From: "Intercommunalism: The Late Theorizations of Huey P. Newton, ‘Chief Theoretician’ of the Black Panther Party," by
Delio Vasquez June 11, 2018 Viewpoint Magazine
Newton’s theory of intercommunalism seeks to provide an explanation for the dominating and ultimately determining political force of American capitalist empire on the world stage, the corresponding decline of the political influence of nation-states, and the deterioration of nationalism as a potentially liberatory political ideology. He refers to this condition and phase of capitalism as reactionary intercommunalism. According to Newton in 1970, nation-states can no longer meaningfully be said to exist. Instead, global capital has, through U.S. empire in particular, reduced the world to a collection of communities that lack control over their local conditions of life and which can at most only become autonomous “liberated territories” within that larger empire. These communities can, however, by seizing the material structures that allow for production, technology, and information media, fight to build an interconnected and “coöperative framework” among themselves in a global dynamic that he calls revolutionary intercommunalism. 25 In the words of Elaine Brown, chairwoman of the BPP from 1974 to 1977, Newton’s notion of reactionary intercommunalism is an early conceptualization of what is today “casually euphemized by the capitalist class as ‘globalization.’” 26 The theory of intercommunalism as a whole is an attempt to both describe how revolutionary change might be expected to unfold going forward given these conditions of global empire but also to prescribe how one might go about playing an agential role in such a project. Dialectical materialism is Newton’s preferred method for understanding how one might come to derive what that role is, given that it is not static and pre-established, but must be assessed from an analysis of material conditions as they develop. “The concept of intercommunalism not only accurately describes and defines the situation, it also implies our obligation to unify and share with these dispersed communities the wealth which has been stolen from them and centralized here in the United States.” 27 During the particular turning point in the history of the Black Panther Party when he developed the theory, Newton was also deeply concerned with how Black people in particular might attain liberation without relying upon a state that purports to represent them as a people or nation. According to Newton, any efforts by Black people to gain national sovereignty or independence while global capitalism still exists could only lead to alternate forms of subjugation under American empire.