The Cyst'm Blames the Victims
i grew up in the ghetto. The area in which i was raised isn't that much different than any other ghetto, barrio or First Nation reservation in this country. The youth in my 'hood saw the hustler's, players, gangstas and dope pushers as role models. Why? In simple terms, they were feeding the people. They were providing people with a way out of poverty, misery and suffering that was all around them.
Although from a scientific and political perspective, these people would be called social parasites and predators on their own people, one rule of humynity was in full effect — survival. Dialectically speaking, they were also the reason why many people were addicted to drugs, wimmin/boys selling their bodies, etc.
But we were born into this society, its system and culture. We didn't make it the way it is. The conditions of abject poverty, drug/alcohol addiction, prostitution, etc, were already here before we got here. So it is the cyst'm (system), the social, political, economic and cultural institutions that are controlled by this government and the people who really profit from our misery who are at fault for the problems that we see in our society.
The system of political economy that we and most people in the world today live under is called capitalism/imperialism. Malcolm X once stated, "you can't operate a capitalist system unless you are vulturistic; you have to have someone else's blood to suck to be a capitalist. You show me a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker."
I want to quote extensively for a minute some things from the Draft Chapter of the Lumpen Handbook that MIM(Prisons), BORO, USW and some other groups are working on as part of a larger project.
"Power is the ability to define a phenomenon and make it act in a desired manner." - Huey P. Newton
"Marxist socialism is based in the idea that humyns, as a group, can take charge of the natural and economic laws that determine their ability to meet their material needs. Taking charge does not mean that they can decide these laws, but that they can utilize them. In doing so they develop a scientific understanding of the world around them.
"Under capitalism, the anarchy of production is the general rule. This is because capitalists only concern themselves with profit, while production and consumption of humyn needs is at the whim of the economic laws of capitalism. As a result people starve, wars are fought and the environment is degraded in ways that make humyn life more difficult or even impossible. Another result is that whole groups of people are excluded from the production system. Whereas in the past anyone could go out and produce the basic food and shelter that they needed to survive, capitalism is unique in keeping large groups of people from doing so.
"In the industrialized countries like the United States, the culture and structure of society has eliminated opportunities and knowledge to be self-sufficient as people were in the past. Production is done socially instead. Simplistically this might look like: one company produces bread, another produces shoes, and everyone working for each company gets paid and uses their pay to buy things from the other companies. Everyone gets what they need by being a productive member of the larger society.
"The problem is that there are not enough jobs. At first this might seem like a good thing; we are so advanced that we can get all the work done for the whole group with only a portion of us having to work. But under capitalism, not working means you do not get a share of the collective product. So when whole groups are not able to get jobs, they must find other ways of getting the goods that they need to survive. And we all know various ways that people do this.
"Some argue that the problem isn't too few jobs, the problem is too many people. But anyone can look around and see that there are enough incomplete tasks to keep humyns busy (repairing roads, providing medical care, maintenance of public space, etc.). There could be jobs for everyone, if we could get paid to do them. This is one of the inherent flaws in capitalism: humyns are only paid for tasks that create or actualize wealth and profit.
"So first capitalism has separated people from their need to provide everything for themselves. In doing so they alienate the worker from eir product, because it becomes the property of the capitalist. But those without jobs are also alienated from the whole production process. People often turn to the illegal service economy of selling drugs or sexual favors, or robbing and fencing stolen goods. Many also turn to the state for social services to get a distribution of the social product, without participating in production.
"All of these solutions are even more alienating than working for the capitalists. Being a shoemaker or a baker are productive tasks that people can find pleasure in, even if they do not have a say in how the product of their labor is then distributed. No one wants to poison their community, deal with the threat of violence every day, sell their body, steal from people or even take handouts without being able to participate in producing. All of these endeavors require the individual to justify actions that they know are wrong, to dehumanize other people and themselves, and to just live under a lot of stress.
