28 January 2013 - Greetings and respects to you all and my fellow comrades who are enduring the struggle. Keep your heads held high always. They can lock us up physically, but can't lock our hearts, minds and souls away.
I was not able to keep in contact because of these white oppressors. My last issue of ULK was denied due to what the oppressor calls advocating hunger strikes.
I am a Texas prisoner housed in a high security unit, Lewis Unit, in Administrative Segregation. Since 10 January 2013 we have been fed minimal rations of food and it continues to get worse. For example, today we were fed 2 small corn dogs and 5 prunes. It was a breaking point. Some fellow comrades and I have initiated a hunger strike due to the feeding and continual physical abuse of prisoners while handcuffed or during use of forces.
The unity in Texas prisons is almost nonexistent. Most prisoners let the racist pigs treat them like animals. Only a few of us are willing to stand up. We cannot get change with five or six comrades, but we will fight to the death of us to get what we rightfully are supposed to have. On behalf of prisoners in the United States and abroad, I greatly appreciate your dedication to the struggle.
MIM(Prisons) comments: Hunger strikes are one of the few options available to prisoners fighting abuse and harmful conditions. But this form of protest comes with the risk of physical harm to the protesters, and is often handled with force by the prison administration. While prisoners must determine what is appropriate for their conditions, we encourage everyone to put in the time to educate and organize others. Unity may be non-existent in your prison today, but that should make clear what one of your key tasks is. We must educate others while organizing for demands that will unite them around a common cause. Ultimately we want to unite the oppressed in the struggle against imperialism, but we can start by helping them to see the source of their day-to-day oppression in the criminal injustice system.
I've enclosed a chrono that documents how these people have chosen to violate my First Amendment right to read a book. I've been validated and am awaiting transfer to the Security Housing Unit (SHU).
"On Thursday, November 18, 2010, the Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Institutional Gang Investigator (IGI) Unit conducted a search of the cell and property pertaining to inmate XX. As a result of the search the IGI Unit confiscated and reviewed various materials evidencing his association with the BGF. The materials included a photocopy of Blood in my Eye.
"George Jackson's Blood in my Eye is required reading by the BGF for training into the prison gang. George Jackson, though never validated as a member of the BGF, is attributed as being the founder of the BGF. The written rules and regulations of the BGF require all members and associates to continually practice the revolutionary theories and ideas promoted by George Jackson. The BGF require members and associates of the prison gang to study and familiarize themselves with all of George Jackson's written materials and his history throughout the years. Also potential BGF recruits must study George Jackson's materials to show their loyalty to the Black Guerrilla Family.
"In conclusion due to inmate XX maintaining material indicative to the Black Guerrilla Family, XX is evidencing his activity and association with the prison gang. Therefore this memorandum should be used as one (1) source towards validating XX (Written Material) as an associate of the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF)."
MIM(Prisons) adds: This document from the prison administration demonstrates their systematic oppression of prisoners who attempt to study political history and theory. George Jackson is an author read by many prisoners because of his history as a prisoner and revolutionary organizer. Associating the book Blood in my Eye with a supposed "prison gang" feeds into the state's line that criminalizes the struggle for self-determination of the New Afrikan nation. It allows them to label politically active prisoners as dangerous for reading a book and subject them to isolation (the next step after validation).
The pigs have been up to the same old stuff around here. Three days ago they shot and killed one of the brown brothers with the mini 14 assault rifle, the same rifle type the media and congress has been trying to ban. Two guys were attacking another guy and they were on him and wouldn't stop. So the pig stopped it with the assault rifle. The official report is that the victim had a stabbing instrument in his hand. But the men who were closest to the incident said they saw no weapon.
Of course they did the routine investigation and sent out some COs to ask if anybody saw anything. And of course no one wanted to talk. The pigs have brainwashed so many of us that we believe if we report on the pigs' wrongdoing then that makes you a snitch. A lot of guys are afraid to write a grievance for fear of being labeled. The bad thing is the pigs have their compradors in place to push this point.
