ULK 61 was very informative to me. I'm 47 years old, and I have what you call street cred. I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business. I'm currently serving a ten-to-twenty sentence, and all my charges are for drugs except for one.
In 2001, I worked in rooding. When I got to the job site there were no shingles so the boss sent us home early with half a day pay. When I came home, as I started up the stairs, I heard a commotion in my front room where me and my wife sleep. As I opened the door I saw my wife (or ex-wife) naked and a man jumping out the window. I lost my mind, started calling her all type of names and beat on her pretty badly. The neighbors called the cops. When I was given my charges it was rape, burglary, kidnapping, and breaking and entering. What should have been a crime of passion turned into something else. They did a rape kit and it was negative. I had keys to the house, and bills in my name.
I had a public defender because she had all my money. So me being a poor Latino, afraid of the racist justice system, I took a deal of 2 years for sexual battery plus ten years registering as a sex offender. I was evaluated by a professional and was determined that I didn't have a sex problem. Therefore I did not have to take the sex program that a sex offender must take. I've been to prison 4 times after that for possession with intent to deliver and all four times I was evaluated to see if I needed the sex program and every time it's been determined that I do NOT have a sex problem. My problems are with drugs. So my question is, if I do not have a sex problem, why is the state of Pennsylvania still registering me as a sex offender and wants to do it for life?
I want to change my life around but it's a heavy load to have as an older man. If anyone knows how I can get relief, please help me if you can.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores our point that labels from the criminal injustice system shouldn't be trusted. But ey also raises an interesting question related to the topic of crimes against the people. Ey writes "I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business." Drug dealing is harmful to those who do and buy drugs, and their families and community, and so we put it in the category of crimes that are against the people. This is different from, say, robbing a bank, or tax fraud.
It sounds like this comrade now sees the problem with dealing drugs, and wants to turn things around. This is a good example of someone who has great potential to reform and become a productive member of the revolutionary movement. We don't care that ey has a SO label, though we hope this comrade now sees that there is no justification for beating up eir ex-wife. And we can move past the drug dealing if ey has stopped and understands why it's wrong. We care most what ey does with eir life going forward.
The situation where a group was supporting imprisoned white power by promoting the 23 via events outside prisons was left opportunism. It was a situation where the activists felt it was necessary to cater to imprisoned white supremacists in order to "move the movement forward."
During World War II Stalin made temporary alliances with Hitler, but this was only because Russia had to build up its military, and millions of lives were at stake. Here, had the activists chose not to promote imprisoned white power the movement and its united front would have survived.
Looking back at the response/decision to split with MIM(Prisons) over them not issuing a statement on the matter, I must now say it was wrong. I believe now that I should have criticized MIM(Prisons) on this, but I should not have supported a split. It was an over reaction, I feel was brought on by a combination of things. One being the extreme repression and pressure I was under in the concentration kamp and it did affect me in ways I am still dealing with. I was in a situation where death by the state was perpetual, solitary was a mountain of pressure and white supremacy was the assassin ever present. I felt at the time, betrayal for those who would not issue a response. This of course was an incorrect response.
Being released from the kkkamps has allowed me to look at my thoughts on this with new eyes. It is true that MIM(Prisons) had served prisoners including myself for many years. I should not have responded as if I just met them. This was a result of many years of solitary, and the psychological turmoil that the state put me through. This kind of turmoil often has prisoners turn on each other, here I turned on comrades politically, comrades who had been my instructors for years. I was wrong for this.
I accept the criticism from MIM(Prisons) and for the historical record I stand in unity with MIM(Prisons).
I hope with this self-criticism that our imprisoned comrades can learn from it. It's important to know that to split with comrades over tactics, whether it is over something you feel you may be correct on is a very big move. Prisons, and particularly solitary confinement, at times obscures our ability to respond in a materialist way.
I should note that the tactic of activists to promote the 23 has now been overturned. So in that aspect I was proven correct, it was my response that was incorrect. But this was a very important lesson.
The movement cannot move forward with subjective decisions. I allowed subjectivism to determine my decisions on this issue and that was an error. MIM(Prisons)'s line never changed so my affiliation with them should not have changed either.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We whole-heartedly accept this self-criticism from Pili based on this statement and eir principled work with the Republic of Aztlán.
