First, before we erect or construct anything we must have a strong foundation, a base – so to speak. Otherwise the whole structure will eventually collapse. That said, we must focus most of our energy and efforts on building a base inside prison, then work our way outwards. Once we are well-rooted, it will be easy to branch out by sending our ideology to the streets with serious minded brothas/sistas who will push the movement out there. However, that is not to say that we shouldn't be trying to build out there right now.
Thus, we must advocate for the development of a movement rooted in the revolutionary tradition that looks out for the interests of all oppressed people as a whole, opposes fratricidal violence (black-on-black, brown-on-brown) and work to develop an alliance with other social movements outside prison.
Secondly, we must understand that even small movements, because they include people with different ideas, reveal political debates over next steps, practical objectives, potential allies, and movement tactics. The idea and politics that guide a specific movement have a profound effect on its ultimate direction as well as on the activists involved. But, the guiding politics of social movement don't simply appear out of thin air. Rank-and-file BPP members themselves invented the armed self-defense tactics just as rank-and-file civil rights leaders developed the civil disobedience and non-violent protest strategy, and these members had to win others to these new tactics through a process of political debate and experience. They were leading with their ideas and testing them in practice.
Political leadership is just this: individuals, with the experience of struggle, can advance ideas and tactics that will strengthen the movement and develop to help prepare it for the next stages in struggle — whether economic, political, or ideological.
Huey P. Newton and others recognized the importance of uniting oppressed people into a political party that could act as a unit, providing leadership and an important counter-weight to the overbearing power of the capitalist state.
I'm going to finish with a quote from one of the leaders of the Black Power movement, who said "when a people arises, when it develops awareness, when it is convinced of the righteousness of its actions, there is nothing that can stop it. The people sweep aside all obstacles placed in their path like a whirlwind cleaning out all the dirt in a country."
Now, we have a lot of work to do before we can go around making claims like that. But this idea that we need to be building inside right now is, I think, the only perspective that fits when you understand that we're looking at a war against the system that is being launched from within, and when you understand the scale of resistance that is necessary.
People are receptive to the "idea" of resisting, but they're doing so in a context in which their revolutionary spirit is very weak and needs to be ignited. But, this is the task of our generation, and I think these kinds of ideas we are building on now are all about the process of trying to rebuild that Black revolutionary fighting anti-capitalist regime.
MIM(Prisons) adds: "Unity from the inside out" is a slogan that United Struggle from Within has used in promoting the development of unity among and between lumpen organizations (LOs) in prison. This slogan echoes the strategy promoted above of building a strong prison movement to affect the rest of society. Sloganeering is one of the tactical tasks necessary to build an effective anti-imperialist movement. Good slogans are based in mass line. This means taking correct ideas from the masses and reinforcing them through propaganda. Finding effective slogans and language that connects the mass consciousness to the revolutionary struggle should be a focus of USW. This is part of what it means to provide leadership as the comrade describes above.