I just received the latest issue of Under Lock & Key No. 38 May/June 2014, which is a surprise being that recently a copy of the grievance petition and a couple of guides were forwarded to the DOC's Correspondence Review Committee to see if they will allow me to receive them. The mailroom staff considers the material "questionable & inflammatory."
This censorship comes as no shock since the hypocrisy that they label as a "democracy" in Amerikan society censors the mass media and many other forms of disseminating knowledge, due to material being labeled "inflammatory." Although these restrictions clearly are in violation of their own constitutional laws, these imperialistic powers thrive from being able to control & manipulate mass information, therefore they will continue violating laws to maintain and/or advance their position.
Too much trust is placed in the Amerikan government, their structure and system by the Amerikan people/population. Maybe people still believe that Amerika guarantees the "right" to free speech because they don't have anything relevant to say. Whenever someone has something profound to say that the government may consider to be counter-productive to their message or a "threat," the message will be suppressed from being propagated on a mass level. Then some people don't care because they have never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful, which displays that either they don't stand for anything or they are cowards. Or maybe people believe they have a "right" of free speech because they are supportive of this system, therefore everything they say is conducive to the message the government wishes to convey. In this way, these people never experience this form of censorship or are too blind to recognize it. Controlling or censoring what the media provides to the public is a main component to controlling the public. The Amerikan public is now experiencing martial law in its subtlest form. Too often "state of emergencies" are called for fabricated or manufactured reasons, only to benefit the Amerikan government.
I will notify you of the outcome concerning the study group guide, grievance petition, and guide to writing articles after the Correspondence Review Committee makes their determining decision.
United We Struggle.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This arbitrary censorship by Perry Correctional Institution officials demonstrates the lack of real reason behind their denial of some mail to prisoners. Included in the list of letters censored is MIM(Prison)'s writing tips, which has information on how to write articles for Under Lock & Key, including various grammar and spelling rules. Only if the prison considers education a risk would this denial make sense.
We do not believe that the Amerikan people are pacified entirely because of the control of their media and information. While this is certainly an important part of the Amerikan government's control of the country, there are plenty of Third World countries where governments have similar or even stronger hold on the media, and still the people rise up and organize against their own repression. Important to the Amerikan public's passivity is their material interest in the system. This prisoner gets at this point when s/he accuses Amerikans of having "never felt the need to speak out or say something meaningful", a state of affairs common in imperialist countries today where the vast majority of the population has been bought off and enjoys comfortable lives at the expense of the exploited peoples of the world.
Less than two months from my release date, I was maliciously scapegoated for my actions in reporting a continual, inhumane practice of Central Maryland Correctional Facility (CMCF). CMCF is a supermax camp that houses minimum and pre-release security inmates under Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS, formerly DOC). As you may imagine, there isn't much effort put forth by convicts to struggle (peacefully or otherwise) against administrative injustices, due to short release dates and the strict guidelines of the residential substance abuse program (RSAT), which half of the jail is binded by. For the vast majority of those assigned to RSAT by case management, it is mandatory under DPSCS policy that they complete the program or they receive a notice of infraction (ticket) in which all good days given to you at the beginning of your bid may be taken if found guilty. Needless to say, I'm hoping I can dodge that ticket somehow. But with the aforementioned in mind, you can understand the lack of political involvement at CMCF.
CMCF is a dorm setting and down in the RSAT building the bunk area is separated from everything (bathroom, TV, microwave, etc.). During count time the Correctional Officers (COs) are supposed to keep the doors locked only until they are finished counting the other side and then return to open the doors so prisoners can utilize the bathroom, two at a time. Most prisoners are frustrated by this "supermax-like" procedure of a pre-release camp because they were of the belief that the closer to getting home that you are, the easier your bid got. Getting to the issue, every now and then a CO will leave the doors locked for excessive time, consequently forcing us to hold our bladder and bowels.
When a legitimate situation arose, I felt it was imperative for someone to take up the vanguard so we could do some agitating of our own. This particular instance, the doors were locked for an hour and a half (no exaggeration), leaving some to piss in cups, while the officer bullshitted and remained in the bubble acting oblivious to the kicks on the doors and prisoners pressing the buttons that lets them know that someone needs to get out. A strong Black brother from the FOI (Fruit of Islam), me, and two other conscious brothers struggling to ameliorate the Black man's plight, encouraged our dorm mates to write it up so administration would know that we are sick and tired. Twenty five out of a dorm of 61 people filing grievances for the same reasons is abnormal to say the least, for that jail.
As a result of this protest I have been placed on Administrative Segregation pending adjustment (hearing) for four charges (most serious to least): engaging in a disruptive act, interfering with officer's duties, coercions, and forging documents. They alleged that I forced people to sign some grievances, signed others myself, and intimidated ALL participants with my STG status (I am validated as Blood). They needed what seems like a feasible explanation to dismiss the grievances filed - thus scapegoating the "intimidating, coercing, Blood member who had a vendetta against Officer D. Brown." But this route wasn't taken until after the THIRD attempt to get inmates to withdraw complaints using their usual bribery and manipulative tactics: promises of yard every night in exchange for signing off, saying the grievances wouldn't accomplish anything, etc.
There are lessons to be learned in every situation, this in particular being, not giving administration an easy target, as a conscious brother warned me of just before I got this ticket. For those who wanted to contribute but just didn't know how to write the complaint or were just too lazy, I wrote their grievances for them, all the exact same way that I wrote mine - this was a crucial mistake. I also spoke out more than others when administration came to convince us to withdraw our complaints - another vital mistake, giving them an easy target again. If found guilty of this ticket I face 180 days lockup, 246 days loss of good time, a year loss of visits and my security going to medium. Whatever the outcome, I will be seeking justice!
MIM(Prisons) adds: This story of punishment for filing grievances is echoed across the United $nakes prison system. And it is one of the reasons prisoners have initiated a campaign to demand grievances be addressed in many states. We have petitions that prisoners can use to fight the denial of grievances, though Maryland is one state where we still need someone to customize the petition for use. These campaigns are important for two reasons: first, they give prisoners a way to fight back against unjust denial of grievances and demand the prison respect their rights, and second, they provide an educational opportunity for prison activists. As a common battle faced by all prisoners, the struggle to get grievances heard can be used to unite many for a common battle, while educating all about the limitations of our struggle within the system and the need for an anti-imperialist movement for long-term and systemic changes. Write to MIM(Prisons) for a copy of the grievance petition for your state, or if one does not exist volunteer to customize the petition from another state to be used there.
