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[Cuba] [USSR] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 43]
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The Objective of U.S. Imperialism in Seeking Cuban Detente: Economic Expediency

The United States and Cuba recently agreed to restore diplomatic ties after a half-century of hostility, taking steps toward ending one of the world's last Cold War standoffs. President Obama's announcement, made in coordination with President Raúl Castro, stated that these long-estranged countries would restart cooperation on a range of travel and economic issues and reestablish the American embassy in Havana that closed in 1961 after the Cuban Revolution.

While the Cuban Revolution was a blow against U.$. imperialism, which had a choke-hold on the Cuban economy, after the 1959 revolution Cuba became dependent on the state capitalist Soviet Union. By 1959 a new bourgeoisie had arisen in the Soviet Union and it had turned away from its socialist orientation toward state capitalism. Instead of building socialism in Cuba, Castro and his government ended up building a satellite colony of the USSR.(1) Amerikan refusal to associate with Cuba was a reaction to the Cuban people successfully shutting down Amerikan dominance and a concession to the many wealthy Cuban immigrants who fled to the United $tates after the revolution, rather than a serious political stance. The Amerikan imperialists have not hesitated to associate with governments and countries that are strongly anti-Amerikan when the economic benefits of the relationship are compelling.

The recent policy changes forge significant economic ties between the two countries by allowing U.$. financial institutions to open accounts with Cuban counterparts, easing restrictions on the export of U.$. agricultural and telecommunication gear to Cuba, and permitting U.$. citizens to use credit and debit cards there. The biggest boost in the short-term from the changes will come from remittances, which will now allow relatives of Cubans to send back $2,000 a month to their homeland, up from $500 at the moment. Remittances are the island's leading source of income. In cash and in kind (appliances and clothes), they account for $5.1 billion a year in income, nearly double tourism at $2.6 billion.(2)

The immediate benefits for the country are obvious. The Cuban government reported that economic growth for 2014 was around 1.4%, and an estimated 40,000-50,000 Cubans emigrated in the past year. For economic reasons, Cuba is starved for cash, and its biggest trading partner, Venezuela, is facing an economic crisis due to the recent plunge in oil prices. Analysts say the possibility of losing Venezuelan aid likely played a role in reaching an agreement with the United $tates.

Business Opportunities Abound

Restoring trade ties will benefit the U.$. economy, allowing companies to join other countries which have operated for decades in Cuba and made their own capitalist inroads, such as Canada and European Union member-states. U.$. farmers, already helped by a partial lifting of the embargo for agricultural goods, will have new export opportunities. Despite heavy regulation and strict limitations, U.$. exports of agricultural goods to Cuba grew to $547 million in 2010 from $4 million in 2001.

Groups ranging from the American Farm Bureau Federation to the U.$. Chamber of Commerce strongly support a lifting of the embargo because they see Cuba as a significant export market. Opportunities abound elsewhere, such as in telecommunication, retail, tourism, and natural resources. "Cuba needs everything we make in the United States," said the global government affairs director for Caterpillar, Inc. The company hopes to soon install a dealership in Cuba. "We've been calling for a new policy toward Cuba for 15 years." U.$. hospitality companies also are eager to do business in Cuba when they can. "The minute it's available, we'll be down there," the CEO of Choice Hotels International, Inc. was reported as saying.(3)

All this is evidence of the capitalist system in Cuba. U.$. companies want access to this market that corporations based in other capitalist countries have been enjoying for years.

From Yanqui to Soviet Social-Imperialism: Neglect of Socialist Alternatives

With the 1959 revolution, Cuba sought to dismantle the economic hegemony the United $tates had over the country. Partial nationalization of certain sectors of the economy, followed by a complete confiscation of foreign-owned property, were met with stiff U.$. opposition, as many Amerikan citizens held large investments there. On 3 January 1961, U.$. President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba after Castro charged that the U.$. embassy in Havana was the center of counter-revolutionary activities in the country. In February 1962, President John F. Kennedy proclaimed an embargo on most U.$. trade with Cuba. The Cuban economy at the time was in serious danger. Industrial plants, confiscated after the revolution and now in disrepair, lacked the raw materials to keep operating. Spare parts for factory equipment and motor vehicles made in the United $tates were no longer available. Crop yields were poor, and food rationing began in March 1962. Against this backdrop, Cuba signed a $700 million trade agreement with the Soviet Union, following up on a $100 million credit and agreement to deliver a large procurement of sugar two years earlier. By mid-July of that year, thousands of Soviet military and economic advisors were making their way to the island.

While an improvement over the neo-colonial status it held under the United $tates, the new alliance Cuba had forged with the Soviet Union was hardly symbiotic in nature. This strings-attached relationship also affected Castro's drive to diversify Cuba's economy through industrialization, which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Historically, Cuba's most valuable crop has been sugarcane. Under U.$. tutelage, more than half of the cultivated land was devoted to this crop for export to U.$. markets. Little changed after the revolution, and sugar accounted for almost two-thirds of all export revenues. This heavy dependence on a single crop continued to hinder Cuba's economy. Cuba needed sugar to carry out its trade agreements with the Soviet Union and its allies, and as a result, agricultural diversification and the ability to feed its own people suffered. Cuba's economy remained stagnant, and became heavily dependent on Soviet aid. With the eventual collapse of the Soviet bloc, Cuba was severely wounded economically.

Furthermore, the material aid given to Cuba was inferior in quality, and was not geared towards the needs and climatic conditions of the Caribbean country. Castro's early advocacy of violent revolution throughout Latin America put it at odds with and weakened Cuba's relations with the Soviet Union. The Soviets in turn would curtail economic aid whenever the Cuban government stepped too far out of line, as was the case when Cuba opposed its and the Soviet bloc countries' invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. After a round of economic arm-twisting, Castro took a more neutral stance.

Unlike the socialist veneer of Soviet-revisionist economic cooperation, communist China's line at the time in regard to socialist financial and material aid had its basis in mutual cooperation and advised that it should be tailored to the needs of both countries with an aim towards economic self-sufficiency. In no way should it be conditional and carry high interest, which perpetuates the cycle of indebtedness in the recipient country. Material aid should be of first-rate quality and not technologically outdated. It should also suit their material conditions. Soviet agricultural implements exported to Cuba, for instance, did much damage to sugarcane fields.

Socialist Principles?

In his latest speech on the subject of normalization of relations, President Raúl Castro stated that Cuba "will not give up its socialist principles." Despite his assertion, we contend that he and Fidel had already done so by 1961. They embraced the fallacy that you cannot get production without incentive, instituting many Soviet-styled agrarian and industrial measures such as the implementation of work incentives and wage differentials to better boost production quotas. Looking to Mao Zedong's implementation of moral incentives to reward the workforce in China for overachievements in production could have been a viable alternative to this. The class struggle was also sidelined with their focus on economic output as a gauge of their country's success in building socialism, which constitutes a failure to do away with the theory of productive forces — a policy which has led many a socialist revolution to its revisionist perdition.

This is a critical reason why the Cultural Revolution in China represents the furthest advance towards communism in history: capitalist theories and practices will not just disappear under socialism and must be actively combatted. Otherwise a new bourgeoisie will arise from within former proletarian forces and attempt to take power against the interests of the masses. This happened in the Soviet Union, and their treatment of Cuba demonstrates clearly the state capitalists ignoring the needs of the Cuban people.