It is not unusual for us to encounter anger and frustration from our comrades inside. Our relationship is tenuous through the mail. Often comrades will question us because of this. We generally know more about them then they know about us. That is an imbalance that can encourage doubts. This is a good example of the psychological warfare that solitary confinement wages on the oppressed. It is not just about isolating individuals from others, it has broad and lasting impacts on the oppressed's ability to organize effectively.
As a result of all this, we are patient and understanding when there is the occasional riff with a comrade we have worked closely with for some time. But we always go back to what Pili said above — look at our work, look at what we say. Is it consistent? Is it correct? And we will take the same approach with you. Sometimes comrades/organizations do change their line and practice to a degree that warrants splitting with them.
Advanced comrades should think about what a dividing line question is for them. This can help orientate you, and avoid subjectivism, when you find yourself questioning whether another group is an ally or not. See the article cited by Pili above for a discussion of cardinal principles and what Maoists should and shouldn't divide over.
I just got done reading ULK 61 and I got to say it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff that I did as a gang member of Aryan Brotherhood in Texas to sex offenders coming into the system. When they came in, me and several other dudes would beat them up to "break them" and then would sell them to the butty bandits due to their crime of being labeled a sex offender.
The system would not attempt to protect them either, due to the label they had on them as a sex offender. So we had free reign to punish them as we seen fit. But nowadays I look back on the stuff that I did and can see the big errors of my ways.
I ran into a dude down in the state hospital that was just about dead of AIDS that he got due to the actions of me and some other dudes breaking him. I was going for breaking my hand in a fight and saw the death wagon pull up and unload two AIDS patients, and one dude seen me and called out my name and asked me if I was still breaking in sex offenders and if so to look at him and see what it causes.
I was like "Dude I do not know you or want to know you either." He told me where I beat him up and sold him, and it blew my mind. I had a lot of hate towards sex offenders when I came into this place and it has mellowed out over the last 34 years that I have been in prison. My baby sister was assaulted by her friend's father, so the issue of sex offenders is personal to me.
When I started in the County Jail beating up sex offenders for something to do, the Sheriff would tell the jailers to put anyone that came into the jail on my tan and tell me in front of the dude what he was in the jail for. I look back on it now and I am coming to the realization that they were using me to punish the dudes that were charged with sexual assault.
One dude, I broke his jaw in two places due to his granddaughter saying he touched her in a private spot. Come to find out it was a lie because she was mad at him for grounding her for the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not attempting to brag about it, just am showing the length of time and intensity that I have been blinded by the system to do their work, and now I'm starting to understand the system. What made me wake up is one of my brothers got charged with sexual assault/harassment for grabbing his croch and telling a chick to suck is dic- as he left school. Since he made a crude gesture towards her she said she felt violated. He was on a ten-year probation so he got violated for the gesture and came to prison for it. And yes he has to register as a level 1 tier offender due to him being mad about getting kicked out of school for a 3-day period.
Each case is different so you got to look at all of the facts. If you go blindly as I did for years upon years you are no better than the ones you are jumping on, due to the fact that you are siding with the oppressors and are holding down your own people. Yes I am fully aware that there are some sexual offenses that are true crimes and they need all that they get and ten fold more heaped on top of it if they are truly guilty of the crime of sexual assault on a woman or child.
But before you lace up the steeltoe boots and put your pistols on gloves to beat up a sex offender, make sure it's a true crime and one that deserve the punishment that you are fixin to hand out. If not you're just working for the system that you are claiming to work against. You cannot pull both ways at once or you go no place at all.
I used to beat up the dudes, now I try to help them with their cases due to the fact that a lot of them are not able to get help in the law library because they have ask a law clerk to help get a case cite and his first question is "what you charged with?" And he will go to the law books and look up your case, and if you do not pass his smell test he will not help you, or he will tell you the case cite you're asking about is not in the law library, or throw your request slip away and say he never got it at all.
Look at it like this, what if you're with a girl and you're going at it and she says "stop"? If you move forward one more time you have just committed sexual assault.
So before you say it will not happen to you, you got to look at it with your eyes open and see the whole picture and not just what the state wants to show you. So think about all the forms that you may have been labeled a sex offender in the past and then you can get over the stink of the name and start to see the person and not the label that the state has put on a person. Most I can work around because I was a dirty dog in the world and could have been charged a few times too. But the main issue is we need to stop letting the state do our thinking for us and take back our minds from the system. You can handcuff my body but I refuse to let you handcuff my mind any longer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer has learned through practice pretty much everything we've been saying about sex crimes. This is an impressive transformation, and we hope ey has also transformed eir thinking about oppressed nations over many years behind bars.
