We have a lot of issues at this facility, especially with mail delivery delays (policy states the facility has 48 hours from arrival to deliver mail and 72 hours for packages; both can take over a week) and with unnecessary censorship. The Colorado Department of Corrections’ administrative regulations are clearly laid out regarding mail, but this facility often misinterprets or outright ignores those policies.
BCCF is a private-owned (CoreCivic) prison, and despite having a Private Prison Monitoring Unit (PPMU) assigned to monitor the facilities compliance, they more regularly choose to cover for the administration, for whatever reason, instead of holding them accountable in any way. In fact, the former head of PPMU at this facility recently “retired” from DOC and was hired by CoreCivic to a lucrative, high-ranking position (Chief of Unit Management) at this very facility. No potential for conflict of interest there, right?
The grievance procedure is a complete joke around here. Each step of a grievance can take up to 2 months to receive a response, although denying that any issues exist is hardly any sort of helpful response. By the time a DOC employee becomes involved, several months have passed and either they are lied to by facility staff, or they lie to the prisoner. Either way, nothing is done about any real problems.
In my 8+ years at this prison, I have experienced a variety of changes, including now having the third warden in that time frame. In the past year – about the time the current Chief of Security and Warden, and shortly thereafter, the PPMU/Chief of Unit Mgmt., arrived – the level of violence here has skyrocketed. During most of my time here this place had remained largely peaceful, if mismanaged to some degree, however, now that new “security protocols” have been implemented (such as creating two “compounds” from the one, making one dangerously understaffed compound the “High-security” compound), drugs have flooded this facility, despite all incoming mail being photocopied. We can’t even get photos from family anymore. The rest of Colorado DOC facilities are going through “normalization.” This private prison is only normalizing drugs, anger, and violence. With no programs and very limited rec, things will only get worse here.
I constantly encourage everyone around me who will listen to file grievances and write letters to public officials. Even if they do not solve issues in and of themselves, they create and build a record of the abuses at a particular prison, or in a state’s system. “Keep your copies!” Tell family and friends about all of the problems, change public opinion of “us” by being responsible, educated citizens who expect accountability from our government just like everyone else. When something is broken, government just pours more of its stolen money into the problem, never fixing anything (but getting more powerful in the process). We need to expose to the public what a waste the prison system is – in financial and human capital – and discourage anyone from supporting the expansion of such a broken system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade’s strategy. We should not have false illusions about reforming the system through grievances or exposure, but we also must come together and practice diligence and build our skills in fighting abuses. By doing so we can build towards real solutions.
I was just made aware of the passing of Shaka At-Thinnin via the Black August Organizing Committee, of which the comrade was a lead member of. We are losing a generation of New Afrikans right now. The ones who survived the most brutal oppression of the U.$. injustice system to live long lives.
Of course brutal oppression remains in the U.$. concentration camps to this day. The torture units that were developed in response to the resistance of brothers like Shaka are still in full operation across most of this country.
The comrades who started Black August responded to this repression with collective self-defense, an immense openness and love for the oppressed, and a sharp discipline. Discipline is one of the tenets of Black August. And it is one that i think we can all benefit from. It can be hard to impose strict discipline when it is not out of necessity or dire circumstances as it was for the founders. But studies have shown that the more you practice discipline the easier it becomes, in all aspects of your life. Little routines, little extra efforts, regaining little chunks of time to put it towards what you care about.
Struggling to spend a couple hours writing to prisoners, or handing out fliers, or studying political economy after working all day for exploiter wages is not as glorious as the struggles of some. Yet it is no less important. Shaka emself spent many evenings writing comrades inside after eir release from prison. I’ve had people come to me years later and tell me how a small action, a few words, or a magazine shared really impacted them. You will never know all the impacts you have if you put in work to reach others every day, every week, or even every month.
Shaka did not live to see the liberation of New Afrika, yet eir contribution was still great and continues to inspire us. When i was younger i had read George Jackson’s books, and knew the story of Jonathan Jackson, and studied the Attica rebellion. But it was only after meeting Shaka and Kumasi of the Black August Organizing Committee that I got a real understanding of what Black August was about, and what the New Afrikan resistance in California prisons at the time was like. Their work to preserve that history and share it with the world helps sustain the struggle into the future.
In my years in this movement i’ve had the privilege of meeting many elders of the generation of the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Each one of them inspired me, even if our interactions were brief. What they’d been through and how they responded was a testament to the potential of struggle, and the strategic confidence that we hold in the oppressed majority of the world who have nothing to lose but their chains.
The world is in constant flux. People come, people go. Empires die. The climate changes. And through it all we know that the oppressed nations are the rising force in the imperialist world today. And that force will eventually seize power from the current oppressors and change the course of history.
Have you ever opened the door to a hot oven and felt dizzy and overwhelmed from the intensity of the heat hitting you in the face? That is how it feels for people incarcerated at Augusta, Nottoway, and Buckingham Correctional Centers every summer, but especially during the current heat wave sweeping the country.
But get this: prison staff at these facilities do not experience excessive heat conditions because the areas in which they work and frequent — the control booths, school areas, medical department, education department, administration offices, etc. – are all equipped with air conditioning (AC).
While the U.$. and other parts of the world, like Western Europe, are experiencing unprecedented deadly heat waves, people trapped in prisons, jails, and detention centers not equipped with AC in the areas where they housed are suffering exponentially from these sweltering conditions.
