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Under Lock & Key

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Aztlan/Chicano] [Control Units] [California] [ULK Issue 50]
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Chicano Power Book Tainted by AEH Statement

I received my copy of the book that you sent entitled [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. I found it quite interesting because of its historical reflections, but it also produced a storm of negative thoughts to disrupt my normal tranquility and this is why. In regards to inclusion of the Agreement to End Hostilities in the [email protected] Power book, for the most part those individuals who reside on a Special Needs Yard (SNY) are not the enemy, but merely opponents with opposite points of view and I believe that to disrespect us merely because we refuse to conform to the ideology of those who believe themselves to be demigods is to go against the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Because not everybody on an SNY are snitches who work for the pigs. Contrary to the propaganda that is preached not everyone has gone through the debriefing process. To be real it's only about 10% who actually had to debrief because they were validated.

I don't understand why you would choose to destroy such an educational book with the propaganda that has been professed to be against "the establishment", but has utilized the worn out but effective tactic of divide and conquer for all these years. If they have learned anything from the treatment that they've been subjected to, for all those years, I would think that they would have learned that when you've got your hands full, that the only way that you will be able to grab on to anything new, is to let go of the past.


Ehecatl responds:

Struggle to Unite!

All unity with no struggle is the hallmark of opportunism which leads even those claiming to fight for the oppressed to take up the mantle of oppression as they continuously gloss over contradictions within the broader movement for democratic rights. This is why we must not only unite in order to struggle, but struggle to unite, as only then will the struggle for democratic rights behind prison walls develop to the point that the old prison movement fades away and enters a new stage in its development. This will be the stage in the prison movement in which the prisoner masses finally realize that their oppression is unresolvable under the current system. This will be the stage of the prison movement in which prisoners will give up their illusions of the current system. This will be the revolutionary stage in which millions of prisoners will demand national liberation for the nations oppressed under imperialism.

As dialectical materialists, Maoists are aware that all phenomena develop within the process of stages. The prison movement is no exception. The prison movement is currently in its early, embryonic stage and not yet pregnant with revolution. The Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) and the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective (PBSCC) are still a long way from advocating for the revolutionary nationalist stage of the prison movement. More importantly neither the objective conditions nor the subjective forces of the revolution have been sufficiently prepared for the prison movement to have entered this stage. This is not so much a judgment of the PBSCC as it is a statement of facts. However, as stated earlier, unity without struggle is the hallmark of opportunism and while we support the AEH, because we recognize and uphold the progressive nature of that document in our present stage, this should in no way mean that we won't criticize where it fails to represent the true interest of the prisoner masses. Before going into this topic further however, some background on the [email protected] Power book is needed in order to clarify any misconceptions people have have about who was behind the book project.

To be clear, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán was a collaborative effort between revolutionary nationalists from the [email protected] nation and MIM(Prisons). It was written primarily for the imprisoned [email protected] masses in an attempt to not only educate [email protected] on our hystory, but our reality. It was an attempt to produce a comprehensive but concise work that fuses [email protected] liberation with Maoist ideology. The authors of the AEH did not take part in the production of this book. In addition, both [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán and the AEH were mutually exclusive projects carried out by two mutually exclusive groups around roughly the same period. This point is extremely important to grasp because of the scope and significance of these projects, as well as their correlation, because it speaks to the leaps in consciousness amongst both these groups. This goes to show that the revolutionary current has once again begun to surge in both the lumpen class in general and the [email protected] lumpen in particular. Both the AEH and [email protected] Power represent positive steps in the right direction.

So, while we most certainly believe that there is much room for improvement in the AEH and have said so since day one, we also believe in such a thing as United Front organizing. United Front organizing involves the unification of various groups, organizations and individuals around a common program capable of bringing together as many progressive forces in order to defeat the common, stronger enemy. The result is an alliance which, while not always easy or without difficulties, gets the job done. Therefore, what is required during this particular stage of struggle is strategic and not ideological unity. To make ideological unity a pre-requisite for U.F. organizing will undoubtedly amount to defeat after defeat for the prison movement because not everyone is at the same place politically, or of the same mind. Some people participating in the AEH are New Afrikan revolutionaries, some are for Aztlán liberation, while more are still stuck in old gang mentality; Norteño, Sureño, Blood, Crip. Some are even SNY! And while there are many things that these groups don't have in common there is still one thing that binds them together — their common oppression at the hands of a common enemy.

More to the point, our decision to take part in this United Front comes from the Maoist conception of the principal contradiction. The principal contradiction is the highest, most influential contradiction whose existence and development determines the existence and development of other contradictions. Therefore, it is imperative that all California lumpen organizations and individuals unite and uphold the correct aspects of the AEH, all the while building newer, stronger and more correct foundations based upon the revolutionary aspects of the AEH while rejecting its reactionary aspects. Doing this will ensure that the progressive nature of the document will continue to push the movement forward, lest it retrogress, stagnate and die.

The growing phenomenon of Sensitive Needs Yards in California prisons is itself a manifestation of the principal contradiction within the prison movement; and the principal contradiction is itself dialectically related to the dismantling of the old prison movement and the temporary demise of national liberation struggles within U.$. borders. Many have forgotten that it was the revolutionary impetus of groups like the Black Panther Party, the Brown Berets and many others that originally sparked the revolutionary fire within California prisons nearly 50 years ago. And just as the creation of the SNY was dialectically related to the contradictions within the old prison movement, so should the contradictions that led to the need for SNYs be resolved with the success of the new prison movement. If the new prison movement is to live up to its full potential it is essential that the prison masses learn from the mistakes of the past. This requires that the revolutionary masses behind prison walls begin organizing in opposition to the status quo, as only then will the prison movement truly become a movement of the masses and not one of individuals. This requires that the revolutionary masses begin taking the initiative in revolutionary organizing and that the leadership sponsor and provide safe avenues for the prison masses to organize. If the PBSCC is sincere in its fervor then the masses will see this and work hard for the struggle. Likewise, if the PBSCC and other prison leaders are not sincere in their fervor, then the prison masses will also see this.(1)

The present principal contradiction within the prison movement was identified by United Struggle from Within (USW) and MIM(Prisons) comrades as the parasitic/individualist versus self-sufficient/collective material interests of prisoners. Within this contradiction it is the parasitic/individualist aspect that is currently dominant, although the self-sufficient/collective material interest aspect, while currently subordinated, has been steadily gaining prominence. How this contradiction will turn out is wholly dependent on how the prison movement continues to develop. Will it continue to move forward or will it retrogress?

