The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [MIM] [Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support] [ULK Issue 70]
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Q&A with MIM(Prisons), Spring 2020

Where you been?

We’ve been here, at least some of us. Our last issue of ULK was ULK 69, which came out in October 2019. In that issue we announced a planned pause to launch a new newsletter in January. Those plans fell apart in December when most of those comrades left the project.

Wait, i’m new, i never even got ULK 69

If you wrote us for the first time after we mailed out ULK 69 you should have got some kind of response from us. Many new subscribers were only sent a back issue of ULK and no further info. This issue (70) should get everyone up to speed. However, due to the shelter-in-place orders and our limited resources we are not doing a mailing to our full subscriber list. Only those who write in after this issue is released will be sent a copy.

How are you doing?

We’re doing as good as we can. The setbacks in December were challenging. But those of us who remain are healthy so far, and are not facing any immediate setbacks from the pandemic. In fact, we saw a 42% increase in data pulled from our website in April, which we imagine is related to people sheltering in place to avoid COVID-19.

What have you been up to?

We’ve actually done a lot in 2020. Before the comrades left this winter we had spent a lot of time working with our partners in RAIM to develop plans for the newsletter, as well as developing our ideological unity around Maoism. Besides some edits to our definition of Maoism, we put out an extensive response to the book Continuity and Rupture, which goes through the history of Maoism here in occupied Turtle Island and relates it to the International Communist Movement (ICM). We could not fit that essay in this issue of ULK, but if you are interested please write in to request a copy. You can also get a copy of the book itself from us for $8 (stamps or ask us for info on how to pay by check) or work trade. It is a good explanation of some of the concepts behind Maoism and where it comes from. However, our essay addresses some serious disagreements with the historical facts and some of the author’s political line. We recommend it to all who are studying Maoism.

Since the last ULK we’ve focused much energy outside of prisons, to invest in building a more resilient movement on the streets. Of note, we launched a new online platform that has been in the work for years, which has allowed us to build with a number of new comrades. We released plans for the launch of Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS), a mass organization for people on the outside to support USW and MIM(Prisons) work. Our subscribers can now link up their outside contacts with AIPS to make direct contributions to Maoist prisoner support in the United $tates. Just have your people get in touch with us via our website www.prisoncensorship.info/contact .

We took the opportunity of the intro study group coordinator leaving to revamp the entire course, both the study questions as well as the format. This new format allows people to complete the course at their own pace, rather than having to wait for the next course to start, or for others to answer. We hope this means our subscribers will be able to develop their political consciousness more rapidly and with sustained interest. The new format is already showing good results in the responses we have seen.

The introductory study course has been open to prisoners for many years, and hundreds of people have participated over that time. In 2020, we started offering our intro study course online for the first time. We are linking AIPS comrades to our intro study group participants inside, to help build bridges between inside and outside, and to help everyone develop their political consciousness more deeply.

Despite the pause in ULK, we have sent in 100s of pieces of literature each month through our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program.

Are all your programs still running?

No, we simply cannot do what we were doing until we can get more comrade time dedicated to those tasks. This will happen by training new people and/or having others provide the money we need to keep operating so existing comrades have more time to put in.

Some tasks we cannot sustain at this time are producing Spanish-language content and coordinating the Prisoners’ Legal Clinic. Our capacity to appeal censorship on behalf of MIM Distributors will be even more focused on instances that are being actively fought by our subscribers. We will still send subscribers Spanish language materials that are already produced, as well as legal guides available through our Free Books program.

But ULK is back?

We’re not sure yet. Our plan A was to launch a new newsletter, in partnership with other cells/groups, uniting on MIM’s 3 cardinal principals (see MIM(Prisons) points 4-6). This newsletter would have more than tripled our distribution, with most copies being distributed outside of prisons. We still think we need such a newsletter to unite a broader Maoist Internationalist Movement. But until people step up with the effort, money and political line to do this project, this plan is on hold.

Plan B is to recontinue Under Lock & Key, to serve as the voice of the anti-imperialist prisoner movement led by Marxism-Leninism-Maoism through MIM(Prisons)’s role as editor. ULK came out every other month and was free to all prisoners of the United $nakes who wrote us every 6 months to stay on the mailing list. Whether we can return to that model is still being considered.