Some guys here on a facility organized a food strike to protest the fact the kitchen has a mice/rodent problem. It was only one building. There was no communication that it was going to take place. They did it and got some people's attention. Inspectors came out and looked at the kitchen and gave the kitchen workers a pep talk and told them they needed to tell the population that the problem was being taken care of. All they did was put some mouse traps down and nothing else.
Hopefully the population continues to stand up for themselves. If this is a sign of change I hope it continues because the pigs got nervous when those guys refused to eat.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The righteousness of opposing "snitching" is in the idea that you don't go running to the oppressor to deal with problems among the oppressed people. In other words, don't snitch to the oppressor on the oppressed. There is no such thing as snitching on the oppressor. To report abuse of the pigs, you are not bringing the oppressor into a conflict among the oppressed; the oppressor already is the source of the conflict. And if the oppressed don't have the means to resolve that conflict, then it may be tactically correct to turn to other oppressors to resolve that conflict.
It is true that the prison administration gets nervous when prisoners organize. The more we can unite around common goals, the more power we will have. If the oppressed stay quiet and disunited, there is no counterbalance to the abuse that prisoners face.
On January 1 a racist pig by the name of Yates assaulted a Black prisoner in the presence of his immediate supervising officer who did nothing to prevent the assault from occurring nor to stop it once it started. He then refused to call a Lieutenant, give the prisoner an emergency grievance, or request medical attention for the prisoner after Yates attempted to grab the prisoners arm through the cuff port and upon failing that, attempted to break the prisoner's arm by kicking the cuff port flap several times.
Since November this same pig targeted two other prisoners, both Black, one who's gone elsewhere. One, still here, is a diabetic and litigant who's problems arose over his prescribed medical diet. He's been the target of repeated and persistent provocation, retaliation, threats, disciplinary action and property confiscation by this same pig to the point where he can't leave his cell for shower or yard when this pig is on duty for fear of property loss/destruction. He and the prisoner assaulted on January 1 were told that Yates would starve them, kill them, watch them die and enjoy every minute of it and make their lives a living hell. Yates has also made it clear that grievances are useless, the administration has his back and if he did kill one of us he'd get a promotion and a pay raise.
This attitude is not uncommon at High Desert State Prison (HDSP). This pig and others routinely refuse emergency grievances or throw them away (or personally deny them!), refuse to call supervisors, leave prisoners in cells without property for weeks (for my first 17 days I had no property - not even anything to eat with), refuse to answer call buttons, and leave the heat turned off to torment us.
A few of us are fighting these abuses, but it is next to impossible to organize a group effort in part due to environmental obstructions in segregation and apparent apathy on the part of captives, which is seriously disappointing. This apathy is more pronounced (it seems) during the holiday season. This has always been a point of frustration to me: These are capitalist holidays celebrating the genocide and destruction of whole cultures. The first thanksgiving was declared by William Bradford (Gov of the Massachusetts Colony) to celebrate the Pequot Massacre - the murder of 700 plus indigenous people of all ages and genders. In Nevada we get better food (and adult portions) on their capitalist holidays and everybody puts on a happy face, I assume out of some misguided notion of respect for tradition. The rest of the year we're starved and treated like herd animals.
There are no holidays for the revolution nor for those devoted to revolution. It was on one of those "holidays" that the comrade above was assaulted. In hindsight, some racist pig assaulting a Black captive on a capitalist holiday is keeping in step with imperialist history.
by a North Carolina prisoner February 2013 permalink
On December 3, 2012 a small peaceful demonstration started. Here on supermax, prisoners refused to go inside their cells because they were tired of being oppressed. The pigs oppress us by not giving what's needed and intimidating prisoners. It started when a prisoner put his hands out to be cuffed. As soon as his hands came out of the small port door these cowardly pigs pulled his arm out of the trap and tried to break his arm. Luckily he had the strength to pull his arm away from the 4 pigs. After all was done the prisoners went back in their cells.
This is why the pigs think they can run us over with their oppressive ways and tactics. We as a group need to stand up and put these pigs in their place. These pigs know they got fellow pigs that have their backs, snitch ass prisoners I call rats, also the prisoners who are all about material things that these wanna-be hustler pigs can provide. These same prisoners are being oppressed with Security Threat Group (Gang Task Force) loss of jobs and privileges. But they don't want to unite. They'd rather use the pigs to get at a fellow prisoner. Slowly these prisoners are becoming part of the oppressor. All that I can say about these prisoners is "it's time to quit trying to be super gangsta and be a man. If you wanna ride, ride on these oppressive pigs. These pigs are the ones disrespecting you as a man with your neck under his boot."