It is true that the AEH does not conform to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Furthermore, if one reads this document carefully ey will note that the first point clearly states that they are only interested in bringing about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all "solid" individuals, who have never been "broken" by "CDCR's torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing..." Indeed, if the PBSCC is being honest then they should acknowledge that it is the powerful lumpen chiefs who bear the brunt of the responsibility in pushing prisoners into becoming state informants in the first place, and not CDCR. [We can look to examples like the siege of Wounded Knee when the FBI and military terrorized and interrogated the whole Oglala Sioux population and no one gave up information to the pigs. - MIM(Prisons)] Admittedly enough, the principal writers who have been contributing to Under Lock & Key since this document came out should be blamed for not practicing one divides into two politics (myself included). If the writers regularly featured in Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prison) website are supposed to be representing the proletarian pole then it's time we begin pushing the leaders of the PBSCC and their supporters in a more revolutionary direction. If the PBSCC is serious about lessening oppression behind prison walls then they should recognize that they will need the help of SNY prisoners who make up over 30% of the CDCR prison population.(2)

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[Militarism] [Theory] [ULK Issue 50]
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The Importance of Militarism Under Imperialism, and Why Prisons Aren't So Much

A California prisoner wrote: In the article entitled "The Myth of the 'Prison Industrial Complex'", MIM(Prisons) quotes Loic Wacquant, reasoning that "fewer than 5,000 inmates were employed by private firms." MIM(Prisons) reasons that since "there is not an imperialist profit interest behind favoring jails ... the concept of 'PIC' is a fantasy."(2) This reasoning is fundamentally flawed. The definition, relied upon here, is not one used by the crusaders of that movement, but rather, is one attributed to the term by MIM(Prisons). In other words, I've yet to see an advocate who claimed that the entire premise of the prison industrial complex is based on direct prison labor for the "imperialist." The truth is, since there's nothing "complex" about direct prison labor, the MIM(Prisons)-attributed definition severely trivializes the true meaning of the PIC. The term has to mean more.

To avoid further distortions — and unreasonable deduction — let's look at the plain meaning of the term (see Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). (a) Prison, I believe, is self-explanatory. (b) Industry: a distinct group of productive enterprises; esp: one that employs a large personnel and capital. (c) Complex: a whole made up of, or involving, intricately interrelated elements.

In light of this definition, the question becomes does the apparatus referred to as the PIC represent a "distinct group of productive enterprises" that "employs a large personnel and capital," "made up of, or involving intricate interrelated elements"? Answer: Yes, of course. The conglomerate, that is the PIC, consists of hundreds of corporations and unions, including phone companies that literally engage in bidding wars to contract with the prison; the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, their labor union, is one of the biggest in the state, which isn't to discount the plumbers and electricians unions, big food and cosmetic companies, like Doritos, Colgate and many more, all garner impressive profits off of the prison population. Additionally, many small impoverished towns have routinely used prisons to stimulate their economies. And so, per definition, this intricate network of parasitic companies siphoning millions of dollars from both the government and our families does meet the definition of the term prison industrial complex. In a nutshell, while not disputing the facts relied upon by MIM(Prisons) in its article, I believe those facts are being misapplied in this situation. To keep using PIC is not inaccurate or "a fantasy."

Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: The definition derived above from the dictionary is a literal interpretation of the words piecemeal and does not reflect how proponents of the term define it. If you look at definitions by those who use the term they usually allude to a collaboration between government and private industry. As we point out in the article being responded to, the term prison industrial complex is appropriated from the term military industrial complex, which we will take some time to explain in more depth to further demonstrate why prisons do not play a similar role under imperialism. We argue that to use the term PIC is to imply that prisons do play this role that is crucial to imperialism's economic success. Further, despite this critic's claim to the contrary, the line that prisons are profiting off of prison labor is quite commonly presented by those who use the PIC term. (See recent call by September 9th strike organizers for the most recent example)

War and prisons serve a similar role in oppressing other nations to enforce the will of imperialist interests on them. As we all know these days, prisons and torture are an integral part of U.$. imperialist excursions throughout the world.

What is militarism? MIM answered, "Militarism is war-mongering or the advocacy of war or actual carrying out of war or its preparations."(1) But what causes militarism under imperialism and what purposes does it serve? We already mentioned the important purpose of controlling other peoples. But there are other economic benefits to militarism under imperialism that are strong enough to lead humynity to war, to the slaughter of thousands of people. Namely, militarism can artificially increase demand enough to buoy a struggling economy, and war can solve problems of over-production under capitalism through its great destructiveness. It can do this because it is both productive in the Marxist sense, and destructive. In fact, one of our critiques of the PIC line is that the injustice system is not productive at all as the definition proposed by the reader above suggests. This makes it qualitatively different from the weapons industry.

The injustice system is not a productive system. Despite some small productive enterprises within it, U.$. prisons are designed to pay a bunch of people to do nothing while preventing a bunch of other people from doing anything. A large portion of working-age oppressed nation people are prevented from contributing to their nations economically or otherwise. Meanwhile prison guard unions are one of the most obvious examples of non-productive "labor" under imperialism.

As we've mentioned before, the military industrial complex represents a whopping 10% of U.$. GDP.(2) And as most of us know, under capitalism there is a problem when demand is not high enough. It is a problem of circulation. When capital circulation slows, profits decrease, so finance capital stops investing, and without intervention this leads to a self-feeding cycle of decreased production, decreased profits and decreased investment. Not only is production of war machines big, but it is mostly determined by the state. Therefore it becomes a useful tool for the state to interfere and save capitalism from crisis. It just needs to order some more fighter jets and things get better (maybe).

Now, the astute reader might ask, doesn't this create another downward cycle where the state has to tax the people, thereby decreasing their consumption rates, in order to buy all those fighter jets? Well, finance capital has developed much more complicated solutions to this problem than just taxing the people. It so happens that the state also controls money supplies, which of course is a primary tool for such Keynesian strategies for preventing crisis. But in addition to creating money out of nowhere, the imperialists are able to squeeze money out of their partners. In fact, the U.$. domination of military production is one way that it maintains its dominance in the world, controlling 31% of global arms exports.(3)

The Islamic State has been a great benefactor of U.$. militarism, snatching up advanced U.$. weaponry from local puppet forces. They are also the most popular of many strong movements influenced by Wahhabism, an ideology that evolved from Sunni Islam and is promoted by the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It just so happens that Saudi Arabia is the number one importer of U.$. war production, accounting for 11.8% of exports in that industry, followed closely by India, Turkey and then Taiwan.(4) These are countries that are largely able to fund their own military purchases, thus providing a great influx of money to the U.$. without having to tax Amerikans to increase production. So when people ask why the U.$. works so closely with Saudi Arabia while claiming to be fighting radical Islam, this is the answer, along with the fact that Saudi Arabia does its oil sales in dollars, which also props up the U.$. economy. In recent presidential campaigns we've seen Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump campaigning for Saudi Arabia (and other countries) to do more to carry out war efforts against the oppressed to take some of the burden off of the United $tates.

