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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [ULK Issue 42]
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Building Peace with the United Front

Together we can break the chains
Building a united front within prisons is not easy to do. It is a struggle that ebbs and flows. Sometimes one can be in a facility or yard where this work is easy and other times it may seem impossible. Like everything else in life that benefits the people, it is challenging to say the least. But the United Front for Peace in Prisons is a goal that is within our ability to obtain so we must make it happen.

As prisoners of the state we are all imprisoned by the same ruling class, so in that sense we are all on the same oppressed side in the U.S. dungeons. The class oppressors who construct these torture facilities are the real enemies. Amerikkka is what has had us, our parents, grandparents and ancestors colonized for so many years. It is the source of all our oppression. No prisoner should be in the dark when it comes to the true identity of oppressed people around the globe. In the world there are two sides, the enemies and us; everything else is trivial and must be ironed out.

Prisoners are not the only ones who struggle with understanding this elementary factor. Mao advised us of these two sides by saying:


"Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution. The basic reason why all previous revolutionary struggles in China achieved so little was their failure to unite with real friends in order to attack real enemies. A revolutionary party is the guide of the masses, and no revolution ever succeeds when the revolutionary party leads them astray. To ensure that we will definitely achieve success in our revolution and will not lead the masses astray, we must pay attention to uniting with our real friends in order to attack our real enemies. To distinguish real friends from real enemies, we must make a general analysis of the economic status of the various classes in Chinese society and of their respective attitudes towards the revolution."(1)

Mao described the conditions surrounding the Chinese revolution, yet like most lessons in Maoism, we can learn and apply them to our situation here in U.S. prisons. Our "revolution" at this time is transforming our environment and oppressive conditions, and bettering our way of life in these dungeons. But in order to do this we need to know our enemies from our friends. In our case, prisoners are our friends and the state is our enemy. The United Front for Peace in Prisons manifests our understanding of our friends and enemies in the material world.

How do we spread peace in prisons?

MIM(Prisons) and United Struggle from Within created the United Front for Peace in Prisons as a basis for spreading peace. Although they provided the framework which later led to the peace accords that have spread within California prisons, they simply presented it to us prisoners with the understanding that it would depend on us to find a way to put this theory into practice. But peace cannot come from words alone. Growing peace in these hot houses will not arrive miraculously, it must be fertilized and fed, cultivated and harvested. That means revolutionary prisoners need to put in work for peace and get our hands dirty, stick them in the dirt and put our back into it.

Many times peace in prison is spread through people-to-people interactions. Creating relations with prisoners outside our nation and outside our circles or collectives helps spread peace. This builds bridges of communication with others. Of course peace should first be created amongst one's own circles, because it's hard to spread peace with other groups if you don't have peace amongst those closest to you.

Ensuring that peace takes root is largely dependent on educating the people. So many do not even know who their real enemy is and this is because political educators are in short supply within prisons. Passing someone a book is not the same as discussing what is in that book after the persyn has read it.

Peace means that people get used to the idea of us having the same captor and facing the same monster. People need to look at the big picture. When we look at the big picture and our young homies are taught to look at the big picture it alleviates many of the petty squabbles that are bound to arise in an intense prison environment.

Building peace really comes down to working together in ways which tackle our horrible conditions. As leaders, we can organize appeal events, spread information and publications on prison struggles, and help others who may need a helping hand whether it's a bar of soap, a stamped envelope or something to eat. Do what you can to help your fellow prisoner. Peace means thinking of other prisoners and extending humynity to one another.

What are the challenges of spreading peace?

We are deprived of peace by internal and external factors, and there are many things that get in our way. Sometimes those who are uneducated act or react in ways which are not conducive to propelling their own struggles forward. These behaviors often result from a colonial mentality which has been embedded in so many minds for so many generations.

So there is a combination of challenges which prevent peace. One main obstacle is of course that the state opposes peace, as a Georgia prisoner said in ULK 36:


"As of now, most of the leaders and the more influential participants are locked down in Ad-Seg and I don't find this a coincidence. The pigs hate the idea of us uniting in peace and not killing each other."(2)

This writer was describing a very real process of repression where those prisoners who are most influential and conscious and who have the ability and sway to enact peace are the very ones locked down in solitary confinement. This is a common tactic of the state. COINTELPRO used the same method, which we can study in books like FBI Files of Malcolm X, War Against the Panthers, and Agents of Repression, to name a few. Those who can electrify the movement or their people are targeted to be neutralized. Neutralizing something or someone means putting it out of commission, which can include death, prison or solitary.

The state creates these obstructions by watching the imprisoned captives, and when leaders arrive to a yard they kidnap them so that peace cannot be realized. They leave knuckleheads to create chaos because chaos between the captives means our captors can keep repressing us. Peace between the captives means the oppressor is in trouble.

Another challenge that we face is concealed in the crypto-Toms. These are the Uncle Toms of all nationalities who secretly work for the state, either in alerting the state when the masses are attempting to struggle against repression or in sabotaging peace efforts by stirring shit up and sparking crimes between prisoners. These inter-oppressed wars help strengthen the state, while setting back prisoner struggles by forcing us to spend years attempting to repair this chaos.

We should learn to identify these crypto-Toms who work for the pigs rather than for their nation. It's not just those who kick off anti-peace bullshit, but also those who partake in Tom language by spreading the ideas of anti-peace who are obstructionists.

Peace in California has been pushed by those who have been doing time for decades. It was not just a spontaneous event; this had been talked about for years. Building a united front for peace against a common enemy is the most logical action between any oppressed peoples anywhere in the world.

How should we proceed?

Peace between prisoners should not just be something that we read about or something prison intellectuals write about. Peace should be something that we live in our everyday lives. Individualism threatens peace the most because individualism keeps us blind to those who threaten peace ("it doesn't affect me, so i don't care"). We can only change our conditions for the better by struggling together.

The first step is in having the ability to think outside of ourselves and to realize what is best for us, our people, and our future homies that will be filling up these cells. Peace does not mean we have the same beliefs, it just means that we have the understanding that people with different beliefs do have shared interests and that the oppression that I face is faced by all U.$. prisoners in various forms by the same captor whose face changes from prison to prison, but whose actions for the most part do not.