For instance, if it is 100 degrees for those of you on the outside, the temperature is always several degrees higher for those of us confined in prisons not equipped with AC. With the lack of AC, poor ventilation, substandard medical care, unsafe drinking water, big slabs of concrete that trap heat, antiquated sewage systems that regularly back up and spew raw sewage into the cells and housing units, and the persistence of COVID-19 which is still spreading and infecting people at these facilities, all of these conditions on top of record high temperatures create unbearable conditions that are tantamount to the kind of cruel and unusual punishment prohibited by the eighth amendment to the U.$. constitution. Sick and elderly people confined under these conditions suffer the most.
So, is there a need for an intersecting movement for prison abolition? The short answer is “Yes,” because when environmentalists talk about how climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels, and how the impact of this is felt most by people in Third World countries least responsible for climate pollution, the ways in which climate change impacts people in confinement are often left out of conversations about climate justice. This is a blind spot that will cause incarcerated and detained people to suffer and die in silence and invisibility during future heat waves.
Of course, I believe prisons in general should be abolished and demolished, but right now, due to the immediacy of the current situation, we need prison abolitionists and climate justice activists to unite, and once united, collectively raise your voices to bring awareness to this issue and demand change to prevent the needless suffering and death of incarcerated human beings amid record high temperatures due to global warming.
One way you can do this is by signing and sharing this online petition to close Nottoway, Buckingham, and Augusta Correctional Centers.
This petition can be used to raise awareness about this public health crisis and as the foundation for a state-wide campaign to shut these prisons down.
UPDATE FOR AUGUST 2022: Now that Juneteenth 2022 has passed, please use this updated flyer and these updated postcards now address the censorship across the state of Texas in recent months. We need your support to keep increasing the pressure to fight this censorship of political speech.
Download and print this flyer to hang or hand out.
We are also asking others to join our letter writing and postcard campaign in support of the rights of MIM Distributors and activists in Allred to freely communicate. There has been a rise in mail censorship as organizing has progressed.
download PDF below
print 2-sided on cardstock
cut into 4
add $0.40 stamp (or more)
go to event or public space and ask people to sign their name, city and state
explain the Junteenth Freedom Initiative to them
hand them a flyer (above) or Under Lock & Key
ask for a donation to pay for postage & printing
drop postcards in mail box (don’t mail them all at once we want a consistent stream of cards coming in)
“We can’t afford rent and we’re sleeping outside. The youths are jobless” -Yaw Barimah, Ghanaian taxidriver
In late June 2022, street protests erupted in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. The above quote matches the general feel and demands of the masses who took to the streets. Most lay persons are aware of the current effects of inflation on the daily lives of the average people. Many of us have not made the necessary connection that such inflation and other tricks capitalists use to increase the amount of surplus value extracted from the populace, are inherently apart of the internal dynamics of capitalism itself. Our failure to understand this brings our protests, and dissent to a screeching halt once the point of economic reformism is reached.
In countries dominated under imperialist neo-colonialism, such as Ghana, the weight of economic exploitation is maximized. As conditions sharpen, the exploited classes of Ghana are beginning to stir. On July 4th four teacher’s unions went on strike in opposition to the neo-colonial government’s refusal to pay ‘cost-of-living allowances’ of at least 20% of their wages.
The government holds the position that due to ‘Annual inflation’ now reaching 27.6% and the accompanied reduction in value of the Cedi(1), they’re unable to pay this allowance. The system of imperialism works in a way that parasitic countries like amerika hold economic hegemony over Third World countries like Ghana. This allows for the U.$. currency, the dollar, to dictate the value of the national currencies of Third World countries. What this means for the Ghanaian and other Third World workers is that because their wages are paid in money, the national currency, the amount of their pay, although the same on paper, is devalued along with national currency.
So the exploitation of the Ghanaian worker has intensified. Their labor is still required to be done at the same rate, same hours labored, same amount of labor, and same wage paid. What has changed is the value of their labor power; with inflation, the amount of cedi it takes to maintain the worker’s needs is greater. Yet wages have not increased, or not increased as much.
To allow the common people to overstand our common interest in overthrowing capitalist dictatorship it is necessary to understand and breakdown plainly, the inner-working of capitalism and how it effects the lives of the people.
In Ghana, as described above, and many other places around the world right now, the mechanism being used by capitalist exploiters is the depression of wages. This generally occurs when the wages of the worker are below the value of their labor power. Labor power here means human work, the sum total of a person’s physical and mental effort.(2) Labor power is the primary factor in society’s production. Uniquely however, only in capitalist society is labor power a commodity.
The process of commodification of labor power manifests itself in two conditions: (1) The worker is ‘free’ in that they can ‘choose’ to sell their labor as a commodity. (2) The worker owns nothing aside from their labor power (what the mind/body can produce). They have no means of productions, or means of living and must sell their labor power to live.
Therefore, what we know as ‘employment’ in the capitalist economy consists of capitalists buying the labor power of the laborer and converting them into hired slaves.
The exploitation of workers is examined by the advent of surplus value. The degree of exploitation is examined by the rate of surplus value. The capitalist devises ways to maximize this rate of surplus value, which brings me back to depression and deduction of wages.
To comprehend wages, we must first overstand that wages are a ‘disguise’. They are a way to fool the people into thinking they’re getting equal value for their labor.