It's true that a lot of people have committed sex crimes but not been caught. Men are taught to be "dirty dogs" as this writer says. That's why the revolutionary movement will need to do a lot of work reforming thinking and rehabilitating. Not just those with sex charges, but everyone raised in this messed up system. As we discuss in the "Punishment vs. Rehabilitation" article, we can do some of this rehabilitating now, but we will focus our energy and time on those who recognize their mistakes and crimes and want to make a change and committ to serving the people.
Reports from the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity are starting to come in. Comrades in prisons across the country commemorated the anniversary of the Attica uprising, building the movement and taking a stand against the criminal injustice system.
This day of action was initiated in 2012 by a prisoner-led organization working with the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). The day is focused on building unity and solidarity. The call for peace between all groups, sets, organizations and individuals, even for just one day, frightens the prison administration. We know they don’t want peace. They benefit when the oppressed fight one another. It keeps the attention off the real enemy: the criminal injustice system. We see this in the report about September 9 organizing from Master K.G. Supreme.
This year's action coincides with the end of the three week country-wide prison strike initiated by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak. The demands of this strike focused on improvement in conditions behind bars and changing laws and unwritten policies of national oppression that perpetuate the criminal injustice system. The organizers of the strike recognize that the battle continues: "Incarcerated organizers never believed that their demands would be met a negotiating table during the past three weeks; it has been a huge success of the 2018 prison strike that the 10 points have been pushed into the national and international consciousness."(1)
The UFPP principle of Peace states: "WE organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." This work doesn’t stop with September 9, we need to work for peace among the oppressed year round. Below are a few initial reports from California. We look forward to more reports from the rest of the country.
California Correctional Institution
For this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity, I personally will fast, exercise, read and hold a study group, which will consist of 8 committed and conscious-minded individuals, who hold fast to the philosophy of peace and unity amongst prisoners. This day there will be no strife, conflict nor division amongst the prisoners here. It's not conducive to a healthy environment. Nor will it promote growth and development.
So, the study group's theme will be peace and unity and how we can best promote these themes within these prison confines. I will start it off by giving my interpretation on what peace and unity means to me. And then i will ask the eight comrades what does peace and unity mean to them individually.
And this will start the deep discussion about the continued peace and unity amongst the prisoners here. And at that, we can come together in solidarity to rid ourselves of the internal oppression that exists amongst us. And only then can we conquer and vanquish imperialism in all its forms. This is our object. We'll make this a successful effort by all means necessary.
Salinas Valley State Prison
Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move here at SVSP quad this Bloody September. This September 9, 2018 we remember the anniversary of Attica of Sept 9, 1971 and them faceless freedom revolutionary fighters who fought and died in these prisons uprising throughout history of our struggle as we continue to fight the oppression, exploitation, abuse and inhumane treatment of prisoners. A lot of rights and privileges comrades have today is because of these soldiers at war with this corrupt system.
Throughout this country, we as New Afrikans must reconstruct our thoughts and come up with ways and ideas to get control over our minds behind enemy lines, and work to educate the lumpen. I know our young comrades think they know everything. Being upright, independent and fearless against all odds and not fearing the outcome of whatever is what the young comrades are looking for true leadership.
This Sept 9 day I refrained from all negative conversation. AFW continues to push to end prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities throughout this country. I had the chance to meet and become a student of the main 4 reps to end all hostilities between our racial groups, and also a brother from the representatives body. I spoke with brother X about our beloved brother W.L. Nolen and GJ and our conditions today as "new man," and how GJ struggled to transform the Black criminal mentality into a Black revolutionary mentality. And solidarity with all you comrades around the country this Sept 9 day.
Valley State Prison
Greetings from the A-yard of Valley State Prison. In honor of the anniversary of the Attica uprising, and as an act of solidarity, the members of our study group abstained form eating for 24 hours. For one day we did not eat, starting with the Sunday G-slam, lunches (cold) and the evening meal. Ten copies of the solidarity study pack were passed out to members of our sg and a few other prisoners who were interested. A comrade was kind enough to photocopy my solidarity study pack which MIM(Prisons) provided. Most of the prisoners who attend our group were not even aware of the events at Attica on 9 September 1971, or the calls for prison reform which the Attica uprising prompted. A special emphasis was put on finding ways to promote peace and to educate all prisoners across the country on principles of the UFPP.
