I’m definitely looking forward to receiving more material that will benefit me in my growth in our movement. Of course the prison library here has nothing that is intellectually or politically stimulating. Any military or political writings are pro-amerikan imperialist, and only bitch about how the long-haired commies and commie sympathizers are tearing the fabric of this great country asunder. Blah Blah Blah!…
So a little background info that led to my radicalization, the charge that led me to prison is a murder in the 1st degree which is a life without parole sentence of 60 years at 100%. So I got tweaked on crystal meth, stayed awake for 16 days and unfortunately an innocent person lost their life.
Upon coming to prison my give a fuck button was busted. I felt like I had nothing to live for so I spent my time chasing dope and trying to remain numb. Also I’ve dealt with being a closeted pan-sexual since I was 12 years old. Prison was hard for me at the beginning. All of these bullshit prison politics revolve around race and I didn’t fit in with the “Aryans” so I constantly got jumped and beat up by them and then the gang bangers all saw me as an easy target cause I wasn’t cliqued up with the whites. So I spent my days trying to dodge these assholes and trying not to draw attention to my self. I started noticing how the pigs here were playing bullshit games and turned inmates against one another and stirring up confrontations that led to wars and bloodshed. Also I was slowly building up courage to “come out” and not give a fuck what others think of me.
I began to notice how narrow-minded bigoted pigs and inmates were both marginalizing people of the LGBTQ community. Along with all this, I started paying attention to politics ever since the people of the United Snakes decided to elect a fucking pompous troll for our president. Before this I never really had an interest in politics, but something clicked in me as I kept seeing innocent minorities being basically fucking murdered by the law enforcement who’s supposed to protect us. The blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community by these evangelical Jesus freaks and the draconian bullshit our “corruptor in chief” was trying to push against us. I got sick of Islamaphobia, systematic racism, fucking garbage Nazis, all of their shit.
One day I saw a live report from a “pro Trump” rally, out in the midst of all these bigot bitches I saw these radical comrades from “Antifa” rallying against these fuckers and I started to do a little research with what limited sources I have and I got turned on to radical/revolutionary material and it hit me: this is what I was supposed to do.
My first step or personal liberation was “coming out,” than I realized I’m in a prime breeding ground of people who’ve been marginalized, demonized, and all together left behind by most of society. A lot of these people (including me) have no idea how to cut the foot off that’s constantly trying to be placed upon our necks. If a single person like myself can acquire the proper knowledge and put it to use, I have the ability to reach people and get them to see who the real oppressors are!
I’ve studied various people who have had a major influence on me: Weathermen, SLA, Malcolm X, etc. etc. and I’m trying like hell to get a full, well-rounded understanding of Maoist thought and the communist philosophy. And with that knowledge, there is no limit to who I can reach!
So that’s pretty much the way I was liberated from my own mental prison. I most definitely agree that drug use in prison is not only encouraged but it’s running fucking rampant! The two main things that are dealt are Suboxone and “bath salts.” Suboxone is basically the U.S. government and big pharma’a sleezy way to extort recovering addicts by getting them hooked on the “miracle drug” that is supposed to cure them. “Bath salts” is the same shit that’s reported in the news making people eat other people like zombies! So you can imagine the effects of a drug like that in a place that’s hyper violent and full of testosterone already.
I’m looking very forward to the next bit of material coming from you and I’m very excited and grateful to have been accepted into the study group. You know prison can most times feel like hell when you feel alone. With no type of purpose or meaning to your existence.
Well that’s where I stop the line. I want to not only educate myself and better my own situation, I want to give other people the tools to help themselves. This prison is unfortunately my life, so I want to spend my time fighting and advocating for every single thing that we are entitled to and raise hell until we get it! We must unite and educate before we can be liberated from these fascist fucks!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are excited for the fresh energy into revolutionary organizing that the Trump administration has brought. Most people stop at the call for simply getting rid of Trump, bringing back Obama, maybe shifting to Bernie or Hilary, and they are satisfied. The liberal media putting Trump on blast, plus the very visual images of Antifa activists, has helped some people see the atrocities that the Unites Snakes government has been doing all along. Seeing the difference between patriotic reformism and revolutionary communism is a crucial step in opposing the marginalization and oppression that Trump represents. Trump’s persona is unique, but eir policies and practices are not.
Seeing the difference between organizing against Trump and organizing against Amerikkka is an extremely important part to organizing against fascism. Where many people would prefer a Bernie-type of government, with more benefits for U.S. citizens with absolutely abhorrent internationalism, we see that trend in so-called “revolutionary” organizing actually a trend toward fascism. Where our comrade uses the term “fascist” in eir letter to be a persynality criticism, we prefer to use it to refer to an economic, social, and military system. We see a Bernie-type social democratic administration as paving the way toward a fascist government, that’s not just bigoted and outspoken like Trump, but protectionist and militarized like Hitler. Trump and Bernie are two sides of the same coin, and we must oppose all Amerikanism in order to oppose fascism.
While the common view is that “minorities” (comparatively small groups of people) are being oppressed by Trump, we take confidence from the fact that we’re not the minority internationally. The oppressed internal semi-colonies have a lot in common with oppressed nations across the globe, and more to gain from uniting with them than trying to integrate into Amerikkka. And oppressed people across the entire world would be behind them.
