Elaine Brown, Technopoly, and Huey’s Analysis Of Reactionary Intercommunalism

I do not believe one religion, ideology, or set of talking points is ever an accurate description of human social existence. I believe humanity is too dynamic to grapple with in words limited by time and place. I see these bodies of words attempting to be holy grails as convenient tools for social cohesion. Despite this particular penchant of mine, this eternal embrace of Black Media Trust, I do believe certain ideological analyses are worthy of attention.

 

One of these analyses comes from Elaine Brown’s autobiography, “A Taste Of Power: A Black Woman’s Story”. In a chapter entitled, “Kiss Of The Panther”, Elaine details a discussion shared between her and Huey Newton, transcribed below:

 

There was the “mass line,” and there was the “party line,” and there was the bottom line, which was the vision of Huey P. Newton.

 

Sometime before I left L.A., he had ordered me to Oakland to talk about that vision.

 

“Take a look at this and tell me what you see,” he said within seconds of my arrival.

 

He handed me a copy of an international magazine. It was opened to an advertisement.

 

“It’s an ad for Ford cars” was all I could say.

 

“Yes, but what does it say? Look!”

 

He was pacing with excitement as I read the copy aloud: “We at Ford International fly the American flag…'”

 

“‘But we say,'” he repeated with me, fired with enthusiasm, “‘we say, what flag do you fly?’…It’s incredible, isn’t it?”

 

“In what way?” I responded, opening the door through which he was anxious to pass.

 

“Before I tell you, do you recall the Coca-Cola jingle: ‘I’d love to buy the world a Coke…’? That. Remember?”

 

“Yes, with all those wonderful, perfect-looking, Americanized Africans and Asians and…”

 

“Exactly…But the bottom line is: they’d love to sell the world a Coke…’We at Ford say what flag to you fly.’

 

“What does it mean? …It means that the U.S. capitalists have taken a turn, a right turn. And I think it’s affecting the economic structure of the entire world. We’re in a brand-new game.

 

“If I’m right, we can’t define the world anymore as a collection of sovereign states with independent economies. What this bit of advertising bullshit triggered in my mind is that a new economic arrangement has taken hold, one that exists irrespective of language, custom, ideology, flags, and, most of all, territory

 

“First, you have to accept that a human being’s life in society is determined by his relationship to its economy. Before industrialization, that relationship everywhere was to a land-based, agricultural economy. Generally speaking, if one had land, one was rich; if not, one was poor. A brutal but long-standing social arrangement.

 

“Industrialization disrupted that. It introduced mass production, new transportation methods, powerful infrastructures. It transformed the structure of society because it spurred the rise of capitalism, which killed the feudal landlord by opening the doors of wealth to a new class: the bourgeoisie. Wealth came to be determined not by landholding but by industrial-based profit.

 

“Most of the people in the countries that became industrialized, however, only left oppression in the field for oppression in the factory. Of course, none of that meant anything to people in the nonindustrialized countries.

 

“This shift was conmpleted by the end of the last century. But I think the change was only quantitative. Because the social structures under both feudalism and capitalism were rooted in national economies. Now I think a shift has occurred that is more profound than the transformation from feudalism to capitalism–a qualitative shift. Modern technology has introduced a global economic structure that has wiped out capitalism…

 

“We’ve always accepted the Marxist analysis that our oppression was grounded in the rise of capitalism. For blacks here, of course, going from the post-Civil War fields to the industrial centers didn’t put many of us into the industrial proletariat. Racism precluded that. But that’s our class relationship in the U.S., and defines our present, postagrarian enslavement. So we concluded that socialist revolution was the road to our freedom. I don’t believe that means anything anymore, if a global economic arrangement has succeeded in overwhelming capitalism.

 

“After the Russians sent up Sputnik, the U.S. poured every dollar it had into technological exploration in space and other military adventures–notably by diverting billions of dollars from resolving the internal social ills U.S. capitalism had created. The government and the capitalists built what Eisenhower called the ‘military-industrial complex.’ As U.S. technology mushroomed. And the U.S. became, in fact, the most militarily powerful country in the world.

