April 22 - The U.$. Supreme Court upheld a Michigan ban on affirmative action in admission decisions to public universities, a final decision that reinforces national oppression in education from grade school through college. The majority opinion of the court upheld the state law that was enacted by Michigan voters in 2006. In addition to Michigan, seven other states have enacted similar bans: California, Florida, Washington, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New Hampshire.(1)
The Supreme Court couched their ruling in arguments about upholding democracy: “It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds,” justice Kennedy explained in the majority decision.(1) This faith in the capability of the voters in Amerika is only correct if we seek to reinforce white supremacy. 76% of Michigan's population is white, and Amerikan capitalism promotes individualism and self-interest, so we should expect this population to vote in their own persynal interests, which rest on national oppression. "Decent and rational grounds" cannot be found as the basis for banning a practice of affirmative action that attempts to address the unequal access to educational opportunities offered oppressed nation youth in the United $tates.
As we explained in 2012 when a lower court ruling was issued on this case, bans on affirmative action are fundamentally reactionary in that they preserve white privilege, but overall affirmative action itself has failed oppressed nation youth. Affirmative action does not address the fundamental inequalities faced by oppressed nations within U.$. borders, it's just an attempt to deal with the effects of these inequalities in young adults. As we wrote in that article: "The achievement gap between Black and white children went down between the Brown v Board of Education ruling and the late 1980s. But it started to grow again in the early 1990s. By 2005, in about half the high schools (those with the largest concentration of Blacks and Latinos) in the 100 largest districts in the country less than half the students entering the schools in ninth grade were graduating high school. Between 1993 and 2002 the number of high schools with this problem increased by 75%. These numbers, not surprisingly, coincide with a drop in Black and Latino enrollment in public universities."(1)
The affirmative action debate highlights the ongoing existence of national oppression within U.$. borders. And it underscores the intersection of class and nation, keeping a sizable portion of New Afrikans and Latinos without a high school diploma and unable to take advantage of affirmative action in college admission even where it still exists. This goes back to the way that public education is funded in the United $tates, through property taxes, ensuring that poor neighborhoods will have lower quality education and denying kids from those neighborhoods the opportunities availabile to kids from wealthier neighborhoods. This economic segregation is tied to national segregation, creating a cycle of poverty that reinforces national oppression within this wealthy imperialist country.
The debate over affirmative action at the college level gets at the core of what equality is. Those who demand "blind" admissions practices have to pretend that everyone applying for college admissions had equal opportunities up to the point of college application. And this gives us a chance to challenge people on what many like to call a "color-blind" society. Even looking at the privileged Blacks and Latinos who went to schools good enough to qualify them to apply for college admission, pretending equality is only possible if we ignore all the aspects of oppression that these groups face in the U.$., from overt racial hatred to subtle cultural messages of inferiority. Society sets oppressed nation youth up for failure from birth, with TV and movies portraying criminals as Black and Latino and successful corporate employees as white. These youth are stopped by cops on the streets for the offense of skin color alone, looked at suspiciously in stores, and presumed to be less intelligent in school.
But the real problem is not the privileged Black and Latino students qualified to apply for college admission. These individual students from oppressed nations who are able to achieve enough to apply to colleges that have admissions requirements are a part of the petty bourgeoisie. The reality is very different for the other half of the oppressed nation youth who are tracked right out of college from first grade (or before) and have no chance of even attending a college that has admissions requirements beyond a high school diploma.
Among the students who entered high school in ninth grade, 63% of Latinos, 59% of Blacks and 53% of First Nations graduated high school in 2009. This is compared to 81% of Asians and 79% of whites. Overall the Black-white and Latino-white graduation rate gap narrowed between 1999 and 2009 but is still very large.(2)
This recent court ruling reinforces our belief that we cannot expect Amerika to reform away national oppression, even within U.$. borders where some formerly oppressed nations have been integrated into the oppressor majority. At this point in history, imperialism vs. the oppressed nations is the principal contradiction both globally and within u.s. borders. The dramatic differences in educational access and achievement are just one example of the oppressed/oppressor nation differentials. MIM(Prisons) fights on the side of oppressed nations everywhere for the revolution that will overthrow imperialism end national oppression.
I recently wrote to you inquiring about how I can contribute to the struggle within, possibly by joining forces with USW. A few solid brothers and myself are in accordance with the 5 basic key principles/ideas that the United Front for Peace in Prisons represents. However, at Perry Correctional Institution (where I am currently confined), the consciousness is low amongst the masses due to the oppressor's effective psychological warfare tactics being enforced at all angles (fear, divide & conquer, rewards, isolation, etc.). This specific prison is designed to be the "breaking camp" for prisoners, where they train prisoners to be more "obedient" to further assist the oppressor's aim for control and financial advancement.
