Kuwasi Balagoon, A Soldier's Story: Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist | Left Wing Books

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Kuwasi Balagoon, A Soldier's Story: Writings by a New Afrikan Anarchist

Format: 
paperback
Size: 
125 pages
ISBN: 
0-9731432-8-2
Price: $15.00 (USD)
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Kuwasi Balagoon was a defendant in the Panther 21 case in the late sixties, and a member of the Black Liberation Army. Captured and convicted of various crimes against the State, he spent much of the 1970s in prison, escaping twice. After each escape, he went underground and resumed BLA activity.

He was captured in December 1981, charged with participating in an armoured truck expropriation in West Nyack, New York, on October 21 of that year, an action in which two police officers and a money courier were killed. Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, he died of pneumocystis carninii pneumonia, an AIDS-related illness, on December 13, 1986.

The first part of this book consists of contributions by others who knew Balagoon, while the second, larger, section consists of court statements and essays by Balagoon himself. A final third section consists of an edited selection of excerpts from letters he wrote while in prison.

From the introduction:

This is a collection of writings by Kuwasi Balagoon, a man who many anarchists, nationalists, and anti-imperialists may have heard of in passing, but about whom very little has been made broadly available. As you read on, this state of affairs may perplex or even anger you, for certainly what we have here are important and eloquent words by a man who devoted his life to the cause of freedom – freedom from colonialism and national oppression for New Afrika, and freedom from the mental shackles we all wear around our minds.

A staunch advocate of New Afrikan liberation and the eradication of capitalism, Balagoon was also an anarchist and a participant in armed struggle. Serving a stint in the U.S. army in Germany, he and other Black G.I.s formed a clandestine direct action group called De Legislators, which set out to punish racist soldiers with beatings or worse. Upon his return to North America he became involved with the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Balagoon was one of the Panther 21 whom the government attempted (unsuccessfully) to frame in 1969. Many of his earliest writings can be found in the collective autobiography of the Panther 21, Look for Me in the Whirlwind.

As the Black Panther Party disintegrated due to outside pressure from the police and F.B.I. as well as internal contradictions between different personalities and political lines, Balagoon joined that faction which became the Black Liberation Army, an important formation that engaged in armed confrontation with the State, breaking comrades out of prison, attacking the police and carrying out expropriations (aka robberies) against the capitalists.

Throughout his political journey, Balagoon remained a critical observer, often committing his thoughts and ideas to paper. Luckily, we have been able to assemble at least a portion of his writings into this booklet.

Our goal in publishing this is not so much to tell people about an unknown superhero or prophet of revolution – there are too many of those already. We have no doubt that Balagoon had his faults and made errors just like the rest of us, and indeed we are in no way claiming to agree with each and every one of his ideas. Yet it is important that these words be published together at long last, not only as a tribute to someone who provides a good example of what a freethinking and uncompromising revolutionary can be, but also for our own sake. As revolutionaries there is a lot we can learn from Balagoon's words as well as from his deeds. While hopefully keeping our own critical sense – how else would he have wanted it? – there is much to be found in his observations, strategies and ideas that should be taken seriously and discussed by those who fight for a better day now, almost fifteen years after his death.