Thanks to our comrade inside who made this crossword puzzle! Answers below.
1. In the language of many northeastern Indigenous Nations, this name is used to refer to both the western hemisphere as a whole, as well as more specifically to refer to the northern land mass of the continent. We generally use the term to mean all of the Americas, which remain dominated by U.$. imperialism today. (2 words)
2. One must put theories into use to test them. One can only compare practices with?
4. When we gain information from observation and interaction with the world around us we call that ___ knowledge.
5. Those whose political views claim to be Marxist yet reverse Marx's work fundamentally by failing to apply the scientific method of dialectical materialism are called?
7. The abolition of power of people over people.
8. The mode of production or economic system in which the bourgeoisie owns the means of production.
3. The exploiter class most characteristic of the capitalist system. Their wealth is obtained from the labor of others, in particular the proletariat.
4. The group of people who have nothing to sell but their labor power for their subsistence.
6. A division put on a society based solely on economic status. These groups of people share a common relation to the means of production. (2 words)
9. The transition stage in between capitalism and communism where the dictatorship of the proletariat will be in power.
10. The doctrine which guided the first successful third world peasant revolution that liberated China in 1949.
11. The scientific process of learning from practice and using those lessons to improve your practice. (2 words)
12. The theory that all things originate from the idea and that matter is only a reflection of what exists in the mind, as one perceives it.
13. The philosophy that is the opposite of idealism. Philosophy which sees mater as the basis of reality and material circumstances shaping individual and social consciousness.
6. Turtle Island
4. Dialectical Materialism
6. Social Class
The purpose of this article is to explain that Christianity is not intrinsically counter-revolutionary, and to give my comrades some advice on how to teach revolutionary ideas to Christian prisoners.
While I am an atheist, I recognize that many Christians can deservedly be called Comrades. Indeed, Jesus emself often spoke and acted in favor of the proletariat. However, there is a dangerous strain of imperialist pseudo-Christianity prevalent in the United $tates. The leaders of this cult, who have historically and predominately been rich white men, cherry-pick passages from the Bible in an attempt to justify their selfish agenda. This tactic of distorting Christianity has been used by oppressors from the conquistadors to Amerikan politicians and televangelists such as Pat Buchanan. It's been used to justify the conquests of indigenous people, manifest destiny, slavery, retributive punishment, and the persecution of Chican@s, wimmin, New Afrikans, queers, transgendered people, and poor people.
Unfortunately, this cultural brainwashing has infected the minds of many prisoners. To reverse this trend, we must show potential Christian comrades the following two points:
1. That certain lessons they learned do not actually represent the teachings of Jesus Christ. Rather, they reflect the imperialist demagogues who have opportunistically co-opted the Bible to suit their own capitalist and white-supremacist agenda.
2. That the real teachings of the New Testament are not only compatible with, but actually suggest, a revolutionary outlook.
For example, when you hear a Christian prisoner trying to rationalize homophobia, point out that many reputable Bible scholars claim that the New Testament does not actually condemn homosexuality. For example, in Introducing Christian Ethics by Roger Crook, we find an alternative interpretation of Paul's verses in Romans 1:16-32. The point of Paul's passage is not that homosexuality is wrong, but that God does not send people to heaven according to their adherence to traditional morality. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals get to heaven because of their sexual preference, but only by accepting God's gift of grace.
However, a more detailed approach eventually becomes necessary. For this, we should introduce our potential Christian comrades to Liberation Theology. The priests and theologians of this movement have actively struggled against U.$.-backed, capitalist puppet governments in the Third World in order to establish socialist governments managed by and for the people. In the book Liberation Theology, Robert Brown identifies four key themes of the movement:
Commitment — taking a stand that unites thought and action
Hope — the anticipation of a better future
God's presence — the realization that we are not alone but that God is in our midst, in another persona and supremely in Jesus Christ
A preferential option for the poor — the guideline for the kind of changes which will bring greater justice into the world (pp. 25-33)
In addition, many of these theologians have synthesized their theology with insights from indigenous spirituality, Marxism, feminism, womanism, New Afrikan studies, queer studies. The books A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone and Feminist Theological Ethics, edited by Lois Daly, are prime examples.
Remember, Comrades. "Christianity does not have to be reactionary!" Jesus was basically a socialist who preached love and tolerance for all people. Ey surrounded emself with poor people and outcasts, not bourgeois demagogues.
!Viva la Revolucion!
MIM(Prisons) responds: There have been some revolutionary liberation theology movements throughout history which provide examples of what this comrade describes. These organizations take their dedication to religion as a dedication to serving the oppressed. In Latin America there are examples of Christian groups explicitely working under the liberation theology banner to support revolutionary struggles. We have also written about the potential of Islam as a liberation theology, and Malcolm X provides a solid example of promoting revolutionary politics in this way. We have much respect for and unity with these movements. And we definitely agree that pointing religious folks in this direction is a good idea.
