by a Pennsylvania prisoner February 2011 permalink
The U.$. Government is trying to find a new way to kill people of color. This is suppose to be a country of justice, equality and freedom, yet thirty five states still carry out the death penalty. Each state now seeks a new way to carry out an execution because the drug used in the lethal injection (Sodium Thiopental) is not being produced or exported to the U$ any longer.
The people who sit on death row are mainly Black and Latino. Death Row serves as a modern day lynching house for Blacks and Latinos. The state of Georgia just carried out an execution of Emanuel Hammond with Sodium Thiopental from an unlicensed company operating out of the back of a driving school in London, England [Similar controversy occurred recently in California - ULK editor].
We need to understand what's going on around us and know our struggle is never over. And we need to start letting our voice be heard. Look at what's going on in Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia. These people are standing up to their government, letting their voices be heard.
Let's stand up for our people in Death Row and stop this modern day genocide.
MIM(Prisons) responds: As MIM explained well many times already, the death penalty is good for nothing more than national oppression. It does not affect the crime rate, but it does get applied disproportionately against Blacks and Latinos. We call for an end to the imperialist death penalty, but not because we are pacifists. We know that the death penalty might be needed under socialism to deal with enemies of the people but we would not use this tool widely and we work towards a society where neither police nor prisons are needed.
[Leaders] realize that the success of the struggle presupposes clear objectives, a definite methodology and above all the need for the mass of the people to realize that their unorganized efforts can only be a temporary dynamic. You can hold out for three days — maybe even for three months — on the strength of the admixture of sheer resentment contained in the mass of the people; but you won't win a national war, you'll never overthrow the terrible enemy machine, and you won't change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough. - Frantz Fanon, Wretched of the Earth, p. 136, chap. 2, paragraph 57.
Starting in Tunisia on December 17, and spreading across the region in January and February, the people of north Africa and the Middle East are taking to the streets to fight brutal dictatorships in their respective countries. Taken by surprise by the force and longevity of these protest movements, the various imperialist-backed regimes are working hard to come up with changes that will pacify the people without fundamentally changing the system. These just struggles of the people are primarily targeting the figureheads in government, but the real problem lies in the system itself and at this stage we are only seeing some shuffling of the leadership.
Protests are sweeping across the region as the people are emboldened and inspired by the actions and results of those in neighboring countries, even moving further south into other parts of Africa. As this article is being written, there are reports of people's uprisings in Bahrain, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Kuwait, Algeria, Djibouti, Syria, Morocco and Jordan. In other parts of Africa, less visible in the media, popular revolts are also happening in Sudan, Gabon and Ethiopia.(1) Protesters are facing violent repression by the governments in most of these countries.
The response in the United $tates has been strong condemnation of Mubarak and other leaders targeted by protests (among those paying attention). Arabs may falsely look to Amerikans as friends in their current struggles. But where was this Amerikan "support" for the last thirty years as their country bank-rolled Mubarak with billions of dollars? In reality, their reaction is a sick reminder of what went down in Iraq. The same seething opposition to Mubarak was aimed at Saddam Hussein, resulting in the deaths of millions of Iraqis and the destruction of one of the most developed Arab countries. Iraq is just one example to demonstrate how Amerikan racism quickly lends itself to popular support for militarism, the savior of post-WWII U.$. global dominance.
Economics of the People's Struggles
There are many differences between these mostly Arabic-speaking countries, but the one common enemy of the people there is the enemy of the people throughout the world: imperialism. Capitalism is a system that is defined by the ownership of the means of production (factories, farms, etc.) by the wealthy few who we call the bourgeoisie, and who exploit the majority of the people (the workers, also called the proletariat) to generate profit for the owners. Imperialism is the global stage of capitalism where the territories of the world have been divided up and exploited for profit. Under imperialism, the economy in each country no longer operates independently, and what happens in one country has repercussions around the world. Because of this global interdependence, events in the Middle East and north Africa are very significant to the Amerikan and European capitalists, and are related to events in the global economy.
The question of real change hinges on whether the exploited countries that are now mobilizing stay within the U.$.-dominated economic structure, or whether they look to each other and turn their back on the exploiter nations. While militarily and politically controlled by the United $tates, their economic relationship to imperialism is dominated by the European Union who was responsible for 50% of trade for countries in the southern Mediterranean region in 1998. A mere 3% of their trade was with each other that year.(2) In 2009, these percentages had not changed, despite the lofty promises of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area to develop trade between Arab countries.(3) Tunisia, where the first spark was lit, had 78% of its exports and 72% of its imports with the European Union. Compare these numbers to the ASEAN and MERCOSUR regional trade groups, also made up of predominately Third World countries, which had about 25% of their trade internally.(4)
The problem with Europe dominating trade in the region is based in the theories of "unequal exchange" that lead trade between imperialist and exploited countries to be inherently exploitative. Part of this is because the north African countries mostly produce agricultural goods and textiles, which they trade for manufactured goods from Europe. The former are more susceptible to manipulations in commodities markets that, of course, are controlled by the imperialist finance capitalists. The latter are priced high enough to pay European wages, resulting in a transfer of surplus value from the north African nations to the European workers.
In order to develop industries for the European market, these countries have been forced to accept Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) from the various world banking systems (World Bank, International Monetary Fund). This has further tied the governments to imperialist interests over the years, as SAPs have many strings attached. The loans themselves, which are larger in this region than for the average Third World country (5), serve to transfer vast amounts of wealth from the debtor nations to the lender nations in the form of interest payments.
