Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 45

This article was downloaded by: [University of California, Berkeley] On: 13 February 2012, At: 23:22 Publisher: Routledge

Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action


Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ccit20

Foucault and the Black Panthers


Brady Thomas Heiner Available online: 06 Jun 2008

To cite this article: Brady Thomas Heiner (2007): Foucault and the Black Panthers , City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action, 11:3, 313-356 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13604810701668969

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-andconditions This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.

CITY, VOL. 11, NO. 3, DECEMBER 2007

Foucault and the Black Panthers1


Brady Thomas Heiner
Taylor and Francis

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

This paper unearths the relation between French philosopher Michel Foucault and the US Black Panther Party (BPP). I argue that Foucaults shift from archaeological inquiry to genealogical critique is fundamentally motivated by his encounter with American-style racism and class struggle, and by his engagement with the political philosophies and documented struggles of the BPP. The paper proceeds in four steps. First, I assess Foucaults biographies and interviews from the transitional period of 197072 that indicate the fact and nature of this formative encounter. Second, I turn to some of the writings of BPP leaders and to the theme of politics and war as they articulated it. Third, I address this same theme of politics as war as it gets taken up and rearticulated by Foucault between 1971 and 1976, with an eye to the degree to which the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panthers silently, yet profoundly, inform Foucaults genealogical work. I conclude by raising some ethical and political questions pertaining to the criteria of truthful speech in scholarly discourse.

[P]olitics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed. Mao Tse-Tung, 19382 Politics is war without bloodshed. War is politics with bloodshed. Huey P. Newton, 19693 Politics and war are inseparable in a fascist state. George Jackson, 19714 [P]olitics is the continuation of war by other means. Michel Foucault, 19765

n the early 1970s, Foucaults method and domain of critique undergo a significant shift. The archaeological works, such as The Order of Things (1966) and The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969), give way to the more politicized genealogies of Discipline and Punish (1975) and the first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976). Foucault the intellectual historian,

engaged in an excavation of the epistemological foundations of the modern subject of knowledge, moves toward Foucault the political theorist of power relations and techniques of domination. In the course of this movement, concepts like episteme, enunciation and discursive formation are displaced in favor of discipline, technology, strategy and biopower.6 This realignment has been treated extensively by Foucault scholars in the fields of philosophy, political theory, cultural and literary theory, and intellectual history.7 However, in none of these studies is the particular research constellation Foucault and the Black Panthers broached or explored, nor is the connection between Foucault and the Black Panther Party (BPP) even mentioned.8 Many of the scholarly works on Foucault, whether philosophical or historical, end up occasioning effects that resemble those of what Foucault himself (by way of Nietzsche) called monumental history. They serve to

ISSN 1360-4813 print/ISSN 1470-3629 online/07/030313-44 2007 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/13604810701668969

314

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 inquiry to genealogical critique is motivated more fundamentally by his encounter with American-style racism and class struggle, and by his engagement with the political philosophies and documented struggles of the Black Panther Party. The standard story given by monumentalist accounts is that Foucault arrived at the genealogical method through his reading of Nietzsche, which he is purported to have discovered through his reading of Heidegger. Such a story is at worst distorted, at best one-sided. If Nietzsche features prominently in Foucaults genealogical turn, it is, I argue, because the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panthers led Foucault both to Nietzsche and to genealogy as a method of historico-political critique. The urban insurrection of US black liberationists and black liberationist knowledges during the 1960s and early 1970s preceded and predelineated Foucaults genealogical project of desubjugating historical knowledges. Revealingly, though Foucault credits Nietzsche and Heidegger for their contributions to his approach to genealogy and power, he failed to ever publicly acknowledge the influence that the BPP had on his thought. This influence can be recovered, however, and its foundational character appreciated through a comparative analysis of Foucaults published reflections during the period between 1970 and 1976 and the literature of the Black Panther Party published between 1966 and 1972. In the course of his shift from archaeological analysis to genealogical critiquethe same period in which Foucault came into contact with the writings of members of the Black Panther PartyFoucault formulated the notion of the will to truth. The will to truth is a historical, modifiable, institutionally constraining system of exclusion that regulates what sorts of statements can appear as truth-bearing eventswhat can and cannot be intelligibly said in any given social formation. This regulative principle, Foucault argues, silently governs the acceptable forms according to which knowledge is

memorialize Foucault as an intellectual monument. Nietzsche put forward a scathing criticism of this form of monumental history in his Untimely Meditations of 1874; Foucaultlargely inspired, I argue, by the Black Panthersrearticulated this criticism in 1971: Nietzsche accused this history, one totally devoted to veneration, of barring access to the actual intensities and creations of life.9 On the present occasion of the fortieth anniversary of the Black Panther Party, I too would like to undertake some, perhaps, untimely meditations. I argue that Foucaults genealogical work of the 1970s, as well as the majority of the existing scholarship on Foucaults middle period (i.e. 197076) insofar as it is effectively devoted to the veneration of Foucault as an intellectual or genealogy as a philosophico-historical projectbar access to the actual historicopolitical intensities and creations that in fact motivated the genealogical project. The few published documents that make passing reference to the connection between Foucault and the Black Panthers indiscriminately refer to the writings of the Black Panthers as just one set among a series of documents that passed before Foucaults eyes during the course of a lifelong reading practice. The relation between the Black Panther Partys political philosophies and struggles and Foucaults own genealogical project has never been pursued as a topic of substantive philosophical and politico-historical significance. This paper will attempt to trace the genealogy of that relation; in it I will suggest that the lack of engagement with this theme in the scholarly literature itself bespeaks a silence and erasure of a methodological and disciplinary, but also an explicitly political sort a sort of silence and erasure that pervades scholarly knowledge production, including, as we shall see, that of Foucault himself. Much more so than his return to the texts of Nietzsche, Marx or Clausewitz, I argue that Foucaults shift from archaeological

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 315 produced, disclosed and circulated, and it functions in such a way as to mask its prodigious machinery and vocation of exclusion, leaving subjects thematically unaware of its operation. This will to truth, Foucault writes,
like other systems of exclusion, rests on an institutional support: it is both reinforced and renewed by a whole strata of practices, such as pedagogy, of course; and the system of books, publishing, libraries; learned societies in the past and laboratories now. But it is also renewed, no doubt, more profoundly, by the way in which knowledge is put to work, valorized, distributed, and in a sense attributed, in a society.10

What does the silence regarding the link between Foucault and the Black Panthers tell us about the will to truth that imperceptibly regulates the contemporary production, disclosure and circulation of truth-bearing knowledge? This paper attempts to break this silence and, within the space of critical reflection opened up by such an undertaking, to proffer an immanent critique of scholarly discourse as such, and the disciplinary formations that govern it. I will proceed in the following way. In Section I, I will assess a series of Foucaults written and spoken statements from the transitional period of 197072, as well as historical and biographical texts dealing with that period, which indicate the fact and nature of Foucaults formative encounter with the philosophies and documented struggles of the Black Panther Party. Then, in Section II, I will turn to some of the writings of Black Panther Party leadersHuey Newton, Bobby Seale, Eldridge Cleaver, George Jackson and Angela Y. Davis11stemming from the period of 196672. My analysis here will focus on the theme of politics and war (or politics as war) as it was articulated in the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panthers. In Section III, I will address this same theme of politics as war as it gets taken up and rearticulated by Foucault between 1971

and 1976. Looking at Foucaults 1976 Lectures and a 1971 pamphlet that he cowrote on the assassination of Black Panther Party Field Marshall George Jackson, LAssassinat de George Jackson,12 and comparing them with Jacksons and Angela Y. Daviss concurrent critical analyses of American fascism and imprisonment practice, I will investigate the degree to which the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panthers silently, yet profoundly, inform Foucaults genealogical work. In conclusion, in Section IV, I will raise some ethical and political questions pertaining to the criteria of truthful speech in scholarly discourse. For instance: What kinds of knowledge are excluded from or marginalized within the domain of truth-bearing discourses, and how, if at all, do such discourses relate to those marginal knowledges? What sorts of delimitations, erasures, silenceswhat epistemic and social injusticesare necessary in order to consolidate and maintain the signifying coherence of truth-bearing discourse and the integrity and legitimacy of American governmental authority? Given the formative role that black power plays in Foucaults elaboration of the concepts of power-knowledge, genealogy and biopower, why is it that the enunciative force of black power is met with social, civil and biological death while that of power-knowledge is subject to canonization in a host of academic disciplines? Why is Foucaults brand of genealogical discourse incorporated by the will to truth of contemporary knowledge regimes, while the insurgent knowledges of black power movements remain largely unassimilable to these regimes of knowledge?

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

I. 197072: Foucaults encounter with the philosophies and documented struggles of the Black Panther Party
These are intolerable: courts, cops, hospitals, asylums, school, military service, the press, television, the State.13

316

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 American class dynamics played upon his thought in an interview conducted during this inaugural trip in the fall of 1970.
[T]he more I travel, the more I remove myself from my natural and habitual centers of gravity, the greater my chance of grasping the foundations I am obviously standing on. [] A simple example: in New York I was struck, as any foreigner would be, by the immediate contrast between the good sections [of town] and the poverty, even the misery, that surround them on the right and left, North and South. I well know that one finds that same contrast in Europe, and that you too, when in Europe, are certainly shocked by the great misery in the poor sections of Paris, Hamburg or London, it doesnt matter where. Having lived in Europe for years, I had lost a sense of this contrast and had ended up believing that there had been a general rise in the standard of living of the whole population; I wasnt far from imagining that the proletariat was becoming middle class, that there were really no more poor people, that the social struggle, the struggle between classes, consequently, was coming to an end. Well, seeing New York, perceiving again suddenly this vivid contrast that exists everywhere but which was blotted out of my eyes by familiar forms of it, that was for me a kind of second revelation; the class struggle still exists, it exists more intensely.18

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

The preceding words appear on the back cover of a 48-page pamphlet published in Paris in May/June 1971;14 the pamphlet, entitled Intolrable, was the first of a series that would be created by a prison activist organization called the Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons (GIP), an organization that Foucault founded in February 1971. The orientation and point of intervention of this discursive actlargely contrived by Foucaultmarks a radical departure from those of The Order of Things, the book for which he rapidly acquired celebrity in 1966, and even from the text that he had published only 2 years prior, The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969).15 In 1966, Foucault was publishing an erudite book on the history of the human sciencesaimed primarily at an academic audiencein which he called for the abolition of humanism. On May Day of 1971, he was arrested outside La Sant Prison in Paris, alongside 13 other members of the GIP, for distributing a pamphlet that called for the abolition of the casier judiciaire (a system of keeping criminal records, which makes such records available upon request to employers or potential employers, aiding recidivism by confining the formerly incarcerated to unemployment or underpaid employment).16 How does one account for such a rapid and radical reformulation? In an interview published in July 1971, Foucault accounts for it by saying the following:
In the past, I have focused on subjects that are somewhat abstract and far-removed from us, like the history of the sciences. Now I would like to really move away from that. Particular circumstances and events have displaced my interest onto the prison problem.17

It is precisely these circumstances and events that are of interest to us. One event in particular had a pronounced effect on Foucaults reorientation: his first exposure to the USA and, more specifically, to American-style racism. Foucault indicated the transformative role that his perception of

In a certain respect, this passage resembles Foucaults preface to The Order of Things, in which he reflects upon the kind of limitexperience or epoch elicited by reading a certain passage in Borges. The passage, a taxonomy of animals quoted from a fictional encyclopedia, shattered [] all the familiar landmarks of my thoughtour thought, the thought that bears the stamp of our age and our geography. Such an experience, he goes on, provides access to the exotic charm of another system of thought, which in turn reveals the limitations of our own [system].19 Whereas the exotic charm of Foucaults literary limit-experience prompted him to

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 317 undertake an archaeological excavation of the epistemological foundations of the human sciences. The characteristic system of social taxonomy that Foucault witnessed in the streets of New York prompted a very different type of engagement. On 8 February 1971, less than 3 months after the above-cited interview, Foucault appeared at a press conference in the Chapelle Saint-Bernard, where he exclaimed: Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012
None of us can be sure of avoiding prison. Less so than ever, today. Police control over our day-to-day lives is becoming tighter: in the streets and on the roads; over foreigners and young people; it is once more an offense to express an opinion; anti-drug measures are leading to increasingly arbitrary arrests. We are living under the sign of la garde vue.20 They tell us that the courts are swamped. We can see that. But what if it were the police who had swamped them? They tell us that the prisons are overpopulated. But what if it were the population that were being overimprisoned? Little information is published about prisons; this is one of the hidden regions of our social system, one of the black spaces (cases noires) of our lives. We have the right to know, we want to know. This is why, together with a number of magistrates, lawyers, journalists, doctors and psychologists, we have formed a Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons.21

anti-authoritarian struggles that students and employees of the French university system waged against the State in the wake of the spring of 1968.22 Eribon goes so far as to remark that it was Foucaults two turbulent years (196870) at the University of Vincennes that constituted his entrance into politics, during which a whole new Foucault was born [] the Foucault of demonstrations and manifestations; the Foucault of struggles and critique.23 But Eribon also points out that this initial period of political engagement,
did not for the moment make a deep impression on the strictly intellectual register. At Vincennes Foucault gave a course on Nietzsche, and the ideas expressed in his inaugural lecture at the Collge de France in December 1970 were closer to the preoccupations of The Archeology of Knowledge than to his later ideas on power. His articles and lectures from this period still bear surprising marks of his earlier theoretical preoccupations and style.24

Having gone about his academic career until this period without a sense of class contrastindeed, not far from imagining [] that the social struggle, the struggle between classes, [] was coming to an endFoucault asserts in the first months of 1971, on the heels of the second revelation he had received upon perceiving Americanstyle racial and class segregation, that the prison is a hidden region of class struggle at the heart of the social system. One might question Foucaults earnestness in characterizing himself as having been so politically naive. For instance, his biographers and others have documented the public role that Foucault had already played in the

Regardless what one takes to be a strictly intellectual register, the fact remains that the wave of political struggles that took place in France between 1968 and 1970, in which Foucault was an active participant, failed to elicit a radical reorientation in his written intellectual production. It was only after he had witnessed evidence of the racially fashioned class warfare transpiring in the USA during that time, and had begun to inform himself about the radical anti-racist struggles being undertaken in the context of that war, that Foucault began to theorize power relations in any kind of explicit way. It wasnt until he had read the writings of the Black Panthers that Foucault began to formulate the genealogical method of critique. After establishing the GIP in February 1971, Foucault began to meet frequently with Jean Genet, one of the most famous literary figures in France, who was also a homosexual and radical political activist. Having been a ward of the State as a youth, been in and out of prisons throughout his early life, and frequently experienced persecution for his

318

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3

homosexuality, Genet had a radical critical perspective on the very disciplinary institutions that would come to occupy Foucault in the coming years. Genet, who quickly became a participant in GIP actions, profoundly influenced Foucaults own political transition during this period. Perhaps the most far-reaching dimension of this influence stems from the fact that Genet brought to Foucaults attention the philosophies and struggles of the US Black Panther Party. As Genets biographer Edmund White claims, Foucault and Genet were mutually attracted for political reasons, they came together out of a shared concern for the imprisoned members of the Black Panther Party.25 In the spring of 1970, at the invitation of the Black Panthers, Genet had spent 3 months in the USA. During his time there, he met with the Panthers and gave lectures and speeches in support of the campaign to free BPP leaders and political prisoners Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale (Figure 1).26 Genet was also a supporter of then political prisoners Angela Y. Davis (imprisoned from 1970 to 1972) and George Jackson (imprisoned from 1960 to 1971). He had written the preface to Jacksons published prison letters entitled Soledad Brother (1970)the French edition of which was, in 1971, beginning to receive a great deal of attention among the French left27and between July 1970 and December 1971 he made at least 20 statements about Davis, Jackson and the BPP in print, on the radio or during demonstrations.28 According to Edmund White, Foucault and Genet first met at a demonstration in the summer of 1970, just after Genets visit with the Panthers. Though I am unaware of any existing documentation of the encounter, it would not be unreasonable to assume that some mention of Genets recent trip was made, given that Foucault himself was scheduled to visit the USA for the first time just a few months later. Perhaps that encounter with Genet oriented Foucaults attention in his initial exposure to the USA. In any case, if Foucault required confirmation of his initial perception of American class struggle, Genet

