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[Theory] [National Oppression] [New Afrikan Black Panther Party] [New Afrikan Maoist Party] [ULK Issue 26]
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A Critique of Rashid's Black Liberation in the 21st Century

Black Belt Aztlan First Nations
Concentrations of oppressed nations overlap with the Black Belt, Aztlán, First Nation reservations and urban centers.

This is a response to an article titled "Black Liberation in the 21st Century: A Revolutionary Reassessment of Black Nationalism," by the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter's Minister of Defense, Rashid. Rashid's article has been published in a number of places.

My writing will not analyze Black Nationalism per se, rather it aims to address the "national question" itself. My position comes from a Chicano perspective, which I hope adds to the theoretical sauce surrounding the idea of national liberation and the development of the oppressed nations ideologically, whether they be from the Brown, Black or Red Nations here in the United $tates. In the contemporary prisoner, one sees an awakening to truth and meaning amidst a state offensive to deprive millions of humyn dignity and freedom. The roundups, ICE raids and fascist laws (reinforced with putting the data of millions of oppressed across the U.$. into the state intelligence files preparing for future revolt and repression) has added to the swirl of these times for people to become politicized, and prisoners are no exception.

The struggle in the ideological arena is just as vital as that with the rifle, and perhaps more difficult. Out in society — where people have more social influences — ideas, experiences and thought can bring more diverse views into the sphere of theory. Often times the prison environment, in its concentrated form and social makeup, has more limited ideological influences. This is a trap that prisoners should guard against in developing a political line. There will always be ideological "yes people" in prisons, especially amongst one's own circle of friends or comrades. This could also be said of the limited contacts in the outside world that most prisoners have.

The "national question" is one that is not exclusive to the Black Nation; it is something that Raza and others are wrangling with as well. My critiques here are related to the national question in the United $tates in general, and not specific to the Black Belt Thesis (BBT) that Rashid addresses in his article.

In the section titled "The Black Belt Thesis and the New Class Configuration of the New Afrikan Nation," Rashid describes comrade J.V. Stalin on the national question as follows:

The [Black Belt Thesis] was based on comrade J.V. Stalin's analysis of the national question as essentially a peasant question. Unlike the analysis put forward by Lenin, and more fully developed by Mao, Stalin's analysis limited the national question to essentially a peasantry's struggle for the land they labored on geographically defined by their having a common language, history, culture and economic life together. Hence the slogan "Free the Land!" and "Land to the Tiller!"

Just to be clear, J.V. Stalin defined a "nation" as follows:

A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture."(1)

This definition continues to stand as what defines a nation today and to deny this is simply a deviation. Comrade Lenin was not alive to see the development of the anti-colonial struggles and thus in his view oppressed nations could not be victorious on their own accord, but Stalin taught us differently. At the same time Stalin also stated that should a people no longer meet any of these criteria of a nation then they are no longer a nation.

In this section, Rashid refers to a "Great Migration" of Blacks out of the rural south and across the United $tates, which he uses, or seems to use, as justification for not having "need of pursuing a struggle to achieve a New Afrikan nation state, we have achieved the historical results of bourgeois democracy..." Just because a people migrate across the continent does not negate a national territory so long as a large concentration remains in the national territory. For example, if the Mohawk nation continues to reside in the northeast but a significant portion of their population spread out "across America" and become urban dwellers, their nation remains in the Northeast no matter how much they wish to be Oregonians or Alaskans. But what really seemed grating in this section was the last paragraph, which reads:

To complete the liberal democratic revolution and move forward to socialist reconstruction the proletariat must lead the struggle which is stifled by the increasingly anti-democratic, fascistic and reactionary bourgeoisie. The bourgeois are no longer capable of playing a progressive role in history.

First, the proletariat in its original sense for the most part does not exist in the United $tates. In addition, the Trotskyite approach of relying on the Amerikan "working class" is a waste of time. Amerikan workers are not a revolutionary vehicle - they are not exploited when they are amongst the highest paid workers in the world. How can those seeking higher pay for more or bigger plasma TVs and SUVs be relied upon to give all that up for "socialist construction"? And my view does not come unsupported by the ideological framework that Rashid claims to represent. Engels wrote to Marx in 1858:

The English proletariat is actually becoming more and more bourgeois, so that this most bourgeois of all nations is apparently aiming ultimately at the possession of a bourgeois aristocracy and a bourgeois proletariat alongside the bourgeoisie. For a nation which exploits the whole world this is of course to a certain extent justifiable.(2)

So even back in Marx and Engels's day the English proletariat was already bourgeoisified. Imperialism has developed far more since 1858, further concentrating the wealth disparity between the oppressor and oppressed nations globally.

