Reification is a term that refers to using the labor power of the people and in turn using it as a powerful force to keep them under oppression.
The only way Texas can afford to keep 150,000 people imprisoned and continue to give parole "set offs" after they are parole eligible by law is through the use of forced labor to offset operating costs. Theoretically speaking if TDCJ were forced by law to pay prisoner workers through a new supreme court precedent, or if prisoners quit participating in enslaving themselves, parole would be presumptive and automatically granted at first eligibility.
Our freedom is at stake here, friends. That is why this issue is absolutely vital. In Texas, per a 1993 law which was passed in reaction to the 90s crack-cocaine-fueled crime wave, violent or aggravated offenders must serve 1/2 their entire sentence before becoming parole eligible. And often times after decades of dreams, hope, hard labor and good behavior, alas many are given the dreaded "set off." So much time has elapsed that their momma has died, their support structures have crumbled, and they have become old men in terrible health due to poor diet, unable to gain meaningful employment, dreams are dashed. All their efforts seem totally futile.
It reminds me of the book Animal Farm by George Orwell and how they treat the work horse, Boxer. They push the old work horse to work harder and harder for the revolution, promising him great comforts and retirement benefits one day in the future. However the day comes when he becomes so old and unable to work they send him off to slaughter at the glue factory. TDCJ's treatment of its prisoners is very analogous to this. When will we wake up?
MIM(Prisons) responds: This is an interesting take on a theme that we hear about constantly from our subscribers in Texas. This writer is saying that if prisoners didn't help offset the operational costs of their own imprisonment, that TDCJ would be forced to release them because it could no longer afford to keep so many people locked up.
There is a contradiction between the high costs to keep people in prison, and the pressure applied to the criminal injustice system from citizens who want to keep oppressed nations in check. Texas is one of the most racist borderland states and has a very long history of national oppression and white supremacy.(1) The call for harsher sentences coinciding with the crack epidemic is simply a manifestation of this racism. It's not about fear of violence; it's about fear of Black violence.
TDCJ certainly would have a harder time financing its prison operations if it actually had to pay prisoners for their labor. But if it started releasing people because of these financial problems, we'd be hearing it from the citizenry. We aren't sure what lengths the state would go to to appease its white constituency.
In fact, we have also heard countless reports of what TDCJ does when it has "budget problems": it makes conditions worse for the prisoners by skipping rec time, medical call, and other duties it has to prisoners. We have yet to receive a letter from someone saying that TDCJ has started releasing prisoners due to budget problems.
The battle here isn't between the prisoners getting paid for labor, and the TDCJ not paying them. The battle is between the interests of the oppressed nations who are housed in TDCJ prisons, with their entire lives stolen from them, and the Amerikkkan nation which has a strong material, social, and cultural interest in keeping these oppressed nations locked up. If that battle manifests in a struggle for work to be paid for in TDCJ, or for TDCJ to honor good time - work time credits in releasing prisoners, then we are all for it. But we can't lose sight of this bigger contradiction, which is what the entire prisoner labor struggle rests on.
This contradiction has always existed since the beginning of the Amerikan nation, and even prior to that when it was still in development. And it has only been heightened under the Trump presidency. We aim to build our power so that we can overcome the contradiction, in unity with oppressed peoples all over the world. Any struggle for paid prisoner labor should primarily be a struggle to build our internal unity and organizing.
Throughout the numerous issues of Under Lock & Key (ULK), we have read countless articles detailing the unjust and inhumyn conditions of imprisonment across U.$. prisons and jails. Many of these stories, and the compelling analyses they entail, help shape and develop our political consciousness. From the hunger strikes in California to the rampant humyn rights' violations in Texas on to the USW-led countrywide grievance campaign, through the pages of ULK, we have shared our organizing struggles, the successes and setbacks. As a result, our clarity regarding the illegitimacy of the U.$. criminal (in)justice system has sharpened tremendously.
And yet, there are some political and economic dimensions of our imprisonment that seem to evade our critical gaze. It is not enough that we become familiar with each others' stories behind the walls. At some point, we must move toward relating our collective organizing experiences in prison to much broader struggles beyond prison. To this end, the anti-prison movement(1) is but a necessary phase of national liberation struggles that has serious implications for anti-imperialism. And in order for the anti-prison movement to advance we must analyze all sides of the mass incarceration question.
Many of us already understand that prisons function as tools of social control. We also recognize that U.$. prisons are disproportionately packed with oppressed nation lumpen, ostensibly because these groups organized and led national liberation movements during the late-1960s to mid-70s. After these movements succumbed to repression from U.$. reactionary forces (COINTELPRO), the U.$. prison population rose dramatically and then exploded, resulting in what we know today as mass incarceration.(2) Thus, we see, in a very narrow way, the basis for why U.$. prisons serve in neutralizing the existential threat posed by oppressed nation lumpen.
But understanding the hystorical basis of mass incarceration is only one part of the question. The other part is determining how the systematic imprisonment of oppressed nation lumpen has developed over time, and exploring its impact throughout that process. Because while the question of mass incarceration may seem as formulaic as "national oppression makes necessary the institutions of social control," the reality is this question is a bit more involved than mere physical imprisonment.
The latter point in no way opposes the analysis that the primary purpose of mass incarceration is to deter oppressed nation lumpen from revolutionary organizing. In fact, the political and economic dimensions of mass incarceration described and analyzed later in this article function in the same capacity as prison bars — in some instances, the bonds of poverty and systemic marginalization, or the racist and white-supremacist ideology that criminalizes and stigmatizes oppressed nation lumpen are just as strong as the physical bonds of imprisonment. If oppressed nation communities, particularly lumpen communities, are kept in a perpetual state of destabilization, disorganization, and distraction, then these groups will find it that much harder to effectively organize against a status quo that oppresses them.
The point of this article is thus to widen the panorama of our understanding, to take in those political and economic dimensions of mass incarceration that too often go unnoticed and unexamined, but are nonetheless important in determining the line and strategy necessary to advance the anti-prison movement.
Partial Integration Set the Table for Mass Incarceration
As pointed out above, mass incarceration deters oppressed nation lumpen from revolutionary organizing. But what does this analysis really mean in today's context of the national question? How does the prevention of oppressed nation lumpen from organizing for national liberation impact the national contradiction; that is, the contradiction between the Euro-Amerikan oppressor nation-state and the U.$. internal oppressed nations and semi-colonies?
The lumpen-driven liberation movements of past were, in part, strong rebukes against the integrationist Civil Rights movement (which of course was led by the bourgeoisie/petty-bourgeoisie of oppressed nations). Thus we see the partial integration agenda as an alliance and compromise between the Euro-Amerikan oppressor nation-state (its ruling class) and the comprador bourgeoisie of oppressed nations. It is meant to answer the national question set forth by the earlier protest movements (revolutionary and progressive) of oppressed nations, on one hand, and to ease tensions inherent in the national contradiction, on the other hand.
In exchange for open access to political power and persynal wealth, the comprador bourgeoisie was tasked with keeping their lumpen communities in check. To this point, it was thought that if Black and Brown faces ruled over Black and Brown places, then much of the radical protest and unrest that characterized the period between the mid-60s to mid-70s would be quelled.
This is the very premise of identity politics, and, as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor aptly notes: electing leaders of oppressed nations into political office does not change the dire material and socioeconomic circumstances of the communities they represent.(3) In eir book, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, Taylor goes on to describe the failure of partial integration (and identity politics) with respect to the New Afrikan nation,(4) contending:
"The pursuit of Black electoral power became one of the principal strategies that emerged from the Black Power era. Clearly it has been successful for some. But the continuing crises for Black people, from under-resourced schools to police murder, expose the extreme limitations of that strategy. The ascendance of Black electoral politics also dramatizes how class differences can lead to different political strategies in the fight for Black liberation. There have always been class differences among [New Afrikans], but this is the first time those class differences have been expressed in the form of a minority of Blacks wielding significant political power and authority over the majority of Black lives."(5)
Here we see Taylor describes the inability of partial integration to remedy the plight of the entire New Afrikan nation and its communities. Ey also articulates very precisely the internal class divisions of New Afrika brought to light by such an opportunistic agenda, which serves to enforce and maintain semi-colonialism. There is a reason why the Euro-Amerikan oppressor nation-state allied with the comprador bourgeoisie, as their interests were (and are) clearly more aligned than conflicting, given the circumstances. Where the bourgeois/petty-bourgeois integrationists wanted access to capitalist society, the lumpen and some sections of the working class of oppressed nations saw their future in their liberation from U.$. imperialist society – two very different "political strategies" reflective of somewhat contentious "class differences."
Furthermore, Taylor highlights the moral bankruptcy of partial integration (and identity politics) with the contemporary lesson of Freddie Gray's tragic murder and the Baltimore uprising that followed. Ey explains, "when a Black mayor, governing a largely Black city, aids in the mobilization of a military unit led by a Black woman to suppress a Black rebellion, we are in a new period of the Black freedom struggle."(6) This "new period" that Taylor speaks of is nothing more than good-ole neo-colonialism.
To elaborate further, an understanding of the Baltimore uprising, for example, cannot be reduced down to a single incident of police murder. Let's be clear, New Afrikan lumpen (and youth) took to the streets of Baltimore in protest and frustration of conditions that had been festering for years — conditions that have only grown worse since the end of the "Black Power era." Obviously, the political strategy of identity politics (i.e. "the pursuit of Black electoral power") has not led to "Black liberation." Instead it has resulted in an intensification of class tensions internal to the U.$. oppressed nation (in this case, New Afrika), as well as increased state repression of oppressed nation lumpen.
