I read the article titled "Whites Can be Lumpen Too". I do not doubt that. But let me give you some insight on the race relations in Missouri's prisons.
The Caucasians are given job positions that allow them access to more resources, more mobility, more food and more canteen. While they turn around and make a profit off of New Afrikans and others who need what they have.
There is in particular one major racist "white" gang that functions in the Missouri Department of Correcions (MODOC) and this gang works directly with the C.O.s all the way up to the captains and case mangaers. This is not exaggeration, there is a couple pigz who have this gang's tattoo on their forearms! Yet the administration turns a blind eye to this.
So when it comes to unity how can you unite the population against the oppressors when half the population works for the oppressor and identifies with the shade of their skin over their prisoner status? They enjoy privileges like drugs, cell phones, food etc. that makes them feel closer to the staff than to the rest of the prison population.
Just last night me and six other comrades in the wing were having a discussion about Amerika, Russia and China's military bases spread throughout the Caribbean when we were constantly interrupted by a Caucasian prisoner banging on eir door. I am open to the idea of unity amongst all prisoners but the MODOC has done a thorough job of segregating us prisoners and forming a caste system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Our response to the comrade who wrote "Whites Can be Lumpen Too" agrees with this writer. It's no coincidence that white guards have racist tattoos or that white prisoners enjoy special privileges from these guards.
This country has a long history of national oppression. It started with the European settler nation, which has always been mostly petty bourgeois, bringing in oppressed-nation slaves to build the infrastructure of this country. The history of this national oppression continues today in a slightly more subtle format. The result for whites as a group is greater wealth, better education, better housing opportunities, better jobs, and on and on. And so even poor whites who aren't currently enjoying these privileges can look around and see that their peers, people who look like them, are doing well. And they identify with these folks, aspire to their wealth, and have a realistic shot at getting there. This is in contrast with the lumpen from oppressed nations who look around and see lots of folks just like themselves in the same shitty conditions.
Whites can be revolutionaries if they choose to go against their national interests. And it makes it easier for prison staff to set up white prisoners as the privileged group, helping keep the rest of the population in check by getting in the way of organizing and unifying. Organizers need to recognize these conditions and unite those who can be united; in this case the oppressed nations.
Today a lieutenant pig walked to the cell next door and the prisoner explained to the pig that ey was in Ad-Seg for assaulting another prisoner. The high ranking pig said "as long as you don't assault staff we're cool." And then ey walked away. I had to use much mental discipline to overcome emotion; understanding that this same misguided emotion has kept me and my comrades in these Missouri Department of Corrections (MODOC) Ad-Seg torture chambers for years.
Our kites are ignored, we have practically no access to grievances and it is only those strong in self-discipline who abstain from physical retaliation. Tactics I have often used to no avail.
There is a strong revolutionary presence in this Jefferson City Correctional Center Koncentration Kamp. Young comrades who, like myself, are gang affiliated yet well-studied and ready to stand up for a change. All we lack is an effective strategy that can truly unite us all. All I lack is the knowledge to properly form a United Struggle Within.
I am open to corrections, ideas and strategies from comrades and political prisoners more experienced and advanced than myself.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is providing an example for all, by contributing regular work writing and producing revolutionary art. We have sent em lots of letters and other material, but it appears to be largely censored. So, much respect for staying active in spite of this censorship. We print this letter to encourage others to speak on this topic. By sending in regular reports on your organizing you can contribute to United Struggle from Within's knowledge of conditions on the ground and strategizing efforts. There is much to learn through practice in action.
On our side of the bars, MIM(Prisons) offers revolutionary education classes (study groups), political literature, and resources to help form study groups behind bars, and other organizing guides. But this support isn't that helpful if we can't get it past the censors. This underscores the importance of our battles against censorship.
I would like to inform the supporters, comrades and my fellow brothers throughout the world, plus also in the "Amerikan Prison System," that we must be watchful of our message that we are attempting to give and spread to those who very well needs it. The ULK article that was titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" was deemed to be a threat to the Morgan County Correctional Facility. So it was rejected by the mailroom staff. This decision was upheld by the "Security Threat Group" coordinator, and by the final decision of the head warden.
