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[Economics]
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Response to Lumpen Class calculations

[Need to insert url below. for some reason prisoncensorship.info wasn't loading for me so couldn't pull it up.

I'm not sure this adequately addresses the writer's complaints but re-reading the lumpen class article I don't really get what they are criticizing because we never say that we defined the lumpen using the poverty line. Mostly they seem upset that we don't recognize that some full time workers who earn around $10k really have it hard and that's not enough to pay for their basic necessities. i.e. not exploited, but also life in amerika is so expensive they can't really afford it. I think this is a reasonable premise: there may be a small percentage of these folks in the U.S. who don't spend money on luxuries, work full time, and really can't pay for the basics. They aren't prol, but they also aren't lumpen.

Wia: Yes we do, we say: "Summing up the income data for defining the lumpen population, we can conservatively use the cut off of $10k/year for family income to say that 16% of New Afrikan families are lumpen and 10% of [email protected] families are lumpen or migrant proletarian." But maybe they're missing that we are using it to estimate the people not working full time or working below minimum wage, and not to measure their living conditions.

It seems this would be best written as a letter response to get clarity than an article. I started pulling some (possibly) relevant stuff on incomes, and just tacked it at the end when it seemed this was not really worth publishing. ]

In ULK51 in the article Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class in the U.$, I found the part of "Lumpen Defined by Income" a bit archaic, and may need to be re-analyzed to give a clearer perspective of the income to standard of living ratio.

Even though unskilled and semi-skilled labor, paid at minimum wage, would seem to be overvalued in comparison to the pay of oppressed nations, from the perspective that minimum wage could buy more and go further within those countries, from the perspective of receiving such pay within the United $nakes it is still not enough to pay for all the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, medical and education for one humyn, let alone a further humyn.

In 1990 the U.$. tax government declared that under $12,000 a year to be living "At poverty level." In the base pay values of $3 to $5 an hour at 40 hours a week. $5 seems to meet your criteria of the $10,000 cut off point, by being at $10,400 for a 52 week year (no vacations) but would still be considered living under the "poverty line" in 1990, over twenty years ago. I am not sure what the U.$. tax government considers the "poverty level" now, and even though it would be "luxurious" compared to third world standards, at this level within the U.$., to make ends meet, these poverty level humyns would still be considered living parasitically off the wasted excess of the First World, in such commodities as food, shelter, and water that they often obtained in ways other than the trade of government currency.

I just think that the section should be re-evaluated.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class article we addressed a few important points. First, we need to understand what the term lumpen means. By definition, those engaged in full time work for pay are not part of the lumpen. The lumpen are unemployed or underemployed. Even people working full time and hustling on the side for extra cash are not part of the lumpen, though they may be more likely sympathetic to lumpen ideas and sentiments. Whether or not someone lives below the poverty line is irrelevant to defining the lumpen. There are some lumpen who earn more than full time working people. We just used income calculations to try to determine what percentage of the population is outside of the traditional workforce.

We're not sure what this comrade would propose for a re-evaluation of that section of defining lumpen by income since we didn't use poverty as a metric for lumpen class status, but rather for full time workers we need to look at income as a metric for proletarian vs. labor aristocracy status (based on whether or not someone earns more than the value of their labor).

We did address this question of the "poverty line" in the lead up to our analysis of lumpen defined by income in that same article: "Yet, even in the recent recession, government-defined poverty rates have not yet reached the levels they were at prior to 1965 when they were around 20%, give or take. In 2011 the poverty rate was recorded as 15%. Even this rate is inflated since assistance in the form of tax credits and food stamps is not counted as taxable income. If this income was included in their calculations it would pull 9.6 million people above the poverty line and bring the percent below the poverty rate to less than 12%. So it is only a small group at the margins that may be seeing a shift in their material conditions such that they could arguably be seen as not largely benefiting from imperialism."

It is true that many full time workers in the U.$. fall below the government-defined poverty line. As this writer says, we can see that many of these folks are living parasitically off of the excess stolen from the Third World. The most interesting point here is that some full time workers need to hustle on the side to survive. That might reasonably expand the group who, while not technically lumpen, is sympathetic to the lumpen and potentially revolutionary.

The Poverty Guideline for 2016 for the 48 contiguous states was $11,880 for an individual, increasing at increments of $4,160 for each additional family member. Many people claim that the cost of living is higher in the United $tates so we deserve to get paid more. This critique is why "purchasing power parity" (PPP) was developed as a way to measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. What purchasing power parity measures is not how many dollars the average persyn earns, but the average amount of value in real goods they can purchase with their income. The United $tates ranks #10 in this measurement, with most places ranking higher than it being industrial cities in Asia and small oil-producing entities. (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?year_high_desc=true) The U.$. GDP(PPP) is $55,836 per persyn in 2015, approaching 6 times that of the global average of $15,470. In other words, the "high cost of living" does not justify the high income levels in the United $tates.

Of course, those GDP per capita figures are averages and tell us nothing about the lowest rungs of those populations.

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[Theory] [China]
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Book review: In the People's Republic

In the People's Republic:
An American's First Hand View of Living and Working in China
by Orville Schell
1977


The author's trip was arranged in the 1970s by the Hinton's, an Amerikan family. The group was composed of men and womyn between the ages of 18 and 60. As I read 'In the Peoples Republic' I came to see each subchapter as a beautiful blueprint of Maoism in practice It was very informative on how people can transform all their daily habits to better the people as a whole. For instance, Mao's China seemed what some today would call "green" friendly, Schell explains how hotels in the city that obviously generate much trash, separated the trash for organic garbage, which was sent to pig farms and used for slop. This was done nationwide. Even human waste was collected in what they called "honey trucks" and taken to special ponds where thy would turn to fertilizer. This recycling and notion of wasting nothing is an advancement that even 30+ years later has not reached the U$ on a nationwide level. The Chinese people's ability to use all material was remarkable, wasting nothing was common practice.