Of course, much of the arms market is controlled not just by U.$. financial interests, but political interests as well. It is not a free market. In 2014, the Amerikans gave out $5.9 billion in foreign military aid, with Israel getting more than half of that ($3.1B), followed by Egypt ($1.3B), Iraq ($300M), Jordan ($300M), and Pakistan ($280M).(5) This accounts for around half of U.$. military exports. So these countries are big consumers of U.$. arms, with the help of subsidies from the United $tates itself. But that money is not just given away, much of it is in loans that must be paid back by those countries with interest and always with other obligations that benefit the imperialist countries.

All that said, the United $tates still spends far more on war than any other country. Amerikkka's own spending is an order of magnitude greater than what is exported to other countries. So our continued invasion of the Third World will be playing a bigger role in propping up the U.$. economy via the military industrial complex than all of its exports ($610B vs. something like $10B in exports).(3) But as long as those invasions enable imperialist profits, incomes in the First World can stay high, and the tax money to pay for war can continue.

Another reader recently wrote in response to another article on the same topic, "MIM(Prisons) on U.S. Prison Economy"(6):

"If it is MIM(Prisons)'s position that the prison industrial complex doesn't generate private profit for some, I would regard that line as practically irresponsible.
"I'm beginning to exit my comfort zone here. I don't have the vast field of data I have examined previously to my avail, but it is my determination that as capitalism advanced to imperialism, market capitalism evolved, or is evolving, toward the monopoly of all aspects of society."

One should not come away from our article thinking that our position is that no one profiteers off of prisons. We agree that there is a great trend towards privatization of state services in advanced capitalism. The first subheading in our article is "Profiteering Follows Policy," where we state,

"Private industries are making lots of money off prisons. From AT&T charging outrageous rates for prisoners to talk to their families, to the food companies that supply cheap (often inedible) food to prisons, to the private prison companies themselves, there is clearly a lot of money to be made. But these companies profits are coming from the States' tax money, a mere shuffling of funds within the imperialist economy."

And we also recognize that many individuals are benefiting from prison jobs. Yet when we call these people parasites, we are told that they are the exploited proletariat. But when we say that prisons are about national oppression, we are told that it is about profits because look at all the money the prison guards are making. The reality is, Amerikkkans support more prisons because they support national oppression. And some of them get paid to participate directly.

Our specific critique of the use of "prison industrial complex" is explained in more depth in the article "The Myth of the 'Prison Industrial Complex'", so we won't repeat that here. But in essence, the PIC thesis is deflecting the critique of the white oppressor nation's willing and active participation in the oppression of the internal semi-colonies for over 500 years on this continent, in favor of aiming attacks at the likes of Doritos and Colgate. Our critic above doesn't address those points, and therefore does not make a strong case for why it is a correct term. We think they are correct in their letter to us when they write, "Believe me, we — the actual 'oppressed nations' — don't care what you call it, just change it!" This reflects the reason why we do focus on prisons: it is a frontline issue for the oppressed nations in the United $tates, who are the principal mode for change in this country. So the prison movement is important in the anti-imperialist struggle in the United $tates, but not because prisons are economically important. The national question does make the current mass incarceration craze unlikely to go away under imperialism, but increased imprisonment is not vital to imperialism's continued success in the way that militarism is. And by having a correct understanding of the role that these things play in the current system we can better change the system.

In eir letter, the California prisoner also suggests that we should use PIC due to its popularity and maintaining the United Front. Well, "injustice system" was popular before PIC was, but some made a conscious decision to replace it with PIC. Those folks are coming from an academic background with a particular political line, and they are no strangers to Marxism. It is our job to put forth the political line of the proletariat in everything we do, which means a scientific and accurate assessment of all things. We do not think that using different terms will deter those interested in combating injustice in U.$. prisons. In contrast, we do believe that by failing to distinguish the revolutionary anti-imperialist position from that of the Liberal reformers, we will hinder real change from ever happening.

Should we only oppose the criminal injustice system when companies are making money off of it? No, we should oppose it all the time as a tool of national oppression and social control.

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[National Oppression] [ULK Issue 51]
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Building Class Consciousness among Lumpen New Afrikans

I have seen individuals and groups develop lumpen class consciousness. It was done using history, specifically New Afrikan history, supplied in books and zines. The zines spoke on political and militant New Afrikan organizations. It was also experienced from grown up lumpen New Afrikans in oppressed kommunities.

Lumpen organizations develop class consciousness among their membership by making it a mandatory study and part of our historical development. Study why we are in the conditions we are in, and it becomes part of studying knowledge of self and our enemy.

A majority of the lumpen only care about themselves, money and things. They become territorial to protect their drug spots and the streets they roam and people they know. Some are aware of their class in how it relates to other New Afrikans who are proletarian or boogee. The lumpen want a better life. They get caught up in a trap of mental depression or hopelessness. That’s why they take their last and buy nice looking clothes and cars. To feel like they have something, to show an illusion.

Those who are not as blessed spend their money on drugs, alcohol and women to escape reality temporarily. We realize the bigger picture when we encounter the pig (cops) occupying force and they treat us like the ring around a dirty bathtub. We feel the national consciousness of oppression when we are in the court room or modern-day auction block and we are sold off to the modern-day plantation called prison. We see walking and driving while New Afrikan is just cause to be stopped and frisked. Then you realize on the battlefield (street) or in prison (plantation) you are a victim of social engineering and you were not given a fair chance or opportunity. You grew up with a higher percentage of stumbling blocks than most people. You're a victim of circumstance because you're born New Afrikan in an environment set up like a rat maze with traps around every corner. This is the national consciousness. We're at war against oppression and exploitation.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good reminder of why we need to focus on education as a critical part of organizing the lumpen. Drawing the connections between day-to-day oppression and the bigger picture of national consciousness can be achieved by presenting real examples from history and pushing people to think about these important connections. Study doesn't need to start with deep theory, it can start with something relevant to the student's life, like the example of Malcolm X becoming revolutionized in prison after learning to read, or the Black Panther's fight against police brutality. But we have to give people the tools to take this information further and build a theoretical understanding of why these things happened and what we need to do today. That means studying the deeper questions of political theory and the history of revolutionary struggles, so we can learn what works and what doesn't. With the first sparks of class consciousness among the lumpen will come an even greater desire to learn, and revolutionaries have a duty to feed this desire with material to study and an opportunity to struggle and discuss and build.

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[United Front] [California]
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FFU Joining the United Front for Peace in Prisons

Our group's name is FFU, or Frantz Fanon University. Our statement of unity is to actively educate "the people", radicalize gang members in aims of putting an end to ALL OPPRESSION.

