I was discussing the difficulty of forming a study group in Intensive Management Unit (IMU), which is Oregon's Security Housing Unit (SHU), with a comrade (we are both in IMU) and we have figured that we two can at least do a study group with the two of us. We are hoping that you guys will be able to help with the literature. We are wanting to study "The Communist Manifesto" by Marx. If that is not a possibility we are hoping for "On Contradiction" by Mao. I don't believe my comrade is on the Under Lock & Key (ULK) list, but if you could put him on the mailing list and send us both copies of Marx or Mao or both or whatever is available. His info is enclosed.
We are, of course, willing to do political work for trade. Besides the essay enclosed, I am also working on an essay about "The Chicago Anarchist Trial" of 1886, in which the in-justice system fixed a trial and put four revolutionaries to death. My comrade is also working on a separate essay about revolutionary nationalism. We will send them in when they are completed.
On the invoice it was asked to answer those four questions, so here we go.
1. The most valuable thing I learned was about the "labor aristocracy." I had some prior knowledge, but the concept was expanded greatly in my mind.
2. I can't say that I disagree with the idea of a "white working class" as "labor aristocracy." But I am just trying to assimilate this fact with my previous revolutionary theories.
3. I would like to learn more about dialectical materialism and social sciences in general.
4. What most relates to the day-to-day struggle is to stop seeing the U.$. working class as potential revolutionaries. They are part beneficiaries from imperial exploitation.
As I said before, I am in IMU or SHU and so face different challenges when it comes to group study. I am really hoping ULK 45 will address the special circumstances that are part of the SHU study groups, and how to deal with and get around those challenges. But, if you can help us with the literature we will report back on how our SHU study group works out!
I'm writing concerning the ad in Under Lock & Key I read for the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP). It was baffling, as it had every concept, principle and law that is in my Family's code. I am the Father of the United Family Against all Oppression (UFAO) and we would like to support the UFPP.
About 150 of us are currently at Macon State Prison and 20 of the Family are in other camps. I'm currently in the hole for going to war with the officers and the Bloods for breaking a peace treaty. I extend my hand in assistance to stop imperialism and oppression through paperwork or blood.
When the officers see Bloods, Crips, GDs, Muslims, Vice Lords, Piru, coming together, they don't know what to do. One day we were in the rooms meeting and no one was hardly on the floor. They came in telling us to lock down for no reason, just because they had the authority.
I had to use the scientific method in coming up with a peace treaty. I went around surveying the people of different parties about what makes them fight and kill each other. It's not the color no more, it's about different creeds stealing and tricking each other. So I came up with the antithesis to it, which was to give out prizes at chess and basketball tournaments. It had other things such as a poor box in each dorm where the UFAO is at, which is for everybody.
Nothing happened in the dorm I was in until the Bloods stole out of the box of the GDs and Muslims and they broke the treaty. So, me being the General didn't approve of it, so a war broke out. Because once you say you're revolutionary, your word and peace treaties mean a lot in my eyes.
I am also asking for guidance and support because people are getting free, going home, and I don't want the impression of a gang or drug lord. I'd rather finish what Assata Shakur, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, Frederick Douglass and other great leaders left off on. I'm open for all political and friendly advice. My goal is to support all oppressed people no matter their affiliation, and under a treaty with people with affiliations in gangs.
We as a whole must unite and become one family to end the criminal label that the United $tates put on us, to disguise what their gang is doing. Because they have abandoned and malignant hearts when it comes to power and wealth. And I'm going to stop the real terrorists at all cost.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We commend this comrade for pushing for peace on their unit, and for pointing out that the imperialists are the real enemy. It makes sense that in organizing the lumpen for peace, we will still see lumpen tendencies arise, like the one our comrade described above about stealing the poor box. Even though we're bringing people together for revolutionary reasons, we are still heavily influenced by our capitalist culture and indoctrination. We need to make it a priority to bring thorough revolutionary education to all the comrades we're working with, in order to combat this lumpen mentality of getting up on the backs of others, and undermining our struggles for peace.
Prisons are a volatile environment. And we're building for peace in prisons. It's somewhat ironic to enforce a peace treaty using physical violence. We should take this incident as a lesson that while we're discussing how to begin a peace treaty, we also need to discuss how we can hold others accountable to the peace treaty if they break it. Is a prison war the only possible method of accountability?
If anyone needs literature to help educate others about the role of the United Front for Peace in Prisons in our overall fight against our common oppressor, then write in for back issues of Under Lock & Key. If you've been able to develop a sound peace treaty and have experimented successfully with how to hold others accountable when they fall out of line of the treaty, then please send a report to ULK so we can grow stronger as a movement.
"Religion is what keeps the poor from killing the rich." - Napoleon Bonaparte
It seems Napoleon had a firm understanding of the opiate of the masses. Imperialism has been using religion as a tool of oppression for hundreds of years. It isn't any less apparent today inside the U.S. prison systems. In some cases, units offer 2-3 times as many religious classes as educational courses.
Most religions, especially Judeo-Christian ones, champion punishment, often unjustly, under the reasoning of "because I say so." There's no objective investigating, and nothing is circumstantial. This propaganda is flooded into the prison system to create the mindset that prisoners are bad people and do not belong in society. This also helps the people in the free world who do not see us as deserving of human rights. So they allow the imperialistic oppression to continue. Criminals shouldn't be punished, they should be rehabilitated.