Countries in the Middle East and north Africa generally have greater relative wealth compared with Third World countries in the rest of Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a result the people in these countries enjoy higher levels of education, better health and fewer people living in poverty.(see World Bank, World Health Organization and CIA statistics) General trends since WWII are a growing middle class with an emigrant population that expanded and benefited from European reconstruction up to the 1980s. Since then immigration restrictions have increased in the European countries, particularly connected to "security" concerns after 9/11. The north African countries relate to the European Union similar to how Mexico does to the United $tates, but Mexico remains more economically independent by comparison. These uprisings are certainly connected to the growing population and the shrinking job market with slower migration to the EU.
Locally, there are economic differences within the region that are important as well. Other than the stick of oppressive regimes, some governments in the region have been able to use their oil revenues as a carrot to slow proletarian unity. Even so, extreme international debt, increasing unemployment with decreasing migration opportunities and the overall levels of poverty indicate that these countries are part of the global proletariat.
The recent economic crisis demonstrates the tenuous hold the governments of the Middle East and north African countries had on their people. Because imperialism is a global system with money, raw material and consumer goods produced and exchanged on a global market, economic crises happen on a global scale. The economic crisis of the past few years has affected the economy of this region with rising cost of living and increased unemployment rates. In particular food prices have reached unprecedented highs in the past few months.(6) One might think this would help the large agricultural sectors in these countries. However, food prices affect the Third World disproportionately because of the portion of their income spent on food and the form their food is consumed in. On top of this, all of these countries have come to import much of their cereal staples as their economies have been structured to produce for European consumption.
Reliable economic statistics are difficult to find for this region. Estimates of unemployment in any country can range from under 10% up to 40% and even higher, and there is similar variability in estimates of the portion of the population living below the poverty level. But all agree that both unemployment and poverty have been on the rise in the past two years. We suspect this trend dates back further with the decrease in migration opportunities mentioned above.
In Egypt about two-thirds of the population is under age 30 and more than 85% of these youth are unemployed. About 40% of Egypt's population lives on less than $2 a day.(7)
The middle class in these countries, who enjoy some economic advantages, are sliding further into poverty. This group is particularly large in Tunisia and Egypt compared to many other countries in the region.(8) In Egypt the middle class increased from 10% to 30% of the population in the second half of the 20th century, with half of those people being "upper" middle class.(9) This class has been closely linked to the rise of NGOs encouraged by the European-led Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. They know that it is possible for them to have a better standard of living and enjoy more political freedom without a complete overthrow of the capitalist system. And so we saw many of the leaders and participants in the recent protests demand better conditions for themselves, but generally leave out the demands of the proletariat.
In fact, some middle class leaders, like Wael Ghonim (an Egyptian Google employee who was a vocal leader in the fight against Mubarak), are calling for striking workers to go back to work now that Mubarak has stepped down, effectively opposing the demands and struggles of the Egyptian proletariat. Without the leadership of the proletariat, who have never had significant benefits from imperialism, these protests end up representing middle class demands to shuffle the capitalist deck and put another imperialist-lackey government in place. The result might be a slight improvement in middle class conditions but the proletariat ends up right back where they started.
In Tunisia and Egypt, where the uprisings started, the leadership and many of the activists were from the educated middle class youth.(10) In Tunisia people were inspired to act after the suicide of Mohammed Bouazizi, an impoverished young vegetable street seller supporting an extended family of eight. He set himself on fire in a public place on December 17 after the police confiscated his produce because he would not pay a bribe. Like many youth in Tunisia, Bouazizi was unable to find a job after school. He completed the equivalent of Amerikan high school, but there are many Tunisian youth who graduate from college and are still unable to find work.
The relative calm in the heavy oil producing region that includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman and Qatar underscores the key role of economics and class in these events. These countries enjoy a much higher economic level than the rest of the region, as a direct result of the consumerist First World's dependence on their natural resources. Only Libya joins these countries in having a Gross National Income (GNI) per capita above $5000, while all others in the region are below that level.(11) That's compared to a GNI in the U.$ of $46,730.(12)
One economic factor that has not made the news much and which does not seem to be a focus of the protesters so far, is the importing of foreign labor to do the worst jobs in the wealthy oil-producing countries. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (consisting of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and the Sultanate of Oman) there are an estimated 10 million foreign workers and 3 million of their family members living in these countries.(13) This was used as a carrot to the proletariat who were losing opportunities to work in the European Union. Egypt in particular encouraged this emigration of workers.
Revolutions or Unrest?
To belittle the just struggles of people around the world, typical imperialist media is referring to the recent uprisings as "unrest," as if the people just need to be calmed down to bring things back to normal. On the other side, many protesters and their supporters are calling these movements revolutions. For communists, the label "revolution" is used to describe movements fighting for fundamental change in the economic structure. In the world today, that means fighting to overthrow imperialism and for the establishment of socialism so that we can implement a system where the people control the means of production, taking that power and wealth out of the hands of just a few people.
The global system of imperialism puts the nations of the Middle East and north Africa on the side of the oppressed. These nations have comprador leaders running their governments, who get rich by working for imperialist masters. Yet these struggles are very focused on the governments in power in each country without making these broader connections. Until the people make a break with imperialist control, changes in local governments won't lead to liberation of the people.