We believe in having peace amongst the oppressed in working together arm-in-arm. We know that it takes unity to rise up against the power structure that holds us down. Growth is tantamount in the struggle. Internationalism needs to be reached. Independence is what we're striving for.


[signed by the members of FFU]
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[Abuse] [Gender] [Oregon]
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Funded Security is Setup for Target Harassment

After reading "The 2 Strikes Law" article in ULK 49, where the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was referenced, I decided to write the following article about something that happened recently in this prison regarding PREA funding.

Over the fall of 2015 and into the early winter of '16 this prison received more federal funding to implement PREA safeguards including the following measures. Now every unit officer has to display and provide a stack of pre-printed PREA cards with information on how and what to report. The leading PREA investigative Lieutenant at this prison, Lt. Carey, stands around the chow hall to randomly pull individuals over and ask them: "If you are sexually assaulted, what will you do?" Looking for the answer: "I will dutifully report it to you sir, of course."

And every unit and building in this facility has had the restrooms and showers reformed and renovated with large metal stalls and divides in them built from the small welding shop here so that during the upcoming PREA audit this smartass Lieutenant can show the public everything they've done to make sure "inmates'" genitals aren't in constant view of each other or any staff that walk by a bathroom or shower.

This was after doorbell alarms were installed on every unit to alert "indecent" prisoners as to whenever female staff entered a unit, to make themselves decent and to not accidentally sexually assault them or intentionally be exposed when they come around; i.e. when a female staff comes onto a unit to relieve the duty officer and then does a "shower check" to see who on the shower list is still naked and in there. Although none of the female staff seem to enjoy having a bing-bong doorbell ring every time they enter a housing unit, Lt. Corey personally installed most if not all of them, with pride.

But the most scathing display and culmination of target-harassment for generating PREA funding came in these early months of 2016. It's not female officers performing count at midnight, one, five o'clock in the morning and ringing a door bell while prisoners are trying to sleep that generated the imagined need for PREA awareness. It was this: DOC added revisions to certain rules in this state on 5 January 2016, including 291-133: "Marriages and domestic partnership solemnization ceremonies for inmates." which states: “These revisions are necessary to update the department's policies and procedures regarding marriages and solemnization ceremonies for prisoners in department facilities. The rules will recognize same-sex marriages to reflect changes in state and federal laws. The department will no longer transport inmates between facilities for the purpose of participating in a marriage or solemnization ceremony. Married or domestic partnership inmates who reside in the same facility will not be housed in the same cell.

Here is also what happened in January 2016. From one of this prison's units approximately 15 prisoners were taken to segregation from the same unit for alleged "sexual activity" and/or "unauthorized organization." They were all given 120s in seg. 120-day sanctions for the “unauthorized organization” convictions and those who could have been were convicted of “sexual activity” if they were “known homos” or even “suspected homos” if their names were close enough on the shower log to have communally showered together.

Many, or most, of the “known homos” and “suspected homos” were all transferred to this unit in the late months of 2015, to set up this target “unauthorized organization” and inevitable communal-shower-sign-up. Many prisoners lost their prison jobs, incentive levels, etc. for being a casualty of what the officer-pigs refer to as 2016's “Operation Fruit Roll-up.” All to bring more necessity to the prison's gathering of federal PREA funding for the April audit.

PREA information has also now been blasted nonstop on the prison's “information and education” channel since January. When the prison posted the 291-133: “Marriages and domestic partnership solemnization ceremonies for inmates” memo on units in early January, the prison then used that to say “unauthorized – organized” “suspected homos” thought it was ok to come out, so we sent them all to segregation for 120 days and set them up to be “identified homosexuals” for fellow prisoners and staff to “watch out for.”

I was not an individual who was segregated and I do not identify as homosexual, but other prisoners who were D-seged and other individuals who weren't, are too scared to associate with each other or stand up for themselves for successive retaliatory target harassment of this sexual nature. I am writing to bring attention to the korupt and disgusting lengths these pigs will go to, to secure prison rape funding “just in time” for the audit, but nobody is fooled.

This is one of the most disgusting and damaging pig setups I have witnessed and likewise read about. But what now can be done?


MIM(Prisons) responds: This is a good example of the so-called Prison Rape Elimination Act actually leading to more harassment and gender oppression. We can't rely on the oppressors to take action to eliminate oppression. If we want to see an end to rape in prison, prisoners must come together to build unity and peace, and protect one another from any predatory or violent individuals. Of course the guards have the power, and when they are the rapists it is very hard to fight back. Even when the rapists are other prisoners, when this is sanctioned or at the bidding of the guards, it becomes very difficult to fight. But we will build far more peace and security through independent institutions and organizing of the oppressed than will ever be achieved by appeals to the administration or government for protection and new rules and regulations.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 49]
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Uncle Sam's Big Top

Pig Circus
U.$. elections are a pig circus, a tactic to keep people
distracted while the U.$. military bombs the world.

Hark now all you merry souls
and listen as the drumbeat rolls
oh what sounds, and sights abound
come one and all, let's gather round
no worries friends, no danger here
no cause for panic, fright or fear
we're all friends, make no mistake
don't mind these guards, guns, dogs and gates
just follow me yes, right this way
cause in this tent you're here to stay

Now step to the right folks, here you'll see
stacks and rows of new TVs!
such a thrill to sit and watch
these flashing pictures as you rot
now pay attention, here comes the end
as you smile and nod at the message they send,
as they tell you what to want and wear,
on what to spend and when to care,
on whom to hate, and emulate
and who should run this police state
it's all for your own good you see
cause freedom of thought saps your energy
yes, that's it, makes perfect sense
now sit and stare and lets commence

Now once you're done with program phazing
we've something else that's just as amazing
a feast for the mind now, if you will
euphoria! in just one little pill
yes prozac, yes oxies, yes sweet ridalin!
and xannies, and valium and yes vicodin!
we've got benzos and dexos and zicobilafral
we've got shit you can't pronounce at all!
we've got your poison, whatever your vice
opiate derivitives and pharmaceutical ice
we'll fix your brain, your chondriatic disease
your moods, your stress, even your shakey knees
with only the sagest in new medications
designed by private health care corporations
profiteers in big business competition
for capital gain and political position
so pay no mind to that small print warning
pay for your pills and take two every morning

And now that you're passive on new medication
let's move right along to the next demonstration
onward we go into the main tent
just purchase your seating arrangement for rent
oh yeah, almost forgot to tell you
we also reserve the full right to sell you
and to buy you, and steal you
and to enslave you, even to kill you
but never you mind all of that just yet
I'll explain it all later (once you forget)

