I watched and participated in a Zoom discussion of Judas and the Black Messiah tonight. One of the points that I raised is that William O’Neal exemplifies the betrayer archetype. Men/women such as he have been an ever-present menace for African people. They are a recurring response of Europeans to the struggle for African freedom.
We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that agents and traitors will disappear or cease to be consequential at any point in our movement. Quite often, much like O’Neal himself, such persons will rise to prominence within the organizations and movements that they have been set against. We should even consider that such individuals will fabricate movements so as to sow seeds of confusion, discord, and facilitate misdirection.
At best, we can carry out our work in a such a manner that limits the destructive capacity of traitors. One partial solution to this is to engage in struggle in a manner that is highly decentralized, characterized by independent yet ideologically aligned collectives, groups working towards a common aim, yet who maintain localized organizational structures characterized by collective forms of governance.
This is perhaps easier said than done. Dynamic work often coheres around a visionary mind. Their genius is an asset to our struggle, yet in our adversary’s aim to maintain our oppression, they are often targeted and imprisoned or killed in the hopes that their deaths will destroy the movement. There will always be people like Chairman Fred Hampton who animate the imaginations of the people and who articulate a vision of a future free from the fetters of oppression. Such individuals will also be targeted by the state. The key, the principle challenge is to ensure the survival and expansion of the movement beyond the deaths of inspiring leaders, beyond the acts of sabotage by traitors, and beyond the machinations of our enemies. To demonstrate through work and determination that “You can kill the revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution.”