Wanna Start a Non-Profit? Publish a Book? Read This.
I’m currently in the process of trying to start a non-profit organization to shed some light on the corruption that’s currently taking place in the Florida Department of Corrections and I was hoping that you guys can connect me with some people or provide me with some material to assist me with laying the foundation of this non-profit organization that is guaranteed to last for generations to come. I’m actually currently writing a book that goes into depths about some of the things prison officials have been doing to prisoners in Security Housing Units and I’m planning on using the book as the face of the non-profit. It’s just hard finding people to assist me with this organization, which is why I’m reaching out to you guys in hopes that you guys can assist me with this matter, because it’s time the people of society become aware of what’s currently taking place in the Florida Department of Corrections.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We want to express solidarity with this comrade’s mission to expose oppression in prison, that is one of the goals of the independent institutions Under Lock & Key and prisoncensorship.info, that have been consistently exposing this abuse across the country since 2007. We also agree with the focus on what is going on in the SHU/Ad-Seg/solitary confinement torture units that our movement has campaigned to end for decades.
We want to respond to this comrade publicly though to discuss some points of how to effectively expose these atrocities, and more importantly how to effectively stop them.
We also want to address everyone who has written us for help with or just plans for starting a new non-profit, and everyone who has written to us about their new book they want help promoting. We’ve received countless letters of both types in recent months. So we want to make a couple things clear.
If you wrote a book and you haven’t been doing it as part of your study with us over the years, we’re not going to publish it, we only publish Maoist literature. Similarly, we aren’t going to promote the book you already put out, we only promote Maoist literature.
If you’re trying to start a new organization, first we will refer you to our congress resolution from 2011, that reads in part:
"We only work to build two organizations at this time: MIM(Prisons) and USW. The only organizing group we run for prisoners is the USW leaders group, and even that is mostly done through Under Lock & Key for efficiency and to reach the masses with info on USW work.
“There are only a few conditions that would merit launching a new prison-based organization: [in short, you disagree with MIM(Prisons) cardinal principles, you are migrating an existing lumpen org to become a revolutionary org, or you are building a single nation org]”(1)
This resolution is targeted more towards independent revolutionary organizations. The comrade above, and many others, write to us about starting non-profits. In short, and in general, non-profits use institutional money to fund jobs for people to do reformism who might otherwise fight for real change. Now, we will admit some non-profits do good work. You will see us cite the work of groups like the Prison Policy Initiative and the Human Rights Defense Center/Prison Legal News over the years. In fact, HRDC does a lot to expose the Florida DOC, so we must ask our comrade from Florida, why not just work with HRDC? Why waste all that effort to create a new group that has the same goal when it’s so hard to find supporters? It could be that your strongest supporters already have an org.
Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in the the mid-1800s, commented on how Amerikans create a new organization for everything. Probably something about our crass individualism in this country. This is being amplified today with the internet, where individuals can create online persynalities that feign to be projects or organizations. In these cases they often rely on the cult of persynality, and sometimes become actual cults.
We must question the motivations of people sometimes. Do you want to end oppression, or do you want to create a project that is yours? If you want to end oppression, what do you think the thousands of other organizations out there all got wrong that you need to form a new one?
The only way we will be effective in real change is to unite more forces, not by dividing into more and more little cliques and narrowly-focused non-profits. And while we can ally with and find useful the work of some non-profits today, we must grow the Maoist movement to be able to do the things they do under Maoist leadership to have a greater impact.
We know most of our readers just want to reform the prison system. If that’s where you’re at politically, by all means, join a non-profit. And we are happy to ally with you in battles against things like censorship and solitary confinement. But we know, based on our study of history, that only by completely overthrowing imperialism and building socialism through constant class struggle can we ever hope to end the oppression that certain populations face today in Amerikan prisons. We do not promote books or build organizations that hide this fact. And we work to win over reformists to the revolutionary road through struggle against the state and demonstrating the limitations of efforts that do not actually seek to build power to overcome imperialism.