They claim Jesus once said to "turn the other cheek." Pacifists rarely enact change. Religions for the most part promise a better afterlife which gets people to overlook and ignore what's going on here and now. They preach that if you sit on your hands and keep your mouth shut, it will be better after you are gone. I'm sure the imperialist pigs have no qualms about expediting your departure. Amerika loves this "shut up and take it" mentality; it's what the country was founded on. Every day, I see prisoners take verbal and physical abuse from the institution and do nothing because they are "trying to be good Christians."
The lumpen need to take off the blindfolds placed on their eyes by the church, synagogue, or mosque and realize materialism is the vehicle to a better life of freedom. Meaning true freedom from oppression in this current life they're living, not down the road after they're dead.
I was in building B2 and saw officers Lawson and Gibson starve a prisoner for 3 days straight because the prisoner wrote them up for messing with him.
We were in the hole in B2, in segregation. When we get fed we have a box on our door. The officer puts the food in and then slides this piece of metal to the side so we can reach in to get the tray and put it back. All trays have tops on, and this is how they get away with it on camera. The tray is empty when they get to the cell, but with the top on the camera just shows them placing the tray in the box. If someone writes them up the officer will claim he delivered the food, but the whole time there was never anything on the tray.
To punish prisoners who expose them, the officers do things like plant knives in their cells to do a staged cell search, or put the person in segregation to have better control over them.
The main two people who call all the hits here at Red Onion Prison are Walter Sweeney, the Unit Manager for B building, and Yonce, Unit Manager for A building. They both use the word "nigger" here frequently with prisoners. The warden does nothing; he lets the unit managers run this place however they want.
MIM(Prisons) adds: There is no justification for torture of prisoners, yet it happens all the time in the Amerikan prison system. This description of deliberate starvation in Virginia in retaliation for prisoners exercising their legal rights fits in with the overall goal of the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control. There is nothing rehabilitative or corrective about these actions. This is why we call for a complete dismantling of the system. We are not just writing about a few bad apples perpetrating evil deeds, while the rest of the system is otherwise working well. Prisons help control oppressed populations within the United $tates for the imperialists. We won't be able to end this through the legal system that is part of the overall criminal injustice system. That doesn't stop us from taking on legal battles when they are winnable, but at the same time we must build a movement that can take down the entire system.
Book Review: Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers By Anabel Hernandez 2014
Anabel Hernandez exposes the biggest drug organization: The U.$. and Mexican government. Business men, and all branches of the government. Although she doesn't dig deeper into the Amerikan agencies like FBI, DEA, DHS, ICE, etc., she does point out to the involvement of the CIA in the drugs-arms trade in Central America during the civil wars focused on destroying the communist movements.
Unlike other "conspiracy theory" books, Hernandez backs up the facts in her book with evidence and information newly open and available to most. Recent scandals of money laundering by banks like HSBC, HSMX, Bank of Amerika, etc only reinforce the evidence Hernandez presents in her book. The main criminals are those who benefit from this politico-social-economic capitalist system.
As someone that grew up in the poorest section of Mexican society I can say that this book is the most revealing one I've ever read regarding the sad situation in Mexico, especially when speaking of the so-called "War on Drugs." Besides highly recommending this book to everyone and especially my co-nationals; I want to make sure that everyone is aware of the stupid idolization some people fall to. These "drug-lords" are part of the system too. They are working together. As Roberto Saviano puts it in the book foreword,
"Narco-land is not only an essential book for anyone willing to look squarely at organized crime today. Narcoland also shows how...capitalism is in no position to renounce the mafia. Because it is not the mafia that has transformed itself into a modern capitalist enterprise - it is capitalism that has transformed itself into mafia. The rules of drug trafficking that Hernandez describes are also the rules of capitalism."
People in the poor countries, like Mexico, get pulled to crime out of necessity, no arguing about that. But once some of these people get ultra-rich, or just rich, they become part of the problem. These people have billions of dollars not just millions, and rather than use this to educate and arm the people, they use it to buy private planes, yachts, mansions and party and celebrate with the elites at the businesses and governments.
In one way these drug lords are depicted as "bad" by the capitalist government, and society. In another they are admired and discretely shown as a roll model via brainwashing to the youth and uneducated, in the movies (Scarface), TV series (Breaking Bad), and so-called documentaries (Gangland), among many other sources.
Hernandez says "It has to stop [the Mexican drug-political system], and the only ones who can stop it are ordinary citizens... It will only end when Mexican society unites agains this immense 'mafia.' That means overcoming fear and apathy, and above all the tacit assumption that things can not be any different." It's up to us to be more political conscious and do what we must. Whether "Drug-Lords" or "capitalists," they are the same ideology. Meanwhile kids are hungry and lack clothes and education, the most basic needs.