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[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 42]
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Success Comes with Unity

We are all comrades in this lifelong fight
and the only chance we have is if we unite

Education is key so learn and teach
without frivolous barriers that limit your reach

Brothers without guidance show them the way
those with beautiful speech teach them what to say

We all have a role to play in this movement of life
against this imperialist government that don't give us no rights

Not everyone is expected to pick up no guns
but no one should neglect to give up no funds

Even if you can only afford to give up a one*
donate it because without money no war can be won

It's time to stop playing games with what we believe
and start implementing all the things that we read

We can obtain all the things that we need
all we have to do is Unite, Educate, Organize, and Succeed

*$1.00

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[Rhymes/Poetry]
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Thoughts of a Civilized Savage

Think Outside the Box

They get mad at my thoughts
But how can they get mad at the way I think?
When they've placed me in this environment to do just this
To think about the choices
To think about the decisions
To think about the past
To think about the mistakes
To think about the consequences
To think about life
To think about death!
My thoughts seem too radical
They seem too harsh
They seem insensitive
But they don't seem fake
Because they are real
Because my reality is real
I think about the joy
I think about the happiness
I think about the love
I think about the pain
I think about the coldness
I think about the hurt
Because I was left alone to think.
Can't cry because it hurts too much
Can't laugh because it ain't funny
Can't talk because I don't trust nobody to listen
So what do I do?
The only thing I'm used to doing, think
Think about the future
Think about the plans
Think about revenge
Don't be mad because this is what you wanted
You wanted me to think
But it didn't turn out like you wanted
Because you created a smart, calculating righteous monster
And its all your fault
Because you didn't think
Of all the possibilities
That came with thinking!

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[Organizing] [Colorado] [ULK Issue 42]
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Debating Violence in Prison Battles


I am a prisoner activist within the Colorado Department of Corrections, which sees me as a difficult, dangerous individual, and isolates and represses me in a police-style unit. Within the United States there is a response to prisoner activism of repression by prison administrators. This repression may involve some type of physical clash between prison staff and/or their prisoner stooges, and a prisoner activist. I put this forth as a counter to your point explicitly discouraging prisoners from engaging in any violence, as this position is not based on the reality of prisoner activism in U.$. prisons.

Prisoner activism here typically takes the form of formal institutional advocacy. Yet white supremacy, capitalism, and imperialism have never reformed themselves. And the struggle against these forms of oppression is a struggle for survival and self-defense. The prisoner activist struggle in the United States is a struggle against genocide.

MIM(Prisons) and its publications explicitly oppose the use of armed struggle at this time in the imperialist countries (including the united states). But this is not based on the reality of prisoner activism in this country, where there is an ongoing protracted intractable race and class conflict. I look to Under Lock & Key for guidance in my individual/personal prisoner activism.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer sets a good example of working with us in unity around prison struggles while debating our disagreements on questions of strategy. In this case the disagreement comes down to a question of the stage of struggle. We believe that violence will be necessary to overthrow imperialism, because, as this comrade says, "white supremacy, capitalism and imperialism have never reformed themselves." We will need to dismantle imperialism forcefully; those in power won't just step down peacefully.

But we can also see through many historic examples that revolutionaries who took up armed struggle too soon were quickly repressed, killed and/or imprisoned, and many times the movements lost more ground than they gained. We call this premature armed struggle "focoism," because it generally fails to first gain the support of the masses and build a strong revolutionary party and base. However, it is also possible for communist parties to make strategic errors in taking up armed struggle too soon before conditions are ready.

In prison we aren't really talking about taking up a military battle, but the analogy to violent engagement before conditions are ready is applicable in a general way. We see that prisoners who are quick to engage with their fists/weapons, end up in isolation, beaten, or even killed. These engagements don't generally win anything except possibly the respect of peers with whom the person no longer has contact.

This doesn't mean we tell prisoners to lie down and take abuse. Every situation is different and we can't possibly judge what each individual is facing and how they need to respond to survive. We can say that many people write to MIM(Prisons) talking about how they used to resort to their fists first and now they use their pen and voice and are much more effective with this new approach to fighting repression. It takes patience and discipline to make this change, and it's not easy when faced with both pigs and their lackeys provoking and even attacking.

Rather than debate the appropriate response to each dangerous situation, the broader point is agreement on our strategic stage of struggle, and the reality that we can't win a military/violent battle right now. We just don't have the strength yet. And so we need all of our comrades to stay alive and out of solitary to engage in education and organizing.

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[Police Brutality] [Organizing] [National Oppression] [ULK Issue 42]
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Killing Cops and Revolutionary Activism of the Lumpen

body cameras are not enough
source: Reuters 2014
"The lumpen has no choice but to manifest its rebellion in the university of the streets. It's very important to recognize that the streets belong to the lumpen, and that it is in the streets that lumpen will make their rebellion."
- On the Ideology of the Black Panther Party, Eldridge Cleaver 1970

The recent killing of two New York City (NYC) cops must be viewed as a conscious act of war taking place within the context of national oppression, just as the killing of Eric Garner and countless others from the oppressed internal nations of New Afrika, Aztlán and the various First Nations at the hands of filthy pigs were and will continue to be acts of war that the police wage against the oppressed for the dominant white nation known as Amerika. Yet if we listen to the politicians we hear them desperately trying to switch the narrative of these killings as having nothing to do with the wave of recent protests currently being directed against police brutality and police repression since the murder of Michael Brown in Missouri on 9 August 2014. Instead they tell us that these killings are the result of a depraved criminal element who the police have all along been trying to protect us from.

