August 2018 — September 9 is expected to be big! No violence, everyone has agreed to be at peace. In USW we support!
We are upholding the five principles of the United Front here in Missouri. We've been effectively organizing, uniting, educating, etc. as a part of the program for peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. And as a result, prison violence has dropped dramatically. We thank you for giving us a way to transmit positive energy and reduce conflict among prisoners. We now have 5 maximum security prisons on board, helping to raise the consciousness of the confused youth and building unity amongst the older captives. As we focus ahead, we see a future filled with love, freedom, and peace. We pray that you will continue to help us transform our people so that together we can strengthen our organizing for liberation.
I received ULK 63! I was so glad to hear from you all. This issue really laid it all out for my guys, so I made 45 copies and passed them out, then instructed each member of UZI (United Zulu Independence Movement) to do the same.
Three days later I called a meeting in the gym to discuss in-depth what each bro had read in this new issue of ULK about UFPP. The responses I received were beautiful. The young Crips now believe that the lumpen in California, who they mimic, are seeking to unite instead of separate. They now see that the gangs are fighting against the oppressor.
Missouri is a slow state, so they were still set on fighting each other, until they witnessed me and my New Afrikan Tribe moving under the sciences of peace, unity, growth, internationalism, and independence. We trade evolutionary material, we speak about communism, we teach each other to use the law as a tool to build doorways to freedom, and now your newsletter just explained everything that I've been telling these young Crips about the need to stop the senseless gang bangin', riots, and territorial disputes on the yard caused by the COs.
Thank you! ULK Thank You! Now these bros see that the struggle is real. I have to get back to work. Will write more soon. Can't stop! Won't stop!
The Dangerous Class and Revolutionary Theory
Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2017
Available for $24.95 (USD) + shipping/handling from: kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
The bulk of this double book is looking at the limited and contradictory writings of Marx/Engels and Mao on the subject of the lumpen with greater historical context. MIM(Prisons) and others have analyzed their scattered quotes on the subject.(1) But Sakai’s effort here is focused on background research to understand what Marx, Engels and Mao were seeing and why they were saying what they were saying. In doing so, Sakai provides great practical insight into a topic that is central to our work; the full complexities of which have only begun to unfold.
Size and Significance
In the opening of the "Dangerous Class", Sakai states that "lumpen/proletarians are constantly being made in larger and larger numbers".(p.3) This follows a discussion of criminalized zones like the ghetto, rez or favela. This is a curious conclusion, as the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates are largely being dispersed rather than expanding. Certainly the rez is not expanding. Sakai does not provide numbers to substantiate these "larger and larger" lumpen populations today.
In our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? we do run some census numbers that indicate an increase in the U.$. lumpen population from 1.5% of the total population in 1960 to over 10% in 2010. However, other methods led us to about 4% of the U.$. population today if you only look at oppressed nation lumpen, and 6 or 7% if you include whites.(1) This latter number is interestingly similar to what Marx estimated for revolutionary France (around 1850)(p.66), what Sakai estimates for Britain around 1800(p.112), and what Mao estimated for pre-revolutionary China.(p.119) Is 6% the magic number that indicates capitalism in crisis? The historical numbers for the United $tates (and elsewhere) are worthy of further investigation.
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat (Colquhoun)
1850s France (Marx)
lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat
2010 United $tates (MIM(Prisons))
First Nations lumpen
New Afrikan lumpen
Raza lumpen + semi-proletariat
Alliances and Line
Certainly, at 6% or more, the lumpen is a significant force, but a force for what? In asking that question, we must frame the discussion with a Marxist analysis of capitalism as a contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat. There’s really just two sides here. So the question is which side do the lumpen fall on. The answer is: It depends.
One inspiring thing we learn in this book is that the lumpen made up the majority of the guerrillas led by Mao’s Chinese Communist Party at various times before liberation.(p.122) This shows us that the lumpen are potentially an important revolutionary force. However, that road was not smooth. On the contrary it was quite bloody, involving temporary alliances, sabotage and purges.(pp.201-210)
Sakai's first book spends more time on the French revolution and the obvious role the lumpen played on the side of repression. Marx's writings on these events at times treated the Bonaparte state as a lumpen state, independent of the capitalist class. This actually echoes some of Sakai’s writing on fascism and the role of the declassed. But as Sakai recognizes in this book, there was nothing about the Bonaparte government that was anti-capitalist, even if it challenged the existing capitalist class. In other words, the mobilized lumpen, have played a deciding role in revolutionary times, but that role is either led by bourgeois or proletarian ideology. And the outcome will be capitalism or socialism.