Further, we have heard much from both organizers and the press about social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) as a tool of the revolution. These tools are celebrated as a replacement for leadership. It is true that the internet is a useful tool for sharing information and organizing, and decentralization makes it harder to repress a movement. But the lack of ideological unity leads to the lowest common denominator, and very few real demands from the people. No doubt "Mubarak out" is not all the Egyptian people can rally around, but without centralized leadership it is hard for the people to come together to generate other demands.
Related to the use of social media, it is worth underscoring the value of information that came from Wikileaks to help galvanize the people to action in these countries; the corruption and opulence of the leaders described in cables leaked at the end of 2010 no doubt helped inspire the struggles.(14)
Egypt provides a good example of why we would not call these protest movements "revolutions." The Egyptian people forced President Mubarak out of the country, but accepted his replacement with the Supreme Council of the Military - essentially one military dictatorship was replaced by another. One of the key members of this Council is Sueliman, the CIA point man in the country and head of the Egyptian general intelligence service. He ran secret prisons for the United $tates and persynally participated in the torturing of those prisoners.
Tunisia is also a good example of the lack of fundamental revolutionary change. Tunisia's president of 23 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, stepped down on January 14 and fled to Saudi Arabia. But members of Ben Ali's corrupt party remained in positions of power throughout the government and protests continue.
In State and Revolution Lenin wrote that the revolution must set a goal "not of improving the state machine, but of smashing and destroying it." The protests and peoples' struggles in the Middle East and Africa reinforce the importance of this message as we see the sacrifice of life in so many countries resulting in only cosmetic changes in governments.
What is the United $tates interest?
The United $tates is the biggest imperialist power in the world today; it controls the largest number and most wealth-producing territories in the world. Just as the economic crises of imperialism affect the rest of the world, political uprisings around the world affect the United $tates. The capitalist corporations who have factories and investments in this region have a strong financial interest in stability and a government that will allow them to continue to exploit the resources and labor. And with capitalism's constant need to expand, any shrinking of the imperialist sphere of influence will help trigger future crises faster.
The Amerikan military interest in this region relies on having some strong puppet governments as allies to defend the interests of Amerikan imperialism and hold off the independent aspirations of the regional capitalists. This includes managing the planet's largest oil reserves, which is important for U.$. control of the European Union, and defending their #1 lackey - Israel.
Tunisia is a long-standing ally of the United $tates, cooperating with Amerikan "anti-terrorism" to maintain Amerikan imperialist power in the region. Other imperialist powers also have a strong interest in the dictatorships in Tunisia including France whose government shipped tear gas grenades to Tunis on January 12 to help Ben Ali fight the protesters.(15)
Bahrain is a close U.$. ally, home to the U.$. Navy's Fifth Fleet.(16)
Egypt has been second only to Israel in the amount of U.$. aid it gets since 1979, at about $2 billion a year. The majority of this money, about $1.3 billion a year, goes to the Egyptian military.(17) Further, the United $tates trains the Egyptian military each year in combined military exercises and deployments of U.$. troops to Egypt.(18) So for Amerika, the Supreme Council of the Military taking power in Egypt is a perfectly acceptable "change." To shore up the new regime and its relationship with the United $tates, Secretary of State Clinton announced on February 18 that the United $tates would give $150 million in aid to Egypt to help with economic problems and "ensure an orderly, democratic transition." In exchange, the Council has already pledged to uphold the 1979 peace accords with Israel. Prior to 1979, much of the Arab world was engaged in long periods of wars with the settler state.
United $tates aid to countries in this region is centered around Israel. The countries closest geographically to Israel are the biggest recipients of Amerikan money, a good way to keep control of the area surrounding the biggest Amerikan ally. In addition to Egypt and Israel, Jordan ($843 million) and Lebanon ($238 million) received sizable economic and military aid packages in 2010.(19) Compared to these numbers, "aid" to the rest of the region is significantly smaller with notable recipients including Yemen ($67M), Morocco ($35M), Bahrain ($21M) and Tunisia ($19M). The United $tates gives "aid" in exchange for economic, military and political influence.
Is Wisconsin the Amerikan Tunisia?
The global economic crisis clearly affects imperialist countries like the United $tates just like it does other countries of the world, but we don't see the people in this country rising up to take over Washington, DC and demanding a change in government. Like the Middle East, the youth of Amerika are having a harder time finding jobs after graduation from college. But unlike their counterparts in the Middle East, Amerikan youth and their families do not face starvation when this happens.
Some people are drawing comparisons between the widespread protests by labor unions in Wisconsin and the events in Tunisia and Egypt. These events do give us a good basis for comparison to underscore the differences between imperialist countries and the Third World. Amerikan wealth is so much greater than the rest of the world (U.$. GDP per capita = $46,436); even compared to oil-rich countries like Saudi Arabia (GDP = $24,200). GDP does not account for the distribution of wealth, but in the United $tates the median household income in 2008 was $52,029. This number is not inflated by the extreme wealth of a few individuals, it represents the middle point in income for households in this country.
On the surface, unemployment statistics for the United $tates appear similar to some numbers for countries in the Middle East and north Africa. In 2008, 13.2% of the population was unemployed in the United $tates based on the latest census data.(20) However, with income levels so much higher in Amerika, unemployment doesn't mean an immediate plunge into poverty and starvation. For youth in this country, there is the safety net of moving back in with parents if there is no immediate post-college job.