Since Raúl Castro took over from his brother Fidel in 2008, the Cuban government has undertaken a series of tentative economic reforms to move the country away from the state capitalist framework to a full-fledged capitalist system.

Keeping Solidarity with Cuba in Perspective

Having endured centuries of repeated imperialist encroachment, Cuba has managed to attain a degree of independence and sovereignty over its affairs. We support Cuba's right to self-determination, and applaud the Cuban government's notable success in providing educational and medical services to all segments of Cuban society. Cuba's anti-imperialist stance on a range of issues remains strong, and in a confrontation with imperialism, Cuba deserves our backing. Yet Cuba is not socialist, and the Cuban people know that their government at this point in its history is not a revolutionary government, but a pragmatic one. It is our hope that the people of Cuba will experience a blossoming of revolutionary consciousness and organize for their rights in the coming years as capitalist encroachment places their country in the cross-hairs of further economic exploitation.


Notes:
1. For more history of Cuba see Chapter 5 of MIM Theory 4: A Spiral Trajectory: the Failure and Success of Communist Development.
2. "Cubans Differ Over Impact, Focus on Economy," Wall Street Journal, 19 December 2014.
3. "U.S. Firms Examine New Ties," Wall Street Journal, 18 December 2014.

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[United Front] [ULK Issue 43]
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Lessons from the Bandung Conference for the United Front for Peace in Prisons

"Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward our research. And when you see that you've got problems, all you have to do is examine the historic method used all over the world by others who have problems similar to yours. Once you see how they got theirs straight, then you can know how you can get yours straight." - Malcolm X, Message to the Grass Roots

The basis of any social movement is unity. Unification is most often formed around a common oppression and recognition of necessity by a sometimes common, sometimes diverse group of people in order to link up together to fight the oppressive powers that be. On this topic perhaps the best, yet least known example of a common, yet diverse group of people coming together to fight off the most oppressive and far reaching power the world has ever known, was the Asian-African Conference of 1955 held in Bandung, Indonesia. This gathering of Black and Yellow nations was the first time in hystory that representatives from 29 Asian and African countries would meet to discuss strategic methods for combating the effects of imperialism on their people. All of the countries in attendance were not only newly independent following the beginning of the disintegration of the old colonial order, but represented a quarter of Earth's land surface.(1)

The Bandung Conference was sponsored by the Prime Ministries of Indonesia, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), India and the Philippines. The most notable and prestigious country to attend however was the then-socialist People's Republic of China. The convocation of these newly emerging forces was an important step towards the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement and it is from the legacy of both Bandung and the Non-Aligned Movement that the concept of the Third World would later be developed. Most notably barred and excluded from attending the conference were any and all Western imperialist powers, including the then-social-imperialist Soviet Union, as the newly emerging forces were looking to make a clean break from all variations of imperialism.

The Bandung Conference considered problems of common interest and concern to the countries of Asia and Africa, and discussed ways and means by which their people could attain fuller economic, cultural and political cooperation. And while to many today, particularly in the First World, the idea of the Third World liberating itself from the artificially-produced poverty of capitalism without the benefit of U.$. "aid" may seem like a pipe dream, those of us who know the mechanisms by which imperialism operates know that what is actually ridiculous is the notion that the United $tates and other imperialist powers would ever sit idly by as the oppressed and exploited organized for their own liberation to the point that they are no longer dependent on such First World aid. As a matter of hystorical perspective, Malcolm X would later explain the social context for the exclusion of the white man at Bandung:


"The number one thing that was not allowed to attend the Bandung Conference was the white man. He couldn't come. Once they excluded the white man, they found out that they could get together. Once they kept him out everybody else fell right in and fell in line. This is the thing that you and I have to understand. And these people who came together didn't have nuclear weapons, they didn't have jet planes, they didn't have all the heavy armaments the white man has. But they had unity."(2)

To be clear, it's not that the oppressed Asian and African countries were excluding the white man out of some sense of racism. Rather they were excluding the representatives of various white nations because the issues being discussed at Bandung were in direct contradiction to Western imperialism and the white nations they are in the service of. Never before had such unity between the oppressed nations played out either before or after the 500 years of colonialism which preceded the conference and which the Bandung 29 were trying to depart from. The United $tates responded to this political snub which they perceived as a threat to their political and military hegemony, as well as to their material interests, with various destructive acts. The most serious of these being the attempted assassination of Chinese Premiere Zhou Enlai and the mid-air explosion of the passenger plane "Kashmir Princess."(3)

Even with such acts of barbarity committed on the part of the imperialists against the oppressed for daring to carve out an existence on their own terms, the Bandung Conference was a success as the final communique of the conference can attest to: economic cooperation on the basis of mutual interest and respect for national sovereignty, technical assistance in the form of experts, trainees, pilot projects; the establishment of the Special United Nations Fund for Economic Development; the stabilization of commodity trade in the region and the stabilization of international prices and demands for primary commodities through bilateral and multi-lateral arrangements, just to mention some of the more groundbreaking methods by which the Bandung Conference sought to break the colonialist stranglehold on their nations.

The Bandung Conference was also convinced that

"among the most powerful means of promoting understanding among nations was the development of cultural cooperation. The Asian-African Conference took note of the fact that the existence of colonialism in many parts of Africa and Asia, in whatever form, not only prevented cultural cooperation but also suppressed the national cultures of the people. From the denial of basic rights in the sphere of education to a peoples basic right to study their own language."(4)

Out in the so-called free world we can see modern day examples in the closing of "ethnic studies" departments and the banning of [email protected] and other Latin American history books in racist Arizona; to the denial of prisoners' abilities to learn their people's true hystory for fear of "Security Threat Group" validation. What the imperialists and prison administrators really fear however is the unity of the oppressed based on common national identities and the creation of revolutionary nationalist organizations that would surely bring most prisoners together, as opposed to the divisive gang feuds that currently mark the reality of many prisons.

In the years following the Bandung Conference, the world saw the rise of national liberation movements all over the Third World, from guerrilla armies to People's Wars in the imperialist periphery, to the fledgling national liberation movements and armed struggles that under-lied the Civil Rights movements in the core capitalist countries, principally the United $tates. Political thinkers attributed these movements in part to the "Spirit of Bandung" and the example set there for the rest of the oppressed nations by the Bandung 29, in particular the People's Republic of China (PRC). The PRC led by example, showing the world what true independence and balanced self-reliant development could look like. For what many oppressed nations could only just begin to aspire to, the PRC was already doing and had to a large degree already accomplished.

"[The Spirit of Bandung] can be summarized in the following five principles: (1) respect for the fundamental rights of people as well as for the goals and principles of the United Nations Charter; (2) respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations; (3) equality of all nations and people both large and small; (4) non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries; (5) no recourse to acts or threats of aggression or to the use of force. These five principles were also referred to as the "five points" of peaceful co-existence."(5)

The Bandung Spirit Lives On!

