Less Complaints, More Agitation and Perspective
Under Lock & Key seems to not place enough emphasis on perspective for the prison "illegitimate capitalist" and the role they will need to play both in prison, and more essentially in society. MIM did this by relating prisoner writings in context to societal issues; ULK publishes "complaints" that center around prisons, minus application to overall society.
First, one must understand the difference between inmates, convicts, prisoners and political prisoners. Inmates do not see themselves as oppressed and follow the rules and regulations without deviation. And when necessary, they will cooperate with the pigs, note the Webster racist dictionary defines inmate as one voluntarily confined to a hospital or prison — I say it is one who does not fight.
Political prisoners are those who either committed political acts which led to their incarceration, or became politicized in prison (became conscious) and became representatives of revolution! This title is honorary and must not be emasculated for group appeasement! Huey P. Newton was a political prisoner, as was comrade George Jackson. Yet Carl Ferguson is not, and Larry Davis is not. Yes there is politics behind their imprisonment, as is true of all 2.4 million prisoners in the United $tates.
This is germane when pushing ULK, because comrades are not all the same and ULK must print useful articles that can relate to the application of revolution in prison and society. Otherwise prisoners and political prisoners will get caught up in prison struggles as if they represent the main revolutionary work to be done. Let MIM(Prisons) be advised the goal of revolution is the complete overthrow of the existing government and the rebuilding of a new one! Thus that is the objective of all true revolutions! The job of a revolutionary is to make revolution.
Hunger strikes are "effective tactics," pig assaults and/or killings are tactics as well. Lawsuits are a strategy to be employed to achieve legal expropriation, essential lifting of draconian conditions of confinement (e.g. censorship, segregation etc.), and also should be employed to bombard the courts and bog them down so some of our complaints are addressed. Collectively nationwide this constitutes tactics and strategy to raise society's awareness, again in furtherance of revolution. The filing of criminal appeals and post-conviction motions are done for the liberation of revolutionaries for revolution. Some of the tactics employed in prison will be useful in society, and others will be ineffective. The same is true of strategies in prisons; some are workable while others are not. Thus new tactics must be studied and created that will be utilized to address pigs killing men, women and children in our colonies. Al Sharpton rallies won't work, Jesse Jackson speeches won't work, and the Million Man March addressed itself to no single demand from the establishment and was merely a great day of useless solidarity.
From the inception of prisoners becoming politicized it has been recognized and accepted that prisoners will be the vanguard of the revolutionary movement. Does anyone know the function of a vanguard: how one is built, and how it can be effectively employed? This is the unique purpose for which prisoners must be trained.
Prison resistance must be linked continuously to revolutionary work, not merely complaints that pale in comparison to the conditions of the 60s and 70s. Less complaints, more agitation and perspective.
MIM(Prisons) replies: Distinguishing between revolutionary organizing and prison reform organizing is a problem that MIM(Prisons) has confronted a number of times in its short history. It is important that we always look for errors in our approach and ways to improve our work.
On the question of the content of ULK articles: we strive to always put articles in the context of the struggle against the criminal injustice system. We do get many articles from prisoners just describing bad conditions and repression behind bars. We also get a lot of articles complaining about a lack of unity among prisoners. We agree with this writer that these sorts of articles need to be related to the application of revolution to be useful in ULK. We use the MIM(Prisons) commentary after articles to provide this context when the article itself does not include it. And we urge ULK contributors to take this feedback seriously and work to include anti-imperialist context within your own articles.
On the question of labels: we agree with this comrade that terminology is important. We pay a lot of attention to the language we use because language makes political points. We agree with the distinction made here between inmate and prisoner. But we assert that all prisoners are political prisoners precisely because of the political nature of the criminal injustice system that makes political distinctions between arrests, trials, juries, laws and sentences to disproportionately lock up oppressed nations. This is a political point we are making with language.
We are more interested in defining classes than individuals. Recognizing the relationship between the imprisoned lumpen and the United $tates is about defining a class. A class is defined by its material conditions, specifically in relation to production and distribution, and each class has an ideology that arises from those conditions. This does not mean that all people in that class have the same ideology or think the same. It also doesn't mean that there aren't material contradictions within a class. The proletariat is the most revolutionary because they have nothing to lose but their chains. Other classes will have more internal contradictions. That said we want to challenge the dominant role that the illegitimate capitalist ideology plays in today's prison environment with a strong communist voice. This requires developing what we call the subjective factors, through ideological development. All of us working on ULK need to strive to make this "voice of the anti-imperialist movement from under lock & key" a tool for ideological development and anti-imperialist agitation, not just an airing of complaints and reformist demands.