We just got word that the Texas Department of Criminal inJustice (TDCJ) has denied delivery of the TDCJ Offender Grievance Manual to one of our subscribers in Texas. Not just at the unit level (we were not informed of the censorship at the unit level by Polunsky Unit mailroom staff, in direct contradiction to TDCJ's own policies)(1), but the Director's Review Committee even upheld the censorship of the grievance manual. The Director.
Well, what could possibly be the reason given for censoring TDCJ's own manual which was written for "offenders"? Couldn't tell you. All the notice says is it was "received in contradiction with BP-03.91, Uniform Offender Correspondence Rules." Don't forget, BP-03.91 doesn't just say that this item is denied delivery to this particular subscriber. It says that this item is banned in the entire state for all time. Just like [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, our "Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party" study pack, and multiple issues of Under Lock & Key (at least including Nos. 63, 57, 54, 51, 45, 35, 32, 28, and 27).
You might be wondering why MIM Distributors is sending in the grievance manual anyways. It's a TDCJ document, after all. And according to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, the grievance manual ought to be available to prisoners.(2) Well, in September 2014, a memo went out that removed the grievance manual from all TDCJ law libraries.(2) Why would they do this? Don't know, they didn't say. TDCJ's grievance system is notoriously ineffective and deliberately obstructive. And Texas is historically one of the worst states when it comes to brutal national oppression. Seems to be part of those overall patterns.
We did have a "victory," so minor that it's even embarrassing to use that word. The Director's Review Committee Decision Form actually listed the name of the item that they censored! Wow! We didn't have to go hunting around in the list of mail we sent to this subscriber, guessing which item was censored based on the date we mailed it out. This is often a very difficult detail to pin down, considering how much mail we send in and the weeks- and months-long delays in the TDCJ censorship procedures.
So, we've been protesting the ineffective grievance process in Texas for almost ten years. The grievance manual was hidden almost 5 years ago. And now we can't even mail in the grievance manual. We do plan to appeal this censorship to the Director's Review Committee, but often our letters to them go unanswered. In the short term, we need people (and lawyers!) in Texas to put pressure on TDCJ to stop obstructing prisoners' access to the grievance system. Ultimately we need to overthrow this totally bunk injustice system and the economic system it protects.
The u.$. economy has succeeded in stabilizing itself, at least for the near future. As reported previously (1,2), the majority of amerikans are prospering; their pockets lined with the bribes of imperialism, the labor aristocrats of the united $nakes are unlikely to support genuine
socialism any time soon.
In 2007, amerika faced an economic downturn. Excessive lending allowing amerikans to buy overvalued houses, which led banks to the point of collapse when debts could not be repaid. As the effects of the crisis spread, stocks fell, jobs were lost and the economy began to contract. The financial crisis has been rightly recognized as the worst to affect the First World since the Great Depression. However, it has also been rightly recognized as being of lesser severity, earning it the moniker the Great Recession.
And since then? The state of the amerikan economy has been not that of crisis but of recovery. Unemployment peaked in October 2009 at 10.0%. After that, it steadily declined. In early 2019, almost a decade later, unemployment now sits at 4.0%. In fact, by this measure the u.$. economy is doing better than ever. Monthly unemployment figures in 2006, before the crisis, were around 4.5%, 4.4% at the lowest. In 2018, they were around 4.0%, with the highest being 4.1% in the beginning of the year.(3) Labor force participation has decreased 2% since October 2009, but is at an average value over the last 65 years.(4) Another indicator of economic prosperity, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, has grown over the past five years, surpassing 25,000 points and setting 15 all-time record highs in 2018.(5) The bull market does not just enrich a few bourgeoisie: with 55% of amerikans owning stocks, the majority of the u.$. population is petty-bourgeois and benefits from rising stock market. (6)
In 2017, Amerikans spent, on average, more than five hours a day pursuing leisure, a number essentially constant over the preceding decade.(7) Between 2009 and 2018, average wages increased by 23%, faster than the rate of inflation.(8,9) As 2018 drew to a close, the average hourly wage in amerika was $27.53 (median hourly wages have seen similar steady increases to just over $23).
Contrast this state of affairs with China, where the hourly wage in 2016, adjusted for purchasing power parity, was $6.39. Or India where it is $3.10.(10) In China, hourly pay is less than a quarter of that in the u.$. In India, it is less than an eighth. It is clear that this wage disparity can only exist because amerikans benefit from the exploited surplus value of Third World labor.(11) So-called socialist groups in amerika "fight for 15," ignoring both the low wages paid in other parts of the world and the fact that many workers inside u.$. borders are, by virtue of nationalist immigration policies designed to preserve amerikkkan wealth, considered "illegal" and unable to benefit from a higher minimum wage.
Despite the fact that the numbers above have been adjusted for inflation and geographical differences in purchasing power let's entertain the supposition that some aspect of the cost of living has not been accounted for and that amerikan workers are still being exploited. If amerikans were truly being exploited, then they would have little to no property or wealth of their own. However, 64% of amerikans own a home, about the same as in the mid 1990s.(12) This number is fairly stable; since the 1960s, homeownership rates have fluctuated in a fairly narrow range, peaking close to 70% in 2004 and never falling below 62.9% since 1964.(13) In 2018, the average u.$. home had an asking price of over $200,000.(14) Many amerikans own their homes outright, while others may have a mortgage and look forward to outright ownership in the
future. An amerikan with a 30-year mortgage, for example, expects that they will pay off their home in 30 years and enjoy a comfortable retirement in it. Ignoring issues of credit, interest and down payment that would automatically exclude Third World workers, a Chinese worker attempting to buy the same house with a quarter of the income would need to spread out payments over 120 years, while an Indian worker would need to labor for literal centuries. The average amerikan dwelling, leaving out furniture, cars and other luxuries, already represents a greater accumulation of wealth than the typical Third World worker could make in eir lifetime.
And it is not a question of a vast economic divide within the U.$. Even among amerikans with an income below the national median, over half owned a home in 2018.(15) The majority of amerikans are therefore in possession of considerable wealth, which they invest in assets and spend on plush accommodations. The typical amerikan acts more like a member of the bourgeoisie than of the proletariat.
There remain significant economic differences between the wealth of whites and the wealth of New Afrikans and [email protected] within U.$. borders. But even with that disparity, the vast majority of U.$. citizens are profiting from the exploitation of the Third World, giving them a solid economic interest in imperialism. In a future article we will provide an update on the economic status of oppressed nations within U.$. borders.
A Boom in False Consciousness
In the bourgeois media we've seen a recent uptick in pieces examining the growing generational divide. Older commentators bemoan the laziness and entitlement of millennial (born in 1981-1996), while younger commentators decry the indulgence and thoughtlessness of baby boomers (born 1946-1964) who have depleted the Earth's resources and left no economic opportunities for future generations. The former is the typical "kids these days" grousing. Disproving the latter: homeownership among people aged 35 and under has gone from 64.0% in 1994 to 64.4% in 2018.(16) In other words, economic opportunity has actually increased for younger amerikans. Millennial wealth has more than doubled since 2007, with the other generations seeing either a net increase in wealth or a partial recovery in the value of their sizable assets since the
Any discussion of a generational gap in economic opportunity is false consciousness. Nothing could underscore this point further than the fact that any generational disparity in wealth will be rendered moot when the millennial children of bourgeois boomers receive their inheritances. In fact, it will not even take that long. Just as aristocratic scions of yore could remain resident in the family manor, or plantation, and not have to worry about actually working for a living, young "professionals" (i.e. those tasked with administrating the parasitic U.$. economy) can buy large homes in expensive metropolitan areas because they receive financial assistance from their parents.(18)
Amerikans, as a whole, enjoy high wages and a comfortable lifestyle not available in the Third World. The majority of amerikans possess considerable wealth in the form of houses and are closer to the petty-bourgeois than the proletariat in their economic position. Because of this economic interest, the Amerikan populace is unlikely to support a genuine communist revolution. Without a solid internationalist perspective, any talk of socialism within amerika will be a phony national "socialism," at best redistributing from one tier of the labor aristocracy to another and at worst heightening the violence inherent to international superexploitation.