In the section titled "The Revolutionary Advantages of Our Proletarian National Character," the idea is put forth of "building a multi-ethnic, multi-racial socialist America." Although I am not opposed to multi-ethnic organizing, I also don't negate the usefulness of single-nation parties. One has to analyze the concrete conditions in the United $tates. The historical development of the social forces may not agree with this approach, and just because it may have worked in some countries it may not apply to this country. It obviously didn't apply to South Africa, another settler state. In Azania the Pan Africanist Congress seemed to forward the struggle more than other groups, in particular the integrationist African National Congress that took power and changed little for Azanians. Huey Newton himself understood this, thus the Black Panther Party was a single nationality party, with internationalist politics. Of course, at some point things will change, but the advancement of imperialism and a long lineage of white supremacy and privilege remains a hurdle still too huge for real multi-ethnic organizing advancements at this time in the United $tates.

In the section "Separation, Integration or Revolution," what is put forward for liberation is to overthrow "imperialism and play a leading role in the global proletarian revolution and socialist reconstruction." This, Rashid states, is "our path to liberation." This smacks of First World chauvinism. The International Communist Movement (ICM) will always be led by the Third World proletariat. The ICM is dominated by the Third World and our voice in the First World is just that, a voice, that will help advance the global struggle, not lead. The idea of First World leadership of the ICM is classic Trotskyism.

In the section "Reassessing the National Liberation Question," in speaking of past national liberation struggles, Rashid points to them having an "unattainable" goal. Yet countries like Vietnam, northern Korea, as well as Cuba come to mind as being successful in their national liberation struggles. [China is the prime example of liberating itself from imperialism and capitalism through socialist revolution. Of course, Huey Newton himself eventually dismissed China's achieving of true national liberation in his theory of "intercommunalism" that the NABPP-PC upholds - Editor]

Rashid goes on to say, "Even if we did manage to reconstitute ourselves as a territorial nation in the "Black Belt," we would only join the ranks of imperialist dominated Third World nations — and with the imperialist U.S. right on our border." Here it seems the idealist proposition is being put forward that an oppressed nation could possibly liberate itself to the point of secession while U.$. imperialism is still breathing. So long as U.$. imperialism is still in power, no internal oppressed nation will emancipate itself. So the thought of the imperialists being on one's border will not be a problem as at that point in the struggle for national liberation imperialism will be on no one's border.

In this same section, Rashid quotes Amilcar Cabral, who posed the question of whether national liberation was an imperialist creation in many African countries. Now we should understand that the imperialists will use any country, ideology or leader if allowed (Ghadaffi found this out the hard way most recently) but we should not believe that the people are not smart enough to free themselves when oppressed. The white supremacists put forward a line that Jews are in an international conspiracy creating revolution and communism. These conspiracy theorists look for any reason to suggest that the people cannot come to the conclusion to decolonize themselves.

Later in this section the question is asked if the "proponents of the BBT expect whites in the 'Black Belt' to passively concede the territory and leave?"

I'm not a proponent of the Black Belt Thesis, but speaking in regard to national liberation I can answer this question quite clearly. As this writer alludes to, there may be a "white backlash." But in any national liberation struggle anywhere on the planet there is always a backlash from those whose interests are threatened. When the oppressed nations decide to liberate themselves in the United $tates the objective position of the reactionaries will be to fight to uphold their white privilege. This privilege relies heavily on the state and the culture of white supremacy in Amerika. So their choice will be to support the national liberation struggles, as real white revolutionaries will do, or to side with imperialism. But there will be no sympathy for oppressors in any national liberation struggle.

Asking the question of what do we expect whites to do is akin to asking the revolutionary post-Civil War, when many were cut off from parasitism, "well do you expect the people to stop exploiting 'their' field workers?" Do you expect Amerikan workers to stop being paid high wages gained through the exploitation of the Third World? Do you expect the pimp to stop pimping the prostitute? Do you expect the oppressor nation to give up their national privilege? To all of the above I say if it's what the people decide, then YES!

Real white comrades not only will support the oppressed to obtain liberation in a future revolution, but most do so in their work today, even though they are a small minority compared to the larger Amerikan population. By that time in the distant future hopefully more people will have been educated and converted.

It is the task of conscious prisoners to develop a political line that propels the imprisoned masses forward via concrete analysis, not just of prison conditions, but of conditions outside these concentration camps as well. Oppression in imperialism is a three-legged stool that includes class, nation and gender. Thus we must develop our political line according to these concrete conditions. Our line should be grounded in reality. Our society is still very much segregated along class and national lines, particularly in the fields of housing, education and freedom.

Indeed, over half the people living within two miles of a hazardous waste facility are Brown, Black or First Nations.(3) In many high schools in the inner city Brown and Black youth are forced to share one textbook for 3 or 4 students, while their parents are jailed when they attempt to enroll their children in "better off" schools which unsurprisingly are predominantly white.(4) The prisons are no different, nor the "justice system." Of the 700,000 who were reported to have been stopped and frisked in New York City last year, 87% were Latinos and Blacks even though whites make up 44% of New York City's population.

When we develop a political line we must challenge it on a materialist foundation in order to sharpen things up in a positive way, but it must not be detached from reality. Only in this way will we identify what is palpable in the realm of national liberation.

As Lenin said, "it is fine, it is necessary and important, to dream of another or radically different and better world — while at the same time we must infuse and inform our dreams with the most consistent, systematic and comprehensive scientific outlook and method, communism, and on that basis fight to bring those dreams into reality."