Defining the Lumpen, Again
Interestingly, Sakai does not address the First World class structure and how that impacts the lumpen in those countries. Our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? explicitly addresses this question of the First World lumpen as distinct from the lumpen-proletariat. While MIM changed its line from the 1980s when it talked about significant proletariats within the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, this author has not seen Sakai change eir line on this, which might explain eir discussion of a lumpen-proletariat here. Sakai's line becomes most problematic in eir grouping of imperialist-country mercenaries in the "lumpen". Ey curiously switches from "lumpen/proletariat" when discussing China, to "lumpen" when discussing imperialist-country mercenaries, but never draws a line saying these are very different things. In discussions with the editor, Sakai says the stick up kid and the cop aren't the same kind of lumpen.(p.132) Sure, we understand the analogy that cops are the biggest gang on the streets. But state employees making 5 or 6-digit incomes with full bennies do not fit our definition of lumpen being excluded from the capitalist economy, forced to find its own ways of skimming resources from that economy. The contradiction the state faces in funding its cops and soldiers to repress growing resistance is different from the contradiction it faces with the lumpen on the street threatening to undermine the state's authority.
Sakai dismisses the idea that the line demarking lumpen is the line of illegal vs. legal. In fact, the more established and lucrative the illegal operation of a lumpen org is, the more likely it is to be a partner with the imperialist state. That just makes sense.
The inclusion of cops and mercenaries in the lumpen fits with Sakai's approach to the lumpen as a catchall non-class. We do agree that the lumpen is a much more diverse class, lacking the common life experience and relationship to the world that the proletariat can unite around. But what's the use of talking about a group of people that includes Amerikan cops and Filipino garbage pickers? Our definitions must guide us towards models that reflect reality close enough that, when we act on the understanding the model gives us, things work out as the model predicts more often than not. Or more often than any other models. This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model.
How about L.O.s in the U.$.?
The analysis of the First World lumpen in this collection is a reprint of Sakai's 1976 essay on the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago. Sakai had referred to L.O.s becoming fascist organizations in New Afrikan communities in a previous work, and this seems to be eir basis for this claim.
While the essay condemns the Blackstone Rangers for being pliant tools of the Amerikan state, Sakai does differentiate the young foot soldiers (the majority of the org) from the Main 21 leadership. In fact, the only difference between the recruiting base for the Rangers and the Black Panthers seems to have been that the Rangers were focused on men. Anyway, what Sakai's case study demonstrates is the ability for the state to use lumpen gangs for its own ends by buying off the leadership. There is no reason to believe that if Jeff Fort had seen eye-to-eye with the Black Panthers politically that the youth who followed him would not have followed him down that road.
Essentially, what we can take from all this is that the lumpen is a wavering class. Meaning that we must understand the conditions of a given time and place to better understand their role. And as Sakai implies, they have the potential to play a much more devastating and reactionary role when conditions really start to deteriorate in the heart of the empire.
Relating this to our practice, Sakai discusses the need for revolutionaries to move in the realm of the illegal underground. This doesn't mean the underground economy is a location for great proletarian struggle. It can contain some of the most egregious dehumanizing aspects of the capitalist system. But it also serves as a crack in that very system.
As comrades pointed out in our survey of drug use and trade in U.$. prisons, the presence of drugs is accompanied by an absence of unity and struggle among the oppressed masses. Meanwhile effective organizing against drug use is greatly hampered by threats of violence from the money interests of lumpen organizations and state employees.(2) The drug trade brings out the individualist/parasitic tendencies of the lumpen. Our aim is to counter that with the collective self-interest of the lumpen. It is that self-interest that pushes oppressed nation youth to "gang up" in the first place, in a system that is stacked against them.
The revolutionary/anti-imperialist movement must be active and aggressive in allying with the First World lumpen today. We must be among the lumpen masses so that as contradictions heighten, oppressed nation youth have already been exposed to the benefits of collective organizing for self-determination. The national contradiction in occupied Turtle Island remains strong, and we are confident that the lumpen masses will choose a developed revolutionary movement over the reactionary state. Some of the bourgeois elements among the lumpen organizations will side with the oppressor, and with their backing can play a dominant role for some times and places. We must be a counter to this.
While Mao faced much different conditions than we face in the United $tates today, the story of alliances and betrayals during the Chinese revolution that Sakai weaves is probably a useful guide to what we might expect. Ey spends one chapter analyzing the Futian Incident, where "over 90 percent of the cadres in the southwestern Jiangxi area were killed, detained, or stopped work."(p.205) The whole 20th Army, which had evolved from the lumpen gang, Three Dots Society, was liquidated in this incident. It marked a turning point and led to a shift in the approach to the lumpen in the guerilla areas. While in earlier years, looting of the wealthy was more accepted within the ranks of guerrilla units, the focus on changing class attitudes became much greater.(p.208) This reflected the shift in the balance of forces; the development of contradictions.
