by a Pennsylvania prisoner December 2012 permalink
The sentiment expressed in the Men Against Sexism review in ULK 29 that we should not be fighting for sex reassignment surgery or hormone replacement therapy, is exactly the type of infighting that cuts comrades off from each other. How can a man be against sexism, yet support the oppressor's sexist stance on hormones? This is exactly why resistance is so watered down in Amerikkka. All the so-called resisters make a hobby of petty posturing and holier-than-thou attitudes which is nothing more than sugar-coated (and thinly at that) bourgeois ego games. The sad part is the gay crowd was at one point the outsider like us trans people are now but they are playing pass the shit-stick. How pathetic.
MIM(Prisons) responds: In the article this prisoner criticizes, we wrote that we do not fight for sex reassignment surgery in the same way we don't fight for gay marriage, because both amount to further privileges for people already benefiting from imperialism. We could equate these struggles with the fight to get more women in executive positions in companies, or the fight to get a Black man in the white house. They represent steps forward in equality for Blacks, wimmin, gays and trans people in reaping imperialist spoils of war and gender oppression on Third World peoples. These struggles do not help advance the fight against imperialism, to liberate the Third World peoples.
Most trans people in the Third World don't have the privilege of even thinking about hormone replacement therapy, and Third World gays certainly are not pre-occupied with their right to marriage. These people are focused on day-to-day survival, getting enough to eat, and avoiding getting raped or killed by Amerikan-backed militias. We mislead people when we focus on battles that distribute the imperialist privileges more equally among the already privileged labor aristocracy. We must focus on the real enemy of the majority of the world's people, an enemy that won't stop exploiting and killing through the ballot box. Gay and trans people in Third World countries deserve all of our attention and energy, to help ensure their survival and ultimate liberation.
I agree with the broad definition of political prisoners as announced in MIM Theory 11: Amerikan Prisons on Trial (article "Political Prisoners Revisited") precisely because courts are maintained as a tool of political oppression and inseparable from political oppression. Thus the political component is inseparable from those who become further oppressed by imprisonment. The hierarchy of society, cops, courts and state is one of a functioning cadre in this country.
I also understand the distinctions this comrade makes between inmates, convicts and the rest — an inmate is the prison version of the "sleeping masses," but whether or not these people recognize their oppression does not determine whether they are oppressed. And we can't forget that distinctions such as inmate, convict, POW, PPOW, PP, PS, GP are meaningless outside of the prison context, rendering these issues inapplicable to society.
In terms of the bigger fight for prison revolutionaries, these labels are also somewhat moot outside of a strategic context as well; everyone will get the benefits brought about by revolutionary action or they will simply be "washed away when the dam breaks."
What was missed is part of a larger problem (largely analytical). Whether one is or is not a political prisoner speaks directly to the conditions which led to one becoming a member of their class (under the broad definition), but not the class perception and what it means, nor what to do as a member of that class. The political conditions of our confinement being a given, our focus, especially insofar as making revolution is concerned, should not be on whether or not one is a political prisoner, but rather if one, as a prisoner, is political (i.e. moved to political action). If we must distinguish between members of the same class (i.e. prisoners), and to a certain extent we must in order to accurately assess conditions on the ground, then let it be a functional distinction which advances the revolution as a whole.
Subcategories of class must be used in such a way that it produces knowledge, not conjecture. Even an "inmate" can be turned to use. Further, people change and there's no way to know the moment of awakening of political consciousness in others without objective observation. By assigning static labels and categories, we limit our objectivity.
I wholeheartedly agree with this comrade: there are many tactics which can be tailored to circumstance but the labor of these tactics is necessarily dispersed to many people of differing skill sets and levels of political awareness; some are dupes, others are not, some are soldiers, others are tacticians and printers.
Finally, I believe a common mistake we all make as revolutionaries is to become solipsistic. We forget that not everyone wants change or revolution; some are satisfied with their condition. In prison or out, this distinguishes one as counter-revolutionary. This distinction is functional and applies to society without getting bogged down in specific labels. It is part of the equation we must, as revolutionaries, deal with, but in the end, revolution depends on maximizing our resources, exploiting the weaknesses of our enemy and most important, unification of the people.
I write this missive from the bowels of California's Death Row (DR), at San Quentin. Just wanted to give an update at what is going on and the progress we are making in regards to a wide area of issues which the condemned population has been experiencing.
