Our Unity vs. their Crisis
In today's prison society, prisoners are losing constitutional rights at an alarming rate under either the security rationale or the rehabilitation rationale. Yes, our United States Supreme Court has effectively shut the constitutional door on prisoners and individuals charged with crimes. A fair trial is now impossible as any misconduct by the prosecutor is considered "harmless error." Additionally, many individuals plead to charges they have not committed due to judicial extortion; "Take this five years or we're going to give you 99." It's all sad, but reflects the state of our society and country as a whole, and the corrosion of our criminal justice system.
In the newsletter, I read that many prisoner have begun food strikes; one wanting to commit suicide, the others want to sign a petition. The sad and unfortunate truth is, none of these work. Yet there is a way to be heard that is peaceful and has a dramatic effect.
Prisons are run by prisoners from laundry, food service, landscaping to maintenance of the institution. Additionally, many prisoners work in industries that manufacture anything from stop signs, chemicals to office furniture for the state and the prisons themselves. What if we were to just stop? Yes, stop supporting the imperial system that oppresses us at every level? Incarceration costs would rise exponentially overnight. Correctional officers would have to be hired to pick up where the inmate population left off. The cost of incarceration would be so great that states could not afford to incarcerate people en masse as they do today. Until the prison population itself makes a stand against the draconian justice and prison system, they will continue to lose the most basic and fundamental rights inherent to man.
My brothers and sisters, it is us, the prison population that runs and perpetuates the injustice of the justice and prison system and it is we who can peacefully break its back. The courts have failed us; the politicians have failed us; our country has failed us. Must we continue to fail ourselves? Must we continue to be dehumanized, degraded, mistreated and tortured so others may prosper and/or be entertained? It's time to see this realistically and stand together peacefully, to battle an unjust system as one. Martin Luther King once said, "The ultimate measure of a man [or woman] is not where he [or she] stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he [or she] stands in times of challenge and controversy." Are you a person of character who can stand as one or individually in the face of adversity? If we can't stand together as one then no matter what we do, we lose. Give some thought to this. All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men and women to do nothing.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We couldn't agree with this comrade more that there is no real justice to be had by the class system of imperialism. We don't expect petitions to solve the heart of the problem, though we may achieve partial victories. And we've already cautioned comrades that hunger strikes without outside pressure and support tend to be ultra-left tactics that can lead to sacrificing of lives.
But as we explain elsewhere, petition campaigns are two-pronged. One prong is to improve our ability to organize by fighting winnable battles, and the other prong is agitational to expose the state's repressiveness.
The facts behind this comrade's proposal are solid, as we discussed in ULK #8 on prison labor. And the argument is particularly strong as most state's are facing extreme financial shortages. They cannot afford to run their prisons if the labor aristocracy must do all the work.
However, in most cases, the level of unity does not exist to carry out this tactic effectively. Another comrade who proposed this same strategy simultaneously complains about this reality. Again, this is where more agitational work comes into play, like petitions, lawsuits and even small fund drives that some comrades have led. These things establish unity among people on the issues. With that unity, we can begin to talk about mass actions, such as boycotts.