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[Theory] [Latin America]
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Book Review: José Carlos Mariátegui An Anthology

José Carlos Mariátegui

Harry E. Vanden and Mark Becker editors and translators
José Carlos Mariátegui: an Anthology (Monthly Review Press, 2011), 480 pgs, $29.95 paperback

The recent growth spurt among the various [email protected] nations here in the United $tates has begun to turn the spotlight on the various peoples and movements within these nations. Although the [email protected] nation has long resisted Amerikan occupation in various ways, the left wing of white nationalism has, until recently, pretty much neglected any acknowledgement of the [email protected] nation. Recently, with the help of an upsurge in the war on [email protected], with the state of Arizona spearheading this war, some in the Amerikan left circles have begun to rediscover the communist theory and struggles that have been coming out of Latin America for about a hundred years. The new book José Carlos Mariátegui: An Anthology adds to this budding interest in revolutionary [email protected] This book is a compilation of Mariátegui's writings.

José Carlos Mariátegui's Life

Mariátegui was a Peruvian communist who upheld revolutionary nationalism within the context of Marxist theory, but not in a mechanical way. He developed a line based on the material conditions of Peru, and thus Latin America, as most of Latin America was feudal or semi-feudal and developing at roughly the same pace. And like Mao would later come to say, Mariátegui believed Marxist thought should be undogmatic. In fact, Mao was known to have read Mariátegui as well.

In a time when Marxists believed the peasantry to be a potential revolutionary force, before Mao proved this theory to be true, Mariátegui developed a groundbreaking theory of the role of peasants in the revolution.

Mariátegui was born in the small town of Moguera, Peru on 14 July 1894. Born in poverty and crippled as a child, Mariátegui began life in an uphill battle. Like most people in Latin America, school was a luxury Mariátegui could not afford and so he had to work with an elementary school education in order to help contribute financially to his family. At 15 he began work at La Prensa newspaper. He advanced from copy boy to writing and editing. He soon learned to make a living as a journalist while at the same time using this journalistic talent for propaganda work.

Starting as a teenager, Mariátegui began to develop socialist ideas and began writing about student rights and labor struggles. He and a friend even founded two short-lived newspapers as teenagers, one called Nuestra Epoca (Our Epoch) and La Razón (The Fault). Although at this time Mariátegui had not developed the deep Marxist theory he was later known for, it does show his early consciousness and the beginning of his revolutionary thought in his articles. So much so that in his early 20s he was sent in exile to Europe by the Peruvian government and charged by the Peruvian dictator Agusto B. Luguia as an "information agent." This reminded me of how, in the United $tates, once prisoners begin to develop and define their revolutionary thought, they too are placed in "exile" — Security Housing Units.

It was while Mariátegui was in Europe that his study and thought deepened and became socialist. His four years in Italy and France were spent amidst the different communist groups active there at the time. This was where he met many people who helped shape his growth. By the time he returned to Peru in 1923 he had developed his political line significantly.

One of the things that stands out about Mariátegui in reading his anthology is that although he had a formal education only up to 8th grade, he developed into a self-educated intellectual, but an intellectual in sync with the most oppressed, an intellectual for the people in contradiction to the bourgeois intellectuals. I thought this was similar to many prisoners who, like Mariátegui, are often without a "formal" education. I myself have never attended a high school and instead educated myself in prison as an adult, seeing the importance of education, especially in the realm of advancing my nation, as well as the international communist movement more broadly. So I found this small but significant aspect of Mariátegui really inspiring and I think other prisoners will as well.

Mariátegui was confined to a wheelchair most of his adult life due to illness. This "disability" was a hinderance to his goals of making socialist revolution in Peru, but he endured; he overcame this burden and found ways to continue onward. This too relates to the conditions of the prisoner, as many may see being in prison as a hinderance to those seeking to transform their nation, to advancing society. In a way it is, however we must find ways to continue onward despite our challenges.

Back in Peru, Mariátegui launched the theoretical journal Amauta. He then founded the biweekly periodical Labor which sought to politicize the Peruvian working class, but was shut down within a year by the Peruvian government. He also published two books in his life and published numerous articles in many Peruvian periodicals. One book, La Escena Contemporánea (The Contemporary Scene), was a collection of articles he wrote for two Peruvian magazines. These articles dealt with racism, socialism and events in Peru. While in his second book, Siete Ensayos de Interpretación (Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality), he applied a Marxist analysis to the social reality of Peru and thus Latin America.

Mariátegui's theory and quantitative development soon turned to qualitative development and practice and in 1928 he formed the Peruvian Socialist Party (PSP), which was the forerunner of the Peruvian Communist Party (PCP), which led a heroic people's war in the 1980s and 1990s. Mariátegui was the first Secretary General of the PSP, which would form a Marxist trade union and would participate in Communist International-sponsored meetings. But Mariátegui's above ground party building actions were not exclusive to 'legal organizing,' he was also involved in the Peruvian underground movement. Indeed he was a sharp thorn in the side of the Peruvian government, having organized communist cells throughout Peru. The government labeled him "subversive" and threw him in prison many times — often with no charges though each time they eventually released him. He faced political repression most of his political life; surveilled and harassed by the state.

Much of his later organizing was in opposition to the U.$.-owned copper mine at "Cerro de Pasco" where he often agitated strikes around working conditions. Mariátegui died at age thirty six due to poor health.

Mariátegui's Political Line

In Mariátegui's piece "The Land Problem," he gets at something that is essential to any struggle, which is getting to the heart of a struggle, to the kernel of contradiction. He states, in part in reference to the contradictions surrounding Peru's indigenous peoples:

"We are not content with demanding the Indian's right to education, culture, progress, love and heaven. We start by categorically demanding their rights to land."(pg 69)

This demand for land cuts to the heart of a people's right. This is what separates those seeking a "reformist approach" from those seeking a more revolutionary approach. The same lesson can be gleaned by prisoners who, in many parts of the United $tates, come to this crossroad where in any struggle for prisoners' rights those actively pushing the prison movement forward MUST choose between reforms or real revolutionary demands. In Mariátegui's case he chose the more revolutionary approach — the struggle to free the land.

This demand continues in all parts of the world in contradiction to the capitalist practices of private ownership, monopolizing the land and outright stealing of land from oppressed nations. To the people of the world it is being established that Amerika's right to colonize and oppress has expired! The iron hold of capitalist tradition has been broken in the minds of many of the oppressed and time is running out for the imperialists!

