Operation: COINTELPRO — The Original Social Media

By Carlito Rovira

When Whistleblower Edward Snowden chose to defect from his professional allegiance to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) the rulers of this country went into crisis mode. We now know how advancements in computer technology, especially the Internet and its many social media outlets, are being used to gather intelligence and serve as a tool to stifle the creation of a new people’s movement of resistance.

Edward Snowden

For those with familiarity with the consequences of Operation: CONTELPRO, during the 1950’s, 60’s & 70’s, should never become naive to believe that these government projects aimed against progressive activists ever ended. On the contrary, it continues to this day with greater sophistication.

We have learned a lot about covert operations during that period and how it was used to diminish the strengths of the Black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, Chicano, and Indigenous movements. Operation COINTELPRO was also used against the movement opposed to the war in Vietnam. What we tend to overlook is that the government has also gained lessons from that experience, to be used against the rising of a new movement.

Operation COINTELPRO employed the most shocking tactics imaginable. They used subtle and emotionally convincing methods to carry out their deceit. Cunning techniques were accompanied by open repressive force aimed to have a devastating psychological impact on the entire movement opposed to the status quo.

COINTELPRO was created in the 1950’s to spy on socialists and the early Civil Rights movement, at a time when the notorious Senator Joseph McCarthy launched his anti-Communist, racist and anti-labor campaign. It utilized information obtained from wiretaps, intercepting postal mail and informants. Today much of that has become obsolete thanks to the invention of non-other than the Internet, specifically social media.

The upgraded methods of surveilling and manipulating by the police state involves specialized units of trolls whose sole purpose is stirring up fights to foster disruptions among progressive circles.

The notorious J. Edgar Hoover would have been quite content if Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram existed during his time as FBI Director. It is certain that Hoover’s use of that technology would have been for speeding up the persecution of the Black Panther Party – targeting the most outspoken members, like those who were murdered or imprisoned for life.

The New York Police Department (NYPD), the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and others, in coordination with the FBI, also used the same divide & conquer tactics against the Black Panther Party’s fraternal ally, the Young Lords.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were both targets of COINTELPRO.

One of the many things that the racist J. Edgar Hoover openly bragged about was his disdain for leaders of the African American people and the Puerto Rican independence movement, specifically the Nationalist Party and the predecessor of the Puerto Rican Socialist Party – Movimiento Pro-Independencia (Movement Pro-Independence).

Professional covert operatives from the FBI, CIA, and police are trained to utilize gossip and false accusations as one of their primary techniques, especially to manipulate the sentiments of the emotionally weak.

Moreover, to achieve this necessary part of spying on progressive groups, government agencies maintain files containing psychological profiles of individuals, in order to search for potential weak links to utilize them for inciting internal disputes.

Panther
The FBI and police placed primary focus on destroying the Black Panther Party.

The state uses these methods to achieve their desired outcome of destroying reputations and stir divisions. The final strategy is to cause demoralization, diminish people’s energies and ultimately discredit the politics of a movement.

A close examination of what Edward Snowden revealed should easily tell us how Operation: COINTELPRO destroyed an existing revolutionary movement, and whatever name it’s been given today the goal is still the same – to prevent a movement from rising up.

We should never allow ourselves to be played and lured repeatedly into that trap; We would become guilty of complicity in hindering the people’s struggle for emancipation from oppression.

The Young Lords were also targeted by Operation: COINTELPRO’s divide & conquer tactics.

History tells us that we should never underestimate the police state. They will utilize all situations and any issue to steer our focus away from challenges before us. A severe economic crisis is looming, accompanied by an intensity of racism and the possibility of war.

For those who doubt this assessment and hold a contrary view, should ask themselves: Why is white supremacy showing its ugly face so blatantly at an increased pace as civil liberties are eroded? Events today serve as warning signs to alert us of an approaching crisis in this country, which we must all confront.

Regardless of what our platforms may be, socialist, anarchist, nationalist, feminist, LGBTQ rights, and so on, we must not have complicity in what the rulers are attempting. The police state does not need our help to divide us further.

There is always a politically mature way of reaching resolution to any problem. We must have the victory of the liberation struggle in mind.

Social media should be used as a tool for educating and organizing ourselves against the common enemy. If our oppressors use the Internet to keep us disoriented and preserve their power, we should strive to become better users of that technology in the name of our liberation struggles.

The police state is not invincible. Their strength relies on poisonous gossip, rumor mongering and petti divisive discourse. The state’s covert activities against progressives can be stifled and stopped. However, we must adapt a standard of using critical analysis of solidarity and respect, when issues or crisis arise among us. It is imperative to our growth that we not employ the reactionary use of cancel culture.