It made me smile to see that Under Lock & Key No. 38 had an article on my civil case. The name of the case is Stanley Earl Corbett, Jr., et al v. G.J. Branker et al., case # 5:13-ct-03201-BO. I filed this case pro se back in 2010. For two years I fought the case by myself, and it took me two years to get the judge to appoint me a civil attorney (NCPLS). Upon them being appointed to my case they asked me to let them use my case to add 7 other prisoners who'd been beaten in similar situations to what happened to me. I told them to add them without any hesitation, then I signed a consent form.
My point in speaking about this is because I could of said "f*** these prisoners," and went to trial, or settled out of court, but I didn't. Why? Because I represent the struggle, and I'm all for a major change in a positive way. So to all these selfish "inmates" (not prisoners) that are only concerned with themselves — We aren't nothing alike! I do this for real, and I'm still taking bumps and bruises because I've been receiving numerous forms of retaliation from these pigs for pursuing my rights. But I'ma ride or die for the cause/struggle. I truly appreciate ya'll exposing this injustice.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Another comrade involved in this case has been keeping us abreast of the consistent progress of this lawsuit. And while the outcome is a limited reform, this letter reinforces the greater significance of this work. By working in the context of class struggle we continue to build something bigger than ourselves as individuals. We're glad this comrade found ULK and has pledged to become a contributor to our work. We're also glad to hear that he received Under Lock & Key No. 38, since every issue for over three years has been put on the statewide ban list in North Carolina. Perhaps comrades' efforts on that front are paying off as well. Despite the repression, comrades in North Carolina are working together to stop abuse.
As Brazil prepares for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, it has been trying to create an image of safety and prosperity for the world to show that Rio de Janeiro is an optimum destination for both events and tourism. However, on closer inspection, what is going on behind the official facade tells an entirely different story; less than half a mile away from the sparkling beachfronts and hotels is one of the biggest shanty towns in South America, filled with filth and squalor, violence and death.(1)
The disparity between a growing number of thousands of impoverished citizens in Rio struggling to find adequate housing, employment, health care and other basic necessities, and the record-setting expenditure of $11 to 13 billion on the World Cup alone triggered huge protests less than a month before the soccer tournament begins. Homeless workers in Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest city, formed a group of 2,000 protesters who left their immense squatter camp to demonstrate outside the stadium where the opening World Cup game will be played June 12. Similar protests occurred in Rio, Recife, and elsewhere.(2)
In Rio, violent clashes broke out between police and squatters when authorities dislodged thousands of families from a newly formed favela in a complex of abandoned commercial buildings. Poor workers and their families have increasingly moved into such structures as affordable housing is becoming a rarity and rents skyrocket, yet hundreds of abandoned buildings stand empty.(3) One member of such an occupation movement put it this way: "It is a way to force distribution of income." Rubber bullets and gas were used against the squatters. Elsewhere, police and quasi-military "pacification" squads move into poor neighborhoods and favelas ostensibly to wrest control from drug traffickers. It is an attempt to drive the lumpen organizations away from these communities and restore police authority ahead of the upcoming games. But the program is controversial and has fallen under heavy criticism for using excessive force, at times killing residents. Groups such as Amnesty International say some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil in careless and violent police actions.(4) The mercenary company formerly known as Blackwater is helping provide security training in Brazil, stoking fears that the "pacification" of the slums is akin to an Iraq-style military occupation.(5)
In addition to the increasing use of militant tactics and hardware being used to "pacify" the favelas, thousands of Federal Army troops are being deployed to occupy such areas, including Rio's sprawling Maré complex of favelas. The militias will remain until July 31, after the World Cup concludes.(5) Authorities are also now promising to "secure" the slums using an elite military police squad called BOPE, a shadowy organization of highly trained special forces whose logo is a dagger piercing a skull. Meanwhile clandestine police "body dumps" have been discovered.(1)
The Brazilian government is learning that they can only push people so far who have little to nothing left to lose, culminating in widespread uprisings against state sanctioned brutality and indifference. Military equipment, personnel and tactics are increasingly being unleashed against the residents of slums in the name of increased security for the World Cup/Olympic games, while little to no prior offer of economic or housing aid is offered to the impoverished residents. The solution for the regime in power simply seems to be more repression and violence while it spends millions on stadiums and aesthetics.
The World Cup soccer tournament, like the Olympics, is a bourgeois bread and circus distraction, minus the bread. If the organizations behind these games were at all concerned about social justice or economic equality they would refrain from awarding to nations that conduct violence and economic terrorism on the poorest of their citizens the privilege of hosting their games and subsequent benefits. But history has shown time and again that such organizations are merely bourgeois capitalist lapdogs whose only concerns are self-promotion and profits for their economic masters and investors. This was shown in the blatant corruption of the Olympic committee some years back in Utah and continues unabated to this day. There can be no justice in a world where the fetishization of an officially sponsored diversionist sport occurs at the same time the cost of a single official soccer ball could feed a starving family for a month, who are also being shot at and gassed less than a mile from where such games are to take place!
Further, such militant tactics are being carried out in the name of an official battle against dangerous drug gangs, but if we are to take such justifications seriously then one would need to ignore the fact that it is the decadent culture and corrupt "war on drugs" itself of the imperialist power to the north that is mostly responsible for creating the conditions for such traffickers to exist and thrive. Especially in light of the fact that very few economic alternatives are offered to the youth of the favelas. While the bourgeois population of the United $tates provides the largest customer base for narcotics in the world, its farcical war on drugs, which it also tries to force on other nations such as Brazil, drives the prices of drugs to ridiculous levels. It's no wonder many impoverished and disillusioned people turn to trafficking. Again, the resolution is economic equality, not militant oppression.
The brutal repression of the people in Brazil for the sake of the "security" of the World Cup needs to be exposed and opposed by all who champion the oppressed everywhere. It will only come and go leaving the poor in worse condition for the expenditure of billions on such games instead of desperately needed social/economic programs. Support the peoples struggle in Brazil!