MIM(Prisons) adds: The original article by Rashid is in response to the New Afrikan Maoist Party and cites the Maoist Internationalist Movement as another party promoting the Black Belt Thesis. While MIM certainly never denounced the Black Belt Thesis, they recognized the crumbling material basis for seeing it through in the post-Comintern years that Rashid points to in his article. It is worth noting that more recent statistics show the New Afrikan population since 1990 has increased most in the South, where 55% of New Afrikans live today and that in the Black Belt states a much higher percentage of the population is New Afrikan than in the rest of the country.(5) MIM did publish an interesting discussion of the land question for New Afrika as an example of a two line struggle in 2004. Ultimately the land question must be determined by two conditions which we do not currently have: 1) a Black nation that has liberated itself from imperialism, and 2) a forum for negotiating land division in North America with other internal semi-colonies free from imperialist intervention.

In his article, Rashid responds to our critique of his liquidating the nationalist struggle in the book Defying the Tomb. In doing so he speaks of a Pan-Afrikan Nation, which is an oxymoron completely liquidating the meaning of both terms. Pan-Afrikanism is a recognition of the common interests of the various oppressed nations of Africa, often extended to the African diaspora. You cannot apply the Stalin quote given above to New Afrika and Pan Afrikanism and consistently call both a nation.

But ultimately, as the USW comrade criticizes above, the liquidationism is strongest in the NABPP-PC line on the progressive nature of the Amerikan nation. It is this dividing line that makes it impossible for our camps to see eye-to-eye and carry out a real two line struggle on the question of New Afrikan land.


1. JV Stalin, Marxism and the National Question, 1913 in Marxism and the National-Colonial Quesiton, Proletarian Publishers: San Francisco, p. 22. Available from MIM Distributors for $7.
2. VI Lenin, Imperialism and the Split in Socialism, John Riddell ed., Lenin's Struggle for a Revolutionary International, Monad Press: New York, 1984, p.498.
3. Rebekah Cowell, "In Their Backyard", The Sun May 2012.
4. CNN January 26 2011 "Mom jailed for enrolling kids in wrong school district"
5. http://www.blackdemographics.com/population.html
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[National Oppression] [Theory] [ULK Issue 26]
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Review: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial - Guilty!

mim theory 11
It's not for nothing that MIM dubbed the Amerikkkan prison system "the primary tool of oppressor nation repression in the united $tate$," and a review of MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons On Trial makes this point ever so clear. Though this particular MIM Theory journal is dated (1996), like all MTs its message is not. It still serves as a good introduction to the Amerikan injustice system just as Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism continues to serve as an introductory foundation in political economy for those wanting to study the thinly veiled intricacies of modern-day imperialism. One read and you'll see why Amerika, that "shining city on a hill," is in all actuality the prisonhouse of nations.

MT 11 is a must-read, not just for the political- and class-conscious prisoner, but for all prisoners as a stepping stone on the road to liberation and sure footing to understanding the exact context of our imprisonment.

Beginning with the essay "Amerikan Fascism & Prisons," MIM lays out the only real fascist aspect in Amerikan society - the Amerikan prison system. This work is indeed of exceptional relevance as MIM points to the economic motivation behind fascism as well as to the white petit-bourgeois element that breathes life into this most barbaric expression of capitalist production and its anti-revolutionary mission statement.

The article "Capital & State Join Hands In Private Prisons" further elaborates on the thesis that fascism is not just alive and well within the Amerikkkan prison system, but that it has been expanding since the 1980s in the private prison phenomenon, which is but the melding of capital and the state in the growing war against the oppressed nations, with the prerequisite and additional benefit of continuing to win over the middle classes to their side by ensuring them an always available form of employment.

"Prison Labor: Profits, Slavery & the State" then explains how the possibility of open slavery can come back full force thru the institution of the prisons as it was once manifested pre-Civil War. This article also speaks of the important political functions the prison system serves repressing in the national liberation movements and the further indoctrination of the labor aristocracy with fascist ideology.

Nothing however drives home the colonial relation between Amerika and the oppressed nations like the articles "Political Prisoners Revisited," "Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" and "Who Are the Political Prisoners?"

"Political Prisoners Revisited" is a good example of the Maoist tenet of unity-criticism-unity in which MIM explains the basics of their line concerning prisoners in Amerika in a dialogue with the New Afrikan Independence Movement. MIM argues that the term "political prisoners" shouldn't just be reserved for individuals such as Mumia Abu-Jamal or Leonard Peltier, but is more appropriately and powerfully applied to all prisoners. All prisoners currently incarcerated under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie are rightly so political prisoners because the "laws" that we supposedly broke were laws specifically designed for the backing of the backward illegitimate political agenda of the superstructure and the settler state which it serves. To ignore or refute this point with respect to the entire imprisoned population and instead deflect the political aspect of this oppression to just a few individuals is not just a victory for the bourgeoisie but is itself bourgeois in essence!