In "The Land Problem," Mariátegui describes the error that most people fell into in analyzing Peru in his time. Most mechanically attempted to apply methods used in a capitalist society to Peru's semi-feudal economy. As he describes, Peru during this time was a "gamonalism" society, which was a share cropper society where the indigenous of Peru would work the land of a large land owner in return for a portion of the harvest. But due to the abuse of the colonizers, the Incan peoples saw gamonalism as a punishment, and so methods of building the infrastructure were also seen as forms of gamonalism even though pre-colonial Incans always have collectively worked on building roads or waterways. This was once a duty, simply a part of life, but under the semi-feudal existence these projects were seen by the Incan people as more abuse brought on by gamonalism and this goes to the heart of Mariátegui's line on how Peruvians cannot mechanically apply the Marxist analysis that paved the way in Europe to Peru or Latin America for that matter, as social conditions were much different and so a Marxist analysis had to be created that was specific to Latin America.(pg 115)

Peru experienced the destruction of social forms through the colonization process. But this colonialism fertilized the birth of a nation. The development of the new economic relation breathed new life into the people's resistance. This new development was behind Peru's independence revolution with Spain, it was a natural development that can be seen worldwide. It simply validates the laws of contradiction.

Mariátegui saw the distinct concrete conditions in Latin America but he understood that the peoples victory in Latin America was but a step toward a bigger picture. He wrote:

"In this America of small revolutions, the same word, revolution, frequently lends itself to misunderstanding. We have to reclaim it rigorously and intransigently. We have to restore its strict and exact meaning. The Latin American revolution will be nothing more and nothing less than a stage, a phase of the world revolution. It will simply and clearly be a socialist revolution. Add all the adjectives you want to this word according to a particular case: 'anti-imperialist', 'agrarian', 'national-revolutionary,' socialism supposes, precedes and includes all of them."(pg 128)

And so although Mariátegui fought for and developed a line for his nation he still kept the broader movement for world revolution as his compass. This is very important for those of us of the internal semi-colonies to understand that it is not just ok but necessary for us to struggle for and develop a political line for our distinct conditions living here in the belly of the beast and under the heel of the super-parasite. But at the same time we must keep the bigger picture in mind, the world movement as a compass, and grasp that liberating our nations is only the first stage in what we are ultimately struggling for.

On nationalism Mariátegui writes:

"The nationalism of the European nations ... is reactionary and anti-socialist. But the nationalism of the colonial peoples — yes, economically colonial, although they boast of their political autonomy — has a totally different origin and impulse. In these people, nationalism is revolutionary and therefore ends in socialism."(pg 175)

Mariátegui wrote these words in 1927 so this was even before Mao wrote, "thus in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism"(1) in 1938. And just like Mao, Mariátegui believed that nationalism from the oppressed nations was revolutionary and true internationalism. But the Amerikan crypto-Trotskyites today disagree with Mao and Mariátegui on this, mainly because agreeing with them on this would undermine the white privilege enjoyed by them and their allies.

Mariátegui was in fact not just aware but correctly analyzed what was taking place around the world during this time, particularly in China. Indeed, he criticized the Chinese Kuomingtang and upheld "Chinese socialism" during this time, which was the budding movement that Mao was involved with. In a polemic on China he wrote:

"And I will be content with advising him that he direct his gaze to China where the nationalist movement of the Kuomingtang gets its most vigorous impulse from Chinese socialism."(pg 175)

It is refreshing to see Mariátegui, from the Third World and under intense state repression, was able to grasp the concrete conditions and political development taking place internationally, especially in China when he had already seen Mao's camp as the correct line even before Mao's line was victorious in liberating China.

Disagreements with Mariátegui

One problem of line is what Mariátegui calls "Inca socialism." In his analysis the ancient Incas lived in what he describes as Inca socialism. There are many things wrong with this. For one, the Incas, like the other pre-Columbian societies of what is referred to as "Latin America," such as the more widely known societies like the Aztecs and Mayans, lived in communal societies. But these societies had many facets of privilege and even caste-like systems with everything from kings, priests, priestesses, laborers and slaves. Indeed, most of these larger societies like the Aztec, Mayan and Inca's operated on tribute systems where essentially the surrounding tribes that were dominated by these larger groups basically payed rent to these groups, they were taxed or they were slaughtered. So this was in no way "socialism." Sprinkled throughout his writings Mariátegui refers to a pre-Columbian "Inca Socialism" and even declares its previous existence in the Peruvian Socialist Party's 9 point programs — which he himself drafted. Point 6 states:

"Socialism finds the same elements of a solution to the land question in the livelihoods of communities, as it does in large agricultural enterprises. In areas where the presence of the yanaconazco(2) sharecropping system or small landholdings require keeping individual management, the solution will be the exploitation of land by small farmers, while at the same time moving toward the collective management of agriculture in areas where this type of exploitation prevails. But this, like the stimulation that freely provides for the resurgence of indigenous peoples, the creative manifestation of its forces and native spirit does not mean at all a romantic and anti-historical trend of reconstructing or resurrecting Inca socialism which corresponded to historical conditions completely by passed, and which remains only as a favorable factor in a perfectly scientific production technique, that is the habits of cooperation and socialism of indigenous peasants. Socialism presupposes the technique, the science, the capitalist stage. It cannot permit any setbacks in the realization of the achievements of modern civilization but on the contrary it must methodically accelerate the incorporation of these achievements into national life."

We must be grounded in materialism and approach reality how it is, not how we wish it to be. To refer to pre-Columbian societies in Latin America as "socialist" is an ultra-left deviation and thus our line becomes contaminated along with our potential for victory. The fact that Mariátegui wrote this in his party's program reveals how much he believed this to be true, and so there was some error in his line.

Furthermore, Mariátegui attempts to weld events in Europe with events in the Americas and says in a university lecture: "A period of revolution in Europe will be a period of revolution in the Americas."(pg 297) Of course world events spark arousal in the international communist movement, but to assume or claim revolution will mirror Europe or anywhere else despite material conditions is to succumb to pragmatism.

Anyone interested in the birth of Marxism in Latin America will find this book fulfilling. It takes you from Peru's indigenous anti-colonial uprisings to an analysis of indigenous peoples in Peru, to early proletarian organizing, the Peruvian pre-party, propaganda work, the creation of the first socialist party, and the creation of workers federations. It gives a complete picture of the ideas of Mariátegui, who declared himself a Marxist-Leninist, and had he lived to see the advances of Maoism would no doubt have raised its banner in Peru as well.


Notes:
1. "The Role of the Chinese Communist Party in the National War." (October 1938), Selected Works, Vol II, p.196.
2. Peruvian sharecroppers

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[Political Repression] [ULK Issue 30]
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George Jackson Correction

In ULK 28 there is an article "Black August and Bloody September" that reads:

"George Jackson and his comrades became living examples and inspiration for organized resistance of prisoners across the country. On August 21, 1971, George Jackson and two other New Afrikan prisoners were killed (along with three prison guards) in a gunfight inside one of California's maximum-security prisons called San Quentin."

This information is not only erroneous but also serves to advance the state/CDC/law enforcement in general, who spun the mysterious manifestation of the 9mm handgun and a wig. There was no gunfight that dreadful day, nor were there three brothers killed either. The only brother lost on August 21st 1971 was mwenzi George.