We’re excited that this author, who is just one voice among many, has chosen to unite with us in this internationalist struggle.
On 4 July 2020, 7-year-old Secoriea Turner was fatally shot with her parents present inside the car which she was shot in.(1) Her death has been widespread news in Georgia and has been a popular talking point on the discourse surrounding the oppressed’s action against the racial/national oppression of the United $tates today.
The scene of the incident was the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department (APD) on 12 June 2020. The leading narrative of how the shooting went down is that one of the armed barricaders of the Wendy’s had shot at the car that Secoriea was in.(2) According to Community Movement Builders – the Non-Government Organization who called for building of a “peace center” on the razed down Wendy’s site – there were threats of white vigilante-type organizations coming to the Wendy’s site and the local New Afrikan masses armed themselves to honor and defend the life of Rayshard Brooks.(3)
The Wendy’s barricade was started by the revolutionary spirit of the New Afrikan masses to defend themselves against amerikan chauvinism and so-called “white supremacy.” Members and supporters of the armed masses have burned down the Wendy’s murder site, and graffiti tagged signs of support for the broad mass movement of New Afrikans against occupying police and the life of Rayshard Brooks. Because the masses they were armed; because they received threats of amerikan chauvinist presence; and because of the APD’s presence in Atlanta, a barricade and check point was necessary. Tensions were high.
It is not crystal clear as to how it went down at the hour of the murder of Secoriea Turner, but we do know the broad facts: APD committed an illegal killing of Rayshard Brooks; amerikan chauvinist elements threatened to come to the site of Rayshard Brook’s killing; New Afrikans barricaded and armed themselves from police and amerikan violence; and a 7-year-old New Afrikan child has been murdered among the conflict.
Should Communists Condemn the Barricade?
When the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) implemented a campaign of bombings across Great Britain (primarily Northern Ireland) the masses of the Northern Irish people were tired of the violence from all sides. Out of the masses the petty-bourgeois/national bourgeois elements were especially tired. So the current and then would-be compradors and neo-colonial leaders of the Sinn Fein signed a peace treaty called the Good Friday agreement, in which they ended up condemning the so called “terrorists” of the Irish Republican movement and the violence coming with it.
In the Philippines today, a Protracted People’s War is being waged by communists organizing the peasants of the countryside. The communists have often been declared as the number one security threat by the fascist U.$.-Duterte government, and within the revolution there are elements of the masses also tired of the violence coming with revolution. The Communist Party of the Philippines have been active in calling for a peace deal in past years, but unlike the Sinn Fein of Northern Ireland which abandoned and condemned armed struggle, they did not call for the turning in of weapons by the New People’s Army and instead asked for the killings by the Duterte regime to stop in the cities and the red base areas of the countryside in which the communists had a “stronghold” in.
Both of these examples of calling for peace are from far away countries with different conditions than the ATL, but they are relevant as ever to the international fight against Neo-colonial tactics of imperialism. The violence that comes to the masses with revolution and the contradiction among the people are serious questions communists must be ready to solve in order to overthrow imperialism.
While we Maoists do see the death of Secoriea Turner as a tragedy and our hearts and condolences go out to her family and close ones, we do not agree with the neo-colonial New Afrikan “leaders” actions which have bulldozed the Wendy’s site and the paternalistic negotiation attitudes in which these “leaders” dealt with Community Movement Builders.(4) The comprador-bourgeoisie mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms in fact alluded to the armed New Afrikans defending Rayshard Brook’s life and legacy as “the enemy within.”(5)
“We’re fighting the enemy within when we are shooting each other up in our streets,” said the comprador mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
“We’ve had over 75 shootings in the city over the past several weeks,” said Bottoms. “You can’t blame that on APD [Atlanta Police Department].”
Maoists do not blame the APD for those 75 specific shootings in the span of several weeks. But we do blame national oppression, the pseudo-communists’ inaction in building independent institutions among oppressed nation communities, and the lumpenization that came with the so-called “war on drugs” on the 75 shootings. And we take action to combat national oppression and lumpenization as well.
Going Beyond the Barricade
The failures of the barricade shows the limitations of spontaneity, and the necessity for an organized and self-reliant people’s institution designed to serve the people. There are dogmatic revisionist “Marxists” who claim that the Marxist-Leninist-Maoist theory of an organized vanguard to lead the people’s struggle and build independent institutions goes against the writings of Marx. These “Marxists” claim that capitalism’s decay will naturally rise the people up due to oppressive conditions. Even in the Third World where proletarians and peasants are the majority, and with the writings of Marx and Engels on the Paris Commune, we see that a proletarian power and proletarian state is needed to overthrow imperialism and preserve socialism. And history has proved that ultimately, political power grows from the barrel of guns. Maoists do not condemn the masses desire to defend themselves from white supremacist and fascist presence, and in fact applaud it. We just believe that it should be crystallized into a more disciplined focus of serving the people and building independent political power.