Book also available in Spanish, as "Los Señores del Narco," de Anabel Hernandez.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This book review makes an important point about class analysis and identifying our friends and enemies. While the First World lumpen, individuals who may get pulled into small time drug dealing, are a class that as a whole we can hope to win to the side of revolution, the drug lords have moved out of this class, if they were ever a part of it. They function as a comprador bourgeoisie, profiting off the suffering of their people and working hand in hand with the imperialists. Just because the drug trade is supposedly illegal does not change this reality. And as this review points out, the governments that have outlawed drugs are among the biggest players in drug dealing. What is legal and what is criminal under capitalism is about politics, not about justice or humyn rights.
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. To who does these lives matter is the real question. Tell this to the black mother who teaches her son to be careful of strangers, polite and respectful to his elders. He pays strict attention to his mother and plays in the playground, where he feels safe. He runs back and forth playing with his friend, his little amerikkkan baseball cap and his two dollar plastic water gun, only to be shot down in a hail of 9mm bullets by men who spend their days training at a gun range qualifying to achieve only the highest marksmen scores.
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. Just attempt to explain that to the Black mother whose son's bullet riddled body lies in the street on display for four hours, for other Black men to witness and be a reminder of what is in store for them if they dare think about talking back to a police officer. Yet after the gun smoke has cleared and the law deems this an appropriate action, against a creditable threat, there are those who still are foolish enough to think about having a sit down and dialog the matter of why Black lives don't matter to them.
The so-called Black leaders are only leading us to the devil for slaughter. Black leaders jump on a plane and travel halfway across the globe in an attempt to diplomatically broker a cease fire in a foreign country, yet they are missing in action when it comes to driving into the next county to stand up to the racist cop who proudly stated that he hates niggas.
Black lives matter, or so the slogan goes. Yet if a gay couple gets stared at sideways, the whole country is up in arms and the very best lawyer that money could buy defends them, free of charge, to prove that this great country has stepped into a brand new day. While little Jamal's mother is given some background public defender who claims that the world will listen to us and we will make a difference.
When will they learn that the only way these Black lives will matter is when they tell the world that talking and dialogs only ends up with dead children. The time is done for talking, let's give them the only thing that they understand, the only thing they respect. When a rabid animal approaches you it's not interested in talking or being rational, it deserves to be put down, or the infectious disease that it suffers from will only spread wider and stronger until it consumes an area that can no longer be contained. When will we wake up and stop being lead, and take the lead, before there are no more Black lives to matter.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We echo this writer's call for organizing against the entire system that uses police brutality as just one tool in an arsenal of national oppression and social control. Dialogues with those who have the guns and power will not convince them to just give that up. We can only make serious and lasting change by force. This is why MIM(Prisons) is a revolutionary communist organization: we have learned from history that only a revolution, led by the proletariat and so fought in the interests of the oppressed and exploited, will put an end to the brutality and suffering under capitalism. Police brutality is just one aspect of this suffering.
This writer draws a contrast between the fight against gender oppression (against gays) and the fights against national oppression, noting that there is institutional money and support to fight the former while there is institutional support to maintain the latter. Overall we agree that within U.$. borders the majority actually enjoy gender privilege. But we should not ignore the hate crimes against the queer community. Many of these attacks target oppressed nations. Being New Afrikan and gay or transgender is even more dangerous than just being New Afrikan. In 2012, for instance, 50% of LGBTQ homicide victims were New Afrikan, 19.2% were [email protected] and only 11.5% were white.(1) And we should never pit the gender oppressed against the national oppressed. All oppressed people are allies in the fight against imperialism.
Your newsletter is very empowering but a little too hardcore for the Department of Corrections in Florida. We must not forget where the people you're trying to reach are at. Our vernacular is too straight forward such as using words like "hunger strike" or "organizing of any kind." You got to start making your newsletter more informative to political theory and education and building a community. Fasting has its time and place, and its reasons. But we must be mindful how we address certain issues. I look up to George Jackson and how he focused on building the Black Guerilla Family (BGF). I am a new generation Black Panther and I use your newsletters in my political education classes. We are all in the same struggle for liberation, but we must understand that real unity comes from sharing and mutual cooperation between the comrades of revolution.
I've been in prison for 14 years and only had to fast once. Yes, it did make the pigs do their job. However, from my observation and participation we need to all just come together and focus on building communities that can adjust to their social housing. Because it's not the pigs who do the raping, stealing, robbing, stabbing, killing, etc. If BGF had to put a worldwide ban on all gangbanging, what makes you think teaching them how to organize will make things any better? There are a lot of groups who you ain't gonna be able to unite and bring peace. I'm not knocking your work, but we got to put political differences aside and focus on building a commune that will protect and serve the people. It can't be just a prison thing. In order to get a strong hold in any state you must have dedicated troops on both sides (prison and turf) all working together under one banner. Yes ULK and United Struggle from Within are established but the people who claim that they are united under the banner of the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) are the very same people oppressing the people with gang violence.
How can 3 Blood Kingdoms unite with the UFPP when the actual leader of these Blood sets are in opposition with the idea of peace and unity? Most of these dudes be renegades who try to get some type of support to continue their renegading. And not knowing any better we, out of unconditional love for revolution, tell them that it's okay. No! We must draw the line and be str8 forward with them! You can't be a liberator by day and an oppressor by night! Your newsletter is on the banned list becuz these renegaders are using you as a sponsor for their renegading, plus the vernacular in the newsletters is too flamboyant. Look at how fast these same dudes are requesting to be removed off your mailing list. Their loyalty is not in the UFPP, it's to their sets. Please don't let them be the demise of a powerful tool we need in here. I don't wish to be removed becuz I'm loyal to revolution.
