Thank you for the September/October issue of Under Lock & Key(ULK). As you know, ULK readers are literally a "captive audience." You also know that their confinement seriously limits their ability to access and study the vast body of Marxist-Leninist-Maoist literature you claim to uphold, and also other writings you've given your own interpretations to: which you either claim to embrace or otherwise criticize.
In this latest ULK you critiqued my own recent article "Answering A Revisionist Line on the Labor Aristocracy". Point is, for your readers to weigh the credibility of your interpretations and arguments against what others have written pro and con, they must be able to read not just what you have had to say, but what the other side has said as well.
In your response to my article you said you promote honesty, and clarity in polemics, however you appear yourself to practice deception by omission by publishing only your side of the discussion for your audience to read. And I daresay, your arguments do not accurately represent, and puts your own spin on and omits, a great deal of what I wrote in my article.
Whenever our Party engages in and publishes our polemics with others, we publish both sides' arguments, or if resources don't allow, we try to make the other side's arguments available to our readers. That's called being all-sided and practicing democracy. It's also called being dialectical, which Mao promoted. MIM(Prisons) doesn't do this. And it's not that you don't recognize the need to do so.
Back in 2006 when your parent organization (the Maoist Internationalist Movement) first began its efforts to influence us to embrace its line, especially on the labor aristocracy question, we invited you to publish our debates. MIM's reply was they lacked space in its media — then MIM Notes — and it no longer published its theoretical journal, MIM Theory.
Apparently you've now found space to publish your side of the discussion. Certainly you also have space to publish my own article that you were critiquing and my forthcoming reply to that. I critically invite you to do so, and ask that you print this letter in your next ULK.
Dare to Struggle Dare to Win! Rashid, MOD
MIM(Prisons) responds: The general point that printing both sides of a polemic is a helpful way to educate the masses is a good one. Yet we regularly read Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao talking about some revisionist we don't know anything about, and we learn from these essays. And in the case of the article being criticized, we linked to Rashid's article for our online readers and have sent a copy to everyone in prison who has requested one. We also included some direct quotes in our response. That's more than we can say of Rashid who did not print any of our writings alongside his critique, or even cite our materials where readers could find out more about our position. To our knowledge the NABPP-PC has never published anything we've written.
Like the recent debate with Turning the Tide, we wouldn't have published this critique of Rashid if h had not written h article criticizing us first. And we don't have space to spare in Under Lock & Key for articles that are so off the mark. Every issue we have good content that does not make the cut. We are currently pushing USW comrades to raise the bar for donations to expand the amount of content we can fit into ULK for this very reason. For theoretical study we distribute numerous books and have numerous study packs on this question including our newly released introductory pack on the labor aristocracy. We also distribute a couple study packs by Rashid hself, on topics where we have unity. Finally, we distribute the classics by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao. So if our readers fail to grasp the essence of this issue it is not for our lack of making materials available.
As the original review stated, we were underwhelmed by Rashid's piece, which was mostly empty rhetoric. We only responded because we know our readers are influenced by the writings of the NABPP-PC. Rashid promises a reply, which will hopefully enlighten us as to how we misrepresented their line. Certainly we will print any corrections if we published something incorrect. But it seems the NABPP-PC line on the labor aristocracy is just as wrong today as it was in 2006, as they make the same tired arguments the revisionists have made for decades.
On 27 November 2013 the mailroom at Lovelock Corr Center received from the U.S. post office mail that was addressed to me and sent from the National Catholic Council on Addiction. It included a letter with a 2014 calendar and a catholic prayer book. I received an unauthorized mail notification saying it was not from an approved vendor. On 7 December 2013, I was told to either pay to send it out or they would dispose of it. I am an indigent inmate so sending it out is not an option.
How is the Catholic church not an approved vendor? When I approached the prison chaplain all I was told was "oh it's only a book". I guess as an inmate our faith has no meaning. I would love to see the free world's reaction if it were their prayer book and the government took it from them and destroyed it.
MIM(Prisons) responds: While we don't think that Catholic books and calendars are doing anything positive for the revolutionary struggle, we print this letter as an example of the ridiculous mail policies found in Amerikan prisons. Censorship is generally targetted at political organizations, particularly those like MIM(Prisons) which are educating prisoners about the criminal injustice system and helping them to organize to fight for their rights. But we have seen basic educational material like dictionaries and law books rejected by the censors. And so this rejection of religious literature further proves that prisons are being used as tools of social control and punishment, not centers for rehabilitation. For this reason, we oppose all censorship of mail in the prisons and encourage prisoners to fight these unjust policies by filing grievances, and taking it to court if needed. Ask for our guide to fighting censorship in prison for more information on this.