Now come one and all, to the main demonstration!
it's about to begin, oh what a sensation!
oh what brilliance, oh what drama!
the procession is even being led by Obama!
it's the greatest of shows, the biggest one ever!
the world's never seen such a grand endeavor
you see, the producers and directors who hid in the shade
have learned from mistakes that through history've been made
from Rome to Germany, and even from Stalin
we've studied the pitfalls in which they have fallen
plus with post-industrialist balloons, toys and clowns,
and gadgets and gewgaws, distractions abound
in this consumerist culture, it's a glorious ride!
but if you resist - force will be applied.
now sit in your row, your correct social class station
with your face to the front for the big presentation
pay no attention to the stage hands behind
who are locking the exits and changing the signs

Now the music fades, the lights have gone low
and the ringmaster enters to start off the show
oh what will he do? what will he say?
for what grand gala did we come all this way?
such anticipation and so much suspense
but his smile drops, and now he comments,
"we're sorry folks, but there's been a mistake
truth is, you get jack for the tolls we do take
you've read the signs wrong, yet now they are gone
but since you're all here, the show must go on
so you there" he points to the bottom rung seating,
cracking his whip at those few retreating
"Black folks, [email protected] and freaks with mohawks!
into the freakshow cages with locks!
now don't waste your time and try to resist
cause our bullies are on roid and you DON'T want them pist!
as for the third world ladies and gents
you'll be the labor to prop up our tents
you best not complain, get your asses in gear
as we control you with tactics of fear
don't worry kind Amerikans, no cause for alarm,
just cooperate, I promise, we'll bring you no harm
have a laptop, a smartphone, a "binky" of sorts
a gesture of thanks for being such good sports
we'll keep you medicated and very well fed
we'll play your favorite cop shows and then send you to bed
but don't get empathetic with those in our cages
or we'll send in the drones to drop pies in your faces
can't you see the benevolence of our militarization?
it's all just for you, such insane exploitation
such death to our slaves in third world countries
such death to our ecosystem and our cute little monkeys
and death to you dissenters who don't like our shows
and death to nature, care of money-hungry CEOs
and death to our search for meaningful progression
and human progress itself, by way of oppression
and death to all those that we can't squeeze for money
and death to all those who even look at us funny
as we pump millions in tons of poisonous fumes
into the atmosphere in visible plumes
all so your luxurious leisure can grow
thank you for voting, now on with the show
for the biggest one ever, too big to be stopped
come one, and come all to Uncle Sam's Big Top!

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[Control Units] [Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Waupun Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 50]
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Prisoners Plan Hunger Strike to Protest Wisconsin Long Term Isolation

WaupunSolitary
Waupun solitary confinement cell

Wisconsin prisoners at Waupun Correctional Institution are planning a hunger strike to begin on 10 June 2016 to demand an end to the torture of long-term confinement in control units in Wisconsin.

In 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WI DOC) made some policy changes to their use of long-term solitary confinement. According to the DOC, the number of prisoners in "restrictive status housing" was reduced by about 200 by reducing the maximum time prisoners can be put in control units (which varies depending on the justification given for this isolation). The WI DOC refused to release any information about these changes until compelled by records requests, and the total number of prisoners in control units reported by the DOC is highly suspicious as it is far lower than information gathered from surveys.(1) In addition, Waupun prisoners were not notified of the change to this policy, and months later were still being held for longer than the new regulations allowed.(2) It's unclear if the new policy is being applied uniformly across Wisconsin prisons at this point, but small reductions in the length of solitary confinement sentences will not solve the fundamental problem of this system of torture.

The actual policies are available on the Wisconsin DOC website and include a table listing maximum time in "disciplinary separation" for various offenses. This includes 180 days for "lying" and 360 days for "lying about an employee," 180 days for "disrespect" and 180 days for "misuse of state or federal property." These are all easily abused accusations that prisoners are powerless to dispute. Furthermore, a Wisconsin prisoner can be put in a control unit for up to 180 days for "punctuality and attendance" issues and "loitering," and up to 90 days for "poor personal hygiene," "dirty assigned living area," and "improper storage."(3) The policy also states "More than one minor or major disposition may be imposed for a single offense and both a major and minor disposition may be imposed for a major offense" which sounds like they can just pile on lots of offenses and sum up the total max days in isolation so that prisoners are held there for years.

The demands of this protest include the release of prisoners who have been in solitary confinement for over a year, a length of isolation far exceeding what is commonly considered torture by international human rights organizations.

As one prisoner reported to Under Lock & Key a few years ago:

"I have reasons to believe that these people have no plans of removing me off A.C. ... They have me in the worst conditions in the Wisconsin DOC. ... It is fly infested. I have black worms coming out of the sink. We can't have publications.

"I have been in seg for over 13 years. and I haven't given these people any trouble in a long time, and what I'm in seg for is solely political. I am being punished for organizing for Black Unity and against institutional racism. I simply created organizations that advocated the advancement of Black people and that fought against Black on Black crime, poverty, ignorance, etc. It wasn't created to terrorize white people, as the totalitarian state would have you believe.

"As a result of being in seg I have developed a long range of psychological issues, issues that have left me scarred permanently. These issues have caused some professionals to label me psychotic and delusional among other things. I was diagnosed with Delusional Disorder and am being treated for it."(4)

It is well documented that long-term isolation causes mental health problems including hallucinations and delusions. This technique is used in prisons like Guantanamo Bay to torture military prisoners into making confessions (or making up confessions for the many innocents who suffer this torture). But in the Amerikan prison system this torture primarily serves to slowly erode the health of prisoners who are either confined to waste away for the rest of their life, or released back to the streets unable to care for themselves.

The petition put together by prisoners at Waupun is printed in full below:

Dying to Live

Human rights fight at Waupun Correctional Institution starting June 10, 2016. Prisoners in Waupun's solitary confinement will start No Food & Water humanitarian demand from Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials.

The why: In the state of Wisconsin hundreds of prisoners are in the long term solitary confinement units a.k.a. Administrative Confinement (AC). Some been in this status from 18 to 20 years.

The Problem: The United Nations, several states, and even President Obama have come out against this kind of confinement citing the torturous effect it has on prisoners.

The Objective: Stop the torturous use long-term solitary confinement (AC) by:

  1. Placing a legislative cap on the use of long term solitary confinement (AC)
  2. DOC and Wisconsin legislators adoption/compliance of the UN Mandela rules on the use of solitary confinement(5)
  3. Oversight board/committee independent of DOC to stop abuse and overclassification of prisoners to "short" and "long" term solitary confinement.
  4. Immediate transition and release to a less restrictive housing of prisoners who been on the long term solitary confinement units for more than a year in the Wisconsin DOC
  5. Proper mental health facilities and treatment of "short" and "long" term solitary confinement prisoners
  6. An immediate FBI investigation to the secret Asklepieion* program the DOC is currently operating at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) to break any prisoner who the DOC considers a threat to their regimen

How you can help

  1. Call Governor Scott Walker's office and tell him to reform the long-term solitary confinement units in the Wisconsin DOC and to stop the secret Asklepieion program at once. The number to call is 608-266-1212.
  2. Call the DOC central office and demand that all 6 humanitarian demands for this hunger strike be met and demand an explanation as to why they are operating a torture program. The number to call is 608-240-5000.
  3. Call the media and demand that they do an independent investigation on the secret Asklepieion program operating at Columbia Correctional Institution, and cover this hunger strike.
  4. Call the FBI building in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and demand that they investigate the secret Asklepieion torture program being run at CCI. The phone number to call is 414-276-4684.
  5. Call Columbia Correctional Institution and tell them you are aware of their secret torture program. Harass them! 608-742-9100.
  6. Join in on the hunger strike and post it on the net. Convince others to join as well.


