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Under Lock & Key

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[Theory] [ULK Issue 20]
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Criticism and Self-Criticism in Revolutionary Practice

Criticism in the positive usage is the examination, analysis, and evaluation of the comparative worth of one's acts, practices, policies and/or ideas by others. Self-criticism is, of course, the same principles applied to oneself, but also refers to the organizational practice of critically examining and re-examining its own policies and/or the policies and practices of its members. Criticism and self-criticism are wholly necessary to human progress.

Criticism in its positive usage corrects mistakes in practices and of thought, and resolves differences among individuals and makes for smooth-running, well-functioning organizations. We should put forth the slogan "Unity-Criticism-Unity" to show how individuals come together and unite under principles, but in the actual working out of these principles differences arise for various reasons, which work against the accomplishments of the declared ends, and against cohesion of the organization. When these differences arise there must be criticism in which those with differences interpenetrate, modify one another, and form a new more perfect unity on the basis of having worked out contradictions that were inherent in the old unity.

Cause of Error

The differences which arise that disrupt unity can generally be found to have their basis in these categories of human error:

1) Opportunism; opportunism is defined as that tendency for an individual or individuals to make a decision or commit an act that is favorable to his/her own self-aggrandizement and at the expense of the collective or the movement as a whole. Opportunism stems from selfishness. When opportunism arises, either in an individual or in an organization it is to be severely criticized, and if necessary, the individual or individuals should be expelled from the organization or ostracized from the movement.

2) Subjectivism: the second type of error that disrupts unity and impairs revolutionary progress may be found in the general category called "subjectivism." Progress is always our purpose, but subjectivism can be distinguished from opportunism often only by the merest of hairlines. It generally has to do with personality flaws; One makes a decision or commits an act that is based on one's personal feelings, desires, resentments, jealousies, prejudices, etc. Such subjectivism may possibly stem from any number of sources: child trauma, subliminal conditioning, religious superstitions, etc. When such subjectivism pops up to impede the functioning of the individual or the progress of the organization, it is imperative that it be dealt with. The consciousness of many must necessarily be stripped of the old pernicious ideas and values imposed by the bourgeois culture. However, those traits and personal idiosyncrasies which are not particularly harmful to the individual or the cause, but are largely a matter of style, should not needlessly be criticized.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We refer comrades to Mao's essays On Contradiction and Combat Liberalism for more on the importance of fighting opportunism and building unity through the resolution of contradictions.

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[Organizing] [Abuse] [Tecumseh State Correctional Institution] [Nebraska] [ULK Issue 21]
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Fighting the System is Dangerous

As mentioned in prior writings by comrades, the struggle, especially for those incarcerated, must encompass not merely a study of history but an application of those strategies that in some way benefit the cause as a whole. One aspect of such application are the legal remedies which can set precedence for many who may need such standards in proving the wrongs done by prison officials. However the opacity and cover-up culture of prison industry in some instances allows for these same freedom fighters to unknowingly sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the many. Here at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in a rural part of Nebraska this fact remains ever alive.

We are still mourning the death of a prisoner who has on several occasions successfully challenged institutional policy, winning both injunctive and compensatory judgments. In the process he made enemies, invoking the wrath of those running this warehouse. And although this comrade was in phenomenal physical condition he somehow experienced an aneurysm and mysteriously died. Some have postulated his diet of tuna was the cause, other more conspiratorial minds say he was murdered because of his success in exposing questionable actions by those officials. I myself have chosen to accept the latter.

I mention this with regards to a legal battle I will enter very soon pertaining to a number of constitutional rights that have been violated. This struggle is real in every sense of the word and unfortunately requires its martyrs, without which one would not perceive the seriousness of our collective struggle.

The constant study, comprehension and application of the tenets of independent thinking, which will always remain applicable to our situation, must continue for substantial change to occur.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 20]
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Light of Liberation

When we come to the point of the threshold of enlightenment, we pause for the embarking, take a deep breath of redefining air, close our eyes, place one foot across the threshold, and keep progressing forward.

As we cross over to reform, our minds race with stimulating thoughts of resurrection. Our third eye blinks once, twice, thrice — opens. Through this new halo of light we can see the struggles of humanity.