Similarly, U.$. poverty statistics appear quite high, comparable to rates in the Middle East and north Africa, at 14.3% in 2009. But this poverty rate uses chauvinistic standards of poverty for Amerikans. The U.$. census bureau puts the poverty level of a single individual with no dependents at $11,161.(21) Much higher than the statistics that look at the portion of the population living at $2 or $1.25 per day (adjusted for differences in purchasing power). Wisconsin public teachers average salaries of about $48k per year.
The Leading Light Communist Organization produced some clear economic comparisons between Egypt and the U.$.: "The bottom 90% of income earners in Egypt make only half as much (roughly $5,000 USD annually) as the bottom 10% of income earners in the U.$. (roughly [$]10,000), per capita distribution. Depending on the figures used, an egalitarian distribution of the global social product is anywhere between $6,000 and $11,000 per capita annually. This does not even account for other inequalities between an exploiter country and an exploited country, such as infrastructure, housing, productive forces, quality and diversity of consumer goods, etc."(22)
In the United $tates it is possible for the elite to enjoy their millionaire lifestyles while the majority of the workers are kept in relative luxury with salaries that exceed the value of their labor. This is possible because other countries, like those in the Middle East and Africa, are supplying the exploited workforce that generates profits to be brought home and shared with Amerikan workers. Even Amerikan workers who are unemployed and struggling to pay bills are not rallying for an end to the economic system of capitalism. They are just demanding more corporate taxes and less CEO bonuses. In other words they want a bigger piece of the imperialist pie: money that comes at the expense of the Third World workers. These same Amerikan workers rally behind their government in wars of aggression around the world, overwhelmingly supporting the fight against the Al-Qaeda boogeyman in Arab clothing.
Down with Amerikanism, Long Live Pan-Arabism
Whether in Madison or Cairo, signs implying that Wisconsin is the Tunisia of north Amerika are examples of what we call "false internationalism" on both sides of the divide between rich and poor nations. Combating false internationalism, which is inherent in any pro-Amerikanism in the Third World, is part of the fight against revisionism in general.
What no one can deny is the connection between the mass mobilizations across the Arab world. That this represents a reawakening of pan-Arabism is both clear and promising for the anti-imperialist struggle. Even non-Arab groups in north Africa that have felt marginalized will benefit from the greater internationalist consciousness and inherent anti-imperialism with an Arabic-speaking world united against First World exploitation and interference.
Of course, Palestine also stands to benefit from these movements. The colonial dominance of Palestine has long been a lightning rod issue for the Arab world, that only the U.$. puppet regimes (particularly in Egypt) have been able to repress.
Everyone wants to know what's next. While the media can create hype about the "successful revolutions" in Tunisia and Egypt, this is just the beginning if there is to be any real change. Regional unity needs to lead to more economic cooperation and self-sufficiency and to unlink the economies of the Arab countries from U.$. and European imperialism. Without that, the wealth continues to flow out of the region to the First World.
As Frantz Fanon discussed extensively in writing about colonial Algeria, the spontaneous violence of the masses must be transformed into an organized, conscious, national violence to rid the colony of the colonizer. Unfortunately, his vision was not realized in the revolutionary upsurge that he lived through in north Africa and neo-colonialism became the rule across the continent. Today, the masses know that imperialism in Brown/Black face is no better. As fast as the protests spread, they must continue to spread to the masses of the Arab world before we will see an independent and self-determined people.
I am writing to you concerning a lawsuit which my defense team members are currently preparing on my behalf. It protests my false prison gang validation as an associate of the Black Guerrilla Family on December 31, 2009.
It is my position that this validation is solely motivated by retaliation and racial profiling due to my ongoing campaign to stamp out corruption involving some "Green Wall" correctional staff within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) who are currently engaged in organized crime, which is a clear threat to the safety and security of all CDCR institutions.
I was recently responsible for disciplinary and employee discharges against three corrupted CDCR prison staff at California State prison - Sacramento, Salinas Valley State Prison, and High Desert State Prison.
Since my false prison gang process, me and my defense have come across strong evidence. Some corrupted "Green Wall" staff are very prejudiced and racist, sanctioning use of the false validation process for some Black, Brown and white prisoners, to pursue false prison gang investigations. Many prisoners have strong evidence of being wrongfully validated for reading materials on their culture. Institutional Gang Investigators have taken a race-based shortcut and assume anything to do with African or Mexican culture can be banned under the guise of controlling gang activities.
Any California prisoners who have relevant information on the false prison gang process should write to MIM(Prisons), to get involved in this case.
My purpose of this lawsuit is to shed light on this abuse of power and human rights violations, including torture tactics through criminal activities and organized crime.
Prisoners in America suffer at the hands of their captors; the only group of people who remain under the brutality of compelled work. Their master is the state. It is an evil and capricious master, whose goal is to break the spirit and reduce to an automaton (the better to be a wage-slave in society) a human being.
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the united states, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
The reality of this in prison, is that a prisoner will be assigned a job which will be institutional drudgery - the kitchen, laundry, farm labor, etc. He will then be made to perform his job under the gun - literally, in the case of outside work squads. Something about a correctional officer with a gun is very unsettling - these are very base people who couldn't get a job with the Sheriff's Department, and who don't have to pass a psychological exam or rigorous requirements to get this job.