Notes: 1. Atlanta mayor says ‘enough is enough’ after girl fatally shot near scene of Rayshard Brooks’ death, 6 July 2020, CNN. 2. Ibid. 3. Greyhound, July 2020, Interview With Community Movement Builders On Their Recent Struggle On the Wendy’s Site, Under Lock and Key. 4. Atlanta Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed gets demolished, 14 July 2020, New York Daily News. 5. Ibid.
Several weeks ago, Rayshard Brooks – a 27-year-old New Afrikan man – was murdered by the Atlanta Police Department at a Wendy’s at South Atlanta. Media reported that armed protestors have set up barricades at the Wendy’s which by then have been burned down and graffitied up with support for Rayshard Brooks’s life, the Black Lives Matter movement, and anti-police messages. On the 4th of July, it was reported that the 7 year old New Afrikan child – Secoriea Turner – had been fatally shot near the Wendy’s site in a car while with her parents.
Due to the tragic death of Secoriea Turner, and the violence that heightened at the 4th of July weekend among the Atlanta masses, Comprador-bourgeois representative Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms declared that the armed New Afrikans must be vacated from the Wendy’s. From then on, the organization Community Movement Builders (CMB) stepped in with regards to showing support and calling for a Peace Site at the Wendy’s. Here is the interview with CMB leader, Kamau Franklin:
1. The armed protestors in Wendy’s have been occupying the site since past several weeks. Have these protestors been part of the Community Movement Builders?
Actually no, these protesters armed and unarmed have been from the local community. They were inspired to act after the killing of Mr. Brooks. My understanding is that some protesters provided security because there were threats of white supremacist coming to the Wendy’s. We were just getting involved right before the tragic shooting of the 8-year-old girl outside of the Wendy’s. Our understanding is that there are competing narratives as to what took place. Which does not make the events any more tragic and has caused the protesters to expand their vision for the peace center to include the young girl.
2. On Monday of July 14th, there have been protests declaring to “Take Back the Wendy’s” and calling for a creation of a peace center. What will the peace center’s role be in the struggle against oppression and the goals of CMB overall?
The role of the peace center is to make sure that community control is established over that property and that Wendy’s is not allowed to rebuild another hamburger chop-shop, but instead something needed and valuable is established in the community. The center will create programing against violence and will at the same time highlight the American role in perpetrating violence on Black people and how we can stop it from happening. For CMB it is important for us that we continue to advance the call for liberated territory (places where the community is in direct democratic control of land, organizations and institutions) and against the corporate and development class with support from city officials who continue to treat working class, poor and Black people as expendable.
3. Mayor Bottoms has declared that the protestors should be cleared out due to the violence that happened in ATL over the 4th of July weekend and that she will no longer be “negotiating” with the protestors. How do you think the actions of “Take Back the Wendy’s” and the call to build the peace center affected this protocol by the city government?
Well the city was never negotiating in good faith. The city was stalling hoping the protesters would go away and or possibly maneuvering to take back over the space. It seems very disingenuous that Mayor Bottoms would hold a press conference with Turner’s family but has never done this is similar cases where people have been killed in senseless violence. Our goal is to keep the pressure on to force the corporate owners and the city to have dialogue over the future of this space.
4. A lot of the news media has covered the reports of CMB’s actions in the Wendy’s site. Has there been any misrepresentation of what the news media have been reporting? If so, what are some misconceptions that you would like to clear out regarding CMB and its actions on the planned peace center?
I think its obvious that the media was looking for violence to break out and was looking to paint protesters as violent. The idea of community control over space as opposed to the capitalist private land grab model is what the corporate media supports and elevates.
After reading your article i was moved to share some insight from persynal experience. Comrade, each locale is somewhat unique, yet there are universal tactics of organizing and consciousness raising that are applicable wherever.
My first word of advice is to be less focused on those who are oblivious. Some elements are comfortable simply languishing while their life is dictated by those outside of themselves or their class. Remember, the amerikkkan experiment creates such a phenomenon and these elements are not individually at fault for their slavish obedience. At least not fully at fault.
Comrade, there is a simple yet profound adage, “organize the resistant.” See, we want to be the mind behind an already loaded gun, not having to load the gun and also pull the trigger. Simply put, observe your peers. There will be rebels in every grouping. This rebellion won’t always be of the revolutionary variety, yet this is why as Maoist, scientific leaders we’re to be the brains of the operation. Influence these cats. Provide direction.
Looking at the current uprisings surrounding police terrorism and systematic racism you will identify your own place in the overall picture. See the masses are energized by their own blatant oppression. Such constant oppression, combined with the economic downturn spurred by COVID-19 has unleashed a justifiable rage against the machine. However, single issue reform groups such as Black Lives Matter, mislead and misdirect the resistance and energy of the masses.
This is where the Maoists are to step up and take our place in history. Where the reformers, and integrationists, who false-flag as revolutionaries, misdirect and mislead, it is our duty to properly lead and direct the resistance and militant energy of the masses. Take that rage and organize into revolutionary productivity. Feed their imagination by allowing them to envision a communist society. Provide concrete formulas and programs that will get us from point A thru B and all the way to Z (communism). When it is being laid out like such, and the masses see your sincerity, that’ll add on.
Now, coming back to the individual organizer/influencer level. Again, seek unification with rebels. Those who’re already fighting the power in some form or fashion. Not everyone writes grievances, nor does everyone have to. Do not get caught up in having political allies meet you on your terms, meet them half way.
