The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Education] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 52]
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Building Peace and Unity in Colorado

Every day we study the 5 principles, but we lack materials which is one of the reasons I'm writing, in hopes of getting what we need. As of now we are a very young group of men who have come together and are spreading peace, unity and internationalism. Here in prison we have brought two rival gangs to peace: the Sur 13 and Norteños 14 have now made a treaty with each other and have stopped killing each other. We are now speaking with some of the Muslims who may be willing to join "Black Hawk" so we are practicing growth and peace.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides an excellent example of building peace through a United Front organization that focuses on education. Rival organizations that fight each other behind bars or on the streets are serving the purposes of the oppressive system which seeks to keep us distracted and fighting each other rather than focusing our energy on the real oppressors. With this peace treaty we anticipate a growing powerful movement in Colorado against the criminal injustice system.

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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Columbia Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin]
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Wisconsin Hunger Strikers Standing Strong in Face of Force Feeding

I write you to yall to thank you for your letters of support on our” ”hunger strike” to protest long term “solidarity confinement”. Thank you!

I’m still on strike but now I’m being force fed. This is (ex)tremely humiliating, painful, and unnecessary... But it is what it is. I’ll continue to refuse food and water until they place a one year cap on the use of Administrative Confinement….under this status the D.O.C. can currently keep you in solitary confinement indefinitely.


MIM(Prisons) responds: MIM(Prisons) responds: Read this article for a more detailed update on the Wisconsin prisoners' hunger strike to fight long term isolation and other abuse.

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[Education] [Political Repression]
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The Adaptation of Capitalistic Controls

"The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters."

This statement comes from the book titled, Understanding Power: The indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four, he discusses the safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt: control and manipulation began with the educational institutions.

In the United States those who control the information are those who hold power. Which is why the U.S. government is the largest and most efficient collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system of information. Why is that? It is elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say. If your opponent (read the proletariat) lacks the knowledge (read information and education), then your opponent is unable to employ it to your disadvantage. When I say 'your opponent' I mean the opponent of the u.s. government and capitalism.

This is accomplished through 1) popular control and, 2) the media effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When a person is isolated, it is a simple matter to control their reality and manipulate their actions to conform to your specific aims and objectives. On the other hand is the media. The media does much more than simply providing an outlet for the dissemination of information. It helps to, and actually is a main tool for, indoctrination and marginalization. Or the subjection-manipulation cycle as I have termed it, is continued in perpetuity. The formation of this specific control ('control', meaning measures and policies used to prevent substantive changes to and for the preservation of a system) is meant to create a sheepish or gullible populace. One easily manipulated and maneuvered.

In public life, the effectiveness of this control lies in the fact that, those who aren't indoctrinated, or, at least, able to behave as if they are, soon learn that they have no voice, no vote and lack the consideration of others. Even find that they may be shunned (socially ostracized) as if they had a contagious, fatal disease. The un-indoctrinated are thus isolated and made 'seemingly' impotent. This system has been adopted by the u.s. prison system and is strictly adhered to.

The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted to and by prisons because it provides a reliable and justifiable method of repressing subversive, disruptive, or 'negative' attitudes, behaviors and/or activities. Prisons present a sampling of society's range of individuals. Some prisoners become well-indoctrinated and follow prisons' policies and regulations. Other less indoctrinated follow some or most. And finally those who are self-determinants (prisoners who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions and conduct). It is these last that suffer the reprisals of the subjection-manipulation cycle.

Self-determinants are generally punished. While their counterparts, what I termed subjugated, they are rewarded. The reward/reprisal structure is even clearer in the prison adaptation of the subjection-manipulation cycle. As in public life, where dissidence earns social stigmatization. In prison, self-determinants are shunned and given a wide berth. In this way the system filters the population, in order to isolate self-determinants. Holding them up as examples of unacceptable behavior to the subjugated. Punishment in public is normally being unemployable, negative to one's status in society, or being labeled a liability. This ends with a dissident's social ostracization and impotency. The parallel found in prisons is self-determinants are housed in segregation, isolation units, their privileges curbed or stripped completely. Their associates treated harshly or harassed for continuing any association with the self-determinant. The picture is clear as in public, in prison the self-determinant is isolated, repressed in the hopes that they will become impotent.