"Political Prisoners & the Anti-Imperialist Struggle" centers on the antagonistic contradiction of Amerika vs. the oppressed nations that is reflected thru the prison system. It focuses on the material basis objectively present in the form of the gulag, and the material forces already present therein. MIM discusses the dire need for leadership to further help develop these potentially revolutionary forces to their logical conclusion, or in MIM's words: "to unite all who can be united to smash imperialism and all its tools of oppression..."

MIM understood the process of rapid radicalization of "common criminals" as a profoundly political one and in their agitation they emphasized that process as reflecting the material basis for revolution as does MIM(Prisons) and USW. Unity on this point is therefore essential to re-launching the new prison movement in connection with the national liberation struggles which have been repressed and stagnated by the oppressors with mass incarceration.

Finally, "Who Are the Political Prisoners?" is a New York prisoner's contribution and advancement to the MIM line on political prisoners in which s/he expounds MIM's line in detail and in such a way as to leave no doubt that the growth of the prison system within U.$. borders is not just a boil, but a cancer on the oppressed nation internal semi-colonies that needs to be mercilessly removed!

MT 11 also contains, among other things, an essay on Malcolm X's progressive development, a critique of Gandhi's so-called "non-violence" and pacifist strategy and tactics, as well as some good theoretical works and revolutionary poetry.

For all these reasons combined, MIM Theory 11: Amerikkkan Prisons on Trial gets four out of four red stars.

And so with that i end this review the same way the New York prisoner ended his article:

Death and Destruction to the U.$. Empire!
Birth and Construction to the Prison Revolutionary Movement!

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[National Oppression] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 26]
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Los Estados Unidos Sigue Siendo #1 en las Cifras de Encarcelamiento y la Injusticia Penal

En diciembre de 2011, la Oficina de Estadísticas de Justicia dio a conocer sus informes anuales sobre la población penitenciaria en los Estados Unidos.(1) Los informes se refieren a personas mayores de edad bajo la supervisión correccional del año 2010. Por segundo año consecutivo, esta población ha disminuido; este fue el primer descenso desde la década de 1970 cuando el numero de presos en la cárcel empezó a crecer significativamente. A finales de diciembre de 2010, el número total de personas en el sistema penitenciario, incluyendo aquellos bajo libertad condicional, y aquellos en la cárcel, fue 7.076.200. La población carcelaria en este país cayó 0.6% a partir de 2009, el primer descenso desde 1972. El número de presos federales en realidad aumentó un 0.8%, pero la población carcelaria del estado se redujo por la misma tasa. Debido a que hay más presos estatales que presos federales, hubo una caída general en las tasa de encarcelamiento.

Las tasas de encarcelamiento por causa de convicciones penales nuevas han ido disminuyendo desde 2007. No obstante este ha sido el primer año que las cifras de liberaciones han excedido el numero de nuevos presos ingresos, lo que mantiene la población carcelaria casi igual. Sin embargo, las tasas de liberación se redujeron un 2.9% en 2010, por lo que estos números no reflejan un aumento en liberaciones. De hecho, el tiempo servido por presos estatales siguió siendo el mismo.

Estas últimas cifras pueden indicar que la población carcelaria ha llegado finalmente a su punto álgido en Amerika, posiblemente debido a la pesada carga económica de mantener una infraestructura masiva de injusticia criminal en este país. Pero incluso si las tasas de encarcelamiento siguieran disminuyendo, tomará muchos años y contará con cambios enormes antes de que las tasas lleguen a ser lo suficientemente bajas para ser comparables a otros países. Los Estados Unidos tiene más de un 30% de las personas encarceladas en el mundo y tiene la mayor tasa de encarcelamiento en el mundo. (2)

El informe ofrece dos posibles explicaciones para la caída de la población carcelaria en los Estados Unidos: “Ya sea una disminución en la probabilidad de una pena de prisión, o condena dada, o una disminución en el número de condenas.” Por desgracia, los datos sobre estas medidas todavía no están disponibles, pero cualquiera de ellos sería una buena cosa para lograr. Sin embargo, como se mencionó anteriormente, es probable que estos cambios sean el resultado de las necesidades financieras y no un cambio en la política en torno a la prisión y el encarcelamiento.

Hay algunas tendencias interesantes que demuestran la nacionalidad por parte de un compromiso continuo con la opresión nacional por el sistema de injusticia criminal en Amerika. Negros y blancos ambos han sentido una caída en las tasas de encarcelamiento, pero la disminución de los blancos (6.2%) fue mucho mayor que aquel de los negros (0.85%). En los últimos años los inmigrantes han sido la población de más rápido crecimiento en las cárceles de los Estados Unidos. Mientras que el 2010 vio un aumento de 7.3% en las tasas de “hispanos” en la cárcel, indocumentados vieron una ligera disminución en sus cifras de encarcelamiento, probamente debido a un aumento masivo de deportaciones. Los hombres negros siguen componiendo el sector mayor de la población carcelaria y son encarcelados casi 7 veces más que hombres blancos.


