I fully support the United Front and the five principles, because these five principles should be lived out within lumpen organizations. What the United Front means to me is this is one form that we can use to better ourselves as a whole, as well as liberate our minds to become better people so that we can help better others. I also feel that the principles are important because within U.S. prisons the prisoner-on-prisoner oppression is at an all-time high and I feel that I must do all I can to help put a stop to this madness.
"It is up to us to organize the people. As for the reactionaries in China, it is up to us to organize the people to overthrow them. Everything reactionary is the same; if you don't hit it, it won't fall. It is like sweeping the floor; where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself."(1)
In taking on the charge of fighting a national revolutionary struggle and building an anti-imperialist movement, those leading that movement - a vanguard party made up of internationalist proletarian leadership - have the principal task of educating the backwards masses so that they may come to understand the nature of their suffering and oppression.
The Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO) has taken responsibility of being part and parcel of the education and organization of the lumpen and prisoners in the United $nakes, alongside and in fraternity with MIM(Prisons) and the United Struggle from Within (USW), and those lumpen and organizations that work with them.
In our brief history of revolutionary organiz- ing, BORO’s tactical experiences have taught us is that we must struggle vigorously to teach prisoners in a practical way, understanding that a great percentage of U.$. prisoners are victims of mis-education by the colonial school system and practically none have any history of political struggle/activism.
In fact, because of their ignorance of the true laws of hystorical and social development, most prisoners disdain politics and political struggle, and instead have been heavily influenced by idealism, namely religion and metaphysics. There could also be a myriad of other reasons to explain this particular phenomenon, but that is not the purpose of this essay.
The purpose of this essay is to discuss how do we transform the lumpen colonial-criminal mentality into a revolutionary proletarian consciousness. As revolutionaries and aspiring Maoists, we do this by employing the science of revolution — Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, a dialectical and hystorical materialist education.
The first thing we try to teach prisoners is that even though we are in prisyn, we are still defined by our relationship to the means of production, not by our religion or what state or neighborhood we come from. As a comrade demonstrated in ULK 17, "in Marx's theory of 'social relations of production' lies the question of ownership, that is what 'class' owns the tools and what 'class' uses the tools. In this imperialist society the lumpen neither own nor use the tools. We are excluded from production and live under the heel of capitalist relations of production."(2)
The above point is critical to transforming the colonial-criminal mentality into a revolutionary proletarian mentality and is a part of the critical examination of our lives in relation to society in general, and the revolutionary transformation of it, in particular. It's also one of the most difficult steps to take for many prisoners, because it requires that one be critically honest and unreserved in the examination of their lives and critique of one's philosophical understanding of the real world and how it really works. Many of us are afraid to admit our parasitic roles in society. But even these should be critically examined within the context of the society that helped produce us as a class, and not as individuals.
It is idealists who "focus exclusively on conflicts within the individual, which are held to be constant across time and space. However, by not even noticing the presence of class struggle, which is the principal driving force in human action, they are unsuccessful in even explaining, much less changing, human behavior. Contradictions within the individual are reflections of contradictions in society, not autonomous from those contradictions. We define a person's character not in terms of the aspects of the individual as related to each other, but rather in terms of the individual as related to society through the individual's participation in it. An individual's struggle to resolve internal contradictions is dialectically related to other individuals and the struggle of human society as a whole to resolve conflicts in society."(3)
We must continue to provide prisoners with revolutionary educational materials that challenge them to critically study and understand their position in society and how to change it. No effective revolutionary organization can be built in the United $nakes without a powerful base inside of the penal colonies, undocumented workers and ex-prisyners. No effective revolutionary movement in the prisyns can be built without strong ties to a revolutionary movement on the streets. This is the dialectical relationship that exists between those on the inside and those on the outside of U.$. prisons.
If we want to brush away the dust that is capitalist-imperialism, then we must continue to push forward the development of a united front against imperialism. He who does not fear the death of a thousand cuts will dare unseat the emperor!
Just as it is in all of the places that are discussed in Under Lock & Key, the system here in Maryland is a joke. Prisoners in this system who wish to air their grievances have no outlet because the same pigs who were writing them up are the same pigs that handle the administrative remedy process.
In 2008, a memo was put out to prisoners, written by the Prisoners' Rights Information System of Maryland (PRISM). It indicated that a Federal lawsuit had been filed by a prisoner represented by PRISM and that that lawsuit resulted in the division of corrections, revising directives governing the administrative remedy process. One of the changes included the adoption of a two-piece carbon copy complaint form so prisoners can retain a copy of the ARP, thus reducing risk of loss and destruction and providing proof of exhaustion of remedies.
For a while this two-piece carbon copy complaint form was beneficial to prisoners, however, like everything else that has been put into effect to ensure that "justice" for prison inmates is upheld, officers have found a way to undermine the system. At first many officers began to refuse to sign the ARPs, but after prisoners began to complain about this injustice the cowards gave in because they did not want to be written up. Then they created a new system stating that no officers could sign an inmate's ARP, only a Lieutenant (Lt) or a "designated officer" could do so. These Lts and designated officers pick and choose which ARPs they want to sign and which ARPs they want to scrap. We have to give our ARPs to a tier officer to take to the Lt because a Lt will never come get it himself. If the Lt is okay with what you've written it will be signed and the carbon copy will be returned to you. If not, you'll never see it again.
