The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 58]
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Notes on Advancing the Struggle Outside

What I'd like to discuss is organizing the streets. Not directly about how to organize the uprising of the masses, but how prisoners can communicate about the necessary revolution within prisons. How can the public, organizations/organizers, and activists be encouraged to lend support (action) to the prison struggle? While these are important questions, they are only the second half of the equation. The first half is: what must be done by us behind bars before the public can be induced to struggle with us?

Let's be realistic – people are self-centered. Very few people put much, if any, effort into matters that don't directly affect them (or have a strong potential to do so). By effort I mean attention, thought, energy and so on. It's an habitual characteristic throughout capitalistic societies. So our first priority is to consider, how can we convey to them that the prison struggle affects them directly? This is best done by making the struggle personal to them. Once we personalize something it becomes important to us (my gang, my family, my favorite song or what not), and we place greater significance on it. Remember, you're in prison. Society's view, in general, is: you deserve whatever you get, at best, or you're worthless and don't merit any consideration, at worst. Society disdains "criminals" and we must overcome this obstacle. Our ideal way is to help them "see" the deprivation and cruelty from our position inside the beast.

After they've personalized our struggle, our first big obstacle is over, we can move on to encouraging their support. It can be easily accomplished in the same way lumpen organizations (LOs) recruit: conversations and written communications, conveying the idea, principle, reason, goal and our conviction (more important than the rest) of its (the struggle) rightness. You can explain until your tongue's swollen, but even the most logical or reasonable arguments will fail to penetrate anybody's heart without the flame of genuine conviction. As the proletariat must be taught their historical role, so do potential activists, organizers, and the public, in regards to the struggle.

After overcoming these inconveniences, it's time for us to work putting action behind our words: pursuing joint studies, research, collaborative analyses, letters to individuals or organizations, social (in the community or online community) initiatives and so on. Into the trenches we bring them, baptized by fire, and out of the trenches we come united. It isn't enough to simply point and shoot. It's more of a golf lesson, together we teach them to swing. With this understanding fully established in our minds, it's time for some practical concerns.

How or who do we contact in order to spread knowledge about the struggle? Start with people you know. I also suggest looking into the organizations that already exist: Critical Resistance, News & Letters, Solitary Watch, the Brown Berets, to name a few, but there's more. Since you're reading ULK, you should start there, but don't stop there. Contact the others (many are in the PARC directory, see page 3), contribute to them if you agree with their mission, because we're all more likely to help those who help us. Eventually, you'll expand from one or two contacts to three or more, finding people who will do the ground work you can't do physically.

Is it a waste of time, energy and resources? No, not at all, because no major struggle is won without wide mass support. This includes Latin America's freedom from España, slavery in the United $tates, wimmin's suffrage, UFW (United Farm Workers) or civil rights movements. As in those situations, in the prison struggle authorities will offer resistance (censorship, segregation, etc.) to prisoner activists' efforts, so don't get discouraged, and be prepared. Here, success is an eventuality, not just a possibility.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this author's outline of necessary steps to organizing people on the streets. We just want to comment on one point, regarding how to find people to work with through the mail. This writer suggests people look at organizations that already exist to find folks to do ground work and movement building with, and also to write to people you already know.

The benefit to reaching out to people you already know, who aren't yet involved in anti-imperialist or prison organizing, is that you can potentially bring new people into the movement. When doing this type of work, always keep security in mind and try to assess political agreement separate from disclosing the political work that you actually do. Tactics for assessing how open someone is to being recruited, and how to get them to actually take up work, belong to a different discussion.

A good thing about reaching out to organizations directly is that they are full of people who have already been turned on to politics. Organizations likely have a structure for handling incoming mail from prisoners. For better or worse, because it also may mean they already have a lofty workload.

But a primary consideration when reaching out to organizations is to think carefully about the political line of the organizations you are attempting to work with, and get with groups where you have political agreement. Overall, it is political line that determines our strategy, and correctness of this line and strategy will determine the success of our struggle in the long term. MIM(Prisons) has some significant disagreements with some of the groups mentioned above on very fundamental questions of political line. We encourage people to study their material and decide for yourself what is right and what's the best way forward for our movement. You can write to us for literature to study on the many political lines out there and why we think Maoism is the best way forward for the oppressed people of the world.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [High Desert State Prison] [California] [ULK Issue 57]
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Abolitionists From Within Platform and Organizing Report

afw

Recently AFW sponsored a handball tournament on C Facility at High Desert State Prison. I had the honor organizing this event, alongside of XYZ the founder of AFW. When my brother asked me to help him organize this event, I was more than willing to oblige. XYZ was willing to use his own money to pay for prizes for the winners of this tournament. It's unselfish acts like this that change the world. The fact that the brother had an idea to bring this facility together in a show of solidarity, unity & peace is what impressed me, and I had to be a part of it.

It's ideas like this that change the world. Wasn't it the great Martin Luther King that had an idea that blacks & whites could co-exist together in peace? I dare not compare the Civil Rights Movement to a handball tournament. However, peace was the goal in both of these ideas, and peace is a principle that we all should strive for.

You know, this isn't the first time XYZ asked me to perform an unselfish act. September 9th 2016, as a show of solidarity, I refrained from certain things, and went out of my way to do something I normally would not do. By doing this I learned something about myself. So I knew by helping with this tournament, a lesson about self lay in wake. I learned that I have a knack for organization and I also enjoy bringing people together on positivity. XYZ don't need pats on the back because he knows who he is. But I have the utmost respect and admiration for the Brotha because he is the example of how ideas can teach and reach people in profound ways.