On the passing of Chiang Kai Shek Schell notes that hardly a mention was given in the People's Daily publication, and there was no rejoycing or anger shown in the streets or otherwise and that the people hated what he stood for, but not him as a person. This shows the difference under socialism and the behavior the people developed even to disliked enemies, unlike here in Amerika as we witnessed the gleefullness and cheer in the U$ media when Saddam Hussein was executed. It is clear that under capitalism humyns mean shit.

Shell included Mao's essay "the twenty manifestations of bureaucracy" in its entirety. This document showed Mao's passionate disagreement with different bureaucracy. It was real good to see Mao fervently denouncing ever becoming disconnected from the people. During the Cultural Revolution many plays and dance troupes even addressed this issue with one of the performers wearing oversized glasses, dressed in a suit with much face makeup appearing very pale from staying in an office and carrying a briefcase. This performer played the arrogant bureaucracy.

What I enjoyed about 'In the Peoples Republic' was it gave a brief description of all levels of society in a Maoist country. Even the artists and performers only created artforms that had a correct line and benefited the people, and what was amazing is even the best performers or dancers were never singled out and praised. This is a deep contrast to what is seen here in Amerika where it is totally opposite and performers or dancers and especially actors and actresses are praised for their individuality. Individualism is not only praised here but expected.

This book spoke a lot of Mao's emphasis on including the peasants in all spheres of society, Schell described how dance troupes would take their andmade props and travel by foot to mountainous areas off the beaten path where they would perform their politically charged dance performances and songs to peasants and when Shell asked one of the performers "where do you live on such trips?" the performer stated "we live with the peasants" and he went on to describe how they have the "three togethers": eat together, live together and work together.

A scenario was posed that would be incomprehensible here in the U.$. While touring Schell's guide in China gathered some workers off the street, a factory worker and other store workers, and conducted a political discussion and the workers explained how politics apply to their jobs. Schell wrote how in the U.$. during a foreign tour if one would gather a Kentucky Fried Chicken worker, a Safeway worker, etc and the same discussion was held, how different that discussion would be. I believe this is because in this country it would not be beneficial to U.$. interests for the masses to take up politics because should the people become aware of how things work, capitalism would suffer, so the average person is kept in the dark about politics. I thought this was a good scenario that showed the big contradiction in socialist versus capitalist societies, and the average person living in these societies.

Having experienced the imperialist prisons and its most suppressive states, i.e. control units/security housing units, I was particularly interested in the subchapter on prisons. There was a short description of the prisons in Mao's China that I enjoyed, I saw the real difference in treatment in a socialist prison and in a Maoist prison specifically. Here in imperialist Amerika most prisons will often pass out Christian bibles, prison officials will leave a vast amount of bibles and other religious literature in the dayroom where it is all conveniently accessible to prisoners. Prison officials often send religious pastors cell to cell asking if prisoners would like to discuss/learn about religion. I often tell these pastors I would rather discuss communism and this usually sparks a long debate between me and the pastor, ending with the pastor walking off angry because I point out religion's long history of atrocity and oppression.

According to Schell, when he and his group visited a prison in China, all cells had Marx, Lenin and Maist books in each cell. They also worked and partook in criticism/self-criticism, there were not reports of prison riots, suicide or guards abusing prisoners, unlike here inthe U.$. where there are many of suicides and guards are always caught abusing prisoners. Here even rape is a common occurance, depression is high with guards feeling a sense of hopelessness as well as prisoners. In contrast, in Mao's Chian prison guards felt it a great honor to work as prison guards as it was seen as a great contribution in rebuilding these people and socialist reconstruction as a whole.

This book was good and gave a good study of Maoism in practice. I would liked it to be more in depth on things or to show more on China's economics or its military, nonetheless it was a good look into everyday life in a Maoist society.

MIM(Prisons) adds: The author is a Harvard graduate who travelled with a group of other U.$. citizens to China in the last few months of Mao's life. They worked in a factory for a few weeks, worked in a field for a few weeks, and toured many facilities such as clinics and schools. In the People's Republic is written exclusively through the subjective filter of a typical Amerikkkan with a bourgeois perspective. The main take-home lesson of this book seems to be "Socialism works for the Chinese because they are so odd and different from Amerikans. Socialism is against so many cultural values we have as Amerikans, and it is bad for us for these reasons."

It gives a favorable view of China in this period, but summarizes it as the Chinese are "just different" from Amerikans. The author writes off much of the Chinese hospitality as awkward and boring, and has a near obsession with connecting with the Chinese on an individual level, and telling anecdotes with a sense of irony. While having an apparent ignorance of Mao Tse-Tung Thought, the author does not hesitate to interpret the Chinese's body language and conversation through an Amerikan cultural lens.

If you already have an understanding of Maoism and Chinese society under socialism, it can be interesting to read about such an important project from a bourgeois perspective. While the author's subjective interpretation of events is "off", ey at least doesn't lie about how successful the Chinese were in raising the living standards of even the most destitute people in the country in incredible ways. There is much first-hand favorable reflection on the cultural revolution as well.