Secondly, in Texas, like most prison systems, the lumpen organizations and tribes largely dictate the flow of the prison activities. Therefore as an effective organizer you should make it a priority to build some form of communication line with the most influential members of each group. When you step to them be sure to have an effective plan of action outlined, or at least the beginning of one. Seek their input. In this plan of action you should:
identify the specific problem you wish to solve
articulate how said problem negatively effects these potential allies
in your articulation, illuminate the reality of our collective identity as a prisoner class (this is important because it is the basis of your unity)
Provide a list of possible campaigns y’all may partake in collectively, while illuminating different specific aspects of your struggle, such as there are those who can/may write formal complaints, those who can aid with outside support, some who can aid in physical protest, etc.
Furthermore, specifically when it comes to grievance campaigns, realize that some times you have to do all the work. Write multiple copies of grievances and pass them out to people explaining what the mission is and make it easy for them where all they have to do is sign the paper. After a while, people will become inspired by your sheer determination and raise their own level of contribution. But never, ever, focus entirely on what is not being done by the masses. Instead focus on what you’re not doing to inspire their actions.
For example, you can come to the masses which surround you with something similar to this:
Announce the grievance campaign and what it’s about.
Set a number such as 100 as the goal for grievances on a set issue.
Write the master copy of the Step 1 yourself
Circulate it around the cell block, around the building, at education, religious services, etc
Again make it easy on them, provide copies.
Articulate a set plan of action beyond the grievance campaign. What is it leading up to!? Because, justifiably Texas captives have no faith in the grievance system and thus see it as pointless.
A good plan of action: organize grievance campaigns on all major issues. 1. new mail policies 2. new restrictive policy regarding funds 3. sanitation, etc.
Afterwards you should seek a federal investigation by the U.S. DOJ. The address is in your Texas Pack. Have all the participants mail in copies of all grievances, petitions etc.
Be mindful of the strict limitations of such an effort. The comrades at my locale have done this specifically and i’m currently awaiting the results of a federal inquiry. In conjunction, you may want to build off the unity and momentum by organizing actions that are more direct so to speak.
In conclusion, comrade, i hope some of this will be useful to you and others.
A California prisoner asks: “What are MIM’s thoughts on”Antifa" and what and who are Antifa? Any information you can provide will be helpful, thank you."
MIM(Prisons) responds: Antifa stands for anti-fascist, and it derives from movements in Europe that have a deeper history that we won’t attempt to address here. It’s primary symbol is a black flag and a red flag, symbolizing the unity of anarchists and communists of all stripes in unity against the fascists. “Antifa” is a generic term in the United $tates. There is no central organization, only local collectives. Anti-Racist Action is probably the most active formal group that is akin to Antifa in the United $tates.
The Antifa strategy is one of confronting various stripes of racists, white supremacists, fascists, etc. in the streets and in their communities. When such organizations make a public stand, especially when they organize marches, Antifa will try to make sure there are more counter-demonstrators and will attempt to shut down their actions. The long-time Antifa activists often focus on researching these groups, tracking down their members, doxing them and exposing them.
MIM has never been involved in this type of organizing. Strategically we think it focuses on a fringe element rather than the real enemy – imperialism. Imperialism is murdering people in the streets, locking them away and torturing them, bombing countries, starving whole populations and polluting the world. Fighting nazis in the street does not contribute to ending imperialism at this time. Nor does campaigning against Trump.
That said, if fascism gains traction in this country, then we need to assess when to shift our strategy away from imperialism as the primary enemy and towards the fascists. At that time we will certainly be allying with and relying on some of the knowledge of those that have been following these groups closely for years.
Why is Antifa in the News?
So why is this comrade asking us about Antifa now? Probably because President Trump threatened to declare it a terrorist organization, among other rants against them over the years. So why is Trump talking about Antifa? As the self-proclaimed enemies of all things racist and fascist, the various elements of the alt-right/dissident right/third positionists and racists in online forums have accepted Antifa as their enemy (more on these groups below). Donald Trump rose to popularity in part by following the media outlets associated with these movements and echoing their talking points, one of which is the danger and threat that Antifa poses. Many of these groups use videos of street fights and confrontations between their members and Antifa as recruitment material. (Antifa as such has little to do with the recent uprisings in the United $tates against police murders, though certainly many who work in Antifa groups participated in the protests as well. Trump’s statement falsely implied that Antifa was behind these uprisings.)
The President of the United $tates stated that Antifa is terrorism. In other words, he said opposing fascism should be illegal in the United $tates. Quite a bold statement. One that thankfully received strong rebuke from the majority of the state apparatus at the time. In response to that statement by Trump, MIM(Prisons) joined the calls in the streets that “we are all Antifa.”
Is Fascism on the Rise Due to Crisis?