This latter point is evidenced by the support of policies from the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) that target, disrupt, and imprison oppressed nation communities (lumpen communities).(7) At the same time that these communities struggled under the weight of economic divestment and merciless marginalization, conditions which in many respects worsened under the political leadership of the comprador bourgeoisie, the drug trade opened up, providing a precarious means of survival. Predictably, as "crime"(8) increased so too did the creation and implementation of criminal civil legislation that fueled mass incarceration. To really get a sense of the true interests of the comprador bourgeoisie of oppressed nations, we only need to look at the positions taken by the CBC, the so-called champions of freedom, equality, and justice, which "cosponsored conservative law-and-order politics out of not political weakness but entrenchment in Beltway politics."(9) It is clear that partial integration has been "successful for some," but it is equally apparent who the victims of this opportunistic agenda have been.
What is often missed in any serious and sober analysis of the CBC (or any other political org. representative of the comprador bourgeoisie) is the legitimacy it bestows upon the prison house of nations: U.$. imperialist society. This legitimacy isn't some figment of imagination, but a material reality expressed primarily in the class-nation alliance signified by the partial integration agenda. Dialectically, while the comprador bourgeoisie is granted the privileges of "whiteness," access to political and economic power, the lumpen and some sections of the working class of oppressed nations are deemed superfluous (not necessary) for the production and reproduction of U.$. imperialist society. Of course, the election of more members of oppressed nations into office goes a long way in maintaining the facade that the United $tates is a free and open society that respects and upholds the rights and liberties of its citizenry. However, identity politics will never obscure the sacrificial zones within U.$. society -– South and Westside Chicago, Eastside Baltimore, Compton and South Central and East Los Angeles, and many more deprived urban lumpen areas –- maintained and, in many cases, made worse by partial integration.
Unfortunately, this is where we find the oppressed nation lumpen today on the national question, held hostage by a set of identity politics complicit in its further marginalization and oppression.
Politics of Mass Incarceration
In discussing the failure of partial integration to effectively improve the material and socioeconomic life of the entire oppressed nation, we can better appreciate the extreme limitations of such an anemic political strategy that is identity politics. But if the legitimacy that partial integration (and identity politics) provides U.$. society can only go so far in actually pacifying oppressed nation lumpen, then by what other means and methods are these superfluous groups controlled? In the next two sections, we will explore and analyze this question.
Racism and white supremacy are constant ideological threads woven throughout the founding and development of U.$. society. In each era, be it slavery, segregation, or mass incarceration today, the primary function of this political ideology is to rationalize and legitimate the oppression and/or exploitation of colonized peoples, which throughout these different eras invariably involved employing particular methods of social control against these peoples or specific groups thereof.
Now, of course, we cannot compare the fundamental nature of slavery with that of mass incarceration. And to be clear, this is not the point of this particular section. It should be obvious to the casual ULK reader that where the slave performed an essential economic role and was therein exploited and oppressed, oppressed nation lumpen have no role within the current socioeconomic order of U.$. society, as it is systematically denied access to it. The point, however, is to show how the ideological forces of racism and white supremacy, while they have assumed different forms depending on the historical era, are mobilized in service of the status quo. It is in this sense that political motivations underpin the system of mass incarceration. And as we will see in this section, these motivations are hystorically tied to the oppression and/or exploitation of U.$. internal oppressed nations and semi-colonies.
To be sure, the need to control oppressed nations has always been a paramount concern of the oppressor (settler) nation since settler-colonialism. During the era of slavery, slave codes were implemented to ensure that slaves were held in check, while slave patrols were formed to enforce these measures. We see here the emergence of the modern U.$. criminal (in)justice system in its nascent form, with its proto-police and proto-criminal laws. But it wasn't until after the abolition of slavery that we find express political motivations to criminalize oppressed nations. For Angela Y. Davis,
"Race [nation] has always played a central role in constructing presumptions of criminality ... former slave states passed new legislation revising the slave codes in order to regulate the behavior of free blacks in ways similar to those that had existed during slavery. The new Black Codes proscribed a range of actions ... that were criminalized only when the person charged was black."(10)
While the Black Codes were created in large part to control New Afrikan labor for continued exploitation, we are able to see the formation of policies and policing designed for the specific purpose of repressing oppressed nations. As a side note, irony doesn't begin to describe the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment, meant to abolish slavery, to disestablish one system of oppression only to provide for the legal and political basis for another system of oppression -– convict lease labor.
Furthermore, Davis observes that, "The racialization of crime – the tendency to 'impute crime to color' ... did not wither away as the country became increasingly removed from slavery. Proof that crime continues to be imputed to color resides in the many evocations of 'racial profiling' in our time."(11) In this sense, oppressed nation lumpen criminality under conditions of mass incarceration is analogous to Afrikan "inferiority" or First Nation "savagery" under conditions of settler-colonialism. In both instances, there are narratives, informed by racism and white supremacy, which serve the continued functioning of the status quo.
Given that the criminalization of oppressed nations is not some modern phenomenon, but one that originated in the hystorical oppression and exploitation of oppressed nations, we now have a different angle from which to view mass incarceration. Part of this view involves recognizing that the criminal (in)justice system, law enforcement, and legislators are not neutral arbiters of justice or "law and order." These people and institutions are infected by racism and white supremacy and thus function to carry out ideological and political aims.
Therefore, it is important that we remain diligent in uncovering the many guises under which racism and white supremacy lurk and hide. This is no less significant today as it is in the cultural arena where reactionary ideas and ideologies are propagated and traded. To be more clear, when trying to rationalize why oppressed nation lumpen are imprisoned at disproportionate rates relative to similarly-situated Euro-Amerikans, arguments about lack of responsibility and no work ethic are tossed around as explanations. Mainstream media go even further by portraying and projecting stereotypes about oppressed nation lumpen (and youth), that is to say, stereotyping the dress, talk, and actions, which is really a subtle but sophisticated way of stigmatizing. Of course, this stigmatization goes on to construct a criminal archetype, which many of us see today in nearly every facet of U.$. media life.
All of these factors, taken into consideration together, shape the public conscience on "crime" and criminality, laying the groundwork for rationalizing the great disparities characteristic of the current criminal (in)justice system. Unsurprisingly, this propaganda has worked so effectively that even oppressed nation members find it hard to ignore. So where there should be unity on issues/incidences of national oppression, none exists, because the oppressed nation is divided, usually along class lines. Taylor strikes at the heart of the matter:
"Blaming Black culture not only deflects investigation into the systemic causes of Black inequality but has also been widely absorbed by [New Afrikans] as well. Their acceptance of the dominant narrative that blames Blacks for their own oppression is one explanation for the delay in the development of a new Black movement."(12)
This is certainly the plan of partial integration, to divide the oppressed nation against itself and thereby legitimize the marginalization and oppression of oppressed nation lumpen in the process. Naturally, this paralyzes the oppressed nation from acting on its right to self-determination, from pursuing liberation.
To frame this point another way, take a [email protected] business owner. This persyn has a business in a predominantly [email protected] lumpen community, despite residing in the suburbs. This business owner sees [email protected] youth hang out and skip school. Ey sees them engaged in questionable, possibly criminal activity. Add in the scenario that local media frames crime as a virtue of [email protected] lumpen youth on a nightly basis. And then say one day one of those [email protected] kids is killed by the police. How will the [email protected] business owner respond?
Before the era of mass incarceration, the overwhelming majority of the oppressed nation would have viewed this scenario for what it was: a police murder. Today, we cannot be so sure.
To sum up, the current criminal (in)justice system, law enforcements, etc. are unfair and unjust not because these institutions are biased against oppressed nations, but because the fundamental nature of society, the basis upon which these institutions are built and set in motion, is founded on the oppression of non-white peoples. We must remember that slavery was legal and segregation was held up as permissible by the highest courts in this stolen land. For us to view mass incarceration solely from the social control perspective undermines any appreciation for the urgency of anti-imperialism, for the need for a reinvigoration of U.$. national liberation struggles. We need to be more nuanced in our analysis because the system is nuanced in its marginalization and oppression of oppressed nation lumpen.
Economics of Mass Incarceration
This nuance mentioned above is primarily played out on an economic plane. And there are many economic dimensions and impacts of mass incarceration that maintain a strangle hold on oppressed nation lumpen and communities.
We can explore how contact with the criminal (in)justice system can leave an oppressed nation member and eir family destitute, through fees, fines, and other forms of financial obligations. We can look at the impact of prisons located in rural communities, providing employment opportunities and economic stimulus. We could even investigate prison industries and how prisoner labor is utilized to offset the costs of incarceration. However, the point here is that there are many things to analyze, all of which, taken as a whole, disadvantage oppressed nation lumpen and their communities.
The most consequential impact of mass incarceration is how it feeds the cycle of poverty and marginalization characteristic of lumpen communities. Basically, the criminalization / stigmatization of lumpen reinforces its material deprivation, which in turn nurtures conditions of criminal activity as a means of survival, further unleashing the repressive forces of the criminal (in)justice system, which proves or validates the criminalization / stigmatization of oppressed nation lumpen in the first place. Thus, oppressed nation lumpen are inarguably subjected doubly to the poverty and marginalization, on one hand, and to the relentless blows of national oppression, on the other hand.