Great Minds Talk About Ideas.
Small Minds Talk About Other People.
P.S. Congratulations to HBO & Mad Face for their Victory. And thanks to everybody who participated.

Abolitionists From Within

Platform

  1. The Party remained a reform group, not a revolutionary organization (while in prison).
  2. We will remain at peace while practicing humility and working for legislative solution (while in prison).
  3. We shall advocate an obedience to the California Code of Regulations Title 15 (while in prison).

Party Principles

  1. Denounced Black-on-Black crimes.
  2. Struggling for a better community.
  3. Struggling for racial equality (inside these walls).
  4. To uphold all points in United Front for Peace in Prisons' statement of principles.
  5. We endorse nothing, but take the chances for everything in attempting to abolish the system (prison, SHU, penal code, etc.).
  6. Raise the banner of liberty, equality and fraternity.

Comrades

I come to talk to you of those who stand in the shadow of their own scaffolds. I come to you an avowed revolutionist. But I incite no one to rest. The convicts have no rights which the COs have to respect. The Constitution is a dead letter to the convicts of the United States.

We Need To Unite

MIM(Prisons) adds: Follow this comrade's example and write to us for our September 9 organizing pack and get ready for this year's Day of Peace and Solidarity.

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[Palestine] [International Connections] [ULK Issue 57]
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Actions Mark Day 40 of Strike for Freedom and Dignity - Victory!

strike for freedom and dignity

25 May 2017 - Actions in cities around the world were taken today to mark 40 days since 1500 Palestinian political prisoners have been living on salt and water alone to protest the conditions of their confinement. The message at these rallies made clear connections between the struggle against long-term solitary confinement, detention without trial, lack of health care and restrictions on contact with families and the broader anti-colonial struggle. At a local demonstration, this connection was also made to struggles here on occupied Turtle Island.

Signs reading "Palestine Will Be Free" and "Withhold Aid to Israel" lined the sidewalk in front of the Israeli consulate as Aarab Barghouti, the son of political prisoner Marwan Barghouti, spoke to the crowd in San Francisco. Aarab spoke of not being able to enter Jerusalem, the city where ey was born. Aarab told of eir sister visiting their father to plead that ey not risk eir health in a hunger strike. But Marwan Barghouti responded that, "I'm doing this because I haven't been able to touch any of you for 15 years. I'm doing this because we have more than 5000 Palestinian prisoners who haven't been charged or had their day in court."

The participants this correspondent spoke with were all quick to speak of colonialism and the seizure of land when asked why so many Palestinians languished in Israeli jails. They spoke of the one-sided violence and the resistance that Palestinians made to it that led to their imprisonment. Everyone knew that the United $tates is the biggest prison state in the world today. But when asked why, only half (of a small sample size) made the same connections to land grab and national oppression in this country. Others spoke of the "Prison Industrial Complex", free labor, profits, outdated laws and a system that works against the poor. This correspondent pointed out that MIM(Prisons) has research on their website debunking some of the common ideas held about the "PIC," and for-profit prisons in the United $tates.

The relative silence around the colonial question here on occupied Turtle Island is somewhat understandable. We do not have an apartheid state like Israel has in the occupied territories of Palestine. The internal semi-colonies here have democratic rights for the most part, and integration has progressed in many ways. Meanwhile, the struggle for land is only popular among indigenous people on the reservations that are isolated enclaves on this vast land.

Nonetheless, MIM(Prisons) was not the only group trying to make the connection. One speaker opened with, "Here on Ohlone Nation, we stand on stolen land and we stand in solidarity with another indigenous nation." The representative of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center mentioned ICE detainees currently on hunger strike and prisoners in California who recently went on hunger strike for similar conditions. A speaker from the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) talked about the leading example the Palestinian prisoners were making in solidarity with all those fighting colonialism. Ey went on to say, "We hope the movement on this territory can take direction and inspiration from those imprisoned here for political and social crimes."

One protestor told this correspondent that they'd been fighting in solidarity with the liberation of Palestinians since 1967. This persyn was one who saw prisons in the United $tates being used for the same purposes as they are used in I$rael. Ey told a story of meeting some young Israelis:

"I was in Brazil four years ago, on a bus, and there was a group of young Israelis who recently completed their military service. I had on this bracelet, which says 'Free Gaza.' So we started talking, and they were freaked out, meeting a U.S. citizen [saying these things]. They were arguing, well, we didn't do anything to the Palestinians that the Amerikans didn't do to Native Americans and Blacks. As if that was a justification."

Young Israelis see the connection and so should we. Another persyn we spoke to pointed out how Israelis train the NYPD. So it goes both ways. But the United $tates is the imperialist power and I$rael would not exist without its decades of patronage. The liberation of Palestine remains at the forefront of the struggle for national liberation of all oppressed nations today because of the blatant lack of democratic rights and self-determination. Just as the recent hunger strike finds its strength and base in a strong national liberation movement, the prison movement in the United $tates last peaked when Black, [email protected], Puerto Rican and Indigenous liberation movements reached a peak some 50 years ago. Without making these connections again, today's growing prison movement will fizzle out in reformism and false promises.

Many attending the protest were interested to check out Under Lock & Key, and were inspired to hear about the USW petition campaign to oppose the Israeli bombing campaign in August 2014. In turn, our movement should find inspiration in the heroic strike going on in Israeli prisons today, and the continued struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom from settler occupation.