I am personally connected to this topic, being an active high-ranking individual of an organization. I have struggled trying to make the transition to become a better man. 22 years young, growing up I was never exposed to positive black New Afrikan role models, or anyone older I could look up to who defined what it meant to be a man. Everyone I hung around was in a 5 years span older or younger and everyone who was successful was either an athlete, entertainer or criminal.
So when basketball or rapping didn't work out I turned to the street where toughness was defined by aggression and fearlessness. Fighting and shooting. I turned to my organization for the loyalty and love and the brotherhood. Being a gangster to me was being heartless to anybody who was not with you, and if they cross you, deal with them like an enemy.
Being incarcerated I learned that leaders and high ranking members need to revolutionize our organizations and get back to the original principles that we were founded on. Having influence is great power, we need to use this influence for education and fighting oppression. It is easy to talk about, it’s a learning process. I can't define toughness or what it means to be a man, but I can explain personally why I am the way I am and what it takes to prevent another from falling victim. Unity is key. Changing your values so you cannot be controlled by privileges and understanding if you are not part of the solution, then you contribute to the problem. Most people care what people think so they let that stop them from acting on what they really feel. But you can’t be for the revolution in mind but not in action.
Education and unity! Use the "negative" organizations as a vehicle for positive influence and change. It starts from the top O.G.s teach the Y.G.s. Teach them how and they will fall in line.
Part 2: What is a man? What defines a gangster?
A lot of New Afrikan brothas like myself have no idea because no example was taught by any positive New Afrikan role models. All we know is what the white-washed media portrays to us. We listen to rap music that glorifies violence and objectifies our women. Our role models being dope dealers and our definition of gangster is Scarface, Larry Hoover, Pistol Pete...
Being fearless and cold, making money by any means makes you a man, not tolerating disrespect, toting guns and how many women you had sex with all define your manhood. I sit here explaining that mentality and see the flaws in it.
Now let's talk about the cycle. Every parents' purpose should be to make the world a better place for the generation coming next. Speaking from my mind, the older generation kills me complaining about the younger generation and in order to solve a problem, first things first, you must start at the root. I will not deflect or place blame but this older generation, our own fathers, uncles, brothers start the cycle by failing to educate and expose their children to something different, something positive. They allow their children to be influenced by white imagery of what a Black man is: violent, or supernaturally talented, only good for white man's entertainment.
I won't sit here and talk about it with no solution, so how do we fix it? Everything starts with the children and what we teach them and what they are exposed to. New Afrikan men must learn the most important part of parenting is presence. Just being available is so important for a child growing up. We need to expose our children to successful business leaders and entrepreneurs that look like us, not only athletes and movie stars or entertainers. Teach them to be financially literate. Teach them about this racist society and how to be prosperous in it. Only way to break the mentality is to replace it. A man is responsible, reliable, self-sufficient, wise, a man does not make mistakes. A man takes care of his children and family. Now that's Gangsta!
MIM(Prisons) responds: Everyone makes mistakes, and they are our source of empirical knowledge. So we should not fear them. What we think this comrade means here is that we should not keep making mistakes and not learn. We shouldn't live a lifetime of mistakes. If we listen to what society tells young New Afrikan men, not living a lifetime of mistakes means going against the grain.
Each One, Teach One! Whether a child or an adult. We all have things to teach. And only by learning from each other does our collective knowledge grow. While we can learn from our mistakes, most knowledge is history. So we don't need to make all the same mistakes the people of the past did to learn the lesson ourselves, empirically. We can leap frog ahead by building on the lessons from the past. It is this collective, historical knowledge that gives humynity the power to reach much greater heights.
Growth is key. We all go through many different stages of the learning process at different times. As long as we are moving in the same general direction, of liberation, then we can unite in our growth.
The article we printed in Under Lock & Key No. 65 on the forced integration and its relation to the Agreement to End Hostilities continues to elicit responses. However, reports are still sparse, so we reiterate our request to readers in California to continue to send in updates on the progress of the integration. One comrade was won over by the article:
"I've never thought about the SNY situation, as written in your No. 65 issue, page 9, about the AEH agreement as I would pertain to a group of konvicts that usually leave a bad taste in most dudes' mouths. I have a cousin in SNY that I've written off for like 5 years. After reading your past few issues, I think I'll get at him this week."
There was concern coming from Valley State Prison, where a comrade wrote on 18 December 2018:
"I am writing to let you know I did receive ULK Nov/Dec 2018, No. 65, and I enjoyed reading about G.P.'s mixing with SNY, it's crazy. There will be people filing lawsuits. The G.P.s are expected here at Valley State around 15 January 2019. I can imagine things will get bad."
Yet we received a positive report from another comrade at Valley State Prison from 17 February 2019:
"I have a new 'bunky' who is a GP prisoner who came here to VSP as part of the integration of SNY & GP. There have been no problems with him and I am using this as an opportunity to learn more about how all of us can build unity using the UFPP Statement of Principles as a guide. We here appreciate all the material support of MIM(Prisons) and the valuable organizational guidance. The ULK No. 66 article "Ongoing Discussion of Recruiting Best Practices" was damn good and quite helpful as well."
The above victories are small, and do not necessarily give us a picture of what is happening across CDCr. But they do speak to the possibilities of the positive leadership of USW and the efforts to build a United Front for Peace in Prisons. However, negative reports are coming from concerned family members. One womyn campaigning for support for her loved one in Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility reports that he has been repeatedly brutalized after refusing to give information to guards. The guards are setting up scenarios reminiscent to the Corcoran SHU gladiator fights, except this time with many-on-one, to punish those that don't cooperate with their manipulations.
One comrade had a more mixed report from Chuckwalla Valley State Prison, 22 February 2019:
Yesterday we received our first group of general population "active" prisoners and the whole event quickly turned into a spectacle. Over a hundred prisoners flooded the yard last night in anticipation of these "active" prisoners. Their purpose was to physically assault these general population prisoners if they attempted to assault any SNY prisoner. While I myself did not go outside, I am guilty of looking out my window in anticipation of seeing some violence. Once I saw how these G.P. prisoners were virtually swarmed, however, and once I heard and saw how some prisoners became giddy with excitement at the possibility of seeing someone get hurt my mood changed from one of an expectant spectator to one of repulsion, anger and empathy.
Most disturbing of all however was how officers literally abandoned these incoming prisoners to their fate. Officers (some in riot gear) simply waited on the sidelines for something to happen while packs of SNY prisoners taunted, intimidated and pushed up on these prisoners asking them if they were here to program or get stupid, waiting for the wrong answer. All of the prisoners who came to this yard stayed. However, about an hour prior to this other G.P. prisoners were taken to another yard where we know something happened because we saw everyone proned out on the ground. And a few days prior some other G.P. prisoners were taken to A yard where one of them got jumped as soon as he set foot on the yard. We know this cause plenty of people in another building were able to see this from their windows and they all corroborated each others' stories.