There are a lot of prisoner violations that occur at this plantation, but one in particular is the grievance system. South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) has recently implemented a procedure where you must first submit a request form to the appropriate officer/supervisor attempting to informally resolve your issue. The officer is then provided 45 days to respond to your request, which most officers refuse to do. If you are lucky enough to receive a response, then you are given only 5 days, including weekends, to submit your grievance after your request form has been answered. Then to add insult to injury, many grievances are never returned and the grievance officials feign ignorance as to what happened to it.
The grievance process/system within South Carolina Department of Corruption is substandard and blatantly violates prisoners' constitutional rights. I am unsure whether South Carolina is covered by the grievance campaign or not, but we are definitely experiencing similar issues in our grievance process and I would like to join this campaign. Please keep me updated in the decisions or proposals for combatting the grievance system and let me know what is needed of me and my comrades here.
Also, please provide any material available which may assist me in awakening the masses of how to fight against the oppressor and how to unite on a common ground with individuals in different groups. I will strive to become a ULK Field Corespondent for South Carolina in the future, whatever I can do to assist the struggle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend these comrades in South Carolina for coming together around the United Front for Peace principals and doing the work to identify the critical campaign needs in their prison. The grievance campaign is not yet active in South Carolina but we look forward to working with these folks to customize the grievance petition for that state and get the struggle moving forward there. To work on this campaign in your state, write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the petition, and if one does not exist for your state you can help by modifying the petition for use there.
This movie is a must-see for any left-leaning persyn looking to kick start a revolution or join a movement for the purpose of societal change. The East is about a subversive underground movement which can best be described as a loose collection of anarchist cells focused on giving the heads of corporations that are responsible for ecological destruction a taste of their own medicine. One reference in the movie describes them as radical cells that started with Earth First! They attack big business, who they see as responsible for much of today's problems in the United $tates. Indeed, they see the principal contradiction in the United $tates as between greedy corporations that will stop at nothing to make a quick buck and the life on planet Earth that they threaten. The ideas portrayed in their propaganda videos are hard-hitting in a way that is true to the First World radical ecology movement in real life.
The potential for the radical ecology movement to be a real force for change in the First World is one reason this movie is powerful. The movie is also aesthetically pleasing on many levels (which means it's fun to watch!) and filled with political content. It has a couple big Hollywood names; none more notable than Ellen Page of Juno fame. This movie speaks mainly to the worries of today's white petty-bourgeois youth growing up in the shadows of climate change, oil spills and other mass pollution, toxic food and medicine and a consumerist society that doesn't seem to care. The characters touch on struggles with their wealth, but ultimately use their privilege to attack their enemies. They criticize Amerikans for their complacency, but see the imperialists as the ones deserving severe criticism. Similar to many radical environmental movements in the real world, there is no explicit class analysis in the movie, but The East seems potentially friendly to both a Third Worldist and a First Worldist perspective. The real positive lessons of this movie however come from its emphasis on security and organization, or lack thereof, within supposed revolutionary groups.
The East focuses on an ex-FBI agent named Jane who goes undercover for Hiller-Brood, a fictional "intelligence firm" that specializes in protecting the interests of imperialist corporations thru espionage. Jane's mission is to attempt to infiltrate The East, a so-called eco-terrorist organization that has been a thorn in the side of McCabe-Grey, a fictional corporation that specializes in producing cutting edge pharmaceuticals. Jane's assignment is to go undercover using the name Sarah, to meet and gain the trust of potential East members that Hiller-Brood has been tailing.
After a night of partying and getting to know some counter-culture types who Sarah thinks might know The East, she decides they are relatively harmless and then sneaks away in the early morning hours to pursue other potential targets, but not before snapping all their pictures and sending them back to Hiller-Brood for file building. From here on out Sarah sets out to meet some other potential targets who are older, more mysterious and hence more promising. After meeting the possible East members and train hopping with their friends, Sarah gets her first taste of pig oppression when they are forced off the train by railroad security and subsequently beaten. It is in the midst of the commotion that Sarah sees the persyn she's been following flash a badge at security - the persyn she's been following is a fed! After being left cuffed to a train Sarah makes a narrow escape from police and is rescued by one of the train-hoppers whose van she jumps into. Once inside of the van Sarah recognizes one of the symbols of The East. Convinced she is now on the right track, Sarah slices her wrist in the hopes that this guy whose van she's in will take her to The East. Her plan works, but not before he runs a quick make on her by dialing the number on her phone marked "mom."