Since the 2016 presidential campaign we have published a series of articles addressing the question of whether fascism is here, or on its way. An article we published in November 2016, arguing that the crisis that would trigger fascism just wasn’t there yet, ended with, “That being said, based on Trump’s statements and actions, if Amerikan capitalism was truly threatened by the oppressed internal nations, Trump’s open chauvinism would easily transition to far heavier fascist tendencies.”(1) Now in 2020 we had the broadest display of street actions, largely by oppressed nations, seen in most of our lifetimes, if ever in this country. And we have a downward trend in the economy due to declining rates of profit and exacerbated by a global pandemic. So we are in a crisis, and as the threat to Amerikan capitalism becomes more and more real, so does the threat of fascism.
Theoretically, fascism is always on its way in the advanced stages of imperialism. This is because of the inherent contradictions within capitalism that make it harder and harder to extract a profit from the circulation of capital. Without profit, the economy stops under capitalism. That is why the COVID-19 shut downs have been so disastrous. Under socialism, we could cut back production and shelter in place without threatening the future of the economy.
Denying this reality, one of the ideological leaders of the alt-right called on the Trump administration to just shut down the economy for a period and restart again like a long weekend. But capital must circulate, when it does not things begin to collapse like a house of cards. The amount of value being circulated in the realm of finance capital just got a shot of another few trillion dollars by the COVID-19 stimulus bills. This money was created by the Fed from thin air. Most countries would face a decrease in currency value and increase in consumer prices if they did this. The U.$. is depending more and more on international finance capital to come into the country to prop up the dollar and Amerikan consumerism. But if there is no profit to be had, that finance capital stops coming. The reason this hasn’t happened already is that the bourgeoisie is aware that a slowdown in finance capital circulation will lead to a collapse of the system like a house of cards. This is when the all out war option of the fascists becomes the only option.
Parasitism Begets Fascism
Another alt-right ideologue, has recently put out a video denying that fascism is capitalism in decay. Eir thesis is that if there was a crisis in profitability of capital that the system would have to go back to some kind of feudal system and greatly reduce production to restore profits. Since fascism in Germany increased worker incomes and overall production, ey argues this proves fascism was not a response to crisis. This logic sort of makes sense from the revisionist “Marxist” perspective that anyone employed is exploited and that profits don’t cross borders.
The MIM answer to why the capitalism in decay thesis is correct is in parasitism theory. Really, few would deny that Germany’s economic flourishing came from the literal and brutal robbery of land, resources and labor (through enslavement) of other peoples. But similar things occur in all imperialist countries, even if just a bit more “civilized.” We point this out to show how revisionism calling itself Marxism plays itself nicely into the ideas of fascism. And it is through the appeals to a populist class interest of the labor aristocracy that the fascists, social democrats and revisionist “Marxists” all bolster support for imperialism, despite their rhetoric against war or whatever.
Another thing all of these forces have in common is labeling things based on their form rather than their substance. Whether it’s the “Marxists” who see Xi Jinping as leading a socialist country or the fascists saying that Mussolini was opposed to the bourgeoisie, they are putting ideas, words and symbols above substance. They say, “see the leader said this, therefore ey couldn’t support that.” The capitalists, as a class, do not care about the words as long as the economic substructure is still functioning to produce profits. Mussolini (and the King) ensured that it did as does Xi Jinping today. This is the same reason why today every multi-national corporation is tripping over each other to put out statements on and make donations to Black Lives Matter. Yes, there are ideologues within the bourgeoisie, but the class as a whole, in order to continue on as a bourgeoisie, must ensure that profits keep flowing. And if stamping Black Lives Matter all over their website and social media feeds can assist with that, then call Jeff Bezos anti-racist.
Oppose Left and Right White Nationalism
The alt-right is actively extending olive branches to the left wing of white nationalism, specifically those they refer to as “Bernie Bros.” Some in the alt-right claim to have 90% agreement with such social democratic types, specifically in their critiques of capitalism and calls for populist economic reforms and a state that can deal with a global pandemic. Our saving grace right now in the United $tates is in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, as well as the struggles against ICE detention which has also rallied significant support in recent years. The outpouring of support for BLM has been surprisingly strong. Even if the multinationals are just motivated by profits, this is like nothing we’ve seen in our lifetime. Clearly they have recognized where the winds are blowing, and it is not towards the racism of the alt-right.
The fascists argue that they are an alternative to the neoliberal bourgeois order and the Marxist communist order – hence “third positionists.” But Dimitrov critiqued this misconception for the COMINTERN during World War II, stating that “Fascism is the power of finance capital itself.” The fascists argue that finance capital did not and does not support fascism in its rise to power. MIM added to Dimitrov’s thesis in 2005: “It is only the finance-capital dominated petri dish where fascism grows. Today, the labor aristocracy of ONLY the imperialist countries is the”main force" of fascism…“(2) So again, all the groups we mention above, whether”left" or “right” are organizing this class and activating them towards fascism by telling them they are the oppressed and they deserve more.
More on Class and Economic Systems
MIM and the COMINTERN agree on the dialectical nature of class struggle under capitalism as it relates to the phenomenon of fascism – that is that capitalism is identified in the contradiction and interdependence of two economic classes: the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. In this view, there are two paths, or two economic systems: capitalism (of the bourgeoisie) or socialism (of the proletariat). Other classes exist and have their own interests. But they will not shape history in their image. Our world today is shaped in the image of the bourgeoisie, and Marx explained why the future lies in the hands of the proletariat, those who have nothing to lose but their chains.