MIM(Prisons) responds: Outbreaks of spontaneous protest like this one are a start to raising prisoners' consciousness about the need for unity against the criminal injustice system. This unity won't come overnight; we need to build it through education and discussion. Those who have been taught that they can benefit by snitching or turning their backs or hustling can be won over to the revolutionary cause, but we must put in the time to educate them. Sharing Under Lock & Key, starting study groups, talking to people, are all essential day-to-day organizing activities if we are going to build unity. Often we hear complaints about lack of unity, or lack of revolutionary consciousness. And we know this is a big problem in the prisons, but this is why our principal task right now is education. Incidents like this show us that the material interest is there, and we must build on that.
[Below we have excerpted sections from a letter by a USW comrade sent to Turning the Tide. While the comrade does a good job responding to this gross misrepresentation of MIM line, we have added comments in brackets to clarify a few points.]
I was surprised by your latest issue of Turning the Tide (TTT). More specifically, Michael Novick's article entitled "PART's Perspective: On Contradiction and the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People." Quite a brazen title by the way, as the point of the original essay penned by Mao was to point out the correct way for the Chinese Communist Party to help resolve contradictions among the people, and between the party and the people in light of the incidents in Hungary; as well as a critique of Stalin's shortcomings with that matter and to help forge unity with the masses.
I'll just give you a review of the entire article, in which Mr. Novick attempts to illuminate the prisyn masses with regards to the differences between TTT's political line and that of the MIM camp currently represented by MIM(Prisons), United Struggle from Within (a MIM(Prisons)-led anti-imperialist mass organization for prisyners), the Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement and the Leading Light Communist Organization.
To begin with, i hold MIM(Prisons) in very high regard, not just because they hold the correct political line on everything politically meaningful under the sun, but because i owe my own political development to them.
My first point of contention with Mr. Novick's article is when he erroneously makes the statement that MIM's position concerning the labor aristocracy is that it is a permanent labor aristocracy. That is a false statement. MIM has never made the statement that the Amerikan labor aristocracy is a permanent labor aristocracy. Not only is that statement metaphysical and anti-dialectical but in complete contradistinction to the hystorical process and MIM line. Yes, the so-called Amerikan "worker" is indeed part of the labor aristocracy, and not proletarian as revisionists of varying stripes would contend. The Amerikan "worker" forms a part of the labor aristocracy; a sub-stratum of the petty bourgeoisie. Whenever they addressed this issue MIM continuously made it a point to say that the imperialist country working classes were (and still are) a pro-imperialist labor aristocracy at this time. Furthermore, the concept of the labor aristocracy goes all the way back to Engels when he described to Marx how the English proletariat was becoming more and more bourgeois. Lenin, as well as other Bolsheviks, also formulated on what basis this labor aristocracy was formed, which is of course super-profits stolen from the colonies. It seems to me however that those who continue to negate the existence of a labor aristocracy, and instead dogmatically cling to the hope of an Amerikan proletariat, do so either out of sheer ignorance or, more dangerously, for the purpose of revisionism. To continue to advocate this false thesis in the imperialist countries is to, as a "logical conclusion," advocate for multi-national/class unity in the fashion of Trotsky and his successors, i.e. the erroneous line that leads one to lean on and wait for the white working class to wake up and come to the oppressed nations' rescue.
Novick is also incorrect in his statement that "MIM sees women and prisoners as elements of US society where there is prospect for revolutionary development." Well, half wrong anyway. The MIM never saw, nor does it today see, First World wimmin as elements of U.$. society in which there is any real group oppression to speak of which would provide a prospect for revolution. The MIM recognizes First World wimmin, primarily white wimmin, as gender-privileged. They are not at all part of the revolutionary vehicle precisely because being privileged economically (among other things) makes them gender privileged in relation to Third World wimmin. Or in MIM's own words: "After looking around MIM came to the conclusion that like First World labor, First World women are mainly oppressors, not oppressed people."
