SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

Black Power's Technology Question: Fully Luxury Automated Communism or Survival Pending Revolution?

John Narayan (Lecturer in European and International Studies, King's College London)

Date: 19 February 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 19 February 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar

In 1971 the Black Panther Party (BPP) seemingly went through an ideological transformation. Between 1968-1970 the Party had forged strong national and international solidarity and support through a politics of revolutionary armed self-defence and a commitment to Marxist influenced anti-imperialism. Yet, in late 1970 as the sands of both national and geo-politics shifted, and as allies, both at home and abroad, became less supportive, the Panther’s found themselves on less solid ground. Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton, realising this shift in the political landscape, and the futility of attempting an armed insurgency against the state without widespread support, now steered the BPP towards the idea of ‘Survival Pending Revolution’. This saw the Panthers abandon the idea of immediate armed insurrection against the state and re-orient towards a focus on their community engagement ‘survival programs’. This paper argues that Newton’s orientation of the BPP away from armed insurrection and towards survival pending revolution was not simply a pragmatic choice of strategy, but rather based on a theorization of what he dubbed reactionary intercommunalism. Moreover, the paper suggests that the history of neo-liberal globalization can be complicated and expanded by viewing Newton as one of the first Marxist theorists of neo-liberal globalization and BPP survival programs as one of the first responses to the on-coming era of neo-liberalism in the US.

Dr John Narayan is a Lecturer in European and International Studies at King’s College London. His most recent research has focused on the understudied transnationalism of Black Power and political theory created by groups such as The Black Panther Party. This project has sought to retrieve this history and highlight how the global politics of Black Power provides lessons about the link between anti-racism and democratic politics in an age of resurgent nativism in Europe and the USA. John has published the results of this research in journals such as Third World Quarterly, Theory, Culture and Society, Current Sociology, and The Sociological Review.

Organiser: Kerem Nisancioglu

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