Being an Indigenous person, we have been in a long struggle with the San Quentin administration and California Department of Corrections and "rehabilitation" (CDCr) in regards to DR captives being afforded access to Sweat Lodge ceremonies. Our rights are grossly violated by denying the access of Indigenous persons to the right to practice their religion/culture. In the administration's eyes, to have sweat ceremonies available to the DR population creates a serious "security risk." Each time the CDCr screams "security risk," the United Snakes courts fall into stride with the department's assumptions, allowing refusal of Sweat ceremonies, Pipe ceremonies, and access to smudging with sacred Native American medicines. "Safety & security" is an honored mantra here at San Quentin. Stripping us of our culture, religion, and traditions has been the norm for centuries for ALL oppressed nation peoples. It is obvious that no matter what we fight for, the CDCr views it as "Gang Activity/Disruptive." There are comrades that have been stuck in the infamous Adjustment Center (the Control Units) for over a life time simply because they decided to speak up and push back for what they feel they deserve and what they have a right to actually have.
In this situation, the administration dangles privileges in front of the captive, in order to make them do as they say, not as they do. Comrades are being forced to remain in cages away from other DR captives, being denied any sunlight or room to stretch their legs, because the administration feels that they are "too violent" to be placed on a programmed group yard where they can have fellowship with others, get some sunlight, and take a hot shower. This treatment is barbaric and uncalled for.
The institutional appeals office is no help. They are refusing to process any of these prisoners' 602s (grievances) by simply throwing their appeals away, or "losing" them until the time constraints to file on a certain issue have run out, preventing them from going any further with their grievances. Captives with a full program label are being subjected to disciplinary conditions, because the administration can do whatever they want. These comrades are pushing for the same fair treatment as any other DR captive who has privileges.
Due to the budget cuts, programs here have been cut in half. Education is almost non-existent, and yard days have been cut. Visits are being supervised by sergeants who violate Title 15 guidelines, and the captives as well as our families suffer. Medical is suppose to be monitored, but even that has failed to meet its mark. The treatment of DR captives is going from bad to worse.
After the Hunger Strikes here in California, the CDCr implemented a new rule, that anybody that participates in any type of strike will be placed in the SHU (Security Housing Units) for good. Those who participate will be "validated" as a member of a disruptive group, even if one is not gang related. The DR administration went crazy with that new rule. They ignore the fact that the last actual murder that took place here was almost 12 years ago. They have made comments to media that they have succeeded in finally having full control of the condemned population, and call this place "The Safest Prison in the State."
They use tactics of mental torture. They take and give back, then take and give again. It is a mental game and it has driven many good brothers to snap and completely lose their minds. I do not find that to be a weakness in them, nor is it their fault. It is the fault of the pigs here for the games they play. I fault the captives for allowing their minds to be stretched so far without assisting one another instead of sleeping with the enemy and snitching on each other. There are more snitches than crickets at midnight here, and sadly they are blind to the fact that when it is time for the needle to hit the vein, it will be done by the very pigs they blindly befriended while they were here.
So, with that said, a few other solid comrades and myself have decided to up the ante and are holding study groups. We struggle on a daily basis like the rest of our comrades around the U.$., and decided that the only way to begin to break this chain of ignorance is to teach and guide the ones who have the desire to overcome this oppression "by any means necessary." Along with the education we are receiving from MIM(Prisons)/ULK, we have formed a small movement that we hope will reach beyond the walls of this shit hole. We are the IPLF.
The IPLF (Indigenous Peoples Liberation Front) is composed of comrades from all walks of life, willing to stand firm on the front lines and fight as warriors against the (in)justice system. We are a selected few, pushing to break the chains of systematic oppression of any and all kinds. We are human beings, not animals, and not terrorists. We are a movement choosing to follow MIM theory, and assist our comrades in any way possible.
The IPLF will take part in the Day of Solidarity & Peace on September 9, 2013, and will take that day to focus on what needs to be done here on the row that will have a positive outcome. And if we end up in the hole, then fuck it! We ride or die for the cause! To all my comrades out there, to all our sisters out there - A-HO!
I have been hearing the hoopla about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a while now; it recently was made into a movie and so I thought I would try to find out a little about it. I learned that the author, Steig Larsson, was a leading expert on right-wing white extremist and Nazi organizations, and so I thought it would be interesting to see how much of his "expertise" spilled over into this "thriller." Larsson died in 2004 but not before completing a trilogy of which The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book.
The story starts off with the character Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who was convicted of libel after he wrote a story accusing a wealthy Swedish finance capitalist of corruption. Within the story one character is explaining the role of a certain investment group to Blomkvist called AIA which, after the Berlin Wall came down, was active in European capitalism and the character says: "Believe me, it was a capitalist's wet dream. Russia and Eastern Europe may be the world's biggest untapped markets after China. Industry had no problem joining hands with the government especially when the companies were required to put up only a token investment."(p26)
Nations that were formerly socialist switched back to a profit-based system and opened up their markets to foreign investment. In the later stages of imperialism, where markets are saturated and there is too much capital to move around, this is in fact a "capitalist's wet dream" and corporate power often merges with the state in a carpool lane down the road of exploitation. This wet dream is one the author seems to understand quite clearly.