UPDATE: As this article was being reviewed by our editor news broke that the strike had ended and a settlement reached after more than 800 prisoners didn't eat for 40 days. The terms of the agreement with the Israeli state are many, and full details have not been released. They include many improvements to family contact and visitations, access to educational materials, medical conditions for the sick, access to better foods and cooking, better sports equipment and addressing high temperatures and overcrowding. In addition, a prisoners' committee has been established, providing a mechanism for addressing future issues. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network released the following statement:

"On this occasion of the prisoners’ victory, we know that there is a long struggle to come, for liberation for the prisoners and liberation for Palestine. We urge all of the Palestinian communities, supporters of Palestine and social justice organizers who took to the streets, drank salt water, engaged in hunger strikes, expressed their solidarity and organized across borders and walls to celebrate the victory of the prisoners with events and actions on 4-6 June, in Celebrations of Dignity and Victory.

"In these celebrations, we will recognize the power of the Palestinian people to defeat the occupier and the colonizer, honor the prisoners and their steadfastness, and emphasize the ongoing struggle. These celebrations are an occasion to escalate our demands for Palestinian freedom – for the liberation of Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian people, and the entire land of Palestine."(1)

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Stand Up Against the Pigs

Resist the Pigs

I usually don't weight in on stuff because most of my time is spent fighting the system, that's what I do. I don't like pigs and I don't like how these wannabe convicts be talking a lot of shit but as soon as these pigs pull out their pens and misbehavior reports they hide under their bunks!

I'm a transgender woman and I'm not scared of these pigs! I was working in the mess hall and the target of the most feared pig here and when I wrote him up all these wannabe convicts started telling me how I shouldn't fuck with him because he will retaliate. I said "fuck him I'm gonna keep doing me." Sure enough he retaliated and so did I. In the New York State Employees manual section 2.12, it states that they can't use abusive, aggressive, vulgar or obscene language, so whenever I heard him violate that rule I'd write his ass up. He retaliated by writing a false ticket on me. I got 7 days keeplock and then went back to work. Two days later I got fired and then I got threatened that if I kept writing grievances that they would set me up by giving me a new charge. I stopped grieving his ass and wrote to the Inspector General's office (ya ya!).

So, my question is this: why the fuck are dudes that have 15, 20, 25 plus years so scared to go at these pigs, but when a comrade owes them $3.24 they're ready to put a shank in the guy's back? Why when a pig disrespects you, you tuck your tail and run, but when a comrade disrespects you, you all of a sudden got a set of balls?

I'll tell you why a lot of these guys might do it. Because they know the pig will beat their ass all the way to the hole. But if they fight a comrade that shit will only last at the most a minute and then it's "get on the fucking ground before I blow your fucking head off!"

I've physically went at these pigs more than 5 times in the last 3 years and I've gotten 2 new bids behind it! I would've been home last year but there's a line that if crossed there should be consequences. I turned 10 years into 20. I'm not proud of that. Not at all. And I don't go around broadcasting it. But sometimes you have to stand up for yourself. If you don't stand for anything you'll fall for anything!

So, to all of my comrades, stand up to these pigs. I'm not telling you to go up against them with your fists, but don't just let them do what they want to you. Attack them by pen, fists, protests, or whatever! In the words of Malcolm X "By Any Means Necessary."

Peace Comrades!

P.S. - "I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear." - Rosa Parks

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides us with an important reminder that we can't just sit back passively and allow abuse to happen. And the criticism addressed at those who will fight other prisoners over bullshit but won't take on the pigs is right on. At the same time, everyone has to assess their own conditions and decide what response will work best and bring on the least suffering and retaliation. We need good comrades like this one to get out of prison, not double their time!

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[Organizing] [China] [USSR] [Theory] [ULK Issue 56]
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Zero Responds to Debating Theory, Building Unity

[This letter is responding to the debate we printed in ULK 55: ”Debating Theory, Building Unity for September 9 Protests”]

Let me try to run through this as quick as possible. To the point yo. That original article in the ULK 50 was pretty half-assed. Admittedly, so was my response to it.

So, first lemme say that there were a few typos in my response that made some significant differences. Mainly I wanna be clear that it said I don’t care about your "lies." The correct word was "line."

Also, I have no fuckin clue what "Post-Fordism" could possibly mean. What the fuck is "Fordism"? I said "Post-Marxist". We live in a "Post-Marxist" era.

As for my acceptance of status quo definitions of "slavery", I don’t accept it simply because it's what is commonly presented to us, but because I more or less agree with it.

I do fully agree with your analysis concerning the exploited global proletariat as being the theoretical primary contradiction. Capitalist imperialism depends solely on expropriation of land and resources. In order to sustain capitalist rule this can only come as a result of perpetual expansion into foreign lands, etc., and not to mention wholesale slaughter of oppressed peoples across the globe. Imperialism being inherently nationalistic this means "global" class systems emerge and so there you see our analysis is virtually identical.

Now if you can explain to me how we can apply this dialectically correct analysis into revolutionary practice — aside from pencil-pushing while capitalism further secures itself by snowballing into a fascist state — sign me up. But in my studies of all revolutionary lines, I’ve yet to find a red theory that institutes practice in our current material time and place.

