Comrades, I'm white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they love themselves too much more than anyone else more than anything else more than all else I love all else my mom's white my brother's white father and sisters white and I hate white people not because they are white but because they are killing my people and my planet all for green paper and towering white steeples I'm a traitor who grew up in a trailer I branded cows in my youth ninety miles to the south the nearest traffic light we pissed off the porch poached deer - ate rattlesnake comrades, I'm white But don't hold that against me because I hate this motherfucking country to death my pen's my weapon my blood - my breath my planet - my species above all else
Often we hear or read quick quotes which are taken to mean something, or infer something different from the intended meaning. Marx's quote on religion is just such an example.
We have all heard or read Marx's "statement" that "religion is the opiate of the masses." This is not an accurate quote of what Marx wrote in his "Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right." This quote has given rise to the belief that Marx did not take the issue of religion seriously and dismissed it as folly. This is not true.(1)
Let's review in context what Marx did write about religion:
"Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people."
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusions about conditions is the demand to give up a condition that needs illusions. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of the vale of woe, the halo of which is religion. Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not so that man will wear the chain without any fantasy or consolation, but so that he will shake off the chain and cull the living flower.
Clearly Marx is not discussing the seriousness of religion, or the role it plays in the lives of oppressed peoples. Marx realizes the power of delusion that religion holds over people. I disagree with MIM(Prisons) that religion "is simply a belief in authority."(2) Perhaps that is true for some people. But I believe it is a panacea for woe and oppression — a search and hope for a better life than the one believers currently lead. It is the oppressed's answer to the question of existentialism.
Due to the anxieties of existence — anxieties people experience as the result of natural causes like floods, famine and earthquakes, or man-made causes such as enslavement, exploitation or oppression — that make people feel powerless, they often resort to magical thinking, or beliefs in supernatural agents as a plea for the anxiety to end. Thus was born religion, its roots in anxiety.
Religion is a potent tool of capitalism and imperialism. To eliminate one, all must be eliminated if the people are to experience true freedom and liberation.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall, we have great unity with what this comrade writes about religion and Marx's view of it. But eir disagreement with something we wrote is a bit of a strawpersyn argument. First, it is ironic to use Christopher Hitchens to criticize us as too dismissive of religion. Hitchens was popular for his atheist ideas among the Amerikan petty bourgeoisie. His attack on so-called "Islamo-fascism" was better received than his allies on the left (led by Bob Avakian) and right (epitomized in David Horowitz). All three represent the spectrum of white nationalist thinking that uses religion as an excuse to attack the oppressed nations, primarily in the Islamic world today.
The MIM article also discusses pre-scientific thinking, addressing religion's role as a "panacea for woe and oppression." In pre-capitalist times, such thinking was the norm and religion was more than just an attempt to deal with the bad times, it was an attempt to explain all aspects of reality. Once scientific thought was developed and popularized, it has been the class interests of the oppressors that have kept religious ideology alive to serve their interests, as this comrade alludes. But that doesn't mean everyone who is religious is a dupe. Muslims are currently striking some of the greatest blows against U.$. imperialism, so they must have a pretty good grasp on how to actualize their own interests in a world that throws many horrors in their direction.
In May the Department of Corrections in Radgowski Correctional Institution tried to shorten our visits and decrease the number of visitors allowed in the visiting room. So I organized a good amount of brothers to put pen to paper and the response was immediate. Some of us were shipped out of the jail and some to other parts of the jail. I myself was moved from the privileged part of the jail to the assessment drums.
A move is only done when you catch a ticket which I had not. I refused housing and went to the box. Since then drugs have been planted on prisoners as well as false positive urines. Now I am a level 2 prisoner but I am being housed in level 4 (max). I have basically just got the run around about my transfer. I am writing to the commissioner now with no hopes of a positive or righteous response, more so just to exhaust the administrative remedies.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Grievances are not only ignored by prisons but filing them often results in punishment, like what is described by this comrade as happening in Connecticut. Yet each state bureaucracy will go to lengths to explain the "systems" they have in place for prisoners to address any abuse they face on their watch. A campaign to demand grievances be addressed was initiated in California and has spread to Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas. It is needed in every state because there are prisons in every state. We need volunteers who can modify the petition to work in their state. Write to us for a copy of the petition.
I myself fully understand as well as live the principles the brother from Jersey as well as New York are speaking of in the Under Lock & Key article Time for Peaceful Revolution. Both brothers bring up valid points. There are 3 stages to that life within that LO and both of these brothers seem to be third stage brothers.