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figure 1 BPP leader and political prisoner Huey P. Newton, 1968. Photo by Jeffrey Blankfort.

supplied him with further evidence evidence that no doubt underlined the role that race played in American class struggle. Racism in America, Genet writes in his preface to Soledad Brother,
constitutes the basis of relations between white men [sic] and black []. This racism is scattered, diffused throughout the whole of America, grim, underhanded, hypocritical, arrogant. There is one place where we might think it would cease, but on the contrary, it is in this place that it reaches its cruelest pitch, intensifying every second, preying upon body and soul; it is in this place that racism becomes a kind of concentration of racism: in the American prisons [].29

Genet assuredly put Daviss and Jacksons prison writings in Foucaults hands at this time. A US political prisoner at the time, Angela Y. Davis was a prominent figure in the black liberation movement. She studied

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 319 political philosophy with Marxist scholars Theodore Adorno and Herbert Marcuse during the 1960s, was a member of the US Communist Party (in which she served as Vice Presidential candidate in 1980 and 1984) and organized with the Black Panther Party. She also was an active member of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committeean organization working to free Soledad political prisoners Fleeta Drumgo, John Clutchette and George Jackson.30 George Jackson was sentenced to one year to life at age 18 for his role in a convenience store robbery. Politicized while imprisoned, Jackson studied history, politics and political economy, reading such figures as Fanon, Malcolm X, Marx, Mao and Guevara. Renowned by his peers for his discipline and strength, intellect and commitment, Jackson eventually became a Field Marshall of the Black Panther Party. He was as an incisive spokesperson, strategist and activist in the American anti-racist struggles of the period, and served as the principal BPP organizer and educator within the American prison system. As we will discuss in further detail, he was also assassinated by the State on account of that service. Davis and Jackson were among the first and, without a doubt, among the most incisiveto critically appraise the strategic role that the prison system played in the government of Americas colonized population. In the letters, notebooks and articles that they each wrote while imprisoned31which were published (many in The Black Panther newspaper in 1970 and 1971) and circulated internationallyDavis and Jackson exposed the relationship between the rising number of political prisoners in the USA and the imprisonment of rapidly increasing numbers of poor people of color. They created a vocabulary for understanding the reciprocal social process by which radical political activism was criminalized and crime politicized. They brought to light the fact that, since its inception, the prison system has served the dual, racially motivated function of political weapon of the State and surplus labor detention center for American capital; that American prisons overwhelmingly confine, at once, the radical political activists and the unemployed and disenfranchised people that live within US racialized communities.32 By exposing the racializing and colonizing functions of the prison system, Davis and Jackson not only linked the genealogy of the prison to the regime of chattel slavery,33 they placed the issue of prison abolition at the heart of the anti-racist and decolonization struggles of their time. While Daviss past and continued contributions to the movements for prison abolition and black liberation are more generally known, Jacksons contributions have been subject, along with his life, to more concerted annihilation by the State. Writing from behind bars in 1971, Davis indicates the centrality of Jacksons contributions to the third world liberation struggles of the period.
Soledad Brother [] perhaps more than any other [volume], has given impetus and shaped the direction of the growing support movement outside the prisons. George, from behind the seemingly impenetrable walls, has placed the issue of the prison struggle squarely on the agenda of the peoples movement for revolutionary change. [] Through Georges life and the lives of thousands of other brothers and sisters, the absolute necessity for extending the struggle of Black and third world people into the prison system itself becomes unmistakably clear.34

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Largely inspired by Daviss and Jacksons analyses of and mobilization against the prison system, and by the BPPs role in the American decolonization movement, the Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons engaged in a series of political interventions between 1971 and 1972. To conclude the present section of analysis, I would like to simply point out some of the remaining facts of Foucaults encounter with the works of the Black Panther Party, and indicate the way in which this encounter guides Foucault

320

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 who were charged with murdering a prison guard in retaliation for the murder of three black activists by a guard in Californias Soledad prison, became known as the Soledad Brothers and a campaign for their liberation was organized that attained international scope. The GIP wanted to contribute to this campaign and increase the visibility of American political prisoners, and the American prison struggle more generally, in France. After Jackson was assassinated in August 1971, the GIP decided to issue the third pamphlet devoted to his life and assassination. As its back cover announced, this document sought to inform its audience that, [i]n America, assassination was and today remains a mode of political action. Foucault et al. also argue, as the concluding line of the pamphlet reads, that [t]he prison struggle has become a new front of the revolution. Before turning to the writings of the Panthers themselves and then to Foucaults appropriation of them, allow me to reproduce part of the three-page introduction to the GIPs first pamphlet, which published the results of their investigations of the Parisian prison system. This introduction, unsigned but written by Foucault, was composed at precisely the time when the GIP made contact with the Black Panthers, and in it one can clearly see the rudiments of the genealogical method coming into being.
1. These investigations are not designed to improve or soften an oppressive power, or make it tolerable. They are designed to attack it at those points where it is exercised under a different namethat of justice, technology, knowledge or objectivity. Each investigation must therefore be a political act. 2. They are aimed at specific targets, at institutions which have names and places, people in charge and governorsand which claim victims and inspire revolts, even among those in charge of them. Each investigation must therefore be the first episode in a struggle.

toward the concerns that would preoccupy him during the first half of the 1970s. During the short period of their activity, the GIP published four pamphlets under the series title Intolrable.35 The first two were issued by the anarchist press Champs Libre in June 1971, and included the results of a series of investigations of the Parisian prison system that the GIP had conducted in the spring of 1971.36 These pamphlets reproduced a few GIP-generated questionnaires that had been completed in-full by prisoners, first-hand accounts of prison life written by prisoners and a selection of the most characteristic responses provided by prisoners to the questionnaires. The last two issues were published by Gallimard in November 1971 and December 1972, respectively. The last issue, entitled Suicides de prison,37 and published jointly with the Comit dAction des Prisonniers and the Association pour la Dfense des Droits des Dtenus, publicized and analyzed the 32 suicides that occurred in French prisons in 1972. The pamphlet included a series of casehistories and prison letters of the prisoners who had committed suicide, of which a quarter were immigrants and the majority were in their 20s. The third issue was devoted to the life and assassination of US political prisoner and Black Panther Party Field Marshall George Jackson.38 The contents of this pamphlet will feature prominently in my discussion in Section III, devoted to the subject of the Panthers influence on Foucaults genealogical work. Here it must be mentioned that the BPPs influence on the GIP was such that the GIP decided to make contact with the Panthers. In June of 1971, GIP activist Catherine von Blow went to California and met with Angela Y. Davis and George Jackson, each of whom was imprisoned at the time.39 She brought many documents back from her meetings, which she, Foucault and Genet studied in depth.40 Genet was eager to put together a book in support of George Jackson, who was going on trial in August alongside Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette. The three prisoners,

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 321


3. They bring together, around these specific targets, different social strata which the ruling class has kept apart thanks to the interplay of social hierarchies and divergent economic interests. They must bring down barriers which are indispensable to power by uniting prisoners, lawyers and magistrates, or even doctors, patients and hospital personnel. Each investigation must constitute a front an offensive frontat each important strategic point. regarding prisons. Prisons convinced me that power should not be considered in terms of law but in terms of technology, in terms of tactics and strategy, and it was this substitution of a technical and strategical grid for a legal and negative grid that I tried to set up in Discipline and Punish, and then use in History of Sexuality.42

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

4. These investigations are not being made by a group of technicians working from the outside; the investigators are those who are being investigated. It is up to them to take the word, to bring down the barriers, to express what is intolerable, and to tolerate it no longer. It is up to them to take responsibility for the struggle which will prevent oppression from being exercised.41

It should be recalled that the above passage was composed less than 1 year after Foucault had admitted to being not far from imagining [] that the social struggle, the struggle between classes, [] was coming to an end. Just over 2 years prior to the writing of this document Foucault was concerned with the formation of enunciative modalities, the historical a priori and the history of ideas. And yet, already in the summer of 1971, Foucault has begun to consider the knowledge-producing activity of investigation or inquiry (enqute) as a political act, as an episode or front in a struggle. In a 1976 interview, Foucault commented on the shift that his work had undergone in the years since the publication of The Order of Things (1966).
I wrote [The Order of Things] at a moment of transition. Until then, it seems to me that I accepted the traditional conception of power, power as an essentially legal mechanism, what the law says, that which forbids, that which says no, with a whole string of negative effects: exclusion, rejection, barriers, denial, dissimulation, etc. Now I find that conception inadequate. [T]his occurred to me in the course of a concrete experience I had around 197172,

It is certainly true that Foucaults concrete experience with the GIP (to which he here refers) occasioned the theoretical and political reorientation he underwent during those years. There is also no doubt that this concrete experience motivated his later reconceptualization of power relations. However, the preceding account neglects to point out a salient feature of the story: it was initially, if not primarily, the Black Panthers analyses of and mobilization against American racism and, in particular, Angela Y. Daviss and George Jacksons analyses of the prison system as a strategic mechanism in the consolidation of American governmental authority, that both directed Foucaults regard toward the institution of the prison and led Foucault to conceptualize power through the grid of tactics and strategy, that is, through the analytic of war.

II. 196672: politics and war in the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panther Party What follows does not aspire to be either an exhaustive historical treatment of the formation and struggles of the Black Panther Party, or a comprehensive account of its foundational philosophies and aims. Tasks such as these warrant, and have received, volumes unto themselves.43 From an orthodox historiographical perspective, the analysis undertaken in this section must restrict itself in two related dimensions: one empirical, one thematic. Insofar as it seeks to trace the as yet undisclosed influence that the Black Panther Party exerted on Foucaults genealogical method, the analysis must primarily restrict itself to those texts of and about the BPP which we know or can

322

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 inseparable; and (4) the argument that the American prison system plays a strategically privileged role in the colonial oppression of black people. One of the central features of the philosophies of the Black Panther Party was the view that the black population within the USA constituted an internal, racialized colonyone constantly threatened, impoverished and criminalized by the occupying forces of American governmental authority. An argument at the heart of this critique was the following: beneath the law and order of American government, beneath the ostensible peace of American civil society, a racially fashioned war is being continuously and permanently waged against the black community. The type of peace that American governmental and civil institutions officially prescribe, according to this argument, is not genuinely pacific at all but rather is itself a form of coded warfare. The political strategies that emerged from this assessment varied in tandem with the changing inner and outer circumstances of the Party. For example, in the early years of the Partys existence, this philosophy fueled an agenda of black nationalisma political philosophy whose genealogical lineage extends back from Frantz Fanon and the prepilgrimage works of Malcolm X, to figures such as Marcus Garvey, Nat Turner and Martin Delaney.45 As early as 1967, however, the Party had embraced a veritably internationalist, or what Newton in 1971 referred to as an intercommunalist, perspective which emphasized broad-based coalition-building and viewed the liberation of the black colony in a functional relationship with revolution in the USA as a whole.46 Despite such differences of strategy, at the root of the BPPs philosophies, as well as those of many other organizations in the black power movement, was an assessment of the situation of African Americans as one of internal colonization. Eldridge Cleaver provides an articulation of this position in an article published in Ramparts magazine in May 1968 entitled The Land Question and

reasonably assume that Foucault read, and to the themes that Foucault appropriated from those texts.44 From this perspective, the present section serves as the connecting thread between the initiatory documentary (Section I) and conceptual (Section III) facets of an historical inquiry that, in certain respects, does not depart significantly from the orthodox method of the history of ideas. However, the present investigation as a whole also exceeds the restrictions of such an orthodox historiographical approach. It not only aims to expose the silenced and subjugated genealogy of Foucaults own genealogical method, it also aspires to bring the local, discontinuous, and generally disqualified and delegitimized knowledges and struggles of the Black Panthers into play in the strength that they possess in themselvesto enable them to oppose and struggle against the coercion of Foucaults appropriation of them. In accordance with this aim, my treatment of the philosophies and struggles of the BPP will also break the methodological restrictions mentioned above, in order to follow some of the ways that the issues of politics, war and survival are internally (and sometimes discontinuously) developed by the BPP itself, from within its own specific historico-political circumstances. Seen from this latter perspective, the present section can be viewed as the setting-into-motion of a critical current that courses through Sections II through IV and that gives rise to questions about the politics of contemporary truthbearing discourses and the practices of subjugation that silently undergird them. The primary features of the philosophies of the Black Panther Party that will orient this inquiry are: (1) the view that blacks in the USA are an internally colonized population; (2) an understanding that the official discursive and visible practices of law and orderincluding the constitutional documents founding American sovereigntyare, in essence, tactical deployments within that racist colonial war; (3) the position that, within that colonial context, politics and selfdefensepolitics and warare functionally

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 323 Black Liberation, where he argues against political analyses that ignore the distinction and the contradiction between the white mother country and the black colony. He writes:
Black people are a stolen people held in a colonial status on stolen land, and any analysis which does not acknowledge the colonial status of black people cannot hope to deal with the real problem []. Black power must be viewed as the projection of sovereignty, an embryonic sovereignty that black people can focus on and through which they can make distinctions between themselves and others, between themselves and their enemiesin short, between the white mother country of America and the black colony dispersed throughout the continent on absentee-owned land, making Afro-America a decentralized colony. Black power says to black people that it is possible for them to build a national organization on somebody elses land []. In fact, when he moved to found the organization of Afro-American Unity, this is precisely what Malcolm X was doing, founding a government in exile for a people in exile.47

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

One of the features of this passage that is typical of the BPP revolutionary vocabulary is Cleavers employment of a counter-hegemonic understanding of American history in this case, an historical knowledge of the enslavement and displacement of black peopleas simultaneously a description of the ongoing struggle for black liberation and a weapon in that struggle. Throughout the BPPs activity, this kind of counter-historical knowledge was central to their mode of political critique and struggle. History, for the BPP, was not only a knowledge of past struggles, it was a vehicle for refashioning African American identity, and a knowledge that was strategically deployed within a field of present struggles. The political strategies of the black liberation movement were consistently articulated through this kind of counter-historical knowledge.