After speaking to another Hiller-Brood agent posing as Sarah's mom, he destroys her phone, blindfolds her and takes her to a secret location in the woods; a dilapidated house in the middle of nowhere. As they arrive, Sarah is introduced to "Doc" the group's resident doctor, much to the chagrin of Thumbs the group's only New Afrikan. As she is being treated Sarah discovers that Doc was once a med student. She is then drugged and put to sleep. After waking, Sarah meets Izzy, Ellen Page's character, who views Sarah with a skeptical eye. Izzy gives Sarah a straight-jacket and tells her to wear it if she wants to come down for dinner. Feeling she is now a hostage, and partly out of curiosity, Sarah reluctantly agrees to put on the jacket. Once they enter the dining room, Sarah is surprised to find the rest of the group already assembled at the table and all wearing straight jackets. At the head of the table is Benji, a bearded and eccentric looking man who reveals to Sarah that they know everything about her, her last job as a bank-teller, where she grew up, everything. All aspects of her cover identity unfortunately.
Benji then tells Sarah that she can begin eating whenever she's ready. Not knowing how to eat if she's in a straight jacket Sarah tells Benji that she's a guest and would not feel right if she started before them. To which Benji responds; "You can do what you please, but we prefer to eat after you begin." Confused and uneasy Sarah attempts to eat by slurping the soup directly from the bowl. Everyone stares at Sarah with a look of condemnation. What happens next is a "zen" moment in which everyone takes to eating by having the persyn next to them pick up the spoon with their mouth and feed them. Feeling played, Sarah storms out of the house and into the woods where Benji and company follow her and ask her to come back. Sarah responds, "For what? So you can continue to make fun of me to your followers?" Benji then explains that he doesn't have any followers. He tells her that if she'd only relied on the group, instead of selfishly trying to feed herself then she wouldn't be feeling stupid. Sarah then retorts "Why is it that self-righteousness and resistance movements always go hand in hand?" Yet it is the bourgeois and the Christians who are the most self-righteous of all, imposing their ways on others, forcing the majority to suffer for their own benefit. They criticize the masses with a false sense of superiority, while it is the job of revolutionaries to criticize the oppressor with the basic facts of their oppression. Throughout the movie, it is stressed that everything members of The East do is their own choice, and when they do do things it is organized in collective ways that challenge bourgeois individualism, such as the eating example.
Later that night Sarah is caught spying by Eve, an East member. Sarah is then forced to reveal herself to Eve, but she tells her that she is an active FBI agent, and that The East house is currently under surveillance, and that if she exposes her she'll go to jail. Eve agrees to stay quiet but flees the next day without telling anyone what she knows. The next day The East discovers that Eve has left. This throws the group's next mission into limbo. Sarah explains that she can easily fill Eve's shoes. The group takes a vote and decides to let Sarah in on the "jam" so long as her knowledge of the mission is relegated to her role. Sarah agrees.
The group's mission is to infiltrate a business party hosted by McCabe-Grey. Once inside the party their plan is to slip a supposed anti-malarial drug "Denoxin" into the drinks of some of Amerika's elites who have gathered to celebrate a contract between McCabe-Grey and the U.$. military which will make Denoxin available to Amerikan soldiers serving abroad. Denoxin's side-effects have been linked to various mental and nervous disorders as demonstrated by Doc, who took the drug after his prescription killed his sister. During the celebration the vice president of McCabe-Grey gives a speech in which she touts Denoxin as a miracle drug that will protect men and wimmin in uniform in the mission to protect Third World people from evil dictators and oppressive governments; thereby allowing them to bring "freedom and democracy" to the oppressed masses.
Sarah finds out what The East is up to and attempts to stop it, but it is too late. The East completes their mission and returns to their hideout in the woods. Back at the safe-house Sarah takes to snooping and discovers the real identities of The East members. However, her spying is cut short when they see breaking news that McCabe-Grey's vice president has begun to succumb to Denoxin's side-effects, her life in possible danger. The East panics and decides to disperse and flee back into the relative safety of the city. They all agree that should members decide to continue with the movement they should all return to the safe house in a couple weeks.
Now, back in society, undercover agent Sarah seems uncomfortable in the real world, she is no longer used to the amenities of living in a First World country. She has become accustomed to living in the woods with The East and their communal social values; she is conflicted. Though she feels troubled she returns to Hiller-Brood for debriefing. She gives up the identities of The East and expresses her concerns that another attack will occur. She pleads to have The East house raided before they disappear, but they refuse and send Sarah back for more intelligence gathering.
Sarah re-connects with The East as they are planning the next action. This time around, the mission is to get Hawkstone Energy executives (yet another fictional imperialist corporation) to admit their illegal pollution practices on camera; illegal practices that have contaminated a small town's drinking water. Benji's plan is to rationalize with the bourgeois leaders of Hawkstone into giving up their dangerous exploitation of the earth (kidnapping them and forcing them to listen), but Thumbs disagrees. Thumbs doesn't want to talk with the enemy, he wants action now. He says that these rich types don't ever respond to "intellectual bullshit, they respond to firepower!" After some heated discussion they agree to Benji's original plan where Izzy ends up dead, shot by Hawkstone security.