Plan C would be doing something less regular, with less content and/or more restricted distribution, which is effectively what we are doing with ULK 70. Before we make any concrete decisions, we decided to put out ULK 70 as a first step in sorting out our longer-term plan. We wanted to send our readers an update, including all of the indepth content included in this issue. We wanted to let people know we’re still here and still serious. And we wanted to make one more call for support. How we proceed will depend on the response from our subscribers, as well as potential contributors outside. And, like the rest of the world, we are not sure what will be the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

How can i support the newsletter?

In order to consistently produce new issues of Under Lock & Key, we must fill the gap in resources we had before we stopped. This gap is in both comrade time and money. One of our biggest successes in the last couple months has been the launch of the online platform, and the streamlining of the process of getting prisoner writings typed and published on our website. Helping out with typing, proof-reading, formatting and even writing articles for ULK is one way to help. Providing consistent funding is another. Comrades in prison, perhaps you can help recruit people to do both. You don’t have to contribute a lot, but we do need supporters who can contribute consistently, that we can rely on to keep the newsletter going.

To reignite Plan A we need to develop cells within MIM and mass organizations that are doing work on the ground that produce diverse content for such a newsletter, an outlet for distributing it, and funding.

Currently, Plan C might include publishing a newsletter whenever we can. This model has the benefit of responding to reader support; as support goes up, the newsletter becomes more regular. However, we think consistency is important up front, especially if we are to be effective at keeping our imprisoned subscribers informed in a relatively timely manner, as we must do to sustain our movement.

Therefore, we are asking for everyone’s support in making ULK a regular newsletter once again, to play its unique role of publicizing and supporting anti-imperialist organizing in the dungeons of the belly of the beast! For people inside, write to your people outside and encourage them to get involved. For people outside, contact us with a pledge of how much you can contribute every 2 months, in work and/or funding.

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[COVID-19] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 70]
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Debt Relief to Combat COVID-19 Blocked by U.$. Imperialism

In April, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began considering calls for aid to Third World countries in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.(1) Since then, finance capital flows have begun moving out of the Third World and back into the United $tates, resulting in currencies in those countries losing their value. This is making it impossible for these countries to pay off their existing debt burdens, as well as to fund much-needed relief for their people during this crisis.

In our previous article we mentioned the possibility of the IMF issuing Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) which would allow all countries to access funds, via the United Nations, without accruing additional debt and interest. We have also been echoing the call for complete debt forgiveness, or jubilee, for the poorest nations of the world.

In place of these measures, the United $tates has set up a system where countries can apply for dollars in exchange for local currency from the U.$. Federal Reserve Board. This allows the United $tates to decide who gets funding. Due to their control of the IMF, the Amerikans have already blocked funding to Venezuela to combat the pandemic.(2)

The money being offered from the the Fed will also be given as loans, with interest.(2) Already, the most exploited countries of the world cannot afford to pay off existing loans. Many countries are spending more on debt payments than healthcare during the pandemic.(1) In addition, these loans, unlike the proposed SDRs, will have conditions that give the Amerikans control over the path of development these countries take in the future.

The exiting of finance capital from the Third World will have the effect of passing the impacts of the economic crisis disproportionately on to those countries. Meanwhile, the United $tates is offering to send dollars back to put these countries further into debt and ratchet up further policy control over their economies. While the United $tates is currently leading the world in deaths due to the novel coronavirus, the Third World nations are likely destined to see much more dire death and suffering without debt forgiveness, unconditional aid, and the lifting of sanctions and embargoes by the imperialists.

In times of capitalist expansion, exporting finance capital works to transfer wealth from the Third World periphery to the First World nations. Now that the economy is quickly contracting, the methods above show how pulling finance capital out of the periphery also transfers wealth to the First World nations. Ultimately, national liberation struggles are necessary to free the peripheral countries from the economic system of imperialism that uses them as a source of wealth at the expense of much humyn suffering.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), April 2020, Call on G20 to Cancel $1 trillion in TW Debt next week.
2. Prabhat Patnaik, 30 April 2020, Monthly Review Online.

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[COVID-19] [New Afrika] [ULK Issue 70]
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They Need a Healer

After reading the article “34 years too long: The case of Political Prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur” in the San Francisco Bayview newspaper, Feb. 2020 issue, plus watching the news on the current events on the coronavirus epidemic, I can’t help but laugh and wonder; Is this pay back for locking up and killing our New Afrikan healers? As a young New Afrikan who grew up listening to and admiring the late Tupac Shakur, knowing that Pac came from a revolutionary background, when given a chance to study Dr. Mutulu Shakur deeper, I took it and was astonished that he co-founded the BAAANA (Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America).