Images of a statue of communist leader V.I. Lenin being torn down in Kiev have been celebrated in the Western press, as hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets to protest the current regime headed by president Viktor Yanukovych.
Much of the coverage of the recent protests in Ukraine condemn government corruption as the common complaint of the protestors, linking it to Ukraine's Soviet past. The association is that this is the legacy of communist rule. In contrast, we would argue that this corruption was the result of economic Liberalism taking hold in the former Soviet Union where bourgeois democracy was lacking. Today's protests are largely inspired by a desire for bourgeois democracy, and the perceived economic benefits it would provide over the current rule by a parasitic bourgeoisie with little interest in the national economy.
The rise of Kruschev to lead the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) after Stalin's death marked the victory of the capitalist roaders within the Communist Party, and the beginning of the era of social-imperialism for the Soviet Union. This lasted from 1956 until the dissolution of the Union in 1991, when Ukraine became an independent republic. The period was marked by moving away from a socialist economy structured around humyn need and towards a market economy guided by profit. This transformation was reflected in the ideology of the people who more and more looked towards the imperialist countries and their crass consumerism as something to aspire to. It also led those in power to have more interest in their local regions than in the prosperity of the Union as a whole.
Even under capitalism, the Soviet Union was more prosperous and more stable than after its dissolution. In 1991, an estimated three quarters of the Soviet people supported maintaining the Union, but the leadership had no motivation to do so.(1) A move towards strengthening the Union would awaken the proletarian interests, which were opposed to the interests of the leadership that was now a new bourgeoisie. Ukraine played a key role in initiating the dissolution of the USSR. And it was no coincidence that in Ukraine, in particular, the dissolution was an economic disaster as the former Soviet nations were tossed to the wolves of economic Liberalism. A small emerging capitalist class took advantage of fixed prices that were a legacy of the Soviet economy and sold cheaply obtained raw materials at market rates to other countries. They turned around and invested that capital outside in international markets while tightening monopolies on trade at home. This was one of the most drastic transfers of wealth from the hands of the producers to the hands of capitalists in recent decades.(2)
Ten years after the October Revolution of 1917, Stalin wrote, "the resultant dropping out of a vast country from the world system of capitalism could not but accelerate [the process of the decay and the dying of capitalism]".(3) The inverse of this is also true, to a degree: the reentry of many countries into the world system breathed life back into it. While this brought great change at the hands of the newly empowered national bourgeoisie in those countries, it did not change the fact that imperialism had already made capitalism an economically regressive system. Hence they did not develop the wealth of their nations as the rising bourgeoisie of centuries past had done by improving production and developing trade. Today's rising bourgeoisie restricts markets via monopolies, and heads straight for high-margin business like drugs, weapons and financial markets. What happened in the ex-Soviet countries is a good demonstration of why Libertarian ideals are not relevant in today's economy.
The underground economy had been growing for decades before 1991, and this new freedom to compete was a boon to the criminal organizations that existed. These mafias were on the ground with direct access to the resources of the people before the imperialists had time to fight over these newly opened economies. With rising nationalism in the republics, Russian imperialism had to keep its distance, while other imperialist countries had no base in the region to get established. The inter-imperialist rivalry over the region is playing out today.
In the early years of independence, the Ukrainian state merged with that criminal class that was taking advantage of the political and economic turmoil in the country.(4) As a result the GDP dropped to a mere third of what it was just before the Union dissolved.(5) This came after decades of declining economic growth after the initial shift away from socialist economics. The mafias in the former Soviet countries saw an opportunity to seize local power and wealth in their respective republics as the super power crumbled. Some were further enticed by Amerikan bribes, such as Russian President Boris Yeltsin's family who received billions of dollars.(6) For a time there was hope that these changes would improve economic conditions as the bourgeois Liberal mythology led the former Soviet peoples to believe that they could follow the advice (and political donations) of the United $tates.