In a recent public address NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio declared the deaths of these pigs to be "an attack on all of us" and asked that protesters put their demonstrations on hold as it was now time to "move forward and heal divisions." Others, including the pigs themselves, have called on protestors to "tone down their language." One reactionary on a CNN roundtable even went so far as to categorize the killing of those cops as "an attack on the very heart of democracy and the people that uphold that democracy"! And that is a very funny statement to make as i could've sworn that the heart of democracy lies with the people and not with the special bodies of armed men. Instead of democracy we have power arising from society which places itself above the people and becomes more and more alienated from them. These arms of the state have been tasked with managing the irreconcilability of both national and class antagonisms.

But why are the politicians so anxious to stop the masses from making the connection between the state-sanctioned murders of Eric Garner (and others) and NYC pigs? Because they know that context is everything regardless of what the pigs, the politicians or any other member of the liberal and conservative white media have to say. The killing of those pigs was carried out by a subjective revolutionary force outside of an objective revolutionary scenario. Therefore, the lesson for us to take away from this is that the killing of those two cops was undoubtedly political, just as sure as all prisoners are political.

Does this however mean that we support such a strategy of attacking the existing power structure absent a revolutionary situation? No, because that is not an effective way of advancing the needs of the oppressed, nor does it advance our own revolutionary agenda. What is for sure, however, is that the death of two of NYC's "finest" is sure to be used as another pretext to round up and spy on political activists as well as to further clamp down on "crime" in the big rotten apple, which directly translates into more repression for the lumpen.

In The Correct Handling of a Revolution by Dr. Huey P. Newton, Minister of Defense for the Black Panther Party, Newton hit on the correct methods of both leadership and struggle within the New Afrikan community of his time. This analysis still holds good today and revolutionaries from the oppressed nations should take note:


The vanguard party must provide leadership for the people. It must teach the correct strategic methods of prolonged resistance through literature and activities. If the activities of the party are respected by the people, the people will follow the example. This is the primary job of the party. ...

There are basically three ways one can learn: through study, through observation, and through actual experience. The Black community is basically composed of activists. The community learned through activity, either through observation of or participation in the activity. To study and learn is good but the actual experience is the best means of learning. The party must engage in activities that will teach the people. The Black community is basically not a reading community. Therefore it is very significant that the vanguard group first be activists. Without this knowledge of the Black community one could not gain the fundamental knowledge of the Black revolution in racist America.

While leaving out some focoist rhetoric characteristic of the BPP which we fundamentally disagree with, this excerpt is part of the most correct aspect of the mass line and how we relate to the masses on a day-to-day and strategic level. V.I. Lenin, leader of the first socialist state, the Soviet Union, from 1917-1924, dealt with one aspect of the lumpen-proletariat in his time quite relevant at the present moment — their tendency to engage in spontaneous and disorganized armed struggle against the state and in "expropriation" of private property. Lenin vehemently condemned those Bolsheviks who disassociated themselves from this by proudly and smugly declaring that they themselves were not anarchists, thieves or robbers. He attacked "the usual appraisal" (2) which saw this struggle as merely "anarchism, Blanquism, the old terrorism, the act of individuals isolated from the masses, which demoralize the workers, repel wide strata of the population, disorganize the movement and injure the revolution."(3) Lenin drew the following keen lessons from the disorganized period of this struggle:


"It is not these actions which disorganize the movement, but the weakness of a party which is incapable of taking such actions under its control. The Bolsheviks (communists) must organize these spontaneous acts and must train and prepare their organizations to be really able to act as a belligerent side which does not miss a single opportunity of inflicting damage on the enemy's forces."(4)

In short, it's not necessarily that we disagree with the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, rather his timing was off. It is exactly these types of actions by the oppressed nation lumpen which make them both the hope of the liberation movements of the internal semi-colonies, as well as the potential spearhead of the oppressed nations against a rising fascist threat here in the United $tates. In the end it doesn't matter whether these pigs wear cameras or not. What matters is how we respond, as that is the difference between liberation and more repression.


All Power to the People!
Lumpens Unite!


Notes:
1. The State And Revolution, V.I. Lenin
2. "Guerilla Warfare," V.I. Lenin, Collected Works, XI, p. 220
3. Ibid, p. 216-17
4. Ibid, p. 219

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[Police Brutality] [National Oppression]
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Amerikan Police Brutality and Torturous Prisons are the Same Issue

The decision not to try the pig in Ferguson, Missouri for the killing of Mike Brown has set the people off, and rightly so. It is a broken record of this injustice system and its real intention.

When i woke up and turned on the news that first morning and saw the reaction to the courts not charging the killer cop i was glad that the people were expressing their dissatisfaction with this system. i say this system because it is really this system that upholds the ability of the state to keep on slaughtering the people.

Then i saw that same killer cop in an interview and he straight up says that he regrets nothing. He is content with shooting a young man in the face and head who was simply resisting being murdered, resisting the killer. He was the face of Amerikkka and he offered a real portrait of what Amerikkka is all about.

The neighborhood that Mike Brown was murdered in was like the neighborhoods that prisoners come from, it is where most poor people in the United $tates come from. This is what we experience when we interact with the state.

There is no excuse for what is occurring in the poor people's streets. It is a never ending fusillade of despair unleashed on oppressed people. And yet we still have so many prisoners who are oblivious to what is occurring, even though it is occurring in their streets. It's almost like folks have blinders on and do not see what is occurring all around them, not once or twice but daily throughout the United $tates.

Prisoners need to connect the dots and realize that what occurs out in those streets does pertain to you because these are your people out there being slaughtered, this is a one sided war that needs to be turned around. The uprising in Furguson is a response to this and it's a good response but people need to respond in so many different ways in order to declare that these killer cops must stop slaughtering the people.


MIM(Prisons) adds: We join this comrade's call for more uprisings like in Ferguson. The people have a right to be outraged at the system of national oppression in the United $tates. And we must call out this system clearly for what it is: there is not just a mass of generic poor people in this country, the poor are disproportionately concentrated in the oppressed nations. These groups, New Afrikans, [email protected], First Nations, along with national minorities like [email protected], live in a country where their neighborhoods are occupied by the imperialist police force and where they can face death for the crime of walking down the street.