Now the origin and founder of this lumpen organization differs by who you speak to. But I believe the focus needed is to get the brothers from primitive stages to third stage. All these issues are intertwined but as leaders one can't speak for the whole (LO), no man can do that, that is why there is a chain of command in all LOs. The body moves everything at the end of the day. So it is one thing to tell these brothers to strap up or go on a hunger strike. They very may well follow orders. But once you're separated the fire will dwindle till it no longer exists!
Now if we take those brothers in the true cause of all LOs, which for the most part all have revolutionary roots, from such parties as the Young Lords, Black Panthers, etc. If we educate the body of the LO as a whole, then they will know what they are fighting for. That will be the difference between a few minor victories and the whole war. People need to know what they're fighting for. Then it will be a lot easier to get leaders of LOs to sit down and work towards our common goals while maintaining orders on our terms in these day kennels.
I respect 100% my brothers from Jersey as well as NY. We need to educate ourselves, so a rebirth of the mind is needed. But in a split second we need to be ready to turn it up if we have to.
I was born of a womb of a mother who smokes grew of age in a concrete tomb choking on I-15's exhaust smoke my veins I must stretch to feel at ease This is what my life is like from conception to the grave unable to breathe quit what it is you hate while you still hate it three quarters done with my sentence hoping someone's still there to say "You've made it" Considered depressed and despondent since the age of five that's when I learned to pledge allegiance age five they taught us loyalty to one's country as I smuggled cans of copenhagen and snickers to my daddy in prison age five I was born of a country Built on and maintaining DOC brutality Pledged allegiance to a flag that destroyed my family So, you see this is what my life is like from conception to the grave Still unable to breathe
On May 20 prisoners at the privately run Adams County Correctional Center in Natchez, Mississippi, rose up in protest of the violence, abuse and neglect at this prison for non-citizens incarcerated for re-entering the United $tates after deportation and for other charges. Prisoners took control of the facility for over eight hours before SWAT teams took back the prison using pepper spray grenades and tear gas bombs among other weapons.
The prison administration is claiming the violence was a result of prisoner-on-prisoner conflicts but one prisoner involved in the struggle called a Jackson TV station and clearly articulated that the riot was due to mistreatment of prisoners: "They always beat us and hit us. We just pay them back... We're trying to get better food, medical, programs, clothes, and we're trying to get some respect from the officers and lieutenants." The prisoner confirmed his identity by sending photos from inside the prison.(1)
In recent years the U.$. has hit 400,000 deportations a year, the majority Latino nationals. Pre-deportation Detention Centers are the site of widespread abuse as the prison guards are accountable to no one and the prisoners are among the least valued people in Amerika by those in charge.
As we reported in a 2009 article "National Oppression as Migrant Detention", migrants are the fastest growing prison population and they face significant abuse behind bars: "The American Civil Liberties Union says that the conditions in which these civil detainees are held are often as bad as or worse than those faced by people imprisoned with criminal convictions. These detention centers are described as 'woefully unregulated.' The 'requirements' that they do have about how to treat people have no legal obligation, reducing them essentially to suggestions." So it should be no surprise that these prisoners in Mississippi are fighting back.
The economic motivations of the private company that runs Adams County CC, Correctional Corporation of America, is directly counter to the humyn rights of prisoners. Again from the 2009 MIM(Prisons) article: "The Correctional Corporation of America, a private prison management company who controls half of the detention facilities run by private companies, spent $3 million lobbying politicians in 2004. They want stricter immigration laws so they can have access to more prisoners, which will bring them more money. In turn, ICE is able to pay 26% less per day to house prisoners in a private versus state-run facility. This is possible because of the lack of public as well as governmental oversight at private facilities, where they reduce costs by getting rid of everything that would help prisoners, including necessary-to-life medical care. One reason state governments shied away from private prisons for their own citizens was the scandals that they quickly became associated with. In the year 1998-99, Wackenhut's private prisons in New Mexico had a death rate 55 times that of the national average for prisons. The migrant population's lack of voice allows these corporations to get away with their cost-cutting abusive conditions when contracted by ICE. This is another good example of how capitalism values profit over humyn life."
The distinction between legal and illegal residents of the United $tates is a clear example of the enforcement of imperialist wealth and poverty using borders. Those who happen to be born on the north side of the artificial border to Mexico have access to many resources and opportunities, and most of those born on the south side live in poverty with very limited opportunities. The United $tates can't let migrants through the border because that would open up jobs to all who want to compete, rather than keeping them for the well off labor aristocracy. Instead the imperialists set up corporations to suck the wealth out of Latin American countries, devastate their economies with loan programs and puppet governments, and benefit from the cheap labor that results.