Our actions define us as struggle determines our strength. I applaud you all who've taken the steps to stand against the forces that are eager to watch the brave succumb to these oppressive conditions in the belly of the beast. The weak must strengthen up, because struggle will not ignore you, regardless of how hard you try to escape struggle. It's very important to note, struggle initiates within self. Real talk!
I am a young soulja on this oppressive plantation of Attica corruption facility. I recently came across ULK through a brother held behind enemy lines along with me. I was truly elated to read of the tired souls of you all who've decied that enough is indeed enough of the police brutality against the oppressed & the many injustices committed against the poor.
As a proud individual reinforcing unification, I stand alongside my fellow oppressed brothers & sisters determined to achieve better conditions. The principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons are indeed intune with the principles of the global Piru family, a united mobilized body of global brothers & sisters who've pledged to make & keep peace amongst one another; unite the masses on the essentials of love, loyalty, honour, respect & trust; grow to be productive to the community & utilize the growth to internationalize the presence of the global fighters against oppression. Thus, becoming an independent force against the oppressor.
Peace is what the global Piru family embraces amongst its oppressed people. Through this peace, the global Piru family aim to unify our people to stand firmly against oppression in all forms. The unification of the people's growth establishes its courage not to succumb in the midst of their fight to better their conditions. The growth of the oppressed people to fight against oppression expresses the oppressed's tiredness of being brutalized, exploited & denied their guarunteed rights under the united snakes constitution. The growth of the oppressed people further estabishes the foundation to internalize the fight to defend the life & liberty of the oppressed. It's evident that this internationalized fight is a global problem rather than a local issue. Amerikkka is the ugliest snakes to ever exist. Everywhere in Amerikkka, oppression is felt, oppression is observed, oppression is fought, which clearly means this is an internationalized (i.e. global) structure that is to be completely dismantled. There's no secret who's the oppressed people fugitive - the great oppressor. Attacking the problem on an internationalized level; We, the oppressed people develop an independent force designed to eradicate the adversaries of the oppressed. It's very important to know the independent fight starts within self. To obtain independence requires a vision; To pursue independence requires courage; To reach independence requires determination. Vision, courage and determination is a struggle and it's a struggle to win. This is the aim for the global Piru family.
Brothers & sisters in this struggle globally: The aim is for us (i.e. United Souljahs & United Soulja'ettes) to win & to do so entails unity, which is the epitome of my last name, 'Umoja'. Weakness can be strengthened with a vision. The courage & determination to revolutionize the pusillanimous mindframe. Though we can point the finger towards others, it's very imperative to remember, four is pointing back at the pointer. Pointing fingers shall be over, unless the finger is being pointed at self, asking ourself, "what can I do to change me?" Then ask ourself, "what am I gon' do to change me?"
To bring about unity amongst a whole body we must first unify ourselves to the struggle in which we seek to prevail & not become anymore of a victim [than] we've been thus far. I say this, because in order to become a man, we experience two phases before reaching the third phase of 'manhood'. The first phase is being a fool (i.e. acting in ways a man wouldn't dare act); The second phase is being a victim (i.e. blaming others for our foolish behaviour); The final phase is becoming a man (i.e. accepting responsibility for words & actions without passing blame or pointing the finger towards others). Unity requires responsibility. It cannot & it will be very difficult to accomplish with small minds involved.
A New Jersey comrade behind enemy lines representing ALKQN [All-Latin Kings/Queens Nation] spoke on Time for Peaceful Revolution (ULK No. 22). Though, I can overstand in part the comrade's stance, for it can be extremely beneficial considering the circumstances at the moment, it's imperative to remember, this approach has harmed us continuously — this physical pain may be temporary. The infliction of such brutality whether it be mental, physical, emotional etc. shall be considered more thoroughly, because the effects of such infliction can take years to reach its fruition, which shows through our actions. A peaceful revolution is required under certain circumstances. As the comrade responded, Chairman Mao stated:
"We are advocates of the abolition of war, we do not want war, but war can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun."
Change can & will only arrive when we unify ourselves with struggle internally. In the pursuit to unify with self-struggle, we tend to gravitate towards global struggle. This is the root of independent & internationalized unification.
Let's keep in mind, just because unity has been achieved, the struggle hasn't been obliterated. International unification was established to srengthen the masses to challenge our global struggle. The weak who chooses not to strengthen their pusillanimous mind, body & soul is to be left alone, for they are stragglers designed to stagnate the progress in unifying the people to change our oppressive conditions globally.
Brothers & sisters we are grown. No more time to waste on blaming others or making excuses for our lack of responsibility. Stand up souljahs, rise up soulja'ettes! Excuses & blame is what these savage ass pilgrims do whenever they feel the need to unjustly fabricate accusations to cover up their sadistic, capricious & arbitrary acts against us (i.e. Untied Souljas & United Soulja'ettes) while in defensive positions (i.e. in restraints, subdued by shackles & handcuffs).
Many of us claim to bang, yet so many of us have no idea what banging is other than physical altercation. Which, at times, amount to nothing. I include myself in this equation, because we're one. We're enduring struggle collectively and globally. This is why I include myself. As a man, I take responsibility for my oftentimes mishaps committed when frustrated. so, I'm still disciplining myself to channel my frustrations towards more productive measures. I'm man enough to acknowledge this struggle within myself. Our greatest leaders have acknowledged their obstacles and continued to push themselves forward to overcoming their fear of failure. Their aim was to win. We're all souljahz & soulja'ettez in this war called struggle. To win is to unite! Unity entails the utilization of the mind — the strongest & most deadliest weapon we possess when used accordingly. Many of us tend to backtrack & temporarily lose focus until pulled back up to reality. To be revolutionary entails being a fighter for betterment. We're not perfect, nor are we exempt from slipping at times. Keep in mind: To win, we are to get back from our temporary downfall. Stand up, head held high, shoulders firm, mind stronger to prevent future temptations that stagnate our growth for unity. We're fighters, not quitters.
