In November the U.S. District Court ruled that the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) must "establish bright-line rules that narrowly define prohibited content in a manner consistent with the First Amendment." These rules must be defined by mid-February. This ruling comes after years of censorship of a variety of publications by the ADOC, often as a result of arbitrary decisions from mail room staff.
In this case Prison Legal News (PLN) (a project of the Human Rights Defense Center (HRDC)) filed a lawsuit in 2015 challenging the censorship of their newsletter for "sexually explicit" content. Ironically, the content that inspired this censorship was describing non-consensual sexual contact between guards and prisoners. And as most readers know, PLN is primarily a legal resource for prisoners fighting injustices like this prison rape.
Arizona bans a variety of publications, including issues of National Geographic, Men's Health and GQ.
Issues of Under Lock & Key are also on this banned list, though not for sexually explicit material. In the case of ULK, the most recent ban (that we know about) is ULK 63 from July/August 2018, which was banned for "Incite, Aide, Abet Riots, Work Stoppages, Means of Resistance". Many other issues of ULK sent to prisoners in Arizona are returned or rejected without reasons given. Our attempt to appeal this ban of ULK 63, requesting the ADOC provide more evidence than these vague claims resulted in the following response: "The pages identified containing such content are throughout, including, but not limited to, pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, and 17."
In an example of their arbitrary decisions around censorship, a MIM(Prisons) six-page guide to forming a prisoner-led study group was censored in 2016 because it supposedly "Promotes superiority of one group over another/promotes racism/degradation." This is exactly what MIM(Prisons) fights against: the superiority of one group of people over another. And this is exactly what the criminal injustice system promotes.
This court ruling requires the Arizona Department of Corrections to change the mail policy from allowing DOC staff to use their discretion when determining what's banned and to establish consistency in excluding sexually explicit material. This won't help MIM(Prisons) as it is rare that a prison claims ULK should be censored for sexually explicit material. But any progress towards less censorship and more narrowly defined policies is a good thing.
On October 22, in a different case, Prison Legal News was awarded $1.2 million in attorney fees by a federal district court in Florida after a nine year lawsuit over censorship of PLN publication because of ads for phone services, pen-pals and stamps. This victory came after the Supreme Court refused to take up the final appeal of this PLN ban.(1) This resulted in the case remanding back to the district court for a ruling on the attorneys' fees. Basically this means PLN won on their Due Process claims but lost on their First Amendment claims. So the censorship is still legal, but the DOC failed to follow proper censorship policy.
"Free speech isn't free," said Human Rights Defense Center executive director Paul Wright. "In this case, censorship by the Florida Department of Corrections cost state taxpayers almost $1.2 million — because of the vicious efforts by the prison system to censor HRDC's publications. The Attorney General's office spent over 3,000 hours in attorney time fighting this case. The real tragedy is that Florida prisoners remain unable to read PLN and other HRDC publications that will educate and inform them of their rights."(2)
PLN and the HRDC have done a lot to fight censorship in prisons over the years. And their hard work on this front benefits everyone seeking to help educate and organize prisoners. MIM(Prisons) doesn't generally have the resources to take on these legal battles, but we do what we can to appeal censorship and force prisons to follow at least basic rules and regulations. This censorship, and our failures in the courts prove a point we often make: under capitalism there are no rights, only power struggles.
Censorship is one of the biggest barriers to our work with prisoners. And it's an area where we always need more help, both from jailhouse lawyers and from lawyers on the streets. If your mail is censored, get in touch with us and let us know. We will send you a guide to fighting censorship and assist on our end with an appeal to the prison. And lawyers on the streets get in touch and help us with these battles!
The latest installment in the Terminator movies takes up where Terminator II left off. In this timeline the A.I. called Legion has achieved consciousness and seeks to wipe humynity from the earth. The plot continues the theme of humyns fighting the machines after a nuclear holocaust, with the future pivoting on the life of one persyn.
This movie features more gender and nation diversity than the previous Terminators. All the humyn heroes are female. And it moves beyond the U.$. borders to Mexico where the new target of the Terminator lives. In Dark Fate the Terminator was sent back in time to kill Dani Ramos. A cybernetically-enhanced soldier, Grace, was also sent back in time, to protect Dani. And Sarah Connor, target from the previous Terminator movies, shows up to help with Dani's protection.