I believe if you ease up on your newsletter and focus on educating the people about theory and what's going on in the free world the pigs will allow the newsletter to circulate. Communicating and educating is power, so when that is cut off proper growth and development is dead. You probably thinking why didn't I grieve it? Well how can I get round justifying my rights to have a newsletter that blatantly uses vernacular that gives the pigs every right to reject it according to Rule 33-501.401 FAC (3)(G) stating: "It is dangerously inflammatory in that it advocates or encourages riot, insurrection, disruption of the institution, violation of department or institution rules." And (3)(m) stating: "It otherwise presents a threat to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system or the safety of any person."
The pigs read everything that comes in this slave plantation, so you can't put your comrades on the chopping block to get their heads cut off politically. If you’re going to coach then coach, but don't forget that you're out there in the free world and we are not. Every day we have to deal with these pigs' bullshit! And they use the gangs as their puppets to do hits for smokes and food. That's the real story in this place that the prisoners are brushing under the rug. It ain’t just the pigs who are oppressing our people, it's their puppets. So we got to build self-defense communities that are not afraid to establish new order in the land. It's too many chiefs and political debates about bullshit. Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!
MIM(Prisons) responds: It's always good to hear about serious organizers using MIM(Prisons) literature in political education classes and as organizing tools. And this comrade is writing from a state where most issues of Under Lock & Key are being censored systematically, so we do need to take seriously our challenge of getting political literature in to prisoners in Florida. This writer says we need to focus on educating people about theory, and we do have a lot of theory resources available to anyone who asks (just trade some work for lit if you can't pay). But ULK is an agitation and organizational publication, and our goal is to educate people through information and news about what's going on in prisons and in the world in general. We purposely maintain this focus instead of just putting out political theory because we need a tool that can organize people. If we only offer political theory we are missing the final step in helping people to connect the theory with practice. While we agree with this comrade that there are some things we do not need to say, we cannot sacrifice our political line to get our publication inside. And the fact is that the prisons use these "dangerously inflammatory" and "threat to security" claims for all sorts of literature we mail to prisoners, including reference materials, history books and theory.
Further, we do not agree with this comrade that ULK actually fits within those rules for censorship. Instead of presenting a threat to security and good order, ULK actually promotes security by promoting peace. The prisons, on the one hand, claim that prisoners fighting one another is one of the biggest problems they face and so they need more guards and more security weapons to deal with this problem, and then when a publication shows up promoting peace among prisoners they claim this is a threat to security as well. We need to fight this bogus claim. ULK does not encourage violation of rules, and in fact for events like the September 9 day of peace, we encourage prisoners to work within the rules of their institution to build peace. Even hunger strikes were developed as a form of non-violent protest, so we will continue to fight the censors who claim reporting on them somehow encourages "violence and insurrection." To them, prisoners in peaceful protest is a threat of violence and pigs beating prisoners is instituting security. To them newspapers calling for the bombing of other countries are cool, but newspapers exposing torture in U.$. prisons are dangerous. We cannot accept such double standards and hypocrisy.
As for the question of various lumpen organizations declaring their unity with the United Front for Peace in Prisons and then turning around and disrupting efforts to build peace, we recognize that this is a potential contradiction with lumpen organizations. It is a real challenge for groups that have historically promoted prisoner-on-prisoner violence to take up organizing for peace. We cannot expect this path to be smooth and easy. Nor can we expect all groups to join us on this path. But even the declaration of support for the UFPP is a step forward for LOs. And we must work to push them even further and confront their contradictions, rather than dismissing them as hopeless. For the record, we don't have lots of people asking to stop their subscription to ULK. In fact very few people write to be removed from our list once they get a copy of ULK. And our subscribers continue to increase, even in high censorship states like Florida and North Carolina, because people hear about our organizing to fight that censorship. When the pigs stop abusing and torturing people in U.$. prisons we will shift the content of our newsletter to focus on parts of the world where people are still being abused and tortured.
Prisoners day - September 9th - must be kept silent no more. This particular day, marking its ground breaking appearance on 9 September 1971, is making a slow steady trod towards mass movements and prisoner organizations from the east coast to the west.
Any prisoner subscribing to Under Lock & Key, or the variety of political newsletters free to prisoners, can attest to the constant reminders of the one day that prisoners stood up in unity to get shot down, and lifted back up year after year. For many who are familiar with the Attica uprising, just hearing the name Attica reawakens the stories told about the protest back east, where a select few brothers of a mixture of lumpen organizations were put in a position to stand for something and not just fall for anything. A protest from which many political prisoners take inspiration today in their thirst for freedom. Attica became legendary.
Many prisoners were forced into the tombs of the beast, known as the control unit facilities, for their commitment to keeping alive the memory of the day that history was made by prisoners struggling for a common cause. These prisoners forced into the tombs of the beast, who spoke from the grave to the injustice of the system, became the silent force of an already nuclear-reactor-type vibration within U$ prisons.