    * Asklepieion is a secret DOC torture program based upon Dr. Edgar H. Schein's brainwashing methodology that in the 1960s was disguised and turned into a Behavior Therapy Treatment program that deals with the literal brainwashing and enslavement of an individual's mind. It retrogresses the individual to the character role of a child and reinforces the need for paternal authority. To achieve such effect the prison authorities, with the help of collaborating inmates, must first break the individual's mind through sleep deprivation and character invalidation techniques, and then, recondition it with Stockholm Syndrom. To see more go to https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/02/16/personal-experience-with-behavior-control-in-a-wisconsin-prison/
Notes: 1. The The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism reports that 1,500 inmates are held in segregation, while MIM(Prisons)'s own survey counts 1,800. These numbers are much higher than what the WI DOC is reporting even before the supposed reduction in 2015.
2. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism, "Maximum stints in solitary cut, but Waupun inmates left in dark", January 17, 2016.
3. Wisconsin Legislative website, DOC code 303.
4. A Wisconsin Prisoner, October 2012, Torture in Control Units for Black Organizers, prisoncensorship.info.
5. see "Rule 43
1.In no circumstances may restrictions or disciplinary sanctions amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The following practices, in particular, shall be prohibited:
  1. Indefinite solitary confinement;
  2. Prolonged solitary confinement;
  3. Placement of a prisoner in a dark or constantly lit cell;
  4. Corporal punishment or the reduction of a prisoner’s diet or drinking water;
  5. Collective punishment"
and "Rule 45 1. Solitary confinement shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review, and only pursuant to the authorization by a competent authority. It shall not be imposed by virtue of a prisoner’s sentence.
2. The imposition of solitary confinement should be prohibited in the case of prisoners with mental or physical disabilities when their conditions would be exacerbated by such measures. The prohibition of the use of solitary confinement and similar measures in cases involving women and children, as referred to in other United Nations standards and norms in crime prevention and criminal justice,28 continues to apply."
United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules), 21 May 2015.
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[U.S. Imperialism] [Idealism/Religion] [ULK Issue 52]
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Guantanamo Diary Book Review

GuantanamoDiary
Guantánamo Diary
by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
2015

Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held in secret detention centers by order of the Amerikan government since 2001, first in Mauritania (the country where ey was born), then in Jordan, and finally in 2002 in Guantánamo Bay where ey is still imprisoned. Slahi voluntarily turned emself in to the Mauritanian police on 29 September 2001; sure that ey would quickly be cleared since ey was innocent of any crimes. Instead ey faced years of torture, through which ey initially maintained eir innocence, until it became clear that ey would never be released and ey could no longer stand the suffering. After that point Slahi began to confess to anything eir captors wanted em to say. Slahi still occasionally told them the truth when they asked directly, but for the most part their stories were not possibly consistent or confirmable since the "confessions" were entirely fabricated. But after ey began to make false confessions and falsely implicate others Slahi was allowed to sleep and eat, and the extreme physical abuse stopped. The details of eir torture will make readers wonder how Slahi held out for so long.

Slahi started writing down eir experiences in 2005 (after ey was finally given paper and pen) and after many years of legal battles eir heavily censored manuscript was finally released by the Amerikan government. This book is an edited version of Slahi's story, complete with the original redactions. The editor, Larry Seims, includes some speculation about what is behind the redactions and documents other declassified information that corroborates what Slahi wrote. In spite of heavy censorship, the released manuscript includes surprising detail about Slahi's experience including years of torture, the clear evidence that ey is innocent, and the Amerikan government's desire for a false confession.

The book is written in English, Slahi's fourth language, one that ey learned in prison in order to better communicate with eir captors and understand what was going on around em. For six and a half years Slahi's was allowed no contact with the outside world and was even hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has a mandate under the Geneva Convention to visit prisoners of war and others detained in situations like Slahi's to ensure humane treatment. For the first year of incarceration Slahi's family didn't even know where ey was, they found out when one of eir brothers saw an article in a German newspaper. In 2008 Slahi was finally granted the "privilege" of twice-yearly calls with family. In 2010 Slahi's petition of habeas corpus was granted by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, ordering eir release. But the Obama administration filed an appeal and Slahi remains in custody.

Amerikan Imperialist Global Domination

The many people who were arrested and kidnapped from their home countries to be sent to Guantánamo Bay underscore the neo-colonial status of those countries. As Slahi explains "November 28th is Mauritanian Independence Day; it marks the event when the Islamic Republic of Mauritania supposedly received its independence from the French colonists in 1960. The irony is that on this very same day in 2001, the independent and sovereign Republic of Mauritania turned over one of its own citizens on a premise. To its everlasting shame, the Mauritanian government not only broke the constitution, which forbids the extradition of Mauritanian criminals to other countries, but also extradited an innocent citizen and exposed him to the random American Justice."(p. 132)

When the ICRC finally got in to see Slahi, the last detainee they were allowed to visit, they tried to get em to talk about abuse ey experienced. "But I always hid the ill-treatment when the ICRC asked me about it because I was afraid of retaliation. That and the fact that the ICRC has no real pressure on the U.S. government: the ICRC tried, but the U.S. government didn't change its path, even an inch. If they let the Red Cross see a detainee, it meant that the operation against that detainee was over."(p. 348)

This book underscores the power of Amerikan imperialism to do whatever it likes in the world. There is no government or organization able to stand up to this power. This is something that many Amerikans take pride in, but this is the power of a people who seek to dominate the world for economic gain. When the oppressed fight back, that power is deployed to squash the resistance by any means necessary. Of course there is a contradiction inherent in this power: Amerikan imperialist domination breeds resistance from the oppressed around the world. So-called terrorist attacks on Amerikan targets are responses to Amerikan terrorism across the globe.