There are a few interesting themes to the Terminator movies that continue in Dark Fate. First there is the nuclear destruction of humynity. The earth and most of life on it has been wiped out. People need to take seriously the dark possibility that humynity is driving towards this destruction. It may not include a conscious A.I. wiping out the few humyns who survive. But capitalism is on a firm march towards annihilation of the current balance of life on Earth that humyns depend on. It is not sustainable. And so movies that pose this possible future, brought about by the actions of humyns, are good for the ideas they can provoke.
Another general theme of the Terminator movies is that one persyn is pivotal to the entirety of humyn existence. In previous movies that persyn was John Connor, the unborn child of Sarah Connor. And so the Terminators went back in time to try to kill Sarah to prevent the birth of John to stop em from leading the resistance that could defeat the Terminators. In Dark Fate the one persyn is Dani Ramos. In this case it's not Dani's womb that needs protection/destruction, it's Dani eirself, who will lead the resistance.
We might read into Dark Fate that it's not actually about individuals. After all, John Connor died but now we have Dani. Humynity and its conditions creates these leaders. But for the most part the movie is pushing a message that history is created by one individual who must be protected or destroyed at all cost. Humyns would not have united against the Legion without Dani. So the Legion must send a Terminator back in time to destroy Dani, and the resistance must send a soldier back to protect Dani. That's a lot of resources and energy spent on one persyn.
Dark Fate is consistent with the bourgeois theory of history, a spin on history that focuses on the accomplishments of individuals, removing them from the political context of their time. Communists, on the other hand, don't see Dani, or John, or the other humyn resistance leaders as uniquely qualified for their roles. Instead we see them as a product of the political conditions. They did what was necessary to fight for the survival of humynity. And in their absence others would have done the same.
The idea that only certain special individuals are able to take leadership roles fits in with a religious/capitalist way of thinking. Humynity may be moving towards destruction, but there's nothing average folks can do about it. Only special heroes can make a difference. This way of thinking discourages people from taking up the fight for a better future. And instead suggests it's best to just believe in a leader without question.
Maoists, on the other hand, see no individuals as infallible. In fact, a fundamental tenant of Maoism is the need for continuous cultural revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat, in which the people are actively critical of and struggling with socialist leaders and one another. This includes removing from positions of power those who have strayed off the revolutionary path. The future lies in the hands of the people, and so the people must learn through struggle in order for us to discover the correct way forward.
The earlier Terminator movies had a good slogan from Sarah and John Connor: "No Fate But What We Make." This was a mantra that John repeated to himself and others to remember that the future can be changed. This is a good counter to the idea that humynity is fated to nuclear destruction and the rise of conscious anti-humyn A.I.s. And that only John, or only Dani, can lead a successful resistance. Perhaps the A.I.s, in their limited world view, believe this to be true. But humyns should be focused on stopping the nuclear destruction and A.I. consciousness event before it happens. It is unfortunate that Dark Fate takes into its title the antithesis of this anti-fate slogan, and perpetuates that message in the plot.
The movie misses a great opportunity to avoid this idea of fate at the end, when discussing the future of one young character. The goal that this character not die in battle later in life is a good one, and a sign that potentially fate can be changed. But the assumption that the way to do this is to start military training for the post-apocalyptic battle now, rather than fight to keep humynity from destroying itself, is an unfortunate ending.
Scott Daniel Warren se enfrenta a 20 años de prisión por su trabajo
voluntario distribuyendo comida y agua a migrantes en Arizona. Warren
colabora con el grupo No Más Muertes que ayudan a [email protected] migrantes que cruzan
la frontera en el desierto de Arizona. Por realizar este trabajo y por
ofrecer a dos hombres un lugar para dormir, Warren fue [email protected] de dos
cargos de felonía por prestar asilo y otro cargo de felonía por
conspiración. Su juicio concluyó el 11 de junio con un jurado en
Warren fue [email protected] en enero de 2018 junto con [email protected][email protected] de No Más
Muertes. Los arrestos se produjeron horas después de que el grupo lanzara
un video donde se veía a agentes de la patrulla fronteriza destruyendo
jarras de agua que se habían dejado en el desierto para los migrantes. El
caso todavía no está cerrado; los fiscales federales podrían optar por
re-internar a Warren.