Marx said, “wages are not what they appear to be. They are not the value or price of labor, but a disguised form of the value or price of labor power.”(3) Therefore the capitalists notion that they pay the worker the price of their labor is completely fabricated.
A key in understanding political economy is to comprehend the distinction between labor and labor power. Under capitalism what the worker is selling isn’t labor, but is labor power, which is capable of being commodified, while the former (labor) isn’t.
The next logical question is why? why is labor not a commodity? Commodities exist in their final state prior to being sold, labor doesn’t. Also commodities are exchanged for equal value, according to the law of value. Therefore if labor was a commodity the capitalist should pay the full value created by labor, which would eliminate surplus value (the source of profit), which would eliminate capitalism.
If labor was a commodity, it would have value and that value would be determined by the amount of embodied labor. This can’t happen. How can the value of a phenomenon be determined by the value of itself?
What labor is is the process of labor power. Therefore the wage paid to the laborer is equal to the value of the labor power. In other words, it is the amount required to keep the proletariat as a class alive and working – that is the value of labor power. Whatever extra the worker’s labor power produces above the value of labor power (the wage paid to keep the proletariat alive) is called surplus value and it is what is ‘exploited’ by the capitalist. The wage itself is the chain that binds the exploiter to the exploited. The revolutionary demand must be to abolish the wage system.
The term ‘cost of living allowance’, caused me to think of our need to overstand where the idea of ‘cost of living’ or ‘standard of living’ has its roots.
We begin by concluding that these are two distinctive wages. In the political economy of capitalism, there are nominal wages and there are real wages. Nominal wages are expressed by the wage payment of money.
In our quest to find the ‘cost of living’, we can’t use nominal wages as representation. The cost of living will only be reflected by the amount of means of livelihood which can be bought by the money wage (nominal wage). What the nominal wage can purchase is the cost/standard of living and is called real wages.
What is taking place in Ghana is that there is a contradiction between the nominal and real wages. The nominal wage is being held in place, while the real wage is in a downward trend, a decline.
“When the purchasing power of money declines and the prices of the means of livelihood go up, the same amount of the nominal wage can only be exchanged for a smaller amount of means of livelihood. Then the real wage falls. Sometimes even if the nominal wage goes up a bit, but less than the increase in prices of the means of livelihood, the real wage will still decline.”(4)
This is essentially what we observe playing out in real time in Ghana and elsewhere. As the above quote alludes to, simple economic reforms like increase in wage will not end this phenomenon, the elimination of surplus value is the only solution. The bourgeoisie will always use the tools of inflation, price increases and rent increases to increase the contradiction between the nominal wage (money paid) and the real wage (what can be bought) to increase the rate of surplus value accumulation (the exploitation of the people).
In conclusion, I want to point out that while the protests organized by Arise Ghana and the work strike by the four teacher’s unions are significant struggles for the daily hurdles of life for the Ghanaian people, the people must be made to distinguish between the causes and effects of economic hardship. When a sick person has a cold and a running nose, they don’t merely get a tissue for the nose without curing the cold itself. The people exploited by imperialism must synthesize the economic and political struggles.
Closing with a word from Marx,
“The working class should not forget: in this daily struggle they are only opposing the effect, but not the cause that produces this effect; they are only delaying the downward trend, not changing the direction of the trend; they are only suppressing the symptom, not curing the disease.”(5)
DOWN WITH CAPITALIST-IMPERIALISM!!!
Notes: (1) The Cedi is the national currency of Ghana. (2) Fundamentals of Political Economy, edited by George C. Wang,;Chapt.4,pg.59 (3)K.Marx,Critique of the Gotha Program,selected work of Marx &Engels Vol.3 (4)Fundamentals of Political Economy,chapt.4,pg72 (5)K.Marx, Wages,Prices and Profit, Selected Works of Marx &Engels, Vol.2
[CORRECTION: This article was published stating that Yogi was Puerto Rican, when ey was actually of Nicaraguan descent.]
Peace Comrades. Recieved the latest issue of the newspaper & passed it off to one of my comrades who just recently got into some trouble. So if possible, I would like to receive that issue & the one before it. Thanks with much love in revolution.
I’m writing this as an article that I’m hoping will get published for the Black August Memorial in hopes that my earnest effort could perhaps clarify things a bit further in terms of matter of perspective & also to educate brothers/sisters on the legendary history of fallen comrade George Jackson.
I read an article that began somewhat vacariously about the fallen comrade & his connection to Hugo Pinnell who was also BGF & how because of George’s wide encompassing views on race & its place in standing to building political/military cadre’s, that this somehow means that we need to abandon the rhetoric that is connected with groups who are primarily concerned with fixing the “Black issue”.
I strongly disagree with the content of that article & not because my views are just so diametrically different, but because I too have wide encompassing views concerning race. However, I’m not under the impression that we need to abandon our quest in building the support that is needed to eliminate the black problem altogether. My first reason for this is largely because I see that Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing. But its also because of the fact that before we can ever hope to build in the concept of global Asiatic unity & eventually begin to merge our support with Europeans, we must first unify among ourselves & use that unity to destroy the Black problem & then we can go on to build with others & help others in their quest for the same sort of thing.
You see, revolution is tied to long range politics. This is so because revolution is so complex due to the fact that everything – places, people, religion, economics, and sociology – will be impacted in a major way. It’s not as simple as a government takeover & let’s be real, if you cannot make revolution into a transmitter that spreads through all cultural variations, then a government takeover here & abroad will never be possible.