As time went on so then did the minds and movements of the masses, its leaders, and the lumpen organizations charged with serving the interest of the prisoners. The lines of the parties involved with commemorating the anniversary of Attica were crossed and compromised. The dream of rehabilitation and reforms set many in backward positions compliant to the interest of the enemy of the prisoners, the state.
Details of the September 9 uprising and certain individuals involved began meaning less and less. The historical facts, leadership, and goals became gossip of he said she said, your homie got my father killed.
The state understood the importance of stemming the tide with the tactic of division, thus a line was drawn between the political prisoner and the prisoner just trying to do their time and get back to what they knew as freedom. The latter wanted nothing to do with the former, as these old timer political prisoners were viewed as extreme in their ideas and objectives. The former, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with the latter, who at each turn of the age began to appear as a type of foreman, respecting the privileges and rewards for the good behavior of not upsetting the system. Even to this day these lines are the principal contradiction between the prisoner mass and the few political leaders.
Attica served as an example to both sides of the fence. Power is in people's unity. With the support of the people at Attica in 1971, time stood still long enough for prisoners to occupy the prison yard and a few dorms. In a stand off with state police, prisoners demanded to be afforded humyn decency.
The end result was the murders of many who knew they had nothing to lose but their chains. Attica's effect is on all prisoners. Attica's effect lives with prisoners even today. Let prisoners refresh their memories in as many uprisings as possible with peace as the objective.
It is not at this time that prisoners should be waging war with each other. Nor should we, in the United $tates, be taking up armed struggle. We must learn that prisoners must not prey on other prisoners with exploitative practices that result in the beefs that go beyond prison yards and effect more than just the local factions. But prisoners must consider the conditions of the entire class which it is rooted in and decide what direction it as a whole will move in.
Attica gave birth to many many great prisoner demonstrations and prison uprisings across the United $tates. More recently in Texas, California, North Carolina, and Georgia, just to name a few.
The day of solidarity is rooted in a reality that prisoners must at some points and time, for a specific frame of time, put to the side their differences in order to pool the energy and resources for the causes that contribute to tearing down this system as they know it. And after that, if they want to go back to their state of parasitic lifestyles, then they can take it up with the people.
The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity is the prisoner's memorial day; the convict holiday. It is the one day that prisoners as a whole can safely cross the lines of divide that have been expanded over the ages of time. Prisoners at this time can become festive in their anticipation of the entertainment, education, application and advocation of a vocal prisoner mass speaking up and out to the injustice of the U.$. prison system.
USW invites all those who have committed to the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons to participate in the coming September 9 celebrations. Submit high quality artwork to our Strugglen Artist Association to be printed and circulated within your prison, spreading the message of peace on September 9. Our comrades MIM(Prisons) offer political books free of charge that your group can study and write or draw your interpretations of the reading. You can even just write a statement describing the nature of your local September 9 celebration program.
It is now the age of speak up speak out for prisoners. If prisoners can build upon their shared experiences like the uprisings in the past, their voices can speak to their interests aligned with the internationally oppressed, and begin upsetting the system one state at a time.
Then and only then will the power be reinstated in the leadership who are most capable of representing the interests of the whole, without fear of retaliation or repression for their leadership roles. The September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity prepares all prisoners for the day that all must make the decision of whether they'll stand up for something or fall for anything.
For those who want Rashid's criticism with our point-by-point response ("100 Reasons Why Rashid Needs to STFU About MIM(Prisons)") and a list of suggested study material on the many topics referenced you can get a copy from us for $4 or work-trade. If you have a hard time distinguishing between MIM(Prisons) and the NABPP-PC, as many do, then you should study this material until the differences are obvious.
It is useful to use this as a teaching moment on how to provide scientific leadership. In particular, we encourage everyone to study logic and logical fallacies as a part of learning to think scientifically. Here are a few basic principles which we found severely lacking in Rashid's polemic:
1. Mao taught us "no investigation, no right to speak." Rashid's long attack on MIM(Prisons) gets many points wrong about our political line. These points are found clearly in the literature we distribute free to prisoners and have readily available on-line. A significant portion of his polemic focuses on the membership requirements for our study groups, for United Struggle from Within (USW) and for MIM(Prisons), sloppily confusing them all, and spreading misinformation in the process.
2. Correctness of ideas must be assessed independent of who says them. Rashid defends his criticism of the labor aristocracy line by accusing MIM(Prisons) comrades of having petty-bourgeois backgrounds. MIM(Prisons) could be Satan, but that doesn't mean there's no labor aristocracy. This approach is a political bullet to the head, and is a fallacy of irrelevance.
3. A lot of Rashid's article is baiting for information about MIM(Prisons). Whether intentional or not, this is pig work. We do not give out any information that the pigs could use to assess or destroy our movement. And anonymity isn't just about security, it's also about teaching people to think scientifically rather than follow the persyn with the right skin tone or haircut. We are against identity politics, which are too easily controlled by the oppressor. People who buy into identity politics also defend Obama just because he's Black.
4. Taking a scientific conclusion about a group and then applying it to individuals or small segments of that group is called an "ecological fallacy" and is a basic statistical error. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Maoists spent much time combatting this tendency, because people were attacking others based on their family's class background. Sociology as a science allows us to predict things with a certain probability. We can say that the petty bourgeoisie as a class has particular interests, and therefore it is very likely that an inidividual from that class will defend that interest. But that likelihood is less than 100%.