The global Piru family is here alongside the true and living, fighting to make our conditions better. In solidarity, we will prevail over the obstacles placed before us to stumble & stagnate our growth to overcome the harsh conditions of racism, brutality by law enforcement, protection of our constitutional rights, in particular — the first amendment to have free speech, second amendment to bear arms in self-defence, fourth amendment, stop the unlawful evading of the homes of the poor; fifth amendment, due process to a fair trial; sixth amendment, right to meaningful representation; eighth amendment, to remain free from crual & unusual punishment; fourteenth amendment, the right to life & liberty; equal opportunity in education, better jobs for the poor, housing for the homeless, food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, etc. These are conditions of oppression when deliberately denied. These are issues we are supposed to be protected from enduring. To encounter any of these atrocities is an attack on the basic needs of humanity. When we're denied these fundamentals, we're being oppressed & struggle is present & when struggle is present - resistance is employed.
To fight struggle hard is essentially the vision, courage & determination to win. The aim to win, failure is not an option under no circumstances whatsoever within our realm. The global Piru family vow to unite with the oppressed.
Power to the oppressed people! Clenched fist held high.
The Worker Elite: Notes on the "Labor Aristocracy" by Bromma Kersplebedeb, 2014
Available for $10 + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne Montreal, Quebec Canada H3W 3H8
As with our previous review of Bromma's writings, we find h new book to be a good read, based in an analysis that is close to our own. Yet, once again we find h putting class as principal and mentioning gender as an important component of class. In contrast, MIM(Prisons) sees the principal contradiction under imperialism as being along the lines of nation, in particular between the imperialist nations that exploit and those nations that are exploited. While all three strands interact with each other, we see gender as its own strand of oppression, distinct from class. While Bromma has much to say on class that is agreeable, one thread that emerges in this text that we take issue with is that of the First World labor aristocracy losing out due to "globalization."
Bromma opens with some definitions and a valid criticism of the term "working class." While using many Marxist terms, h connection to a Marxist framework is not made clear. S/he consciously writes about the "worker elite," while disposing of the term "labor aristocracy" with no explanation. In the opening s/he rhetorically asks whether the "working class" includes all wage earners, or all manual laborers. While dismissing the term "working class" as too general, Bromma does not address these questions in h discussion of the worker elite. Yet, throughout the book s/he addresses various forms of productive labor in h examples of worker elite. S/he says that the worker elite is just one of many groups that make up the so-called "middle class." But it is not clear how Bromma distinguishes the worker elite from the other middle classes, except that they are found in "working class jobs." Halfway through the book it is mentioned that s/he does not consider "professionals, shopkeepers, administrators, small farmers, businesspeople, intellectuals, etc." to be workers.(p.32)
We prefer the term "labor aristocracy" over "worker elite," and we may use it more broadly than Bromma's worker elite in that the type of work is not so important so much as the pay and benefits. Bromma, while putting the worker elite in the "middle class," simultaneously puts it into the "working class" along with the proletariat and the lumpen working class. We put the labor aristocracy in the First World within the petty bourgeoisie, which may be a rough equivalent of what Bromma calls the "middle class." Of course, the petty bourgeoisie has historically been looked at as a wavering force between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Yet, in the case of the oppressor nation labor aristocracy, they have proven to be a solidly pro-imperialist class. This analysis, central to MIM Thought, is particular to the imperialist countries.
Despite these questions and confusions, overall we agree with the global class analysis as it is presented in the beginning of this book in terms of who are our friends and who are our enemies.
One good point made throughout this book is the idea that the "worker elite" is not defined merely by an income cut off. While not denying the central role of income, Bromma defines this class position as a whole package of benefits, material (health care, infrastructure), social (family life, leisure activities) and political (lack of repression, voice in politics). At one point s/he brings up the migrant farm workers in the U.$., who can earn similar amounts to the autoworkers in Mexico who s/he argues make up an established worker elite. In contrast, the migrant farm workers suffer the abuses of the proletariat at the bottom rung of U.$. society, and in reality many make far less than Mexican autoworkers. We agree with Bromma's implication here that the migrant workers make up a proletarian class within the United $tates.
While criticizing previous attempts to set an "exploitation line" in income, Bromma brings in PPP to improve this analysis. The book provides a helpful table of the income levels in Purchasing Power Parities (PPP) for various groups. PPP defines income levels relative to a basket of goods to account for varying prices across countries/regions. Bromma concludes that "a global middle class annual income probably starts somewhere between PPP $10,000 and $15,000", meaning that a single worker (man) could comfortably support a family on this amount. This is similar to the estimates others have done and we have used elsewhere.
One of the key characteristics of this income level is that they have gone beyond covering basic needs and become consumers. Bromma lists one of the three main roles of the worker elite as being a consumer class. This is something we have stressed when people ask incredulously why the capitalists would pay people more than the value that they are producing. Bromma cites a source discussing the Chinese planned capitalist economy and how they have goals for expanding their consumer class as they recognize that their increasing production will soon not be absorbed by consumption abroad. This is typical capitalist logic. Rather than seeing what the Chinese people need, and produce based on those needs as they did under a socialist planned economy, today they first produce a lot of the most profitable goods and then try to find (or create) a market to sell them to.
Where we disagree greatest with this book is that it takes up a line akin to Huey P. Newton's intercommunalism theory, later named globalization theory in Amerikan academia. It claims a trend towards equalization of classes internationally, reducing the national contradictions that defined the 20th century. Bromma provides little evidence of this happening besides anecdotal examples of jobs moving oversees. Yet s/he claims, "Among 'white' workers, real wages are stagnant, unemployment is high, unions are dwindling, and social benefits and protective regulations are evaporating."(p.43) These are all common cries of white nationalists that the MIM camp and others have been debating for decades.(1) The fact that wages are not going up as fast as inflation has little importance to the consumer class who knows that their wealth is far above the world's majority and whose buying power has increased greatly in recent decades.(2) Unemployment in the United $tates averaged 5.9% in April 2014 when this book came out, which means the white unemployment rate was even lower than that.(3) That is on the low side of average over the last 40 years and there is no upward trend in unemployment in the United $tates, so that claim is just factually incorrect. High unemployment rates would be 35% in Afghanistan, or 46% in Nepal. The author implies that unions are smaller because of some kind of violent repression, rather than because of structural changes in the economy and the privileged conditions of the labor aristocracy.