There is one point that we disagree with in this review, and apparently also with the author of In the People's Republic. Both Schell and the author of the review seem to think that Amerikan's are not given information about politics because it is in the interests of Amerikan capitalism to keep them in the dark. The reviewer wrote: "I believe this is because in this country it would not be beneficial to U.$. interests for the masses to take up politics because should the people become aware of how things work, capitalism would suffer, so the average person is kept in the dark about politics."

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[Abuse] [Control Units] [Jefferson City Correctional Center] [Missouri]
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Missouri Long-Term Solitary Confinement Frameups and Torture

I am a Missouri Prisoner in Jefferson City. I have been in the SHU for over a year and the COs here, staff, caseworkers, nurses, etc are illegally keeping inmates in the SHU longer than necessary, refusing inmates medical attention, refusing inmates meals, harassing and assaulting inmates. I could list about a hundred more ways these capitalists are breaking the law.

I came to the hole for an alleged "guard assault." I got charged with 1st degree assault on law enforcement and convicted with 20 years ran in with my current sentence.

When I first got thrown in the hole for this I was placed in a highly air conditioned cell in nothing but my boxers and shirt. No mattress, blanket or anything; save my toilet. I was like this for a month. Correctional Officers (COs) repeatedly maced me. When maced I was given nothing but a rag to clean it up with. COs refused me my meals and constantly made threats to "get rid of" me. When I finally got a mattress it was covered in piss from its previous user. The same day I got pulled out and my mattress taken. The pigs said I tore it up and wrote me up for destruction of state property charging me $68. My mail from my family was constantly coming up missing and the mail I sent out wasn't getting to my family/friends. I was on a box called SSO (Safety Security Observation) for 5 months where I couldn't get haircuts, use nail clippers, or get visits.

When I finally got written up for this so-called "incident" I was written up for 1.1 murder. The only thing is at the very bottom of the violation "attempt" was in parenthesis. This was done to keep me in solitary for as long as they want. According to their 1.1 policy, it says nowhere in policy that there is an attempt. It's either 1.1 Murder or 2.1 Serious damage to an offender or correctional officer. I challenged this and was denied. I have been over their "90 day" violation free bullshit, yet they will not promote me to Phase 1. They have a Step up Program: Phase 0-3. 0 is solitary, 1-2 is double man if you're not "single cell mandate" (get to that in a minute) and 2 you get food (nothing but fatty junk food) and 3 is double man with all your canteen, you can walk to chow, and go to gym.

I am thankfully not on single cell mandate, yet they continue to hold me illegally in solitary depriving me of contact visits.

Single cell mandate is where inmates cannot have a celly and either have to rot in Jefferson City hole or do a program in Potosi where you sit in solitary 5-10 years and get harassed by police and assaulted sometimes ending in death.

Since being in solitary here I have looked out my window and seen stretchers carrying inmates dead or extremely injured off the yard. Mainly coming from medical. The pigs here fuck with inmates so bad here (no joke) inmates are cutting their nutsacks out and nothing is done to help these mental health inmates, but a big help of maze.

I've been to quite a few Missouri penitentiaries, but I have never seen anything like I've seen here. Torture, harassment, and completely sadistic brutality, like 5 pigs running in a prisoner's cell with helmets and riot shields beating the shit out of inmates breaking their bones. The phase system is a SHU trap. I'll probably get fucked up for this letter if you receive it. Please spread the news of this so-called respectable prison.

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[Hunger Strike] [Control Units] [Columbia Correctional Institution] [Waupun Correctional Institution] [Wisconsin] [ULK Issue 52]
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Wisconsin Hunger Strikers August Update

[Wisconsin prisoners have been on hunger strike since June 10 protesting long-term solitary confinement practices. Read previous updates from July and April and learn how you can support this struggle.- Editor]

Update on the food strike in Wisconsin Department of Corrections: We are still on it and still receiving support across the country from outside parts. Us at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) are eating just enough to prevent them from force feeding until I can get a supervisory writ filed in WI Court of Appeals (WI. Ct. App.) The circuit court in collusion with DOC did not address and/or acknowledge filings. Those at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) last I heard were still being force fed and the court made the order permanent fluid.

One WCI striker had to go to the hospital as result of abuse, got an infection and could have died. Broke his nose too.

United States East District court refused class classification. Comrade previously vowed to appeal that but it's supposed to be new 7th Circuit precedent, stating prisoners gotta have a layer for class certification for class action (I'm not sure of this legality. I have yet to see the order and new case).

Both republican and democrat state officials are supposed to be "interested" in new solitary confinement legislation. One official met with a comrade at WCI. They only let two people visit. The official was the second. While that visit occurred, other officials walked through the oppressive confines.

This struggle is not over. The DOC is still making oppressive plays. On August 8 they continued my AC (Administrative Confinement) going on 19 years. The reasons are simple and concise: my release to GP will be a danger because I'll influence the younger prisoners based on my conduct history. And they noted, my lack of participation (code for kiss ass) showing my disinterest in AC process. (AC process: letting them degrade me, demonize me and sit there begging them and demeaning myself, saying I'm not all that bad mas'er.)

DOC and CCI are still making oppressive moves. Our food portions get smaller every week. And they are cutting movement/activities while telling the public they are studying ways to provide the same in more form.

They are frustrating my access to court, not letting me go to law library, or access the computer to type up my motions. Forcing me to send nerve-damage-penned documents into the court. Knowing courts look down on and don't read chicken scratch. We need you all out there reading this to continue the letter writing campaign that was printed in ULK 51. Write Gov. Walker, State officials, wardens at WCI, CCI and DOC secretary.