This criticism from Rashid, as baseless as it is, does highlight the urgency of getting our interactive glossary finally available on-line, and sending it to our readers behind bars. It also underlines the importance of sending literature to our subscribers and conducting study groups, whether led by MIM(Prisons) or by USW comrades.
Like most prisoners, Rashid does not have easy access to our website, and he's only able to access literature from us that the prison mailroom permits him to have. We have no reason to believe Rashid has received or read any of the most fundamental material on our political line, which is perhaps an error on our part. He criticizes our class definitions, and in criticizing them completely misrepresents them. Our class definitions have been made public to prisoners with most clarity in the booklet Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. This booklet was published in March 2012 and contains all our class definitions spelled out in paragraph form. Additionally, we send a short list of these definitions to all new subscribers. It would be overkill to expect us to provide a full definition each time we use a word, as Rashid seems to require. Our last response to Rashid was written assuming he had access to definitions of our political line, perhaps another error on our part.
In our newsletter Under Lock & Key, we publish economic analysis, mostly regarding class relationships in the First World. Rashid's most recent criticism of MIM(Prisons) suggest that he does not read ULK. It's unclear to us if Rashid has read any contemporary material on the labor aristocracy; whether by MIM(Prisons), Ehecatl, or Zak Cope. [Update: Rashid has since published a criticism of Zak Cope's book Divided World Divided Class on his website. Similar to his critique of MIM(Prisons), he does not actually engage any of the evidence provided by Cope. For those who are interested in some good material on the labor aristocracy question you'd be better off reading the debate that Zak Cope had with labor-aristocracy denier Charles Post.]
Defining Mass Work
Rashid claims MIM(Prisons) has no mass work to speak of. He thinks the labor aristocracy should be our mass base, and we think they are enemies of the international proletariat, so it makes sense that MIM(Prisons) would not engage in what Rashid would consider mass work.
Assuming for a moment that we do agree on a mass base, how would Rashid even know what MIM(Prisons)'s practice is amongst those masses? Rashid doesn't engage in our study groups, doesn't write articles for ULK, and doesn't participate in United Struggle from Within (USW) campaigns, or any other prisoner-based projects we facilitate. Rashid claims our organizing with prisoners is either (a) nonexistent or (b) taking advantage of a vulnerable population. If by "vulnerable" he means "not completely bought off by the spoils of imperialism" and "having a direct material interest in overthrowing imperialism and destroying Amerikkka," then yeah.
For as much as Rashid is out of touch with our prisoner organizing, he is ten times more out of touch with the organizing we do outside of prisons. As a security-conscious organization, we don't publicize where, when, or how much organizing we do outside of prison. Yet Rashid claims to be an expert on our practice, and claims we have none. This sort of baseless shit-talking is another logical fallacy, as it still does not address the labor aristocracy question. Rashid spends much time trying to make us look bad, while avoiding actually having to make sound arguments against our political line.
Importance of Class Background
True or not, Rashid's petty-bourgeois accusations are not that exciting. Here are some facts which should not surprise anyone: MIM(Prisons) operates in the United $tates. MIM(Prisons) comrades are not in prison. MIM(Prisons) comrades have time to devote to revolutionary study and work. At least some MIM(Prisons) comrades have money to donate to purchasing, publishing and mailing books and newsletters to prisoners for free. At least some MIM(Prisons) comrades are fluent in writing and reading the English language. Considering the vast majority of the U.$. population is petty bourgeois (which includes the labor aristocracy, which Rashid calls the proletariat), it doesn't take a stroke of genius to assume that at least some MIM(Prisons) comrades are likely petty bourgeois.
Class backgrounds certainly play a role in subjective political orientation, and that's where class suicide comes in. Just as we try to encourage members of the lumpen class to abandon their petty-bourgeois tendencies and align themselves (against their immediate material interests) with the international proletariat, we also encourage members of the labor aristocracy, petty bourgeoisie, and bourgeoisie to commit class suicide and work in favor of the international proletariat. In Rashid's studies of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in China, we're surprised he didn't also pick up the principle that criticizing an individual based on their class background is a textbook error.
The important question is, does our work do more to support the international proletariat, or more to support the First World classes (including the bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeoisie, and labor aristocracy)? Rashid says MIM(Prisons) comrades should commit class suicide. Yet we are the ones actively campaigning to redistribute wealth away from the country we live in, while the NABPP-PC allies with the labor aristocracy oinking for more.