The subjection - manipulation cycle is not only a system of rewards and reprisals. It also contains the essential element: information control. Prison authorities screen, examine and filter the information made available to prisoners. This is paralleled in the U.S. schooling system and structure. The only information allowed is that which concurs with the system agenda. By promoting, or discouraging (if not prohibiting), certain information the prisons, as schools in public life, can encourage and manipulate modes of thought and revolutionary, anti-imperialist, or anti-capitalist movement. Why else have overly complicated grievance procedures create obstacles and have banned/prohibited literature lists? Education leads to organization.

The goal is to create an unbearable reality for self-determinants. With the intention of creating a subjugated instead of self-determinant, through the psychological effects of isolation and ostracization As long as prisons can reinforce this cycle, the results will mirror those found in public life. Stigmatized, isolated and labeled an outcast among outcasts, society's outcasts. This is a particularly dire forecast for self-determinants. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline and unity.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer offers some astute commentary on the role of information, education and media in social control under imperialism. And this underscores the importance of independent media of the oppressed as well as independent institutions for organizing and educating revolutionaries. The "self-determinants" as this author calls them, are people willing to think for themselves and perhaps take up organizing in the interests of the world's oppressed. These anti-imperialists need an organization to support them in the face of the challenges outlined by this author. This is why, behind bars, it is important to build United Struggle from Within, as a structure that can unify and support our prison comrades. Ultimately the independent media of the oppressed, along with our independent organizations, will unite those willing to think for themselves into a revolutionary force that can challenge the imperialist structures and fight for a future where self-determination is not repressed.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [California State Prison, Sacramento] [California] [ULK Issue 52]
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Approaching Conflict More Scientifically

For our Agreement to End Hostilities we reach out to all colors, all genders, all ethnicities. In this struggle, if we can satisfy the interests of the other parties while meeting our own, that is best. Yet a blind following of fixed views of one's identity can undermine any assurance that either party will honor an agreement. It's hard, but we must learn to understand how to see our thoughts with thinking. Identity can prove more a liability than an asset if we drive with our eyes closed.

Strategies to Address Conflict

Internationalism is Needed to End Hostility

We must liberate the oppressed from identity politics first. We may be unaware of the political landscape, which leaves us vulnerable to being exploited. A leader may impose a narrative on us, and create feelings of division between us and others. Second we may cling to a negative identity, defining who we are as against the other side and rejecting anything they propose. In an extreme situation, we lose all semblance of our own identity, identifying ourselves only in terms of opposition to the other side. Third, we may feel excluded from the decision-making process, further dividing us from others. Finally, we may feel like a pawn trapped within an unfair political system.

Strategies to address conflict

Currently at New Folsom, staff are creating divisions leading to dangerous situations. When they read letters agreeing to help us, they may withhold this mail, or give it to another prisoner whom they believe will help them carry out their own personal perverted agenda. These inmates are called snitches, liars or PSU/SHU collaborators who speak against human rights. These inmates are encouraged to write to our families, women and supporters with the intent to disconnect them from us. These actions create very dangerous situations, creating the desire to punish these men for working with the administration. These games are being played throughout the state of California, targeting prisoners who have taken conscious steps to resist being casualties of this low intensity psychological warfare. Warfare that is rarely seen or recognized by the everyday citizen. We must find ways to monitor our incoming and outgoing mail. If we ever want to truly stand for the UFPP principle of Independence, we must have resources independent of the enemy.