Quoting bible passages to religious folks to refute their reactionary beliefs or actions may indeed help reach some people. But we also shouldn't pretend that religion is all about revolution or serving the oppressed. Organized religion has a long reactionary history of its own oppression. And the bible has plenty of fuel for reactionary ideas and actions. While pointing religious folks to a more progressive interpretation, we should be careful not to mislead them into thinking that we endorse their mysticism. The very belief in a higher power discourages people from believing that they can control the development of their own and all of humanity's future.
In the end, we try to approach people where they are at. And so this comrade is offering some good tips for approaching religious folks. We just caution against leaveing the materialism out of the discussion altogether.
Revolutionary greetings to all who stand firm in opposition, and we extend our most sincere wishes of suffering and death to those in our midst whom compromise their dignity on a daily, serving the interest of our captors, and killing US in the process.
We received ULK 63 and as always we were fed with the best of nutrients for the struggles. My comrade in arms (a structured Kiwe Nationalist) and I do all we can to push and pull one another, as we are virtually surrounded by: 007 agents, Adolph wannabes, and mentally retarded "gangsta" caricatures who are clueless as to what "convict" entails.
In truth, I/we are at a loss as to explain this "twilight zone" Oregon DOC system. The standards by which the vast majority base their day-to-day ethos on are so unrecognizable that we question exactly what planet we are on!! In ODOC it is "okay" to collaborate with pigs, as long as one is not a sex offender!
The majority of the populace appears to be under the influence of some kind of mind-altering pills! We note that OCOD has a deliberate "agenda" in place, in which medical doles out pills to whomever says they can't cope! We all recognize that these gulags have very negative impact(s), and some of us truly need help. My point in bringing this up is only to say that the pigs are utilizing drugs to further weaken captives. Captives who are already weakened by the effects of life as "half men" in capitalist Amerikkka. It is as if these ODOC isolation units are being utilized to create "pets," men made docile by narcotics, conditioned to serve pigs' interests, via apathy and, at times, outright anger directed towards the progressives/movement.
How do we combat "Stockholm syndrome"? The ODOC cultural norm is to be anti-ethical and as such, those of us that live and breathe struggle find our backs closing in on the walls! Permitting ourselves to be disrespected with no response(s) is exactly how we have come to find ourselves in this position. "Patience taken too far is cowardice" said Comrade George. Without examples made, the masses have no illuminated path and thus remain in darkness and ignorance! Guess what I/we ask is, at what point does it become a prerequisite to revolutionary cultural creation that the strugglist(s) utilize non-peaceful means? This is the looming question for the brothas of struggle here.
We New Afrikans are few and far between in ODOC. However, make no mistake about it, we are here and are striving forward! Boots laced, backs straight, eyes firmly on the prize! Freedom or Death! Power to the People.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This question, of when is it time to take up non-peaceful means of struggle should be at the forefront of the minds of revolutionaries. If we act too soon we end up getting ourselves and our comrades killed, or locked up (if they aren't already in prison). But if we wait too long we are responsible for unnecessary deaths and suffering.
In the more specific situation behind bars within the Amerikan criminal injustice system, we know the long game is taking down the entire system. But the smaller battles include winning people over to the side of revolutionary struggle, and making space for organizing by fighting repression.
The question we always have to ask about any action is: what is the risk and what is the reward? Someone is attacking you with a weapon, should you fight back? Risk: you get tossed in seg for fighting, Reward: you don't get killed. The reward wins. But in the case this comrade raises, where everyone is collaborating with the pigs and taking pills, the risks and rewards are harder to work out. Are there actions that will win people away from collaborating with the enemy? Or will those actions just bring down more punishment on the few who are resisting? These questions have to be answered by people involved in each situation.
We encourage our comrades to work on ways they can create revolutionary culture now, while using peaceful means. Sharing ULK is one way of doing this, and what are others?
We can only offer this framework, and encourage everyone to remember that revolution isn't an overnight action. We're in this for the long battle against imperialism. Even within the belly of the beast, surrounded by enemies, we can't lose sight of our ultimate goals.
While expressing full unity with MIM(Prisons), I feel compelled to also urge those who say they are engaging in the fight against imperialism to expand their reach. We are living within a time where the public is realizing that prisons and other oppressive methods are doing more harm than good. Campaigns are being launched throughout the world on behalf of the rights of prisoners and the oppressed in general.
MIM(Prisons) encourages those struggling against imperialism to be united no matter the group one may claim as long as it's against imperialism. We have a justice system that perpetuates the institution of racism in this country through its targeting of the most marginalized communities: people of color, women and the LGBT community. As one we are more than they are and it's time we realize this truth and act on it NOW!