We must also disagree with Mr. Novick's assertion that exploitation exists within the First World outside the realm of commodity production in which waged labor "produces" surplus value. Exploitation is defined as producing something and not being paid for the value of what you produce.
[MIM(Prisons) interjects: MIM line has consistently held that the white nation is not economically exploited. Later this line was expanded to assert that there is no exploitation occurring in the United $tates except within migrant and prisoner populations. To talk about "exploitation" of the planet, as Novick does, is to redefine the term that we use in a Marxist context. He does this in order to falsely imply that we have no concern for ecological destruction, one of many examples where Novick is misleading to dirty our name.
Since our definitions of "exploitation" are so vastly different, it seems pointless to debate who is even exploited. However, what Novick is attacking is the line that the dominance of service workers in the First World is evidence of an exploitative relationship with the Third World. We say this because if you cut off the First World from the colonies they will not be able to produce for themselves what they need to survive, because they're mostly cops, politicians, paper shufflers, sales clerks, bartenders, etc. The opposing thesis is that Amerikan workers are so much more productive than Third World workers that the small productive sector can easily meet the needs of all Amerikans. This productivity also explains the vastly higher wages paid in this country according to this chauvinist view.]
Mr. Novick is further wrong in his contention that we, i.e. the MIM camp, "assume privilege and oppression are absolute phenomona, unchanging and mutually exclusive." Quite the contrary, as dialectical materialists we certainly know that nothing is absolute (except for the struggle of opposites) or unchanging, as motion itself is an expression of change and particular to the law of development. If such an absurdity of which Novick here speaks of were true then MIM(Prisons) wouldn't be taking the time to help develop the imprisyned lumpen of which the rest of society has long since cast off into the abyss.
We furthermore recognize that there is indeed an obvious intersection in nation and class contradictions within the United $tates. In a sense this is what MIM(Prisons)'s work is all about; working with the oppressed nation lumpen, in particular so that we may not only build towards liberating our people, but so that we may liberate our class. This will be our contribution to the International Communist Movement and oppressed people of the world. So, contrary to Novick's statements, we do in fact recognize and acknowledge that the interpenetration of opposites is particular to the law of development. However, there is a dialectical process, and as such a process of stages of which phenomena must go thru before change is complete; a lengthy process at that. Mutually exclusive phenomena do not just magically transcend from one stage to another. If only Mr. Novick would take the time to read MIM literature more carefully then he would know this.
The First and the Third World are currently locked in struggle. This struggle is representative of two mutually exclusive classes: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. This is the fundamental contradiction on a world scale. Furthermore, this contradiction has manifested itself into antagonistic form, which has manifested into the principal contradiction on a world scale, which is oppressor versus the oppressed nations. Now, objectively speaking, what side of this contradiction are we on?
First World "workers" and Third World labor are two exclusive phenomena, not just because the former feeds off the latter, but because both hold two totally different positions with respect to the global relations of production and to the worldwide means of production as well. What Mr. Novick presupposes to explain with his chauvinist use of dialectics is that the First World labor aristocracy and Third World proletariat are essentially the same no matter the imperialist powers and the populations they serve. Mr. Novick says that privilege and oppression exist throughout class society, even among the exploited and oppressed, and that there is no perfectly oppressed class or sector whose hands are clean.
[MIM(Prisons) adds: We should point out that we see the oppressed nation lumpen in the United $tates as a middle force in that it has interests both opposed to and in support of imperialism. Novick seems to want to define everyone in this way, as potentially supporting or opposing imperialism. But we see the vast majority of Amerikans as clearly on the side of imperialism.
As our comrade points out, Novick throws around words like "dialectical" and "contradiction," while denying the very essence of a class analysis that is based in dialectical materialism. He asserts that it is absolutist to state that, overall, the labor aristocracy has a material interest in imperialism while the proletariat has interests opposed to it. This is consistent with the idealist view behind the strategy of groups like Anti-Racist Action who go out and confront the most overt racist elements of society. They attack racism, which is a symptom of national oppression that is at the core of the imperialist system. They focus on the realm of ideas, rather than making a materialist class analysis and getting at the root of the problem.