This mess, which the region is still struggling with, was the ultimate result of what Mao Zedong said about the rise of a new bourgeoisie within the communist party after the seizure of state power due to their inherent privilege as directors of the state. A successful socialist project must combat these bourgeois tendencies at every turn in order to prevent the proletariat from suffering at the hands of a new bourgeois exploiting class. At the core of the Cultural Revolution was combating the theory of productive forces, which Mao had previously criticized the Soviet Union for implementing. The turn to the western imperialist countries as economic models was the logical conclusion of the theory of productive forces in the Soviet Union.
One of the messages underpinning today's protests in Ukraine is the desire to move closer to the European Union (EU), as opposed to the Russian sphere of influence. It seems that looking to the west for hope has only increased in Ukraine over the last couple decades. But there is no obvious advantage to becoming a client of imperialist Western Europe over imperialist Russia except for the higher concentration of super-profits in the EU. And as other newcomers to the EU can attest, the imperialist nations in Europe will oppose any perceived distribution of their super-profits to the east. Similar nationalism is fueling the Ukrainian protestors who oppose the perceived transfer of wealth from their country to Russia. In general, increased trade will help a country economically. But in this battle Russia and the EU are fighting to cut each other off from trading with Ukraine. As always, capitalism tends towards monopolies and imperialism depends on monopsonies.
It is little wonder that the masses would be unsatisfied living under the rule of corrupt autocrats. Yet, it was just 2004 when the U.$.-funded so-called "Orange Revolution" threw out a previous mafia boss named Leonid Kuchma.(7) This regime change gained support from those making similar demands to today's protestors, but it did not change the nature of the system as these protests demonstrate. And that orchestrated movement was no revolution. It was a mass protest, followed by a coup d'etat; something that the imperialists have been funding quite regularly in central Eurasia these days. A revolution involves the overthrow of a system and transformation to a new system, specifically a change in the economic system or what Marxists call the mode of production. We don't see any movement in this direction in Ukraine from where we are, as nationalism is being used as a carrier for bourgeois ideologies among the exploited people of Ukraine, just as Stalin warned against.
Rather than a revolutionary anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist movement, the criminal corruption in Ukraine has led to right-wing populism in recent years. This was marked by the surge of the Svoboda party into the parliament. The men who toppled the statue of Lenin and smashed it with sledge hammers waved Svodoba flags as they did so, indicating that they represented not just a vague anti-Russia sentiment, but a clear anti-socialist one.
Svodoba's populism challenges the current ruling bourgeois mafia, while their nationalism serves to divide the proletariat by inflaming various grudges in the region. This is in strong contrast to the revolutionary nationalism supported by Lenin and Stalin and by Maoists today. In a criticism of the provisional government prior to the October Revolution in 1917, Lenin wrote on Ukraine:
"We do not favour the existence of small states. We stand for the closest union of the workers of the world against 'their own' capitalists and those of all other countries. But for this union to be voluntary, the Russian worker, who does not for a moment trust the Russian or the Ukrainian bourgeoisie in anything, now stands for the right of the Ukrainians to secede, without imposing his friendship upon them, but striving to win their friendship by treating them as an equal, as an ally and brother in the struggle for socialism."(8)
This is a concise summary of the Bolshevik line on nationalism.
A Note on Class and Criminality
Without doing an in-depth class analysis of Ukraine, we can still generalize that it is a proletarian nation. Only 5.1% of households had incomes of more than US$15,000 in the year 2011.(9) That mark is close to the dividing line we'd use for exploiters vs. exploited internationally. Therefore we'd say that 95% of people in Ukraine have objective interests in ending imperialism. This serves as a reminder to our readers that we say the white nation in North Amerika is an oppressor nation, not the white race, which does not exist.
While official unemployment rates in Ukraine have been a modest 7 to 8% in recent years, the CIA Factbook reports that there are a large number of unregistered and underemployed workers not included in that calculation. That unquantified group is likely some combination of underground economy workers and lumpen proletariat. In 2011, the Ukrainian Prime Minister said that 40% of the domestic market was illegal,(10) that's about double the rate for the world overall.(11) On top of that, another 31% of the Ukrainian market was operating under limited taxes and regulations implemented in March 2005, which were put in place to reduce the massive black market. In other words, the underground economy was probably much bigger than 40% before these tax exemptions were put in place.
