Hey yo! These pigs don't care about you You're Black wearing blue On your own, up against the DOC crew Department of Conspiracy, I thought you knew Classification and medical they DOC too Tallahassee? That's the highest rank in operation Most folks in Tally got promoted from corrections The Warden was a CO once upon a time Promoted to the top, down with organized crime Organized injustice, denying all grievances Tallahassee do the same thing, fuck your witnesses No remedy, show you how they all stick together Like birds of a feather, for worse or for better Who can you run to, the whole system is against you And still trying methods to turn your peeps against you So you can be totally dependent on them So they can put down the William Lynch all over again Every move is a mission, show no submission If you wanna upgrade your humyn condition We gotta stick together in this tight situation If not, we're going back to being a possession
Consolidating our forces becomes an important task when we must prepare for a struggle. Right now in California prisoners are gearing up for a second round of struggle against the SHU and related issues prisoners face there. Since 2011, USW leaders have been doing what they can to consolidate the prisoner rights movement there, under torturous conditions of isolation and targeted censorship and repression.
Recently it was brought to our attention that Michael Novick of Anti-Racist Action addressed MIM in an issue of Turning the Tide focused on a consolidation around a new group in alliance with the Black Riders Liberation Party. Drawing out our line differences is part of consolidating progressive forces around one line or another. Before getting to that, let me address an effort to consolidate our support base for Under Lock & Key.
Become a ULK Sustainer
Having passed our five year anniversary of publishing Under Lock & Key we recognize the importance of revolutionary institutions that are reliable and sustainable. In those five years we have never missed a deadline, and ULK currently comes out like clockwork every 2 months, representing the voice of the anti-imperialist movement in U.$. prisons. A small minority of you have been right there with us providing regular reports, articles, poetry, art and finances for Under Lock & Key. Without your support we could not be that voice.
While we have a writers group, a poetry group and an artist group that prisoners can join to become regular contributors, we have not had a funders group. Well, that has changed. And we encourage all readers who think ULK is important to join the funders group. As we all know, prisoners are a unique group of people in this country who sometimes don't have access to any money. But everyone should be able to find a way to contribute to Under Lock & Key, and sending regular funds is one way to do so. Like our other groups, those who are regular contributors will get priority for free books and other support.
Here's how the funder group will work. To join, write to us and make your pledge, and whether you will pay it in stamps or in checks. A pledge should be the amount you will contribute to each issue of ULK, which comes out every 2 months. It costs us approximately $1 to get each prisoner a copy of ULK. Therefore to just cover your own issue you should pledge $1 per issue or $0.50 per month.
So when should you send your donation in? For those who pay in stamps you can send them in any time that works for you, but at least once every 2 months to be an active sustainer. For those who pay by check or money order, please remember that WE CANNOT ACCEPT CHECKS MADE OUT TO MIM. We will send you information on how to donate once you pledge. If you have the option, send stamps as they can be applied most directly to our work. Of course, outside supporters can also become financial sustainers. Email [email protected] to make your pledge.
We will record what you pay and track whether we meet our pledge goals for 2013. We'll also be able to see whether we can increase our pledges over the years to come, which we will include in our annual reports that come out each summer.
Battle for Humyn Rights in California Regrouping
Cipactli gives us a breakdown of the latest in the battle for humyn rights in California prisons on in h article in this issue. Leading up to July 8, 2013, the call was made for comrades in different sectors of the California prison system to draft up their own list of demands. MIM(Prisons) has been working with the USW California Council to develop a list of demands that embody what we feel are minimal requirements to meet basic humyn rights for prisoners in California. Fundamental to that is abolishing the use of long-term isolation as well as punishment of people for their national, cultural and political associations.