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[Spanish] [Abuse]
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Las Prisiones Privadas Expuestas, Misma a las Públicas

Recientemente, una revelación de la prisión privada ‘Winn Correctional Center’ (el Sistema Penitenciario de Winn) en Winnfield, Luisiana, que esta manejada por ‘Corrections Corporation of America’ (la Corporación Correccional de América - CCA) fue publicada en ‘Mother Jones’ (1); una organización de noticias. El artículo explica las condiciones inhumanas y las atrocidades conectadas con los fines de lucro de la CCA.

En la sección sobre la sala de correo, el autor Shane Bauer menciona Under Lock & Key (ULK):

“Deben estar atentos de ciertas cosas, por eso hay boletines puestos por toda la sala de correo, por ejemplo: un boletín informativo de una organización antiimperialista llamado Under Lock & Key (ULK), una edición de Forbes que incluye un enrutador inalámbrico en miniatura para el internet, un CD grabado por Chicano, un rapero gánster, que tiene una canción llamada ‘Death on a CO’ (Muerte en un CO).” Curiosamente, los empleados en la sala de correo de Winn, consideran la educación política tan peligrosa al ambiente de la prisión así como a electrónicos y las amenazas de muerte. Esta obvia censura no es única a esta prisión y tampoco es única a las prisiones privadas. Hay muchas cárceles estatales por todo el país donde sabemos que nuestro correo esta censurado en una manera similar. Desafortunadamente, no tenemos una periodista de investigación dentro de las cárceles y como solo podemos comunicarnos con nuestros camaradas por correo, no hay ninguna manera de combatir esta censura o exponerla. Siempre publicamos incidentes de censura en nuestra página web, pero en realidad, nunca sabremos lo que ocurre con aproximadamente dos tercios del correo que mandamos.

Al leer la revelación, uno podrá creer que esta prisión privada es diferente a las cárceles estatales. Esto es uno de los aspectos negativos más graves de este artículo, porque los lectores se quedan pensando que las prisiones estatales son intrínsecamente mejores. Sin embargo, todavía publicamos muchos artículos de nuestros correspondientes que están dentro de las cárceles que muestran que las prisiones estatales pueden ser tan malas así como ‘Winn Correctional Center’ (el Sistema Penitenciario de Winn); uno ejemplos incluyen: la falta de asistencia médica adecuada que resulta en problemas de salud a largo plazo, la falta de cursos, el confinamiento arbitrario de los prisioneros a sus celdas, el uso de la fuerza en exceso, la falta de discreción en la contratación de empleados, y la lista continúa.

Luchar contra las prisiones privadas es decir que las prisiones estatales son aceptables. Es algo que legitimiza el gobierno de los Estado Unidos (EE UU) como un árbitro imparcial e indica que la prisión no es algo perjudicial, pero si no, es solo la titularidad privada que es mala. Sin embargo, ‘The Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons’ (El Ministerio Internacional Maoísta de Prisiones – MIM Prisons) ve que la lucha de la prisión en los EE UU es una lucha en contra del control social – sin importar si es privada o estatal.

Damos las gracias a Shane Bauer por escribir este artículo tan espantoso que ayuda a nuestra lucha contra las condiciones inhumanas en las prisiones. Debemos tener una visión más amplia de cómo las cárceles estatales están relacionadas a este tema. E incluso, como el movimiento de la reforma penitenciaria está conectada con la lucha por la autodeterminación de las semi-colonias internas y con la liberación del Tercer Mundo del control total del imperialismo. Sin duda, el encarcelamiento para sacar provecho debe ser abolido. Pero este fenómeno solo podía ocurrir en una economía capitalista. Si no esta atrocidad del capitalismo, habrá otra, y por supuesto hay otras. Si nuestra lucha está restringida simplemente a la abolición de la titularidad de las prisiones, hubiéramos malgastado mucho tiempo y energía que podría haber sido usado en una lucha mucho más grande.