George was a people’s revolutionary & by people’s revolutionary I mean people in terms of all humanity. However, even he had to develop into that sort of personhood. Let’s not forget either that George Jackson was a huge history major & for those who really know about George, they attest to the fact that he loved being Black & even wanted to be Blacker. That is not proof that he ever abandoned his concern for his people’s plight nor did he have a lack of pride what comes from a lack of knowledge. Through his studies on Afrikan history as evidence through both of his books, I know he saw the connection between the Original man globally. That means that he saw the black, brown, yellow, red (a variation of brown) as Asiatics & all being the same people, & the fact that we suffered at the hands of the same forces & people was largely his reason to connect with these people.
The Black Guerrilla Family was initially started to combat racism within the confines of an openly oppressive prison system designed against Blacks. Yeah, sure, George did overcome the counterproductive effects of racism that would have surely stunted his growth as a communist revolutionary. But when did the Black Guerrilla Family ever become a family that forgot about the Black issue?
I think for a lot of people who became politically aware, they became like Utopian anarchists in a way. I say this because a lot don’t see the fact that whatever issue they faced like slavery here and abroad is what fueled their passion to become revolutionaries in the first place. I get that we cannot stay blinded by that issue alone, but how do you walk on a broken leg? You have to heal that leg first. It’s like Malcolm said “You can’t stab a man with a 12-inch knife and pull it out 3 inches and ask him why he’s still complaining.” One issue doesn’t trump the next one, however until we get free completely its righteous for brothers to complain and use that concern to solve their problems.
Also as revolutionaries, it’s supposed to be our aim to help others to eliminate their problems, not to beat them over the head for doing so.
I also disagree with the fact that August 21 and the Attica uprising were not events solely about George. Even if you believe the bullshit “story” that the state concocted to assassinate George, this still means that the events that took place and led up to the assassination were about George and this means that the San Quentin 6 coming together was for George. Perhaps it was solidarity across “national” lines but, if Hugo Pinell was Puerto Rican, then how wasn’t he Black? Now I agree that the revolt of Attica was already brewing, however George’s assassination was the match that struck an already heavily gasolined situation.
If anything, no one needs to forget the Black issue, but I mean this in a global sense, not an Amerikan sense, because the original man is everywhere and everywhere he has come into some form of struggle. Read the history books, don’t just get immersed into revolutionary theory. How can you say that you agree with George or any other revolutionary leader if you don’t understand their philosophies which are the result of history and the masterworks of theorists who came before them? I don’t think those who are excited about Juneteenth are wrong at all. But it’s an Amerikan tragedy & that’s what Juneteenth should be about.
For Black August, we shouldn’t be bickering over Black this, Puerto Rican that, we should be trying to show how we all the same people and use that to connect with each other. Globally the Black man is 11 to 1 there’s no reason to argue over why brothers should deviate from Black revolution. If you don’t understand that either you didn’t go through the process of going from A to Z or you understand revolution only as its all inclusive, which is good, but there’s a process to inclusion.
So if you really champion George, then try to understand the core of his philosophy, not by separating Blacks from other Asiatics, but seeing them collectively as one globally.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade writes, “Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing.” We hear this a lot from people of different nationalities, that they are told to, or that their own people fight for the liberation of others but not themselves. So I would say this is a misperception that probably stems from the overall lack of revolutionary nationalism among all nations entrapped by the United $tates at this time and a result of oppressor nation chauvinism telling the oppressed to essentially “stop complaining.”
We wholeheartedly agree with this comrade on the need to unify within oppressed nations in order to build strong alliances between the oppressed and especially with forces in the oppressor nation (who are most likely to lead us astray). USW has a slogan, “Unity from the Inside Out”, and this is one of the many meanings of that slogan. Like this comrade states, we find the work of prisoners (and oppressed nations in general) finding unity and inclusion amongst each other to be of great important work. We also find it important for two oppressed groups to 100% understand/accept each other’s qualitative differences while building unity as blind unity is bound to fall apart. Malcolm X used the term “Black Revolution” as happening in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; so from that angle we see the positive and internationalist application of this model of thinking.
As we explain in another response on single nation organizing, the main reason we think this is true is because imperialism is the dialectical contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations. To resolve that contradiction, and to end oppression of all forms in the world today, means prioritizing the struggles of the oppressed nations to overcome the oppressor nations and end imperialism.
As to the term “Asiatic”, we don’t subscribe to the ideas of a differentiation between original or aboriginal people and white people being a demonic derivation of that. And i’ve never seen any indication that George Jackson did either. We would use the term Third World oppressed nations, as the Black Panthers did. It is the contradiction between nations, which is an historical phenomenon, not a biological difference.
The second annual Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser just wrapped up successfully. Just two issues ago we published a detailed update on our financial contributions with a graph for 2021. For the first two quarters of 2022 we’ve had more contributors and more money donated than any quarter in 2021. This steady increase in donations is great for our work and a great sign of our growing mass base.
We did not see a surge of donations around July 4th, but we have seen sustained contributions at a higher level since we began promoting the fundraiser. Steady is good. The Fourth of You-Lie fundraiser did bring in some generous donations from the outside, from at least one supporter.
For those that don’t know, we ask that all comrades in prison who can send in at least 7 stamps per year to cover your subscription to Under Lock & Key. Our costs may increase this winter though, we will keep you updated.
