(The Panther Series) In Search Of Common Ground: Conversations with Erik H. Erikson & Huey P. Newton

Excerpt pg. 27

“You do not believe in the conclusions of one person but in the validity of a mode of thought.” – Huey P. Newton

We must ask ourselves the validity of any mode of thinking, critique it for its value, and capitalize on the benefits rather than allow the shortcomings of the person to overshadow an advantageous pattern of thought.

“In every discipline you find people who have distorted visions and are at a low state of consciousness who nonetheless have flashes of insight and produce ideas worth considering.” – Huey P. Newton

We can learn from anyone, if we are willing to listen. This is true even of those who’s ideas and actions are at odds with our own.

Excerpt pg. 29

“Technology developed until there was a definite qualitative transformation in the relationships within and between nations.” – Huey P. Newton

Is another ill of technological advancement our ability to dominate or exploit other “nations?”

Excerpt p. 31

“We say that the world today is a dispersed collection of communities. A community is different from a nation. A community is a small unit with a comprehensive collection of institutions that exist to serve a small group of people. And we say further that the struggle in the world today is between the small circle that administers and profits from the empire of the United States, and the peoples of the world who want to determine their own destinies.” – Huey P. Newton

“Reactionary Intercommunalism…a small group of people, control all other people by using their technology.”

“…technology can solve most of the material contradictions people face, that the material conditions exist that would allow the people of the world to develop a culture that is essentially human and would nurture those things that would allow the people to resolve contradictions in a way that would not cause the mutual slaughter of all of us. The development of such a culture would be revolutionary intercommunalism.”

Stated above is Huey P. Newton’s definitions of reactionary intercommunalism versus revolutionary intercommunalism. Stated above is Huey P. Newton’s vision for the future. Where technology is used to help and equalize rather than hinder and stratify. By solving material contradictions he believed we could create a human culture.

Excerpt p. 32

“…share all the wealth that they produce and live in one world.”

“…the people seize the means of production and all social institutions…”

“…people will control their own social institutions, they will be free to recreate themselves and to establish communism” – Huey P. Newton

The ultimate goal here is the sharing of wealth and unity among all the world’s people.

By controlling social institutions we could resolve the contradictions of racism and chauvinism. We could use the social institutions, the media in particular, to recreate ourselves, our image. Media is instrumental to how people view us, by seizing control of these institutions and using them consciously we could reshape that image for the better, rid ourselves of negative stereotypes by replacing them with the broad scope of our identities and stories.

Excerpt p. 35

“…dialectics make it necessary to have a universal identity. If we do not have universal identity, then we will have cultural, racial, and religious chauvinism, the kind of ethnocentrism we have now.” – Huey P. Newton

“…we struggle for a future in which we will realize that we are all Homo sapiens…” – Huey P. Newton

We have allowed our differences to divide us. Is it true then that the only solution we have is to ignore or dissolve them? Is this even possible?

Excerpt p. 57

“Such ideas have assumed today a certain power among the young who realize as never before what it may mean to be a “human being” rather than a creature forced into national, racial, and religious identities and technical and role specializations not of their own choosing–or at any rate, not conducive to a sense of identity. It is here where world youth suddenly unnerves us all by behaving and dressing and talking like some kind of new species (almost a psuedopsuedospecies) making a hostile or inferior species of all those who based their identities on previous pseudospecies and on the hate and fear of otherness in regions, neighborhoods, and even families.” – Erik H. Erikson

An ability to fully shape one’s identity and its performance to the outside world is where true freedom lies.

Excerpt p. 63

“ We want to abolish all guns and all wars because we believe it is better for people to resolve their differences without violence. But we are not idealists, and because we are not idealists we try to understand things in their material context.” – Huey P. Newton

Reading the work of the Black Panthers and other revolutionaries alike has reestablished my imagination. This change in my way of thinking allows me to live in the material world while being imaginative enough to design a more inclusive and free future.

Excerpt p. 75

“…it is only because people lack knowledge and technology that their natural drive for control has been distorted into a desire for power over people rather than a desire for power over things.” – Huey P. Newton

Do you think this is true?

Would then the solution be providing people with equal education and equal technology.

What does Huey mean by technology?

It can’t be as simple as iPhones and Macs.

So does he mean material goods in general or survival materials such as subsistence technology?

Excerpt p. 76

“…artificial groupings. We have been divided into nations, classes, ethnic groups; we are separated by class differences, sex lines, disparities in wealth, generation gaps, and all of that.” – Moderator

How much different would our world be, our interactions, if we saw each other without distinction?

Excerpt p. 80

“Any other situation fosters the kind of “love”…which is based on reciprocal exploitation and a reciprocal cutting down of the other’s dignity” – Huey P. Newton

How do we love? How do we define love?

Excerpt p. 102

“…the Black Panther Party is not just some willy nilly helter-skelter bunch of people who run around trying to upset everybody. It is a program, a distinct pattern of thinking and ideology, delivering certain conclusions from which strategies and actions derive.” – J. Herman Blake

Completing a concrete analysis of conditions and developing a concrete ideology before taking action are extremely important. The Black Panther party exhibited this notion eloquently as all of their actions had specific motivations and goals.

