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Maoist Movie Review: Does Ape Nature Differ from Humyn Nature?

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes poster
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes
10 May 2024
PG-13

Spoilers

A main theme throughout both series of Planet of the Apes movies is the question of whether Apes differ from so-called “humyn nature.” In the first series (produced 1968-1972) especially, humyn nature is blamed for the hubris of nuclear weapons that brings humyns’ downfall. In this latest movie of the new series (produced 2011-2024), apes have been setback in this search for truth, but perhaps this can be explained by the very existence of class struggle that they share with humyns.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024), the fourth film in the modern Planet of the Apes film series, is the first to take us into the future a few generations after the events that led Apes to become competitors with humyns for dominating planet Earth. In it we see glimpses of the emergence of class society, in the form of slavery. But it is a slave society that is shaped by a relationship to the formerly dominant humyns that still reflects a colonial relationship in many ways.

The Eagle Clan, who are the center of the film, live in a primitive clan society, with elders who set the laws that are taught to the young and passed down via tradition. Later in the film, we encounter a larger ape society that is a kingdom led by King Proximus, that has absorbed many clans and uses them as slaves. It is not clear that the slaves produce material wealth for the slavemaster class of the kingdom, as the film only shows them working to break into an old humyn military bunker to extract the technology. But someone must be producing the food, tools and weapons for the soldiers who run the kingdom.

Proximus claims to be the new Caesar. Caesar was the founder and leader of the apes in the first three movies, and was also a king figure. But Caesar was a benevolent leader who fought and worked alongside the others. A virus gave Caesar super-ape intelligence to lead the apes to liberation from humyn society.

Within 10 years of the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Caesar had already begun to learn that apes have the same tendencies as humyns as he had to ally with a humyn to combat a rogue ape attempting to usurp eir control of ape city to wage war on humyns.

We previously discussed the themes of integrationism in the newer series, in contrast to the older series that takes a more scientific approach to uniting humyns and apes through struggle and re-education. While the inability of apes to build a a lasting harmonious society may appear pessimistic, we’d say it is realistic; accurately reflecting the myth of humyn or ape nature despite the producers’ intentions.

The original series (produced 1968-1972) ends with a humyn ally remarking that the apes have finally become humyn after the first ape murder of another ape. This story line is framed more as a biblical original sin story than class struggle. But in both series the first ape-on-ape murder occurs because of the struggle between the apes who want to wage war to annihilate all humyns and those who do not. The question the producers seem to be asking is do apes have a war-like nature like humyns supposedly do. Despite the revolutionary themes of the first series, it largely reinforces this concept of humyn nature.

When we criticize the concept of humyn/ape nature, we are not criticizing the “natural” we are criticizing the metaphysical view of an unchanging phenomenon. In other words, “natural” itself is a myth in many ways, in other ways “natural” could be dialectical materialism and the scientific method that explains the world around is. As dialectical materialists we understand all things to be in a constant state of change motivated by the contradictions within that thing; the class struggle in society being the prime example of this in Marxist thought.

Observed by humyns in our reality, chimpanzees and gorillas have one leader who is a male silverback. While bonobos have an alpha male role as well, the alpha female plays the more determinate role. Interestingly, the king Proximus is a male bonobo. Meanwhile orangutans in real life tend to be more solitary, which is reflected in this film with Racka being a loner and no other orangutans being part of Proximus’s kingdom. As we know, and as Engels lays out in The Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State, humyns have gone through various social structures; from more collective matriarchal societies to the more modern hierarchical patriarchal societies, and these structures have changed to adapt to changing modes of production.

In our world, we suspect humyn societies have changed more over the last ten thousand years than other great apes, because their relationship to the rest of the natural world has changed more through gaining knowledge and technology. Therefore in the new series of movies we would expect apes to go through a very similar evolution of hierarchies and class society as humyns did as they change their relationship to the production of their material needs. This is reflected in the kingdom that operates as a primitive system of slavery, the earliest class system of humyns as well.

However, the evolution of ape society is colored by the existence of a previous, advanced humyn society. Learning from humyn books and accessing humyn armories full of technology are ways that Proximus attempts to make a leap in ape knowledge and technology. As ey does this, Proximus maintains a line that humyns cannot be trusted, and apes must work together, even though this is applied cynically as ey is shown to happily sacrifice the lives of many apes in eir own attempts at power through humyn technology.

The main character in Kingdom is Noa, a member of the Eagle Clan, whose father was a master of training eagles. Noa learns about Caesar for the first time from the last true follower of Caesar after the rest of the Eagle Clan has been captured by Proximus. Before this, Noa had no knowledge of the history of humyns or apes; perhaps because of eir age. But Noa also states that eir elders did not want to know such things and remained ignorant on purpose through isolation.

The major transformation that Noa makes is to reject the idea that law is handed down from some higher power. Ey does this overtly by rejecting the laws of the king, and more subtly by pursuing knowledge eir elders forbid. This is the transformation of thought that humyn society went through during its transition to capitalism, when liberalism, plurality, democracy and the pursuit of scientific knowledge rose to replace ways of thought that were more stagnant, based more in idealism and following a god-king. So we see Noa make a shift towards materialism, that we expect will transform the Eagle Clan as it rebuilds its village. But Noa’s understanding of ape nature at the end of the movie still seems behind that of Caesar’s, generations ago. We see this type of pre-scientific thinking among our comrades today who believe the white man is literally the devil and the Black man/humyn is god. Like Noa, they’re on the right side, but are guided by idealist thinking that can easily lead them astray. Of course, we all struggle with idealism and subjectivism, which might be considered part of the “nature” of beings that can reason with limited knowledge and perspective. Part of the power of the vanguard party, as layed out by Lenin, is its ability to produce a more scientific approach to social change by pooling experience and knowledge production at group level for a whole class.

In our review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) we compare the Caesar loyalists to the Gang of Four in China, who were those in the leadership who both understood and represented the Maoist line after Mao’s death. The Orangutan, Raka, would be like a young persyn in China today who has deeply studied Mao and Chinese history but has no real experience in building socialism and no one to help em put into practice. Proximus might be compared to the revisionists in power in China, exploiting the people while trying to strengthen China against the U.$. imperialists all in the name of “Marxism” (or “Caesar”).

The problem that Noa faces in determining what the right path is, and what Caesar was really about, becomes a question of trust and judging what is morally right. In contrast, we can judge the correct Maoist path by studying history, and putting science into practice. While Noa’s path in this movie echoes Caesar’s in the previous one, this is only because they both tried to help their own people. While serving the people is part of the communist road, we must be more than do-gooders to end oppression, we must have a scientific understanding of society, what forces are at play within it, how it is changing and how we can shape that change.

In practice it seems that Noa may have acted against the interests of Apes overall by eir alliance with the humyn, Mae. Another sequel will probably reveal this. This is where the colonial parallels come in. Mae is part of a humyn society that is no longer dominant, but still possesses historical knowledge and technology that gives them a great advantage. The Eagle Clan parallels many primitive groups in humyn history that have encountered colonialists and allied with them against other known enemies, perhaps seeing the colonialists as friends and allies, before being subjugated by them in turn. In this way Proximus proves more correct in eir distrust of the humyns and calls for ape unity, despite coming from an exploiter class perspective.

This is why in a United Front the proletariat needs its own party to represent our class, and to act independently of other classes. It must be a party based on science, that can see all sides of the situation. At this slave stage of ape society there is no such leadership available and therefore no basis for forming principled alliances with either the humyns or the exploiter class of apes.

The movie ends with Noa asking Mae if humyns and apes can ever live together in trust. The ending hints that such a future is far off to say the least. A theme that was more prominent in the original series is the political question of if the oppressed rise up against white Amerika, will they wipe out white Amerika or live harmoniously side-by-side. In the original series, we see many years after the ape revolution that such a reality is still in the works. There is still distrust, as some war-mongering humyns still exist in the city, and many apes remember the past oppression by humyns. While we draw some analogies above about the latest movie, there are no real revolutionary story lines like the original series, which showed the joint dictatorship of other great apes over humyns and discussed the need for a long period of transforming society and its citizens to build the trust necessary for peaceful coexistence. Of course, the dictatorship of the proletariat is not just about trust building, it is about continuing the class struggle to eliminate all class differences – the internal contradictions of society that lead to oppressive relationships between groups. That is the only basis upon which a true communist society can be built. Something none of the Planet of the Apes movies have brought us to yet.

Notes:
1. Wiawimawo, August 2011, Prison Themes Central to New Planet of the Apes Story, Under Lock & Key Issue 23.
2. Wiawimawo, July 2014, Maoist Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Under Lock & Key Issue 40.
3. Wiawimawo, July 2017, War for All of Apekind Trumps Revenge, Under Lock & Key Issue 58

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[Palestine] [Culture] [Elections] [Ukraine]
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Macklemore More Radical Than Amerikan Communists?

rapper Macklemore and Hind Rajab, killed by Israeli occupation
rapper Macklemore and Hind Rajab, killed by Israeli occupation

Hip hop artist Macklemore released a song and music video, called “Hind’s Hall”, unapologetically supporting the students fighting to stop U.$. funding of genocide in Palestine. This is a unique statement that we have not seen from Amerikan celebrities after over six months of bombing and invasion.

Besides saying “fuck the police” and “free Palestine”, to the question of voting for Biden, Macklemore says “fuck no” in this song. This last point puts em ahead of the so-called Communist Party - U$A and Revolutionary Communist Party - U$A, which have both implicitly and explicitly campaigned for Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden. We’d say Macklemore is doing a better job of representing the interests of the Third World proletariat on this point, than the so-called communist parties. In the past Macklemore has sported an Amerikan flag, and campaigned for the Democrats as well. But ey’re an individual, and a rapper. We gotta expect a little more from a communist party that is supposed to be a source of truth and to lead us to ending oppression.

Of course, the MIM slogan has been “Don’t Vote, Organize!” So not voting for Biden in itself isn’t the call for change; rather the recognition of the need to make and change history ourselves instead of casting a vote for this or that celebrity politician.

While it took 6 months and U.$. student protests for this song to come out, it appears that Macklemore has been involved in the anti-war movement since October when ey signed a statement supporting ceasefire. Ey is also donating all proceeds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. So good for em, and it is a good thing to use eir voice as a popular artist to reach more people. We hope this cracks open the door for other more popular artists who have been quiet on the genocide.

In the new song, Macklemore also asks “who gets the right to defend? who gets the right to resistance?” flashing pictures from Ukraine and answering that it has to do with skin pigment. This is a righteous defense of the resistance in Palestine that is condemned as terrorism by the same people chearleading the resistance in Ukraine as a natural humyn right. However, skin color is a superficial explanation. Though racism, orientalism, and anti-Arab sentiment is a strong driving force behind the average oppressor-nation Amerikkkan’s stance on Palestine, ultimately the U.$.’s position derives not from disdain for certain skin colors but rather from imperialism. Ukraine, and Zelensky, stand as a junior partner to Amerikkka against their current greatest imperialist enemy, Russia, while the potential of a freed Palestine poses a threat to Amerikkkan and I$raeli imperialism in the Middle East.

Students at Columbia University occupied Hamilton Hall after the university rejected most of their demands, including to divest from weapons manufacturers. During the occupation, they renamed it “Hind’s Hall” after Hind Rajab, a six-year-old Palestinian girl who was killed by Israeli forces in Gaza City while trying to get assistance from the Red Crescent Society after her family had been killed by an Israeli attack.