For outside supporters in particular, we have begun fundraising for legal fees to fight censorship in Texas. Please send a note or email us to let us know you are donating money for this purpose.
While our finances look sustainable, we remain in a deficit with comrade time. We will be continuing to shift tasks in the coming months to adjust for changes in support from outside comrades. Much appreciation to our new comrade who did much of the transcribing work for this issue! A few things that we continue to be behind on include:
intro study group responses are going out months later than they should be
advanced study group through the University of Maoist Thought continue to be unavailable going on a couple years now
while we’ve been stepping up our efforts to combat the rash of recent censorship, we are not appealing all instances or taking them further
the Texas Pack has not been updated since 2020 and there are no plans to update it
the zine Power 2 New Afrika has not yet been printed, but should be soon
ULK continues to come out every 3 months instead of every 2 as it used to, or every month as we would like
The above list is to let our comrades inside know what to expect, and a call for support from people on the outside.
On 19 June 2022, prisoners across Texas abstained from celebrating the federal Juneteenth holiday until real freedom is attained by the oppressed in this country. Instead they organized, studied and made their voices heard for the demands of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative, including:
End Solitary Confinement! End Restrictive Housing Units(RHU)!
End Mass Incarceration!
Stop Mail Censorship!
Transform the prisons to cadre schools! Transform ourselves into NEW PEOPLE!
Updates Since Juneteenth
The response from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) was swift and coordinated. MIM(Prisons) sent hundreds of update letters to comrades in Texas during the month of June, and almost all of them appear to have been censored.
Prisons where our letters were censored for “inciting a disturbance” or “riot” include:
Beto I Unit
Christina Melton Crain Unit
Estelle High Security Unit
Mountain View Unit
We are still receiving and compiling censorship notices from June. Needless to say, there was a coordinated effort to block our letters across the state, and they were really worried about the Juneteenth boycott. Of course, there was nothing about organizing a riot in our letters. But the imperialists will consider a boycott a “disturbance” worthy of violating Constitutional rights. Biden said we must celebrate Juneteenth, so now we face the consequences of his goons in the TDCJ.
The censorship at Allred Unit had been going on for months prior. This is the worst RHU in the state, where a lot of the JFI organizing began. Therefore we began a postcard campaign to protest the political targeting of mail and of certain prisoners at Allred. One comrade there received 22 mail denial notices in one day in May! Another comrade in Allred wrote:
“I been denied 2 newsletters & 1 letter that ya’ll sent my way. [everything we’ve sent this comrade] I highly appreciate ya’ll. I’ve sent them home. This only confirms that Texas don’t want us to know. Your news letters were denied for tha reason of ‘inciting a disturbance’.”
“I asked the mail room lady if anything sent from this address will be denied and she said, ‘Yes.’ Just like that, freedom of speech denied.”
This campaign is ongoing, as the censorship continues, and we ask outside supporters to get involved. Mail from prisoners in Allred is often delayed a month or more, so updates on the launch of the JFI have not yet come in from some of the organizers.
Outreach during June included flyering and postcards on the streets, hundreds of update letters sent to TX prisoners and radio interviews in Texas and on Free Aztlán on 96.1 KEXU in Oakland.
One Texas comrade reported:
“The Juneteenth Freedom Initiative flyer was displayed for several weeks here. On Juneteenth, no movement due to low staff and no special holiday meal. The officers dining room had ribs, BBQ chicken and brisquet with all the fixins, and these were supposed to be delivered to each officer on duty. However, most were stolen en route. The warden and kitchen captain were pissed.”
The JFI was initiated by TX T.E.A.M. O.N.E who has continued to lead organizing efforts inside. Others, including Prison Lives Matter, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee Local 613 #1, the Texas Liberation Collective, and United Struggle from Within cells, have joined the call. On the outside, MIM(Prisons), Anti-Imperialist Prisoner Support, and the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement have been providing support.
Per the plan below, laid out by TX T.E.A.M. O.N.E. the next phase of the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative for prisoners is to file petitions with the Department of Justice. If you need a sample petition, write us to get a copy. This petition is not specific to Texas.
Prisoners in long-term solitary confinement in Texas can also join the Dillard lawsuit against the TDCJ. If you need a copy of the motion to join, write us.
Outside supporters can best assist organizers inside by joining our campaign against censorship. We want to continue to let the TDCJ know that people outside are paying attention and not willing to accept this political repression. We will be following up with a lawsuit on behalf of an affected party in Allred and MIM Distributors. You can help in the following ways:
calling or writing letters to the TDCJ, and to Allred Unit in particular
getting others to sign postcards protesting the censorship
As you may know, Juneteenth has now been made a federal holiday in amerika. On this day many will sing the praises of Our oppressors or otherwise negate the reality of the lumpen (economically alienated class), that according to amerika’s 13th amendment We are STILL SLAVES. While We do not wish to nullify the intensity of the exploitation and oppression that New Afrikan people held in chattel slavery faced, We must pinpoint to the general public, those upcoming generations of youngsters looking to follow Our footsteps, that to be held in captivity by the state or feds is not only to be frowned upon but is part and parcel with the intentions of this amerikan government, and its capitalist-imperialist rulers. We say NO CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH until the relation of people holding others in captivity is fully abolished!!
Comrades have been organizing around the Juneteenth Freedom Initiative(JFI) for almost a year now, and we just completed phase 1. Prisoners in Texas and North Carolina took up the campaign. Instead of celebrating Juneteenth, boycotters worked to get out the voice of the incarcerated in TX and NC.