Two of the most salient components of black liberationist counter-history can be formulated as follows: (a) American sovereignty was founded upon and continues to be underpinned by the economic enslavement and political disenfranchisement of black people, and (b) the American institution of slavery was never comprehensively abolished, but rather persists into the present in altered forms. In other words, US sovereignty does not and has never protected or guaranteed the freedom of black people; Black Reconstruction failed. These counter-historical principles propel the revolutionary demands of the Black Panther Party from its inception. The BPP declared rights for black people that the USA had failed to recognize and, in so doing, effectively declared war on the USA by declaring rights; or rather, by declaring rights, the BPP rendered explicit the ongoing, undeclared war being waged against black people in and by the USA. The Ten-Point Platform and Program of the Black Panther Party of October 1966 was precisely such a declaration of rights/ war. Indeed, Point Ten of the Platform and Program employed the language of the US Constitution itself to justify the revolutionary overthrow of the sovereignty founded therein:
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men [sic] are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men [sic], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. [] [W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute

324

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


despotism, it is [the peoples] right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.48 and Democracy to Korea, to Vietnam, to Africa, Asia, and Latin America? Is it the right to political activity when the U.S.A. attempts to legally murder Bobby Seale, Chairman of the Black Panther Party, for his political beliefs? Where was that right when brother Malcolm was murdered, when Martin Luther King was gunned down? Where is Freedom when peoples right to Freedom of Speech is denied to the point of murder? When attempts at Freedom of the Press brings bombings and lynchings? Where is Freedom when the right to peacefully assemble brings on massacres? Where is our right to keep and bear arms when Black People are attacked by the Racist Gestapo of America? Where is religious freedom when places of worship become the scene of shoot-ins and bomb-ins? Where is the right to vote regardless of race or color when murder takes place at the voting polls? Are we free when we are not even secure from being savagely murdered in our sleep by policemen who stand blatantly before the world but yet go unpunished? Is that equal protection before the laws? The empty promise of the Constitution to establish justice lies exposed to the world by the reality of Black Peoples existence. For over 400 years now, Black people have suffered an unbroken chain of abuse at the hands of White America. For 400 years we have been treated as Americas footstool. This fact is so clear that it requires no argumentation. The Constitution of the U.S.A. does not and never has protected our people or guaranteed to us those lofty ideals enshrined within it. When the Constitution was first adopted we were held as slaves. We were held in slavery under the Constitution. We have suffered every form of indignity and imposition under the Constitution, from economic exploitation, political subjugation, to physical extermination. We need no further evidence that there is something wrong with the Constitution of the

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

The BPP called for the implementation of Point Number Ten of the Black Panther Party Platform and Program on 19 June 1970, the 107th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Panthers and their supporters gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC where BPP Chief of Staff David Hilliard issued a call for a revolutionary peoples constitutional convention to be convened on 7 September, Labor Day, in Philadelphia.49 In this call, the BPP referred to the USA as a monster and barbaric organization characterized by savage wars of aggression, mass murder, genocide, and shameless slaughter of the people of the world; impudent, arrogant White Racism; and a naked, brazen attempt to perpetuate White Supremacy on a world scale. The BPP then goes on to criticize the existing US Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation, making point-by-point reference to the US Bill of Rights in order to expose the permanent colonial war being waged against black people by the State. The call is an exemplar of black liberationist counter-history, and is worth citing at length.
The end result of the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION was supposed to be the freedom and liberation of Black people from the cruel shackles of chattel slavery. And yet, 100 and 7 years later, today, Black people still are not free. Where is that freedom supposedly granted to our people by THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and guaranteed to us by the Constitution of the United States? Is it in the many Civil Rights Bills that have been passed to try to hide the irrelevance of the Constitution for Black People? Is it in the blood-shed and lives lost by Black People when America brings Law and Order to the ghetto in the same fashion and by those same forces that export Freedom

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 325


United States of America. We have had our Human Rights denied and violated perpetually under this Constitutionfor hundreds of years. As a people, we have received neither the Equal Protection of the Laws nor Due Process of Law. [] The Constitution of the United States does not guarantee and protect our Economic Rights, or our Political Rights, nor our Social Rights. It does not even guarantee and protect our most basic Human Right, the right to LIVE! [] EVERY AMERICAN CITIZEN THE INVIOLABLE HUMAN RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS!50

Black people can no longer either respect the U.S. Constitution, look to it with hope, or live under it. [] We repudiate, emphatically, all documents, Laws, Conventions, and Practices that allow this sorry state of affairs to existincluding the Constitution of the United States. [] WE THEREFORE, CALL FOR A REVOLUTIONARY PEOPLES CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, TO BE CONVENED BY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, TO WRITE A NEW CONSTITUTION THAT WILL GUARANTEE AND DELIVER TO

Figure 2 BPP Brooklyn, Defend the Ghetto (The Black Panthers Speak, Da Capo Press).

From the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed Carol McNair, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Roberts and Addie Mae Collinsall four of them black girls under the age of 15to the FBIs assassination of the Chicago Chapter Field Marshall of the BPP Fred Hampton during his sleep, each and every charge issued in the BPPs call refers to distinct and isolatable instances of the recent history of black people in America at that time. Considered together, this long train of abuses and usurpations, invariably pursuing the oppression of black people, exposes the official documents, laws, conventions and practices of American political authority as tactical deployments within a permanent racist war against black people. It is precisely on account of this perceived failure of American sovereignty to guarantee and protect black peoples very right to livemoreover, on account of its persistent and explicit attack on that rightthat the BPP conceived of politics and war as functionally inseparable (Figure 2). In Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey Newton, written in prison in 1968, Black Panther Party Chairman Bobby Seale recounts a situation from the early phases of growth of the BPP that helps throw the issue of politics and war in relief. In Seales account, BPP members encountered a black nationalist faction that went by the name of the Black Panther Party of Northern California. Huey Newton, Bobby Seale and other members of the BPP met with the latter group in the planning of a Malcolm X Memorial Day Conference scheduled in San Francisco on the date Malcolm X was assassinated. Kenny Freeman, one of the members of the other group, asked the members of the BPP if they wanted to speak, and Newton agreed.
Figure 2 BPP Brooklyn, Defend the Ghetto (The Black Panthers Speak, Da Capo Press).

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

326

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


Vince Lynth said, Thats good, because you can get into the history of self-defense. Huey said, Ill be talking about politics. Kenny Freeman popped up and said, Do you want to speak on self-defense or politics? Huey said, It doesnt make any difference, theyre both one and the same. They went through some intellectual changes, with a few statements here and thereRoy Ballard, Kenny Freeman, and a couple other people and came back to the same question that they had asked Huey about a minute before. Do you want to speak on self-defense or politics? Huey said that theyre both one and the same thing. If Im talking about self-defense, Im talking about politics; if Im talking about politics, Im talking about self-defense. You cant separate them. They didnt understand Huey when he said, Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed, a continuation of politics with bloodshed. They didnt understand antagonistic contradictions and non-antagonistic contradictions both being lodged in the arena of politics. They didnt understand that the plight of black peoples struggle here in the confines of decadent America is a political-military whole, unified within itself. [] Huey said, very firmly to all of them, that we would speak, and when we speak it wont make any difference if were talking about self-defense, or if were talking about politics. If were talking about politics and the survival of black people, its the same thing.51

not protected by American governmental authority. In the case of the Black Panthers, a simple glance at the history of repressive measures employed by the State to annihilate and discredit themsuch as the FBIs Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO)52only confirms Newtons and Seales prediction that activism aimed at black liberation will be met with attacks upon the sovereignty and vitality of black people.53 As Seale would argue just 1 year later in 1969: Because of [the Ten-Point Platform and Program of the Black Panther Party], we have political prisoners. We have dead members. We have a war going on. The war started 400 years ago, and the war must be ended.54 The BPP originally organized itself with the objective of ending this colonial war. Consider, for example, the action taken by the Party in response to the death of Denzil Dowell in early 1967.55 Dowell, a young black youth living in Richmond, California, had been shot and killed by police, whose official account of the slaying explicitly contradicted dozens of black eyewitnesses. Having been called by the Dowell family to investigate, the BPP decided to hold a rally in the neighborhood to expose the facts of the killing and to exhibit the political importance of self-defense. Assuming the police would attempt to stop the rally, the Panthers decided to demonstrate their point on site and set up armed guards to secure the event. When hundreds of black people turned out, many carrying their own guns, the police who came to stop the rally rapidly retreated. Several Panthers addressed the crowd and explained the Partys program. Then Huey Newton spoke.
The masses of the people want peace. The masses of the people do not want war. The Black Panther Party advocates the abolition of war. But at the same time, we realize that the only way you can get rid of war, many times, is through a process of war. Therefore, the only way you can get rid of guns is to get rid of the guns of the oppressor. The people must be able to pick up guns, to defend themselves.56

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Black peoples struggle for survival in America, on Newtons and Seales account, is a political-military whole, unified within itself. If black people are to organize themselves in the effort to secure the economic and political resources necessary to guarantee their freedom, they will need to defend themselves militarily, because their livelihood is

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 327 The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense initially came into existence for precisely the reason that its original name suggests: selfdefense, that is, the autonomous defense of the black community against the experienced threat of police brutality and other forms of State violence.57 Newton went to great lengths to stress that arms were to serve a political purpose and were not to be viewed in purely military terms. At the outset, that political purpose was primarily defensive in nature. The initial actions undertaken by the Party were to trail police cars through the Oakland ghettos, equipped with guns and law books, in order to ensure that whenever black men or women were stopped by the police, their constitutional rights were not violated (Figure 3). As the Party gained admiration and support from the black community, and by 1967 when the Party had attained the level of a national organization with myriad local chapters, it dropped for Self-Defense from its name and greatly expanded the nature of its community involvement. The political purpose of the Party expanded to include the productive procurement of the social and economic resources necessary for the survival of the black community. These revolutionary survival programs included not only the Campaign for Community Control of Police, but the Free Breakfast for Children Program, Free Health Clinics, Free Clothing Program, Liberation Schools and the Free Busing to Prisons Program so that members of the black community could maintain affective ties with their loved ones in the prison system. The deepening of the BPPs community involvement and the implementation of its many survival programs elicited even more violence from the State. Seale discusses the way in which the police force deliberately attempted to attack and dismantle the survival programs set up by the Black Panther Party through the related techniques of intimidation and criminalization.
Figure 2 BPP Berkeley, organized petition for community control of police, summer 1970 (Billy X Jennings, www.itsabouttimebpp.com).

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

for Children Program to try to intimidate the children and the Party. They come down there with their guns, they draw a gun or two, say a few words and walk all over the place, with shotguns in their hands. Then the little kids go home and say, Mama, the police came into the Breakfast for Children Program. This is the power structures technique to try to destroy the program. Its an attempt to scare the people away from sending their children to the Breakfast Program and at the same time, trying to intimidate the Black Panther Party. Meanwhile, through the politicians and the media they try to mislead the people about the value of such a program and the political nature of such a program. [] The Black Panther Party is not stupid at all in understanding the politics of the situation. We understand that the avaricious, demagogic, ruling class will use racist police departments and mass media to distort the real objectives of the Black Panther Party. The more were successful with the programs, the more well be attacked. We dont take guns with us to implement these programs, but we understand and know from our own history that were going to be attacked, and that we have to be able to defend ourselves. Theyre going to attack us viciously and fascistically and try to say it was all justifiable homicide, in the same manner theyve always attacked black people in the black communities. [] The power structure metes this violence upon the Black Panther Party because weve implemented programs that are actually exposing the government, and theyre being implemented and put together by a revolutionary political party. The freeing of political prisoners is also on the program of the Black Panther Party, because we have now, at this writing [1968], over 300 Black Panthers who have court cases that are pending. In addition there have been hundreds of arrests, unjust arrests of Party members, who were exercising their constitutional rights. We believe in exercising our constitutional rights of freedom of assembly, of freedom of the press (the Black

The cops in Los Angeles and several other places have walked in on the Free Breakfast

328

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figure 3 BPP Berkeley, organized petition for community control of police, summer 1970 (Billy X Jennings, www.itsabouttimebpp.com).

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 329


Panther Party newspaper), our constitutional right to bear arms, to be able to defend ourselves when attacked, and all the others [i.e. constitutional rights]. So weve been arrested. What has to be understood is that they intend to destroy our basic [survival] programs. This is very important to understand. The fact that they murder Black Panther Party members, conduct attacks and raids on our offices, arrest us and lie about us, is all an attempt to stop these basic programs that were putting together in the community. The people learn from these programs because theyre clear examples, and the power structure wants to stop that learning.58

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

The States attacks on the BPPs survival programs exemplify the way that the institutions of US political authority systematically produced and maintained the impoverishment of black communities while simultaneously relying upon the power and support of those communities for the authorization and maintenance of its own sovereignty. The survival programs were clear examples of the black communitys power of autonomous self-valorization and determinationa power independent from (and in conflict with) US governmental and civil institutions. This is one of the things that Seale is referring to when he writes of the educational function of the programs: they were vehicles through which members of the black community could learn and experience their own power. Given that US political authority relied upon and was invested in fostering the perception among members of the black community that they were dependent upon the State for their security and well-being, the education that was taking place in the Black Panther Partys survival programs about the autonomous power of the black community was, as Seale critically points out, a kind of learning that the power structure wanted to put a stop to. The primary technique by which American institutions of political and civil governance attempted to accomplish this goal, as is evidenced by the BPPs need for a free

political prisoners program, was the criminalization of the BPPs revolutionary survival programs along with the self-defense methods resorted to in order to protect them. Government programs such as the FBIs Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) were established for the express purpose of criminalizing, discrediting and neutralizing black liberation movements. As explicitly outlined by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in a 1968 memorandum to FBI Field Offices: The purpose of [COINTELPRO] is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalist, hate-type organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership, and supporters, and to counter their propensity for violence and civil disorder.59 A brief example drawn from the autobiography of the late (and dearly missed) Safiya Bukhari-Alston throws this governing tendency into relief. Bukhari-Alston was a member of the Black Panther Party and a lifetime social justice activist. In Coming of Age: A Black Revolutionary, she describes the event that awakened her to political consciousness and prompted her to join the BPP, an organization with whose revolutionary politics she previously disagreed. Sent by her college sorority to help disadvantaged children in Harlem as part of a service project, she decided to volunteer for one of many of the Black Panther community service enterprises: the Free Breakfast Program for Children.
I couldnt get into the politics of the Black Panther Party, but I could volunteer to feed some hungry children; you see, children deserve a good start and you have to feed them for them to live to learn. Its hard to think of reading and arithmetic when your stomachs growling. Every morning, at 5:00 my daughter and I would get ready and go to the Center where I was working on the Breakfast Program cook and serve breakfast, sometimes talk to children about problems they were encountering and sometimes help them with

330

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


their homework. Everything was going along smoothly until the number of children coming began to fall off. Finally, I began to question the children and found out that the police had been telling the parents in the neighborhood not to send their children to the Program because we were feeding them poisoned food. Its one thing to hear about underhanded things the police doyou can ignore it thenbut its totally different to experience it for yourselfyou either lie to yourself or face it. I chose to face it and find out why the police felt it was so important to keep Black children from being fed that they told lies. I went back to the Black Panther Party and started attending some of their Community Political Education Classes.60

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Black Liberation. Written from behind bars in May 1971, just weeks before GIP member Catherine von Blows visit, this essay is what Joy James calls perhaps the first essay authored by an African-American woman within the genre of contemporary black protest and prison literature.61 In this work, Davis cites numerous extra-legal acts of resistance to terror and oppression in black history, from the underground railroad and abolitionist opposition to the fugitive slave laws, to the sit-ins of the civil rights era, to the 11 members of the L.A. Chapter of the BPP who in the spring of 1970, took up arms to defend themselves from an assault initiated by the local police force on their office and on their persons.
All these historical instances involving the overt violation of the laws of the land converge around an unmistakable common denominator. At stake has been the collective welfare and survival of a people. [] Whenever blacks in struggle have recourse to self-defense, particularly armed self-defense, it is twisted and distorted on official levels and ultimately rendered synonymous with criminal aggression. On the other hand, when policemen are clearly indulging in acts of criminal aggression, officially they are defending themselves through justifiable assault or justifiable homicide. [] The political act is defined as criminal in order to discredit radical and revolutionary movements. The political event is reduced to a criminal event in order to affirm the absolute invulnerability of the existing order. [] As the black liberation movement and other progressive struggles increase in magnitude and intensity, the judicial system and its extension, the penal system, consequently become key weapons in the states fight to preserve the existing conditions of class domination, therefore racism, poverty, and war.62

As Bukhari-Alstons testimony makes quite explicit, the police felt it was so important to keep black children from being served by the autonomous actions of their own community that they explicitly fabricated a narrative of criminality in order to obstruct such action. Dont send your children to participate in the Black Panther Party Free Breakfast Program for Children, because the Black Panthers are criminals trying to kill your children. In this act, the police fashions the Party as criminals and the potential beneficiaries of the Partys programs as victims who are in need of protection from the Statethe same State whose systemic oppression of black people motivated the autonomous organization of the BPP to begin with. The State executes acts of governance such as this in order to dismantle the radical political movements that are questioning the very foundations of its political authority. The criminalization of black resistance to oppression, as participants in the black liberation struggle have always well-understood, is by no means a phenomenon that began with the BPP. Angela Y. Davis, a BPP member and political prisoner at the time, provided an incisive articulation of the historical criminalization of black political resistance in Political Prisoners, Prisons, and

