by Pierre Pinson and Safear
Don’t mistake elected and appointed officials as the only politicians. Politicians don’t always dress in suits or roll in motorcades. Some dress in flannels and chant the latest revolutionary slogans. Unfortunately, there are many of them lurking in revolutionary movements. It’s possible there may be a politician in your abolitionist organization right now. A politician is far removed from the people they claim to represent, self serving, and quick to sell out for power, or position. These people can be toxic for radical organizing. Fortunately, it’s easy to identify a politician once you know what to look for.
Reformists Are Politicians
Reform is a compromise without a demand. It says, “something is better than nothing.” Or, “we’ll take what we can get.” The 13th amendment reformed slavery and made incarceration an institutionalized form of bondage. Reform may alter an oppressive structure, it cannot, however, change its function. Thus, reform is a political tactic used to portray progress but – really things stay the same. It is pacification for the masses. So, who does reform really benefit? Those who profit from the system staying the same, i.e. the politicians.
Informants Are Politicians
Informants pretend to be with the people but actually work to further their own interests. And their interests coincide with the interests of the state. These politicians are some of the most dangerous.
In the 1800’s Gabriel Posser’s planned rebellion was thwarted by enslaved politicians. Similarly Denmark Vesey was turned in to authorities by politicians and executed for conspiring to free the enslaved. Even the great Marcus Garvey was infiltrated by James Wormley Jones. Malcolm X’s bodyguard was an undercover agent for Bureau of Special Services. And Joel Springarn, an early leader in the NAACP, doubled as an agent for the Military Intelligence Division of the US Army.
There are many examples of informants betraying those who failed to recognize them as government loyalists. And to this day reformists are still attempting to water down the movement until there is no substance left. What is our protection from these politicians?
Street cred is not just a pop culture reference; It is the currency of credibility and credentials. Those who oppose the state must always ask, “who do you know?”, “who knows you?”, and “what are you known for?” Whether it is slaves preparing a meeting for escape, a radical group plotting revolution, or gang members holding down the block, all are enemies of the state. That means the approach must be the same for all of them. Someone must always check, re-check, and cross reference credentials. Many can speak the language of the people, but until its official, we must always assume that the one pontificating or claiming to “represent” is a politician.
In the streets “politicking” means to converse, and when used in reference to someone who speaks superfluously, politicking is a distraction. People who politic are essentially attempting to avoid the visibility associated with confrontation. Don’t confuse eloquent speech with credibility. When you want to know what someone is really about, look for three things: Who do they enter with? Who do they leave with? And who do they walk with? A person may be able to hide their intentions, but they can’t hide their friends. If one should find themselves among politicians, do not search for blood on their hands. Simply observe who stands with them – no one you know.
Presently, some non-profit “abolitionist” organizations have taken up the mantle of liberation without including those in bondage. Such organizations have no credibility; they are simply politicians perverting the struggle to gain false credibility. While many have no significant ties to prisoners, they have appointed the “formerly incarcerated” to represent the interests of those in bondage. However many of those former prisoners do not, nor have they ever represented the people. For all intents and purposes, they themselves are politicians. And even if they are official, the formerly incarcerated have a major part to play in the movement, but they cannot take the place of those currently imprisoned.
Whenever confused about the credibility of an abolitionist organization, start asking questions: What prisoners are you in contact with? Then cross check those references. Not all prisoners are abolitionists, so it’s important to check all credentials. Often politicians will select a random prisoner’s voice as justification for their platform. But not every prisoner is a representative of the people. Solidarity must be made with imprisoned leadership, those who the people have elevated to be their voice.
Politicians disguised as abolitionists are more dangerous to the movement than the apparent enemy. The apparent enemy attacks us from the outside, attempting to penetrate our fortifications. The disguised politician simply destroys us from the inside, or opens up the gates to let the enemy in. Thus, it is essential to verify the credibility of those you are working with. Otherwise you may find yourself as just another corpse among the many victimized constituents.