ULK Reader Survey Summary
As of the MIM(Prisons) July congress we had received reader surveys back from 5.6% of our subscribers over the last 3 issues. The survey is printed in this issue of ULK and if you have not yet responded, please take the time to do so. It asks for some basic persynal information and also for feedback on the content of ULK. Our goal is to assess who is reading ULK and what we can do to improve the content. So far, the survey respondents overall represent a distribution of prisoners in line with the general prison population, with a few exceptions consistent with the focus of our work. We will be looking at that information in more detail in the future but for this article we want to summarize the feedback on ULK content.
In response to our question about what people like best about ULK, the most popular response (27%) was "all of it!" We appreciate the enthusiasm of our readers. More specific responses that were popular included a lot of support for the unity demonstrated by ULK articles (10%), the stories about other prisoner's work and organizing (9%), and the prisoner participation in writing ULK (4%). There was also a lot of appreciation for state-specific rules, legal information and reporting (6%). Thirteen percent of survey respondents liked best the core mission of ULK (which people described as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, internationalism, reporting the truth, or just "the mission"). In addition we saw responses in support of book reviews, culture, Spanish, country-wide and world news reporting, and general education.
In response to the question about what our readers would like to see more of in ULK, the most popular response (11%) was requesting state-specific information (every prisoner wants more information on their own state). We can only increase the content about your state if you take action and write about what's going on there. We rely on our readers for all of the state-specific reporting in ULK. So this is a response we hope comes from comrades who are sitting down now to write articles for the next issue.
There were also a lot of requests for resource lists (9%) and legal information (9%). This is not part of our core mission for Under Lock & Key. We do run the Prisoner's Legal Clinic to help fight key legal battles, such as the censorship of political material. But MIM(Prisons) core mission is to build the anti-imperialist prison movement, and so we prioritize communist political organizing. We do not have the labor or funding to provide general resource lists and legal assistance in addition to our core work. We know there are not many groups out there doing this, but resource lists and legal assistance will ultimately only provide band-aids to a fundamentally broken system of imperialism. And anti-imperialist organizing is even more scarce in prisons than legal and resource work.
The only other area of significant interest from a number of prisoners was around historical political theory. We had requests for more information on communist history, Maoist theory, and Black Panther Party history (10% total). Additional suggestions from readers for specific areas of expansion included: art, control units, current events, international news, poetry, practical organizing information, Spanish, U.$. government reporting, and issues faced by the elderly, wimmin and LGBTQ prisoners. Lastly, a general request for more ULK was echoed by several respondents without any specific areas of focus.
A few prisoners responded to some of the survey questions requesting that ULK be "less racial", and "stop generalizing whites as oppressors" while one respondent liked "your hate against white people." These responses represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the MIM(Prisons) political line around nation. We do not hate white people, we hate the imperialist system which kills, tortures and oppresses the majority of the world's people for the wealth and enjoyment of the minority. We are scientists and we see clearly that in the United $tates the white nation is part of the minority of imperialist allies leading global oppression. But we also can see that the majority of the people in Russia before the revolution in 1917 who were oppressed were "white." It is not skin color that determines people's status as oppressor or oppressed. However, because of national oppression in the world today, we do see whole nations of people oppressed as a group by other nations. The white nation in the U.$. is part an oppressor group, and there are many oppressed nations in the Third World. From an economic perspective, the other nations within U.$. borders are also part of the oppressors (New Afrikans, Chican@s, etc.), but these groups also face national oppression and so have some interest in anti-imperialism. It's a complex system, that requires careful analysis and cannot be boiled down to race or hate against white people. We hope these readers will engage with us further for study to understand our position.