The article was said to be written by a supposed gang member who has ties to the Bloods street gang. It was said by the prison officials that the way the word “confused” is spelled as "Konfused." But also that the word "Damu" that's a part of our Afrikan native people spoken language, that many of our slave ancestors spoke called Swahili. This was brought to the land of Amerika by the Afrikan slaves, who spoke Swahili and also many other Afrikan language dialects.
Even today across the great land of Amerika, you can hear Swahili spoken throughout many major cities as common language by "Afrikan Amerikans." Many may greet one another in such of a way for all to hear. "I love you Damu of my Damu!" Let me translate "I love you Blood of my Blood!" Because for we as Afrikan Amerikans we share something in common. That our people was stolen, kidnapped and then shipped across the Atlantic, during which millions of people died while being transported.
Now when we are attempting to speak to brothers, sisters, supporters, plus comrades through the ULK, we must choose and use our words wisely in our articles, so the law enforcers won't be offended. Because here at Morgan County CF they have a long history of being taught to be racist, prejudiced, biased and abusive by assaulting prisoners while being in restraints. Yeah they're country boyz here at this facility. They don't want prisoners awoken and told what they should be doing against their oppressors. Because that would mean that these coward "Correctional Officers" would be getting their ass kicked left and right when they do things to us in a wrongful act.
And last, but not least, it was said by the STG coordinator here that he didn't like that the article titled "Konfused Gangster Mentality" used the word pig to describe law enforcers. I myself thought it was funny, because this same STG coordinator at MCCF, he has witnessed his co-workers partake and possibly himself also in one or two of the foul acts I mention above.
Now we know that this is an ongoing problem that's not confined to the prison system; it also is happening in our streets of Amerika. The law enforcers are killing unarmed black males at an alarming rate as they did in 1950s thru the 1960s when our true brothers and sisters known as the Black Panthers became aware of the problems and began to form a movement to deal with them.
If you are affiliated with a gang my brother, keep your gang slang, your dissing ways toward another gang out of the ULK. Because these swine are always looking for ways to stop such articles and paper from entering into the prison systems. And that goes for being straight forward when it comes to speaking on dealing with the law enforcers. And being behind enemy lines without the system knowing that it has been infiltrated by us in all forms. Then more damage can be done against who we are fighting. This simple, but effective technique has been used by the oppressed through the world.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer raises a difficult question for those of us working to expose the criminal injustice system. We want our publication to get in to our readers behind bars. We also want to print the truth. And we want to use language that inspires and empowers our readers. This truth and this language sometimes leads to censorship. We try to walk the line, always printing the truth, but choosing our language carefully when there is an alternate word that means the same thing and can prevent censorship. We can be thoughtful about what words we put out front.
We also need to take on these censorship battles and use them to expose the prison system, and the lack of free speech under imperialism. Like this writer, we need to appeal censorship when it happens. And when you appeal, if you inform MIM(Prisons) of the censorship we will also write an appeal as distributor of the publication. Even if we don't win these appeals, we put the prison on notice that we're paying attention to their rule breaking. Often the words and articles they cite as reason for censorship wouldn't pass a review by the courts. We need to remind them of these laws. If you don't have a copy of our guide to fighting censorship, write in to request one.
Scott Daniel Warren faces 20 years in prison for his volunteer work distributing food and water to migrants in Arizona. Warren works with the group No More Deaths to aid migrants crossing the border in the Arizona desert. For this work, and for providing a place for two men to sleep, Warren was charged with two counts of felony harboring and one count of felony conspiracy. Eir trial ended on June 11 with a hung jury.
Warren was arrested in January 2018 along with other No More Deaths volunteers. The arrests came just hours after the group released video of border patrol agents destroying jugs of water left in the desert for migrants. This case isn't closed yet; federal prosecutors may choose to retry Warren.