Sakai concludes that the mass inclusion of lumpen forces in the guerrilla wars by the military leaders Mao Zedong and Chu Teh was a strategic success. That the lumpen played a decisive role, not just in battle, but in transforming themselves and society. We might view the Futian Incident, and other lesser internal struggles resulting in death penalties meted out, as inevitable growing pains of this lumpen/peasant guerilla war. Mao liked to quote Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, in saying that war is different from all other humyn activity.
For now we are in a pre-war period in the United $tates, where the contradictions between the oppressed and oppressors are mostly fought out in the legal realms of public opinion battles, mass organizing and building institutions of the oppressed. Through these activities we demonstrate another way; an alternative to trying to get rich, disregarding others' lives, senseless violence, short-term highs and addiction. We demonstrate the power of the collective and the need for self-determination of all oppressed peoples. And we look to the First World lumpen to play a major role in this transformation of ourselves and society.
Toda la materia está en movimiento y con ese movimiento continuaremos
encontrando nuevas formas de aplicar la respuesta adecuada a nuevas ideas, y por supuesto nuevas acciones crearán nuevas reacciones.
Cada uno de nosotros tiene que encontrar la fuerza y la oportunidad dentro de cualquier área de nuestras vidas. En este desarrollo tenemos más capacidad de ayudar a otros en los mismos problemas. La nación del Chican@ de hoy está en una encrucijada. La población de la Raza está creciendo más rápidamente que cualquier otra. En un par de décadas seremos la población más grande de los Estados Unidos. Tenemos que entender que cualquier cambio que experimentemos genera oportunidades. En otras palabras, eventos externos con frecuencia ocurren como medios para facilitar los cambios internos y la consciencia. Una vez que la conexión interna es captada, toda creencia teórica en la necesidad permanente de las condiciones existentes se rompe antes del colapso en la práctica.
Creo que en la independencia de cada nación hay una unidad que ayudará a
movilizar las grandes masas, entonces comenzamos a entender la importancia de ventanas de oportunidad. El poder chicano no es simplemente estar a cargo. No queremos imitar al capitalismo, pero simplemente ejercer un poder económico y sociopolítico, donde las relaciones sociales de producción reemplacen al capitalismo. Sin la influencia del imperialismo, sabemos que el imperialismo define crímenes y empuja a las naciones oprimidas a cometer crímenes. Sabiendo que la mayoría de las minorías no tienen nada que perder, y están bien armadas, cuando se revolucionan pueden servir como los peleadores más feroces.
No fuimos creados por las mismas fuerzas sociales y materiales que gobiernan la vida Mexicana, pero por la aventura imperialista de la incorporación de las Américas. Nuestra existencia por lo tanto, no está definida por el realismo de las fronteras, sino por las fuerzas sociales y materiales que han influenciado la manera en que nos desarrollamos desde antes y después de su imposición. Aztlán representa la tierra que fue invadida, ocupada y robada del pueblo mexicano. El suroeste es casa de muchos Chican@s, y naciones indígenas no mexicanas, cada una con derechos universales de gobernarse a sí mismas y existir como un pueblo autónomo y soberano. Así, la era del imperialismo es la
era de la Nueva Democracia donde la mayor pelea democrática debe ser
librada y liderada por las masas de las clases populares en una unidad donde la meta principal es la liberación nacional.
Este mes de Agosto conmemoramos el Plan de San Diego, que fue un plan
para la Nueva Democracia por las semi-colonias internas que ocuparon la
Isla Tortuga. Es tiempo de estudiar la historia Chican@ y aplicar el
internacionalismo. Escribe a Movimiento Internaionalista Maoista de Prisiones
para folletos informativos de las campañas y enviar su propio ensayo y arte.
July 2018 — Hey guys n gals. Well good and bad news.
First the good. I successfully organized my first demonstration, on Father's Day. We are in G-4 custody (20 hr lockdown - 2 hr dayroom and 2 hr rec). The staff always steals our rec with the excuse of "short of staff." So I gathered 6 other prisoners and stated that we would like to speak to Rank (i.e. Sergeant or Lieutenant). Soon all 48 prisoners were united. The officers did not know what to do. They called on the radio an ICS (inmate control squad) stating that we were refusing to rack up. Lo and behold, every officer on the unit arrived with bean bag guns, gas, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains, everybody. I guess they were NOT short of staff! LOL!
After that I approached the Captain very calmly and told him our grievances. The Warden showed up just in time to see. He said "tell them to rack up and we will see what the officer has to say." Seeing that the message had been delivered, I withdrew.
About 10 minutes later they came back and gave us rec.
Now the bad news. Since then the prisons are now targeting me and I am in Seg. SMH! It is okay. Because I see now that I do have the power to make a difference.