On the one hand it's understandable that these SNY prisoners are chomping at the bit after some of them have been victims of gen. pop. prison gang violence. Others are merely interested in defending themselves against possible sneak attacks from G.P. prisoners that may be lying in wait. While many others unfortunately just wanna f___ somebody up.
It also doesn't help that we keep hearing stories of how other SNY prisoners are viciously attacked upon setting foot on a G.P. turned NDPF yard. Most SNY prisoners have never been victimized anywhere on G.P. or snitched on anyone. They're just not into the stupid prison politics and so they opt to go SNY when given the chance. For example, most of the prisoners here are just a bunch of youngsters who ain't never been nowhere. They just wanna do their time and go home. And if people want to say that most people here are sex offenders, well that too is a myth. And yeah, there are some sex offenders here, but there are many on the mainline as well, they just don't got that "R" suffix on their jackets.
At this point I firmly believe that the only way there can be peace on these NDPFs is if the G.P. shot callers initiate a truce and prohibit the G.P. from assaulting SNY prisoners arriving to their yards. Once SNY's hear that SNY prisoners are being left alone on their side of the fence then they will begin to respond in kind, as SNY prisoners are only reacting to what's going on on G.P. As it is, one of these G.P. prisoners here claims to still be G.P. but just wants to do his time and go home. No one is bothering him, while other prisoners have actually extended olive branches to some of these guys and given them some basic necessities.
Anyone who represents prisoners on either side of the integration, who needs help reaching out to the other side with messages of peace should contact MIM(Prisons). We will help facilitate any efforts at developing such a truce as suggested above.
If we accept MIM(Prisons)'s line and analysis that U.$. prisoners — lumpen prisoners of oppressed nations — have the most objective class-nation interest in anti-imperialism, then of course the validity of this analysis can be tested in practice, whereby objective organizing factors-forces would be evident. MIM(Prisons), to its credit of remarkable theoretical leadership, has already outlined in its article on prison organizing what the principal contradiction is driving the Prison Movement.(1) MIMP also challenged its prison cadre (of prisoner study groups) to do the same for their own specific state prison conditions. While these theoretical tasks are undoubtedly necessary, they don't really instruct us on whether the Prison Movement is actually moving, or better yet whether there is even a Prison Movement to move.
Thus, it is the aim of this article to look deeper into the question of prison organizing, to determine what fundamental factors-forces need to be in evidence for there to be a viable Prison Movement, and above all to give an honest assessment of the U.$. lumpen prisoner's potential to be leaders of any progressive movement, least of all, one of anti-imperialism or national liberation. However, it should be noted that the conclusions reached in this article are specific to Washington state prisons. It is the hope of the author that other cadre across U.$. prisons will pick up the pen and conduct their own serious and sober investigation.
For MIM(Prisons), the principal contradiction determining the development and direction of the Prison Movement is expressed in terms of consciousness, not class or nation. With individualistic (petty bourgeois) attitudes and behavior occupying one pole of the contradiction, the other pole is occupied by more group-oriented (progressive) conduct and concern. And at this time, as it has been for some time, individualistic consciousness is the dominant pole of the principal contradiction. In other words, within a given prison environment, most prisoners view their interests (short-term, medium-term, and even long-term) being realized through individualism (and opportunism). Accordingly, group-oriented thinking and action are rarely seen and therefore have little-to-no impact on the Prison Movement.
Washington state is no different in this regard. In fact, it is exceptional in a level of individualism, opportunism, and soft-shoe parasitism that prevail among its prisoners. Sure, the anti-people behavior of snitching, drug culture, extortion through manipulation, etc. is not exclusive to Washington prisons. Such behavior can be seen in just about any U.$. prison, in settings where violence and viciousness are the only coins with purchasing power. And yet, in Washington prisons, extremely adverse conditions are pretty much nonexistent, and with it a large part of the basis for prison organizing.
To explain further, Washington state has created a new, depoliticized prison environment, one in which traditional prison politics are not tolerated. While prison politics of old were reactionary and self-destructive, depoliticization has anesthetized the Washington state prisoner to the contradictions that come with imprisonment. With the Washington prison of today being somewhat safe, devoid of the ever-present threat of physical and sexual violence, and other forms of overt predatory behavior, the prisoner is no longer forced to question and think critically about the conditions of incarceration. Indeed, today the prisoner is numb to the political dimensions of incarceration.
There are essentially three ways in which Washington has managed to accomplish this. First, it has all but institutionalized snitching, allowing for the systematic abuse/misuse of protective mechanisms (such as PREA and other federally-mandated laws) by prisoners and staff.(2) And because consequences for snitching went out with the old prison politics, this encourages more prisoners to join the growing horde of informants. This results in more and more prisoners seeing their interests protected by the state, when unfortunately, it only reinforces the status quo of their imprisonment.
Conversely, those prisoners who refuse to be pawns of the system isolate themselves within their own close-knit groups and factions. They sit back and lament about how so-and-so is telling or they talk fondly about how things used to be. In reality, these prisoners are only engaging in their own form of individualism by resurrecting old myths or fashioning new ones from their false consciousness. Ultimately, these prisoners are just as bad as the snitches, because they are paralyzed to act or think critically (and scientifically) by the possibility of being told on. At least the snitch snitches, that is to say, "acts."
The second way WA State has sanitized its prisons of organizing conditions is by institutionalizing privileges. WA State has done a phenomenal job in this respect. Prisoners can join culture groups where they have activities and functions. There are a bunch of special jobs as well as the most coveted Correctional Industries job. Programs range from education and vocational to religious and community support. Of course, cable TV, J Pay, food fund raisers, and quarterly food packages contribute to the sanitization of the prison environment. All of these taken together allow the prisoner to carve out eir own specialized niche of doing time, whereby ey becomes a better inmate instead of a better person. More importantly in the eyes of WA State ey becomes reliable because eir behavior is predictable. In other words, WA State doesn't have to worry about "model inmate" given that ey is lost in doing easy time.
Finally, the third and most important way WA State created a depoliticized climate within its prisons was to dismantle and discredit the old guard. The old guard represented a collection of old-school prisoners, who were versed in prison politics of both revolutionary and reactionary iterations. (The term "prison politics” originated during the late 60s and 70s, as a liberation ideology beyond the walls found a home behind the walls. But just as the reactionaries beat back the tide of social change, those revolutionary prisoners under lock and key suffered similar fate. What was left in the walk was the same predations and parasitism we saw in lumpen communities of oppressed nations at that time. Today, most prisoners erroneously believe prison politics to mean prison LO's pushing the line behind telephones and tables or checking in prisoners who's paperwork didn't check out.) Sadly, most of these prisoners have given up on handing down "game" to the younger generations, least of all organizing for better prison conditions. They are either bought off with a special status within prison reserved only for old timers, or become victims/hostages of their own vices. Those who have maintained a militant posture, over time, have their characters impinged in a pig-led campaign to discredit them and their organizing efforts. It is this dearth of political leadership and guidance that is most responsible for the depoliticization within WA State prisons.