One way we have distinguished the lumpen is as a class that would benefit, whether they think so or not, from regular employment. This is true both for the lumpen-proletariat typical of today's Third World mega-slums, and the First World lumpen, even though "regular employment" means very different things in different countries. While there is a portion of the lumpen that could accurately be called the "criminal" lumpen because they make their living taking from others, we do not define the lumpen as those who engage in crime. Of course not, as the biggest criminals in the world are the imperialists, robbing and murdering millions globally.
For the lumpen, the path of crime is only one option; for the imperialists it defines their relationship to the rest of humynity. Crime happens to be the option most promoted for the lumpen by the corporate culture in the United $tates through music and television. And in chaotic situations like the former Soviet republics faced it may be the most immediately appealing option for many. But it is not the option that solves the problems faced by the lumpen as a class. Ukraine is a stark example of where that model might take us. As the lumpen proletariat grows in the Third World, and the First World lumpen threatens to follow suit in conditions of imperialist crisis, we push to unite the interests of those classes with the national liberation struggles of the oppressed nations that they come from. Only by liberating themselves from imperialism can those nations build economies that do not exclude people.
Among the bourgeoisie, there are few who are innocent of breaking the laws of their own class. But there are those who operate legitimate businesses and there are those who operate in the underground market. This legality has little bearing on their class interests. All national bourgeoisies support the capitalist system that they benefit from, though they will fight against the imperialist if their interests collide.
So there is no such thing as "the criminal class" because we define class by the group's relationship to production and distribution, and not to the legality of their livelihoods. And we should combat the influence of the bourgeois criminals on the lumpen who, on the whole, would be better served by an end to imperialism than by trying to follow in their footsteps.
While the Ukrainian people push for something more stable and beneficial to them, the Russian imperialists face off with the EU. The EU is backed by the United $tates who has publicly discussed sanctions against Ukraine justified by hypocritical condemnation of the Ukrainian government using police to attack peaceful protests. Hey John Kerry, the world still remembers the images of police brutality on Occupy Wall Street encampments.
The real story here may be in the inter-imperialist rivalry being fought out in the Ukrainian streets and parliament. While the Ukraine nation has an interest in ending imperialism, the dominant politics in that country do not reflect that interest. And one reason for that is the lasting effects of mistakes from the past, which still lead to subjective rejection of communism for many Ukrainians in the 21st century. This only further reiterates the importance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and the need to always put politics in command in building a socialist economy to prevent the future exploitation and suffering of the peoples of the world. This is likely a precursor to much more violent conflict over the rights to markets in the former Soviet republics. Violence can be prevented in the future by keeping the exploited masses organized on the road to socialism.
The Butler portrays the life of Cecil Gaines, a butler in the White House for 34 years, starting in 1957. The movie is a fictionalized version of the story of Gene Allen's life. MIM(Prisons) sums up this movie as propaganda to quell the just anger of the oppressed nation masses, encouraging them to work within the system for small changes.
The focus of the movie is on the oppression of New Afrikans from the 1950s to the year 2008, dividing its focus between the White House and the successive Presidents, and the activists in the streets. In the streets the movie gives special focus to the Freedom Riders and Martin Luther King Jr. The movie derides the most important political leaders of the time, barely mentioning Malcolm X, and attempting to portray the Black Panther Party (BPP) as a brutally violent movement out to kill whites, just using the community service programs like free breakfast for school children as a cover.
The heroes of the movie include Gaines's son, Louis, who participates in the civil rights and activist movements over the years and eventually "learns" that the best way forward is to push for change from within, and runs for Congress. We see his dedication as a Freedom Rider, and fierce commitment to freedom and justice, as Louis literally puts his life on the line, enduring brutal beatings, repeated imprisonments, and constant threat of death. Louis moves on to work with Martin Luther King Jr. in a highly praised non-violent movement, and then joins the BPP after King is killed. Louis turns from an articulate and brave youth into a kid spouting revolutionary platitudes that he doesn't seem to understand, making the BPP into a mockery of what it really represented.
The other heroes of the movie are the U.$. Presidents. With the exception of Nixon, who is portrayed as a drunk, all the other Presidents are humanized and made to appear appropriately sympathetic with the civil rights movement. While they all are shown saying things clearly offensive, racist, and in favor of national oppression, each President has a moment of redemption. John F. Kennedy tells Gaines that it is Gaines's persynal history and the story of his son's activism that changed his mind on the need for the civil rights movement. Even Ronald Reagan is shown secretly sending cash to people who write to him about their financial problems, and telling Gaines that he's sometimes worried that he's on the wrong side of the civil rights movement. On a positive note, all of the Presidents were shown as reticent to take any positive action towards change until the popular movement forced them to act. This is the reality of any oppressor class.