Connecting the dots for prisoners includes recognizing that it is the same criminal injustice system that locks up oppressed nations that is killing people in the streets. The cops, the courts, and the prisons are all part of this same systematic social control. And so prisoner's protesting abuses behind the bars are a part of the larger struggle against imperialism on the streets. We must make these connections and keep in mind the broader goals while we fight against day-to-day oppression behind bars.

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[Spanish]
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(No) Debido Proceso de Validación y Programas de Renunciación

Uno de los aspectos más dañinos en las prisiones de EE.UU. hoy en día son las unidades de control. Unidades de control y aislamiento solitario son las armas más grandes en su torturante arsenal. Llaman a las unidades de control SHU, SMU, CMU y varios otros nombres dependiendo en que estado está uno, pero todos trabajan para emplear tortura a los capturados retenidos.

Cuando miramos a la historia del sistema de prisiones de EE.UU. encontramos que las naciones oprimidas siempre han sufrido mucho adentro de ellas. Presos en los Estados Unidos han sufrido trabajo sin pago, linchamiento, golpizas, fustigaciones y asesinatos por mencionar algunos. Aunque mucho de esto continúa - a veces más ocultado y cubierto que en el pasado - hay otros métodos nuevos de opresión nacional que se están usando en esta nueva era de dominación amerikana. Yo sospecho que pos-Obama (supuestamente llamada "pos-racial Amerikkka") seguiremos viendo más de estas formas ocultadas de opresión que infligen el mismo daño, pero que vuelan bajo del radar del ciudadano común del primer mundo. Esto hace sentir cálidos y cómodos a los liberales y les permite creer que el "progreso" es obtenible en el centro imperialista.

un tal método empleado contra los presos en calabozos americanos es el uso de unidades de control. La unidad de control es una cámara de tortura moderna, pero no se puede anunciar como matador letal de mentes negras y morenas porque los liberales podrían alzar sus narices a semejante revelación. En su lugar, al público se le dice que las unidades de control solo se usan contra los incorregibles, salvajes, extranjeros, pandilleros o los terroristas sensacionalizados.

¿Quiénes Están Encerrados en las Unidades de Control?

Como a nuestros ancéstros a quien se les habrá preguntado cual fue la razón por las cadenas en los tobillos, la marca de su dueño en la cara, o el lazo en su pescuezo, nuestra respuesta, como la de ellos es que les nace a los abusadores buscar la forma de limitar todos los rebeldes y revolucionarios que se oponen a la opresión nacional. Últimamente, esto es lo que logra a uno caer en la unidad de control.

Por supuesto que estamos luchando en contra de una nación opresiva sofisticada y poner presos en unidades de control está envuelto en idioma florido. Nos dicen que es por "actividad pandillera" o "amenaza a la seguridad y bienestar de la institución." A veces hasta me dicen que estoy "activamente comprometido en una conspiración criminal que amenaza la institución, personal y otros presos." Para la mente no entrenada, esto puede sonar como justificación para tortura. Este asesinato de carácter no solamente en falso, pero nada justifica tortura. ¡Absolutamente nada!

Fue solo después que empecé a escribir artículos que alzaban las voces de los presos y empecé a hacer apelaciones y demandas por los presos que me apuntaron para meterme en "la unidad de vivienda segura" o el SHU (en ingles). En breve, cuando comencé a resistir la represión del estado fue cuando fui aislado incomunicado. Antes de esto, me permitían cometer crímenes menores y pelear contra otros presos, hasta que empecé hacerme políticamente consciente. No estoy solo.

La mayoría que trabajan para avanzar y organizar su nación, levantar la voz por otros, o que se ocupan en ser abogados presidiarios irá a una unidad de control. Esta práctica es común en la sociedad colonizada: Los que resisten y tienen influencia política serán encerrados bajo un opresor colonial.

¿Por Qué el Estado Tiene un Proceso de Validación?

Nuestro opresor debe inventar formas de meternos en unidades de control, y en California se usa el proceso de validación. El proceso de validación intenta prestar un aire legal a la tortura y opresión nacional alegando que aplican un proceso justo y sin prejuicio para validar alguien como un "afiliado de pandilla." Decir que este proceso no tiene prejuicio, es como decir que dejar al zorro que cuide la gallinera no tiene prejuicio.

El hecho que el proceso de validación sigue usando cosas tan ridículas como una tarject de cumpleaños, un dibujo Azteca, o un libro escrito por George Jackson como evidencia de actividad de pandilla comprueba que no hay nada justo o sin prejuicio de este proceso de validación. Los casos del tribunal que supuestamente pararon a la prisión de usar estos artículos demuestra el fracaso que es el sistema de injusticia y como es una extensión de el estado. Nuestras victorias nunca vendrán del tribunal del tribunal del "amo de esclavo."

El sistema de validación ayuda pacificar los presos con el pensamiento que hay un proceso legítimo que están llevando para parar la tortura. Que de una forma u otra con paciencia y obedeciéndolos, podríamos salir del SHU. Claro que esto es absurdo. Nos vamos a quedar en el SHU hasta que nuestro opresor sienta que no vamos a poner resistencia, hasta que sientan que nos quebraron. A veces quieren entrenar a sus agentes y tratan de capturar a todos se asocia con nosotros en la línea central, como si fuéramos carnada. Pero mientras sigamos resistiendo su opresión, no nos dejaran asociarnos libremente con la otra gente. El proceso de validación solo funciona para continuar nuestra opresión nacional.

El Proceso de Renunciación es Más Opresión

Cuando vamos al comité en los SHUs de California, nos dan una forma con el titulo "aviso de expectativas del CDCR." Esta forma da una lista de supuesto comportamiento de los STGs que incluye entre otras cosas "participación en ejercicios de groupos STGs, usando gestos, saludos de mano, posesión de arte con símbolos STG." Tengan aviso que no nos informan cuales son los símbolos STG.

Básicamente, no podemos socializarnos con nadie, porque nos pueden acusar de comportamiento STG. No nos dicen quienes están validados como partes de los STGs ni tampoco nos dan ninguna información de lo que es comportamiento STG. Simplemente nos dicen que no debemos asociarnos con STGs o participar en su comportamiento. El estado decidirá si nos estamos comportando propiamente y permitidos a proceder en el programa de renunciación. Suponen que ellos son los expertos.