In closing, I want you to know that I may be new to this but I am trying hard to learn and organize here at VSP and so are others. We, as always appreciate very much the material support and organizational guidance of MIM(Prisons). Thank you.
California State Prison - Corcoran
This Black August Resistance was a success. The program was designed to educate the minds of our youth who I believe have revolutionary potential. We read and studied Walter Rodney’s How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth, and Chancellor William's The Rebirth of Afrikan Civilization, along with the Appeals of David Walker. Exercised, and wrote essays on the days required to do so. Also, in support of September 9, we will continue our fast from 8/21 until 9/9, we will not be ordering any canteen nor packages for the 4th quarter. So far we aren't getting any backlash from the pigs, and other Lumpen Orgs are participating in the program as well.
August 2018 — September 9 is expected to be big! No violence, everyone has agreed to be at peace. In USW we support!
We are upholding the five principles of the United Front here in Missouri. We've been effectively organizing, uniting, educating, etc. as a part of the program for peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. And as a result, prison violence has dropped dramatically. We thank you for giving us a way to transmit positive energy and reduce conflict among prisoners. We now have 5 maximum security prisons on board, helping to raise the consciousness of the confused youth and building unity amongst the older captives. As we focus ahead, we see a future filled with love, freedom, and peace. We pray that you will continue to help us transform our people so that together we can strengthen our organizing for liberation.
I received ULK 63! I was so glad to hear from you all. This issue really laid it all out for my guys, so I made 45 copies and passed them out, then instructed each member of UZI (United Zulu Independence Movement) to do the same.
Three days later I called a meeting in the gym to discuss in-depth what each bro had read in this new issue of ULK about UFPP. The responses I received were beautiful. The young Crips now believe that the lumpen in California, who they mimic, are seeking to unite instead of separate. They now see that the gangs are fighting against the oppressor.
Missouri is a slow state, so they were still set on fighting each other, until they witnessed me and my New Afrikan Tribe moving under the sciences of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. We trade evolutionary material, we speak about communism, we teach each other to use the law as a tool to build doorways to freedom, and now your newsletter just explained everything that I've been telling these young Crips about the need to stop the senseless gang bangin', riots, and territorial disputes on the yard caused by the COs.
Thank you! ULK Thank You! Now these bros see that the struggle is real. I have to get back to work. Will write more soon. Can't stop! Won't stop!
The Dangerous Class and Revolutionary Theory
Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2017
Available for $24.95 (USD) + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
The bulk of this double book is looking at the limited and contradictory writings of Marx/Engels and Mao on the subject of the lumpen with greater historical context. MIM(Prisons) and others have analyzed their scattered quotes on the subject.(1) But Sakai’s effort here is focused on background research to understand what Marx, Engels and Mao were seeing and why they were saying what they were saying. In doing so, Sakai provides great practical insight into a topic that is central to our work; the full complexities of which have only begun to unfold.
Size and Significance
In the opening of the "Dangerous Class", Sakai states that "lumpen/proletarians are constantly being made in larger and larger numbers".(p.3) This follows a discussion of criminalized zones like the ghetto, rez or favela. This is a curious conclusion, as the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates are largely being dispersed rather than expanding. Certainly the rez is not expanding. Sakai does not provide numbers to substantiate these "larger and larger" lumpen populations today.
In our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? we do run some census numbers that indicate an increase in the U.$. lumpen population from 1.5% of the total population in 1960 to over 10% in 2010. However, other methods led us to about 4% of the U.$. population today if you only look at oppressed nation lumpen, and 6 or 7% if you include whites.(1) This latter number is interestingly similar to what Marx estimated for revolutionary France (around 1850)(p.66), what Sakai estimates for Britain around 1800(p.112), and what Mao estimated for pre-revolutionary China.(p.119) Is 6% the magic number that indicates capitalism in crisis? The historical numbers for the United $tates (and elsewhere) are worthy of further investigation.
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat (Colquhoun)
1850s France (Marx)
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat
2010 United $tates (MIM(Prisons))
First Nations lumpen
New Afrikan lumpen
Raza lumpen + semi-proletariat
Alliances and Line
Certainly, at 6% or more, the lumpen is a significant force, but a force for what? In asking that question, we must frame the discussion with a Marxist analysis of capitalism as a contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat. There’s really just two sides here. So the question is which side do the lumpen fall on. The answer is: It depends.