Thanks for the Texas Activist Pack, and thanks for the back issues. I also got ULK 62 yesterday and I will follow up soon. In Struggle!
MIM(Prisons) responds: The Texas Activist Pack was updated in August 2018, and you can get one by sending a donation of $3.50. It's a bit thicker now, so the cost to print and mail it has gone up since the last version. The Texas Pack has info about all the campaigns that United Struggle from Within comrades have developed for the state of Texas.
Let's pause to consider why aren't these materals already available to prisoners held by TDCJ? Why has the TDCJ been withholding the grievance manual from prisoners since at least November 2014? Who are the people held by TDCJ and how does it impact their lives and familes when they don't have access to this info?
Filing grievances and working on individual or reform campaigns do have their place. But, like with this comrade's successful efforts to get rec time, the greatest impact will come in the unity we build with our comrades, and the sense of our own power that we can tap into. Those are the successes that are going to stick with us for the long haul, and through various stages that our struggle goes through.
May 2018 — I read ULK 61 and it is a pretty interesting newsletter on a topic that I have never put much thought into. I have to say I do not agree with the portion about "un-muddling the relationships between comrades (i.e. no dating within the org)" in the Sex-Offenders vs. Anti-People Sex Crimes article. I believe this practice would serve no real interest in the organization. I believe it is a form of dis-unity. To make a method of such effective the org would have to segregate the two (men and women). The reason being men and women form relationships naturally. I believe we need to congregate with our women for relationships, build unity, and if unity is a strong point of this organization a rule like that shall be established in this organization.
I do understand why MIM would decide to take that approach, but I see it as going against the inevitable. I believe it would also create secrecy in the org if people were dating and that would cause dishonesty. I believe a better approach would be to recognize the relationship, as to say if the comrades are to date they should be married. Not only would this relationship be recognized by the org, it would be recognized by the state/U.$., further decreasing such allegations of sex crimes. And at the same time the organization would be helping to build and create unity between men and women.
Another reason I believe this approach/practice would be more effective in the organization is because people seem to be more serious about marriage, meaning there just won't be any fraternizing within the organization. If there has to be an appointed licensed priest/preacher or someone to wed the two it should be done so. It, the ceremony, should be done in front of the org. Now it becomes if someone interferes with the relationship man or woman they should be punished/dealt with. Now that the marriage is consensual the sex is consensual. We should not deharmonize the harmony between man and woman. We are trying to build a United Front!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We need to be clear that marriage does not ensure consensual sex. We can't create a utopia outside of the patriarchal culture right now, and so we know that our relationships (including marriages) will still be strongly influenced by that culture. And under the patriarchy sexual relations are inherently unequal regardless of marital status or level of political activism of the people involved.
This writer is correct that people do have a tendency to become romantically involved with people with whom they spend a lot of time. And having a lot of political unity can encourage this romance. We don't share the view that this is naturally just between men and wimmin. It also happens between men and men and between wimmin and wimmin. So separating the people would only stop some romance. There may be other arguments for separating men and wimmin while we battle the patriarchy, but we shouldn't expect this to end romance or sexual assault. The situation in men's prisons across the United $tates is a clear demonstration of this point.
Our main disagreement with this writer is with the idea that we should use romance to build unity. On the factual front, even with the formality of marriage, most relationships don't stay together. This is just a fact of life under the imperialist patriarchy right now. This is the reality we live in. And we know that when relationships end there is a lot of irrational anger (and often rational anger too) that comes with it. So if we're trying to build unity, encouraging romantic relationships is likely to backfire in the majority of cases where the relationship doesn't last. Perhaps we can do better than the average couple with the support of the political organization, but we're still going to have a lot of relationships end. We just don't have the power or reach right now to reverse this fact of patriarchal culture.
In the ULK 61 article this writer responds to we wrote:
"How we handle this process now in our cell structure will be different if a cell has 2 members versus 2,000 members. The process will need to be adapted for different stages of the struggle as well, such as when we have dual power, and then again when the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations has power. And on and on, adapting our methods into a stateless communism.
"Even with policies in place, we have limited means of combating chauvinism, assault allegations and other unforeseen organizational problems endemic to the left. Rather than wave off these contradictions, or put them out of sight (or cover them up, like so many First World-based parties and organizations have done), we need to build institutions that protect those who are oppressed by gender violence."
This is something we need to continue discussing, trying various approaches, and working on the best approaches to ensure the longevity of the anti-imperialist movement.
"We stand for active ideological struggle because it is the weapon for ensuring unity within the Party and the revolutionary organizations in the interest of our fight. Every communist and revolutionary should take up this weapon." — Comrade Mao, "Combat Liberalism"
Within every class, gender, and nation, trans women are being oppressed and persecuted because of their trans disposition. This has been so within both capitalist and socialist societies, among revolutionaries as among reactionaries.