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[Control Units] [Censorship] [Attica Correctional Facility] [New York]
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SHU Term for Possession of Under Lock & Key

These "people-incorporating-genocidal-slavery" have upped the ante once again. I was targeted by these nefarious boars simply for my political views. On Oct 14, 2012, two ogres searched and seized my property i.e. all my essays, my books, and all my Under Lock & Key dated as far back as 1995. At the biased in-house tribunal two articles from ULK were presented to me: 1) a 1991 Attikkka issue explaining the situation before and after the rebellion of 1971. 2) The July/Aug 2012 issue which calls for "all prisoners to show solidarity and demonstrate a work stoppage from Sept 9-12, 2012." Keep in mind I never passed this publication about nor did I participate in a work stoppage. I have no prison job. Also, the article mentioned above was for Sept 9-12, 2012. I was keep locked pending investigation on Oct 14, 2012. That's 35 days later.

Anyway, I was charged with a Tier III rule violation of 104.12 (demonstration) which reads: "an inmate shall not lead, organize, participate in or urge other inmates to participate in a work stoppage, sit-in, lock-in, or any other action which may be detrimental to the order of the facility."

At the farce hearing I presented the question: "where in the facility was there an actual work stoppage?" The response was: "There was no work stoppage." My second question was: "when did I urge other prisoners to demonstrate and when did the alleged work stoppage, sit-in, lock-in take place?" The response was: "you never participated in nor was there ever a work stoppage, sit-in, lock-in." With no further questions I objected to the entire circus of a hearing only to receive six months SHU time anyway. This whole ordeal is due to me possessing ULK publications, although they can't actually state it at the hearing. Furthermore, the hearing disposition reads: "although no actual act of demonstration occurred I believed you attempted it." Only after a cell search 35 days later, and after an incident that never took place, do I receive such a bogus charge. Go figure.

This isn't the first political witch hunt in which I was erroneously charged with demonstrations and it won't be the last! These ruthless gulags pride themselves on oppressing the free thinkers like me, especially Attikkka! Keep sending me the Under Lock and Key.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have heard from a number of comrades that the article calling for a Day of Solidarity on September 9 led to heightened censorship and punishment of prisoners. We know that there are restrictions on the types of organizing permitted in many prisons and we are looking closely at the language used in these types of articles to make possible the widest distribution of ULK without sacrificing the content of the publication.

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[Theory] [Abuse]
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Stanford Prison Experiment, and Just Doing My Job

prison guards class interests
The class and nation interests of prison guards lead them to mistreat and
not value the lives of prisoners in the United $tates.
A paper published this week challenges the psychological conception of "conformity bias" that evolved from the Stanford Prison Experiment by Zimbardo and the Teacher/Learner experiment by Milgram.(1) The paper makes connections to recent work on the oppression carried out by Nazis in Hitler's Germany, and generally concludes that people's willingness to hurt or oppress others in such situations is "less about people blindly conforming to orders than about getting people to believe in the importance of what they are doing."

In the Stanford Prison Experiment (1971) students were assigned roles as guards and prisoners in a simulation, and soon both groups took on the typical behaviors of those roles, with the guards treating the prisoners so harshly that the experiment was stopped early. MIM(Prisons) has used this as an example that oppression is systematic and that we can't fix things by hiring the right guards, rather we must change the system. In ULK 19, another comrade referred to it in a discussion of how people are conditioned to behave in prisons.(2) The more deterministic conclusion that people take from this is that people will behave badly in order to conform to expectations. The Milgram experiment (1963) involved participants who were the "teacher" being strongly encouraged to apply faked electric shocks to "learners" who answered questions incorrectly. The conclusion here was that humyns will follow orders blindly rather than think for themselves about whether what they are doing is right.

"This may have been the defense they relied upon when seeking to minimize their culpability [31], but evidence suggests that functionaries like Eichmann had a very good understanding of what they were doing and took pride in the energy and application that they brought to their work.(1)

The analysis in this recent paper is more amenable to a class analysis of society. As the authors point out, it is well-established that Germans, like Adolf Eichmann, enthusiastically participated in the Nazi regime, and it is MIM(Prisons)'s assessment that there is a class and nation perspective that allowed Germans to see what they were doing as good for them and their people.

While our analysis of the Stanford Prison Experiment has lent itself to promoting the need for systematic change, the psychology that came out of it did not. The "conformity bias" concept backs up the great leader theory of history where figures like Hitler and Stalin were all-powerful and all-knowing and the millions of people who supported them were mindless robots. This theory obviously discourages an analysis of conditions and the social forces interacting in and changing those conditions. In contrast, we see the more recent psychological theory in this paper as friendly to a sociological analysis that includes class and nation.

As most of our readers will be quick to recognize, prison guards in real life often do their thing with great enthusiasm. And those guards who don't believe prisoners need to be beaten to create order don't treat them poorly. Clearly the different behaviors are a conscious choice based on the individual's beliefs, as the authors of this paper would likely agree. There is a strong national and class component to who goes to prison and who works in prisons, and this helps justify the more oppressive approach in the minds of prison staff. Despite being superior to the original conclusions made, this recent paper is limited within the realm of psychology itself and therefore fails to provide an explanation for behaviors of groups of people with different standings in society.

We also should not limit our analysis to prison guards and cops who are just the obvious examples of the problem of the oppressor nation. Ward Churchill recalled the name of Eichmann in his infamous piece on the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center to reference those who worked in the twin towers. Like those Amerikans, Adolf Eichmann wasn't an assassin, but a bureaucrat, who was willing to make decisions that led to the deaths of millions of people. Churchill wrote:

"Recourse to 'ignorance' — a derivative, after all, of the word 'ignore' — counts as less than an excuse among this relatively well-educated elite. To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in — and in many cases excelling at — it was because of their absolute refusal to see."(3)

The authors of the recent paper stress that the carrying out of something like the Nazis did in Germany required passionate creativity to excel and to recruit others who believed in what they were doing. It is what we call the subjective factor in social change. Germany was facing objective conditions of economic hardship due to having lost their colonies in WWI, but it took the subjective developments of National Socialism to create the movement that transformed much of the world. That's why our comrade who wrote on psychology and conditioning was correct to stress knowledge to counteract the institutionalized oppression prisoners face.(2) Transforming the subjective factor, the consciousness of humyn beings, is much more complicated than an inherent need to conform or obey orders. Periods of great change in history help demonstrate the dynamic element of group consciousness that is much more flexible than deterministic psychology would have us believe. This is why psychology can never really predict humyn behavior. It is by studying class, nation, gender and other group interests that we can both predict and shift the course of history.

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[Education] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 30]
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Affirmative Action Battle Fails Oppressed Nation Youth

incarceration not education
On November 15, 2012 Michigan's ban on affirmative action in college admissions was declared unconstitutional in federal appeals court. This strikes down a 2006 constitutional amendment prohibiting the use of race as a factor to determine which students to admit to college. While bans on affirmative action are fundamentally reactionary in preserving white privilege, this was a weak legal victory for school integration. The justices did not cite the need for equal access to education for all people in their reasoning, but rather struck down the ban because it presents a burden to opponents who must fight it through the ballot box, because this is a costly and time consuming activity. This "undermines the Equal Protection Clause's guarantee that all citizens ought to have equal access to the tools of political change," according to the majority opinion of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. The courts determined they would rather leave this debate over affirmative action to the governing boards of the public universities.(1)

A similar law in California was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving conflicting legal rulings for different parts of the country. It is likely that these cases will move to the Supreme Court. Six states besides Michigan have banned affirmative action in school admissions: Washington, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, California and Florida.