1. Shane Bauer, “My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard,” Mother Jones, julio/agosto 2016
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[Control Units] [Hunger Strike] [Medical Care] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio]
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SOCF Prisoners on Hunger Strike

Dear Under Lock & Key (Newspaper):

I am contacting you to make you aware of my "Hunger Strike," and my demands and to ring the alarm about the oppressive administration here and to make sure my strike is "Documented."

Being falsely incarcerated since the age of sixteen years old for a crime I didn’t commit, sentenced to 100 plus years, and fighting for my liberation has been no easy task against this racist regime here at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lukkkasville, Ohio.

At this time due to the continuous oppressive and outright abusive behavior of the administration, and harsh penalties for basic rule infractions, they have forced me to protest for change. This is my only means to protest nonviolently and peacefully to change the conditions and practices of this administration by laying my life on the line and going on a "Hunger Strike." I am only one voice and my sacrifice will be in vain without your support and the Power of the People. I'm nothing so I enlist your support and assistance to bring attention to this struggle and compel the power that be, to change and meet the hunger strike demands.

I will need for you and the people to make calls to Central Office 614-387-0588, so that my Hunger Strike is documented and changes are made.

To the world you are just one person, but to one person you may be the world. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter and pray all is favorable to all concerned. I exit in revolutionary spirit. Shields up!

Hunger Strike Demands

1) A complete end of denying prisoners the right to basic hygiene necessities or property (soap, toothpaste & deodorant) which is required while in the hole [solitary confinement].

2) A complete end of denying prisoners the legal right to have access to their pending legal work to litigate the case while in the hole, and the immediate end with tampering with prisoners' incoming and outgoing mail.

3) A complete and immediate end to the recent arbitrary practice of handing down excessive and severe penalties for drug violations, and termination of visiting privileges when the Rule Infraction Board (RIB) have already handed down a penalty for Rule 39 and Rule 40. A 3-year non-contact visit from family and the outside world is unheard of for violation of Rule 39 & Rule 40, and extremely inappropriate and not healthy and destroys any possible chance to be rehabilitated to re-enter society. For this reason, favorable consideration shall be given and the penalty for violations for Rule 39 and Rule 40 shall be reduced to a reasonable amount of time that will not undermine the violation of the offense.

4) An immediate stop of violence against prisoners when cuffed, and stop the excessive use of force and spraying of prisoners with O.C. spray which causes severe health problems. Also, stop the embellishment of violation of Rule 4, to justify the physical assault of prisoners while cuffed. This prison has a very ugly history of "Excessive Use of Force" and this abuse must stop.

These are the more important things that we expect to accomplish as a result of this "Hunger Strike." There are other issues, some more important, others less.

As of 10 July 2016, there's a total of 3 that's on hunger strike.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In another article reporting on this hunger strike, there were 20 people participating as of July 18. This comrade rightly frames the hunger strike as the last possible nonviolent option. When officials do not respond to a hunger strike, they are saying that they'd rather have a violent uprising than meet the demand to stop torturing prisoners.

A public campaign such as a hunger strike is good to build organizing around a need: in this case, an end to solitary confinement, and adequate care for prisoners. In order to fight for an end to all conditions of torture and unnecessary suffering, our education needs to connect the hunger strike to a larger battle for justice worldwide, in other words, an end to imperialism.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Black Panther Party] [ULK Issue 51]
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Fighting Apathy Among the Lumpen

Lumpen Study

[In 2012 a comrade summed up an ongoing discussion about organizing the lumpen class, which is below. The summary gets at how we should approach organizing the lumpen. This is a critical question if we are to apply our theoretical understanding of this class to the anti-imperialist movement in a practical way. We aren't looking to just write essays to expand our brains; we focus on political theory in order to inform revolutionary practice. - ULK Editor]

USW comrades have been discussing money and material trappings as being synonymous with respect and dignity in lumpen organization youth. The struggle for money, like the dope game, for example, can be less a status seeking activity, and more of the people just exercising their survival rights. Comrades made sure to differentiate between money/survival and material trapping (i.e. gold chains, cars, rims, etc.). Amerikkkanism and consumerism promote hardcore parasitism in lumpen youth, causing extreme alienation and fetishization of money.