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[Environmentalism] [New Afrika] [Organizing] [Maryland]
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Free Your Voice! Student Activism in Baltimore Shows the Way

Free Your Voice student activists
Free Your Voice student activists give presentation at construction site

They say the best way to hide something is to put it in plain sight. Student-led activism in the majority New Afrikan populated area of South Baltimore has rendered this old saying no longer true. For about ninety years corporate coal companies and the city government have allowed and perpetuated landfills, and literal mountains of coal being piled up in plain sight in residential areas, and even directly behind rec centers with playgrounds and children.

For the last 100 years, coal has been brought into the port city of Baltimore by the freight transportation company CSX. In data derived from 2021, it was found that CSX transported more than 8 million tons of coal into South Baltimore, where the coal is then transported all over the world. Freight trains coming through the Baltimore transport terminal with coal on them spill black coal dust throughout South Baltimore and pollute the air.

Pollution is so outrageous in this predominately New Afrikan community that the number one cause of death is respiratory related issues. The death rate from respiratory disease in South Baltimore is more than twice the rate for Baltimore as a whole. Respiratory disease is killing more people in this section of the city than diabetes, drugs, or gun violence. A staggering 90% of youth from the area suffer from different degrees of asthma, which has been causing chronic death.

What is by now very obvious to anyone is that coal and other pollutants should not be in residential areas, but the fact that they are and have been so carelessly handled for generations now, in a predominately New Afrikan section of a predominantly New Afrikan city, illustrates major contradictions of the national oppression of so-called Black people, and Our neo-colonial relationship to the empire and certain classes within Our collective body-politic.

It is under this back drop that a youth organization was founded in 2011 at the local Benjamin Franklin High School, called Free Your Voice. In 2011 the Free Your Voice student-activists were fighting, and eventually defeated an effort to build a waste incinerator in South Baltimore. The incinerator would’ve burned tons of trash and waste, and released pollution, as well as converted electricity from the burned waste.

Today, Free Your Voice is still active and continues to replenish its pool of student-activists. Now however, the struggle with CSX and city and state officials is much more daunting. Free Your Voice and supporters from the community and local colleges have set out to get the state’s environmental regulators to deny CSX’s operations permit on the transport terminal and pay residents of South Baltimore reparations for generations of ‘environmental racism’ (Genocide).

These efforts have been hampered by what some deem as betrayal by the first ‘Black’ top environmental regulator in Maryland and her declaration that she and her agency know its coal and coal dust found on streets and public areas but can not act without actual proof of the identity of the substance.

Laws against air pollution are written so that oppressed and vulnerable masses of people are at severe disadvantage and would in most circumstances be dependent upon state agencies who are in cahoots with big industrialists, to gather and test substances in question. People have to prove they’ve been or are being poisoned by specific substances before regulators can take action.

Students from Free Your Voice along with local college volunteers spent the summer of 2023 collecting and testing particles of dust found in the S. B-More area. They have and continue to go door-to-door spreading the findings of their research with the general community. Thus far, although the terminal has not been shut down and the mountains of coal still reside behind rec centers and playgrounds, Free Your Voice has achieved quantitative victories.

The student-activists’ work thus far has:

  1. Made it harder for city officials, state politicians, and local residents to ignore their oppression;

  2. They’ve won over neighbors to their work, elevated consciousness around air pollution and the complicity of the occupying government in environmental destruction;

  3. They’ve garnered meetings with state regulators, and the fact that the head of environmental regulation agency in Maryland is a ‘Black’ female, has elevated the class consciousness and the reality of the New Afrikan National neo-colonial status;

  4. The aspirations of their movement have rose. From slight reforms like covering or pouring water on coal mountains in the ghetto, to now, aspiring to remove or shut down the train terminal.

The continuing work of Our young people is not only there to be acknowledged and supported, but more importantly in the long run there are lessons to be learned from this particular student movement. I’ll touch on some of them briefly here.

For one, while it is widely known that almost all previous moments in the generational struggle of New Afrikan people the student movement was the brain trust, and the heart of the struggle, We often fail to make the connection that these previous students were so successful in galvanizing people and nationalizing their structures because they championed causes that had nothing to do with school or education. The Free Your Voice Movement in S.B-More has connected the youth movement with environmentalism, and those two things have unearthed class oppression and national oppression. Our students must make these same connections around the empire. What is the one thing that connects the student in B-More to the student in southside St.Louis, or San Francisco, or in Cancer Ally Louisiana, or Jackson, Mississippi, or Flint, Michigan? It’s environmental issues. The organizing method We should take at organizing the student movement in the spirit of New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) is to connect environmentalism with student activism and revolutionary nationalism.

What also struck me in my research of this issue and struggle was the fact that college students and former students of Franklin High School have continued to come back and aid and assist in the struggle there.

The college level student with a NARN orientation must make their presence and ideological-theoretical prowess available at the sites of active student movements. In these times of social media, student activists from each of the previously mentioned cities and others can and should be in direct communication, and NARN’s must take proactive steps to influence the direction of the student movement, nationalizing it and moving it in the direction illuminated by the Front for the Liberation of the New Afrikan Nation (FROLINAN)’s Programs For Decolonization, while also incorporating environmental and climate related concerns to the FROLINAN program for National Alliance of New Afrikan Students. If implemented by youthful NARN, i believe We can succeed in building a NARN centered national youth movement.

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[Security] [Palestine] [Aztlan/Chicano] [International Connections] [National Liberation]
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Amerika Greenlights Genocide

Amerikan Money behind I$raeli genocide

I$rael’s war on Palestine is without a doubt a genocide.

There has been a groundswell of support from people around the world that conclude that the settler state of I$rael needs to be brought to justice and that Amerika has given the “greenlight” for the genocide to ensue.

At a recent protest over I$rael bombing an Iranian consulate in Syria, killing several Iranian military intelligence personnel, Hamas responded with a statement saying among other things that Amerika has given the green light for this bombing by not denouncing it. We would agree and go further by stating that Amerika has green-lit genocide since it first arrived here in Turtle Island over 500 years ago.

It strikes us that the world would be shocked that Amerika would stand by in the face of the genocide happening to Palestine when Chican@s, First Nations and New Afrikans know first hand that the United $tates is not only a client but a pathfinder in the realm of genocidal settlerism. We should remember it was Amerika who inspired the likes of Hitler in honing his genocidal craft, an evaluation of evidence supports our point.

In the mire of the oppression being rained down on Palestine, especially with I$rael assassinating those it has targeted even in other countries – or in embassies! – we just glean what lessons are available as the world gets a bold example of what colonization looks like today.

If we are in fact at the conclusion that Amerika – who aids I$rael in billions of aid each year – is giving a wink and a nod to assassinating government officials of sovereign countries, it poses the question: how might revolutionaries here in the imperialist center of the world prepare and respond?

We should start by understanding that in today’s world genocide arrives via stages of development by the imperialist agencies. These stages are 1) Intelligence. 2) Analysis. 3) Logistics and 4) Operations. What we are seeing happen is war plans, whether we are talking about the streets of Gaza or the barrios of Califaztlan it all starts with intel.

The oppressor nation identifies its threats and its assets – on the ground or online. Because we are in the stage of building public opinion here in the United $tates we can be vulnerable to data mining that is employed by agencies globally. Search bots that are known as “spiders” search the internet 24/7 mining through open source material and all public records to find any links to revolutionary data, i.e. people, groups or theory. They snatch everything: Facebook posts, chat rooms, blogs, news stories, financial records, visa applications, etc… which can all be harvested quickly on a daily basis, programs like starlight or spire can then sift, cross reference and separate non-essential material while then targeting links that lead back to intended targeted people or groups within the movement. In this way the state is able to closely monitor not only a movement’s vanguard but anything that metastasizes out of the movement as well, that is everything in its realm of influence. Once data is comprised. with the help of programs like Analyst Notebook, it reveals the internal structure of an organization and its international links as well. All of this intel helps the oppressor nation develop its genocidal programs which not only furthers its own interests but the interests of its allies like the settler state of I$rael.

Here in the occupied territories that some call Amerika, the internal semi-colonies have long known about Amerika’s stance on genocide. Chican@s and other oppressed nations who languish in the prisons, in the control units, and on Death Row overstand that Amerika green-lights genocide. The Brown and Black people, gunned down every day by Amerikan police know this as well. The Chican@ nation and other oppressed know because our land and resources are occupied and controlled by the capitalists who neutralize us when we threaten the occupation.

End The Genocide!

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[Grievance Process] [Civil Liberties] [Campaigns] [California] [ULK Issue 85]
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OIG Report Says Grievance System Reforms in CA Undermined

In 2018 the California Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigated the grievance process at Salinas Valley State Prison. This resulted in a new process in 2020, where any grievances alleging staff misconduct in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) would go to an Allegation Inquiry Management Section (AIMS) in Sacramento, rather than being handled by staff at the prison.(1) As we report on in almost every issue of Under Lock & Key, grievances in U.$. prisons are often ignored, denied, or covered up by staff.

One problem with this small reform is the staff at the prison was still deciding what grievances would be forwarded to AIMS. Following OIG recommendations in 2021, the CDCR changed its system for handling grievances in 2022 so that staff misconduct could be reported directly to AIMS. In March 2023, AIMS was replaced with the Allegation Investigation Unit (AIU), within the Office of Internal Affairs.

In 2010, United Struggle from Within (USW) in California initiated the “We Demand Our Grievances Are Addressed!” campaign, which has since spread across the country. We just released a petition for Indiana this year, see the report on initial campaign successes in this issue. And we just updated our petition for Texas. Since 2010, hundreds of prisoners in California have sent petitions to the California OIG and others outlining the failures of the existing grievance system and demanding proper handling of grievances. This campaign contributed, likely greatly, to the recent changes in California.

It also happens that February 2023 was the last report we have of staff in CDCR retaliating against prisoners for filing grievances (in this case for freezing temperatures).(2) So we are interested to hear from our readers how the grievance process has been working over the last year. However, the OIG’s recent report has already exposed staff misconduct since the new program was implemented.

The OIG found that in 2023 the department sent 595 cases back to prison staff to handle that had originally been sent to the AIU to investigate as staff misconduct. This was reportedly done to handle a backlog of grievances. The OIG also stressed the waste of resources in duplicating work, given that the department had been given $34 million to restructure the grievance process. In 127 of these cases the statute of limitations had expired so that staff could no longer be disciplined for any misconduct. Eight of these could have resulted in dismissal and 12 could have resulted in suspensions or salary reductions. Many other grievances were close to expiring.

Unsurprisingly, when the OIG looked into grievances that had been sent back to the prisons, many issues were not addressed, many were reviewed by untrained staff, investigations were not conducted in a timely manner (39% taking more than a year), and grievances were improperly rejected. All of these are common complaints on the grievance petitions prisoners have filed over the years.

The OIG states in their concluding response to the CDCR claims around these 595 grievances:

“The purpose of this report was not to provide an assessment of the department’s overall process for reviewing allegations of staff misconduct that incarcerated people file; that is an assessment we provide in our annual staff misconduct monitoring reports. This report highlighted the department’s poor decision-making when determining how to address a backlog of grievances that the department believed it was not adequately staffed to handle.”

Notes:
1. California Office of the Inspector General, 29 January 2024, The Department Violated Its Regulations by Redirecting Backlogged Allegations of Staff Misconduct to Be Processed as Routine Grievances.
2. AV Brown Berets, February 2023, CDCR Freezes Elderly Inmates in Retaliation of Grievance Campaigns, Under Lock & Key 81.

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[United Front] [Drugs] [Campaigns] [COVID-19] [Organizing] [Digital Mail] [ULK Issue 85]
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Discussing Campaign to Expand ULK

ULK 85 promo art - build ULK

In ULK 84 we reported on a sharp drop in donations from prisoners in 2023, and a gradual decline in subscribers in recent years. We asked our readers to answer some survey questions to help explore the reasons for these declines and to begin a more active campaign to expand ULK in 2024. Below is some discussion with comrades who have responded to the survey so far about drugs, gangs, COVID-19, generational differences and more. If you want to participate in this conversation, please respond to the questions at the end.