But such a situation isn't as discouraging when we look at the WA State penitentiary. The state penitentiary or West Complex is a closed (maximum) facility, housing lots of young lumpen org members looking to wild out. So at the West Complex it is common to have race riots or prison LO rivalries. Fights are an everyday thing creating an atmosphere electric with tension. And at just about any moment staff can be victimized too. Yet, in a seemingly chaotic environment, where WA State has not eradicated "prison politics," that is the West Complex group-oriented action based on principled unity among all the prisoners resulted in concessions from the state. In early 2018, West Complex prisoners got fed up with the poor food (pun intended) they were being served, and as a collective group decided to go on a hunger strike. It became such a big ordeal in the state that the governor, Jay Inslee, visited the facility to speak with a few prisoners who registered the grievances of the population. Of course, the visit by the governor was more show than a show of concern. The point is, such group-oriented action actually resulted in some of the grievances of the prisoners being addressed. Most notably was the addition of a hot breakfast to the menu where previously it was a cold sack.
The point that this example serves isn't that reactionary prison politics work or that violent prisoners are more suited for group-oriented action. No, the point here is that a repressive institution such as a maximum facility creates and nurtures violence; it promotes the continuation of reactionary prison politics. And as violence occurs and politics are pushed, the repressive nature of the institution tightens evermore. Eventually, prisoners are forced to deal with the meager, spartan existence the institution provides them. Some choose the path of more self-destructive behavior, but it is ALL who opts for the path of collective-oriented action when the conditions are ripe.
This isn't exactly a glowing endorsement of the maximum prison. Too much reactionary stuff occurs behind its walls by too many prisoners with reactionary consciousness. Leadership must be in place, the issue to organize around must be important to most if not everyone. And more importantly, there can be no hesitation once the wheels move forward and gains momentum. The organizing effort is too delicate of a process within the WA State prison environment, which is why more often than not conditions are left to rot.
The one definite conclusion reached about organizing in WA State prisons is that the max prison fosters a rebellion among its prisoners that has the greatest potential to serve the Prison Movement. There is a level of seriousness and critical awareness seen in the West Complex that is just nonexistent in other WA State prisons, due to the depoliticization program. This isn't to say that there aren't some enlightened comrades on WA State medium and minimum mainlines sprinkled here and there. It is precisely this "sprinkling here and there" of righteous comrades that the cacophony of "doing easy time" drowns out their leadership, however.
MIMP has already reached the theoretical conclusion that the lumpen prisoners (of oppressed nations) will make up the vanguard of the Prison Movement. But here in WA State, unlike most other states, it is the labor aristocratic and petty-bourgeois oppressor nation prisoners who are in the majority on most mainlines. And given this group's inclination toward fascism, it poses an obstacle to organizing in many respects. Those oppressor nation prisoners who do not flirt with fascist politics are generally sex offenders and thus seen as even more taboo to unite with. This is an interesting dynamic for lumpen prisoners' (of oppressed nations) role within the WA State Prison Movement. It must not only overcome oppressor nation fascism but also violate prison norms set by politics.
Granted, prison politics have been eliminated on most WA State mainlines, but they have yet to be eliminated from the hearts and minds of both lumpen prisoners (of oppressed nations) and oppressor nation prisoners (fascists). Consequently, the stage of struggle with respect to the WA State Prison Movement is at the level of disunity and distrust. Coupled with the very real fact that the lumpen prisoners (of oppressed nations) are fractured into their own constituent prison and street LO's, their leadership in the movement is without a doubt questionable at this point. For lumpen prisoners (of oppressed nations), caught in the depoliticized zones of Washington State prisons, the only objective interest for organizing is for their freedom. Everything else for this group is about drug culture, checking for wimmin, and establishing and maintaining a credible prison reputation to take with them to the street. To this point, the potential for the relatively few lumpen prisoners (of oppressed nations) to lead or even support a Prison Movement exists within the WA State closed custody institution, West Complex.
While such a conclusion is discouraging for WA State revolutionary prisoners, the hope lies in defining—maybe redefining—what the aims of the Prison Movement are relative to the specific conditions of the WA State. If, in general, the Prison Movement is about improving prison conditions, agitating and educating the larger population on the systemic injustices of mass incarcerations, or challenging the legitimacy of the prison, then the WA State Prison Movement must focus most of its effort on agitating and educating, challenging the growth of the prisons, etc. The basis for improving prison conditions has become an exclusive endeavor for the typical "legal beagle" in search of a big payday. The average prisoner has it too good to want to organize for better.
In conclusion, it is the overall contention of this article that the WA State Prison Movement exists, but solely in the individual practices of the few righteous comrades throughout the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer demonstrates how to study local prison conditions to determine the contradictions and where to best focus our organizing energy. This is something that has to be done from within each state by people who live there and know the conditions. It can't be done from the outside. With this analysis we can compare conditions, learn from best practices in other similar prisons, and build our organizing work in a scientific way. We welcome comrades in other states to follow this example and send in your own analysis of your state or prison conditions. We also hope other WA prisoners will respond to this analysis with your thoughts and observations.
I am writing on the behalf of the UBN/BBA of North Karolina. The movement is going downhill due to this new wave of beloveds. This new generation of Damus (especially the Emus) are konfused. We are breeding pliable brothers and placing them in strong positions as leaders of the movement. All these new komrades know is violence and gossip because time and patience is not being donated anymore. History is not being properly taught anymore, so they don’t know where we come from as Damus! Everybody want to be leaders nowadays. They say you must stand on your own first before you kan stand with a group. Katz just want to make a name for themselves.
I'm in tune with komrades in society as well as behind these enemy lines. It's getting a little bit better in some prisons in North Karolina but in most kounty jails such as the one I'm housed in the kommunication is shot to hell and it forces others to gossip and spread rumors. With those actions bring acts of violence and the gangster mentality. Which goes back to what I was touching base on at an earlier portion of this where I stated people are "pliable." They want to fit in or feel like they're important.
We need to go back to the original teachings. Go back to mandating the study of our history, our founding fathers, our true purpose, etc. We also need to create a better form of maintaining better communication behind these enemy lines as well as the blakktop. We are weakening our ownselves with all this bullshit we are doing as an entity! We forgetting that Damu is about "Positive over Negative." We are about killing oppression with a positive impression. All this Damu on Damu shit is a double oh banga.
Before we can expect to make a difference behind these enemy lines we must first make a difference within our own movements due to the fact we are who make up the prisons and in unity, we will be the ones to make a difference. We must first unify though! This system don't give a fukk about us beloveds. Fukk the pig$, and stop all of this snitching shit B! WTF is going on? The oppressors know more about us and our shit than we do. Tighten up komrades we gotta do better.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade echoes the USW slogan of "Unity from the inside out." Lumpen organizations must build unity internally first, before solid unity can be built with other organizations. And building this unity inside prisons can also transfer to life outside of prisons. So this is an important call to be made. We look forward to hearing more from this comrade's efforts, successes and failures, and how they can be applied by others facing the same situation.
There was a significant increase in white supremacist activism in response to the election of President Obama. And another upswing around the election of President Trump. We see this as a cultural phenomena, as economic conditions for the Amerikan nation are not declining.(see economics article, this issue) These activists are not part of the imperialist government. We want to distinguish between fascism as state power, a terroristic dictatorship of imperialism, and the ideology of white supremacy and extreme national chauvinism. In this article we will look more closely at the latter phenomenon in Amerikan society. As revolutionaries we need to think about what the rise in white supremacy means and what we can do to fight for a scientific understanding of the equality of all nations.
Defining White Supremacy
The white supremacists often look to Nazi Germany as an ideal society, and promote white nationalism. We see these views in a range of right-wing organizations calling themselves neo-Nazis, white supremacists, white nationalists, and some even calling themselves revolutionary anti-capitalists. We use the term fascist to identify these organizations as they all espouse the genocide of, or forcible separation of oppressed nations from Amerikan prosperity, as a way of promoting the superiority of white people within Amerika.