The public generally associates torture with physical violence; they sometimes have a hard time accepting that there are equally brutal forms of mental torture. It's interesting, though. Back in the 1940s and 1950s when stories came out about communist regimes holding prisoners in isolation for very long periods of time, we had no problem calling that torture.
We all have family and friends who can be our voice as well as a way and means to destroy the system from within. If our family and friends were employees at these prisons they would expose the ill treatment we are receiving, and misconduct of the other prison officials. Shutting down prisons should be a prisoner's main focus. We must stop funding our imprisonment by buying things from these prisons.
If the state has to pay they will soon run out of money as they are doing in Louisiana, and now Louisiana is forced to release prisoners due to lack of funds and the feds refuse to give them any more money.
Many may not share my views but one can not disagree that picking up the torch after someone else or starting one's own movement will be rewarding. As I think about all of the movements and campaigns that have been launched on behalf of prisoners or other oppressed people, I wonder why these groups have not thought to get prison jobs in order to expose the system. If they are fired or harassed because of it they can bring suit over it. We must encourage this. ULK 51 ran an article about a Louisiana correctional officer who exposed Winn Correctional Center.(1) Changes were made and the private prison group lost its contract with the state. So what I am suggesting works.
We must keep our minds on decarcerating our states by educating ourselves and others of the root cause for incarceration and working with others to create the ideal community. Create opportunities for this place, get family, friends, and the community to participate and play the role of developers. Its been proven over and again that when we invest in ourselves, plan and build for ourselves, people thrive with virtually no crime. If we are true champions of human rights and mean to fulfill our constitutional guarantees of a more perfect union, then we have a moral obligation to end prison slavery, overhaul our criminal justice system and decarcerate by fighting the system from within the system.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We want to expand on this comrade's comment about educating on the root cause for incarceration. This is a critical point to understand. It's definitely not profitable to lock up so many people. In reality prisons in the United $tates are a tool of social control, used mostly to keep oppressed nation lumpen in check. We can win some critical battles against the criminal injustice system, but we aren't likely to end the mass incarceration until we take down imperialism as a whole. The prison system is too tied up in U.$. imperialist domestic policies.
This comrade brings up the interesting situation in Louisiana where prison and state officials were threatening to release a third of the prison population (10,000 prisoners) if the 2018 budget cuts were implemented. Although there was a lot of news about this potential "crisis" at the time, since then we found no follow up. Presumably the state found the money to keep people locked up. In 2017 Louisiana officials made similar threats, though on a smaller scale. Obviously funding is necessary to keep prisoners locked up, but it seems that Louisiana keeps finding enough money to keep their prison infrastructure intact. We fully support prisoner boycotts and other financial attacks on the system. But, as we explored in detail in ULK 60most of the funding is already coming from the state budget so we need to approach these battles with a clear understanding of the potential impact.(2)
We agree with this comrade's evaluation that people can thrive with no crime. It is the capitalist patriarchal system that creates the current culture of crime, and puts the biggest criminals in charge of murder, rape and large scale theft around the world in the name of the government. And so we would extend our moral obligation beyond ending the criminal injustice system and to ending the imperialist system.
Finally, we want to comment on the "communist regimes holding prisoners in isolation." This is common anti-communist propaganda but we're not sure exactly what the author is talking about here. In the 1940s and 50s over a third of the world's people embarked on the socialist road. And there is no doubt the Amerikan propaganda machine told lots of stories about those countries' evil behavior. In hindsight a lot of these stories have been proven false.
In the case of China, the prisons were actually an example of a true system of reeducation and rehabilitation. In fact, the entire country undertook a reeducation campaign to remould individuals and the society as a whole to serve the interests of the people rather than the interests of profit. One example is shown in the book Prisoners of Liberation by Allyn and Adele Rickett, where we see that their conditions of confinement were different from conditions in U.$. prisons in significant ways. They were housed with other prisoners, and not isolated. They were provided with literature and newspapers, not cut off from society. They were encouraged to expand their perspectives and grow together, not to just watch TV and withdraw into themselves. And ultimately they came out of prison praising the communist government in China.
July 2018 — We remember for all time in the future the terrible and untimely political assassinations of Comrade George and Jonathon Jackson. Black August and bloody September are fast approaching and while many people will of course mourn due to these fatalities committed by the state, we shouldn't be saddened by these most terrible atrocities. We should rejoice and see repression as a logical response by the capitalist masters to stop our thrust upward.
The history of Amerika's reign of terror begins with its start as a settler's colony that exterminated the otherwise "savage and backward" Indians, and raped Africa for her peoples to build and industrialize this young nation. The trends toward monopoly capital actually began during the civil war, during the only time where the masters of capital felt the greatest threats to its power. Amerikan history has always been a story of masters and slaves, dominators and dominated, capitalists and workers, and haves and have-nots. But the centralization of state power actually began during the age of the Industrial Revolution.
The earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story. At the close of World War II when the purple mushroom clouds over Japan were aired for the world to see, fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika. In fact the trends towards monopoly capital might have begun right here in Amerika.
The Black Panther Party formed as a response to state terror. The savage repression which can be estimated by a brief reading of the nation's dailies has not failed to register on the minds of most lower disenfranchised, especially when you couple the fact that we are worth no more than the amount of capital that we can raise. Whether they know it or not we are victims of both social and economic injustice and our economic status has reduced our minds to a state of complete oblivion.
The older vanguard parties were committed to reformism and its counter-productive nature. The Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Army however were committed and prepared to take the fight to whatever level needed to be taken in order to make sure that the demands of the people were met. As a response, J. Edgar Hoover and his secret branch (COINTELPRO) devised a plan to stop a "Black Messiah" from rising out of the ghetto that could lead the people to revolution. On 4 December 1969 Gloves Davis, a black officer in Chicago, killed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Of course the COINTELPRO was very effective in infiltration tactics, because Fred Hampton's bodyguard was later to be revealed as a "class defector and stool pigeon" for the forces of repression.
We shouldn't be sad that George is gone. We should be sad that no one has ushered in to take up his works, even though so many champion him and also since there are guerillas all over who shout "George," but have yet to follow in his footsteps. Our overall situation doesn't stand out as glaringly as it did during the 1960s and 70s. However we should not be tricked into thinking that the struggle is no more. The hip-shooting pigs still gun us and call it justifiable homicide due to the trends in the crime culture we have embraced. The crime culture only mimics the European experience. In order for us to seize the time we should think in terms of true freedom. The freedom that comrade George fought and died for. Long live the real Dragon.
MIM(Prisons) associate responds:
The author mentions that "[t]he earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story." However, not all the early vanguard parties were reformist. In general, vanguard parties are not reformist in nature, although they might work on reformist campaigns (wimmin's rights, prisoners' rights, etc.). Vanguard parties, by definition, aim to be the force that lead the revolution. So why did the vanguard parties fail?
One obvious reason is that the United $tates has not entered a revolutionary situation. Due to a variety of factors, and despite the presence of vanguard parties in different places and at different times, there has not been a substantial proletarian movement for freedom. In Lenin's terms, the workers during the Industrial Revolution in the United $tates only reached basic Trade Union Consciousness, not Proletarian Consciousness. Their goal was for better working conditions, not a new system.
This goes hand-in-hand with the second reason. As J. Sakai argues in Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, there has never been a substantial proletariat in the United $tates. Despite the presence of oppressed national minorities, lumpen proletariat, and a few revolutionaries, the revolutionaries have never reached a critical mass. This is especially true today, as almost all real labor has been pushed to the Third World and Euro-Amerikkkans are living off of the superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.
The author also mentions that "fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika." MIM(Prisons) believes that the United $tates is not currently a fascist country (nor has it been in the past). Amerikkka is obviously imperialist and this imperialist core was inscribed into the Amerikkkan project from the very beginning, however we do not equate imperialism with fascism. Fascism is a form of imperialism, but we don't think it's the current state of the world. And we see the most fascist expression of imperialism in Third World countries where imperialists are imposing their will.
Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we're in a fascist scenario now, or we're moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it's natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven't moved into fascism as an overall system.
In prison you often hear C.O.s say, "I don't care, write it up," and the prisoner will think, "what's the point? a grievance won't work." But that's not true. What is going on here is reverse psychology. When the officer puts on an air of nonchalant unconcern, it is only a show to put the thought in your mind that all complaints would be futile. But truth be told, that officer doesn't want any negative attention from the administration, and he definitely doesn't want his name coming across the warden's desk.
I have seen with my own eyes one of those segregation big fat bully type pigz practically beg a prisoner not to file a grievance on him, then bribe him with extra food. This C.O. already had other prisoners file on him in the past for his oppressive behavior, so he was walking on thin ice. Recently, I filed a complaint about the cracks along the walls of my cell that were allowing bugs to enter. My intention was to get the cracks sealed. Instead, they sent an exterminator in yesterday to spray. It wasn't what I wanted but I got results. Now all I have to do is continue to apply pressure.
Not all of us prisoners have the financial resources to file lawsuits, but there are many tactics and methods at our disposal if we would only think. No one likes to be constantly harassed, and when you harass the enemy on as many fronts as possible, just a bunch of seemingly insignificant prisoners can jab at a giant corporation until it surrenders. After all, their exploitation of us is dependent upon our cooperation.
But, of course, grievances and complaints are only a temporary solution to ease the sufferings of the average prisoner. Our main objective should be complete liberation, which will require a lot more from us. But that's another story.