Today's youth show the same apathy, indifference and nihilism as the youth of 1955. It was the civil rights movement that awoke the youth of that era. Comrades struggled over what today can take the place of the civil rights movement. War, environment and imperialist expansion were three good starting points to organize around. We lumpen youth have more stake in the future environment and it is us who fight the wars. It helps to understand that those starving to death and suffering/dying from preventable diseases are our people. We must fulfill our destiny or betray it. All this nitpicking and betrayal between sets/sides contributes to humankind suffering. We must overcome this flaw.

The principal enemy we must defeat is the glamorization of gangsterism. A revolutionary or a gangster? What are we? Can the two coexist in a persyn and still be progressive? Gangsterism plants fear by oppression, and revolutionaries are in struggle against oppression. This internecine violence we perpetrate between sets is what the pigs want us to do. They sold us this shit in Scarface and we've built on to it and made it our own. Overcoming the glamorization of gangsterism will take proletarian morality, conscious rap, exposing the downsides and ills of gangsterism, the glamorization of revolution, revolutionary culture, and possibly to redefine the word gangsta. Gangsters are parasites and revolutionaries are humankind's hope. It's as simple as that. We need to leave the lumpen mentality for a proletarian one. Many true revolutionaries were once gangsters. Gangsterism is a stage, basically.

Self-respect, self-defense and self-determination define transitional qualities of a revolutionary. Bunchy Carter, Mutulu Shakur and Tupac all transcended the hood and grew into progressives. What we are seeking as USW is opening up the spaces for gangsters of all walks of life to enter the realm of anti-imperialism and begin a transformation of mind, actions and habits to develop into the model of a revolutionary gangsta with the capability of forwarding the cause of the people. We must understand our potential. It is us, we reading these ULKs, that hold imperialism in our fists. A real gangsta is one who has gone revolutionary and has kicked off all the strings of social control - mental illness, drugs, fantasy, despair, escapism, etc.

Mainstream gangsta rap is the enemy of our people and the struggle. We have to create more revolutionary music, art and literature. Fergie, Fifty, Eminem, Kanye, all push watered down, flimsy lyrics. Mainstream rap is psychological warfare and just as harmful as crack or heroin. Imperialism allows the urban drug trade just like it allows Eminem. It keeps us down. It is a form of genocide and wholly harmful to the revolutionary struggle. The only positive we even entertained in the discussion is that drugs and pop culture rap are a form of rebellion that begins a revolutionary on the path of revolution. The benefits to imperialism outweigh the negatives and the opposite is true for the lumpen. Drugs have us punked, dig?

Raw fear and discouragement are the pistols on the hips of the oppressor. To be demonized as a terrorist, have mail messed with, loss of good time, pig abuses, all contribute to lumpen becoming despondent and not standing up for their rights. People have a responsibility to act and fight for the type of society that they want to live in, or they really have no right to complain about oppression. We face pepper spray, tazers, isolation and a bullet in the back face down. The Nazis used the infamous concentration camps to instill fear. And the united snakes has the largest prison system in the world for the very same reason: social control and intimidation. Meth, cocaine and psychotropics act as targets for the raw fear pistol. Increasing it. Making it more deadly. To be uneducated or out of shape physically assures a mortal wound when the bullets fly. We must outsmart and out stick and move. Knowing 1500 children starve to death per hour, and the fact that 3.5 billion people survive on less than $2 per day, you suit yourself in bullet proof kevlar. What's a lost letter and a few extra years in prison without good time compared to that?

Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream. Only through aggressive challenge and exposure of the life-threatening contradictions of upholding the present status quo will we awaken and overcome. Passivity cowers before the eyes of the slave master. We must educate the people into the understanding that raw fear will remain so long as the imperialist system is in existence. It is us, comrades, built exclusively for its utter destruction. This is a call from USW to unite and rise up, in struggle.