El desierto de Arizona es una de las fronteras más mortales para los
migrantes debido al calor extremo. Pero las personas se ven obligadas
atravesar por esta área debido a la política de "Prevención por disuasión"
de 1994 que surgió en la era Clinton con el objetivo de hacer más mortal el
cruce de fronteras. La idea era forzar a que el cruce de fronteras tuviera
lugar sobre terrenos más hostiles, poniendo más vidas en peligro, y así
desalentar a los migrantes a que intentaran el viaje. Los cálculos del plan
tuvieron éxito, incluyendo las "muertes de extranjeros." Llevando a cabo
esta medida, el plan funcionó. Se redujeron el número total de personas que
intentaban cruzar, sin embargo, las probabilidades de morir incrementaron
Cientos de migrantes son [email protected] muertos cada año. Las políticas
fronterizas de Trump son solo una continuación de las políticas
antiinmigrantes de todas las administraciones imperialistas
estadounidenses, incluyendo la de Obama. Mantener las fronteras cerradas es
una fuente barata de mano de obra y recursos naturales para los
imperialistas. De esta forma, se preserva la riqueza para aquellos que
están a expensas de la pobreza de los que se encuentran en el exterior. Las
muertes de migrantes son solo uno de los resultados de estas fronteras.
Combatir el muro fronterizo de Trump es una distracción del problema real.
Luchemos en contra de las fronteras, no de los muros. Abrir las fronteras;
devolver la riqueza robada a las naciones ocupadas, en casa y en todo el mundo.
Más de 200 [email protected] iniciaron una huelga de hambre el 18 de octubre en el Centro de Detención Nordeste de ICE (ICE Northwest Detention Center, NWDC) en Tacoma, Washington. El NWDC es una prisión privada dirigida por el Grupo Geo. Esta instalación puede albergar a más de 1500 personas y en ella se encuentran [email protected][email protected] de redadas de inmigración [email protected] desde la frontera de México con Estados Unidos y otros migrantes [email protected] en el sistema Amerikkano. Esta es una de las mayores cárceles de inmigración del país.
Desde 2014, los [email protected] han iniciado 19 huelgas de hambre para protestar por su detención y sus condiciones tras las rejas. Esta última protesta exige una comida comestible, un tratamiento humano y [email protected] también exigen el cierre total del NWDC. [email protected][email protected] se encuentran gusanos, sangre,
cabellos y otras cosas en la comida. [email protected] trabajadoræs de la cocina informan que las ratas corren alrededor del área de preparación de alimentos. [email protected][email protected] abusan de los prisioneros. Y el Grupo Geo ignora estas quejas.(1)
El Servicio de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas de los Estados Unidos (ICE) refleja las condiciones que hay en otras cárceles del país. De hecho, [email protected][email protected] del Centro Correccional de Clallam Bay en Washington también iniciaron una huelga de hambre y de trabajo a principios de octubre para exigir mejores condiciones, sobre todo, respecto a la calidad de los alimentos.
[email protected][email protected] de ICE emitieron una declaración negando la existencia de dicha huelga: "El hecho de que no se coma la comida que se ofrece en el centro no es un factor determinante por que se pueda declarar la presunta o proclamada huelga de [email protected] Los artículos alimenticios del economato permanecen disponibles para la compra para los [email protected]". Después de esta declaración, realizaron un recorrido para la prensa por el NWDC, en el que se presentaron condiciones impecables, una sala de atención de urgencias bien abastecida y una biblioteca agradable. Al parecer, ningún [email protected] fue [email protected], ni siquiera fue [email protected] de cerca durante la visita. (2)
La mayoría de [email protected] 54,000 [email protected] de ICE en EE UU se encuentran en prisiones privadas. Y la detención de migrantes constituye la mayor parte de la población carcelaria privada del país. Pero esto no se trata de la
diferencia de condiciones entre las prisiones privadas y las estatales o las administradas por el gobierno federal. Las condiciones en todo el sistema de injusticia criminal son abusivas, peligrosas e inhumanas. No
estamos luchando por una cara diferente del abuso. (3)
Es cierto que los arrestos federales en general han aumentado en los últimos 20 años, sin embargo, entre 1998 y 2018 los arrestos federales se incrementaron en un 10% entre [email protected][email protected][email protected] y en cambio, el aumento entre [email protected] no [email protected] fue de un 234%. El aumento más dramático fue entre 2017 y 2018, que creció un 71% el número de arrestos de los no [email protected] En 1998 el 63% del total de arrestos federales fueron [email protected] estadounidonses, mientras que en 2018 este número cambió y el 64% de todos los arrestos federales fueron de no [email protected] La porción de arrestos federales se ha ido centrando, cada vez más, en la frontera entre México y EE. UU., con un aumento del 33% en 1998 al 65% en 2018. El 95% de
este aumento es a causa de detenciones de inmigración.(4)