The whole point of the carbon copy is to prevent loss or destruction. It is supposed to be signed and dated in front of you so that the carbon copy can be handed back to you right then and there so that you will have proof that you wrote the ARP if something happens to it.
In the segregation unit of Eastern Correctional Institution, Lt Galligher is one of the leaders of the good ol' boy network. It is he and he alone who is in charge of signing ARPs and he must have worked as a magician before working for the division of corruption because he sure does know how to make a grievance disappear. Not many people write this up because this Lt and the other pigs who put this system into place will not hesitate to retaliate on anyone that attempts to expose them. I, however, am not afraid and plan to attack this joke that they call a grievance procedure from every angle possible.
I agree with the brother from Washington who stated that in ULK 19, "[t]he only way that we as prisoners will be treated fairly and with justice is if a neutral outside company or corporation dealing solely with grievances and our claims is constructed." Otherwise we're just complaining to the same people who are administering the many forms of injustice that we are fighting against. It's a new era, it's time for change, it's time for solidarity. I'm especially speaking to those of you who are in an organization, this is what our energy should be focused on, instead of trying to destroy the many forms of injustice that we are shadowed with on an everyday basis. It's time for change. The time is now. Power to the people!
MIM(Prisons) adds: In response to this sort of injustice around prisoner's grievances, some United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades initiated a grievance campaign. Write us to get a copy of the grievance petition for your state if you reside in California, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, or a generic petition that you can customize for your state if you are anywhere else.
I am currently serving a state sentence at Florida State Prison on Close Management (24 hour lock-down). The prisoners are treated like hogs in a barn, not human beings. The clothes here are filthy and stained with blood, urine, feces, oil, and semen. They are passed out on a weekly basis. We can catch a disease this way.
And the meals are always underdone. Prisoners have gotten sick from this, a stomach virus. If you file a grievance on it, the correctional officers won't feed you the next day.
The pigs will write prisoners bogus disciplinary reports sometimes, and if you try to file an appeal after they found you guilty of the infraction your appeal comes up missing. How can a prisoner win like that? The system is designed for us to lose even if we're right in our argument.
The correctional officers like to jump on prisoners in handcuffs/shackles in the assigned cells, on the rec yard, anywhere where there's not a camera to catch the injustice. How can anyone defend themselves when they're helpless?
The COs try to discourage prisoners on a daily basis out of their institutional call-out, meaning they will bribe them with contraband like cigarettes, chewing dip, coffee, knives, etc. A lot of them will fall for it all the time because they are trying to support their bad habits. It's sad on both parties' behalf.
Florida prisoners have no unity whatsoever and they never will as long as they continue to be brainwashed by the COs and continue accepting contraband that is being brought in by DOC workers to prisoners. As long as this keeps going on there will always be fights between one another.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The oppressive conditions in Florida are similar to those throughout the criminal injustice system, and this comrade's call for prisoners to unite underscores the motivation behind the United Front for Peace in Prisons. One of the 5 principles of the United Front is Independence. The oppressed need to develop institutions that meet their needs. There are plenty of examples of prisoners pooling their resources to take care of each other, rather than relying on the COs who only hope to poison the prison population with drugs, weapons, rumors and jealousy.
As I envision the oppressor The one we've come to blame The one who has united us by numbers And no longer respects our given names. Who's willing to stand for our cause? We're trapped in this thing together And sho' nuf, united we will fall. That's why we lift each other up No matter the nationality or rotten speech Together we should stand in this struggle No matter the differences, we're all unique. Defend what you want to accomplish yet alone, it should be peace. Something has got to change my people, the oppressor has made us weak.
Pull the fucking pistol out of your mouth and pick up a book turn off that damn bourgeois television and take a look shit's getting hectic, brother, sure But a bullet in the brain, amigo, isn't the cure It's too late for you, man, but what about your son What about his generation who's been taught to run to stomp and tantrum and tattle-tale suck the plastic flea market and dodge bourgeois "hell" imperialist sons medicated for depression A hybrid oppressor slash enemy nation I'll sell you this for a gallon of that Then starve the world and die of heart attack fat It isn't the way it was meant All these senseless suicides ain't some static event the reasons exists - the "whys" right here Your casket costs thousands - payment plan three years sucking the fucking juice out of life - capitalism then profiting off of your death - straight sadism Rent the church to grieve you in Buy the hole they bury you in Pay the petty priest to say some words Then scribble on some gray marble how much it hurts Picking the pocket of the family that weeps Dying's expensive while living is cheap Business in death and death in business What's the price, father, the price to miss us
I sit doing ten years for a gram of dope Witnessing Johannes Mehserle get probation for murder I sit watching men starve to death Witnessing guards who can't even alight a flight of stairs Because they're too fucking fat I sit in a country that told me to stay in school and educate yourself In a cell where they won't give me a book I was told in my youth to just say no to drugs And now that I refuse their psychotropics they refuse me parole They told me to love thy neighbor like you love yourself and now I watch my country men shoot Mexicans swimming the border I sit in the land of the free rattling my chains waiting I see the hypocrisy and the bitter twisted lies Do you? I sit alone 7.4 million strong knowing nothing more than to carry on nothing more than my country's wrong knowing nothing - nothing's at all wrong Do you?