The vast majority of politics in the United $tates are white nationalist. We will use the term white supremacist here to refer to those who explicitly believe that white people are a separate race, and this racial category denotes inherent superiority.
White Supremacy Rising
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) monitors what they call "hate groups" and "hate crimes," releasing an annual summary report and keeping public dossiers of organizations and individuals on their website. The SPLC includes oppressed-nation nationalist organizations in this definition, including some revolutionary nationalist groups. In spite of this major ideological error, we can use their data to get a picture of what's going on.
In 2017, a post-Charlottesville Washington Post/ ABC News survey found that 9% of Americans (22 million people) thought it was fine to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views. And according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, hate crimes in the six largest U.S. cities were up 20% from 2016.(1)
In 2017, in the early months of Trump's presidency, there was an upswing in white nationalist activism. Online organizations like the Daily Stormer and Stormfront saw dramatically increased interest (Daily Stormer: 2016 summer 140,000 views per month up to 750,000 in August 2017; Stormfront gained 30,000 new users between January and August 2017). This lines up with the SPLC findings that neo-Nazi groups grew 22% in 2017. At the same time they recorded a 20% increase in Black nationalist groups. The SPLC correctly identifies this as a reaction to rising white supremacy.(1) In 2018 the SPLC again reported an increase in white nationalist groups, up 50% from 2017. The previous all-time high number of "hate groups" identified by the SPLC was in 2011, shortly after Obama took office as President. 2018 marked the fourth year in a row of increased numbers of "hate groups" after a decline over the previous four-year period.(2)
Our observation of white supremacist activism affirms the SPLC statistics on the growing membership and popularity of these organizations. And we conclude that there is in fact a rising sentiment of Amerikan nationalism in this country. The conditions of the petty-bourgeoisie have not worsened, so this is not a response to declining economic status.(See: "Economic Update: Amerikans Prospering in 2019," this issue)
Culture Driving Reactionary Shift
Conditions for oppressed nations have changed over the past few decades. This is seen in laws preventing various forms of overt discrimination, affirmative action in college admission, and growing opportunities for petty bourgeois New Afrikan and [email protected] advancement. Further, culturally overt racism is considered unacceptable by a growing segment of the population. The white population in the United $tates will soon be less than 50% of the total. And Obama was elected president. While not truly impacting their economic situation, the culture created by these changes is seen as a threat by many in the white nation. The rise in white-supremacist sentiments is in part a response to a cultural phenomenon. Trump's campaign slogan has been understood by people on all sides to really mean "Make America White Again."
Along with the material shift in national makeup of the population has come phenomena in the culture that have made many young white males defensive, and wanting to retreat into that identity of being a white male. Bourgeois ideas of race, identity and individualism have shifted the legitimate critique of a white male power structure to one of micro-managing behaviors. The petty-bourgeois obsession with lifestyle politics and its unscientific distortions of the analysis of oppression made by revolutionaries has contributed to the recent popularity of white supremacist ideas, especially in online forums.
In research for eir book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America, Kathleen Belew found that throughout Amerikan history post-war periods corresponded with rises in white power vigilantism and radical violence more than other factors, such as immigration, economics, or political populism. In other words, the experiences of being an occupying force in the Third World brings people over to violent white supremacy. This is a validation of Zak Cope's thesis that white nationalism cannot be abolished within the imperialist system dominated by the United $tates. It may be tempered at home, in times of stability, among those who never think about the brutal slaughter their country is waging against people of the oppressed nations. But those doing that killing must come up with ideological justifications for their actions.
We've discussed previously that identifying as white is to identify as oppressor.(3) To deny this is to deny the structure of imperialism in the world today. It is the task of communists and progressives in European/Euro-settler countries to discourage people from identifying with white pride, and celebrating the genocidal, colonial, and settler behavior of eir respective nations. Currently, there is a growing population of young petty-bourgeois white men who feel persecuted in a racist and determinist way. The fact that the dominant ideology being presented against white supremacy is bourgeois identity politics has led to a heightening of conflict, without any real solutions on the table.
As contradictions heighten, people will pick sides. That is inevitable. But some of the contradictions that are feeding white nationalism in the United $tates should be avoidable. The lack of a scientific, internationalist voice in the mainstream dialogue is pushing this country in dangerous directions.
Labor Aristocracy and White Nationalism
The labor aristocracy, the class of people in imperialist countries who have been bought off with spoils of the exploitation of Third World peoples, is a critical group in our analysis of white supremacy and fascism within the United $tates. We distribute H.W. Edwards' book titled Labor Aristocracy: Mass Base of Social Democracy.(4) Yet, in 2005, MIM passed a resolution titled, "The labor aristocracy is the main force for fascism."(5) How can one class be the mass base for two different systems? Especially a petty-bourgeois class, which Marxism has seen as not having the strength to impose its will on other classes.
Really, social democracy and fascism are just two sides of the same coin. This was seen practically in 1930s Germany, where both forces vehemently opposed the communists. These systems align with both the left and right wings of white nationalism in the United $tates. The left wing struggles with the imperialists for more handouts, while the right struggles against the oppressed nations to extract more wealth, leading to outright theft and other forms of primitive accumulation. The majority petty-bourgeois classes in the imperialist countries may rally to the right for fascism because the falling rate of profit leads the imperialists to share less of the spoils of imperialism with this class. Social democracy is also a push for more sharing from the imperialists, even when conditions are not particularly getting worse. As such, the Amerikans rallying for more pay are reactionary nationalists, even if they disavow overt racism of the fascist type.
Some of the most radical elements of fascist mass organizations present themselves as anti-capitalist in these early stages, so it is not uncommon for people to mistake fascism for a movement of the petty-bourgeoisie to overthrow the bourgeoisie. The ascent of full-blown fascism is dependent on the ability to rally a relatively privileged homecountry working class to the cause of fascism. But fascism is inherently a movement for capitalism. The goal may be to put different people in power, but they are still the bourgeoisie once they take power, because they will have control of the means of production.
And in spite of the aspirations of some, the petty-bourgeoisie is not going to rally enough power to overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie. At best, they can hope to embolden and support the wing of fascist imperialists in their battle against the democratic imperialists. This is the historic role of the petty bourgeoisie; they are not a decisive class in the capitalist system. This doesn't mean we should ignore them. As an imperialist country edges towards fascism, it is well worth the revolutionary's time to try to push the petty-bourgeoisie away from fascism. But we should do this with our eyes wide open, aware of their class interests and cultural influences.
Fight with Science
We are anti-imperialists first and foremost. Imperialism embodies the principal contradiction that must be resolved to move society forward the fastest. For some, anti-fascism is principal in their lives because white supremacists are actively targeting their bourgeois democratic rights. And in prisons, oppressed people find themselves having to deal with fascists in their daily lives, whether working for the state, as fellow prisoners, or both. As a matter of self-defense, obviously anti-fascism against non-state actors can become primary for some. But for our movement overall, as internationalists in the First World, anti-imperialism must be our priority.
In Germany leading up to Hitler and the Nazi party taking power, conditions for the German workers declined greatly. These workers were already part of the privileged class that we call labor aristocracy. But after World War I the German economy was devastated and the result was this severe decline in economic privileges. In spite of these conditions, the majority of German people did not rally against fascism. There was a relatively strong communist movement in Germany at the time, but even they could not win over the masses to the side of anti-fascism. The German communists made serious mistakes.(6) We must study those mistakes, but we also need to understand that we can't count on the proletarianization of the petty bourgeoisie pushing them to communism.