Todd Clear, provost of Rutgers University – Newark, who specializes in the study of criminal justice, draws a stark picture of this cycle of crime and poverty that lumpen are subjected to:
"A number of the men are gone at any time; they're locked up. And then the men that are there are not able to produce income, to support families, to support children, to buy goods, to make the neighborhood have economic activity, to support businesses ... the net effect of rates of incarceration is that the neighborhood has trouble adjusting. Neighborhoods where there's limited economic activity around the legitimate market are neighborhoods where you have a ripeness to grow illegitimate markets."(13)
What Clear is depicting is not so much the fact that crimes take place in lumpen communities. Clear is emphasizing that criminogenic factors (factors that strongly tend to lead to criminal activity/inclination) are really a reflection of the lack of socioeconomic opportunities to social upward mobility. This is the essence that fuels the dynamic relationship between crime and poverty. What Clear fails to mention is that there are Euro-Amerikans who are in similarly-situated circumstances as oppressed nation lumpen but are more likely to escape them where oppressed nation lumpen are trapped. This is so for reasons already mentioned in the above sections.
Furthermore, not everyone in lumpen communities are imprisoned; in fact, most likely never see the inside of a jail or prison. But enough people do go away and stay away for a considerable period of time that the community is destabilized, and familial bonds are ruptured. When free, the imprisoned persyn from the lumpen community represented some sort of income, and not a liability weighing down a family, financially, morally, etc, already struggling to make ends meet. Enough of these families are part of the lumpen community that the cycle mentioned above seems to be unbreakable. Kids growing up in broken homes, forced to assume adult roles, only to make kid mistakes that come with adult consequences; and the cycle continues.
To be sure, this cycle has been in force with respect to oppressed nations since the end of slavery. It has just become necessary over time to enact laws and policies that now target and disrupt these communities. Both the politics and economics of mass incarceration work to keep lumpen communities from organizing for national liberation as was done during the late-60s.
Part of any strategy related to our anti-prison movement is first recognizing these dimensions of mass incarceration, and taking into account that we live in enemy society where enemy consciousness prevails, even amongst much of the oppressed nations. We have to also recognize that the interests of oppressed nation lumpen are not the same as the other classes of the oppressed nation. There are some members of the oppressed nations who have bought the bill of goods sold by partial integration. They are fully immersed in the delusions of identity politics, subtly sacrificing their true identity for the trinkets of "whiteness."
Understanding and recognizing these points means we can focus our organizing efforts on building public opinion and independent institutions, on a concrete class/nation analysis and not because someone is Black or Brown. We need to be patient with lumpen communities as they are in that day-to-day grind of survival and may not (or cannot) see the merit in our movement. Ultimately, we need to step up and be those leaders of the movement, so when we do touch we hit the ground running.
While many euro-Amerikans languish and suffer in U.$. prisons, it is those whose land the Amerikans seized and occupy, and those the Amerikans enslaved and exploited, who disproportionately rot here. The First World lumpen are an excess population, that imperialism has limited use for.
One solution to this problem has been using the lumpen to distribute and consume narcotics. Narcotics, and the drug game itself pacify the lowest classes of the internal semi-colonies, by providing income and distracting drama, while circulating capital.(1) Of course, rich Amerikans play a much larger role in propping up drug sales.
Another solution to the excess population has been mass incarceration. Prisons serve as a tool of social control; a place to put the rebellious populations that once spawned organizations like the Black Panther Party and Young Lords Party. Meanwhile, imprisonment serves to drain the resources of the internal semi-colonies in numerous ways.(2) This reinforces their colonial states in relation to the Amerikan empire. As an institution, mass incarceration serves as an outlet at home for the racist ideology that imperialism requires from its populace for operations abroad. The criminal injustice system sanitizes national oppression under the banner of "law and order," reducing the more open manifestations of the national contradiction within the metropole that brought about the recognition of the need for national liberation in the 1960s and 1970s.(3)
The following are excerpts from a Minnesota comrade's response to "MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy", originally published in ULK 8 currently available in the "13th Amendment Study Pack"(updated 8/10/2017).
"In as much as I agree with MIM's positions in this study pack, I find it beyond the pale of relevance in arguing over whether the conditions We now exist under are in fact slavery or exploitation or rather oppression that revolves around laws devised to ensure that the first class's social, political and economic control is maintained. Mass incarceration might be all of those above or none at all, to those of Us in the struggle. What we all can agree on is that mass incarceration is a machine being used to exterminate, as the imperialists see us, the undesirable sub-underclass.
"...Prisons are being used to remove black and brown males at their prime ages of producing children, going to college, and gaining meaningful vocational training. This loss of virulent males in Our communities does more than weaken them. It removes from the female an eligible male and acts no different than sterilization. Instead of incinerators or gas chambers, We are being nurtured, domesticated, doped, and fed carcinogens. Moreover, prisons have provided us with disease-ridden environments, and poor diets, minimum ambulatory exercise, poor air and water. Lastly, the removal of cognitive social stimuli necessary for the maturation of social skills has created an underdeveloped antisocial human being lacking in compassion and individuality.
"...the reason that the slavery or exploitation argument doesn't resonate for those of Us who are on the front line, I think, is because it's muted by the point that incarceration is an institution created by the oppressor. It will have vestiges of slavery, exploitation, and social control within it. To what degree? is arguable."
So far we have no disagreements with this comrade. And while we have long upheld this point to be important for our understanding of mass incarceration in the United $tates and how to fight it, we do recognize that the slavery analogy will resonate with the masses on an emotional level. The comrade later goes on to reinforce our position:
"Eradication is where slavery and mass incarceration split. Although slaves were punished and victims of social control, they had value and were not eradicated."
A crass example of this was exposed last month when Kern County pigs turned on one of their own and released a video of Chief Pig Donny Youngblood stating that it's cheaper to kill someone being held by the state than to wound them. These are state bureaucracies, with pressure to cut budgets. While keeping prison beds full is in the interest of the unions, it is not in the immediate financial interest to the state overall.
Whereas we agree with this comrade when ey discusses the role of convict leasing in funding southern economies shortly after the creation of the 13th Amendment, we disagree with the analogy to funding rural white communities today.
"The slave, instead of producing crops and performing other trades on the plantation is now a source of work... So to insist states aren't benefactors of mass incarceration is incredulous. Labor aristocrats and the imperialist first class, who are majority Caucasian males, have disproportionately benefited."
The difference is a key point in Marxism, and understanding the imperialist economy today. That the existence of millions of prisoners in the United $tates creates jobs for labor aristocrats is very different from being a slave, whose labor is exploited. And the difference is that the wealth to pay the white (or otherwise) prison staff is coming from the exploitation of the Third World proletariat. And the economy around incarceration is just one way that the state moves those superprofits around and into the pockets of the everyday Amerikan. The "prisoner-as-slave" narrative risks erasing the important role of this imperialist exploitation.
Another reason why we must be precise in our explanation is the history of white labor unions in this country in undermining the liberation struggles of the internal semi-colonies. Hitching the struggle of prisoners to that of the Amerikan labor movement is not a way to boost the cause. It is a way to subordinate it to an enemy cause — that of Amerikan labor.
There is a cabal of Amerikan labor organizers on the outside that are pushing their agenda to the forefront of the prison movement. Their involvement in this issue goes back well over a century and their position has not changed. It is a battle between the Amerikan labor aristocracy and the Amerikan bourgeoisie over super-profits extracted from the Third World. In this case the labor aristocracy sees that prisoners working for little to no wages could cut into the jobs available to their class that offer the benefit of surplus value extraction from other nations. Generally the labor aristocracy position has won out, keeping the opportunities for real profiteering from prison labor very limited in this country. But that is not to say that exploitation of prison labor could not arise, particularly in a severe economic crisis as Third World countries delink from the empire forcing it to look inward to keep profits cycling.
While our previous attempt to tackle this subject may have come across as academic Marxist analysis, we hope to do better moving forward to push the line that the prison movement needs to be tied to the anti-colonial, national liberation struggles both inside and outside the United $tates. And that these struggles aim to liberate whole nations from the United $tates, and ultimately put an end to Amerikanism. Selling those struggles out to the interests of the Amerikan labor movement will not serve the interests of the First World lumpen.
Prison labor is an interesting concept. Compared to the enormous expenditures (financial, mental, physical, etc.) the rewards/benefits of prison industrial labor are trivial in the extreme.
Excluding coveted "prison industry" posts, over 95% of prisoners are employed in prison maintenance, construction, administrative/educational labor). [This figure may be accurate in this comrade's state. Our preliminary results across 22 systems in the U.$. show almost 25% working in manufacturing and agriculture. — Editor] Indeed, such work does prove beneficial (in the case of kitchen labor — invaluable) to prison operations. Kitchen work notwithstanding, the sum total of benefits is small. So why do prisons use prisoner labor? Especially considering it does little to lessen the economic burden of penal institutions on society. There are two plausible answers to this question. Surprisingly, neither is directly linked to financial interests.
In the first place, prisoners are employed to reinforce socially acceptable behavior and occupational patterns (by capitalistic standards). While this may sound perfectly justifiable and even admirable; truth is, it is far less altruistic. Reinforcement of socially accepted roles is an integral aspect of the subjection-manipulation cycle (see ULK 52 – An Invaluable Resource? And ULK 54 – The Adaption of Capitalistic Controls), which through an invasive, subtle and constant life-long indoctrination, endeavors to create a homogeneous populace. Prison labor is meant to be a control for inducing conformity in prison which later translates to the same out in society. An objective achieved through subjection (mandatory labor) and manipulation (rewards or reprimands, restrictions and sanctions) in a never-ending cyclic process. A process similar to Pablo Escobar's approach to business — plata o plomo (silver or lead). In simple terms, accept my favor or risk my displeasure. This reality is paralleled throughout society. Contribute to capitalism, strive to become a capitalist, or experience privations, marginalization, ostracization, imprisonment or worse. In a way, prison labor is a form or reeducation, along capitalist lines.