It pisses me off how Dr. Mutulu was framed and is still locked up after serving his 30-year sentence unrightfully. Just as much as the killing of Dr. Sebz, America doesn’t want to heal individuals not without capitalizing on it. Now we’re in a period where all the natural healers are needed, and this epidemic of the coronavirus has individuals in the multitudes fearing for their lives. Due to the Surgeon General claiming there’s no cure and advise individuals to self-quarantine if they have symptoms that coincides with COVID-19. But where’s the natural healers now? In prison cells or 6 feet under the ground. For every action there’s a consequence and here’s the Imperialistic-Capitalistic world consequence for murdering and imprisoning our Brothers and Sisters.

I knowledge that if the United $tates didn’t do the evil wrong doings to the New Afrikan community and strayed away from the natural way of life, as a whole we would be better off like the majority of the continent of Afrika. Now Amerikkka is going into her rapist tool box and do what it does best, which is blood suck whoever has the cure dry then dispose of the evidence.

The Honorable Elijah Muhammed wrote about the Fall of Amerikkka and said the worst is yet to come. How shit is looking now, the worst is just beginning to happen to Amerikkka the great. As the New Afrikan nation is in motion to free our Brothers and Sisters from the belly of the dying beast. Our next move is in the separation of this failing nation and watch the fireworks. Amerikkka is in a desperate need for a healer, or a savior which will only come from US. Who are the Fathers and Mothers of civilization, Supreme beings.

FREE DR. MUTULU SHAKUR!!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We also foresee challenging times for the United Snakes empire coming out of th coronavirus crisis. This creates opportunities for real change, and real change of the economic system will come when oppressed nations begin delinking from the imperialist system as this comrade says.

We must caution against taking our critique of the imperialists too far into pseudo-science. There are many promoting “all natural” cures to coronavirus to make a quick buck these days. It’s not just the U.$. President pedaling dangerous unproven solutions. Certainly, if soldiers like Mutulu Shakur were not targeted by the state, New Afrikans and the world would be better off. And by seeing through Shakur’s vision of a socialist future, we will be much better prepared to handle pandemics in the future, by putting the people before profits.

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[Campaigns] [COVID-19] [California Medical Facility] [California] [ULK Issue 70]
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Return Life-Saving Machines to Prisoners at CMF

Revolutionary Greetings!

10 April 2020 – Filing my April Report from the California Medical Facility (CMF) at Vacaville, California.

This is a hospital, we are all here because we are high risk medical and most of us are 55+ years of age if not older. And those of us with Obstructive Sleep Apnea suffer from a life-threatening condition for which we require the use of a CPAP/BiPAP breathing machine to allow us to keep breathing as we sleep. Today the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), using Gastapo tactics, has come in and confiscated our DMEs (Durable Medical Equipment). Thereby placing all our lives at risk under the color of law.

I requested C.O. Gorbe, our dorm officer who since his assignment to our dorm has made a hostile environment, to make a copy of my health care 602 [grievance form] with supporting documents attached, as is my right before I submitted it. I was denied this request and for this reason I submitted this health care 602 attached to a CDCR 22 form with the CDCR 602 H.C. Grievance. And I have been successful in encouraging others to follow suite and file appeals.

My people have been calling the facility and they are denying these as allegations, refusing to acknowledge to our loved ones this even happened. And telling us this is to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Which makes NO sense. I am not infected and their reporting no cases here at CMF. Yet they are placing our lives at risk of our OSA.

I’m sure this is going on at other facilities within CDCR and I encourage all our brothers and sisters to also file paperwork together we can make a difference!

I have wrote similar letters to: - The Prison Law Office - Office of Internal Affairs CDCR - Office of the Inspector General - U.S. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division - CDCR, office of the Ombudsman - Rosen Bien Galvan and Grunfeld UP attorney at Law - Cal-vets

I would like to respectfully request copies of the grievance petition forms, and also suggest all our effected brothers and sisters to also file and make this a real campaign. And contact your loved ones beyond the walls to call in and make the system aware that people outside are aware of their actions. Together let’s hold them accountable for their actions!


Take Action:

Monday 11 May 2020

CALL: (707) 448-6841

Suggested message: “I am calling on behalf of prisoners who have had their Durable Medical Equipment taken away during the COVID-19 pandemic. These machines help people with life-threatening conditions. I am requesting that prisoners at California Medical Facility be given access to these machines immediately. Can you tell me why these machines were taken away and when we can expect them to be returned?”