Los centros de detención de ICE dejan claro el propósito de las cárceles en Estados Unidos. Esta es una opresión nacional. La mayoría de [email protected][email protected] que no son [email protected] estadounidenses están siendo [email protected] por el "crimen" de estar en Estados Unidos sin el permiso de los imperialistas. Este "crimen" representa el 78% de los casos. (4) Unas fronteras cerradas es un requisito del imperialismo. La riqueza se mantiene dentro de estas fronteras para [email protected][email protected][email protected] que nacen bajo este privilegio. La riqueza es robada fuera de las fronteras; la explotación de la mano de obra y el robo de recursos naturales aportan grandes ganancias a los imperialistas. Y [email protected] imperialistas comparten esas ganancias con [email protected][email protected] de sus países para mantenerl[email protected][email protected] y [email protected] Esta diferencia de riqueza es obvia; es latente incluso entre [email protected] más pobres dentro de las fronteras estadounidenses y la población media que viven en el tercer mundo. Quienes viven fuera de estas fronteras están [email protected] por acceder a esta riqueza robada de su tierra natal. El papel del ICE y del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional está claro: mantener esta riqueza dentro de las fronteras estadounidenses en exclusiva para [email protected][email protected][email protected]
Apoyamos las demandas justas de [email protected][email protected] en NWDC y de todo el sistema de injusticia criminal. Este sistema ha decaído tanto que las personas se ven [email protected] a morirse de hambre para luchar contra las
condiciones peligrosas e inhumanas. La solución no es mejorar las condiciones en una prisión, ni siquiera cerrar una instalación. Pero estas demandas encajan con la lucha antiimperialista mientras luchamos por unas fronteras abiertas y el fin de un sistema en el que una nación tiene el poder de encerrar a [email protected] solo por el crimen de haber cruzado una línea invisible.
More than 200 detainees began a hunger strike on October 18 at the ICE Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington. The NWDC is a private prison run by the Geo Group. The facility can hold over 1500 people and houses those swept up in immigration raids, transfers from the U.$-Mexico border, and other migrants caught in the Amerikkan system. This is one of the largest immigration prisons in the country.
Since 2014 detainees have launched 19 hunger strikes to protest their detention and conditions behind bars. This latest protest is demanding edible food and humane treatment, with many also demanding a complete shut down of NWDC. Prisoners find maggots, blood, hair and other things in the food. Kitchen workers report rats running around the food prep area. Guards abuse the prisoners. And Geo group ignores these complaints.(1)
U.$. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers mirror conditions in other prisons in the United $tates. In fact, prisoners at Clallam Bay Correctional Facility in Washington also went on food and work strike earlier in October to demand better conditions, focusing on food quality.
ICE officials issued a statement denying the existence of a hunger strike: "Failure to eat the facility provided meal is not a stand-alone factor in the determination of a detainee's suspected or announced hunger strike action. Commissary food items remain available for purchase by detainees." They followed up this statement with a press tour of the NWDC, featuring spotless conditions, a well stocked urgent care room, and nice library. It appears that no prisoners were interviewed or even filmed up close in the tour.(2)
A majority of the 54,000 ICE detainees in the United $tates are held in privately run prisons. And migrant detention makes up the majority of the private prison population in this country. But this isn't about the difference in conditions between private and state or federally run prisons. Conditions across the criminal injustice system are abusive, dangerous, and inhumane. We're not fighting for a different face on the abuse.(3)
While federal arrests overall have gone up over the past 20 years, between 1998 and 2018 federal arrests rose 10% for U.$. citizens and 234% for non-citizens. The most dramatic increase was between 2017 and 2018, a 71% rise in arrests of non-citizens. In 1998 63% of all federal arrests were U.$. citizens while in 2018 that number flipped and 64% of all federal arrests were of non-U.$. citizens. The portion of federal arrests increasingly focused along the U.$-Mexico border increased from 33% in 1998 to 65% in 2018. 95% of this increase was due to immigration detainees.(4)
The ICE detention centers make clear the purpose of prisons in the United $tates. This is national oppression. These non-citizen detainees are mostly being prosecuted for the "crime" of being in the United $tates without permission of the imperialists. This "crime" represents 78% of the cases.(4)
Closed borders are a requirement of imperialism. The wealth is kept within these borders for the lucky few who are born to this privilege. That wealth is stolen from outside the borders; exploitation of labor and theft of natural resources brings great profit to the imperialists. And the imperialists share that profit with the citizens of their countries to keep them passive and supportive. This wealth differential is obvious, even between the poorest within U.$. borders and average people living in the Third World. Those living outside those borders are desperate to get in to access this wealth stolen from their homeland. The role of ICE and the Department of Homeland Security is clear: keep this wealth within u.$. borders exclusively for Amerikan citizens.