The petty bourgeoisie (including the First World labor aristocracy) doesn’t have an image for the world. Their ideology is that of the bourgeoisie, steeped in individualism. And because of their varying lots in life, their interests are varied, made up of little groups just trying to make capitalism work for them. They can be united in the nation-building project that involves their nation being on top. But even this will not elicit much sacrifice from this class as a whole unless conditions are quite dire.
When we talk about the labor aristocracy of the imperialist countries being the “main force” of fascism, we still agree with Dimitrov that fascism is the power of finance capital. It is finance capital that gives these tendencies real power. This truth can be seen when you investigate the organizations in the fascist realm. The most successful efforts to unite these petty bourgeois forces and use them towards real political goals are led and funded by millionaires, with access to advanced military weaponry and international connections to intelligence agencies. While there are many small, organic groups that are in this realm, the ones that pose a real threat really aren’t so organic.
Our comrades in prison can understand this dynamic, where it is quite common for white nationalist organizations to have “special” relationships with the pigs, to the point of helping to enforce for the state. Some of our comrades who have served in the military have also seen direct coordination between the military and local white nationalist organizations around perceived threats of oppressed nation rebellions. It’s the same in prison.
From the proletariat comes the true guerilla, who starts from nothing, and gains their tools and supplies by taking from the enemy oppressor. The guerilla does not start out with high-end military equipment, the guerilla earns it. And even before we get to the military phase, the true mass character of the communist camp is evident. Even in the bought off imperialist core, you can see genuine organizers popping up in all areas, fighting for similar goals, from a real organic desire for change and humyn progress. In the United $tates this is fed by the oppressed nations and by the youth and by all justice-seeking people.
The proletariat of the world must distinguish itself from the parasitic populism of the First World labor aristocracy. Antifa has not done this. Antifa is open to militant Liberals because they tend to see this as a battle over ideas in peoples’ heads and don’t have an honest class analysis of what is going on.
The alternative that MIM offers is that those of us in the imperialist countries are criminals that must reform our ways. That the rest of the world wants us to reform our ways and welcomes us in joining in building a new world based on internationalism, humynism and solidarity. The oppressed people of the world must guide us towards true internationalism and not make excuses for the backwardness of the bought-off populations. Amerikans still haven’t made right the crimes they committed against the internal semi-colonies of this land. That is being discussed in the mainstream today. But we still aren’t discussing making things right with the majority of the world that we have exploited, polluted and murdered for the comfortable lives we live here. This is what we see as pro-active anti-fascism. And it’s not about taking on some guilty complex for your ancestors, it’s about saying that you will not pass the exploitation on to your descendants. And this must be part of the current struggles of the oppressed nations here today, or else we will just end up with more exploiters with more diverse skin tones.
The film 13th was released on Netflix in October 2016, just prior to the U.S. presidential election. It is clearly an anti-Trump film, although it is not clearly pro-anyone else. In April 2020, Netflix released the film for free on YouTube. It has been abuzz lately as a “must watch” film in the wake of the George Floyd uprisings.
The title 13th gives the impression that the film will focus on the 13th Amendment, and we assumed it would push the narrative that modern-day prison expansion is motivated by profiting from prisoner labor. We also thought it would be a film pushing people to focus on reforming the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Longtime readers of Under Lock & Key have likely already seen pieces debunking the line that the prison boom was motivated by exploiting prisoner labor. With our expectations from the title, we were pleasantly surprised by the film.
The film first focuses on the 13th Amendment, and explains the South needed labor after slavery was abolished. Where once there were slaves, there were then prisoner laborers. The exception in the 13th Amendment which allowed slavery for people convicted of a crime was primarily economically-motivated. From there, the film tracks prison expansion, which really took off after the exploitation of former slaves had ended, in response to social movements.
How the title relates to the theme of the film may be in that the 13th Amendment satisfied a dominant need of the time – white Amerika’s economic need for Black labor – and white Amerika has been adapting to meet its needs at the expense of New Afrikans ever since. 13th spans almost two centuries of U.$. history, and draws attention to many ways Amerika has adapted to meet its needs, whether they were economic needs or social needs.
13th does touch on the topic of prisoner labor for profit for private corporations, but doesn’t overly focus on it. Is prisoner labor for private profit a bad thing? Yes. Being that fewer than one percent of prisoners are engaged in productive labor for private profit, should we focus on it with all our energy, as if it is the main push for prison expansion?(1) MIM(Prisons) would answer this in the negative.
There are some economic motivations for prison expansion in recent-decades, but not for exploiting prisoner labor. 13th spends quite some time exposing the lobbying group American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) role in prison expansion, as well as its present role in pushing for “community supervision” (read: ankle and wrist bracelet GPS trackers, and privatized probation and parole).(2) The economic interest in prison expansion is in job security for Amerikans, and state funding funneling into private corporations for services. There is a socio-economic benefit to Amerika in draining the oppressed internal semi-colonies of time and resources through expensive phone calls, long drives to visit families, and other exorbitant and arbitrary fees and expenses.
In the end, the audience is left with a call to remain vigilant to what’s coming next. It leaves the focus on ALEC and corporate influence in legislation. A take-away of 13th is that nothing has worked to get the white oppressors’ boot (or knee) off of New Afrika’s neck. Amerikkka just changes tactics, but the effect is the same.