In the second place, labor in prison provides an added buffer against unrest and radical organization among prisoners. Prisoners structure their days around their jobs, giving it importance and prominence in their daily lives. Many would feel lost at sea, wayward, direction-less without it. It gives the prisoner a focal point distinct from and meaningless to their best interests – toppling the penal system. Distracted by menial duties, most prisoners never bother to contemplate their plight, subjection/manipulation, origins of their situation and the oppression, which made it all possible (eventual?); not even mentioning the oppressors who become an abstract "them."
As such, prison labor does four important things for capitalism:
Reeducates deviants (self-determinants)
Drains on and distracts prisoner intellect
Impedes any meaningful development (mental, physical, political and social)
Prisons are gargantuan popular control systems. Prison labor is a system within a system created for the advancement of a thriving capitalist state — inequality and an overabundance of commodities. Considering how many prisoners work prison jobs, join society's labor force and become re-acclimated to capitalist control, the effectiveness of prison labor as a process is quite horrifying. Ignorance is a capitalist's bliss. Knowledge is a revolutionary's power. Understanding reality as it confronts us is the first step to dismantling the penal institute as a whole.
MIM(Prisons) adds: The point that much prison labor is not actually saving operating costs is an important piece to our analysis that we have yet to quantify. According to our survey, some 460,000 prisoners are working in prison maintenance jobs in the state and federal systems at a median of 150 hours per month. To hire that work out at $10/hr would cost around $9 billion, or what would amount to 10% of the money spent on the criminal injustice system.
However, it is not uncommon for state-funded programs to hire more people than they need to complete a job, because profit is not the motive. And it makes sense to pay prisoners for attending schooling and other programming activities when the motivations above are considered. This is another perspective on prisons as social control. Socialist states have and will also use prisons to shape populations in a certain direction. Of course, the state apparatus serves that economic system. In socialism, prisons combat classism. In capitalism, they reinforce it.
Mientras muchos euro-americanos se desmoronan y sufren en las prisiones E$tado Uniden$e$, son aquellos cuyas tierras los amerikanos tomaron y ocuparon, y aquellos a quienes esclavizaron y explotaron, que desproporcionadamente se pudren aquí. Los lumpen del primer mundo son un exceso de población, para los que el imperialismo tiene uso limitado.
Una solución a este problema ha sido utilizar a personas de la sub-subclase para distribuir y consumir narcóticos. Los narcóticos y el juego de la droga en sí tranquilizan a los de las clases más bajas de las semi-colonias internas, proporcionando ingresos y drama que distrae, mientras circula capital.(1) Por supuesto, amerikanos ricos desempeñan un papel mucho más importante en la promoción de las ventas de drogas.
Otra solución para el exceso de población ha sido el encarcelamiento masivo. Las prisiones sirven como una herramienta de control social; un lugar para poner a las poblaciones rebeldes que una vez engendraron organizaciones como la Black Panther Party y Young Lords Party (El Partido de Pantera Negra –BPP y El Partido Joven de Reyes). Mientras tanto, el encarcelamiento sirve para drenar los recursos de las semicolonias internas de muchas maneras (2) refuerza sus estados coloniales en relación con el imperio amerikano. Como una institución, la encarcelación masiva sirve como una salida en el hogar para la ideología racista que el imperialismo requiere de su población para operaciones en el extranjero. El sistema de injusticia criminal depura las opresiones nacionales bajo el lema de "ley y orden", reduciendo las manifestaciones más abiertas de la contradicción nacional dentro de la metrópoli que provocó el reconocimiento de la necesidad de la liberación
nacional en el 1960 y 1970.(3)
Lo siguiente son extractos de la respuesta de un camarada de Minnesota a Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons (Ministerio Internacionalista de Prisiones Maoísta-MIM(Prisons)) sobre la economía de prisiones E$tado Uniden$e$", publicado originalmente en ULK 8, actualmente disponible en el "13th Amendment Study Pack (Paquete de estudio de la 13ª Enmienda)"
(actualizado el 8/10/2017).
"A pesar de que concuerdo bastante con las posiciones de MIM (Ministerio Internacionalista de Prisiones Maoísta) sobre este conjunto de estudio, es que lo encuentro más allá de la relevancia en la discusión sobre si las condiciones bajo las que ahora vivimos son de hecho esclavitud o explotación o más bien una opresión que gira en torno a leyes diseñadas para garantizar que el control social, político y económico de primera clase se mantenga. El encarcelamiento puede ser todos los anteriores o ninguno en absoluto, para aquellos de nosotros en la lucha. En lo que todos podemos estar de acuerdo es en que la encarcelación masiva es una máquina que se usa para exterminar, como nos ven los imperialistas, la sub-subclase indeseable.
"... Las cárceles se están utilizando para eliminar a los hombres negros y morenos en sus mejores años para producir hijos, ir a la universidad y ganar formación profesional significativa. Esta pérdida de hombres virulentos en Nuestras comunidades hace más que únicamente debilitarlas. Le quita a la mujer un varón adecuado y actúa igual que la esterilización. En lugar de incineradores o cámaras de gas, estamos siendo nutridos, domesticados, dopado y alimentados con carcinógenos. Además, las prisiones nos han proporcionado ambientes plagados de enfermedades y dietas deficientes, mínimo ejercicio ambulatorio, escaso aire y agua. Por último, la eliminación de las cognitivas sociales estimula lo necesario para la maduración de las habilidades sociales ha creado un ser humano antisocial subdesarrollado carente de compasión e individualidad.
"... La razón por la cual el argumento de esclavitud o explotación no resuena para aquellos de nosotros que están en primera línea, creo, es porque está silenciado por el hecho de que el encarcelamiento es una institución creada por el opresor. Tendrá vestigios de esclavitud, explotación y control social dentro de ella. ¿Hasta qué punto? es
Hasta el momento no tenemos desacuerdos con este camarada. Y aunque
hemos mantenido este punto que es importante para nuestra comprensión
del encarcelamiento masivo en los Estado$ Unido$ y cómo luchar contra
él, sí reconocemos que la analogía de la esclavitud resonará con las masas
a un nivel emocional. El camarada luego refuerza nuestra posición: "La erradicación es donde la esclavitud y el encarcelamiento masivo
se dividen. A pesar de que los esclavos fueron castigados y víctimas del
control social, tenían valor y no fueron erradicados."
Un tosco ejemplo de esto estuvo expuesto el mes pasado cuando los cerdos del Condado de Kern traicionaron a uno de los suyos y lanzaron un video del Cerdo en Jefe Donny Youngblood, que afirmaba que es más barato matar a alguien retenido por el estado que herirlos. Estas son burocracias estatales, con presión para recortar presupuestos. Si bien
mantener las camas de prisión llenas es de interés de los sindicatos, no tiene un interés financiero inmediato para el estado en general.
Mientras que estamos de acuerdo con este camarada cuando ellos discuten el papel del mantenimiento de un prisionero en la financiación de las economías del sur poco después de la creación de la 13ª Enmienda, no estamos de acuerdo con la analogía de financiar las comunidades rurales blancas de hoy en día.
"El esclavo, en lugar de producir cultivos y realizar otros oficios en la plantación es ahora una fuente de trabajo ... Entonces, insistir en que los estados no son benefactores de la encarcelación masiva es algo incrédulo. Los aristócratas laboristas y la primera clase imperialista, que en su mayoría son varones caucásicos, se han visto beneficiados de forma desproporcional. "
La diferencia es un punto clave en el marxismo, y entender la economía imperialista actual. Entender que la existencia de millones de prisioneros en los Estado$ Unido$ crea puestos de trabajo para los aristócratas trabajadores es muy diferente a ser un esclavo, cuyo trabajo es explotado. Y la diferencia es que la riqueza para pagar al personal de prisión blanco (o de otro tipo) proviene de la explotación del proletariado del Tercer Mundo. Y la economía en torno al encarcelamiento es solo una de las formas en que el estado mueve esas súper ganancias hacia los bolsillos del Amerikano ordinario. La narrativa del "prisionero como esclavo" corre el riesgo de borrar el papel importante de esta explotación imperialista.
Otra razón por la que debemos ser precisos en nuestra explicación es la historia de los sindicatos blancos en este país en socavar las luchas de liberación de las semicolonias internas. Enganchando la lucha de prisioneros a la del movimiento laboral de E$tado$ Unido$ no es una forma de impulsar la causa. Es una manera de subordinarlo a una causa enemiga - la de Trabajo Amerikano.
Hay un grupo de organizadores del trabajo Amerikano en el exterior que están empujando su agenda a la vanguardia del movimiento penitenciario. Su participación en este tema se remonta a más de un siglo atrás y su posición no ha cambiado. Es una batalla entre la aristocracia laboral amerikana y la burguesía amerikana por las súper ganancias extraídas del Tercer Mundo. En este caso, la aristocracia laboral ve que los presos que trabajan por poco o ningún salario podrían entrar en los trabajos disponibles para su clase que ofrecen el beneficio de la extracción de plusvalías de otras naciones. Generalmente, ha ganado la posición de la aristocracia laboral, manteniendo muy limitadas las oportunidades para obtener beneficios reales del trabajo en prisión en este país. Pero eso no quiere decir que no pueda surgir la explotación del trabajo penitenciario, especialmente en crisis económicas graves a medida que los países del tercer mundo se separan del imperio, forzándolo a mirar hacia adentro para mantener las ganancias a flote.