Scientific Approach to Revolutionary Work
Below are a couple excerpts from our annotated response to Rashid's criticism:
Rashid: MIMP admits choosing prisoners because they prove most receptive to its ‘leadership’ which in essence means MIMP has latched onto a particularly vulnerable and desperate social group(1), an isolated group whose severely miserable predicament leaves them desperate(2) for any sympathetic ear and tending to be less critical of those who present themselves as sympathetic. Also prisoners generally lack political awareness and training and access to the voluminous Marxist and relevant works. So they are least suited to critically challenge MIMP’s Maoist representations.(3)
MIM(Prisons): 1. Patronizing. 2. Desperate for change. How is the proletariat better than this? 3. We distribute these materials for free to any prisoner in the United $tates who is genuinely interested. Our work-trade standards are just to help us determine who will make the best use of these resources, so we aren't sending them to people who will just throw them in the trash. Send us work (art, article, organizing report, etc) and engage with us and we'll send you plenty of free study materials with no strings attached. So to say we try to keep prisoners in the dark so that they can't criticize us is just bullshit.(p. 10)
Rashid: Contrary to Stalin’s admonition, MIMP neither has its feet planted within the masses, nor is it willing to "listen to the voices" of its followers, or anyone else for that matter. A point we should look at closer, from a Maoist standpoint.
MIM(Prisons): What is the evidence that we don't listen to our followers? We definitely don't listen to the enemy class, as that is not the masses. We don't aim to organize the labor aristocracy but we are in very close contact with lumpen masses. The only "evidence" Rashid presents in this essay to prove that we don't listen to the lumpen are (a) that we don't accept his "class analysis" of classes in the United $tates, and (b) that we removed someone from our study group because they had clear dividing line differences with us that we were not going to change, see below. These are two people we tried to struggle with at length and determined to have dividing line differences with us. We struggle with the lines represented by these two entities (Rashid and Ruin) continuously in the pages of Under Lock & Key, which is more efficient than one-on-one struggle, especially in this case. And they are more than welcome to keep writing to us and keep receiving ULK for free forever. But no, we're not likely going to reneg on our six main points which define our organization.(p. 12)
Rashid lacks an understanding of the importance of organizational structure and political standards. Liberalism on our 6 main points for membership in our organizations would be the antithesis of providing scientific leadership. This is MIM(Prison) clearly drawing lines around political questions that we think are most important to advancing the revolutionary struggle at this time. To those who oppose this scientific approach to revolutionary organizing, we suggest you may be better off working with another group. There are plenty of organizations out there that will accept anyone as a member, regardless of political line or ability to think critically, and which are happy to debate whether 2+2=4 endlessly. We will provide the doubters plenty of political resources that explain how we know 2+2=4, but we won't waste our time, or limited ULK space, on unscientific people who insist the answer is 3.
The sovereign citizens movement has become among the top domestic terrorist groups on the FBI's list in the United $tates for refusing to cooperate with the government. People of this movement assume an artificial independence as a nation and refuse to file taxes, carry any type of license or hold a social security card. Question is, where does the anti-imperialist movement stand with these individuals and how does their approach to liberation compare to that of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism.
It is reported that more than 300,000 people are self-declared sovereign citizens in the United $tates, and it is predicted to be one of the fastest growing movements in U.$. history.(1) So it is a reasonable question to ask whether these people are on to something or not.
It appears that the sovereign citizens movement is currently one of a mixture of oppressed nation lumpen, bourgeois nationalists and petty bourgeois organizations across the United $tates. For example, among those claiming to be sovereign citizen organizations are the New Afrikan groups like the Moorish Nation, the Mawshakh Nation of Nuurs and the Washitaw Nation, both Islamic and Hebrewic. Then there are the white nationalists responsible for publications and broadcasting programs for the movement: From the Embassy of Heaven, The Aware Group, the Republic of Texas, Rightway LAW, Freedom Bound International and Amen-Ra BTO, Inc.; and personalities like David W. Miller, Charles Weisman, Alfred Adask, George Gordon and Brent Johnson.
Lumpen class in search of answers
The talk of sovereign citizens in prison was first heard by the author in 2009, promoted by a variety of lumpen prisoners professing to be card-holding members of the jailhouse lawyers National Lawyers Guild. They claimed to possess the mysterious knowledge, which utilized in U.$. courts could result in riches from financial settlements, as well as the potential of an early release for prisoners who have learned the craft of cracking the code described as redemption.
Lumpen in the United $tates, in general, are always looking for a come up, but they rarely consider at what cost will they come up. They, in general, believe that if they can just grow their underground economy they can free themselves. This viewpoint is a product of the lumpen's relationship to capitalism as belonging to internal semi-colonies. Lumpen are excluded from the prosperous imperialist economy overall, yet given tastes of that wealth via these underground economies that also provide an illusion of acting outside of the system. It seems that the popularity of the sovereign citizens movement in prisons can be explained this way, the difference being that it actually claims to be based in law.
With its promises of wealth, stature, independence and self-control, lumpen prisoners are not blamed for lining up to receive what they've been conditioned to know as being freedom. However, they are cautioned that everything that glitters isn't gold. What we see at play is the principal contradiction that defines the lumpen class in our society: the individualist tendencies to come up at the expense of others that are required of an excluded class in a capitalist economy, and the need for collective action to overcome those conditions and attain true freedom. We even see the New Afrikan organizations promoting the ideas of sovereign citizenship have borrowed from the ideas of national liberation movements as well. But rather than fight for national liberation of New Afrika, they define their nation in opportunistic ways as if a nation is something that any group of people can just create out of thin air. We recognize nations as scientific phenomena, that exist in the real world and are defined as a group of people with a common culture, territory, language and economy.