Many hallmark social/revolutionary movements in America's history had non-supportive regard for trans people. The consciousness was not there yet; revolutionary consciousness evolves by degrees, through years, decades, the same for such movements (and governments) in other countries.
In century 21, both political and revolutionary consciousness are at a much higher frequency. Trans political resistance is occurring across the country (and the world); trans people have become cognizant of the political aspects of their quality of life existence, and are getting politically involved in a revolutionary manner.
The political and revolutionary consciousness evolution of trans people is taking place in America's prisons. In California, the 36 Movement of trans women is politically active against the anti-trans oppression, persecution, and genocide of the prison system for their lives, livelihood and for political power. There is also the right-wing reaction they must contend with on the yards, and, as well, reactionary behavior towards them by left revolutionaries, and by presumed progressive media outlets on the left. People do not become progressive or revolutionary overnight. Anti-trans sentiment is deep among those so afflicted, because putrid bourgeois opinion predominates in American society, and is infectious.
How are the cadre to address such reactionary or quasi-reactionary tendencies within the revolutionary camp? For one, internal indoctrination can put light on the subject, so that new cadre are aware. But so must elder cadre become aware. For another, ideological discussion on trans issues are worthwhile — trans within society/prison, within the revolutionary ranks — discerning among each other and within oneself traces of reactionary inclination and weeding them out, aligning personal in line with revolutionary principles that guide attitudes towards the people, and propagating the new awareness.
By such ideological debate, properly practiced, broader unity will result. This is revolutionary. This is the revolutionary guidance of Mao Thought.
Across the wider spectrum, included is regard for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and gender nonconforming people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The transgender question has come out of the closet in recent years. This is a necessary step towards ending gender-based oppression. The question is what bringing the issue to light under capitalist patriarchy will achieve.
We can look back at the gay/lesbian/queer struggles in this country and see how they led to integration of those once separate communities into mainstream Amerika. While white wimmin have always been allies to white men in national oppression, this relationship has only solidified with increasing power of wimmin in Amerikan society. Both of these examples inform our understanding of nation as principal to our struggle against all oppression.
If we look at nation, we also see integrationism though. Today the integration road is presented as a viable option in the United $tates, rather than something you have to fight for. However, with nation, that integration was not complete. The ghettos became more isolated, even though they have since become more dispersed, and the koncentration kamps of course expanded with oppressed nations filling the cages. With the integration of both the relatively gender and nationally oppressed in this country, we did not see improvements for wimmin or oppressed nations overall in the world. So there is a problem with looking just at U.$. society for measuring progress.
The fact that transgender issues have not been a public discussion for as long as other forms of oppression does create the sense that transgender people are the most oppressed, and need the most attention. And this is the conclusion by many advocates of identity politics. As this comrade says, they have faced oppression in all parts of society. However, with our understanding of society within the framework of dialectical materialism we can talk about why nation is principal under imperialism, look at the historical examples of gender struggles in this country, and predict that the transgender struggle is not going to move us toward ending oppression the fastest.
None of that discounts what the comrade says about struggling for the inclusion and acceptance of transgender prisoners, and people in general, in the revolutionary movement. In some ways the prison population was ahead of the curve on this one as the prominence of transgender wimmin in male prisons has made this issue part of daily life for prisoners before many Amerikans began grappling with it. Still, this has not led to an overall overall progressive attitude among male prisoners, in part due to the hyper masculinity that the prison environment engenders.
This is an example of how communists must try to address all issues holding back the revolution, while focusing on the principal contradiction. We join this comrade in calling for ideological discussions around trans issues in mass work. This will foster greater unity within the oppressed nations and among the revolutionary movement of prisoners overall.
I think a crime against the people is dead ass wrong because they be bringing up all kind of bullshit ass charges to hold you for shit just because you have a certain kind of charge. People will judge you. It's hard for a sex offender charge because the female officers will use your sex charge against you. They act like you done killed the president or something.
I done seen some cats get locked up for 1 charge, come out of prison a sex offender. Like in the state I'm locked up in, Georgia. They will make you register as a sex offender if you have masturbation charge on your file or too many of them.
A lot of drug charges get more time than anything. But it's the hardest, say like this, if I sell drugs to support my family because I can't get a job. That's the only thing I know how to do. Not to say it's right. But I done seen how drugs fucked some people up, like ice. It done messed up a lot of black people. How can the pigs punish you for drugs? But you are not trying to stop it. It's doing nothing but killing our own people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores why we want to set up systems of rehabilitation for people who commit crimes against the people. We agree that it is hypocritical for a society to punish people for selling drugs, but set it up so this is the easiest (or only) way people can feed their families.