The strongest evidence given for a rise in the worker elite is in China. One report cited claims that China is rivaling the U.$. to have the largest "middle class" soon.(p.38) Yet this middle class is not as wealthy as the Amerikan one, and is currently only 12-15% of the population.(p.32) It's important to distinguish that China is an emerging imperialist power, not just any old Third World country. Another example given is Brazil, which also has a growing finance capital export sector according to this book, a defining characteristic of imperialism. The importance of nation in the imperialist system is therefore demonstrated here in the rise of the labor aristocracy in these countries. And it should be noted that there is a finite amount of labor power to exploit in the world. The surplus value that Chinese and Brazilian finance capital is finding abroad, and using partly to fund their own emerging consumer classes, will eat into the surplus value currently taken in by the First World countries. In this way we see imperialist competition, and of course proletarian revolution, playing bigger roles in threatening the current privileges of the First World, rather than the globalization of finance capital that Bromma points to.
As Zak Cope wrote in a recent paper, "Understanding how the 'labour aristocracy' is formed means understanding imperialism, and conversely."(4) It is not the U.$. imperialists building up the labor aristocracy in China and Brazil. South Korea, another country discussed, is another story, that benefits as a token of U.$. imperialism in a half-century long battle against the Korean peoples' struggle for independence from imperialism and exploitation. While Bromma brings together some interesting information, we don't agree with h conclusion that imperialism is "gradually detaching itself from the model of privileged 'home countries' altogether."(p.40) We would interpret it as evidence of emerging imperialist nations and existing powers imposing strategic influence. Cope, building on Arghiri Emmanuel's work, discusses the dialectical relationship between increasing wages and increasing the productive forces within a nation.(2,5) Applying their theories, for Chinese finance capital to lead China to become a powerful imperialist country, we would expect to see the development of a labor aristocracy there as Bromma indicates is happening. This is a distinct phenomenon from the imperialists buying off sections of workers in other countries to divide the proletariat. That's not to say this does not happen, but we would expect to see this on a more tactical level that would not produce large shifts in the global balance of forces.
Finance capital wants to be free to dominate the whole world. As such it appears to be transnational. Yet, it requires a home base, a state, with strong military might to back it up. How else could it keep accumulating all the wealth around the world as the majority of the people suffer? Chinese finance capital is at a disadvantage, as it must fight much harder than the more established imperialist powers to get what it perceives to be its fair share. And while its development is due in no small part to cooperation with Amerikan finance capital, this is secondary to their competitive relationship. This is why we see Amerika in both China's and Russia's back yards making territorial threats in recent days (in the South China Sea and Ukraine respectively). At first, just getting access to Chinese labor after crushing socialism in 1976 was a great boon to the Amerikan imperialists. But they are not going to stop there. Russia and China encompass a vast segment of the globe where the Amerikans and their partners do not have control. As Lenin said one hundred years ago, imperialism marks the age of a divided world based on monopolies. Those divisions will shift, but throughout this period the whole world will be divided between different imperialist camps (and socialist camps as they emerge). And as Cope stresses, this leads to a divided "international working class."
While there is probably a labor aristocracy in all countries, its role and importance varies greatly. MIM line on the labor aristocracy has been developed for the imperialist countries, where the labor aristocracy encompasses the wage-earning citizens as a whole. While the term may appropriately be used in Third World countries, we would not equate the two groups. The wage earners of the world have been so divided that MIM began referring to those in the First World as so-called "workers." So we do not put the labor aristocracy of the First World within the proletarian class as Bromma does.
We caution against going too far with applying our class definitions and analysis globally. In recent years, we have distinguished the First World lumpen class from that of the lumpen-proletariat of the Third World. In defining the lumpen, Bromma "includes working class people recruited into the repressive apparatus of the state — police, informants, prison guards, career soldiers, mercenaries, etc."(p.5) This statement rings more true in the Third World, yet even there a government job would by definition exclude you from being in the lumpen-proletariat. In the imperialist countries, police, prison guards, military and any other government employee are clearly members of the labor aristocracy. This is a point we will explore in much greater detail in future work.
The principal contradiction within imperialism is between exploiter and exploited nations. Arghiri Emmanuel wrote about the national interest, criticizing those who still view nationalism as a bourgeois phenomenon as stuck in the past. After WWII the world saw nationalism rise as an anti-colonial force. In Algeria, Emmanuel points out, the national bourgeoisie and Algerian labor aristocracy had nothing to lose in the independence struggle as long as it did not go socialist. In contrast, it was the French settlers in Algeria that violently opposed the liberation struggle as they had everything to lose.(6) In other words there was a qualitative difference between the Algerian labor aristocracy and the French settler labor aristocracy.
It is the responsibility of people on the ground to do a concrete analysis of their own conditions. We've already mentioned our use of the term "First World lumpen" to distinguish it from the lumpen of the Third World, which is a subclass of the proletariat. To an extent, all classes are different between the First and Third World. We rarely talk of the labor aristocracy in the Third World, because globally it is insignificant. It is up to comrades in Third World nations to assess the labor aristocracy in their country, which in many cases will not be made up of net-exploiters. Bromma highlights examples of exploiter workers in Mexico and South Korea. These are interesting exceptions to the rule that should be acknowledged and assessed, but we think Bromma goes too far in generalizing these examples as signs of a shift in the overall global class structure. While we consider Mexico to be a Third World exploited nation, it is a relatively wealthy country that Cope includes on the exploiter side, based on OECD data, in his major calculations.
Everything will not always fit into neat little boxes. But the scientific method is based on applying empirically tested laws, generalizations, percentages and probability. The world is not simple. In order to change it we must understand it the best we can. To understand it we must both base ourselves in the laws proven by those who came before us and assess the changes in our current situation to adjust our analysis accordingly.
Abril 1 - El plazo para inscribirse en el seguro de salud bajo el Acta de Cuidado Accesible (ACA) pasó anoche, y ahora hay 4.4 millones de personas en los Estados Unidos recientemente inscritos en planes de seguro de salud Medicaid patrocinado por el gobierno federal.(1) Aquellos quienes no se inscribieron en alguna aseguranza y no están protegidos por un plan a través de su familia, trabajo o escuela encararán multas. Para personas con ingresos menores al 400% de la "linea de pobreza" federal, los planes son subsidiados por el gobierno, y aquellos con 138% de este corte o menos recibirán cuidado de salud gratis por Medicaid. Al final, para al menos la clase mas baja la sanción les costará mas de lo que les costaría teniendo seguro de salud.