The other main character in the book is a bisexual women named Lisbeth Salander who is a 20-something white punk rock type who is a hacker and gifted investigator.
Blomkvist is hired by one of the heads of a Swedish wealthy industrialist family, Vanger, who wants to know who murdered his niece, Harriet, who disappeared decades before. The catch is Blomkvist must live one year on the island from which Harriet disappeared and investigate. In return Blomkvist would not only receive millions of dollars for attempting to solve this mystery but the industrialist would also give Blomkvist information on the finance capitalist which had Blomkvist convicted of libel, thus getting his personal revenge and having the biggest story of the year.
Blomkvist soon learns Vanger's brothers were both active in Swedish politics, one being a Swedish Nazi Party member and the other being a nationalist party member, while Vanger claims to have "no interest in politics." Vanger went on to study economics ironically.
Sprinkled throughout the book is the underlying subjectivism I was looking for in Larsson's writing, any "expert in Nazi extremist" groups would be expected to expose h ideas in a novel one way or another and Larsson does not leave us hanging.
He describes an angry email that Blomkvist received, stating: "I hope you suck cock in the slammer you fucking commie pig" (p190) and which Blomkvist saves in the "intelligent criticism" folder. A character named Lobach is described in Nazi Germany: "And Lobach knew how to land a contract, he was entertaining and good natured. The perfect Nazi." (p197) It is obvious where the author's line lies, for an "expert" on Nazism to describe a Nazi character as good natured in this book attempts to repackage these fascist scumbags as palatable to the reader, it's classic propaganda in the form of a novel.
At one point the young punk rock woman is raped and forced to perform oral sex on her "guardian" who is court appointed to handle her finances. This trustee named Bjurman who rapes her is described as a member of Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and an advocate for political prisoners in the Third World. It's interesting that throughout the book those who advocated progressive social causes are rapists and villains while Nazi's are described as "entertaining and good natured." It was this interweaving of the author's line within a novel in classic propaganda spirit which I knew I would encounter in this book.
The main character Blomkvist serving two months in jail for the libel case but does not describe prison conditions nor relations in prison. His stint in prison was reduced to two pages and was described as mostly playing poker and lifting weights.
[spoiler alert] It turns out that the brother of the old man who initiated this investigation in the first place is a serial killer who has been killing wimmin for decades. And his father was a serial killer before him and taught him how to kill and dispose of bodies. Blomkvist discovers this and confronts the culprit, Martin, who places Blomkvist in a torture chamber in his basement. This reminded me of a Security Housing Unit cell: it had no window, it was cold and spartan and made of stone. It is Salander, The girl with the Dragon Tattoo, who saves Blomkvist from certain death in the torture chamber.
The book is drenched in sexual perversion with a womyn being brutally raped and sodomized by a man, a man brutally raped and sodomized by a womyn, a father raping his son and daughter, and this same father forcing his son to rape his sister. Such a book is common in capitalist society where everyone is sexualized and the consumer culture is fueled by porn and capitalist immorality.
In the end Blomkvist and Salander expose a finance capitalist who had his hand in everything from fraudulent loans to child porn. This billionaire, after being exposed, fled Sweden and was tracked down and murdered in Spain. After this story broke Blomkvist regained his journalist career. And to wrap things up nicely with a fictional bow, the old man Vanger found his niece Harriet living in Australia after running away decades before, fleeing rape.
Recently we faced two situations that showed short and immediate results, which to a certain extent were good. The first was the united resistance to guards in regards to trying to "handle" the prisoners and deny us our restriction showers. Restriction showers are separate showers for those on restriction from dayroom time, recreation, commissary, etc. We won those participants their showers once the captain was called to settle the dispute.
The second situation was today, 14 December 2012, when 8 cells holding 16 prisoners became flooded with sewer water that was being pushed back out of the drains and into our cells. This triggered a united front from most of those in these cells who represent a mixture of different organizations. This was fruitful because we got maintenance to come and unclog the problem in the drainage system after several on one roll started to flood our cells and push this water out of our cells, causing the dayroom to overflow.
That was one segment to this situation, the next part came when we were allowed to exit to chow minutes after the drains were unclogged. Upon our return from chow we refused to go back into our cells due to the unsanitary milieu that remained. The second shift officer refused to distribute chemicals to clean our cells. This triggered another united resistance until the lieutenant was dispatched to quiet the situation by compensating us with the required chemicals. Every prisoner who participated had a chance to shower afterwards, which was a minor success.