Debates over affirmative action in Amerika provide revolutionaries with an opportunity to talk about the history of national oppression and the reality of ongoing oppression today. But we need to be careful not to get caught up in the details of affirmative action alone. Based on college admissions information and population statistics, in recent years oppressed nations are actually attending college at rates that are approaching those of their white counterparts. But the story missing here is what's happening to the rest of the Blacks and Latinos who don't attend college, as well as which colleges each nation is attending. Affirmative action would impact the latter problem, but has no affect on the close to 50% of Black and Latino students who don't make it to high school graduation.

From 1976 to 2010, the percentage of Latino college students rose from 3 percent to 13 percent, and the percentage of Black college students rose from 9 percent to 14 percent. During the same period, the percentage of white college students fell from 83 percent to 61 percent. As the table below shows, the percent of Blacks and Latinos in the college student body overall in the U.$. is approaching their representation in the population.(2)

Nation1976 % of student body2010 % of student body2010 % of population (age 18-24)
white83%61%60%
Black9%14%15%
Latino3%13%18%

Another relevant measure of college education equality is the percentage of 18-24-year-olds enrolled in college. For 2008 the rates by nationality were(3):

"Race"2008 % w/college education(age 18-24)
white44.2%
Black32.1%
Hispanic25.8%

Clearly there are still wide disparities in educational access as well as the degrees that oppressed nation students are achieving relative to their white counterparts. And a long history of differential college education leads to population statistics that reflect the overall lower educational achievement of oppressed nations. The table below shows the percent of the population with each degree by nationality.(3) The total percentages of each nation with a college degree should get closer together if oppressed nation enrollment continues to approach the population distribution. But that won't necessarily result in the same levels of education achieved.

"Race"Associate'sBachelor'sMaster'sProfessional degree
white9.3%21.1%8.4%3.1%
Black8.9%13.6%4.9%1.3%
Hispanic6.1%9.4%2.9%1.0%

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.(4)

Prison if you can't learn

Few statistics are gathered on drop out rates between first grade and ninth grade, but state-based information suggests that middle school drop out rates are high. These no doubt reflect the differentials by nationality, leading to an even higher overall drop out rate for oppressed nations. It is almost certain that fewer than half of Blacks and Latinos who enter grade school complete 12th grade with a diploma. And the students who do graduate come away with an education so inferior that many are not qualified for college. On average, Black and Latino high school seniors perform math and read at the same level as 13-year-old white students.(5) This is not preparation sufficient for competitive college applications.

History of Amerikan School Segregation

The history of segregation in Amerikan schools mirrors the history of segregation and national oppression in the country as a whole. Access to education is a core value that Amerikans claim to embrace. While harshly criticizing the idea of free health care or other government-sponsored services, eliminating free education is a concept only a small group of Amerikans openly advocate. But equal access to K-12 education is an idea that has never been reality for the oppressed nations within the United $nakes. And the differentials in education are so stark that it is virtually impossible for those attending the segregated and inferior schools reserved for Amerika's oppressed nations to overcome these years of training and lack of good schooling to participate and compete as adults in the workforce.

In the late 1950s, after the landmark Supreme Court Brown vs. Board of Education ruling, Amerikan public schools took significant steps towards desegregation. Through the late 1980s, with the use of bussing and other policies, the proportion of Black and Latino students in majority white schools increased and opportunities for education opened up to many oppressed nation youth. But during the 1990s this progress began to reverse and the trend has continued so that today segregation in public schools is worse than it was in the 1960s.

This re-segregation is the result of government rollbacks in federal programs, Supreme Court limitations on desegregation, and active dismantling of integration programs. Essentially, the government determined that desegregation requirements could be ignored. This was partly due to shifting political winds, but MIM(Prisons) looks at the timeline for this re-segregation and finds no surprise that the timing coincides with the crushing of the national liberation movements within U.$. borders in the 1970s. As the public outcry against national oppression receded, with leaders either dead or locked up, and guns and drugs circulating widely to distract the lumpen, the re-segregation of schools was a logical result. And this segregation of schools is among the most obvious aspects of the ongoing national segregation within U.$. borders.

Jonathan Kozol, in his book Segregation in Education: The Shame of the Nation, cites school after school, across the country, with atrocious facilities, in dangerous and unhealthy buildings, insufficient space, non-functioning utilities, and lack of educational materials, serving almost exclusively Black and Latino students. Many of these youth drop out of school before graduating high school. White families flee the school districts or send their kids to private schools. School "choice" has enabled greater segregation by offering options to these white kids that the oppressed nation students can't take advantage of. While "choice" is theoretically open to everyone, it is the wealthy white families who learn about the opportunities for the best schools from their neighbors, friends and co-workers, and who know how to navigate the complexities of the application process. And often knowing someone within the school helps to get their kids admitted to the schools with particularly high demand.(6)

The government reaction to the falling skills and education of segregated schools has been to implement "standards" and "tests" and "discipline" that they pretend will make these schools separate but equal. Yet no progress is seen, and the conditions in these schools continues to worsen. The changes in requirements for underfunded and predominantly Black and Latino schools has resulted in two very different education systems: one for whites which includes cultural classes in art, drama and music, time for recess, and classes that allow for student creativity; and another for oppressed nationalities that includes strict military-like discipline, long school days with no recess, rigid curriculum that teaches to very limited standards, elimination of "fluff" classes like art and music, all taught in severely limited facilities with enormous class sizes. This divergence between the school districts reinforces segregation as white parents can see clearly what their kids miss out on (and are forced to participate in) when they don't attend "white" schools.

According to Kozol, "Thirty-five out of 48 states spend less on students in school districts with the highest numbers of minority children than on students in the districts with the fewest children of minorities. Nationwide, the average differential is about $1,100 for each child. In some states — New York, Texas, Illinois, and Kansas for example — the differential is considerably larger. In New York... it is close to $2,200 for each child." If these numbers are multiplied out to the classroom level, typical classroom funding for low income schools is on the magnitude of $30k to $60k less than for high income classes. At a school level these financial differences are staggering: a 400 student elementary school in New York "receives more than $1 million less per year than schools of the same size in districts with the fewest numbers of poor children."(7) There is an even greater differential when low income oppressed nation districts are separated from low income white districts. There are a few low income white districts but they get more funding than low income oppressed nation districts and so pull up the average funding of low income districts overall.