Este nuevo sistema de cuidado de la salud en los Estados Unidos, y frecuentemente llamado "Obamacare," esta lejos de ser socialista, pero esto sirve como un buen recordatorio de los fracasos del capitalismo para cuidar de algunas de las necesidades básicas de ciudadanos del país imperialista. Los Estados Unidos había tenido cuidado de salud dirigido por el gobierno para personas en el servicio militar y sus familias desde los años 1800s, y para los relativamente pobres, discapacitados y ancianos desde los años 1960s con la creación de Medicare y Medicaid. Pero estos programas sirven a una minoría de Americanos, dejando a el resto buscar cuidado de salud a través de aseguradas proporcionadas por sus trabajos o a través de planes comprados privadamente o por pagar directamente por esos servicios. Esto significa que gente sin trabajo o en labores que no proporcionan cobertura de salud son frecuentemente dejados sin seguros de salud. El ACA intenta dirigir este problema proporcionando un programa dirigido por el gobierno para ayudar a asegurar ciudadanos sin cobertura medica.
No estamos asumiendo las criticas de los que dicen que la calidad del cuidado de la salud se iría abajo si es dirigida por el gobierno Americano. Esas mismas personas anularían la educación gratuita universal, privatizarían la distribución del agua, y eliminarían el departamento de Bomberos. Esto es un debate entre diferentes facciones de la burguesía y no merece el tiempo de los comunistas, solo señalar que tenemos fundamentalmente diferentes valores. No tenemos necesidad de defender la habilidad de un gobierno capitalista para dirigir estos programas bien porque no apoyamos gobiernos capitalistas. Y sabemos que el motivo del beneficio no hace más grande la "eficacia" como a los capitalistas les gusta afirmar. Vemos esto claramente en los Estados Unidos donde la comida es tirada en vez de distribuirla a personas hambrientas, y el tremendo desperdicio de dinero en publicidad en vez de satisfacer sus necesidades básicas.
Opinamos acerca del cuidado de salud de la misma manera que opinamos acerca de la educación, comida, agua limpia y otras necesidades básicas. Estas son cosas que comunistas buscan proporcionar para todas las personas sin distinción. Damos prioridad a necesidades básicas humanas por encima de artículos de lujo como botes, lujosos carros, grandes casas, televisiones, etc. Capitalismo, por otra parte, ha demostrado que artículos lujosos rentables son una prioridad por encima de las necesidades básicas humanas. Mientras en una cuestión de años de capitalismo han conseguido computadoras manuales en las manos de alguien con un poco de poder adquisitivo, las décadas de larga lucha contra las fácilmente evitables enfermedades en el tercer mundo continúa. Millones de niños de menos de cinco años de edad mueren cada año en el sur de Asia y Africa del Sur de el Sahara como un resultado. Creemos que el Acta de Cuidado Accesible ofrecería a estas personas servicios de cuidado de salud gratis. Mientras el ACA ha demostrado una y otra vez que pequeñas reformas en capitalismo pueden ser logradas cuando ellas sirvan los intereses de ciudadanos del país imperialista, capitalismo nunca permitirá reformas para mejorar todo el resto del mundo. De hecho, aún dentro de las fronteras de Estados Unidos los no ciudadanos son no elegibles para asegurarse bajo el ACA. Estos más en necesidad, trabajando las más duras y más peligrosas labores por menos dinero, les son todavía negados cuidados de salud básicos.
Mientras es fácil para Americanos el ignorar lo que pasa afuera de sus fronteras, esto sería una verguenza para el imperialismo Americano que el individualismo de estos ciudadanos es tan fuerte que hasta ahora ellos han rechazado cuidado de salud para aún sus propios relativamente acomodados ciudadanos. Aún ahora, muchos a través del país continúan peleando y resistiendo esta nueva ley. Previo al Acta de Cuidado Accesible (Affordable Care Act), Americanos quienes quieren comprar seguros de salud privados fueron frecuentemente rechazados por los planes de salud por "preexistentes condiciones." Esto significa que planes de salud fueron seleccionando únicamente a los individuos más saludables para asegurarse, dejando a estos con aún menor historia de problemas de salud sin recursos porque la mayoría de planes de salud en los Estados Unidos son dirigidos privadamente para un beneficio. Ahora más aseguranzas en este país están todavía dirigidos para un beneficio, pero los gobiernos Federal y del Estado proporcionan estándares mínimos de cuidado que tienen que ser proveídos con cada póliza, y vender estos aprobados planes de aseguranza en un mercado, en espera que la competición de mercado inherente en capitalismo incrementará la calidad y transparencia mientras reduciendo el costo.
Aboliendo el cuidado de salud por beneficio será una prioridad para comunistas cuando tomemos el control de un gobierno. Queremos hacer tratamiento de cuidado preventivo disponible para toda la gente. La nueva ley ACA en los Estados Unidos no elimina aseguranzas privadas ni remueve el beneficio de cuidado de la salud, y esto es un paso fundamentalmente corto hacia cobertura universal para America. Pero esto permite a las personas conseguir seguros de salud a pesar de sus ingresos o condiciones de salud. Para ciudadanos Americanos esto es progreso. Y para la mayoría esto es parte del actual soborno de estos ciudadanos por los imperialistas, asegurando su lealtad al sistema imperialista. Sin embargo, un gran numero de los no asegurados en los Estados Unidos viene de la nación oprimida de la clase mas baja, y esto es un paso positivo para la supervivencia y la vida saludable de este grupo con un interés material en revolución.(3) Total vemos el ACA como un paso progresivo hacia cuidado de salud universal para todos en el mundo, ojalá porque esto demuestra el concepto de cuidado de salud como un derecho básico.