Problems We’ve Always Had

A North Carolina prisoner on censorship: i pass my copies around when i’m able, what i always hear is “Bro i wrote to them but never received the paper.” Then there is a couple guys who were on the mailing list who say they’re not receiving the paper no more.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The obvious answer to this is the newsletter is being censored. Any prisoner of the United $tates who writes us for ULK will be sent at least 2 issues, and if you write every 6 months we will keep sending it. Censorship has always been a primary barrier to reaching people inside, but we have no reason to believe that has increased in the last couple years. Relaunching regular censorship reports could help us assess that more clearly in the future.

A Pennsylvania prisoner on the younger generation: I think it is these younger generation people who are coming into the prison system or people who have been pretty much raised by the judicial system, and the guards become mommy and daddy to them… They do not want to or are possibly afraid to change the only life they have ever known. I know some of these younger guys here who have gotten too comfortable and think: “Oh, I am doing so good, I have a certain level of say-so here, the guards are my buddies, they get me, et cetera.” When on the outside they did not have that.

Also, on my block, many people are illiterate and cannot read. I know this because I am the Peer Literacy Tutor.

MIM(Prisons) responds: Most of this doesn’t sound new. Older prisoners have been talking about the lacking of the younger forever. Illiteracy is also not new in prisons. There is some indication that the COVID pandemic has impacted literacy in children, but that would not be affecting our readership (yet).

A California prisoner: I think a lot of prisoners do not want to hear negativity or incendiary language, we get enough of that in here and I notice a lot of unity around positivity in here. I suggest less dividing language and more unifying language. In particular, the “who are our friends and who are our enemies” line could certainly drop the “who are our enemies” part. Prisoners don’t want someone telling them who to be enemies with, prisoners want to be told who to be friends with.

I have trouble passing on ULK, natural leaders won’t even accept it (I try to revolutionize the strong). As soon as I say “it’s a communist paper”, the typical response is “I’m not a commie.” Any suggestions??

MIM(Prisons) responds: Not sure if you’re leading with the fact that it’s a communist newspaper. But when doing outreach, the fact that we’re a communist organization will not come up until we’ve gotten into an in-depth conversation with someone. We want to reach people with agitational campaign slogans, hopefully ones that will resonate with them. What in this issue of ULK do you think the persyn might be interested in? Lead with that.

As far as who are our friends and who are our enemies goes – this is actually a key point we must understand before we begin building a united front (see MIM Theory 14: United Front where a prisoner asks this same question back in 2001). We must unite all who can be united around anti-imperialist campaigns. Our goal is not to have the most popular newsletter in U.$. prisons; that might be the goal of a profit-driven newsletter. Our goal is to support anti-imperialist organizing within prisons. As we’ve been stressing in recent months, prisons are war, and they are part of a larger war on the oppressed. If we do not recognize who is behind that war, and who supports that war and who opposes it, we cannot stop that war. If you see a group of people that wants to carpet bomb another group of people as a friend, then you are probably not part of the anti-imperialist camp yourself. Prisoners who are mostly focused on self-improvement, parole, or just getting home to their families may be willing to be friends with anyone who might help them do so. But we must also recognize the duality of the imprisoned oppressed people as explained by comrade Joku Jeupe Mkali.

Problems That May Be Getting worse

A Washington prisoner on the drug trade: Drugs and gangs are the biggest threat to radical inclination in the system. Drugs keep the addicted dazed and unable to focus on insurgency. Whereas the self-proclaimed activist gang member who actually has the mental fitness to actually avoid such nonsense has become so entrenched in a culture aimed at feeding on the profit he gains in the process has forgotten his true goal and would rather stand in the way of change to maintain profit.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is perhaps the biggest shift we’ve seen in reports on conditions on the inside in recent years. Of course, these are not new issues. But there are new drugs that seem to be more easily brought in by guards and have more detrimental effects on peoples’ minds. Meanwhile, the economics of these drugs may have shifted alliances between the state-employed gangs and the lumpen gangs that work together to profit off these drugs.

When we launched the United Front for Peace in Prisons over a decade ago, it was in response to comrades reporting that the principal contradiction was lack of unity due to lumpen organizations fighting each other. In recent years, most of what we hear about is lumpen organizations working for the pigs to suppress activism and traffic restricted items. While Texas is the biggest prison state and much of those reports come from Texas, this seems to be a common complaint in much of the country as regular readers will know.

Related to drugs is the new policy spreading like wildfire, that hiring private companies to digitize prisoners’ mail will reduce drugs coming into prisons and jails. Above we mentioned no known increase in censorship, but what has increased is these digital mail processing centers; and with them more mail returned and delayed. In Texas, we’ve been dealing with mail delayed by as much as 3 months for years now. As more and more prisons and jails go digital, communications become more and more limited. Privatized communications make it harder to hold government accountable to mail policies or First Amendment claims. There is no doubt this is a contributor to a decrease in subscribers.

A Pennsylvania Prisoner reports a change in the prison system due to COVID-19: The four-zoned-movement system has been implemented here at SCI-Greene because of COVID. Before COVID, everything was totally opened up. Now everyone is divided from one another and it makes it that much harder for someone like me who is constantly surrounded by an entire block full of people with extreme mental health or age-related issues.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting explanation that we had not yet thought of. While we don’t have a lot of reports of this type of dividing of the population in prisons into pods since COVID, we know that many prisons have continued to be on lockdown since then. An updated survey of prisoners on how many people are in long-term isolation may be warranted. But even with the limited information we have, we think this is likely impacting our slow decline in subscribers.

This does not explain why donations went up from 2020 to 2022, but then dropped sharply in 2023. However, we think this could have been a boom from stimulus check money, similar to what the overall economy saw. In prisons this was more pronounced, where many people received a couple thousand dollars, who are used to earning a couple hundred dollars a year. While we would have expected a more gradual drop off in donations, this is likely related. In 2023, prisoners were paying for a greater percentage of ULK costs than ever before. We had also greatly reduced our costs in various ways in recent years though, so this is not just a sign of more donations from prisoners but also a reflection of decreased costs. We’d like to hear from others: how did stimulus checks affect the prisoner population?

Like many things, our subscribership and donations were likely impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic and the state’s response to it. Another interesting connection that warrants more investigation is how the stimulus money may have contributed to the boon in drug trafficking by state and non-state gangs in prisons. And what does it mean that the stimulus money has dried up? So far there is no indication of a decline in the drug market.

A California prisoner on “rehabilitation” and parole: The new rehabilitation programs in CDCR are designed to assign personal blame (accept responsibility). A lot of prisoners are on that trip. “It’s not the state’s fault, it’s my fault cause I’m fucked up.” That’s the message CDCR wants prisoners to recognize and once again parole is the incentive, “take the classes, get brainwashed, and we might release you.” I call it flogging oneself. But a lot of prisoners are in these “rehabilitation” classes. It’s the future. MIM needs to start thinking how to properly combat that.

MIM(Prisons) responds: The Step Down program in California in response to the mass movement to shut down the SHU was the beginning of this concerted effort to pacify and bribe prisoners to go along with the state’s plan.(1) As we discussed at the time, this is part of a counterinsurgency program to isolate revolutionary leaders from the rebellious masses in prison.

Our Revolutionary 12 Step Program is one answer to the state’s “rehabilitation.” Our program also includes accepting responsibility, but doing so in the context of an understanding of the system that creates these problems and behaviors in the first place. Yes we can change individuals, but the system must change to stop the cycle. The Revolutionary 12 Steps is one of our most widely distributed publications these days, but we need more feedback from comrades putting it into practice to expand that program. And while it is written primarily for substance abuse, it can be applied by anyone who wants to reform themselves from bourgeois ways to revolutionary proletarian ways.

In other states, like Georgia and Alabama, parole is almost unheard of. The counterinsurgency programs there are less advanced, creating more revolutionary situations than exist in California prisons today. In the years leading up to the massive hunger strikes in CDCR, MIM mail was completely (illegally) banned from California prisons. Today, it is rare for California prisoners to have trouble receiving our mail, yet subscribership is down.

Solutions

A California prisoner: Personally I would like to see play-by-play instructions for unity. I saw something like that in the last Abolitionist paper from Critical Resistance. A lot of us want unity but don’t know how to form groups or get it done. I know MIM’s line on psychology, however it has its uses. The government consults psychologists when they want to know how to control people or encourage unity among their employees. I suggest MIM consult a psych for a plan on how to unify people, then print the play-by-play instructions in ULK. It’s a positive message prisoners want to hear.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As mentioned above, building the United Front for Peace in Prisons was a top topic in ULK for a long time, so you might want to reference back issues of ULK on that topic and MIM Theory 14. Psychology is a pseudo-science because it attempts to predict individuals and diagnose them with made-up disorders that have no scientific criteria. Social engineering, however, is a scientific approach based in practice. By interacting with people you can share experiences and draw conclusions that increase your chances of success in inter-persynal interactions. This is applying concepts to culture at the group level, not to biology of the individual.

Again, the key point here is practice. To be honest, the engagement with the United Front for Peace in Prisons has decreased over the years, so we have had less reports. Coming back to the question of how to approach people in a way that they don’t get turned off by “commie” stuff, a solution to this should come from USW leaders attempting different approaches, sharing that info with each other, and summing up what agitational tactics seemed to work best. Comrades on the outside could participate as well, but tactics in prison may differ from tactics that work on college campuses vs. anti-war rallies vs. transit centers.

A North Carolina prisoner: i look forward to receiving the paper and i love to contribute to the paper. ULK is not just a newspaper in the traditional sense of the word it’s more than that. It’s something to be studied and grasped, and saved for future educational purposes. In my opinion its the only publication that hasn’t been compromised.

i think ya’ll should publish more content on New Afrikan Revolutionary Nationalism (NARN) then ya’ll do. To be honest, the ULK is probably the only publication that provides content that elucidates NARN. Nonetheless, ya’ll keep doing what ya’ll doing.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We’ll never turn away a well-done NARN article, so keep them coming. This is a newsletter by and for prisoners of the United $nakes.

A Pennsylvania prisoner: As with everything, “education” is a key factor. A lot of people really have a lack of comprehension of the Maoist, Socialism, Communism agenda or actual belief system is about. I have a general idea, but not the whole picture. Many people are ignorant to what it is all about. … I was a bit of a skeptic when I first began writing MIM(Prisons), but I no longer am 3 years later.

As I have continued to write and read all your ULKs I have begun to realize what you stand for, and that is the common people who are struggling to survive in a world full of powerful people, who do not play by the rules. … Those powerful and wealthy who have forgotten what it is like to be human. … When I get released from prison later this year and get back on my feet I do plan to donate to MIM(Prisons) because I strongly support what you stand for.

…It was word of mouth that got me interested in ULK, and that is what we should use to spread the word. Sooner or later someone, somewhere is gonna get interested.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this comrade’s continued engagement and struggling with the ideas in ULK. Eir description of what we do is accurate. Though, the same could be said for many prisoner newsletters. We recommend comrades check out “What is MIM(Prisons)?” on page 2 to get an idea of what differentiates us from the others; and to ask questions and study more than ULK to better understand those differences.

A Washington prisoner: I believe there has not been enough exposure of ULK in the prison system. I only happened on it by chance. I sought out communist education on my own after not being able to shake an urge that there was something incredibly wrong with the political and economic structures in my surroundings. I believe we should launch a campaign of exposure and agitation. Create and pass out pamphlets and newsletters geared to helping people see the relevance of communism and their current situation. For a start, I would like to receive copies of the Revolutionary 12 Step Program pamphlets to strategically place in my facility so prisoners can have access to them.