We cannot afford to make the focoist error of taking up armed struggle when the conditions aren't right, as the character of Thumbs attempts to do. Focoism has a long history of failure, getting good revolutionaries killed or locked up in jail. To think that armed actions will always inspire the masses towards revolutionary activity is an ultra-left and deadly, idealist mistake that has left many anti-imperialists either dead or in prison. In this sense The East has a better strategy in that they are primarily trying to stop the most powerful people from doing the damage their corporations are doing, rather than engaging in focoist actions aimed at convincing Amerikans that the corporations need to be stopped. The East may actually end up stopping some corporations, and the individuals leading them, from some of their more destructive practices. But in the end this strategy, like focoism, lacks the big picture perspective that will enable us to put an end to the environmental destruction that is inherent to capitalism. What their strategy lacks is the building of independent institutions of the oppressed that have the power to implement environmentally-friendly production methods while meeting the people's needs. While the movie shows The East building alternative culture within their collective, we must figure out how to go bigger than that to really counter the powerful corporations that are now calling the shots.
When Izzy dies, The East becomes spooked and are thrown into disarray. One member talks of abandoning the movement and Benji tries to get him to stay. Benji tells him that "a revolution is never easy, but that doesn't make it any less important," to which the deserter states, "I would betray the revolution for Izzy, that's the difference between you and me." This is an inherent weakness in petty bourgeois radical movements. When those they care about are threatened they see the comforts of petty bourgeois life as preferable to struggle. This is why the deserter is able to succumb to such individualist ways of thinking. For the proletariat, oppression is a daily reality, and death of a comrade will tend to justify further what they are doing rather than discourage. What we must fully understand however is that the success or failure of any movement does not hinge on the importance of one individual, one man, one womyn or one child; but on the stated aims of that movement and the completion of that goal, and if we stray from those principles then we are just as guilty of betraying the revolution as the deserter in the movie did.
At this point, this cell of The East splits up yet again. Back at Hiller-Brood Sarah discloses the day's events, she reports Izzy's death and claims that The East is in shambles, a perfect time to move in and arrest them all. Her advice is again ignored. She is ordered to go back. She meets with Benji, but this time pleads with him to give up the movement; partly out of her wish to prevent another attack or death, and partly because she has developed romantic feelings for him. Benji refuses and instead convinces her to take part in one last mission. She agrees because she has feelings for him and because she has now been won over to The East's cause.
On the way to the next mission Benji exposes his hand and tells Sarah that he knows she's a spy. He tells her that if she was ever down with the movement or truly had feelings for him, then she'd complete the mission and run away with him. She agrees to help. The mission is to retrieve a flash drive from the offices of Hiller-Brood that contains the names of fifty agents embedded in underground movements all across the world. Benji convinces Sarah that he only wants the list to spy on the spies; but what he really wants is to expose the agents to their organizations. She carries out the mission but when she finds out Benji's true intention she denies having stolen the flash drive. She tries to convince Benji that if they were to obtain the list it'd be better to talk the agents into giving up their careers as spies for the greater good. She argues if they only knew what they were really doing, they'd all turn just as she had. Benji refuses and they part ways. He, back to the underground, and she onto a one womyn awareness campaign.
The movie ends with clips of her talking to what appear to be other Hiller-Brood agents outside of oil refineries and power plants. The take away? Don't work outside the system in order to change it, work alongside it in order to change minds one persyn at a time.
Now let us examine this film from a Maoist perspective: "In the world today, all culture, all literature and all art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached or independent of politics." (MIM Theory 13)
This should be our attitude and guiding line when viewing or reviewing art i.e, film, literature, music, etc. Only with this attitude will we be able to see thru the bourgeoisie obfuscation of art. Furthermore; "works of literature and art, as ideological forms are products of the life of a given society." Which means that what we as a society deem to be art can only be pulled from the consciousness of society itself. Art expresses not only individual, but society's wishes, its desires, its anxieties and its perceived problems.
Now we began this review by stating that this movie was aesthetically pleasing and filled with political content. Comrade Mao taught us that the most reactionary art in class society is both high in artistic value and filled with political content. And who's political views was this movie putting forward? The bourgeoisie's of course. But even though it is a bourgeoisie product with bourgeois aims we can still learn something from it that we can apply to our own movement. Hence, we should not totally discard it.