By exposing the reciprocal link between black survival and black resistance, and relating them to the processes by which such survival and resistance are ritually attacked, distorted and criminalized on official levels,

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 331 Daviss account gives us an indication of the historical experience that motivated the Black Panther Party to posit politics and war as functionally inseparable. Put simply, struggles for black survival and liberation have consistently been compelled to openly make recourse to extra-legal action, and they have just as consistently been met with State violence and terror. It is precisely the counter-revolutionary violence and terror waged against the BPPs revolutionary survival programs that led BPP Field Marshall George Jackson to assume the role, from within the American prison system, of preparing military protection for those programs; for, without such protection, their continuation would have been inconceivable. If the American prison system played a strategic role in the colonization of the black communitynot only as an apparatus that criminalizes and detains the radical community activists of black liberationist organizations, but also as a surrogate solution to the social problems associated with poverty and racismJackson transformed the prison, granting it a strategic role in the decolonization of the black community.63 In a 29 March 1971 interview transcribed and published in The Black Panther, which the GIP translated and published in LAssassinat de George Jackson later that year, Jackson argues the following:
I feel that the building of revolutionary consciousness of the prisoner class is paramount in the overall development of a hard left revolutionary cadre. And I repeat cadre. Of course, the revolution has to be carried out by the masses. But we need a cadre; we need a bodyguard; a political worker needs a bodyguard. We [i.e. the prisoner class] see ourselves as performing that function. The terms of existence here in the joint conditions [sic] the brothers for that type of work. Although I have become more political recently, from listening to Comrade [Huey] Newton, and from reading the [Black Panther] Party paper, Ive gained a clear understanding of the tie-in between political and military activities. I still see my function as military. [] I feel that any movement on our part, political, will have to be accompanied by a latent threat. And all the projects for survival that comrade Newton has started and developed, I think that theyre going to have to be defended.64

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Jackson shared Newtons and Seales assessment that black peoples struggle for survival in America was a political-military whole, unified within itself. Organizing and educating from within the prison, he attempted to transform the prisonwhat Davis called a key weapon in the states fight to preserve the existing conditions of class domination, racism, poverty, and warinto a tool for revolutionary mobilization (Figure 4). And it was his principled commitment to the politico-military struggle for black liberation that ultimately magnetized the counter-revolutionary bullets of the State to his person. Jackson was assassinated

Figure 4 Cover page of The Black Panther newspaper announcing the establishment of the San Quentin Branch of the Black Panther Party, co-founded by George Jackson (The Black Panther, 27 February 1971).

332

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 politics and warfare in the published works of 197576.67 The editors of the anthology on the GIP call attention to two events in particular that generated strong mobilization in both France and Italy. The first of these was the political assassination of George Jackson in August 1971. The second was the prisoner revolt that took place at Attica State Correctional Facility in New York in September 1971.68 On 21 August 1971, a group of revolutionary prisoners, George Jackson among them, took control of the first-floor tier of San Quentin prison, taking four hostages and releasing the other prisoners from their cells. Jackson, who at a certain point exited the adjustment center door, was gunned down in the yard by a sniper guard. Having been shot in the back, Jackson bled to death on the asphalt. The some 30 minutes during which these events took place are shrouded in obscurity.69 Fellow prisoners and companions of Jackson, such as Luis Talamantez, have called the event the half-hour revolution. San Quentin prison authorities referred to it as a riot, a massacre and a failed escape attempt lacking precise organization or objective. One thing about which there is rather widespread agreement is that the account of the events given by the San Quentin prison authorities is internally inconsistent. The Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons scoured the accounts published in the popular American press in the weeks following the assassination. Having exposed the blatant inconsistencies among them, they wrote the following.
A man who described the death of his neighbor with only half the incongruities that have been provided by the director of San Quentin on the death of Jackson would be immediately accused of the murder. [] Jacksons murder will never be prosecuted by the American justice system. No court will seriously attempt to find out what took place; it is an act of war. And what has been published by the established power, the prison administration, reactionary newspapers, must be considered a series of war bulletins.70

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

by San Quentin prison guards on 21 August 1971. The written and practical works of George Jackson and Angela Y. Davis played a fundamental role in galvanizing the international prison abolition movement of the 1970s. And more than any other Black Panther intellectual, it was Davis and Jackson who exerted the greatest influence on Foucaults thinking about politics during this period.65 In the following section I will analyze their work in further detail, and assess the manner in which Foucault appropriates it.
Figure 4 San Quentin Branch of the BPP opens, February 1971 (The Black Panther, 27 February 1971).

III. 197176: black power in the Collge de France? The editors of the recently published anthology Le Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons: Archive dune lutte, 19701972 corroborate the formative effect that the US black liberation movement had on the GIP and other constituents of the radical political movement in France during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
It is, above all, the GIPs engagement with the American situation that is the most important. [] The resistance movements in the United Statesand particularly the black liberation movementsustained the postMay 1968 French movement and contributed to the redefinition of political action.66

In this section, I will inquire further into the sustaining contribution that the black liberation movement made to the redefinition of political action and the manner in which that contribution gets appropriated and rearticulated by Foucault and the GIP. Through this consideration it will become apparent that the events of revolutionary anti-racist struggle in the USA were the primary inspiration for Foucaults genealogical reorientation. These events, coupled with the counterrevolutionary terror that the State unleashed in response to them, exposed American politics as a continuation of war, which then served as the (unacknowledged) model for Foucaults reflections on the continuity of

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 333 Angela Y. Davis, listening to radio broadcastings about the events surrounding the murder from her cell in Marin County Jail, commented on the incredulity of the prison administrations account.
I listened to the radio talk shows. The majority of the people who called in to the shows suspected that something was very wrong inside San Quentin; that whatever was askew was not the fault of the prisoners, but of the prison hierarchy. The most consistent aspect of these responses was the belief that the prison administration had taken them for fools. Over and over again, people commented on the contempt the administration had shown by not even constructing a sensible story. Who on earth would believe that the tale [the administration told] justified all the violence unleashed on the prisoners?71

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figure 5 September 1971: Attica prisoners negotiating with New York State officials after taking control of the prison facility (Liz Fink Attica Photographs File Collection and www.talkinghistory.org).

The night of the murder, Davis, who was quite close to Jackson, reflected upon her mourning and that of others. Tonight men and women in every prison in the country were probably awake, like me, mourning and trying to channel their anger constructively. People all over the world must be talking about vengeanceconstructive organized mass retaliation.72 One such action of constructive organized mass retaliation transpired at Attica prison. Spurred in part by Jacksons murder at the hand of San Quentin prison guards, and acting in resistance to protracted abuse and neglect by prison authorities, over 1200 prisoners took control of Attica prison on 9 September 1971, in an occupation that endured for 5 days. Referring to themselves as the Attica Liberation Faction, they held 42 prison officials hostage, issued a list of 27 demands and requested that a select group of intermediariesincluding black liberation movement leaders and lawyersfacilitate negotiations between them and the State in order that their demands be met (Figure 5). As stated in The Freedom Archives audio documentary Prisons on Fire, [t]he Attica rebellion was preceded by a long chain of abuses, years of petition and protest to

improve conditions, [and] years of false promises of reform by the prison administration.73 The Attica Liberation Faction Manifesto of Demands and Anti-Depression Platform, included demands for such things as access to proper medical care, adequate visiting conditions, an end to political and racial persecution and punishment, and the legal prosecution of correctional officers for acts of cruel and unusual punishment. Despite the explicitly expressed will of the prisoners to negotiate with State authorities,74 New York State Governor Nelson Rockefeller ordered some 600 State Troopers and National Guards to storm the prison. Armed with high-powered rifles and shotguns, the agents of the State fired some 4500 rounds of ammunition on the prisoners and hostages, shooting 150 people, killing 29 prisoners and 10 hostages; they then proceeded to torture 1289 prisoners (Figures 6 and 7).75 Following the event, the New York State Special Commission on Attica wrote: With the exception of Indian massacres in the late 19th century, the State Police assault which ended the four day uprising was the bloodiest one-day encounter between Americans since the Civil War.76 Jacksons assassination and the events at Attica State Prison gained widespread international attention, particularly in France where
Figure 5 Attica 1prisoners negotiating, September 1971 (Liz Fink Attica Photographs File Collection and www.talkinghistory.org). Figure 6 Attica 2NY State Troopersand dead prisoners, September 1971 (Liz Fink Attica Photographs File Collection www.talkinghistory.org). 7 3NY Trooper and prisoners, September 1971 (Liz Fink Attica Photographs File Collection and and www.talkinghistory.org).

334

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figures 6 & 7 September 1971: New York State Troopers in Attica prison yard following the violent seizure of the prison by some 600 State Troopers and National Guards. Armed with high-powered rifles and shotguns, agents of the State fired some 4,500 rounds of ammunition on the prisoners and hostages, shooting 150 people, killing twenty-nine prisoners, and ten hostages. (Liz Fink Attica Photographs File Collection and www.talkinghistory.org)

there was a sizeable community of African Americans living in exile (both willed and forced). Consider, for instance, the following statement by African American writer and social activist James Baldwin, speaking of Jacksons assassination in Paris in 1971:
Beneath the political implications of this bloody event theres also an anguish, which has endured in my country for nearly 400 years. I, myself, have lived through too many murders and too many assassinations to believe a word that [President Richard] Nixon [] or any other of the American authorities say. [] I know very well that the intention of the American Republic was to keep black people slaves forever. And I know that now that black people have discovered in their own minds, in their own hearts, that they are not what they are told they were, that America is on the verge of panicon the verge of civil war.77

after the prisoner revolt and State repression at Attica, the GIP wrote:
The prisoner confronts segregation, abasement, and physical and mental degradation every day. Thats racism: the ready instrument of fascist terror. The prisoners struggle is part of the general struggle against racism and fascism. The life and death of [George] Jackson and the massacre at Attica revealed that amerikkkan prisons (les prisons amerikkkaines) are centers for the formation of revolutionary militants.78

The GIP was among those of the radical political movement in France during that period who were galvanized by the events within the US prison system. In Le prisonnier affronte chaque jour la sgrgation (The prisoner confronts segregation every day), published in La Cause du peuple just days

In addition to confirming the importance of these two events for the GIP and the French prison abolition movement, the above passage has a number of features that warrant comment in this context. First, note the use of the expression amerikkkan; this expression is taken directly from the black liberationist vocabulary, in which it is employed in order to draw attention to the white supremacy (Ku Klux Klan) perceived to exist at the heart of the American polis. Secondly, the GIP takes two positions that, while not exclusive to, are primarily drawn fromand, as we will see, become formulated in terms quite similar

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 335 tothe political philosophies of the Black Panthers: (1) racism is the primary instrument of fascist terror, and (2) the prison movement is a continuation of revolutionary struggles outside the prison. Foucault will later appropriate each of these theses in his political theory. He appropriates the first thesis in the 1976 Lectures, where he first publicly discusses the concept of biopower. The second thesis fuels his critique of the orthodox Marxist conception of power.79 Comparing Angela Y. Daviss and George Jacksons distinctive formulations of these ideas, arrived at in the context of revolutionary struggle, with Foucaults theoretical appropriation of them, I will advance the following three arguments: (1) Foucaults method of genealogy, and the notion of biopolitics that was generated by that method, in many ways takes its cues from Daviss and Jacksons analyses of the struggle for black liberation, and the critique of American State racism that was articulated in those analyses. (2) The sovereign power/ disciplinary power schematic that Foucault famously outlines in Discipline and Punish is largely inspired by Jacksons analysis of American fascism and by Foucaults interpretation of the events surrounding Jacksons death. (3) Foucaults critique of the orthodox Marxist conception of power in the 1976 Lectures is primarily motivated by the revolutionary role that the US black liberation struggle accorded to the unemployed and imprisoned populationsa role that Davis and Jackson explicated quite clearly. Each of these points indicates the formative role that the revolutionary philosophies and struggles of the Black Panther Party had on Foucaults genealogical work. To uncover the hidden genealogy of Foucaults genealogical work, one must begin with the 1976 Lectures at the Collge de France, because those lectures contain an importantthough codified and, therefore, underappreciatedsubtext, which supplies a leading clue to that hidden genealogy. On the surface, the lectures present themselves as a genealogical analysis of what Foucault calls the discourse of race struggle, a discourse that he traces back to the 17th century. On another level, however, Foucault is engaging in a very different kind of self-assessment. Daniel Defert draws our attention to this self-critical subtext in his discussion entitled The Mechanism of War as an Analytic of Power Relations.80 In this presentation, delivered in 1996 at a conference devoted to Foucaults 1976 Lectures, Defert argues that the 1976 Lectures constitute a turning point in Foucaults work, but they do not mark a rupture with the genealogical method of approach, announced in 1970. The course, he argues, must be understood less as an inaugural discourse, that is, less as a discussion that inaugurates the approach to biopower and governmentality that Foucault would pursue for the rest of the 1970s. Rather, the course must be understood as the end of the line of the genealogical analyses inaugurated in 1970. Foucaults discussion of the mechanism of war, Defert argues, bears a methodological continuity with those prior analyses, and even though the analysis focuses on a slightly new object, Defert claims, it is really a course that is somewhat in abyss (en abme). With this last claim, Defert plays upon the French expression mise en abme, which refers to the containment of an entity within another identical entity, or as an image of an image.81 What does Defert intend by employing this expression to describe Foucaults discussion of the mechanism of warfare? To fully appreciate the claim, allow me to reproduce parts of Deferts subsequent discussion.
The years from 1970 to 1976 were all years of genealogical analysis. The discourse of war constitutes a discourse that is typically genealogical, given that Foucault explains that genealogical discourse is a discourse founded upon passion, violence, appropriation, and insufficiently elaborated rationality.82 It just so happens that he takes up the same themes when characterizing the discourse of war. That is to say, the discourse of war is in effect a

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

336

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


construction-into-an-abyss (une construction en abme) of genealogical analysis. [] We should perhaps focus our attention less on the objects analyzed [in the 1976 Lectures] than on the apparatus of analysis itself. [] [T]he vocabulary used to describe the genealogical pursuit itself shares many features in common with the vocabulary that is used to describe the analyses that are produced by the discourse of war.83

By saying that the discourse of war is a construction en abme of genealogical analysis, Defert means that the 1976 Lectures constitute a genealogical analysis of genealogical analysis itself. In those lectures, Foucault engages in a self-reflexive critique of genealogical discourse that employs the tools of genealogical method while simultaneously calling into question (as we shall see below) the necessarily possible inverted meaning and direction toward which such a method can ultimately lead. Foucault signals this self-critical subtext to his audience in at least two ways. First, he spends the first two lectures reflecting on the genealogical project and the various power effects it had during the early 1970s; and, secondly, he describes the 17th-century method of counter-history in terms similar to the way he generally describes genealogical analysis. The 1976 Lectures also disclose two historical facts that it is important to point out. First, they demonstrate that Foucault initially developed his theory of biopolitics in the context of an analysis of the discourse of race struggle and a critique of State racismdiscussions which themselves arose within the horizon of a self-reflexive critique of genealogical discourse. Secondly, given that the final lecture of the 1976 Lectures (delivered in March 1976) served as the basis from which Foucault produced the first published version of his account of biopolitics (published October 1976), the former allows us to see that in the latter Foucault erases every reference to race and racism, replacing them instead with the

concepts of sex and the so-called deployment of sexuality.84 The meaning of this erasure, as well as the genealogy thereby effaced, must be interrogated. With our attention now attuned to the self-reflexive subtext at work in the 1976 Lectures, let us begin this interrogation by looking at what Foucault called the discourse of race struggle. This will permit me to clarify the argument I am putting forth regarding the subjugated genealogy of Foucaults genealogical work. It will also permit us to assess the filiations that exist between (a) the discourse of race struggle as Foucault construes it, (b) Foucaults genealogical discourse at large, and (c) the American discourses of black liberation with which Foucault was concurrently familiar. The historiographical merits of Foucaults account in the 1976 Lectures are debatable at best, especially considering both the paucity and the regional and ethnic homogeneity of his sources.85 My present objective is not to evaluate the historiographical merits of his account, in large part because, as with many of his genealogical works, I would argue that the 1976 Lectures are first and foremost an attempt to grapple with problems of power relations in the present rather than in the past.86 My objective is to uncover the hidden genealogy of Foucaults account of the discourse of race strugglea genealogy that must be traced to 20th-century race struggles in the USA. In other words, I seek to expose the actual historico-political intensities and creations that motivated Foucaults project and to which his own work bars access. For the purposes of this inquiry, it is thus sufficient to point out that the genealogy Foucault provides for the discourse of race struggle is exclusively Europeanone which he traces back to 17th-century England, and follows through the France of Louis XIV to its articulations in Nazi Germany and Stalins Soviet Union. One of the most important formal features of Foucaults argument is that the discourse of race struggle begins as a revolutionary form of discourse, a discourse that was essentially an instrument

