EDITORIAL:ON THE MOVE: The MOVE Organization and the Teachings of John Africa, June 28 and July 1, 1975
The MOVE organization’s protests provoked some of the most intense forms of police brutality and repression witnessed in the country.
“Politicians who build armies to so-called police one country from the invasion of another, ignore the cries of police brutality coming from the citizens in the country they are supposed to be protecting from the invasion of police brutality, the imposing army.”
Founded as the “Christian Movement for Life” in West Philadelphia in 1972, what became known as the MOVE organization describesitself as a “family of strong, serious, deeply committed revolutionaries.” Their unifying philosophy combines a belief in the sanctity of all living beings with a commitment to fight against those entities and individuals that act to destroy life. For MOVE, to protect life is to protect it from the systems that “poison...the air, water, soil.” It is also to “show people how…the system is the cause of homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, alcoholism, racism… crime, war… all the problems of the world.”
The MOVE organization’s protests against police abuse, animal cruelty, the US education system, and the Penn- and Drexel-led gentrification of West Philadelphia -- not to mention the mere fact of their existence -- provoked some of the most intense forms of police brutality and repression witnessed in the country. A MOVE compound was razed in 1978 by order of Philadelphia’s white supremacistmayor Frank Rizzo, and the city’s first Black mayor Wilson Goode presided over the horriffic 1985 bombing of the MOVE home on Osage Avenue. Yet, MOVE’s fortitude and courage against the US state’s brutality has been astounding. As journalist and political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal recounts, “even though the repression was extraordinarily severe, brutal, and devastating, MOVE continued to rebel and resist.”
“MOVE’s fortitude and courage against the US state’s brutality has been astounding.”
In 1975, editors of the Philadelphia Tribune, the oldest continuously running African-American newspaper in the United States, invited MOVE to provide an introduction to their philosophy for its readers. MOVE founder John Africa, a Korean War veteran whose Guidelinesoutlines the group’s beliefs, responded by providing a series of articles. We reprint below Africa’s first column, which appeared in two parts on June 28, and July 1, 1975. In the column, Africa presents a philosophy that some have described as “anarcho-primitive”: based in anti-authoritarian principles and libertarian sentiment, Africa rejects modern technology and refuses the system of capitalism while asserting an anti-imperialist and pacifist stance. However one describes or labels MOVE’s philosophy, what is clear is that at its root is a deep and profound love for all life, and for peace and freedom for all.
ON THE MOVE: From the Writings of John Africa
The MOVE organization is a powerful family of revolutionaries, fixed in principle, strong in cohesion, steady as the foundation of a massive tree. A people totally equipped with the profound understanding of simple assertion, collective commitment, unbending direction.
OUR WAY is true, direction safe, our power of purpose completely fixated, as we are the most organized body to ever wear the title of human with total comprehension.
While the so-called educators talk of love, mouth the necessity for peace, we live peace, assert the power of love, comprehend the urgency of freedom. The reformed world system cannot teach love while making allowances for hate, peace while making allowances for war, freedom while making allowances for the inconsistent shackles of enslavement. For to make allowances for sickness is to be unhealthy, to make concession with slavery is to be enslaved, to compromise with the person of compromise is to be as the person you are compromising with.
Sickness is not to be allowed, it is to be eliminated, hatred is not to be considered, it is to be abolished, the enslaving person of war is not to be conceded, accepted, temporarily obscured by the illusion of peace, it must be completely cut down, directly done away with, totally destroyed through the reality of peace. To attempt to promise the tranquility of peace in a lifestyle that frowns on the meaning of absolute, scoffs at the mention of perfection, gets uptight at the mere suggestion of one direction, is to admit to deception, nullifying your honesty. Any government, communist, capitalist, socialist, imperialist, so-called neutralist, that promises people peace while teaching the people there’s no such thing as perfection, peace, ain’t promising you peace, they are assigning you to the deceptive fallacy of political conflict, policy of war, sanctioned slavery. Fallacies that are constantly backing up on them and when caught in these lies you are asked to make allowances, considerations, told that nobody’s perfect, peaceful, everybody makes mistakes.