Prisons are just one aspect of the imperialist oppression of undocumented migrants. We support the prisoners in Mississippi and across the country who are fighting back against inhumane conditions. We need more reporting directly from the prisoners involved in these protests. Help us spread the word by sending your stories to Under Lock & Key and request MIM lit in Spanish to spread our message.
I am writing as a representative of the Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths(5PNGE). Although I cannot speak in authority on behalf of all Five Percenters, I aim to show how our nation's fundamental principles are in line with those of the United Front for Peace in Prison.
The first principle of PEACE is in line with the third principle of "What we will Achieve." Peace being the absence of confusion and chaos within ourselves, our communities, our nation, and the world. The attainment of PEACE in any fashion stems first from education and the subsequent enlightenment of the individual. Once the oppressed are emancipated from the mental slavery that results from the thorough indoctrination of self-destructive concepts presented by the imperialist elite, then we can truly stand together and defend ourselves from the now known enemy. The imperialist machine has done a great job of placing false labels upon us to keep us separated rendering us unable to attain any true Umoja amongst ourselves.
The first principle of "What we will achieve" (National Consciousness) is in line with the principles of Unity, Growth, and Internationalism in that national consciousness is the awareness that "we are all one people, regardless of geographical origins and that we must work and struggle as one if we are to liberate ourselves from the domination of outside forces" and destroy white supremacy, white privilege and imperialism once and for all. The labels Latino, African Amerikan, Asian, and Native American only help to separate us and keep us from realizing that we are only truly one people who share a common history. Somos originales. As the descendants of the fathers and mothers of civilization we have an obligation to humanity to restore the true culture of communal living and peace.
Now although the 5PNGE seeks to unite people of color and firmly resist white supremacy/privilege in all its forms, we do not exclude whites from our ranks. This transition is difficult for many whites because they are forced to realize that the overwhelming cultural history of Europeans consists of colonialism, murder, enslavement, and general exploitation of the world's inhabitants. After coming under study and rejecting this devilish, destructive legacy they have the opportunity to join the struggle of the Original People and overthrow the Devils Un-civilization (the imperialist machine).
The 5PNGE finds independence through the second principle of "what we will achieve": community control. This consists of regaining control of the educational, economic, political, media, and health institutions within our communities for ourselves. We must have control on the collective level so that we can maintain and advance the civilization. The current political/socio-economic system does not serve us as a people because it was not established for us. The United $nakes of Amerikkka (as well as all other imperialist countries that make up un-civilization) was born on the backs of the exploited class. It is futile to rely on the slave masters for substance when we have in us the tools to sustain ourselves in a more productive manner than any program the current system may provide.
Now although ULK serves as a forum for political and revolutionary discourse, it is the responsibility of all within the 5PNGE as well as all other LOs as part of the United Front for Peace in Prison to educate those individuals still blinded by the propaganda of the mainstream. Revolutionary education will build revolutionary minds equipped with the tools to make revolutionary actions. Remember P.E.A.C.E. Positive Education Always Corrects Errors.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall we have a lot of unity with this comrade, which demonstrates the ability of organizations with different ideologies to unite on common principles. We agree it is the goal of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to unite lumpen organizations in the struggle while pushing them to a higher level of political action and understanding. We hope that others with 5PNGE will take up this comrade's call for unity of the oppressed and all who oppose imperialism. 5PNGE takes a religious focused approach to the struggle, while Maoists use the scientific method based in dialectical materialism, but when we both arrive at the same anti-imperialist conclusions then we we have fundamental unity at this stage in the struggle.
I have been incarcerated in the Missouri Department of Corruption since 1997. Over these many years I have been confined to seven different "camps" within the state of "Missery."
I have seen prisoners maced and beat severely at Potosi Correctional Center in the late 90s. Officers there would routinely chain prisoners up "hog tied" like and leave them lying in their cells. Rather than move prisoners that didn't get along or otherwise weren't compatible they would make them fight and in two instances I know of, prisoners were murdered by their cellmates.
All over the state it is common practice to place completely incompatible people in a cell together. Guys with life without parole being celled with prisoners with only a matter of months left in their sentence.
At Crossroads Correctional Center I saw a sergeant kick a "chuck-hole" closed on one prisoner's arm. Another sergeant grabbed a prisoner in a reverse headlock and dropped said prisoner on his face using all his own body weight. Prisoners with asthma or other health problems are sprayed with pepper spray.