As one comrade in SHU wrote,
Although I support the original five demands and will continue to do so along with any future demands for justice. I felt the need to add to the dialogue... What I noticed from the five demands and many other proposals being kicked around is the absence of the very core of our oppression - the SHU itself. What we have learned since the initial strike was that many civil rights groups and people around the world see the SHU itself as torture. All or most of what is being asked for i.e. contact visits, phone calls, cellies etc. can be granted were it not for SHU. Even things like validation and debriefing become easier to combat when the SHU is out of the picture. So it is the SHU itself that becomes the kernel of our oppression in regards to the prison movement in general and the current struggle we are facing in Pelican Bay. This is why any proposals should have at the forefront the demand to close the SHUs!
We can't afford for prisoners to sacrifice their lives [on a path that lacks philosophical/scientific understanding]. We're pursuing what is essentially a tactical issue of reforming the validation process as if it were a strategic resolution to abolishing social-extermination of indefinite isolation. This is not a complex issue to understand, and it requires a minimal amount of study at most to understand that the validation process is secondary and is a policy external to the existence of the isolation facilities. It's not difficult to comprehend that external influences create the conditions for change but real qualitative change comes from within, and to render the validation process, program failure, the new step down program, etc., obsolete, and end indefinite isolation, requires an internal transformation of the isolation facilities (SHU and Ad-Seg) themselves. Otherwise, in practice, social extermination retains continuity under a new external label.
For decades now, MIM, and now MIM(Prisons), and many other groups have agitated around a campaign to Shut Down the Control Units in the U.$. As forces regroup around this struggle in California following the intense struggles in 2011, we are working to consolidate around a clear position on these issues for those who are in alliance with the movements for national liberation and against imperialism, and not interested in just playing games of back and forth with the various Departments of Corrections.
The broader group of USW comrades in California will have a chance to review and comment on the our draft list of demands soon. Once finalized, we will be enlisting you to promote and agitate around these demands.
We didn't have time or space to address Novick in full here. But many of you have seen his article in the latest Turning the Tide, so we want to address it briefly. First let's make some factual corrections. 1) MIM Thought has always put youth as the progressive force in the gender contradiction in the imperialist countries, not wimmin. 2) While exploitation does only occur at the point of commodity production according to Marx, MIM Thought draws lines of class primarily along access to wealth not what sector one works in. Novick's statement is confusing the explanation that certain nations must be exploiters to be dominated by service workers with our definition of the proletariat. 3) Later he accuses MIM of supporting neo-colonialism in South Africa, when ironically, MIM was on the front line of the movement in the U.$. in the 1980s supporting the revolutionary forces in South Africa that opposed the neo-colonial solution. He does so to take a stab at Mao's United Front theory.
As to the line offered in that article, we are proven correct in drawing a parallel between Novick and the RCP=U$A line on class and nation in a critique written by the Black Order Revolutionary Organization in 2011. Comrades can read the commentary on the murder of Sunando Sen in this issue, and our recent review of Bromma's Exodus and Reconstruction (which has not been published in ULK) to get our line on nation in a neo-colonial world. Novick's position is presented as the line of inter-communalism "in an era when the nation-state... has become obsolete." MIM(Prisons) has long been skeptical of inter-communalism (originally proposed by Huey P. Newton in the early 1970s). This presentation by Novick shows how "inter-communalist" ideology can lead to class collaborationism by ignoring the principal contradiction between oppressor nations and exploited nations. We expect to address these issues more in the future.
As editor, I lament the lack of international news in this issue of ULK. But we did not want another one to go by without printing our review of Zak Cope's new book on the labor aristocracy. This review does provide us with an outline of a theoretical framework for understanding global imperialism. It is also relevant to this issue of ULK in that it directly addresses the question of consolidating our forces ideologically, with what is the most important dividing line question of our time and place.
While we still struggle to push the MIM line on the labor aristocracy, MIM(Prisons) is going deeper to look at the oppressed nations in the United $tates to have a better analysis for our work. Soso's article on affirmative action is a piece of our developing line on this analysis that we will be releasing for peer review next month, and to the public in the not too distant future.