I’m a nihilist. I accept no theory/analysis simply because it’s common to any rev camp, but only if it jives with absolute objective and dialectically correct theo-analysis. I find red analysis to be exceptionally on point. But I find major flaws in dictatorships of any stripe based in historical evidence. Authority always shows to turn into tyranny. Communists are just as guilty of mass-murder and oppression as any fascist state and I find the differentiation between "nationalistic" socialism and so-called "international" socialism to be mostly a matter of semantics. Don’t get me started on Bolshevism being the theoretical root of fascism, evidenced by Hitler’s distribution of Leninist literature. So I’ll close this by saying red analysis is sound. But fundamentally anarchist methodology and principles are the only realistic road to a true egalitarian society. I don’t swallow this because of identity politics — be it the black flag or the red — but because it's true. And so I apply red analysis to anarchist principles.

Next, obviously I do recognize the importance of line as my writing clearly demonstrates. You make exactly the point of why it's important in your paragraph number five and others. When I say I don’t care about line, what I mean is that I don’t conform to any line simply because it’s a generally accepted body of politics. Though I will and do align myself with any line if it jives with my correct social analysis, theory, or mode of practice. In my case, red analysis, black theory (black meaning anarchist).

Obviously I’m also a big fan of theory. Marxist dialectics being the pinnacle of revolutionary science, this is my area of professionalism in fact. So, when I told you "your theory is based in theory", you omitted the first part of my statement which was that black theory is based in practice. So "anarchist theory is based in practice, red theory is based in theory." That was my statement, which demonstrates my ascription to theoretical science. I simply see no potential for practical application of red theory, and I’ve seen nothing from red camps that show otherwise.

Further, I say I don’t care about line, as in when I’m participating in any revolutionary campaign — not political agenda, but revolutionary campaign, which is different — I could really give a shit if you're a militant red or a backwoods biker for Christ. If you're with the business we’re crackin' off then I’ll ride in the same car with you. Do I dig your political line? That’s irrelevant during campaigns as long as our interests intersect on the immediate issues. This is also what Bakunin meant and myself when I quote him when he said in a letter to his sister "sometimes you have to throw theory into the fire for it only spoils life" — spoils, not "stalls" (another typo). We’re saying theory that cannot be applied, no matter how sound, is worthless. At that time he was still practicing Hegelian dialectics which is nihilistic in nature. And then he went and got himself a political agenda and became just as boring as Marx.

As I state in my original critique, your original article has a clear contradiction in your dudes' own analysis. The paragraph #5 and paragraph #10 directly contradict each other. But whatever. As I said, it was kinda half-assed and it's a mostly irrelevant point within all our other conversation on this shit. Ultimately I maintain my original statement on this which you neglected only to reiterate the same point which is that in refusing to participate in these pigs' exploitative practices, clearly I said "the P.I.C. will have to adjust to accommodate us." That does not even suggest a declaration that it will "close all prisons." For the record, I quoted a comrade from the Free Virginia Movement when I said that.

Lastly in my own personal defense of nihilism, I find red political agenda idealistic and historically and theoretically frightening and horrific. Be that as it may, I actually find anarchist ideas about some revolutionary end result of global economic syndications just as whimsical, and frankly unfavorable as any other systemic socio-economic structure. It's basically just another formula based around labor and industry and distribution of wealth and so on. It fails to bring into question the value and dependence of labor and production in itself. So ultimately it may be egalitarian in theory, which I align with in regard to revolutionary practice in our current socio-economic landscape, as we work from a decentralized organizational praxis. At the end of the day, the idea is to still be subject to industry, and so becomes somewhat mechanical and antithetical to the liberated spirit of the inherent animal nature of humanity. Further, any system, be it hierarchical like communism, or horizontal like anarchism, if it's a system designed to control the means of production, it is susceptible to corruption and a gradual development toward the control of humans by the worst part of other humans. In this case, the nihilist, rejecting all idealistic political theory, will be just as likely to attack and destroy anarchist syndicalism as she would any other system. That is, if it begins to be corrupted — which it would.

And so what this means for the nihilist is that we look forward to nothing but our cigarettes, our bitter coffee, and destruction.

I suppose I could go on and nit pick some more shit, but there's no point. I think we understand each other, and so I shall withdraw back into the black coils of my madness. Feel free to reawaken me for purposes of business or pleasure.

In the end, I hope I speak for everyone who gives a shit when I say I look forward to solidifying an alliance with you — as I’ve done before — for the coming tidal wave against the agony of oppression.

Face first in the fight for peace.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate Zero's willingness to continue the dialogue over our theoretical disagreements, and to build our practical unity in the struggle against oppression in which we do have much agreement. We want to reiterate that at this stage in the struggle, we have more unity with Zero and other anarchists than we have differences. We are all fighting to overthrow imperialism, and to take on that enemy we need a united front of all the enemies of the imperialist state. As Zero stresses that means uniting around the battles of the day, despite ideological differences.

There's no need to reiterate our responses to most of Zero's points, instead we want to take this opportunity to again comment on the theoretical debate over anarchism vs. communism and what's the best way to achieve liberation for the world's oppressed. As we've said before, anarchists and communists are fighting for the same end goal: a world where no group of people has power over any other group of people. Contrary to how Zero phrases it above, saying communism is hierarchical while anarchism is horizontal, anarchism is the communist's ultimate goal, we just disagree on how to get there. It is the getting-there process where communists believe in the use of force and repression of the oppressors.

This may seem like a theoretical and esoteric discussion that doesn't have much relevance to our day-to-day organizing. After all, we all know that right now the imperialists hold the power, and in the context of the prison struggle the criminal injustice system is a daunting and powerful enemy that we are all struggling against in many arenas. We aren't close to a revolutionary situation in the United $tates today, and so neither the communists nor the anarchists are in a position to seize power tomorrow. But this theory informs our practice in the struggle. Zero understands this and so stands firm in eir political positions, weaving them into eir discussion of the September 9th protests. In this we completely agree with Zero. In the long run this theory will determine whether or not (and how quickly) we are successful in overthrowing imperialism, which for many in the world is a life and death battle.

