Congress. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee to
Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act
and other Internal Security Laws. Testimony of Stokely Carmichael.
Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1970.
Question. Some persons think the Negroes in the United States only think of the fight as a racial
conflict against the whites instead of interpreting the case as a class struggle. What do you
have to say on this matter?
Answer. But the ruling class never cuts down on its profits. It makes more, as a matter of fact.
Once it begins to share its profits with the working class, the working class becomes part and
parcel of the capitalistic system and they enjoy blood money. They enjoy the money that is
exploiting other people, so that they are then incapable of fighting the very system, because
they become a part of it by accepting the blood money. So it's hard to develop a white working
class revolutionary consciousness. What you have then is white people who are fighting to save
For example, that is why you cannot find white working class people in the United States who
oppose the war in Vietnam, because it is from the war in Vietnam that they enjoy the living that
they do, and the luxuries that they enjoy. If they opposed the war in Vietnam, they would be
smashing the system. Unfortunately, they do not recognize that, if they smashed that system,
they would build a better system for themselves, but they are so afraid of giving up the dollars
that they now have, that they hang onto it and they wage the fight to keep the system going. So
that what you do have at this point, unfortunately, is black people waging the fight and
interpreting it as a black-white struggle, which it does, in fact, become, because the white
working class begins to attack us, because they are afraid that we will destroy their way of
Now, secondly, reactionary violence can be legitimatized by people in power. For example, if I
were to shoot a man who had slanted eyes, it depends if I shot him in the United States or if I
shot him in Vietnam; there would be two different reactions. If I shot 30 men who had slanted
eyes in Vietnam, they happened to be Vietnamese, I would get a medal, because I would be in the
Army. If I shot 30 people who had slanted eyes, or one person who had slanted eyes, in the United
States, in New York, I would get the chair, the electric chair, for murder.
So it's never a question of violence; it's a question of who can legitimatize violence, that is
all. A policeman can shoot and kill anybody he wants to kill for any reason and go to court and
say "I did it in my duty," and they'll let him go. But a man who shoots a policeman is
automatically going to jail, so you never discuss violence as far as we're concerned. It is
whether or not you can legitimatize it.
And the oppressed people of the world must legitimatize violence in their own minds as the way
to solve their problems. Once they have legitimatized violence, then there is no question, there
is no answer, it is just a course of taking that which belongs to them. So the reactionaries only
stay in power by violence. That's the only way they stay in power, but they legitimatize their
violence, and they tell everybody else that violence is not the way. Take away the guns from the
imperialist forces and see how many people would listen to them. Take away the bases in Sano
Domingo, take away the bases in Venezuela, take away the bases in Brazil, take away the basses
in Chile, take away the bases all over South America and get the guns out of there and you would
see, nobody would listen. But it is because of the guns that people are forced to listen and so
the only thing you have to do is to get you some guns and the will to fight, and the, the answer
It is crystal clear that the West has developed the best system of weapons that they have, but
there is one thing. Weapons can never defeat the will of men to fight and that is precisely where
the world is today. The oppressed people have the will to fight and they're fighting the people
who oppress them, and they have weapons. A good example of that would be Vietnam where the United
States, with all of its weapons, cannot defeat a little nation as small as Vietnam because they
have the will to fight and they're willing to fight to the death rather than to let the United
States enslave them. That is very important.
And the discussion is never around that, the discussion is of the right of the people to defend
themselves against aggression. When the United States talked about bombing Cuba and bringing
missiles to Cuba, they said that Cuba did not have the right to defend itself. They said that
Cuba shouldn't even get antimissiles and the rest of the world was looking at Cuba rather than
at the United States because the United States had no business to (? form) aggression inside
Cuba, just as they have no business (? forming) aggression inside Vietnam, and what happens is
that the people of Vietnam are fighting not only a defensive war but defensive propaganda, if in
fact they begin to accept that definition.