We support the just demands of prisoners in NWDC and throughout the criminal injustice system. This system has sunk so low that people are forced to starve themselves to fight the dangerous and inhuman conditions. It will not be fixed by improving the condition in one prison, or even by shutting down one facility. But these demands fit in with the anti-imperialist struggle as we fight for open borders and an end to a system where one nation has the power to lock up others just for the crime of crossing an invisible line.
"The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prison." - Fyodor Dostoevsky
A lot of people get confused when they think about prison. They get the false impression that it's a system of correction. If you do something that merits your incarceration, you do your time, go home and put your life back together. Oh, if it were only that easy.
Think about this: the United States as a country is only 5% of the world's population. Yet, we have the highest prison population. There are other countries larger than us by far, just as Texas and New York are larger than Rhode Island or Connecticut.
One of two things are usually the most common assumptions. Either the United States has the worst people in the world or something is drastically wrong. You can't have it both ways, can you?
But what if it isn't? What if we don't have the worst people in the world. Well then something has to be drastically wrong there. Nope, try again.
Nothing is wrong because it is designed the way it was supposed to be. It works just as it was designed. It's a business run off of cheap labor and institutionalized workers. It's not designed for corrections. That is a vastly mis-believed fabrication!
Inside, they get paid for every body that fills a bed. Every person who signs an attendance sheet for a class or a program. Being locked down is not an issue because they will bring the sheet around anyway and always get the mindless to sign regardless of actual attendance. Forget teaching you anything, and everyone gets paid.
The arms and the legs of the system are not designed for you to succeed. They want you to come back to this concrete hotel to work in their kitchens and so forth. They're set up for failure to keep these turnstiles moving and rotating the mindless drones back through this system of so-called corrections. All for the almighty dollar, the very root of evil.
Now that's not to say it's impossible to finally escape its treacherous tentacles but rare enough that it’s dreamt about more than it's accomplished. Why is that? One may desire it but working for it is a whole different story. The only thing that is ever going to break you from this business that's not designed to let you escape it's grasp is you. Educate yourselves. Be fully aware of all the why's, the how's, the when’s and the inevitable who's.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It is true that many people are profiting off of the existence of prisons. Most importantly all the people who get paid to work in and around the criminal injustice system. States are subsidizing a huge welfare program for prison workers who can torture and abuse people at work and earn a good salary for it. But we can't ignore the primary intent of the Amerikan criminal injustice system: social control. If not for this goal, it should be easy to convince politicians that the subsidy given to the vast prison system would be better spent on infrastructure work (which would also employ lots of people) or schools (again lots of employees). But prisons are essential to keep the oppressed nations in check.
The disproportionate rate of incarceration of [email protected] and New Afrikans demonstrates the social control function of prisons. We can also see it in the historic rise in imprisonment rate as the Amerikan government attacked the Black Panther Party in the late 1960s and tried to figure out how to stop this growing revolutionary movement. This is why we can't take down the criminal injustice system with economic arguments alone.
America, you exposed the line
Back in my younger days your judges had their axes to grind
You promised us that justice was really blind
But that is not what we would find
You just saw me as someone who was born to do time
Yeah, I'm from Florida, the sunshine state,
But you've sent me to prisons more times than I've made it across the sunshine gate
Unless i'm riding on the prison bus
Your green dollars all say "in God we trust"
But to you I'm worth about a hundred grand a year
And all the people that I know have all passed through here
It's just how you keep the spirit cause it's so strong-willed
So I turn on my TV and stare at the screen
and it's a habitual liar named Trump
And he has big plans to buy a wall
But unfortunately that's not all
He also wants to split the families apart
And stop the Black & Brown people from a better life and a fresh start
So I guess that the rumor is true
that the Black & Brown are not red, white or blue
But I guess that's just america's plan
The rise of the Ku Klux Klan
That's spread all the way from the back woods
And the secret meetings wearing white hoods
And elevating them to become the police
Then the local judge, and even the mayor of the big city
And then a department of corrections union member
Funneling a percentage of their pay
To keep the disadvantage people locked up all day
By paying politicians and telling them what to say
Like "we're tough on crime"
And then they pass a thousand laws at a time
And have no respect for our civil rights
So we are doing lifetimes of wasted days and wasted nights
But now I can clearly see through your soulless eyes
And your great american white lies
But I vow to stop you from suppressing my kind
Because yes america you exposed the line.