MIM(Prisons) is also delving into a new project this month that we hope will expand our abilities to promote education and theoretical development among the prison masses. And this is the heart of our consolidation work. Consolidate means to bring together, but it also means to discard the unwanted as well as to strengthen. We like this word because it embodies the Maoist principles of one divides into two as well as unity-struggle-unity. In both cases we advance by pushing political struggle forward, rather than being Liberal in an attempt to preserve unity. Even at the level of the United Front, where unity is less tight than at the level of the cadre organization, we must hold to certain principles for the United Front to be meaningful and strong.
Can you see the pride in the panther As he grows in splendor and grace Toppling obstacles placed in the way Of his progression to a better place. Can you see the pride in the panther As she nurtures her young all alone The seed must grow regardless Of it having been planted in stone. Can you see the pride in the panther As they unify as one The flower blooms with brilliance, And outshines the rays of the sun.
Revolutionary greetings to all who stand in opposition to the oppression being inflicted upon the people! I'm writing to you from within the depths of the Utah state prison where it's business as usual for these oppressive devils. Here in the housing unit known as Uinta One, the vents are pumping out cold air and there's nothing much that can be done, because if we go off and buck on the cops we will only gain a 48 hour strip cell. The situation is sickening, but only one of many!
I was placed in Uinta One at the beginning of December with no explanation other than that I was "under investigation." I was already housed in maximum security gang housing under "Severe Threat Group" (STG) classification. I've been put under numerous investigations before this one and it usually involves my cell being tossed and all property being searched or seized, along with mail and phone calls being monitored. But now they choose to start the investigation by taking all my stuff and shipping me to the hole where it took over 35 days before I could even order a bar of soap or deodorant from commissary.
This has been done to many other prisoners who are housed in the so-called STG program. Most of the prisoners whose scheduled release from STG maximum security is close, or past due, do not get moved to less restrictive housing, and the ones who are at the forefront of fighting this injustice are often subject to more harassment, or in certain cases moved to "deeper" parts of the hole, aka Uinta One.
Most recently the prisoners of Uinta Two, both STG and non-STG, have been petitioning to change the privilege level system to one that treats all maximum security prisoners equally. They are demanding that we all be allowed to get 3 visits a month, unlimited phone calls while on recreation (out of cell time, which is one hour and 15 minutes every other day) and to be allowed the same spending limit on commissary. These privileges are provided to prisoners who are in maximum security but not classified as STG. What is the difference between a maximum security prisoner who is STG and one who's not? Nothing other than how the oppressors have decided to classify us. Some members of LOs are considered STG and others are not, yet we live together in the STG unit regardless of a prisoner's STG status, as long as our LOs are believed to get along with each other.
Prisoners' first amendment rights are clearly violated by the STG policy and program here. They punish us by locking us in maximum security where we only recreate one cell at a time for an hour and 15 minutes every other day. We are given STG classification for tattoos or suspected gang affiliation without ever even having any write ups (disciplinary convictions) in this prison.
The oppression is real and thick here at the Utah State Prison, but we are fighting back.
I hope that all of the prisoners who are showing unity can continue to enlighten each other and others to the need for a united struggle! I know we have our differences, but we all are similarly oppressed. Stand tall, stand strong.
MIM(Prisons) adds: "Threat Group" classification is used by prisons across the country to target oppressed nation prisoners, specifically those who are politically active and organizing others to stand up for their rights. The classification system is arbitrary and allows use of things like holiday cards, or legal help, as evidence of association. Further, in many states the evidence is kept secret so prisoners can't fight false classification. This status often gets prisoners locked in isolation units, where conditions like those described above eat away at physical and mental health. This is part of the systematic oppression of the criminal injustice system, serving imperialism by keeping the lumpen in check. As this prisoner wrote, unity is key to our fight against this system.