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[United Front] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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Abolitionists from Within Prepare for 2nd September 9th Day of Solidarity

First I would like to thank the comrades willing to study and struggle with Abolitionists From Within (AFW) here on C yard for having the heart to step out and shake hands with the different ethinc groups and put an end to the hosttiliites with peace on their tongue during Black August. Our study group has been growing throughout the cells here at High Desert C yard, despite many setbacks of harassment from the pigs here and there. As I continue to share literature with the comrades and this year's study group, I introduce them to MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within (USW). I remind every comrade that everyone's struggles are different (state of mind). If you know what the problem is our job as comrades is to help come up with solutions to combat the problem for our comrades. But in order to do anything to advance the struggle we must be organized in order to help one another, we must set triablism to the side! And set aside all of our differences as well as our past beef and come together collectively in an effort to accomplish our goals: Peace, Unity and Growth among the oppressed masses.

Wake up young Afrikan! Put an end to this madness. September 9th Day of Solidarity is just around the corner. Abolitionists From Within (AFW) is back on the move for the second year here at High Desert State Prison (HDSP), bringing together a cohesive front in reflecting, fasting and uniting to honor those nameless and faceless men of Black August and Attica (1971) by coming together in solidarity. This year we put the issues of today on the table:

  1. Who is your neighbor? Always remember racism is an idea that is the product of imperialism. And AFW, USW and MIM(Prisons) are all in agreement with anti-imperialism!
  2. What will help us improve our material condition? First we must start off with our neighbor, each one teach one no matter the color.
  3. Understand the prison system. The system operates through criminal justice institutions, but functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.

Comrades, wake up! Understand the racial caste system; they don't require racial hostility or overt biogtry to thrive, they need only racial indifference. Wake up young Afrikan! Mass incarceration in the U.S. is a comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social system. Cormades, help me help us organize and advance our struggle forward for peace throughout C yard.

Comrades, Peace and Solidarity
(i will also be following up with our report of September 9th activities)
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[Organizing] [Congress Resolutions] [ULK Issue 52]
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Our Readers Have Spoken: Prisoncensorship.info Must Live

TogetherBreakChains

This article is to announce the short-term success of our recent campaign to keep our website alive. After proposing that our limited comrade time might be better spent on pushing forward our prisoner support work, we launched a campaign to engage our online readers. With minimal effort, we have received a substantive response indicating that we were incorrect to hypothesize that we could not mobilize our online readers to contribute to this project as our prison-based readers have from the beginning.

In just five months we've seen our volunteer base and collaborative work grow enough to convince us that web development is a good use of our limited comrade time. But as we pointed out in that article, regular contributions are much more useful than sporadic ones, so we must keep up this trend. We have gained at least one regular financial contributor, which more than covers the cost of keeping our website online. We encourage our other volunteers to stick to it.

A note to potential financial contributors, we had been soliciting postage stamps, however we are approaching our limits on how many we can use, especially since this is the main way that prisoners send donations. So new contributors should consider sending cash, blank money orders or bitcoin.

Those watching our website may have noticed us taking down some requests for help as volunteers have stepped up. While not all have proven themselves yet, we have received responses to diverse needs. By offering up more specific tasks, we've inspired our readers into action, proving they are more than just web traffic statistics. This also proved that lack of focused leadership on our part was part of the problem.

It was not just online readers who responded to our call. One United Struggle from Within leader put forth a proposal to our annual congress to up the enrollment fees for our correspondence study groups and to only provide hard-to-find books to those who pay for them. Another USW comrade proposed that we remove people from the ULK mailing list faster to cut costs. We adopted new policies incorporating both proposals, which should help on the postage side of things. One comrade even spoke of the impact the website had on em from prison, demonstrating that the website directly contributes to our prison-based work.

In addition to the new contributors we've gained in recent months, we've seen an increase in comradely projects putting out good material. This can help us directly by providing material for our newsletter and study groups. But it also helps the movement in general. Supporting MIM(Prisons) is a great way to contribute as we have a proven track record. But we need more projects than the Prison Ministry. So don't let the scope of our work limit you if you can contribute in bigger and better ways.

While things will roll out slowly as usual, we will be continuing to improve and add content to our website in coming months. We also want to put a call out there for supporters who want to contribute as part of a cyber promotion campaign. This is something that you can easily do on your own, and there is no limit to how many can help promote our work and MIM line in whatever forums you are active. Or get in touch for ideas of outlets for promotion.

There is no doubt that setting up secure, reliable institutions on the internet is a needed task. While platforms owned by transnational corporations may have tactical use for promotion, with proper precautions in place, they cannot be our base of operations. Prisoncensorship.info has contributed in this regard and with your support we will continue to work to strengthen it as an independent institution of the oppressed.

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[Release] [Mental Health]
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Surviving on the Streets is a Challenge after Abuse Behind Bars

It has been some time since we connected, 7 or 8 years I'd say. I was a regular subscriber and poetry/prose contributor over the years I was a fedz prisoner.

As I'm sure the question looms, "how does one find himself back inside?" Especially after having done 17 years fedz? Well, while one exited within a progressive state of mind; obtaining an AA in 15 months; doing 40 hours a week volunteering at a program benefiting those with felony backgrounds; rebuilding broken ties to my three adult children; getting into Junior University even!

What I did not get enough of was mental health treatment! All of those yard riots, overt violence and isolation took a toll it seems! After an all-out melee while attending a birthday party, i began suffering flashbacks, nightmares, and chronic insomnia. A professional diagnosed me with PTSD and recommended medication for sleep and anxiety. I refused out of ignorance, erroneously thinking it'd tamper with my brain. Shortly thereafter, an infrequent sexual partner spit on me. My response was to hit her repeatedly. An act i am ashamed of and totally out of character. While there were no bodily injuries (serious), i was convicted at a farce of a trial of multiple charges including burglary 1, assault 2, assault 4 x2, etc.