One inspiring thing we learn in this book is that the lumpen made up the majority of the guerrillas led by Mao’s Chinese Communist Party at various times before liberation.(p.122) This shows us that the lumpen are potentially an important revolutionary force. However, that road was not smooth. On the contrary it was quite bloody, involving temporary alliances, sabotage and purges.(pp.201-210)
Sakai's first book spends more time on the French revolution and the obvious role the lumpen played on the side of repression. Marx's writings on these events at times treated the Bonaparte state as a lumpen state, independent of the capitalist class. This actually echoes some of Sakai’s writing on fascism and the role of the declassed. But as Sakai recognizes in this book, there was nothing about the Bonaparte government that was anti-capitalist, even if it challenged the existing capitalist class. In other words, the mobilized lumpen, have played a deciding role in revolutionary times, but that role is either led by bourgeois or proletarian ideology. And the outcome will be capitalism or socialism.
Defining the Lumpen, Again
Interestingly, Sakai does not address the First World class structure and how that impacts the lumpen in those countries. Our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? explicitly addresses this question of the First World lumpen as distinct from the lumpen-proletariat. While MIM changed its line from the 1980s when it talked about significant proletariats within the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, this author has not seen Sakai change eir line on this, which might explain eir discussion of a lumpen-proletariat here. Sakai's line becomes most problematic in eir grouping of imperialist-country mercenaries in the "lumpen". Ey curiously switches from "lumpen/proletariat" when discussing China, to "lumpen" when discussing imperialist-country mercenaries, but never draws a line saying these are very different things. In discussions with the editor, Sakai says the stick up kid and the cop aren't the same kind of lumpen.(p.132) Sure, we understand the analogy that cops are the biggest gang on the streets. But state employees making 5 or 6-digit incomes with full bennies do not fit our definition of lumpen being excluded from the capitalist economy, forced to find its own ways of skimming resources from that economy. The contradiction the state faces in funding its cops and soldiers to repress growing resistance is different from the contradiction it faces with the lumpen on the street threatening to undermine the state's authority.
Sakai dismisses the idea that the line demarking lumpen is the line of illegal vs. legal. In fact, the more established and lucrative the illegal operation of a lumpen org is, the more likely it is to be a partner with the imperialist state. That just makes sense.
The inclusion of cops and mercenaries in the lumpen fits with Sakai's approach to the lumpen as a catchall non-class. We do agree that the lumpen is a much more diverse class, lacking the common life experience and relationship to the world that the proletariat can unite around. But what's the use of talking about a group of people that includes Amerikan cops and Filipino garbage pickers? Our definitions must guide us towards models that reflect reality close enough that, when we act on the understanding the model gives us, things work out as the model predicts more often than not. Or more often than any other models. This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model.
How about L.O.s in the U.$.?
The analysis of the First World lumpen in this collection is a reprint of Sakai's 1976 essay on the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago. Sakai had referred to L.O.s becoming fascist organizations in New Afrikan communities in a previous work, and this seems to be eir basis for this claim.
While the essay condemns the Blackstone Rangers for being pliant tools of the Amerikan state, Sakai does differentiate the young foot soldiers (the majority of the org) from the Main 21 leadership. In fact, the only difference between the recruiting base for the Rangers and the Black Panthers seems to have been that the Rangers were focused on men. Anyway, what Sakai's case study demonstrates is the ability for the state to use lumpen gangs for its own ends by buying off the leadership. There is no reason to believe that if Jeff Fort had seen eye-to-eye with the Black Panthers politically that the youth who followed him would not have followed him down that road.
Essentially, what we can take from all this is that the lumpen is a wavering class. Meaning that we must understand the conditions of a given time and place to better understand their role. And as Sakai implies, they have the potential to play a much more devastating and reactionary role when conditions really start to deteriorate in the heart of the empire.
Relating this to our practice, Sakai discusses the need for revolutionaries to move in the realm of the illegal underground. This doesn't mean the underground economy is a location for great proletarian struggle. It can contain some of the most egregious dehumanizing aspects of the capitalist system. But it also serves as a crack in that very system.
