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[Economics] [ULK Issue 42]

Amerikans Richer Than Ever

Banksy Rickshaw
art by Banksy
Over four years ago I wrote an article looking at the sudden decline in the U.$. housing market.(1) Many Amerikan nationalists were looking at the household wealth numbers at that time and lamenting the steep drop off from 2008 to 2010. I pointed out that 2007 was an all-time high for wealth owned by Amerikan households, and compared their vast wealth to the poverty of the majority of the world's people from various angles. Well, in late 2014 a new report on global wealth was released by Credit Suisse, and guess what? Overall household wealth in the United $tates is back to an all-time high. In fact, it hit an all-time high in 2012 and has continued to increase. Turns out the financial crisis wasn't a crisis for Amerikans after all.

Despite the rhetoric of the social fascists, conditions in the United $tates have remained quite luxurious following the 2008 economic crisis. How is this possible? For one there is a nice cushion of wealth to fall back on in hard times. According to the report by Credit Suisse, about a third of the world's household wealth belongs to Amerikans.(2) So if everyone's wealth was reduced proportionately during crisis, Amerikans would fair better than almost everyone else in the world. But that's only scratching the surface, as it turns out wealth did not go down proportionately.

In a comparison of wealth growth by regions since 2000, Credit Suisse show the data with current as well as constant exchange rates. This demonstrates the impact that exchange rates have on wealth by region. Exchange rates are connected to mechanisms of unequal exchange, where value is transferred in a hidden way in the process of international trade. Exchange rates are also manipulated intentionally by the finance capitalists and their institutions (such as the IMF). In both cases, this can result in great transfers of wealth to the countries that control the markets, which is most often led by the United $tates. What the two data show is that the depreciation of currency in the Third World against the U.$. dollar accounted for much of the decrease in wealth during 2008. In other words, currency exchange rates provided a cushion to the economic crisis centered in the United $tates by pushing much of that crisis to the Third World. Africa is the only region to have not recovered to its pre-2008 wealth levels, but it would have done so if not for currency depreciation. In other words, as bubbles popped in the U.$. financial markets, wealth was being slowly pumped back in from the Third World via changes in currency exchange rates and unequal exchange of goods.

This is why we call for international exchange rates based on a fixed basket of goods, to put an end to this form of wealth transfer under imperialism. This is also why the U.$. imperialists were worried about Saddam Hussein ceasing to use the U.$. dollar as the standard currency for oil sales in Iraq.

While a much smaller factor in all this, it is also worth noting that the internal semi-colonies took on more of the wealth loss (proportionally) than the white nation in the United $tates. From 2007 to 2013, the median New Afrikan and Raza household wealth both decreased by 42%, compared to white household wealth which was only down 26% over that period.(4)

How did we bounce back?

The Credit Suisse report notes that the strong growth in household wealth in the United $tates following the decline in 2008 did not accompany a similar increase in income rates. If Amerikan household wealth bounced back on its own then we'd expect to see people making more income from their increased work and productivity. But this was not the case. So did this wealth just fall from the sky? No, it turns out this Amerikan prosperity comes from the invisible transfer of wealth from the Third World to the First World that MIM's critics have been denying the existence of for decades.

Before the wealth-transfer-deniers stop reading in disgust, let me acknowledge a couple things. The increase in household wealth from 2013 to 2014 was mostly due to "market capitalization" as opposed to housing prices and exchange rates (three important factors affecting short-term shifts in wealth according to Credit Suisse). While a larger number of the U.$. population is active shareholders than most countries, this would still indicate that the increase largely favored the wealthier within the rich countries. Exchange rates affect everyone in a country, and rising housing prices help the home owners (over 64% of people in the United $tates) accumulate wealth without having to work. (Homeownership has dropped significantly since 2005 when it was almost 70%, disproportionately affecting oppressed nations who on average have much less wealth than white Amerikans.(5)) "Market capitalization" benefits those in finance capital (including most retirement investments that are quite common in the United $tates), and would lead us to infer that while wealth in the United $tates has exceeded pre-2008 levels, it is less equally distributed than it was then.