U.$. imperialist leaders and their labor aristocracy supporters like to criticize other countries for their tight control of the media and other avenues of speech. For instance, many have heard the myths about communist China forcing everyone to think and speak alike. In reality, these stories are a form of censorship of the truth in the United $tates. In China under Mao the government encouraged people to put up posters debating every aspect of life, to criticize their leaders, and to engage in debate at work and at home. This was an important part of the Cultural Revolution in China. There are a number of books that give a truthful account, but far more money is put into anti-communist propaganda. Here, free speech is reserved for those with money and power.
In prisons in particular there is so much censorship, especially targeting those who are politically conscious and fighting for their rights. MIM(Prisons) and many of our subscribers spend a lot of time and money fighting for our First Amendment right to free speech. For us this is perhaps the most fundamental of requirements for our organizing work. Some prisoners are denied all mail from MIM(Prisons). This means we can't send in our newsletter, or study materials, or even a guide to fighting censorship. Many prisons regularly censor ULK claiming that the news and information printed within is a "threat to security." For them, printing the truth about what goes on behind bars is dangerous. But if we had the resources to take these cases to court we believe we could win in many instances.
Denying prisoners mail is condemning them to no contact with the outside world. To highlight this, and the ridiculous and illegal reasons that prisons use to justify this censorship, we will periodically print a summary of some recent censorship incidents in ULK.
We hope that lawyers, paralegals, and those with some legal knowledge will be inspired to get involved and help with these censorship battles, both behind bars and on the streets. For the full list of censorship incidents, along with copies of appeals and letters from the prison, check out our censorship reporting webpage www.prisoncensorship.info/data
ULK 63 was censored to two prisoners in Michigan because: "throughout the publication COs/police are referred to as 'pigs.' This reference is reasonably likely to promote or cause violence or group disruption in the facility."
Michigan - Michigan Reformatory
This censorship notification for ULK provided a new justification: "1 booklet with sticker not able to search without destroying."
Florida - New River Work Camp
ULK 62 was impounded because of "PG2: Stamp program advertisement" claiming this violated the rule that "It contains an advertisement promoting any of the following where the advertisement is the focus of, rather than being incidental, to the publication or the advertising is prominent or prevalent throughout the publication: (3) The purchase of products or services with postage stamps"
Colorado - Sterling Correctional Facility
We sent a prisoner the book Chican@ Power and the Struggle for Aztlán in August of 2017. On May 8, 2018, the prison sent us a notice that the book was censored because: "Safety & Security: Pgs. multiple pgs. - 5+ pgs talks about the rise and struggles for power of the Chican@ Nation within the prison system."
In June MIM(Prisons) received a letter from the ADC regarding Under Lock & Key 62 banning this issue:
"The Arizona Department of Corrections has determined that your publication described below contains unauthorized content as defined in Department Order 914.07 and, as a result, may be released in part or excluded in whole for the specific reason(s) given below.
Detrimental to the Safe, Secure, and Orderly Operation of the Facility
Promotes Superiority of One Group Over Another, Racism, Degradation
Promote Acts of violence"
Regarding ULK 63: "The Arizona Department of Corrections has determined that your publication described below contains unauthorized content as defined in Department Order 914.07 and, as a result, may be released in part or excluded in whole for the specific reason(s) given below. DO 914.07 - 1.2.3 Incite, Aide, Abet Riots, Work Stoppages, Means of Resistance."
Oregon - Two Rivers Correctional Institution - and New Jersey
This report comes from a prisoner now held in Oregon.
While being held captive by this imperialistic government in the oppressive state of New Jersey, I was a regular subscriber to ULK. However, once the pigs searched my cell for contraband all they found were back issues of ULK. As a result of that cell search, the New Jersey DOC banned any and all published material from MIM publications.
In November I was transferred to the Oregon DOC, and recently I asked the comrades at MIM(Prisons) to add me back to the mailing list. On 1 May 2018 I received a mail violation for a ULK issue. Their imperialistic reasons for rejecting the issue were: "Any other material that the Department deems to pose a threat or to be detrimental to legitimate penological objectives."
However, I am pleased to say that I did receive the May/June 2018 ULK 62 publication, so keep them coming comrades and I'll continue my quest for liberation through education, and continue to spread the word about MIM(Prisons) to all those who remain in their oppressive darkness mentally!
Notification sent to MIM(Prisons) regarding ULK 63: "This is to notify you that the publication referenced advocates and calls for solidarity among prisoners on September 9. The decision of the correctional institution is for this publication to be DENIED, and the inmates in the PA Department of Corrections will not be permitted to receive the publication. The correctional institutions will be notified by the Policy Office of the decision."
ULK 62 was denied by the NC DOC because page 2 "Has verbiage that may incite distributive behavior." This was further clarified for a prisoner who appealed the rejection. The objectionable section is "Page 2 under What is MIM(Prisons)?" which the prison claims: "Could likely precipitate violence among races/classes of people."
