Look at yourself, are you capitalistic?
Do you wake up, look in the mirror and decide
it's okay for Haitians to try to survive
off vanilla extract and mud
as long as your profits continue to rise?
When you see a gun on your HD TV
does it remind you to ship off a batch of AKs
to Venezuela to ensure the ghettos stay fighting
and the "commies" don't find solidarity,
because it's bad for business?
Are you so caught up in your marketing schemes
you search for the prettiest, poorest, youngest girl
to pose as needed because food and pride can be bought?
How greedy are your ideas
of squeezing out the most profit you can
from outdated fossile fuels
when you deny plans for reusable energy sources
in favor of war against poor people on Black Gold land?
When you boil your eggs in the a.m. do you smile?
knowing you payed as little as possible
to that farmer
knowing he must sell or die
in need of medications you own?
When you look in that same mirror
in the morning
and you say to yourself
"I'm not that bad, I'm no capitalist"
do you realize that in your complacency
by doing nothing
to stop these atrocities
you are worse
because you know it's wrong.
by ULK Writers Study Group January 2016 permalinkMIM(Prisons) upholds nation as the principal contradiction in the United $tates at this time. In that contradiction we see the oppressed nations as the primary motive force for change. And within the oppressed nations in the United $tates we see the lumpen class as the greatest vehicle for revolution. In exploring this last point, we are interested in studying class contradictions and especially the class make-up and loyalties of the oppressed internal semi-colonies. In addition, in our prisoner support work we come across lumpen organizations that do not fall within a certain national alignment, leaving class as the common demoninator of those organizations.
This essay was written for the book on the lumpen class that MIM(Prisons) has been working on for a few years. We took a break to focus on putting out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán, and now that that book is published and distributed we are refocusing on our analysis of the lumpen class in the United $tates. We have already completed a draft of a chapter of the book, based on our economic research about the size and composition of the lumpen class. We are distributing this draft chapter as a pamphlet for feedback.
While analyzing economic statistics is a vital part of understanding the lumpen class, the next step is understanding how to influence the class, and hence the class consciousness.
We are publishing this essay in Under Lock & Key to spark discussion and ask for feedback. We want to know how you've seen individuals and groups develop lumpen class consciousness. We are especially interested in how lumpen organizations (parasitic or proletarian-minded) develop class consciousness amongst their membership. How does that class consciousness overlap, interact or even conflict with national consciousness? Please send your reports to Under Lock & Key so we can all learn and grow from your practice!
What is class consciousness?
Simply stated, consciousness is being aware and knowing what it is you are observing. When you eat you may be conscious of the chewing and swallowing. Many people eat without being aware of the act of eating – this is parallel to most people acting in a class's interests without being conscious of doing so; they just do what is good for them at the time. Consciousness of chewing does not automatically come with eating, and neither does consciousness of class position automatically come with belonging to a particular class.
The Revolutionary Anti-Imperialist Movement (RAIM) defines class consciousness as "The understanding by members of particular classes that they represent a certain class, that their class interests may intersect or oppose those of other classes, and of their agency when collectively organized for class struggle. Typically, class consciousness is used to describe the most broad, clearest perspective of either the proletariat, the bourgeoisie or their sub-classes."
Why do we study class consciousness among the lumpen?
We study class consciousness in an effort to shape the lumpen into an alliance with the international proletariat. Without class consciousness, the lumpen act in ways which strengthen the position of the bourgeoisie: by upholding bourgeois cultural propaganda (e.g. radio rap), participating in self-destruction of oppressed nations (e.g. by selling drugs or fomenting gang divisions), allying with Amerikkkans against the international proletariat for "patriotic" reasons, and the list goes on.
National oppression already leaves a persisting impression upon the consciousness of the lumpen of oppressed nations. All of the features of lumpen existence in the United $tates – police brutality, urban decay, limited job and education opportunities, mass incarceration, etc. – are features of national oppression. The elements of national oppression that lead the lumpen to the prison doors in the first place are then exaggerated once behind the razor wire. We would be in error to not appreciate that the lumpen has some intuitive grasp of their place in U.$. society. On some level people of the lumpen class realize they are disadvantaged.
Karl Marx said in 1847:
"Economic conditions had first transformed the mass of the people of the country into workers. The combination of capital has created for this mass a common situation, common interests. This mass is thus already a class as against capital, but not yet for itself. In the struggle, of which we have noted only a few phases, this mass becomes united, and constitutes itself as a class for itself. The interests it defends become class interests. But the struggle of class against class is a political struggle."(1)
In order for a lasting development to be realized in the lumpen, we need to do as Marx said and become a class "for itself" rather than a class blindly working for the bourgeoisie. Our work presently is in studying the contradictions today in our neighborhoods and cellblocks, and employing dialectical materialism to create short-range programs in order to push the people in the prisons, barrios, hoods and reservations forward to reach our long-term goals. We need cadre organizations, liberation schools, youth brigades and our own press. We need to develop alternative forms of power which rely on the people's independence outside of imperialism's sphere of influence. Time has proven that imperialism and the basic exploitative character of capitalism cannot be reformed nor can it be made to serve the interests of the people. It can only continue to engender war, poverty and untold strife at the expense of those neatly tucked away in the periphery.
In search of a better way, and in rejection of the comforts of imperialism and its blood money, we must choose which side of the struggle we are truly on. At any particular time lumpen, like all people, are either acting in the interests of the international proletariat or in the interests of imperialism. Most lumpen have no apparent probability of status advancement, so allying with the international proletariat is in the lumpen's class interests. But if socioeconomic factors were to change and the lumpen now see opportunity for status advancement, then being allied with the international proletariat becomes class suicide.