We need to work now to push the petty bourgeoisie in imperialist countries on the road towards revolutionary thought, even while recognizing that their class interests will keep the majority firmly in the imperialist camp. We are targeting the scientific non-voter: those who might be rallied to the scientific-sounding arguments of white supremacy, and who are pushed towards fascist ideology by all the idealism/metaphysics spouted by people claiming progressive politics.
As a group, the white nation is reactionary because their economic interests are tied up with imperialism, but this does not mean that all white individuals are reactionary, especially youth. And we want to push for accountability among the white nation. With this in mind, we see the need for a mass organization that will focus on targeting oppressor-nation audiences and directly working to prevent the rise of fascist ideology.
As an alternative to white supremacist views, there needs to be a culture of taking responsibility among the imperialist-country populations. We should be working hard to make imperialist-country populations take responsibility for what their nations have done and continue to do to oppressed nations around the world, perhaps in the form of calls for reparations. The goal is to increase scientific thinking, increase persynal responsibility for one's nation's behavior, and push the oppressor nation away from white supremacist views, toward action in the form of nation suicide.
The communists in Germany admonished their fellow Germans after World War II for not heeding their warning that a vote for Hitler was a vote for war. To date, the Maoist Internationalist Movement (MIM) has never promoted one U.$. Presidential candidate over another. In some ways the last two presidents have been notable, as Barack Obama was the first not-white President, and Donald Trump has made some openly chauvinist statements and received support for them. Both elections elicited participation from those who may have been closer to the MIM position of "it's all the same imperialist brutality" in previous elections.
During the 2012 presidential election in France, MIM talked about Jean-Marie Le Pen as part of the fascist camp. Ey was a far-right leader of the "National Rally" party. While Trump doesn't lead any particular white supremacist organization, ey certainly makes clear eir support for such groups, and they reciprocate in kind. Trump is very open in promoting various forms of oppression, to the point of promoting terrorism against oppressed peoples.
There are examples of politicians openly supporting the ideologies of white supremacism and neo-nazism from both the Democrats and the Republicans and from the earliest beginnings of Amerikan politics. David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, is a modern example of this. A former Republican Louisiana State Representative, Duke was a candidate in the Democratic presidential primaries in 1988 and the Republican presidential primaries in 1992, showing how this ideology crosses party lines and infuses mainstream politics. In 2016, Duke celebrated the presidential victory of Donald Trump, and the vision of his chief advisor Steve Bannon. Bannon's openly xenophobic and chauvinist Breitbart News Network contributed to Trump's campaign success, building an alliance of "Alt-Right" forces behind the president. These were many of the same forces that would later lead the infamous march with tiki torches in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting Nazi slogans and starting street fights with counter-protestors. These are some of the highlights of the Trump presidency phenomenon that have rightly elicited discussions around whether fascism and white supremacy are seated in the highest office of the United $tates.
Yet we must remember that the history of Amerika is a history of white supremacy. The country was built on the genocide of indigenous people and the stealing of land and resources. Then came the enslavement, exploitation and mass slaughter of Africans. Later, the U.$. Constitution codified New Afrikans as inferior to whites. Former Senator, Vice President, and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun blocked the annexation of Mexico on the grounds that only white people could be free, writing "we have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race."(1) This explains why Puerto Rico never became a state, why the First Nation state of Sequoyah was not accepted until it was subsumed into a white-dominated Oklahoma, and why the admission of Hawaii faced great resistance that was mitigated by accepting a predominantly white Alaska at the same time.(2)
In this article we offer our analysis of the difference between bourgeois democratic imperialism and fascist imperialism. And we will discuss some of the implications of a shift towards fascism for our organizing work. In "Fighting White Supremacy in Amerika" (this issue) we go deeper into the cultural shift towards increasing white supremacy and our thoughts on ways revolutionaries should respond. We hope this analysis helps others think scientifically about oppression and resistance and the best strategies for organizing in 2019.
What's in a label?
Should we call Trump fascist?
MIM(Prisons) leans towards caution in the use of the term fascist. First, we don't want to oversell the distinction between the Trump government and the Obama government. Normalizing imperialism, as if it is progressive, or as if the Hillary Clinton brand would have been less viciously militaristic and brutal for the people of the Third World, is a dangerous outcome of this sort of distinction. And we don't want to confuse people about the potential for progressive results from imperialist elections. We need to be clear that imperialism is brutal and murderous; it is not a kinder gentler condition entirely distinct from fascism. With integration, it is only in the last 50 years that Amerika has even begun to be conceived of as anything but a white settler nation, and the brutal history of that white settler nation is imperialism, but not fascism. We are entering a period where the majority of politically active people in this country have not lived in an openly racist political system for the first time in this country's history.
Based on our analysis of the current stage of imperialism, and our caution using the term fascist, we don't campaign against the Trump regime because it holds and acts on fascist ideology. We campaign against the U.$. imperialist government because it is imperialist and it is the enemy of the majority of the people in the world. We think that this is an important point to emphasize in our organizing today. We don't want to campaign to change the president, and we don't want to mislead people into thinking what we really need to do is get these fascists out of office. At this point, our other options of Mike Pence, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton all have approximately the same enmity toward the Third World and oppressed peoples.
Sometimes we need to be alarmist about terms like fascism. Right now, we see the danger of misleading people on this strategic question to be the greater danger. In our work organizing the petty bourgeoisie towards socialism there might be a time when calling parts of the Amerikan government fascist will help to clarify the contradictions.
Imperialism is National Oppression
In recent years there has been a rise in white nationalism and white supremacy among Amerikans. (See: "Fighting White Supremacy in Amerika" this issue) We should not be surprised that racist ideas are growing again; society's ideas reflect its structure. And the structure remains one of national oppression until imperialism is overthrown. It's very hard to justify imperialism without a sense of superiority of some sort. There has to be some reason why virtually everyone in the United $tates is in the top 10% by income globally, and saying it's because we steal wealth from the rest of the world doesn't go over as easily as just claiming we're more productive (read: superior).
Imperialism is the advanced stage of capitalism where a few powerful nations divide up and colonize the world for profit. It is manifested today most violently against Third World peoples who suffer under brutal dictatorships, which serve their Amerikan imperialist masters. These dictatorships ensure the United $tates access to cheap labor and raw materials.
"Whether it is Iraq, Afghanistan or the West Bank, it is clear that without openly adopting fascism, the essence of U.$. imperialism and its allies today is genocide and any tally of the victims of U.$. imperialism will show that it has implemented much more of Hitler's genocidal plans than Hitler did."(3)
Why Identify Fascism?
Imperialism is a global system of exploitation requiring war, forced starvation and murder through denial of medical care and other basic needs. Imperialism kills millions! Fascism is imperialism without the cover. Fascism is more overt. When the imperialists are forced to turn to fascism, we can win more of the middle forces to our side as they revile in disgust.
So we need to know when we are approaching fascism (and of course when we are in it) because our strategy and tactics will change to address this new situation. In both bourgeois democracy and fascism our overall orientation focused on overthrowing imperialism is the same. Yet we see two likely changes:
1. Our definition of who are our friends and who are our enemies will likely change as we make alliances with anti-fascists among the classes that are not anti-imperialist under bourgeois democracy.