These two situations I speak about not to romanticize but to bring attention to a winnable battle that must be clearly and carefully examined by those who think about doing the same. Not all outcomes garner the same results, so be careful. Remember, they can kill the revolutionary but not the revolution.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is a good demonstration of the principle of Unity that the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) promotes as its second principle: "WE strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."
"Unity" in itself can be a weak and meaningless term, or even a bad thing depending on who it is that is uniting and why. However, MIM(Prisons) sees unity among prisoners as progressive, because of the oppression prisoners face as a subclass and as (overwhelmingly) representatives of oppressed nations. Without unity of the oppressed we cannot end oppression and create a better world. So we echo this comrade in celebrating these small acts as examples of growing UFPP and setting the stage for greater change.
The Washington State Department of Ecology recently required the Washington State Dept of Corrections to conduct an investigation at Washington State Penitentiary to determine the type and location of contaminants present, and evaluate cleanup options.
They found hazardous waste (lead, gasoline) in the soil and well water system here at the prison. This water is used for drinking, showering, cooking, etc.
On 9 December 2012, local news ran the story regarding toxic waste in the water here at the prison. Two days later, coincidentally, prison staff were handing out printouts regarding the "toxics cleanup program." Are they trying to lead us to believe that they had no prior knowledge of this potentially dangerous problem prior to a couple days ago?
Chemicals (TCE and PCE) were identified in ground water outside the exterior prison fences. Some of these chemicals were used in furniture refinishing and repair, license plate manufacturing, dry cleaning, motor pool maintenance, metal working and welding, photo processing, sign manufacturing, and medical and dental labs.
The report given to prisoners claims that the levels of PCE and TCE in certain groundwater monitoring wells no longer pose a health concern to humans or the environment. However, they do admit that "gasoline and lead in soil exceed state standards at certain locations."
This is something that needs to be looked at by an independent scientist/law firm, so we prisoners know that we have chances of living a healthy life, in and out of prison.
MIM(Prisons) adds: As a prisoner discussed in the article "Environment and Prisons" in Under Lock & Key 7: "The main thing that I learned from this MT 12 was of the overwhelming toxic dump sites in and around oppressed nations areas. . .Yet we hardly hear a murmur from the media when toxic dumps spring up in areas where the oppressed nations swell. Third World countries have become the imperialist dump site. I watched a news program around a month ago about how petty bourgeois here in the U.S. were setting up these scam 'recycle' centers for computers and 'e-trash.' These 'recycle' centers would turn around and ship off this toxic junk to Third World nations and turn a profit, even though there's supposed laws prohibiting this toxic dumping (for Petty Bourgeois and small time entrepreneurs) it is still continued with a nod and a wink. The bourgeois, big business, transnational corporations etc. are a whole different story. They continue to dump toxins on the Third World nations with only encouragement from imperialist economists."
We should not be surprised when toxic waste is found in or around prisons as well. In fact, we have published reports of similar incidents in Connally Unit in Texas and Kern Valley State Prison in California. Those suffering under similar conditions must continue to expose these incidents, and campaign for basic safety for the imprisoned. We then need to take this one step further, as the contributor quoted above does, and put it in the context of imperialist environmental destruction and national oppression so that contaminants aren't just pushed into someone else's backyard.
by a North Carolina prisoner December 2012 permalink
I am being held hostage at Pasquotank Correctional Institution near Virginia Beach in Elizabeth City. In November it got so cold here we could sit our water bottles in the windows and the water turned into slushy ice water. Twelve of my comrades and I wrote grievances on the lack of heating. We also submitted copies of those grievances to the division of prisons in Raleigh, North Carolina.
The director sent those copies back to the administration and suggested an infraction be placed against each of us. The administrators called us to the office and relayed this information to us and offered the threat as suggested or the option to destroy the complaint. Sad to say only three of my former comrades are standing.
We have submitted another grievance citing policy and procedures issued by the Division of Prisons which states "no reprisals shall be taken against any inmate or staff member for a good faith use of or participation in the grievance procedure." Then we recited the clause which states "If more than one inmate files a grievance concerning the application of general policies or practices, or acts arising out of the same incident, these grievances will be processed as a group. Each grievance shall be logged individually; however, the same response will be provided to each grievant."
MIM(Prisons) responds: There is an ongoing problem with grievances in North Carolina in response to which some comrades in North Carolina created a petition specific for that state. This is part of the broader USW campaign to demand the proper handling of grievances in prisons across the country. Write to us for a copy of the petition for your state, or to customize one for your state if it does not yet exist.