Today prisoners from different nations and many different cliques and sets are taking part in the United Front for Peace in Prisons and are hence putting United Front theory into practice. Peace and unity between prison organizations mark not only the beginning stages of national liberation movements within the oppressed internal nations within the U.$. empire, but the embryonic stages of the peoples struggle in the United $tates for socialist revolution in alliance with Third World communist movements. Just as surely, the Bandung Conference marked the entrance on the hystorical scene of the people's liberation movements in Africa and Asia, and represented the first impetuous rising of countries still oppressed or scarcely liberated from imperialism. Thus, from this we take the Five Fundamental Principles for Peace in Prison also known as the "five points of unity":

  1. Peace: By organizing to end needless conflict amongst prisoners we not only struggle against the pigs divide and conquer strategies, but we set a positive example for others and likewise help to begin the constructive reconstruction of our prison and lumpen organizations and nations.
  2. Unity: As against a common oppression we fortify our peace-treaties by using this opportunity to work together in one form or another to both better our conditions and understanding of each other.
  3. Growth: Without growth on an individual level or a group level our newfound unity will not survive. So comrades should take the time to build themselves up and each other so as to aid and push the movement further, as the movement in return will push us all further.
  4. Internationalism: Mao Zedong said that in wars of national liberation patriotism is applied internationalism. Within our conditions this essentially means that in struggling for our own nations now we effectively aid the struggles of other oppressed nations by forcing the oppressors to contend with us. Hence on a strategic domestic and international level our tactics are to pit ten against one.
  5. Independence: Then and now independence has always been the ultimate aim, both at Bandung and in the prison movement. By building our own institutions and programs of the oppressed independent of the U.$. prison administrators and their inmate lackeys we help solidify and consolidate the prison movement. Just as the sponsoring countries at Bandung cut out the white man and found that their unity and movement could only be strengthened as a result, so must we cut out all the prison administrations' officially sanctioned prisoner representatives because they cannot truly serve us, but have only served to better oppress and suppress us.

For all these things to work we need not only unified resistance to oppression, but the one crucial aspect that was missing at Bandung. We need vanguard leadership and mass struggle working together so that the prison movement will truly get somewhere and not merely stagnate and die after a few petty reforms are put in place. Hence we need correct leadership to guide that resistance. Correct leadership and struggle comes from a correct understanding of material reality and of the correct methods for influencing that reality; not sporadic and short-lived rebellions where the masses learn nothing but the taste of defeat with incompetent leadership that has no one's interest at heart except for their own, and who clearly lack the vision of carrying the struggle forward until true change and reform is won. This is the difference between victory and defeat, and it is the kernel of truth which we must all grasp if we want to change our reality.

Connected to this kernel of truth is the fact that the prison movement will be dialectically connected to the streets and to the national liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies. All that is left for us to do is to grasp these truths as part of the objective laws of development for our cause and vigorously build on them. As such there can be no successful prison movement without the help of the rest of the oppressed nation masses and various revolutionary organizations outside of prison walls, just as there cannot be any successful national liberation movements for the oppressed without the help and leadership of the revolutionary lumpen in the semi-colonies and behind prison walls playing a vital and pivotal role.

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[Gang Validation] [California]
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Validated: Targeted for Repression

Who denies that New Afrikans (Blacks colonized in Amerika) have been viewed and treated as a "Security Threat Group", and consequently subjected to varied forms of repression by a myriad of state and non-state reactionary pigs since our enslavement here? Who denies that this country's "laws" or judicial system (e.g., police, prosecutors, judges, prison guards, etc.) has been and continues to be used as a weapon of oppressive domination of our people? I assert that the actual function of "law enforcement" - as particularly applied to our neo-colonial context - is to beat, harass, humiliate and kill, i.e., to contain and control. On an ultimate level, this is the actual purpose of those who operate in law enforcement.

We can see this evidenced in the 1921 Tulsa, Oklahoma massacre of New Afrikans in the Greenwood district, the 1920 Ocoee, Florida, the 1923 Rosewood, Florida massacres, and the list goes on. The historical pattern is that those who embody the Amerikan judicial system/law enforcement functioned with the primary aim of our domination in exploitation as remains the case in 2014, even under Eric Holder as the Attorney General.

What's most important to grasp and take to heart is that as a group/nationality New Afrikans are in fact a "validated" population as a result of being calculated to represent a serious political threat against the white male power structure. Naturally, as we constitute a diversity in terms of political tendencies and hence threat assessments, the validation process is pursued and applied in varying forms. Even as all forms of the validation process (e.g. disciplinary techniques in the military, corporations, universities, law enforcement, industries, NBA, NFL, Wall Street, etc.) are ever geared towards our containment and domination.

"Classifications which are frequently encountered in social science literature of the European American variety frequently reduce people to categories like the 'aged,' 'the schizophrenic subjects,' 'the culturally deprived,' etc. Such categories, which are initially nominal are invariably treated in some qualitative fashion resulting in an ordinal classification based on superordinate-subordinate arrangement. The necessity to refer to people involved in psychological studies as 'subjects' is clearly instructive about the goal of such studies which is to subject. This is the value of the 'valueless' European American experimental methodology." - Dr. Naim Akbar

Here in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCr), prisoners are designated via terms such as "contaminate," "subject," "disruptive groups," "security threat groups," "E.O.P.," "CCCMS," etc. In the larger society, New Afrikan gang members and even political organizations are designated as "domestic terrorists," "security threat groups," etc. In each instance what those individuals/groups whom are designated by one-or-the-other terms have in common is the status of being classified, i.e. a procedural identification for purposes of categorization and monitoring techniques for state repression.

This is the essence and actual political function and primary objective of what is referred to and defined as "validated." In penological terms to be "validated" means that a prisoner has been found or confirmed via investigation to be an affiliate of either a prison gang or disruptive group. The "stamp of approval" (rubber stamp) is exacted without sincere consideration and nor recognition of a prisoner's supposedly accorded "due process rights." In the final analysis, the validation process is fraught with legal indifference and profound official bias since it is CDCr's penological interests which are ever paramount.

Although a prisoner has a right to appeal, the end result of such futile pursuit is most predictable since this amounts to "appealing" to another part of the monster which is dead-set on punitive measures immersed in authoritarian arrogance. I stress political function, since from the beginning, in the case of New Afrikans, ours is a relationship based upon institutional domination in terms of the racist prison system. As is often said "war is an expression of politics by other means," so too, "prison is an expression of politics by other means." The prison system is an element of protracted war against our people ever with the aim of subjection.

Indeed just as the U.S. government employs covers (e.g. "humanitarian aid," "fighting terrorism," "spreading democracy") to legitimize its politics and practices in Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Somalia, Congo, Mali, Sudan, Ukraine, etc., the same is true on a domestic level as regards the covers employed to legitimize the state's repressive policies and measures (i.e. stop and frisk, ten-twenty-life, three strikes, mandatory minimum sentencing, anti-terrorism act, war on drugs, war on gangs) directed against the New Afrikan and Latino(a) communities and oppressed nation people in general. In the case of the New Afrikan and Latino(a) communities the pretext used is "working to make the streets safe" via targeting our youth/warrior-oriented groups with "Gang injunctions," "Prison Gang Validation," "Behavioral Modification Units," etc.

As in the case of their recently conceived repressive tactic referred to as the "Step Down Program," merely one element of an ever-adaptive strategic program rooted in our control, the paramount aim of the state's obvious subterfuge is our subjection to forms of reorientation/indoctrination which operates in total conformity with their dictates, i.e. socio-economic, cultural, security and political imperatives.