MIM(Prisons) concludes: Expanding ULK just for the sake of it would be what we call a sectarian error. Sectarianism is putting one’s organization (one’s own “sect”) above the movement to end oppression. The reason we are promoting the campaign to expand ULK is that we see it as a surrogate for measuring the interest in and influence of anti-imperialist organizing in U.$. prisons. As comrades above have touched on, there is always a limitation in access and numbers do matter. Most prisoners have never heard of ULK. The more we can change that, the more popular we can expect anti-imperialism to be within U.$. prisons and the more organized we’d expect people to get there.

We are working on expanding our work with and organizing of prisoner art. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. More art that captures the ideas of our movement can help us reach more people more quickly. So send in your art that reflects the concepts discussed in ULK. We also offer outside support for making fliers and small pamphlets. What types of fliers and small pamphlets, besides the Revolutionary 12 Steps, would be helpful for reaching more prisoners with our ideas and perhaps getting them to subscribe to ULK?

Another way to reach people in prison is through radio and podcasts. We are looking for information on what types of platforms and podcasts prisoners have access to that we might tap into.

We only received 4 responses to our survey in ULK 84 in time to print in this issue. This is another data point that indicates the low level of engagement with ULK compared to the past. Another possible explanation for lack of responses is that this survey was more difficult to answer than previous surveys we’ve done because it is asking for explanations more than hard facts. Either way, in our attempt to always improve our understanding of the conditions we are working in, we are printing the survey questions one more time (also see questions above). Even if your answer to all the questions below are “no”, we’d appreciate your response in your next letter to us.

  • Have you noticed changes in the prison system that have made it harder for people to subscribe to ULK or less interested in subscribing?

  • Have you noticed changes in the prisoner population that have made people less interested in subscribing?

  • Have you noticed/heard of people losing interest in ULK because of the content, or because of the practices of MIM(Prisons)?

  • What methods have you seen be successful in getting people interested in or to subscribe to ULK?

  • Do you have ideas for how we can increase interest in ULK in prisons?

Notes: 1. cipactli of Brown Berets - Prison Chapter, October 2014, (Un)Due Process of Validation and Step Down Programs, Under Lock & Key No. 41.

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[Organizing] [Theory] [Education] [Principal Contradiction] [Michigan] [ULK Issue 85]
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Tipless Spear: An Analysis of the Prison Movement Through the Lens of Michigan Prisons

Fuck Social Control2

A Juxtaposition to the Works of Orisanmi Burton

A spear, utilized as a weapon to engage in battle, can only be effective insofar as its tip is both sturdy and sharp. And the sharpness of its tip is maintained as part of a process of sharpening in the continuum of a protracted struggle campaign. Otherwise, what you’ll have is not an implement for war, but a stick that merely rhetorically projects a technology for combat that in actuality, is incapable of immobilizing or pushing back against a harmful, even deadly force. So considering the condition of the spear, I have no intention to deal with or re-visit the “Long Attica Revolt” with historicism, relegating the event to a time in history; nor to romanticize its existence for the purposes of psycho-emotional or intellectual masturbation. Instead, I relocate the Long Attica Revolt to the present moment in hopes of creating dialogue and theory around the fundamental question of whether the “Long Attica Revolt” (i.e the prison movement) still exists?

I start my analysis of the question at the end and (epilogue) of Orisanmi Burton’s (hereinafter Ori) text with the statement:

“For many, 1993 was a watershed in the slow disintegration of the prison movement.”(1)

If 1993 marked the crucial turning point in which the prison movement started dissipating, or decomposing, what does the reality look like in 2024, 31 years after its evocation? If we are serious about “interpreting the world to change it, there is no escape from historical materialism,”(2) requiring my analysis to stay anchored to tackle the question from my direct experience as a prisoner of 21 and a half consecutive years of carceral bondage within Michigan prisons. In so doing, I stay true to Mao’s injunction to adhere to what [Vladimir] Lenin called the “most essential thing in Marxism, the living soul of Marxism, [the] concrete analysis of concrete conditions.”(3)

The “prison movement,” according to the New Afrikan analysis that I subscribe to, marked a specific moment in time that spearheaded a qualitative change, transforming issue-based prison struggles centered primarily around conditions of confinement (reform), into a movement that was influenced by and married itself to the anti-colonial national liberation struggles being waged beyond the concrete walls (revolutionary). These circumstances, having affected colonial people on a world scale, radicalized and politicized sections of the colonial subjects in the united states to such an extent where the consciousness developed inside of penal dungeons was being disseminated to the streets where it would be internalized and weaponized by agents against the state. The impetus for this qualitative leap in the substance and character of the prison movement was Johnathan Jackson’s 7 August 1970 revolutionary act of pursuing the armed liberation of the Soledad Brothers, culminating in the 9 September 1971 Attica Rebellion. This is why Ori argued the “Long Attica Revolt was a revolutionary struggle for decolonization and abolition at the site of US prisons.”(4)

While Ori’s assessment may have been correct, his very own analysis, and a concomitant analysis of present-day Michigan, exposes a revolutionary contradiction prone to reversion and therefore revolutionary (Marxist) revision by elements that were, in fact, never revolutionary or abolitionist but only radical reformist. Revisionism spells doom (death) to the prison movement, so part of our objective has got to be how do we oppose the carceral state from an ideological and practical perspective to ensure the survival of a dying prison movement, and reap benefits and successes from our struggle. After all, Ori tells us the aim of his book is “to show that US prisons are a site of war, [a] site of active combat.”(5)

Clausewitz (Carl von) observed that war was politics by other means, just as Michel Foucault reasoned politics was war by other means. War and politics being opposite sites of a single coin, this “COIN” in military jargon is none other than “counterinsurgency.” As explained in the U.S. Army Field Manual at 3-24. It defines insurgency as:

“an organized, protracted politico-military struggle designed to weaken the control and legitimacy of established government, occupying power, or other political authority while increasing insurgent control.”

“The definition of counterinsurgency logically follows:”Counterinsurgency is the military, paramilitary, political economic, psychological, and civic actions taken by a government to defeat insurgency.””

“Counterinsurgency, then, refers to both a type of war and a style of warfare”(6), whose aim is, in the context of prisons, to neutralize the prison movement and the ability of its agency to build the movement into the future.

As we can see, by isolating and extracting this point from Ori’s text, u.s. prisons as combat zones where war is waged is significant if we are to gleam from this fact what the proponents, the protagonists of the prison movement must do next; how we struggle accordingly in hopes of gaining victories.

The Master Plan

The logical response of a revolutionary tactician to state repression is resistance. But not just resistance for the sake of being recalcitrant – as Comrade George (Jackson) informed us, our fight, our resistance has to use imagination by developing a fighting style from a dialectical materialist standpoint. Because

“…we can fight, but if we are isolated, if the state is successful in accomplishing that, the results are usually not constructive in terms of proving the point. The point is, however, in the face of what we confront, to fight and win. That’s the real objective: not just make statements, no matter how noble, but to destroy the system that oppresses us.”(7)

In constructing long-term insurgency repression (counterinsurgency), the scientific technology deployed by the state was “soft power” as its effective mechanism to accomplish their task. Ori tells us the federal government drafted a “Master Plan” which hinged on “correctional professionals coming to realize that the battle is won or lost not inside the prison, but out on the sidewalks.”(8) This assessment could only be true considering the question surrounding prisons and the corollary prison movement is one of legitimacy, for only through legitimacy could the state preserve carceral normalcy. So counterinsurgency, or war, to be overtly specific, and the game is the acquisition of legitimacy from the masses (national public at-large) as a main objective. This fact should be telling that the struggle for state oppression, aggression and repression within the context of the prison movement is ultimately always a struggle for the people. Thus, “in an insurgency, both sides rely on the cooperation of the populace; therefore they compete for it, in part through coercive means.”(9) These political facts, as tactics of war, envision the real terrain in which the battle for prison lives is waged: the mental realm. It is within this domain that resistance and the legitimacy on both sides of the barb wired cage will be won.

The prisoner population must take cues from these facts. The very first recognition has got to be that prisons, deployed as war machines, cannot possibly be legitimate if we (the prisoners) have been cast as the enemies the state seeks to annihilate as human beings by re-converting us from second-class citizens back to slaves. This was the very point Ori lets us in on regarding Queen Mother Moore’s August 1973 visit and speech in Green Haven Prison in New York, that New Afrikans were in fact enduring “re-captivity.”(10) Blacks have long hoisted this argument, lamenting an amendment to the 13th Amendment to the u.s. constitution, and a host of case law, like the case of Ruffin v Commonwealth cited by Ori, have declared “incarcerated people slaves of the state.”(11) And as slaves, to borrow the words of George, “the sole phenomenon that energizes my whole consciousness is, of course, revolution.” In this vein the prison movement is partially about the survival of the humanity of prisons, their dignity, which requires the survival of the spirit of the prison movement. This is what Chairman Fred Hampton meant when he said “You can kill a freedom fighter, but you can’t kill freedom fighting. You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill revolution.” It is this very same deprivation of human dignity that Huey talked about resulting in what I’m experiencing among Michigan prisoners, who are largely “immobilized by fear and despair, he sinks into self-murder”.(12) But even more dangerous to Huey than self-murder, is spiritual death, what Huey witnessed become a “common attitude… driven to death of the spirit rather of the flesh.”

So the very idea (spirit) of the prison movement must survive, must be kept alive, or, “your method of death can itself be a politicizing thing.”(13). And this is precisely the reality Michigan’s male prisoners have succumbed to, death of spirit, death by de-politicization.

All this begs the question posed by George: What is our fighting style in face of political death? This question can only be answered against the background of the statement: “For many, 1993 was a watershed in the slow disintegration of the prison movement,” because the reality shouts out to us that the prison movement has diminished to such a degree, it’s in desperate need of being incubated back to life (if it still exists at all).

Thus far it has been made clear that at issue is the survival of the prison movement which means by extension a revival of the political life of prisoners. The catalyst breeding political consciousness can only be education. As Ori illuminates, part of the prisoner war project requires guerrilla warfare, the life of which itself is grounded in political education.(14) Ori himself writes in the acknowledgment section of Tip of the Spear that he sharpened his spear (political analysis) by tying himself to a network of intellectuals and study groups, like Philly-based podcast Millenials Are Killing Capitalism.

The Role of Outside Supporters

The “Master Plan” developed by the state concluded “that the battle is won or lost not inside the prison, but out on the sidewalks,” and this leads directly to the utility of individuals and organizations outside the confines of prison life to be leveraging against the subjects inside the walls. Yet, it must not be lost upon us that by virtue of the state’s “Master Plan”, they seek to weaponize outside organizations as tools to drive a nail in the coffin of the prison movement once and for all. Proponents of the prison movement, accordingly, must also utilize and weaponize outside agency to advance the prison movement. When asked, although George said, “A good deal of this has to do with our ability to communicate to people on the street,” we must nevertheless be sure not to allow this communication or the introduction of outside volunteers to stifle the spirit of the movement.