Si bien, nuestro intento anterior para abordar este tema puede haber dado la impresión de un análisis académico marxista, esperamos que nos vaya mejor al seguir adelante en empujar los límites de que el movimiento en prisiones necesita estar ligado a las luchas de liberación nacional y anticolonial, tanto dentro como fuera de los E$tado$ Unido$. Y que estas luchas apunten a liberar a naciones enteras de los E$tado$ Unido$, y finalmente poner un fin al Amerikanismo. El vender esas luchas a los intereses del movimiento laboral Amerikano no servirá a los intereses del lumpen del Primer Mundo.
Echándole un vistazo al código penal para ver lo que se ha descrito como asalto sexual por el sistema criminal de injusticias, revela una variedad de ofensas, desde varias faltas menores hasta violaciones graves. En los E$tados Unido$, aquellos que cometen dichos actos atroces son considerados como lo más bajo de lo bajo y las prisiones no son diferentes. Este ensayo intenta abordar el tema de los delincuentes sexuales dentro de las sociedades en prisión y su importancia para el movimiento en prisiones.
En el intento de escribir algo con respecto de este asunto, me vi obligado a regresar a dos puntos principales de debate: (1) la contradicción de la unidad vs las separaciones dentro del mismo movimiento en prisión, como la hizo popular el Movimiento Internacionalista Maoísta. La fuerza de mi argumento proviene de ambos puntos. ¿Qué es el Movimiento en Prisión?
Antes de continuar, es necesario para mí explicar lo que alrededor de qué intentamos construir unidad. El movimiento en prisión se define por varios movimientos, organizaciones e individuos que en este momento luchan contra las muchas caras del sistema de injusticia Amerikkkano. Sea que estos movimientos se den en Georgia, California, Texas, Pennsylvania o cualquier otro rincón del imperio de los EE.UU., no es de mucha importancia. Lo que es importante, sin embargo, es el hecho de que aquellas organizaciones e individuos se encuentran actualmente desempeñando un papel progresivo y potencialmente revolucionario al atacar al sistema opresivo en las prisiones amerikkkanas.
En las prisiones o cárceles de un estado la lucha puede tomar la forma de una campaña de reclamo, o de acciones de otro grupo dirigidas a abolir el trabajo forzado de los prisioneros. Estos movimientos tiene que ser dirigidos por una variedad de organizaciones lumpen. Algunas son revolucionarias, otras no. algunas son estrechamente reformistas por naturaleza y no irán más allá del ganar concesiones. Otras permanecen estancadas en la mentalidad burguesa del individualismo, mientras siguen engañosamente usando una retórica revolucionaria para conseguir sus metas.
Sin embargo, a pesar de sus objetivos separados, cada una en su propia forma, están tomando acciones colectivas cuando es posible para desafiar sus condiciones opresoras. Además, estos movimientos, organizaciones e individuos, cuando se toman como un todo, representan el despertar de la consciencia política y revolucionaria de los prisioneros, que no se ha visto desde la ronda más reciente de luchas nacionales de liberación de las semi- colonias internas. Esas son las cualidades progresivas del nuevo movimiento en prisiones.
Los aspectos negativos y reaccionarios del movimiento en prisiones se caracterizan por el hecho de que muchas de estas organizaciones lumpen todavía funcionan dentro de líneas tradicionales. La mayoría sigue participando en una economía parasitaria y llevan a cabo actividades en contra de personas, que afectan a las personas mismas a quienes dicen representar. Con respecto al ensayo, la mayoría de estos movimientos y organizaciones también tienen políticas que excluyen a aquellos a quienes el estado imperialista ha etiquetado como “delincuentes sexuales”. No obstante, ¿pueden estos movimientos y organizaciones realmente adherirse a dichas separaciones iniciadas por el estado? ¿Cuáles son las ramificaciones de todo esto?
De acuerdo con el Centro Nacional para Niños Explotados y Extraviados, el número de delincuentes sexuales registrados en los E$tados Unido$ para el 2012 fue de 747,408, con los números más grandes en California, Texas y Florida.(1) Por consiguiente, también son tres de los estados con prisiones más grandes. ¡Todo sexo es violación!
En 1990s, el Movimiento Internacionalista Maoísta (MIM) se volvió poco popular entre los amerikanos de izquierda por dos razones. La primera fue su análisis de clase, que decía que los trabajadores amerikkkanos no eran explotados, pero que en vez, formaban una aristocracia laboral debido al hecho de que les pagaban más del valor de su trabajo. Los amerikkkanos fueron por lo tanto, considerados como parásitos en el proletariado y campesino del Tercer Mundo, así como enemigos de los movimientos tercermundistas.
La segunda razón fue el sostener la línea política de la pseudo-feminista del Primer Mundo, Catherine MacKinnon, que dijo que no había una verdadera diferencia entre lo que hace el violador acusado y lo que la mayoría de hombres llama sexo, pero que nunca van a la cárcel por ello. MacKinnon expuso la teoría de que bajo un sistema de patriarcado (bajo el cual vivimos), todas las relaciones sexuales giran en torno a relaciones desiguales de poder entre aquellos hombres sexistas y aquellas mujeres sexistas. Así, las personas nunca pueden realmente consentir a tener sexo. De esto, MIM trazó la conclusión lógica: todo sexo es violación.(2)
Esta línea no sólo es radical, sino, revolucionaria por su acusación al patriarcado y a su implicación en el sistema de injusticia. MIM desarrolló aún más la frase de todo sexo es violación, cuando explicó la importancia de las acusaciones de violación provenientes de mujeres amerikkanas contra hombres afroamerikanos y la relación histórica con el linchamiento de afroamerikanos por parte de chusmas amerikkkanas durante Jim Crow. Incluso en la década de los 90, cuando MIM observó las estadísticas para las acusaciones de violación y condenas, pudo deducir que los afroamerikanos aún seguían estando oprimidos a nivel nacional por las mujeres blancas, en alianza con sus hermanos blancos.(3)
Dicho eso, esto no significa que los actos violentos y penetrantes no se comenten contra gente que son oprimidas por su género en nuestra sociedad. En vez de eso, dirijo la atención al hecho de que la sociedad amerikana erotiza las diferenciales de poder, y los medios sexualizan a los niños, no obstante, ambos pretenden abominar ambos. Sin importar quien haya hecho qué, lo que no debemos perder de vista es nuestro enfoque principal: la unión contra el estado imperialista, el enemigo número uno de las naciones oprimidas.
No es secreto que el llamar a alguien “delincuente sexual” en prisión es someter a dicha persona a la violencia y posiblemente muerte. Así mismo, es un hecho histórico que los cerdos han usado las acusaciones de ser delincuente sexual como una forma de desacreditar las voces líderes entre los oprimidos o, simplemente, hacer que los prisioneros tengan en su mira a alguien contra quien ellos tienen un asunto personal. Tenemos que resistir estas tácticas COINTELPRO y seguir uniendo y consolidando nuestras fuerzas, puesto que el participar en estos linchamientos autoinfligidos es sólo otra forma en que los cerdos logran que hagamos su trabajo sucio por ellos.
Mao Zedong dijo, al hacer una auto-crítica, que habían habido demasiadas ejecuciones durante la Revolución Cultural China. En particular, declaró que, aunque podía justificarse el ejecutar a un asesino o a alguien que hace explotar una fábrica, también podía justificarse el no ejecutar a algunas de las mismas personas. Mao sugirió que aquellos que estén dispuestos, deberían ir a hacer algún trabajo productivo, de forma que la sociedad pueda ganar algo positivo y la persona en cuestión, puede ser reformada (4).
Los Maoists creen que los problemas entre la gente se deberían manejar de forma pacífica entre la gente, y por medio de métodos de discusión y debate. La mayoría de prisioneros están encerrados precisamente porque estuvieron involucrados en algún tipo de actividad contra personas, en algún punto u otros de sus vidas. ¿Estas acciones deberían definir a los prisioneros? De acuerdo con el pensamiento de MIM, todos los ciudadanos de los U$ serán vistos como criminales reformistas por parte del movimiento socialista del Tercer Mundo, bajo la Dictadura Conjunta del Proletariado de las Naciones Oprimidas (JDPON). El lumpen del Primer Mundo no será la excepción independientemente del tipo de crimen.
Siendo una película de Hollywood basada en una historieta de Marvel, Pantera Negra se destaca por un tema político abierto y varias discusiones honestas sobre opresión nacional. El largometraje es sobre los Wakandas, una sociedad Africana sumamente avanzada y pacífica. Una sociedad que incluye mujeres fuertes y facultadas en funciones de defensa, ciencia y servicios a [email protected][email protected]
La sociedad Wakanda está completamente oculta del mundo y dirigida por el Rey TChalla, el héroe de la película. Su aislamiento es basado en un legítimo temor al mundo imperialista, el cual tiene una larga historia de opresión y explotación en el África. La solución de los Wakandas fue ocultarse y enfocarse en construir una sociedad fuerte y pacifica internamente. Eran extremadamente exitosos, sobrepasando al resto del mundo en el campo de la ciencia y lo que es más, la película sugiere que Wakanda se construyo con las riquezas de sus propios recursos naturales, una sociedad sin una aparente explotación u opresión. Pero este aislamiento tiene una oposición creciendo desde su interior, de quienes quieren ayudar a [email protected][email protected] del mundo.