Recently prisoners in California received the "new" instructional memorandum for the "pilot program for security threat group identification, prevention and management plan."
This is basically the "new" step down program that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has put together. According to the memo the term "security threat group" (STG) will "replace the terms prison gang, disruptive group, and/or street gang within the CDCR." On page 3 it states "CDCR manages the most violent and sophisticated security threat group members and associates in the nation." This is bullshit and propaganda, as we know from history the FBI once called the Black Panther Party the highest threat to the national security of Amerika, when in reality the BPP helped Black people the most in this country.
According to the memo, 3,150 people are currently validated prison gang members and associates and, as a result, are in the hole in California. Meanwhile, 850 prisoners are reviewed for validation each year in California.
According to this "new" program, STG members will, once validated, go to a Security Housing Unit (SHU). STG associates will remain in general population unless staff feel they are involved in STG behavior — which we know will be abused like the current validation process. It's the same old unfettered repression regurgitated. They can still use all the "violations" as before, even saying "hi" or "good morning" can still be used as evidence of associating with a STG. Only its now called "staff information" and is described as getting you 4 points toward STG and would be considered "STG activity" instead of the old "gang activity." So it's all about semantics here.
Section 400.2, validation procedure, on page 9 states in part that once someone is validated "CDCR staff shall track their movement, monitor their conduct, and take interdiction action, as necessary." Interdiction action is code talk for getting someone off the mainline by any means necessary — the set up! They can even still use a birthday card a prisoner gave you as "STG activity."
The step down program calls for 5 steps that we are told can lead us to general population. So-called "self help" classes must be attended, with names like "victims awareness" which point at oneself as being wrong. This is classic brainwashing that must occur if you want to go back to general population, so we were tortured for years and decades in some cases but now we are told by our torturers we must attend their brainwash camps and learn that we are responsible and guilty for bringing our torture upon ourselves. Our oppression is brought on by the state and no classes will change this reality.
We are also told in the memo that we will be given a course on the book Purpose Driven Life, which is a religious book. So the state is coupling their self-help brainwash with religion to cover up repression that the internal semi-colonies face from Amerika. What we are seeing is a re-shuffling of the same deck of cards where state officials are given way too much power over prisoners, with threadbare oversight, and a sadistic history of abuse. This of course is not a positive thing for those of us held in these dungeons, it is a continuance of a long rusted chain of oppression. The reality is we have way more power than we even know. We must remember that it was our action here in these torture chambers that forced the director of corrections and other high level officials to fly out here and beg those they call the "worst of the worst" into stopping the strike. As a result of our protests they have made superficial changes to our "privileges." Many times when dealing with the imperialists people become demoralized, whether they are dealing with imperialists at a higher level or via its many apparatuses on a lower level i.e. with the courts or prisons. But Mao put it very well when he said: "all reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful."(1)
As in the case with our efforts of 2011 when thousands of prisoners across the United Snakes went on hunger strikes we found that Mao was correct that they are paper tigers. The state capitulated, but quickly devised a way to temporarily slow down our momentum via deception like lying about what changes would come. Although they stopped the strike they did not erase the reality that we saw the state as the paper tiger it really is. Like Mao said they are not so powerful and in the long term it is the people or in our case the prisoners that are really powerful. One only needs to look at the last couple of years of prisoner struggles that the new prison movement has produced, where most strikes have resulted in better conditions for prisoners across the United Snakes.
The recent changes to the state's torturing of prisoners does not change the torture that me and the other fourteen thousand plus people in California are still held. Many will continue in this way for many more years, and some for the rest of their lives. But the people will have many more victories in the years to come as prisoners begin to really grasp the oppression we face and discover different paths out of this oppression.
The author Michelle Alexander said "The 'whites only' sign may be gone, but new signs have gone up - notice placed in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, forms for welfare benefits, school applications, and petitions for licenses, informing the general public that 'felons' are not wanted here."(2)
What Alexander leaves out is that there is also a new sign that says Brown, Black and Red people are to be swept up and tortured en masse across the United Snakes of Amerika in order to attempt to break the back of resistance in our respective nations. And now a newer sign is going up in the SHUs, saying that after we are tortured for years and decades that we will also be tortured or brainwashed into believing that our torture was our own fault. Those who refuse the brainwashing will remain in these torture chambers for years or decades more.
Once prisoners decide that not only won't we accept the torture but that we will resist until we actually see prisoners walking out of the SHU, not falling for the state's lies and pacification program, only then will we be victorious in our efforts wherever our torture chamber is in this country.
