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Coordinating Committee’ and ‘the most advanced African-American workers organization to emerge in the period of 1960–1975’. Thus, it is not coincidental that Ahmad’s text was published by one of the oldest radical labour presses in the US, Charles H. Kerr Company.7
In his final chapter, ‘Where do we go from here? The legacy of Black radical organizations, 1960–1975’, Ahmad provides a historical meditation on the 1975– 2005 period of covert war directed against Black radicals. Given that state officials developed domestic militarised policing based on counter-insurgency warfare models developed in the Third World, they must have agreed on some level with the many radicals who saw themselves as part of a global resistance movement. During this period, J. Edgar Hoover identified the BPP as the most dangerous threat to national security in the United States. This declaration was followed by an FBI-led assault on political militants across the country. Ahmad interrogates COINTELPRO as a manifestation of counter-insurgency in US cities and prisons in response to Black struggles for autonomy and dignity.
Ahmad’s critical commentary on the extra-legal and state-sanctioned violence directed against Blacks is evidence of the rather complicated critique of power from the perspective of Black radical activists themselves. Yet he also taps the other side of the dialectic to tell the story of claims on the social wage won by Black radical organisations, which, he argues, is crucial for regenerating socialist politics. In the appendix on research methodology, Ahmad provides some important notes on the study of Black radical struggles for ‘socialism as a solution to the problem of racial, political, and economic and social inequality in the United States’. His argument that a dialectical and materialist approach is the most effective method to study Black social movements is, of course, suggestive. Yet Ahmad does not reduce his notes on research techniques to a crude economic determinism, given that he foregrounds the ‘epistemology of Black radical organizations and participants’ themselves in his important commentary about methodological precautions. Ahmad argues that to understand the interplay of race and class exploitation, or what he calls ‘dual oppression’, scholars should follow W. E. B. Du Bois, Eric Williams, C. L. R. James, Cedric Robinson and Rod Bush’s lead in order to grasp the dialectic of racialised class oppression and Black and poor people’s struggles for a new society.8 Students of the Black freedom struggle who overlook Ahmad’s timely and important concluding observations on the crucial role of the self-activity of the masses in the struggle against racial capitalism do so to deleterious effect.
Liberated Territory: untold perspectives on the Black Panther Party, edited by Yohuru Williams and Jama Lazerow, historicises the emergence of the BPP in the context of the Black freedom struggle of the 1960s and 1970s. Williams and Lazerow have gathered essays which explore the ways in which the BPP’s mode of political organising was able to capture the imagination of radical struggles on a national political stage. In the introduction, Williams develops this perspective by focusing on their ten-point platform and survivor programmes, as well as two dramatic events in particular: the armed march by Blacks on the California Legislature on 2 May 1967 to protest the policing of their neighbourhoods and the