As comrades pointed out in our survey of drug use and trade in U.$. prisons, the presence of drugs is accompanied by an absence of unity and struggle among the oppressed masses. Meanwhile effective organizing against drug use is greatly hampered by threats of violence from the money interests of lumpen organizations and state employees.(2) The drug trade brings out the individualist/parasitic tendencies of the lumpen. Our aim is to counter that with the collective self-interest of the lumpen. It is that self-interest that pushes oppressed nation youth to "gang up" in the first place, in a system that is stacked against them.
The revolutionary/anti-imperialist movement must be active and aggressive in allying with the First World lumpen today. We must be among the lumpen masses so that as contradictions heighten, oppressed nation youth have already been exposed to the benefits of collective organizing for self-determination. The national contradiction in occupied Turtle Island remains strong, and we are confident that the lumpen masses will choose a developed revolutionary movement over the reactionary state. Some of the bourgeois elements among the lumpen organizations will side with the oppressor, and with their backing can play a dominant role for some times and places. We must be a counter to this.
While Mao faced much different conditions than we face in the United $tates today, the story of alliances and betrayals during the Chinese revolution that Sakai weaves is probably a useful guide to what we might expect. Ey spends one chapter analyzing the Futian Incident, where "over 90 percent of the cadres in the southwestern Jiangxi area were killed, detained, or stopped work."(p.205) The whole 20th Army, which had evolved from the lumpen gang, Three Dots Society, was liquidated in this incident. It marked a turning point and led to a shift in the approach to the lumpen in the guerilla areas. While in earlier years, looting of the wealthy was more accepted within the ranks of guerrilla units, the focus on changing class attitudes became much greater.(p.208) This reflected the shift in the balance of forces; the development of contradictions.
Sakai concludes that the mass inclusion of lumpen forces in the guerrilla wars by the military leaders Mao Zedong and Chu Teh was a strategic success. That the lumpen played a decisive role, not just in battle, but in transforming themselves and society. We might view the Futian Incident, and other lesser internal struggles resulting in death penalties meted out, as inevitable growing pains of this lumpen/peasant guerilla war. Mao liked to quote Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, in saying that war is different from all other humyn activity.
For now we are in a pre-war period in the United $tates, where the contradictions between the oppressed and oppressors are mostly fought out in the legal realms of public opinion battles, mass organizing and building institutions of the oppressed. Through these activities we demonstrate another way; an alternative to trying to get rich, disregarding others' lives, senseless violence, short-term highs and addiction. We demonstrate the power of the collective and the need for self-determination of all oppressed peoples. And we look to the First World lumpen to play a major role in this transformation of ourselves and society.
July 2018 — Hey guys n gals. Well good and bad news.
First the good. I successfully organized my first demonstration, on Father's Day. We are in G-4 custody (20 hr lockdown - 2 hr dayroom and 2 hr rec). The staff always steals our rec with the excuse of "short of staff." So I gathered 6 other prisoners and stated that we would like to speak to Rank (i.e. Sergeant or Lieutenant). Soon all 48 prisoners were united. The officers did not know what to do. They called on the radio an ICS (inmate control squad) stating that we were refusing to rack up. Lo and behold, every officer on the unit arrived with bean bag guns, gas, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, everybody. I guess they were NOT short of staff! LOL!
After that I approached the Captain very calmly and told him our grievances. The Warden showed up just in time to see. He said "tell them to rack up and we will see what the officer has to say." Seeing that the message had been delivered, I withdrew.
About 10 minutes later they came back and gave us rec.
Now the bad news. Since then the prisons are now targeting me and I am in Seg. SMH! It is okay. Because I see now that I do have the power to make a difference.
Thanks for the Texas Activist Pack, and thanks for the back issues. I also got ULK 62 yesterday and I will follow up soon. In Struggle!
MIM(Prisons) responds: The Texas Activist Pack was updated in August 2018, and you can get one by sending a donation of $3.50. It's a bit thicker now, so the cost to print and mail it has gone up since the last version. The Texas Pack has info about all the campaigns that United Struggle from Within comrades have developed for the state of Texas.
Let's pause to consider why aren't these materals already available to prisoners held by TDCJ? Why has the TDCJ been withholding the grievance manual from prisoners since at least November 2014? Who are the people held by TDCJ and how does it impact their lives and familes when they don't have access to this info?
Filing grievances and working on individual or reform campaigns do have their place. But, like with this comrade's successful efforts to get rec time, the greatest impact will come in the unity we build with our comrades, and the sense of our own power that we can tap into. Those are the successes that are going to stick with us for the long haul, and through various stages that our struggle goes through.