It is important that lumpen prisoners begin to pick out the right things, that which they have persynally tested, inspected, researched and referenced to reality in the method of dialectical materialism. Lumpen prisoners have a problem in the areas of these last four key words: tested, inspected, researched and referenced. This failure is the main cause of the material circumstances leading to the divisions between the individualist lumpen prisoners vs. the self-sufficient collective of prisoners struggling for liberation within the movement towards national independence.
Too often lumpen prisoners get something, or hear of something from another inmate and they just run with it, spreading something that they are unfamiliar with and misinforming others. The sovereign citizens movement has benefited from this tendency.
What is sovereign citizens about?
Lumpen prisoners of white oppressor nation origins probably can describe a more definitive history of this movement beginning somewhere in the 1960s to challenge the legitimacy of U.$. tax laws and the U.$. government itself. It is doubted whether most oppressed nation prisoners can describe the founding groups, from Oregon and California, like the Posse Comitatus, which is based in extreme, unrealistic white supremacy.
The philosophy of the sovereign citizens movement is based in the theory that the U.$. government is operating as a fraud commercial entity that is bankrupted and indebted to foreign nations. Many sovereign citizens movement groups subscribe to this idea in that the original U.$. government was that of colonial Amerika based in British common law as a de jure government. After the civil war there supposedly developed a secondary government de facto of its previous state-based governments of settlers.
When they say de jure, they mean legal and therefore legitimate. In contrast, de facto means that it exists but it is not official. It is common to refer to a de facto government after a civil war to imply that things have not been settled and brought back to order. What that order is, is of course a political question in itself. The dictatorship over the capitalists in the south by the capitalists of the northern states after the civil war was a progressive one that marked the end of slavery and forced integration on the white settlers, though much of the progress on integration was later turned back by reactionary forces and proved an overall failure. Therefore, to question the legitimacy of the post-civil war government in the United $tates has a clear connection to this ongoing reactionary movement for white supremacy in North America. While these forces see independence and state's rights as a means of maintaining their national privilege, the internal semi-colonies are attracted to national liberation struggles (and therefore other politics of local control) as means of ending the national oppression that is the other side of the dialectical coin. To have an oppressor nation, you must have at least one oppressed nation.
Many sovereign proponents, like the Whitten Printers, have broken down the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.$. Constitution to the least common denominator. They argue that it was created by the de facto government in order to nationalize Black slaves and afford free Black slaves with comparable rights of the unalienable Constitutional rights of white settler state citizens, leading us to question whether they are reading from the same history books as the rest of us struggling for self-determination.
These sovereign citizens hold that they are not subject to the nationalization process to become federal citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment de facto government because they weren't slaves, they aren't colored, and they never signed into any contract agreements with the de facto government. Basically, they are royal citizens holding on to the good ol' days of the British colonies. Ain't that cute.
Critics of the sovereign citizens theory assert that it fails to sufficiently examine the context of the case law from which they cite and ignore adverse evidence, such as The Federalist No. 15, where Alexander Hamilton expressed the view that the Constitution placed everyone persynally under federal authority. And as the Fourteenth Amendment itself reads, in part:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”(2)
“The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”(3)
All oppressed nation prisoners must be aware of these facts before they allow themselves to be rallied into support for a movement like the sovereign citizens. The sovereign citizens movement is a white oppressor nation movement whose interest is directly in conflict with yours. They want to preserve imperialism at the cost of your independence and self-determination. National liberation from the imperialist states is in the interest of all lumpen prisoners, and the best way to effect this objective is for all the semi-colonies of the United $tates to support national liberation struggles of the oppressed.
We must also remind comrades that the fascist movement in Italy and the Nazi movement in Germany were appealing to a primarily dissatisfied petty bourgeoisie as well as lumpen and proletarian elements with rhetoric against the state, the bankers and big businesses at the time with some nonsensical religious ideas mixed in and lots of chauvinism. In the event of further imperialist crisis, if the imperialists are pushed to take a fascist approach to managing the people and economy, the sovereign citizens and similar movements will be the ready made mass movements that provide the footsoldiers for such a project. The oppressed peoples of the world must combat this with proletarian internationalism and dialectical materialism and break free of the ignorance that allows us to be suckered by the false claims of such groups.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We want to give Loco1 props for working on this review of the sovereign citizens movement. S/he was one of a number of comrades who have written us about it. And as a very active leader in USW we asked h to write a critique of the ideology behind the movement. Loco1 was hesitant at first for lack of information and knowing where to start.
While limiting access to information helps prevent ideological unity across the imprisoned lumpen, this article goes to show the greater importance of method. Loco1 was able to spearhead this critique with limited resources at h fingertips, but using an analytic approach.
Some of the appeal of the sovereign citizens and similar right-wing anti-government movements is based in an appeal to authority, where they cite a bunch of case law in an effort to convince you that they know what they are talking about. But this reliance on caselaw itself is idealism. It is similar to those who search for answers in ancient religions, as if there is a secret out there that just needs to be found and it will solve all our problems. This is appealing, it is a theme that sells many movies and books, but it is not reality. A real way to solve problems is to understand reality, the contradictions that make it up, and how things are moving so that we can transform reality. No one has been liberated by sovereign citizen paperwork, because it is just words on paper, and words on paper cannot magically liberate you from a real system that is made up of millions of people.