Overall, The East is painted in a very positive light in this film, highlighting the liberatory and egalitarian aspects of the anarchist sub-culture. What we are to take away from this is Sarah benefitted and learned from that experience, but goes on to have her real impact by working among the agents of the imperialists to convince them what they are doing is wrong. The whole premise assumes that people just don't know the destruction that these corporations are doing. While the details are certainly masked from Amerikans, the information is still readily available, and a historical analysis of this country will reveal much deeper roots to reactionary politics of the Amerikan consumer nation. A more damaging storyline that would be justified by this movie, which we see time and time again in real life, is the activist who participates in radical organizing to learn and build cred and then goes on to work within the system as Sarah does when they "grow up." This movie will play well with the radical-curious, who find their life's work in NGOs, non-profits and even government agencies. The good side of this film is that it could lead people to be sympathetic to the cause of radical ecology, despite its praise of reformism. There are also some good practical lessons in this movie.
The first lesson to take away from this film is that any movement that is truly working against the interests of the imperialists will simply not be tolerated. The agents of repression are always looking to smash movements of dissent and are constantly working vigorously to infiltrate and spy on us.
Secondly, we must be cautious of who we decide to work with and who we reveal ourselves to. Simply because we meet people who seem to share our political views does not mean they are comrades and thereby privy to our organization's actions or methods of work. Within sub-cultures, having the right look and lifestyle can lead to people putting their guards down for superficial reasons. Sarah demonstrates this, and there are many real-world Sarahs whose stories have been exposed. This essentially breaks down to "better, fewer, but better." And even good comrades can be turned, which we should keep in mind as well. The bourgeoisie and their spies are highly organized and we should be too. A good way of keeping security tight within our organizations is by keeping politics in command. No one who isn't putting in work should know anything about our organizations other than what is published in the pages of Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prisons) website. Our work should always be geared along the lines of what will be the most effective and will get us the furthest fastest. As such, security within our movement shouldn't be something we study in addition to theory, but should stem directly from it.
Thirdly, we shouldn't necessarily have to like our comrades on a persynal level. Just because we like certain people or have relative unity with them on certain issues doesn't mean we recruit based on popularity. We recruit based on the correctness of one's political line and the type of work done over a period of time. When they were around, the original Maoist Internationalist Party - Amerika was the vanguard of the communist movement in the North American continent exactly because they were composed of the communist elite. They didn't get to those positions overnight due to social networking, but because they put in the correct type of work over a sustained period. This is something else we should remember when building and re-building our movements. Thus, if we are serious about taking the socialist road then we must study and work assiduously to learn Marxist philosophy, scientific socialism and Marxist political economy so that we may integrate it into our work and apply the most correct political lines.
In conclusion, we must take art seriously and not cede the cultural wars to the bourgeoisie but must engage them on that level as well. For the bourgeoisie this movie was a hit due to its successful combination of aesthetics and politics. Therefore we must also seek to fuse the political with the artistic. Under Lock & Key already does this to a certain degree as the ULK writers struggle to make it the trenchant arm of the revolution. Right now however, what ULK lacks in artistic value it makes up in political worth, though there is much room for improvement.
Don't work alongside imperialism to change it one persyn at a time. Rather, work directly against it in order to smash it and revolutionize the world.
A new report from Global Witness documents over 900 assassinations of people protecting the environment and rights to land in the last decade.(1) And this is just the ones they could find information on, meaning the real number is higher. Of course, none of those killed were from the First World. The big countries in the report were Brazil (448), Honduras (109), Philippines (67), Peru (58) and Colombia (52). The killers have been prosecuted in only 6 of the 908 cases. The report also suggests that this is a growing phenomenon, which seems plausible given the heightening contradictions between the demands of capitalist production and the capacity of the natural world to maintain the balance of systems that are necessary to sustain life as we know it.
In the past, some have painted environmentalism as a concern of the First World. However, this has never really been true, as it is the most oppressed people who have suffered and struggled against the most extreme man-made disasters. And the threat that their struggles pose to the capitalists' interests is highlighted by this list of assassinations; people who were mostly killed in cold blood, a fate those in the oppressor nations know nothing about.
There is a concentration of murders in the tropical countries, where vast rain forests with some of the greatest biodiversity on the planet are making what could be their final stand. Long a source of natural resources, in recent decades these forests have been leveled at an increasing rate that cannot be sustained. In such cases there is a clear connection between protecting the ecological functioning of a region and the national liberation struggle tied to land. These "untamed" lands are often the homes of peoples who have not fully been assimilated into the global capitalist economy. Often private property and land deeds do not exist in these areas, attracting the brutality of the exploiters. The people struggling to exist on these lands have a completely different perspective on what land ownership and stewardship mean.