May 2018 — I read ULK 61 and it is a pretty interesting newsletter on a topic that I have never put much thought into. I have to say I do not agree with the portion about "un-muddling the relationships between comrades (i.e. no dating within the org)" in the Sex-Offenders vs. Anti-People Sex Crimes article. I believe this practice would serve no real interest in the organization. I believe it is a form of dis-unity. To make a method of such effective the org would have to segregate the two (men and women). The reason being men and women form relationships naturally. I believe we need to congregate with our women for relationships, build unity, and if unity is a strong point of this organization a rule like that shall be established in this organization.
I do understand why MIM would decide to take that approach, but I see it as going against the inevitable. I believe it would also create secrecy in the org if people were dating and that would cause dishonesty. I believe a better approach would be to recognize the relationship, as to say if the comrades are to date they should be married. Not only would this relationship be recognized by the org, it would be recognized by the state/U.$., further decreasing such allegations of sex crimes. And at the same time the organization would be helping to build and create unity between men and women.
Another reason I believe this approach/practice would be more effective in the organization is because people seem to be more serious about marriage, meaning there just won't be any fraternizing within the organization. If there has to be an appointed licensed priest/preacher or someone to wed the two it should be done so. It, the ceremony, should be done in front of the org. Now it becomes if someone interferes with the relationship man or woman they should be punished/dealt with. Now that the marriage is consensual the sex is consensual. We should not deharmonize the harmony between man and woman. We are trying to build a United Front!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We need to be clear that marriage does not ensure consensual sex. We can't create a utopia outside of the patriarchal culture right now, and so we know that our relationships (including marriages) will still be strongly influenced by that culture. And under the patriarchy sexual relations are inherently unequal regardless of marital status or level of political activism of the people involved.
This writer is correct that people do have a tendency to become romantically involved with people with whom they spend a lot of time. And having a lot of political unity can encourage this romance. We don't share the view that this is naturally just between men and wimmin. It also happens between men and men and between wimmin and wimmin. So separating the people would only stop some romance. There may be other arguments for separating men and wimmin while we battle the patriarchy, but we shouldn't expect this to end romance or sexual assault. The situation in men's prisons across the United $tates is a clear demonstration of this point.
Our main disagreement with this writer is with the idea that we should use romance to build unity. On the factual front, even with the formality of marriage, most relationships don't stay together. This is just a fact of life under the imperialist patriarchy right now. This is the reality we live in. And we know that when relationships end there is a lot of irrational anger (and often rational anger too) that comes with it. So if we're trying to build unity, encouraging romantic relationships is likely to backfire in the majority of cases where the relationship doesn't last. Perhaps we can do better than the average couple with the support of the political organization, but we're still going to have a lot of relationships end. We just don't have the power or reach right now to reverse this fact of patriarchal culture.
In the ULK 61 article this writer responds to we wrote:
"How we handle this process now in our cell structure will be different if a cell has 2 members versus 2,000 members. The process will need to be adapted for different stages of the struggle as well, such as when we have dual power, and then again when the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations has power. And on and on, adapting our methods into a stateless communism.
"Even with policies in place, we have limited means of combating chauvinism, assault allegations and other unforeseen organizational problems endemic to the left. Rather than wave off these contradictions, or put them out of sight (or cover them up, like so many First World-based parties and organizations have done), we need to build institutions that protect those who are oppressed by gender violence."
This is something we need to continue discussing, trying various approaches, and working on the best approaches to ensure the longevity of the anti-imperialist movement.
I think a crime against the people is dead ass wrong because they be bringing up all kind of bullshit ass charges to hold you for shit just because you have a certain kind of charge. People will judge you. It's hard for a sex offender charge because the female officers will use your sex charge against you. They act like you done killed the president or something.
I done seen some cats get locked up for 1 charge, come out of prison a sex offender. Like in the state I'm locked up in, Georgia. They will make you register as a sex offender if you have masturbation charge on your file or too many of them.
A lot of drug charges get more time than anything. But it's the hardest, say like this, if I sell drugs to support my family because I can't get a job. That's the only thing I know how to do. Not to say it's right. But I done seen how drugs fucked some people up, like ice. It done messed up a lot of black people. How can the pigs punish you for drugs? But you are not trying to stop it. It's doing nothing but killing our own people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores why we want to set up systems of rehabilitation for people who commit crimes against the people. We agree that it is hypocritical for a society to punish people for selling drugs, but set it up so this is the easiest (or only) way people can feed their families.