Podemos comparar el aislamiento de Wakanda a movimientos revolucionarios que han tomado el poder en un país, solo para verse rodeados de enemigos. En lugares como Corea del Norte, Cuba y Albania, el aislamiento fue una estrategia en contra de influencias externas, pero al final fue también una gran dificultad para estas naciones. Wakanda no encara dificultades similares debido a sus tremendas riquezas, pero tampoco nadie conoce sobre su sociedad avanzada y no tienen gastos excesivos de recursos para la defensa de la propia nación. El mundo piensa que los Wakandas son sólo una nación Tercermundista llena de guajiros (Agricultores).
Lo que encontramos más interesante acerca de la película no fue el protagonista, pero el antagonista, Eric Killmonger, quien creció en Oakland en los 1990s. El padre de Killmonger (el tío de Tchalla) estaba sirviendo como un espía para los Wakandas en Oakland cuando se enamoró de los [email protected][email protected][email protected] con [email protected] quien convivía y decidió que debía tomar recursos Wakandas para ayudar a liberar a esta gente. Por traicionar a Wakanda, el padre de Killmonger fue asesinado por el Rey (su propio hermano), dejando a Kilmonger abandonado en Oakland. El Rey mantuvo la traición, muerte y a Eric, en secreto, que llevó hasta la tumba, siendo la aparición de Killmonger una sorpresa súbita para [email protected] que llevaban una vida idealista en el capitolio.
Eric Killmonger es producto del abandono por [email protected] Wakandas y su crecimiento en las calles de Oakland. Killmonger vio la desesperada lucha que la nueva nación Africana pasaba en los E$tados Unido$ y no podía perdonar a [email protected] Wakandas por no ayudar a estas personas. Killmonger no sólo buscaba venganza personal por la muerte de su padre, sino también buscaba continuar con el sueño de su padre de ayudar a [email protected][email protected] a liberarse. La educación de Killmonger (en MIT) y su entrenamiento (en la milicia Amerikana) fue determinado, enfocado en obtener una posición para controlar los recursos Wakandas a fin de poderlos utilizar para ayudar a [email protected][email protected] Killmonger cultivo la pasión y la perseverancia para llegar hasta la sociedad oculta Wakanda y luchar por el trono.
Killmonger no vacila en matar, hasta [email protected] a quien aparenta querer, para lograr su meta. Pero esto es guerra, y las vidas de millones alrededor del mundo están en riesgo. [email protected] respetamos su enfoque y dinamismo. Porque preguntar amablemente al Rey Wakanda, de entregar algunas armas y tecnología para ayudar a [email protected][email protected], no iba a funcionar. Incluso peticiones similares fueron denegadas, a pesar que fueron hechas por personas influyentes en la sociedad Wakanda. Por esto Killmonger razonablemente creía que la única opción era tomar lo que necesitaba por la fuerza.
Hubieron reacciones diversas a la contradicción entre el aislamiento pacifico contra una revolución violenta, estando en juego la batalla por el trono. Uno de los bando Wakandas (la fuerza de la defensa civil) entusiastamente se unió a Killmonger una vez que les explica su plan de armar a [email protected][email protected][email protected] en los E$tado$ Unido$ y a [email protected] espías Wakandas alrededor del mundo. La propuesta de Killmonger incluía también que el sol nunca se pondría en el imperio Wakanda. Si la defensa civil se unió por razones altruistas o hambre de poder, esto queda a discreción de la audiencia.
La defensa real de mala manera se queda Leal al Trono cuando Killmonger toma el poder, esta por la obediencia a las tradiciones conservadoras más que alguna otra cosa. La defensa real rápidamente cambia de bando cuando se suscita una justificación técnica – el duelo por el trono no había acabado, porque TChalla estaba vivo. Este bando de la milicia fue hecho para ser héroes, pero [email protected] estaban defendiendo a un Rey que mantenía el aislamiento en contra de un Rey que quería ayudar a [email protected][email protected] del mundo.
Sin embargo, hay otro ángulo que está representado por el interés amoroso de TChalla, Nakia, una espía quien trabaja entre [email protected][email protected] y víctimas del tráfico humano. Ella obstinadamente rechazó la oportunidad de ser reina, para poder continuar con su tan importante trabajo ayudando a la gente fuera de Wakanda. Aunque ideológicamente Nakia tenía mucho en común con Killmonger, por lo menos en oponerse al aislamiento Wakanda y en querer liberar a la gente oprimida mundialmente, se mantuvo fiel a Tchalla. Nakia, como [email protected][email protected] Wakandas, estaba principalmente en contra de la estrategia de Killmonger de enviar armas y armamentos alrededor del mundo entero, y los sentimientos personales hacia TChalla eran un factor influyente.
En la estrategia de Killmonger de solucionar la opresión imperialista había muchos problemas estratégicos, incluyendo la falta de liderazgo o de un movimiento de liberación para tomar el cargo de la milicia y los recursos tecnológicos que estaba ofreciendo. Es difícil ver como entregar armamento a [email protected][email protected][email protected] va a llevar a la libertad. De hecho esas armas pudieron haber caído en manos de [email protected] imperialistas, lo cual, - a diferencia de tradición y "no es nuestra forma" – fue la primera justificación que TChalla dio y otras para mantener Wakanda oculta al mundo.
Al final el rey [email protected] gana, pero aprende que tiene una responsabilidad con las personas del mundo. En perspectiva el cambio de Tchalla de seguir ciegamente el camino de su padre en mantener la tradición en un pedestal, se da en gran parte por el descubrimiento del secreto familiar. La aparición de Killmonger es un gran giro para TChalla. TChalla llega a ver a Killmonger como [email protected][email protected] el cuál fue [email protected] por las manos de su padre. Tchalla ve cómo el adherirse a las tradiciones y el aislamiento en realidad enajena a las personas, tal como al pequeño Eric, quien TChalla siente debe de alguna manera ser incluido bajo la protección de Wakanda en ayudar y asistir.
De esta manera, TChalla al final a llega a estar de acuerdo con Nakia y Killmonger que Wakanda tiene una obligación moral de compartir su conocimiento. Desafortunadamente, a pesar de todos [email protected] espiás internacionales de Wakanda, el Rey TChalla fracasa en correctamente evaluar el equilibrio de fuerzas, y [email protected][email protected] y [email protected][email protected] de [email protected][email protected] La última escena de la película muestra a TChalla dando un discurso en las Naciones Unidas (N.U.), anunciando que Wakanda comenzará a compartir su tecnología y conocimientos con el mundo. Él también compra varios edificios en Oakland, California para abrir los primeros centros Wakanda de educación y alcance para la juventud.
Si TChalla realmente hubiese querido ayudar a [email protected][email protected] del mundo, él podía utilizar la tecnología Wakanda de poder quedar ocultos a plena vista y la reputación de ser una nación agrícola no riesgosa para armar una fuerza armada en secreto – bajo las aguas – para luchar a [email protected] opresores por el doble control y luego liberar, incluyendo poner fin al capitalismo. En vez de haber ido a la N.U. y anunciar "¡Oye! !Nos estamos organizando y haciendo cosas extraordinarios que pueden amenazar su poder! !Vélenos de cerca!" Él pudo haber hecho esto discretamente y con éxito. Al parecer TChalla deja de ser conservador para ser liberal y no da el paso a ser verdaderamente revolucionario.
The primary problems and concerns I have for women prisoners that reside in Gatesville, Texas are the following:
Extreme deadly heat: The metal walls on our cubicles, metal bunk and tables are burning our skin to the touch (i.e. arm, face, legs, feet, etc.). The building made out of metal and cement is cooking us alive!
Poor ventilation: The hot air that does come in thru the sparse vents and small windows is burning our lungs and cooking our organs, to the point that it feels like suffocation. (The fan that is sold to us on commissary feels like blowing fire to our face and bodies).
Medical neglect: Unethical, unprofessional, abusive, retaliative, cruel, prejudistic, threatening, neglectful, deliberately indifference, inhumane (violating 8th amendment). Note: women are dying due to this medical neglect – none were sentenced to death penalty.
Suicide encouragement by CO staff and security: Taunting, coercion, verbal abusive, bullying, extreme heat, neglectful mental counseling, prolonged exposure to segregation contribute to this problem.
Mal-nourishment and food deprivation: Incorrect amount of portions served to women, excessive amount of "Johnnys" served daily and 3 times per day (with no fruit, no vegetables, nor drink when Johnnys served). The "milk" that is served at chow is not properly made. It looks more like dirty water. Lack of proper nutrition is causing a myriad of diseases, illnesses, bone deficiency and/or death for incarcerated women.
Black mold: Showers/toilet stalls are grossly infested with this killer mold, which causes headaches, ailments, debilitating the already weak immune system that is caused by lack of healthy nutrition. Mold is getting in our lungs and colonizing – this is verified with chest x-rays and shows granuloma.
Sexual harassment: Cameras are pointed directly into cubicles. We are continuously being called bitches, skanks, cunts, hoes, sluts, dope heads, crack whore, dumb ass and fuck you. (Please note, rank and COs equally do this.)
Unsanitary conditions: Captain Dixon, kitchen CO, makes the women combine all the leftover used kool-aid by other women to be drank by women that are showing up to chow hall to eat. This is causing cross-contamination, illnesses, spreading diseases, health put at risk daily. (Note: no gloves, no proper PPE, reusing 1-time-use hair nets, and being served by women that have poor hygiene, carry Hepatitis, HIV and other diseases.) This is illegal.
No outdoor recreation: Due to the claim that there is short staff, or no staff, we are continuously denied sunlight and fresh air. This neglect is causing our health problems to exacerbate, hair fall out, skin develop psoriasis. Our skin is pruning.
