Recently, Rashid of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter (NABPP-PC) published a long criticism of MIM(Prisons) titled "MIM or MLM? Confronting the Divergent Politics of the Petty Bourgeois 'Left' On the Labor Aristocracy and Other Burning Issues in Today's Revolutionary Struggle." Rashid poses as an authority on our organization's line, practice and history but it should be readily apparent that he does not even have a base understanding of our organization or even of Maoism. It is an outrageously unscientific attack, a deceitful and slanderous piece.
For those who want Rashid's criticism with our point-by-point response ("100 Reasons Why Rashid Needs to STFU About MIM(Prisons)") and a list of suggested study material on the many topics referenced you can get a copy from us for $4 or work-trade. If you have a hard time distinguishing between MIM(Prisons) and the NABPP-PC, as many do, then you should study this material until the differences are obvious.
It is useful to use this as a teaching moment on how to provide scientific leadership. In particular, we encourage everyone to study logic and logical fallacies as a part of learning to think scientifically. Here are a few basic principles which we found severely lacking in Rashid's polemic:
1. Mao taught us "no investigation, no right to speak." Rashid's long attack on MIM(Prisons) gets many points wrong about our political line. These points are found clearly in the literature we distribute free to prisoners and have readily available on-line. A significant portion of his polemic focuses on the membership requirements for our study groups, for United Struggle from Within (USW) and for MIM(Prisons), sloppily confusing them all, and spreading misinformation in the process.
2. Correctness of ideas must be assessed independent of who says them. Rashid defends his criticism of the labor aristocracy line by accusing MIM(Prisons) comrades of having petty-bourgeois backgrounds. MIM(Prisons) could be Satan, but that doesn't mean there's no labor aristocracy. This approach is a political bullet to the head, and is a fallacy of irrelevance.
3. A lot of Rashid's article is baiting for information about MIM(Prisons). Whether intentional or not, this is pig work. We do not give out any information that the pigs could use to assess or destroy our movement. And anonymity isn't just about security, it's also about teaching people to think scientifically rather than follow the persyn with the right skin tone or haircut. We are against identity politics, which are too easily controlled by the oppressor. People who buy into identity politics also defend Obama just because he's Black.
4. Taking a scientific conclusion about a group and then applying it to individuals or small segments of that group is called an "ecological fallacy" and is a basic statistical error. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Maoists spent much time combatting this tendency, because people were attacking others based on their family's class background. Sociology as a science allows us to predict things with a certain probability. We can say that the petty bourgeoisie as a class has particular interests, and therefore it is very likely that an inidividual from that class will defend that interest. But that likelihood is less than 100%.
This criticism from Rashid, as baseless as it is, does highlight the urgency of getting our interactive glossary finally available on-line, and sending it to our readers behind bars. It also underlines the importance of sending literature to our subscribers and conducting study groups, whether led by MIM(Prisons) or by USW comrades.
Like most prisoners, Rashid does not have easy access to our website, and he's only able to access literature from us that the prison mailroom permits him to have. We have no reason to believe Rashid has received or read any of the most fundamental material on our political line, which is perhaps an error on our part. He criticizes our class definitions, and in criticizing them completely misrepresents them. Our class definitions have been made public to prisoners with most clarity in the booklet Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. This booklet was published in March 2012 and contains all our class definitions spelled out in paragraph form. Additionally, we send a short list of these definitions to all new subscribers. It would be overkill to expect us to provide a full definition each time we use a word, as Rashid seems to require. Our last response to Rashid was written assuming he had access to definitions of our political line, perhaps another error on our part.
In our newsletter Under Lock & Key, we publish economic analysis, mostly regarding class relationships in the First World. Rashid's most recent criticism of MIM(Prisons) suggest that he does not read ULK. It's unclear to us if Rashid has read any contemporary material on the labor aristocracy; whether by MIM(Prisons), Ehecatl, or Zak Cope. [Update: Rashid has since published a criticism of Zak Cope's book Divided World Divided Class on his website. Similar to his critique of MIM(Prisons), he does not actually engage any of the evidence provided by Cope. For those who are interested in some good material on the labor aristocracy question you'd be better off reading the debate that Zak Cope had with labor-aristocracy denier Charles Post.]
Defining Mass Work
Rashid claims MIM(Prisons) has no mass work to speak of. He thinks the labor aristocracy should be our mass base, and we think they are enemies of the international proletariat, so it makes sense that MIM(Prisons) would not engage in what Rashid would consider mass work.
Assuming for a moment that we do agree on a mass base, how would Rashid even know what MIM(Prisons)'s practice is amongst those masses? Rashid doesn't engage in our study groups, doesn't write articles for ULK, and doesn't participate in United Struggle from Within (USW) campaigns, or any other prisoner-based projects we facilitate. Rashid claims our organizing with prisoners is either (a) nonexistent or (b) taking advantage of a vulnerable population. If by "vulnerable" he means "not completely bought off by the spoils of imperialism" and "having a direct material interest in overthrowing imperialism and destroying Amerikkka," then yeah.