Previous campaign materials include more demands and more details. Add your own demands that speak to your local conditions and make the JFI demands heard by the masses and the oppressors. Don’t just boycott, organize.
The Boycott is just the first phase and launch of this campaign by and for all Texas prisoners.
Juneteenth boycott and voice demands starting 19 June 2022
present petition to the Department of Justice Special Litigation division (write in to get a copy if you still need one) – everyone should mail copies of their own signed petition to the DOJ following Juneteenth 2022
if (2) fails to bring proper response, we will petition the United Nations – date To Be Determined – watch for announcement in Under Lock & Key, we will be requesting testimonials and collecting statistics to back up our arguments on each campaign position and submit them as evidence to bolster the recent guilty verdict of the We Still Charge Genocide, International Tribunal 2021 where mass incarceration and solitary confinement were ruled to be vital tools in the U.S. campaign of genocide for centuries against Black, Brown and Indigenous peoples of this continent.
Thank you for the book MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism – this is exactly the kind of reading material I want and need.
I do want to briefly comment on a recurring phrase I see in some of your theory: “white worker”. Does this mean white collar worker as in labor aristocrat or is this a prejudice that labor aristocrats are white skin color? If you mean privileged as in white collar then why don’t you say collar?
I have not read much of the book yet, just a few pages. However, I can agree that much of the working class in amerika is labor aristocrat, where you lose me is that when I think of labor aristocrat I see a face like Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, who is constantly calling for more police and more oppression.
Here in California we have a lot of Brown faces, perhaps 50% Brown. The point is whenever I talk to a Brown or Black person about socialism the response is mostly the same. Black & Brown people in amerika love their privilege, they enjoy exploiting 3rd world workers, there the labor aristocrat is Brown and Black in the face and white in the collar.
I think MIM Theory agrees with me that First World working class has no use for revolution and is impossible to recruit or even harmful to the movement, as bourgeoisie in any dictatorship of the proletariat is only there to revive capitalism. However, as MIM states the majority of First World working class is labor aristocrat, then I would assume MIM is considering the demographics of the First World as a whole and means “white collar worker” and not merely a racist jab of “white worker.” All of the cops here have Brown faces.
a California prisoner
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Sounds like we have a high level of unity on the class structure in this country, and the world. The truth is the analysis has evolved since the 1980s, when it was more reasonable to talk about a proletariat in the internal semi-colonies (by which we mean New Afrika, Boricua, Aztlan, and the First Nations). So back then writers like MIM and Sakai would talk about a Black or Chican@ proletariat, while seeing the white workers as an enemy class. And yes, by white we mean white people, though we use it to talk about nation, rather than race, which is a myth. Therefore today we’ll often use Amerikan instead. And many “non-white” people have integrated into Amerika today. Euro-Amerikan is a term for the oppressor nation, but white is still a valid term that is understood by the masses today.
In the introduction to our pamphlet, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates, we wrote:
“If we fast forward from the time period discussed above to the 1980s we see the formation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement as well as a consolidation of theorists coming out of the legacy of the Black Liberation Army and probably the RYM as well. Both groups spoke widely of a Black or New Afrikan proletariat, which dominated the nation. MIM later moved away from this line and began entertaining Huey P. Newton’s prediction of mass lumpenization, at least in regard to the internal semi-colonies. Today we find ourselves in a position were we must draw a line between ourselves and those who speak of an exploited New Afrikan population. If the U.$. economy only existed within U.$. borders then we would have to conclude that the lower incomes received by the internal semi-colonies overall is the source of all capitalist wealth. But in today’s global economy, employed New Afrikans have incomes that are barely different from those of white Amerikans compared to the world’s majority, putting most in the top 10% by income.”
The above quote is referring to the MIM Congress resolution, On the internal class structures of the internal semi-colonies. Even since that was written we’ve seen the proliferation of what you talk about, Chican@ prison guards being the majority in much of Aztlan, and New Afrikan prison guards being the majority in many parts of the Black Belt. This of course varies by local demographics. Regardless, it makes one question whether there are even internal semi-colonies to speak of, or at what point we should stop speaking of them? The massive prison system in this country is one reason we do still speak of them.
So we agree with you that the term “white worker” has kind of lost its meaning today. However, we still see the principal contradiction in this country as nation. Despite the bourgeoisification and integration of sectors of the oppressed nations, and the subsequent division of those nations, we still see nationalism of the internal semi-colonies, if led by a proletarian line, as the most potent force against imperialism from within U.$. borders.
A couple more minor points. We’d probably say Eric Adams, and high ranking politicians like em, are solidly bourgeois. Whereas the labor aristocracy would be those Brown guards overseeing you. In addition, we do not use labor aristocracy and white collar synonymously either, as white collar work has always been petty bourgeois or at best semi-proletariat by Marxist standards. So the real controversial issue is to say there are “blue collar” workers who are not exploited.
Organizations for Whites
Another comrade wrote saying that ey had no organization to join because ey is white. They had mistakenly thought that we think people should only organize with their own nation. We do not take a hard line on this question. And it is obviously related to the above.
MIM(Prisons), USW and AIPS are all multinational. Yet in our understanding of nation as principal, it seems necessary for there to be nation-specific organizations to play that contradiction out between the oppressed and oppressor nations. We certainly have supported single-nation organizing, and in another resolution we put out, we cite that as one of the handful of legitimate reasons to start a new organization instead of joining MIM(Prisons) or USW.