And given what is called "dangerous offender" enhancement "45 years"! More time than a murderer. My attorney deliberately aided state in suppressing my mental health files and permitted my past organizational ties/prison B.S. to be used as fear inciter. Thankfully, they were in such a rush to get the so-called "gang leader" they made a multitude of errors! Any one of which could/should get one a new trial. Picture a trial where three separate jurors have a connection to the DA or testifying witnesses. Or a defendant with documented PTSD being purposely misdiagnosed (via reading past fedz writeups) as having "personality disorder" so as to justify and legitimize the dangerous offender enhancement. The struggle continues.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter because it's a good example of what happens to comrades once they hit the streets. Even those with the best of intentions and solid connections and infrastructure on the outside can struggle to stay out of trouble after years of torture and abuse behind bars. This is something we are interested in hearing more about from released and re-admitted comrades alike: what can be done to address mental health issues, both before release and on the streets, to help people stay out of prison?

We understand this comrade's hesitation in participating with mental health programs even after eir diagnosis of PTSD. There is a long, long history of unethical medical experimentation on oppressed peoples, even those considered U.$. citizens. And the medical and psychology industries in the United $tates are so closely tied up with capitalist ventures, it's difficult to know if you're getting accurate or truthful information about treatment or drugs being prescribed.

This anecdote also paints a portrait of how prisons are used for social control even beyond the prison walls. Violent prison conditions lead to psychological traumas, there's no treatment, and then those psychological traumas carry on post-release and infect interpersynal relationships, ultimately landing people back in jail.

In general, bourgeois psychological treatment focuses on helping people adapt to the fucked up conditions of imperialism. If you are depressed about how unfair and disgusting humyn societies are, that's a valid and natural response. Bourgeois psychology would try to put you on anti-depressants and convince you it's your problem you're depressed — something wrong with your brain. MIM(Prisons) would highlight that this is a social problem, that your brain is in perfect working order, and try to rally you to channel that depression and frustration into working to change these conditions. 9 times out of 10 working on a political project you really believe in will help relieve psychological symptoms caused by the alienation of capitalism.

However, in some cases simply acting doesn't break one out of a mental health crisis. As much as we try to overcome it on our own, sometimes addressing the psychological challenge head-on is an important accompaniment to, or sometimes precursor of, political activism. We're not saying to just go along with whatever treatment plan some quack doctor recommends. But it's important to smartly tap into these resources in order to further one's ability to do political work on an as-needed basis. For example, if this comrade got treatment for their PTSD, ey may have been better able to control eir anger, and thus may have avoided catching another bid.

Eventually we aim to run our own Serve the People medical programs, like the Black Panther Party was doing in their heyday, combining much-needed services with political education against imperialism. Until then we just try to use the few helpful resources available to us to better our ability to do political work, while we build toward that future.

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[Censorship] [North Carolina] [ULK Issue 52]
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NCDPS Sued for Censorship of ULK

A former prisoner of the state of North Carolina has filed suit against the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) for regularly censoring eir subscription to Under Lock & Key (ULK) without due cause. In December 2015, U.S. Marshals were ordered by the U.S. District Court to serve Cynthia Bostic and Fay Lassiter with the complaints. Lassiter was the Chair of the Publication Review Committee, who would send MIM Distributors a "letter to publisher" every two months stating that the latest issue of ULK was disapproved for delivery. Usually the reason given was "D Code" or "encourages insurrection and disorder."

Cynthia Bostic was the Assistant Section Chief of Support Services, who was in charge of reviewing these decisions. Every two months a volunteer legal assistant would write Bostic to appeal the censorship and she would respond upholding the decision. This went on for 3 years straight with every issue being censored, every appeal being denied, and no specific justifications being given for the censorship.

In an attempt to investigate the so-called "review process" our volunteer filed a public information request with the state and began shopping the case to some civil rights lawyers in North Carolina. It was around this time that our appeal was granted for ULK Issue 36. Yet, none of the copies sent to prisoners in North Carolina were subsequently delivered. Presumably the state just threw our mail away. So we went ahead and sent new copies of ULK 36 with copies of the letter from Bostic saying that this issue was approved. These too were censored! As most prisoners know, but some readers on the street may not, it can be a real battle just to get these people to follow their own rules and decisions. Like the comrade filing the suit stated in a recent interview, "there are no rights, only power struggles."

We want to commend this comrade for taking up this battle after eir release from prison. This is a shining example of carrying on the struggle for those ey left behind. And it shows leadership and self-reliance to come out and wage what will likely be an uphill battle against the state for basic rights. At the same time, the battle will be so much easier from the outside where one does not have to worry about constant harassment, mail being thrown out and being denied access to law books (North Carolina does not have law libraries in its prisons). The local report on eir lawsuit states that ey will be doing a fundraising campaign, and we encourage people to support em.

This battle is ongoing, as North Carolina continues to ban almost every issue of ULK statewide, despite the fact that Lassiter and Bostic are no longer involved in these decisions. Perhaps not surprising for a state that was recently told by a Federal court that its voting laws were illegal for disenfranchising New Afrikans. A lawsuit like this is needed to take the censorship struggle in NC to the next level. Bourgeois democracy will never guarantee the rights of the oppressed. But we can use lawsuits tactically to win battles when we are clearly in the right according to their own rules and principles.

