George Jackson (activist)
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George Lester Jackson (23 September 1941 – 21 August 1971) was an African-American activist and author. While serving a sentence for armed robbery in 1961, Jackson became involved in terrorist activity and co-founded the Maoist-Marxist Black Guerrilla Family. In 1970, he was charged, along with two other Soledad Brothers, with the murder of prison guard John Vincent Mills in the aftermath of a prison fight. The same year, he published Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson, a combination of autobiography and manifesto addressed to a black American audience. The book would become a best-seller and earn Jackson personal fame.
Blood in My Eye (1971)
- Born to a premature death, a menial, subsistence-wage worker, odd-job man, the cleaner, the caught, the man under hatches, without bail-that's me, the colonial victim. Anyone who can pass the civil service examination today can kill me tomorrow. Anyone who passed the civil service examination yesterday can kill me today with complete immunity.
- Revolution within a modern industrial capitalist society can only mean the overthrow of all existing property relations and the destruction of all institutions that directly or indirectly support existing property relations. It must include the total suppression of all classes and individuals who endorse the present state of property relations or who stand to gain from it. Anything less than this is reform.
- Revolutionary change means the seizure of all that is held by the 1 percent, and the transference of these holdings into the hands of the remaining 99 percent. If the 1 percent are simply replaced by another 1 percent, revolutionary change has not taken place.
- p. 9
- When any election is held it will fortify rather than destroy the credibility of the power brokers. When we participate in this election to win, instead of disrupt, we're lending to its credibility.
- p. 26
- Prestige stands between the masses and a revolt against their class enemy. The aura of magic, glamour, luster and splendid permanence covers the fascists like a protective layer of fat. The slimy scales of majesty shield and conceal the dilapidation of the old bourgeois reign of terror.
- p. 47
- The prestige of power as the subjective effect of a past deed or reputation, real or fancied, then has a very definite life process.
- p. 50
- Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe?
- p. 50
- The debate ends, the action begins. It is not a question of the necessity of violence, but how to organize it to fit our unique situation, to tie it with flawless exactitude to our political activity, and to organize it immediately.
- The government of the U.S.A. and all that it stands for, all that it represents, must be destroyed. This is the starting point, and the end. We have the means to this end; the problem is to develop acceptance of their use.
- p. 53
- Top-heavy establishment organizations that exist openly are always a reflection of the men who staff them.
- p. 63
- Waiting for power to move to its inevitable collapse is suicidal for all concerned. Blacks and other Third World peoples have the very imminent prospect of genocidal tactics to contend with, and we can now all see that the modern industrial state, motivated by exclusive groups of capitalist masters, cannot regulate itself to make possible an inclusive production and distribution of goods, or production without a massive waste of resources and destruction of all that stands about. The debate ends, the action begins. It is not question of the necessity of violence, but of how to organize it.
- p. 51
- Our aim is to stop the life cycle of the enemy culture and replace it with our own revolutionary culture. This can be done only by creating perfect disorder within the cycle of the enemy culture's life process and leaving a power vacuum to be filled by our building revolutionary culture.
- p. 59
- An electoral choice of ten different fascists is like choosing which way one wishes to die. The holder of so-called high public office is always merely an extension of the hated ruling corporate class.
- p. 72
- This is a huge nation dominated by the most reactionary and violent ruling class in the history of the world, where the majority of the people just simply cannot understand that they are existing on the misery and discomfort of the world.
- p. 72
- How can the establishment protect an electrical supply line and the thousands of transformers, etc.? Effective positioning of the guards is militarily impossible. ... We must call strikes to enforce our demands on capital. To enforce the strike we must stop the plant's power source. Standing in the gateway with a placard and a pamphlet alone will not dull a worker's short-term interest in wage slavery.
- p. 83
- There are no good aspects of monopoly capital, so no reservations need be recognized in its destruction. Monopoly capital is the enemy. It crushes the life force of all of the people. It must be completely destroyed, as quickly as possible, utterly, totally, ruthlessly, relentlessly destroyed.