Even if not under the gun, officers, and sometimes civilian employees, hold tremendous power over the prisoners in their custody, which they usually abuse. What's more, they expect a fully honest days work out of you like you owe them something. If they don't like the job you're doing, or just don't like you, they can send you to the box for 60 days and take all your gain time for refusing to work. Most people get gain time, so an officer has the power to hold a prisoner in prison several months longer at his whim and subject to no real oversight.
Needless to say, you are working at no benefit to yourself. I can speak from the experience of the kitchen, where myself and my fellow prisoners serve the disgusting state food, clean up, and attempt to look busy so as not to incur the ire of the man. After we serve, we are often fed a regular tray, getting only what the compound gets. And some staff like to threaten us with throwing away the rest of the food instead of serving it to us. Also they can legally make us work 70 hours a week.
A few days ago, I was threatened for my grievances about the boots they make us wear over our shoes and all the menu changes. I'm not worried about it, and actually feel good because they ended up on the warden's desk and I got the man's attention.
The boss made a remarkable statement today, in one of his daily speeches: "You're here by choice. I've got a family to feed." First of all, I'm here by force. Second, I didn't make him work in the prison system as a guard.
The supposed compassion of our boss man is overwhelming. I was told today by a friend that he personally witnessed the boss pepper spray two people. This was not for fighting or trying to attack him, but for trying to finish their meal after they were told to throw their tray away for some bogus disciplinary reason.
Prisoners who have medical conditions or are mentally ill are still pressed into labor, with no real way out except to go to the box. The box may look like a pleasing alternative sometimes, but it is not - sensory deprivation, no property or canteen, meager state meals. It's de facto physical and psychological torture, something that surprisingly still exists in this country. Plus there is so much that goes along with it, like a later release date and transfer to a worse unit in the same prison.
I find consolation in the packet of legal material I got from the Panama City Division of the U.S. District Court tonight. Soon I will be out and able to file my 42 U.S.C. §1983 lawsuit against an officer and a captain who fabricated disciplinary charges against me. I encourage every prisoner not to forget this time when he reaches freedom, but to speak up for our struggle and report their crimes against us. This can often include filing a lawsuit based on something that happened in prison, because every convict has a story and many have good cases. Know that most of the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) does not apply to you as a released prisoner, so you do not have to show physical injury or have filed grievances (although you always should, it establishes a paper trail and potentially incriminating responses) before filing suit. Keep that same spirit alive that made you a stronger man when you get to the streets, whatever you do. That will make you an adversary worth fearing.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade's assessment of the importance of organizing and fighting back both behind the bars and on the streets. And the message of continuing the battle once you hit the streets is particularly important. But we would not call this system of prisoner labor "slavery." As we explained in our article on the prison economy, prison labor does not produce a profit for the prisons, rather it is used to offset some (but not all) of the costs of imprisonment. Prisons are primarily used as a tool of social control, with the prisoner labor only a minor aspect of this. The term slavery refers to the system that captures humyn labor for the purpose of exploiting and profiting from it. This is not the case with the Amerikan prison system today. It is important to understand the real motivations of the oppressor if we hope to change this oppressive system.
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure or censorship of music and literature. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.
Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.
Tom Clements, Director of Adult Institutions P.O. Box 236 Jefferson City, MO 65101
Chris Pickering, Inspector General (MO DOC) P.O. Box 236 Jefferson City, MO 65101
U.S. Department of Justice PhB 950 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20530
Marianne Atwell, Director of Offender Rehabilitative Services (Missouri) P.O. Box 236 Jerrerson City, MO 65101
And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!
MIM(Prisons), USW PO Box 40799 San Francisco, CA 94140
Mail the petition to your loved ones and comrades in High Desert State Prison's Z-Unit (administrative segregation) who are experiencing brutality and cruel living conditions. Send them extra copies to share! For more information on this campaign, click here.
Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below. Supporters should send letters on behalf of prisoners.
Prison Law Office General Delivery San Quentin, CA 94964
Internal Affairs CDCR 10111 Old Placerville Rd, Ste 200 Sacramento, CA 95872
CDCR Office of Ombudsman 1515 S Street, Room 540 N Sacramento, CA 95811
U.S. Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section 950 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, PHB Washington DC 20530
Office of Inspector General HOTLINE PO Box 9778 Arlington, VA 22219
And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!
MIM(Prisons), USW PO Box 40799 San Francisco, CA 94140
Recientemente recibí el libro que les mande pedir, Agentes de Represión por Ward Churchill. Hombre, ese era uno de los libros más iluminados con respeto a los problemas inherentes del trabajo político que yo leído hasta este punto. Sí, no importa si ellos oficialmente desbandaron las operaciones COINTELPRO o no. Todavía continua, ellos aprendieron lo efectivo del programa hasta con que sean grupos de agentes pícaro, De todos modos continua, especialmente en la decadencia acrecentamiento de los EE.UU.
Ya lo he pasado el libro. Tratare de meterlo entre las manos (y las cabezas) de los más disidentes que sea posible cualquiera sea su raza o creencia política personal. Muchísima gente está descontenta con las acciones y las políticas del gobierno estadounidense, gente con la que sea posible que ustedes tengan intereses opuestos, todavía el estorbo lo más grande para la realización de los objetivos políticos de cualquier de estos grupos políticos varios es la siempre poderosa clase comerciante de los Estados Unidos.