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 337 used in the struggles waged by decentered camps, but that it eventually becomes converted and inverted into the counterrevolutionary discourse of biological racism. As he puts it, race discourse is recentered and becomes the discourse of the dominant power itself, the discourse of a centered, centralized, and centralizing power.87 Thus, whereas Foucault begins the lectures by praising the discourse of race struggle as it manifested itself in the form of revolutionary counter-history, he ends by criticizing the way that this same discourse undergoes a biological transcription and becomes the kind of discourse that fuels State racism. The details of Foucaults account of how one and the same form of discourse can undergo such a radical inversion exceeds the scope of our analysis. Suffice it to say that the way Foucault describes race discourse is consistent with the way he describes discourse in general during his genealogical period, namely, as a practice or tactical block that is intertwined with relations of power, that is intrinsically unstable, modifiable and tactically polyvalent.88 It is precisely the principle of tactical polyvalence that accounts for the radical inversion that the discourse of race struggle undergoes. For, what Foucault means by this principle is that the essence of discourse is such that any single type of discourse lends itself to being taken up and utilized for divergent, even contradictory strategical purposes, and thus can assume very different political meanings. I would like to suggest that both of the forms of what Foucault calls the discourse of race struggle are primarily modeled after discursive and visible practices of race struggle in the USA. What he calls counter-history is modeled after the revolutionary discourse of the Black Panther Party. What he describes as the biologico-social racism that fuels State racism, while he explicitly draws from the instances of Nazi Germany and Stalins Soviet Union, is alsoand, I would argue, more fundamentallyinspired by the brand of racism that was being deployed by the US government in concurrence with Foucaults own discoursea racism about which Foucault remains distressingly silent. Allow me to clarify the argument I am putting forth. I am not making any claims about the nature or validity of the 17th- or 18th-century discourses that Foucault explicitly deals with in the 1976 Lectures (i.e. Boulainvilliers, Thierry, etc.). The claim Im making is this: before Foucault ever set eyes upon those discourses, he was exposed to (1) the revolutionary discourse of race struggle as it was variously articulated by Davis, Jackson and other participants in the US black liberation movement, and (2) the evidence of the racist, counter-revolutionary violence waged by the USA in response to those revolutionary movements. It is only in virtue of this initial exposure that Foucault begins to pursue the genealogical project in the early 1970s, which culminates in the 1976 Lectures, in which he provides a genealogy of the genealogical project itself. In a word, American race struggle motivated Foucaultian genealogy. Had Foucault not been exposed to that struggle, it is quite reasonable to assume that there would be no Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, no Discipline and Punish and no theory of biopolitics; he would not have set out to theorize the institution of the prison, discourse as powerknowledge or sought after the historical sources that he did in writing a history of the present. The 1976 Lectures are characterized by the structure of repression. The genealogy of the genealogical method that Foucault provides under the code word of the discourse of race struggle simultaneously acknowledges and disavows the foundational role that race struggle played in Foucaults formulation of genealogy. In the subtext of the 1976 Lectures, Foucault tacitly acknowledges the discourse of race struggle as a harbinger of his genealogical method. However, at one and the same time, by failing to mention the American context, Foucault symptomatically denies the actually existing race struggle that in fact motivated his method to begin with.

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

338

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


What is this discourse saying? Well, I think it is saying this: [] Law is not pacification, for beneath the law, war continues to rage in all the mechanisms of power, even the most regular. War is the motor behind institutions and order. In the smallest of its cogs, peace is waging a secret war. To put it another way, we have to interpret the war that is going on beneath peace; peace itself is a coded war.92

We have already seen examples (in Section II) of the sort of black liberationist counterhistory that was central to the Black Panthers mode of political critique and struggle. Allow me to further substantiate my claims about the roots of Foucaultian genealogy by comparing Foucaults characterization of the two inverted forms of the discourse of race struggle with selected excerpts of the concurrent political analyses of George Jackson and Angela Y. Davis analyses about which we can be certain that Foucault was familiar. The practice of counter-history, whose genealogy Foucault traces in the 1976 Lectures and which prefigures the genealogical method itself, radically breaks from and displaces the traditional practice of history. Within the critical disclosure space opened up by this counter-historical discourse, the traditional practice of history appears not as neutral and universal, but as a ritual that reinforces established sovereignty, a discourse that reinforces the law by erasing the fundamental relations of domination that undergird it. In short, counter-history exposes traditional history as a form of codified warfare.89 It is interested in rediscovering the blood that has dried in the [legal] codes [] in the battle cries that can be heard beneath the formulas of right, in the dissymmetry of forces that lies beneath the equilibrium of justice.90 Counter-history, as an analysis of the State, describes State sovereignty as founded upon real, historical relations of force. Contra Hobbes, who argues that the modern State emerges from the war of all against allan abstract notion of war construed as a generalized state of nature counter-history argues that the order and peace of the law is undergirded by an actual, historically specifiable battle. This foundational battle also continues to well up after the State has been constituted, as the State repeatedly attempts to secure its (always tenuous) monopoly over the legitimized means of violence.91 Foucault characterizes the discourse of counter-history in the following way:

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

This depiction of the discourse of counterhistory could very well be a quotation of George Jackson, who argues from within the Maximum Security Unit of Soledad Prison in California that the ultimate expression of law is not orderits prison.93 Between 1969 and 1971, Jackson argued that the USA was in the third stage of fascism.94 After a first stage of monopoly capital, in which old bourgeois democracy had already begun to diminish; and a second spectacular stage, during which American sovereignty gained a certain degree of security through the violently repressive tactics of the McCarthy era during which no dissent was permitted; Jackson argued that American sovereignty had reached a third, secured stage of fascism, which he called corporativism. Corporative capitalism is characterized by what he calls a prestige of power, which he describes as follows:
The prestige of power at its maturity is a thing that will prevent people from acting against that power. This pig is a psychological thing, a state of being wherein the bourgeoisie[s] reign of terror need not rely on violence to sustain itself. Its relying on something that happened in the past, or some accomplishment, or some, lets say, coup, that went down in the past, where it secured itself. And its drifting at this point, the prestige of power means that its drifting at this point and living off its laurels. At this stage, people just are not inclined to attack that power. So, consequently, our first attack is on the prestige of power. That was Jonathans95 job, to destroy the prestige of power, the iconoclastic act of crushing symbols. Once these symbols are crushed, and people see that they are vulnerable, then we can move on to the actual destruction of

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 339


the bases of power. Because [] after the destruction of the prestige of power, power will be forced to revert back to its original force, raw brute forceviolence.96

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Jacksons is a discourse that reveals the laws of the USA as having been born in the blood and mud of battles and as covering over that foundational violence with the prestige of power. Whether it be the colonial proprietary and criminal codes that justified the genocide of Native Americans, the slave codes that justified the continued enslavement of expropriated Africans, postbellum Jim Crow laws, or the so-called war on crime that began to take root in the late 1960sAmerican law and order, Jackson argues, has consistently and predominantly manifested itself to black and other nationally oppressed people as a form of codified and institutionalized violence. And when real challenge is made to that violence in its codified and institutionalized forms, power reverts back to its original force: raw brute forceviolence. A reversion of this kind, Jackson continues, is precisely what took place when the Black Panther Party came into being and began to crush the symbolic prestige of American governmental authority.
[O]nce secure and in power, it was possible for them [i.e. those in power] then to allow some dissent. It was possible for them to have a C.P. (Communist Party), just so long as that C.P. didnt have any teeth; it was possible, then, for them to allow us to form what appeared to be an opposition party. But, now, to make my point very clear, a real opposition party did come into existence. The BPP, Black Panther Party. What happened? What happened: they reverted back to the second stage, back to the second dimension [of fascism]. They were kicking doors in and killing people. Its pretty obvious, its pretty obvious that a mature fascism exists in this country, and it exists in disguise, and the disguise takes the form of all those idiotic, ridiculous statements about [this being] a welfare state.97

the sedimentations of slavery and white supremacy that, while disguised by the prestige of power, remain at the heart of the American republic.98 The Panthers argued that a fundamentally racist, repressive war continually seethed beneath the surface of American politics, and that this war wells up in order to govern racialized populations, especially those who challenge the conditions of their continued oppression. Consider the following comment about the repressive and racist character of American law that Davis provides from Marin County Jail in May 1971, 1 year before she was acquitted of all charges:
Needless to say, the history of the United States has been marred from its inception by an enormous quantity of unjust laws, far too many expressly bolstering the oppression of black people. Particularized reflections of existing social inequalities, these laws have repeatedly borne witness to the exploitative and racist core of the society itself. For blacks, Chicanos, for all nationally oppressed people, the problem of opposing unjust laws and the social conditions which nourish their growth, has always had immediate practical implications. Our very survival has frequently been a direct function of our skill in forging effective channels of resistance. In resisting we have sometimes been compelled to openly violate those laws which directly or indirectly buttress our oppression. But even when containing our resistance within the orbit of legality, we have been labeled criminals and have been methodically persecuted by a racist legal apparatus.99

The Black Panther Party was nailed to the orbit of State repression because it exposed

To the extent that they expose the racialized violence and oppression that State sovereignty at once bolsters and obfuscates, the analyses of Davis and Jackson epitomize the form of race discourse that Foucault later champions under the name of counter-history. Furthermore, the other, inverted form of the discourse of race struggle that Foucault describes in the 1976 Lecturesthe biological transcription that develops into the kinds of biological racist discourses of degeneracy that inform biopolitical State racismalso

340

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 Manifesto was published, the GIP issued a pamphlet on the assassination of George Jackson, and the next day held a meeting at which they projected two films on the American prisons in San Quentin and Soledad, where Jackson had been incarcerated. The pamphlet, which included translations of two interviews with Jackson, a preface by Jean Genet and a strategical analysis of the discourses issued by the American prison authorities and popular press regarding Jacksons death, was written by Foucault, von Blow and Defert. In the final words of his preface, Genet writes:
We [i.e. the GIP] maintain the following: The word criminal, applied to blacks by whites, has no meaning. For whites, all blacks are criminals because theyre black. This amounts to saying that in a white society, no black can be criminal.102

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

features in the analyses of Davis and Jackson. Biologico-social racism features in their analyses as it does in most of the anti-essentialist, anti-racist discourses that emerged from the third world liberation movements of the periodnamely, as an object of critique. Take, for example, Daviss argument (in the self-same 1971 essay to which Foucault had access) that American governmental authority ascribes an a priori culpability to those it deems social enemies. She cites US Judge Webster Thayers comment upon sentencing anarchist Bartolomeo Vanzetti to 15 years imprisonment in 1920 for an attempted payroll robbery: This man, although he may not have actually committed the crime attributed to him, is nevertheless morally culpable, because he is the enemy of our existing institutions. Associating this policy to the legal theory put forth by Nazi Germanys foremost constitutional lawyer Carl Schmittaccording to which, [a] thief, for example, was not necessarily one who has committed an overt act of theft, but rather one whose character renders him a thiefDavis attributes such a policy of a priori culpability to the existing American governmental authority.
[President Richard] Nixons and [FBI Director] J. Edgar Hoovers pronouncements lead one to believe that they would readily accept Schmitts fascist legal theory. Anyone who seeks to overthrow oppressive institutions, whether or not he has engaged in an overt illegal act, is a priori a criminal who must be buried away in one of Americas dungeons.100

Davis further indicates the way that this a priori culpability ultimately gets articulated in biological terms, inscribing itself, within the American context, upon the bodies of black and other racialized individuals. For the black individual, contact with the lawenforcement-judicial-penal network, directly or through relatives and friends, is inevitable because he or she is black.101 This argument gets directly taken up by the GIP. On 10 November 1971, the same day that a French translation of the Attica

In the American context, of which Foucault was clearly aware, racism operated in a distinctly biopolitical mode; it served as the indispensable precondition that allowed the State to subject its own population to expulsion and rejection, and to social, civic and biological death.103 As Davis and Jackson point out, the American judicial and penal systems are at the center of this racist function of the State, playing a strategic role in the States fight to preserve the existing conditions of social domination. It is precisely in virtue of this strategic role that the Black Panthers ascribed an equally strategic role to American prisoners in the revolutionary movement. Davis and Jackson were, again, among the first to thematize and strategically organize this continuity between the prison movement and the revolutionary movement at large. Consider the following exchange in an interview just before Jacksons death.
Jackson: [] [T]he prison movement was started by Huey P. Newton and the black panther party. Huey and the rest of the comrades around the country. Were working with Ericka [Huggins] and Bobby

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 341


[Seale], the prison movement in general, the movement to prove to the establishment that the concentration camp technique wont work on us. We dont have to contrive any importance to our particular movement. Its a very real, very, very real issue and Im of the opinion that, right along with the student movement, right along with the old, familiar workers movement, the prison movement is central to the process of revolution as a whole. lumpenproletariat, in revolutionary struggle, must be given serious thought. [] In the context of class exploitation and national oppression it should be clear that numerous individuals are compelled to resort to criminal acts, not as a result of conscious choiceimplying other alternativesbut because society has objectively reduced their possibilities of subsistence and survival to this level. This recognition should signal the urgent need to organize the unemployed and lumpenproletariat, as indeed the Black Panther Party as well as activists in prison have already begun to do.105

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Karen Wald: Many of the cadres of the revolutionary forces on the outside have been captured and imprisoned. Are you saying that even though theyre in prison, these cadres can still function in a meaningful way for the revolution? Jackson: Well, were all familiar with the function of the prison as an institution serving the needs of the totalitarian state. Weve got to destroy that function; the function has to be no longer viable, in the end. Its one of the strongest institutions supporting the totalitarian state. We have to destroy its effectiveness, and thats what the prison movement is all about. What Im saying is that they put us in these concentration camps here the same as they put people in tiger cages or strategic hamlets in Vietnam. The idea is to isolate, eliminate, liquidate the dynamic sections of the overall movement, the protagonists of the movement. What weve got to do is prove this wont work. Weve got to organize our resistance once were inside, give them no peace, turn the prison into just another front of the struggle, tear it down from the inside.104

On this point as well, a direct genealogical line can be traced from the thought of Davis and Jackson to that of Foucault and the GIP. In the concluding section of their pamphlet on George Jackson, devoted to Jacksons Position in the Prison Movement, the GIP write that the most notable aspect of [Jacksons] reflections is that which regards the relations between military action and political actionwhat they go on to call a fundamental problem.106 Referring to the BPPs many revolutionary survival programs, the GIP contend that:
Figure 7 Huey P. Newton behind bars (Jeffrey Blankfort).