MIM(Prisons) adds: As this comrade states ey does not have symptoms of COVID-19. While there are reports online that CPAP machines could spread COVID-19, these patients should be tested for the virus if that is the concern. The fact that COVID-19 is becoming so widespread in prisons is a complete failure of the staff to protect prisoners. With proper practices, prisoners likely would not even be exposed to the virus – in many ways, imprisonment is the epitome of “shelter in place..” Prisoners with existing health conditions need not be put under additional threats to their health.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 70]
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Former Cops in USW?

I note that MIM/USW expresses an inclusive philosophy when it comes to prisoners and victims of oppression. Does this mindset include former corrections officers, former police officers, etc. who are now incarcerated?

I ask this specifically because I’ve personally known of at least two former corrections officers who are now prisoners in PADOC. One is actually in the control unit I am currently housed in.

Funny thing is, he was made a “block worker” within days of arriving on the unit, which affords him privileges to the point that he is hardly ever in his cell and can pretty much do as he pleases in all regards, while the rest of us are 23 and 1 or 24 hr. lockdown and are EXTREMELY restricted in everything we do. So, just curious on your outlook on this.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Anyone can be a cop and anyone can be a revolutionary, no matter their background. In the United $tates we operate surrounded by enemies. So we must take proper precautions. We also believe that anyone can be transformed, but some people will take a lot more work. And without real power, people with strong anti-people ideas will not be worth our time to try to change right now.

This former C.O. sounds like a typical pig, and just because eir clothes have changed it doesn’t sound like eir mentality has. Just like a prisoner who is a rat for the admin, we look at a persyn’s political practice to see where eir loyalties lie. We wouldn’t consider either of these types of people to be members of United Struggle from Within, which works for the destruction of the Amerikkkan criminal injustice system, the end of the United $tates, and a world where everyone is free from oppression!

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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A Black Thought

Relegated to Amerika’s black belt blackballed
As black guards and black sheep in societies appalled
By me, a black god fallen from the black sky
A black swan while in flight who has forgotten how to fly
A black king riding mighty upon a black panthers back
As his throne because his throne has been plundered and sacked
My scepter a blackstoned black fist of black power
A black bishop prophesying spitting fire until the hour
A blacksmith doof the ascension of black slaves overriding the black box
The blackamoor educated in the school of hardknocks
In blue rage and black redemption a black leader of our days
Trained in zulu speak to strike aside the black’s chains
A black mamba moving swiftly across the plains of Kemet
Protecting youthful black diamonds from oppression’s strong net
I am George Jackson a black guerilla in the mist
A blacksmith forging iron amongst societies blacklist
I am Assata, an “extreme” black radical
The black messiah that J. Edgar Hoover couldn’t capture
Relegated to Amerikkka’s black bottom blackballed
As black death and black gangstas in societies appalled
By me, a black pearl risen from the black sea
The black child who in birth has remembered how to dream
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[Organizing] [Cummins Unit] [Arkansas] [ULK Issue 70]
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New Location, Old Conversations, New Technique

Revolutionary Greetings,

This letter is to inform you that I have been transferred. My transfer was long overdue and now after those long years in Ad-Seg I should be getting released to population soon. I am now housed in a two-man cell after spending the last three years in a one-man cell because that’s the way the other units in Ad-Seg is set up. So that also is an adjustment I’ve had to make to my work-out/sleep schedule.

This is another of the Arkansas units that’s known for rampant drug trade and use, so I’m trying to prepare myself for combating the mindset that comes along with that among my fellow prisoners. I have been here now for two weeks and have not heard any revolutionary conversations, let alone any political discussions that were based on concrete research or facts. No one is talking about unity or anything of that nature.

I started a conversation with another prisoner about the going-on in Iran. I told him that I assume Chump assassinated Iran’s commander to initiate a war because of the upcoming “elections,” and the prisoner I was talking to started taking a defensive stance and the kapitalist mindset came out. You know the justification, “Oh, the economy is better than it has ever been!” When I asked him at what price has the economy got so great he got in his feelings and told me I sound like one of the Trump haters that have been trying to come up with anything to get him out of office! I then just changed the subject to the San Francisco 49ers taking the Super Bowl this year but he didn’t like that any more than the political discussion! Ha.