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.(8)

Kozol ties the history of re-segregation back to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on March 21, 1973, (Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby) when the Court overruled a Texas district court finding that inequalities in districts' abilities to finance education are unconstitutional. This was a key class action law suit, in which a very poor non-white neighborhood argued that their high property taxes were insufficient to provide their kids with adequate education while a neighboring rich white district with lower property taxes was able to spend more than twice the amount on students. In the Supreme Court decision Justice Lewis Powell wrote "The argument here is not that the children in districts having relatively low assessable property values are receiving no public education; rather, it is that they are receiving a poorer quality education than available to children in districts having more assessable wealth." And so he argued that "the Equal Protection Clause does not require absolute equality."(9) This means states are not required to provide funds to help equalize the educational access of poorer people. And because of the tremendous segregation in schools, these poorer students are generally Black and Latino.

Ongoing Reality of School Segregation Today

The Civil Rights Project at UCLA does a lot of research on segregation in education in the United $tates. In a September 19, 2012 report they provide some statistics that underscore the growing segregation in public schools.(10) This segregation is particularly dramatic in the border states and the south, and segregation is especially severe in the largest metropolitan areas. They note that desegregation efforts between the 1960s to the late 1980s led to significant achievements in addressing both segregation itself and racial achievement gaps, but the trend reversed after a 1991 Supreme Court ruling (Board of Education of Oklahoma City v. Dowell) that made it easier to abandon desegregation efforts.(11)

Key facts from the Civil Rights Project 2012 report include:

  1. "In the early 1990s, the average Latino and black student attended a school where roughly a third of students were low income (as measured by free and reduced price lunch eligibility), but now attend schools where low income students account for nearly two-thirds of their classmates."
  2. "There is a very strong relationship between the percent of Latino students in a school and the percent of low income students. On a scale in which 1.0 would be a perfect relationship, the correlation is a high .71. The same figure is lower, but still high, for black students (.53). Many minority-segregated schools serve both black and Latino students. The correlation between the combined percentages of these underserved two groups and the percent of poor children is a dismaying .85."
  3. In spite of the suburbanization of nonwhite families, 80% of Latino students and 74% of Black students attend majority nonwhite schools (50-100% oppressed nations). Out of those attending these nonwhite schools, 43% of Latinos and 38% of Blacks attend intensely segregated schools (those with only 0-10% of whites students). And another segment of these segregated students, 15% of Black students, and 14% of Latino students, attend "apartheid schools", where whites make up 0 to 1% of the enrollment.
  4. "Latino students in nearly every region have experienced steadily rising levels of concentration in intensely segregated minority settings. In the West, the share of Latino students in such settings has increased fourfold, from 12% in 1968 to 43% in 2009... Exposure to white students for the average Latino student has decreased dramatically over the years for every Western state, particularly in California, where the average Latino student had 54.5% white peers in 1970 but only 16.5% in 2009."
  5. "Though whites make up just over half of the [U.S. school] enrollment, the typical white student attends a school where three-quarters of their peers are white."

The overwhelming evidence that school segregation continues and even grows without concerted efforts around integration provides evidence of the ongoing segregation between nations overall within the United $tates. Even with residential patterns shifting and neighborhoods integrating different nationalities, families still find ways to segregate their children in schools.

The dramatic school segregation in the United $tates points to both a national and class division in this country. First there is the obvious national division that is reinforced by school segregation, which places whites in a position of dramatic privilege relative to Blacks and Latinos. This privilege extends to poorer whites, underscoring the overall position of the oppressor nation. But there is also a class division within the oppressed nations in the United $tates. The education statistics put about half of oppressed nation youth tracked into the lower class, while the other half can expect to join the petit bourgeoisie which constitutes the vast majority of the Amerikan population. Our class analysis of Amerikan society clearly demonstrates that even the lower class Blacks and Latinos are not a part of the proletariat. But a portion of these undereducated youth are forced into the lumpen class, a group defined by their exclusion from participation in the capitalist system. Future articles will explore the size and role of this lumpen class.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 29]
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Upset the Setup

one rifle per family bambu
featuring Killer Mike
from the album One Rifle Per Family
Beatrock Music
2012
www.bambu.la

No surprise I'm from a gangbang culture
Where we can keep it civil or pull a thing thing on ya
Southern California where th sun don't quit
Intergenerational gangs so sons don't quit
But immediately you see that the problems that's in my city
Are secondary to what's propelling it in my city
I mean really break it down, take poor black and brown
Educate em poor, take the jobs from out they town
The inendate them with sedative drugs and dumb tv
Locked into a zoo and hunted daily by the police
Then you get a group of youth who know they don't belong
Then they gather up and organize and number up strong
But see the failure is in seeing that the problem ain't the gang
It's the situation in the communities where we hang
So I'm so pro-gang it might scare a muthuhfukkuh
Cause I fix th misconception that th enemy's our brothers

Bang on the setup, bang on the setup, bang on the setup
Upset the setup
Bang on the setup, bang on the setup, bang on the setup
Homie, we've been setup

I tell em...
I went from a street gang thang
Then I joined the military Fleet Marine Force thang
From a little bitty gang in th south o Los Angeles
T draggin bodies outta they house t help a government
Who hell bent on keepin money spent ona missle
Th reality's the difference between em shits is little
We had th objective o armin up over money
An they had th objective o armin up over money
An we told kids join us we th truth
Lies about protectin our block t get recruits
Then we find out we gettin killed for a hood
An we don't own a single spec o dirt onat hood
Whether ina zone down south in Decatur
Or ina flatlands offa Lennox and La Brea
Or ina low-rise project in Chicago
Big money come in and buy up our barrio so...

Throw your sets up, we bout to upset the setup
Upset the setup, upset the setup
Throw your sets up, we bout to upset the setup
Upset the setup, upset the setup

[Killer Mike Verse]
I do it for the Crips and the Blooders,
BGF brothers, the real...Freeway Ricky Ross and Chris Dutters
I do my thang for Hoover, I represent for Fort
So my folk and my people throw they set to support
Support will mean imagine, she might say the Chi
So maybe next summer no mamas gotta cry
Cause maybe next summer nobody gotta die
Hell, even if we fail, somebody gotta try
The only way the system move, is somebody gotta lie
And the lie they told us old, they base it on your race
They separate: you black, you brown, you yellow and white face
Then we further separate by joining gangs and legislate
That our neighborhoods are now at war like we are separate states
So the police occupy our hood to keep down all the drama
So the Starbucks they just built is comfortable for soccer mamas
And American Apparel comfortable for all the hipsters
And it's zero tolerance for all you spics and you niggas
And you chinks and you crackas
And it ain't about who whiter and it ain't about who blacker
But the money is a factor
And the factor is the factories got moved up out da hood
When starvation is present and absent is the job
A man will simply starve, or he will form a mob
If you should form a mafia, then you should think Sicilian
Buy the hood for real, every block, every building
Every building, feed the children, gang bang, every building
Feed the children, feed the children, gang bang, on the system.

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[Organizing] [Security] [ULK Issue 29]
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Making Prisons Safer with Revolutionary Education

safe zone in prisons
Let's face it, most people coming to prison don't arrive with people's safety at the top of their priority list. Most come to prison with their homies' or comrades' safety in mind, but that is about it. Most come from an existence where, if you are not sharp-witted, treacherous or a cold hustler, you don't eat or you don't survive.