Humyn rights should be afforded to everyone, even prisoners. Some believe the state's propaganda and begin to think we deserve this treatment or it is normal. But this is unacceptable, and it's only normal in a capitalist country where those who do not contribute to the capitalist system are introduced to genocidal treatment. At some point people realize that change will only come from our own efforts and if we wait for our oppressor to bring change we will be waiting the rest of our lives.
I've recently been engaged in an ideological struggle with a fellow Chicano and potential anti-imperialist ally concerning the current state of captivity of the Chicano nation by the imperialist United $tates, it's liberation, the oppressive and exploitative reality that Third World people are subjected to on a daily basis, and of the unique place the lumpen of the internal semi-colonies exist in all of this. Needless to say, we've been discussing some highly political and philosophical questions and topics not necessarily confined to the existentialist school of thought, but rather questions and topics more closely tied to the very existence of Third World people in an imperialist dominated world. We've also touched on the psychological baggage better known as alienation which imperialism itself ties to the individual, whether in the First World or the Third. These discussions have been had not within the context of mere conversational purposes, but for the explicit purpose of waking up a potential ally not just to the reality of our own oppression as Chicanos, or of putting the reality of our oppression into complete context for him; but so as to wake him up to his own productive power as a revolutionary force within the belly of the beast.
After struggling with this individual on a molecular level and trying my hardest to consistently put the correct political line forward; then banging my head on the ideological bourgeois brick wall which this individual vehemently represented every time he opened his mouth, I understandably felt frustrated and decided to terminate any and all further political struggle with this persyn, being that he didn't really seem to want to struggle with objective answers and analysis from a revolutionary nationalist perspective; but rather seemed content blindly defending those cherished Amerikan values or "sugar coated bullets" which we've all been spoon fed from birth.
After some time however and his insistence that I read one of his bourgeois science books (college edition) for meaningless mental exercise, aka intellectualism, I begrudgingly agreed on one condition. If I was to read his bourgeois science book then he was to read and study my Marx; he agreed.
After a couple weeks and after answering the occasional philosophical question from him this persyn surprised me by revealing that he'd been grappling not just with the Marx book I'd sent him, but with the topics we'd previous discussed. Discussions which began with evolution and religion but which quickly spiraled into heated philosophical and political debates ranging in everything from the origins of the humyn species and society, to super-profits and everything in between. And it was during this time that I suddenly realized something I'd obviously lost sight of.
It wasn't that he necessarily disagreed with my political beliefs because of some inherent class bias as a First Worlder. Rather he disagreed with the proletarian worldview exactly because of a First World ideological bias that defined his worldview. And one does not change one's worldview easily.
It's therefore important for revolutionaries that are new to the anti-imperialist game to keep in mind that anytime we engage in political discussion with the philistine, we're going up against 500 plus years of colonization, not just in the material world, but in the ideological field as well; as social consciousness is both consciously and unconsciously bourgeois in the era of imperialism. We must fully understand that none of us are born with the slightest inkling of the communal/communist/proletarian worldview, rather, it must be cultivated. What's more, political struggle in the ideological realm just like struggle in any other realm is essentially a matter for dialectics to resolve in which battles are won one at a time until one factor or another gains dominance and emerges victorious.
Therefore, it's equally important to remember that whenever we're speaking politics we're in essence engaging in a struggle over political line between the oppressed which we represent, and the national and class enemies whose mouthpieces are not always readily apparent, but inconspicuous, especially in a First World society such as ours where we have not just open and closet Trotskyists who are peddling revisionism on the prison masses in the guise of "revolution", but honest comrades who inadvertently and thru no fault of their own push an incorrect line due to a low level of political development and understanding. Therefore, we must ensure that this polemical struggle isn't simply narrowed down to and carried out through out the confines of the open national and class enemies of the oppressed nations, but continuously carried out throughout the class conscious in keeping with Mao's dictum of continuous revolution. Continuous revolution, or continuous struggle, being the only method available to defeat not only old and reactionary ideas which are at the service of the bourgeoisie, but new age and mystical ideas as well, which aren't really "new or mystical at all, but simply repackaged bootlegs of the bourgeoisie and status quo who seek to entrench themselves and the enemy line in the revolution in order to ruin it from within.
Revolutionary thought during this stage of the struggle must have a shock and awe type value characteristic of the new defeating the old in which every spectrum of life is held up to the light of revolutionary science, declare it's rationale, or surrender it's right to existence. If so-called revolutionary thoughts and synthesis don't offer or illuminate the best path forward then they too must cease their right to exist and clear the way for something new, or rather something tried and true, i.e. Maoism. Thus it is no surprise that Maoism serves as a two pronged "-ism" (philosophical and political) which leaves the bourgeois-minded agape and in existential doubt as to the state of reality and their place in it. Now, this may simply be old hat to the battle tested revolutionary, but twas not for me, as I myself found this point made ever so clear through polemical practice. Indeed, just as communist parties that are engaged in armed struggle are more politically developed than those that are not, so is the individual engaged in polemics.