As scientists, we look to history to inform us about the most effective theory and strategy. Zero takes this same approach but draws different conclusions from eir study of history. We disagree with Zero's analysis that there isn't a significant distinction between communism and fascism (ey wrote: "the differentiation between 'nationalistic' socialism and so-called 'international' socialism to be mostly a matter of semantics.") Obviously Zero knows that fascism is an ideology that promotes the oppression of certain groups of people to the benefit of others, while communism promotes the end of oppression of groups of people. But studying the historical practice of communist revolutions we come to different conclusions from Zero. While capitalist propaganda tries to convince us that communists are brutal and murderous dictators, a careful study of Russian and Chinese history, from history books not written by capitalist apologists, demonstrates otherwise.

First we will state the obvious: neither the Russian nor the Chinese revolutions succeeded in implementing communism. Both reached a socialist state and then were overthrown by state capitalists from within. But during the years when they were implementing socialism and building towards communism, both countries made tremendous contributions to humynity. There are several important metrics we could look at here. To name just a few important ones: (1) Lives saved from feudalism/capitalism, i.e. people no longer starving to death, receiving health care, etc. (2) Lives saved from fascist and imperialist aggression, i.e. the Russian pivotal and central role in the defeat of Hitler and the fascists in World War II, the Chinese support for revolutionary movements around the world. (3) Advances made towards communism, i.e. the Chinese Cultural Revolution as a historical advance over the Russian implementation of socialism in terms of addressing the issues of corruption in socialist state structures through mass participation.

"The central problem with the critics of Stalin is that they do not understand the historical time period he lived in and the real-world choices that actually existed. Yes, he killed many people, too many even according to himself. However, all his repression combined was small compared with the lives he saved through the rapid and revolutionary transformation of society that he carried out. The choice the USSR had was not between liberal humyn-rights utopia on the one hand and tzarist era backwardness on the other. As if to drill this point into thick skulls, history has shown what happens after decades of criticism of Stalin: regression so that millions today are dying for lack of conditions that used to exist under Stalin almost 50 years ago! People supporting 'humyn-rights' and attacking Stalin are responsible for far more deaths than Stalin. That is evidence of the real world choices being faced — not between utopia and Stalin but between the pro-Western phony communists like Khruschev and Brezhnev and bourgeois politicians like Yeltsin on the one hand and Stalin on the road of Marxism-Leninism on the other hand. Stalin should be compared with other political leaders and then his merits will stand clear.

“Middle-class people from the West focus much too much on dissidents and not enough on causes of death such as food, clothing and basic medical care being lacking. Even including the repression he carried out, Stalin still doubled the life expectancy of his people. For this reason, polls of Russians on their favorite past leaders continue to show Stalin as the second most preferred leader of the past century, after Lenin. Although Amerikkkans love Lincoln more than Russians love Stalin, Stalin has a higher public acclaim than most U.S. presidents have amongst Amerikkkans, according to the survey by the Public Opinion fund cited in Pravda.” (From MIM Theory 6: The Stalin Issue)

Zero believes that humyn nature will inevitably lead to people seizing power for persynal gain if a state remains. In some ways Zero is correct. Zero's conclusion is similar to what Maoists say about the dangers of a new bourgeoisie arising within the party because of the strong history and remnants of capitalist culture. People don't just magically change overnight, and some will try to take advantage of opportunities to seize power and wealth even after a revolution. This is why the Chinese communists initiated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: to encourage and foster the criticism of leadership by the people so that leaders who become corrupt will be exposed and removed.

Communists believe that people are conditioned by their environment. We have loads of historical evidence to support this. And so, like the anarchists, we believe that if we can build a society where all people are equal and all people's needs are met, and where the culture doesn't encourage violence and power grabbing, but rather fosters cooperation and kindness, people will learn and adapt into this more peaceful existence. But unlike the anarchists, we don't think this can be implemented overnight. We will need a period where we have a state to force the former-oppressor classes out of power and keep them from taking that power back. We call this state the dictatorship of the proletariat, because it is using the power of the state in the interests of the oppressed. And during this time we will also be fighting against new people trying to take and abuse power. During this period of cultural revolution we will be remaking the culture while we are transforming ourselves to think and work collaboratively, for the good of all of humynity. People won't just start doing this on a mass scale spontaneously; it will take a long period of struggle against the capitalist patriarchal culture. The Chinese communists made significant strides, but we must continue to do more and better.

For people interested in going deeper into these questions we recommend a few readings:

  1. There is an entire theory journal written by MIM in 1994 about Stalin, along with other relevant articles and reviews. Get MIM Theory 6.
  2. For a deeper look at the successes and failures of communism we recommend MIM Theory 4, a theory journal by MIM, but also we distribute many books by both communists and non-communists detailing their experiences and observations in revolutionary China which provide objective (non-bourgeois-propaganda) facts about the real successes and struggles in that country under Mao.
  3. We distribute several books and essays on the restoration of capitalism in the USSR and China for a more in-depth study of that history.
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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 57]
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Practice Directs Our Movement

After reading ULK 54 I felt a lot of comrades put forth good ideas on tactics and strategy. One article in particular, "By Any Means Necessary", written by a comrade in Maryland, was especially inspiring. While I'm impressed by the fire in this comrade's belly, I'd humbly like to offer some added wisdom.

