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What is happening in America and Europe bears study and reflection. On the surface, we see a rightist drift, as fearful, resentful publics empower forms of politics that promise safety, especially regarding terror attacks that have blown up and bloodied world capitals recently. If we look closer, however, we see how economic insecurity, driven by the investor class, has waged an austerity war against working-class and poor people. For economic insecurity begets political insecurity.
Nelson’s film documents what those who lived through it already know – that the Panthers quickly became a mass movement throughout the country. Their message of unqualified resistance to racism, armed self-defense and anti-capitalist revolutionary politics galvanized the creation of chapters of the Party in nearly every city and state of the U.S. Much has been written by and about the Panthers. But Nelson’s film is the best short introduction to the Party to date.