Capitalist society promotes crimes against the people: from careers in national oppression (police, CO, military, government), to flooding lumpen neighborhoods with drugs and guns, to advertising sex (often with very young girls) in popular culture. We need to transform these oppressive structures and culture of rape so that we can hold people to realistic standards of treating their fellow humyns with dignity and respect.
That's not to excuse the cops and military for what they do every day to oppressed nations. And we can push the lumpen now to stop pushing destructive drugs on their people. Even under capitalism people have the ability to act in the interests of the oppressed. But we know that the biggest step we can take towards ending the oppression is ending the structure of capitalism that requires this oppression.
Having been engaged much of my adult life in fedz and now state of Oregon, I am acutely aware of this dilemma which faces us behind the walls. As a "validated" (e.g. oppressor-classified prison gang member) New Afrikan for over 20 years, I've been conditioned to see myself as a kind of superior klass of man within the greater kaptive klass. By virtue of my "good" paperwork I established a history of violence behind walls: day-to-day conduct in line with NARN ideological precept(s). I saw it as us vs. them, the latter being those who had "bad" paperwork (e.g. sex charges, informant backgrounds, etc.). We were taught to revile them, extort them, dog them at every turn, as if doing so would somehow validate my/our realness. A "convict" vs. "inmates"! For over half my life I've bought into this fallacy.
In 2014 I had a life-altering experience. First I was given 45 years behind a PTSD-fueled assault. Secondly, I was abandoned by all I'd held dear. Thirdly, I embraced Islam. All of which caused me to do a self-evaluation and in turn analyze my ideology as it related to "struggle". Entering the ODOC, I've found that all my previously-held notions of what is and what is not a so-called "convict" has been forever altered. This cesspool is a virtual twilight zone to say the least. The ODOC captives have created a Calif-caricature, in which alternative realities to reality is the prevailing social norm. The so-called "good dudes" are those with no sex offenses, yet can be obvious jailhouse rodents and be respected. This wierdo worldview made me reevaluate.
Those of us who subscribe to progressive politics see it like this. Simply having a sex case does not, in and of itself, make one a pariah to us. We believe in a peoples' tribunal, where one's peers study all paperwork related to a case prior to making any community decisions. It should be noted: child rape and elderly rape is non-negotiable, if DNA evidence is involved. We all hold those to be a line of demarcation and that peoples' justice should be meted out accordingly.
Now with this being said, a Muslim is obligated to not only accept all fellow Muslims as brothers in faith but also support him in conflicts that occur. I cannot lie, my prior conditioning has me today struggling with this. My hatred for the Amerikan injustice system makes it virtually impossible to be cool with those who've rided for the kkkops. Ditto for those who see putting molestation of children or elders as ok. Islam teaches us that our creator accepts repentance of all who sincerely repent and in turn correct their behaviors. As a man, a dad, a granddad, I am wrestling mightily within myself to embrace this tenet of my faith, whilst simultaneously striving to embrace my kaptive peers into a more unified and progressive ideological precept.
In a nutshell, ODOC is showing us that many sex convictions are highly suspect and as such must be independently verified, prior to judging them. And, there can be redemption and klass acceptance for some. The divisions within klass truly only serve the oppressors' interests, as they continue to oppress us all. History has shown the poorest of Euroamerikans have been and continue to be the greatest obstacles to klass unity, as they fear unity and klass progress will cost them their "white privilege." Hence their continuous "chads agent" behaviors anytime we make any advances. This segment is our greatest enemy in my eyes and until we address them, in context of "dangerous foes," we shall not progress.
With that I shall stop here. Hopefully, something i've shared can help push this national dialogue. Until the next time, I remain standing firm and firmly embracing of all progressives! Power to the people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's work to build unity and embrace those ey previously rejected. But we want to comment on the klass division ey mentions. As this writer explains, Euro-Amerikans' fear of losing their class privilege is a huge barrier to unity in the United $tates. This fact reinforces our understanding that it is nation, not class, that is the principal contradiction within U.$. borders. Oppressed-nation unity is what we must fight for, because the vast majority of the oppressor nation will not join the struggle to end their power and privilege. There's still a place in the struggle for white folks who renounce their national privilege and join the revolutionary movement. We can embrace whites, men, sex offenders, drug dealers, and all who renounce past reactionary acts and dedicate themselves to serving the people.