One socioeconomic factor to take into account is the national question, which is directly related to national oppression and not necessarily economic status. For instance, there are New Afrikan and [email protected] labor aristocrats whose economic interests are with imperialism. And white lumpen are generally allied with imperialism and the Amerikkkan nation, even though they are imprisoned or their communities are poisoned by mining refuse due to capitalism. Thus, one may be an oppressed New Afrikan labor aristocrat and while aligning with the international proletariat may be viewed in an economic sense as class suicide, in a social sense this alliance would actually improve the probability of status advancement overall and not necessarily be class suicide.
Lumpen unity and class consciousness in the U.$.
Speaking on the proletariat of his day, Marx pointed out that a common situation existed for the proletarians to unite under common interests. The same could be said about the Brown Berets and Black Panther Party during the 1960s and 70s. There existed a sharp level of oppression and police brutality within [email protected] communities, which inspired the Brown Berets to serve as protectors of their communities as well as reach out to those from other barrios, mainly lumpen, to join ranks with them by being productive forces for their people rather than common "gangsters."
The Black Panther Party (BPP) did a remarkable job building and developing class consciousness among the masses of the New Afrikan nation. The BPP was able to tie much-needed community programs to the stark material reality of New Afrika. Not only were the Panthers feeding the youth through the Free Breakfast Program, they educated the masses on their class position through this altruistic act. In one stroke they were able to secure the trust and gratitude of the people and illustrate the failures of the semi-colonial relationship in which the New Afrikan nation is ensnared.
There are glimmers of class consciousness in prison at times, but these episodes ebb and flow due to the bourgeois mindset of much of the prison population. Being raised in a First World country, we are influenced by its culture although it is not our own. As Mao said in eir essay "On Practice," "in class society everyone is a member of a particular class, and every kind of thinking, without exception, is stamped with a brand of class." The assumption of inevitable imprisonment or death; the glorification of drug and pimp culture; hustling for individual gain while harming our kin; and nihilism are examples of lumpen culture under the influence of the bourgeoisie.
At times we may see prison uprisings, strikes, or other prison organizing across national lines, but these events don't usually remain intact for very long. This is because class consciousness does not develop spontaneously, rather it must be cultivated and spread through education and agitation. Only through the help of an educated cadre — both inside and outside prison walls — can class consciousness develop.
Present-day examples of class consciousness development in prison
In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels said of class struggle for the workers, "The real fruit of their battles lies, not in the immediate result, but in the ever-expanding union of the workers."(2) Marx and Engels understood that class struggle would continue so long as classes exist. They saw the union of the proletariat as the prize, not what concessions were gained from the ruling class per se.
Something similar was experienced with the California prison hunger/work strikes in recent years. The words of Marx and Engels were seen manifested, not in a "union of the workers" but in a union of the imprisoned lumpen. This union of lumpen produced the Agreement to End Hostilities. The real victory is in getting lumpen to see and experience that it is really us versus the pigs, and that a concrete force exists which oppresses ALL lumpen prisoners in some way. These are acts which cultivate an environment where class consciousness can grow; it creates a fertile ground for this process.
Within the environment of prison, lumpen organizations (LOs) are by far more structured and disciplined than they are on the streets. Despite the negative activity and values of parasitic LOs, there is reason to believe that they can operate to achieve revolutionary ends. Pick up any Under Lock & Key newsletter and one will find evidence of LOs working in prison to contribute to the anti-imperialist movement. So it isn't a far-fetched idea to use LOs as revolutionary vehicles in building consciousness among imprisoned lumpen.
Lumpen organizations already bring out a form of consciousness within their membership, meaning they instill pride within their own people. LOs in prison are often organized by "ethnicity," and in that sense they develop their national pride, identity and culture. Their consciousness as a subgroup is raised. This is not class consciousness, and most times not even national consciousness, but it's a start, and more it's a platform which can be used and highlighted. Most LOs already have an ideological indoctrination process in place for new recruits; adding class consciousness to this structured education shouldn't be much of a stretch.
Class consciousness will only develop so much within a LO just like a crocodile will only grow so much when confined to a small fish tank. If the LO is engaged in anti-people activities, it is prevented from advancing politically. The parasitic nature of a profit-driven LO will never allow true unbridled class consciousness to develop because to do so would change the fundamental purpose of that LO. This is why Growth is one of the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Comrades must not be discouraged from growing from a parasitic lumpen actor to a class-conscious revolutionary lumpen actor.
Lumpen organizations and other subgroups can come together to become a whole and thus unite as a class, as did the proletariat in Marx and Engels's day, as did the Russian proletariat unite with the peasantry (uniting two classes) and how Mao Zedong united the peasantry in China upon common interests with the proletariat. When conditions in prison reach an intolerable level of suppression that affects all prisoners as a whole, we will begin to see each other as sharing the same interests of ending oppression behind the walls. Unfortunately this will not automatically make all prisoners come together in unity. Prison conditions alone aren't a sufficient factor to promote class consciousness amongst imprisoned lumpen.
Practical experience shows that the more repressive the situation people find themselves in, the more likely they are to challenge the situation and find ways to combat it. In some facilities, a wide range of reading material is permitted to be possessed by prisoners, and the pigs aren't readily looking for politically conscious leaders to repress and harass. At first glance it seems the freedom of movement and association would be a good environment to run political study groups and organize with each other. However, the flip side of having little repression is that many choose to spend more time chasing and idolizing bourgeois lifestyles; instead of picking up some political lit to read, they choose to discuss Nikki Minaj's ass on the VMAs.
How to organize
Class-conscious lumpen must lead
The job of class conscious prisoners is to not just understand that change and development is good and inevitable, but we need to find ways to translate this understanding to the broader lumpen masses, and as quickly and efficiently as possible. It is on the lumpen to look beyond the interests of our own to achieve a higher level of political consciousness, and it is on politically conscious prisoners to point out the cause of our problems as well as what's stopping all from uniting.
Organize around local experiences/conditions
There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to awakening the imprisoned lumpen class. There are many different types of individuals and different backgrounds/histories and beliefs. And we organizers all have different strengths and operate in varying conditions. But in general, open lines of communication, dialogue, re-education, and finding common-ground causes to fight for helps the process.
What should be stressed as a development to higher consciousness is the injustices experienced in common. With this sense of having a common injustice done against us, we will be more susceptible to change. If there isn't a lot of immediate suffering to organize around, we can call on our common experiences prior to imprisonment. Even in relatively comfortable prison conditions, we can start by exploring how we came to imprisonment in the first place. The poor quality of teachers in our schools and mis-education given to us by the imperialists is by design.
We can then use these direct experiences to organize with others on practical projects – campaigns to improve our collective conditions of confinement, collective legal actions, appeals, literacy, etc. — and work to add to the preconditions of class consciousness in prisons. Attempts to integrate politics with a prison struggle will bring a higher level of class consciousness only if we can explain to others how it's not just an isolated struggle within prison we're all confronted with, but the infrastructure behind the prison industry itself, its society, the socio-economic relations, its effects on our interpersynal relationships and culture, and the world. When imprisoned lumpen begin to unite for common interests, then politically conscious prisoners should advocate for continued struggle. Once any concessions are granted, many tend to think "well, that's all we're going to get", or they see a tiny concession as a huge victory, and step back from organizing. This is a sign of a lack of class consciousness, and a lack of internationalism, that must be addressed by the prison movement leaders head on.
Build study groups
We can lead study groups on deeper topics, or open debates on anything as simple as a news report. Although this may be harder in isolation, it is usually still possible to share material with others in your pod or initiate discussions on the tier. Sharing your views and hearing others' can bring many together if a common objective is trying to be reached. It helps to build public opinion in opposition to the bourgeois media outlets. When there are one or two lumpen within every group agitating in this way, along with strong communication in other circles, sharing reading material and legal work, it all works to push their studying into actual work, and go from being spectators to actors in the process of transforming these dungeons and the imperialist system generally.
There are many topics to study to give a thorough understanding of our class position, including the works of Marx, Mao, Lenin, Engels and other communist revolutionaries before us. Political economy unlocks the mysteries of the origins and results of class struggle. The bourgeoisie (the owners of the means of production) and the proletariat (those who had nothing so must sell labor power) make up the principal contradiction in the realm of political economy. Understanding these classes, and all their sub-classes, requires one to perform a class analysis so that one understands where people stand on the economic totem pole, and determine where the social forces stand. Part of class consciousness is understanding who's on our side and who's trying to imprison, kill, and dismantle us.
If we were to utilize the tables out on the yards for educational-neutral grounds instead of real estate or casinos, a lot more will be susceptible to change their patterns. One table could be strictly legal work (grievances, lawsuits, etc.); one for help with reading, college and GED; one for addressing the daily issues so that nothing arises to blindside folks; one for political education, etc. These tables would be neutral ground for all nations, LOs, etc. to gain knowledge and put it to use. They would function simultaneously as Serve the People programs and political education meetings, building unity and transforming the lumpen into a class "for itself."
Within the global imperialist camp, particularly here in the United States, there's a reactionary line being propagated and pursued that the U.S. working class in its entirety is proletarian. Not only is this scientifically incorrect, it's essentially anti-Marxist no matter how well-intentioned its proponents may or may not be.
With an exceptionally small number of predominately oppressed nationalities, U.S. workers are for the most part beneficiaries of imperialism, and as a social class constitute a "labor aristocracy", i.e. a class of privileged workers who receive a portion of the profits that the bourgeoisie extracts from the Third World in the form of high wages, numerous benefits, material goods and services. And this includes the goods, services, and profits, extracted, as well as the billions of dollars that are contributed annually to social security by undocumented proletarians, here in the United States.
Some years ago when monopoly imperialism was still in its infancy, Lenin spoke of this stage of capitalism and correctly observed that imperialism gives the bourgeoisie enough super-profits "to devote a part to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance between the workers of a given nation and their capitalists..."
The majority of the working class here in the United States have been bought off and bribed, and are clearly by no means a vehicle for revolution at this time. The labor aristocracy has a concrete material basis, that is, a class interest in the preservation of the existing status quo. This is not a case of having to "wake them up" so to speak. They are very conscious of their privileged position in society and the world as a whole. Their material conditions, i.e. their privileged lifestyle, is translated in their minds through their five senses, giving shape to and molding their reactionary ideas and ways of thinking — all of which is further reinforced and solidified through a corresponding culture and bourgeois-owned media, news, entertainment and advertising industry. And as a class of privileged workers, many are not only willing to join U.S. mercenary forces and die to protect and further their privileges, i.e. their piece of the pie, they also commit mass murder on an unprecedented scale of Third World Latinos, Blacks, and other oppressed peoples, including those oppressed within the U.S. empire itself.
To reach into the ranks of the labor aristocracy and proclaim them proletarian in an attempt to develop revolutionary consciousness, and struggle for their so-called worker rights, is to commit a reactionary and strategic error which in reality only serves to further prop up and legitimize imperialism.
To further grasp the material basis that the labor aristocracy is erected upon and which shapes and molds its corresponding consciousness, a brief glimpse into the capitalist production process is necessary, specifically that aspect pertaining to the creation of surplus value.
It is necessary to understand that, as a species, in order to continue living we must first and foremost engage in production, i.e. through the expenditure of human labor we must transform our environment in order to procreate, feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves before any other aspect of society can be pursued, such as the pursuance of science, education, religion, arts, culture, politics, philosophy, laws, etc. Production is the basis and foundation of all societies, and in fact, all these other aspects of social activities not only grow out of, but are a reflection of, and correspond to a society's particular mode of production. Moreover, it is only through social intercourse and cooperation with one another, in various forms, that these necessities can be realized — hence the source of our social essence.
Today in the current stage of economic development (capitalism-imperialism), the vast majority of the world's people have been separated from their means of production (land, natural resources, intellectual property, technology, factories, communications, etc.) by property rights which the capitalist classes of the world, who predominately reside within First World borders, have laid claim to. And yet this doesn't change the essential needs of the human species. We must still have access to the world's resources and materials so that we may reproduce ourselves in order to survive.
Under these circumstances, the world's masses, who own very little if anything at all, are forced into a situation where they must sell to the capitalist class, i.e. the bourgeoisie, the only thing they do own, so that they may in turn purchase back from the capitalists the necessities of life. And what they are forced to sell to the bourgeoisie is their labor power. In a capitalist economy, production is driven by profits, not the needs of the entire society. Under this mode of production the role of the bourgeoisie is like that of a parasite — an unnecessary appendage that has been allowed to remain inserted within the production process and whose existence relies wholly on the unpaid labor of others.
With the exception of the majority of imperialist country workers, the bourgeoisie purchases the labor power from the majority of the world's masses below its value which is the source of all surplus-value (capital and profit). Capitalist production not only creates racial and social inequalities while perpetuating those inequalities which were already in existence, it is also the source of the same prison system we are now confined to.
To elaborate further, surplus-value is that value which is created through unpaid labor power. For example, if the bourgeois owners of a maquiladora invests $1000 a day for the production of shirts - $200 of which pays for the cost of human labor power (variable capital) and $800 which pays for the cost of electricity, oil, cloth, thread, technology, etc. (constant capital), and if it takes, lets say, 5 hours to produce $1000 worth of shirts — the original amount invested, this 5 hours of expended labor power is the true value of the worker's labor power.
That which is invested in "constant capital" remains constant, that is, it creates no new value but only transfers the value of the electricity, oil, cloth, thread, technology, etc, to the shirts being produced. It is the "variable capital," i.e. the expenditure of human labor power, that transforms these various materials into shirts (or any goods) that augments new value.
Even if the maquiladora workers produce $1000 worth of shirts in 5 hours, being that their labor power has been purchased and therefore is now owned and controlled by the bourgeoisie, the workers are still required to expend their labor power for the remainder of the working day, whether that be 10, 12, 14, or however many hours the capitalists can get away with. And, in fact, it is in search of this cheap source of labor power and natural resources, i.e. profits and cheap goods, that the imperialists and their bribed mercenary armies launch their global crusades, all under the guise of spreading democracy, or combating terrorism. It is where the people are most desperate, that they can be most thoroughly exploited along with their natural resources, that is at the root of capitalism's so-called "economic success."
Lets say 12 hours constitutes a full working day for the maquiladora workers, and if it takes 5 hours to produce $1000 worth of shirts, the workers are still required to expend their labor power for an additional 7 hours, the remainder of the working day. This 7 hours over and beyond the 5 hours is "surplus labor," 7 hours of unpaid labor power that the bourgeoisie is stealing from the workers.
Being that workers are paid in either hourly wages, piecemeal, or by the day, etc., these various forms of payment only serve to camouflage and disguise the unpaid surplus labor, thus creating a false appearance that the workers are being paid for all of their labor power when in essence they are not.
In a nutshell the bourgeoisie pays the workers below the value of their labor power and pockets the difference in the form of profits and capital (surplus value) upon sale of the goods produced or grown by the workers. What does this have to do with us as a prison population? This mode of profit production inevitably creates social inequalities. It also provides a corresponding ideology and culture which not only has a fixation and obsession with the over-consumption of consumer goods, but is a culture where a person's social status is judged and determined according to their material possessions. These two elements, the poverty and social inequalities which create the fertile ground, accompanied with its corresponding culture and individualist ideology, crime flourishes and a vast prison system inevitably takes root as a means of social control.
Prior to the emergence of U.S. imperialism, the ruling classes thoroughly exploited a large section of the population within its own artificial borders. But eventually as a result of capitalism's internal contradictions, i.e., the inherent necessity to expand and the bourgeoisie's greedy frenzy to suck as much profit out of people as it possibly can, the already existing social inequalities and domestic rebellions intensified and began to undergo a qualitative transformation which further threatened the existence of the bourgeoisie and its loyal beneficiaries.
Although through imperialist expansion, the U.S. bourgeoisie has for the time being accomplished two significant goals prolonging its existence. Rather than having to rely on the exploitation of slaves, the indigenous population, and the most newly arrived European immigrants to create its wealth while continuing to run the risk of being overthrown by its own population, the bourgeoisie was able to pacify its own workers by making further concessions beginning on a large scale in the late 19th century with the first of many continuing campaigns of imperialist expansions. And through imperialist expansion it has not only been able to transfer the vast majority of its domestic exploitation abroad, it has been able to extract far more super-profits from Third World exploitation and natural resources than it was ever able to extract from within its own artificial borders. And with these massive amounts of super-profits and cheap goods, it has created a passive and loyal population out of the majority of its own workers, with a privileged material lifestyle, thus transforming them into a flag waving patriotic labor aristocracy, i.e. beneficiaries and accomplices of imperialism.
By way of imperialist expansion and the transferring of exploitation abroad, this has insured the continuation of the bourgeoisie's super profits while simultaneously enabling them to pay the majority of U.S. workers above the value of their labor power. The lifestyle of the majority of U.S. workers is not only sustained by Third World exploitation and natural resources for its privileged existence as a social class, but as a social class of privileged workers, it also creates practically no surplus value. A close examination of the Gross National Product (GNP) and federal labor statistics of any given year will demonstrate that nearly all of the monetary value of goods and services sold in this country is created outside of its borders, and that extremely small amount of surplus value that is created within the U.S. empire itself is created predominately by oppressed nationalities, primarily by undocumented Latinos and a small portion of imprisoned Blacks. It is a fact that never in the history of this country's parasitic existence has it ever fully supported itself from its own labor. Even the very first settlers on these shores used the indigenous peoples as slaves.
Being that the majority of workers in this country form a labor aristocracy, they are therefore by no means proletarian or a material base in which to struggle for in an attempt to develop revolutionary consciousness. To struggle for so-called worker rights of the labor aristocracy amounts to supporting imperialism, i.e. the exploitation and deaths of thousands world wide on a daily basis from preventable diseases, hunger, medical neglect, wars, etc. Struggling for these so-called rights of the labor aristocracy amounts to nothing less than seeking a larger portion of what's already pillaged and plundered from Third World exploitation, and therefore it is anti-Marxist in essence despite the various forms that it comes packaged in.
In reference to the labor aristocracy Lenin said "... no preparation of the proletariat for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie is possible, even in the preliminary sense, unless and immediate, systematic, extensive, and open struggle is waged against this stratum..."
The gist of Lenin's contention is significant here, and that is, the labor aristocracy as a social class is not a vehicle for evolution but a reactionary road block that must be struggled against, not only theoretically but in practice. This does not imply that some portions of the labor aristocracy wouldn't be won over under given objective conditions, but currently in their entirety as a social class, as a result of their concrete material conditions, they are reactionary in consciousness and deed and therefore must be combated — not catered to.
Also of significance, to get to the soul, the motor and driving force of a true people's revolution, i.e. a socialist revolution, we must, to use Lenin's words, "go down lower and deeper, to the real masses ... to the suffering, miseries, and revolutionary sentiments of the ruined and impoverished masses ... particularly those who are least organized and educated, who are most oppressed ..." And these masses that Lenin speaks of reside predominately within the Third World and include those sectors of oppressed nationalities and poor who live at the bottom rungs of imperialist society itself and within the prison systems.
Despite reactionary nationalist and patriotic rhetoric, the concrete material reality is, our struggle is not "us" as a unified country pitted against other countries, as we have been taught and programmed to believe. It is a class struggle that transcends all national borders. Even the existence of this prison system is just one interconnected aspect of this larger class struggle of irreconcilable opposites. We as a prison population must deepen our knowledge and raise our political consciousness. We must transform our incorrect narrow nationalistic views into a scientifically correct internationalist outlook and recognize the concrete material reality that we as a prison population are just one of the numerous side effects of an outdated and insufficient economic system that results in the social inequalities where a prison system becomes necessary to protect the stolen riches and privileges of the bourgeoisie and its bought off supporters — the same imperialist economic system that oppresses and exploits Third World people around the globe. Our interests do not lie in siding with our own domestic ruling classes in the imprisoning of over 2 million of our own people, or in the exploitation of billions of Third World people around the globe. Our interests lie with our own impoverished and Third World people, not only against our own bourgeoisie and its beneficiaries, but against all capitalist ruling classes of the world regardless of national borders.
So long as we live in a society that is divided into social classes, poverty vs. rich and everything in between, the preservation and continued existence of the prison system is guaranteed. And any improvements made, internally or externally, in regards to the prison system, as welcomed as they are, will be purely reformist, i.e. temporary and for show. To be as effective as possible and maintain continuity in struggle, our ultimate goal must be the creation of a classless society.
I write to inform the internation community of comrades that select comrades and myself currently held kkkaptive within Georgia's prison system have finally amassed enough mutual support amongst ourselves to come to the position of forming what we call the Red Confederation ("red" as in anti-imperialist, anti-police state), comprising a body of politically conscious prisoners affiliated with various lumpen organizations, i.e. prisoner/street organizations.
Individually we've come to realize that regardless of our organizational affiliations/differences, we all stand on common ground as to our repressive confinement conditions, our degraded and demeaning treatment by the pigs, and, ultimately, who our oppressors — the real enemies — are. Thus, we recognize collectively the need to build unity, solidarity, organization, and informed resistance amongst ourselves statewide against the ever-increasing repressive tactics being employed by the Georgia Department of Corruption in their efforts ("efforts" being synonymous with "subtle war") to suppress lumpen organizations and all politicall conscious/active prisoners in general.
Accordingly, we are not unmindful of the State's underlying impetus for their actions — their compulsory need to oppose the ascension of lumpen organizations of the oppressed in an attempt to maintain the current social order of their oppressive regime. We recognize that the State is in reality acting out of fear and self-preservation, as they foresee the end of their control of us — the diminishing of their power — within our unity.
All that is to say that, by virtue of this letter, we consciously join the United Struggle from Within, and, in so doing, we incorporate into our "Protocols of Consideration" the five principles of the United Front. We are of the opinion that upholding them is essential to begin organizing for effective, efficient resitance by building bridges along common interests of the oppressed both nationally and around the world. We adopt the fundamental political line of MIM(Prisons) as the official guiding philosophy of our own organization. And as we continue to struggle together internally so as to disclose ways in which we could more accurately serve the interests of the movement particular to the objective reality of our current confinement conditions, we will strive to develop a more comprehensive peace treaty amongst ourselves with the intent of sending it in for others to study and possibly use or modify, as may be needed given a group's unique objective conditions.
Moreover, in light of the multifarious (many and diverse) human rights violations being perpetuated — and actually propagated by the State — in its recently implemented statewide Tier II long-term isolation program we, as an organization, have taken it upon ourselves to revive the campaign to end solitary confinement in Georgia. For we are of the opinion that the plaintiffs in the Ashker v. Brown case "sold out" and ultimately betrayed the entire prison movement by "settling" the way they did.
Our class action (Nolley, et al. v. Bryson, et al.; 5:15-cv-00096-LGW) was commenced on or about December 1st, 2015. We've since then forwarded letters to both the ACLU of Georgia as well as the Southern Center for Human Rights, seeking the representation of their respective organizations. And i am currently drafting a similar letter with intentions of forwarding it to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which, in my understanding, was the lead attorney organization in the Ashker v. Broen case. We will keep you updated.
Finally, we ask that you send us any and all material you have in your possession concerning California prisoners' Agreement to End Hostilities that may be useful in providing us with somewhat of a guide to kick start the Agreement to End Hostilities amongst Georgia prisoners.
I request that you stop writing or sending me any of your publications. I am not involved in promoting, recruiting, security threat groups of Latin Kings, promoting hunger strikes, or any other disruption of the institution. I received a notice of rejection or impoundment of publication on 1/7/16. Also on 1/7/16 I was placed in confinement under investigation that I believe your publication caused. Therefore, I wish not to have any involvement with this publication or MIM Distributors.
MIM(Prisons) responds: We have removed this writer from our subscription list but we print this letter to show people just how far the prisons will go to try to intimidate people and stop them from learning from anti-imperialist literature. Unfortunately this persyn never even saw a copy of ULK and so does not know just how far off the claims are. There are no prison policies or laws that legitimately allow for the isolation of a prisoner due to receipt of educational material, nor can literature like ULK identify a prisoner as a security threat. However, we know that the prisons see revolutionary education as a threat to security because of the consciousness this brings. A conscious prisoner is more likely to fight for eir legal rights, and to advocate for the rights of others. A conscious prisoner is more likely to educate others and organize them to fight for their rights. And so, the prisons consider this a "threat to security." What we really threaten is the security of their system of social control. We respect that there are some who are not ready to suffer for this struggle, but for all those who stand strong and maintain their right to receive ULK, in spite of reprisals, we know that sometimes even this is a revolutionary act.
I would like to share a struggle that many Kansas captives are dealing with currently. In the past few years, the synthetic marijuana drug known as K2 has flooded the prison system. Its use is easily hidden from detection because urine analysis tests don't regularly detect for it. One way it's detected is from red eyes. The KDOC is saying "red eyes" is a determining factor in writing a class one Disciplinary Report (DR) for substance abuse.
I recently had a seizure (my medical history includes epilepsy) and was rushed to the clinic. I came to with red eyes from having the seizure and the nurse said to me "you have no history of seizures, did you smoke some K2?" With this comment, I was not treated for my seizures, I was taken straight to segregation, and while still in handcuffs had another seizure in the cell. From hitting my face, I was bruised and bleeding. The nurse came down and said "It's just the drugs coming out of him, keep him in seg. We've already seen him." I was scared I was going to die!!! I hadn't used any drugs, I was having seizures and medical was refusing me care. It was later found in the computer that I had been treated for seizures, had been on anti-seizure medication, and had been hospitalized for seizures. Because of the DR I was placed in segregation for 21 days and had my visits suspended for one year. I filed appeals and even contacted the Kansas Medical Review Board. They concluded "because of this inmate's history of seizures, we believe the DR may need to be re-evaluated."
No one in the Department of Corrections was willing to correct this DR. The nurse that made the comment "this might be from K2" told me word for word "you should be able to beat this on appeal" after she was made aware of my past history of seizures. In her medical report (that was used to find me guilty) she stated "inmate has no history of seizures." That was clearly medical malpractice, my history was in her computer, and I told her I had a history of seizures and she called me a liar.
I have now paid $195 and filed a 60-1501 [habeas corpus petition] downtown. There is no way that simply having red eyes after having a seizure shows proof of K2 drug use. I know of several others who have had red eyes from allergies and have been convicted for this same bullshit writeup. I'm encouraging everyone who gets a substance abuse DR solely on "red eyes" to challenge this write up on the way to the courts. It needs to be done and change needs to be made. This is based on a pure assumption and no solid facts.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This medical neglect in Kansas underscores the prison's use of unscientific criteria to classify people into segregation. Just as so-called gang members are identified based on false evidence, now the Kansas DOC is identifying illicit drug users based on criteria so common they can use it to label anyone they like. Red eyes can come from a summer allergy, lack of sleep, or any number of other causes. Prisoners have to be careful they don't get soap in their eyes when washing their faces, if the prisoncrats are looking for an excuse to punish them. We echo this writer's call to everyone affected to challenge these writeups. And we urge this comrade, or others in Kansas, to draft a grievance that can be used by everyone for this challenge. This would make a good state-wide campaign because it ties together the issues of medical neglect and control units in a battle against a practice that will no doubt target politically active and conscious prisoners for isolation. We should work to build a united front to fight this policy in Kansas.
I just wanted to take advantage of this lull in the recent pain I've been struggling with, as much psychologically as physically. It should get better, relatively speaking, and pass. It usually does. The only thing that's truly effective is the pain medication I'm on, but I'm not in any position to request an increase. I've got a good doctor right now and he does what he can, of course within the restrictions imposed upon him that limit his abilities. It's really just so damn frustrating, not being able to identify the root of the pain. I can't help but genuinely wonder if I'd be subjected to this if I were not incarcerated and had good insurance and doctors?
You see, my doctor can only do so much here behind these walls for a number of reasons. Resources are practically non-existent and anything he wants to do, it's first scrutinized and questioned. And if it's okayed then he has to outsource it to an outside specialist and hospital. And quite often the specialists will either "shoot it down" or use it as an opportunity to run up a bill and bill it to the state. That is, they'll admit me for several days, or a week, run a load of expensive but pointless tests that they've run before. So I'm shackled to a bed and they always either discontinue, or significantly reduce my pain management to ineffective dosage.
So my doctor here is very limited in what he can do without ultimately risking his own employment. You push too hard to provide adequate health care to us animals and it won't be long before you're seeking employment elsewhere.
Philosophically, it's really an interesting dilemma. Especially for a Marxist, or one well acquainted with "the unification of opposites." As we know, the prison system as an appendage of the "state apparatus", is in its very essence, that is, by its "nature," an oppressive institution.
All doctors take a Hippocratic oath and although the oath is subjectively interpreted, the practice of medicine is objective, and the practice of medicine in its "essence" (nature) is irreconcilably opposed to the essence of the prison system and its very existence.
So any doctor employed by the state (prison) is in direct opposition to the very essence of its employers. This is an objective phenomenon that exists whether one is conscious of this inter-connection of opposing tendencies, or not.
Ultimately the doctor will either submit and capitulate to the interests, i.e. trajectory, of the state through a slow process of indoctrination that occurs both subtlety and conspicuously, consciously and subconsciously, as well as from their own experience that they will have with those prisoners around them. And this is the greatest influence on them. I have to admit that I have a tremendous amount of respect for those doctors that do last as long as some of them do when I see how some (most) of these "inmates" act. (notice my distinction of inmate vs. convict).
Anyway, my doctor is in a no-win position. He does what he can without jeopardizing his job security. And although you and I would without a second thought, push and fight until we were unemployed, in these circumstances we are in the minority.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This is just another example of how the oppressed struggle for day-to-day survival under capitalism, despite some principles like the Hippocratic oath. In every issue of ULK we print a statement discussing a better form of justice that will be implemented under the dictatorship of the proletariat. We often talk about Chinese prisons during the socialist period of 1949- 1976. The most in-depth reports we have of those conditions come from the former emperor and collaborator with the Japanese occupiers who slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Chinese people, and two Amerikan students imprisoned for spying for their country.(1) Both stress the fair treatment they received, and being fed adequate food in times when food was not always in adequate supply for the whole population. Meanwhile, in the heart of excess, in the United $tates, we have prisoners suffering from lack of basic needs.
It is obvious that this system has no interest in serving the oppressed. But what might not be so obvious is how prisons can and have been used in states that are of and by the oppressed. While a socialist state will use force to repress those who attempt to restore exploitation and oppression, the goal is to build communism. Therefore everyone is to be included in the benefits of society, and even the former class enemies will be won over by fair and humane treatment while being struggled with politically. That is what it looks like to engage in a project to abolish class differences. The key difference is the class in charge. It is only when the proletariat seizes the state from bourgeois rule that we will see systems that truly serve all people. Until then such claims are just political sloganeering.
On 18 October 2015, an early twenty-something Eritrean migrant by the name of Habton Zerhum, was unjustly shot by an Israeli security guard and then beaten by a mob of racist Israeli vigilantes in the town of Beersheba. He later died from his wounds. Zerhom's murder was the result of an earlier event where an Arab-Israeli citizen with a gun and knife allegedly killed an Israeli soldier, stole his weapon and opened fire on a crowd, injuring nine. In the mayhem that followed, a video shows Zerhom crawling for cover when a security guard walks up and shoot him at close proximity. As Zerhom lay in a pool of his own blood, he is cursed, kicked and hit with a rack of chairs by a racist mob of Israeli Jews. It was later reported that the security guard mistook Zerhom for an attacker.
According to other news reports Zerhom worked in a plant nursery and was in Beersheba to renew his work visa. Zerhom, who migrated to Israel to seek a better way of life, "was a modest man, quiet, and he tried to do his job as best as he could" said his employer, Sagi Malachi.
Immediately following the incident, Yaakov Amidror, former national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated, "It is a disgrace to Israeli society, and those that carried out this lynching need to be found and brought to justice." What is interesting is that Amidror used the word lynching to describe the brutal murder of Zerhom but not the murders of thousands of Palestinian people since 1947.
The settler "state" of Israel has been rocked by knife-wielding Arab-Israeli protestors reacting to rumors that the Israeli government was planning to ban Palestinians from accessing Jerusalem's Temple Mount which is home to Islam's third most holiest site - the Al-aqsa Mosque. Israel has occupied this site since 1967. But the current Arab-Israeli conflict is rooted far beyond Israeli occupation of the Temple Mount. It is rooted in historical land-theft, genocide and colonization of the Palestinian people by the imperialist Israeli settler state. Israel's rise to power and dominance in Palestine began in the late 1800's when European Jews formed a movement called zionism which sought to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. Jews began arriving en masse in Palestine in the early 1900s, angering the Arab population who had been the majority in the region since AD 600. In 1947, to quell a potential uprising by Arab Palestinians, the United Nations proposed dividing the region into an Arab state and a Jewish state, which the Palestinians rejected of course. Not to be deterred from inhabiting a land which it felt it was entitled based upon Biblical prophecy, the settler state of Israel forcibly came into being on 14 May 14 1948.
The Palestinian intifadas (uprisings) are a natural reaction to almost seven decades of brutal Israeli occupation of their homeland. Palestinian revolutionary nationalism developed as a response to Zionism and its frequent land-thefts and unauthorized settlement expansions into Palestinian territories. But Israel's bullying, colonization and subjugation of the Palestinian people wouldn't be possible without the nearly $3 billion Israel receives annually in U.S. military aid. This aid guarantees the United States a strategic military ally in the Middle East. Clearly the U.S. government is an accomplice to the crime of genocide committed by Israel against defenseless Palestinian men, women and children.
Don't think it's genocide? According to the "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, genocide means "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." Taking the United Nations's definition of the crime of genocide into consideration, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that the settler state of Israel is committing mass genocide against the Palestinian people via outright murder, bombing campaigns, embargoes, land thefts, forced migrations, unlawful arrests and detentions, etc. A Jewish people who once suffered genocide at the hands of Hitler and his Nazi regime have themselves assumed the role of neo-Nazis by committing genocide upon the Palestinians because of their ethnic-Arab background and Muslim and Christian beliefs.
The Israeli colonialism/imperialism that the Palestinian people are confronted with on a daily basis is equal in its intensity and brutality to the English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and american variety which nearly wiped out entire populations of Indigenous natives in Central and South America beginning in 1492; the abduction of Africans from their homeland in the 15th century; the lynchings and mass slavery and incarceration of Blacks beginning in 1619; and the colonial oppression which the Haitian people successful resisted during the Haitian revolution from 1790-1802, leading to their independence and the establishment of the first Black Republic in the world in 1804.
Those of us who embrace and practice revolutionary internationalism must stand in solidarity with the Palestinians and oppressed people all over the world who are engaged in national liberation struggles for their right to self-determination. All power to the Palestinian people!
Last week I received a visit from Deputy Superintendent Ondrejka, who is the head of the security department of this institution. He told me that he received word that I'm having some "undesirable contacts" sent to me in education materials. He stated that the mailroom supervisor is a Christian and that she feels offended when she sees communist materials in the mail when she searches it. Ondrejka said that he is aware that a lot of my communist mail is burned by the mail lady, even though it is illegal to do so.
When I asked Ondrejka if he is going to stop it from happening again, he said "Why should I? Stop getting things like that sent in and you won't have to worry about your mail being burnt." I stated to Ondrejka that I find it funny that the mail lady, who claims to be a Christian, gets offended at political study material, but lets all types of pornography in to inmates via the same channels. Ondrejka said that he could care less about the smut, he is concerned about the communist literature that gets sent into his prison. He told me that the administration is about to start cracking down on anarchist and communist materials, and start labeling those who possess them as Security Threat Group (STG). He said that any further MIM literature will be stopped and deemed contraband.
This being said, I can see for myself just how critical political study really is. If the slavemasters are threatened by it, then it must have incredible worth. I am a firm believer that knowledge is the ultimate power, the greatest weapon there is. The pigs try to stop real education in the gulags, because they know that when we have a true education and know the truth about the way things really are, they are defeated.
I call all my fellow prisoners to arm yourselves: not with knives or guns, but with educational resources - knowledge. With these weapons we can defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism! I salute all of my fellow comrades who are fighting the pigs on a consistent basis. I am right here on the battlefield with you. The pigs censored my first study assignment from MIM(Prisons), but I will not give up! My motto is and always will be resist, resist, resist! I want to thank MIM(Prisons) for giving me ground to stand on in this political battle we are fighting. I look forward to receiving more from MIM(Prisons).
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that knowledge is a very powerful weapon in our advance toward communism, and it is essential to a successful movement against all oppression. However knowledge alone is not going to enable us to defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism. When we are strong enough and the conditions are right, we will be forced to pick up knives and guns in order to assert power over the oppressors — they won't have it any other way.
We distribute a Censorship Pack, which has basic information on how to fight censorship of political materials. The mailroom staff in this anecdote is acting in complete violation of established caselaw on the issue of censorship in prisons. Below is an excerpt from the Censorship Pack, citing relevant caselaw.
"The decision to censor or withhold delivery of a particular letter must be accompanied by minimum procedural safeguards against arbitrariness or error." Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S.396. 94 S.Ct 1800
"Wardens may not reject a publication 'solely because its content is religious, philosophical, political, social[,] sexual, or . . . unpopular or repugnant,' or establish an excluded list of publications, but must review each issue of a subscription separately." Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401
"When a prison regulation restricts a prisoner’s First Amendment right to free speech, it is valid only if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Lindell v. Frank, 377 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2004), citing Turner v. Safely, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987).
We are looking forward to continuing to study and struggle with this comrade, in whatever way is possible. It might mean fighting off this illegal censorship first, and our Censorship Pack is a good place to start that battle.
On November 16 I received a disciplinary report (DR) for possession of gang related paraphernalia from notes from the Black Panther Party 10 point program, "What We Want and What We Believe", and a quote from comrade Stokeley Charmichael: "The only way we are gonna stop them white men from whuppin' us is to take over, what we are gonna start saying now is Black Power."
So now I gotta fight this DR, written not only in retaliation, but in an attack against my first amendment protected political belief. Not only that, the Sergeant claims they confiscated the notebook during a search of my cell. Camera evidence will show that this pig did not show up until called, when I refused to re-enter the cell without due process (my confiscation receipt). In fact it wasn't really a cell search, they knew what they were coming for.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade has been active in the fight against censorship and to ensure access to political material in Florida, so it is no surprise that ey is the target of this repression campaign. We hope eir undying dedication to the fight, even when it brings down more repression, is an inspiration to others to learn their legal rights, and never give up demanding those rights be properly recognized by the injustice system.