Immigrant discrimination: No rehabilitation opportunity, no education/vocational/college opportunity because of our nationality and/or our legal status. No TV channels in our Spanish language, and no interpreters available.
We need your advocacy so that we receive the correct and legal conditions and medical treatments. Please note that none of us women prisoners were sentenced to the death penalty, but yet many women have died due to cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners in this unit. We have dubbed these units "the Texas holocaust" because of the horrific and sadistic living conditions.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The horrible conditions listed above exist throughout the the United $tates prison and jail system, in some facilities and states more or less than others. MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within have an analysis of why the U.$. government tolerates and encourages these conditions, namely to perpetuate a system of social control. You can find this analysis scattered through Under Lock & Key.
We encourage our subscribers to also think more deeply about these problems. Reporting on the conditions is just the first step in our struggle. Ask yourself, what do you think are the reasons for the horrible conditions at Lane Murray Unit, and at the facility where you are held. What is it about our society that makes this possible? And what can we do to change it? What has been tried in the past, and what has had relative success? What has failed? Why? What is one thing you can do today to work to the end of the conditions listed above? How does that one action relate to a long-term strategy to resolve the conditions laid out in this letter from Lane Murray Unit?
It is through this sort of analysis that we can build correct revolutionary theory and practice. So we encourage our readers to discuss these questions with others at your unit, and send us your answers to these questions so we can continue the dialogue.
The Western press often aims the disparaging term "labor camps" at Asia and the former socialist countries of the world. Yet, with the largest prison population in the world, it should not be surprising that it is the Amerikans who have more prisoners working for them than any other nation. And their labor subsidizes the cost for Amerikans to maintain a highly structured and institutionalized system of national oppression in this country.
While prisons do "cost" taxpayers money, Amerikans benefit directly, indirectly and psychologically from the criminal injustice system. There is a lot of money being made off the system, not by exploiting prisoner labor, but in the form of public employee salaries. In Pennsylvania, for instance, prison guards are among the state's highest paid employees.(1) And in many states these jobs are so important, the guard unions will successfully fight against any prison closures, even when there aren't enough prisoners to fill the cells. Meanwhile, prisoners are doing much of the maintenance work in these institutions, for little or no pay. In the vast majority of U.$. prisons, the state would need to hire more people if they couldn't use prisoners to help with prison operations.
In this article we will look at the relationship between prisoner labor and the cost of running prisons. Our goal is to understand what work prisoners are doing, what they are being paid, what the impact of that work is, and how battles around prisoner labor can be a progressive part of the fight against the imperialist criminal injustice system.
This winter MIM(Prisons) conducted a survey of ULK readers regarding prison labor, in part in response to many organizations' recent focus on this topic. The results are what we believe to be the most comprehensive dataset on prison labor in the United $tates.
In our 2009 issue on this topic, we reported on prison labor in 11 states and the Federal system, representing over half the country's prison population. In 2018, we received reports from 20 state systems and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. This survey far exceeds our 2009 survey in content and consistency. This article will present our preliminary results, with the full report to come in a later, more in-depth publication on the economics of the U.$. prison system.
How many prisoners have jobs?
Overall, 44% of prisoners have a job assignment, which includes school and other programming in some states. This varied greatly between prisons, from less than 1% to a maximum of 100% where working is mandatory. Of those who do work, most are engaged in work related to maintaining the prison itself.
What do prisoners do?
The chart below shows results from our survey showing at least 63% of prisoners engaged in prison maintenance. There is a significant "Other" category that may or may not fall into prison maintenance. While our survey results so far show 25% of prisoners working in agriculture or industry, this does not correspond with other information available. UNICOR, the state-run industries for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), accounts for less than 7% of those held by the BOP. Yet UNICOR is the biggest user of prisoners in the country, with half the revenue of all other state-run industries combined.
While our results confirmed a majority working in maintenance of prisons, we believe this to be greatly underestimated and will work to refine our figures. Meanwhile the three biggest prison states only use 2-6% of their prison population in their state-run industries.
How much are prisoners paid?
Working prisoners mostly fall into two categories: prison maintenance and state-owned industries. The latter generally offers higher wages. Below are averages for all U.$. prisons from a Prison Policy Initiative survey of state agencies(2):
Our statistical analysis of low and high wages by state matched up quite closely with the Prison Policy Initiative survey, with many states being right on. This helped us confirm the numbers reported by our readers, and substantiates the Prison Policy Initiative data set, which covers every state and comes from state sources.
From our data we can say that almost half of prisoners who work in the United $tates make $0.00. Generally in lieu of pay, 43% of jobs in our survey offer credits of some sort (usually promising time off their sentence). Though states like Texas are notorious for these credits being meaningless or not applied. About 11% of prisoners who work do so for neither pay nor even the promise of credits, according to our preliminary results.
Who do prisoners work for?
The portion of prisoners working for private industries is very small. We've long been frustrated with the outdated, self-referential, or complete lack of citations used by most when writing about private companies using prison labor.(3) Our initial results only returned 4.3% of prison jobs being attributed to a private company, and of those who produce a product, 1.8% being sold to private companies. While we will continue to tally and interpret our results, these are in the ball park of what we can infer from a literature search of what is going on in prisons across the United $tates.
As John Pfaff pointed out in eir book Locked
In, “Public revenue and public-sector union lobbying are far more important [financial and political engines behind prison growth].” These state prison industries are becoming sources of revenue for state budgets. This could be worse than private corporations lobbying for more imprisonment. It's the very state that decides policy that is directly benefiting financially.
A U.$. Proletariat?
Of all the so-called "workers" in the United $tates, prisoners, along with non-citizen migrants, are some of the only people who face working conditions comparable to the Third World. OSHA has no real ability to enforce in prisons, and in some cases prisoners do hazardous jobs like recycling electronics or the tough field work, that many migrants perform. A recent expose of a "Christian Alcoholics & Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR)" program in Oklahoma documented that prisoners were promised drug treatment but when they joined the program were forced to work in chicken processing plants. The prisoners suffered gnarled hands, acid burns, injuries from machines and serious bacterial infections.(4) While this is only a tiny minority of prisoners, the fact that they are susceptible to such conditions does speak to the closeness this class of people is to the Third World proletariat.
While at first glance the pay rates above clearly put U.$. prisoners with full time jobs in the exploited classes, we must consider that by default prisoners' material needs are covered by the state. However, there are still some basic needs that are not covered in many prisons. Many prisoners face conditions with insufficient food, exorbitant co-pays for medical care, and a requirement to purchase hygiene items, educational materials and other basic necessities. And for the lumpen who don't have money in the bank or families who can cover these needs, pay for work in prison is essential.
Labor Subsidizes State Budgets
But even where prisoners are expected to pay for these basic necessities and are not paid enough to cover the costs, we don't find net profit for the state. In spite of prisoners' work, facilities are still run at a huge financial loss to the state, and profits from prisoner labor are going to subsize the state budget. Sure lots of individual guards and other prison staff are making good money, and corporations are also cashing in by selling products to the prison and to prisoners. But none of this is coming from prisoner labor. Prisoner labor is just helping to cut the costs a bit for the state. Below we lay out our calculations on this question.
Ultimately, we're talking about a criminal injustice system that costs $80 billion a year. There are profits from the 4.3% of prisoners who work for private industries. But most of the revenue comes from state-run prison industries. These state-run industries bring in a revenue of $1.5 billion a year.(5) At a generous profit rate of 10%, that would be $150 million in net gain, or 0.2% of costs. Because so many prisoners aren't paid or are paid very low wages we could even double that profit rate and still have a very small gain relative to the cost of prisons.
Another way to look at this calculation is to consider the costs to house one prisoner compared to the potential revenue they generate when working full time. It costs about $29k/yr to house a Federal prisoner. If these prisoners are leased out to private companies for $10/hr and the state keeps all the money, the state only makes about $20k, still losing money on the deal. Obviously, when the state undercharges for labor, private companies can make a profit. But that profit is subsidized by the state, which has to pay for prisoners housing and food, with the greatest expense being in how to actually keep people locked inside.
We can also calculate savings to the state from prisoner labor using our survey numbers. We chose $10 per hour below as a rough compromise between the Federal minimum wage, and a typical CO's hourly wage. In reality, no U.$. citizen would work maintaining prisons for minimum wage. And a negligible number of COs would bring themselves to do something "for" prisoners, such as cleaning their showers. If non-prisoners were needed to maintain prison facilities, we suspect only migrant workers would be up for this task.
Another consideration is that jobs in prison are mostly used to keep people busy (i.e. keep people not reading, and not organizing). If paying "freeworld" people to do these jobs, they would certainly hire many fewer employees than they have prisoners doing the same tasks.
These calculations are primarily to demonstrate magnitude, not actual budget projections.
62% of 800 thousand prisoners (percentage with state-run jobs) = 496 thousand prisoner workers
150 hours/mo work on average * 12 months of work = 1,800 hours of work
So we estimate that hiring non-prisoners to do the work that prisoners do would cost about $8.9 billion, which adds up to an additional 10% of the overall costs of running prisons. That's a sizeable increase in costs, but prisons are still far from profitable. We can add the two numbers above together to estimate the total earnings + savings to the state from using prisoner labor. That total is still less than $10 billion. Bottom line: the state is still losing $80 billion a year, they're just saving at most $9 billion by having prisoners work and earning back another $150 million or so of that $80 billion, through exploitation.