The Arizona desert is one of the deadliest places for migrants to cross the border due to the extreme heat. But people are forced to this area by the 1994 Clinton era "Prevention Through Deterrence" policy aimed at making border crossings more deadly. The idea was to force crossings over more hostile terrain, putting more lives in danger, to discourage migrants from attempting the journey. Metrics of the plan's success included "deaths of aliens." By that measure, the plan has been a success. The total number of people attempting the crossing has dropped but the odds of dying have gone way up.(1)
Hundreds of migrants are found dead every year. Trump's border policies are just a continuation of the anti-immigrant policies of all Amerikan imperialist administrations, including Obama. Closed borders maintain a cheap source of labor and natural resources for the imperialists. This preserves wealth for those within at the expense of poverty for those on the outside. Migrant deaths are just one result of these borders. Fighting the Trump border wall is a distraction from the real problem. Fight borders not walls. Open the borders; return the stolen wealth to occupied nations at home and around the world.
In the article "Pennsylvania Digitizing Prisoner Mail" in ULK 65(1) Soso points out that PA's new policy will restrict prisoners to purchasing books directly (after the publication is first approved by the DOC). By enforcing this policy the PA DOC is implementing a state-run monopoly on reading material within its prisons. The obvious reason for this imperialist act is to further censor prisoners' reading material.
Illinois comrades have heard our brothers' cries for help. This policy can be fought, but it will take time and dedication to prevail. Crofton v. Roe, 170 F. 3d 957, 961 (9th Cir. 1999) is a case finding that a regulation that only allowed a prisoner to receive publications he ordered and paid for directly bore no relationship to the interest of screening for contraband. You'll need to Shepardize this case to find cases from your Circuit that support this judgment.
What does this mean? It means that you can combat the current policy denying third parties to order you books. That might seem like a small victory compared to the digitization of your mail and pictures, but any victory against the state is a victory for the people. Unfortunately, due to the security concerns regarding drugs being smuggled into the prisons through the mail, it is unlikely that this policy will be overturned by any court. The only method left for this issue is direct action in protest of the policy which garnishes public attention and support (i.e. the mass hunger strikes in California in protest of the SHU which resulted in the abolishment of indefinite placement in the SHU). In Solidarity!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We hope that this PA mail policy will be challenged in the courts. Although MIM(Prisons) does not have the resources (or lawyers) to do this from the streets, we print this letter to support our jailhouse lawyers who are working on this battle. At the same time, this writer makes a good point that we are unlikely to win these legal battles entirely. We can sometimes gain some small victories, that allow us things like greater access to educational materials in prison. But we need to keep in mind that political power only comes to those who take it. The imperialists and their courts will not give up this power without a fight.
Gangster mentality can mean different things to many. A gang is a group of people with a common goal. I must emphasize that all words/concepts are subject to connotations that don't necessarily have good intentions. Gang/gangster therefore carry negative and positive connotations, like other words like socialism, anarchism, communism, etc. It has been MIM(Prisons)'s aim to educate us about these ideas through the proper usage of science.
With this in mind, I consider myself a gangster. Since I believe in the idea of working with others towards a common goal, to me it is not about "defeating this gangster mentality," it's about embracing it and re-directing it towards the "Shining Path." We have a common enemy, and resolving our minor contradictions doesn't necessarily mean that we have to defeat our gangster mentality. This kind of language is what causes rejection from the lumpen organizations(L.O.s) in many cases. This is the language that is used by state-financed organizations and Christian groups/org.
I understand that MIM's direction is different, but those who pick up ULK and glance at it may see this language and will put ULK down. My approach has, and will continue to be, one that politicizes the gangster mentality. This is where you will find the most dedicated comrades, and, because they are respected they find themselves in a position to make real changes that erase that divide among different gangs and further our struggle in the right direction. It is about learning and teaching about our minor contradictions and working to overcome these minor obstacles.