Being able to politicize this generation is one of the major problems I’m currently facing. To get one to become conscious of the real enemy is a struggle. Seemingly because battling within our own circles are somehow being rationalized and not frowned upon. Within this last year my political consciousness has been awoken, and I now feel obliged to share this knowledge with all oppressed peoples. But getting them to really receive the messages I attempt to convey is hard as hell. And the fact that I now recognize that my people have become so complacent with being oppressed that its become the "norm" is extremely troubling. Being a gang member myself, one would think that my solid reputation would make my advancements credible enough to persuade those who know and respect me to at least be open-minded enough to hear the message first and conclude later. But my attempts often times reveal the divisiveness in the oppressed and the true power of capitalist tactic.
Being able to continue to reach out and inform through all adversity and frustration is a necessity in the struggle to achieve communism. Understanding that being cast aside as "crazy," "tripping." etc. is a part of it all. The ignorant always criticize the unknown and misunderstood. It is up to us as revolutionaries to continue the fight against the PIC (prison industrial complex), and the current foundation of capitalism.
I am attempting to form several study groups and beginning to organize here in Alaska which seems to be uncharted territory. I need all of the help and guidance I can get. I am open to all forms of education for myself and others. For without knowledge we can never learn how to defeat oppression. I have and always will be a front line soldier. I've learned from first hand experience that unorganized violence/force used against the police only achieves negative consequences. The most solid form of action for a single soldier is litigation. Every other action consists of numbers. That's why organization is so important. United we stand, divided we fall. All power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Much credit to this comrade for standing strong in the face of criticism and hardship in educating and organizing others. Study groups are a great way to get people talking about new concepts and educating about revolutionary politics. We will be sending some lit and other materials to help with that work. Anyone interested in starting a study group where you're at can contact us to get our guide to forming a study group, and also literature for your group to study.
This writer says litigation is the most solid form of action for a single soldier. And litigation is certainly one avenue for folks in isolation or otherwise unable to work with others. But there are other options. For instance, solo comrades can write articles and poetry, produce art, review books, and create study guides. These are all things that, when done through an organization like MIM(Prisons) can help to educate others, even if you can't directly reach those folks yourself. This comrade is right that we need to be organizing others, and not just doing solo work. But for those stuck in isolation we do have options for activism besides just working through the injustice legal system. Get in touch for guides to help you get started in any of these areas.
A modern-day example of New Afrikans building independent institutions and public opinion for socialism is the groups carrying out the Jackson-Kush Plan in Jackson, Mississippi and the surrounding area. There are a number of different organizations involved in, and evolved out of, this Plan, and its roots go back to the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA) in the 1960s. It is directly built on the long history of New Afrikan organizing for independence, going on since people were brought to the United $nakes from Africa as slaves. The Plan itself was formulated by the New Afrikan People's Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement between 2004 – 2010. (1, p. 3)
The project has gone through many different phases, all focusing on attaining self-determination for people of African descent in Mississippi and the surrounding region. Sometimes the organizing has been more heavily focused on electoral politics,(2, 3) sometimes more on purchasing land, and currently the Cooperation Jackson project appears to be at the forefront of pushing the Plan forward.
Cooperation Jackson's mission is to develop an intimate network of worker-owned cooperatives, covering all basic humyn needs, and more: food production and distribution, recycling and waste management, energy production, commodity production, housing, etc. The main goals of Cooperation Jackson (C.J.) are to provide sustainable livelihoods for its organizing base, which includes control over land, resources, means of production, and means of distribution. Currently C.J. has a handful of cooperatives in operation, and is building the Community Land Trust to have greater control over its target geography in Jackson. This is just a snapshot of the work of Cooperation Jackson, which is explained in much more detail in the book Jackson Rising.(1)
The Jackson-Kush Plan is being carried out despite big setbacks, repression, harassment, and roadblocks from the government and racist citizens alike, for decades. This is the nature of struggle and the folks working with the Plan are facing it head-on. C.J. and the other organizations involved are doing amazing work to establish what could be dual power in the state of Mississippi.