Pennsylvania DOC has a new mail policy requiring all prisoner mail be sent to Florida, care of Smart Communications (SmartCom).(1) This company scans in all mail and forwards it to PADOC to be printed and delivered on site. No original mail will actually reach prisoners. Prisoners receiving greeting cards or photos are being given shrunk, black and white copies.
Some prisoners in Pennsylvania are circulating a request for legal help to fight this new practice. They list multiple concerns. These changes will dramatically impact the mail PA prisoners can receive including almost certainly denying them access to political books and magazines. SmartCom will keep scanned mail in a searchable database. This will likely be used to profile people who send mail to PA prisoners. Under the pretense of security concerns, this new policy is also about political control.
Prisons are allowed to restrict prisoners' First Amendment rights to free speech, but it is "only valid if it is reasonably related to ligitimate penological interests." (Turner v. Safely, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987)) In this situation, PADOC is citing incidents of "multiple staff members being sickened by unknown substances over the past few weeks." In September 2018, it says there were eight staff emergency room trips for drug exposure.(2) It is focusing on mail restrictions because "[i]t's speculated that the majority of contraband enters the facilities through the mail."
PADOC is building a lot of hype on its website about how drugs come in thru the mail and with visitors. Yet in its photographic report, "Examples of Drug Introduction into Facilities," not one example is given of staff bringing drugs in.(3) Anyone familiar with prison culture knows that prison staff are a likely source for smuggling. It's lucrative and relatively easy. PADOC's presentation of the situation is skewed. And according to its FAQ on the new procedures for how it's going to handle this alleged poisoning problem, no additional screening or testing for staff seems to be on the radar.
The new mail procedures imply that subscriptions for magazines and periodicals will continue direct to the prison: "For now, you will continue to receive issues of current subscriptions. If any issue is compromised, it will be confiscated and destroyed. No future subscription orders may be purchased except through the kiosk." The memo given to prisoners made it clear that all future subscriptions must be purchased through PADOC. PADOC will purchase subscriptions in bulk and have magazines shipped in bulk to the facility to deliver to prisoners. The DOC will set the cost and select the vendors.
As a part of this change, PA is banning anyone from sending any books in to prisoners.(4) "Inmates can make a request to purchase any book. The DOC will provide the inmate with the cost of the book. Once the inmate submits a cash slip for the book, the DOC will order the book and have it shipped to the inmate." No independent orders are allowed: "All publications must be purchased through DOC." Books sent any other way will be returned to sender. While outside folks can deposit money in prisoners' accounts so that they can purchase approved books from approved vendors, they will now have to pay 20% more than the cost of the book because that is deducted from incoming money to many prisoners' accounts as costs or restitution.
This is a ridiculous policy change, under the pretense of security. While an argument is being made that preventing all physical mail from entering facilities will cut down contraband, it is an unnecessary obstruction to First Amendment rights of prisoners. The impact on prisoners, whose contact with the outside world is mainly through the mail, will be dramatic. Mail delays will likely increase, but more importantly, many will no longer have access to education. Cutting off books and magazines, limiting people to only content that is pre-approved by the prison, means that organizations like MIM(Prisons) will no longer be able to send literature to prisoners in PA.
This new policy is only serving to impose greater control and isolation on prisoners in PA. The results of cutting prisoners off from outside contact, and denying them educational materials, will just increase the already high recidivism and likely fuel more conflict behind the bars. This is what the prison wants: keeping prisoners fighting one another rather than educating themselves, building ties to the community, and building opposition to the criminal injustice system.
We are caught up in a system of competitiveness that pits one against the other, brother against brother, family against family, people against people, braceros against domestics, ethnic groups against ethnic groups, color against color, class against class, instead of minority or lower class against the ruling class. Competitiveness creates division, distrust, suspicions, and isolation. We have too much to lose to allow ourselves to fall into the same trap over and over again. What is in it for me, for you, for us?
All of our lives, we identify with war heroes, supermen, adventurers, gold seekers, empire builders, and imaginary leaders. We dream of praise and honors and love from other people. We go through life hoping to leave some sign of accomplishment to our children, to posterity, and we end up old, tired, wrinkled, with no vision or no memories, and we leave an inheritance of weakness, boot-licking, indignity, and confusion.
We can make history. It will consist of those who tried, who resisted, who led, who dared to struggle, dared to live free. It will also expose those who are afraid, ashamed, arrogant, selfish, greedy, sellouts, malinches, social prostitutes, Tio Tacos, exploiters, and cowards.
If there is to be a movement, then there must be leaders. Those leaders must be judged by their ability to give, not take. Leadership must convert confidence, not egotism — one who sacrifices, not one who is an opportunist. Leadership is the act of using power to free people, not to control them.