"These activities, and the justifications that come with them, contribute to what then becomes the consciousness of this group of people excluded from the economy. Marx wrote about the alienation of the proletariat resulting from them not having a say in how the product of their labor is utilized. But there is a deeper level of alienation among the lumpen in that they must alienate themselves from other humyn beings, even those who are in similar situations to themselves. Capitalism promotes a dog-eat-dog mentality for all people because we are encouraged to look out for ourselves and not trust others. But this is most pronounced for the lumpen, who are in turn demonized for their disregard for other people.
"The demonization that the lumpen faces by the rest of society is one reason that none of these endeavors have futures. You can't sell dope forever. You certainly can't be a prostitute forever. Robbing and scamming is dangerous to say the least. And there are strong policies today to keep people form being on public assistance for too long unless one is disabled or elderly. So there is a strong interest among the lumpen class to choose another path, one that addresses the alienation and lack of control they have over their lives, including a limited ability to meet their needs.
"The Marxist solution to the anarchy of production provided a way out of this by overthrowing the bourgeoisie in power, and replacing them with rule by those who have nothing, and an economic system structured on public ownership and meeting humyn needs. Rather than letting the market determine production and consumption, the people themselves would decide what to produce, how much, what techniques to use and how to distribute the product.
"This was immediately seen as a threat by the bourgeoisie, who developed two possible alternatives to the Marxist solution that would allow them to remain in power and to keep exploiting the masses of the world. Similar to socialism, both alternatives required humyns to do more to consciously determine the economy they live in. The first was Keynesian economics, which is essentially a large-scale effort to tweak the capitalist economic system when it gets out of whack. The second was fascism, which was the openly terroristic dictatorship by finance capitalists, where the ideas of bourgeois democracy and free market economics were pushed out of the way. Neither addresses the inherent contradictions in the capitalist production system identified by Marx. This book is part of developing the analysis behind our solution to the problems of capitalism — the communist solution.
"The communist solution involves the organizing of the oppressed to carry out the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. A key element of revolutionary organizing is identifying who are our friends and who are our enemies. At a general level this must be about objective interests of groups of people. When Marx conducted an analysis of classes, fundamentally he was identifying the classes with an interest in the existing unequal structure (slavery, feudalism or capitalism) and those with an interest in overthrowing the unequal structure."(1)
I said all of this to say that those of us at the bottom are victims of a viscous system that must be overturned. We are not alone in this in that 50% of the world's people are living on $2 a day or less, and 80% of the world's people own only 5% of the world's wealth. In fact, it is those brothers and sisters in the Third World whom we must give more support to because it is they who are suffering the most at this time.
Capitalism/imperialism is a system and culture that produces junkies, whores, dope pushers and social predators of all sorts. Without the necessary tools for survival, people are pushed into lives that they would not normally choose for themselves.
The trick that they're playin' on us is that we're somehow responsible for all of the bullshit that goes down in society. Your choices were not wholly yours no matter what you think because you were never given the full context of the information and knowledge to otherwise be in control of your own destiny. And only a criminal can come up with complex "criminal codes" (laws) to socially control millions of people by force of arms — police, armies, courts.
Did you know that the United $tates locks up more people for drug crimes than the European Union does for all crimes and the European Union has 200 million more people? This shit ain't by accident, coincidence or happenstance! It is by design and plan!!
The solution to these problems can be found in a concrete analysis of concrete conditions. While we may not have created the fucked-up conditions, we are dedicating ourselves to solving them. This piece is meant to spark conversation around these issues and more. For anyone with any questions or who'd like to polemicize with regard to what is offered here or other pressing social or political issues, write to MIM(Prisons), PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140 and we'll get back at you at our earliest convenience. MIM(Prisons) also offers free books to prisoners and runs several study groups. Write to them if these things are of interest to you.
You are now responsible, because you know better. You an either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Be a catalyst for progressive development in your community.