Another indication of this skew in wealth distribution is that the high ratio of wealth to income in the United $tates in recent years is approaching the level of the Great Depression. This, of course, is one of the inherent contradictions of capitalism that Marx described in great detail: wealth tends to accumulate in the hands of the few, but this creates problems for circulation of capital, which the whole system is dependent on. So Amerikans are not in the clear; rather we would expect actual serious economic hardship in the near future.

Looking internationally, Credit Suisse shows median household wealth to be about the same in 2014 as it was in 2008, with peaks in 2007 and 2010. Meanwhile the top 10% has increased its wealth since 2008 and the top 1% even moreso. So the distribution of wealth is getting more uneven. The only problem for the argument of our Amerikan nationalists is that the majority of Amerikans are in that top 10%.

Amerikans Are Rich

One of the basic rules of captitalism, taught to us by Karl Marx, is that capital tends to accumulate. As I discussed in "Building United Front, Surrounded by Enemies", others have also shown how wealth in general tends to accumulate even for wage earners. In other words, the richer you are the faster your wealth grows. So yes, the 1% in the United $tates is getting richer faster than the other 99%. But those 99% of Amerikans (on average) are still getting richer as the majority of the world does not. The current balance of wealth shows that the difference between nations is more meaningful than the difference within nations.

Let us indulge in some more numbers given to us from the Credit Suisse report, which looks at household wealth across the whole world. The net worth per adult has reached a new high of an average of 56,000 U.$. dollars (USD) worldwide. The median wealth per adult in the United $tates and Germany are just below this level at US 54,000 and USD 53,000. The median is, of course, a much better indicator of the typical than the average (which was USD 348,000 in the United $tates). While your typical Amerikan or German has the amount of wealth one would expect if distribution were equal globally, your typical African or South Asian has wealth that is around 2% of that. (USD 679 in Africa, and USD 1,006 in India)

The number of people in this lower group is highlighted by the estimate that having USD 3,650 of wealth puts one in the top 50% of wealth holders worldwide. Again, if we distributed the wealth equally today, that point would be USD 56,000. But there are so many people with wealth below USD 3,650 that that is the level for the typical persyn (or median) in the entire world.

For Europe and North America combined, the best estimate given for the imperialist countries, 64% of adults are in the top 10% by wealth. It should be noted that the richest 10% of adults own 87% of global wealth. In contrast, 70% of the world's people own less than 3% of the world's wealth, averaging less than USD 10,000 per adult.

In the past we've cited numbers based on income that give similar results, and actually put all employed Amerikans in the top 13% richest by income, with the vast majority being in the top 10%. Wealth will always be more concentrated than income, because people can have incomes without ever accumulating wealth. Incomes are generally necessary in capitalist society, while wealth is not. In contrast to people who have nothing to lose but their chains (because they own no wealth), the majority of white Amerikans have wealth that is much greater than their annual income, which is quite high to begin with.

U.$. Internal Semi-Colonies

Of course, there are a number of nations within the United $tates, and New Afrikan and Raza median wealth is far below their median income, which is already less than white Amerikans. Recent numbers from Pew Research Center give median household wealth of white Amerikans at $141,900 in 2013. New Afrikan households, meanwhile, come in at $11,000, with the gap between Raza househoulds has been more consistent, as Raza median household wealth was $13,700 for 2013. One factor for the widening gaps is that white households are much more likely to own stocks (and remember that market capitalization was high from 2013 to 2014). Another factor is that oppressed nation home ownership decreased 6.5%, compared to white ownership, which only fell 2% between 2010 and 2013.(4) Wealth per adult for New Afrikans and Raza in the United $tates was not readily available for a direct comparison to the international figures in the Credit Suisse report. But it is clear that the median wealth per adult would be well above the global median of USD 3,650. In other words, the typical New Afrikan or Raza in the United $tates has more wealth than over 50% of the world's population. And if you look at income, they're doing even better.