All in all, we have to cleanse ourselves of "inferiority" complex, our peon complex and our immigrant complex. We are not inferior, we are no man's peons, and we are not and never have been immigrants. As complete humans, we cannot only build an organization, start a movement, but create a nation. To take these steps we have to think positively. We have to put aside negative thoughts about each other, and especially about our capacity to succeed.
The masses will make a difference. We are educating young people. Our young people here and across this country are saying, I am leading a "Resistance" against institutional racism, racism or oppression. But when no one stands up with that young person, he commits suicide? You see the reason we have problems is because too many people do not want to get involved. When the guy in the cantina, prison cell or yard, the pool hall or the barber shop tells you, "Man, those movement people are out of their minds. I take care of me." Ask him what he's doing for la causa. Ask him what he's doing for the movement. He's not going to be able to say anything. He is part of the problem because he's not doing anything.
So we look at the problem: the problem is the mass majority of society. It's true. It's true that only 6% of the population of this country controls more than 60% of the wealth of the world. It's true that 2% of this country makes all the decisions. And everybody thinks they are living in a democratic society.
So the problem is on our backs, and the way to get rid of it is to deal with it. Now, we can deal with it by saying we are going to go into an armed Revolution with 4% of the people against maybe 50% of the people?
Long Live The Days of AZTLAN!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We are up against what seems like an insurmountable number of people either actively or passively on the side of imperialism in this country. It's a good point that if we took up armed revolution right now we'd be a tiny minority, up against a lot of resistance. This is because the vast majority of U.$. citizens are benefiting materially from imperialism. It's pretty obvious to most people just how well off they are compared to the rest of the world. That's why so many people want closed borders; don't let poor people in, they might take back some of that wealth we've got protected in the United $tates.
But this writer is talking about organizing the oppressed nations specifically and that's a bit of a different story. While still benefiting from the wealth Amerika has stolen from Third World countries, oppressed nations continue to face restricted opportunities, discrimination, imprisonment, and police brutality (to name just a few elements of national oppression within U.$. borders), all because of their nationality. This makes people from oppressed nations still potentially interested in revolution for their own persynal interests.
So yes, we need to heed this comrade's call to challenge people about what they're doing for la causa. We need to win over everyone we can. But we might not be in a position to take on imperialism until it is weakened from the outside, by revolutions in countries where the majority of the population has an interest in taking down imperialism. Right now we do what we can from within the belly of the beast to support the battles of the oppressed and exploited masses globally and the struggles of the oppressed nations within U.$. borders.
While we frequently discuss gender oppression in the pages of Under Lock & Key, most readers will notice a primary focus on national oppression. This is intentional, as we see the resolution of the national contradiction as the most successful path to ending all oppression at this stage. But for any of our readers who like our focus on nationalism, and have not taken the time to read MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, i recommend you take a look. It is in MT2/3 that MIM really dissected the difference between class, nation and gender and justified its focus on nation. Don't just focus on nation because it's more important to you subjectively, understand why it is the top priority by reading MT 2/3.
All USW comrades should be working their way to the level 2 introductory study program offered by MIM(Prisons). We start level 1 studying the basics of scientific thinking. In level 2, we move on to study Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, which gives a good overview of the 3 strands of oppression: class, nation and gender, and how they interact. This issue of Under Lock & Key is intended to supplement that theoretical material with some application to prison organizing and contemporary current events. (Let us know if you want to sign up for the study group.)
Academic Individualism vs. Revolutionary Science
Bourgeois individualism looks at race, class and gender as identities, which are seen as natural categories that exist within each individual. While proponents of identity politics generally recognize these concepts have evolved over time, they generally do not explain how or why. Dialectical materialists understand nation, class and gender as dualities that evolved as humyn society developed. Under capitalism, the class structure is defined by bourgeoisie exploiting proletarians. Class looked different under feudalism or primitive communist societies. One of the things Marx spent a lot of time doing is explaining how and why class evolved the way it did. Engels also gave us an analysis of the evolution of gender in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
One self-described "Marxist-Feminist critique of Intersectionality Theory" points out that "theories of an 'interlocking matrix of oppressions,' simply create a list of naturalized identities, abstracted from their material and historical context."(1) They do not provide a framework for understanding how to overthrow the systems that are imposing oppression on people, because they do not explain their causes. This "Marxist" critic, however, falls into the class reductionist camp that believes all oppression is rooted in class.
The MIM line is not class reductionist, rather we reduce oppression to three main strands: nation, gender and class. This is still too limited for the identity politics crowd. But when we dive into other types of oppression that might be separate from nation, class and gender, we find that they always come back to one of those categories. And this clarity on the main strands of oppression allows us to develop a path to success, by building on the historical experience of others who have paved the way for our model.