Being raised in this mind frame is not easily forgotten, so the economic hurdle is key in a prisoner's mindset. Many grew up in an environment where other nationalities are frowned upon or there are open hostilities between different nations. Then there are the mentally ill prisoners who may kick off some shit over nonsense and others follow suit. There are so many factors that make prisons unsafe that one can write a book on them rather easily. Each factor has many ways in which to approach it and combat it as well. But at the end of the day safe prisons anywhere in Amerika will only come from the hands of prisoners ourselves.

In a capitalist society prisons are not created to rehabilitate prisoners or teach us, they are designed to warehouse and neutralize us. So the first step in attempting to create safer prisons is understanding this. There is one key that unlocks the door to getting safer prisons and that key is education! I am not talking about Amerikan education, I am talking about revolutionary education. Rev Ed transforms people and betters people in all areas, including interacting with one's fellow prisoners. Take away Rev Ed and one is left with backwards thinking, reactionary behavior, abuse, set tripping, predatory behavior, religious nonsense, drug and alcohol addiction — all the tore up tradition that has self-destructed entire generations.

Ignorance of who you are will always bring out the worst in you. Knowing where one comes from, the deep tradition of resistance and legacy of struggle will always propel one in a positive path, a peaceful path, because when we learn who the real oppressor is we no longer look at another prisoner as the bad guy. Rev Ed teaches us that prisoners in general are an oppressed class and when we really grasp this there's no way can we walk around trying to pick fights with our fellow prisoners. Even the thought of this becomes absurd. Instead we are walking around trying to share revolutionary ideas and exchange revolutionary literature in our quest to revolutionize these hell holes. This must be our focus if we want to have the greatest impact that we can to make prisons safer.

I won't sugar coat it: this is hard work. When I read about shit popping off in what amounts to lumpen-on-lumpen crime I feel your pain because I been there and I still experience bullshit that clings to many of those who continue to hold on to nonsense or reactionary views. So I know how it is when violence ensues around you, especially if you have been working to educate people for a period of time.

These challenges don't change the fact that if you want a safe environment in prison you need to educate your fellow prisoners. The best way to do this is to start with yourself and your cellmate if you have one. I have always had long exchanges of ideas with a cellie. Whatever revolutionary publication I had I would read it, or my cellie would, and we would discuss what we agreed with or disagreed with. Once me and my cellmate were on the same page we would begin to educate our neighbors on either side regardless of who it was, passing publications and eventually books, and eventually involving the whole tier or pod. Many times this process would begin by just passing a publication to someone or telling one persyn to read it and pass it down the line. After a while the questions will begin. This is one way I have experienced creating more educated prisoners and thus safer conditions.

I have also found prisoners who could not read or write, and the state usually does not have material or classes for these people, so I would tell these prisoners I'll spend the time and effort to teach them to read on the condition that they must in turn teach someone else once they are able. One time I taught a prisoner to read out on the mainline and when I saw he had not found someone to tutor I went around and found someone for him. I would go to the law library when I was on the mainline and see someone trying to maneuver in the law and I'd reach out to help this persyn. These people were all different nationalities but in order to create "peaceful prisons" I have learned that you can't limit yourself to your own nation; someone has to build that bridge of relations. If I get to a yard where there is no bridge, I will fill the vacuum because someone has to.

What I have experienced in doing time (and I have spent more time of my life incarcerated than out in society) is that the majority of violence that occurs is over a business deal gone bad, either drugs or gambling debts. So if we have enough discipline to cut this out of the picture would reduce a lot of the violence. The next issue is predatory behavior which is just one persyn or group oppressing or attempting to oppress another, either because of ones nationality or what geographic location one grew up in. If you refrain from this behavior safer prisons become even more of a reality.

In California, prisoners in Pelican Bay recently issued a statement to end hostilities between all nationalities in California prisons, county jails and streets. This is unprecedented in California where lumpen-on-lumpen crime has gone on with deadly consequences for many years. This is only a step, but it is a necessary step in building any type of serious change or any transformation in each nation. The days when the state would pit prisoners on prisoners in California and use us as gladiators for their amusement are over. Prisoners have finally identified the real problem we face, i.e. the real oppressor. And if California can do this and if those in Pelican Bay SHU, who the state claims control all California "gangs," can do this then there is no reason why every prison in Amerika can't do the same and call for an end to all hostilities in all prisons, jails and streets! This is a necessary step if prisoners ever hope to create real safe zones in prisons.

We are seeing history play out in California where our future is in our own hands. If we want to have prisons where we can really rehabilitate ourselves then we must make it happen and the only way for this to happen is if we do so collectively and by ending the hostilities between all nationalities. This knocks down barricades that would otherwise slow down this process. This is not saying we don't have differences, there are many differences, but once you identify your oppressor you realize that lumpen-on-lumpen crime is not helping to reduce our oppression. It's very simple and all groups of all nationalities here in Pelican Bay SHU have agreed to this agreement. If we can do it so can you!

The real safe prisons will come when prisoners can exercise forms of people's power in these concentration camps. People's power exists when contradictions are resolved without having to rely on the state. Like the example I gave of helping my fellow prisoners to read and write or do legal work. Most prisons do not have programs for this, so rather than sit around and complain about it I started my own program on the mainline.

People's power can also be solving problems and preventing violence through mediation which does not involve the state. In Pelican Bay SHU there is the "Short Corridor Collective" which is a representative from each group Chicano, Black, white and sub groups, which seeks peaceful mutual resolutions to problems affecting prisoners. They even have come out with certain demands to the state. If Pelican Bay SHU can do it why can't other prisons across the United $tates form collectives that seek peaceful resolutions to issues affecting prisoners? The answer is they can, and they must, if real peace and progress are to be achieved within prisons.

Political education is the key. Once someone learns real history and understands the class contradictions in the United $tates, and how our oppression can actually be traced directly to capitalism, there is no way they will want to waste time on nonsense. Instead of sitting around gossiping about other poor people who are locked up and plotting on how to hurt other poor people, these educated people will instead study, educate others, form study groups, share progressive literature and books, and create independent institutions behind prison walls in order to advance the prison movement as well as the movement, for humyn rights more broadly.

The only thing I see in the way of us not having safer prisons is us not making these prisons safer!

People's power siempre!

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[Legal] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 29]
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North Carolina Prisoners Lack Access to Courts

The prison system in North Carolina does not have a law library. The courts say they don't need to provide law libraries because we have the North Carolina Prisoner Legal Service, Inc. (NCPLS). The truth is NCPLS helps maybe one or two prisoners a year.

Recently NCPLS sent me a letter telling me not to write back about the publication class action lawsuit case Urbanial v. Stanley until I have filed a grievance and the grievance is appealed to Step 3 and I get the response back. When I did that I sent the grievance and response to NCPLS, only to have them send the materials back without any letter explaining why they sent them back.