In ULK 67, USW 11 wrote about how the state of Washington is doing whatever it can to depoliticize prisoners, and how among those places where you find the gangster mentality is where you find the most resistance against the state.(1) When L.O.s understand the power they have working collectively, things begin to change and form. After all, gangs are in contrast with the individualistic mentality in the United $tates, and are a response to the socio-economic conditions we face in and out of prison. It's a way to survive, in a place where the capitalist and oppressive system emphasizes individualism.
I'm writing about a problem that I've been dealing with for the last two years of my incarceration. If you all have any information that will help me, please send it or put me in touch with someone who can help.
Basically I had a normal life before I was incarcerated. Meaning I had bills. Due to my incarceration I fell behind on all my bills, ruining my credit.
I've found information in the library to run my credit report and contact my debtors. But the mail room here will not allow me to send out anything that has to do with finances. They advise me to appoint a power of attorney.
My problem is this, how does DOC expect us to be "rehabilitated" while incarcerated, but won't allow us to do for ourselves? I'm going to be released to society with terrible credit, no money and no means (legally) to provide for myself. And I'm certainly not the only one. This system is creating a cycle that turns DOC into a revolving door. And does nothing but add to the paychecks for the state.
Everybody doesn't have family out there to provide for them. So I thought I could try to handle my own business but I'm being held back. I read the policy and it basically states that as a prisoner we are not allowed to sign financial contracts or start/conduct business via mail or phone.
So I'm reaching out to see if any other prisoners are having this problem. If so has there been a solution? Because I have several ideas on how we can help ourselves to have the funds to start over once released. But how do I implement them with the restrictions applied by DOC? Hell I don't even know if they'll let me send this out asking for help.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade describes just one of many problems releasees will face as soon as they hit the streets. Usually thinking about your credit is not the first order of business for a released prisoner. But this can have a big impact on your ability to find housing and set up basic services (which require credit cards). There are ways to rebuild your credit rating, but it's slow and one more problem to add to the difficulties of life on the streets with a prison record. And as this writer points out, all this adds up to a revolving door of recidivism.
We don't have any easy ways to help fix this credit problem, or the bigger question of how to set up businesses from behind bars. However, we hope that our comrades with release dates or finite sentences will start thinking about this well in advance. If you have someone on the outside who can help square up your delinquent bills, it's never too early to ask for help. And if your prison allows you to send mail out to those billers directly, you might be able to work something out with them to defer the debt.
If anyone else has ideas to help folks hitting the streets to deal with these sorts of financial challenges, write in to share them. We want to help our comrades hitting the streets to ease their transition as much as possible. This is critical to making it possible for releasees to continue their political work on the streets. We need an army of former prisoners building independent institutions of the oppressed, to support new releasees.
Growing up in the internal semi-colonies (ie. Aztlán, New Afrika or the reservations), one is confronted with a certain form of oppression. This national oppression naturally compels our youth to come together and unite for survival purposes. This phenomenon is mirrored anywhere in the world where the contradictions exist between oppressor vs. oppressed nations. This results in oppressed youth forming youth survival groups, which the capitalist state calls "gangs."
Lumpen organizations, or lesser-organized youth survival groups, are a reaction to living under an oppressor nation and although it is a good alternative to assimilation or attempted assimilation to Amerikkka, there is a need to develop more fully to political consciousness. Political consciousness will be what leads to liberation of our nations.
In my own development, I realized how my varrio will always be my varrio, my homies always my homies, my brothers always my brothers. But in order to liberate Aztlán it will take more than being a rebel. I now know if i truly love my people and community i should uplift their consciousness, not turn my back on them. The goal is to bring my people to the side of revolution. The goal is to have my people develop as did the excellent example of the Young Lords Party. From a so-called "gang" to a revolutionary organization. This can be accomplished via political education. Each one teach one. Start with your cellmate, then neighbors, then homies on the tier and branch out. Leaders should institute political education and raise the consciousness of the org. This is when real accomplishments will be gained. Rise!
Transforming the gangster mentality into a revolutionary one is possible because they are two sides of a coin. As an intermediary class the lumpen can act out both bourgeois ethics (in the form of gangsterism) or proletarian ethics (as revolutionaries).