Related Articles:
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[Organizing] [Education] [ULK Issue 52]
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USW Study Group Poppin Off

USW Study Group

I am delighted to enlighten you regrading our new study group/think tank, based upon the ideas/ideals of information contained in recent and past Under Lock & Key. In July 2016, we held our first study group member meeting, with some supporters. We met for over an hour, with 29 people in attendance and 18 committed members.

We deputized four positions of responsibility: 2 moderators, and 2 curators. We plan to conduct smaller study groups in individual pods, with direct dialogue from and with the larger weekly group meetings.

Our first meeting dealt with (1) Revolutionary Consciousness, (2) Revolutionary Activism, and (3) Accepting Accountability and Responsibility — in conjunction with the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles on page 3 of ULK 50: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.

We will need study materials to continue to move the study group. We are young, new and eager to be a part. We are entertained by what appeals to our conditions — as it relates to Maoist and Under Lock & Key principles. Our prison suffers from gangs, disunity amongst offenders/captives, and a gross lack of understanding of revolutionary ideas/ideals.

The questions we discussed at our first meeting were:
1) What is revolutionary consciousness?
2) What is revolutionary activism?
3) What does "accountability" and "responsibility" mean to you?
4) What can you, and will you, contribute to the ideas of: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, & Independence?

The hard work will be keeping the young guys inspired, motivated, and focused on getting and achieving our goals (as we set them). We will need as much and as often materials (and possibly books). We will continue to send stamps as often as we can to cover materials. We have good writers of articles, poems, etc. which we will send.

I have enclosed a list of named members - verbal committals - who wish to receive a subscription of Under Lock & Key. I have also enclosed their state number and prison's address. Please sign these Brothers up!

If you have any back issues of Under Lock & Key, articles on uniting gangs, revolutionary understanding, or any fundamental ideas to help our young study group, please send them. We will send an updated report bimonthly detailing our weekly meetings, topics, etc. Please support us, as we are new to this, and young. Be sure to know, we are with you in whatever way we can help with larger goals of MIM, and our local goals - we are with it!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this report to encourage other readers with the example of our comrades in Virginia. You can focus on topics that interest your group and we will try to supply reading material and study questions. Most study groups start by talking about questions like this comrade describes (such as, "What is revolutionary activism?") or even more basic topics. And this leads to more questions and greater consciousness. People who wonder why so many are locked behind bars are just a few steps away from wondering why Amerika attacks so many other countries, and why people within U.$. borders are so much wealthier than the majority of the world's citizens.

By building through education we can set up solid core of cadres who can apply what they've learned to analyze conditions and lead political organizing with correct political line and strategy.

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[Organizing] [Principal Contradiction] [Culture] [ULK Issue 51]
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Book Review: Lumpen by Ed Mead

lumpen ed mead
Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
Kersplebedeb, 2015

Available for $20 + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8

As anti-imperialists and prison activists, we can recommend Ed Mead's recent autobiography as a useful read. There are a couple inconsistencies with the form and the line promoted in the book, however. While Mead critiques anarchism and reformism in the book, at the end is a list of a number of organizations that struggle for prisoners' rights, and they are all reformist/mass organizations with a couple anarchist groups thrown in. Mead stresses that he does not believe communists should hide their beliefs. Yet it is odd that he finds no communist prison support groups to be worthy of mention. Moreso, it seems that for much of Mead's life ey couldn't find a communist organization to be a part of and support.

We also must question the form of an autobiography. Our culture promotes the idea of writing one's own story. While this author has been told to write an autobiography multiple times, having lived much less of my life than Ed Mead, i don't plan to ever do so. I hope that if i do live as long as Mead i'm too busy fulfilling my tasks in a communist cadre org (or hopefully state by then) to spend a bunch of time writing about myself. Certainly there is some value in terms of the building of humyn knowledge of documenting the conditions of the time and places that Mead experienced. But it does not seem a high priority for communists. It was probably for this reason that i found the first chapters of the book tiring to read. I didn't really need to know all about Mead's family growing up to learn some lessons about how to organize with prisoners effectively. But perhaps that was my own problem as that was never a stated purpose of this book.