Encuentro que muchísimos disidentes están completamente ignorante de la realidad de que en cuanto que empiezan a organizar, reclutar, agitar o de educar a la gente a una forma de pensar al contrario del statu quo se convierten en un blanco, si lo sepan o no, o le guste o no. Al fallar prepararse contra las contramedidas del sucio Tío Sam es desastroso.
Yo fui soltado en 2006 y di el brinco directamente dentro de actividades de orientación política. Alguna interferencia gubernativo era esperada y aun notado, como vigía, acosamiento y lo parecido. Muchas de las tácticas en el libro había sospechado fuertemente pero tenía poca o no prueba o que no estaba bastante seguro para tomar una acción irreversible.
En cualquier caso, para sumar lo todo, uno de nuestros miembros fue manipulado dentro de una posición que resultó en la muerte de dos de nuestros miembros. Luego una planta de alto nivel le tendieron una trampa para que lo arreste, pero resultó en la muerte de dos detectives más quienes trataron de aprehenderlo. El miembro murió en un granizo de balas, creo que eran 62.
Yo realizo que todo esto es extremamente contra-productivo y solamente sirvió como justificación para aumentar su gasto presupuesto infiltrador en nosotros. Yo he visto los mejores de estas plantas/informantes FBI (Buró de Investigaciones Federal). Conozco a uno que instiga, solicita, y hasta, a veces, ordena crímenes como su papel doble de disidente rango en la organización, después manda al sucio Tío Sam para que arresten los criminales, que solamente son criminales por virtud del dato que siguieron su dirección! Sí, he tenido esta planta tratar de asesinar a mi novia embarazada y solamente sucedió en causar la muerte del niño. Les puedo enseñar declaraciones donde esta misma planta del FBI está siendo delatado por otra rata que ni sabe que estuvo tendido por la planta del FBI, ni si quiera que es una planta del FBI. Aunque el explica en detalle como el planta de FBI está golpeando a mujeres embarazadas con bates, etc.
Yo sé que no cargos nunca serán registrados contra los de ellos, y personalmente, si yo pudiera recobrar mi libertad yo prefería que cargos nunca serian prensados. Yo ciertamente no testificaría. Lo veo como un gran contradicción a voltear al mismo sistema al que uno odia, al buscar ayuda en la disolución, para dar la vuelta y buscar la ayuda de ellos en la busca de justicia. Yo conseguirá mi propia justicia si alguna vez podría recobrar mi libertad temporaria.
MIM(Prisiones) responde: En las semanas pasadas han sido un numero de historias de jóvenes siendo arrestados con cargos del terrorismo después de siendo tendidos por agentes federales a cometer actos violentos. Sabiendo el arte de la guerra y comprendiendo la etapa de la lucha en la cual estamos son maneras de evitar muchos de los ataques usados por COINTELPRO. Camaradas verdaderos se prueban a través de trabajo duro constante y con dedicación, y no por actos de bravata.
The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta Mario Vargas Llosa Aventura press, 1986
Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2010. Widely known as an author who writes about political events in Peru, and takes a vocal position on politics throughout Latin America, this review only addresses one of the many books he has written. But it is a good example of the political views of Vargas Llosa whose politics have made him an enemy of the people for many years. Vargas Llosa claims that he supported revolutionary politics earlier in his life, but if true, he firmly and thoroughly changed that and works hard as a critic of people's movements and a supporter of imperialist so-called democracy. He has written many works of both fiction and non-fiction, and lost a bid for president of Peru in 1990, during the height of the Peruvian Communist Party's fight for liberation of the Peruvian people, to Alberto Fujimori.
After being named the Nobel winner, Vargas Llosa said, “It’s very difficult for a Latin American writer to avoid politics. Literature is an expression of life, and you cannot eradicate politics from life.”(1) We would agree with that statement, and as we demonstrate in this review, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta is a good demonstration of Vargas Llosa's reactionary politics.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel prize, Vargas Llosa commented extensively on the "terrorists" in the world today who are the enemy of what he calls "liberal democracy" (capitalism). Spouting the best pro-imperialist rhetoric, Vargas Llosa makes the case for imperialist militarism with lies about the freedom and beauty of capitalist so-called democracy:
"Since every period has its horrors, ours is the age of fanatics, of suicide terrorists, an ancient species convinced that by killing they earn heaven, that the blood of innocents washes away collective affronts, corrects injustices, and imposes truth on false beliefs. Every day, all over the world, countless victims are sacrificed by those who feel they possess absolute truths. With the collapse of totalitarian empires, we believed that living together, peace, pluralism, and human rights would gain the ascendancy and the world would leave behind holocausts, genocides, invasions, and wars of extermination. None of that has occurred. New forms of barbarism flourish, incited by fanaticism, and with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we cannot overlook the fact that any small faction of crazed redeemers may one day provoke a nuclear cataclysm. We have to thwart them, confront them, and defeat them. There aren’t many, although the tumult of their crimes resounds all over the planet and the nightmares they provoke overwhelm us with dread. We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by those who want to snatch away the freedom we have been acquiring over the long course of civilization. Let us defend the liberal democracy that, with all its limitations, continues to signify political pluralism, coexistence, tolerance, human rights, respect for criticism, legality, free elections, alternation in power, everything that has been taking us out of a savage life and bringing us closer – though we will never attain it – to the beautiful, perfect life literature devises, the one we can deserve only by inventing, writing, and reading it. By confronting homicidal fanatics we defend our right to dream and to make our dreams reality."