The lumpen implementation of bourgeois ethics is the gangster. The gangster in many ways imitates the most ruthless aspects of bourgeois behavior, allowing them to be potential tools of the imperialists. Yet there are aspects of the collective identity, the discipline, and perhaps most importantly the connection to an oppressed nation, that you see in both the gangster and the revolutionary. This is what distinguishes the lumpen organization (L.O.) from the criminal gangs made up of correctional officers and police departments.
The lumpen implementation of proletarian ethics is the revolutionary. The lumpen revolutionary may be more adventurous and tend more towards left errors than the proletariat. Regardless, choosing the proletarian road, means reforming oneself to take on proletarian morality. The collective action and rebelliousness of the lumpen organization must mature into pure dedication to the people and a strategic approach to protracted peoples' war against imperialism.
We discussed these two roads in our review of J. Sakai's "The Dangerous Class and Revolutionary Theory".(1) As we said then, there are two roads today, the communist and the capitalist. The capitalist is the old road, the decaying road.
So when comrades keep bringing up this question of "how do we overcome the gangster mentality," it is essentially a question of how do we move the lumpen off the old capitalist road and into building the new communist one.
Our critics might counter, "wait a minute, plenty of people give up a violent gang life without becoming proletarian revolutionaries." And they are correct. But this also has not put a dent in the presence of the gangster mentality in our society, has it? Individuals aging out of gangs and integrating into bourgeois society does nothing to combat gangsterism because the motivation, the causes are still there. Even those who reach out to dissuade youth from taking the same path only provide a band-aid. A class of people, excluded from the means of production and distribution, living in an economic system driven by profit, will keep reproducing the gangster mentality. Until we can replace capitalism with a system where everyone has a productive role to play and peoples' needs drive our society, instead of profit, only then can we truly overcome the gangster mentality.
A few years back, in ULK 51 a comrade summed up some discussion around this topic among USW comrades:
"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. USW 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."(2)
A program for overcoming the gangster mentality involves a multi-pronged approach. We must expand and develop the membership of the vanguard cadre organizations. Simultaneously we must organize the lumpen masses around a minimal program of unity. As K.G. Supreme of USW stressed in an article on this topic, it is revolutionary nationalism and anti-imperialism that provides a viable group identity and movement to rival that of the current L.O.s that dominate the terrain.
"Cultural Freedom is the best weapon for defeating the gangster mentality. Cultural freedom that is geared in nationalist liberation of oppressed nations, and exploiter nation suicide for members of the euro-amerikan oppressor nation. As Marcus M. Garvey of the African nationalist organization, UNIAACL said, 'Power is the only argument that satisfies man.'"
And as Pilli discusses in "Love Your Varrio by Liberating Your People," we must embrace the oppressed people, communities and organizations. And we must encourage growth within them. Communists are not here to attack the gangsters or the addicts, that is what the bourgeois state does. We are here to guide others down the same path of education and growth that we have found.
United Struggle from Within has long put forth the slogan, "Unity from the inside out." This embodies the dialectical process of developing unity within one's own thinking so that one can better build unity with others; that an organization must struggle within its membership to build unity before it can unite with others in the nation; and that a nation must build unity before it can properly unite in its own interests with other oppressed nations.
"Unity-struggle-unity" is a related slogan that depicts how we should approach building unity among the people, addressing contradictions amongst the people. We can't be all unity, we must challenge, question and struggle. But we start and end with unity, so that we can grow in that direction.
"Each one, teach one" is a slogan that stresses the role of education, especially in these early stages. It also embodies the truth that we all have things to learn from each other. Education and learning are a central part of our program for building the cadre and the masses.
These slogans, and others, should be actively built around. Comrades should study and popularize the 5 points of the United Front for Peace. We should organize events and study programs around Black August, the Commemoration of the Plan de San Diego and the September 9th Day of Peace and Solidarity. MIM(Prisons)'s Free Books to Prisoners Program offers study materials around all of these topics. We also offer correspondence study courses, which all comrades wishing to work with USW should join. We offer a wide array of revolutionary literature for your own independent study and for prison-based study groups.