The people of Vietnam have every right to send a bomb over to the United States and start bombing
the United States, that would be a real equality in terms of a fight. That would be real equality,
but instead they are now forced to fight a defensive war, and that was the position Cuba was also
in with the missiles, they were also fighting a defensive war. And people have been telling me
about Debray's book, which I haven't gotten a chance to read yet, "Revolution in Revolution?", is
that he points out that we must begin to move beyond defensive wars and I think that's where the
next step is for the people of the third world, to move beyond defensive wars.
There is no question, guerrilla warfare is the only way. We will not raise the question of
whether it's right or whether it's wrong, we will only raise a tactical question of when we
use it. That's the only question we should be concerned with. Guerrilla warfare is where we
are moving to in the United States, we are going to develop an urban guerrilla warfare, and
we're going to beat them in urban guerrilla warfare, because there is one thing the imperialists
do not have. Their men do not have the will to fight. They do not have the will to fight. What
they call guerrilla warfare is in fact hand-to-hand combat.
See, their men are cowards. White America is the most cowardly nation in the world. It could
send a million troops into Vietnam and they cannot kill the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese
people in hand-to-hand combat would wipe them out. So what they do is they say "in Vietnam
they're fighting guerrilla warfare," and you think that guerrilla warfare is dirty, its not
clean, its not supposed to be done. And they said, "to beat guerrilla warfare, we will now
send men and planes to drop bombs," and nobody questioned "isn't it more disgusting
to send a man in a plane who can drop 50 or 60 bombs on defenseless women and children or use
napalm and bomb them and burn them to death than to fight them hand-to-hand combat. Which is
more honorable?" So that is the question, it is just when we use it. Urban guerrilla
warfare is the one way we will beat the United Stats because they cannot use bombs on us,
because we are inside their country. They will have to fight us hand-to-hand combat. We will
win, we will win.
The counterpart of that will be in the south, in the country, where we know the land, where we
know the terrain, where we have worked it for years, where the white man is in (word indistinct)
with sweat from us. He has enjoyed us walking all over the country. Well, we've walked over it so
much so that when we take to the hills there, he doesn't know it. He will be unable to find us.
We will (?hit him) again, we will be able to beat him again in guerrilla warfare. The only way
that you can bring men to their knees is through guerrilla warfare because guerrilla warfare is
the one warfare they cannot fight with their big guns and their big bombs. And that is the one
place you beat them because they do not have any guts.
Question. What do you think of solidarity between all countries that fight for their liberation?
Answer. It is the only answer. I think that what we do not recognize, or we have not recognized
in the past, is that capitalism has become international, and that we are fighting international
capitalism. In order to fight international capitalism, you must wage an international fight.
What has happened in the past, for example, is that if one nation was struggling everybody wished
that nation good luck, but nobody (?served) as part of that same fight. Although they could see
that the same countries were oppressing their countries they still didn't make the connection in
their minds that that was their common enemy.
What we've done today is that we have made the connection in our minds. We do see a common enemy.
So that it is crystal clear to us that we're fighting an international structure that enslaves
us all, and the only way we can beat it is to internationalize our struggle. So you have an
international power fighting as international power. That is the only way we can win because
if we do what Chesays we should do, that is, to create two, three, many Vietnams, we will have
them fighting on all fronts at the same time, and they cannot win.
The other thing is that what we must begin to do is to exchange fighters so that we can begin to
understand different areas where the imperialists live. For example, we should begin to exchange
fighters with people of Africa and Latin America who are fighting for their liberation, and they
should begin to exchange with us, so we can work an international system of guerrilla warfare.
And, for example, when we start fighting in the United States the real war if there are people
from other countries who are willing to come to the United States and help us fight, that's well
and good, and we will be willing to do the same.
Question. What do you think of the Vietnam aggression?
Answer. I think it is the most disgusting aggression in the world today. I think it is the height
of cowardice displayed by the United States. I think it is the filthiest war that's ever been
fought today, and I think because of that and along with the will of Vietnamese people, the
United States is going to lose the war.