Simply reading one Marxist book doesn't make one a Marxist, and simply winning one individual battle doesn't win the war. It was foolish of me to expect the potential ally mentioned in the beginning of this report to be won over to the side of the oppressed simply because he himself is objectively oppressed. My overestimation of the revolutionization process with respect to this individual was itself a failure on my part to properly utilize the dialectical method; as nothing in this world develops evenly.
Bourgeois ideology was and remains the dominant ideology within said individual, and my initial failure to fully grasp this point is proof positive that in all aspects of life there is always a struggle between two classes, two lines, and two roads, and thus will be the case until the end of property relations. My initial failure to win him over to the side of the oppressed is objectively a victory for the bourgeoisie and further drives home the point that education cannot be separated from transformation; but some seeds have been sown and the revolutionary sprout is slowly beginning to break free from over 500 years of colonization. It seems this persyn is slowly beginning to take up an interest in revolutionary politics; a direct result of our interaction. A small political win, in a small political battle for a correct political line, which on a world scale is perhaps equal to the rising forces of the oppressed and repressed revolutionary forces which have begun to seriously re-develop within u.$. borders.
It is the politics of the oppressors that have put us in here and thrown away the key, and it will be the politics of the oppressed that will set us free. If there is anywhere in the United $tates where politics should take center stage, it is in the prisons and jails; concrete proof in the most literal sense that there is an ideological struggle actively going on between the oppressors and the oppressed, in which the oppressor nation obviously has the upper hand.
Exodus And Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart Of Globalization by Bromma Kersplebedeb, 2012
Available for $3 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne Montreal, Quebec Canada H3W 3H8
This zine is in the tradition of Night Vision by Butch Lee and Red Rover and other similar works from the same publisher on class, gender and nation. Exodus and Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart of Globalization is short and by necessity speaks in generalizations, some of which are more evidently true than others. It is definitely a worthwhile read for anyone serious about global class analysis.
The main thesis of the essay is that starting around the 1990s there has been a major upheaval of the countryside in the economic periphery that has particularly affected biological wimmin, pushing them to migrate and join the ranks of the urban proletariat. This reality has major implications for the trajectory of imperialism as well as class struggle. As the author points out, the backwards modes of production in much of the world has provided a ready source of surplus value (s) due to the low capital investment (c) and high labor component (v) of production, the latter of which is the source of all profit. The implication is that while providing a short-term benefit to imperialism by bringing these large populations online in industry, this is undercutting the rate of profit (expressed in the equation s/(c + v) ). Not only that, but the domestic and agricultural labor that often falls on the shoulders of wimmin is important in allowing for super-exploitation of the historically male workers by allowing the capitalists to pay less than they would need to pay single workers to feed, clothe and house themselves. Without the masses living in semi-feudal conditions, continued super-exploitation will threaten the reproduction of the proletariat. In other words, more people will die of starvation and lack of basic needs or wages will need to increase reducing the superprofits enjoyed by people in the First World.
Another component of this phenomenon not mentioned by Bromma is that a large portion of these workers being displaced from their land are from formerly socialist China which had protected its people from capitalist exploitation for decades. So in multiple ways, this is a new influx of surplus value into the global system that prevented larger crisis from the 1980s until recently.
The difference between MIM Thought and the ideology that is presented by Bromma, Lee, Rover and others, is primarily in what strands of oppression we recognize and how they separate out. Their line is a version of class reductionism wrapped in gender. While others in this camp (Sakai, Tani, Sera) focus on nation, they tend to agree with Bromma's ultra-left tendencies of putting class over nation. Their approach stems from a righteous criticism of the neo-colonialism that followed the national liberation struggles of the middle of the twentieth century. But we do not see new conditions that have nullified the Maoist theory of United Front between different class interests. It is true that anti-imperialism cannot succeed in liberating a nation, and will likely fall into old patriarchal ways, if there is not proletarian leadership of this United Front and Maoism has always recognized that. Yet Mao did not criticize Vietnamese revisionism during the U.$. invasion of southeast Asia to preserve the United Front.(1) For anti-imperialists in the militarist countries it is similarly important that we do not cheerlead the Condaleeza Rice/ Hillary Clinton gender line on occupied Afghanistan. This is an explicit application of putting nation as principal above gender. This does not mean that gender is not addressed until after the socialist revolution as the rightest class reductionists would say. Whether rightist or ultra-left, class reductionism divides the united front against imperialism.