The point I was trying to make about who actually pays the price for Amerikkkan prosperity was completely missed and I was reminded of something I read in the essay “Intro to Neo-Colonialism” by Kwame Nkrumah, which we are studying in the University of Maoist Thought (UMT). Nkrumah states “In fact neo-colonialism is the victim of its own contradictions. In order to make it attractive to those upon whom it is practised it must be shown as capable of raising their living standards, but the economic object of neo-colonialism is to keep those standards depressed in the interest of the developed countries. It is only when this contradiction is understood that the failure of innumerable ‘aid’ programmes, many of them well intentioned, can be explained.”

The reason I brought the issue of “aid programs” up is because in the course of the conversation my fellow prisoner’s only grievance about Amerikkka was that these other countries (Iran, Russia, etc.) look at Amerikkka as weak, because after we go to war with countries in the Middle East we send them all kinds of “aid.” I started explaining the system of neo-colonialism and how none of these other countries are fooled into believing that the Amerikkkan government provides “aid” to these countries we’ve invaded out of righteous motives, but he couldn’t grasp my point.

It just goes to show how deep kapitalist ideology indoctrinates its multitude of “patriots.” Amerikkka has given you a life sentence in their machination of mass incarceration, but these dudes are still willing to argue for the monster’s “honor.”

It’s hard for me to see any future victories over a kapitalist system that is so inextricably woven into the fabric of our present day society that I can see why it’s so easy to become agreeable to the multitudes and just go along with the way the system is. Not myself personally, but so many others that I think should be on the side of the oppressed. It makes me question my own abilities in comparison to a Mao. Their essays and policies are so far-reaching and deep, and here I fail at getting a point across to a fellow oppressed prisoner, or as they say I can’t even preach to the choir!

Well, as I said I was touching base to let you know about my transfer and my current status on getting ready to get released to population, and I also wanted to give my thanks to my komrades in the study group and the study group facilitators for helping me get through my time in Ad-Seg, and the growth I’ve experienced.

If it wasn’t for this study group, among other things, I don’t think that I would’ve made it through with a sound mind. So thanks again and I look forward to struggling into the future with UMT and MIM(Prisons).

UMT coordinator of MIM(Prisons) responds: Before writing our response, we asked another comrade from UMT to respond to this article. We suggested a potential angle for responding.

“The main thing I was thinking to respond to (which does not need to be the thing you respond to, you can respond however you see appropriate) is that this persyn was not coming from a place of unity in the conversation with the other prisoner [more on the meaning of "total unity" below - Editor]. Ey was trying to make a point, or win a debate. That technique is useful if there’s an audience of people who are coming to their own conclusions about the debate, hearing both sides. But for an individual conversation, I think we have to come from a place of total unity in order to help people see political distinctions. Again, you can respond however you see fit, I just wanted to offer that as an idea.”

In response, our UMT comrade sent some feedback:

"With respect to the article, I’d have to disagree with your statement that the author was not coming from a place of unity. It is very difficult for me to see how ey could’ve found a better way to struggle with that persyn according to what I read.

"The fact that ey even attempted to engage that persyn in a political discussion is proof enough for me that ey was attempting to unite with em. Furthermore, what is political struggle with someone like that if not a debate? While I don’t believe in showing people up who I’m trying to build with, I also don’t believe in being subtle or sugar-coating reality for the sake of sparing someone’s feelings. That would be liberalism, would it not?

“I once read a MIM article in which the author stated that a good teacher doesn’t assert the correct principles, rather they teach the correct principles. This is the model I always try to uphold when it comes to political struggle and I hope MIM(Prisons) still upholds it as well.”

I think there is a very subtle distinction between unity and discussion, versus division and debate, that i am still learning how to bring to fruition in our work. Of course there will still be moments of disagreement with our comrades, which is perfectly healthy to political growth. And there will be moments of frustration and conflict within a revolutionary organization and movement. I believe the goal in these recruiting conversations is in minimizing the conflict, while hashing out the disagreements, and holding the other persyn in high esteem and unity throughout.

With people we’re recruiting, there is some baseline unity that we can build on. Either you’re both prisoners, both have a deep hatred of capitalism or inequality, or you are working on the same campaign or project. Or as our UMT comrade says above, you are in a conversation at all, so there’s unity. That level of unity is a good starting place, for sure.