He escuchado que han puesto en este "programa de renunciación" algunos, pero el estado esta escogiendo selectivamente a quienes coloca en este programa. En mi opinión es un programa de pacificación y no voy a participar en el. La participación disfraza la opresión de el estado, a la misma vez les permite a ellos tratar de forzarnos a hacernos culpables, de confesar culpabilidad, aunque sea ser culpable de lo que ellos juzgan tener pensamientos incorrectos.

Noticias recientes de una demanda de clase civil federal que disputa pólizas y condiciones en el SHU de Pelican Bay son bienvenidas y algo que todos deberiamos seguir. Ashker et al. v. Governor of California et al., No C 09-05796 dice que el ser sometido a más de 10 años en el SHU es cruel e inusual castido y que el proceso de validación es una violación al debido proceso.(1) Pero aquí esta el culatazo: Si has participado en el Step Down Program (Programa de Rununciacion) tu no estás incluido en esta acción civil. Entonces ya estamos viendo como el nuevo programa de renunciación está sirviendo al estado, haciendo más difícil para que los presos puedan disputar sus condiciones.

Mi comportamiento no es más incorrecto hoy que el primer día que me capturaron y me encerraron en el SHU. El estado no me va a soltar del gancho y no voy a renunciar mi resistencia contra la opresión. El proceso de renunciación continúa la misma opresión que el proceso de validación empezó; atenta justificar lo que ellos le hacen a las naciones oprimidas.

¿Que Terminara la Validación/Programa de Renunciación?

El programa de renunciación no solamente es casi igual al proceso de validación, pero aquí en California muchas prisiones siguen usando ambos métodos, por eso necesitamos acabar con los dos.

Desde el principio vi la necesidad luchar para que cierren el SHU> Desde la primera huelga de hambre yo supe que si no se cierra el SHU completamente, el estado nos tendrá peleando el mismo problema bajo nuevos nombres por décadas via pleitos legales y huelgas. Esto nunca nos logrará a nuestra meta. Necesitamos mantener todas las justificaciones para el uso de encerramiento solitario en nuestro mira. No importan la razón porque alguien este en encerramiento aislado, siempre será tortura, y siempre debería ser opuesto.

A la misma vez hemos hecho mejoramientos a las vidas de muchos presos y algunos hasta han salido del SHU y por esto estoy feliz. Como sea, programas de renunciación y validación nos van a seguir teniendo presos hasta que consigamos hacer que la resistencia a la opresión sea una cosa común y corriente. Cuando huelgas de hambre ocurran más de una vez cada diez años, y protestas pacíficas pasen con más frecuencia que una limpieza general, aun talvez entonces acabaremos con los programas de renunciación y validación.

MIM(Prisiones) agrega: La mayoría de los civiles dirían que controlar la violencia pandillera es algo bueno, y esa perspectiva es exactamente lo que el departamento de correcciones y rehabilitación de California (CDCR) depende para implementar sus programas de validación pandillera y programa de renunciación que asumen que todo grupo clasificado como pandilla se ocupan en actividades criminales y cualquiera en contacto con la pandilla tiene que ser miembro.

Vamos a dejar de lado la realidad que el ejército Amerikano y la fuerza policiaca es la pandilla más grande en la historia del mundo. Si hay alguien organizado en actividad criminal y terrorismo son ellos. Que cualquier agencia Amerikana reclame estar contra actividad pandillera sin criticarse a ellos mismos es una broma. Las entidades identificadas como pandillas por el CDCR incluyen grupos de estudio de correspondencia como el William L. Nolen Mentorship Program. En Texas, Bajo Clavo y Llave es citado como un grupo de amenaza contra la seguridad, a pesar de ser un periódico. El Centro Nacional de Investigación Criminal Pandillera publicó un reporte que incluyó al Movimiento Internacionalista Maoista como una potencial amenaza a la seguridad de las prisiones. Es obvio que el título de pandilla no lo usan para razones criminales, sino más por razones políticas.

Varias organizaciones cuales no son necesariamente revolucionarias también están apuntadas como pandillas, sea que rompan leyes amerikanas o no. La verdadera amenaza no son las actividades en que los grupos se comprometen, sino el nivel de organización y unidad que muestran. Títulos de STG y programas de renunciación criminalizan la asociación, no el crimen en realidad.

El gobierno amerikano hará todo lo posible para proteger su hegemonía internacional. Controlar cualquier población subversiva entre sus bordes, especialmente sus semi-colonias internas, es alta prioridad, sin importarle como lo disfrazan con títulos elegantes y procesos administrativos.


Notas: 1. Para recibir noticias de la demanda de Clase Civil Federal escribe a: Pelican Bay Class Action, Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP, 201 Redwood Shores Parkway, Redwood Shores, CA 94065.

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[Campaigns] [Download and Print] [Civil Liberties] [Abuse] [Censorship] [Arizona]
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Downloadable Grievance Petition, Arizona

Arizona Petition
Click to Download PDF of Arizona Petition

Mail the petition to your loved ones inside who are experiencing issues with the grievance procedure. Send them extra copies to share! For more info on this campaign, click here.

Prisoners should send a copy of the signed petition to each of the addresses below, which are also on the petition itself. Supporters should send letters of support on behalf of prisoners.

Warden
(specific to your facility)

Office of Inspector General
HOTLINE
P.O. Box 9778
Arlington, Virginia 22219

ADC Office of Inspector General
Mail Code 930
801 South 16th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034

United States Department of Justice - Civil Rights Division
Special Litigation Section
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, PHB
Washington, D.C. 20530

Senator John McCain
4703 S. Lakeshore Drive, Suite 1
Tempe, AZ 80282

Representative Raul Grijalva
810 E. 22nd Street, Suite 102
Tucson, AZ 85713

And send MIM(Prisons) copies of any responses you receive!