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[Spanish] [U.S. Imperialism]
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Una reseña de libro de ‘Guantanamo Diary’

Guantanamo Diary

de Mohamedou Ould Slahi

2015

Desde el año 2001, Mohamedou Ould Slahi ha estado [email protected] en centros secretos de detención por orden del gobierno amerikano. Primero en Mauritania (el país donde nació), después en Jordania, y finalmente en 2002 fue encarcelado en la Bahía de Guantánamo, donde todavía está. En septiembre 29, 2001, Slahi se entregó voluntariamente a la policía Mauritania; estaba [email protected] de que iba a ser [email protected] ya que era inocente de cualquier crimen. Pero en lugar de ser [email protected], sufrió años de tortura. Al inicio mantuvo su inocencia hasta que se dio cuenta de que no iba a ser [email protected] y hasta que no pudo soportar más el sufrimiento. Desde ese momento, Slahi empezó a confesar cualquier cosa que sus captores querían que dijera. Ocasionalmente, Slahi les decía la verdad cuando le preguntaban directamente y también cuando sabía que sus cuentos no eran consistentes ni podían ser ratificados porque sus ‘confesiones’ fueron totalmente fabricadas. Pero fue después de empezar a dar confesiones falsas e implicar falsamente a otros que a Slahi se le permitió dormir y comer e incluso paró el extremo maltrato físico. Los detalles de su tortura harán que los lectores se pregunten: ¿Cómo pudo durar tanto tiempo?

En 2005, Slahi empezó a escribir sobre sus experiencias (después de que le dieron papel y bolígrafo) y finalmente, después de muchos años de batallas jurídicas, su manuscrito, que fue fuertemente censurado, fue liberado por el gobierno americano. Este libro es una versión editada de la historia de Slahi y contiene las redacciones originales. El editor, Larry Seims, incluye algunas especulaciones de las razones de dichas redacciones y documenta información desclasificada que confirma lo que Slahi escribió. A pesar de la censura excesiva, el manuscrito incluye detalles sorprendentes sobre las experiencias de Slahi, por ejemplo: los años de tortura que sufrió, evidencia incuestionable de su inocencia, y el deseo del gobierno americano de una confesión falsa. El libro está escrito en inglés, el cuarto idioma de Slahi, uno que aprendió en la cárcel para poder comunicarse mejor con sus captores y para poder entender lo que sucedía a su alrededor. Durante seis años y medio, Slahi no pudo tener contacto con el mundo exterior. Incluso, fue ocultado del ‘International Committee of the Red Cross’ (el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja – CICR) que tiene un mandato bajo los Convenios de Ginebra de visitar a los prisioneros de guerra y a las personas que fueron detenidas en situaciones similares a Slahi, para asegurarse de que son tratados humanamente. Durante el primer año de su encarcelamiento, la familia de Slahi ni siquiera sabía dónde estaba y solo lo descubrieron cuando uno de sus hermanos vio un artículo en un periódico alemán. En 2008, Slahi finalmente se le concedidó el ‘privilegio’ de poder llamar a su familia dos veces al año. En 2010, la petición de habeas corpus, que ordenaba su liberación, fue concedida por el ‘DC Circuit Court of Appeals’ (Corte de Apelaciones de Estados Unidos para el Circuito del Distrito de Columbia). Pero la administración de Obama presentó una apelación y Slahi permanece aun en custodía.

La dominación global del imperialismo Amerikano

Las tantas personas que fueron detenidas y secuestradas de sus países nativos, y que fueron mandadas a la Bahía de Guantánamo, enfatizan el estado neo-colonial de esos países. Como Slahi explica, “El 28 de noviembre es el día de la independencia de Mauritania; simboliza el evento cuando la república islámica de Mauritania supuestamente declaró independencia de los colonizadores franceses en 1960. Irónicamente, en ese mismo día en 2001, la independiente y soberana república de Mauritania entregó uno de sus propios ciudadanos en una premisa. Además de su deshonra eterna, el gobierno de Mauritania no solo rompió la constitución, que prohíbe la extradición de los criminales Mauritanos a otros países, sino que también extraditó a un ciudadano inocente, exponiéndole a la impredecible justicia amerikana.” (p132)

Cuando el CICR por fin consiguió ver a Slahi, el último detenido que tuvieron permiso para ver, intentaron [email protected] hablar del abuso que sufrió. “Siempre escondí los maltratos cuando me lo preguntaba el CICR porque tenía miedo de la represalia. Eso y el hecho de que el CICR no tiene ningún poder real sobre el gobierno amerikano; el CICR intentó, pero el gobierno amerikano no cambió de ruta, ni siquiera una pulgada. Si dejaban al CICR ver a un detenido, significaba que la operación contra ese detenido se había terminado.” (p348)

Este libro enfatiza el poder del imperialismo amerikano y el hecho de que puede hacer lo que quiere en este mundo. No hay ningún gobierno ni organización que pueda luchar contra este poder. Muchos amerikanos se enorgullecen de esto, pero esto es el poder de una gente que quiere dominar el mundo para ganancias económicas. Cuando los oprimidos contraatacan, el poder es desplegado para aplastar a la resistencia por cualquier medio necesario. Por supuesto hay una contradicción inherente en este poder: la dominación del imperialismo amerikano engendra resistencia de los oprimidos en todo el mundo. Los llamados ataques terroristas dirigidos a los E$tado Unido$ (EE.UU) son reacciones al terrorismo amerikano en todo el mundo. Como Slahi escribió cuando estaba viendo la película ‘Black Hawk Down’ (La caída del halcón negro): “Los guardias se volvieron locos emocionalmente porque vieron a muchos amerikanos asesinados a balazos. Pero no se dieron cuenta de que el número de víctimas amerikanas es insignificante comparado con los somalís que fueron atacados en sus propias casas. Me quede pensando cómo la gente puede tener la mente tan cerrada. Cuando la gente ve algo desde solo una perspectiva, fracasan en ver el escenario total, y esa es la razón principal de la mayoría de los malentendidos que a veces resultan en confrontaciones sangrientas.” (p320)

No estamos de acuerdo de que solamente son estos malentendidos que resultan en estas confrontaciones sangrientas. Pero, más bien es el hambre de sangre de la agresión imperialista que continuamente busca nuevas fuentes de riqueza explotada y riqueza robada que inevitablemente resulta en las confrontaciones sangrientas.