Practice is the only way to test the thoroughness of our revolutionary education (study of the past and analysis of the present to create theory for advancing towards communism) and resolve contradictions between theory and objective reality. Experience has shown us that in the struggle to supplant capitalism, there is no telling which campaigns will bear fruit and which will be fruitless. As MIM(Prisons) rightly states, even seemingly doomed projects, like grievance campaigns, can be valuable. It's the small battles, lost and won, that constitute the formative education of the revolutionary and enable em to lead the people successfully by such experiences.

Experience also demonstrates compromise with the oppressor is impossible. No meaningful change can be negotiated if the oppressor class maintains power. This, as the past shows, is the only compromise they understand or tolerate. As such, I agree with a "by any means necessary" mentality being needed. But I feel that caution and restraint must always be in the forefront. By any means necessary can easily lead to ultra-leftism, which is debilitating; or "fearlessness," equally detrimental; or worse still, an undisciplined revolutionary, an indiscriminately destructive force.

In our work we must be courageous but circumspect, undaunted but not oblivious, uncompromising in our mission but forever dialectical materialists. Mao wrote in "On Practice," "There can be no knowledge apart from practice." As on so much, Comrade Mao is correct. Our knowledge of struggles, fruitful and fruitless, directs our practice. Our practice leads to knowledge which directs our movement.


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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 56]
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Building Unity through Talk Instead of Violence

Yarddi Work

In Mao’s essay "On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People," (27 February 1957) ey wrote of melding practice with criticism and discussion in order for our movement and the masses to grow to greater understanding, unity, and strength. The essay explains, when struggling over disagreements amongst political allies (friends), to start from a place of unity, struggle through discussion, and come away with greater unity. For short, we call this unity-criticism-unity. In this issue of Under Lock & Key we explore how this method applies to the prison environment. How can unity-criticism-unity help counter the typically hyper-violent method of handling disagreement in prisons?

"The only way to settle questions of an ideological nature or controversial issues among the people is by the democratic method, the method of discussion, criticism, persuasion and education, and not by the method of coercion or repression." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.
There are often situations behind bars that require first identifying who are our friends and then we can apply unity-criticism-unity among those people.

A comrade in California reported in ULK 55 about eir long struggle to build unity across different organizations in the yard at California Correctional Institution (CCI), leading up to a banquet with various lumpen orgs participating.(1) This was done through discussion and peaceful struggle, maintained even through some violent episodes. This is a good example of identifying friends even among those who may initially be unfriendly, and patiently working to build unity.

An organizer in South Carolina reported in ULK 53 on eir work fighting lumpen-on-lumpen violence by holding classes to educate the youth on what it means to have unity.(2) Educational classes are a good form of criticism of political line that doesn't involve attacking individuals' views directly, sometimes making it easier for people to accept the criticism and come to see why they are wrong. This holds true for both leaders and class participants. No one person has all correct knowledge in educational classes. Leaders should also be open to learning new things from participants.

It's not always easy to see someone as a political friend when you've had past beef with them. In "Building Unity Through ULK" (in this issue) there is a report from Arkansas about how two prisoners overcame past differences through political unity. And the article "From Cop to Anti-Imperialist" shows us the sometimes fluid nature of identifying our friends. Someone who was an enemy of the people while working for the police force has been won over to the side of revolution through circumstances in eir life that put them in the camp of the oppressed.

Finally, the public debate we are having with Zero, continued in this issue of ULK, is an example of building unity while engaging in political struggle. One which we hope to build on as we further our alliance with Zero and others.

Contradictions with enemies vs. contradictions among the people

"Since they are different in nature, the contradictions between ourselves and the enemy and the contradictions among the people must be resolved by different methods. To put it briefly, the former entail drawing a clear distinction between ourselves and the enemy, and the latter entail drawing a clear distinction between right and wrong." - Mao Tse-Tung, ibid.

First we must distinguish between contradictions with the enemy and contradictions among the people. In contradictions with the enemy, such as with the prison COs, or with the Amerikan imperialist government, we are not seeking unity and we should be clear and straightforward in our statements about them. Criticism of enemies is important because it keeps the revolutionary movement on point. We do this when we identify all the candidates in the imperialist elections as part of the imperialist system. We also do this when we call out white supremacists behind bars collaborating with the COs to attack New Afrikans.

In contradictions among the people, on the other hand, Mao wrote: "the essential thing is to start from the desire for unity. For without this desire for unity, the struggle, once begun, is certain to throw things into confusion and get out of hand." This is the opposite of how we deal with contradictions with our enemies. When we run into problems with people who should be our allies, we need to start from this desire for unity.

Contradictions with our comrades, including disagreements within our organizations, should be approached from a position of unity-criticism-unity. In practice this means starting from the understanding of where we have unity, and that our criticism of one another's line and practice is always with the goal of building even greater unity.

We should not just throw out criticisms for the sake of making someone look bad or tearing them down. Criticism must always be with the goal of building greater unity. Sometimes we will not come to agreement over the criticism, but we can at least come to better understanding of our disagreements. Perhaps we can agree on a way to test which position is correct, or further research we need to do, or maybe we will agree that the criticism is not significant enough to lead to a split as our areas of agreement are far more significant.

Who are "the people"?