As Slahi noted when ey was watching the movie Black Hawk Down with a few of eir guards: "The guards went crazy emotionally because they saw many Americans getting shot to death. But they missed that the number of U.S. casualties is negligible compared to the Somalis who were attacked in their own homes. I was just wondering at how narrow-minded human beings can be. When people look at one thing from one perspective, they certainly fail to get the whole picture, and that is the main reason for the majority of misunderstandings that sometimes lead to bloody confrontations."(p. 320)

We would not agree that it is just misunderstandings that lead to these bloody confrontations. Rather it is the blood thirst of imperialist aggression constantly seeking new sources of exploited and stolen wealth that inevitably leads to bloody confrontations.

While Slahi is far from politically radical, eir experience educated em in the reality of injustice and the definition of crime by those in power. Writing about eir arrest and initial imprisonment in Mauritania: "So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; it's something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases."(p. 92)

War on Islam

The target of Amerikan aggression changes depending on where there is the most resistance to imperialism. Back in the mid 1900s it was focused on the communist countries, this shifted to the "War on Drugs" and attacks on Latin America in the late 1900s, and then to the Arab world in the early 2000s. Slahi is acutely aware of this latest wave of aggression by the Amerikan imperialists targeting Islam and the hypocrisy of this attack:

"...Americans tend to widen the circle of involvement to catch the largest possible number of Muslims. They always speak about the Big Conspiracy against the U.S. I personally had been interrogated about people who just practiced the basics of the religion and sympathized with Islamic movements; I was asked to provide every detail about Islamic movements, no matter how moderate. That's amazing in a country like the U.S., where Christian terrorist organizations such as Nazis and White Supremacists have the freedom to express themselves and recruit people openly and nobody can bother them. But as a Muslim, if you sympathize with the political views of an Islamic organization you're in big trouble. Even attending the same mosque as a suspect is big trouble. I mean this fact is clear for everybody who understands the ABCs of American policy toward so-called Islamic Terrorism."(p. 260-61)

Slahi also documents the denial of religious practice in detention camps:

"But in the secret camps, the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. Not only was there no sign to Mecca, but the ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Koran was forbidden. Possessing the Koran was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic-related ritual was strictly forbidden. I am not talking here about hearsay; I am talking about something I experienced myself. I don't believe that the average American is paying taxes to wage war against Islam, but I do believe that there are people in government who have a big problem with the Islamic religion."(p. 265)

Slahi misses that this chauvinism is not at root a problem Amerikans have with the Islamic religion. Rather it is a problem they have with oppressed people who rise up to oppose Amerikan imperialism. Islam is just one of many targets because it is a religion of the oppressed. The Amerikan government (and its people) had no problem with Islam when al-Qaeda was an ally in the fight against communism. In fact Slahi himself trained with al-Qaeda for six months in Afghanistan, but this was during the time when that group was supported by the Amerikan government and fighting against the Soviet-backed government in that country. This action was legal for Mauritanian citizens, and in fact encouraged by the Amerikan government. Nonetheless this fact became one of the cornerstones of the Amerikan insistence that Slahi was behind the World Trade Center attacks, among other things.

Will Amerikans Oppose Torture?

After years of torture and unjust imprisonment at the hands of the Amerikan government Slahi remains relatively moderate in eir views about the country and its people. Ey sees fundamental good in all people, a view that communists share, but one that has blinded Slahi to the economic interests of the vast majority of Amerikans which leads them to support the torture in Guantanamo even after reports like this one are released.

"What would the dead average American think if he or she could see what his or her government is doing to someone who has done no crimes against anybody? As much as I was ashamed for the Arabic fellows, I knew they definitely didn't represent the average Arab. Arabic people are among the greatest on the planet, sensitive, emotional, loving, generous, sacrificial, religious, charitable, and light-hearted.... If people in the Arab world knew what was happening in this place, the hatred against the U.S. would be heavily watered, and the accusation that the U.S. is helping and working together with dictators in our countries would be cemented."(p. 257)

The reality is that most people in the Arab world do know about Amerikan injustice. In fact, in Mauritania the police told Slahi "America is a country that is based on and living with injustice"(p. 134) when Slahi asked why they were extraditing em when they believed ey had already proven eir innocence. And it is this knowledge that leads to many taking up the fight against Amerikan imperialism. At the same time most Amerikans now know about the torture of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and still public sentiment is far from outraged at these actions. Large portions of the population rally around political figures like Donald Trump when ey calls for more torture.

From all of this we see further evidence for the potential of Islam as a liberation theology for those fighting against Amerikan imperialism. Just as the masses in Latin America were drawn to Catholic liberation theology as a reaction to oppression and injustice in that region, segments of any religion are likely to adapt to popular sentiments. Liberation theology was a valuable ally for the revolutionaries in Latin America.

Regardless of the format this liberation struggle takes, we know that the oppressed people of the world can not wait around for Amerikans to wake up and stop the torture themselves. Now more than a year after Slahi's book was released (which even spent some time on the best seller's list), still nothing has been done about eir situation. The masses must liberate themselves; their captors will never willingly give up power. And the Amerikan people are enjoying the spoils of the captors, so most Amerikans are happily going along with imperialist torture worldwide.

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[Organizing] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 50]
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Fighting the Real Enemy on September 9 Solidarity Demonstration

September 9

September 9, 2016 will be the fifth annual Day of Peace and Solidarity demonstration in prisons across the United $tates. This is an opportunity for prisoners to commemorate the anniversary of the Attica uprising and draw attention to abuse of prisoners across the country through a 24-hour day of education and building peace, where some units will exercise a work stoppage and fast. The annual demonstration was initiated in 2012 by an organization in the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP), and has been taken up as an annual UFPP event, with people participating all across the country.

This demonstration aligns with the UFPP principle to build unity among prisoners who have a common interest in fighting the oppression of the criminal injustice system. Prisoners are taking the 24 hours to engage in solidarity building and education, ceasing all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities. This is a small, but meaningful step in building a United Front among prisoner organizations and individuals committed to the anti-imperialist movement. It is an opportunity to come together, publicize the UFPP and assess our progress. To stand in a united front, we do not need to agree on every political issue, but we must come together united around core principles to build and stand as one. The unity building starts well before September 9 for those who are engaging others to participate in the action. It is a long slow process of education and organizing to build the anti-imperialist movement.

We recently learned about another call to action for 9 September 2016, a "Call to Action Against Slavery in America".(1) The people who issued this call wrote: "On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves." This call for a country-wide work stoppage in prisons coincides with the UFPP solidarity demonstration and so we take this opportunity to comment on the similarities and differences.

First we want to say that we are always happy to see people taking up organizing and trying to build unity behind bars. There are some very good points taken in this call to action, particularly in the recognition of the growing protests in prisons across the country and the importance of this resistance. With our focus on building a United Front among prisoners we would hope to work with these folks to broaden our movement. We are not sure if the organizers were unaware of the work the UFPP has been doing on a September 9 protest for five years, or if they purposely decided to initiate a separate action due to disagreements with the UFPP. Our attempts to reach out to organizers have so far been unanswered.