Ori hits the nail on the head when exposing the “Master Plan” to absorb outside volunteers as part of the “cynical logic of programmification, with well-meaning volunteers becoming instruments of pacification.”(15) I spoke to this very phenomena in 2021 essay entitled “Photograph Negatives: The Battle For Prison Intelligentsia”, in response to a question posed to me by Ian Alexander, an editor of True Leap Press’s “In The Belly” publication, on whether outside university intellectuals could follow the lead of imprisoned-intellectuals? There I mentioned how Michigan’s outside volunteers near absolute adherence to prison policy, designed to constrain and be repressive, retarded our ability to be subversive and insurgent, called into question the purpose of the university-intellectuals infiltration of the system in the first instance. And while “many of these volunteers undoubtedly had altruistic and humanitarian motives, they unwittingly perpetuated counterinsurgency in multiple ways.”(16)

The battle for prison intellgentsia itself creates an unspoken tension between the inside (imprisoned) and outside (prison) intellectuals to the detriment of the prison movement, benefiting the state’s “Master Plan.” As I cited in “Photograph Negatives,” Joy James correctly analyzes that it is the imprisoned intellectuals that are “most free of state condition.” Scholar Michel-Rolph Troillot’s insight also champions that imprisoned intellectuals, “non-academics are critical producers of historiography,”(17) yet, as Eddie Ellis told Ori during a 2009 political education workshop, “We have never been able to use the tools of academia to demonstrate that our analysis is a better analysis.”(18) This fact further substantiates my position in response to editor Ian Alexander that outside university-based intellectuals must take their lead from imprisoned intellectuals because (1) we are the experts, validated through our long-lived experiences; and (2) most university-intellectuals are clueless they’re being used as tools within the state’s “Master Plan” against the very prisoners that altruism is directed.

Carceral Compradors Inside

But sadly, it’s not just the outside volunteers being positioned as pawns in the state’s war against prisoners. To be sure, prisoners themselves have become state agents, be it consciously or unconsciously, pushing pacification through various behavioral modification programming that intentionally depoliticizes the prisoner population, turning them into do-gooder state actors. It is in this way that the prison state “strategically co-opted the demands of the prison movement and redeployed them in ways that strengthened their ability to dominate people on both sides of the wall.”(19)

In Michigan prisons, these compromised inmates function as “carceral compradors,” and part of the plan of this de-politicizing regime is to convince the prisoner population to surrender their agency to resist. It has been the state’s ability to appease these, what Ricardo DeLeon, a member of Attica’s revolutionary committee, said was the elements of “all the waverers, fence sitters, and opponents,”(20) exacerbating already-existing fissures, exposing the deep contradictions between a majority reformist element, and the minority revolutionary element. This success effectively split and casted backward the “prison movement” to its previously issue-based conditions of confinement struggle model by “exposing a key contradiction within the prison movement, ultimately cleaving support from the movement’s radical edge while nurturing its accomodationist tendencies.”(21)

All of this was (is) made possible because “a sizable fraction of the population that saw themselves, not as revolutionaries, but as gangsters: outlaw capitalists, committed to individual financial gain”(22), and radical reformist, despite their rhetoric to the contrary, focused rather exclusively on conditions of confinement, instead of materializing a revolutionary goal. If the prison movement is a revolutionary movement, then the revolutionary element must manage to consolidate power and be the final arbitrators of the otherwise democratic decision-making processes. Ori cites Frantz Fanon to make clear that political parties serve as “incorruptible defenders of the masses,” or, the movement will find itself vulnerable to neocolonial retrenchment.(23) The schism that emerges between these two factions, ideologically, paralyzes the prison movement. These implications obviously extend beyond the domain of prisons to the collective New Afrikan struggle on the streets, as the prison movement was fostered by national liberation struggle on the outside, lending the credence to the victory from the sidewalk notion. But in order to secure a revolutionary party-line, the revolutionary party must be the majority seated element in the cadre committee.

Perhaps this is precisely why Sam Melville, a key figure in the Attica rebellion, said it was needed to “avoid [the] obvious classification of prison reformers.”(24) This is significant because otherwise, reformists would dominate the politics, strategies and decision-making, killing any serious anti-colonial (revolutionary) ideology. Again, this is true for both the inside and outside walkways. As a corollary, this reality should cause the revolutionary-minded to seriously rethink ways in which our struggle is not subverted from within the ranks of fighters against the state who, contradictorily, are okay with the preservation and legitimization of the prison machine and its “parent” global white supremacist structure, so long as remedial measures are taken to ameliorate certain conditions.

Our Road

In advance of summarizing, let me just say I do not at all intend to imply a reformist concession can’t be viewed as a revolutionary advancement within the overall scheme of carceral war. I pivot to Rachel Herzing, co-founder of Critical Resistance, that

“an abolitionist goal would be to try to figure out how to take incremental steps – a screw here, a cog there – and make it so the system cannot continue – so it ceases to exist – rather than improving its efficiency.”

But that’s just it. The Attica reforms did not, as Rachel Herzing would accept, “steal some of the PIC’s power, make it more difficult to function in the future, or decrease it’s legitimacy in the eyes of the people.” On the contrary, the Attica reforms entrenched the system of penal legitimacy, seeded the proliferation of scientific repression, and improved upon the apparatus’s ability to forestall and dissolve abolitionist resistance. In addition, the reforms were not made with the consent of the Attica revolutionaries, but by a splintering majority of radical reformers who, in the end, the present as our proof, greased by the levers of power assenting to the machine’s pick up of speed and tenacity.

As inheritors of the prison movement, and as we consider the de-evolution of the Long Attica Revolt and all it entails, specifically its survival, we are called upon to meditate on Comrade George’s essential ask – What is our fighting style? At minimum, I suggest our task is implementing a twofold platform: (1) political education; and (2) internal revolutionary development.

First, those equipped with the organization skills and requisite consciousness, as a methodology of guerilla war, should construct political education classes. These classes should operate within study group formats. We must return to the injunction of prisons functioning as universities, that “The jails (and prisons) are the Universities of the Revolutionaries and the finishing schools of the Black Liberation Army.”(25) We align ourselves with the Prison Lives Matter (PLM) formation model and utilize these study groups to engage in:

“a concrete study and analysis of the past 50+ years, and in doing so, We learn from those who led the struggle at the highest level during the high tide (1960s and 70s), where and how the revolutionary movement failed due to a lack of cadre development, as well as knowing and maintaining a line.”(26)

Our political education study groups must also instill a pride, courage, and will to dare to struggle along the lines of New Afrikan revolutionary ideology. For desperately, “Our revolution needs a convinced people, not a conquered people.”(27) The quality of courage in the face of impending brutality by what Ori calls the state’s “carceral death machine”(28) will be necessary to put in gear the wheels of guerrilla resistance. The invocation of this spirit sets apart the human prepared to demand and indeed take his dignity by conquest, from the weak, pacified slave who rationalizes his fear, which is in fact “symptomatic of pathological plantation mentality that had been inculcated in Black people through generations of terror.”(29) This terror in the mind of Black males inside of Michigan cages is displayed at even the mention of radical (revolutionary) politics, inciting a fear drawn from the epigenetic memory of chattel slavery victimization, and the propensity of master’s retaliatory infliction of a violent consequence. This thought has frozen and totally immobilized the overwhelming majority of Black Michigan prison-slaves, not just into inaction, but turning them into advocates of pacified slave-like mentalities. But these niggas are quick to ravage the bodies of other niggas.

To this point, Ori writes

“Balagoon suggests that the primary barrier to the liberation of the colonized was within their minds – a combination of fear of death, respect for state authority, and deference to white power that had been hammered into the population from birth. Liberation would remain an impossibility as long as colonized subjects respected the taboos put in place by their oppressors.”(30)

To be sure, liberation struggles can only be “successful to the extent that we have diminished the element of fear in the minds of black people.”(31) Biko, speaking to this fear as something that erodes the soul of Black people, recognized “the most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the minds of the oppressed.”(32)

Secondly, hand-in-hand with our political education must be the material engagement in the first revolution, the inner revolution. This is “The hard painstaking work of changing ourselves into new beings, of loving ourselves and our people, and working with them daily to create a new reality.”(33) This first, inner-revolution consists of “a process of rearranging one’s values – to put it simply, the death of the nigger is the birth of the Black man after coming to grips with being proud to be one’s self.”(34)

The ability to transform oneself from a nigga to an Afrikan man of character is perhaps the most important aspect of developing concordance with a New Afrikan revolutionary collective consciousness. Commenting “On Revolutionary Morality” in 1958, Ho Chi Minh said that “Behavioral habits and traditions are also big enemies: they insidiously hinder the progress of the revolution.” And because niggas, unbeknownst to themselves are white supremacists and pro-capitalist opportunists, the vanguard security apparatus must forever remain on guard for the possibility of niggas in the rank-and-file corrupting the minds of other niggas who have yet to internalize New Afrikan identity.

May these be our lessons. Ori’s Tip of the Spear text is important in the overall lexicon on the history of the prison movement, and must be kept handy next to the collection of Notes From New Afrikan P.O.W and Theoretical Journals. Tip of the Spear should serve not just as reference book, but a corrective guide for the protagonist wrestling the prison movement out the arms of strangulation, blowing spirit into the nostrils of its decaying body until it’s revived, and ready to fight the next round. And We are that body. Let’s dare to do the work.

Forward Towards Liberation!

We Are Our Liberators!

^*Notes: 1. Orisanmi Burton, October 2023, Tip of the Spear: Black Radicalism, Prison Repression, and the Long Attica Revolt, University of California Press, p. 223 2. Praveen Jha, Paris Yeros, and Walter Chambati, January 2020, Rethinking the Social Sciences with Sam Moyo, Tulika Books, p.22 3. Mao Zedong, 1937, “On Contradiction”, Selected Works of Mao Tse-Tung 4. Burton, p.52 5. Burton, p.224-226 6. Life During Wartime, p.6 7. Remembering the Real Dragon - An Interview with George Jackson May 16 and June 29, 1971, Interview by Karen Wald and published in Cages of Steel: The Politics Of Imprisonment In The United States (Edited by Ward Churchill and J.J. Vander Wall). 8. Burton, p.175. 9. Life During Wartime, p.17. 10. Burton, p.1 11. Burton, p.10 12. Huey P. Newton, 1973, Revolutionary Suicide, p.4 13. Steve Biko, I write What I Like, p.150 14. Burton, p.4 15. Burton, p.179 16. Burton, p.175 17. Burton, p.8 18. Burton, p.7 19. Burton, p.150 20. Burton, p.41 21. Burton, p.150 22. Burton, p.99 23. Burton, p.92 24. Burton, p.82 25. Sundiata Acoli, “From The Bowels of the Beast: A Message,” Breaking da Chains. 26. Kwame “Beans” Shakur 27. Thomas Sankara Speaks: The Burkina Faso Revolution 1983-1987, p.417 28. Burton, p.105 29. Burton, p.42 30. Burton, p.42 31. Biko, p.145 32. Biko, p.92 33. Safiya Bukhari 34. Burton, p.62

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[Palestine] [Revolutionary History] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 85]
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What is Hamas?

The aim of this article is to provide a brief summation of what Hamas is as a movement. It will expand on the history of Palestine written by a comrade in ULK 84. Both imperialist media and revisionist propaganda create false narratives around Hamas, oftentimes mistaking basic facts to suit their interests. It is important to understand that Hamas is a movement and that over the course of history has changed, likely changing as We speak. The primary aim of this article is not to formulate an opinion on how communists should approach Hamas or to speak over Palestinian and Arab analyses of Hamas. Rather it is to point out the fundamental, but often obscured, facts and history of the origins of Hamas and what it represents.

The Joint Room for Palestinian Resistance Factions brings the resistance together to coordinate a counter-attack against I$raeli colonization on 7 October 2023. Ayman Nofal, senior commander in Al-Qassam Brigades, the militant arm of Hamas. was a main leader in unifying resistance for this counter-attack who died in 2023 soon after the counter-attack.(1) The current war is not just between Hamas and I$rael, but one between the entirety of Palestinian resistance against I$rael for the national liberation of Palestine. Hamas is the largest faction of the Palestinian resistance so an understanding of the movement and its history is crucial for understanding the ongoing struggle.