While MIM is often associated with the class analysis of the First World labor aristocracy, this was nothing really new. What MIM did that still sets it apart from others, that we know of, is develop the first revolutionary theory on sexual privilege. The class-reductionism of the writer cited above is demonstrated in eir statement, "to be a 'woman' means to produce and reproduce a set of social relations through our labor, or self-activity."(2) MIM said that is class, but there is still something separate called gender. While class is how humyns relate in the production process, gender is how humyns relate in non-productive/leisure time. And while biological reproductive ability has historically shaped the divide between oppressor and oppressed in the realm of gender, we put the material basis today in health status.(3) This understanding is what allows us to see that things like age, disability, sexual preference and trans/cis gender status all fall in the gender strand of oppression.
Using "Feminism" to Bomb Nations
Militarism and imperialist invasion are antithetical to feminism. Yet the imperialists successfully use propaganda that they wrap in pseudo-feminism to promote the invasion of Third World countries again and again. Sorting out the strands of oppression is key to consistent anti-imperialism.
In MT 2/3, MIM condemned the pseudo-feminists by saying that "supporting women who go to the courts with rape charges is white supremacy."(4) A recent Human Rights Watch report discussing alleged widespread rape in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) is getting lots of traction in the Amerikkkan/Briti$h press.(5) This campaign to demonize the DPRK is just like the campaign to imprison New Afrikans, with potentially nuclear consequences. We have two leading imperialist nations who committed genocide against an oppressed nation touting information that is effectively pro-war propaganda for another invasion and mass slaughter of that oppressed nation.
If it is true that rape is as widespread in the DPRK as in the United $tates and Great Britain, then we also must ask what the situation of wimmin would have been in the DPRK today if it were not for the imperialist war and blockade on that country. In the 1950s, Korea was on a very similar path as China. Socialism in China did more for wimmin's liberation than bourgeois feminists ever have. They increased wimmin's participation in government, surpassing the United $tates, rapidly improved infant mortality rates, with Shanghai surpassing the rate of New York, and eliminated the use of wimmin's bodies in advertising and pornography.(6)
An activist who is focused solely on ending rape will not see this. Of course, a healthy dose of white nationalism helps one ignore the mass slaughter of men, wimmin and children in the name of wimmin's liberation. So the strands do interact.
Distracted Senate Hearings
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a hearing before his appointment to assess accusations of sexual assault from his past. This was a spectacle, with the sexual content making it tantalizing to the public, rather than political content. Yes, the debate is about a lifetime appointment to a very high-powered position, that will affect the path of U.$. law. But there was no question of U.$. law favoring an end to war, oppression or the exploitation of the world's majority. Those who rallied against Kavanaugh were mostly caught up in Democratic Party politics, not actual feminism.
A quarter century ago, MIM was also disgusted by the hearings for Clarence Thomas to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice, that were dominated by questions about his sexual harassment of Anita Hill. Yet, this was an event that became quite divisive within MIM and eventually led to a consolidation of our movement's materialist gender line.(7) It was the intersection of nation with this display of gender oppression that made that case different from the Kavanaugh one, because Thomas and Hill are both New Afrikan. The minority line in this struggle was deemed the "pro-paternialism position."
The minority position was that MIM should stand with Anita Hill because she was the victim/oppressed. The line that won out was that Anita Hill was a petty-bourgeois cis-female in the First World, and was not helpless or at risk of starvation if she did not work for Clarence Thomas. While all MIM members would quickly jump on revisionists and pork-chop nationalists, paternalism led those holding the minority position to accept pseudo-feminism as something communists should stand by, because they pitied the female who faced situations like this.
Similarly today, with the Kavanaugh appointment, we should not let our subjective feelings about his treatment of wimmin confuse us into thinking those rallying against him represent feminism overall.
Bourgeois theories and identity politics
The paternalistic line brings us back to identity politics. A politic that says right and wrong can be determined by one's gender, "race" or other identity. The paternalist line will say things like only wimmin can be raped or New Afrikans can't "racially" oppress other people. In its extreme forms it justifies any action of members of the oppressed group.
Another form of identity politics is overdeterminism. The overdeterministic position is defined in our glossary as, "The idea that social processes are all connected and that all of the aspects of society cause each other, with none as the most important."(8) The overdeterminist will say "all oppressions are important so just work on your own. A parallel in anti-racism is that white people should get in touch with themselves first and work on their own racism."(9) Again this is all working from the framework of bourgeois individualism, which disempowers people from transforming the system.
There is a paralyzing effect of the bourgeois theories that try to persynalize struggles, and frame them in the question of "what's in it for me?" Communists have little concern for self when it comes to political questions. To be a communist is to give oneself to the people, and to struggle for that which will bring about a better future for all people the fastest. While humyn knowledge can never be purely objective, it is by applying the scientific method that we can be most objective and reach our goals the quickest.(10)