2. Our organizing strategy and tactics will change to focus on the fight for democratic rights and defend the targets of fascist brutality.
"The difference between bourgeois democracy and fascism is a matter of quantitative changes leading to a qualitative change. The qualitative differences are relevant to us in terms of their effect on our policies towards non-proletarian classes."(3)
The key is defining when that qualitative change takes place, so we can prevent it or, failing that, appropriately respond to it. And in anticipating the qualitative change we need to ask if we are currently seeing an increase in quantitative changes. In terms of sustained quantitative changes within U.$. borders, a few things might be happening that would be important to note. None of these are required for a shift to fascism, but they are still potential identifiers.
Declining economics of the majority, the petty bourgeoisie. As the petty-bourgeoisie loses the economic privileges that put them firmly in the supporting-imperialism camp, they will have more potential to embrace communism as being in their material interests. But they will also be more easily rallied to fascism as an ideology that demands those privileges as a birthright.
We might see increasing incidents of white supremacy as quantitative changes leading towards the qualitative change to fascism.
Heightened class struggle is a likely precursor to fascism. This presents such a risk to the imperialists that they use fascism to put down the struggle.
"Democratic" Imperialism or Fascist Imperialism
Communists define fascism as a form of imperialism. This is based in our study of the history of fascist systems. There are two forms of imperialism: "democratic" imperialism and fascist imperialism. Fascist imperialism is a dictatorship of the most extremely reactionary elements of finance capital. When talking about governments and countries, we do not use the term "fascist" unless they are imperialist (see our article "The Strategic Significance of Defining Fascism" for more on why this is important.(4)) The exception is that fascism can be imposed by an imperialist government from the outside through a puppet government. But the key point here is that fascism is imperialism. A fascist state power is a capitalist state power.
Including "imperialist" in our definition of fascist states excludes some countries and governments from the label, but it doesn't help us identify what we should call "fascism." Our most commonly-used reference on this comes from Dimitrov: Fascism is "the open terroristic dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, and most imperialist elements of finance capital."(5) The dictatorship of the bourgeoisie is not open when the people are allowed redress, through the courts, etc. In the open terroristic dictatorship you stop raising money for legal fees, and start stockpiling supplies.
So what will fascism look like? Will we just know it when we see it? (See the article "(Mis)use of the fascist label in the United $tates" for more historical context on this question). Certainly the suspension of bourgeois democratic rights should be a sign that we are no longer in a bourgeois democracy. But sometimes this is insidious. Bourgeois democratic rights don't exist for migrants. They are severely limited in oppressed nation communities with large lumpen populations. And many new laws, such as the Patriot Act, have been passed to limit civil liberties in recent decades. The Trump administration is continuing this trend, stepping up voter suppression while also attempting to add a census question about citizenship. But unlike these moves, which target the rights of oppressed-nation people, the fascist suspension of bourgeois democracy will be felt by all segments of society. In that sense we can ask ourselves, "is a white petty-bourgeois persyn likely to be killed or imprisoned just for advocating communism?" If the answer is "no," bourgeois democratic rights are still in place.
I was looking for a purpose in my life. I have been in prison over 10 years. What can I do in this place, I wonder. I hear so many people with dreams, or talents they would like to pursue. What is it that I like or have passion for. Politics is a love of mine, always has been. Also since being locked down, I want to help my people.
I started talking to these conscious brothers on the status of black men in America. One thing led to another and I was given information to contact ULK. Then the issue at hand was facing me. In ULK 64, I read the article written by a New York prisoner about voting and the mid-term.(1) This article and your reply sparked something in me. I'm not a writer, but I think this issue at hand may be the most important one for us as people.
I understand the writer's views, but also yours as well. I believe the worst thing we can do is decide that we can't change the political landscape. We are in America, and if we like it or not, the system is money and politics. Look, maybe we made a mistake yesteryear, when the leaders in the black community chose to fight for integration instead of us being a sovereign community. That's up for debate, and can be spoken about later. But back to the issue at hand, we didn't fight for sovereignty as a whole, so we must play the hand we have. I heard the same guys who told me about ULK, on the walk talking about how we don't need to vote. I also hear that displayed in the African-American Community so much. What difference does it make if we vote Republican or Democratic, they are both the same. Sorta like your reply to the article was stating. I get it, but this is why that thinking leads to the status quo. We can't win not fighting, right? We are not the majority, right? We hold no power in the political sense. We don't make the rules. The only way for us to win is to make the rules work for us.
I would not call myself a communist, but I do agree with a lot of the platform. I also know it's 2 major political parties. You can either work in one of those, or take your ball and go home. You can put resources behind third party candidates, and lose, that's an option. Or you can hijack one of the major parties. That is the best and only option for us to get our platform to the mainstream. Look, the Tea Party (say what you will) started the hijacking of the Republican Party, crack after crack. They mobilized people who shared their worldview, forcing candidates to take up their issues or face a primary. This led to a more forthright party, and house of representatives. That allowed them to block President Obama's agenda, and force in their movement. It all led to this racist, bigoted, homophobic, anti-American nationalist, treasonist person who occupies what is supposed to be the people's house. Now it is no longer a Republican Party, it's his followers. They all have bowed down to "Dear Leader".
So we have the blueprint. Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and others are pushing a socialistic platform. We need to mobilize our people to get out and hijack the Democratic Party; that's our only way. We need to force all Democratic politicians to take up more of our platform, or be primaried. We need to start at the grassroots level. Start getting our people or people who share our worldview on board and winning local elections. Then we repeat the playbook of the other side. Before we know it, we will have a party and a president who share our worldview.
I know it's hard work, but that is how we change the game. Other demographics are forcing their issues onto the main stage, besides us. By us saying "what difference does it make" we are not hurting anyone but ourselves. Like it or not, the game goes on if we participate or not. The other side prefers we don't take part. Isn't it funny the other side always are the ones who try to take our voting rights? Wonder why? Now the Democratic Party has not been friends to us, they have hoodwinked and bamboozled us. I get it, we don't trust them, but we must use them as our vessel for change.
I hope to be out soon. I can't wait to start my mission to fight against the status quo. I may not make it out before the next fight, but I hope you take my suggestions up for thought. Please take the fight up, mobilize our base, our future depends on it. He has declared war, it's up to us to fight back.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The author is saying that we must work within the capitalist electoral system if we want to make change. "The only way for us to win, is to make the rules work for us." If that's true, eir strategy of trying to take over the Democratic party might make sense. But what if that's not true? What if there's another way?
We aren't limited to just studying and learning from the history of the United $tates. We can also learn from the history of other countries. This includes countries that have had successful socialist revolutions. The Soviet Union, China, Albania, Vietnam, Korea, Cuba: all places where they won by forcibly overthrowing the government. None of these victories came through elections.
On the other hand, we can look at a few countries where socialist candidates did win elections. Chile, with the election of Salvador Allende in 1970 is a good example here. Allende tried to implement policies in the interests of the oppressed while in office, and the imperialists saw him as such a threat that they sponsored a coup which ended in Allende's death and the fascist government of Agusto Pinochet taking over in 1973. Implementing socialism in bits and pieces proved impossible in the face of imperialist opposition.
From the many lessons of historical struggles of the oppressed we conclude that the bourgeoisie will never give up power peacefully. For this reason, we know we can't vote them out of power. We have to take power and force them out. A socialist government in the United $tates would work against the interests of the bourgeoisie, so of course they would oppose it. This includes the bourgeoisie in the Republican and the Democratic parties.