Like in a shroud of nopal she exists within the confines of the people, To and from, history to the future lies her footprint for a better day. A distant star propels her will and intrepid appeal soothes the oppressed in her path to freedom. Dialectics remains her lantern which cuts deep canyons into the jungle of despair illuminating the mysterious and unseen. I see her hand through the concrete pillars of occupation bathed in a glow of fluorescent light, leaking from the cuts it has endured from the miles of razor wire. Her voice traveling from history defies the relations of production in its tone, it is a roar that discards any trace of bribery and which the chains of patriarchy have no chance. Her demands have always been for justicia throughout history and continue to ignite this call into the future, a future where infant Brown fists rise out of the fields strapped on the backs of young mothers, of the youth pried out of the claws of criminalization. Without her marching side by side the path becomes obscured and cold, and so we continue in sync with the boundaries of existence merely being a physical aspect of today's social reality, a manifestation of occupation that the girl from history has seen rise and fall in her perpetual march through history.
I'm a sick fuck But so are you Been trained like Pavlov's dog Getting off on watching you Suffer Have we had enough Role playing hierarchy Is this really the way you want it Baby Angry and violent Scared and simpering Playing the part like Pavlov's dog Bells and whistles — spittle buckets Nooses, nines, suicides Wiping up our messes I want out your pornography Show me the way out this insanity I'm a sick fuck for wanting you This way Your sick smile Why do we play It's not the way we want it But it's the way we get it Patriarchal sex toys manipulated by playboy Ignorant puppets pushing, pulling Lipsticked lips quivering, smiling Hiding the tears beneath our sweat Mascara, muscle, gritted teeth, fingernails Buried sickness in holy matrimony You done yet
They break the law to punish lawbreakers Unconstitutional conditions and censorship policy They give us four envelopes a month Expecting our return to society be successful with no one They create these dungeons, punishing revolutionary behavior Been alone so long with no telephone, mind and family gone They believe they are gods chosen and we are Satan's spawn Going home to beat wives, child porn and manicured lawns They mourn 9-11 like we didn't deserve it Sending sons and daughters off terrorists hunting patriots They hate prisoners, Blacks, Latinos and First Nations White dark night killer deserving of understanding and forgiveness They wonder why the world hates them beyond words Military bases spread like cancer the earth over They seem so pretty, smart, happy and photogenic Just the rich man's puppets on Broadway, Hollywood, Pennsylvania Ave Dropping bombs on Nagasaki, Hiroshima, unmanned drone celebrations They could come in the morning and shoot me like a dog But it's not going to save them, we will never stop
"MIM had come to the conclusion from the degeneration of numerous genuine forces like the Progressive Labor Party in the United States that such especially difficult ideological struggle is a permanent fixture in the imperialist countries where the material basis for degeneration is much greater than in the oppressed countries..."
"Since it is unlikely that imperialism will be able to come up with too many more entirely new tricks, there will come a time in MIM's development where our principal task will be to unite those who can be united around our very confrontational line. Right now we are emerging principally from struggle against revisionism, imperialist economism and pseudo-feminism. When we have finished going into detail on our differences with others on the above questions we will focus on unity as the principal way to advance the overall struggle. We will prepare for a strategic length of time to do battle with imperialist economism, revisionism, pseudo-feminism, Trotskyism, anarchism and so on in a distinctive way. However, even in seeking unity, MIM will find itself in struggle much more often than many parties in communist history for a variety of reasons what MIM has said is rare to non-existent in the imperialist countries. So even as the labor aristocracy thesis becomes clear as day to us and 'old hat' it will seem fresh to many for some time to come." - The Journey Back to Maoism. MIM Theory 5, Diet for a Small Red Planet
So what do these passages mean? We're so bought off it's ridiculous! Worse still, as a result of our being bought off we're that much more susceptible to bourgeois manipulation a la ideological trickery. Therefore we cannot obtain a proletarian mindset without some hard study.