MIM(Prisons), USW
PO Box 40799
San Francisco, CA 94140

*Petition updated January 2012, July 2012, December 2014, and October 2017*

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[National Oppression] [Jamaica] [Africa]
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Book Review: Marcus Garvey Falls Short of Revolutionary Nationalism


Marcus Garvey: Black Nationalist Leader
by Mary Lawler
Holloway House Books 1990

I had the chance to borrow this book from a New Afrikan prisoner in order to check out this cat who many believe to have been a main influence to the Black liberation struggle of the 20th century. One thing that stood out is almost every other page had a photograph, including everything from Jamaican slaves, "race riots," the klan and Malcolm X.

This book traces the life of Marcus Garvey from his birth on August 17, 1887 in Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica. Out of 11 brothers and sisters, only he and a sister lived past childhood. His stonemason father was known to be a voracious reader and well respected in the village; his mother was a farmer who sold what she grew along with baked goods to contribute to the family. Early on the family owned several properties, but after legal disputes the family was left with the single property they lived in.

Garvey's father was what Lawler described as "A descendant of the maroons, escaped Jamaican slaves who banded together during the 17th and 18th centuries to fight the island's British colonial rulers."(p. 23)

Garvey descended from a line of anti-colonial struggle. The British slaves killed off all the indigenous Arawak natives and then kidnapped Africans and used them as slave labor in their plantations all over Jamaica. Garvey's relatives were among those who resisted the oppressor.

Because of his father's profession and his family being landowners, Garvey was educated in public school as well as by tutors, and took advantage of his father's private library which was well stocked with books, newspapers, and magazines. This was at a time when most Black people in Jamaica received little to no education. At the age of 15 Garvey went on to work as a printer's apprentice, and by age 20 he was a master printer, a skill which he would put to use later in his propaganda efforts.

Garvey became politicized after moving to Kingston and seeing the inequality and oppression of Blacks. It was in Kingston where he joined his first workers' strike at the print shop where he worked to protest low wages. At age 22 Garvey joined a group called the "National Club" that strove for better treatment of Blacks and agitated against British colonialism. He immediately began working on the national club's organ Our Own, which led him to launch his own publication called Garvey's Watchman. Garvey's Watchman didn't last very long, but made clear his real purpose and increased his interest in political organizing.

With big plans and little money Garvey became a migrant worker and set off for Costa Rica in 1910. Garvey's thoughts were on Blacks in Jamaica, but in Costa Rica he saw horrible treatment of Black workers in his first job for United Fruit. United Fruit is a U.$.-controlled company that has long wreaked havoc on Latin America. It has left a bloody trail in its support of brutal dictators while ensuring workers' rights are silenced with often deadly results.

The book explains how Garvey's first job at a banana plantation quickly led him to fight for workers, even launching a newspaper called La Nacionale (The National) that expressed workers' rights. It wasn't too effective as most of the workers were illiterate, so these efforts did not get very far.

After traveling to several Latin American nations and returning to Jamaica, at age 23, Garvey set sail to England. In England, he again faced poor work conditions and discrimination. Garvey finally realized that everywhere he went, regardless of the country, Blacks experienced oppression. In England he attended college where he met other Blacks who promoted Pan-Africanism. The Pan-African Movement was created in the 1800s. This was a time when British colonialism held many Black nations as colonies and the Pan-African movement sought to create Black nations that were governed by Blacks. The idea was to take Africa back for Africans.

In 1913 Garvey began work for Duse Mohammed Ali, publisher of African Times which promoted the rights of Black people. This, Lawler explains, allowed Garvey to mingle with the movers and shakers of the Pan-African movement, as most of them wrote for African Times.

The author writes that after reading Booker T. Washington's book Up From Slavery Garvey "found his purpose." Washington was a known integrationist who believed Black people should not protest racism, and instead that eventually the white nation would accept Black people. Many of the more progressive Black leaders of this period denounced Booker T. as an Uncle Tom.

In this book we read about Garvey creating the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in 1914. UNIA was to work to unite and improve Jamaican Black people's socio-economic conditions while promoting the anti-colonial struggles of Africa.

The author states about Garvey, "Like Booker T. Washington, he believed that until the Black workers became committed to self improvement, they would be looked down upon by whites."(p. 57)

The author implies that Black people can work within the oppressor nation's systems, and claims this will resolve racism from the oppressor. This system of thinking misses identifying the root of one's oppression. To blame the oppressed is to be an apologist for the oppressor nation and this thinking will never lead to the liberation that Garvey was lookiing for.

I also found it surprising that Garvey seemed to rely on religion as a savior. For instance, the author quotes Garvey as speaking on what helped to better himself, "Nobody helped me toward that objective except my own mind and God's good will."(p. 59) Garvey was also known to organize religious meetings as the author reminds us. The book suffers in that the author offers many quotes from Garvey and others but gives no footnotes as to where these quotes are coming from; this makes many of the quotes seem suspect.

In 1916 Garvey arrived in Amerika and found in Harlem a more receptive audience to UNIA than in Jamaica where UNIA only gained under 100 members and financially was unable to launch any independent institutions.

Garvey soon helped form a New York chapter of UNIA along with a newspaper Negro World, which served as UNIA's platform. The UNIA's motto was "One God, One Aim, One Destiny," thus it was steeped in a metaphysical approach about what would free Black people.

In 1919 Garvey founded a shipping company called "Black Star Line." This was created with the intent to obtain Black "economic independence." Garvey said, with regard to the Black Star line, "Our economic condition seems, to a great extent, to affect our general status... be not deceived wealth is strength, wealth is power, wealth is justice, is liberty, is real human rights."(p. 112) Spoken like a true capitalist.

It becomes apparent in this book that Garvey believed Black capitalism would liberate Black people from the hardships he had witnessed worldwide. He believed creating and then monopolizing on "Black industries," UNIA could supply Black people with furniture and other goods in South and Central America, as well as the West Indies and beyond. Garvey encouraged all Black people to invest in UNIA as a step toward liberating themselves from racism.

