Eldridge Cleaver

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The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

Eldridge Cleaver (August 31, 1935May 1, 1998) was an author, American civil rights leader, and dominant member of the Black Panther Party.

Quotes[edit]

All the gods are dead except the god of war.
If a man like Malcolm X could change and repudiate racism, if I myself and other former Muslims can change, if young whites can change, then there is hope for America.

1960s[edit]

  • Huey P. Newton is the baddest motherfucker ever to set foot inside of history. Huey has a very special meaning to black people, because for four hundred years black people have been wanting to do exactly what Huey Newton did, that is, to stand up in front of the most deadly tentacle of the white racist power structure, and to defy that deadly tentacle, and to tell that tentacle that he will not accept the aggression and the brutality, and that if he is moved against, he will retaliate in kind. Huey Newton is a classical revolutionary figure.
    • Post-Prison Writings (1969)

Soul on Ice (1968)[edit]

Rape was an insurrectionary act.It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women - and this point, I believe was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge. From the site of the act of rape, consternation spreads outwardly in concentric circles. I wanted to send waves of of consternation throughout the white race.
'"The people" are a rubber stamp for the crafty and sly.
  • We shall have our manhood. We shall have it or the earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it.
  • The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.
    • Part I: "Becoming"
  • Prior to 1954, we lived in an atmosphere of novocain. Negroes found it necessary, in order to maintain whatever sanity they could, to remain somewhat aloof and detached from "the problem." We accepted indignities and the mechanics of the apparatus of oppression without reacting by sitting-in orholding mass demonstrations. Nurtured by the fires of the controversy over segregation, I was soon aflame with indignation over my newly discovered social status, and inwardly I turned away from America with horror, disgust and outrage.
    • "On Becoming"
  • I had gotten caught with a shopping bag full of Marijuana, a shopping bag full of love - I was in love with the weed and I did not for one minute think that anything was wrong with getting high. I had been getting high for four or five years and was convinced, with the zeal of a crusader, that marijuana was superior to lush - yet the rulers of the land seemed all to be lushes. I could not see how they were more justified in drinking than I was in blowing the gage. I was a grasshopper, and it was natural that I felt myself to be unjustly prosecuted.
    • "On Becoming"
  • I had come to believe that there is no God; if there is, men do not know anything about him. Therefore, all religions were phony - which made all preachers and priests, in our eyes, fakers, including the ones scurrying around the prison who, curiously, could put in a good word for you with the Almighty Creator of the universe but could not get anything down with the warden or parole board - they could usher you through the Pearly Gates after you were dead, but not through the prison gate while you were still alive and kicking.
    • "On Becoming"
  • In economics, because everybody seemed to find it necessary to attack and condemn Karl Marx in their writings, I sough out his book, and although he kept me with a headache, I took him my authority. I was not prepared to understand him, but I was able to see in him a thoroughgoing critique of and condemnation of capitalism. It was like taking medicine for me to find that, indeed, American capitalism deserved all th hatred and contempt that I felt for it in my heart.
    • "On Becoming"
  • Somehow I arrived at the conclusion that, as a matter of principle, it was of paramount importance for me to have an antagonistic, ruthless attitude toward white women. The term outlaw appealed to me and at the time my parole date was drawing near, I considered myself to be mentally free - I was an "outlaw." I had stepped outside of the white man's law, which I repudiated with scorn and self-satisfaction. I became a law unto myself- my own legislature, my own supreme court, my own executive.
    • "On Becoming"
  • Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the white man's law, upon his system of values, and that I was defiling his women - and this point, I believe was the most satisfying to me because I was very resentful over the historical fact of how the white man has used the black woman. I felt I was getting revenge. From the site of the act of rape, consternation spreads outwardly in concentric circles. I wanted to send waves of of consternation throughout the white race.
    • "On Becoming"
  • The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.
    • "On Becoming"
  • All the gods are dead except the god of war.
    • Part I: "'The Christ' and His Teachings"
  • If a man like Malcolm X could change and repudiate racism, if I myself and other former Muslims can change, if young whites can change, then there is hope for America.
    • Part II: "The White Race and Its Heroes"
  • Malcolm X had a special meaning for black convicts. A former prisoner himself, he had risen from the lowest depths to great heights. For this reason he was a stmbol of hope, a model for thousands of black convicts who found themselves trapped in the vicious PPP cycle: prison-parole-prison.
    • "Initial Reactions on the Assassination of Malcolm X"
  • We shall have our manhood. We shall have it or the earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it.
    • "Initial Reactions on the Assassination of Malcolm X"
  • Americans think of themselves collectively as a huge rescue squad on twenty-four-hour call to any spot on the globe where dispute and conflict may erupt.
    • Part II: "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • A convict's paranoia is as thick as the prison wall - and just as necessary.
    • "Soul on Ice"
  • If a man is free - not in prison, the Army, a monastery, hospital, spaceship, submarine - and living a normal life with the usual multiplicity of social relations with individuals of both sexes, it may be that he is incapable of experiencing the total impact of another individual upon himself. The competing influences and conflicting forces of other personalities may dilute one's psychic and emotional perception, to the extent that one does not and cannot receive all that the other person is capable of sending.
    • "Soul on Ice"
  • It is not an overstatement to say that the destiny of the entire human race depends on what is going on in America today. This is a staggering reality to the rest of the world; they must feel like passengers in a supersonic jet liner who are forced to watch helplessly while a passel of drunks, hypes, freaks, and madmen fight for the controls and the pilot’s seat.
  • Five years ago, even the most audacious visionary would not have dared predict the slashing do-or-de desperation and the sizzling up-tempo beat which has exploded into our politics, into our daily conversation, and into our nightmares and dreams.
    • "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • The question of the Negro's place in America, which for a long time could actually be kicked around as a serious question, has been decisively resolved: he is here to stay. But the Negro revolution is the real bedrock of the battleground on which the new right and the new left are contending. In a sense, both the new left and the new right are the spawn of the Negro revolution. A broad national consensus was developed over the civil rights struggle, and it had the sophistication and morality to repudiate the right wing. This consensus, which stands between a violent nation and chaos, is America's most precious possession. But there are those who despise it.
    • "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • Americans are becoming increasingly polarized right and left, with the great body of the people in the middle confused and, sometimes to mask their confusion, feigning indifference.
    • "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • The massive upsurge of the Negro people and the support and sympathy aroused in the white community beat the dinosaur back from their first line of defense.
    • "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • The fight against the Negro revolution, as long as this was possible, was waged in the name of the flag and the Constitution. Now, in this new stage of the struggle, the opposition is again employing as weapons the very same tools with which they have once been defeated.
    • "Rallying Round the Flag"
  • The power structures cannot publicly recognize that the Vietnamese conflict is a civil war, because such an acknowledgement would reveal us as an aggressor intervening on a favored side in a civil conflict. In fact, America's intervention has transformed a civil war into a war of national liberation.
    • "Rally Round the Flag"
  • The black man's interest lies in seeing a free and independent Vietnam, a strong Vietnam which is not the puppet of international white supremacy. If the nations of Asia, Latin America, and Africa are strong and free, the black man in America will be safe and secure and free to live in dignity and self-respect.
    • "The Black Man's Stake in Vietnam"
  • The police department and the armed forces are the two arms of the power structure, the muscles of control and enforcement. They have deadly weapons with which to inflict pain on the human body. They know how to bring about hirrble deaths. They have clubs with which to beat the body and the head. They have bullets and guns with which to tear holes in the flesh, to smash bones, to disable and kill. They use force, to make you do what the deciders have decided you must do.
    • "Domestic Law and International Order"
  • If communists are in power, they enforce laws designed to protect their system, their way of life. To them, the horror of horrors is the speculator, that man of magic who has mastered the art of getting something with nothing and who in America would be a member in good standing of his local Chamber of Commerce. "The people, " however are nowhere consulted, although everywhere everything is done always in their name ostensibly for their betterment, while their real-life problems go unsolved. "The people" are a rubber stamp for the crafty and sly. And no problem can be solved without taking the police department and the armed forces into account. Both kings and bookies understand this, as do first ladies and common prostitutes.
    • "Domestic Law and International Order"