Aunque Slahi está lejos de ser radical políticamente, sus experiencias le educaron sobre la realidad de la injusticia y la definición del crimen por los que están en poder. Escribiendo sobre su arresto y encarcelamiento inicial en Mauritania: “¿Por qué tenía tanto miedo? Porque la delincuencia es algo relativo; es algo que el gobierno define y redefine cuando le da la gana.” (p92)

La guerra contra el Islam

El objetivo de la agresión de los EE.UU cambia dependiendo de donde este la mayor resistencia al imperialismo. A mitad del siglo XX la agresión fue concentrada en los países comunistas, esto luego cambió a finales del siglo XX a la guerra contra las drogas en Latinoamérica, y después al mundo árabe al principio del siglo XXI. Slahi está fuertemente consciente de esta reciente ola de agresión por [email protected] imperialistas [email protected] dirigida al Islam y la hipocresía de este ataque:

“…[email protected] [email protected] suelen ampliar el círculo de los que están involucrados para poder atrapar el mayor número de musulmanes posible. Siempre hablan de una gran conspiración en contra de los EE.UU. Yo personalmente fui [email protected] sobre la gente que solamente practican lo básico de la religión y que simpatizan con los movimientos islámicos; me preguntaron sobre cada detalle de los movimientos islámicos, sin importar que tan moderadodos fueran. Es sorprendente que en un país como los EE.UU, donde organizaciones terroristas cristianas como los nazis y los defensores de la supremacía de la raza blanca tienen la libertad de expresarse y reclutar gente públicamente sin repercusiones. Sin embargo, si eres musulmán y si simpatizas con las opiniones políticas de una organización islámica, tendrás grandes problemas. Incluso asistir a la misma mezquita que un sospechoso resultaría en apuros serios. Esto es evidente para todos [email protected] que entienden los componentes de la política amerikana hacia el supuesto terrorismo islámico.” (p260-61)
Slahi también documenta la denegación de las prácticas religiosas en los campos de detención:
“Pero en los campos secretos, la guerra contra la religión islámica era más obvia. No solo no había señales hacia Meca, sino las oraciones rituales también fueron prohibidas. Recitar el Corán fue prohibido. Ayunar fue prohibido. Poseer el Corán fue prohibido. Prácticamente cualquier cosa relacionado con islam fue estrictamente prohibido. No estoy hablando de rumores; estoy hablando de mis experiencias personales. No creo que el estadounidense común esté pagando impuestos para librar una guerra contra el islam, pero sí creo que haya gente en el gobierno que tiene un problema grande con la religión islámica.”(p265)

Slahi no se da cuenta de que este chovinismo no es un problema que [email protected] [email protected] tienen con la religión islámica, sino que es un problema con las personas oprimidas que se alzaran contra el imperialismo amerikano. El Islam es solo uno de los tantos blancos porque es una religión de [email protected] [email protected] El gobierno amerikano (y su gente) no tenía ningún problema con islam cuando Al Quaeda fue un aliado en la lucha contra el comunismo. De hecho, el mismo Slahi entrenó con Al Quaeda durante seis meses en Afganistán, pero esto fue durante el tiempo cuando el grupo fue apoyado por el gobierno amerikano y cuando luchaban contra el gobierno sostenido por los soviéticos en dicho país. Esta acción era legal para los ciudadanos en Mauritania e incluso fue animada por el gobierno amerikano. No obstante, este hecho se convirtió en uno de los factores más importantes que influyó la insistencia del gobierno amerikano de que Slahi estaba detras de los ataques del Centro de Comercio Mundial, entre otras cosas.

¿Se opondrán [email protected] [email protected] a la tortura?

Después de años de tortura e injusto encarcelamiento a manos del gobierno amerikano, las opiniones de Slahi sobre el país y sus habitantes permanecen relativamente moderadas. Ve el bien en todos, una opinión que compartida por los comunistas. Pero es una opinión que no le deja ver los intereses económicos de la mayoría de los amerikanos que hace que apoyen la tortura en Guantánamo, incluso después de que reportajes como este sean publicadas. “¿Qué pensaría un amerikano muerto común si podría ver lo que su gobierno está haciendo a alguien que no ha cometido ningún crimen contra nadie? Por más que me apenaba por los compañeros árabes, sabía que no representaban el árabe común. La gente árabe está entre los mejores en el planeta; son sensibles, emocionales, amorosos, generosos, se sacrifican, son religiosos, caritativos y amables… El odio contra los EE.UU seria regado si la gente en el mundo árabe supiera lo que sucede aquí. Incluso la acusación de que los EE.UU está ayudando y trabajando con los dictadores en nuestros países seria dimentada.” (p257) La realidad es que la mayoría de la gente en el mundo árabe esta consciente de la injusticia amerikana. De hecho, cuando Slahi preguntó porqué le estaban extraditando cuando pensaban que ya había probado su inocencia, la policía en Mauritania le dijo “los Estado Unidos es un país que está basado en la injusticia.” (p134) Es este conocimiento que resulta en que la gente empiece a luchar contra el imperialismo amerikano. Al mismo tiempo, la mayoría de [email protected] [email protected] ahora saben sobre la tortura de los detenidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo y la opinión del público está lejos de furia a conocer estas acciones. Mucha gente de la población se reúne para dar apoyo a figuras políticas como Donald Trump cuando exige más tortura. A través de todo esto, vemos más evidencia que apoya la posibilidad de que Islam pueda ser una Teología de liberación para los que luchan contra el imperialismo amerikano. Así como las masas en Latinoamérica fueron atraidas a la Teología de liberación católica como una reacción contra la opresión e injusticia en esa región, es probable que segmentos de cualquier religión adapten sentimientos similares. La Teología de liberación fue una aliada valiosa para los revolucionarios en Latinoamérica.