The origins, emergence and development of Hamas

Hamas is an Arabic abbreviation for Islamic Resistance Movement(Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya). The movement was founded in December 1987 at the beginning of the First Palestinian Intifada. Before Hamas there was the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which had a branch in Gaza since 25 November 1946(founded this year to coincide with year 1366 of the Islamic calendar). The Muslim Brotherhood was non-confrontational with I$rael, which led to criticism and division internally during the 1970s-1980s. Hamas was formed as a way to join the First Palestinian Intifada(Uprising) without endangering the position of the Muslim Brotherhood. Under the defense minister Yitzhak Rabin, the I$raeli military adopted the so-called “iron fist” policy of violent repression: it used live ammunition against unarmed protestors, jailed demonstrators, and imposed punitive curfews and closures. This only added fuel to the fire, escalating into a full scale intifada.(2) The participation of Hamas in the First Palestinian Intifada was a major success, leading it to become more than just an associated organization of the Muslim Brotherhood.(3)

The origins of Hamas lie within the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Centre(Al-Mujamma’ al-Islami). The Islamic Centre was established on 7 September 1973, by the founder of Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin(Ahmed Yassin). It emerged out of the Muslim Brotherhood, with it’s stated goals of being the independence of Muslim lands from foreign occupation and establishment of an Islamic sociopolitical system.(4) The rise of the Islamic movements in Palestine, specifically in Gaza, only really took off after the First Intifada. This started on 9 December 1987, in the Jabalia refugee camp after an I$raeli truck driver collided with a civilian car, killing four Palestinian workers. Palestinian resistance emerged in response, being met with 80,000 I$raeli soldiers being deployed to crush it. Hamas emerged specifically for the Muslim Brotherhood to engage in the First Palestinian Intifada, beforehand militant struggle against I$rael by Islamic movements in Palestine were scarce.

Palestinian fedayeen(freedom fighters) network was primarily united under the Palestinian Liberation Organization(PLO) after the Six-Day War, a war between I$rael and a coalition of Arab nations in 1967 which led to I$rael attaining West Bank, Jerusalem, Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip. The resistance was primarily led by the Palestinian Liberation Front(PLF), Palestinian National Liberation Movement(Fatah), and Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine(PFLP). In the end, it was harshly repressed by I$rael with the death of Muhammad al-Aswad, known as “Gaza’s Guevara,” on 9 March 1973, marking the end of the military struggle. The failure of the Palestinian national movement marked a major turning point in Palestine.(5)

The Muslim Brotherhood was spared this harsh repression and Ahmed Yassin during this time led a variety of political activities and creation of various social institutions. These were under the name of the Islamic Centre, being recognized more formally on 7 September 1973, when the I$raeli governor attended the Jawrat al-Shams mosque inauguration. Later on, the Islamic University of Gaza, one of the first universities in Gaza, was founded by the Islamic Centre. The institutions and activities of the Islamic Centre played a major role in its establishment, with the university becoming a major site of recruitment for the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Centre was officially recognized as a charity in September 1979 by the I$raeli occupation. The reason for I$rael’s benevolent tolerance toward the Islamic Centre was to weaken the Palestinian national movement in exchange for a more conciliatory Islamic alternative.

The Palestinian national movement was even further divided with the PLO adopting the 10 Point Program which was the basis for the two-state solution and drafting of peace with I$rael. The Front of the Palestinian Forces Rejecting Solutions of Surrender was established in 1974 by a coalition of communist and progressive nationalist organizations who wanted to continue armed struggle. The PLO became more conciliatory towards I$rael, and today it rules over the now I$raeli puppet government called the Palestinian Authority. The 10 point program in its content may have had some progressive demands, such as right for displaced Palestinians to return and take back their homes. However, its calls for peace with I$rael and usage in justifying and end to resistance led to collaboration as we see today in the West Bank.(6)

In regard to social institutions, the main competition to the Islamic Centre was the Palestine Red Crescent Society under Haidar Abdel-Shafi, who was close with the PFLP. Specifically, Haidar was part of the Arab Nationalist Movement which was started by one of the founders of the PFLP, George Habash. The PFLP emerged directly out of the Arab Nationalist Movement after the Six Day War in July 1967. The executive committee of the Arab Nationalist Movement decided that the Palestine Section should move toward armed struggle. Three commando groups merged, the Revenge Youth, Heroes of Return, and the Palestine Liberation Front(PLF) to announce the founding of the PFLP on December 11th, 1967. Haidar Abdel-Shafi was both the founder and director of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which served as a bastion of Palestinian nationalism in 1972.(7)

The PLO, Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Centre were dominated by different sections of petty-bourgeois, national bourgeois and even comprador elements. As a result, the PFLP was a major threat to the projects of both groups given the revolutionary nationalist outlook that the front upheld, rooted in the proletariat. The PFLP took heavily from the Chinese and Vietnamese revolutionaries both in political and strategic developments.(8) Also, the the front correctly identified the enemies of Palestinian revolution as “Israel, the world Zionist Movement, global imperialism and Arab reactionaries.” In contrast to the other factions within Palestine, the front adopted a firmly dialectical materialist outlook, one based in scientific analysis of material reality with all its developments and changes.(9) This is what led to an allied struggle against communism by the other factions, as the PFLP presented a major threat to the PLO and Islamic movements. To note, the PLO refers to the mainstream conciliatory section, as the PFLP was still part of the PLO.

The co-founder of Palestinian National Liberation Movement(Fatah), Assad Saftawi, was a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was crucial in negotiations between the Islamic movement and Fatah in Palestine. He was the pioneer of an anti-communist strategy and alliance between the factions, running against Haidar Abdel-Shafi for leadership of the Red Crescent Society with the support of the Islamic Centre. After an overwhelming defeat, hundreds of protestors supportive of the Islamic movements ransacked Red Crescent offices on 7 January 1980. The protestors continued to attack cafés, cinemas, and drinking establishments in the town center. The I$raeli authorities did not intervene in response to the violent attacks against the Palestine Red Crescent Society intentionally.(10)

Coming back to the Islamic University of Gaza, in 1981 there were protests over the Islamic movement’s monopoly over the policies in the university. The Islamic Centre decided to turn against its former allies, the Palestinian National Liberation Movement. The I$raeli authorities and the Islamic movement formed a strange coalition to end the secular nationalist opposition in the university. The Islamic Bloc, an offshoot of the Islamic Centre, won 51% of the votes in student elections and were able to impose Islamic policies; from separate entrances for women and men to the way in which certain ideas and courses were taught.(11) It was reported in 1983 that the Islamic Centre hired armed gangs to attack striking students and teachers. Later on, certain Islamic dress standards among students were encouraged, with women who refused to wear Hijabs being attacked for it. A further bolstering of the Islamic movements against the national movements in Palestine had ensued with the Islamic University of Gaza becoming a bastion for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Centre.(12)

On June 1984, sixty pistols and sub-machine guns hidden in Ahmed Yasin’s mosque led to his arrest and sentencing to thirteen years in prison. Even if the arms were primarily intended to intimidate other Palestinian factions.(13) Yasin’s incarceration allowed his supporters to wash him of all suspicions of collaboration with I$rael. The leader was freed in May 1985 within the framework of a prisoner exchange between Israel and the PFLP–General Command, a faction that emerged in opposition to the PLO after it created it’s 10 Point Program, based in Damascus. The Muslim Brotherhood remained non-confrontational despite the repression against it and built up the Islamic Centre, with the number of mosques doubling from 77 in 1967 to 150 in 1986. This non-confrontational and passive stance was opposed by Fathi Shikaki, who split off to form the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, inspired by the Iranian Revolution. In response to the Islamic Jihad multiplying attacks against I$rael, the Islamic center formed the Majd. It performed the function of protecting the Islamic network from attacks and in suppression of what was seen as social ills.(14) The priority remained in combating oppositional factions within Palestine rather than I$rael.

On 9 December 1987, the First Palestinian Intifada began in the Gaza Strip and quickly spread to the West Bank. The growing popularity of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad led to an agreement within the Muslim Brotherhood between the conservative old guard, supportive of a non-confrontational approach to I$rael, made up mainly of urban merchants petty-bourgeoisie and general upper petty-bourgeoisie, and the younger generation of new activist cadres, pro-resistance, made up mostly of lower petty-bourgeoisie and refugee camp petty-bourgeois students. Hamas was created in December 1987 as a separate but affiliated organization which joined the First Palestinian Intifada. It was largely successful and began to attract a lot of sympathizers. The post-1973 oil boom allowed for many neighboring Arab nations to back Islamic movements across the region, including Hamas and the Islamic Centre.(15)

The Second Palestinian Intifada and liberation of Gaza

The PLO suffered major setbacks abroad, with the Black September in Jordan, a period of major repression of the PLO there. It led them to be deported and transferred to Lebanon. Later in 1982, the PLO was expelled from Beirut to Tunisia. All of this led to the PLO, led by Fatah, to seek out a diplomatic solution rather than pursuing armed struggle. The Oslo Accords were signed later on in 1991 between I$rael and the PLO, leading to the Palestinian Authority ruling over parts of the West Bank and Gaza. Military collaboration between the Palestinian Authority and I$rael had increased against the Islamic movement. The Palestinian Authority allowed continued colonization and occupation.

On 28 September 2000, Ariel Sharon, a Likud party candidate for I$rael, visited the Temple Mount, also known as Al-Haram Al-Sharif, an area sacred to both Jews and Muslims, accompanied by over a thousand security guards. He stated on that day, “the Temple Mount is in our hands and will remain in our hands. It is the holiest site in Judaism and it is the right of every Jew to visit the Temple Mount.” This led to the start of the Second Palestinian Intifada, with Palestinian resistance being carried out by the PLO, Hamas, and other factions. It led to I$raeli settlement and occupation forces withdrawing from the region after being ousted by the resistance in 2005.(15)

In January 2006, Hamas had won the elections in the Gaza Strip, winning 72 out of 132 seats with 42.9% of the vote. I$rael and I$rael’s imperialist backers enforced sanctions on the Hamas-led government soon after. Just a year later, tensions rose between Fatah and Hamas, with Hamas reigning victorious and expelling Fatah from Gaza in 2007 after the Battle of Gaza. The government faced major issues, with the poverty rate sharply rising to 65% by the end of 2006.(16)

The I$raeli blockade banned importation of raw industrial materials and put a siege on Palestinian banks to create an artificial financial crisis. Despite this and the rapidly deteriorating conditions, the oppressor classes enjoyed great luxuries and had high levels of consumption. This was especially the case of private tunnel dealers who controlled a monopoly on prices. A large portion of workers in Palestine found themselves in extreme poverty. There are two aspects to this, internal and external, and the external blockade by I$rael was only the external cause behind this.(17)

The origins of the tunnels were historically havens for both smugglers and outlaws but also for freedom fighters. Before the Second Palestinian Intifada the tunnels were primarily used for drug and gold trafficking for high profits. Near the end of the year 2000 they became primarily used for smuggling arms for the resistance factions.(18) After the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, the regeneration and construction of tunnels ensued in response to the siege. During this period, the main lifeline for those in Gaza became these tunnels with an economy centering around it. This led to a regression and neglect of the development of a productive economy or sustainable development. It is possible that during this time the primary class within Gaza was the lumpen-proletariat and perhaps still is.