Capitalist society promotes crimes against the people: from careers in national oppression (police, CO, military, government), to flooding lumpen neighborhoods with drugs and guns, to advertising sex (often with very young girls) in popular culture. We need to transform these oppressive structures and culture of rape so that we can hold people to realistic standards of treating their fellow humyns with dignity and respect.
That's not to excuse the cops and military for what they do every day to oppressed nations. And we can push the lumpen now to stop pushing destructive drugs on their people. Even under capitalism people have the ability to act in the interests of the oppressed. But we know that the biggest step we can take towards ending the oppression is ending the structure of capitalism that requires this oppression.
Having been engaged much of my adult life in fedz and now state of Oregon, I am acutely aware of this dilemma which faces us behind the walls. As a "validated" (e.g. oppressor-classified prison gang member) New Afrikan for over 20 years, I've been conditioned to see myself as a kind of superior klass of man within the greater kaptive klass. By virtue of my "good" paperwork I established a history of violence behind walls: day-to-day conduct in line with NARN ideological precept(s). I saw it as us vs. them, the latter being those who had "bad" paperwork (e.g. sex charges, informant backgrounds, etc.). We were taught to revile them, extort them, dog them at every turn, as if doing so would somehow validate my/our realness. A "convict" vs. "inmates"! For over half my life I've bought into this fallacy.
In 2014 I had a life-altering experience. First I was given 45 years behind a PTSD-fueled assault. Secondly, I was abandoned by all I'd held dear. Thirdly, I embraced Islam. All of which caused me to do a self-evaluation and in turn analyze my ideology as it related to "struggle". Entering the ODOC, I've found that all my previously-held notions of what is and what is not a so-called "convict" has been forever altered. This cesspool is a virtual twilight zone to say the least. The ODOC captives have created a Calif-caricature, in which alternative realities to reality is the prevailing social norm. The so-called "good dudes" are those with no sex offenses, yet can be obvious jailhouse rodents and be respected. This wierdo worldview made me reevaluate.
Those of us who subscribe to progressive politics see it like this. Simply having a sex case does not, in and of itself, make one a pariah to us. We believe in a peoples' tribunal, where one's peers study all paperwork related to a case prior to making any community decisions. It should be noted: child rape and elderly rape is non-negotiable, if DNA evidence is involved. We all hold those to be a line of demarcation and that peoples' justice should be meted out accordingly.
Now with this being said, a Muslim is obligated to not only accept all fellow Muslims as brothers in faith but also support him in conflicts that occur. I cannot lie, my prior conditioning has me today struggling with this. My hatred for the Amerikan injustice system makes it virtually impossible to be cool with those who've rided for the kkkops. Ditto for those who see putting molestation of children or elders as ok. Islam teaches us that our creator accepts repentance of all who sincerely repent and in turn correct their behaviors. As a man, a dad, a granddad, I am wrestling mightily within myself to embrace this tenet of my faith, whilst simultaneously striving to embrace my kaptive peers into a more unified and progressive ideological precept.
In a nutshell, ODOC is showing us that many sex convictions are highly suspect and as such must be independently verified, prior to judging them. And, there can be redemption and klass acceptance for some. The divisions within klass truly only serve the oppressors' interests, as they continue to oppress us all. History has shown the poorest of Euroamerikans have been and continue to be the greatest obstacles to klass unity, as they fear unity and klass progress will cost them their "white privilege." Hence their continuous "chads agent" behaviors anytime we make any advances. This segment is our greatest enemy in my eyes and until we address them, in context of "dangerous foes," we shall not progress.
With that I shall stop here. Hopefully, something i've shared can help push this national dialogue. Until the next time, I remain standing firm and firmly embracing of all progressives! Power to the people.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this writer's work to build unity and embrace those ey previously rejected. But we want to comment on the klass division ey mentions. As this writer explains, Euro-Amerikans' fear of losing their class privilege is a huge barrier to unity in the United $tates. This fact reinforces our understanding that it is nation, not class, that is the principal contradiction within U.$. borders. Oppressed-nation unity is what we must fight for, because the vast majority of the oppressor nation will not join the struggle to end their power and privilege. There's still a place in the struggle for white folks who renounce their national privilege and join the revolutionary movement. We can embrace whites, men, sex offenders, drug dealers, and all who renounce past reactionary acts and dedicate themselves to serving the people.
I read ULK 61 and it gave me the idea to finally speak up. I spoke with my loved ones on me sharing a bit about my current situation, and they agreed it was a great idea to share my conflicting story.