If we’re talking about helping people shift their deeply-held inaccurate beliefs which are reinforced by bourgeois propaganda daily; and empowering people to make a difference in their locality and the world; and asking people to take on the magnificent and difficult and self-sacrificing task of building revolution over the long-term while not cooperating with the pigs for their persynal benefit in the short-term, etc… then I believe a deeper unity is needed in order to break through all those barriers to catalyze this profound shift.

As advocates for the liberation of the world’s people from the oppression of capitalism and imperialism, i believe we have an obligation to learn how to communicate with people in a way that we can be most effective. And I’m not saying to throw out accuracy and facts for the sake of false unity. It’s about having discussions with (potential) comrades with unity as primary, even in spite of disagreement.

One way to picture this subtle distinction may be to pause at any point in a conversation and honestly ask yourself “is it blatantly obvious we are on the same team right now? or is it more like we are on opposing teams?” And ask yourself these questions from the other persyn’s perspective, and from an observer’s perspective, too. If the answer to this inquiry is that in that moment you are more in opposition than on the same team, then that’s what i’m talking about.

Another barometer to measure whether we’re coming more from unity or division, is to look at how do these conversations resolve? Are they resolved with greater unity and understanding, or, like in this letter we received, is the result that the persyn totally didn’t grasp the message?

One appropriate time for debate is in a conversation where you are distinguishing whether you even want to be on the same team with a persyn or an organization. These private debates can help clarify for ourselves our own view, the views of others, and help decide the best steps forward in terms of working together, or not.

Another time and place for outright debating is in public discussions. When others witness a debate, it helps the viewer clarify their understanding of the people in the debate, and helps clarify what views they are most aligned with. Under Lock & Key is a great public forum for these types of public debates.

And again, I’m not talking about letting things slide, or ignoring disagreements (that would be liberalism).(1) I’m talking about having conversations with people we are trying to unite with, coming from a place of deep listening. We have to, in a way, “allow” others to believe what they believe, in order to help them see something different. Not agreeing with them, but listening to them.

There are many conversational tactics and methods that can be used, and the effectiveness of specific language will vary persyn to persyn, culture to culture, situation to situation. Rather than a formula of things to say, i think cultivating one’s authentic commitment to developing with others is what signifies to them a deep level of unity, no matter the words. Developing this commitment (even in spite of our own persynal frustrations!), as well as the tactics that are effective, is a lifelong practice. You can use this approach with anyone, even people who hold differing views. And i think this approach is a precursor to people even listening to facts or points being made, which is a precursor to deeper unity, growth, and recruiting.

Comrades in Maoist circles have disagreed with this approach, and have said it’s too much focusing on subjective opinions and tone. And to that i would throw MIM’s “where’s the beef?” taunt back in our own face. Where’s our success? Where’s our results? If we’re outright debating people we’re trying to recruit, and simply trying to show them that they’re wrong, is that working?

I fully agree that viewing the world with the most accuracy as possible brings us power, which leads to effectiveness, and liberation. Sharing accuracy with others is extremely important to our work.

And I believe it’s subjective to behave as if we live in a post-subjective society, and that the most efficient way to liberate the world’s people is to go on unnecessarily dividing with people who could otherwise be our comrades. We can’t teach people to think scientifically by pretending they are already fully objective scientific thinkers.

While working toward a cultural shift where people can see and hear facts delivered in any tone and in any manner, i believe we also need to acknowledge that our culture isn’t there yet. It would behoove us to communicate with others with an awareness that this is the culture we’re speaking into. And in my view, there’s no harm to trying on different conversational techniques. Interacting with others from a place of profound unity (rather than just saying words or speaking one’s mind) is one i would recommend trying out.

I would even argue that being an objective scientific thinker isn’t about thinking scientifically 100% of the time – we are humyns after all, and part of being humyn is having subjective thoughts and feelings. Being objective isn’t about squashing those impulses, it’s about training ourselves to notice when we are approaching a question subjectively, and training ourselves to put that aside. Even long-time revolutionaries are subjective about things! We’re just also committed to developing our objective muscles. We can’t expect that quality of listening from people who have a lifetime of practice in all subjectivism all the time.

I don’t claim to be an expert in this technique, and i can definitely see how on the surface it sounds like liberalism or being wishy-washy. I believe it has been validated by all the seminal works i’ve studied on “how to relate to people” from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed to studying about Mao’s long march. That this view is in a minority in our organization is even further evidence of my lack of expertise in bringing this shift to our work. And, of course, maybe i’m wrong! Maybe head-on debate between individuals, in private, is the way to build unity, our organization, and our revolution.