“The reformed world system cannot teach love while making allowances for hate, peace while making allowances for war, freedom while making allowances for the inconsistent shackles of enslavement.”
HOW CAN YOU expect peace from a world system that asks you, deceives you, harasses you into investing your life in a mistake, a fallacy, imperfection, a lie? What kind of incentive can you maintain in such conflicting confusion, how is it possible to have hope in a system that is conflictingly hopeless, how can you have faith in a so-called establishment that is disastrously unfaithful, inconsistent, completely unestablished?
Why must you attempt to believe in a government, a monarch, a ruler that is totally unbelievable, ungovernable, unruley [sic]? It is foolish to think you can trust a government that has constantly proven to be untrustworthy. So long as you attempt to invest your life in the failing deception of external government you can expect failure, ain’t nothin’ safe, the whole thing is disastrous, for there is only one government, one system, one establishment, the government of self, system of commitment, established direction of common consistency.
The Africans invested their lives in government and the relics and ruins of that civilization still remains; the Chinese invested their lives in external government and the only thing they got to show is starvation, overpopulation and communism; the Romans invested their lives in external government and 2,000 years of bloody tragedy later came up with an even greater tragedy in the person of Mussolini, Nazism and more minority slaughter; Great Britain was the so-called world power at one time, years later there’s still British but they ain’t so great. Now there’s America, hustling their brand of external government and already they’ve had four presidents assassinated, one attempted assassination, two attempted impeachments of presidents, one of them caught in a pack of lies, disgraced, and forced to resign along with the scandalous disgrace of his vice president and 27 other staff members who are either doing time in jail, about to go to jail, or about to come out of jail.
“Great Britain was the so-called world power at one time, years later there’s still British but they ain’t so great.”
Politicians who draw up laws and attempt to make concessions when those laws are used on THEM, for graft, extortion, conflict of interest, slush funding, filling the ballot boxes with dead peoples’ votes, will advocate the importance of a lie detector test, fail it, and ask you to make allowances for HIS failures.
So long as the people allow politicians to make mistakes, you can expect more lies, corruption, ballot stuffing, lies about campaign funds, money derived from benefits, stolen personal assets and the cost of their new homes.
Politicians who build armies to so-called police one country from the invasion of another, ignore the cries of police brutality coming from the citizens in the country they are supposed to be protecting from the invasion of police brutality, the imposing army.
WATCH THESE gang leaders in the White House commit crime, put them on pensions and put street gangs in jail, allocate money to build missiles for the so-called protection of this country against invasion and ignore invasion of slums, boasting about how many atomic submarines you’ve got to protect against the invasion of an enemy and being invaded with the enemy of unemployment.
Building war ships to protect against the danger of invasion, and being invaded with vd, fbi, tb, cia, tnt, ed, ddt, drug addicts, alcoholics, racism, sexism, deceptionism, con men, crooked government, questionable police administrators, graft, corruption, extortion, murder, rape, prostitution. Being invaded with every crime existing, killing, maiming, looting, tearing down, burning out, experiencing an invasion of the worse [sic] kind within the country, and duping the people into thinking invasion only comes from without.
Fighting to protect yourself from an invasion of the country that you invaded, overthrew, stole from the Indians. Since these politicians don’t see nothing wrong with compromise let ‘em compromise 20 of that 40 pounds of steak they got stored away in their deep freeze to a few of the poor, hungry supporters. Since they don’t see nothing wrong with concession let ‘em concede some of that money they got stored away in their bank to a few of their poor, loyal, hungry supporters; let ‘em compromise one of those cars to those crippled, legless veterans of war these politicians are to blame for; give half of their paychecks to some of their hungry, loyal supporters that are out of work.
“Fighting to protect yourself from an invasion of the country that you invaded, overthrew, stole from the Indians.”