The people are those who we should be approaching as friends, not enemies. Mao wrote: "The concept of 'the people' varies in content in different countries and in different periods of history in a given country." In revolutionary China, Mao was talking about contradictions among those who supported and were served by the revolution in China. The identification of the people in revolutionary China was relatively straightforward as it encompassed the vast majority of the population.

Identifying who are "the people" in imperialist countries, where we're surrounded by enemies of the international proletariat, is a more difficult question. Broadly, the people include those whose class, nation or gender interests are counter to imperialism, as well as all people who take up anti-imperialist organizing. More specifically, within the United $tates, the people whose class, nation and/or gender interests makes them potential allies includes:

1. Oppressed nation lumpen
2. The very small proletarian class (mostly migrant workers)
3. Petty-bourgeoisie from the oppressed nations
4. Youth of all nations, particularly students
5. Others who are marginalized by imperialism and the patriarchy (i.e. queer and trans folk)

Many of these people could be happily integrated into imperialism, but we should still approach them with a goal of building unity and not as enemies. For the most part however, when we talk about contradictions among the people, we're talking about contradictions with those who are already on the side of the oppressed — either due to circumstances or because they have consciously taken up the cause of the oppressed — not those who are actively supporting imperialism.

Distinguishing enemy lines from enemies

When looking at contradictions among the people it is important to distinguish enemy lines from enemies. We're all going to take up incorrect ideas and practices some of the time. That doesn't make us into enemies, even if the line we take up turns out to be pro-imperialist. Learning from our mistakes is part of being a revolutionary. Our job is to help our comrades identify their mistakes, and to be open to hearing from others when they point out our mistakes.

In the essay under discussion, Mao asked "how should our people judge whether a person's words and deeds are right or wrong?" In response ey laid out six criteria that applied to a country that was already socialist. We have modified these slightly below to apply to our current conditions.

1. Words and deeds should help to unite, and not divide, oppressed people of all nationalities
2. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to anti-imperialist struggle
3. They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people's revolutionary organizations
4. They should help consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism
5. They should help to strengthen, and not shake off or weaken, communist leadership
6. They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world.

The first three points apply to all anti-imperialists, and we would propose them as good criteria to use for all people who are building united fronts. The last three are specific to communists who are actively fighting for socialist revolution. Communists should apply all six points to our practice.

These six points and the strategy of unity-criticism-unity should be at the forefront as we refocus energies on building alliances and a united Maoist movement here on occupied Turtle Island. The USW Council is also in the process of putting unity-criticism-unity into practice to reach out across the prison movement to consolidate forces friendly to anti-imperialism and national liberation. We will continue to report back on these efforts in future issues of Under Lock & Key.

Notes:
1. a comrade of United Struggle from Within, “Combating Gossip, and Setting Examples to Build the UFPP,” January 2017, Under Lock & Key No. 55 (March/April 2017).
2. a South Carolina prisoner, “September 9th Setback Leads to Unity Building,” October 2016, Under Lock & Key No. 53 (November/December 2016).
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[United Front] [United Struggle from Within] [Hunger Strike] [California] [ULK Issue 56]
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CALIFORNIA: Challenges and Reports

PIRU BLOOD

The decentralization of the prison population in California has helped make the voices of the oppressed harder to get out, as county jails step up repression in face of growing prisoner populations. At the Martinez Detention Facility in the Bay Area gang enhancements are being trumped up as a form of national oppression against [email protected]:

"We here, at MDF, Contra Costa County Jail, that are of Latin descent and not southsiders, are being held in Ad-Seg status now since 2010. And now even more unjust treatment is being added to us, gang enhancements just for being housed on this module, even if we don't ask to be housed on this module at time of arrest/booking. Classification, Administration and the District Attorney's office is using this module as an apparatus to get harsher sentences from the courts." - April 2017

Meanwhile, resistance has grown down south at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside. A hunger strike began on 13 April 2017. As we go to press updates are a couple weeks old, but we know that about 30 people participated in the strike and that some passed out and were sent to outside medical facilities. The prisoners list 13 demands, including the end of long-term solitary confinement, restrictions on phones/visits and dayroom access.

Within the CDCR we're still seeing the unfolding of contradictions being created by the release of many from the SHU, who were once influential but are now older and less known, into a population that is younger and often in disarray. The Agreement to End Hostilities came out of the SHU almost five years ago, and it remains in a state of uncertainty. Many are still working hard on it, but it has not been universally upheld in these last five years. As a comrade reported in March:

"There were two recent riots here. One on the 3A yard here at Corcoran, the other at SATF Corcoran, on 3C yard. No one severely hurt, but it's hard to organize with situations like that."

There were contradictions between many of the forces behind the original agreement and sectors of the prison population that still need to be addressed. USW comrades in California are still working on these contradictions to push for a more united peace. This should be a theme as we prepare educational campaigns for Black August and the Commemoration of the Plan de San Diego, which should both feed into this September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. Send in your reports on these campaigns and the conditions for peace where you are.

Finally, we're getting a lot of requests for info about Prop 57 from readers in California. One comrade recommends contacting:
Initiate Justice
PO Box 4962
Oakland, CA 94605
The latest from CDCR is that if you are eligible you will be hearing from your counselor this summer.

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[Civil Liberties] [Control Units] [Political Repression] [California]
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CDCR Not Upholding Ashker Settlement on Due Process

In August of 2016, a comrade was written up for possession of Security Threat Group (STG) contraband and given a 115 Rules Violation Report(RVR). This was in direct violation of the Ashker v. Brown class-action settlement agreement terms around "Due process" as described below. The new rules to reform isolation practices in California didn't even eliminate the outrageous practice of using drawings and greeting cards as reasons to put people in isolation in California. The "due process" clause was the only promising term of the weak Ashker settlement, and it seems CDCR does not intend to uphold it.