"(I)t is the government which gets to define what a 'security threat group' is. According to a national survey conducted by the Department of Justice in 1997, the Department of Corrections of Minnesota and Oregon named all Asians as gangs, which Minnesota further compounds by adding all Native Americans. The State of New Jersey DOC lists the Black Cat Collective as a gang. The Black Cat Collective is my free foster son along with two friends who put on Afro-Centric cultural programs in libraries."(Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol.39)

The above komrad goes on to point out that "the government considered the Black Panther Party a 'street gang' under their loose meaning they employed." As we're aware, it is the convenient policy of oppressive and exploitive governments to define and designate especially oppositional radical political forces/individuals (e.g. Mau Mau, RNA, Hamas, IRA, BLA, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, Marcus Garvey, Yaa Asantewaa, Winnie Mandela, Steve Biko, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Martin L. King, Malcolm X, etc.) by an array of self-serving propagandistic pejorative terms including thugs, hoodlums, savages, terrorists, and mass murders, so as to demonize them and discredit their socio-political causes. This common tactic of attack via de-legitimization measures is currently being employed against our Black Riders Liberation Party based in Los Angeles.

In California prisons, on the classification Chrono we're referred to or identified as "subject." As a validated prisoner/captive I am treated as and considered to be what they call a "contaminate." I've already listed other official terms in which the state employs to conveniently designate those from the ghettoes. Thus, we discern that the necessity to refer to people as mere "subjects" is also a penological methodology in society and prison. Why not the "oppressed," "colonized," or "exploited"? Because the appropriate and applicable designations would not only operate to accurately identify and classify First Nation peoples, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, New Afrikans, etc., but they'd also work to indict the white male supremacist capitalist-imperialist system. Yes, to a large degree the saying: "He whom defines reality...has the power," is accurate and this is the reason the labeling process is so important to our political adversaries. Classification procedures function as a method of identification with the intended aim of targeting/profiling individuals/groups who are perceived to constitute a "threat to the security" of institutional operations as they're not in conformity with the dictated program.

Once labeled via the classification process the individual/group is made subject to all sorts of political repressive tactics. This even applies to those individuals/groups defined as "gangs" and engaged in criminal activities whether confined to prisons or that of society since it is the "power relation" which is the ultimate crux of the matter.

As is well known, Pelican Bay State Prison as a "model" of repressive control was built along the lines of Marion, Florence, and other maximum security prisons and its authoritarian methods are being implemented across the country in other tombs of gloom. As the "subjects" of these punitively-geared penological settings we are experimented upon (e.g. sterilization, SHUs, suppressive measures such as tear gas, pepper spray, tasers, block guns, E.O.P., CCCMS) As a method of instruction I often explain to brothers that our relationship to the prison system (classification committees, disciplinary hearings, SSU, ISU, IGI, parole supervision) is rooted in and motivated by politics in the sense of alien authority being exercised over us and against our interests.

The fact that one can penalize via some prison official ought to inform us of our subordinate status since it is obviously others who are making the final decisions which negatively impact our lives since they are in a superior position of power. So, for those who have a naive tendency to think in terms that somehow politics is limited to the political process (e.g. voting, referendums, policies, etc.) it must be grasped that the very nature of our relationship with CDCr is actually one based upon politics. Logically, this especially applies to the larger macrocosm or society in terms of our peculiar neo-colonial relationship with the U.S. Empire.

In CDCr, the terms used to define and classify the nexus between prison gangs and disruptive groups (now redefined and reclassified as "Security Threat Groups"), are "subservient" and "subordinate" since the disruptive groups/street gangs are said to be "inferior" to, and thus under the dictation of, a prison gang whom prison officials perceive as the "worst of the worst." The "dictation" goes to program expectations - i.e., rules to abide by on pain of punishment - and general agendas as well as ideological patterns. This attitude and perception, of the nexus between prison gangs and disruptive groups, presumes that those of the latter groups cannot or are not given the latitude to think for themselves nor to govern their lives in their own interests.

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[Control Units] [Delaware] [ULK Issue 43]
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Delaware Prison System Exposed as Tool of Social Control

In the early 2000s Delaware spent tens of millions of dollars to develop supermax (SHU) and maximum security (MHU) buildings. These buildings house nearly 1,000 prisoners — a robust portion of Delaware's prison population. Destined for these torture chambers were supposedly the most unruly and depraved individuals: those with violent crimes and violent prison records; the kind of people widely considered to be beyond rehabilitation. The problem is, Delaware doesn't have many prisoners who fall into that category. So while some of the few prisoners who fit that description are in the SHU, it is filled mostly with prisoners guilty of only minor infractions such as using drugs or getting into minor scuffles. Even infractions for innocuous "contraband" can earn a prisoner enough "points" to be sent to the SHU.

In the SHU prisoners spend all but 3 hours a week locked in their cells. They come out for "rec" 3 times a week for 45 minutes each time, in a cage roughly 200 square feet in size, followed by a 15-minute shower. They have no contact with other prisoners and are handcuffed whenever they leave their cells. The SHU possesses an eerily Machiavellian structure where everything is incentivized, from how many phone calls and visits a prisoner can have each month, to how much commissary they may purchase, and even whether or not they are allowed a TV or radio. All prisoners entering the SHU start out with the barest of privileges (if they can be called that) and may earn an increase in their "level" every 90-120 days. If a prisoner fails to graduate to his third level (out of four) he will likely remain in the SHU for an additional year. On the lowest levels prisoners are severely isolated from the outside world, being allowed just one phone call and visit each month. Commissary is limited to $15-$25 every other week.

Implicit in nearly every interaction with the guards is the potential, the threat, of violence; every breath is a potential disciplinary infraction, or "write-up." Many rules are either unknown or go unenforced, making for a milieu where a guard could enter, quite literally, any cell in the SHU and find a reason to write up its inhabitant. If you have more than three books at any given time it could be a write-up, or you put water in your Pepsi bottle, or put a picture of your family in your locker, or hang wet clothes up to dry. Almost anything can be considered "non-dangerous contraband." Any guard has the power to keep a prisoner from seeing or talking to his family, a power not infrequently abused. This kind of isolation and control is maddening for the individuals who live under its influence; any refusal to comply with these instruments of violence — any lack of submission — can be met with a can of mace followed by beatings, restraints, and time in the "hole."

It is not too late for Delaware — or any other state, for that matter — to acknowledge and fix their mistake, converting these buildings into "normal" medium or medium-high security housing. Recidivism has not declined, and neither has the number of institutional disciplinary reports. Meeting violent offenders with more violence, along with mental and physical torture, is not an effective method of reform. It will only make the prisoners more fluent in the language of violence. The millions of dollars spent could have been more wisely invested in productive programming and treatment, methods that would actually improve the quality of life of these prisoners. The SHU costs more than twice the amount to operate as ordinary prisoner housing. Converting these buildings would free up funds that could be more wisely spent on means to reduce recidivism, instead of in a way that only worsens the lives of prisoners, and serves to perpetuate a lifestyle of violence and crime. Prisoners released directly from the SHU are frequently angry, bitter and full of resentment. Studies have shown that these individuals are at a much higher risk for recidivism than those released from general population.