Continuaremos peleando por cuidado de salud para los explotados y oprimidos del mundo, quienes son principalmente encontrados en el tercer mundo, donde aún servicios médicos básicos son difíciles de obtener. 801,000 niños menores de cinco años mueren de diarrea cada año, la mayoría de los cuales son causadas por falta de acceso a agua limpia e higiene. Mas de 3 millones de personas mueren de enfermedades evitables por vacuna cada año. 86% de las muertes entre niños menores de 5 años son evitables y debido a contagios, enfermedades tratables, problemas de nacimiento y falta de nutrición. Estos abrumadores números costarían muy poco de rectificar. Cuidado Universal Verdadero de salud es una prioridad para comunistas, y las estadísticas arriba son justo unas pocas razones del porqué el derrocamiento del capitalísmo es literalmente un asunto de vida o muerte para la mayoría de la gente en el mundo.
After taking some time off from writing insightful editorials from a first worldist perspective for Turning the Tide, A Journal of Inter-communal Solidarity, Michael Novick once again assumes the mantle of vociferous defender of the Amerikan labor aristocracy as revolutionary vehicle pre-eminent in his review of Divided World, Divided Class by Dr. Zak Cope. While we can appreciate his endorsement of this valuable text as "required reading for would-be revolutionaries," our differences are unfortunately as vast as the property-less petty-bourgeoisie is corrupt. The MIM camp recommends this book for its global class analsyis, based in Marxist economics, that explains the class divide between the First World core and the Third World periphery.
Interestingly, it has been noted that Turning The Tide has taken on something of a Third Worldist veneer ever since some searing criticisms of Novick and his assessment of the Maoist Internationalist Movement by a USW comrade last year.(2) Despite TTT's recent focus on the New Afrikan nation and their expressed support for the struggles of the oppressed worldwide, it is the underlying political line of Novick and company that we must really examine to see where we have unity. We understand that to the untrained eye, as well as to those new to revolutionary politics, the difference between the Maoist Internationalist Movement and the Amerikan left are less than apparent, so we will draw them out here for educational purposes as well as to defend against opportunists and social chauvinists of varying stripes; as without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement.
Novick calls on fans of egalitarian politics to take up critical thinking when it comes to the topic of global political economy and the stratification of labor under capitalism. However, he attacks and undermines Marxist political-economic analysis, the most critical and on point analysis of capitalism itself, without proposing anything in its place. He does this in the first few paragraphs of his article when he states that Dr. Cope comes to his conclusion that the First World labor aristocracy is bought off via "underlying Marxist assumptions of the labor theory of value"(1) and "through sometimes hypothetical formulations of what the value and price of that value 'should' be..."(1) He then states that Cope says, "the only workers who are 'exploited' are those who directly produce 'surplus value' in agricultural and industrial production of commodities."(1) These lines imply a critique of Cope's (and Marx's) methods, but he does not say so outright or offer an alternative framework for such an analysis.(2) This is nihilism, and leads to subjectivism. Without an objective analysis as our guide we just let the masses do what feels right. We agree with Novick that to lame apologists of First World workers "Cope's book is a very difficult read..."(1), but not because of the so-called "long sections of abstract mathematical calculations"(1) as Mr. Novick puts it, rather because bitter pills are always hard to swallow.
For those who are unaware, Novick claims to use dialectical materialism as a tool to analyze social phenomenon, yet this has not led him to the conclusion that the principal contradiction in the United $tates, or the world for that matter, is imperialism vs. the oppressed nations. Instead, Novick believes that capitalism never developed past its competitive phase, therefore it is his assessment that the principal contradiction on a world scale is still that of the bourgeoisie vs. the proletariat, or rather one between the so-called 1% and supposed 99% — itself a non-sensical and anti-scientific assessment. As such, Novick doesn't believe that there are any oppressing or oppressed nations, only oppressed and oppressing classes; yet he denounces our "petrified defense of the principal contradiction."(3)
Michael Novick also complains that "Cope essentially liquidates or obliterates class contradictions within both core and peripheral states"(1), but what Cope really obliterates is the First World's romanticization of the labor aristocracy as anything but revolutionary with his scathing class analysis of First World workers. Novick also makes an empiricist error when he asserts that Dr. Cope's analysis is no good to us in the United $tates because "his orientation and experience is primarily European"(1) hence his "understanding of settler colonialism and the existence of oppressed and colonized peoples within so-called 'core' countries as the US, Canada, etc. is limited."(1) It is quite odd that Novick complains that Cope does not give us a complete class analysis of who are our friends and who are our enemies within the United $tates. Despite the fact that this book is about global imperialism, and written by a non-Amerikan, it spends a good amount of time explaining class and nation and the development of racism within the context of U.$. society, as it is today the heart of imperialism. Novick does not address the points made by Cope, only complains that it is too general. In addressing the discrimination and oppression faced by the disadvantaged in First World countries, Cope states that "economic betterment for people in the rich countries is today intrinsically dependent on imperialism."(4) And that's the rub right there. Whatever contradictions exist within imperialist society, apologists for the labor aristocracy like Novick must come to terms with that reality, or risk fanning the flames of militarism and even fascism.
A little further down Novick states that "classes and class relationships are based on material reality..."(1). This much is true, however, Novick takes us deeper into the jungle of idealism when he writes, "... but these are social phenomenon based on the element of consciousness and practice as well,"(1) emphasis on the element of consciousness. However, Marxist philosophy teaches us that in general it is social being that determines social consciousness, and not the other way around as Novick implies. He has a hard time reconciling the existence of revolutionaries in the United $tates and an analysis that labels the U.$. an exploiter country. For a dialectical materialist, this is no mystery. A more succinct explanation to the phenomenon and structure of class is given by Cope below:
"The term 'class' does not only refer to a social group's relation to the means of production - that is, to property ownership or it's absence and nor does it simply refer to any category relating purely to the technical division of labor at the societal or workplace level. Rather, class denotes a dynamic social relationship corresponding to the system of ownership, the organization of labour and the distribution of material wealth as mediated by ideological, cultural and political institutions and practices. Above all, class is the product of political practices, with the relationship between the state and class struggle revolving around the issue of class domination."(4)
Not surprisingly it is always the ideological that is principal in matters of revolution when it comes to Amerikan "left" circles. And with that Novick ends his weak attempt to disprove the scientifically proven correctness of Zak Cope's book. What then proceeds in his review is more existentialist questioning of both nation and class contradictions in the United $tates and the world when the answers are already readily apparent. Novick offers his persynal musings as proof positive to his readers that the class contradiction in the world is more important than the one of nation. But in order to deliver the people's consciousness you can't just answer the tough questions with more questions. Rather, you must deliver the people's consciousness with revolutionary practice summed up in rational knowledge; as without revolutionary practice theory is meaningless. As such, Novick inadvertently proves the principal contradiction correct with his confused explanation of class contradictions in Amerika.