While uniting around study groups and education is important for building cadre, most people will only be able to unite with us around concrete battles. It is up to comrades on the ground to determine what winnable battles exist where you are. What are the masses' righteous demands and how can we mobilize them to achieve them? How can we build Serve the People programs locally by pooling resources and helping others out? It is in these concrete battles that we gain mass support, and we learn to organize, lead and challenge injustice.
We believe we have the correct theoretical basis and the framework of a program for this stage of the prison movement. But there is much to be done to experiment and learn from. As K.G. Supreme stresses, the lumpen masses must get deep into the gangster mentality, understand it so as to transform it.
"It is important, in defeating the gangster mentality, that those serious about raising the consciousness of the subjects of gangsterism, first come to terms with the mentality as a lifestyle from the vantage point of inside the mind of a first world gangster. Approaching the subject from any other angle would be an inferior method promised to fail in producing any significant impact in the social behavior of those that are the target. The investigation into this gangster mentality should be led by those who are infected with the mentality. This isn't to say petit bourgeoisie nationalist groups cannot support the leaderships of those struggling against the gangster mentality. It is to say that the petit bourgeoisie nationalist must not seek to dictate the leaderships that struggle to defeat the gangster mentality, as to not contaminate the nationalist liberation objective, spreading culture indifferent to the destructive culture, spread by the bourgeoisie.
"...As more and more ground level leaderships disconnect themselves with the lifestyles that encourages behavior motivated by the gangster mentality, there becomes a need to replace the un-natural behavior with disciplines motivated by reconnection with natural lifestyles that are in harmony with the growth and development of a parasite outkaste of society, matured into a productive component of the internationalist objective to end national oppression by the exploiting nations in independent nations. Only culture that promotes national liberation struggles, applying political methods in interest of the oppressed can be relied on to replace the mentality of gangsterism... Emotions do not dictate the course of action in gradual transformation from unconscious behavior to conscious population. Instead the culture of educating against defeatist mentality, borns the scientific approach of the analytical prisoner, who in turn of reversing the gangsterism pop culture for a popular culture of upliftment in nationalist liberation objectives that free the available remedies of exploited and nationally disadvantaged, free themselves. The key to defeating the gangster mentality is investments in engineering techniques that make anti-imperialist culture popular."
"We find ourselves today forced into a re-examination of the whole nature of black revolutionary consciousness and its relative standing within a class society steeped in a form of racism so sensitized that it extends itself even to the slightest variation in skin tone." - Comrade George (B.I.M.E.)
Almost 50 years after the assassinations of our comrades W. L., George, Khata-Ri, etc, etc. and the enemy has totally disseminated our party and reinforced their system to potentially negate our future revolutionary movements! What do we do now?
Our demand for narcotics to temporarily numb the pain of half life in capitalist U.$. is helping to fuel our distraction. Half of us sell dope and the other half use it!! Killing our unity and revolutionary potential! Now here we are, in capitalist U.$. torture chambers! Many of us are addicts, chasing a high right now! Some of us "claim a set" and from this identity cannot see being cool with the brotha of another "set." Some are lifers, who are weary of sacrificing themselves for the reactionaries to benefit! Some have already fallen too far (i.e. KKKop collaborators), and in turn, work covertly to undermine our movement! Others are poltroons, and out of their fear(s), they knowingly sabotage our progression as a U.$. disfavored minority. Many of us are "armchair revolutionaries" in that our practice(s) never match our stated militant goals. Others see control of the "underground economy" as being revolutionary. I do not have the answers. I am simply a New Afrikan man seeking community input as I continue to stride firmly. My questions are:
1. How is the "revolutionary consciousness" developed in a time of reactionary gangsterism?
2. At what point does this so called "revolutionary theorist" have to put his theories into practice?
3. How can we ever trust a cat who has ever worked as an informant or jail house rat? By his very obvious individualism he has demonstrated his priority is ideal of "me first." Which, to us, says that once the pressure(s) of isolation, pig abuse(s), additional time, etc. comes into play, he will tell again. Setting us back even further!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade and eir questions posed was one of the inspirations for the topic of this issue of ULK. And we hope we have at least begun to provide some answers and guidance for those of us struggling with these questions.