The foremost stated purpose of the book by Mead is to "extend an invitation to sections of the lumpenproletariat to join the international working class." While not a bad goal, it does hint at differences we have with Mead and other communists within California Prison Focus (CPF) regarding whether nation or class is the principal contradiction. This has led to divisions in our work to shut down Security Housing Units in California. In the 2000s, MIM was part of the United Front to Abolish the SHU, which was dominated by parties and organizations struggling for national liberation. While CPF was nominally a member, their difference on this issue led to a lack of working together. This was despite the fact that the United Front explicitly allowed for organizational independence in terms of political line outside of our agreement on shutting down the SHU. In the 2010s, CPF was part of the leadership that created the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Mead was perhaps the only one who tried to include MIM(Prisons) in that effort. But the coalition structure forced us to the outside this time as MIM(Prisons) refused to subsume our politics to the coalition.

While recognizing whites as obviously having advantages over others, Mead does believe there is a significant white nation working class in this country. While citing Mao favorably multiple times, Mead points out Mao's failure to put class first as a point of disagreement.(p. 164) Mead's line is also reflected in an off-hand comment saying Stalin was wrong to condemn the German social-democrats as social-fascists. We think Stalin and the Comintern correctly saw the class nature and interest of the social democrats as being labor aristocracy and petty bourgeois, who wavered towards fascism, paving its way to power.(1)

Mead talks about "white skin privilege" and uses it as an agitational point to push people to join the class war while discussing eir participation in the militant George Jackson Brigade. Mead admits that eir decision to use revolutionary violence was a direct result of the lack of mass support for abused prisoners.(p. 181) At the same time ey mentions other groups at the time doing similar things and believing that small bands carrying out armed struggle would spread across the country. Mead does not conclude anywhere in the book that it was a mistake to take up this line even though comrades died, while the rest spent the prime of their lives in prison. As we discussed in a recent article on the Black Panthers, it was both common and understandable to conclude that armed struggle would become a reality in the United $tates at that time.(2) Yet, not only are conditions less advanced today, history also proved that armed struggle in the United $tates was premature in the conditions of 1966-72.

From what we know about Mead in real life and from reading the book, it is clear that ey was good at and focused on uniting all who could be united. And while we say it is better for communists to work within cadre organizations than mass organizations, as Mead did much of eir life, ey certainly did so in a principled way according to the book. And most of those principles are ones that we too support.

As mentioned, i came to this book in search of some lessons on anti-imperialist organizing in prisons. And while some of the stories are very abbreviated, the book is not short on examples of Mead's efforts, pitfalls and successes. Mead talks about the importance of determining the principal contradiction at each prison ey organized in. While in most cases ey sait it was related to nation, ey said it was related to sexism in Walla Walla, which led to the formation of Men Against Sexism.(3) Interestingly, Mead takes the position that while nation is principal inside prisons, it does not make sense to build a Black-only prison movement (at least on a large scale).(p. 280) We are sympathetic to this view and spend a lot of time calling for unity between nationalities in prison, while promoting national liberation as a strategy for the oppressed nations overall. A couple of good lessons are well-put in Mead's own words:

"...if the immediate demands address prisoners' rights and living conditions, then the backwards elements will either be won over or neutralized by the growing consciousness of the rest of the population."(p. 305) This was one of the most inspiring parts of Mead's story. In a situation where the prison system was dominated by one lumpen organization (LO) that was guided by self-interest, Mead had the revolutionary fearlessness to organize those victimized by the LO to build a mass movement that the whole population came to identify with.