Excerpt p. 105

“A lot of what passes for illness, it seems to me, are the rational reactions of rational people to irrational conditions.” – J. Herman Blake

I have heard many critiques of prisons used as America’s way of dealing with its social problems. Instead of solving the cause of the illness, American prisons target the symptoms

How does putting someone in prison solve the issues that lead to the crime? And if this was effective, the use of prison as a means of deterring crime, would we then have the world’s largest prison population?

“..define reality as the substance of the experiences of a group of people.”

“People seem to think that because they live in the same geographical space and in the same period they must be living the same reality, but there are several realities and the official one is defined by power.” – J. Herman Blak

In keeping with the title, “In Search of Common Ground,” I would diagnose a major problem as our inability to understand that there is more than one reality and that these many realities are taking place concurrently. Existing outside our own reality, these many realities and the one you are currently experiencing is highly defined by intersectionality. There is not only black and white reality but Hispanic, Asian, Native American, biracial reality, and so on. There is not only male and female reality but non-binary reality. Homosexual, heterosexual, pansexual, upper, lower, and middle class realities. Degree holding and non-degree holding reality and all of the ways in which these identifications cross and intertwine to create one person’s existence with infinite possibilities and experiences all taking place in the same time and space. No reality any more or less valid than the other.

Excerpt p. 107

“I don’t think the students are taught dialectically, and one of the reasons they are not is that it would be detrimental to the bourgeois educational system to do so. I think it is a fair statement that the schools are agencies of the status quo; the bourgeoisie needs to train technicians and to give students a conglomeration of facts but it would be detrimental for them to give students the tools to show that the status quo cannot stand and so to analyze them out of existence.” -Huey P Newton

I harshly critique our education system for these exact reasons. We aren’t shown how to analyze, critique, or question. We’re only taught and assessed for our ability to regurgitate and memorize.

At least, this has been my experience.

If my formal education is microcosmic of U.S. education in general then it stands that my Bachelors of Science taught me to merely regurgitate and to take what is presented as unquestionable fact while my Bachelors of Arts coupled with my self-education was the first instance in my “adult” life when I began to actively think. When I began to become mentally alive.

So there is hope yet. I suppose it lies in the arts. social sciences, and in our own self-education.

In this case, it is important for a system of education that is more inclusive if we want to free minds that can reshape our world, if we want to end discrimination and exploitation by making the experiences, contributions, and voices of women, African Americans, Hispanics, indigenous peoples and all other oppressed minorities seen and heard.

Excerpt p. 108

“Now you may be comfortable seeing your own views as transitory or the truth as you see it now as temporary, but most people are not.” – Kai T. Erikson

There is no need to dedicate or attach oneself to any mode of thinking or set of ideas as things are always changing.

Excerpt p. 111

“Now I would understand armed love to mean that one can really love only if one knows that one could and would defend one’s dignity, for only two people of equal dignity can love each other.” – Erik H. Erikson

What is love?

This book presented varying definitions of this term that were all new to me.

Is love even something we can really understand or is it something  to great for human conception?

Excerpt p. 115

“…develop to the point where contradictions will no longer be antagonistic. So I am working for the day when antagonisms will no longer exist. And this will probably be only after people commonly own and share things.” -Huey P. Newton

Do you agree that contradictions exist in all things?

If so does this not render concepts like good and evil almost irrelevant. Can the whole of a person or thing really be all good or all evil? Or do all things, material and immaterial contain both? Or is it that we define good and evil by a majority versus a minority?

If so, then antagonistic contradictions are the source of discomfort and turmoil.

Excerpt p. 125

“He measured his worth as a human being not just by his holdings but by his social distance from other people whom he needed to see as less worthy –and who did the work he saw as demeaning.” -Kai T. Erikson

“They say it takes several other soldiers to support one front line troop: well, I imagine that it takes several other persons to support one self made man, too, because he has to draw off the dignity and freedom of so many other people to enhance his own. And the irony is that the support troops usually accept his definition of the situation: they, too, believe that there is not enough dignity to go around, that the only way for somebody to increase his own stature is to diminish somebody else’s.” – Kai T. Erikson

Is this not a unconditional symptom of capitalism?

There must be a bottom (low, impoverished class) in order for there to be a top (upper class) right?

And if so, is then discrimination against people of color, women, not necessary for proper function of the system?

Excerpt p. 140

“Well, in order for man to survive there has to be some universal identity that extends beyond family, tribe, or nation–an identity that is essentially human and does not depend upon people thinking that others are something less than they are.” – Huey P. Newton

Fact, we are inextricably bound to one another. Therefore we have to change the way we relate to and treat each other. The imaginary differences between us will undoubtedly lead to the end of civilization.

The Discussion

The video above is a discussion about the book featuring myself and activist Kaleia Martin (IG: WonLMichele)


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