This comrade also mentions a serious side-effect of the current gangster era, which is propped up by the drug economy. This reality serves as a material incentive in the form of profits for the seller and in the form of chemical triggers in the brain of the buyer. We addressed this situation in more depth in ULK 59 where we recognized the challenges in even questioning the drug economy in today's prison environment. It will require progress on other fronts to make a dent on the struggle against the poisoning of oppressed communities.
So what is to be done today?
Build a Revolutionary Culture on the Streets
USW30: Recently I heard of my older brotha/comrade's passing and it has me wondering... how do the brothas/sistas, who've embraced revolutionary consciousness inside, transition to outside struggles? Taking into consideration that the lumpen are in a state of defeatism and quite fratricidal!
I personally exited Federal Bureau Of Prisons after 17 calendars. I jumped right into local progressive politics and organizational volunteer work, serving the lumpen! Yet, seemingly at every outing one was forced to repel some form of gang reactionary threat(s). Most of which, stern chastisements sufficed. However, all B.S. aside, I guess what I'm saying is, without a "progressive culture" in play within the "hood" We are at risk of A) being victimized by our misguided lumpen, conditioned by capitalism to fratricidal violence, B) or we ourselves react to reactionary threats and in turn reinforce the lumpen's perceptions of us, "prison revolutionaries" that return to "gangster" conduct once out.
In truth, the only communities I saw which had requisite support systems; minimal threat of intra-national violence, and universal code of community morality were Islamic. I continually read pieces in ULK, where cats profess to be "materialist dialecticians" and as such, against "spirituality." What I suggest to those living in New Afrikan areas in particular is to analyze the impact of Islam on it. Contrast that with that of the so-called revolutionaries. We must figure out more effective ways to bring unity, as we methodically strive to bring Babylon down. Rather than spit unproductive rhetoric which services interests of the pigs by dividing militants from one another.
Those who are truly analyzing the body of facts (i.e. U.$. history) would have to acknowledge that those of Afrikan ancestry have always held spiritual connections and/or beliefs in a higher power/creator. Upwards of 40% of enslaved Afrikans were Muslim. Leading many slave captors to recommend traffickers firstly "break" them (i.e. torture Islam out of them) prior to bringing these known rebels to the United $tates and England. My point being those who truly work to build revolutionary culture must work with Muslims and in turn find common ground to then gain traction in revolutionary culture building.
Materialists must dialectically look at U.$. history and correspond tactics to today's realities confronting historically oppressed peoples! Teach Christians examples of Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, etc. Teach Muslims about El Hajj Malik Shabazz (Malcolm X), etc. That even though we may come from varying socio-cultural backgrounds, we have the very same oppressors and system. That the Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Communists, etc. who live within U.$. borders all share the same injustices, inequalities, and pig brutalities on a daily basis. As such, we must cast side the divisive rhetoric and build class unity or die. As a Muslim of New Afrika, I am obligated to fight all oppressors. Personally, I could care less if the askari at my side believes or not. Long as he/she is committed to struggle...to death or death row. Does it matter if I must make Salah, before we run towards our oppressors? Well, that's my take and regardless, I will continue fighting, organizing, and striving! Peace.
MIM(Prisons) responds:We agree with this author’s point that we should be working with the left wing of the Muslim movement, and other religions. We addressed this question in depth in ULK 48. As communists we embrace materialism and encourage scientific thinking about the world. But this does not prevent us from uniting with all who can be rallied against imperialism. And the rabid anti-Muslim sentiments coming from the Amerikan imperialists creates fertile breeding ground for anti-imperialism.
Although we cannot find evidence of such a high percentage of Muslims among enslaved Africans. At the time that slaves were captured from Africa indigenous religions were the most common practice. But traffickers (and slave owners) attempted to break slaves of all their practices that tied them to their homeland, regardless of what religion or other cultural norms.