[t]hese programs enable the black community to organize itself. However, they will be increasingly threatened by fascist repression. This is why Jackson wrote that these programs will quickly become inconceivable without a military rampart. For at least two years, Jackson had the task of preparing this military protection, and of preparing it from within the prisons, where disarmed and shackled men were trained for war. This is Jacksons grand initiative. Two profoundly connected facts made this possible: on the one hand, the entire black vanguard lives under the threat of prison, and many of its leaders remain there for quite a long time; on the other hand, this presence, in turn, moves other prisoners to become politicized. One of these prisoners, for example, when asked what his plans are for when he is released, responded, To help my people. Hence, not only in the ghettos, in the factories, in the rebellions in the military,

The Black Panthers not only conceived of the prison as a site of struggle for those imprisoned for their involvement with the revolutionary movement outside the prison walls. They also thought of the prison as a place to politicize the many unemployed, socalled common law prisoners.
Especially today when so many black, Chicano, and Puerto Rican men and women are jobless as a consequence of the internal dynamic of the capitalist system, the role of the unemployed, which includes the

342

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


but also in the prisons, nuclei of resistance are taking form, the elements of the revolutionary army. These previsions overturn many traditional ideas about the imprisoned in the history of the working class movement. From within the prisons, Jackson prepared the military protection necessary for political work; preparation that had not yet been consolidated before it was threatened by the authorities that systematically practice homicide. Thats the reason why, outside the walls of the prisons, political organizations launch military operations in order to rescue and liberate prisoners whose lives are daily threatened. Angela Davis became a heroic figure for black people, when she was accused (despite belonging to the pacifist and legalist U.S. Communist Party) of contributing to the bold action of support, undertaken from the outside on August 7, 1970, to rescue Soledad prisoners. On both sides of the walls, the army of the prisoners and the army of the people are preparing themselves for the same war of liberation.107 kills, it is not as a glorification of its strength, but as an element of itself that it is obliged to tolerate, that it finds difficult to account for.108

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

This theory begins to take shape in the GIPs depiction of the official discourse of San Quentin prison authorities in the wake of Jacksons assassination. The GIP claims that the American prison administration launched a series of counteroffensive operations in the form of communications, news and disclosures, in order to mold public opinion and prepare a certain number of repressive measures. One of the aforementioned operations, they claimed, was to represent the power of the prison guards as a lenient, peacefuleven defenselessforce.
On the side of the prisoners [were] all of the weapons, all of the cunning, and all of the violence; opposite them [were] guards who were empty-handed, impotent, and absent-minded. The blacks are the ones waging permanent war; the whites are attempting to maintain a lenient order. If the guards dont want to be the first and only victims, they will be forced to return, as Jim Park [the assistant warden of San Quentin] said, to old correctional methods. One day, they too will be forced to be armed.109

The juxtaposition of Daviss and Jacksons writings and the GIPs engagement with them further evidences the degree to which the events of revolutionary anti-racist struggle in the USA motivated Foucaults turn to the method of genealogy, to the institution of the prison, and to the concepts of carcerality, discipline and biopower. The writings of the Black Panthers served as the model for Foucaults reflections on the continuity of politics and warfare in the published works of 197576. They also in many ways function as precursors to Foucaults theory of the spectacular power/disciplinary power schematic. Foucault argues that in the historical transition from the spectacular power regime to that of disciplinary power, punishment tend[s] to become the most hidden part of the penal process.
As a result, justice no longer takes public responsibility for the violence that is bound up with its practice. If it too strikes, if it too

This reversion to old correctional methods, to which the assistant warden of San Quentin alludes, is precisely what in Foucaults vocabulary would later be cast as a reversion from the faceless gaze or empty-handed force of disciplinary power to the explicitly bellicose violence of spectacular power. Racialized communities in the USA have continually experienced and observed just such a reversion. Before his death, Jackson brought it to theoretical articulation in his analysis of American fascism and the prestige of power. Where powers prestige wears thin, where the empty-handed force of disciplinary power fails in its effort to manufacture docile bodies, the State brings to bear the sovereign weight of spectacular violence

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 343 upon its own subjects. In Jacksons words, power reverts back to its original force, raw brute forceviolence. This is precisely what happened when the Black Panther Party came into existence. What happened: they reverted back to the second stage, back to the second dimension [of fascism]. They were kicking doors in and killing people. Foucault was aware of the coexistence in the USA of spectacular and disciplinary modalities of power, and he was cognizant, from afar, of the dimensions of race that regulated the dissymmetrical deployment of spectacular violence upon the American people. Indeed, he wrote about itin a political pamphlet that had very limited circulation, but which was formative for his own thinking about power. The question must be asked: Why, then, in his characterization of discipline and the panoptic power regime in his widely distributed book Discipline and Punish, did Foucault erase the spectacle of racialized State violence?110 How, after knowing what he knew of the race struggle in the USA, could he pen the following claim?
Our society is one not of spectacle, but of surveillance []. We are neither in the amphitheatre, nor on the stage, but in the panoptic machine, invested by its effects of power, which we bring to [bear upon] ourselves since we are part of its mechanism. [] [T]he pomp of sovereignty, the necessarily spectacular manifestations of power, were extinguished one by one in the daily exercise of surveillance [].111 a mechanism that allows biopower to work. [It] is bound up with the workings of a State that is obliged to use race, the elimination of races and the purification of the race, to exercise its sovereign power. [] Biopower functions through the old sovereign power of life and death

When forced by the phenomena of power relations themselves to include the theme of race in his analysis, as he does in the 1976 Lectures, Foucault is forced to very different conclusions. He is compelled to formulate the concept of biopower, in which race operates as the conduit through which the power of normalization and the spectacular power of life and death commingle. If the power of normalization wished to exercise the old sovereign right to kill, it must become racist. Modern racism is

and the way that it does so implies the workings, the introduction and activation, of racism.112 It is beyond doubt that Foucault knew of the Black Panthers and their revolutionary struggles. He knew about a real race war being waged by the government of the USA against its racialized populations; he knew about the State racism that existed contemporaneously with his discourse. Not only did Foucault elaborate his theories of biopower and politics-as-war, as well as his genealogical method as a whole, in concurrence with these events; he drew heavily from the theoretical writings of the Black Panthers in the course of elaborating his theories. And yet, Foucault makes not a single citation or explicit reference to the BPP in his published writings or lectures. We must ask ourselves two sets of questions, the fundamental answer to which is, I think, largely the same. The first stream of questions is the following: Why did Foucault neglect to treat American State racism in his analysis of biopolitics and State racism in the 1976 Lectures? Why did he instead focus on the instances of Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union, which were, in a sense, more safely implanted in the historical past? Moreover, why did Foucault neglect to mention black power and the ways in which his own analysis of power was inspired by the analyses and struggles of the Black Panthers? Why, in the Collge de France, was black power contorted into a European mold and suppressed from speaking? Finally, why did Foucault jettison any and all discussion of race or State racism from his first published writings on biopower in the initial volume of The History of Sexuality?

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

344

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 constitutes ones epistemic second nature.114 Our normal unreflective reception of what people tell us, Fricker argues, is conditioned by a great range of collateral experience. Just as our actions toward others are in many ways learned and internalized through social processes of normalization, our responses to the testimony of others are learned and internalized through processes of epistemic socializationa social training of the interpretative and affective attitudes in play when we are told things by other people.115 Importantly, this sensibility is not immutable, it is not a dead-weight social conditioning, but rather is characterized by an essential adaptabilityhence, its claim to be a capacity of reason.116 Ones testimonial sensibility is thus an habitual (i.e. adaptable) structure of response that shapes what sorts of people one takes to be trustworthy in what sorts of circumstances. Epistemic injustice occurs when a speaker receives the wrong degree of credibility from his hearer owing to a certain sort of unintended prejudice on the hearers part, for example, when a person or group of people are ritually excluded from participating in truth-bearing discourse.117 Although not an instance of the verbal testimonial sort of epistemic injustice that Fricker treats, the erasure of and silence about the link between Foucault and the Black Panthers, I argue, is a form of epistemic injustice. Given Foucaults suppression of the link between his thought and that of the Black Panthers, given the painstaking ethnocentrism with which he casts the genealogy of the discourse of race struggle in an exclusively European frame, and given his silence about the State racism of his time, I argue that Foucault is culpable of epistemic injustice. The philosopher who claimed to desubjugate local, disqualified, marginalized or non-legitimized knowledges through the practice of genealogy now appears, vis--vis the Black Panthers, not only to have himself subjugated just such a body of knowledges, but

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

The second stream of questions issues from the silence that has until now followed in the wake of Foucault, that is, the silence among his variously disciplined commentators. Why has the topic of Foucault and the Black Panthers been ignored for so long? Why is it that Foucault scholars and intellectual historians have not only failed to propose possible answers to this question, but failed, for the past 40 years, to even ask it? The answers to these questions are simultaneously clear and obscure. One way of answering them might be simply to say that the discourse and commitments of black power magnetize bullets; Malcolm X, Bobby Hutton, Alprentice Bunchy Carter, Fred Hampton, Mark Clark, Brenda Harris, Jonathan Jackson, James McClain, William Christmas, George Jackson and many others have been killed precisely for having deployed them. The discourses of disciplinary power, biopower and governmentality, by contrast, have received widespread acclaim and attention in the American and European academies; they have been incorporated into numerous and variously disciplined academic narratives. For all its truth, however, this response remains unsatisfactorily terse. In my concluding remarks, I would like to briefly consider two possible avenues of response to the questions posed here. The first response is posed within the horizon of ethics, the second within the horizon of politics.

IV. Epistemic injustice and disciplinary silence in truth-bearing discourse In an emerging debate on the ethics of testimony and the politics of knowing, feminist philosopher Miranda Fricker has put forth the idea of epistemic injustice.113 She suggests that individuals in unreflective testimonial exchanges exercise a testimonial sensibility that regulates the nature and degree of their receptivity to a speakers testimony. She describes this sensibility as in the first instance a passive social inheritance that

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 345 to have subjugated the very knowledges from which he largely culled his method of genealogy. One can only assume that Foucault takes the so-called counter-historical discourses of Boulainvilliers and Thierry to be more credible than those of Cleaver, Davis, Jackson, Newton, Seale, etc.or, at the very least, that he takes them to be more appropriate or legitimate types of knowledge for discussion in lectures and writings published in such widely circulating, truth-bearing institutions like the Collge de France and major academic presses. (His one acknowledgement of the philosophies and struggles of the Black Panthers has until now remained muted in a pamphlet in a Parisian archive devoted to the documentation of Foucaults monument.) The most generous reading of the epistemic injustice that Foucault inflicted upon the Black Panthers is perhaps to say (speculatively) that he thought it safer to cite revolutionary discourse from 17thcentury Europe and to critique instances of State racism in Europes recent past than to challenge the global institutions of authority as the Black Panthers were doing in their philosophies and struggles. Such a reading, of course, only serves to clarify the fact that Foucault, by virtue of the position of his discourse, enjoyed a kind of safety and distance from potential fire that the Black Panthers did not. In any event, Foucaults ethical culpability seems quite clear. Assessing the ethical culpability of the epistemic injustice inflicted in the wake of Foucault, however, is not quite as clear-cut a task. Commentators who lacked access to the resources that evidence the link between Foucault and the Black Panthersand which thereby disclose Foucaults own suppression of that connectioncannot in good faith be judged responsible and culpable on ethical grounds for reinstantiating that erasure through their silence about it. The limitation of an ethical framework for understanding and evaluating the infliction of epistemic injustice at this level is evident. Were an ethical framework not limited in this way, we might

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figure 8 The faulty charges currently being brought against the San Francisco 8 are the most recent attempt by the United States government to destroy and distort the legacy of the Black Panther Party.

follow Fricker in espousing an ethical virtue of reflexive critical openness. By safeguarding against the kind of pre-propositional prejudicial attitudes that result in epistemic injustice, such a virtue would play an important role in combating this distinctively epistemic kind of oppression. But Fricker herself acknowledges the restrictions placed on ethical action by the social and political horizon within which that action takes place.
[T]here are circumstances under which the virtue [of reflexive critical openness] cannot be achieved. [] As something possessed [by] mere individuals whose social-historical situation can deprive them of the very resources they need in order to attain the virtue, its anti-oppressive power remains hostage to the broader social structures in which our testimonial practices must take place.118

One must pose the question, then, not within the horizon of the ethics of interper-

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

346 CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 347

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

Figure 9

Information sheet from the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights.

348

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3 safeguarded against only after the social and political injustices inflicted upon them have been rectified. Epistemic and social justice remain impossible so long as these prisoners have not been freed from confinement, and so long as others are not free from the threat of being confined for struggling for their freedom (Figures 8 and 9).
Figure 8 The faculty charges currently being brought against theof Human Rights. the most recent attempt by the United States government to destroy and distort the legacy of the Black Panther Party. 9 Information sheet from the Committee for the Defense San Francisco 8 are

sonal exchange, but rather within the horizon of the social and political formations within which such interpersonal exchange takes place. A shift of this sort moves us from Frickers testimonial sensibility, which operates at the individual level, to Foucaults own analysis of the will to truth, which operates at the level of the assemblage of normalizing social institutions. Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012
[The] will to truth, like other systems of exclusion, rests on an institutional support: it is both reinforced and renewed by a whole strata of practices, such as pedagogy, of course; and the system of books, publishing, libraries; learned societies in the past and laboratories now. But it is also renewed, no doubt, more profoundly, by the way in which knowledge is put to work, valorized, distributed, and in a sense attributed, in a society.119

Notes
1

What does the silence regarding the link between Foucault and the Black Panthers tell us about the will to truth that imperceptibly regulates the contemporary production, disclosure and circulation of truth-bearing knowledge? What is it about existing disciplinary formations (both academic and social) that makes possible the kind of ethical and political deficiency that is evidenced by such a silence? I am unequipped to answer such far-reaching questions; in part, because their answer must ultimately be given by the temporally protracted domain of collective social practice. In the present paper, I can only hope to clarify some of the questions involved. But I will say this: according to information compiled by the Prison Activist Resource Center and the National Jericho Movement, there are over 100 political prisoners and prisoners of war currently confined in American detention centers, many of whom were incarcerated or have been maintained in prison because of their activism within the Black Panther Party or other third world liberation movements.120 The epistemic injustice inflicted upon the Black Panthers and other third world liberation movements can be rectified and

1 A shorter and otherwise modified version of this paper is appearing in Biopolitics and Racism: Foucauldian Genealogies, eds Jeffrey Paris and Eduardo Mendieta (Albany: SUNY Press, 2007). 2 Mao Tse-Tung, On Protracted War, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung, Vol. II (Peking: Foreign Language Press, 1965), p. 153. 3 Huey P. Newton, Functional Definition of Politics, The Black Panther, 17 January 1969; reprinted in The Black Panthers Speak, ed. Philip S. Foner (Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 1995 [1970]), p. 47. 4 George Jackson, George Jackson: P.S., On Discipline, The Black Panther, 27 March 1971. 5 This claim derives from Foucaults 1976 lectures at the Collge de France. Foucault foreshadows this claim in 1975 in Discipline and Punish, and he reiterates it in the 1976 publication of the first volume of The History of Sexuality. Cf. Foucault, Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collge de France 19751976, trans. David Macey (New York: Picador, 2003), p. 15 (hereafter referred to as 1976 Lectures); Discipline and Punish, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Vintage, 1999), p. 168; The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990), p. 93. 6 It is important not to overstate the radicality of this change of orientation; for instance, there exist several crucial elements of continuity between Foucaults work of the 1960s and that of the 1970s, namely, a concern with the role of knowledge in processes of subjectivation. In addition, one can surely locate certain components of Foucaults analysis of power relations and techniques of domination in the earlier books Madness and Civilization (1961) and Birth of the Clinic (1963). Nevertheless, the shift that Foucaults work undergoes in the early 1970s does lead to the displacement of certain concepts and the formulation of new ones. For example, episteme, a concept that pervades the earlier texts, appears only once in Discipline