I could go on even more trying to explain it, probably writing an entire book here. Instead i would love for comrades to try it out and let us know what they discover. If you come from a place of profound unity, deep listening and compassion in a conversation where you disagree with someone else, did anything shift in your relationship or organizing work with this persyn or people?

Note:
1. Mao Tse-tung, Combat Liberalism, 1937.

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[Bill Clements Unit] [Texas]
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Civil Rights Advocacy

My area of concern is Prisoners’ Civil Rights. I see all types of harassment! “Under color of state law” type issues are an ongoing problem in Texas prisons. But the thing that hurts me the most is inmates losing their line-class, custody level, and parole eligibility over a disciplinary report that consists of only one or two sentences.

Officers filing such reports are to give the full details underlying the facts of the whole situation. So this lack of detail leaves the door open for the officer to say anything they want at the hearing. It’s like they just hurry up and do a rush job on writing a case, then just make up the rest when the Disciplinary Hearing Officer calls the Charging Officer.

It’s wild! 95% of what the Charging Officer says is not mentioned in the report. So much for truth, accuracy and completeness of material information, right? The omission of detail – once the officer signs and dates anything – is falsification of records. And it’s like nobody sees it or even cares. Blows my mind! And these are the people the government hires to supposedly turn us back into society as rehabilitated.

I want people in prison to know their rights and use them. My group, called “Class Act” helps prisoners who are victims of harassment and mistreatment.

Write your grievances and allow 48 hours for them to be screened. Then, send a Request to the Unit Grievance Investigator asking for the case number and the investigator’s ID number. Keep your complaint alive. Request the status of your complaint. Let them know your complaint wont be swept under the rug. And inspire others to do the same.

I just started reading your newsletter and I want to be a member and receive your books for jailhouse lawyers. I’m in need of such material, or any helpful info you may have. Please put me on your list.

I’m white (lol). I need this plug of unity, I was very impressed by your newsletter. I am white, but I grew up in boys’ homes, jail and prison. So I’m looked at or I feel oppressed as a minority because I’m not down with the Supreme Race thing. I’ve never been a Gangster, but I’ve always been a thug. I’ve lived the Thug Life: sold drugs, done drugs since I was 15. I’m from the Hood.

If you can lace me up on your cause more clearly that would be cool. And I hope that my Civil Right Concern is an acceptable issue to be welcomed as a new Comrade. I’ll write more later this week. With much Love and Respect!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We welcome this comrade into the forces of United Struggle from Within and our ongoing campaigns in Texas and across the country to have our grievances addressed! It’s very heartening to hear about people helping others with their grievances and putting in work to build unity using whatever campaigns make sense where they are.

The more you get exposed to MIM’s politics, we hope you and the people you organize with will continue to see the bigger changes we’re striving for. Right now, civil rights campaigns in prison are a tactical part of an overall strategy of building independent institutions of the oppressed, and public opinion in favor of socialism. Beyond just reforming prisons, we want a world without oppression! This means an overthrow of capitalism, which we can’t get just through civil rights campaigns and filing grievances.

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[Campaigns] [Civil Liberties] [Ellis Unit] [Texas]
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Typewriter Supplies Seized for Helping Others with Grievances

It is October 2019, and I am forced to send this hand-drafted communication due to an act of retaliation by the property officer, Ms. Scott, on this Ellis Unit. Ms. Scott took from me eight of my purchased commissary typewriter ribbons, two of which were staged in my typewriter, with two print wheels of different font sizings. Thus turning my $225 typewriter, which took me 9 months to save up for, into an expensive paper weight.

I wish I had someone out in the world who would/could call, advocating on my behalf for returning my personal property. It was taken in retaliation for my drafting grievances for prisoners subjected to the same by the property C.O., C.O. Scott. If I must litigate for my property’s return I will go all out.

Yes, I have it in my blood to help those in need of it. And I do just that when I can. I do the best I can with what I have; always studying and collecting viable information from every source available. That is one reason these guys come to me for advice and legal draftings. The administration is aware of this, and this is why they collusively have crippled my typewriter as they have.

They are forcing me to initiate a writing campaign to Congressmen seeking readings of my grievances against them in their violations [brought to the state by way of the 14th Amendment] of my 1st, 4th, 5th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

Another one I am compelled to notify is the U.S. Attorney General and the Department of Justice. There are no less than a dozen inmates on this Ellis Unit whose step two grievances are in severe default; being 60 days beyond the extension by the OGP (offender grievance program). Therewith voiding any certification bestowed on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Agency’s Grievance System. Allowing us to circumvent the PLRA’s prerequisted administrative remedies so as to go straight to the federal court, because Texas has no court designated program that inmates might seek relief through.