I was arrested in 2013 at the age of 16 for a sex crime on a minor under the age of 14. The victim was a relative who was very close to me. Being sexually abused myself at such a young age, I know how my victim might feel. The difference in my abuse was I was 9 years old when a 43-year-old man took advantage of me in the worst forms possible. I started to use heavy drugs at the age of 11. I smoked meth and PCP, and did mostly any drug that I could get my hands on. I was under the influence when I committed the crime. Even though I only remember small pieces of that day, I had to be honest with myself and my loved ones. I was sentenced to 5 years in prison for what I did.
Now that my victim is older she has forgiven me for what I did. My mom and other family members stood by my side. They knew I needed help. The drugs were taking over my life.
Being so young in prison really shattered my innocence and what little of humanity that I had within me. My transition from juvenile hall to state prison was terrifying. I was afraid that I wasn't going to make it home. I was beaten, humiliated by COs, sexually assaulted by my cellies.
I had lost hope. I didn't want to accept that I was being categorized as a sex-offender or a cho-mo, even though I was a youngster when I committed the crime. I attempted suicide at least 7 times while in prison. I tried to hang myself, I cut my veins, and overdosed several times. I couldn't come to terms with having to register and all the other obstacles that I would have to face. I'm not this weird old man who gets off on watching little kids, or has a rap sheet for being a predator. That's not me.
Now that I'm going home soon, my family support was giving me a glimpse of hope. They want me to write a book to tell my story. I'm not this animal that the state painted me to be. I just had a messed up childhood that led to traumatic events. Some of my counselors in juvenile hall used to tell me to not be so hard on myself, that I should also take some time to receive help on issues from my past. I'm currently diagnosed with three major mental health disorders: PTSD stage 2, major depression disorder, and personality disorder. I take medication for these disorders.
I don't ever want to come back to prison, I have experienced things in this place that I'm embarrassed to talk about. It would break my family's heart if they knew what was going on with me inside these walls. I'm not asking for sympathy or pity. I just want people to understand to not be so quick to judge or put someone down. In a couple of months I'll be home with my family fighting for my happiness and seeking a better future.
MIM(Prisons) responds: By demonizing everyone in prison who has committed a sex crime (and this persyn readily admits ey falls in that category) we can see how people like this writer, who may just need help to overcome their own history of abuse, are instead terrorized and further traumatized. It's hard to see how this demonization is helpful, or serves to rectify the wrong that was done against a this writer's victim.
Those who can admit to and recognize their crimes against others are in the best position to be rehabilitated and turn their lives to productively serving the people. Writers like this one are setting an example of self-criticism and self-awareness. We hope that ey is able to move past eir own abuse and use those horrible experiences to inspire future work fighting the patriarchy that creates a culture encouraging such awful acts. We embrace comrades who can put in the hard work of self-criticism and rectifying their past wrongs. It does not matter which crimes against the people we committed, it matters that we are learning and growing and taking action to fight the imperialist system that enables and encourages such acts.
July 2018 — In ULK 61 the contentious topic of sex offenders was discussed with great objectivity (even in certain subjective analyses) and openness. The following will attempt to clarify, expound and expand on some of these positions from my perspective.
I wrote, "Excluding all non-sexual depredations (public urination and such), SOs constitute a dangerous element; more so than murderers because SOs often have more victims, and many of those victims become sexual predators, creating one long line of victimization." As a rejoinder to this comparison, MIM(Prisons) stated: "When someone is murdered in lumpen-criminal violence, often there is retaliatory murder, and subsequent prison time."
While this may prove accurate among lumpen organizations (LOs) and loosely associated persons, this is very far from the truth in society, generally speaking. A majority of people, even a majority of lumpen class, do not resort to such literal "eye-for-an-eye" justice. While there are many (mostly males between 14-22 years old) who do seek retaliatory murders, on the whole they produce a minority to be certain. Just as murderers constitute a noticeable minority of the 2.3-million-plus currently incarcerated through the United States.
Contrarily, sexual predators affect the entire societal composition. They perpetrate crimes against males and females, provoking deep-burrowing psychological problems, and turn many victims into victimizers (not all turn to outright sexual depredation). There is no question murder is irrespective of class, gender, nation, and provokes intense psychological trauma. The difference is not in the severity of the anti-proletariat crime — taking a life or ruining a life — but in the after-effects. To make the argument that murder creates murder in the same, or even similar, manner as sexual victimization creates future victimizers is beyond stretching. It is a patently false premise. Were it even close to the reality of present society, there would be anywhere from 10-50 times more murders and murderers in this country and its prisons.
Not to be crass, but murder is more of a one-two punch knock out. Where sexual depredation is twelve rounds of abuse by Robert Duran with your hands behind your back. Most murderers are not serial killers, which means their victims are family and known associates. Sexual predators habitually prey on strangers who fit their desired victim profile, in addition to relatives, friends, or associates. Murderers are normally incarcerated once arrested. Sexual predators are often times released.