Notas:
1. Prisoners in 2010, Correctional Population in the United States, 2010. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Published December 2011. http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/
2. World Prison Population List, Eighth ed. National Institute of Corrections, Published 2009. http://nicic.gov/Library/022140

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 29]
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Movie Review: The Hunger Games

debriefing beating

The Hunger Games
2012

Hunger Games is set in Panem, a society that, it is implied, rose from the postwar ashes of north America, and now consists of The Capitol and the 12 fenced off satellite Districts. Many of these Districts produce wealth for the Capitol while their people live in poverty. There is apparently no national oppression (most people are white), but class contradictions are sharp. The Hunger Games are annual fights to the death by two kids representing each of the Districts. In the wealthier districts, kids train for this and consider being picked a privilege. In the poorer districts families are forced to sell their kids into the hunger games in exchange for food required for bare survival.

Katniss Everdeen is from the mining District 12 where her father, and many other miners, lose their lives producing wealth they will never see. She volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the annual hunger games match.

The Hunger Games are broadcast live as reality programming. The Games are meant to remind the people of the power of the government. This brutal form of reality entertainment serves to keep the people of the districts distracted and obedient. Out of 24 participants, only one child lives.

This movie is part one of a trilogy. The books get much deeper into the politics of oppression, even in the first volume. But as a broad representation of the first book, the movie gets at the general system and has a correct message of resistance. Katniss refuses to play the game the way the Capitol organizers intend, inadvertently earning the support and respect of other Districts and inspiring resistance against the Capitol.

In one scene she pauses to pay tribute to a fallen child from another district who was working with her. In the end [spoiler alert] Katniss commits the ultimate snub against the Games, refusing to play to the death. She manages to outsmart the organizers but all she wins is the right to go home a celebrity of dubious distinction for staying alive.

There are some good lessons from this Hunger Games movie. The importance of unity across oppressed people in the common cause against the oppressors is reinforced both in the individual alliances and the cross-district support of Katniss. The movie also demonstrates the brutality and distraction techniques of the ruling class and their willingness to stop at nothing to retain their power. There is an interesting subplot about the two main characters from District 12 pretending a love interest as a survival technique to get the support of "sponsors": wealthy people who can pay to provide advantages to their favorite players. Using whatever means available for resistance is important for the oppressed, though the actual romance in the movie dilutes this message.

The movie is adapted from the first of a trilogy of books but some of the politics of the books are already quite muted in the movie and it will remain to be seen how well the sequels represent the struggles of the oppressed.

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[Abuse] [Lanesboro Correctional Institution] [Virginia] [North Carolina]
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Solidarity from North Carolina to Virginia, Father to Daughter

Greetings from NC, I am writing to you to request that you send my daughter your newsletter. She is confined in a Virginia prison in Troy, VA. From what I hear there are men guards who regularly bully and physically abuse women there. My daughter has communicated to me that on one recent occasion, a male officer broke a female prisoner's arm.

In one of my letters I tried to send her information and addresses for resources in VA that could help them fight their oppression but due to their overbearing censorship of mail, she never received that information. Those women are on the verge of rioting to get justice for all of the persecutions and afflictions that are being perpetuated upon them by guards. All they need is a little push of inspiration to help them along. They need to know that there are thousands of us similarly situated who support them and who are comrades with shared agendas.

Please send her some literature to share with others and if possible to let her know her father and his friends (you) are behind her en masse.

The last newsletter received from you was Under Lock and Key, March 2012. We are finally off of lockdown here at Lanesboro prison and Captain Covington has been fired as well as our superintendent for destroying video footage of guards beating inmates.

If we all worked together and against the prison industrial complex as a team, we could accomplish and acquire so many rewards.

We appreciate your newsletter here at Lanesboro.

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[Control Units] [Apalachee Correctional Institution] [Florida]
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Control Units in Apalachee Correctional Institution

I am currently housed in an administrative confinement unit in Florida's Apalachee Correctional Institution. The East Unit has two confinement buildings: Disciplinary Confinement (DC) and Administrative Confinement (AC). In DC we are on 24 hour lockdown except to take showers on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for 3 minutes to wash. Once you've been on DC for 30 days you are eligible for recreation outside for 3-4 hours on Saturday, but they only give us 1 hour, if that. We exercise in what's called a dog cage. It is 15x8 feet approximately.

Administrative Confinement (AC) Y Dorm houses prisoners placed here for security purposes ranging from disciplinary reports, protective management, or investigation. They sometimes use AC as a form of punishment just because they want to. You can stay back here up to 180 days. AC holds about 30-40 prisoners on each wing (1,2,3).

The cell is 6x10 feet with bars as the door. I can touch wall to wall with both arms extended. We rarely get recreation. It's infested with rats and ants which come in and out of your room throughout the day. Your toilet only flushes two times every hour, sometimes less. There's no central heating or air conditioning so right now it's summer and it reaches 100 degrees and we have to be fully dressed. They only have fans at each end of the hall and certain officers will turn them off as a punishment. The office has AC so it won't affect them. Here showers are also Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but you are in a cage with another prisoner which is dangerous because there's a possibility of rape. They give you a piece of a whole soap about the size of a credit card broke in half, if even that big. It's hotel soap and we only get one a week. We get toilet paper every 10 days, sometimes it takes longer. We are supposed to receive 2 rolls per inmate but they just give us one and if you run out, you're just out until next time.