While the MIM has congruent goals with the Jackson-Kush Plan (at least including the self-determination of New Afrikan people; control over land, economy, and resources; environmental sustainability; an end of capitalism and imperialism), there are some notable differences.(4) We're holding out hope that the Plan is being intentionally discrete in order to build dual power, but the ideological foundations of some of its structure point instead to revisionism of Marxism.
Cooperation Jackson's plan includes working with the government in some capacity. It needs to change laws in order to operate freely and legally. This itself isn't wrong – MIM(Prisons) also works on and supports some reforms that would make our work of building revolution much easier. But because of its relationship to the state, C.J.'s voice is muffled. MIM(Prisons) doesn't have this problem, so we can say what needs to be said and we hope the folks organizing for New Afrikan independence will hear it.
Cooperation Jackson's structural documents paint a picture of a peaceful transition to a socialist society, or a socialist microcosm, built on worker-owned cooperatives and the use of advanced technology. Where it aims to transform the New Afrikan "working class" (more on this below) to become actors in their own lives and struggle for self-determination of their nation, we are for it. So often we hear from ULK readers that people just don't think revolution is possible. Working in a collective and actually having an impact in the world can help people understand their own inherent power as humyn beings. Yet it seems C.J. sees this democratic transformation of the New Afrikan "working class" as an end in itself, which it believes will eventually lead to an end of capitalism.
"In the Jackson context, it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy."(1, p. 7)
This quote also alludes to C.J.'s apparent opposition to the universality of armed struggle in its struggle to transform the economy. In all the attempts that have been made to take power from the bourgeoisie, only people who have acknowledged the need to take that power by force (i.e. armed struggle) have been even remotely successful. We just need to look to the governments in the last century all across the world who have attempted to nationalize resources to see how hard the bourgeois class will fight when it really feels its interests are threatened.
Where C.J. is clearly against Black capitalism and a bourgeois-nationalist revolution that stays in the capitalist economy, we are in agreement. Yet C.J. apparently also rejects the need for a vanguard party, and the need for a party and military to protect the interests and gains of the very people it is organizing.
"As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained within the nation-state edifice. We are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn't dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats."(1, p. 8)
As students of history, we assert that C.J. is putting the carriage before the horse here. National liberation struggles have shown the most success toward delinking populations from imperialism and capitalism. Yes, we agree with C.J. that these national liberation struggles also need to contain anti-capitalism, and revolutionary ecology, if they plan to get anywhere close to communism. But C.J. seems to be saying it can dislodge from capitalism before having national independence from imperialism.
The end of this quote also raises valid concerns about who holds the means of production, and the development of a new bourgeoisie among the party bureaucrats. This is one of the huge distinctions between the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and China under Mao. In China, the masses of the population participated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which attacked bureaucrats and revisionists in the party and positions of power. These criticisms were led from the bottom up, and the Cultural Revolution was a huge positive lesson on how we can build a society that is continually moving toward communism, and not getting stuck in state-capitalism.
Another significant difference between the line of the MIM and of Cooperation Jackson is our class analysis. Cooperation Jackson is organizing the "working class" in Jackson, Mississippi, which it defines as "unionized and non-unionized workers, cooperators, and the under and unemployed."(1, p. 30) So far in our exposure to C.J., we haven't yet come across an internationalist class analysis. Some pan-Africanism, yes, but nothing that says a living wage of $11 is more than double what the average wage would be if we had an equal global distribution of wealth.(5, 6) And so far nothing that says New Afrika benefits from its relationship to the United $tates over those who Amerikkka oppresses in the Third World.
We can't say what the next steps for the Jackson-Kush Plan should be. There's still opportunity for people within the project to clarify its line on the labor aristocracy/working class, the necessity of armed struggle to take power from the bourgeoisie, and the significance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. MIM(Prisons)'s Free Books for Prisoners Program distributes many materials on these topics. Some titles we definitely recommend studying are On Trotskyism by Kostas Mavrakis, The Chinese Road to Socialism by E.L. Wheelwright and Bruce McFarlane, and Imperialism and its Class Structure in 1997 by MIM.