That’s what we’re seeing today with the recent Black Lives Matter movement upsurge. We don’t need a less-funded Amerikan police force. We need New Afrikans to have their own police, and military, AND state to do as they please without having to cooperate with this clearly sociopathic Amerikan nation. On the whole, 13th affirms our view that prisons are primarily a tool of social control, and we will answer the film’s call to remain vigilant so Amerika can’t continue oppressing New Afrika any longer.
I would like to comment on one of the articles in the Spring 2020 No. 70 issue of ULK, page 20, “Feds Threatening First Amendment with New Polices” by a Federal prisoner. Here in the state of Virginia at the Greensville Correctional Center they’ve been doing pretty much the same thing, since about April 2017. We were advised that this was for all security level 2 and above institutions within the Virginia Department of Corrections.
Please find enclosed a copy of then Lead Warden Eddie L. Pearson’s memo relative thereof. I’ve highlighted the most relevant sections.
"The original envelope, letter and all enclosed contents will be shredded in the institutional mailroom….
“Offenders will be limited to receiving a maximum of three, 8 1/2 X 11, black and white photocopied pages front and back to include the photocopy of the envelope. Each item in the envelope i.e., photograph, newspaper clipping, drawing, each side of a letter, etc. will be considered one photocopy.”
A few years since being enacted in Virginia, these policies are now spreading across the country. This means that a lot of the educational materials and resource guides that MIM(Prisons) provides to prisoners of the United $tates are now impermissible for having too many pages or being two-sided (per new Federal rules). The departments implementing these policies claim to be concerned about drugs, when most drugs are being brought in by their own staff. The net effect is that people in prison have less information on how to combat the oppression they are facing every day.
15 May 2020 - During the 2 weeks that came and went since my last report, I’ve encountered quite a bit of backlash. Another prisoner and myself are always reminding these so-called “essential employees” here at San Quentin to wear a face covering. On 14 May 2020 during second watch food service we observed two “essential employees” NOT wearing masks. Upon pointing out the obvious, one (Alwhart) approached the prisoner’s cell who spoke up. Alwhart then threatened the prisoner, saying “Shut up and mind your own business if you know what’s good for you, PC piece of shit.” Alwhart mumbled something else (unintelligible) as he walked away to be confronted by another prisoner about the same thing.
Later, when yard release program was called, Alwhart arrived at the cell of the prisoner he threatened earlier and began the process. The prisoners are required to hand the “essential employee” the items they are bringing with to their assigned yards. The prisoner passed Alwhart a clear plastic ziplock bag containing lunch fruit, bread slices, antiseptic scrub (within its own clear ziplock labelled KOP) and a small ziplock containing a small amount of dry beverage. The first thing Alwhart did was open the clear ziplock, then he began stirring the contents with his gloved hand. As he stirred, Alwhart said to the prisoner he was clearly harassing: “I’m going to search the shit out of your cell too when you go to the yard because you need to learn to shut up.” The prisoner he just threatened for a second time said: “I figured you might go that route so I left you a note with copies of Title 15 3084(g) and 3287(a)(2).” The prisoner continued, “Your threats of violence don’t sway me a bit and you need to wear a mask or I’m writing you up for violating 15CCR 3271 and Marin County’s mandate that all”essential employees wear a mask at their place of employment at all times." Alwhart then threw the prisoner’s searched property back into the cell and falsely reported to the assigned tier officer (Costa) that the prisoner refused yard program. True to form, Costa packed Alwhart’s play and feigned ignorance about the arbitrary yard denial. Sgt. Guitierrez (who also does NOT wear a mask) tactically avoided paying any attention to the unbecoming conduct of the essential employees under his supervision. That’s to be expected. That Sgt. also refuses to respond to a CDCR Form 22 attempting to resolve the issue of the other disrespectful sows in his pen NOT wearing masks.
Some other prisoners in Reception and the death row tier are beginning to understand how the insolence and pig-headedness of these so-called “essential employees” is going to adversely affect the entire prison population. We (death row) are already on an unbalanced yard rotation schedule. There are no visits and no mental health yard program. Once any death row prisoner is tested positive for COVID-19, contact tracing would not require Dr. Bright to shine light on the obvious.
MIM(Prisons) adds: San Quentin has been making lots of news around the epidemic staff have brought there. This began when prisoners were transferred from the California Institute for Men (CIM) in an attempt to protect them from COVID-19. It turned out some were already infected and brought it to San Quentin. And as this comrade reported in April staff have continued to intentionally put prisoners at risk, even after it was clear that the disease had arrived at the prison, violating federal, state and local mandates.
As of 27 June 2020, San Quentin has the most COVID-19 cases within CDCR (614) and CIM is second with 514.
Hello - Saludos y Respeto to all those in the struggle, the struggle is real. I must weigh in on the events unfolding in Southern Califas. Namely the two lynchings, the first in Palmdale CA, the second in Victorville CA. What do they have in common? Answer: the Sheriff’s Department! Both racist! Both departments have a long history of working together and as a political prisoner held in CDCR these are the same two departments that joined forces to try and silence my voice and bring down the AV Brown Berets.