This place is terrible. I wouldn't want my worst enemy here in AC or DC.


MIM(Prisons) adds We have been collecting statistics on control units in prisons across the country as a part of our campaign to shut down the control units. This prisoner's report is part of more general information he provided about the units in Florida. To help us compile accurate statistics about control units in your prison, write to us for a copy of the control unit survey.

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[Theory]
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Book Review: The Essential Stalin

Lenin and Stalin

The Essential Stalin: Major Theoretical Writings, 1905-52
Edited with an introduction by Bruce Franklin

"…Stalin is clearly one of the three most important historical figures of our century, his thought and deeds still affecting our daily lives, considered by hundreds of millions today as one of the leading political theorists of any time, his very name a strongly emotional household name throughout the world." - Bruce Franklin

These above mentioned words are as true today as they were when they were first written 40 years ago. The importance and relevance of Stalin's great theoretical works were at the core of the international communist movement for damn near 90 years and should serve as a rock-hard foundation for any persyn serious about wanting to re-ignite the socialist fire that was ablaze for the greater part of the last century.

As successful as the imperialists have been in vilifying not just the world revolutionary movement but it's once main proponent, they can never completely succeed in wiping the memory or more importantly the teachings and practice of J.V. Stalin from the minds of countless people around the globe. Yet the imperialists and their quisling lackeys such as Bob Avakian of RCP=U$A fame continue to desiccate Josef Stalin be it by "new", "conclusive", "secret archive" evidence or by the "new synthesis" method of attack. Therefore it is the duty of all the real revolutionaries to defend and uphold the practice of Stalin not just because it is integral to the successful practice of revolution as the people of Korea, Vietnam and Peru can attest to but because to attack Stalin is to attack the theory of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Mao as well; and the only way of doing this is to (a) study Stalin's works and (b) put it into practice! and we will find that (c) without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement as practice gropes in the dark unless it's path is illuminated by the most advanced revolutionary theory.

In my mission to learn the science of revolution I requested "The Essential Stalin" from MIM Distributors and must say with great certainty that my grasp of Marxism-Leniism-Maoism has been increased ten-fold thanks to my acquiring and diligent study of this most valuable Marxist-Leninist weapon of liberation. From the most intriguing introduction which is packed with such hysterical data that reads like the most vivid novel to "Marxism and the National Question", J.V. Stalin's first major theoretical contribution to the oppressed people of the world and to which any self-proclaimed revolutionary nationalist would be remiss not to study, to the "Foundations of Leninism" in which Stalin always the teacher clearly lays out not just the hysterical roots of the first truly successful revolutionary ideology based on Marx & Engels formulations which led to the worlds first socialist society, but in which he clearly relayed to the Soviet Union that they would stay the course set by Lenin; to "Dialectical and Historical Materialism" in which he explained the rudiments of Marxist philosophy and which was once considered required reading for all members of the Chinese Communist Party or "Marxism and Linguistics" where Stalin in replying to young communists properly put forward the place of language in the revolutionary movement while simultaneously critiquing the dominant Soviet "authorities," i.e. revisionists, or "Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR", Stalin's criticism of "two extreme tendencies in Soviet political economy, mechanical determinism and voluntarism" which were propagated by the new bourgeois in the party who wished to cause the disappearing of man in socialist production.

Surely after leading this communist jewel you will find as did I why it was Mao himself who described Stalin as "the greatest genius of our time" and labeled himself as disciple of Stalin.

Studying Stalin however isn't always the easiest task and requires deep thought. Rest assured however that by completely immersing yourself in Stalin's work and undertaking a painstaking study of it you will be illuminated by the shining path put forward by comrade Stalin, and while he wasn't always the perfect communist for the Soviet Union, he was the best they had and as a result the International Communist Movement flourished.

Long Live Josef Stalin!

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[Campaigns] [Arizona] [ULK Issue 26]
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Hatred from ADC and Grievance Campaign Update

Florence Grievance Petition Response

The grievance campaign is very well alive out here in Arizona. As a litigious prisoner of war, isolated behind closed doors, I am doing my part in disseminating the grievance campaign where I feel it can have its most impact. I have also imported its meaning into an actual grievance alleging a denial of my First Amendment rights and access to courts. If Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) does not follow through and respond to my grievances within their specified time frames, I anticipate filing a lawsuit. I am also seeking injunction relief, asking the court and ADC to consider how its grievances are handled when being delivered to prisoners. This is because I believe they should be handled confidentially due to the legal issues that are presented in these grievances.

Your most recent letter including an Unconfirmed Mail Form and letter to Director Charles L. Ryan, et al. regarding censorship was given to me yesterday [3 April 2012] with "please pick up your idiot form from you CO III" written on it. In addition, a cigarette hole was burned through the letter. This type of misconduct is extremely unprofessional, especially coming from a government entity claiming rehabilitation, justice, standards, and professionalism.