Our hearts diastole — conjuring of courage. We sought then solidarity — collective force of "the people."

All the teachings of the past great revolutionaries preceding us serve as instructions. Their words became our voice, so we spoke the language of "the people."

We clench our fist, and give salutation. DETERMINATION! CONSOLIDATION! REVOLUTION! LIBERATION!

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Debemos luchar por la prorrogación de ULK

Estoy escribiendo este articulo para corroborar y animar a mis compañeros presos que apelen la negación de la publicación de la revista Under Lock & Key. No se rindan en la lucha por nuestros derechos. Al no apelar la negación les está despojando la oportunidad a otros presos de recibir la revista ya dicha que muchos disfrutan leer.

Estoy recluido en la sección de “máxima custodia” de una granja penal de alta seguridad en Tejas. Siempre nos están quitando nuestros derechos aquí en "la custodia máxima”. No sé decir sobre la populación en general, pues nunca he legado esta ahí, debido al acoso constante de los cerdos a cargo aquí. Sin embargo, estoy seguro que es como cualquier otra prisión, ¿ las cosas no han cambiado tanto, verdad?

Estoy restringido a una celda de dos hombres, 24 horas al día sin ningún movimiento. Todo me traen a mí. ¿ Qué privilegio, no ? No me siento muy privilegiado. Se nos permite recreo sólo cuando el personal desea regresar a sus puestos para trabajar. Si no estas bajo restricción de recreo, puedes salir una vez a la semana. Pero si estas bajo restricción, y la mayoría aquí en “custodia máxima” lo estamos, sólo puedes ver “la yarda” una vez cada dos mes. Recibimos las mismas excusas que estoy seguro todos los presos han escuchado: que estamos escasos de personal, que nos falta la mano de obra. Aunque aquí, ultimadamente se ha debido “a la neblina” que según ellos dicen es un riesgo de seguridad. La yarda de recreo para los presos en “custodia máxima” está dividida en seis jaulas bajo un techo de concreto. ¿ Cómo es que la neblina posa un riesgo en esta situación ? Para mí, es puro verbo para quitarnos nuestros derechos y esconderlos bajo la excusa de un “riesgo a la seguridad”. Lo que me trae a mi punto central: tenemos que seguir luchando por nuestros derechos.

El 24 de Febrero 2011, me notificó la oficina de correo que mi ejemplar de ULK fue negado y que no lo iba a recibir. La razón que me dieron fue que "la página 10 del ejemplar contenía material de naturaleza racial”. ¿ Ahora a quien le están violando los derechos ? ¿ Qué pasó con “la libertad de expresión” en los Estados Unidos ? También había una casilla marcada que decía: “El ejemplar contiene material que una persona razonable podría interpretar que fue escrito con el propósito de comunicar información que podría romper con el sistema de prisiones a través de huelgas, motines y actividades en grupo que posan un riesgo”. ¿Suena como otro pretexto barrido bajo de la alfombra de “riesgos a la seguridad”, no?

A pesar de estar encerados, todavía tenemos derechos, pero solamente aquellos por los que luchamos. Cuando te pregunten, ¿ quieres apelar esta negación ?, siempre hazlo, si no por ti, hazlo por los demás. No se puede ganar nada si no se lucha.

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[Organizing] [Education]
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Acts of Resistance are Everywhere

Every time we wake up and open our eyes to a new day, that's an act of resistance, because they don't care if we wake up or not, and some don't want us to! Every time we take in or exhale a precious breath of life we are engaging in a real act of resistance, because they don't want us to breath, they want us to live in misery and nothing more. Every time we write things like this and contribute our writings to newsletters, zines, pamphlets or to the internet, we are engaging in an act of resistance, because these are messages they don't want us to convey!

Resistance isn't always about violent bouts with our captors, even though we've been through that, or will probably go through it one of these days (on one level or another), but sometimes it's about striving to overcome these everyday struggles in these death camps, while keeping your mind in one piece, your body strong and your spirit unbreakable. So in that sense we are engaging in acts of resistance every day! Me, writing this, is an act of resistance.