Many of the reports of these assassinations can be discouraging, when we see vocal leaders of small indigenous groups gunned down by paid assassins of the capitalists and no one is held accountable. But this war does have two sides. In many of the hotspots in this report there are strong organizations that have mobilized indigenous people to defend their lands. One of those examples has made some headlines recently in the Philippines. The revolutionary forces in the Philippines have called for a ban on logging because it has impoverished the indigenous people and peasantry, making them susceptible to environmental disasters as we saw last November with typhoon Yolanda. The New People's Army (NPA) is exerting dual power in putting this ban into effect by engaging in gun battles and arresting members of the military of the U.$. puppet regime that defend the logging companies.(2) In a separate campaign the NPA recently stormed Apex Mining Company, torching their equipment.(3) This is one of many mining companies they have targeted due to the destruction they wreak on indigenous lands and humyn health. This connection between the struggles of the indigenous people and peasantry, the environment and land is nothing new for the Communist Party of the Philippines as was documented in the decades old film Green Guerrillas.
While most pronounced in the Third World, ecological destruction threatens all humyn life and continues to be a growing rallying point for progressive forces in the First World as well. Maoists must tie this work to a realistic class analysis and link the struggle to protect our environment to the struggle for national liberation of the oppressed. A true revolutionary ecology must engage the workings of a system that has assassinated well over 900 innocent people for trying to protect the world that we all live in.
Here in the Psychiatric Services Unit (PSU, the psych version of SHU), the inmate-patients are somewhat pacified. In exchange for participating in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) re-education program through "group therapy," inmate-patients, if indigent, are given a loaner TV or radio once they reach the highest level (IV) of program participation. After 12 months at this level, we are eligible to have the remainder of our SHU term suspended.
But, of course, it is blackmail in its baldest form. If you refuse very many groups, they take the TV or radio, refuse to issue your annual package, and you certainly will not be having your SHU term suspended early.
To address something MIM(Prisons) said in the March/April newsletter, it is remarkable to me, at times, exactly how important and influential the american dollar has become in all aspects of global life. I grew up in a conservative Christian and Republican household. Obviously a very capitalist one as well. I've had to re-educate myself politically and economically.
It's true that whether you're talking about CDCR or the state department, the government uses the american dollar and the resultant economy that it creates for the purposes of what I call its "Blackmail propaganda." That is, the using of the dollar and the global american economy to coerce First and Third World nations into behaving as closely in line with the american political, military and economic agendas as they can get away with, particularly when it comes to the military industrial complex.
To bring this closer to home, the prison industrial complex attempts to use commissary, vendor packages, and prison wages as a means to control the behavior of the prison population much the same as the centralized government does with the oppressed majority of the world.
The continued expansion of the exploitative capitalist system requires an ideological prop for the ideology that supports such a system in the superstructure. Our weapon? Our own ideology. How to spread it from here? Work the bourgeois job. Just don't get too attached to it. Take a percentage of the funds that remain after your needs have been met and combat the capitalist and imperialist monster through education. First educate yourself, then through your donations to MIM(Prisons), educate your comrades.
It's easy to rant and rave and call "the man" the pig that he is. But let's not forget who the real pig is: that bloated capitalist machine that goes by the name of "The United States Government." The only way to slaughter that particular pig is through education. Educate the proletariat closest to you. In this situation, your fellow comrades are first. Then your family, friends, and their neighbors.
Comrades, we must be patient. Even the Bolshevik revolution took time.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is right on about the importance of taking money from our bourgeois work and turning it to good use for the revolution. Even prisoners have access to some funds, or can acquire stamps or other resources. And with the opportunity to directly fund expanded education through four additional pages of ULK, the impact of even a small amount of money can be quite significant.
One small point on this letter: we have written previously about why we do not use the term "Prison Industrial Complex" as it implies a financial profit to the prison system that does not exist. Prisons exist as a tool for social control, and are not a key pillar of the decadent U.$. economy, as military production has been for many decades.
"The media may not always be able to tell us what to think, but they are strikingly successful in telling us what to think about." - Media Critic, Michael Parenti
Comrades, I do not think many of us appreciate how valuable a resource Under Lock & Key really is. Not only do we get exposed to cutting edge political education we are provided a rare opportunity to shed light on the abuse and mistreatment many of us suffer at the hands of the imperialist pigs who run these slave pens of oppression.
Within the past 2 weeks 7 TDCJ Correctional Officers were arrested at the Gib Lewis Unit.(1) These Correctional Officers brutally beat and sodomized a male prisoner at the High Security Unit. We did not hear a peep about this incident from the mainstream corporate media here in Texas. Why? Did all of a sudden this prisoner become non-humyn when he donned the prison whites Texas prisoners wear?