I have requested assistance from NCPLS in civil matters 25 or more times. This is going back to the 1990s when my civil rights were being violated over and over again. As NCPLS states in one of their letters, it's a price we the prisoners must pay for being prisoners. I am not allowed to even touch a staff member, and they should not be allowed to unjustly pepper spray me, etc. When they do, I have to go through a grievance system before I can file the lawsuit in court, and when I do file lawsuits they are dismissed. As you can see, I am given no legal assistance in filing these lawsuits either.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade continues to fight repression and censorship with the odds stacked against h. Over the years, others in North Carolina have been researching and fighting the lack of law libraries. Unfortunately, on paper, the nominal existence of the NCPLS enables North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) to skirt the Constitutional requirement that it provides its prisoners access to courts.

Bounds v. Smith 430 U.S. 817 (1977) permits prison authorities to provide either law libraries or counsel to satisfy this requirement, but it does not need to provide both. When a prisoner's appointed counsel is useless, and they don't have a law library in which to research a case to challenge this, their only hope is assistance from outside organizations and supporters.

The Prisoners' Legal Clinic is one such organization, under the MIM(Prisons) umbrella, which was reestablished a few years ago in an attempt to provide some of this much-needed legal support to our comrades with an anti-imperialist focus. One of the help guides we distribute for prisoners to use and build on is related to access to courts. This help guide is in very rough format currently, but with the expertise of our jailhouse lawyer contacts we can clean it up, and begin to distribute it more widely.

To get involved in the Prisoners' Legal Clinic, write to MIM(Prisons) and say you want to put in work on this project!

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[Organizing] [United Front] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 29]
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California Hunger Strike Representatives Promote Peace Agreement

On October 10 a peace accord went into place across the California prison system to end hostilities between different racial groups. The Pelican Bay State Prison - Security Housing Unit (PBSP-SHU) Short Corridor Hunger Strike Representatives issued a statement in August, and hundreds responded on October 10 with hunger strikes to continue the struggle against so-called gang validation and the SHU. The original statement calls on lumpen organizations to turn to "causes beneficial to all" instead of infighting among the oppressed. Recently leaders in Pelican Bay State Prison reasserted that this applies to all lumpen organizations in CDCR, down to the youth authority.

The campaign to launch a peace treaty by influential leaders in Pelican Bay is not new. In 2000 prisoners worked with California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to organize peace talks, but those efforts were sabotaged by the CDCR whose class and national interests conflicted with those of the prisoners. It is inspiring that comrades find now to be an opportune time to initiate the process without the state, which is in line with the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons initiated by MIM(Prisons) and USW in 2011.

We share the PBSP-SHU Collective's view that peace is key to building unity against the criminal injustice system. Prison organizations and individual prisoners across the country have pledged themselves to the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) principles and are building this United Front in their prisons, communities and organizations.

We know this won't be easy, but there is a basis for this unity and peace. As was written in the original announcement of the UFPP:

"We fully recognize that whether we are conscious of it or not, we are already 'united' — in our suffering and our daily repression. We face the same common enemy. We are trapped in the same oppressive conditions. We wear the same prison clothes, we go to the same hellhole box (isolation), we get brutalized by the same racist pigs. We are one people, no matter your hood, set or nationality. We know 'we need unity' — but unity of a different type from the unity we have at present. We want to move from a unity in oppression to unity in serving the people and striving toward national independence."

The ending of hostilities between large lumpen organizations has sweeping implications for the possibilities for prisoner organizing. USW comrades in California should work to seize this opportunity however possible, to translate the peace agreement into meaningful organizing in the interests of all prisoners.

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[Theory] [Economics] [Principal Contradiction] [ULK Issue 30]
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New Must-Read on the Labor Aristocracy

divided world divided class
Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour Under Capitalism
by Zak Cope
Kersplebedeb, 2012

kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8


It is with great pleasure that we announce a new release that MIM(Prisons) is adding to the labor aristocracy section of our must-read list. Divided World Divided Class by Zak Cope contributes up-to-date economic analysis and new historical analysis to the MIM line on the labor aristocracy. I actually flipped through the bibliography before reading the book and was instantly intrigued at the works cited, which included all of the classic sources that MIM has discussed in the past as well as newer material MIM(Prisons) has been reviewing for our own work.

The Labor Aristocracy Canon

Before addressing this new book, let me first put it in the context of our existing must-read materials on the labor aristocracy, which has long been the issue that the Maoist Internationalist Movement differentiated itself on. MIM(Prisons) recently assembled an introductory study pack on this topic, featuring material from MIM Theory 1: A White Proletariat? (1992) and Monkey Smashes Heaven #1 (2011). We still recommend this pack as the starting point for most prisoners, as it is both cheaper to acquire and easier to understand than Cope's book and other material on the list.

Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat by J. Sakai is a classic book documenting the history of Amerika as an oppressor nation whose class nature has always been bourgeois. It is for those interested in Amerikan history in more detail, and particularly the history of the national contradiction in the United $tates. While acknowledging Sakai's thesis, Cope actually expands the analysis to a global scale, which leads to a greater focus on Britain in much of the book as the leading imperialist power, later surpassed by Amerika. This complete picture is developed by Cope in a theory-rich analysis, weaving many sources together to present his thesis. HW Edwards's Labor Aristocracy: Mass Base of Social Democracy is a less cohesive attempt at a similar approach that is almost half a century old. Edwards is wishy-washy on the role of First World "workers," where Cope is not. Edwards provides a number of good statistics and examples of his thesis, but it is presented in a more haphazard way. That said, Labor Aristocracy is still on our must-read list and we distribute it with a study guide.

MIM went back to the labor aristocracy question in MIM Theory 10: The Labor Aristocracy. This issue built on MT 1 some, but primarily focuses on an in-depth look at the global class analysis under imperialism by the COMINTERN. The importance of this issue during WWII is often overlooked, and this essay gets deep into the two-line struggle within the communist movement at the time. We have a study pack on this piece as well.

The last work that we include in the canon is Imperialism and its Class Structure in 1997(ICS) by MC5 of the Maoist Internationalist Movement. This book is most similar to Cope's work, with Cope seeming to borrow specific ideas and sources without ever acknowledging MC5's work. Since Cope is very generous in acknowledging ideas he got from others, one suspects that there is a political motivation behind ignoring the number one proponent of the position he is trying to defend in his book. We think MC5 would see Cope's work as a compliment and a step forward for the scientific analysis, particularly since Cope does not bring in anything to oppose the MIM line or to confuse the issue. Cope's book is very well researched and put together as an original work, and we have no interest in defending intellectual property.