Imperialists Power and Wealth

China's increase in millionaires, massive growth in middle income populations, and resilience against currency depreciation depicted by Credit Suisse all point to its emergence as a center of finance capital. Yet, over 90% of the millionaires in the world today are in the traditional imperialist countries, with the United $tates leading the way with 41%. While Japan used to compete in this category, in 2014 the U$A stands far above the rest with more than 4 times the number of millionaires in Japan. Of those with wealth greater than USD 50 million, 49% are U.$. citizens, with China as the very distant second in this category. Later this report predicts China will overtake Japan as second wealthiest economy by 2019.

On balance, global wealth increases. Wealth is a product of labor, and so as more people are born and work, and a certain portion of the value they create is accumulated (as machines, buildings, infrastructure, etc) rather than consumed (as food, clothes, electronics, etc) the total wealth of the world grows. War and other disasters can destroy accumulated wealth. The Credit Suisse report goes back to 2000, and shows total wealth more than doubling since then. An increasing rate of wealth accumulation would be expected as the forces of production advance with a growing population. Potentially more people working and doing so more efficiently would create greater wealth. However, our analysis predicts that the expansion of production under capitalism has already peaked some time ago. Credit Suisse subtracts out the effect of population growth and still comes up with a 77% increase in wealth over that period. Why so much?

Marx described different economic systems as being defined by a contradiction between the forces of production and the relations of production. When a new organization of labor is first introduced it would increase the forces of production (it brings new ways of doing things so that more work can be done with the same number of resources as before). Eventually, under any class system, the relations of production begin to drag down this progress. As class contradictions increase, so does the contradiction between relations of production and forces of production. So, while capitalism brought a great boom in production a hundred years ago, the limits of expansion are being met and contradictions, such as the ones that triggered the crisis of 2008, are limiting its progressive elements. What all the discussion around 2008 brought to light was the elaborate schemes that had evolved within finance capital markets in recent decades to create and circulate wealth. When they "create" wealth it is usually by expanding credit. So this is not real wealth creation, as when people transform their labor into wealth by constructing a building. As wealth in the form of credit expands faster than wealth in the form of real goods, you get problems where the credit can't be paid off. The "bubbles" that are blamed for such crisis are also behind the steep increase in overall wealth since 2000 shown in this report.

In summary, global wealth dropped a lot in 2007 and has bounced back bigger than ever a few years later. Marx predicted higher highs and lower lows in the economy as contradictions heightened. Therefore we expect volatility to increase as finance capital dominates the economy more and more, and for there to be bigger drops in wealth that impact the imperialist countries more because there is not enough cushion next time.

Amerikans get more stuff

In my previous article on U.$. wealth I made sure to discuss the consumption rates of Amerikans as well, to show that this isn't just academic number crunching and to combat those who argue that it's just a higher cost of living here that explains our higher incomes. Actually Amerikans get to consume a lot more stuff than other people, to the detriment of the health of our planet. One more recent example of this was the response to lower gasoline prices for Amerikans thanks to a market working in their favor. In November 2014, four out of the top five selling vehicles were gas guzzling trucks or SUVs. Demand for two of these gas guzzlers was up 9.6% in November, compared to an overall increase of 1.3% in car sales.(6) As the capitalists produce the most inefficient vehicles they can get away with to keep consumption rates up, Amerikans jump right on board as soon as they get a little relief at the gas pump. Who cares about global warming when you can afford to blast your air conditioner all day long anyway? While Amerikans enjoy lifestyles far beyond what most people can dream of, their bourgeois individualism reaks havoc on the balance of ecological systems that all life depends on. This is another major contradiction threatening the stability of the current socio-economic system.

The economic system is tied to social factors like war and the impacts of ecological destruction. All of these factors interact with each other, putting imperialism in an ever more precarious situation. It is the task of the proletariat and their allies to understand these dynamics and harness the social forces at play to address these contradictions by putting an end to the chaotic system of imperialism and building a new socialist world system in the interests of all.