While we often talk about the imprisoned lumpen as being one of the most revolutionary populations in the United $tates, it is also in a backwards state of affairs. Meanwhile, the last time we saw a strong revolutionary consciousness penetrate the prison population was when there were strong vanguard organizations in the oppressed nations on the streets. We must recognize that part of building a strong revolutionary movement in prisons is building an even stronger one on the outside.
United Struggle from Within serves as a conduit for connecting the two, via prisoners who are released. MIM(Prisons)'s Re-Lease on Life Program attempts to provide support to those who are struggling with these challenges after release. But we have a lot of work to do to build strong revolutionary communities for comrades around the United $tates.
Revolutionary Theorists or Revolutionaries
Within the context of criticism-self-criticism, I am wondering when we as revolutionary theorists on the inside, shall righteously analyze the definition(s) of "revolution"/"revolutionary"? And in turn, be honest with ourselves (within the New Afrikan community) about if we are truly on that path that Col J (RIP), W.L. (RIP) etc. strode. I am questioning myself as well?! As the Kentucky comrade pointed out on p. 8 of ULK 65.(1)
Many of us claim to be revolutionaries, but have yet to truly embrace the reality of revolution! Or, shed the ethos of Gangsta. We create plethora of revolutionary documents in prisons, only to return to society and criminality. Recently a young New Afrikan referred to a fellow rad as "homeless dopefiend!" This made me think back.
The economy of capitalism murders millions daily. We have seemingly been co-opted by enemy cultural tenants! We have comrades embracing drug dealing as acceptable conduct! Poisoning our communities, profiting off of the destruction of our underklass citizenry! Then, returning to prison in turn advocating for addicted rads to be cast aside! We have rads claiming revolutionary authenticity, that have yet to stand against the real enemy, yet take pride in shopping blood of their own! The contradictions are glaring and I believe these are just a few of the things which have a real progressive and revolutionary movement stagnating!
Perhaps a retracing of steps is needed? As in... acknowledgement of enemy's defeat of the revolutionary movement in the 60s! That the "Black Power" of the 70s was a reformist attempt(s) to somehow safeguard some aspect of sociocultural pride, while rejecting the dominant amerikkkan kapitalist culture! Which in turn, led to the 80s crack epidemic and subsequent abandonment of all things revolution. For a "piece of the pie!"
These cats coming into prison today... fratricidal, apolitical, and addicted! Are the effects of our failures as leaders, in our communities! How can he claim Col J (RIP), when our day to day conduct is a reactionary affirmation of "Superfly" and "the Mack?" These youth see the hypocrisies, and this is why we cannot gain their support! To speak about revolution and yet not live a revolutionary example is unacceptable! And fraudulent in the 1st degree! I am no longer going to refer to myself as a revolutionary until I engage in revolution! Nor will I reference Col J(RIP) as my "comrade," until I follow his examples!
I thank the Kentucky comrade for eir critiques in the last two paragraphs, as they struck home for me! We must reform the "gangstas" within our movement... or destroy them! As their overt materialistic individualisms will destroy us... or, turn the progressives back into elements of reaction!
MIM(Prisons) responds: There is a bit of an existential crisis for the revolutionary in non-revolutionary times. We don't take on the term "revolutionary" as if we were superheroes, but merely to describe our political goals and ideology. But, it does bring us back to question 2 above. And we'd say that a revolutionary must always be putting eir theories into practice. And that includes not waging revolutionary war in a non-revolutionary situation. That is a basic principle of the guerilla.
As USW30 says, the youth can detect the phony revolutionaries who just talk the rhetoric while acting out the negative aspects of the gangster role. We can act as revolutionaries, as individuals, in our day-to-day behavior in interacting with, serving, and standing up for the people.
There's a reason we get letters regularly mentioning the comrades who died in the struggle 50 years ago. Their legacy lives on because they stood up as examples. And even if our names don't become legendary, we will inspire the youth and the masses around us through our correct actions.