Both Departments have deputies that are card carrying members of the racist Minute Men, the new KKK. And having shined the spotlight on this fact earned me a life sentence for crimes I did NOT commit.
And in both cases there is no doubt in my mind there is Departmental involvement. And nothing can surprise us coming from these two historically racist departments.
In both cases these were meant to send a message to the BLM movement against police brutality going across this nation right now, and to discourage it! The evil and racist regime in Palmdale has a long history of using these tactics to silence the voice of the PEOPLE. And if they can’t kill you, they will bury you behind the wall. And this will not stop until they are made to understand the world is watching and will hold them responsible and accountable for their actions. But the racism and prejudice is systemic NOT only in the Sheriff’s Dept. but also in City Government in the Antelope Valley and Silver Valley (The Sinister Valleys) to a mind-blowing degree.
My heart goes out to the families, friends, and loved ones of these latest victims of these Evil Regimes. I spent years of my life trying to expose the racist and criminal practices of these two partners-in-crime, it has come at a great cost. My family, my freedom, not to mention all my worldly possessions but I will NOT stop until justice has been done, and the Evil has been exposed; because the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the ONE. In the end the TRUTH ALWAYS comes out! We must continue to move forward and not be discouraged!
LA LUCHA SIEGE!!! VIVA LA CAUSA!!!
(Justice for Ro Alvin Harsh)
MIM(Prisons) adds: Six lynchings, 5 of them New Afrikans and one Latino, have been reported on the heels of the recent uprisings against police terrorism.
Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Palmdale, CA is under investigation
Malcolm Harsch a 38-year-old, New Afrikan man hung from a tree in Victorville, CA has been declared a suicide by police and the family
Dominique Alexander, a 27-year-old New Afrikan man hung in a Manhattan park and was ruled a suicide by the police, who later said an investigation continues
a 17-year-old New Afrikan boy was hung from a tree in Spring, TX was ruled a suicide by police
a Latino man hung in Houston, TX was also ruled a suicide after family stated he was suicidal
Otis ‘Titi’ Gulley, 31, a New Afrikan transgender woman hung in a park in Portland, Oregon was ruled a suicide by police
I’m in segregation so our study groups aren’t technically in groups. They consist of multiple people reading the same materials. All these people are people I socialize with but all of them don’t socialize with each other. Some people, after reading the material, write our thoughts and questions on paper then pass this paper around, then allow everyone to read everyone’s answers. Some people just converse verbally after studying the material and raise their consciousness like that.
Now many of these individuals are members of lumpen organizations and street tribes. I myself had been utilizing my Kiwe national identity to influence individuals from that tribe. With this in mind, we know there is a social stigma that comes from mere socializing with LGBT prisoners, especially for members of lumpen organizations and tribes. I myself through “redirecting the gangsta mentality” towards the communist road, have outgrown this colonizer-influenced mindframe and stigma, therefore I of course began dealing with a tranz sista as my comrade. The other individuals in the “study group” opted out, and I understand now that this was because their loyalties weren’t to political organizing nor communist ideology. Many aren’t willing to SACRIFICE within the movement.
Mao spoke on this in his “Combat Liberalism” speech. This sacrifice isn’t always of the physical form. Recently, tribesmen have actively tried to silence my voice and thus negate the mission by slandering my name. In retaliation to these developments the tranz comrade assaulted multiple tribesmen in my defense and thus was rehoused. Comrades, I learned thru this experience that my prior mission to revolutionize the entire tribe or org is damn near impossible. In my analysis the changes of one or a few comrades revolutionizing/politicizing their lumpen org or street tribe depends on the level of structure that group already has. The more structure and organization the better the opportunity.
Maoism is complete revolution in all aspects of life. Many tribesmen and bros aren’t willing to do this or truly act on it. I’ve completely outgrown the lumpen consciousness and this contradiction isn’t productive or conducive to the revolutionary movement. The good news is that the tranz comrade is now a self-ascribed New Afrikan Maoist. And has shown commitment and sacrifice to the movement. The few comrades that we still involve in the study continue to grow politically and all in all – A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues).
MIM(Prisons) responds: What you wrote about converting a lumpen organization (L.O.) to Maoism or progressive politics is what we’ve seen from our other comrades throughout the years. We’ve seen numerous times that when people are trying to make a big shift in an L.O., it doesn’t usually go far. On one hand the L.O.s have this incredible infrastucture that can make big shifts happen quickly. On the other hand, the vast majority of members would need to be on board with such an ideological shift for it to be successful. And the infrastucture that makes big shifts possible is also an impediment, in a way, to even making the shift. Keeping things in the L.O. as they are (especially if it means giving up profits or power) is historically a very difficult challenge for revolutionaries.
Which is exactly why one of the United Front for Peace in Prisons principles, Growth, was included in the UFPP and defined in the specific way it’s defined. “Growth: WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, we recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.”
We stand firmly behind this comrade’s choice to unite with the LGBT persyn and include em in the political study group. Building toward communism isn’t just about overcoming oppression based on capitalism and class. We need to actively work against all forms of oppression, including gender oppression, as part of our mission toward the full liberation of the world’s people.