[Organizing] [United Front] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 43]

Carry on the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity

I'm responding to the article "Summing Up September 9 Protests" from ULK 41. I became aware of United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) Day of Peace and Solidarity from my August issue of ULK. I fasted on September 9, but it was done in a custom as Ramadan. This year I will fast according to UFPP custom. Solidarity means working or struggling in a union, and I want to start with those who choose to participate. In solitary confinement here at this prison it is difficult to get the prisoners to partake in the fast because of their political immaturity. Many of them are gang members and they are in the hole for fighting amongst themselves. I try to talk with them about taking life more serious, but peer pressure is what forces many to stay in a state of illusion.

You asked what needs to be done about the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity to broaden its impact. We must continue to promote that day and try to let prisoners see it as a day of unity that represents all prisoners in this racist country. They need to view it as a so-called holiday for prisoners throughout this country. Try to promote to them that this is their day in solidarity with the brothers or comrades at Attica, who lost their lives for better conditions in prisons. Being in captivity since the mid-seventies, I learned that this new generation of prisoners doesn't appreciate the sacrifices those made decades ago. I was labeled as a ring leader and spent over 3.5 years in the hole for being one of the peace makers during the Camp Hill spontaneous uprising.

I understand that not everyone can fast for health reasons, and most individuals can't afford to risk losing their prison jobs because that's the only income they receive. Therefore, you must come up with an alternative so that everyone can still support the cause of September 9 in their own way, because you don’t want anyone to feel as though they can't be part of the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity because of not fasting or needing to work. Hopefully we can have a larger participation this year. I'm looking forward to it and I will definitely spread the word.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is responding to the article we published summing up the September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity 2014, which saw a decrease in reported participation. We asked for input on how we should proceed with that action. We agree with promoting this as a day of solidarity with the comrades in the Attica struggle, and we encourage everyone to participate in building peace, by networking, putting a moratorium on fighting, and educating others on the necessity of peace. This is something that can be done regardless of whether you take up the fasting and work strike, by reaching out to educate others about the Attica struggle and our work today and why we need to build peace between individuals and groups throughout the prisons. If we can have this one day with no conflict between prisoners, that would be a great victory in demonstrating what is possible, and we can use that to build lasting peace. A critical part of this is education: our activists need to be well-educated themselves on the history of this struggle, so that leading up to, and on, September 9 they can in turn educate others. To this end we've put together a study pack for everyone building the United Front for Peace in Prisons, which includes historical information about Attica as well as organizing materials for September 9. Write to us for a copy. Let's make 2015 the most productive Day of Peace and Solidarity yet!


A Plague in the Community

There is a plague in my community - self hate we call it
A dis-ease of media color programming
Jimmy killed Bobby for walking on Mr. Brown's street
Bobby's brother killed Jimmy for killing Bobby
Mr. Brown's K-9s killed 160,000 in California alone
and the numbers are still rising!
Sistah Susie didn't like here hair
So she bought some chemicals and dog fur
To make her hair look like Mr. Brown's daughter's hair
Sistah Susie didn't like her eye color
So she bought some plastic eyes from Mr. Brown's wife's store
To make her eyes appear the color of Mrs. Brown's eyes
Sistah Susie didn't like her skin color,
breasts, stomach, lips, nails, nose, ass, language, culture, attitude
So she bought & changed
bought & changed
bought & changed, until...
Sistah Susie didn't like me no mo
She said: You talk with double negatives - ebonics
What she talkin bout!! I ain't got no negatives - ebonics - whatever!
Damn plague! I ain't hardly got a Sistah no mo
Doctor say them chemicals were "kau-ze-genic" or sumthin
The col-e-jins breasts leaked he say
Damn plague!!

[Middle East] [Organizing] [Perry Correctional Institution] [South Carolina] [ULK Issue 42]

Organizing South Carolina Prisoners in Solidarity with Palestine

While reading what a California prisoner said in ULK 41, I was disappointed to see that the Muslim prisoners failed to meet their obligation in supporting the solidarity movement in support of the oppressed people of Palestine. Therefore, I decided to put together a petition here in hopes that we could at least show our support by signing a piece of paper.