So why were the Trump folks so successful in taking over the Republican party if we can't take over the Democratic party? Well Trump is an imperialist. This is just another brand of imperialism. Variations in imperialism will come and go, and the bourgeoisie will get behind various factions. That's not counter to their interests.
There will also be some local initiatives and candidates where the impact of victory will have a net positive effect on the oppressed. This could be part of strategic organizing locally. But that's very different from working to groom candidates in a long term strategy of changing Amerikan society via the electoral process as this writer is advocating.
In the February 2019 issue of the SF BayView there was a headline that read, "California Prisoners endangered by forced merger of Snitch Yards." And it dawns on the world, how can a prisoner in the prison state capitol affect change on a national, and international level, if they can not find unity as a population suffering under the exact same conditions of: Police Brutality, Don’t ask Don’t Tell, Code of Silence Policies, Corrupt Administrative Justices, and Counterfeit Social Justice/Prison Reform Advocates. Prisoners in California suffer, as a whole, under these conditions, yet the leaderships of the most politically advanced wrestle over popularity contests between who is "active" and who is non-active, who is with the business and who is not. Just what business is it that defines whether a person in prison is active or not? Is it not the Freedom of All Persons in Prison we struggle for, or is it but a select few?
Aren't we all political prisoners, under these current conditions? Of course, there are those amongst the population of prisoners who are deserving of a bit more popularity than others. Those who carry the publicity of high profile cases as social justice activist, militants and radicals. All in all however, do we not share the similar suffering under this condition called imprisonment?
In California, leaders must really mature themselves and their followers to the level of love and reconciliation, this be prisoners and former prisoners. The time is: N.O.W.
Headlines like this one in the SF BayView, designating all Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY) facilities as "snitch yards," are not only mis-leading the public support of the California abolitionist population, but also an abuse of power that promotes dis-unity amongst the prison populations. Prisoner leaderships must be wise in the manner with which we allow for our movement to be represented by members of the public. The most important aspect should be the information that leaders allow to be published on the state of population affairs. It must be accurate information, based on facts, that the leaders use when representing the movement, or its population.
It is a fact, not all prisoners housed at SNY Facilities are snitches. So for the headline, "...Forced Merger of Snitch Yards" to be presented by the SF BayView does a (dis)service, to not only one of the strongest vehicles and stages for the prison abolitionist movement, but it hurts the movement as a whole. What, social justice and prison reform for all but SNY prisoners?
Prisons across North America are faced with a similar issue to the SNY facilities. Those who benefit the most from the all-too-common misnomer that all SNY are snitches, child molesters, sexual deviants, are the law enforcement agencies. This too includes mainstream corporate news reporting agencies. #Fakenews. There are individuals who testified in the event of their commitment offense all over prison, not just SNY. And what is to be said about leaderships within prisons affiliated with drug operations, serving poison to the community, gun violence involving non-combative casualties of peoples, kids, grandparents, relatives? And what about the big homies on the line affiliated with pimping, pandering and prostitution. How many underage homegirls have we condoned being out in the trap after curfew?
Prisoners across the United $tates in the states of TX, OH, LA, AL, NY, PA, FL, VA, NC, and SC have begun concerted efforts to consolidate the various factions of their prison populations, scattered across the board, for the sake of unity. This effort is known as the National Freedom and Justice Movement. If the leaderships, and their followings within California prisons do not cease in their petty quarrels and name-calling skirmishes on both sides, SNY and GP, those who have often been at the center of the global discussions for prison reform and abolitionism might find themselves on the wrong side of history. This is a most sincere call for prisoners in California, whether it be former prisoners, juvenile lifer prisoners, non-violent offender prisoners, level 4, 180 & 270 prisoners.
See, the one thing you all have in common? You’re prisoners. There may be some who hold strictly to the Agreement to End Hostilities while others will develop under the United Front for Peace in Prison. Wherever it be, get in where you fit in and carry love first of all. The movement is larger than all of us, none is without error, thus there must always be room for reconciliation.
I for one beg your mercy
In struggle and strength
MIM(Prisons) comments: The BayView article in question was written by someone, who, despite our disagreements on questions of Marxism, has done a lot to advocate for people in the California Security Housing Unit (SHU) system. The anti-SNY attitude is still the status quo among the lumpen organizations (L.O.s) that were once the main targets of the SHU. And some supporters of those who spent years and decades in those torture cells parrot the disparaging attitudes towards SNY, which peaked at almost one third of the California prison population before the forced integration began.
We stand with the families who are concerned about the safety of their loved ones, and who are exposing the state for using the NDPFs as coercive tools of violence against those who don't just go along with the state's program. Our approach remains one of advocating for and supporting comrades in these NDPFs who are advocating for the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons(UFPP). While the forced integration currently serves the state, this is only true as long as prisoners stay divided. By building the UFPP in the interests of all imprisoned people, we can turn this tool of oppression into an opportunity to transform decades-long divisions in the California prison system. We have a long way to go, but some day these divisions must fall.
The latest reports from withing the NDPFs are included below.
A California prisoner reports on integration at California Correctional Institution: In CCI-Tehachapi level III, the prisoners who challenge the status quo are quickly transferred out to the so-called Non-Designated Programming Facilities (NDPF). There they will become targets due to our SNY status. This is how CDCR has been rehabilitating California's enslaved population. If we don't jump when they tell us to jump, or crawl on our knees and hands, we are considered program failures.
The same type of racist rehabilitation that George Jackson found in the 1960s, I found it myself in 2018 at CCI-Tehachapi. CDCR is creating monsters, on purpose. This is why many of us come out hating society and would rather die off than return to prison.
A prisoner in California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility reports on 1 May 2019: Here at SATF-D facility these guys' eyes are wired shut. We have been receiving a flux of prisoners from Soledad and New Folsom EOP facility. These individuals are New Afrikan and [email protected], they come from what are known as mainline soft yards, or 50/50 yards. These are facilities where there is very little to zero accountability to the post-George Jackson structure of prison politicking. Where most mainline facilities there will be paperwork checking (investigations into a prisoner's commitment offense by other prisoners to determine the internal social status of prisoners on new arrival), or orchestrating the ostracizing of a persyn who co-operated with the police in their commitment offense. Although 50/50 facilities are considered mainline facilities, they don't engage in much of this sort of behavior. Now they are being introduced to SATF-D facility, which is supposed to be a Sensitive Needs Yard (SNY).
There have been a few fist fights, but overall the masses don't even care where these new arrivals are coming from. The leaderships within the facility are already on the look out for particular type of behavior. We ain't tripping on an individual's paperwork, one's sexual gender, or activity. Even if one transfers in and is a member of an STG, we are not ostracizing people here. Give it enough time, most guys are rolling it up and having admin rehouse them, rather than come with the police tactics. One of the strongest instruments being used is the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement, the Unity Principle.
I have persynally used the works of Larry Hoover and the "Blueprint from Gangsters Disciple to Growth and Development" by Ron Erwin to spread the truth to all G.D.s, and all who have been affiliated, influenced or associated with and by our movement. From Crips of various subsets like the Five Deuce, One-O-Seven and Seven Four Hoovers. To the Bloods of various subsets like the Black P. Stones, Four Deuce Brims, Anthens, these prison politiks, that are spread by gladiator wars, all have a root. At this local level we are spreading awareness of the liberation struggle of freedom fighters like: Leonard Peltier, Mutulu Shakur and Red Fox Falcon, drawing connections between them and the fathers (and mothers) of our movements.