Unfortunately this type of unprofessional behavior seems to be an ongoing pattern of harassment against MIM(Prisons). I am requesting that an incident report be documented in this case, and that ADC conduct an internal investigation. Furthermore, I'm asking that they ensure that I am no longer harassed in the form of tampering with my mail, which is a Federal offense.

I am sending this envelope to the ACLU who is now representing me and several other prisoners in a class action lawsuit against ADC Director Charles L. Ryan as the Defendant. We are alleging inadequate medical and mental health services, which are unconstitutional conditions of confinement. I am hoping they can see the hatred that is rained upon us at the hands of this corrupt state. This lawsuit appears to be following the footsteps of Brown v. Plata. The ACLU is asking for injunctive relief, asking that all mental health prisoners be taken out of isolation.

I am including some addresses that can be helpful in gathering some momentum in our struggle. They are aware of the prejudice that we're currently experiencing. I'm hoping we can put this together and change Arizona's precedent to violate our First Amendment rights.


MIM(Prisons) adds:Strategically, MIM(Prisons) disagrees with legal battles that do not serve the rights of all prisoners such as the popular trend of getting "mentally ill" prisoners out of isolation. Doing this further legitimizes the use of torture against those who are mentally strong and are put in isolation for political repression rather than "ill" behavior. There are better ways to reform torture and reduce the number of people in long-term isolation.

Above is a letter from a staff persyn at Florence Correctional Center responding to a grievance petition that a prisoner submitted. The staff persyn tells the prisoner to talk to a Correctional Officer about his grievances, when the grievance petition clearly says that this has been tried, doesn't work, and something else needs to be done to protect the prisoners' rights to due process.

So far everyone who has responded directly to the many, many grievance petitions that have been submitted to various prison administrators all over the country have simply referred the petitioners to seek remedy from another entity. No one has taken responsibility for this issue, all the way up the hierarchy. Even when petitioning the United Nations for various humyn rights abuses, U.$. prisoners have been told to seek remedy within the United $tates "justice" system. We will continue to distribute and publicize the grievance petitions to further highlight this point. One prisoner reports to have seen some success in a lawsuit in Oklahoma.

Clearly justice, due process, and fairness will not be given to us just by making the authorities aware of the problem. Raising public awareness may help apply pressure for reforms to be made. But the most thorough remedy for an end to injustice is to organize against the conditions that allow this to happen. A government designed to protect people and not profits would jump at the opportunity to correct an injustice, especially against its imprisoned population. We know that a society like this is possible, because we've studied how socialism worked under the Chinese Communist Party under Mao Zedong. We encourage everyone frustrated with the Amerikan administrative runaround to work with MIM(Prisons) to build for a better world.

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[Release] [Security]
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Release Plans and Politics with Friends

I have received ULK24. I love the article by release coordinator of MIM(Prisons) Overcoming Release Challenges. It goes into detail on the "Post-Release Plan" you all sent me. A comment on the time management is that it's true that time is critical, but as we do something like traveling to and from work or to see our parole officer, lunch breaks on the job, we communicate with people. This may not seem like much but one conversation on the basics can change lives.

My backpack will go everywhere with me. And this backpack will be stuffed with the best zines, newsletters, etc. If I pass a store, I can place some on the counter: hand them out to "passer-bys." We should take advantage of every little opportunity with limited time. These "little" things will hold some over until more time frees up or until they get into the habit and get settled.

And another comment is on "the personal vs. the political." I agree with MIM(Prisons) on security issues but on the attempt to preventing the destruction of relationships with friends and family in the name of the struggle, I don't agree. I say this to say if they can't accept me for who I am, then they're not real friends nor real family. This doesn't include telling them of more clandestine activities, but in telling them of your position and what you fight against imperialism. Your friends and family should want you to fight injustice. Not saying that they are obligated to do the same in order to be my friend - No! Everyone has a role in the struggle and some peoples' may be more radical than others.

These challenges are paramount and needs to be tended to fully. The only way to go is up because we're at the bottom; we can't get any lower.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade on the importance of advantage of every minute to do some revolutionary organizing. And there is nothing wrong with talking in general about political views with friends and family if you think there's a chance they might be interested (if you have an FBI agent in your family you'd be a fool to talk to them about anything). But you have to be careful about what you share. What happens when they start asking questions about details on what you do just because they are curious. And when your friend is angry with you for something and decides to go tell the cops about your activity, you've just put yourself in danger unnecessarily. We encourage people to keep their discussions of politics on the level of theory with people you know, until they demonstrate a real interest in getting involved in something. There are plenty of strangers out there we can talk to about politics without fear that they can use it against us: there is no lack for people to educate and organize.

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 26]
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Debating the Need for New Organizations: Cell Structure and United Fronts

So often I hear about all these "new" groups popping up, and I can only laugh. It's 2012, there is nothing "new." The foundation for our political beliefs has already been laid. There is nothing "new" about these stances/agendas and their supposed political beliefs. The only thing that is different is the day and age we live in. The root of our problem remains the same, the haves oppress the have-nots. However, the point of this writing is to address my thoughts, feeling and opinions on all these "new groups" popping up.