Although I initially drafted the petition for the Muslim community here, there were a couple of non-Muslim brothers who signed it as well. And just as the California brother was met with some opposition, I too encountered quite a few "brothers" who were either afraid to sign or just didn't care about the plight and fight of the Palestinian people.

However, I collected thirty signatures and I do believe that I could have gotten more, but I really don't have access to the yard as some other prisoners do. There are a few of us here that are true and tested soldiers and we are trying to bring forth some political and social awareness, though most of us are learning as we go.

The petition reads:

A Statement of Unity and Solidarity with the Palestinian People, from Muslim Prisoners in South Carolina (Note: Non-Muslims signed as well)

As prisoners of good conscience we reject the genocide and slaughter which has hystorically been imposed on the people of Palestine and which is currently being played out by the Jewish state ever since the creation of I$rael in 1948. And while the Amerikan imperialists and their general citizenry and population have found us guilty of crimes against civil society, we prisoners likewise find them guilty of crimes against humynity for their collusion with the state of I$rael to exterminate the Palestinian nation.

Within these walls we are as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen, but we are not yet powerless to sign a piece of paper to denounce the state of I$rael and their support in the United $tates. Therefore with this declaration we angrily express our indignation with the state of Israel for committing genocide, and the Israeli people for allowing it to happen in the 21st century after vowing "never again."

MIM(Prisons) adds: We had previously reported on the relative success of a campaign to support Palestine led by United Struggle from Within following the latest flurry of attacks by I$rael. Due to timing and mail issues only a small number of USW leaders were notified of the campaign at first. It is good to see that the campaign continues to gain support across the U.$. prison population. This is internationalism in action, recognizing the interconnectedness between all oppressed nations under imperialism.

This comrade wrote that they are "as yet powerless to tap into the potential of the imprisoned lumpen." Yet it is actions just like the Palestine petition which help open the door to develop the potential of our imprisoned comrades. Even having access to a small number of people, as in this author's case, we can start the very first steps toward building a bigger movement against oppression and imperialism. Discussing an international act of imperialist aggression with others, and asking them to take a small step toward making a statement against it, is valuable for laying the foundation for bigger things to come.

[United Front] [Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility] [Mississippi] [ULK Issue 42]

Fight in Mississippi Leads to United Front Peace and Unity

I, an honorable member of the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation, send you all my undying love, strength and sacrifice. On 14 December 2014, the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility (CCRCF) Pod 2 erupted in an all-out war between the "Folks nation" and the "Peoples nation." Many of us were asleep when it started, including myself. Being who I am and my obligation to my people, I did what I had to do. The fight resulted in 2 of us going to the emergency room. I received 8 stitches and 4 staples in 2 different places on my head.

A few days prior to this incident a few of us were discussing topics I was reading to them from ULK 41. Many of us were housed together years ago in three of the most violent prisons in Mississippi (Mississippi State Prison Unit 32, East Mississippi Correctional Facility and Wilkinson County Correctional Facility), all on security threat group status and high risk. It was the ACLU, prison activists, and the knowledge, wisdom and encouragement from MIM(Prisons) that helped close Unit 32 down and move me to a minimum security prison, like CCRCF. It also took good behavior as well.

After the fight was over and I was being transferred back to the prison from the hospital, the Lieutenant and Chief were asking me what pod I felt more secure in. I told them I wanted to go back where I was. They said I was crazy and didn't want to put me back where I had been housed. They asked me why I wanted to go back, I said it's where I live, we can handle ourselves. This is an issue between the Folks and Peoples, not the pigs.

What came to mind was the "Don't Loot, Organize!" article by 1st Crown of Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO) that was in ULK 41. This is just what we did; we allowed ourselves to work out our problems and did what was necessary to keep the pigs out of our biz. They're more interested in who's got what and who's doing what. The day after the fight, the goon squad did a major shakedown, looking for anything we weren't supposed to have. Of course, the Warden made the news that day and said it was a riot that started from one individual being a bully and was run off the zone. We all know that the American Correctional Association just passed through this facility and he didn't want to look bad, so he lied.