SINCE THEY like making concessions let ‘em take all that money they spend on those unearned vacations and buy some of their supporters a house, their children winter coats, grandchildren a safe place to play; let ‘em invite their supporters families to their house for a month to see how they live, send kids to the country, let ‘em spend a couple of months in that summer cottage you politicians ain’t using while you are vacationing in England, France, Germany, the Virgin Islands. Since these politicians don’t mind makin’ deals, make one, now you’ve voted for them. Tell ‘em you lost your job, tell ‘em to pay your rent for the next six months, your phone bill for the next seven months, your oil, gas, electric bills for the next year.
The next time the payment on your car is due send it to them. They are your representatives, let ‘em represent you. When your mortgage is due send it to them.
Since they don’t see nothin wrong with making allowances let ‘em make an allowance for the rapist when their daughter is raped, convince their wives that everybody’s entitled to a mistake when that mugger snatches her pocketbook with her vacation money in it. Let ‘em make allowances for those drug addicts that burglarized their houses, their cars, the imposing party that breaks into their office. Finds some scandalous documents and exposes their deal makin carcass.
When their mothers are hit by cars, fathers knocked in the head, sons beaten up by gangs and wanna prosecute, try convincing them not to, with that nobody’s perfect argument, convince their uncles to compromise with doctors that are supposed to be treatin them for a pain in the back and cuts off their hand. Tell their aunts to make concessions with those beauticians that made their hair fall out. Since you politicians don’t see nothin wrong with making allowances make allowances for your wife when she puts you in court, a lien on your paycheck, and sues you for everything you got. You people ought to make these capitalists stop lying about this fallacy of equal opportunity, while compromising your equality in some political investment.
“Tell their aunts to make concessions with those beauticians that made their hair fall out.”
SINCE THE communists don’t see nothing wrong with compromise, make ‘em compromise some of the wealth of leaders, that, according to the communist doctrine, was supposed to be equally distributed to begin with. Since they wanna talk ‘bout the policies of communism, let ‘em stop talking bout sharin the land, equal distribution, means of production and start producing, sharing, distributing equally. Tell the imperialist to take that imperialism, that fools these unruly maniacs into thinking they can rule others, serve others, when they ain’t secure themselves and leave people alone.
Since the socialists believe in making concessions, endorse the fallacy of allowance, dig compromising, let ‘em compromise some of that money they got in the bank, make allowances when the haves are mugged by the have nots, concede all those unnecessary material possessions they’ve wrapped their lives up in.
IF THEY really want that equal distribution they talk so much about, why are they pushin this educational system that teaches grade, rank, status, position? If those governmental impersonators, moralistic frauds, philosophical counterfeits want to continue to bombard the people with all of their theories make ‘em produce, hold ‘em to their promises, make ‘em show you that their theories work or get away from you. Since the communists claim they don’t like capitalism, let ‘em stop teaching about capitalism; since the imperialists claim they don’t like socialism, let ‘em stop teaching about socialism. If this reform world system really wants to get rid of racism, let ‘em stop talking about race, if everybody wants the power of love so bad, let ‘em strike the fallacy of hate out of their vocabulary.
“From the Writings of John Africa” originally appeared in two parts in the June 28 and July 1, 1975 editions of The Philadelphia Tribune. It was prefaced with an editorial comment noting that “the manuscript, while usually written with no periods and all upper case letters, has been edited by The Tribune to its present form.”
Transcribed by Jessica Newby.
The current Move website
John Africa Wikipedia
John Africa founded the “Christian Movement for Life” (which later became MOVE) in 1972 in West Philadelphia. Africa was a Vietnam war veteran who later moved to Powelton Village, a neighborhood in West Philadelphia, where the community was fighting against gentrification and encroachment from Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania. Africa was able to amass followers and his philosophy was conveyed in The Guidelines, which remains the main philosophical document for MOVE.
(EDITOR’S NOTE--As requested by The Tribune, this first column will deal with a short introduction to MOVE. The manuscript, while usually written with no periods and all upper case letters, has been edited by The Tribune to its present form.)
Editors, The Black Agenda Review
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