Righteous Anger is Not the Same as Hatred
It is glaringly clear in my mind the total incongruity of thought within the ULK 43 article "Pigs Kill in Oregon", including the non-sequetur involving disunity, which is pointed out, and the mindless disunity and consistent antagonism toward other prisoners this writer conveniently labels as "rats" about ten times.
The prisoner wrote about the disunity and lack of education and then goes on in a paragraph after that to display a disturbing level of that same disunity and lack of education by launching into a long rant on "f'ing snitchery." It seems that this individual is trying to blame all their problems in life on the perceived myriad "snitches" around him, even to the point of somehow blaming the fight his friend got into and then was supposedly shot for, on snitches, displaying a rather delusional hatred and irrational deduction.
My point is this: the writer is displaying, almost throughout the entire article, the same sort of hatred, disunity, impulsive and spite-filled rhetoric which are all the primary thinking pattern and behaviors behind gang mentalities and the worst disunity behind Amerika's prison walls. There is a clear disconnect in this person's reasoning. Now, don't get me wrong, in the case of people who genuinely and perniciously "snitch" on others, or those who spy on others as agents of the state or for personal gain, I have as little use or tolerance for them as the writer.
But the point is that I don't see anywhere in the article, aside from the lip service paid in one paragraph, any demonstration or advice for the actual practice of unity. The writer complains, for example, about guards targeting people who refuse to sit at chow hall tables "belonging" to other groups (gangs) - great unity! - but makes no mention on how this may be overcome through any unity of the prisoners themselves. It's all the "snitches'" fault there's no unity or education?
Also, what exactly are they getting snitched on for so much? A planned insurrection? At any rate, such "focoist" action will only make things worse. And instead of making scapegoats of others, perhaps this writer could devise ways of approaching the purportedly overwhelmingly hate-inducing snitch problem in his prison by considering some tactics besides hate-mongering and blame-shifting. Like, for instance, trying to figure out why that's going on to the seeming level the writer makes it out to be, maybe getting inside their heads, and trying to constructively draw the "snitches" away from their behaviors and such by addressing their fears or convincing them that the people they tell on are really on their side — instead of, as this writer does, target them for wrath and redundant invective.
I refuse to subscribe to this kind of hatefulness — against anyone or anything. It's self-destructive and un-constructive to any positive ends. Hate and invective like those displayed are almost invariably products of fear, and fear is an irrational emotional response to the unknown or a threat. This is not scientific, rational thinking and I reject it unequivocally. Other articles in this issue are commendable examples of effort in unity and reason, these are the types of writing I wish to see much more of in ULK, and are of the sort more likely to foster positive and constructive thinking patterns and effort among readers. Keep the childish, bile-filled hate speeches out.
Even the constant references to guards as "pigs," "swine," etc. is un-constructive and ignoble in my opinion. We can oppose oppression without reducing ourselves to the same level of intolerance, hate and bigotry as our oppressors. We can effectively deal with it in logical, reasoned, intelligent and mature terms. Maybe, just maybe, if every humyn being can begin seeing another not as an "it" — that "it" being a "snitch," "rat," "pig," "jerk," "punk," "criminal," "saint," etc — but as a "thou" who holds the same great potential as every other humyn being, be they white, Black, male/female, etc., then we can use all that energy spent in otherwise hating each other for endeavoring to try to bring us all to an understanding that we are not just individual units separated from a common whole in nature, and making all those former "its" realize that their oppositions to the "thous" is futile, destructive and hurtful also to themselves. And maybe some of those "rats" and "pigs" will quit their negative pursuits and join the rest of humynity in real solidarity. That's the kind of work I consider solid. Hatred only begets hatred. Let's try that line.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall this writer makes a good point that we should be doing all we can to organize people for greater unity, and in a situation like the one described in the Oregon prisoner's ULK article, where so many prisoners seem to be working with the guards, it's possible that some of them could be won over to the side of their own people.
But this writer is suggesting that we can have unity with all people. While that's certainly the ideal that we always strive for, we also need to be scientific about who are our enemies and who are our friends in our present moment. We cannot just pray for unity with all humyns because we are the same species, absent an analysis of our current conditions when there is systematic class, nation and gender oppression in the world. Appealing to the pigs' humynity is a waste of our time, just as it is to appeal to the bourgeoisie to voluntarily give up their money and power in the interests of all humankind.
In Under Lock & Key we generally don't print articles that are just complaining about the dire conditions or general oppression without offering a solution or talking about organizing work. When this is missing from an article we will add it to our response. And so in that sense we agree with this writer's general call for scientific articles that build unity.
We don't share this writer's condemnation of use of harsh language for our enemies. The Black Panther Party started using the term "pigs" to help disempower the cops and empower the people to fight back. As the Maoist Internationalist Movement explained in an essay on tone:
"The middle-classes otherwise known as the petty-bourgeoisie constantly ask MIM to 'tone it down.' The classes in-between the imperialists and the property-less known as proletarians are inclined to believe that there is a neutral educational tone appropriate for all communications.
In reality, a neutral tone is not appropriate when your friend is about to fall off a cliff. You better yell in excitement: 'Look out!' According to the petty-bourgeoisie and the imperialists, there is no reason within the status quo to be yelling or using a harsh tone. In contrast, we see an emergency situation in reality, a reality so bad it needs to be overthrown. Hence, we communists seek to match our tone to underlying substance. ...
The oppressed and exploited have a lot to be angry about. The bourgeois and petty-bourgeois political organizations do not suit them and sometimes the result is pseudo-rebellion through street-crime. Often times the spirit of these pseudo-rebellious people is in the right place, but they don't see political leaders with the right tone."