Gaines does, in the end, come to the realization that real change was not going to come from the White House, and quits his job to join his son in activism in the streets. But this action is played up to be as much an attempt to reconcile his relationship with his son, as a dedication to activism itself. And the activism seems to end with just one protest. In the end, both Cecil and Louis celebrate the "victory" of Obama in the 2008 election as a sign that their battle is finally over.
The Butler does a good job of portraying the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, but only as a minor part of the plot. And it ultimately suggests that New Afrikans should be satisfied with an imperialist lackey in the White House as a representation of their success and equality with whites. It fits into a group of recent movies that Hollywood has produced, such as Lincoln and 12 Years a Slave, to rewrite Amerikan history to quell the contradiction between the oppressor nation and the New Afrikan internal semi-colony.
Everyday I sit back and listen to numerous captives blab on and on about how "business aggressive" they are. The thing that boggles my mind is that when the swine do something to them they bitch and cry but accept the oppression. When another captive, however, commits the smallest infraction only then does the aggression come out, but even that is limited to cell warrioring and threats of violence. These displays of traitorous behavior make it frustrating not just for myself but for other revolutionary educators trying to show fellow captives a brighter path.
I admit I have little patience for those who constantly complain and antagonize the swine but leave their actions to just that while the swine continue to oppress the captive collective. I have heard a couple of captives talk on the run about plausible actions to address the oppression, but just as soon as such revolutionary thought is introduced it is struck down by another captive and this brings the end of the conversation. It is extremely disheartening to hear such things as that. It is also disheartening to hear captives say that we have no choice but to accept the oppression. I don't understand this at all because these are the same individuals that spout off about old school hip hop like NWA and Public Enemy who urged the masses to fight the power and say fuck the police.
What are we getting out of fighting amongst ourselves? Nothing but reverse progression that plays in the swine's favor, thus opening the doors for more oppression and lessening the value of revolutionary thought. Why can't we use this so-called aggression to fight the real enemy, the grey suit swine? Even more so, why do so many speak out against squaring off against the enemy? It's not just backwards aggression that is a hindrance to revolution, there is also selfishness, greed, disdain for learning, gambling, and narco addictions, all playing a part to hinder revolution. I say gambling and narco addictions for the fact that a majority of captive-on-captive violence is due to gambling in some shape or form, and narco addictions cloud the mind from being open to revolutionary education and thought.
In my work concerning capitalism as applied to gulag functioning I urged captives to strike against commissary and I will reiterate my stance as commissary also provides captives fuel for conflict against other captives. When the swine denies a captive commissary nine times out of ten the captive will hang his head and slink off in defeat. But if a captive doesn't make commissary and is in debt to another captive, the owed captive spouts off in aggression and violent temperament. Thus commissary is swine approved extortion and needs to be boycotted as it is a detriment to captive unity and education.
I'll close this with my main point, we are all captives no matter race, creed, gender, inside affiliations, outside affiliations, etc. Oppression and exploitation do not discriminate, we are political prisoners who have no hope as long as we remain ignorant to truth and embracing of the poison the authoritarian elitist swine continually feed us. Captives are not supposed to be enemies to other captives, aggression is supposed to be used to counter elitist oppression, but the elitists use our own aggression against us to fulfill their agenda to neglect and oppress. To fight this we must truly gain revolutionary insight and educate fellow captives in revolutionary politics.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The first point in the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles is Peace: "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression." This comrade highlights some of the ways that the system turns prisoners against each other, wasting their energy on counter-revolutionary fights that could be put into organizing against the criminal injustice system.
Background on Campaign to Resist Restrictions on Indigent Correspondence
In a move that caught some of us off guard, the Texas Board of Criminal Injustice has issued an order to drastically change the indigent mail policy within the Texas Department of Criminal Injustice, which runs over 111 Texas state prisons. In August 2013 the board convened and decided that starting October 1, 2013, indigent prisoners will only be allowed to mail 5 general correspondence letters per month! Indigent prisoners were previously allotted 5 letters per week. The primary reason cited for the drastic cut is the financial costs involved in providing postage for the tens of thousands of indigent prisoners housed in Texas prisons. However, there is a very real attack being aimed at the growing number of revolutionary voices that are popping up around Texas to expose the barbaric treatment and inhumane conditions that exist in Texas. It is validation to many of us that our voices are being heard by outside supporters, and this new policy is definitely a retaliatory reactionary response to our activism.