The SHU not only allows the administration to control the prisoners within its confines, but also the prisoners in general population. They are able to control and bully the prisoners-at-large with the mere presence, the threat, of the SHU. Looming in the background is the implicit threat that if you step out of line, even for small infractions, you may ultimately be carted off to the slow-motion torture chambers. This provides great leverage against the prison community.

Corruption amongst, and abuse by, the guards is not some abstract concept, but rather a pervasive, daily reality throughout the prison. This manifests itself in a number of ways from filing illegitimate disciplinary reports, to provoking or sanctioning physical altercations between prisoners. Guards will disseminate information that leads to violence, such as if a certain prisoner is a sex offender or a snitch. On more than one occasion I've witnessed a guard provoke a prisoner verbally, and taunt him until he had a reaction, which was then used as an excuse to assault the prisoner, claiming the prisoner acted aggressively.

There is almost nothing a prisoner can do to address such abuses. A group of prisoners that does manage to unite in an effort to organize, make their voices heard or address social concerns will quickly be exposed by some informant (often from within their own circle) and then targeted by the guards and administration. Something will be "found," or some reason invented to have them moved or sent to the SHU. The guards may simply make something up and call it an "investigation." And why not? Nobody is going to stop them. All the power to do so has been stripped and suppressed.

These deplorable conditions create an environment that often feels helpless and insurmountable to the prisoners who live through it. They are being oppressed and controlled, mistreated and abused, on a daily basis. They have no means of addressing these abuses — even the grievance procedure is hopelessly flawed, not permitting the prisoners to grieve the conduct of the guards, or any procedure whatsoever. They recognize that they are being subjected to conditions that surpass mere punishment for their crimes. They are playing in a rigged game. The parole board isn't actually there to help prisoners obtain their freedom; it's there to give the illusion that it is possible, so that prisoners may be controlled. The few that are successful will emerge as scarred, changed men, living with the knowledge and pain of what they were forced to endure, and the daily suffering that continues by the people they left behind.

Readers may wonder why they should care about how prisoners are treated. The majority of them did, after all, commit some sort of crime. But it is no secret that the United $tates imprisons more of its citizens than any other country, with a prisoner population numbering more than 2.2 million, which is 25% of the world prisoner population. We breed criminals to feed into the prison industrial complex for profit. It is a new form of segregation and slavery, done under the guise of justice. We should care because people who would otherwise be productive, contributing members of society are being indoctrinated and conditioned to perpetuate the revolving doors of recidivism. We are not "correcting" bad or criminal behavior; we are not reforming lives or serving justice. What we are doing is abusing millions of our very own, our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, our neighbors. These people seldom come away from the experience cleansed of their criminal inclination or reformed in any productive way. We should care because if this system of injustice operated the way it was intended, we could actually reduce crime and make our neighborhoods, our country, safer. We should care because while most think it won't happen to them, injustice may strike anyone at almost any time. It could very easily be your loved one on the opposite side of the razor wire. And in that moment it will be no consolation that the general public will find them deserving of the mistreatment they will endure at the hands of our deeply flawed (and too often corrupt) "justice" system.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This essay from our comrade in Delaware does a good job exposing the criminal injustice system as a tool of social control rather than a system for punishment and rehabilitation. In particular, the uses of long term isolation, and the effects on those locked up this way, are important reasons behind our campaign to shut down all prison control units.

However, we do not agree with the analysis of the "prison industrial complex" (PIC) or the claim that the United $tates is locking up people for profit. The term PIC implies this profit motive, and it's just factually incorrect. While individuals and some private corporations do make lots of money off the prison system, this is not money that comes from prisoner labor but rather a subsidy from the government which is footing the bill for the imprisonment of so many men and wimmin. The rest of this writer's article actually underscores the point that prisons are for social control, not profit.

So while we agree with this comrade's appeal to Amerikans to join the struggle against the criminal injustice system, we don't think that the general public will join up because injustice might strike them at any time. This injustice is actually very targeted to oppressed nations within U.$. borders. The general white nation Amerikan has more interest in rallying behind expanding prisons in order to preserve their national privilege. We call on Amerikans to join the struggle, but not out of self interest, rather because it is in the best interest of humynity to put an end to national oppression and social control.

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[Censorship] [High Desert State Prison] [California]
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First Class Censorship in California

Censorship is often associated with editors of major news media sources such as The National News or The New York Times, but there is a face of censorship functioning with total immunity and blessings from the Postmaster General in Amerika's public institutions. The antics of this menace are adversely affecting the lives of at least 2,000,000 citizens in California alone.

Recently it came to my attention that prisoncrats at High Desert State Prison (HDSP) regularly trash-can, delay, and deface legal documents, spiritual materials, submissions to media outlets, personal correspondence, and other mail sent to various publications, media sources, and individuals. Defacing includes stamping the body of these manuscripts with big red blocks of ink, rendering them illegible, and otherwise useless for their legal, spiritual, and personal intent.

Currently California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) warehouses over 160,000 captives representing an average of 11 other friends, family and contacts that they correspond with; therefore, nearly 2 million (1,760,000) are being subject to oppressive techniques of prisoncrats who are boldly executing a campaign of censorship with an arbitrary, malicious, and political agenda designed to undermine the captives efforts to maintain family/community unity and liberate themselves from the evils of ignorance. As a first termer captive surviving my 42nd year, I have observed several patterns in the pigz who squander long work-hours committing malicious acts of censorship/oppression.

The first observation is the geographical location which acts as a shield from public scrutiny. While the prison experience in the United $nakes of Amerikkka today is such that one in every eleven men will be imprisoned during his lifetime. (For Black men, the figure is disproportionately higher - more than one of every four.) Yet most new prisons (koncentration kamp$) are built not in Black communities, but in white ones, usually rural white ones. A century ago, when most prisoners were white and many had lived on farms, this might have made sense. But not anymore. Today, most prisoners are Black (49%) or Latino (18%). Typically, they come from the cities. Sticking them in the boondocks, where family members have a hard time visiting, where pigz have likely never encountered anyone like them, almost always leads to problems, often violent ones. Yet this is where Amerika builds prisons.(1) Due to location, captives are forced to rely primarily on written correspondence to maintain and build strong family relationships.

The next observation is the general profile of those who commit such malicious acts. On average the pigz working in these rural isolated kamps are typically ultra-conservative, middle-aged, marginally educated, white men who have little-to-no prospect for employment beyond being prisoncrats/oppressors. An interesting paradox to note is that in spite of their lack of higher academic learning, they earn an average annual wage which rivals that of most teachers and health care providers. While the state has an unemployment rate of over 7%, HDSP, like many kamps, purposely does not hire a full workforce; therefore, creating a scheme to reward certain fractions of pigz with overtime hours and rates; resulting in them working excessively long hours. These prisoncrats generally have a hostile attitude towards Blacks and Latinos - particularly those Blacks and Latinos who are cultured, politically conscious, and strive for strong family/community unit. These oppressors actively seek out night shifts where they are designated to search outgoing mail for contraband when given probable cause; however, to have probable cause is the exception. Without probable cause, these pigz openly express a passionate disdain for the relationships their captives have with family/community. With malice, they seek to destroy these relationships by defacing, delaying, and throwing away their personal, legal, and spiritual mail.