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 349


and Punish (p. 305), and the concept of the historical a priori is abandoned entirely. As for the methodological concept of archaeology, it is neither mentioned in Discipline and Punish nor The Discourse on Languagea text written just 1 year after Foucault had so meticulously defined the concept in The Archaeology of Knowledge. 7 See, for example, Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault, Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 104117; Batrice Han, Foucaults Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical, trans. Edward Pile (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002), pp. 73108; Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Sen Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988) and What is a Dispositif?, in Michel Foucault: Philosopher, trans. Timothy Armstrong (New York: Routledge, 1992), pp. 159168; Beatrice Hanssen, Critique of Violence (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 3096; Jeffrey Minson, Genealogies of Morals: Nietzsche, Foucault, Donzelot, and the Eccentricity of Ethics (London: Macmillan, 1985), pp. 4078; Peter Miller, Graham Burchell and Colin Gordon (eds), The Foucault Effect (New York: Harvester, 1991); Jeremy Moss (ed.), The Later Foucault (New York: Sage, 1998); Gary Gutting, Foucault and Literature: Towards a Genealogy of Writing (London: Routledge, 1992), pp. 119146. 8 As will be discussed below, the three published documents, to my knowledge, where a connection between Foucault and the BPP is mentioned are (1) the brief notes included in Daniel Deferts Chronology, Dits et crits, Vol. 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), pp. 33, 38, 39; (2) Alessandro Fontana and Mauro Bertanis editors postscript to the 1976 Lectures, Situating the Lectures, where they cite Deferts notes on the connection (1976 Lectures, p. 282); and (3) Edmund Whites biography of Jean Genet, where he documents Foucaults association with Genet, who was a prominent French literary figure, a contemporary of Foucault, and a BPP supporter. See Genet: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1993), pp. 567, 570, 697 n. 43 (hereafter cited as Genet). The influence that the US black liberation struggle had on the Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons, of which Foucault was a founding member, is mentioned in Le Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons: Archives dune lutte, 19701972, eds Philippe Artires et al. (Paris: IMEC, 2003), pp. 91132. 9 Foucault, Nietzsche, Genealogy, History, Essential Works, Vol. 2, p. 386. 10 Lordre du discourse (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 55; translated as The Discourse on Language and published as an appendix to The Archaeology of Knowledge, p. 219. I have modified the translation. 11 It is important to note that Angela Y. Davis opted not to assume an explicit position within the BPPs leadership structure. In her introduction to The Angela Y. Davis Reader, Joy James reports the following: [Davis] describes her affiliation with the Panther organization as a permanently ambiguous status that fluctuated between member and fellow-traveler. Active in community organizing, temporarily in charge of political education in the West Side office [] and formulating political education for the Los Angeles Chapter, Davis remained on the fringes of the Panthers internal contestations. Years later, she recalls her doubts about the Partys militarist posturing: I thoroughly respected the BPPs visible defiance and principally supported the right to self-defense. I also found myself using funerals and shootings as the most obvious signposts of the passage of time. However, sensing ways in which this danger and chaos emanated not only from the enemy outside, but from the very core of the Black Panther Party, I preferred to remain uninformed about the organizations inner operations. Despite the distance she retained with respect to the BPPs inner operations, Davis maintained her affiliation with the Party and remained a prominent figure in the black liberation movements of the time. Cf. The Angela Y. Davis Reader, ed. Joy James (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1998), pp. 67. 12 I have translated part of this pamphlet into English. See The Assassination of George Jackson, in Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit. Original Fr. pub. Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons, LAssassinat de George Jackson, Intolrable, No. 3 (Paris: Gallimard, 1971). 13 Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons, Enqute dans vingt prisons, Intolrable, No. 1 (Paris: Champ Libre, 1971). 14 According to Eribon, it was published in May, according to Macey, it was published in June. Cf. Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, trans. Betsy Wing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 224; David Macey, The Lives of Michel Foucault (New York: Vintage, 1993), p. 268.

11

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

12

13

14

10

15

350

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


favorite toy. He did not fear us. Strangely, he seemed to feel as one with us. His Yale [University] speech certainly showed a deep support for the significance of the [Black Panther] Party in American life. Perhaps, as an outsider, he perceived these other outsiders as insiders? Former BPP Chief of Staff David Hilliard shares similar reflections of Genet: Jean Genet, the French novelist and playwright, has come over to help mobilize support for us. Genets an ex-inmate himself, a rebel and homosexual; although I dont understand a word he saysand he claims not to know EnglishI feel we are completely and easily accepted by him, that this world-famous writer is a comrade in arms. Cf. Mumia Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (Cambridge, MA: Southend Press, 2004), pp. 202204; David Hilliard and Lewis Cole, This Side of Glory: The Autobiography of David Hilliard and the Story of the Black Panther Party (Boston: Little, Brown, 1993), pp. 260, 285, 294. In a letter to Marianne de Pur in the summer of 1971, Genet wrote that George Jacksons book Soledad Brother has received a lot of attention here [in France] (cited in White, Genet, p. 562). See George Jackson, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson (New York: Bantom, 1970); the French edition was published in 1971, cf. George Jackson, Les Frres de Soledad. Lettres de prison, Paris, Gallimard, 1971. A number of these statements have been translated and published in Jean Genet, The Declared Enemy: Texts and Interviews, ed. Albert Dichy, trans. Jeff Port (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004). Jean Genet, Preface to George Jacksons Soledad Brother (New York: Bantom, 1970), p. 4. For more on Daviss life during this period, see Angela Y. Davis, An Autobiography (New York: International Publishers, 1974). Davis, as is generally well known, continues to be a prominent leader and spokesperson in the prison abolition movement. For further elaboration of this dual function of the American prison system, see Brady Heiner, The American Archipelago: The Global Circuit of Carcerality and Torture, in Colonial and Global Interfacings, ed. Gary Backhaus (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2007).

16

17

18

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

15 Reflecting upon this break, Eribon writes: How distant this text founding the GIP seems from the inaugural lecture at the Collge de France given just two months before! (p. 225). 16 Outside La Sant, Macey reports, Foucault and others were arrested on the grounds that their leaflets had not been duly registered for copyright (p. 270). 17 Foucault, Je perois lintolrable, interview with Genevive Armedler, Journal de Gnve: Samedi littraire, Cahier 135, 24 July 1971. 18 Foucault, Rituals of Exclusion, in Foucault Live: Collected Interviews, 19611984, ed. Sylvre Lotringer (New York: Semiotexte, 1989), p. 73. 19 Foucault, The Order of Things (New York: Routledge, 1966/1994), p. xv. 20 La garde vue, as Macey describes it, refers to the common police practice of holding people without charge for a period of up to twenty-four hours. [] The usual pretext for taking people into custody is the alleged need to check their identity (p. 515 n. 1). 21 Cration dun Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons, Esprit, March 1971, p. 531 (quoted in Macey, p. 258). 22 See Macey, pp. 209236; Eribon, pp. 201211. 23 Eribon, pp. 209210. 24 Eribon, p. 210. 25 White, Genet, p. 570. 26 A number of BPP members have published mention of their encounters with Genet during his visit in the spring of 1970. Here is former BPP member and current US political prisoner and death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal recalling his encounter with Genet at the BPP national office in Oakland, California: [Genet] seemed more honored to be in the company of the Black Panthers than if he were accorded an honor guard by the president of the United States. [] I often wonder why his wordless visit stands so stark in my memory. It is not because he was the only white visitor to the office. He wasnt. Several white radicals came by, some fairly often, but almost all of them radiated fear and discomfiture in the office. Genet seemed oddly at home and at ease around the office. As a former prisoner, and a homosexual, perhaps he saw himself as the perennial outsider, the consummate outlaw. I could tell by his body language, by the openness of his face, by his vibration, that he really dug being in the office. It gave him a kick. He looked like a little boy who had found his

27

27

28

28

29

29

30

30

31

31

32

32

33

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 351


33 In an essay written while incarcerated in May 1971, Davis explains that: [a]fter the Civil War, the Black Codes, successors to the Slave Codes, legalized convict labor, prohibited social intercourse between blacks and whites, gave white employers an excessive degree of control over the private lives of black workers, and generally codified racism and terror. Jackson writes in a July 1965 letter to his father:
43

The forms of slavery merely changed at the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation from chattel slavery to economic slavery. If you could see and talk to some of the blacks I meet in here [i.e. prison] you would immediately understand what I mean, and see that Im right. They are all average, all with the same backgrounds, and in [prison] for the same thing, some form of food getting. Cf. The Angela Y. Davis Reader, op. cit., pp. 4041; and Jackson, Soledad Brother, op. cit., pp. 6162. Angela Y. Davis, A Statement on our Fallen Comrade, George Jackson, The Black Panther, 28 August 1971, p. 18. For a more in-depth historical treatment of the GIP than can be provided here, I direct the reader to Le Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons: Archives dune lutte, 1970 1972, eds Philippe Artires et al. (Paris: IMEC, 2003). GIP, Enqute dans vingt prisons, Intolrable, No. 1 (Paris: Champ Libre, 1971). GIP, Enqute dans une prison-modle: Leury-Mroqis, Intolrable, No. 2 (Paris: Champ Libre, 1971). GIP, Suicides de prison, Intolrable, No. 4 (Paris: Gallimard, 1972). As Foucault biographer David Macey points out, the title of the pamphlet Suicides de prison makes telling use of the conjunction de: these are not suicides which simply happen to occur in prison. They are caused by the prison system: the prisons suicides (p. 287). See GIP, The Assassination of George Jackson, in Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit. Fr. pub. LAssassinat de George Jackson, Intolrable, No. 3 (Paris: Gallimard, 1971). White, Genet, p. 697 n. 43. White, Genet, p. 567. GIP, Enqute dans vingt prisons (quoted in Macey, pp. 268269).

34

34

35

35

36

36

37

37

38

38

44

39

40

41

39 40 41

42 Foucault, Power Affects the Body, in Foucault Live, op. cit., pp. 207208 (my emphasis). 43 For primary sources, see many of the published writings and memoirs of members of the BPP, a by no means exhaustive list of which includes: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Live from Death Row (New York: Avon Books, 1995); All Things Censored (New York: Seven Stories, 2000); We Want Freedom, op. cit.; Safiya Bukhari-Alston, Coming of Age: A Black Revolutionary, in Imprisoned Intellectuals: Americas Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion, ed. Joy James (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003); Philip S. Foner (ed.), The Black Panthers Speak, op. cit.; David Hilliard and Lewis Cole, This Side of Glory, op. cit.; George Jackson, Soledad Brother, op. cit., and Blood In My Eye (Baltimore, MD: Black Classics Press, 1990 [1972]); Huey P. Newton, To Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton (New York: Writers and Readers, 1995 [1972]); Huey P. Newton, The Huey P. Newton Reader, eds David Hilliard and Donald Weise (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002); Bobby Seale, Seize the Time (New York: Vintage, 1970 [1968]); Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography (Chicago: Lawrence Hill, 1987); Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Mumia Abu Jamal and Assata Shakur, Still Black, Still Strong: Survivors of the War Against Black Revolutionaries, eds Jim Fletcher et al. (New York: Semiotext(e), 1993). An orientational list of secondary sources includes: Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall, Agents of Repression: The FBIs Secret Wars Against the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (Boston: South End Press, 1990); Kathleen Cleaver and George Katsiaficas (eds), Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party (New York: Routledge, 2001); Charles E. Jones, The Black Panther Party Reconsidered (Baltimore, MD: Black Classics Press, 1998); Jack Olson, Last Man Standing: The Tragedy and Triumph of Geronimo Pratt (New York: Doubleday, 2000); Nkechi Taifa et al., Human Rights: U.S. Political Prisoners and COINTELPRO Victims, in States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons, ed. Joy James (New York: Palgrave, 2002). 44 Among the primary texts from the American black power movement that had been translated and were circulating in France during this period were (1) Eldridge Cleavers early memoir Soul on Ice (New York: Dell, 1968), Fr. pub. Panthre noire, Paris, Seuil, coll. Combats, 1970; (2) a small 95-page transcription of a series of interviews

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

42

352

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


through the lens of what is generally considered to be identity politics today. But as a matter of fact, the black power movement per se was not an exclusive movement. There were people of all racial/ethnic backgrounds involved in that movement. There was a connection with global movements. [] We were part of a global revolution. There was no question about the importance of making those connections and building those bridges. The above quotation is transcribed from an interview recorded on the documentary CD Prisons on Fire: George Jackson, Attica & Black Liberation, produced by the Freedom Archives, and available at www.freedomarchives.org. On the internationalist character of the Black Panther Party, see also Eldridge Cleaver, The Land Question and Black Liberation (April/May 1968), in Post-Prison Writings and Speeches, ed. Robert Scheer (New York: Ramparts, 1969); Lee Lockwood, Conversation with Eldridge Cleaver (New York: Delta, 1970); Huey P. Newton, To Die for the People, op. cit.; The Huey P. Newton Reader, pp. 181293 (esp. pp. 181199); and Abu-Jamal, We Want Freedom, pp. 8088. Cleaver, The Land Question and Black Liberation, op. cit., pp. 123124. Point Ten of The Ten-Point Platform and Program of the Black Panther Party (October 1966), original emphasis. Cf. Foner, Introduction, The Black Panthers Speak, p. xxxvii. Call for Revolutionary Peoples Constitutional Convention, reprinted in The Black Panthers Speak, pp. 268271. Bobby Seale, Seize the Time, op. cit., pp. 116117 (my emphasis). Dhoruba Bin Wahad (formerly Richard Moore) was a former Black Panther leader who was wrongly convicted on evidence that was falsely concocted by the FBI. Falsely imprisoned for 19 years, he argues that Americas COINTELPRO enacted a civil war against its colonial interior in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The implementation of the Counterintelligence Program transcended mere investigation. It was in effect a domestic war program, a program aimed at countering the rise of Black militancy, Black independent political thought, and at repressing the freedoms of Black people in the United States. The Counterintelligence program can be seen as a program of war waged by a government against a people, against its own citizens. It was a program of domestic warfare.