In 1922 Garvey was arrested for mail fraud in soliciting investors for the Black Star Line which had begun to lose business as ships were lost and investors became suspicious. Garvey was convicted and sent to prison for a couple of years. Upon release he was deported back to Jamaica where he attempted to rebuild UNIA. After poor results he moved back to England to start up a UNIA chapter and it was during this time that a rift was created between the New York chapter and Garvey himself, which helped to tarnish UNIA more. Garvey died in England on June 10, 1940 at age 53. Although he died in poverty his death would bring him a renewed notoriety in Jamaica and worldwide.

Throughout the book neither socialism nor communism was mentioned once! I found this odd as this was a time when Russia had just been liberated under Lenin's leadership, but then Garvey was not a socialist. Without socialism a people will continue to be oppressed even if governed by one's own people. The masses of people will simply be people oppressed by their own bourgeoisie. This is bourgeois nationalism, or as Huey Newton coined it, pork chop nationalism. Revolutionary nationalism which install socialism once a nation is liberated, thus ensuring the bourgeois and other capitalist roaders do not get the chance to derail the revolution.

Garvey did leave a lasting impression on the Black nation in Amerika. Malcolm X's father was a Garveyite so Malcolm obviously grew up in Garvey thought. On the end it can be said Garvey helped to develop more progressive thought than his own. This book is worth reading as a basic intro to Marcus Garvey's political work, but it is important to note it does not include Garvey's own writings. Those researching the historical development of New Afrikans will find some value in this book.

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Book Review: Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life

che guevara  a revolutionary life
Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life
by Jon Lee Anderson
Grove Press Books
1997

From de-classed aristocrat, to social vagabond, to communist revolutionary and legend, Che Guevara, A Revolutionary Life takes us from Che's early beginning as a sickly kid with a tremendous appetite for reading to his miserable last days in the Bolivian mountains trying to spark a revolution. As far as biographies of political figures go this one is truly exceptional as Jon Lee Anderson does an outstanding job of focusing this book not on Che the individual but on Che the devoted servant of the people. There are just so many aspects and stages of Che's life which this book covers that I already know I won't have enough space to cover it all. Therefore I will stick to covering not so much what we already know about Che but what hasn't yet been fully understood about him.

With that said, let us travel back in time to Argentina circa World War II, a country caught between Amerikan imperialism and a rising fascist influence. Ernesto "Che" Guevara was first turned on to politics as a young child through his friendships with several other children whose parents were Spanish migrants fleeing the Spanish Civil War. Che's family was also apparently very active in Argentina's petty bourgeois political circles. As a result of all these factors Che soon became semi-political himself, proudly joining the youth wing of Accion Argentina (Argentine Action), a pro-Allied solidarity group.(p. 23) However, he wouldn't really begin developing a critical view of the world until his teenage years when he was shaped further by the political turmoil in his own country as well as by his Spanish émigré friends who had a measurable influence in his life. Years later they would all belong to local anti-fascist youth cells formed by Argentine students organizing against the militant youth wing of the pro-Nazi Alianza Libertadora Nacionalista (National Liberation Alliance).(p. 33) Besides this political organizing the rest of Che's high school years were spent devouring every book he could get his hands on, including Karl Marx's Das Kapital. Che later revealed to his second wife years later that at the time of reading Das Kapital he couldn't understand a thing. Of course this would all change.

After graduating from high school he began to study philosophy, both inside and outside of college. He took engineering classes and enrolled in medical school. He also became fascinated with psychology. It was during this time that he began studying Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. Yet during this time and the year that followed he continued to avoid any serious political participation. Paradoxically, however friends and family remember that Che began to debate politics with different organizations as well as with his family who were all very political, as if he was beginning to put his reading to the test.(p. 50)

During one of these discussions Che made his first anti-imperialist condemnation of the United $tates, accusing them of having imperial designs in Korea.(p. 50) It was not until his trips up and down South and Central America that Che Guevara would start to become radicalized. And it wasn't books that did it, but "the injustice of the lives of the socially marginalized people he had befriended along his journeys."(p. 63) It was also during this time that Che's criticism and hatred for the United $tates began to grow, as now more than at any prior time in his life he was convinced that it was Amerikan imperialism that was the root cause of all of [email protected] America's problems.(p. 63)

Through subsequent trips up and down the Americas Che met various Marxist intellectuals he had a high opinion of because they were "revolutionary."(p. 118) In addition, he began to openly identify with a political cause, aligning himself and working within the leftist government of Arbenz in Guatemala. Also, very interesting to note that during this time Che began an ambitious project to write what would have been his first book titled The Role of the Doctor in Latin America(p. 135), a project he would unfortunately never finish due to his preoccupation with other revolutionary activities. A shame too as the ideas outlined for his book apparently dealt with the role of doctors during times of revolution, and one can't help but draw parallels with Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth written after, but around the same period of revolutionary upsurge in the Third World. Wretched not only deals with the anti-colonial struggle in Africa, but the role of the revolutionary psychiatrist.

As part of his preparation for this book, Che found it necessary "to take his knowledge of Marxism further, as he deepened his struggle of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the Peruvian Jose Carlos Marategui"(p. 136) founder of the Peruvian Communist Party which decades later would develop the Maoist Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). He also discovered Mao Zedong and read about the Chinese communist revolution, ascertaining that their road to socialism had been different than the Soviet Union's.(p. 136) Guevara's resolve as a revolutionary would only become steeled in the ensuing chaos that followed the CIA-backed coup against the Arbenz government. This is also when the CIA first took notice of Che starting "one of the thickest (files) in the CIA's global records."(p. 159)

After Guatemala, Che fled to Mexico where his political destiny would become sealed after meeting the leaders of the July 26th Movement after their failed focoist attack on a Cuban military base. The leaders were Fidel and Raul Castro. Soon thereafter, the trio, along with a band of other Cuban exiles, left Mexico and began their historic guerrilla war against the Batista dictatorship. Their point of unification was that "Batista was little more than a pimp, selling off their country to degenerate foreigners..."(p. 170) But physical training and marksmanship wasn't enough for Che in preparation to liberate Cuba. Confident that the revolution would succeed, Che intensified "his study of economics, he embarked on a cram course of books by Adam Smith, Keynes and other economists, boned up on Mao and Soviet texts..."(p. 189) Once in the Sierra Maestra Che kept up his studies as he wanted to have a firm grasp of political and economic theory.(p. 189)