The number of tunnels increased from 20 in mid-2007 to up to 500 by November 2008.(19) Some estimates by a variety of sources, from the Hamas-led government, Egypt, and others, estimate higher. Regardless, most of the tunnels belonged either to Hamas or its sympathizers. The risks that workers face in the tunnels are immense and there is a popular saying about the tunnels:

hundreds of tunnels deployed on the border, hundreds of young men waiting to get involved in the game … write your will, you are facing the unknown, but this is the land that you loved, roll up your shirt sleeves, and be a man, you are now at a depth of 20 meters in the land of Gaza, trust in God and finish your shift … 12 hours in hell, but remember that hungry mouths awaiting you. Here, death is merciful and quick … No pain… No white phosphorus … nor Israeli soldiers who might use you as a human shield, it’s neither a prison here nor jail; here is God and the darkness of the tunnel and breathing slowly till you die(20)

Hamas is heavily dependent on the tunnel economy, estimated to make more than $700 million annually. This economy is ultimately unproductive and heavily dependent on exploitation, creating a class of private tunnel owners and merchants who make up the leadership of Hamas today. Ismail Haniyeh, the current leader of Hamas, is a millionaire from the money made from his ownership and respective taxation on trade through tunnels. The specific class relations will not be commented on here, but this inquiry into the tunnel economy is done specifically to point out its importance to Hamas. The large national bourgeoisie who own these tunnels and the petty-bourgeoisie merchants who conduct trade within them make up the class basis of Hamas today. This leads to an interest in opposing imperialism and I$raeli occupation while maintaining the exploitation of the proletariat and lumpen-proletariat.

The Hamas charter frames the struggle as a Jihad(holy struggle) against Zionism. In its first charter in 1988, it was openly anti-Semitic, claiming that both liberal and communist revolutions were carried out because of the Jews.(21) The first charter also employs idealism to obscure the internal class struggle and only emphasizes the external one in an idealist manner. This was possibly put in due to the opposition to Hamas by elements of the PLO and PFLP. Later on, this was removed completely possibly in part due to the downfall of both of these factions. As we can see, the ideology of Hamas changes as a result of its class character and relationships with different factions. For that reason, we see that Hamas broke with the Muslim Brotherhood officially in the second charter in 2014 for being too passive. It also shifted toward a more materialist conception of struggle against Zionism, settler-colonialism/colonialism, and imperialism here rather than against Jews and Judaism. In a recent document by Hamas, the organization states this more clearly:

Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine. Yet, it is the Zionists who constantly identify Judaism and the Jews with their own colonial project and illegal entity.(22)

This shift in position is important to note. The specific reason why this occurred is hard to track down but the downfall of elements of the PLO and PFLP is likely an important factor. So is the Second Intifada and liberation of Gaza from I$raeli occupation and imperialism. As we see, resistance to occupation forced Hamas to adopt more correct and materialist political positions in regard to I$rael. It still obscures internal class relations for its own benefit, but given the primary ongoing struggle is against occupation, Hamas is able to maintain majority support. A wartime poll of Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank showed a vast majority supported: the Al Qassam Brigades(Hamas brigades) at 89%, Palestinian Islamic Jihad at 85%, Al Aqsa Brigades(Fatah brigades) at 80%, and Hamas at 76%.(23) Smaller organizations like the PFLP were not included in the survey. So despite the exploitation internally which Hamas is responsible for, its recent practice of being one of the largest groups in the counter-attack against I$rael leads it to win the sympathy of the masses.

Conclusion, Reflections and Future Analysis

palestinian resistance forces united
Palestinian resistance factions following a press conference in Beiruit, Lebanon. Pictured are Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — General Command (PFLP-GC).

As we can see, the Islamic movements in Palestine are not a monolith and have changed overtime. The formation of Hamas and its class basis is important to have clarity on, but this article is by no means an extensive analysis of such. It hopefully has helped in clearing up common myths and confusions around Hamas, with imperialist media constantly making frivolous claims. They range from Hamas having spawned out of the I$raeli far-right funding to Hamas being a terrorist group which kills Palestinians and I$raelis. This article hopefully provided both facts and summarized analyses of why both of these common narratives are false. However, there are major issues left unaddressed and a few will be listed here. The political economy of the Levant and the Palestinian clans/tribes are a crucial factor that has not even been mentioned. The displacement by I$raeli settler-colonialism and imperialism has not been analyzed enough in detail. The Muslim Brotherhood and its relationship to Hamas was glossed over as well. As an analysis and presentation of facts from a foreign perspective, many crucial elements are likely missed that are not known about.

Some of these shortcomings may be addressed in future articles. Specifically, an article about Fanon’s writings on the lumpen-proletariat leading a revolution in Algeria will be pursued. The underground national bourgeoisie of oppressed nations in the United $tates are quite similar to Hamas in current times. The displacement of Palestinians by I$raeli settler-colonialism and imperialism mirrors the conditions of oppressed nations and oppressed national minorities at the hands of Amerika. A greater understanding of how revolutionary struggle can be conducted in conditions of settler-colonial displacement by the participation of the lumpen-proletariat and First World lumpen will be important.

Before ending this article, i would like to make a general acknowledgement. This article was written with the direct help of a variety of MIM(Prisons) and AIPS members along with a variety of comrades not affiliated with MIM(Prisons). The work of Arabic and Palestinian documentation and analysis played a major role in being able to answer this question here in more detail. These sources are worth checking out and have been cited below for readers to read into themselves if they wish. This is not meant to advocate for communists in the Third World to pursue a certain policy toward Hamas, but to provide the facts about and a brief analysis of Hamas to give a deeper perspective of what the movement is and represents.

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

من النهر إلى البحر / فلسطين ستتحرر

Notes:
1. Joint Room and ‘Unity of the Squares’: What Will the Next Israeli War on Gaza Look Like by Palestine Chronicle Staff, June 12, 2023
2. The First Intifada, 1987-1993 | Exhilaration of Revolt, Promise of Freedom by Roger Heacock
3. Hamas: its history, development, and critical point of view by Joseph Daher, March 7, 2024 | حماس: تاريخها، تطورها، وجهة نظر نقدية بقلم: جوزيف ظاهر
4. HASAN AL-BANNA AND HIS POLITICAL THOUGHT OF ISLAMIC BROTHERHOOD by The Muslim Brotherhood, May 13, 2008
5. Armed Struggle and the Search for State: The Palestinian National Movement, 1949-1993 by Yezid Sayigh, 1997
6. 10 Point Program of the PLO (1974)
7. Milton-Edwards, Islamic Politics in Palestine, 1996
8. Strategy for the Liberation of Palestine PFLP by the PFLP, 1969
9. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – PFLP by Maher Charif
10. Milton-Edwards, Islamic Politics in Palestine, 1996, pp. 106–107
11. The Palestinian Hamas : vision, violence, and coexistence by Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela, 2018
12. Milton-Edwards, Islamic Politics in Palestine, 1996
13. The Origins of Hamas: Militant Legacy or Israeli Tool? by Jean-Pierre Filiu, 2012
14. The Palestinian Hamas : vision, violence, and coexistence by Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela, 2018, pg. 34
15. The Second Intifada, 2000-2005 | Mounting Confrontation, Shattered Aspirations by Roger Heacock
16. Samir Abu Mdallaleh, Poverty and Human Rights, a paper presented to the Independent Commission for Human Rights, Gaza, 2008
17. The Tunnel Economy in the Gaza Strip: A Catholic Marriage by Sameer Abumdallal, 2014
18. Ghazi al-Sourani, Rafah’s Tunnels and their Economic, Social and Political Impacts, Modern Discussion, Issue no” 2495, 14-02-2008, p. 1
19. Popular Committee Against the Siege (PCAS), 25-11-2008<BR. 20. Atta Manna’, The Memoire of a corrupted person-tunnels-2nd paper, Tuesday, 01-12-2009
21. Hamas Covenant 1988 (WARNING: The viewership of article specifically will almost definitely be tracked by the feds, Tor is highly recommended)
22. Our Narrative… Operation Al-Aqsa Flood by Hamas Media Office, January 21, 2024 (WARNING: The viewership of article specifically will almost definitely be tracked by the feds, Tor is highly recommended)
23. Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD), Wartime Poll: Results of an Opinion Poll Among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Data collected between 31 October and 07 November 2023

Related Articles:

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[Palestine] [International Communist Movement] [Principal Contradiction] [Anti-Imperialism] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 85]
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Palestine & Internationalism from the Imperial Core

afrika supports palestine

In the past, the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM), and its mass org at the time, the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist League, campaigned to get the University of California to Divest from I$rael.(1) This was a correct strategy, because U.$. imperialism is the number one backer of the I$raeli war machine. Behind the flag of I$rael is the stars and stripes.

More recently, United Struggle from Within (USW) carried out a petition campaign, which read in part:

“Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and for the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing”never again.”

The petition recognized that Palestinian political prisoners had supported the California hunger strikes in recent years and it was time to return solidarity. By 2016, comrades in 16 prisons had gathered 189 signatures. Recognizing the limitations of conditions, the petition also read:

“Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen; the oppressed internal nation lumpen in particular as agents of social change, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of Israel and their support in the U.$.”

Still today, comrades are asking what can we do to support Palestine?

Settlers Supporting Settlers

The war against Palestine is what Amerika has always done from its very founding – land grab, occupation, genocide. Therefore, there is much support in the United $tates for I$rael’s current bombing campaign and invasion of Gaza. And the tactics being used against Palestine could easily be tried against indigenous people here on Turtle Island next.

MIM and others have documented the history of Amerikan labor union support for I$rael.(2) Yet, in recent months not only has the U.$. seen millions demonstrate to oppose U.$. militarism in Palestine, but labor unions representing millions of Amerikan so-called workers have signed a call for a cease fire.(3) While Amerikans have always been settlers, the United $tates is more and more a population of people who do not come from settler backgrounds. And more and more, people from non-settler backgrounds are joining the ranks of labor unions, big tech companies and other professional roles. This is one factor behind the wavering support for I$rael. Of course, it is the Palestinian resistance that is forcing Amerikans to take a position.

The cease fire call is a shift for many Amerikan labor unions away from outright Zionism to the left wing of white nationalism. Despite the cease fire statement, these unions will still be campaigning for Genocide Joe this year. And while some members of the International Longshoreman Workers Union (ILWU) participated in a one day protest/shut down of the port of Oakland in support of Gaza, there has been no sustained strike by Amerikan unions that are actively involved in shipping arms to I$rael.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), having been in the news for strikes last year, is one of the unions to issue a statement for a ceasefire. Meanwhile, the UAW has been hosting talks with employees of arms manufacturer Raytheon for a “just transition” to guarantee labor aristocracy union jobs in thefuture technologies of war and genocide. Brandon Mancilla, director or UAW’s Region 9A, announced in a tweet on Dec 1st the formation of a Divestment and Just Transition working group to explore how “we can have just transition for US workers from war to peace.” Behind the UAW’s ceasefire resolution, was UAW Labor for Palestine. Self-described on their website as a “nationwide group of rank-and-file UAW members” that seeks to “organize UAW worksites that send arms and other material to Israel.” They have faced great resistance from the UAW in general to taking any action to stop producing arms for I$rael. Like the Amerikan leaders who mumble words about humanitarian efforts in Palestine while continuing to authorize more and more shipments of war machines to I$rael, Amerikan labor makes statements about ceasefire, while continuing to produce these machines. Actions speak louder than words.

As we reported in ULK 84, arms shipments must get to the Red Sea before they face real resistance; resistance by Yemen’s armed forces. And following I$rael’s attacks on Iranian diplomatic soil in Syria in April, Iran has seized an I$raeli-linked cargo ship passing through the Strait of Hormuz. While the Strait, which accesses the Persian Gulf, does not lead to I$rael, it does lead to I$rael’s new Arab allies in the UAE.

Doing Better

The #1 thing people in the United $tates can be doing in the short-term to stop genocide in Palestine is to stop shipments of arms and aid to I$rael. Just as the imperialists have used blockades to weaken the Palestinian resistance. The question is how to make such a blockade meaningful and sustainable.