There are any number of them, with a wide range, variety and jumbled assortment of colorful names. The names range from political to outright comical in wording/phrasing. Some state just who and what they are. Some are rather ambiguous and then others are as laughable and colorful as a male peacock strutting in full plumage. And as we're aware, no matter how a peacock struts, it hides in the trees the first time a storm threatens.

It's cowardly, and more importantly, embarrassing. For all the strutting and plumage behind the colorful names, the truth is they do nothing, accomplish nothing and solve utterly nothing. If anything they present more of a problem, because of the loud, attention-craving racket, and absolutely no productive political action, they cause the people (the ones we struggle for) to laugh and not take anyone serious. All they see is the "bells and whistles" of colorful names.

All this does is take away from the true, sincere and actual revolutionaries striving to bring about the true and necessary changes and reforms to society, which is needed to overcome the corrupt imperialist swine oppressing us.

Remember, that's the goal. To bring communism to the forefront of political power. Not to be dividing into numerous groups with no true moral fortitude to accomplish what's needed. Each time I see or hear about "new" groups claiming to have and hold the same beliefs, views and stances as already well-established, virtuous organizations are already firmly grounded. It presents me with a question: why?

Why are these people so eager to form "new" groups? And why aren't they able to fit in with the already proven, reliable and established organizations? The answer I come up with is disturbing but can only ring true: Because these people lack of true moral fiber, and they possess one or more character flaws that prevent them from being accepted in and part of an already structured, active and producing organization. They are unable to follow the rules and regulations and necessary leadership to steer the group, and society as a whole, towards the ultimate goal: revolutionary change to overcome the oppression from the capitalist/imperialist swine. It's either that or these individuals who start "new" groups have outrageous delusions of grandeur, so they hop from group to group or create their own groups all in hopes to try and get their fix of feeling "important."

We can all attest to the effect that there is no possible way to trust someone who hops from group to group, from cause to cause, showing absolutely no loyalty to anyone or even to their own proclaimed beliefs.

In either of the above mentioned answers, I only see comical groups of misfits who do more harm than they bring about actual political change.

So, since there are already well-established, grounded and virtuous groups out there being productive, find one! And devote your time, support and efforts to an organization already striving for the ultimate goal we're all struggling for. The entire point of this struggle is to work together, as one, for a common goal. The common goal. And only in uniting will that goal be reached. Continuous divisions amongst ourselves only slow the process of growth.

Instead of dividing attentions, assets, resources and comrades, find a firmly established organization already fighting and struggling for the betterment of the people. And assist them in bringing about that betterment.

It makes me sick when I hear about see or read of some "new" group of misfits breaking away, and who have no firm education in political maneuvering or strategy. And quite frankly it's insulting to see or hear a new colorful name or term like "gangsta this" or "gangsta that"

Are ya serious? That's embarrassing, especially when all those character-flawed people are trying to do is get attention to their no-account group by using a virtuous group to put their group name in print because none of their actions are meritorious enough to be deemed worthy of it any other and the proper way.

Truly I hope not another group's name is printed. If you're a Maoist, then that's name enough.

In closing, stop dividing and start uniting. As one people, in one struggle, doing one work, to overcome the imperialist pigs who oppress us.


MIM(Prisons) responds: On the one hand, we agree with this comrade on the importance of not forming new groups just for the sake of recognition or self-aggrandizement (see "Building New Groups Vs. Working with USW and MIM(Prisons)"). Ultimately we need unity behind common Maoist principles for successful revolutionary struggle. However, at this current stage of struggle within imperialist Amerika, there is a practical need for organizing in a cell structure, where regional independence provides security.

As we have demonstrated in our work with even the best of these new organizations which are claiming to uphold Maoism, we hold everyone to a high standard of work and don't just look at the labels and names they choose. This was seen in our work with the New Afrikan Maoist Party (NAMP) with whom we found some significant developing disagreements over line and strategy. We published a self-criticism about our working relationship with that group.

The other important point to make here is that we should not hold everyone to the standard of Maoism to work with them. We need as many strong committed revolutionary comrades as possible. But for those individuals who are not at the level of communist theory, we can unite around anti-imperialist goals in a United Front. We don't want these folks blindly signing up for Maoism; we would rather they study and learn through practice about the value and seriousness of communism. And if there is no anti-imperialist cell or organization in their place, we support the creation of such a group. It is in forging this unity that we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons and this is the basis for the names of groups being printed in Under Lock & Key declaring their participation in this United Front. We do our best to verify that these groups have an actual progressive practice, but we cannot be everywhere checking out everything, so we rely on our comrades to vet these organizations and look at their work over time for confirmation of their anti-imperialist orientation. In line with this comrade's critique, we have shifted our focus for United Front writings in ULK to practical reports, rather than statements of unity that were causing more trouble then they were worth.

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