Something else that was disappointing in his review of Divided World was the complete omission of Cope's thesis on how the First World petty-bourgeoisie, the labor aristocracy in particular, is a huge reservoir and potential breeding ground for fascism drawing from within the dispossessed petty-bourgeois class an army to smash the national liberation and socialist movements. This is odd since the majority of Anti-Racist Action's work has previously been fighting the various neo-Nazi organizations currently attempting to re-organize on a massive scale. Perhaps we can surmise that Novick saw something else in Cope's book that is damning and detrimental to First World "revolutionary and socialist" movements? Perhaps another bitter pill to swallow?
We highly recommend Divided World, Divided Class to up and coming revolutionaries and communist youth looking to get a firm grasp of First World labor and it's dialectical relation to the real proletariat centered in the periphery.(5) Divided World, Divided Class does an excellent job of explaining the parasitic nature, as well as the fascist tendencies of the First World labor aristocracy.
Amerikans must condemn their government's meddling in Russia's backyard. Backing fascist political parties with nuclear ambitions on the border of Russia is a recipe for death and disaster.(1) Bloodshed has already increased as a result of imperialism's maneuvers as dozens have died in clashes between protestors/opposition forces and Ukrainian security forces controlled by the parties that came to power in the February coup d'etat (the second U.$.-backed coup in Ukraine in 10 years). Interestingly, we have not heard John Kerry call for sanctions against the new Ukraine government as we did last fall when the previous government roughed up protestors, once again exposing his hypocrisy (not to apologize for the now deposed Yanukovic regime, which later killed dozens of protestors in the streets of Kiev). Europeans should be even more worried about the violence being fomented in Ukraine. While the EU hopes to benefit from U.$. militarism in the form of trade relations with Ukraine, that same militarism could bring war to their region.
While statements from president Vladimir Putin on 7 May 2014 indicated a cooling off of Russian rhetoric in the conflict, talk of Ukraine joining NATO is a major threat to Russian security. Amerikan foreign policy experts, including Henry Kissinger, have condemned the idea of pulling Ukraine into NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed at the end of WWII as a military pact between countries opposed to the then communist Soviet Union. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO has been creeping into Eastern Europe, towards Russia.
The calming words from Putin indicate that the very limited Western sanctions succeeded in not fanning the flames of inter-imperialist rivalry too high. By targetting individuals, the United $tates and Germany avoided the types of trade barriers that led to open wars between the imperialist countries in the early 20th century. And while Russian financial markets have declined in the face of this threat, the hit remains moderate.
Another reason to worry is that the U.$.-backed regime has significant participation from far right fascist parties. It is ironic that fascism finds some of its broadest support today in the very peoples who destroyed fascism in the Soviet Union's great patriotic war against Germany in the 1940s. But our understanding of fascism explains why this is so. Fascism is led by an imperialist class that feels its existence is threatened and/or aspires to surge ahead of other imperialist powers, and its mass support is among the labor aristocracy who wants their nation to rise and reap more superprofits at the expense of other countries (see our fascism study pack). Russia remains an imperialist power at odds with the West that cannot provide the same benefits to its people as countries like the United $tates and those in Western Europe. While Ukraine is not an imperialist country, there is a small class of finance capitalists backing the fascist upsurge within the current regime. The fascists are mobilizing within the national guard and are behind the recent murders of local police and civilians in the east where opposition to the new regime is strong.
With all the aid and loans being offered to Ukraine from the West, we know that large chunks of money given in the past has gone to various political parties, "election reform," and media outlets(2); something worth keeping in mind when trying to parse out what is going on during political turmoil in client states. USAID, often marketed by the government as a humanitarian agency, is behind much of this political funding and campaigning. The United $tates and Germany are adament that the planned presidential election must go ahead on May 25 as they work behind the scenes to ensure its results.
U.$. militarism, which is defined by the Amerikan economy being dependent on war and military production, must be put to an end to stop the unneccessary killings such as those in Ukraine recently and in so many other parts of the world. USAID must be exposed and opposed as a tool opposing the self-determination of other peoples around the world. The anti-Russian sentiments rising among Amerikans and the support that Putin is getting in Russia do not bode well for preventing further conflict if the imperialists decide to step it up a notch. This is a warning for us to strengthen the movement against U.$. militarism.
On Monday, 19 May 2014, 7 prisoners at Polk Correctional on the H-Con Unit began a hunger strike due to inhumane conditions, and finally some getting fed up with the mistreatment. It is day 4 and 8 comrades refused their breakfast this morning. Some of the demands are:
need brooms to sweep cells
need nail clippers to exercise proper hygiene
need outside recreation
need new trays, ones now are cracked, split, peeling causing us to find plastic in our food
staff need to wear hair nets/change gloves for food preparation and serving
need headphones sold separately in canteen so we don't have to buy a whole new radio
stop taking mattress and religious property as punishment for up to 3 days
special housing cells need to be cleaned daily - currently have blood, bodily fluids in them and comrades are placed in them naked on suicide watch, only given 4 sheets of toilet paper, no hygiene, forced to eat with dirty hands
need a law library
stop use of nutraloaf as punishment
stop keeping us on H-Con 18-24 months before letting us off even without getting write ups
stop using restraints as punishment
These are just some of the most important of 33 demands. I am asking other comrades to join in support and fast or to write to:
Frank L. Perry, Secretary Division of Prisons 4201 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-4201
U.S. Dept. of Justice, Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section 950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington DC 20530
or other forms of protest that do not cause you to receive an infraction. Also, pump them fists as we got a victory in the Central Prison Unit 1 case. They have to use a hand-held camera during all use of force, specifically after the use of force or during/until you are put back in your cell and no longer in contact with corrections staff. So hear it, can I get a hell yeah from all my comrades!