1970s[edit]

  • Pig power in America was infuriating, but pig power in the communist framework was awesome and unaccountable.
    • Soul on Fire (1978)
  • I crossed the tracks and sought out White prey. I did this consciously, deliberately, willfully, methodically [...] Rape was an insurrectionary act. It delighted me that I was defying and trampling upon the White man's law [...] and that I was defiling his women [...]
    • Soul on Fire (1978)

1980s[edit]

  • We would go out and ambush cops, but if we got caught we would blame it on them and claim innocence. I did that personally in the case I was involved in.… We went after the cops that night, but when we got caught we said they came after us. We always did that. When you talk about the legacy of the '60s, that's one legacy. That's what I try to address, because it helped to distort the image of the police, but I've come to the point where I realize that our police department is necessary.
    • Interview by Reason magazine (1986), referring to the death of Bobby Hutton
  • They were murderers and they still are, but policemen are like dogs on a leash.… The police function under political direction. They go after whoever they are sent after, and that's where the problem comes in.… Black people were moving out of their traditional position in America. Nobody knew what to do about it. The white politicians were confused, the blacks were confused.… the police were told to go out, stop those civil-rights marches … and they went out and did that. When you talk to police now who participated in that, you find out that they were in the same position we were in — just trying to find the right formula.
    • Interview by Reason magazine (1986)
  • I can understand J. Edgar Hoover, because he wasn't inaccurate.… He said that we were the main threat. We were trying to be the main threat. We were trying to be the vanguard organization. J. Edgar Hoover was an adversary, but he had good information. We were plugged into all of the revolutionary groups in America, plus those abroad. We were working hand-in-hand with communist parties here and around the world, and he knew that.
    • Interview by Reason magazine (1986)

External links[edit]

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