We in the imperialist countries have the distinct strategical advantage of not having to be in armed struggle at this time. And in connection to this fact we have a responsibility not only to the international proletariat but to our own oppressed that when conditions do begin to change and armed struggle actually becomes a possibility we'll be ready to not only lead, but lead right! We have the advantage of learning from and building on all the rational and empirical knowledge left to us by our predecessors, both the good and the bad; especially the bad! We have to learn from past mistakes so that we don't commit future ones, or worse still, repeat the old ones. It's too late in the anti-imperialist game for us to be messing up the way some of our leaders did before us. Have we learned nothing?! What part of "ideological struggle in the imperialist countries is a permanent fixture" are we not understanding? It's almost as if the revolution really is dead.
The fact that more and more of the oppressed nation imprisoned lumpen are beginning to finally wake up to the reality of imperialism is a good thing - a very good thing! However, the fact that most of these new lumpen organizations aren't taking the time to study and learn from the concrete lessons of history and movements passed speaks volumes for the dire need of these new groups to formally hook up with MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). It indicates the need for individuals to remain within USW much longer to develop theoretically before forming new single-nation revolutionary cells or parties. USW should serve as a place for the most advanced to sharpen their swords together until conditions do change within the prison population in general and within the prison movement in particular, before calling for the building of new organizations.
Comrades behind bars have all the time in the world to study and hence develop themselves and others theoretically. Therefore, those of us who are serious about revolution have no excuse for such low levels of theoretical development within our ranks, especially those of us working directly with MIM(Prisons).
A big part of the problem is the failure of some of us within USW to correctly grasp the philosophy of dialectical materialism, which results in a failure to apply it to the prison movement, and as a result we have paralysis within the prison movement. The need for us to seriously study dialectical materialism is directly linked to our ability to put it to use; without a concrete understanding of dialectical materialism all will be lost. Is this an over-exaggeration? Of course not; it's a hard truth. Within our conditions MIM(Prisons) makes up part of our external causes and therefore is a part of the conditions of change with us being the basis of change. Based on what I'm seeing, or rather not seeing, there hasn't been any real change thus far. Are my words too harsh? If they are, then that's too bad. What is MIM(Prisons) here for if not to help us develop politically?
Related to this point is a prisyner's letter I just read in the revisionist Revolution newspaper of the Crypto-Trotskyists RCP=U$A. This article was filled with the usual, flowery verbiage of "much love to y'all beautiful people at the RCP..." and "Bob Afakean is my daddy" type nonsense, typical of their articles. Half the articles in Revolution don't really say anything, while the other half are filled with imperialist country oppressor nation chauvinist politics. Anyways, there was a California prisyner's letter featured that was speaking on the Pelican Bay Short Corridor new directive. This prisyner was writing in to basically agree that it was about time that the prisyners put a stop to the fighting and come together for change. However, towards the end of the letter this prisyner made a call for the Pelican Bay Short Corridor to separate themselves from the lumpen if they were to really have a shot at victory in their struggle.
Yup, leave it to the RCP=U$A to spread division in the guise of unity to the prison masses at such a critical time. But how, pray tell, is the Short Corridor to achieve its goals in their struggle (which is all our struggle) if they separate themselves from the prison masses? Not only does this prisyner's line attempt to separate the Corridor leaders from the wider prisyn movement, but it essentially makes the petty bourgeois argument that only individual groups of prisyners should be designated as political prisyners, and not the entire U.$. prisyn population. As if the Short Corridor prisyners were on a different plane than the rest of the population, or as if the short corridor weren't lumpen-based themselves. That RCP=U$A article makes it seem as if the mass of California prisyners were holding the movement back. Quite the contrary: without the prisyner masses the Short Corridor prisyners are like generals with no soldiers, or a gun with no bullets. Instead it is the prisyner masses that will push the prisyn movement forward.
My point here is that the RCP=U$A prints this garbage, and lots of prisyners just eat it up. And we at USW know where "new synthesis" (old revisionist hat) leads the movement to: oblivion.