Those arguing that a massive prison labor strike will shut down the prisons may be correct in the short term, to the extent that some prisons which rely heavily on prison labor will not be able to immediately respond. But that certainly doesn't mean prisoners being released. More likely it means a complete lockdown and round the clock johnnies. And historically states have been quite willing to pour money into the criminal injustice system, so a 10% increase in costs is not that far-fetched. On the other hand, states are even more willing to cut services to prisoners to save money. So the requirement to hire outside staff instead of using prisoner labor could just as likely lead to even further cuts in services to prisoners.
History of Prison Labor in U.$.
In 1880, more than 10,000 New Afrikans worked in mines, fields and work camps as part of the convict lease system in the South. This was shortly after the creation of the 13th Amendment, and eased the transition for many industries which made use of this prison labor. In the North prison industries were experimented with around this time, but imprisonment costs prevented them from being profitable. And in response labor unions began opposing the use of prison labor more and more. By the Great Depression, opposition was stronger and the government banned the use of prison labor for public works projects.(5)
In 1934, the Federal Prison Industries, or UNICOR, was formed as a way to utilize prison labor for rehabilitation and state interests without competing with private industry. This protection for private industry was ensured with strict restrictions on UNICOR including limiting them to selling only to the states. This has maintained the primary form of what might be considered productive labor in U.$. prisons. UNICOR does function as a corporation aiming to increase profits, despite its tight relationship to the state. While state agencies used to have to buy from UNICOR, this is no longer the case, making it fit better into Marx's definition of productive labor. Those running the prisons for the state, whether public employees or prisoners preparing meals, would not fall into what Marx called productive labor because neither are employed by capital.
Starting in the 1970s, there has been legislation to loosen restrictions on prison labor use by private industry.(5) (see Alaska House Bill 171 this year) However, we could not find in our research or our survey any substantiation to claims of a vast, or growing, private employment of prisoners in the United $tates.
The Future of Prison Labor
The key to all of these battles is keeping a focus on the national liberation struggles that must be at the forefront of any revolutionary movement today. There are Amerikan labor organizers who would like to use the prisoner labor movement to demand even higher wages for the labor aristocracy. These organizers don't want low-paid prisoners to replace high-paid petty bourgeois workers. This might seem like a great opportunity for an alliance, but the interests of the labor aristocracy is very much counter to national liberation. They are the mass base behind the prison craze. They would be happy to see prisoners rot in their cells. It's not higher pay for prisoners that they want, it's higher pay for their class that the labor aristocracy wants. On the other hand, the prison movement is intricately tied up in the anti-colonial battle, by the very nature of prisons. And to move the needle towards real progress for humynity, we must reinforce this tie in all of our work. This means we can't allow the labor aristocracy to co-opt battles for prisoner workers' rights and wages.
While U.$. caselaw does not recognize prisoners as employees, there continue to be new lawsuits and arguments being made to challenge prison labor in various ways.(6) We see these challenges to certain aspects of the law on unpaid labor as reformist battles, unlikely to have much bearing on the future of the prison movement. It is unlikely the courts will see prison maintenance as labor requiring minimum wage protection. So if changes are made in the law, we expect them to be very marginal in scope, or to actually encourage more private employment. In contrast, the mass mobilizations that have focused on pay, among other issues, are advancing the struggle for prisoner humyn rights by organizing the masses in collective action.(7)
While half of prisoners work in some form, about half of them aren't paid. And this is because an income from work is not a condition of survival when food, clothes and shelter are provided by the state. However, we have noticed a trend (at least anecdotally) towards charging people for different aspects of their own incarceration. The narrowly-focused movement to amend the 13th Amendment could have the consequence of expanding such charges, and actually making it affordable for the state to imprison more people because they are paying for their own needs. While we concluded in ULK 60 that there has not been a strong decrease in imprisonment in response to the 2008 financial crisis, the rates have certainly stagnated, indicating that we may be bumping up against financial limitations.(8) A scenario like the above could undermine these financial limitations, unless they are accompanied by laws prohibiting the garnishing of prisoner wages.
The delinking of Third World countries from the U.$. empire will create more economic crisis as wealth flow from those countries to this one will decrease. This would create more incentive for forced labor in prisons that is productive, providing value for the rest of Amerikans. This is what occurred in Nazi Germany, and could occur in a future fascist scenario here. While we can definitively say the last prison surge was not driven by profits, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen. And if it did, it would be a very dangerous thing. On that we agree with the mass sentiment opposed to prison labor. But to date, in this country, it's been more expedient to exploit value from elsewhere. Even the convict leasing of the late 1800s was the vestiges of an out-dated system of exploitation that was eventually abandoned.
Very few prisoners in the United $tates are close to the means of production. Therefore it is not the role of the prison movement to seize the means of production, as it is for the proletariat. It is our role to build independent institutions of the oppressed. And this has often meant seizing institutions like churches, schools and even prisons in the examples of Attica and Walpole. Ultimately, such acts must build support for larger movements for national liberation. Prisoners have an important role to play in these movements because they are one of the most oppressed segments of the internal semi-colonies. But they cannot achieve liberation alone.
2017 DECEMBER — My beloved comrades at ULK, please take whatever steps necessary to convey this information to your readers, particularly those on the Texas plantations. It is my hope this will move a few to join in this all-out attack against mass incarceration, which those brothers on the Eastham Plantation are being persecuted for.
First, we have launched an attack on the totality of the living conditions on this plantation: double-celling, sleep deprivation, extreme heat, contaminated water, no toilets in the day rooms and rec yard, overcrowded showers. At present we have 5 lawsuits filed and hoping to have 5 more by the first of the year. They are listed at the end of this missive for those who might want to obtain copies and/or file for intervention. I would urge each plantation to file because each plantation has different violations, which in their totality are cruel and unusual.
Next, we have launched an at attack on the symbiotic-parasitic-relationship between Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) and the American Correctional Association (ACA). Last year we sent numerous letters to the ACA headquarters in Virginia with various complaints including the delayed posting of scheduled audits. Apparently someone was moved to do the right thing. Then notices for the January 2018 audit were posted here in October. As a result, we of the Community Improvement Committee (CIC) here on the unit have sent petitions with hundreds of names with numerous complaints of ACA violations and requests for a Q&A in the gym or chapel. This is being done with individual letters as well. Plus, we have sent the actual notice to various reform organizations requesting them to visit the unit during the audit and act as overseers pointing out particular areas of violations such as the giant cockroach infestation beneath the kitchen.
Next we have and intend to continue to urge the public to stay on top of their legislators to change the law, making it mandatory that prisoners be compensated for their labor.
Finally, we have filed an application for Writ of Habeas Corpus requesting to be released immediately due to the fact that the time sheet shows one has completed 100% of his sentence – that even without the good time, the flat time and the work time equals the sentence imposed by the court. In addition we are drafting something similar for those sentenced under the one-third law. We are submitting to the court that these prisoners have a short-way discharge date. The application for Writ of Habeas Corpus was first filed in the state court in Travis County and denied without a written order in the Texas court of criminal Appeals (#WR-87,529-01 Tr.Ct. No. D-1-DC-02-301765A). We are now in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District Tyler Division (McGee v Director, #6:17cv643). This info is supplied so that those with the means may download the info and/or keep track of the case. The following are the case numbers for the totality of living conditions complaint, which is also in the U.S. District in Tyler:
Walker v. Davis, et al., #6:17cv166
Henderson v. Davis, #6:17cv320
Douglas v. Davis, #6:17cv347
Burley v. Davis, #6:17cv490
The Devil whispers: "You can't withstand the storm"
The Warrior replied: "I am the storm." - The Mateuszm
MIM(Prisons) responds: These comrades are pushing the struggles to improve conditions inside Texas prisons along its natural course. Countless prisoners have sent grievances, grievance petitions, letters to the Ombudsman, letters to elected officials, and letters to various TDCJ administrators on these same issues. We have seen some victories, but mostly we've had barriers put in our way.
The next step laid out for us is to file lawsuits, which is another kind of barrier. Lawsuits take years and sometimes decades to complete, and innumerable hours of work. When we do win, we then have to go through additional lawsuits to ensure enforcement. And on and on it goes...
If we expect the lawsuits to bring final remedy, we must be living in a fantasy. A quintessential example of how the U.$. government behaves regarding lawsuits can be seen in how it totally disrespects treaties with First Nations. When the U.$. government, or its agencies, doesn't like something, they don't really give a shit what the law says. This has been true since the beginning of this government. We don't see any evidence that this will ever change.
Yet, lawsuits aren't all bad. They can sometimes create a little more breathing room within which revolutionaries can operate. Lawsuits can also be used to publicize our struggles, and to show just how callous the state is, if we lose.
Yet, most importantly, lawsuits keep comrades busy. Before any lawsuit, there needs to be a solid analysis of winability, and the likelihood of other options. While we are relatively weak as a movement, lawsuits are a fine option, and building a movement around these lawsuits will give them strength. But if your legal strategy doesn't also include building up collective power to eventually protect people without petitioning the state to do it, then your legal strategy is as useless as a feather in a tornado.
The comrades fighting these battles inside Texas have done a great job of spreading the word to outside organizations to garner support and attention for their lawsuits. We support their efforts to make Texas prisons more bearable for the imprisoned lumpen population, and we support their efforts to link these lawsuits to the greater anti-imperialist movement. And when they decide that lawsuits aren't enough to bring a real change in conditions, we'll support that too.
The U.$. legal system's role is to keep the United $tates government as a dominant world power, no matter what. The extreme heat in Texas prisons isn't just an oversight by administrators. And it's not even just about racism of guards. It is directly connected to the United $tate's role in the oppression and repression of oppressed nations across the world. If the legal system fails, don't give up. Try something else to bring it down. Lawsuits are not the only option.