All over the state it is common for prisoners to be "free-cased" for violations or crimes they had nothing to do with because a scape-goat was needed in a hurry to save face or out of animosity issues between staff and prisoners.
At South Central Correctional Center prisoners were "free-cased" for another prisoner's murder because the institution needed scape-goats to cover up their own incompetency in running a safe and secure 'camp' and insufficient security equipment.
All over the state there are prisoners on a status termed "long term mandated single-cell confinement." This security status has no set end, no guidelines and no governing policies or any unit set aside for such a special security status. There are men on this status who have been confined solidarity for over ten years.
At South East Correctional Center things are to a point where at the time of this writing there are prisoners eating foreign objects such as ink pens, screws, and any item obtainable (in one case the ear stem of a pair of eye glasses) to express the need to be transferred away from the tyrannical oppression found in this backward run facility.
All over the state prisoners are housed in single-man cell units with prisoners with severe mental illness so they are subjected to round the clock beating on walls and sinks, yelling and screaming, smearing and throwing feces, urine, etc. Lights are left on or shut off per the whim of the officers.
Illinois has followed in the steps of California and Virginia. On June 3, 2012 twenty-three political prisoners went on hunger strike together in protest of various administrative issues at Pontiac Correctional Center. On the same day I.A. interrogated all of the strikers in an attempt to frame the strike as "gang activity."
Pontiac Correctional Center exists in Illinois for the sole purpose of isolating prisoners from each other and the world. The vast majority of prisoners here are in segregation. As part of the administration's oppression against us we are beaten, unfed, given inadequate law libraries, isolated, and much more. All of this is being protested by the strikers. From Palestine to California and Virginia to Illinois the revolution against tyranny and despair, extortion and exploitation, oppression and capitalism is growing stronger.
In the name of revolution, solidarity, and struggle.
I'm reporting from Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP). I've been engaged in the last 16 months educating our comrades to the increasingly aggressive tactics California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) has taken in the course of systematically depriving us of every human and civil right a prisoner is supposed to retain. I've also been attempting to strengthen communication and, aside from a select few, have been met with complacency and apathy.
We few have organized effective communication with one another and have used creative strategies to combat certain conditions we've been experiencing. At first, utilizing the 602 grievance process was only met with rejections, so we took our well written 602s (grievances) that used Department Operations Manual (DOM), California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 15, California penal code, and U.S. law, and bypassed the lower level institutional coordinators and submitted copies to:
Governor Brown, State Capitol, Ste. 1173 Sacramento, CA 95814
CDCR Secretary Matthew Cate, 1515 S. St., Ste. 330, Sacramento, CA 95811
CA Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Capitol Bldg, Rm 4005, Sacramento, CA 95814
Inmate Appeals Branch, Chief CDCR, PO Box 942883, Sacramento, CA 94283-0001
And other relevant heads of department and politicians. The outcome has led to a spotlight shining down on KVSP administrative staff with official reprimands and supplemental memorandums and addendum. Warden M.D. Biter has been reprimanded to the effect of: stop superseding the DOM, CCR, and other applicable state and federal law, and to honor the CDCR 22 written request process that was formulated after the 2011 hunger strikes, and 602 grievance process. I've only been told this and cannot provide documentation, but it comes from reliable sources within administrative staff who are against the institution head's policies.
Ever since these reprimands have supposedly taken place, there has been a notable change in everything. Our 602s are being accepted for review, 22 forms are being answered within time limits, program has resumed on modified procedure, and our food is adequately proportioned. We've had no cases of staff misconduct, threats of any kind, or adverse retaliatory actions from administration, from January through today's date of 5 June 2012.
I've created a private law library of essential regulatory content and political value which has been utilized and facilitated by interested prisoners and we are accumulating knowledge.
These are still initial stages and our struggle needs lots of work, but even minor accomplishments are boosting morale. I encourage everyone to take the steps we've taken and stay strong and diligent. Keep records, daily logs, and file immediate complaints of misconduct.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This prisoner is setting a good example of how to push forward the legal struggle for basic rights. And this article provides some good advice for California prisoners working on the grievance campaign demanding that grievances be addressed. Improving conditions within which prisoners live and organize is an important step in the struggle against the criminal injustice system. We know these reforms will only bring short-term relief, as the system itself serves the interests of the ruling imperialists and so substantive change will not come until we overthrow imperialism. But these battles are important for both education and the successes they bring.