On 22 October 2013 prisoner, Christopher Woolverton, was murdered by pepper-spray used on him by TDCJ correctional officers on the Bill Clements Unit in Amarillo, Texas. If it wasn't for the revolutionary journalism of Karl Kersplebdeb and Rashid of the NABPP-PC we would have never gotten a detailed account of this heinous act of violence.(2) It is perplexing and frustrating when I see the media go out of their way to cover a story in which a sick giraffe is fed to lions at a zoo but they remain totally apathetic and aloof to the abuse and murder of humyn beings housed in Texas state prisons. (I care about animals but I don't like pigs!)
This selective journalism is not something exclusive to Texas or prison and criminal justice issues. Time and time again we have seen the media only publish an opinion or print facts that prop up the position of the bourgeois capitalist ruling class, the only way our voices are heard is when alternative forms of media like ULK are created.
Comrades, we see clearly that there is a collusive and co-ordinated effort between the media in Texas and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to downplay, minimize, and cover up brutal acts of aggression aimed at the lumpen prisoners housed in Texas' gulags.
My interaction and study with MIM(Prisons) has raised my awareness in such a manner that I recognize clearly that the corporate-owned media has a vested interest in the oppression of the lumpen - a financial interest. The fascist-imperialist elite coerce and cajole the mainstream media to report the news in a manner which they see fit. And they ignore any news-worthy items which may portray the state in a negative light.
I end this piece by reminding all of you we must $upport the organizations which support us. MIM(Prisons) and Under Lock & Key don't just speak about it they be about it. $upport them!
As always I encourage all comrades and lumpen to join United Struggle from Within. Get involved and contribute to the struggle against these imperialist fascist pigs in Texas and beyond.
"The concept of conspiracy has long been anathema to most Americans, who have been conditioned by the mass media to believe that conspiracies against the public only exist in banana republics or communist nations." - Jim Marrs (3)
In Tabor City Corrections, another "razor wire plantation" of North Carolina, the prisoners are treated unjustly and unfair. They are subjected to illegal treatment, such as racism, inadequate medical treatment, injustices, cruel and unusual punishments, etc. We write grievances, but sometimes they mysteriously disappear, or the grievances are answered by lies and fabrication from the facility personnel (staff). Those who are in Raleigh (capital of NC) who are in "high positions," overlook our letters and grievances or condone those egregious activities.
Only a few of us who are in the Red/Grey, "SHU" blocks stand against these acts, but the majority are scared. These pigs imposed so much fear that a prisoner is even scared to voice his opinions. What's so "ass-backwards" is that these prisoners rather oppress the same men who's struggling with them and degrade and belittle them instead of degrading or belittling these pigs. Unity is a word that is non-existent and everyone is mostly for self. This shows that the system of imperialism is effective in Tabor City and the disease that these pigs transmit (i.e. racism, injustice, etc) to these prisoners are effective as well, because the prisoner's body easily contracted these diseases and it's destroying them quick.
No matter what, the New Afrikan Brotherhood Organization (NABO) is continuing to struggle forward and fight for the brothers on lock, no matter what the consequences are. We're tired of being treated like slaves and we will see that change occurs. Their system will slowly but surely be eradicated because brothers of the NABO have filed a 1983 class action civil lawsuit against these pigs and the Department of Corrections for violating our rights. The struggle continues and justice will be served.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The New Afrikan Brotherhood Organization in North Carolina is not alone. There are many small groups and individuals who are struggling against the blatant political repression there. In a state where every issue of Under Lock & Key has been put on the statewide ban list for over 3 years, it is not surprising for comrades to feel lonely. And given all the repression some are feeling desparate. One comrade in North Carolina reported on the new step program that the superintendent says is to "protect inmates and staff and maintain a peaceful living environment." The comrade replies: "However, assaults have doubled and the men are becoming more and more bitter. Many of us, myself included, want to resolve the matter peacefully."
As we've been saying for years, the state's attempts at peace and security are complete failures, and MIM(Prisons) has an alternative approach that is promoted in every issue of Under Lock & Key but censored by North Carolina for "promoting violence" and "illegal activities" (which activities they do not specify).
NABO has the correct attitude and approach. This is a protracted struggle and we must be strategic as conditions evolve. The ban on ULK in North Carolina came after a surge in subscribers and activity in that state. And while we have a hard time getting material to these comrades, their numbers and activity have remained high throughout the years. Comrades are working on building a lawsuit to fight the illegal censorship in North Carolina and others have already achieved reform victories in their struggle against guard brutality in the courts. We are confident that comrades in North Carolina prisons will continue to contribute to victories in the years to come.
Although the law says we can aid others (illiterate or unskilled) on appeals and legal work, we can no longer legally pass papers "cell to cell," so now we can only help others verbally. (Thanks to Assistant Warden Robertson).