But there may be situations where multinational organizing in this country is actually more effective. At this stage our numbers are so small that it should be strongly considered just out of necessity to begin building our infrastructure. And when single-nation organizations do exist, the united front exists for them to work with others outside their nation.
Printing Anarchist Content
Finally, we had a discussion with a comrade who submitted an article that was favorable or uncritical of anarchist organizing strategy. The comrade wanted to know why we asked em to change eir article, because we claim we will print articles form anarchist allies.
Just because we will print content from anarchists, even content we might have disagreements with, it doesn’t mean we always will. First, our goal is to win people over to the Maoist line. So if you submit something that disagrees with that, our first response will often be to struggle with you over that line with the goal of gaining a higher level of unity.
Now some comrades are avowed anarchists. For them we do not need to keep having the same debate. Nor do we need to have that debate in ULK. When we say we’ll print material from anarchists we’re talking about material that actually pushes the struggle forward. Not material that is debating issues we think were settled 100 years ago. This is similar to a critic complaining about us not printing eir piece in ULK when we responded, because we weren’t showing both sides of the debate over the labor aristocracy. Again, this is a debate that was settled decades ago.
On top of this there are many comrades and organizations we work with that aren’t in the camp of the international communist movement such as the Nation of Gods and Earths for one example. While many aspects of the Supreme Understanding taught by the NGE certainly goes against the Maoist worldview, we are able to find solidarity in practice and in a united front. We don’t necessarily have to battle out whether the Supreme Understanding or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is correct in the newsletter. We encourage line struggle on the ground.
In summary, this is a Maoist newsletter, edited to represent the Maoist line. We get to pick and choose when to print stuff that disagrees with Maoism if we think it is useful to advancing the struggle. Sure we find it important for cadres to be able to commit to line struggle scientifically and principally, and communists in general should have the ability to look at sources that challanges their viewpoint and uphold their line while analyzing what’s wrong/correct during line struggle. There is infinite non-Maoist material out there; and we advise our readers and comrades to go to those materials if they want to see what our critics are saying. We certainly won’t expect our critics to use space in their newsletters publishing entire polemics that we wrote against them, nor would we say that’s unfair to us.
On 27 June 2022, the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE) agreed in opening discussion with the Ecuadorian government in solutions for the national strike that has paralyzed parts of the country for two weeks.(1) Before declaring its openness to negotiations with the government however, CONAIE rejected President Guillermo Lasso’s move in calling for price cuts of gasoline for 10 cents in diesel.(2) Currently, the fuel prices of Ecuador has doubled from 2020 with diesel going from $1 to $1.90 and gasoline from $1.72 to $2.55.(3) From CONAIE’s “Agenda of National Struggle,” the first point demanded:
“Reduction and freezing of the prices of fuel: diesel at $1.50 and extra and eco gasoline at $2.10. Abolish Decrees 1158, 1183, 1054, and focus instead on the sectors that need more subsidies: agricultural work, farming, transportation and fishing.”
The demand was obviously not met, and CONAIE still continued to blockade the roads with President Lasso claiming,
“Ecuadorians who seek dialogue will find a government with an outstretched hand, those who seek chaos, violence and terrorism will face the full force of the law.”(4)
Seeking to appease the rebellion in other ways, Lasso has lifted the state of emergency for the nation. CONAIE leader Leonidas Iza who was arrested by the national police on 14 June 2022, was rejected by President Lasso who claimed that the indigenous leader was an “opportunist.”
“We will not return to dialogue with Leonidas Iza, who only defends his political interests and not those of his base. To our indigenous brothers – you deserve more than an opportunist for a leader.”
Historical Overview of Rebellions in Ecuador
Two years earlier, Ecuador faced another similar rebellion led by workers and students which sparked on the International Workers’ Day of 1 May 2020. The political-economic crisis heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic revealed quite a few corrupt decisions made by the government.(6) Workers and students demanded better wages, coordinated sit-ins in medical facilities, and demonstrated in the streets with rallies. The main goals were for better wages, and ousting of then-President Lenin Moreno.
A year previous to the 2020 demonstrations, in October of 2019, another rebellion raged in Ecuador as the month started with President Lenin Moreno declaring 6 economic measures, and 13 restructuring proposals which was part of an agreement the government took in a $4.2 billion loan with the IMF.(7) One of the key reform acts targeted by demonstrators was a 20% cut in wages for new contracts in public sector jobs, and a cut of a decades long fuel subsidies which led to an increase of fuel prices.(8) The leading two groups of this rebellion were the aforementioned CONAIE and the United Front of Workers (FUT).
Prior to that, there was also a rebellion in 2015, a rebellion in 2012, and another nationwide crisis in 2010. CONAIE and other indigenous national groups all played a role in these movements with varying degrees of involvement. From 2010 to 2022, there have been 6 major rebellions with the workers, students, and indigenous nations playing a leading role in the movements. Crisis after crisis, what is causing this trend? Every time the workers or the indigenous nations rise up (oftentimes together) they are accused of staging a coup by the government. In 2000, there was a short-lived coup, but the Amerikans interfered to remove indigenous leaders from power. Despite this, they have denied the accusations in recent protests, while also following their word through with action. How come they seem to have no desire to seek state power despite having the independent institutions and subjective forces that are able to paralyze the country each time they rebel?