"An organization that depends upon one person for direction is doomed to fail; each level of cadre should be able to take the place of a fallen or transferred comrade, even if that person occupies a leadership position."(p. 306) Mead learned this from experience, both in situations where ey was that sole leader and others where ey was surrounded by a dedicated cadre. Inspiring stories include the first strike ever at McNeil Island, which had 100% participation.(p. 139) While many of the challenges of prison organizing are still the same decades later, you'll find many other inspiring stories in this book as well. It demonstrates both the importance of the prison movement as part of the overall movement for liberation and against imperialism, while showing the limitations of a prison movement that is not complemented by strong movements on the outside. As the current struggle focused on police murders continues to ferment, we work to build a prison movement, and they will feed each other as we move towards the next revolutionary period in history.

Notes:
1. see MIM Theory 10: Labor Aristocracy, or the MIM(Prisons) study pack, The Labor Aristocracy and the International Communist Movement.
2. Under Lock & Key 50: Black Panther Party 50 Year Commemoration
3. PTT of MIM(Prisons), Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, Under Lock & Key, Issue 29, November/December 2012.
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[Campaigns] [Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Southern Ohio Correctional Facility] [Ohio] [ULK Issue 52]
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Lucasville Hunger Strike to End Solitary Confinement

fists

Revolutionary greetings!

We write to further enlighten you on the progress of our hunger strike at the Southern Ohio Corrections Facility in the state of Ohio. Since you were last informed, other comrades have joined our cause to end solitary confinement and psychological torture in prisons all across america.

We now have a total of about 30 prisoners who are currently refusing meals. Some of us are being denied medical assistance. Correctional officers have already sabotaged some hunger strikers, by planting food in their cells.

The strike began on 5 July 2016, and staff are refusing to document the strike. Prison officials claim they don't care about our strike. If this is true, then why does the prison administration resort to such extreme tactics to discourage us?

A hunger strike is more than just refusing food. But the spiritual power generated by our unified thoughts will manifest change. We enclose a list of demands, along with a notification to the public to please contact the Governor of Ohio and the media to inform that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance. We greatly appreciate your integrity and will keep you updated.

List of Hunger Strike Demands

  1. We of the inmates of Ohio ask for an end to solitary confinement and torture of inmates.
  2. We ask for the end of the practice of systematic racism.
  3. We demand for the end of unfair Rules Infraction Board hearings, which results in a denial of due process.
  4. We demand an end to officer brutality, including the assault with chemical agents.

We ask for your support by contacting the Governor of Ohio:
77 South High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215
or ohio.governor.gov

Inform them that hunger strikers are being denied medical assistance.

Salute!

Comrades

Lucasville Hunger Strike


MIM(Prisons) responds: We applaud the organization and commitment of these comrades in Ohio who are risking their lives to fight torture at SOCF. We have received a couple reports on this hunger strike.

We agree that a hunger strike is more than just refusing food, and as another comrade puts it, it becomes the only nonviolent option left to protest how you're being treated.

Rather than generating "spiritual power," though, hunger strikes can develop real world education and organizing. As more people see the struggle and are educated about it they learn from the strike and we gain supporters. How well we build this education and organizing depends a lot on a careful evaluation of local conditions so our time and energy and health is well spent. For instance, undertaking a hunger strike with only a few people without outside support or a way of publicizing it will most likely lead to not only a failed action but also will show others that this battle can't be won. It's always important to build for our actions so that we have the support and systems in place to make victory possible. Lucasville has a long history of prisoners going on hunger strike for basic necessities, and a broad outside support system has been shown to be one of the factors that make these protests successful.

So we call on outside supporters to take the actions listed above and publicize this hunger strike through their networks. Through organizing together we can abolish the SHU!

We also want to comment on the demand for an end to "systematic racism" which we would call systematic national oppression. This is a function of the criminal injustice system, by design. As a tool of social control, the Amerikan prisons are set up to target the oppressed nations. And so we cannot expect to eliminate this feature of the system without overthrowing the entire system. Demands like this one are just and righteous, but not winnable until capitalism is defeated.

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