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

45

with Angela Y. Davis recorded while she was awaiting trial in 1970, entitled Angela Davis parle, Paris, ditions Sociales, 1971; (3) a translation of Davis and Bettina Apthekers If They Come in the Morning: Voices of Resistance (New York: Third Press, 1971), Fr. pub. Sils frappent laube, Paris, Gallimard, 1972; (4) Davis An Autobiography, op. cit., Fr. pub. Autobiographie, Paris, Albin Michel, 1975; (5) George Jacksons Soledad Brother, op. cit., Fr. pub. Les Frres de Soledad. Lettres de prison, Paris, Gallimard, 1971; (6) Jacksons posthumously published book Blood In My Eye, op. cit., Fr. pub. Devant mes yeux, la mort, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Tmoins, 1972; (7) Huey P. Newtons Declaration at the Revolutionary Peoples Constitutional Convention (delivered Nov. 1970), Fr. pub. Declaration la Convention constitutionelle des peuples rvolutionnaires, La Taupe bretonne, No. 2, decembre 1971; (8) a tract by Huey P. Newton translated as Mouvement noire et lutte rvolutionnaire, Partisans, No. 44, octobre novembre 1968; (9) Bobby Seales Seize the Time, op. cit., Fr. pub. lafft. Histoire du parti des Panthres noires, Paris, Gallimard, 1972; (10) Philip Foners anthology The Black Panthers Speak, op. cit., Fr. pub. Les panthers noires parlent, Paris, Franois Maspero, coll. Cahiers libres 224225, 1971; and (11) an anthology of BPP writings edited by Yves Loyer entitled Black Power (tudes et documents), Paris, EDI, 1968. 45 Mumia Abu-Jamal provides the following characterization of the early ideological formation of the BPP: In the beginning, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was, for want of a better term, a Malcolmist party. [] The influence of Malcolm X permeated early BPP thought, rhetoric, and self-perception. In this formative period, the BPP used language and themes that did not significantly differentiate it from other Black nationalist groups of the period []. This meant, in practical terms, that whites were anathema to any organizational or political work. (We Want Freedom, op. cit., pp. 8081) See also The Huey P. Newton Reader, op. cit., pp. 1180. 46 Angela Y. Davis speaks of the international and multi-racial character of the liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s: Today people tend to think about the movements of the 60s as movements that were very separate, nationalist, [and] raciallydefined, because theyre looking at them

47

47 48

48

49

49 50

50

51

51 52

52

46

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 353


Dhoruba Bin Wahad, War Within, in Still Black, Still Strong: Survivors of the War Against Black Revolutionaries, eds Jim Fletcher et al. (New York: Semiotext(e), 1993), p. 18. Bin Wahad was released in 1990 after a New York State judge found that the FBI had suppressed crucial evidence from his defense. See Churchill and Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, op. cit.; Nkechi Taifa et al., Human Rights: U.S. Political Prisoners and COINTELPRO Victims, in States of Confinement, ed. Joy James (New York: Palgrave, 2002). Bobby Seale, The Ten-Point Platform and Program of the Black Panther Party, The Black Panther, 18 October 1969 (reprinted in The Black Panthers Speak, p. 80). My account of this action closely follows, sometimes to the letter, that of Foner in his Introduction to The Black Panthers Speak. Cf. p. xxviii. Quoted in Foner, Introduction, The Black Panthers Speak, p. xxviii. Seale and Newton originally chose the name of the Black Panther Party because the panther is reputed never to make an unprovoked attack but to defend itself ferociously whenever it is attacked. Cf. Foner, Introduction, The Black Panthers Speak, p. xv. Bobby Seale, Seize the Time, pp. 412, 418419. See Churchill and Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, op. cit., and The COINTELPRO Papers (Boston: South End Press, 1990); Nkechi Taifa et al., Human Rights: U.S. Political Prisoners and COINTELPRO Victims, op. cit. Safiya Bukhari-Alston, Coming of Age: A Black Revolutionary, in Imprisoned Intellectuals: Americas Political Prisoners Write on Life, Liberation, and Rebellion, ed. Joy James (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), p. 126 (my emphasis). Joy James, Introduction, The Angela Y. Davis Reader, p. 14. Angela Y. Davis, Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation, The Angela Y. Davis Reader, pp. 41, 4344. Also available online in the ebook History is a Weapon, www.historyisaweapon.org. Hereafter referred to as PP. For an analysis that demonstrates the continued relevance of Jacksons critique of the American prison system, see Brady Heiner, The American Archipelago: The Global Circuit of Carcerality and Torture, op. cit.; see also the discussion between Angela Y. Davis and Dylan Rodriguez published in The Challenge of Prison Abolition: A Conversation, History is a Weapon, available at http://www.historyisaweapon.com/ defcon1/davisinterview.html, consulted 7 October 2006. See also Angela Y. Davis, Abolition Democracy: Beyond Empire, Prisons, and Torture (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005). Interview with George Jackson 3-29-71, The Black Panther, 3 April 1971, p. 6. A separate work would be required to assess the points of disagreement that exist between the works of Davis and Jackson during this period. Divergences between their respective political analyses, as well as their respective strategic assessments of effective political action at the time, are quite evident. This is partly evidenced by the somewhat removed stance Davis maintained in relation to the internal leadership of the BPP (cf. note 11). By no means does the present work intend to represent Davis and Jackson as homophonous figures; for they are not. However, there are salient points of continuity between their respective analyses of the prison, as being both a repressive and ideological State apparatus, and of prisoners, as being political agents in more global struggles. These dimensions of their thought continue to influence prison abolitionism in the present day; they also greatly informed the French prison abolition movement of the 1970s, and Foucaults political philosophy of the same period. Le Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons: Archives dune lutte, 19701972, eds Philippe Artires et al. (Paris: IMEC, 2003), pp. 9293. This and all subsequent translations of this work are my own. Discipline and Punish (1975), the 1976 Lectures and the first volume of The History of Sexuality (1976). The Freedom Archives has produced an extremely informative documentary audio CD on the Attica rebellion and the assassination of George Jackson, entitled Prisons on Fire: George Jackson, Attica & Black Liberation, available at www.freedomarchives.org. For more information on the Attica rebellion, see the Attica Revisited web resources at www.talkinghistory.org/attica. A copy of The Attica Liberation Faction Manifesto of Demands and Anti-Depression Platform, drafted by the resisting prisoners, can also be found online at The Harriet Tubman Literary Circle website: http://www.brown.edu/ Departments/African_American_Studies/JJames/ incarceration/attica_manifesto.pdf (accessed 27 January 2007). For secondary (and sometimes contradictory) sources on George Jacksons life and the circumstances of his assassination, see Churchill and Vander Wall, Agents of Repression, op. cit.;

64

64 65

53

53

65

54

54

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

55

55

56

56 57

57

58

59

58 59

66

66

60

60

67

67

68

68

61

61 62

62

63

63

69

69

354

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


Angela Y. Davis, An Autobiography, op. cit.; Jo Durden-Smith, Who Killed George Jackson? (New York: Knopf, 1976); Joy James (ed.), Imprisoned Intellectuals (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2003), pp. 8487; Paul Liberatore, The Road to Hell: The True Story of George Jackson, Stephen Bingham, and the San Quentin Massacre (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1996); Eric Mann, Comrade George: An Investigation into the Life, Political Thought and Assassination of George Jackson (New York: Harper and Row, 1974). GIP, The Assassination of George Jackson, trans. Brady Heiner, in Paris and Mendieta (eds), Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit. Davis, An Autobiography, op. cit., p. 319. Ibid., p. 317. Transcribed from archival audio, The Freedom Archives, Prisons on Fire, op. cit. On the morning prior to the massacre on 13 September 1971, William Kunsler, a lawyer who was serving as an intermediary in negotiations between the prisoners and the State, made the following prophetic statement to the press: We implore [the Commissioner], we implore him now, to have no force in there [i.e. inside the prison]. They [i.e. the prisoners] want to continue to talk. If they [i.e. the agents of the State] go in there, its going to be a massacre in this prison, and its on the heads of the authorities if it takes place. [] [Governor Rockefellers] refusal to come here is a monstrosity, because what he is saying is: Kill these men, I have no concern. All I want to do is restore law and order. And I think thats a rotten exchange for lives. (Transcribed from archival audio, The Freedom Archives, Prisons on Fire, op. cit.) Manifesto, 11 May 2004. My English translation, The United States Underground, is available on the Prison Activist Resource Center website: http://www.prisonactivist.org/ pipermail/prisonact-list/2004-May/ 008991.html In 2000, after 25 years of delays by the State, New York State was forced to settle for $12 million in a civil suit that was originally filed in 1974 and in which juries ruled that the State had engaged in cruel and unusual punishment, violating human and civil rights. Cf. The Freedom Archives, Prisons on Fire, op. cit.; and the Attica Revisited web resources at www.talkinghistory.org/attica. The quotation from the NY State Special Commission on Attica is cited in Voices of Freedom: An Oral History of the Civil Rights Movement from the 1950s through the 1980s, eds Henry Hampton and Steve Fayer (New York: Bantam, 1991), p. 561. Transcribed from archival audio, The Freedom Archives, Prisons on Fire, op. cit. Le Groupe dInformation sur les Prisons, op. cit., p. 124. It is on precisely this point that Foucault makes his only mention of the Black Panthers, aside from that made in the GIPs pamphlet LAssassinat de George Jackson. In a letter to Daniel Defert he writes that the Black Panthers are developing a strategic analysis that has emancipated itself from Marxist theory. See Daniel Defert, Chronologie, Dits et crits, Vol. 1 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994), pp. 33, 38, 39. Also see Alessandro Fontana and Mauro Bertanis editors postscript to the 1976 Lectures, Situating the Lectures, where they cite Deferts notes on the connection (1976 Lectures, p. 282). Daniel Defert, The Mechanism of War as an Analytic of Power Relations, trans. Brady Heiner, in Paris and Mendieta (eds), Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit. Literally translated, mise en abme (also mise en abyme), means placing into an abyss or placing into infinity. The expression is used to describe a formal technique employed in painting, film and literature in which a frame-structure is constructed whose internal structure reiterates the frame-structure ad infinitum, effecting a kind of recursion. My thanks to Sam Butler for calling my attention to some of the nuances of this expression. Cf. Foucault, 1976 Lectures, pp. 79. Defert, The Mechanism of War as an Analytic of Power Relations, op. cit. Cf. Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, Part Five.

76

76

70

70

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

71

72

73

71 72 73 74

74

77

77 78 79

78

79

80

80

75

75 Immediately after the exposure of the torture that was organized and carried out by CIA and US military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Silvia Baraldini wrote an oped piece describing the torture that New York Sate Troopers and National Guards had enacted against Attica prisoners in the violent counter-revolutionary aftermath of the Attica prisoner revolt. The States treatment of Attica prisoners in 1971 belies, over against official State rhetoric to the contrary, that the systematic use of torture has remained a hallmark of the States official and de facto procedure for the treatment of racialized subjects deemed resistant. See Silvia Baraldini, Nei sotterranei degli States, Il

81

81

82

83

82 83 84

84

85

HEINER: FOUCAULT AND THE BLACK PANTHERS 355


85 Numerous commentators, particularly in the area of postcolonial studies, have critically pointed out how Foucault remained, as James Clifford put it, scrupulously ethnocentric. Gayatri Spivak and Ann Laura Stoler have each rightly dismissed Foucaults genealogies of power as self-contained versions of history that remain only about the West. For instance, Stoler writes: In both the [1976] lectures and [The History of Sexuality] volume one, the focus is on the internal dynamics of European states and their disciplinary biopolitical strategies. Contiguous empires figure in Foucaults genealogy of racism in his lectures, but imperial expansion outside Europe does not. In short, the genealogy of racist discourse is sui generis to Europe: colonial genocide is subsumed, dependent, accounted for, and explained in absentia. See Clifford, The Predicament of Culture (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 265; Spivak, Can the Subaltern Speak?, in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988); and Stoler, Race and the Education of Desire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995). Stoler citation from pp. 2829. 86 Paolo Napoli makes a similar argument in a debate on the 1976 Lectures: At the beginning of the eighteenth century, when Boulainvilliers affirms that the Gauls were invaded by the Franks, he expresses something that probably doesnt correspond to the actual truth. But if one gives up that empirical and descriptive approach and places oneself on the terrain of the very construction of historical events, as is Foucaults intention, it is less a matter of saying what occurred than of releasing a new possibility for speaking, of taking a position in the present, and thus of producing reality. In short, what is at stake is a veritable historical practice: saying and doing history fall within the province of the same act. Foucaults own discourse in the 1976 Lectures, I argue, is just such an attempt at historical practice, at taking a position in the present. Napolis intervention appears in Defert, The Mechanism of War as an Analytic of Power Relations, op. cit.
87

88

89

90

91

92

93

94

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

95

87 Racism is, quite literally, revolutionary discourse in an inverted form. Cf. Foucault, 1976 Lectures, pp. 61 and 81. 88 Cf. 1976 Lectures, pp. 7677, and the first volume of The History of Sexuality, pp. 92102. 89 Cf. Foucault, 1976 Lectures, pp. 4951. 90 Ibid., p. 56. 91 Cf. ibid., pp. 87114. 92 Foucault, 1976 Lectures, pp. 5051. 93 Jackson, Blood In My Eye, op. cit., p. 99. 94 In addition to Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye, see Comrade George Jackson on Angela Davis, The Black Panther, 13 March 1971; and Field Marshal George Jackson Analyzes the Correct Method in Combating American Fascism, The Black Panther, 4 September 1971. The latter of these was posthumously transcribed from an audio recording that was played at Jacksons funeral. 95 On 7 August 1970, Jacksons 17-year-old brother, Jonathan, entered the Marin County Courthouse during the trial of prisoner James McClain, who was charged with the attempted stabbing of a Soledad prison guard. Jonathan Jackson armed McClain and, with prisoner witnesses Ruchell Magee and William Christmas, herded the assistant district attorney, Judge Harold Haley, and three jurors into a van parked outside. Law enforcement officers fired upon the parked van without regard for the hostages, as was prison policy, killing Christmas, McClain, and Jackson; wounding Magee; and killing Haley and wounding other hostages. (George Jackson bio in James, Imprisoned Intellectuals, op. cit., p. 85) The GIP wrote about their understanding of Jonathan Jacksons actions. Sequestering a judge in a full courtroom, Jonathan Jackson denounced justice as an evident instrument of the fascist repression of the U.S.the justice that, with its white judges and its white juries, consigned hundreds of thousands of African Americans to the blood-thirsty slavedrivers of concentration camps. He demonstrated that the act of supporting prisoners is one of the forms of war. (The Assassination of George Jackson, in Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit.)

86

96

97

96 Field Marshal George Jackson Analyzes the Correct Method in Combating American Fascism, The Black Panther, 4 September 1971, p. 3. 97 Ibid., p. 5.

356
98

CITY VOL. 11, NO. 3


110 For a critique of this erasure in Foucaults analysis in Discipline and Punish, see Joy James, Erasing the Spectacle of Racialized State Violence, in Resisting State Violence: Radicalism, Gender, and Race in U.S. Culture (Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1996), pp. 2443. Ariana Mangual and I wage a similar critique of Foucault in the context of an analysis of the function of schools in racialized communities. See The Repressive Social Function of Schools in Racialized Communities, in States of Confinement: Policing, Detention, and Prisons, ed. Joy James (New York: Palgrave, 2002), pp. 222230. 111 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 217. 112 Foucault, 1976 Lectures, pp. 256, 258. 113 Miranda Fricker, Epistemic Injustice and a Role for Virtue in the Politics of Knowing, Metaphilosophy, 34(1/2) (January 2003), pp. 154173. Frickers analysis is developed further in Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007). 114 Fricker, Epistemic Injustice and a Role for Virtue in the Politics of Knowing, p. 161. 115 Ibid. 116 Ibid., p. 163. 117 Ibid., p. 153. 118 Ibid., pp. 170, 172. 119 Cf. note 10. 120 The Prison Activist Resource Center: http:// www.prisonactivist.org/pps+pows. The Jericho Movement: http://www.thejerichomovement.com
111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120

98 Angela Y. Davis articulates a similar position at this time: Although the most unbridled expressions of the fascist menace are still tied to the racist domination of blacks, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, [and] Indians, it lurks under the surface wherever there is potential resistance to the power of monopoly capital, the parasitic interests which control this society. (PP, p. 51)

Downloaded by [University of California, Berkeley] at 23:22 13 February 2012

99 Davis, PP, p. 40. 100 Ibid., p. 42 (my emphasis). 101 Frantz Fanon famously advances a similar argument in his analysis of the colonial situation: The native is a being hemmed in []. Confronted with a world ruled by the settler, the native is always presumed guilty. See Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Farrington (New York: Grove, 1963), pp. 52, 53. The Davis quote above comes from PP, p. 50 (my emphasis). 102 GIP, LAssassinat de George Jackson, Intolrable, No. 3 (Paris: Gallimard, 1971), p. 11. 103 Cf. Foucault, 1976 Lectures, p. 256. 104 Published online: Remembering the Real DragonAn Interview with George Jackson, May 16 and June 29, 1971, History is a Weapon, www.historyisaweapon.org. Also: www.brown.edu/Departments/ African_American_Studies/ wayland_fac_seminar/interview/ george_jackson.html 105 Angela Y. Davis, PP, p. 46. 106 GIP, The Assassination of George Jackson, in Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit. 107 Ibid. 108 Foucault, Discipline and Punish, p. 9. 109 GIP, The Assassination of George Jackson, in Biopolitics and Racism, op. cit.
99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110

Brady Thomas Heiner is in the Department of Philosophy at SUNY Stony Brook, New York, USA. E-mail: bheiner@ic.sunysb.edu