After many years of regular protests against politicaleconomic crisis in Ecuador, there was a rise of the social-democratic movements in Latin America that became prominent in the mid-2000s. This trend was strongly guided and inspired by the ideology of “Socialism of the 21st Century”, which argued that societal change and shift from capitalism to socialism can be done in gradual and non-violent means.(9) Prominent leaders who have taken up this ideology include Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and finally Rafael Correa of Ecuador.
Rafael Correa, was the 45th president of Ecuador from 15 January 2007 until 24 May 2017. President Correa – leading the left-wing coalition of the PAIS Alliance – began the “Citizen’s Revolution” in hopes to reconstruct the country into a socialist state. The government ended its relationship with the IMF, and took an active part in creating the “Bank of the South” – a pan-South American monetary fund alongside the political-economic bloc of the Union of South American Nations.(10)
The class character of this movement can clearly be seen as that of the national bourgeoisie of South America: the bourgeoisie of South America stunted by imperialism as opposed to requiring imperialism to function as a class. With this national bourgeois led anti-imperialist movement in Ecuador, we see another example of a failure in reformism and social-democracy in history. With the PAIS alliance’s right-wing turn under the next president Lenin Moreno, Correa distanced himself from PAIS due to disagreements. Under Lenin Moreno’s presidency, and through the political-economic crisis brought by social democracy (such as national debt), the strategy of working within the system found itself reversing all its progresses. By the time Correa left office in 2017, there have already been 2 major rebellions. The rebellion in 2012, was part in reaction to the joint Ecuadorian-Chinese company “Ecuaorriente SA” commencing a 25-year contract of extracting natural resources on indigenous nations’ land.(11) So with the failures of social-democracy and reformism came another lesson learned by the Ecuadorian masses. Whether this lesson can be synthesized back to the masses through a revolutionary lens is a question for the revolutionaries of Ecuador.
During the rebellions, one can see in images hammer and sickles, anarchist A’s, and myriads of other ideological imagery painted across makeshift shields, helmets, and banners. With the tactics and strategy of blockades and insurgencies the rebellions which seems to constantly appear in the country seem to be eclectic and non-ideological. When constantly accused by the regime that these groups are forming coup d’états, CONAIE and organizations representing the workers and students constantly deny the accusations of ousting any presidents. They follow through with their actions as well. Short lived insurgencies don’t lead to state power.
Lessons For Us To Learn
Fidel Castro has famously said that the reasoning behind his armed action and revolution against the Batista government was because working within the existing political system has been exhausted of its effectiveness. Yet, when the new generation of Latin American leftists and self-proclaimed “communists” came to prominence, Fidel Castro also famously claimed that the new generation is lucky because they are in a situation where power can be obtained through the ballot not the bullet. Throughout his life, Castro kept representing the petty-bourgeoisie and the national bourgeoisie of Cuba through its alignment with the social-imperialists of the USSR: a similar move that Correa’s government had done with the Chinese social-imperialists and the national bourgeoisie of Ecuador. In the end of his life, Castro closely aligned himself with the pink tide of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc.
The lessons we can learn from the failures of reformism or “Socialism of the 21st century” can be standard lessons we have drawn from the failures of all reformist or electoral methods of achieving proletarian dictatorship/socialism. The state is a tool wielded by a class: the bourgeoisie. Despite this, finance capital finds its ways to implement social-democracy (or fascism) as a means of governing. Using the tools of the enemy won’t get us state power. They will crush us as soon as we cross their lines.
The lessons we can learn from the CONAIE and the various workers and student organizations which rebel constantly in Ecuador are valuable as well. One lesson is in regards to the distinction of having reforms through violence in contrast to a revolution. Through a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist lens, just because one uses violent tactics or bears arms does not necessarily mean they are revolutionary or conducting meaningful armed struggle. One can be just as reformist through violent means as with electoral means. This highlights the key idea that reform vs revolution isn’t a matter of strategies or tactics, it is a question of the correct analysis of how the change from a capitalist society to a socialist society happens. Thousands of masses can rally on the streets throwing firebombs at the police, but if the goal is to change laws and protest austerity measures then it is no different in quality than reform. In similar methods, things that might seem reformist at a shallow glance such as building independent institutions and spreading public opinion against world imperialism (advancing the objective and subjective forces) can be revolutionary if the goals are aligned and preparing for proletarian dictatorship during non-advanced stages.
Long live Ecuador!
Self-determination for all oppressed nations!
Notes (1) AP News, June 25, 2022, “Ecuador president: Indigenous leader is trying to stage coup.” (2) Lina Vanegas, June 27, 2022, “Protesters Meet Ecuador Govt After Rejecting Fuel Price Cut,” International Business Times. (3) Ibid. (4) Ibid. (5) Ibid. (6) Rhonny Rodriguez, October 7th, 2022, “Ecuador, el peor evaluado en la región sobre el manejo de la pandemia” Expreso (7) Kimberly Brown, October 10th, 2019, “Ecuador unrest: What led to the mass protests?” Al Jazeera (8) Ibid. (9) Socialism of the 21st Century – Economy, Society, and Democracy in the era of global Capitalism, Introduction by Heinz Dieterich (10) El Mundo, April 16th, 2007, “Ecuador cancela la deuda con el FMI y amenaza con echar al representante del Banco Mundial” (11) Amy Silverstein, March 9th, 2012, “Ecuador natives begin two-week march to protest Chinese mining company” The World