I agree with the point BORO made: change won't happen overnight. It will take time and we will make mistakes. As long as we can come together with understanding that we're all facing the same struggles, we must resolve our issues peacefully if possible.

It's been over one week since this fight and I'm honored to say that all of us have peace and unity. No one talks about that day negatively. Our talks are of how we can work together in overcoming any obstacles we may face as we struggle to remain free from oppression. We stand in solidarity and unity. I pray that all of you in other prisons around the world can build a united front and that you all have peace behind bars. King love yesterday, today, tomorrow and always.

MIM(Prisons) adds: This an impressive example of what the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) wrote in their founding statement, "we are already 'united' — in our suffering and our daily repression." This quick turn around of hostilities into unity reflects the consciousness among those imprisoned at CCRCF.

There is no doubt that the presence of well-organized lumpen organizations (LOs) contributed to conditions to make this step toward unity a real possibility. This example is why we uphold the progressive aspects that are found in the majority of LOs. Comrades within LOs who want to develop the United Front for Peace in Prisons should work with us to develop the progressive aspects of their organizations into practical protocols for building the united front.

[Prison Labor] [Recidivism] [California]

Extortion in California Prisons

In California we have 55% of any incoming money taken away, then another 45% taken out under the cloak of obligatory fees. So if your family sends $20 you get $8, minus another 45% and you are left with $5 and some change. This is ridiculous and should be challenged just like the amount of money a prisoner is paid an hour: 10-30 cents. Really if we were on the street we'd get minimum wage. A business owner would be in court if found out to be paying their employees 30 cents an hour.

The citizens have been led to believe prisoners don't need money because the state pays for everything. To these people I say eat our meals for 4 days and tell me if you don't want more to eat. Here's an example: if your lips chap and skin drys and you go to the doctor for an ointment they tell you that you have to buy that at canteen. Well if you don't have any money to go to canteen you're shit out of luck. If you're lactose intolerant there's no diet for that. They say just don't eat what you can't eat. Well you do that and you're shorting yourself of mandatory calories you're supposed to receive each day. Same with allergies to fish, peanut butter, etc. The state doesn't provide deodorant and lotion and hair grease or shampoo. So what's one to do?

The restitution is supposed to be for the victim. Do they get a check every time the prison deducts money from money sent in? Hell no! People wake up, we need to fight this money hungry place called prison which is making a killing off our sweat and prisoner's family sweat.

MIM(Prisons) responds: As we've written before, prisons across the country are paying prisoners pennies (or nothing at all). This is not just a way to keep prisoners totally dependent on their captors while locked up, but also makes it harder for released prisoners to get on their feet. No one leaves prison with money in their pockets. And we know that finding a job and housing as an ex-con is far from easy. But the prison system is counting on this as the revolving doors of incarceration help keep the prisons full and the criminal injustice system employees earning good wages.

We don't agree that the prison is "making a killing" off the labor of prisoners and the family money. In reality prisons are a money-losing operation subsidized by the state. The only people benefiting financially are the employees with fat paychecks and the few private enterprises that get to hire prisoners to do work that other Amerikans don't want or won't do so cheaply. Prisons themselves don't make a profit, but lots of individuals and other corporations are benefiting greatly from this huge subsidized humyn warehousing for social control.

[Police Brutality] [United Front]

Fight for Unity Against Police Brutality

From the barrio to the pen all need to listen, the recent no verdict of a killer should be on the minds of us all. Open season has long announced its call and we see clearly what the lives of one of us really mean to this system. The protests, the anger, the sadness, direct it, engage in construction, use this unity to work to really analyze our situation.

Mike Brown's blood, Trayvon Martin, Andy Lopez and hundreds more call from the grave. The killing fields have expanded, if we don't die at gun point by police who protect white workers and sellouts alike, then they lock us away. It's a war on the oppressed nations yet we kill ourselves everyday.

This police murder shouldn't go away in the minds of us all, we have done what's asked, we've voted, gone to courts, protested, petitioned, and we've still got the same cycle, the same verdicts and the same answers. It's our turn to give them a response, but short-lived reactions do nothing. Ferguson is burning, and rightfully so, but you're only burning those you know. The ideology should be burned. Remember this is so much more than a case of Black and white, it's a case of cops killing people, cops who are supposed to enforce the laws, protect and serve, yet have from the start used their power to promote a system of oppression and white supremacy.