Political repression is the clear motivation here, as the target is a well-known anti-imperialist who works tirelessly for the improvement of the New Afrikan nation.

Facts:

On August 4, 2016, CO J. Hunter reviewed [XYZ]'s outgoing mail and found a drawing that included the image of a gorilla.

He based his conclusion that the drawing constituted "STG contraband" on:

  1. In past investigations, he received information from unnamed BGF members and associates that the "Silverback Gorilla is symbolic for the strongest force of the Guerrillas much like how the Silverback Gorilla is considered to be the dominant leader amongst a family of gorillas."
  2. The word "Gorilla" can be found in various documents used by the BGF. He provides one example: The "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF includes a verse stating "Long live the graceful guerrilla."
  3. The BGF recognizes the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power.
  4. The Office of Correctional Safety has established the credibility regarding the meaning of these symbols.

[XYZ] was found guilty of this offense and given 30 days confinement to cell, leaving only to shower. I have written him for these documents.

Challenge:

[XYZ] points out that item #1 above is based on unnamed confidential informants who allegedly have connected the "gorilla" animal with the BGF. However, CDCR has not complied with its own rules regarding confidential information (no 1030s, etc.) Also, this sentence makes no sense. Who are the "Guerrillas"? Does he mean BGF members or BGF leadership?

The picture depicts several fierce animals (lions, tigers, elephant, Pharaoh hound) and various male fighters who look more Aztec than African (to me). The gorilla does not dominate, nor is there anything else in the picture to suggest an STG.

The word "Gorilla" does not appear in the "I Stand Firm Oath" of the BGF. I was unable to find such an oath on the internet, but did find a BGF oath on a police-oriented website — see attached memo. It does not contain this term or phrase. The officer cites no authority for this claim, or is citing the confidential informants described above, without providing proper documentation.

The BGF's view of the gorilla as a symbol of stability and power is also asserted without attribution, or it is attributed to confidential informants.

The statement about the OCS establishing credibility is insufficient. Credibility is a term referring to people — the statement does not say who the people are. But broad reference to another CDCR office establishing the credibility of an informant or the reliability of the information seems like an end run around the responsibility of the hearing officer.

Finally, on what authority does the mere drawing of an animal among other animals constitute gang contraband?

Additional information:

I have done a little internet research on the "Silverback gorilla." Apparently, this refers to a mature male gorilla whose back hair has turned grey with age. He is the "alpha male" among the group of gorillas that he lives with. The drawing does not purport to be a Silverback gorilla. It doesn't say it is a Silverback nor can you see his back. We can guess that the gorilla in the picture is male, but even that is not necessarily true. That the officer brings up the "Silverback gorilla" is suspect to me. He is making himself sound like he knows more than he really knows. He does not purport to be an expert himself, yet by throwing out this term, he is making himself sound knowledgeable.

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[Censorship] [Education] [ULK Issue 56]
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Capitalist Copyright Laws Stifle Education

hueynewtonreader
MIM(Prisons) recently received notification from the publisher Seven Stories Press that we are in violation of copyright laws by making a PDF of The Huey P. Newton Reader available for free on our website. Copyright laws are a capitalist invention to enable the holders to make more profits. In the case of books, it's publishers (and sometimes the authors) that are making money on these copyrights.

For most of what gets printed these days, trashy novels, bourgeois interpretations of history and the like, we don't care that distribution is limited by copyright. But when it comes to revolutionary literature, especially that which is relevant to the people least able to afford it, we see clearly how copyright laws stifle education. Books about Huey Newton, founder and leader of the Black Panther Party, need to be more widely available.

MIM(Prisons) explicitly publishes everything under a creative commons license which invites everyone to build on, copy and share all that we write. We're not making money on our work, we're putting all of our money into spreading revolutionary education. And we want to encourage others to do the same.

Education should be free for everyone. This includes educational material like books. Intellectual property rights laws stifle creativity and education and also directly harm the welfare of the people. Patents keep drugs restrictively expensive by prohibiting anyone but the inventor from manufacturing the drugs. This system of legal restrictions and secrecy inhibits creativity and the advancement of society by preventing people from building on inventions made by other people. Meanwhile, people suffer.

It's only in a capitalist society, where profit is king, that we need these sorts of intellectual property restrictions. In a socialist society, where the goal is the welfare of the people, we will prioritize the most efficient and effective formula and distribution of life-saving drugs, educational material, and everything else that is good for humynity.

We are sympathetic that small publishers of political books like Seven Stories Press are in a difficult space to earn money. With new book releases it will often take a lot of book sales just to make back the cost of the printing. However, this doesn't make us sympathetic to copyright claims on a book that was first printed in 2002. Perhaps access to an electronic PDF is curtailing some sales of the physical book, but if free access is getting more people to read this important book, we think that's a victory.

We hope that Seven Stories Press will re-evaluate their goals. On their website Seven Stories claims: "Our credo is that publishers have a special responsibility to defend free speech and human rights, and to celebrate the gifts of the human imagination wherever we can." They have published some important and controversial books including the Dark Alliance series about the CIA and crack cocaine, All Things Censored by Mumia Abu Jamal, and the annual Project Censored's Censored report. Yet by shutting down the distribution of an important book about the ideology of the Black Panther Party in order to preserve their profits, Seven Stories is working counter to their credo.

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