So, my dear comrades, please allow me to extend my most sincere greetings of love, solidarity and respect to all who read this and to all who feel it. As a revolutionary freedom fighter, it is my duty to strive every day to raise consciousness and engage and organize others, conducting study sessions and having political, philosophical and intellectual stimulating convos with those who are confined in the cells around me, writing essays and zines and trying to connect with people on the outs in a real and meaningful way. Even though I'm constantly retaliated on by my captors, it doesn't matter. I resist the attempts to mentally suffocate me and others through sensory deprivation tactics. They try to break our spirits but we keep resistance in our hearts, and that's what carries us through.

And I want to dedicate this act of resistance to all of the prisoners who read this, from state to state, all those who are resisting their "intellectual death sentences," tearing it up! Staying hard and staying true through it all. I salute you and I write these words to encourage you to start getting things going where you're at, start studying the law, raise consciousness (your own and in the minds of others too), start up study groups, get a book drive going for your prison. Start up your own prison chapter, build bridges with comrades on the outs. Each one teach one, engage others, sharpen your swords, listen as much as you talk, learn as much as you teach, be real with people, and try to bring a level of solidarity amongst the prisoners on your tier, unit, wing, etc. These are some of the things that I'm doing out here in Pennsylvania and it's what I encourage everyone everywhere to do also!

I dedicate this act of resistance to all of you who read this. My heart goes out to all of you, my love, my appraisal, my solidarity, and my deepest respect goes out!

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[United Front] [Political Repression] [Missouri] [ULK Issue 20]
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Peace Movement Destroyed in Infancy

Criminalizing a People
This letter is to inform you that the United Zulu Independence Movement (UZI) was destroyed and disbanded due to the draconian COINTELPRO-type efforts of the prison administration here in Missouri. For the past 6 months, which we are calling "6 Months of Terror!" the Missouri DOC have been sending the gang task force into general populations statewide to seize, harass, arrest, set up, transfer and jump on UZI members. Members are being pointed out by prison snitches and placed on gang file. They have also confiscated all of our literature, but cannot charge us with organized disobedience because, as you know, we have not promoted any.

The administration's view of UZI is so dark due to two major words within our radical title (United & Independence). They fear the unity of the lumpen, and they see the independent thinker as a serious threat.

I will keep in contact with the United Front for Peace in Prisons to let you know of our progress to rebuild.

It Don't Stop!
Zulu


MIM(Prisons) responds: UZI had been an active participant in pushing for a United Front for Peace in Prisons, working with MIM(Prisons) for just over a year before their demise at the hands of the state. We
hear they were doing prom- ising truce work between lumpen organizations in their region. As they allude to, they were very careful about the language used in their literature so that it could not be misconstrued to be something of a "crim- inal" nature or promoting forbidden behavior within the Missouri DOC. Despite all this, the DOC still saw it appropriate to brutally crush this peace movement, demonizing any attempt by oppressed nations to organize. We expect that more New Afrikan blood will be shed in Missouri as a direct result of this ob- struction of peace, and this blood will be on the hands of the COINTELPRO-type forces.

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[Education] [United Front] [Texas] [ULK Issue 20]
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Lack of Education Limits United Front

Saludos y Respetos!

I received your plan for peace amongst the lower masses. It's in circulation.

My criticism is that, at least here in Texas, there's a lot of youngstas who have no understanding whatsoever of social relations. The comprehension level is totally shot. Your outlet and support is good, but here in this control block the average age is about 20 years old. Due to budget cuts, educational opportunities are being cut. Requests for education programming for the control block has been denied. Due to our custody level and administrative policy, we don't qualify for educational opportunities.

These fools can't even read, write, or do simple math. How the fuck are we expected to understand the writings of Marx, Mao or Che? I'm requesting your support in organizing a basics course of fundamental knowledge that is lacking in the daily interactions of our youth on a social level.

I totally support and endorse your propositions for peace. Tookie's outline is too basic. Where's the substance at? These fools need to learn basic literacy and problem-solving skills before entering the political arena.


MIM(Prisons) responds: What kind of oppressive system says that those who have been given the short end of the stick their whole lives "don't qualify for educational opportunities"? The system is set up to perpetuate the underclass status of large segments of the oppressed nations. This demonstrates the importance of MIM(Prisons)'s Serve the People educational programs for prisoners. We need donations, typists and other resources to continue to expand this important work.