Sea como sea que se desarrolle esta lucha de liberacióon, sabemos que la gente oprimida de este mundo no puede esperar a que los americanos abran los ojos y paren la tortura ellos mismos. Ahora, después de un año de que el libro de Slahi fuera publicado (e incluso fue entre los libros más vendidos), todavía no cambia su situación. Las masas deben liberarse a sí mismos; sus captores nunca rendirán su poder voluntariamente. Los amerikanos están disfrutando de los botines de los captores, entonces la mayoría de [email protected] [email protected] están contentos con la tortura mundial imperialista.

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[Gender] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 52]
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Why Won't Wimmin Fight for their Rights?

Half the Sky

I see MIM is going to do a wimmin's issue. I really don't know what can get women interested and have some courage to do anything other than complain. Women seem to think if they smile, be happy, flip their hair and talk with a baby voice it will get them things. Even though we keep getting things taken from us, women will not speak up and stand up.

I read in Prison Action News (by ABC) about a work stoppage they are trying to encourage in September 2016. But all the responses I get from women is they will not participate, they are scared of being locked down, retaliation, blah, blah, blah.

Here is what I am currently going through with the grievance process concerning outdoor yard time: Lieutenant Gayle Ross posted a Posted Operational Rule (POR) changing small yard time. First of all, it was not signed until 1 June 2016, but supposedly went into effect a month before posting on 1 May 2016. PORs must give prisoners a two week notice before a change goes into effect.

Female prisoners are no longer allowed to go out to the small yard at the same time as dog program participants, with/without their dogs, for fear that we may get hurt. Even though dog program participants and their dogs are not separated in the units with non-dog program prisoners. Apparently it's only a safety/security issue for use of the small yard.

Next, Lt. Gayle Ross has spread her safety/security issue to other areas. Apparently wimmin prisoners are too fragile to go outside when it is wet out, puddles on the ground or snow on the ground. Supposedly we are childish and will jump in puddles, and too fragile so we might fall. This reasoning has allowed us to be denied small yard for entire seasons: fall heading into winter, winter, and most of spring, which by definition is rainy. Even though recreation can clear off puddles by sweeping off the water, the recreation staff lets the water sit until it dries naturally, of course closing the small yard for days. Apparently wimmin are dangerous enough to imprison but too fragile to go outside.

There are three steps to our grievance process. I have grieved all the way to a step three, therefore exhausting the grievance process. I am the only one grieving. Women complain, complain, complain but do nothing else. So I am preparing a 1983 [lawsuit].

I have used the grievance petition from MIM(Prisons). None of my three grievances were provided timely responses according to Colorado's AR 850-04 time limit for Step 1, 2 and 3 grievances. I sent this petition to Rick Raemisch, executive director of Colorado Department of Corrections, the United States Department of Justice and the Office of Inspector General. The United States Department of Justice basically said they only considered class action cases. Due to the letter to Rick Raemisch, Captain Bowers met with me and Lt. Gayle Ross about the issue. The situation has not changed for the better.

Now more gym time and small yard time has been taken away. If we don't attend a specific aerobic program called Insanity/cize (which is a videotape), we cannot use the rest of the gym or small yard. We cannot use the other exercise equipment or do our own workout program. We must only workout to the DVD (unless we are ADA). Women are complaining but they are doing nothing else.

I am still working on my case with the help of reading material like Battling the Administration by David Meister and Prisoners' Self-Help Litigation Manual by Daniel Manville, that I bought from Prison Legal News.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises some important questions about how females are taught to act in order to get ahead in patriarchal society. The idea that flipping hair, smiling and talking with a baby voice will get stuff for wimmin has been reinforced with very real financial and social incentives based on looks and gendered behavior. While society teaches males that being aggressive and self-sufficient is sexy and also the right way to get ahead at work, that same system teaches females that aggressiveness is unattractive and it's best to be weak and dependent on a man.

We can even see this double standard in the way people talk about Hillary Clinton's Presidential candidacy. She's just another imperialist mouthpiece, but she has won the wrath of so many for things that are seen as normal or even praised in male candidates. When Clinton is loud she is called out for "shouting" or "shrieking", while male candidates are praised for their strength for a similar style. Critics are calling Clinton a bitch and a lesbian. When she shows emotion she is too feminine and when she doesn't show emotion she is too masculine. There are endless examples of this sort of attention paid to Clinton's gender rather than her qualifications.

There are many strong wimmin standing up for their rights and the rights of others, like this comrade. And we need to train other wimmin that being strong and self-sufficient is the only way to really get ahead and really win battles. Many men in prison also sit around complaining without doing anything, but it is leaders like this writer who, over time, can develop other activists by setting an example of strength and resolve in practice, combined with a correct political line.

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