- p. 109
- The mass psycho-social national cohesiveness has trembled on the brink of disruption and disintegration repeatedly over the last fifty years, threatening to fly apart from its own concentric inner dynamics. But at each crisis it was allowed to reform itself; with each reform, revolution became more remote.
- p. 118
- After the fascists have succeeded in crushing the vanguard elements and the threat they pose is removed, the ruling class goes on about the business of making profits as usual. The significance of the “new fascist arrangement" lies in the fact that this business-as-usual is accompanied by concessions to the degenerate segment of the working class, with the aim of creating a buffer zone between the ruling class and the still potentially revolutionary segments of the lower classes.
- p. 119
- Intellectuals still argue whether Amerika is a fascist country. This concern is typical of the Amerikan left’s flight from reality. ... This is actually a manifestation of the authoritarian process seeping into its own psyche.
- p. 120
- The revolution has failed. Fascism has temporarily succeeded under the guise of reform. The only way we can destroy it is to refuse to compromise with the enemy state and its ruling class.
- p. 120
- From its inception, the fascist arrangement has attempted to create the illusion of a mass society in which the traditional capitalist ruling class would continue to play its leading role.
- p. 121
- Hierarchy has had six thousand years of trial. It will never succeed for long in any form. ... My opinion is that we are at the historical climax (the flash point) of the totalitarian period.
- p. 130
- 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.
- p. 137
- The fascist arrangement tolerates the existence of no valid revolutionary activity. It has programmed into its very nature a massive, complex and automatic defense mechanism for all our old methods for raising the consciousness of a potentially revolutionary class of people. The essence of a U.S.A. totalitarian socio-political capitalism is concealed behind the illusion of a mass participatory society. We must rip away its mask. Then the debate can end, and we can enter a new phase of struggle based on the development of an armed revolutionary culture that will triumph.
- p. 138
- Democratic Centralism is the only way to deal effectively with the Amerikan ordeal. The central committee of the people's vanguard party must make its presence felt through the various levels of the overall movement.
- "Towards the United Front"
- I deny the existence of black racism outright, by fiat I deny it. Too much black blood has flowed between the chasm that separates the races. It's fundamentally unfair to expect the black man to differentiate at a glance between the various kinds of white racism.
- "Towards the United Front"
- All levels of struggle must be conceived as inclined planes leading inexorably to a point where armed conflict will engulf two or more sections of the people.
Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (1994)
- The theory of an existing and benevolent god simply doesn't make sense to anyone who is rational. A benevolent and omnipotent god would never allow such imbalances as I see to exist for one second. If by chance I am wrong, however I must then assume that being born black called for some automatic punishment for sins I know nothing about, and being innocent it behooves me to defy god.
- July 28 , 1967
- M.L.K. organized his thoughts much in the same manner as your have organized yours. If you really knew and fully understood his platform you would never have expressed sch sentiments as you did in your last letter. I am sure you are acquainted with the fact that he was opposed to violence and war; he was indeed a devout pacifist. It is very odd, almost unbelievable,that so violent and tumultuous a setting as this can still produce such men. He was out of place, out of season, too naive, too innocent, too cultured, too civil for these times. That is why his end was so predictable.
- April 11, 1968
- I'm convinced that it is the psychopathic personality that searches out a uniform. There's little doubt of what's going on in that man's head who will voluntarily don any uniform.
- March 22, 1970
- Fortune must soon smile on me because sincere effort is always rewarded. Nature allows no such imbalances.. I am assured and completely self-possessed in he knowledge that all contradictions and conflicts must one day be resolved.
- Letter to Mother, November 13th, 1965
- If children being blown out of this existence while attending church services, men being lunched for a gesture, colonialism, the inquisition, and H-bombs haven't affected you, nothing I say h ere can help you. If you could live my life one week and see the things I see, feel the pain I feel, and die a little bit each day as I do all your illusions and apparitions would vanish.