Consider an incident on 16 February 2015 when an elder captive in A-section became the victim of a brutal attack via several reactionaries acting as agents for certain pigz who were attempting to suppress the litigation of the elderly captive pursuing his rights to seek access to the courts for human rights violations. While packing the victim's property, a prisoncrat was observed throwing away large volumes of the victim's legal and spiritual documents. This man was sent to isolation while none of the oppressors' agents were subject to the same procedures. On 9 February 2015 this writer became the repeat victim of legal/business mail tampering when an envelope from friends beyond the walls was delivered without a letter inside. Previously this writer's minister sent a tax letter and form in response to my donation, which had been defaced with red blocks of ink lettering stamped on the body of the enclosures.

The aforementioned policies and practices may appear to be mere acts of personal mischief of pigz, but the series of reports on www.prisoncensorship.info demonstrate that this is a systematic pattern of abause. The latent effect has far broader implications than the receipt of one piece of mail. It's interesting to note that while it's the intent of these prisoncrats to disrupt and break down the family nucleus and community ties, the stated objectives of CDCR is exactly the opposite to the degree it reports to encourage reform via affording prisoners to develop strong family and community ties.

There are at least three ways the larger community should respond effectively to this form of oppression. 1) Write the Post Master General (cc to Warden) and serve notice how this practice is adversely affecting you as a free-citizen emotionally/personally, spiritually, and legally. 2) File (save) any legal, personal, spiritual, business, and artistic images you have received that have been defaced in this way that could possibly be used as evidence of unnecessary defacement. 3) Be willing to give your material, moral, and legal support to any who have dared to file a meritorious claim. Be advised the prisoncrats will attempt to justify their actions by citing safety and security, which is actually a euphemism for oppressive and malicious actions with the intent of suppressing communication between family and community.

Notes:
1. Jospeh T. Hallinan, Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation, Random House, 2003, pp. 28-29.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We echo this comrade's call for people both behind bars and on the streets to fight the censorship going on in California prisons. For year's all mail from MIM Distributors was banned in California prisons, and that ban was overturned by coordinated legal efforts and appeals. But censorship has not ended, it is a constant power struggle to maintain basic First Amendment rights for the oppressed. Mail is particularly important not only for maintaining family and community ties but also for political education and organizing. This is why activist prisoners find their mail specifically targetted. It's not about security, it's about social control. Grieve every incident of censorship and join the California campaign to demand our grievances be addressed. Write to us for a copy of the grievance petition.

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[Medical Care] [Deuel Vocational Institution] [California]
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Outbreak of Rashes from Contaminated Water at Tracy DVI

Here at Tracy Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI) the water has been contaminated. It is rusty red and black and contains pesticides that come from surrounding farmland which soaks into the water that DVI tries to filter for our consumption.

Prisoners have been breaking out in rashes with hives all over their bodies. Medical staff say this is a reaction to the contaminates within the drinking water. On 19 February 2015 the California Department of Corrections/Tracy (DVI) handed out to each prisoner 1 gallon of purified water in response to this medical crisis.

Seems to me, this dirty water is just another way to wipe out prisoners or to just save a lousy penny for the California Department of Corrections' pocket.


MIM(Prisons) adds: The water at Tracy has been notoriously bad dating back to before 2009. The CDCR has also had major problems with the safety of water at Kern Valley. It's realities like this that put the interests of U.$. prisoners closer to the Third World proletariat than the oppressor nation who sees unlimited clean water as a given. The oppressed experience ecological destruction first hand, in the form of things like lack of clean water. As comrades struggle for clean water at DVI, we should push this in the context of a revolutionary ecology that recognizes the inherent destructive nature of the anarchy of production under capitalism. We cannot keep pushing the problem onto other nations, as eventually we all will suffer these results of ecological destruction.

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[Gang Validation] [Control Units] [California]
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It's Phase Two, We're All Goin' to the SHU

The January issue of ULK really grabbed my attention with its front page article Agreement to End Hostilities is Main Struggle in CA. As my last article to ULK can attest, there is a whole lot going on in CDCR right now with the SHU lawsuits pending, a court order for CDCR to release people to manageable levels due date on 2/28/15, STG "phase two" pilot program blowbacks, and a general sense of what almost seems like panic among the prison bureaucracy. It's starting to look like CDCR just might have bitten off more than it can chew and the hogs are starting to realize that the tax payer gravy train isn't endless and everyday more and more people on the other side of these electric fences are waking up to the fact that they have been lied to and stolen from by the very people they have placed their trust in for years.

As MIM points out, although it's nice to hear that finally after years and years locked in the torture units, people are starting to be moved back to the mainline, we all have to take heed and remind ourselves that it's just more of the smoke and mirrors that these prisoncrat cowards have been hiding behind for decades. Although they are finally going to acknowledge international laws regarding "long-term" isolation, the SHU torture units remain open and as I can personally attest, still being held and threatened with SHU placement, the pigs are far from being done with using torture units and are currently, and as quietly as possible, filling those same SHU beds with new "STG members and associates."

It is simply a change in official CDCR stratagem. Now everybody they cannot outright "classify" as a "gang member or security threat" they now simply label as an "associate." That way we are all eligible for SHU placement under the terms of the new "phase two of the STG pilot plan" and they can peddle to the public how CDCR "no longer holds prisoners in long-term isolation" per international law. It's a twisted game of musical SHU beds and no one in CDCR, regardless of SNY placement, or non-gang member status, or even an absence of disciplinary write ups, is immune from catching a SHU term. The way the pigs look at it they can cover up their illegal torture programs to the public while carrying on with business as usual by keeping the SHU units constantly full with large numbers of "new gang members/STG associates." All they are going to do now is rotate us in and out at will. I even heard an unconfirmed rumor that they are currently opening up more ASU (Administrative Segregation Units) at prisons in order to accommodate the coming influx of torture victims while maintaining the lie that they will not build anymore SHUs in California.

The orchestrated riot that I was found "guilty" of back in July 2013 is an example of these new "phase two" programs at work. The pigs are using prison yard politics, or better yet what they think are our politics, to pit prisoner against prisoner and place everyone on their STG lists. Once they have "official, confirmed STG activity" placed on every prisoner's file, they are able to pick and choose who they deem a dissident and send them to the gulag units for up to 6 years at a time. As I like to say, "it's phase two, we're all goin' to the SHU." And with this new system in place, they don't have to worry about wasting time with all that "validation points" nonsense that they apparently had in place before to separate the "gang members" from the average prisoner in order to "keep the prison yards safe." In fact, with the new phase two STG program, they have streamlined the SHU placement process so although it might appear that they are releasing those that they have held in the gulag for decades, they are also quietly setting the stage for their eventual return along with all of us "Associates."

It appears CDCR has spent at least some of their stolen money on a think tank along with prison litigators in order to conceive and implement this new STG program as well as getting it written up in the official Title 15 for the Operations of Cali prisons. So although it is pleasant to read that a lot of those long-term political prisoners are being "released" to mainline prisons, we all need to make sure we see these events in the proper context. These pigs care for nothing but money and power and want to be able to steal as much as they can with the least amount of effort. If they are being forced to release those SHU prisoners in order to appear just and in accord with international law, you can bet they are going to do whatever they have to do to confirm their hegemony over the prisoners.

