One Method of Organizing a Study Group
The study group that I started and lead is a very small one — only three of us. The most challenging aspect I have encountered thus far is attracting members. In Florida conditions are somewhat different from what I have read about in other states. First, our prisons are highly integrated, but as prisoners we are not, with like nations hanging out with each other. However, there is virtually no gang activity and any activity there is is highly localized and disorganized. Secondly, I am at a "re-entry" camp where 80% of the population has less than five years left to serve and the bourgeois brainwashing is in overdrive. And lastly, I am euro-Amerikan (which necessitates class suicide).
I found that by openly acknowledging that I am a Marxist/Communist, dialogue is opened with others. I have been branded "that godless Marxist bastard," an epithet I wear as a badge of honor. As a White revolutionary I must be especially fearless in this regard. The majority of prisoners that open dialog about Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) with me are so conditioned with misinformation and myth that they eventually give up rather than consider that what they have been told all their life is a distortion or outright wrong. Once they are able to consider what I say and/or the MIM literature I show them, then comes their metaphysical ideology.
In my experience gaining a study group member comes down to a three-step process. I make myself known as a MLMist. Then I must be able to overcome the hystorical myths and mysteries of communism — particularly as they concern Stalin and Chairman Mao. To this end the article "Myths About Maoism" published in Fundamental Political Line of MIM(Prisons) (pp. 20-28) is a good start. If they are willing to consider this different view of hystory then the third step is to move into an understanding of materialist dialectics (Marxism) to counter any metaphysical ideology.
MIM Distributors supplied me with the books Fanshen and Settlers. For my study group a new member reads Fanshen first. This is to give a sense of the meaning and power of political consciousness as opposed to simple "unity," and to further dispel hystorical myths about the role of the Communist Party in China under Mao. Next they read Settlers. This puts Amerikkkan hystory in a materialist dialectical perspective and demonstrates what is meant by a settler nation. It is an extremely powerful text for euro-Amerikans who have come this far in the study group.
Our group meets three times a week to discuss any questions on a topic that a member might have. We like to take current world events and discuss them from a MLM/Third World viewpoint. For us, the ULK Writers Group supplemental reading is very helpful. For example, the rise and gains of Maoism and the People's Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) in India has been a current focus.
If I had to name the major hurdle I face in educating a study group then it would be what MIM has called lumpen metaphysics — that conditioned ideology that continually rears its ugly head in debates, discussions, etc. In leading a study group one must be wary as that is a subtle path that leads to many wrong and irrational conclusions. As a project we are currently working on an essay for the ULK Writers Group on how to identify a lumpen metaphysical argument when it is posed so that its irrationality can be exposed via materialist dialectics. I only hope that all comrades will take an active role and critique it, helping to push its development further.
"Theory without practice ain't shit" and that practice starts with an action. My most fearless action, the action that started my practice of forming a study group, was to proclaim myself a communist and believer in Maoism as a better way of democracy. From that point forward I had joined the Struggle.
MIM(Prisons) adds: Everyone should keep in mind that the tactics used by a comrade in one facility might not be what's appropriate for the conditions where you're at. While it seems useful for this author to be very public about their political views, for many other subscribers to ULK, that same act can easily get them validated as a member of a "security threat group" or otherwise harassed by prison administration.
We appreciate how this author laid out how they structure their initial recruiting, and how they are making use of materials we've sent to them. The "supplemental reading" they refer to is a packet of articles from the web on various news and theory topics, which is sent regularly to participants in our advanced correspondence study group, the ULK Writing Group. In order to join the ULK Writing Group, you must complete both levels of our introductory study group, have a high level of political unity with MIM(Prisons), and be a regular contributor to ULK. We encourage everyone who can't set up a study group wherever they're at to join our introductory study group — or do both!