MIM(Prisons) adds: There is a dire need for people on the outside to do public advocacy work for our comrades inside, which is a need that MIM(Prisons) members can’t take on. To this end, MIM(Prisons) supports Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support (AIPS) chapters around the country. Contact us to get involved!

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[Theory] [United Front] [ULK Issue 70]
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Build Unity with Queer Prisoners

First of all I would like to say that I truly admire the work that you all are doing. Even though I am somewhat new to the cause, I know that I am definitely headed in the right direction. At this point, I don’t feel qualified to contribute any articles that would be worth publication. There is so much that I would like to learn from you so that I will be in a better position to write for ULK. I am a teacher and a writer at heart and I definitely plan on providing you with work contributions in the future. In the meantime, I will offer a few comments on an article found in ULK 56. The article is titled “Building Unity Through Talk”, by Soso of MIM(Prisons).

Being incarcerated for over 13 years, I have seen what hatred and division does to prisoners. What I love about MIM(Prisons) is the fact that you all not only encourage peace & unity among prisoners, but you also labor to help them to see the bigger picture of what’s going on “behind the scenes.” Oppressed nations are frustrated and they don’t realize why they are so upset. MIM(Prisons) helps us to see that the real problem is found in the overarching imperialist system rooted in capitalism, not each other.

The article speaks about contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people, and it goes on to describe the best way to deal with both. “When we run into problems with people who should be our allies,” the article states, “we need to start from [the] desire for unity.” If oppressed nations would stop and take a moment to see that the system is designed to bring disunity among the people, and that this is really a divide-and-conquer strategy used by the bourgeoisie to ensure their continued ability to exploit the proletariat, only then will we see how important maintaining unity is when it comes to revolutionary struggle.

As a bisexual man in prison, I see other oppressed nations attacking the LGBTQ community (verbally and physically) as if we are the enemy. But as this article rightly points out, the marginalization of queer and trans folk is actually characteristic of imperialist oppressors and the patriarchy. The more oppressed nations are able to see that there are certain mindsets that are counterproductive to revolutionary struggle, the more they will be able to channel their energies in a positive direction that will lead to true change. I believe the greatest strength of MIM(Prisons) lies in its push for unity, peace, growth, internationalism, and independence (otherwise known as the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons).

I can’t help but to notice that this country is slowly moving in a more socialist direction, and I believe that is because people are starting to become disillusioned with the imperialist agenda. Unity and education is the key to keeping the momentum going, and anything that undermines that unity needs to be identified and exposed for what it is (which I believe MIM(Prisons) does a good job at). Thank you for the work that you do and I look forward to studying and struggling with you all.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade demonstrates that it doesn’t take special training to contribute articles that are worthwhile. By analyzing the conditions where ey is at, ey offers some universal observations around the topic of unity.

While we certainly hope the efforts of building public opinion for socialism are paying off, we think it’s unlikely that this country is actually moving in a socialist direction economically, as this author states above. With the coronavirus having an undeniable impact on capitalism’s status quo, it is a good opportunity to continue pushing for socialist change.

History shows us that to put an end to capitalism we will need a revolution. It won’t be a slow move towards socialism, but rather a violent revolution to overthrow capitalism. The capitalists won’t give up without a fight!

One thing we want to clarify about this article is who is the proletariat and who is exploited, because this is a very common point of confusion especially among our new subscribers. Where this author is discussing oppressed nations in prison succumbing to divide-and-conquer tactics, and helping oppressed nations realize capitalism’s main interests is in exploiting the proletariat, we want to clarify who is the proletariat. For the most part the oppressed nations within U.$. borders are not exploited and not proletarian. Many people in oppressed nations belong to the lumpen (that’s who is locked up in prison and hustling on the streets), labor aristocracy, and even the bourgeoisie. Some migrants are in the proletarian class, and some people are in the semi-proletariat. For the most part people in oppressed nations in U.S. borders are not proletarian and are not economically exploited.

We have a lot of study materials about different classes and their roles in capitalism and imperialism. Simply send us a work-trade and a request and we’ll get something out to you about it!

We also look forward to continuing to develop with our newer comrades! We’re inspired by letters like this every day.

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