As highlighted in this issue of ULK we have expanded our introductory study courses and are developing a revolutionary glossary, both with the goal of educating the uneducated. Yet many need more remedial training. We are researching this question and welcome ideas from comrades about how we can support that type of work. We do know that basic reading and writing cannot be taught through the mail, and United Struggle from Within needs to be enacting these types of programs on the ground. Education is an important part of building a United Front for Peace.

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[Control Units] [Pelican Bay State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 20]
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July 1 Pelican Bay SHU Food Strike to Protest Inhuman Isolation

I'm writing to enlighten you of the new millennium oppression going on in Pelican Bay short-corridor. Since 2006 over 210 prisoners are being housed here unjustly by IGI (the gang task force) AKA "Green Wall" which is known to utilize prisoners who will debrief against other prisoners. Their inhuman treatment towards prisoners who will not lie and become false informers for IGI "Green Wall" helps keep the short-corridor program of oppression functioning.

We have been placed in short-corridor Group D, falsely labeled as gang members and housed here isolated for non-disciplinary actions. We are not allowed Group D privileges; the short-corridor has its own set of rules structured by IGI. They have no oversight and are allowed to be inhuman towards prisoners who don't believe in their devilish propaganda! We understand we are in prison, we are serving our time disciplinary-free, all we are asking for is fairness. Below are just a few of many reasons why on July 1 2011 the short-corridor and SHU will go on a food strike to protest our inhuman isolation.

  1. If we must be placed in this short-corridor let it be for disciplinary actions we have done.

  2. IGI must stop the abuse of their power to manipulate/intimidate prisoners to falsely accuse other prisoners of being so-called gang members to justify their inhuman objective.

  3. We must be allowed to receive all of Group D privileges, especially us in the short-corridor who have not done anything to warrant inhuman isolation.

  4. We must be allowed to at least send our family members a picture. It's been over 18 years since I have sent my family a picture, and other prisoners go even longer!

  5. We must be able to talk to family on the phone. It is important that we have family support and help on personal rehabilitation.

I would like to ask if you can help us spread the word and on July 1 2011 have a candlelight vigil in support of us and to show solidarity in our struggle, or any other such act that may be able to help bring attention to our conditions.

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[Abuse] [Florida State Prison] [Florida]
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Conditions in Florida State Prison

I'm currently residing at Florida State Prison (FSP). FSP is a Close Management institution for prisoners with alleged disciplinary issues. The truth is that FLDOC intends to keep the entire population on maximum lock down! I say this because there are many changes that have taken place since 2007, when I first came to DOC. Most camps now don't allow all prisoners to rec at the same time. Each dorm has specific days to go out. The same rule applies for canteen.

Youthful Offenders camp in Brevard is only allowed to purchase $10 a week on canteen. Supposedly this is to keep down extortion amongst the inmates, but if so then why do they continue to raise canteen prices? Ten dollars a week is not even enough to buy what you need in today's society. This is just DOC's way of showing who's in control.

Here at FSP we can only have 2 pairs of blue-and-whites. We trade them once a week for supposedly clean ones. Just last Monday I received a T-shirt that was damn near brown! They gave me half a towel and half a blanket! We get toilet paper every 10 days and a little motel-size bar of soap once a week. My ceiling leaks water from all the rain, and every time someone takes a shower! I've filed grievances but have yet to receive a response.

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[Abuse] [Florida State Prison] [Florida] [ULK Issue 20]
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More on Worsening Conditions at FSP

I was recently moved to the gulag of the state and it's real tuff here. They're shorting people on shower soap like it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Food portions done drop majorly, but not too many people write anything up or do anything about it. If you not standing on door for shower you will not shower, which is not worth going to anyway because you only get 30 seconds. When laundry comes on Mondays, if you're not up 4-5 a.m., you will not get to change clothes. To top things off, you can't flush your own toilet, so sometimes you sit in that stink for hours. Just to wake people they flush them in the middle of the night. This shit crazy, but people lay down to it.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In California we're seeing years of work grieving to the administration, while writing to outside media like Under Lock & Key, leading to a growing unity among comrades in some of the roughest prison conditions. We encourage our comrades in Florida, and elsewhere, to launch a coordinated grievance campaign to unite their individual voices and become stronger.

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