Blog #22: Ballot or Bullet

I remember when El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X) gave a speech in which he projected our struggle moving forward would be defined by either the ballot or the bullet. He explained that if it was not possible to change America for the good,subject to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act, and Black people not being hindered in casting their vote, it would be necessary to engage in revolutionary armed struggle.

Since that time, there have been revolutionary armed initiatives (BLA, WUO, FALN, SLA, NWLF, AIM, etc.), and there have been electoral initiatives, (Eldridge Cleaver running for President, Bobby Seales running for Mayor, etc.). Presently, a good friend in Rochester, New York, Emily Good, is running for Sheriff under the Green Party platform, challenging the status quo methodology of law enforcement. The issue of electoral politics as part of a revolutionary determination has often been questioned in terms of efficacy for real change, and principle in revolutionary tactics. In essence, while some would argue a contradiction in employing electoral politics to obtain real change, it should be held that electoral politics can be tactical to create a progressive environment to broaden the base for future struggle.

In this regards, I would personally like to congratulate Chokwe Lumumba in being elected Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. If there was ever a time in which progressives should applaud a victory, it is this electoral win. In contrast, I reflect upon the national accolades for the election of Barack Hussein Obama, which I personally felt were misplaced (see: Obama-Nation and Obama-Mania). I believe that many today recognize Obama has proved undeserving of such national accolades, especially from progressives. However, the election of Obama proved to what extent young people and progressives believe in the electoral process to change the ideological and political nature of the United States. I dare not proclaim electoral politics will substantially change the socio-economic and political character of U.S. capitalist-imperialism. However, the potential exists to create an environment to strengthen the resolve of revolutionary determination. Hence, the election of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba in a city that was a bastion of Southern racial segregation speaks volumes to such potential.

Unlike Obama, Lumumba’s political history has been one of a revolutionary nationalist, who apparently sought to manifest the words of Al-Hajj Malik Shabazz. Given this reality, it is incumbent upon progressives across the country to support Mayor Lumumba’s term in office. The support of progressives from across the country is essentia1 to Mayor Lumumba’s success, especially considering the unfortunate prospects of economic white flight from Jackson, Mississippi, a city already designated as one of the poorest in the state. Progressives should make every opportunity to bring their conventions, conferences, and national meetings to Jackson. Efforts should be made to establish innovative economic projects in Jackson, and build a base for autonomous socio-economic cooperative communities to exemplify our collective vision of a revolutionary future.

Of course, I am not under any illusion the election of one person to the office of Mayor automatically proves electoral politics is a panacea, or in and of itself revolutionary. In fact, I argue that progressives should learn from their dashed hopes for Obama’s presidency. Meaning, it is extremely important that Mayor Lumumba is held to fulfill all of his promises pursuant to his political “People’s Assembly platform.” Despite the greater likelihood state and federal authorities will employ every dirty trick in the book to undermine and disrupt Mayor Lumumba’s and the citizens of Jackson’s success; this victory is an opportunity for progressives to join in a united and uniform determination to build a substantial and sustainable movement. Obviously, the success of the “Jackson Plan: A Struggle for Self-Determination, Participatory Democracy and Economic Justice” as a possible blueprint needs to be replicated throughout the South and in Northern urban cities across the country. In this area of struggle, we certainly have nothing to lose!

In fierce struggle,
Jalil Muntaqim
Attica June 26, 2013