For as much as Rashid is out of touch with our prisoner organizing, he is ten times more out of touch with the organizing we do outside of prisons. As a security-conscious organization, we don't publicize where, when, or how much organizing we do outside of prison. Yet Rashid claims to be an expert on our practice, and claims we have none. This sort of baseless shit-talking is another logical fallacy, as it still does not address the labor aristocracy question. Rashid spends much time trying to make us look bad, while avoiding actually having to make sound arguments against our political line.
Importance of Class Background
True or not, Rashid's petty-bourgeois accusations are not that exciting. Here are some facts which should not surprise anyone: MIM(Prisons) operates in the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) comrades are not in prison. MIM(Prisons) comrades have time to devote to revolutionary study and work. At least some MIM(Prisons) comrades have money to donate to purchasing, publishing and mailing books and newsletters to prisoners for free. At least some MIM(Prisons) comrades are fluent in writing and reading the English language. Considering the vast majority of the U.$. population is petty bourgeois (which includes the labor aristocracy, which Rashid calls the proletariat), it doesn't take a stroke of genius to assume that at least some MIM(Prisons) comrades are likely petty bourgeois.
Class backgrounds certainly play a role in subjective political orientation, and that's where class suicide comes in. Just as we try to encourage members of the lumpen class to abandon their petty-bourgeois tendencies and align themselves (against their immediate material interests) with the international proletariat, we also encourage members of the labor aristocracy, petty bourgeoisie, and bourgeoisie to commit class suicide and work in favor of the international proletariat. In Rashid's studies of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, we're surprised he didn't also pick up the principle that criticizing an individual based on their class background is a textbook error.
The important question is, does our work do more to support the international proletariat, or more to support the First World classes (including the bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeoisie, and labor aristocracy)? Rashid says MIM(Prisons) comrades should commit class suicide. Yet we are the ones actively campaigning to redistribute wealth away from the country we live in, while the NABPP-PC allies with the labor aristocracy oinking for more.
Scientific Approach to Revolutionary Work
Below are a couple excerpts from our annotated response to Rashid's criticism:
Rashid: MIMP admits choosing prisoners because they prove most receptive to its ‘leadership’ which in essence means MIMP has latched onto a particularly vulnerable and desperate social group(1), an isolated group whose severely miserable predicament leaves them desperate(2) for any sympathetic ear and tending to be less critical of those who present themselves as sympathetic. Also prisoners generally lack political awareness and training and access to the voluminous Marxist and relevant works. So they are least suited to critically challenge MIMP’s Maoist representations.(3)
MIM(Prisons): 1. Patronizing. 2. Desperate for change. How is the proletariat better than this? 3. We distribute these materials for free to any prisoner in the United $tates who is genuinely interested. Our work-trade standards are just to help us determine who will make the best use of these resources, so we aren't sending them to people who will just throw them in the trash. Send us work (art, article, organizing report, etc) and engage with us and we'll send you plenty of free study materials with no strings attached. So to say we try to keep prisoners in the dark so that they can't criticize us is just bullshit.(p. 10)
Rashid: Contrary to Stalin’s admonition, MIMP neither has its feet planted within the masses, nor is it willing to "listen to the voices" of its followers, or anyone else for that matter. A point we should look at closer, from a Maoist standpoint.
MIM(Prisons): What is the evidence that we don't listen to our followers? We definitely don't listen to the enemy class, as that is not the masses. We don't aim to organize the labor aristocracy but we are in very close contact with lumpen masses. The only "evidence" Rashid presents in this essay to prove that we don't listen to the lumpen are (a) that we don't accept his "class analysis" of classes in the United $tates, and (b) that we removed someone from our study group because they had clear dividing line differences with us that we were not going to change, see below. These are two people we tried to struggle with at length and determined to have dividing line differences with us. We struggle with the lines represented by these two entities (Rashid and Ruin) continuously in the pages of Under Lock & Key, which is more efficient than one-on-one struggle, especially in this case. And they are more than welcome to keep writing to us and keep receiving ULK for free forever. But no, we're not likely going to reneg on our six main points which define our organization.(p. 12)
Rashid lacks an understanding of the importance of organizational structure and political standards. Liberalism on our 6 main points for membership in our organizations would be the antithesis of providing scientific leadership. This is MIM(Prison) clearly drawing lines around political questions that we think are most important to advancing the revolutionary struggle at this time. To those who oppose this scientific approach to revolutionary organizing, we suggest you may be better off working with another group. There are plenty of organizations out there that will accept anyone as a member, regardless of political line or ability to think critically, and which are happy to debate whether 2+2=4 endlessly. We will provide the doubters plenty of political resources that explain how we know 2+2=4, but we won't waste our time, or limited ULK space, on unscientific people who insist the answer is 3.