- March 20, 1966
- Do you know who I blame for what has happened to me the last 25 years, and before to my ancestors? I would be narrow-minded indeed if I blamed any of you, my folks. I don't blame you for not teaching me how to get what i wanted without getting put in jail, nor do I blame myself. I was born knowing nothing and am a product of my total surroundings. I blame the capitalistic dog, the imperialistic, cave-dwelling brute that kidnapped us, pulled the rug from under us, made us a caste within his society with no vertical economic mobility. As soon as all this became clear to me and I developed the nerve to admit it to myself, that we were defeated in war and are now captives, slaves or actually that we inherited a neoslave existence, I immediately become relaxed, always expecting the worst, and started working on the remedy. Can you play chess? it relaxes, builds foresight, alertness, concentration, and judgement. Learn, so we can play next year.
- March 27, 1967
- It is difficult, very difficult to get any facts concerning our history an dour way of life. The lies, half-truths, and propaganda have won total sway over the facts. We have no knowledge of our heritage. Our economic status has reduced knowledge of our heritage. Our economic status has reduced our minds to a state of complete oblivion. The young black who comes out of college of the university is as ignorant and unlearned as the white laborer. For all practical purposes he is worse of than when he went in, for h has learned only the attitudes and ways of the snake, and a few well-worded lies. The ruling culture refuses to let us know how much we did to advance civilization in our lands long ago. It refuses to recognize and appreciate our craft and strength an allow us some of the fruits of our labor. All this has left an emptiness in our lives, a void, a vacuum that must soon be filled by hostilities, I am most certainly committed, until the day I'm sent to the warrior's rest. By the ruling culture's acts of greed and barbarism the uncommitted will soon learn that compromise with such an enemy is impossible. Our two fortunes move along a collision course.
- June, 1965
- Patience has its limits. Take it too far and it's cowardice.
- Letter to his parents from San Quentin Prison, 2 May 1965, in Soledad Brother (1970), p. 61
Quotes about George Jackson
- Change does come, but not when or in the ways we want it to come. George Jackson, Malcolm X-now people all over the world were changed by them. Because they told the secret; now, the secret was out. (“And the secret?”) Put it this way. In 1968, along with Lord Caradon (British Delegate to the United Nations then), I addressed an assembly of the World Council of Churches in Switzerland on "white racism or world community?" When Lord Caradon was asked why the West couldn't break relations with South Africa, he brought out charts and figures that showed that the West would be bankrupt if they did that: the prosperity of the West is standing on the back of the South African miner. When he stands up, the whole thing will be over.
- 1985 interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
- George Jackson was murdered by mindless, carbine-toting San Quentin guards because he refused, he resisted, and he helped to teach his fellow prisoners that there was hope through struggle.
- Angela Y. Davis, [http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/blackspeech/adavis.html Speech (June 9, 1972)
- Reading Blood In My Eye, I discovered that capitalist-private property relations are the source of class inequalities, which is the primary factor in my being a member of a class that bears all the burdens of society without enjoying its advantages. Under the influence of illegitimate-capitalist values, I was pursuing the alleviation of social-economic hardship through individual advancement. This is a wholly inadequate remedy to social problems because it doesn’t challenge the fundamental injustice of class-exploitation and class-oppression, which are responsible for creating the socio-economic ills in the first place. Unaware of my class interest, I was perpetuating my own oppression by engaging in competitive capitalist practices that ensure the smooth functioning of the system as the exploiting minority profits in more ways than one off the division and disunity engendered by competition, so prevalent amongst the exploited. Look around: competition, euphemistically called “individuality,” permeates and is systematically promoted to the masses of people while the corporate conglomerations and Fortune 500 are busy “merging and monopolizing.”
- Kevin Rashid Johnson, Defying the Tomb: Selected Prison Writings and Art of Kevin Rashid Johnson (2010)