Just this year alone has exposed so many major problems in Texas:
Texas surpassed 500 executions of human beings on June 26 2013.
A wrongful death lawsuit was lodged against Texas in regards to the extreme heat (and the pigs joined the prisoners!)
Texas leads the nation in prison sexual assault and abuse cases
Rashid of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter was moved to Texas from Oregon and the internet is buzzing with his detailed report of the mistreatment and abuse he has incurred since arriving in Texas.
Comrades, the U.S. Department of Injustice doesn't give a shit about us. In order to actuate change for ourselves we must unite in solidarity, get active with USW and MIM(Prisons), link up with sincere activists and media outlets who are sympathetic to our cause and "mash the gas" on these oppressors. Texas hates media coverage, so now we are forced to really make our correspondence count. Drop all the letters to organizations that are only offering lip service with no action and get with this movement! Share Under Lock & Key, increase your political study, stand up to the pigs. Don't let the comrades in California be the only true revolutionary soldiers.
The wardens in the California prisons that have SHUs are to meet with the prisoners to address the human rights violations that go on here and make the necessary changes to put a stop to these abuses. But here in Tehachapi they are so corrupt and unethical that they will not meet with us. Instead they took it upon themselves to intentionally not process our 602s [grievance forms]. Every 602 we file to address the ongoing neglect and abuse of authority by California Correctional Institution (CCI) officials either gets lost or rejected under made-up policies. Their reasons for rejecting them are nowhere in the Title 15 or Department Operations Manual. When we prove them wrong is when our 602s go missing.
I have brought this abuse of authority to the warden, captain, and lieutenant's attention with no results. To my surprise I was informed that it was these high ranking officials who instructed the appeals coordinators to not process our 602s. These officials here would rather cover up and falsify state documentation instead of addressing and following their own policies. We have the documents to prove this, but if we can't get our 602s processed then it's pointless. These officials behave like they are above the law. They lie and openly admit that they don't have to follow their own policies regardless of who is negatively affected.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good illustration of what we mean when we call a system a bourgeois democracy. In such a system, certain freedoms are very important, especially those related to trade and exploitation. But for the oppressed peoples there is no democracy in this system. These state officials, who are bound by the laws of the state, regularly break those laws with impunity when it comes to the oppressed. That is why we say the rule of the bourgeoisie must be replaced by a rule by the proletarian class, whose interests would respect the rights of all to be free of the abuses prisoners face in the United $tates.
We believe this requirement that wardens meet with prisoners is an outcome of the recent prisoner strike in California that targeted the inhumyn conditions of isolation specifically. But it is no surprise that at CCI the high-ranking officials are denying prisoners' access to the legal appeals system through which they are required to file. In fact, this is not specific to CCI; we hear regularly about grievances being "lost" in many prisons. And this is why the campaign to demand grievances be addressed was initiated in California in 2010. This campaign won't solve the larger problem of torture in the SHU, or overall corruption in the criminal injustice system, but it gives prisoners a systematic way to fight for their limited legal rights to appeal wrongdoing by the prison staff. Write to us today for a copy of the grievance petition for your state. Organizing around this campaign is one way to organize the oppressed nations and classes to eventually replace those in power now.
Since the July 8, 2013 hunger strike/work stoppage was suspended (5 September 2013) we've faced extreme retaliation ranging from multiple large scale cell searches to very small portions of food, etc. In Pelican Bay State Prison comrades have reported losing some of the granted supplemental demands (I told 'em so). Updates from October on the negotiations are basically saying CDCR is are not willing to break/compromise any further on the 5 core demands.
A few COs allegedly got attacked, isolated incidents for whatever reasons. In all, we hope to remain a peaceful protest, at least until a final resolve. We remain committed in supporting the New Afrikan and/or prisoner class regardless of the torturous/inhumane conditions to which we're currently enduring. "Knowledge is power, information is freedom, and education is our mandate." Long live Comrades George Jackson, Frantz Fanon, Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, VI Lenin, and Karl Marx. We will endure.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This report on the California prisoner strike is unfortunately just the news we expected from negotiations with the state over improvements in conditions. Promises to address prisoner concerns are easy to make in the face of massive protests and media attention, and quick to be broken as soon as the attention dies down and prisoners stop their protest. We know there are thousands of prisoners in California committed to this cause and ready to take up action again. Leaders must take this opportunity to once again build the support of California prisoners as a whole, and work out a strategy that will lead to the best possible outcome for those in this fight. In a previous article we discussed the possibility that tactical changes are needed, including the possibility of demands being formulated locally in each prison, while trying to achieve as much unity as possible across the state. Regardless of the tactics, we must be building revolutionary education and creating a cadre of solid activists in every prison so that we are prepared for whatever the state throws at us.