Vargas Llosa went on to talk about his political views:
"In my youth, like many writers of my generation, I was a Marxist and believed socialism would be the remedy for the exploitation and social injustices that were becoming more severe in my country, in Latin America, and in the rest of the Third World. My disillusion with statism and collectivism and my transition to the democrat and liberal that I am – that I try to be – was long and difficult and carried out slowly as a consequence of episodes like the conversion of the Cuban Revolution, about which I initially had been enthusiastic, to the authoritarian, vertical model of the Soviet Union; the testimony of dissidents who managed to slip past the barbed wire fences of the Gulag; the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the nations of the Warsaw Pact; and because of thinkers like Raymond Aron, Jean Francois Rével, Isaiah Berlin, and Karl Popper, to whom I owe my reevaluation of democratic culture and open societies. Those masters were an example of lucidity and gallant courage when the intelligentsia of the West, as a result of frivolity or opportunism, appeared to have succumbed to the spell of Soviet socialism or, even worse, to the bloody witches’ Sabbath of the Chinese Cultural Revolution."
Finally, Vargas Llosa made clear his support for the neocolonial governments in Latin America, pretending that they represent "functioning" democracy in the interests of the people and "supported by a broad popular consensus.":
"We are afflicted with fewer dictatorships than before, only Cuba and her named successor, Venezuela, and some pseudo populist, clownish democracies like those in Bolivia and Nicaragua. But in the rest of the continent democracy is functioning, supported by a broad popular consensus, and for the first time in our history, as in Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and almost all of Central America, we have a left and a right that respect legality, the freedom to criticize, elections, and succession in power. That is the right road, and if it stays on it, combats insidious corruption, and continues to integrate with the world, Latin America will finally stop being the continent of the future and become the continent of the present."
This book is indicative of Vargas Llosa's work which does greater disservice to the revolutionary movement in Peru than those who write bourgeois fiction without pretending to have historical context or political purpose. The novel reviews the life of a fictional revolutionary activist in Peru in the 1950s who participated in a small focoist uprising before ending up in prison. The book describes revolutionary parties as all small marginalized groups wasting their time studying dead guys and debating theory. And it leaves the reader questioning the commitment of all who participate in revolutionary politics, assuming that everyone sells out somehow to pursue their own interests in the end. The peasants and workers are virtually ignored in the book, portrayed only as pawns in the work done by activists.
This novel focuses on a small Trotskyist party, the product of several splits in previous Trotskyist groups, and specifically on one of the party members, Alejandro Mayta. Interestingly, in a brief description of how Mayta ended up in this party, Vargas Llosa describes his movement from group to group, each time rejecting the previous one as not correct enough politically, until he ended up with the Trotskyists as the most pure political line he could find. MIM(Prisons) has some agreement with this description in that Trotskyism is pure idealism and it appeals to those who don't like to get their hands dirty with the realities of revolutionary politics.
Eventually Mayta deserts the Trotskyists to join up with a focoist movement in the mountains that is going to take armed action. He is galvanized by the idea of real action rather than the talk that his Trotskyist group has been engaging in for years. He is kicked out of his party, who consider the action premature, and also because Mayta has approached the Stalinists to participate in and support the focoist action.
Focoists believe that the armed actions of a small group of people will spark the masses to join the revolution. This is an incorrect view of revolutionary strategy. History has demonstrated that small groups of insurgents are not sufficient to bring about revolution; successful revolutions have come through the hard work of organizing the masses. As inspiration, many focoists look to the Cuban revolution, and Castro is mentioned repeatedly in the book. But the Cuban revolution is the only example focoists have of anything resembling success, and while that revolution did deliver a blow to U.$. imperialism, it created a state-capitalist country dependent on the Soviet Union.(2) Like other focoist actions, Mayta's small group is captured during their armed insurrection. And there is much debate about whether desertion, betrayal, or just poor planning led to their failure.
A recurring theme in this book is the claim by the narrator that the truth of history is impossible to determine. In interviewing people about the life of Mayta the narrator gets conflicting stories from everyone he talks to, and is unable to figure out exactly what happened. This nihilist position encourages people to just give up rather than seeking to understand and interpret history to help forward progress in the future. Ironically Vargas Llosa thinks he knows the definitive truth about the history of politics in many countries as he interprets history through the lens of the imperialists.
Through this fictional novel, Vargas Llosa manages to attack a vast range of revolutionary theories and practices, and leave the reader disillusioned and without hope for a better future for the people of Peru. He does not try to hide the poverty and despair that is the everyday reality of life for the Peruvian people, but condemns revolutionaries, politicians, and everyone else to failure in a maze of corruption, collaboration and irrelevant theories. There is no redeeming political value to this book which could depress even the most militant of activists.
Organizing the imprisoned lumpen within the United $nakes is certainly nothing easy. However, speaking technically and from a materialist perspective, it should be relatively easy. As First World lumpen we face much more oppression than our oppressed nation counter parts who have ascended to the ranks of the petty-bourgeoisie/labor aristocracy. Therefore, when conducting a proper class analysis within the United $tates it is the law of contradiction that tells us that those most oppressed in the economic sense by capitalism's contradictions in society will be the scientifically designated revolutionary vehicle. Having no proletariat to speak of within U.$. borders, besides perhaps the migratory workers, the next best thing or class of people resembling a revolutionary vehicle becomes, in our case, the bourgeoisified lumpen.