Tactically, we are both promoting a commemoration of the Attica uprising, and a work strike might be included in some prisoners' plans for the Day of Peace and Solidarity. While a one-day strike is more symbolic than anything, we do see power in the ability of prisoners to "shut down" facilities by not doing the work to keep them running for a potentially longer period. However, the organizers behind this more recent call are taking the work strike to the level of a line question, which we have strong disagreements with. They focus on a work strike because they are focused on abolishing what they see as "slavery" in U.$. prisons. However, for Marxists, slavery is a specific economic system that involves the ownership of people in order to exploit their labor. Slaves have exchange value, just like other objects that are bought and sold. This exchange value for people is the basis of a horrible system that involves the capture and purchase of humyns. People confuse prison labor with slavery because there are some significant similarities: prison labor does involve workers receiving very little or no pay, and like slaves prisoners are given housing, food and other basic necessities while held in captivity. But we can see clearly that there is no exchange value to prisoners because states must pay other states to take their prisoners. This is the opposite of slavery where people pay to buy slaves.

Further, in order to call prisoner labor slavery there must be exploitation. We can see that this exploitation (prisons actually profiting from prisoner labor) only exists for a tiny portion of U.$. prisoners.(2) States like Texas and Louisiana do have significant productive industries reminiscent of the slave days. But for most, this is not the reality. Prisons require huge infusions of federal and state funds in order to operate. If they were making a profit off of prisoners' labor this drain on public funds would not be required. Instead prisoner labor is only offsetting a small portion of the operating cost.

Some people tell us this is just semantics, arguing about the definition of a term rather than talking about the very real problem of prisons torturing humyn beings while allowing the real criminals to run the government and capitalist corporations. But this recent call for protest against prison slavery underscores why these definitions are so important. The organizers of the September 9 protest against slavery wrote: "When we abolish slavery, they'll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves." This statement is not true, and it ignores the economic reality of prisons which receive over $60 billion a year in state and federal funds to cover operating costs. Why would the government run a money losing business? Certainly not for economic gain!

The economic motive of slavery is not the driving force behind prisons. And even if we don't call it slavery, economics are not the reason we have prisons. While it is true that lots of people get very high salaries, and many companies make buckets of money by serving the prison system, this is just a redistribution of profits taken from exploitation of Third World workers. That's why it has to come from the government allocated to the prisons. And that $60 billion could be funneled into any other project that provides jobs for the Amerikan labor aristocracy just as easily and all those guards and other prison workers would be just as happy. Prisons are a convenient way to redistribute imperialist superprofits to the labor aristocracy within U.$. borders, but they are definitely not the best option if economics were the sole consideration.

It is critical that activists and revolutionaries understand that Amerika has built an enormous criminal injustice system as a tool of social control. Prisons are used to lock up oppressed nations and activists. The history of prisons in this country clearly demonstrates this. We saw a huge rise in incarceration starting in 1974 after the revolutionary movements of that time were targeted by the government. Until that time there was a relatively low and stable rate of imprisonment in this country. Then the lockup rate of First Nations, New Afrikans and [email protected] rose to vastly disproportionate numbers relative to whites starting in the 1970s. These historical events and economic facts make it clear that Amerikkkan prisons are used for social control, not for profits.

The organizers of the anti-slavery protest are misleading people into believing that shutting down prison work will shut down prisons. It will cause difficulties, and is a very valid tactic for exerting power as a group. But prisoner labor itself is not the principal contradiction in prison. We guarantee that if we were to reach the unity to wage an extended work strike across U.$. prisons, that Amerika would figure out how to keep the oppressed locked up.

We call this a failure to recognize the principal contradiction. In this case we are talking about the thing that will best push forward the prisoners' fight against oppression. Fighting against something that doesn't exist (slavery) is certainly not the best way forward. But even if we don't call it slavery, fighting against prisoner labor as if the end to prisoner work will put an end to prisons is also incorrect, and will lead to a dead end. We see the need for unity among prisoner groups and individuals as critical to building a solid anti-imperialist prison movement. We think this addresses the real principal contradiction that the prison movement faces between the collective interests of the imprisoned lumpen and the individualist tendencies currently dominant among that class. This is why we organize on September 9 to build a Day of Peace and Solidarity. Get involved! Write to us for the September 9 Organizing Pack and get started building in your prison.

Notes:
  1. Read the call for protest against slavery here: https://iwoc.noblogs.org/post/2016/04/01/announcement-of-nationally-coordinated-prisoner-workstoppage-for-sept-9-2016/
  2. MIM(Prisons), April 2009, MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy, Under Lock & Key Issue 8.
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[Organizing] [Hunger Strike] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 50]
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Update on Ohio Hunger Strike for Medical Attention

I write to deliver an update as promised concerning the recent hunger strike which took place the 23 March 2016.

Currently as of today the final two hunger strikers are relieved of their duties with a victory in hand!! As I was told, "it was a rough fight," and "a long long 16 days!" Not all, but the majority claimed victory along the fight. A lot fell off before the battle began. But a victory for one is a victory for all! We will continue to stay unified and fight each unjust act with every and all remedies we can muster up.

As far as my knowledge, Dr. Fiscal, who was working for the administration and refusing to send anyone out to receive outside medical treatment, was walked off and fired. A hunger striker demand! Religious accommodations are now being reviewed. But the food is still short. The discrimination has slowed down but I'm sure it will be back once the heat dies down.

In the beginning I would conduct a phone call to each brother's families (the ones provided) and provide them with all the phone #s they would need to call and apply pressure, including the Deputy Warden, Warden, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director, Ohio State Patrol, and any news station willing to listen and investigate. The prison would lie to the family and Ohio State Patrol until we started recording all conversations. Then things changed! For the most part everybody was persistent and in the end it all paid off.

Thank you for your support. I depart as I came.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are not as optimistic as this comrade that this struggle has ended in a victory. It's unclear from this report, but we hope that the strikers who were seeking medical attention received more than just a firing of the facility's doctor. Adequate medical care would certainly be a victory. But the other loose demands of religious accommodations, adequate food, and national oppression (discrimination of "minority groups") are far from resolved. The oppressors have been showing us for centuries that expecting them to act in good faith is a losing strategy. There are no rights, only power struggles, and unless the oppressed are making clear demands and enforcing their rights, we expect no improvements.

On the up side, this is a good exercise in how to conduct a campaign. It was advantageous to designate a point-persyn to keep the public informed of the progress of the strike. It sounds like the unity of the participants in the strike remains intact, and they can draw on this unity for future campaigns. So there were certainly victories in this battle, but more related to prisoners organizing, and getting their outside supporters involved, rather than getting the administration to concede to the demands of the captives.

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