Now assuming that a prisyner actually wrote that letter (and not just another revisionist weed, we all remember agent Quispe and the attempt to derail the Sendero Luminoso: strategical equilibrium) what does that say about the theoretical development of politically-conscious and class-conscious prisyners? And these are the leaders?!
We need real proletarian-based political development if we are to succeed in the years to come, and the only place prisyners are gonna find that is by working directly with MIM(Prisons). Our liberation as oppressed nations and as a class is inextricably bound with Maoism, not "new synthesis" politics. Don't believe me? Go ask the klan in the RCP=U$A where they stand with respect to the liberation of Aztlán, New Afrika, and the various First Nations. Watch how they dance and shuffle, deflect the question, and fake left in order to go right.
Still too busy to study theory seriously? Busier than the New People's Army in 1970? Good question: who or what is the New People's Army? Who was the Tupac Amaru for that matter? And what's the difference between lumpen and lumpen-proletariat? How is this question relevant to our own conditions? And what about Kautsky — who's his contemporary, and why should we care?
The tenet that the revolutionary vanguard be made up of professional revolutionaries is a Leninist tenet. Anything less than putting revolutionary politics in command means watering down correct political line. And correct political lines could only be put forward if there was an organization consisting chiefly of people professionally engaged in revolutionary activity that would devote their entire lives to the movement subsuming the persynal for the good of the cause. We don't need no weekend revolutionaries and we don't need those just in it for the remainder of their imprisonment; we need better than that. "Better, fewer, but better." It's not enough to simply read an article in Under Lock & Key. The bulk of our imprisonment should be spent developing the mind.
Take the sample of the prison artists. How did they get so good? By drawing here and there, or only when there was something in it for them? No, they developed their skills via a passion for the arts, and as a result they're now pretty damn good. We now come to them whenever we need to send something home.
What about the legal-beagles? How did they get so good? They too developed their skills with a passion, a passion to make it back home. And as a result of that, some of them actually make it back home despite having the deck stacked against them. Unfortunately some of them don't make it out. But through the skills they've developed some of them make it their mission in life to file grievances, lawsuits, etc., in the name of the prisyner population. And who do we go to when we need legal advice or something filed?
Just as those people are great examples within their field and are derived directly from the prisyner population, so should USW and our allies aspire to become great examples within the revolutionary prisyn movement so that when the time comes we can be damn well sure we don't lead the prisyn masses into oblivion.
Comrades breaking away from USW in order to prematurely form their own organizations when their revolutionary skills are not yet developed are perfect examples of being ultra-left in matters of "one divides into two" dialectics and a form of adventurism as well.
Once again, are my words too harsh? Hell no! We're not yet in the stage where we should be seeking to unite all who can be united. We're still in the ideological struggle. The fact that I have to write this to say as much should prove it.
Revolutionaries in the prison movement should have a concrete understanding of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and not a fragmentary one. We should be well versed in political economics and revolutionary theory. Indeed, this is our own strategical equilibrium. "Better, fewer, but better." There is no other way.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We have laid out the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) to unite all who can be united at the mass level in U.$. prisons. We do this alongside the tasks Ehecatl describes for building ideological unity within USW. And this is a different practice than MIM had when writing the article quoted in the beginning of this letter. We find ourselves in a position similar to the Communist Party of the Philippines at the time (discussed in that article) who were also trying to lead a broad united front and a vanguard party at the same time. We learn from their mistakes and rectification campaign in order to maintain the independence and leadership of the vanguard within the UFPP, and separate party work from united front work.
Comrades in MIM(Prisons) and USW work hard to facilitate study groups for prisoners who are interested in developing ideologically and not just reading ULK. A new introductory course starts every few months, so write us to get on the list. For more on the question of forming new organizations, see MIM(Prisons)'s 2011 Congress resolution on "Building New Groups vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons)", published in ULK 21. And if you want to know more about the history of Ehecatl's criticisms of the RCP=U$A, check out our study pack on the Revolutionary Communist Party (USA). If we don't study, we will lose.