While Bromma puts class above nation, h also fails to distinguish between gender and class as separate strands of oppression.(2) Specifically, h definition of what is exploited labor is too broad in that it mixes gender oppression with exploitation, based in class. The whole thesis wants to replace the proletariat with wimmin, and substantiate this through economics. While the "feminization" of work is a real phenomenon with real implications, it does not make class and gender interchangeable. And where this leads Bromma is to being very divisive within the exploited nations along class and gender lines.
MIM Thought recognizes two fundamental contradictions in humyn society, which divide along the lines of labor time (class) and leisure time (gender).(3) We also recognize a third strand of oppression, nation, which evolves from class and the globalization of capitalism. Bromma argues that wimmin provide most of the world's exploited labor, listing sweatshops, agricultural work, birthing and raising children, housework and caring for the sick and elderly. But working does not equal exploitation. Exploitation is where capitalists extract surplus value from the workers performing labor. There is no surplus value in caring for the elderly, for example. In the rich countries this is a service that one pays for but still there is no extraction of surplus value. The distinction between service work and productive work is based on whether surplus value is produced or not, not a moral judgement of whether the work is important. The economic fact is that no surplus value is exploited from a nurse working for a wage in the United $tates, just as it is not exploited from a peasant caring for her family members in the Third World. The Third World service workers are still part of the proletariat, the exploited class, but they serve a supporting role in the realization of surplus value in the service sector.
We think Bromma has reduced a diverse group of activities to exploited labor time. Caring for the sick and elderly has no value to capitalism, so there is no argument to be made for that being exploited labor. A certain amount of housework and child raising must be performed to reproduce the proletariat, so Marx would include this in the value of labor power. The actual birthing of children is something that falls in the realm of biology and not labor time. Economically, this would be something that the capitalist must pay for (i.e. proper nutrition and care for the pregnant womyn) rather than something that the capitalist gains surplus value from. While MIM dismissed much of the biological determinism based in child-birthing capability in gender oppression on the basis of modern technology and society, we would still put this in the gender realm and not class.(3)
In reducing all these activities to exploited labor, Bromma is overstating the importance of housewives as sources of wealth for capitalists. If anything the drive to move Third World wimmin into the industrial proletariat indicates that more value is gained from wimmin by having them play more traditional male roles in production in the short term, ignoring the medium-term problem that this undercuts super-exploitation as mentioned above.
The work of raising food and ensuring children survive are part of the reproduction of the proletariat, which under normal conditions is payed for by the capitalist through wages. When wages aren't high enough to feed a family and the womyn must do labor intensive food production to subsidize the capitalist's low wages, then we see super-exploitation of the proletariat, where the whole family unit is part of that class even if only the men go to the factories to work. So unremunerated labor within the proletariat, even if it is divided up along gender lines, is part of class. In extreme situations we might say that those forced to stay home and do all the housework are slaves if they can't leave. In other situations we might see a whole segment of peasants that are subsidizing a class of proletarian factory workers outside of the family structure. Bromma generally implies that gender is an antagonistic class contradiction. While there are contradictions there, h goes too far in dividing the exploited masses who have the same basic class interests opposing imperialism.
Like Bromma does, we too have addressed the situation we find ourselves in where more reactionary, criminal, religious and patriarchal groups are on the front lines of the anti-imperialist movement. Bromma explains this as a result of class and gender interests of these groups. An analysis that is parallel to our own of the rise of fascism in Germany and Italy. Yet we cannot ignore the brutal repression of communism and the promotion of ideologies like Islamic fundamentalism by the imperialists in shaping our current reality. Egypt is a prime example where brutal U.$. dictatorship repressed any socialist leaning political organizing for decades while allowing for the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood who then end up being the only viable option for a new government when the people decide the old puppet Mubarak needed to get out. The role of U.$. imperialism is principal here in forming the new puppet regime and not the class or gender interests of those who won the lottery of being chosen as the new puppets. You can find a minority in any social group who can be bought off to work against their own group without needing to explain it by class interests. On the other hand you have bin Laden's Al Qaeda, who also received CIA favoritism in opposing social-imperialism and communism, but remained a principled anti-imperialist force when the Amerikans took their stab at controlling the Middle East. The Bromma line would have us lump these groups together in the enemy camp of the bourgeoisie, while Maoists differentiate between the compradors in Egypt and the bourgeois nationalists who take up arms against the occupiers.
No movement is perfect. But Maoism did more to address gender oppression than any other humyn practice since the emergence of the patriarchy. Bromma fails to recognize these advancements in h condemnation of the national liberation struggles that degenerated into neo-colonial and patriarchal states. To fail to emulate and build upon the feminist practice of socialism is a great disservice to the cause of gender liberation.