I am a Georgia prisoner of war at Hancock State Plantation and just recently on 13 November 2013 I was locked down with numerous others on a Tier II program of "gang control" for long-term lock down. The administration says we are a threat to the security and welfare of the institution. We were stripped of all our property, including hygiene, and given state issue everything.
They tell us that the program is for behavior modification, which is crazy considering most of us haven't been to Ad-Seg in years. But they tell us the qualification for this program runs 5 years prior sanctions. We are not allowed to receive mail, literature, or be involved in programs for any type of reform even though certain inmates are required by courts to take classes in order to be released.
We only get one 15-minute phone call a month on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which are working days to the employed across the United $tates. The phones turn on at 8am and are cut off at 4:30pm. On top of all this, our visitations are on the same days as our phone calls and we are allowed to have only 2 hours of non-contact visits with a 2-person max of visitors. Most of our families travel more than 2 hours just to see us.
Due to the lack of professionalism, or to the abundance of corruption, we do not receive our 5 hours of outside recreation, nor do we receive cell clean up, which is a violation of our prisoner rights per Georgia Department of Corrections Standard Operating Procedures. We are forced, by coercion of disciplinary reports and gas accompanied by a strip cell, to have a cellmate even though this is a long-term lock down unit and we are considered a threat to the security of the institution and other persons. I heard the warden tell the captain pig "to let us kill each other."
Nine months is the minimum time you can be held in this Tier II program, but if you receive a Disciplinary Report (D.R.) 90 more days are added to your stay. There are seven close security plantations in Georgia that have this Tier II program and they can hold us up to 2 years in each one, which is 14 years in isolation all together if they choose to hold you that long.
The pigs tend to aggravate and irritate us to react out of frustration so we can receive a D.R. They do everything intentionally in order to trick us into longer stay in Ad-Seg. They know that if everyone was to complete this program in 9 months they wouldn't have any program.
What's so fishy about this sudden occurrence of a Tier II program in Georgia is that earlier this year the Crips, Bloods, and GDs came to a peace treaty in order for us to unite against the pigs' oppression. We are not organized to the point of a name, but we are upholding the principles of the United Front. We are trying to educate our comrades in a more revolutionary mentality. As of now, most of the leaders and the more influential participants are locked down in Ad-Seg and I don't find this a coincidence. The pigs hate the idea of us uniting in peace and not killing each other.
Though it is very difficult to rally my fellow prisoners here at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) to support any cause, I am happy to say that a small group of revolutionary minded brothers here have come together to fight against OSP's medical department with the assistance of the Ohio branch of the ACLU. I know that comrades in other states, such as California, Nevada and Texas have it much worse than us here in Ohio. But having been the victim of this state's deliberate indifference, I know how it feels to be denied the medical care that is my right as a human being and I am outraged not only for myself but also for all of my incarcerated, abused and oppressed brothers. A victory in this fight is a step on the road to revolution for us all and I hold out the highest of hopes for these comrades and their struggle.
I truly wish there was more good news for me to report from my cage in OSP but sadly, here as in most prisons, good news is hard to come by. Please add my name to the Under Lock & Key mailing list and let me know of any way I can help to support your organization. Also, at this point, I am starved for literature so if you have or are aware of any programs that can help me to get books and literature please let me know.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate people sending us reports like this about battles, both small and large, taking place across the country. We see the value of connecting struggles across states and learning from the successes and failures of people in other prisons. Under Lock & Key reports on these types of battles, but we go even further and offer political analysis and education around these struggles. We are not satisfied with simply fighting for small improvements in medical care or mail policies. Such improvements alleviate the suffering and improve the ability of our comrades behind bars to engage in political organizing, but they should also be part of our broader work to educate and build a strong and committed political center that understands the need to take on the imperialist system as a whole in order to dismantle the criminal injustice system.