This game is thick, politics and pale faces and these dark skin negros, itchin to change places wantin' to reign supreme, niggas catchin cases where brothers turn fiend, cause they can't face this the game ain't told - it's sold for brother souls my people live in poverty - Mr. Charlie sat on swoll they wonder why the thugs cry and their hearts turn cold they got us twisted and deny our votes at the white man's poll they brought us on boats to add labor to this nation infest our hoods with dope - now servin's the occupation blind us to life by material infatuation enslaved to this living, screaming emancipation proclamation I scream "set me free from this land" through my third eye and see monkey Tom singing "my country tis of thee" we steady searching for the land of liberty the sweet land of jewels that was promised to me It was a hoax the 40 acres and the mule with the flow my people gettin played as fools time to wisen up, get a grip and use our tools I know you tired of poverty, being mistreated and abused we got the knowledge - slave labor built the land they keep us out of college, so ignorance is their plan clearly I see mental freedom wasn't meant for the black man trapped in society with statues and laws only they can overstand dark skin is a sin in this white man's world my brothers drown their emotions by getting drunk til they hurt who cares about the early morning fiend twitchin for a fix the united snakes of american politics
Criticism in the positive usage is the examination, analysis, and evaluation of the comparative worth of one's acts, practices, policies and/or ideas by others. Self-criticism is, of course, the same principles applied to oneself, but also refers to the organizational practice of critically examining and re-examining its own policies and/or the policies and practices of its members. Criticism and self-criticism are wholly necessary to human progress.
Criticism in its positive usage corrects mistakes in practices and of thought, and resolves differences among individuals and makes for smooth-running, well-functioning organizations. We should put forth the slogan "Unity-Criticism-Unity" to show how individuals come together and unite under principles, but in the actual working out of these principles differences arise for various reasons, which work against the accomplishments of the declared ends, and against cohesion of the organization. When these differences arise there must be criticism in which those with differences interpenetrate, modify one another, and form a new more perfect unity on the basis of having worked out contradictions that were inherent in the old unity.
Cause of Error
The differences which arise that disrupt unity can generally be found to have their basis in these categories of human error:
1) Opportunism; opportunism is defined as that tendency for an individual or individuals to make a decision or commit an act that is favorable to his/her own self-aggrandizement and at the expense of the collective or the movement as a whole. Opportunism stems from selfishness. When opportunism arises, either in an individual or in an organization it is to be severely criticized, and if necessary, the individual or individuals should be expelled from the organization or ostracized from the movement.
2) Subjectivism: the second type of error that disrupts unity and impairs revolutionary progress may be found in the general category called "subjectivism." Progress is always our purpose, but subjectivism can be distinguished from opportunism often only by the merest of hairlines. It generally has to do with personality flaws; One makes a decision or commits an act that is based on one's personal feelings, desires, resentments, jealousies, prejudices, etc. Such subjectivism may possibly stem from any number of sources: child trauma, subliminal conditioning, religious superstitions, etc. When such subjectivism pops up to impede the functioning of the individual or the progress of the organization, it is imperative that it be dealt with. The consciousness of many must necessarily be stripped of the old pernicious ideas and values imposed by the bourgeois culture. However, those traits and personal idiosyncrasies which are not particularly harmful to the individual or the cause, but are largely a matter of style, should not needlessly be criticized.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We refer comrades to Mao's essays On Contradiction and Combat Liberalism for more on the importance of fighting opportunism and building unity through the resolution of contradictions.
As mentioned in prior writings by comrades, the struggle, especially for those incarcerated, must encompass not merely a study of history but an application of those strategies that in some way benefit the cause as a whole. One aspect of such application are the legal remedies which can set precedence for many who may need such standards in proving the wrongs done by prison officials. However the opacity and cover-up culture of prison industry in some instances allows for these same freedom fighters to unknowingly sacrifice their very lives for the sake of the many. Here at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution in a rural part of Nebraska this fact remains ever alive.
We are still mourning the death of a prisoner who has on several occasions successfully challenged institutional policy, winning both injunctive and compensatory judgments. In the process he made enemies, invoking the wrath of those running this warehouse. And although this comrade was in phenomenal physical condition he somehow experienced an aneurysm and mysteriously died. Some have postulated his diet of tuna was the cause, other more conspiratorial minds say he was murdered because of his success in exposing questionable actions by those officials. I myself have chosen to accept the latter.
I mention this with regards to a legal battle I will enter very soon pertaining to a number of constitutional rights that have been violated. This struggle is real in every sense of the word and unfortunately requires its martyrs, without which one would not perceive the seriousness of our collective struggle.
The constant study, comprehension and application of the tenets of independent thinking, which will always remain applicable to our situation, must continue for substantial change to occur.