At the same time Novick is willing to identify enemy classes in the Third World, as in his discussion of South Africa. It seems he is selective in which classes get the benefit of the doubt.]
In addition to the above, Mr. Novick then uses the argument that there is currently a "class fall" being experienced by many in the United $tates and Europe, and that U.$. whites with less than a high school education are experiencing the loss of more than five years life expectancy is proof positive that the labor aristocracy is in all actuality going thru the re-proletarianization process. Funny, Trotsky had similar things to say during the Comintern of 1916 in his defense of Western Europe's newly rising labor aristocracy and his racist refusal that the revolutionary ebb was moving to the east. Unfortunate to say that we're not really surprised to hear such nonsense, as the TTT position on inter-communalism is the theory of Trotsky himself.
[MIM(Prisons) adds: Novick seems to slightly exaggerate a recent study that showed a 5-year decline in life expectancy for white wimmin without a high school diploma, but only a 3-year decline for men in that group. The average decline for all whites without a high school diploma was around 4 years.(2) Certainly a significant and unusual decline. But let's look at this population closer.
The percentage of "non-hispanic whites" without a high school diploma in 2012 was down to 7.5% according to the U.S. Census. In 1990, unfortunately, the census does not have this category. However, the percent of "whites" without a high school diploma was 21%. This percentage decreased to 12% for "whites" by 2012. This "whites" category includes many Latinos, who skew these numbers. We don't know if the paper in question addresses this issue because it is not available to read in the public domain. But any way you cut it, the white population without a high school diploma has shrunk quite a bit since 1990. That is no doubt partially due to that group being disproportionately elderly, as the older someone is the less education whites got when they were young.
As this group shrinks, it becomes more concentrated among the elderly and the very disadvantaged. It does not surprise us that the least educated 7.5% of white Amerikans face conditions that lead them to have declining life spans. The United $tates is a very individualistic society, leading to such great disparities that even in the richest country in the modern world there are whole populations that suffer great disadvantages. And as the article reporting on this study points out, there are epidemics of drug abuse and unhealthy eating in the United $tates that are correlated to low educational achievement.
The question is, are these 7.5% of white Amerikans a potentially revolutionary population? Others have tested this hypothesis, and the evidence seems to point to no. There is much more evidence that poor whites are the mass base for fascism. That's not to say that 7.5% or even 15% of whites couldn't support anti-imperialism. It's just not going to be that 7.5% that Novick refers to as evidence that whites are experiencing a "class fall" in the United $tates.]
Again, what Mr. Novick keeps willingly blinding himself to here is that there is a qualitative difference between the First World and the Third, not just in wage differentials, but living standards and government services, all of which are representative of real life material interests which chain the supposed First World "proletariat" to the imperialist fatherland. This is why a dialectical outlook, as well as a concrete class analysis, is of crucial importance to the revolutionary movement. Only by maintaining the first and conducting the second will we be able to discern real friend from real foe, something Novick and company are apparently unable to do and so have aligned with both nation and class enemies to the internal semi-colonies and Third World proletariat and peasantry.
The next paragraph in question is just so utterly ridiculous that i was initially taken slightly aback when reading it. Seriously, "MIM isolates prisons from the social contradictions they enforce"?! Please, Mr. Novick or any other associate of TTT, if you're gonna go into the "differences" between the MIM camp and yourselves, do us all a favor and inform yourselves properly on that which you seek to criticize. It's just so hard for me to believe that someone as politically educated as Mr. Novick professes to be (or should be, rather) is going about spewing straight up lies.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement and its spin-off organization have long since held that the massive Amerikkkan prisyn system largely developed as a form of social control to maintain in check the superfluous lumpen populations of the Black, Brown and First Nations following the failed national liberation struggles of the 60s and 70s. What Novick is saying is nothing but BS! MIM(Prisons) is the only organization in the United $tates that is actively working to politically develop the oppressed nation lumpen so that we may become the subjective motivating force for the liberation and self-determination of the oppressed internal semi-colonies that are New Afrika, Aztlán, Boriqua and the various First Nations that are corralled onto the reservations! They, and they alone, have been doing this for many years now. And where, pray tell, has the rest of the Amerikan left been in the middle of all this? As Mao taught us, there must be a constant leadership with the masses in an endless spiral of perceptual knowledge to rational knowledge and revolutionary practice, so on and so forth. Or simply put, "from the masses to the masses."