Also it is much more stigmatizing to be a victim of sexual violence — shame, feelings of inferiority, desire to vengeance, self-deprecation — than a murderer's victim. Desire for justice, feelings of powerlessness, and greater stigmatization arises from the criminal injustice system's treatment of sex crime victims. Many are left feeling as if they are the perpetrator instead of the victim. This is why so many sex crimes go unreported. Such is not the case with murders, unless persons decide to seek vigilante justice. Considering the above, it is clear why a more negative perspective is attached to SOs than to murderers. Logically, a murder is traumatic but almost all overcome the event without becoming killers. In the case of sexual victimization, a slim minority overcome the stigma, and more than half become victimizers; whether emotionally, physically, or continue to harm themselves, reliving the victimizations perpetrated upon them.
"Lumpen criminal violence (created and encouraged by selective intervention and neglect by the state) is one of the reasons why 1 in 3 New African men will go to prison at some point in their lifetime." This is undoubtedly true. Although to state such a statistic to disprove the "logic" behind SOs being viewed as pariahs more than murderers is slightly disingenuous. Capitalism is formed in a manner destined to exclude great numbers of people. Mass incarceration is capitalism's answer to this exclusion. This is the manner in which capitalism addresses the lumpen class it creates in order to maintain a steady course on the capitalists' globalization/exploitation road. Crime and violence are incidental to the system that created a mass lumpen class. So, while this does "represent a long line of victimization," it is inherent to capitalism, but sexual depredation is not.
As it relates to imminent or immediate efforts at rehabilitating sexual predators, my meaning was that efforts can be made on an individual basis by revolutionaries who are able to see past label prejudice. Through their efforts, if conducted scientifically, a systematic method can emerge for once the revolution is successful. Practice directs theory and theory is validated in practice, of course. But my overall meaning was and remains that sex crimes will be a problem for capitalism, socialism, or communism. Sexual depredation is a social contagion which transcends borders of politics, gender, economy, class, nationhood and age. Revolutionaries will need to address the problem sooner or later. For those who can be ahead of the curve, they should be. Revolutions need innovative trail blazers as does every department of humynity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We appreciate this clarification on this writer's article in ULK 61, and find some compelling points here for distinctions between the impact of murders and sexual assaults. Though we still maintain that we will need to reform all who can be reformed, regardless of crimes (conviction or not).
We need to address a few factual questions. The author claims that "SOs habitually prey on strangers who fit their desired victim profile; in addition to relatives, friends, or associates". The reality is that studies of sexual assault have found that around 70%-75% of survivors know their rapist. It is a myth that sexual assault is mostly perpetrated on strangers. This myth serves the racist idea that New Afrikan men are raping white wimmin. And this falsehood has been used to target and persecute New Afrikan men going back to the time of slavery, specifically targeting ones seen as a threat by those in power. So although this is a minor point in the author's essay, we want to clarify the facts.
We want to also address this writer's comment that "sexual depredation is a social contagion which transcends...gender." Sexual assault is one of the most blatant symptoms of a system of gender oppression. It is the exercise of gender power. Sexual assault is a product of the patriarchal system that sets up gender power differences in our society.
And so, we disagree with the author that crime and violence are inherent to capitalism but sexual depredation is not. In the abstract this makes sense: sexual depredation is a result of the patriarchy, a system of gender oppression. Capitalism is a system of class oppression. The two are distinct systems of oppression.
But society has evolved to intertwine class, gender and national oppression so intimately that it is not practical to think we can eliminate one without eliminating the others. Seeing gender oppression as something outside of capitalism suggests we can eliminate gender oppression entirely under capitalism. While we can certainly target aspects of gender inequality and oppression for reform under capitalism, this is similar to enacting reforms to the systems of national oppression. We might improve conditions for individuals within the capitalist system, but the underlying system of oppression will remain.
This doesn't mean we ignore gender oppression right now. We must expose it, and we should demand that it be stopped wherever possible. For instance, fighting against rape in prison is a battle that could reduce the suffering of many prisoners. But we can also see the outcome of state responses to prison rape in the ineffectual and sometimes counter-productive PREA regulations.
With that said, we do agree with this writer that we can work now towards a systematic method to deal with sex offenders and sexual predators. But we will have fewer resources and less power to help these individuals reform now, before we have state power.
We won't reach the stage of communism until we eliminate sex crimes. We disagree with the author's assessment that sex crimes will exist in all systems. Communism is a society without oppression, where all people are equal. We will have to eliminate class, nation and gender oppression before we can achieve a communist society. And so this writer is correct that revolutionaries must address the problem of sex crimes, both sooner and later. As we discuss in the article "On Punishment vs. Rehabilitation," the stage of our struggle will help determine how we deal with those who commit crimes against the people.