We cannot let up the pressure until all the SHUs/ASUs are closed, prison population levels are in check, and the illegal conviction rates that these corrupt courts maintain in order to keep CDCR growing like the malignant cancer that it is, is overthrown. Let's not start celebrating and discussing setting up a "round table" "powerhouse revolutionary structure," quite yet. Just as the swine are taking a fresh look and stratagem so shall we. We must remember that the end hostilities agreement is a great weapon against the pig dominance and they will do everything in their power to destroy it thus, the orchestrated riots they are staging in increasing fury.

I suggest we all take it up a notch and all start refusing to be placed in a double cell environment. Imagine the chaos that would ensure if CDCR was actually forced to proper prison capacity limits. As of now, under section 3005(c ) of the Title 15 inmates that refuse to double cell will be punished with SHU placement, (I know first hand, as of now I am pending a SHU term for this very violation among other things), yet the "sting" of this punishment for a non violent "crime" is worse than it appears to be. With phase two SHU prisoners quietly, but quickly being used to fill those SHU beds left vacant, they would physically not have the SHU torture cells to punish all of us and set their "example of proper behavior." They might have the guns, but we've got the numbers, which becomes glaringly obvious when all prisoners, of all demographics, stand together on an issue. History has shown, it's the only thing that will without doubt, force their hand. Let's not wait until phase two is fully implemented. Let's act now with a pre-emptive attack on their cute little "rehousing plan" and start refusing cellmates! Much love and respect to all in this struggle.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We agree with this comrade's call for a collective response to put an end to torture in Calfornia prisons. However, we print h suggestion of refusing double celling only as an idea, which others have brought up as well. We are not advocating the use of this tactic at this time.

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[Control Units] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 43]
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Control Units: Social Control for Semi-Colonies in the United $tates

Comrades living outside of the First World, and specifically outside of United Snakes borders, may be surprised at the social reality of this prison house of nations. The methods employed on the internal semi-colonies are in ways like what is seen in the Third World. The concentration kamps in the United $tates are renamed control units and (CUs) and in most cases the CU population are from oppressed nations. Although the names of these torture centers change, the purpose is the same. The CUs are the centers of neutralization.

Amerikkka attempts to bribe the population living under its heel, and for those who cannot be bought off with luxury items, it tries hard to isolate and dehumynize us lest we influence others. The state understands that even a bribed population may be concerned with humyns being housed in dog kennels without sunlight for decades, so they created the "gang" boogeyman. Just like Nixon created the "war on drugs" in order to criminalize the oppressed nations in the United $tates, today the war on the oppressed continues and rages on, only the CU is the contemporary "final solution."

Understand the Enemy's Control Units

Although most of us held in CUs think of ourselves as strong-minded warriors and soldados, sometimes we underestimate the effects that CUs have on us as people. Sure we are strong-minded, it is why we were kidnapped from the mainlines and stuffed in here. But it's important that we understand the nature of the CU so that we can find ways to combat its effects.

The Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov said in an interview about a year ago, about whistle blower Edward Snowden and his current circumstances,

"Snowden is not a trained intelligence agent. But those who are can tell you, if you live in a controlled environment, you cease to be truly independent-minded because everyone and everything around you is also controlled."(1)

If lumpen are "independent-minded" compared to most of the bought-off populations in U.S. borders, then as the above journalist noted, a controlled environment works to crush this independence. CUs can thus be seen as a bigger tool than many realize. This is not saying that all prisoners held in CUs are not or cannot be independent-minded, but it does mean that we need to guard against this because CUs do attack our independence.

Those of us who are held in CUs are those who threaten Amerikkka the most; it is why we are buried alive in these tombs. Our methods of social organization are outside the influence of the oppressor nation, and this scares them. This fear to protect their privilege compels Amerika to find new ways of neutralizing their enemies, and under the guise of the war on "gangs" it can and does use torture by control units with little notice from the majority of the U.S. population.

Bush 2's legal mouthpiece John Yoo said abuse becomes torture if it inflicts severe pain, and if the interrogator intends to inflict severe pain or suffering. Yoo defined severe pain as necessarily being associated with death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions. And abuse isn't considered torture unless there is "prolonged mental harm," with "prolonged" defined as over months or years.(2)

This gave the United $tates and its agencies unfettered reign to dive deep into all of its torture projects and unleash them on oppressed people in and outside of U.S. borders. Anything short of organ failure can be used on prisoners. CUs are used by "interrogators," because before we are released from CUs the state wants us to debrief or do journals. The state is also pushing profile requests, sometimes called "compass" in order to build its intelligence on imprisoned lumpen. This helps them repackage our oppression in the name of "corrections."

Control units are tied to our colonization process. They are but physical manifestations of colonization in the 21st century. So theory that forms in response to CUs, and which attempts to give us ways to not just cope but combat these torture centers, must keep in mind that colonization is at the root of our current battle.

One author put it this way:

"It is my contention that any theory must take into account the fact of colonization of Chicanos. This is not to suggest that colonialism is the only or the 'correct' perspective, but rather that colonization is an essential historical fact that cannot be ignored. Just as any theory of black oppression must consider the legacy of slavery, so any perspective on the Chicano must be cognizant of its colonial legacy."(2)

Our theories revolving around the internal semi-colonies in U.$. borders must take into account the reality of us as a colonized people. For Aztlán, the First Nations, New Afrika and Boriqua, we are NOT Amerikkkans. We are nations that are colonized by Amerika, and control units are tools used in this colonization process.

What Good Can be Made of the Control Units?

Looking at it from a dialectical approach, yes control units are horrific designs which I have seen suck the mental capacities out of brilliant thinkers for years, but there is some promise for those held in the kamps. Control units provide us with concrete examples of our oppression so that we can teach people on both sides of the prison walls exactly what national oppression entails. Another nugget that we can glean from control units is that they concentrate the most rebellious sectors of the prison mass. Those held in control units have an audience and are in many ways leaders in their own right already, within their own circles of influence. So it is from here where the seeds of revolution will be sown to spread throughout the prison system.

The lumpen within control units, and those being released to the general populations across the United $tates, often struggle against the state and its oppression. This is good. But unorganized forms of struggle must be transformed into organized forms of struggle. In order for this to happen, conscious prisoners must exert a revolutionary influence on our fellow prisoners.

Prisoners tortured in control units, no matter how long, are "baptized" into the social reality of life in the United Snakes. It is a wake-up call where lumpen of all nations are given a reality check. It is a place where all bribes are stripped away and the mask of U.$. imperialism is finally discarded. Although it is a painful process, the flip side is that control unit prisoners are more open to revolution, perhaps more so than any other sector of the U.$. prison system, and it is from the control units that we will harvest the next generation of revolutionaries.


Notes:
1. Janet Reitman, "The Men who Leaked the Secrets," Rolling Stone, issue 1198/1199, December 19, 2013 - January 2, 2014, p. 89.
2. Wikipedia page for Torture Memos.
3. Alfredo Mirande, "Gringo Justice", University of Notre Dame Press, 1987, p. 222.

