father was a postal worker, his mother a devout Catholic who sent their children to Catholic school and church on Sundays.
When George began getting into trouble in Chicago’s Troop Street projects, his father decided to move his family to Los Angeles in hopes of finding a better environment for his family. However, there was no escaping institutionalized racism in America, so George continued to have brushes with the police, and in 1960 he was captured in a gas station robbery of $70 for being an accomplice.
Repeatedly denied parole during his 11 years in California prisons (most in solitary), George spent countless hours secluded in study. “I met Marx, Lenin Trotsky, Engels, and Mao when I entered prison and they redeemed me…”
“We must never forget that it is the people who change circumstances and that the educator himself [or herself] needs educating. ‘Going among the people, learning from the people, and serving the people’ [Mao] is really stating that we must find out exactly what the people need and organize them around these needs.”
“The task of a revolutionary is to make revolution.”
In a letter to me in 1971, George wrote: “I’m a Marxist-Fanonist, i.e., a realist.... My life is moving myself and other people into action.... and action makes the front.”
“Fascism must be seen as an episodically logical stage in the socio-economic development of
capitalism in a state of crisis. It is the result of a revolutionary thrust that was weak and miscarried – a consciousness that was compromised. ‘When revolution fails...it’s the fault of the vanguard parties.’” [Mao]
“It is clear that class struggle is an ingredient of fascism. It follows that where fascism emerges and develops, the anti-capitalist forces were weaker than the traditionalist forces. This weakness will become even more pronounced as fascism develops! The ultimate aim of fascism is the complete destruction of all revolutionary consciousness.”
This destruction can be seen today in the dominance of mainstream media, owned and controlled by only six major conglomerates. They now have control of the selections of political candidates, their campaigns, and the vote vis a vis the ongoing corruption and mendacity of news and information reported.
“Fascism has established itself in a most disguised and efficient manner in this country. It feels so secure that the leaders allow us the luxury of faint protest. Take protest too far, however, and they will show their other face. Doors will be kicked down in the night and machine-gun fire and buckshot will become the medium of exchange.”
In Soledad Brother, George noted, “In his Guerrilla Warfare, Lenin wrote: ‘New forms of struggle, unknown to participants of the given period, inevitably arise as the given social situation changes; the coming crisis will introduce new forms of struggle that we are unable to foresee.
“In other words, the old guard must not fail to understand that circumstances change in time and space, that there can be nothing dogmatic about revolutionary theory. It is to be born out of each popular struggle.”
George Jackson’s example of developing mind and body to their highest level or greatest potential was one of his enormous contributions to the advancement of revolutionary theory and culture.
“I don’t want to die and leave a few sad songs and a hump in the ground as my only monument. I want to leave a world that is liberated from trash, pollution, racism, nation-states, nation-state wars and armies, from pomp, bigotry, parochialism, a thousand different brands of untruth and licentious, usurious economics.” (“Soledad Brother”)
“Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done; discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us; give up your life for the people.”
Long live the revolutionary spirit of Comrade George!