It's the 21st century and kops are now the judge and jury, that no longer use cuffs but bullets, and then scream how they were "just doing their service." If we want this hell to change silent vigils and non-violence will just put a bandaid on a knife wound. We are not ready to fight an enemy as large as the police. But we can unite and bring back people's power to promote peace.

My heart goes to those who fight and protest. Let's remember these feelings we have when injustice strikes and maybe we can lose the blue and red hate and instead band together and smash the state. In revolution, and science, education and love, peace, from solitary in solidarity.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer is right on about channeling our feelings of anger and frustration into something productive. For too many years people have used the failed systems of the imperialists: voting, petitions, and the law. And yet these systems never achieve more than tiny changes to an overwhelmingly unjust system. We can still use legal battles strategically when we have a chance of winning something useful, but this must always be in the context of building a broader movement of unity among the oppressed to take on the system of imperialism. It's not just a few rogue cops who are the problem, it's not just a few bad laws, and it's not just a few corrupt politicians. It is the entire system that is based on profit for a few at the expense of the vast majority of the world's people. This is nothing new, and it will continue until we stop it.

[Rhymes/Poetry] [ULK Issue 43]

Simple Minded

Orange Walls Abolish the CIJ

The simple minds try to tell me that we are not at war
Had to cover up my mouth with a wet rag cause the chemicals seeped thru the cell door
I know there was a reason behind why it was sprayed
I'm trying to fight for my rights so we won't get played
But these robots have no brains nor conscience
So they waited for the captain to okay
Cause its fuck me which fucks us cause they got to get payed
Been sprayed too many times that I've lost count
Plenty nights I've layed with burns all over my body
Orange stains all over these walls, sinks and sheets
Hunger strikes just so we can get something decent to eat

Pushing my mattress towards the door and their battling ram came rattling thru
For what?!?
I ain't even gon' lie, been fighting so long at times I forget why
Losing family cause they don't understand all I got left is my sanity
But they simple minded cause they think I'm fighting cause of my vanity
Immune to their chemicals and their tactics ain't up to date
Sprayed so many times I don't even need nothing to cover up my face
Sprayed too many times that the orange colors have become a part of my DNA
Prayed a lot of times but god seemed to look the other way
Muthafuckas screaming telling me the team on their way!!!
Six geared up men against one plus their paint ball gun
But before they enter they throw a bomb in the cell
I'm looking in these soldiers' eyes and they looking in a warrior's eyes
And all of us are nervous as hell

Click is the sound of the door
They rush in with shield in hand trying to take me to the floor
Once they get me down they sneak their shots in
But I shouldn't have it any other way
Cause their cowardly blows keep me fighting for another day

[United Front] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 42]

Step Up and Start Learning for Attica Commemoration

In response to the article in Under Lock & Key 41, "Summing Up September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity", I'd like to propose that this solidarity should be recognized 9-13 September annually, not just 9 September. The Attica uprising was initiated on 9 September 1971 and was quelled on 13 September 1971.

Those who aren't knowledgable of what caused the Attica uprising from 9-13 September 1971 should start learning. Our self-discipline to learn is the first step to standing outside these imperialistic boxes. Their box is abnormal and inhuman to the poor of all nationalities. Those in control units/SHU can contribute by conducting study classes on their gates (i.e. bars). Learn why the Attica uprising occurred and what made the courageous comrades make the sacrifices they've made without hesitation.

Comrades, to embrace solidarity, we are obligated to hold hands. Solidarity initiates within the individual. Solidarity cannot be reached globally when it's not achieved at least partially within self. This is a lifelong commitment. Although we may not be around to see the change — so what! We have a new generation that's looking up to us. They're the next generation of revolutionaries. We are to set the tone for them and this is done by revolutionizing our own thought pattern of selfishness. Selfishness and unity will never get along; they're lifelong adversaries.