The African Blood Brotherhood and the Proletarianization of Blacks in Amerika

As a tribute to the African Blood Brotherhood I am re-posting this article on my blog. The history of the ABB and the role of African Americans in the socialist movement should be of the utmost importance for all to research.                                                                                                                                                                              -Carlito Rovira


 

The African Blood Brotherhood and the Proletarianization of Blacks in Amerika

 

By Comrade Tom Big Warrior (2010)
Reprinted from Right On! #1

 

The African Blood Brotherhood for African Liberation and Redemption (ABB) was the first Marxist, Revolutionary Black Nationalist organization in Amerika. Founded in 1917, it grew rapidly during the wave of white racist riots known as the “Red Summer of 1919,“ the ABB was a secret, armed, community self-defense-oriented society headquartered in Harlem.

 

Many of the “Blood Brothers” were combat vets who had fought in France in World War I. Many were workers, conscious of their proletarian class exploitation and oppression in capitalist society, as well as their caste oppression as “Negroes,” and national oppression as members of a nation of a new type defined by color and refined by slavery, terror and segregation.

 

The Nation of New Afrikans in Amerika, which was then a peasant nation concentrated in the cotton-producing “Black-Belt South,” was also evolving into a proletarian nation in the industrial centers and defined urban ghettos. The white riots were pogroms directed at these ghettos, which were expanding with the “Great Migration” from the South to the North and the West that had been encouraged by the need for industrial workers during the World War. Many of the white rioters were also returned war vets. There was also a big resurgence of the KKK at this time that peaked in the mid-1920s.

 

The urban Black proletarian had to be tough to survive. They were consigned to the dirtiest, most menial and demeaning jobs, and there was brutal competition for these jobs. The ghettos were overcrowded and transient, and Black on Black violence was rampant. Rubes from the country were sheep to slaughter for the lumpen criminals who preyed on them, and they kept coming as mechanization was displacing share-cropping in the South. Black workers quickly learned that whites who were not racist against them were probably class-conscious and Socialist. Militant unions like the IWW brought together workers of all ethnic backgrounds. But the core of leadership of the ABB was part of another migration from the Caribbean to the U.S., and particularly to Harlem.

 

The African Blood Brotherhood was the brain-child of Cyril Briggs, a light-skinned native of the Caribbean island of Nevis, where he was born in 1887. He migrated to New York on July 4th, 1905 and joined a growing community of West Indian Blacks in the city. That was the year of the first attempted revolution in Russia in which the Leninist Bolsheviks played a conspicuous role. The successful October Revolution of 1917 sent a shock wave around the world that was felt by oppressed people everywhere.

 

 

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CYRIL BRIGGS – Founder and leader of the African Blood Brotherhood.

 

 

Lenin particularly had a lot to say to the colored peoples of the colonial and semi-colonial countries and directly to the Black people in Amerika. Eventually, the ABB was absorbed into the underground communist Workers Party of America (WPA) which evolved into the CPUSA. The communist party founded by the Russian Federation declared its stance on the Negro Question in 1920: “The Communist Party will carry on agitation among Negro workers to unite them with all class conscious workers.”

 

Leninism distinguished itself from earlier Marxism by its conscious commitment to the national liberation struggles of the colonial and subject peoples which Lenin recognized to be closely linked to the World Proletarian Socialist Revolution. The class conscious ABB veterans and West Indians shared an understanding of a wider world of exploitation and oppression than the “Jim Crow” South and the ghetto street corner, the world of global capitalist-imperialist empire and world proletarian socialist revolution – a world illuminated by Leninism.

 

The ABB was committed to the liberation of Afrika and the whole of the Afrikan Diaspora from white world supremacy and capitalist-imperialism and saw the necessity of overthrowing this system to end the racist oppression of Black people and other people of color. As the immediacy of defending the oppressed Black communities from the violence of vigilante white mobs subsided, the ABB comrades began to see more and more the need to win white comrades to fight against white racism in the overall workers movement and all strata of society and prepare the U.S. for proletarian socialist revolution.

 

Former ABB members formed the core of the CPUSA’s Black cadre, and they were rigorous in opposing white racism in the Party and the unions and mass organizations influenced by the Communist Party. In the 1920s & 30s, the Communist Party initiated work in the South, including forming sharecropper unions uniting both Black and poor whites and unions among southern textile workers.

 

This was the CP’s most revolutionary period – though it tended towards “left economism” and “dual unionism” — and a period when many Blacks were first exposed to Communist ideology and organization. The “Harlem Renaissance” saw a flowering of Black consciousness and culture, and most of the artists and intellectuals involved were strongly influenced by Marxism-Leninism and leftist ideas.

 

The World War had shaken things up and raised Black expectations. Most expected progressive changes after the war and were disappointed and frustrated by the resurgence of KKK activity and overall reactionary backlash that swept white Amerika. Large numbers turned to the new Communist Party looking for direction.

 

LONG LIVE THE MEMORY OF THE

AFRICAN BLOOD BROTHERHOOD!

 

Image may contain: one or more people and people standing
Statue in honor of the African Blood Brotherhood, at the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma