[At our 2012 Congress MIM(Prisons) decided to begin the process of building statewide councils to develop USW and its leadership. That winter the work began to set up the first council in California. This coincided with a renewed round of strikes in the state involving more than 30,000 prisoners. As activism spread, so did invitations to join the council. In short time, lack of participation cut the membership back down. For about a year and a half now, leading USW cells in California have been participating in the council on a regular basis, struggling over theoretical and practical questions of organizing the prison movement. This article is by one participant in the USW California Council discussing some of the issues the council has tackled.]
The United Struggle from Within (USW) political line is anti-imperialist, as those behind the walls recognize the penal system and its institutions as an extension of imperialism. Therefore our struggles include both domestic and international issues. As a generated organism from the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, or MIM(Prisons), some within USW have taken up MIM line while others have not yet. USW is an eclectic group of anti-imperialist prisoners working in cells, individually or in a coordinated groups through MIM(Prisons) guidance. Our revolutionary activities can vary according to each cell and location. This makes USW a multi-issue mass organization.
It is important to have USW comrades focus on campaigns that are relevant to their conditions. For instance, field reporting is universally applicable. But those doing indeterminate SHU sentences should focus on getting policies changed or bring up campaigns to shut down control units, while other comrades on mainlines could organize a cell of like-minded comrades, set up study groups, and raise other campaigns. We can all contribute to fighting censorship and other legal actions that can benefit all prisoners if won in court.
Each USW cell works in the framework of bringing the humyn rights of prisoners to the forefront. It is no surprise prisons are swamped with internal semi-colonies, with the long sentences, new detrimental laws that disproportionately affect oppressed nations, and other practices of the criminal injustice system that contribute to the mass incarceration of oppressed nations. This injustice must be brought to the public. Comrades from USW use propaganda as a tool to reach the masses who are sympathetic or will become sympathetic. We utilize Lenin's method of having Iskra as his party's way to get the written word out to the masses by making use of Under Lock & Key to advertise our campaigns, our polemics, our developing theories, or just to expose the negative conditions in prisons. ULK is our voice behind the walls.
USW are we the cadre?
Recently there has been an open polemic in regards to USW. Is it just a mass org without a leadership role or does it have leadership influence, and because of this should it no longer be considered a mass org? Well to apply dialectic materialism to this topic I would say USW is a mass organization formed in part by MIM line. "All correct leadership is necessarily 'from the masses, to the masses.' This means: take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas) then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action and test the correctness of these ideas in such action. Such is the Marxist theory of knowledge."(1)
USW is guided by MIM(Prisons), leading revolutionary work at their location. Accumulating experience and knowledge while engaged in this work, many USW comrades aren't spontaneous in heading into revolutionary activity, as this would probably prove disastrous if a comrade knows very little of what exactly to do. For this reason MIM(Prisons) has study cells welcoming those ready for revolutionary theory education that is Maoist in content. There are even advanced levels for those who wish to continue into the ULK Writers Group, the most advanced Maoist study cell from which stem numerous USW comrades or cadres.
I use the term "cadre" for reasons of revolutionary language because it permits no dual meaning in our propaganda, and I utilize Che Guevara's definition herein:
"What is a cadre? We should state that a cadre is an individual who has achieved sufficient political development to be able to interpret the larger directives emanating from the central authority, make them his own, and convey them as an orientation to the masses: a person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations."(2)
It can be said that any well politicized USW comrade is a cadre behind the walls as we need not receive directives from MIM(Prisons) to know how to organize and commit ourselves to a campaign. Yet revolutionary learning is limitless and anyone wishing to engage in polemics or just learn from other comrades can do so by either writing in to the MIM(Prisons) USW coordinator, joining a study cell run by MIM(Prisons) or reading up on ULK and writing in.
The Statewide Council
The momentum created by USW cells throughout California prisons has brought us our own revolutionary council where pressing topics are discussed, and polemics, strategizing and other matters will be addressed. Through discussion and the democratic process we have passed resolutions to set the standards for USW cells joining the council. Resolutions passed so far include: time frames for when members must respond to council discussions, requirements that each cell vote on each proposal and provide justification for their votes, minimum study requirements before a representative can join the council, and requirements that each USW cell with representation in the council should put in at least 10 to 40 hours a week of revolutionary work. i.e. study, writing articles, making political art, etc. Cells are required to keep track of their work and report it monthly to build discipline.
The California Council has also built a treasury that we have been using to fund bonus pages in ULK. Our council has brought forth double the amount of donations than all other California comrades during a recent 6-month period. We recently finished a California-specific introductory letter for USW that went out to all existing members in June. We have had a slow start but overall we have established a steady pattern of discussion and work.
Amongst our struggles behind the walls, we will often have obstacles such as comrades abandoning a campaign or legal battle, or who just stop checking in with the council, USW or the ULK Writers group to pursue personal agendas and leave behind their revolutionary work. Our California Council and USW are a product of work and effort by politically conscious prisoners having a strategic goal in mind, be it anti-imperialist, shutting down control units, or prisoner humyn rights reform. The point is that our goals, strategic and tactical, are to struggle through the momentum whether it's low or high! Our focus is to work together for change and we hope our efforts, our resolve, inspires others to join our struggle behind the walls. Our struggle for humyn rights is a pressing issue for the comrades suppressed in solitary confinement, so contributing to litigation campaigns are essential but not our only venue! We need to be organized, we need to agitate and utilize propaganda as a tool in order to apply revolutionary practice!
We seek comrades who have a fair grasp on revolutionary theory. No comrade needs to be an expert, we are all still learning from each other, our USW work, and how to concentrate our USW branches through practice within our revolutionary California Council.
So I can say USW Council representatives are our cadres behind the walls, forging revolutionary discipline, education, legal assistance, study groups, etc. If comrades get transferred to another yard or prison we can expect them to do the same at their new location. And we do our work discreetly to not draw unwanted attention, thus maintaining all within USW cell security.
The imperialists have created a mess of migration, with hundreds of thousands of people traveling from the Middle East and north Africa to the European Union (EU). Earlier this year there was media attention on the increased migration from Myanmar and Bangladesh to the richer countries of South Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This is in the context of an unprecedented increase in mass displacement worldwide.
"By end-2014, 59.5 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This is 8.3 million persons more than the year before (51.2 million) and the highest annual increase in a single year."(1)
The conditions that led about 7% of the world's entire population to leave their homes vary widely, and similarly the situations they face when they do leave their homes also vary. Some have absolutely nothing to their name but the rags on their body, while others are carrying smart phones, have high formal education, and are being wired money along their journey for train tickets and smugglers' fees. Some just need to leave where they are, others want to meet up with family who have already immigrated to other countries, and many are doing both. This article does not attempt to provide a comprehensive history of the mass migrations, but it does try to outline some basic principles to keep in mind as the news unfolds.
Open All Borders!
The oppressor countries have concentrated wealth due to the oppression and exploitation they inflict on other nations. In these countries, there is a lot of hubub about whether people are "truly" refugees, and thus worthy of help, or "just" migrants looking for better economic opportunity, and thus not worthy of assistance. They say those deemed to be economic migrants should be sent back to their "safe" countries to build their lives there — a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps of international proportions.
No matter why people are leaving their present location, our position is the same: open all borders! The most progressive economic position under capitalism would be to enable free travel and work across all borders. Wealth would be more equalized and the imperialists would have a material interest in ending harmful policies and practices in other countries, for fear that those populations would leave their homes to venture to the countries where the wealth is being concentrated.
We know opening all borders is not a realisitic solution in our present conditions, so at the very minimum we call on the wealthy countries to allow those who have already fled to make new lives wherever they (want to) land. We then call on these wealthy countries to take a stand against the primary cause for why people flee: U.$. militarism and imperialism.
On the surface it appears Germany has been somewhat favorable to this position. They have been the most welcoming country of the EU (although most recently they are trying to curb the migration rather than welcome it with open arms). We support any EU country's openness to migrants. But it's significant that Germany has an aging population and has been trying to figure out how to maintain its economy with a deficit of working-age people. How fortunate then that so many of the refugees come with professional degrees, skills, and even some savings. The economic situation in Germany makes it possible for the country to play hero. The economic substructure defines the ideological superstructure. If not for the economic problems in Germany, humanitarian efforts would be marginalized.
National Chauvinism is Not Internationalism
In spring 2015, media attention was on Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia for refusing to take in Rohingyas and Bangladeshis who were abandoned by their smugglers at sea for weeks and months.(2) The primary position of these countries was "it's not our problem."
In the EU, Hungary has been a main thoroughfare for migrants this summer. In response they are erecting an emergency wall on the borders, and Hungary's government's stance is to discourage migration as much as possible. Denmark, just north of Germany, has been widely advertising that it has greatly reduced assistance for migrants, and that people should not go there. And these are certainly not the only examples of national chauvinism in Europe.
Those who don't grasp the differences between revolutionary nationalism and national chauvinism will use these examples as evidence that all nationalism is bad. One of the more progressive trends that makes this mistake is the anarchists. Nationalism of oppressor nations tends toward fascism, but nationalism of oppressed nations tends towards revolutionary internationalism. Being that the vast majority of anarchist movements are located in the First World, it makes sense that they should oppose the nationalism that they see around them. But a materialist historical analysis shows that nationalism of the oppressed has done the most to advance peoples out of oppression, imperialism's stranglehold, and toward a society where nations and states are no longer necessary. Maoists also want a world without nations and states, but a rejection of the progressive aspects of nationalism won't get us there.
European Union vs. United $tates
Some officials in the EU have criticized United $tates policy and military intervention in the Middle East as the reason for this most recent mass migration. To the EU, most people coming from the Middle East are from Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Not surprisingly, the United $tates is also presently engaged in military campaigns in and on these countries.
But the EU only cares what the United $tates does to the degree that it affects the EU. It's good when anyone criticizes the United $tates's meddling in the Middle East. But until words turn into actions (and until EU countries stop their own military campaigns in the region), it's just a lot of hot air. We want to see the EU not only open its borders for all the migrants, but also to recognize that it has interests which differ from those of the United $tates. A united EU should stop all material and verbal support for occupation and war in the Middle East, which would do more to help with their present migrant crisis than building walls and placing newspaper ads.
Rise of Fascism
The recent mass migration has been exposing reactionary nationalist sentiments, and in turn adding fuel to the recent rise of fascism in Europe. More far-right parties are being elected at various levels of government, and there are more demonstrations and attacks on migrants — the people, and the infrastructure to support them. Most notably, fascism has been rising in the last few years in Greece, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.(3)
Communism is the natural antithesis to fascism. Those who see more material interests in maintaining their present economic position will tend toward fascism, whereas those who would benefit more from an equalization of wealth internationally will tend more toward communism. It's the job of the communists to help prevent the rise of fascism in Europe.
MIM theory has made me a scientist previously I wanted to Attack Now! but I'm no longer anxious in order to make a move the times must be right, but the times won't be unless we study analyze - stop the bickering and unite so lace your boots and recruit turn your cell into a scientific study group booth our clip is fully loaded our day will come but right now it's time to get ready for it
by a Pennsylvania prisoner September 2015 permalink
It seems that the pigs who run this gulag are getting more and more clever every day. We need to stay on point to their tactics and be awake to the corruption that surrounds us. We all know that the administration will do whatever it takes to shut down any organizational movement of prisoners that threatens them. It has come to my attention that all around us are eyes and ears, even when we think we are speaking in confidence to a supposed comrade. The pigs have resorted to using the most oppressed of all of us as puppets for them. The administration has begun using an "informant for hire" network to bring down any type of unity between prisoners. A large percent of us already completely rely on support from the administration to feed us, and provide other necessities. The pigs withhold vital services from prisoners, forcing them to obey their "masters." In exchange for constitutional rights, and necessities that they can get nowhere else, prisoners infiltrate cell groups and other organizational efforts between comrades, then report their findings back to the Corrections Officers. This has become a common scene in Pennsylvania prisons.
This is another reason why we all need to unite and take care of our brothers and sisters in need, so they are not forced to rely on the pigs for their livelihood and daily bread. We are all in this together, despite our individual crimes, backgrounds, or status. We all should have one common goal, to break these chains that bind us. I believe this is what self-sufficiency truly means — not having to rely on our oppressors to meet our basic needs. And since we all share this common goal shouldn't we view all other prisoners as the same as self? After all, we are meant to be one united force, but all that abounds is discord, disunity, and views towards other prisoners.
This is a call to all fellow prisoners to unite as one force, lend a helping hand to prisoners who are down and out. When we don't do this, we are violating the very basis of communism by placing ourselves above other groups of humyns — the poor and needy! We must do whatever it takes to crush the fascists and pigs that oppress us! So we must reach out and help those who are unable to help themselves, and stop feeding them to the mongrels.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Many people write to us complaining about snitches and the hopelessness of organizing. This comrade does a great job explaining how we can have an impact on these individuals and what people can do to change their circumstances, rather than just complaining. This sort of rational and creative thinking is what communists need to bring to every situation. Look at a problem from all sides and come up with ways to attack it. We call this materialist thinking, and it's not easy, especially when we're bombarded with anti-science ideas, and feeling crushed by day-to-day oppression. We hope this comrade serves as an inspiration to others who are facing serious snitching problems to think about how you can help these snitches to join the cause of the revolution.
As a leader of United Struggle from Within (USW) and the Prisoners' Legal Clinic (PLC) I have a lot of problems organizing with the lumpen proletariat because they don't want any trouble with the pigs and I have been transferred 10 times in this 8.5 years of my imprisonment, but the struggle still goes on! The Security Threat Group (STG) status is moving to every state complex in the empire.
I was reading Under Lock & Key No. 41 and it was saying in many articles by comrades that they are being put on STG status for no reason and they can not put up a defense and they aren't getting any yard time. This is both constitutional violations and human rights violations. The 8th amendment violation of cruel and unusual punishment; and the 14th amendment violations without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states:
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person Article 5: No one shall be subject to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Article 6: Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Article 7: All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination. Article 8: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners approved by the UN Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held at Geneva in 1955 and approved by the Economic and Social Council by resolutions 663 (XXIV) of 31 July 1957 and 2076 (LXII) of 13 May 1977:
Exercise and Sport 21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits. ... Information to and complaints by prisoners 35. (1) Every prisoner on admission shall be provided with written information about the regulations governing the treatment of prisoners of his category, the disciplinary requirements of the institution, the authorized methods of seeking information and making complaints, and all such other matters as are necessary to enable him to understand both his rights and his obligations and to adapt himself to the life of the institution.
(2) If a prisoner is illiterate, the aforesaid information shall be conveyed to him orally.
36. (1) Every prisoner shall have the opportunity each week day of making requests or complaints to the director of the institution or the officer authorized to represent him.
(2) It shall be possible to make requests or complaints to the inspector of prisons during his inspection. The prisoner shall have the opportunity to talk to the inspector or to any other inspecting officer without the director or other members of the staff being present.
(3) Every prisoner shall be allowed to make a request or complaint, without censorship as to substance but in proper form, to the central prison administration, the judicial authority or other proper authorities through approved channels.
(4) Unless it is evidently frivolous or groundless, every request or complaint shall be promptly dealt with and replied to without undue delay.
A lot of prisoners don't understand that they have a lot of political power if they know how to use it, like getting our families, friends and associates connected to the prisoner advocate organizations in their states because political power to change conditions of prisons has to start with us first because we are the ones doing time. Our people and citizens have power in their voting blocks with issues that can demand change in prisons' operations. Prisoners have to put their interests first.
People vote their Senators and Representatives into office at election time and they can vote them out of office as well. These are the people who are supposed to represent the interests of the people in the state legislature and the federal Congress. But if people don’t bring their issues to them how can they properly represent them? We prisoners must become politically conscious of the system of local, state and federal government.
A lot of prisoners don't know that this is the time for change in the prison system, the prisoner advocates movement is very strong right now, and states' governments are seeking ways to save money because it cost states a lot more money to run maximum prisons then lower security prisons. Prisoners are truly going to have to learn their Constitutional rights, because in order for a person to have any kind of rights they are going to have to learn them first. Then you can protect them.
It's a damn shame that the Afrikan nation's ancestors fought and died for their rights and in the 21st century the Afrikan nation has become ignorant of their rights and struggles that we have been going through for the last 400 years of oppression and exploitation. This subject matter of STG can be put in the form of a petition and then filed as a class action lawsuit against these corrupt DOCs for not having a system of redress for being placed on STG status, etc. Prisoners are going to have to stand up for their rights and fight this evil and corrupt system of the prison DOCs across the country, because this same STG system is put in place everywhere.
MIM(Prisons) responds: The 8th and 14th Amendment claims this comrade refers to were the heart of the recent lawsuit in California that ended in a weak settlement. So on the one hand this is right on track, but on the other the PLC must study and learn from what happened in California to do better in other states.
By knowing our legal rights and understanding the law, we can challenge abuse and corruption, both through grievances and then in the courts when the grievance system fails. This particular campaign against STG is important to the ability of the oppressed to organize and escape extreme torture, and is therefore an important one to continue. The legal battle is only a small part of our current strategy because the legal system is a part of the criminal injustice system overall and so it will never provide justice for the oppressed. Any legal victories we do have will likely require mass organizing before hand, and will definitely require mass organizing to enforce afterwards.
Ultimately, we won't change the system through the courts. Similarly we don't focus on elections because we know that the imperialists won't allow people in positions of power who really work in the interests of the oppressed. And the majority of Amerikans do have a vested interest in the existing system of oppression: they support "tough on crime" measures and don't want to see prisoners' conditions improved. So even if relatives of prisoners all try to vote for change, they are unlikely to even find good options on the ballot.
Amerika uses prisons as a tool of social control, and the lumpen who are targeted for this repression are a minority among the mostly privileged classes within U.$. borders. For this reason we will never fundamentally change the system by working within their elections and their courts. We can take up tactically winnable battles, like these that are connected to the basic rights promised in the U.$. Constitution. But we should not mislead people into thinking that anything short of a revolution is required for liberation of the oppressed.
by a North Carolina prisoner September 2015 permalink
I wanna believe that education is more valuable than incarceration, but it's hard when prison yard outnumber campus quads in every state across the nation. I wanna believe.... I wanna believe that black lives matter to all and not just the blacks who live it, but I can't erase the vision of black men murdered by white police with no punishment because their families' pain is so vivid. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that confederate flags don't represent real oppression and race hatred, that we as a people can rise above the stereotypes that we perpetuate to keep us from becoming wasted. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that we can open our eyes and recognize the Kings and Queens that Africa birthed, surviving this genocide with pride and living out the prize of realized and mastered worth. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that my people didn't hang from trees and get sold on blocks, that our babies' heads weren't stomped while slave masters prayed to God not to let their savage souls rot. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that we only do drugs to escape a reality too hard to accept, and that it's deeper than just a high when you've lived your whole life with neglect and a heart full of regret. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that times have changed and life isn't only getting worse, but a white man just took a .45 and murdered nine people praying inside a historically black church. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that kids can live free without the fear of being shot while coming home from school, that we can teach our babies something more useful than "hands up, don't shoot" rule. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that being in a gang means more than flagging a color and throwing signs, that we know the foundation was to oppression and stand for our communities not to show that we're blind. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that the brothers behind the wall are doing more than getting high, playing ball and lifting weights, and that they spend more time studying the law trying to see how many loopholes exist in their case. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that losing another brother only helped to make me stronger, that every struggle I've faced and conquered has left me with lessons that I can embrace a little longer. I wanna believe... I wanna believe that when I'm done my words will forever rest in your hearts, and that if you hear my pain and sincerity I've done my part. I wanna believe... I wanna believe, I really do, but I've never had a reason to, so to me believing is deceiving and if I believe I'm afraid I'll begin to grieve anew, belief is faith and faith is hope while hope is something I've never really had, so if I hope and believe in faith how do I know I'll never again be sad? I wanna believe... I wanna believe... I wanna believe that love is something we can all achieve, and I really want love but even more than that I just wanna believe!!
We've been working hard to express the need to end all hostilities amongst all ethnicities. Us New Afrikans here in the belly of the beast known as the Corcoran SHU have just completed a beautiful BAM (Black August Resistance/Memorial) and we came together to struggle today [September 9th] for the purpose of unity. We exercised in a group that consisted of ourselves, a couple southern Hispanics, and a northern Hispanic. Our study habits still consist of revolutionary literature, economics, politics and some history where our cultural and social interactions are similar without division.
We don't have a short corridor anymore here in this concrete tomb, so with people arriving from the mainline just to do a SHU term we can educate them on the importance of the agreement to end all racial hostilities, and stay on guard because the fascist oppressors will always try to sabotage our collective struggle. A lot of these youngsters who come in here don't have a clue about the Attica uprising or Black August Memorial, and how could they when all the teachers of New Afrikans struggles are still anguishing behind enemy lines. The importance of us getting out of the SHU is to educate our youth about their history.
Today we had a group study session on the importance of revolutionary internationalism, which is the ideological expression of global revolutionary scientific socialism in service to the oppressed underclass of the world. We feel that revolutionary internationalism is the ideological vanguard of global liberation and source of theoretical development in coordinating disparate national revolutions. Also, keeping the permanent struggle of ideological mental warfare going in order to eradicate backwards and unprincipled thinking, or incompatible ideas or activities, and proving the correctness of the revolutionary party's views.
This weapon in which we speak is part of the dialectical processes that are ongoing and endless, until the principle contradictions of the oppressed and the oppressor are eliminated. Once this takes place you will see the transformation of the cultural values, practices and relationships of the people prepare and condition themselves for a revolution against the oppressor state. The outcome is uprooting and destroying the old oppressive rationale and mindset of colonial society and bringing into being new values which move the people outside of the colonial mindset and into that of the emerging revolutionary society. We can accomplish this through the agreement to end all hostilities. So we strive to do so. It's a long out-dated situation that produced no winners, and only losers, and that has also further pushed us into oppression. We realize that now, and since it's not too late to correct it, we struggle collectively to do so.
by a Pennsylvania prisoner September 2015 permalink
Why can't we all get along? What is the problem? In my experience, all I see around me is prisoner against prisoner. There is no real unity. Fellow comrades, this is a major problem! I don't know about other state systems, but here in Pennsylvania it is a constant issue. Prisoners are tearing each other down instead of building each other up. Bickering, fighting, back stabbing, degradation and even genocide is a common theme among prisoners at all the prisons I have been held captive in.
The pigs stick together, so why can't we? These fascists get off over our disunity. It makes their day when they have the excuse to further degrade us by placing us in segregation and control units, where we are stripped of more of the precious little freedom we have left. These pigs oppress all of us; we are all in the same sinking ship. Don't you think it is time to put aside our petty differences and unite as one force? How can we focus on defeating this oppression we suffer and endure on a daily basis, when we are so focused on adding to our own and each others' oppression by oppressing each other?
Come on, family, the time is now. We must unite to really make a difference. Unofficially, jailhouse statistics show that out of all prisoners imprisoned in the United $tates, 89% of us seek only to see each other fail, and be defeated in every way possible, and are for themselves, and only themselves. 10% of us don't give a shit either way. Only 1% of us truly care about and are committed to win the battle over oppression. This is sad! We can change those statistics! MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within are the key to this change and our victory. My motto is and always will be: resist! resist! resist! I will not rest until that mantra rings out in one united voice. Then our oppressors will realize the meaning of their own motto: We can be the real and true United We Stand!
MIM(Prisons) adds: We commend this comrade for the call of unity in the face of struggle. But calls alone will not solve the problems we face, it will also take real action and examples set by leaders. This was the purpose of the September 9 day of peace and unity. As is seen in reports back from comrades who participated this year, it is through both education and practice that we can build greater unity among a population that has been trained to fight one another. We must look at what battles we can fight in our own prisons and neighborhoods, and bring people together for these common goals. Through these struggles we can demonstrate the nature of the imperialist system behind all of the oppression, and focused on keeping the oppressed powerless. Through practice we will build unity and educate the oppressed, training new leaders and developing a movement that can take on the imperialists as a part of the liberation struggles of oppressed nation peoples worldwide.
In war a campaign is a series of actions which lead to an ultimate aim. Campaigns can be thought of as an organized strategy in which certain steps or operations lead to the end goal of victory. Often when people are taking on an adversary, victory will not be accomplished in one shot. When the odds are stacked against you it is necessary to create a plan which, through a series of small steps, one arrives close to the intended goal. This piecemeal advancement is a campaign.
Currently ISIS has a campaign where it is taking ground in the area of what is known as Iraq and Syria. In their campaign they are taking over key areas like airports, oil refineries, major roads or sea ports. By doing so they have obviously decided that each of these areas will lead to lightening their opposition's hold on power and of eventually seizing power in that region of the world. Rather than focusing on overthrowing the Iraqi government outright or flooding Baghdad with troops and attacking the "Green Zone" (the U.S. base) outright, they have developed a campaign to take smaller steps which may lead up to seizing that area.
U.S. imperialism has been waging a campaign for total global influence in which they can act with impunity. They do this by setting up 1000+ bases around the world. And they coerce countries with economic embargoes, assassinations, coups and the installation of puppet governments. Blackmail is used from information that was illegally stolen off the internet or through U.$. spy agencies. Every bit of information they obtain buys them more influence, a step forward in their campaign of destruction.
Prisoners and former prisoners within the United Struggle from Within mass organization have also initiated a variety of campaigns which address our daily struggles. Every struggling people anywhere in the world needs campaigns to address their particular needs, and prisoners are no different. For us struggling prisoners there are certain forms of oppression which prevent us from developing politically or are outright neutralizing us so we must find ways to resist and overcome them, and campaigns ensure this.
Prisoners in California have the Agreement to End Hostilities which is one of our main campaigns at this time. The End to Hostilities is an essential step that needs to continue so that our goal of mobilizing the entire prison system becomes easier. We cannot mobilize people against a common enemy if they are wrapped up in fighting each other. Stopping the violence between prisoners allows us to begin to move forward for our real interests and combat our real threats. This campaign should also spread to other states, and it will. The Agreement to End Hostilities will spread state to state just like lumpen organizations themselves have spread.
A California campaign that is also country-wide is the struggle to abolish control units. Solitary confinement is another small step in a larger process. Control units are designed to destroy our most advanced cadre; it cannot be explained in any other way. So in my opinion the control units are ground zero for the struggles of the prison movement within U.$. borders today. If we cannot save our cadre in U.S. prisons it is a huge defeat. In order to mobilize the prison system for humyn rights struggles it would be a lot easier if most of the politically advanced prisoners were not sealed off in control units.
The grievance campaign is another way that we enable imprisoned people to work toward humyn rights so that they can continue to struggle on that revolutionary path. Things like the struggle for indigent envelopes which the comrades in Texas are raising is a part of our USW campaigns because if we are able to write letters we can struggle and join correspondence study groups and contribute to ULK so we cannot be limited by the state. Just because we may not be in Texas we still support those comrades because it is a USW campaign.
Our campaign in solidarity with Palestine was an exercise in USW flexing its internationalism. When a people are suffering from crimes against humynity, even the most brutal dungeon will not prevent acts of humynity. I think our solidarity with Palestine was also a sign of our anti-imperialism. We have our own struggles in each prison against brutality, solitary, medical care, etc. We have our distinct struggles for national liberation of our respective nations. At the same time we are anti-imperialists and we know that all of our oppression can be tied to U.S. imperialism. Imperialism extends oppression around the world and creates the circumstances where Third World people cannot survive in their home countries. These people often migrate to the metropole in search of sustenance, when not contained within militariazed walls.
Do Campaigns Teach the People?
Campaigns are absolutely educational. We learn from practice. When we partake in a campaign we not only realize what we can accomplish, but we also realize how to better coordinate our efforts.
The campaign does a couple of things, it allows us to battle our oppression while it teaches us different forms of struggle. We often learn new methods to struggle because of this. For example in a previous ULK I read about some comrades who, after struggling on different grievances, decided to create their own legal self-help organization.
From our campaign to raise awareness on the inside and outside the dungeons sprang the Strugglen Artists Association (SAA). The SAA is for artists to create revolutionary cultural works and for Propaganda Workers to bring these cultural contributions to the masses.
From our campaign to close the SHU sprang the statewide California hunger strikes. These actions helped to catch the eye of many within the white left who previously did not support the prison movement like some are starting to do now. From this publicity came various prisoner support groups and media struggles to assist our actions.
From these examples that I have listed came independent institutions. Our campaigns created these institutions of the people. They were created without the assistance of our oppressor enemy. It is hard to see these things develop without our campaigns, so as you can see the campaign creates even more opportunity to struggle and gives us momentum to continue on our road forward.
Take away the campaigns and we are left with nothing but isolated impulsive acts which get us nowhere but unorganized disarray. Campaigns direct our actions toward our greatest potential.
Our Goals in Campaigning
Our goal as anti-imperialists is a socialist revolution. But the more immediate goal of USW within U.$. prisons is to revolutionize the dungeons. This will take a series of actions, or to be specific it will take campaigns.
Prisons are merely one component of the state. But they are one of the most important components because it is within prisons where the most vital social forces are found. Prisons will produce the fiercest fighters in the future revolution.
The campaign is a military concept. In many ways it is a revolutionary war which awaits us because the oppressor will never hand over its power. According to Mao: "The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them."(1)
Oppressed people will be victorious, and prisoners, once revolutionized, will ignite and charge the people. We have seen in hystory the power and raw force that ex-prisoners have infused into social justice movements within U.$. borders. The most advanced parties' political organizations and movements of the internal semi-colonies were filled with ex-prisoners and lumpen, so it is this element which must be mobilized. The people must "go deeper," as Lenin taught, to obtain the most revolutionary element which is less influenced by imperialism. Campaigns up! Conflicts down!