So to win we want to join hands genuinely and let our adversary know we're unified in solidarity because we have learned what we're fighting for. We know what we're seeking, what sacrifices will be made, and the cause of our fight. We know why sacrifices have to be made.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is writing about the article we published in ULK summing up the United Front for Peace in Prisons (UFPP) annual September 9 commemoration of the Attica uprising. The organizers call on activists to take this day to promote the UFPP by building unity with fellow captives, and to demonstrate resistance to the criminal injustice system by fasting, refraining from work, ceasing all prisoner-on-prisoner hostilities, and engaging only in solidarity actions. This past year the demonstration involved fewer actions than in the past and we are asking all United Front activists to consider what we should do differently in 2015. This comrade's call for education is well timed as this is something we need to be spreading now, well before September, if we want to build a movement of supporters and activists. Write in for the UFPP organizaing pack.

[Gang Validation] [ULK Issue 42]

Big Picture Behind Fighting Unjust Gang Validations

I'm responding to the articles by comrade Soso of MIM(Prisons) and the brother in Pensylvania in Under Lock & Key 41. This Security Threat Group (STG) label imposed on religious groups is a clear violation of established Constitutional law (i.e. freedom to speak and embrace religion as one chooses). Yet the First Amendment is being infringed upon daily under the guise that its members are gang bangers or gang-affiliated.

We gotta wake up because it's not about "security," "threats" or "groups." These imperialistic individuals are experimenting with tactics they can employ in an easy, yet draconian, way to violate the Constitution. Since when has embracing a religious organization become akin to joining a security threat group!? Do these asinine imbeciles know the purpose of religion is not only to serve their god, but to further organize themselves for righteousness!? It's networking with others. So where's the breach of security? Where's the threat? Where's the behavior of an unorganized belligerent group? We don't need binoculars to see what's going on. The picture is clear comrades. These imperialists are infringing upon a Constitutional right under the euphemism of "gang activity."

Look at the brother in Florida who wrote in ULK 41 "Fighting STG Label for Notes on Political History." Due to possessing notes on political history which the brother had taken on material he's been reading in his pursuit of learning and expanding his brain outside the box, he was inappropriately labeled STG.

Is the picture becoming clear?

Since when did the Constitution determine what political affiliations one can embrace and/or learn? Never! Or determine if one can possess notes on political history? Never! Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense knew the constitution and not only taught it to the poor, but also employed it in launching their move to arm themselves and the people with weapons (Second Amendment) while policing the police to prevent police brutality on the poor in oppressed communities.

Always remember, comrades, to succeed in any war, it's our duty to not only know who we're fighting, but we're obligated to have an aim. The only way we can ever become victorious in war is to know what we're fighting for, as our fight cannot be in vain.

MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises some important points about our battle against unjust gang validations that apply to all our work fighting oppression. We need to understand the bigger picture of who we are fighting and why the system of oppression exists if we hope to do anything more than make small changes. It is the system of imperialism that puts a few people with power and wealth in charge, and this system requires various structures to keep it in place. Globally this is why the imperialists are constantly engaging in wars and military actions. And in the United $tates this is the reason we have such a vast criminal injustice system: to control the oppressed nations and any who speak out against imperialism.

Gang validations are just one part of this broad system of oppression. Prisons actually help the oppressed to gain consciousness and organize to the extent that being locked up puts people in a position to clearly see the system as their enemy, and in general population prisoners can work together, educate one another, and organize. Validation justifies isolation which makes it much harder for activist prisoners to spread information and organize others. By criminalizing lumpen organizing, they try to legitimize their repression, even to the prisoners themselves.

We must study history and our current conditions while we fight these battles against validation and long-term isolation. Through study we will see that the gang validations are directly connected to the repression of the power movements of the 1960s, the red scare attacking communists, and the countless invasions and inteference in other countries, involving horrible massacres and torture. Today the oppressors have it harder because they cannot put you in isolation just because you're Black or Brown. So the system had to evolve and now we have gang validation being used to justify extra punishment and torture across the United $tates.

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