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[Culture]
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The Oscar Goes to the White Man

The trademark Oscar is one of a group of statuettes awarded annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for achievement in motion picture production and performance. Lately there has been a lot of buzz about the Oscar nominations, and the lack thereof when it comes to the oppressed nations. The CBS morning news, Access Hollywood, and other TV programs have made mention of the "whiteness" of this year's acting nominees for the Oscars.

It was said on the CBS morning news that the panel that has the responsibility of deciding who to nominate for an Oscar is 94% white male. Personally, I don't see why there's such a "buzz", because hystorically we know that this nation is controlled and dominated by white male imperialists who do not have the oppressed nations' best interest at heart. After all, the "Oscar" is a gold statue of a white man; the gold representing capitalism and the exploitation of the people, and the white man of course representing colonialism and imperialism at its core.

People are complaining that the top honors of the Oscars have been whitewashed. But the Oscars have not been whitewashed — they've been white all the time. The Oscars were not created to honor or acknowledge the artistic endeavors of the oppressed nations. People in the hoods, ghettos, and barrios know this, and thus, don't give a damn about the Oscars.

In Webster's unabridged dictionary, the definition for Academy Award is: "an annual award given to a performer, director, technician, etc., of the motion picture industry for superior achievement in a specific category: judged by the voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and symbolized by the presentation of an Oscar.”

The key phrase in the above definition is "superior achievement." Traditionally and hystorically in this genocidal nation that we call Amerikkka, the lumpen and oppressed nations have never been given credit or even acknowledged as having any "superior achievement." And the fact that the imperialists hold themselves to be "superior" is at the root of white supremacy in this country.

Therefore, how could it be a surprise that none of the 20 acting nominees for the 2015 Oscar nominations were people from the oppressed nations? I suppose what is even more important, is why should it matter? We (oppressed nations) should not look for acceptance or confirmation from the oppressor nations to validate our achievements and success.

As long as Amerikkka is dominated by an imperialistic economic system, and the injustice, racism, and oppression that come with it, she will never be color-blind. We know and understand that the Oscars do not reflect the true demographic of Amerikkka. Amerikkka is in a state of constant browning, and in a just society, this would be reflected in nominations of any kind.

However, it is clear that we do not live in a just society and we must view this lack of diversity in the nominations accordingly. In a socialist or communist society, the disparities we see today would not exist, and one reason would be because there would be no golden white man representing superior achievement. We also know and understand that the entire Hollywood apparatus is owned and controlled by those who hold capitalist values close to heart. We look forward to the day when people are recognized for their achievements in service of the people, and not the capitalists.

The imperialists use media outlets to promote their agenda, not ours. Television (tell-lie-vision) and movies are two of the most effective tools that the imperialists use to indoctrinate, brainwash and control us. Therefore, when they don't nominate oppressed nation people for their token awards, that simply means that oppressed nation people are not embarking upon the kind of artistic endeavors that their oppressors want them to — and that is a good thing. To hell with the powers that be! Damn them and Oscar!

As for me, I say we've been doing too much damn acting anyway — it's time to start doing some real revolutionary work. Power to the people who stand up, act out, and act up in the interest of freedom, justice, and equality.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This writer is correct that the Amerikan entertainment industry only represents the imperialist segment of society. Hollywood's main ambition is to create culture that perpetuates imperialist values, and makes all the woes that are an inherent part of this economic system palletable to as many people as possible.

The exclusion of oppressed nation culture from the Academy Awards is only one reason why reforms to the imperialist system is not where we should focus our creative energies. Instead of grooming revolutionaries to seek acceptance in bourgeois cultural institutions, we need to be creating alternative culture, controlled by revolutionaries.

This is one reason why we are pushing a revolutionary art project through which prisoner artists can create art that serves the people's struggles and share it with others. Besides creating art for the pages of Under Lock & Key and our other publications, we are distributing greeting cards, bookmarks, mini posters, and coloring book pages that spread the incredible art of the Strugglen Artists Association contributors. If you want to contribute original artwork to this project, or help distribute the materials to others, get in touch!

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[Prison Labor] [Environmentalism] [California]
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CALPIA - Building Better Lives for a Safer California

As a prisoner I see this slogan almost every day while being housed in prison. It's the slogan stamped onto the inner sole of every pair of PIA shoes. Shoes made ultra-cheap due to the quality control that doesn't even exist. This is yet another way the state is saving a buck on our comfort. When I first came to join the PIA, prison issue were brown hard bottom boot, which they gave every convict coming out of reception. Those boots not only provided PIA workers with a job but also others prisoners with one as shoe shiners.

You might be thinking wow, what a low position. But if so, that's only because you weren't here. The shoe shine, if he mastered the art, got plenty of business and made however much he was willing to commit on working for. His customers were not only convicts, they also were Correction Officers usually of high rank and they paid well. Now PIA, by cutting cost and operating with the use of low grade, no quality materials, have wiped out several in-prison work assignments and legal hustles or trade exchange. Those boots were made out of leather and so there were leather hobby shops where prisoners were taught how to make belts, wallets, medallions, use special machines and recycle the unusable scraps from the boot line. Creating income, gifts for family, and educating prisoners on how to use their resources.

Now we have low-quality, low-top generic canvas shoes that they expect to fall apart within 90 days when you can get a new pair creating only more pollution and waste. No one benefits from these PIA show factories except those who work there, and I'd be willing to bet someone is lining their pocket with tax-payer money through building these contracts with under-the-table industries who supply such low grade materials. Another bad effect is due to the fact positions at these factories are low in volume. It establishes a classism among convicts, with PIA and private contractors being the highest source of income legally in the joint. Their workers became the ruling class as far as prisoners economics are concerned, with them averaging $100 a month compared to the top culinary assignment at $37 monthly, deducting 55% if they owe restitution before they even receive it.

Ask yourselves what is 45% of 9 cents an hour or 45% of 23 cents an hour? Then there's the poor non-employed convict who is the on the bottom when it comes to privileges by grand design of whom when it's time to unite and stand against any form of oppression are usually always down, with nothing to lose. On the other hand the slave class is divided amongst prisoners, the majority of this class talk about doing something to make a change in conditions, pay, treatment, but when it's time to peacefully demonstrate by striking at work they simply won't go that far. A smaller number out of the slave class will, knowing this is the only process towards change that works. The majority of the slave class are youngsters who enjoy the movement their job provides and don't want to rock the boat. Now the PIA working prisoners by no means will write in solidarity with the convicts in any class including their very own but will both encourage a strike for equal pay and treatment in the hopes of moving up, and others will report it directly to their masters the Correctional Authorities in the hopes of building a stronger rapport and gaining favor.


MIM(Prisons) responds:This comrade gives us a glimpse at some of the contradictions facing prison organizers at the PIA prisons in California. While there are some parallels between the prison system and slavery, we have critiqued the use of the term "slavery" to refer to prisoners. This comrade's description talks about how the prisoners are pawns in a system that is becoming ecologically wasteful, and likely benefitting bureacrats. The wages, while minimal, also play a role for the state in helping control and divide the population via petty economic interests. Battles for higher wages in U.$. prisons can be progressive in putting pressure on the economic viability of oppression. But generally, prison unions that represent the interests of all prisoners must focus on more pressing and common problems.

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