The major new contribution in Cope's book is the historical analysis of the labor aristocracy in the context of the global system of imperialism. He also does some original calculations to measure superexploitation. His analysis of class, nation and modern events is all found in contemporary Maoism. Cope seems to be walking a line of upholding MIM Thought, while not dirtying his reputation with the MIM name. This is seen in his discussion of nationalism, which is often a dividing line between MIM Thought and the social democrats of academia. Cope gives a very agreeable definition of nation, and even more importantly, an analysis of its role and importance in the imperialist system related to class divisions. Yet, he fails to cite Stalin in doing so, while Maoists are honest about Stalin's contributions on the national question. So what we have is an excellent book on the labor aristocracy that avoids other issues that are difficult for the left-wing white nationalists to handle. In a way, this sanitized version of what is already a very bitter pill for readers in the First World may be useful to make this theory more available in an academic context. But no serious communist can just ignore important questions around Stalin and even the smaller, yet groundbreaking work of MIM itself.

MC5 or Cope?

For the rest of this review I will discuss Divided World in relation to Imperialism and its Class Structure (ICS) as they are parallel works. The above-mentioned sanitizing is evident in the two books' different approaches and definitions. Both attempt to present the basics, before getting into some intense analysis later on. Yet Cope sticks to discussing mostly Marx, with a healthy dose of Lenin's theory of imperialism without too much mention of the Soviet Union, while MC5 cites the practice of Stalin and Mao as leaders of socialist countries, as well as the contemporary pseudo-Maoists. It is a connection to communist practice that makes ICS the better book politically.

Cope's work, by default, has the benefit of having more recent statistics to use in part II for his economic analysis, though his approach is very different from MC5's anyway. Part III, which focuses on debunking the myths promoted by the pseudo-Marxist apologists for high wages in the First World, also has fresh statistics to use. MC5 addresses many ideological opponents throughout h book, but Cope's approach leaves us with a more concise reference in the way it lists the main myths promoted by our opponents and then knocks them down with basic facts.

MC5 spends more time addressing the ideas of specific authors who oppose the MIM thesis, while Cope tends to stick to the general arguments except when addressing authors such as Emmanuel who is an early trail-blazer of MIM Thought, but said some things that Cope correctly criticizes. Overall this provides for a more readable book, as the reader can get lost trying to figure out what position MC5 is arguing against when s/he refers to authors the reader has not read.

The model of imperialism that you get from each book is basically the same. Both address unequal exchange and capital export as mechanisms for transferring wealth to the First World. Both stress the structural basis of these mechanisms in militarized borders, death squads, monopoly and much higher concentrations of capital in the First World due to primitive accumulation and reinforced by the mechanisms of continued superexploitation.

While both authors take us through a series of numbers and calculations to estimate the transfer of value in imperialism, MC5 does so in a way that makes the class structure arguments more clearly. By focusing on the proportions, MC5 leaves the revisionists looking silly trying to explain how greater production per wage dollar in the Third World coexists with supposedly lower rates of exploitation in the Third World. Or how the larger unproductive sector in the First World can make similar wages to the productive sector, while the productive sector in the First World allegedly produces all the value to pay both sectors, and profit rates and capital concentration between sectors remain equal. Or if they acknowledge a great transfer of wealth from the Third World to the First World, and it is not going to 99% of the population as they claim, why is it not showing up in capital accumulation in those countries? As MC5 points out, remembering these structural questions is more important than the numbers.

Cope takes a numbers approach that ends with a transfer of $6.5 trillion from the non-OECD countries to the OECD in 2009 when OECD profits were $6.8 trillion. This leaves a small margin of theoretical exploitation of the First World. He points out that using these numbers gives $500 of profits per year per OECD worker compared to $18,571 per non-OECD worker. So even that is pretty damning. But he goes on to explain why the idea that OECD workers are exploited at all is pretty ridiculous by talking about the percentage of unproductive labor in the First World, an idea that MC5 stresses. Both authors make assumptions in their calculations that are very generous to the First Worldist line, yet come up with numbers showing huge transfers of wealth from the Third World to the First World "workers." Cope even uses OECD membership as the dividing line, leading him to include countries like Mexico on the exploiter side of the calculation. MC5, while a little less orthodox in h calculations, came up with $6.8 trillion in superprofits going to the non-capitalist class in the First World in 1993 (compared to Cope's $0.3 trillion in surplus being exploited from them in 2009). As both authors point out, they make the best of data that is not designed to answer these kinds of questions as they try to tease out hidden transfers of value.

Implications to our Practice

If Cope's book helps bring acceptance to the reality of the labor aristocracy in economic terms, there is still a major battle over what it all means for revolutionaries. In MIM's decades of struggle with the revisionists on this question we have already seen parties move away from a flat out rejection of the labor aristocracy thesis. Cope's conclusions on the labor aristocracy and fascism are well within the lines of MIM Thought. But already Cope's conclusions have been criticized:

As mentioned in an earlier post, this kind of "third worldism" represents the very chauvinism it claims to reject. To accept that there is no point in making revolution at the centres of capitalism, and thus to wait for the peripheries to make revolution for all of us, is to abdicate revolutionary responsibility—it is to demand that people living in the most exploited social contexts (as Cope's theory proves) should do the revolutionary work for the rest of us. (2)

Some see MIM Thought as ultra-leftist, and just plain old depressing for its lack of populism. Practitioners of revolutionary science do not get depressed when reality does not correspond to their wishes, but are inspired by the power of the scientific method to understand and shape phenomenon. But there is truth in this critique of Cope's book due to its disconnection from practice. A seemingly intentional approach to appeal to academia has the result of tending towards defeatism.

When it comes to practice in the United $tates, the question of the internal semi-colonies has always been primary for the revolutionary struggle. Yet today, there is a much greater level of integration. Cope's conclusions have some interesting implications for this question. On the one hand there is no anti-imperialist class struggle here "since economic betterment for people in the rich countries is today intrinsically dependent on imperialism". (Cope, p. 304) Yet assimilation is still prevented by the need for white supremacism to rally Amerikans around defending imperialist oppression of other peoples. Since national oppression will always translate into some relative economic disadvantage, we may be witnessing the closest real world example of national oppression that is independent of class. And Cope argues that this will continue within U.$. borders because you can't educate racism away, you must destroy the social relations that create it. (Cope, p. 6)

While Cope is explicitly non-partisan, MC5 provides a bit more guidance in terms of what this all means for imposing a dictatorship of the proletariat in a majority exploiter country, and how class struggle will be affected after that dictatorship is imposed. MIM also gives the explicit instruction that we do not support inter-imperialist rivalry or protectionism. This becomes a bigger challenge to promote and enforce among our allies in the united front against imperialism. Certainly, promoting these books and other literature on the topic is one part of that battle, but we will need other approaches to reach the masses who are taken in by the social democrats who dominate our political arena as well as their own potential material interests.

As long as would-be anti-imperialists in the First World ignore the labor aristocracy question, they will keep banging their heads against brick walls. It is only by accepting and studying it that we can begin to make breakthroughs, and this is even true, though less immediately so, in the Third World as Cope acknowledges (Cope, p. 214). Despite works dating back over a hundred years discussing this theory of class under imperialism, we are in the early stages of applying it to the polarized conditions of advanced imperialism with the environmental crisis and other contradictions that it brings with it.

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