Therefore, as any good communist should know the heart of social change, the very meat and marrow of it all within U.$. borders rests with the lumpen. And so in knowing all this there is still a question to be begged. Why is it so damn hard?!
The lumpen as a class is the direct product of the capitalist mode of production and has its ideology rooted and embedded in the bourgeois philosophy of "me, myself and I." It is this backward bourgeois thinking which we must first focus on defeating. Victory on the ideological front should be our first real goal. The more people we win over on the ideological front, the more successful we'll be in accomplishing all other tasks. This is the principal contradiction that needs to be resolved with respect to organizing the lumpen.
ULK as an ideological weapon is a good tool in helping us to win over the prisoner population in a conscious way to not only their own class based cause, but more importantly to that of the truly oppressed and exploited, the international proletariat and peasantry, i.e. the Third World masses.
ULK and now USW, with the direct ideological assistance provided by our Maoist teachers at MIM(Prisons), are currently spreading Maoist thought amongst and throughout the prisoner population. With all this said and being done therefore it should be relatively easier to organize the imprisoned population.
So why is it still so damn hard?
The answer once again to the aforementioned and repeatedly asked question is: ideology.
Case in point, take the California Department of Corruption for example, the biggest warehouse of people in all of the United $tates. The imprisoned lumpen within this golden gulag might very well be one of the toughest nuts to crack for USW and so it should serve as a case study for MIM(Prisons).
The CA Dept. of Corruptions is the very focus of many of the internal contradictions of Amerikkkan imperialism peculiarly personified in national oppression and class warfare. For that matter just about any Amerikkkan prison is a perpetrator of these superstructurally demanded operations. Killa'fornia however differs from most other states in the way in which the lumpen organizes itself. It's not merely a matter of organizational differences as compared to other LOs, in other states rather a difference in ideology of each nation-based LO. Perhaps this is why state repression is so intense, as well as carried out over and beyond the call of duty by prison administrators here.
Just as your average Amerikan foot soldier believes that fighting Islamic anti-imperialists is their number one job as "freedom loving Amerikans," so does your average pig on the street, as well as those working the prisons, believe that the biggest threat to internal security and class interests inside "the homeland" is the lumpen.
While on the California "mainline" it is easy for a USW comrade to bang their head on the ideological brick wall of backward-bourgeois-individualistic thinking when attempting to organize the lumpen for their own interests. Failed attempts to facilitate peace treaties between LOs or failed attempts to organize peaceful protests over real issues doesn't say much about a comrade's effectiveness while working within these conditions. Being that prison is only a microcosm of its given society, and knowing that the contradictions of the former are only equal or greater, for the most part in the most extreme sense, than that of the latter, deems that that principal contradiction that needs to be resolved in order for us to begin successfully organizing the lumpen is that of ideology. The difficult thing here is to persuade the prisoner population to become class conscious; the rest is relatively easy.
"The correctness or otherwise of the ideological line and political line decides everything. When the party has no followers, then it can have followers; if it has no guns then it can have guns; if it has no political power then it can have political power." - Mao Zedong
What applies to parties can usually be applied to individuals.
Some comrades in USW and MIM(Prisons) might believe that the important thing here when building class consciousness throughout the imprisoned populations is in getting lumpen organizations to adopt a proletarian worldview. If we do this however, all we're really getting is a revisionism of sorts because individuals won't really bother to struggle politically with themselves, they'll just "toll the bell" so to speak. Of course we'll always try to attract as many followers as we can, but only if they're all able and willing to lead.
Some might think that if you remove the barrier of lumpen organizational structure, i.e. the LO itself, that this act in itself will automatically gain us troops to the tenth degree because the lumpen will then be that much more progressive.
True, some individuals who either willingly leave their LO or are forcibly removed from their car do indeed become progressive in one way or another. Some delve into mysticism wishing for forgiveness and a better tomorrow, others become class conscious and take up the struggle of ending oppression in all its forms. For the most part however they just keep on doing the same old shit. "Same shit, different day," as they like to say.
Just as we can only build socialism one country at a time, we can only revolutionize the prison population one persyn at a time; and just as the theory of simultaneous world revolution is an incorrect one, so is it incorrect to think that we can revolutionize whole LOs all at once or anything close to that.
I say all this to make the point that the one organizational barrier for the most part isn't the end all be all when it comes to preventing the prison population's revolutionization process. Some comrades might know what I'm talking about if you're housed in an environment where there are no real prison politics to speak of, that is to say you don't have to worry about another prisoner trying to pressure you to conform to socially accepted and required norms.
A PC yard shows you this when you see people who have left one LO on the mainline only to join another one on a SNY, playing the same games and reconstructing the same old hierarchy and policies that got 'em to a PC yard to begin with.
It's almost as if the prison population must be shocked out of their zombie-like state of existence before they can exhibit some type of real progressiveness. Feeling this way can surely discourage some comrades from doing the necessary work which the USW has been tasked with. Unfortunately we are forced to work with what capitalism has bequeathed us.
The battle to push people towards scientific-socialism is a most ruthless war waged by the class-conscious and is fought against not only backward individuals but against an entire network of ideas (superstructure). This is exactly why the Chinese Communists had themselves a "Cultural Revolution," because they knew full well that organizing the prison population in this or that direction would never be enough. You have to teach the prison population not only what has to be done but why it needs to be done. For this we must all bear responsibilities!