After exhibiting exemplary fighting and leadership skills Fidel made Che his "chief of staff." After the guerrilla victory, and among many other accomplishments and activities, Che concentrated on consolidating the initial revolutionary power base — the new Cuban military. Like Mao, Che sought to "raise the cultural level of the army." In addition to basic literacy and education, the new military academy under Che was designed to impart political awareness to the troops.(p. 384) He even helped start Verde Olivio (Olive Green), a newspaper for the revolutionary armed forces.(p. 385)

Che was also made President of Cuba's National Bank. Indeed, Che Guevara was fully immersed in trying to build up Cuba's independent socialist economy. He recognized that in order to completely liberate itself from imperialist dependency, the Cuban economy would have to break free from the sugar industry which subsumed Cuba, turning it into a one-crop fiefdom. Cuba would also have to industrialize. Che was also for agrarian reform believing that the peasants who worked the land should have more control and reap more from it. Fidel had similar ideas on agrarian reform but not as far reaching as Che's. As a matter of fact, a thorn of contention between Che and Fidel was Che's strong belief that in order to succeed as a free and independent socialist state, Cuba would have to develop its own productive forces and should bow to no one, while Fidel preferred to play various imperialist powers off of one another in order to receive assistance in modernization and military equipment. And while Che would ultimately, though not always, come to echo Fidel's line on modernization, this seemed to be more because of Che's position as a head of state and diplomat.

To Che's credit however he was the principal architect in designing Cuba's economy and re-arranging the military prior to the Soviet Union's involvement on the island. Many just don't realize how much influence and power Che had in Cuba and that the creation of the many progressive institutions in Cuba can be directly attributed to Che's influence on Fidel and Raul. And while Fidel would name Raul as his political successor, it was Che that many noted as Fidel's true right-hand man despite his not even being a native Cuban.

One also gets the sense from reading this book that after the initial seizure of power, and as the political situation worsened for Cuba on an international level, Fidel trusted no one else in certain situations and so he ceded many matters of domestic and foreign policy to Che who had a better grasp of political economy, diplomacy and military affairs. This was the period in which the USSR, which had already taken the capitalist road, began to take notice of Che, not only because of his influence, but because of his strong peasant leanings and independent initiative, for which they would begin labeling him pejoratively as a "radical Maoist." Che denied being a Maoist, but actions speak louder than words.

According to this book Che made two major criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party. The first was in accusing China of playing hardball with their rice for sugar assistance, accusing China of trying to starve Cuba. The second criticism was in berating China for not doing more to aid the Vietnamese in their struggle against Amerikan imperialism. Besides these criticisms it was very well known that Che had a high degree of unity with China which he very much revered for having a "higher socialist morality" than the Soviets, who he would increasingly and with frequency severely criticize over the remainder of his life. Among other things Che criticized the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for their bourgeois lifestyles which he witnessed first hand. More importantly, he later publicly condemned the Soviet Union for what he deemed collusion against Cuba with the United $tates. Later Che would hold up China's socialist revolution "as an example that has revealed a new road for the Americas."(p. 490) Furthermore, after returning from one of his trips to China, Che was "invigorated" with a new sense and deepened understanding of socialism, replicating some of China's volunteer work brigades. He called these programs "emulacion comunista" (communist emulation).(p. 503)

Nearing his departure from Cuba for the last time Che began two more books which like Role of the Doctor he never finished: Philosophical Notes and Economic Notes. The latter being an extended critique of the Soviet Manual of Political Economy. On the eve of his final trek into the Bolivian mountains he sent an outline of the text to the budgetary finance system (BFS) for review indicating that he was ready to put his anti-Soviet line on political economy into practice (Guevara was the head of the BFS). According to the author, what Che had in mind was "a new manual on political economy better applied to modern times, for use by developing nations and revolutionary societies in the Third World."(p. 696) Furthermore, according to Anderson who interviewed former members of the BFS who read Che's critique, Che wrote in the manual that the USSR and the Eastern Bloc were doomed to return to capitalism if they didn't reform their economies."(p. 697) Apparently these documents were left to a comrade who never found the time to push for publication in the increasingly social imperialist dominated Cuba. Today they remain in Cuba locked away along with other of Che's documents, which Fidel deemed too sensitive to publish.(p. 697)

In the end and throughout his career it is very well known that Che was a focoist and was killed because of his ultra-left and idealized version of what a popular war looked like. Yet I was surprised to find out that Che's war strategy for [email protected] America was somewhat similar to Mao Zedong and Lin Bao's conception of global "Peoples War" for the Third World. As Che pointed out in Guerrilla Warfare: A Method, the liberation of the Americas from Amerikan hegemony could only come about through a virtual united front of guerrilla and other peasant forces that would use the Andean mountains which stretch from the top of South America to the bottom as a series of revolutionary base areas which they would use to attack the cities and urban zones of [email protected] American countries, slowly but surely wresting control of one country after another until all of [email protected] America was free. This is akin to the village-encircle-city strategy of Lin and Mao.

The story of Che Guevara and his iconic image has not yet been forgotten by revolutionaries today, as it continues to inspire us in our own struggles. It is truly a pity that Che succumbed to his focoist beliefs. His story should not only serve as an example as to the type of revolutionaries we should aspire to become, but should also serve as an example of what can happen if we pick up the gun too soon. Focoism has taken away too many good comrades, and in Che Guevara it took away a great comrade! Let it not take one more. So on this day the forty-seventh anniversary of the death of Che Guevara, (9 October 2014) and the day commemorating and honoring Che, "The Day of the Heroic Guerrilla" (8 October 2014) let us raise the red banner of revolution just as Che continuously raised it and died holding it. Let us raise the red banner for the proletariat, for our lumpen and for our nations! Let us be like Che! Seremos Como el Che!

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