In addition, the 2011 CDCR rules limit all grievance appeals to one single issue appeal per 14 days. If we "Abuse" this abuse of our 1st amendment right to file grievances on the government, it is cut to one per 30 days. When I got here (in 1983) it was 2 appeals per week (104/year). Then cut to 1 per week (52/year), then 1/2 per week and 1/30 days if you exercise your 1st amendment rights. I'm on my second year of the limit to 1 per 30 days because of my work exercising my legal rights.
I'm fighting this under 42 USC 1983. "Judge" Rogers keeps stalling but I got her sleazy and false dismissal reversed.
UPDATE February 2016: This case has entered court as Clark v. Jeffrey Beard CV-11-03520. The comrade fighting this has reported that Judge Rogers has thrown out all testimony from M.L. Davis (Appeal boss of San Quentin) on 4 perjuries and 1 faked document, Davis has since retired to keep his pension rather than be fired.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This limit on grievance appeals is a blatant example of the Amerikan criminal injustice system restricting prisoner's legal rights. Grievances are one of the only opportunities for prisoners to fight abuse and illegal policies and restrictions. Often these grievances are ignored or "lost". Because of these practices, and restrictions like the ones described here, United Struggle from Within initiated the grievance campaign, first in California and now in ten states across the country, with petitions for these states that prisoner's can use to demand our grievances be addressed. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or to help create one if you do not live in a state where this has already been done.
Los medios de comunicación le han dado mucha atención al asesinato de la Señorita Venezuela, ganadora del segundo lugar en el concurso de Miss Universo. Los expertos de noticias son rápidos para indicar que hubo más de 25,000 homicidios en Venezuela el año pasado y que es la capital mundial del homicidio. La muerte de cualquier persona mediante el asesinato y la avaricia es triste y trágica, pero los medios fallan en mencionar el índice de asesinatos en Amerika.
Las estadísticas del reporte del FBI en Crime in the U.S. (Crímen en E.U.) para el 2010-2011 tiene un índice de 14,612 asesinatos y homicidios negligentes. Esto es inferior a los 24,000 homicidios en Venezuela (2010-2011), pero no toma en cuenta los asesinatos cometidos por las Fuerzas Armadas de los E.U. alrededor del mundo. El numero de violaciones forzadas en E.U. fue de 85,593 para el 2010-2011. Esto no toma en cuenta las violaciones no reportadas ni las violaciones en la militar los noticieros con portavoz-gubernamental en los E.U. describe viciosamente los problemas y defectos de otro país para poder mantener los ojos curiosos del mundo alejados de E.U. La gente alrededor del mundo debe luchar para extinguir el crímen en sus comunidades. Pero más importante aún es que la gente entienda que el abuelo de todos los criminales es el sistema imperialista aquí en Amerika.
I was recently convicted of a major category offense: participating/encouraging others in a work stoppage/group demonstration. My confinement in segregation for 30 days and a loss of 30 days good time was based on a finding that I encouraged a "stoppage of buying commissary."
It is not against the rules to refuse to buy commissary, but I was convicted of encouraging people to not buy commissary. In other words I was convicted of encouraging prisoners to do something that is permitted by the rules.
In the past three years I've been convicted of only one other charge, also a major category offense. I was convicted for refusing to pay $21.50 to obtain a copy of my birth certificate.
The pigs wanted a copy of my birth certificate to put in a file. I was told I could neither see the birth certificate nor have a copy of it. I told the pigs I would give them permission to get a copy at their expense since it was for their files. The pigs refused and demanded I sign a paper granting them permission to take $21.50 from my account. I refused and I was convicted of refusing to comply with programming.
The connection to these two offenses and convictions is the only subject dear to the soul of a kkkapitalist: profit. $21.50 for a photocopy of a sheet of paper is a hefty profit when multiplied by 30,000 prisoners. And multi-million-dollar commissary sales at hugely inflated prices are orgasmic to these pigs. Destroying the swine is the only option.
Soldiers, the only course is to replace the thug and the U.$. go-vermin-ent with an authentic proletarian state. The united snakes kongress and injustice system is kkkorrupted beyond salvation because of imperialist ideals. Like cancer, imperialism has caused every limb and fiber to rot. The truth of kkkapitalist greed is found even in the tiny crevices.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We are seeing growing activism in Virginia prisons this year, which is no doubt leading them to invent these new "offenses" and charge perceived leaders with them. While we agree with this comrade that the prisons are eager to extort money from prisoners whenever possible, there isn't any profit coming directly from prisons themselves. The U.$. prison economy is a money-losing operation, subsidized by profits exploited from the international proletariat. Any money taken from prisoners just helps to offset this loss. This point is important because it underscores the true purpose of the Amerikan prison system: social control.