 

“The U.S. capitalists found their production capacity becoming manifold and unlimited. Up until then, they had followed the line of the other imperialist nations. To increase profits, they had to rip off raw materials and free or cheap labor from the darker continents. But the technological advances reduced the need for both labor and raw materials. The problem is, you can’t sell shit if you don’t have people with salaries to buy it. If they can produce more than the U.S. market can bear, they’ve reached the limits of profitability. They need to develop new marketplaces

 

“The American way of life–capitalism–is no longer threatened by Communism. Soviet inroads into the undeveloped Third World are irrelevant. The U.S. capitalists are threatened by a limitation of marketplaces. They not only need to sell the whole world a Coke, they’re moving to do it.

 

“Consider Vietnam. I think the war has very little to do with Vietnam’s tungsten and bauxite. Technology will soon be able to accommodate the need for those raw materials without Vietnam–like the industrial diamonds that can be synthesized; or the way coal was replaced by oil production, due to technological development. And they don’t need the unskilled labor. They need the marketplace! I think Vietnam is about developing a marketplace of forty million potential consumers. It’s a play-or-pay proposition: they will buy a Coke.

 

“The rest of the world is just trying to keep up or survive. Take the communities in Africa and South America, with their vast copper and diamond deposits–discounting what hasn’t already been stolen. The people can’t eat these precious materials. And the territorial governments, neocolonialists, and local bourgeoisie don’t have the technology to transform them into food and other basic necessities. But even if they could refine the raw materials and get around the massive distribution problems, they would be hard put to compete with U.S.-established price formulas and rates of exchange. And if they found their way around that, they’d find themselves facing the hard line of U.S. market competition: the U.S. military machine. And they won’t get around that. The point is, technology has produced domination of the entire world by one nation: the United States of America.

 

“Assuming this analysis is basically correct, there’s a new socioeconomic arrangement that is not bound by national territory…We cannot, then, continue to use the term ‘capitalism’ or ‘imperialism’ to define the structure that governs and oppresses us. A new language is required for this new arrangement. I’m calling it ‘reactionary intercommunalism.’

 

“I use this term because the new arrangement has not only overwhelmed capitalism, it has obliterated nationhood. If we use Stalin’s definition, a nation is, primarily, a sovereign territory with economic and social independence. I believe U.S. global power has transformed things so that the world’s nations have been reduced to a collection of integrated communities. What you have now dominating all the communities of the new world economic order is a global bourgeoisie: the owners of the U.S. corporate conglomerates, the reactionary intercommunalists…

 

“What is the functional difference in the relationship to the U.S. economy of Africans living in Africa and Africans living Harlem? Or take Vietnam again. The U.S. refers to its war on the Vietnamese as a ‘police action’ — and it basically is: no different in kind from putting down a riot in Watts…

 

“The reactionary intercommunalists have obliterated national independence and sovereignty. Of course, there are some liberated territories, like Russia and China. At best, they are what I would call ‘provisional revolutionary administrations,’ but not independent, sovereign nations — not in the global shadow of the U.S.

 

“And there’re the Europeans. Can the French or the British, two of the leading European economies, legitimately lay claim to economic independence and national sovereignty when even the old international gold standard has become the U.S. dollar standard?

 

“That’s why Ford can ask what flag do you fly. It’s not important. When they control your market, they’ll have the rest. If you want to be ‘black and proud,’ they put Negroes in advertising campaigns and have all the Negroes fighting for the right to drink Coke over Pepsi. For the Chinese they throw up Bank of America buildings that look like pagodas. And if you fly a flag with a hammer and sickle, they’ll slap it on the dashboard of a Ford and control the Communist communities — that the Communists themselves can’t accommodate.

 

“A Taste Of Power: A Black Woman’s Story”, Elaine Brown, pg 277-280