Another outright lie presented by Novick is his statement that MIM's view obscures class and colonial contradictions in the U.$. Likewise, Novick's statement that U.$. society is turning into a carceral state is itself misleading in more than one way. Ironically enough, this sweet one-liner itself obscures class and colonial contradictions by making it sound as if we're all in this together (read, white, Black, Brown etc. "working class" unite!) Trust us, for those of us from barrios and ghettos of Amerika, the prisyn-like methods of daily life are nothing new. Furthermore, they don't represent any "new stage in the basic colonial nature of the state and society" but are instead a part of the foundational building blocks of Amerika and the white settler-state that has made its home here; they are essential to the imperialists and we resent the fact that Mr. Novick wants us to believe that the white settler is somehow now on the receiving end of this oppression.
As if all this wasn't enough, Novick once again shows us his Trotskyist colors when he criticizes "cross-class" alliances, in particular the United Front method of organization. You know, the same method that brought us such victories as the defeat of fascism in WWII and the liberation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Leave it to the Trotskyists to damn to hell all unholy alliances not deemed morally pure enough for their pie in the sky ideals. Furthermore, Novick makes it appear as if the struggle in South Africa was a People's War waged for national liberation, somehow influenced by MIM. The disaster in South Africa had nothing to do with a communist-vanguard-led United Front, but rather, everything to do with its lack thereof.
[MIM(Prisons) adds: As we wrote in ULK 30: Ironically, MIM was on the front line of the movement in the U.$. in the 1980s supporting the revolutionary forces in South Africa that opposed the neo-colonial solution.]
Please refrain from making such false remarks about MIM, cause they ain't gone nowhere but to the belly of the beast from where they'll help destroy Amerikan imperialism.
Long Live the Legacies of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao! Long Live MIM!
MIM(Prisons) concludes: Of the sections we left out, there were some accusations that would not be principled to make in a public forum like ULK. But we must agree with the USW comrade that Novick deliberately misrepresented MIM line in this article in order to attack our movement. MIM has never feared criticism, and that has not changed. If Novick had actually addressed something that we wrote or published, rather than these straw men and lies, then we could all learn from such an exchange. Instead Novick has muddied the water. And that does not serve the anti-imperialist movement, whatever your political line.
Years ago we lamented the inability of many of our readers to distinguish our line from those of other "radical" and even reformist organizations of all sorts. This is knowledge that the masses must have at some level before we can build a strong movement. We're glad to hear that someone wrote to Turning the Tide to ask how they differ from MIM, but as we can see, that is not always the most fruitful approach. Comrades should be studying literature from various sources, especially sources that they think sound good to them. You should compare and contrast these sources to better understand their differences. MIM(Prisons) is very clear what our dividing line points are, but most groups aren't so clear. And they can often be deceptive. If you want our perspective on a certain organization, go ahead and ask. We do have reviews of a number of them. One thing that the original MIM published and promoted widely was a pamphlet entitled, "What's Your Line?" which identified the various political lines in the communist movement and what groups fell into what categories. To expand that project to the prison movement and the contemporary organizations that exist today would be a great step in expanding everyone's understanding of politics and where they stand. So we encourage comrades to send in their reviews and struggles like this that they have with other groups so that we can expand these resources in the future.
There's no glory Land of opportunity a false story Look close Amerika's lies will cause an overdose Continue persecution Inhumane legalized executions Outspoken sent to institutions Top story presidential affairs But for Mumia the media doesn't care Black murderers get stopped But close eyes to killer cops A country built on stars and bars And native scars Now watch the glory fade away USA supposed to be Home of the free and equality And land that is supposed to be anti-violence But it's the government's method of ultimate silence Country of anti-Black, anti-Brown Anti-poor, anti-different, anti-gay Aren't you proud of the great USA?
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.