In the longer-term it is our responsibility in the United $tates to weaken imperialism from the inside. As we see the principal contradiction in the United $tates to be between nations, it is by supporting national liberation struggles at home that we believe we can best make this happen faster. And without building the revolutionary forces here in the United $tates, we do not foresee a successful, sustained blockade of aid to I$rael.

Another realm of struggle we should be tuned into is the struggle against political repression of those supporting Palestine, and especially the state imposing limitations on the exchange of information between Palestine and the world. The labeling of organizations linked to the Palestinian struggle as “terrorist organizations” is parallel to organizations in the oppressed nations in the United $tates being labelled “security threat groups (STGs).” As our readers know well the right to free speech and association is not guaranteed but must be struggled for within this bourgeois democracy.

Finally, correct political line must lead for us to succeed on all fronts. Democratic Party-supporting labor unions calling for “cease fire” is not the correct political line. Stopping all aid to I$rael is correct. Supporting national liberation struggles of the oppressed is correct. Recognizing the populations of the exploiter countries to be part of the bourgeoisie is correct. And recognizing the need for independent communist organizations in all parts of the world is correct for avoiding past mistakes that restricted the revolutionary potential of oppressed nations (see next section).

There is a reinforcing effect between revolutionary nationalist and communist movements around the world. Communism was more popular in Palestine when communists were demonstrating models of success in practice in other parts of the world. The revolutionary nationalism of Palestine today will impact the consciousness of revolutionary nationalism around the world, including within U.$. borders. Amplifying this effect in the short-term will help us build the type of movement that can provide real solidarity with Palestine in the short-term. The history and class interests of Amerikan labor prove that their current level of sympathies with Palestine are tenuous and lacking in militancy.

It is the struggle of the occupied indigenous populations, the largest of which is Aztlán, that are most parallel to Palestine in our context. Meanwhile New Afrika has probably been the most ardent supporter of Palestine in the United $tates historically. Though it’s also worth noting the prominence of Jewish voices in opposing the war from the United $tates, due to the connection the existence of I$rael has forced onto all Jewish people. As a resistance movement based in a compact area of land that is mostly urban, there is much to be learned tactically from the successes of the ongoing struggle in Palestine today that relates to the conditions of oppressed nations in the heart of empire.

The ICM, Pan-Islamism and Palestine

Support from communists around the world, especially those waging People’s War in the Third World, has been unwavering on the side of Palestine liberation since October 7th. But the history of the International Communist Movement (ICM) has led to setbacks in Palestinian and pan-Arab liberation.

MIM(Prisons) has been working on reiterating MIM line on the Communist International in recent years as part of an effort to compile MIM’s work opposing crypto-Trotskyism. One of the key issues we have with Trotskyism is its view that the most advanced capitalist countries will/should lead the communist movement. MIM line says that the most exploited and oppressed nations will lead the way, and recognizes the need for independent initiative and direction from within each nation. We also see the need for a Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations (JDPON) as a tool for overthrowing imperialism. Under the JDPON, it will be the communist minorities in former imperialist countries that are benefiting from the assistance of more advanced, socialist, former colonies.

From 1919-1943, the third Communist International (Comintern) was the first experiment in an international communist movement that involved parties in state power. At that time the idea that the advanced capitalist countries would lead the socialist revolution was more popular. Bolshevik leader Mirza Sultan-Galiev was one of the biggest critics of this position. In 1923, at the 9th Conference of the Tatar Obkom, Sutlan-Galiev stated:

“If a revolution succeeds in England, the proletariat will continue oppressing the colonies and pursuing the policy of the existing bourgeois government; for it is interested in the exploitation of these colonies. In order to prevent the oppression of the toiler of the East we must unite the Muslim masses in a communist movement that will be our own and autonomous.”(4)

MIM positively reviewed eir ideas:

“Sultan-Galiev was for the formation of a”Colonial International” to replace the Comintern as organization of central importance. He also called for the “dictatorship of the colonial nations over the metropolis.”“(5)

Sultan-Galiev applied this concept to Russians, who were far more oppressed and exploited than Amerikans today, as well as to the United $tates, which ey saw as built on the genocide and labor of First Nations and New Afrikans.

portrait of Che Guevarra and Joseph Stalin
Cuban revolutionary Che Guevarra and Georgian leader of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin. Despite eir mistakes in building the first socialist state, Stalin is part of the lineage of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. While friendly to Maoism in many ways, Guevarra is known for focoism, a military strategy that is the opposite of Mao’s Protracted People’s War.

For a brief period, about 5 years after the Russian revolution, the Bolsheviks had created a Muslim communist party separate from the Russian one. But this project was quickly abandoned. Decades later, USSR leader Joseph Stalin, who also played a leading role in the Comintern, abolished the Comintern in 1943. Stalin and Mao both said the communist international was no longer appropriate for the complicated conditions of international struggle. One of the problems with the communist international was the mixing of people from exploiter countries and exploited countries in one organization. Another was the mixing of people engaged in armed struggle against imperialism with those who are not. Sultan-Galiev’s proposal for a “Colonial International” addresses the first problem. However, eir ideas were not ultimately adopted by the Comintern, and ey was purged from the Bolshevik Party in 1923.

Current Events in Russia and Palestinian Communism

Last week a horrible mass shooting took place in Moscow, killing 143 people. The gunmen are reportedly from Tajikistan and working with the Islamic State-Khorasan, based in Central Asia. An Amerikan analyst explained that this group “sees Russia as being complicit in activities that regularly oppress Muslims” and that a number of other Central Asian militants have allied with the Islamic State group due to their own grievances against Moscow.(6) Tajikistan is a former Soviet republic. One must wonder if a Muslim Communist International, separate from the Russian one, could have avoided the emergence of militant groups in Central Asia today that have violent beefs with Moscow. This goes both ways, with chauvinist attitudes by many Russians today towards the other former Soviet republics. As the capitalist/imperialist USSR collapsed in 1991, both sides of this national divide perceived the other to be exploiting them.(7)

On the Western side of the USSR Sultan-Galiev helped establish a separate Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1921. This became a bastion for German Nazis in the 1940s, leading to the native Tatar population being relocated by Stalin, and the area populated by Russians and Ukrainians – leading to disputes over the territory today. This suggests that Stalin was correct to oppose Sultan-Galiev for narrow nationalism in the late 1920s and ultimately have em killed in 1940 as the Nazis were preparing to invade.

The problems with trying to unify too quickly with a communist international seems to have played a role in Palestine and the Arab world as well. The Soviet Union supported the partitioning of Palestine by the Zionists, leading to the Nakba (“The Catastrophe” or ethnic cleansing of Palestine) in 1948. Despite the Comintern having been dissolved in 1943, apparently it was still policy for the Communist Parties in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon to support the USSR line on the partitioning of Palestine against their own beliefs. This led to massive loss of support for the communists in Syria and Lebanon for years to come (there was not much support in Palestine until years later).(8)

While U.$. and I$raeli imperialism played a role in suppressing communist organizing, these internal contradictions and short-comings are what allowed such efforts to succeed. We can see how the strategies we choose today can have grave and lasting impacts decades later. That is why we, as communists, must do a better job of implementing an effective internationalism by recognizing the national self-determination of each oppressed nation. Independence in action must coincide with a struggle for unity in ideology.

“The early stages of socialism according to both Lenin and Stalin would see a vast multiplication of nations seizing their destinies. It was only under advanced communism that we could contemplate the disappearance of nations.”(7)

The above is in line with USW’s slogan of “unity from the inside out.” It is only with true self-determination of the oppressed nations that they can fully unite with other nations. Of course, the more unity we have the stronger we are. So we must struggle for unity, without forcing it before conditions are ripe.

We call on comrades to continue to make connections between Palestine and national struggles in occupied Turtle Island, and to build national liberation struggles here in the heart of empire.

Notes:
1. MIM - California, UC Divest From Israel! campaign page
2. Boston MIM, August 2005, Labor aristocracy hits the streets for I$rael, This article gives a more comprehensive background on the connection between Zionism and U.$. labor unions: Jeff Schuhrke, 11 November 2023, US Labor Has Long Been a Stalwart Backer of Israel. That’s Starting To Change., Jacobin.
3. Democracy Now!, 26 December 2032, Labor Demands a Ceasefire: UAW, Electrical & Postal Workers Call for Israel’s Assault on Gaza to End.](https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/26/us_labor_movement_israel_palestine)
4. Joshua Alexander, 08 August 2016, Two Articles by Mirsaid Sultan-Galiev, 1919, Anti-Imperialism.org.
5. MIM’s Pan-Islamic Page
6. Sophia Yan, 23 March 2024, Islamic State attackers publish selfie following Moscow attack, The Telegraph.
7. MIM, The role of the National Bourgeoisie: The decline of Soviet social-imperialism
8. Guerrilla History, 15 March 2024, History of Palestinian Communism w/ Patrick Higgins.

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[Revolutionary History] [Struggle] [Theory] [Education] [ULK Issue 85]
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The Importance of Revolutionary Theory

portrait Mao head

What is to be done? That’s the most important question for a revolutionary. “How can it be done?” is as important. Theory and practice are of equal importance when it comes to revolution. Theory without practice, ideas without action, are useless. Practice without theory leads to failure. That’s why Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels decided that scientific socialism will accomplish what utopian socialism could only dream of. An event such as the Great October Revolution of 1917 required a leader such as Lenin, a philosopher. Now, a revolution is for the people. That’s why we need to educate the people, and to do that we should educate ourselves. Study politics, history, science, psychology, philosophy, but most importantly study revolutionary history and the writings of past and present revolutionaries. It’s impossible to exaggerate the importance. We need well-educated revolutionaries.

The Black Panther Party was committed to educate the people and they required their members to study. They studied Mao, Lenin, Marx, and the works of Black radicals. The Black Panther newspaper was meant “to educate the oppressed”. That was its primary purpose. Che Guevara was a brilliant man who educated people through his speeches in a clear manner. Mao, Lenin, Marx, Engels, they all wrote extensively in order to guide their readers before, during, and after a revolution. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of all that wisdom?

Karl Marx was a philosopher, sociologist, economist and a voracious reader. Lenin too. And they studied the works of different types of radical thinkers. They studied, and admired, the French Revolution. Lenin was a fan of Peter Kropotkin’s history of the French Revolution. Karl Marx admired Charles Darwin’s work, and noticed how Darwin was influenced by Thomas R. Malthus. How can we claim to support scientific forms of socialism and never actually read any science, or economics at least?

I recommend the following: “Quotations From Chairman Mao Zedong” edited by Lin Biao, “Essential Works of Lenin” edited by Henry Christman, “Theories of Surplus Value”, “The Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844”, and “The Poverty of Philosophy” by Karl Marx, “The Black Panthers Speak” edited by Philip Foner, and any other books on radical politics, history, science and philosophy.

And remember, comrades: “Hasta la victoria siempre!” -Che Guevara


MIM(Prisons) responds: We welcome this statement from the study group of the Iron Lung Collective, and we support its sentiments. Through our Free Political Books to Prisoners Program, comrades inside can receive any of the books Modern Cassius recommends, with the exception of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong or “The Little Red Book.” We believe all of the historical texts of revolutionaries must be studied and understood in their historical context. The mish-mash of quotes from different periods of the Chinese revolution in “The Little Red Book” make it very difficult to do so.

As we work to re-ignite the prison movement, regular, local study groups are the base of our efforts to re-build. We have a guide for starting a local study group, and a decent stock of revolutionary and historical literature you can find on our literature list. Please see page 2 of ULK for more details on how to participate in the Free Political Books to Prisoners Program.

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