Lumpen United Front: Its Basis and Development
The basis for unity among lumpen is class. The lumpen are the disenfranchised who derive from the economically depressed areas - the Barrios and ghetto projects - and are for the most part oppressed nations people. The lumpen are known to the oppressor nation as the 'criminal element' which is code word for persyn of color. The lumpen usually come from a lumpen organization that the oppressors call a 'gang,' or survive as some type of parasitic hustler. Although we do make choices, often times in imperialist society our choice to engage in crime is a logical one due to the national oppression we endure.
As communists it is our job to fully understand the laws of social development, and the lumpen are an essential part of these laws today, especially here in the imperialist stronghold. In Marx’s theory of ‘social relations of production’ lies the question of ownership, that is what ‘class’ owns the tools and what ‘class’ uses the tools. In this imperialist society the lumpen neither own nor use the tools. We are excluded from production and live under the heel of capitalist relations of production. The propertied class has monopolized the productive forces. The lumpen play a crucial role in Amerika in the creation of new productive forces that will come into contradiction with the decaying social relations of production. The current economic crisis is helping to streamline this process.
The lumpen is a class, regardless of what nationality one comes from; we all have similar relations to the tools of society and the distribution of society’s wealth. It is a group that experiences the same oppression and is fighting the same imperialist monster.
It is understood that as national oppression exists it is thus only natural for there to also be national liberation struggles to combat the unevenness in this society, and for revolutionary national struggles to work to bring safety to the people who live in a constant police state in areas of the oppressed nations. This is the correct stance in the face of any oppression. But we can't get caught playing the same dog-eat-dog game that the imperialists play on us and our fellow lumpen. We need an Aztlán Liberation Front that is in unity with the lumpen.
The lumpen in Amerika must begin to realize that we are a class and lumpen fighting lumpen does nothing to liberate any oppressed nation. On the contrary, lumpen-on-lumpen crime will only strengthen the imperialist vice grip on our necks! This is why unity amongst the lumpen is the first step to liberation of all oppressed nations in the United $tates. We don't have to agree on everything, but we must have unity and work together with the full realization that we are up against not just the same monster but one that happens to run the world militarily.
It is essential for the lumpen to come together in a united front in order for liberation to ever be a reality on these shores. Without the critical element of the united front, liberation struggles of any kind are simply idle talk and will not produce. The function of the united front for the oppressed nations and ULK should be 1) to practice peoples' power within the prison system and thoroughly politicize the U.$. prison system, and 2) to practice peoples' power within the Barrios and ghetto projects out in society and thoroughly politicize these oppressed nation areas. These functions should be done with the idea of preparing these grounds for future insurrection.
Lumpen Unite with the International Proletariat!
The basis for unity between the lumpen and the international proletariat is again class-based. The lumpen are connected to the international proletariat by their common oppression by the imperialists and their popular resistance to this oppression. What we must keep in mind is the imperialists think and act on a global scale so we must do the same. Just as many have used the saying "don't show up at a gun battle with a knife," we don't want to show up with a "not in my backyard" mentality when the imperialists show up with an international colonization mentality. We must think of the big picture and on a grand scale of things. Of course we must first work in a particular area, as MIM(Prisons) works primarily with the prison population, to start from one area and eventually expand to include larger or multiple fronts of struggle. All our efforts should be with the intention of chipping away at imperialism.
Regardless of one's oppressed nation, it really is the same struggle against the same opponent. Currently this is seen unabashed by the imperialists' mega-prison system housing millions of Brown, Black, Red and Yellow people. It is seen in people of color hunted down in urban communities by the police and shot dead as if there were safaris in the inner cities. It is seen in the unequal treatment that has been festering in Amerika for over 500 years, the lynching of the body and the lynching of the mind. Therefore, it is not just understandable or justified but damn right necessary for these oppressed peoples to struggle for national liberation. Until New Democracy is achieved, as Mao spoke of, and we finally achieve equality for all in all aspects, the oppressed nations should continue to struggle for self-determination.
As communists we should always maintain focus on our goal of international communism rather than degenerating to simply Brown capitalism or Black capitalism, etc. This is why our unity must be with the international proletariat in mind as this will be our moral compass. Some may say or think "If I can liberate my people in this or that country why would I care about countries in another part of the world?" Well, as I've said before, we are all up against the same monster that cannot be defeated by one group of people, and even if one could somehow liberate one group of people, the imperialists worldwide would smash this isolated nation. We saw it happen in Grenada.
When Marx and Engels put together the theory of communism, it was with internationalism in mind as they saw even back then that the bourgeoisie would not sit back and allow the people to begin liberating themselves. We must always work in unity with the international proletariat in order to rise from lumpen to true revolutionary. Only then will we liberate our people.
La Lucha Continua!
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade did a good job of stressing the importance of internationalism in the united front, and in particular pointing out that the international proletariat must be our moral compass. The question we need to ask though is to what degree the imperialist country lumpen's interests are united with the international proletariat, and therefore how they fit into the united front as a class. What this comrade wrote about the need to support everyone's national liberation is true for any oppressed nation in the world, but we face particular challenges due to our material conditions.
MIM(Prisons) sees the lumpen in the United $tates as a bourgeoisified lumpen, in that the whole country benefits from imperialism in the form of basic needs like food, clean water, electricity, etc. as well as in the form of cheap consumer goods. The latter allows the lumpen to own small amounts of capital, creating a spectrum of wealth where a minority in the lumpen organizations are at the level of national bourgeoisie due to their relations to production, distribution and ownership. Even for the relatively poor majority of the lumpen class, a combination of state welfare and the drug game have allowed for access to the material benefits of imperialism the proletariat do not have.
We are watching closely the efforts of the white nation to take away welfare and local drug markets from the lumpen, as well as jobs from the undocumented. Even if these trends are successful, we see compradors among the lumpen and a popular desire for and belief in the Amerikan dream. While the lumpen are a class forced into criminality, there is a class consciousness and culture that derives from this criminality that is individualistic and parasitic. As this comrade alludes to, there is a transformation that must occur to replace the lumpen mentality (in particular its capitalistic elements) with a proletarian one. No national liberation struggles can succeed in this country without tackling this great challenge.
In addition, a growing lumpen class due to imperialist crisis will also touch the white nation. As we wrote about in ULK 14, a declassed white population is the makings of fascist foot soldiers. History has shown this to be the case for oppressor nations. So we agree with the author's alternating use of lumpen and oppressed nations in most cases, but disagree when s/he says the lumpen have the same interests regardless of nationality. Only if the oppressor nation lets go of its white privilege would this be true. This is an even stronger reason why a thesis that the lumpen in general in the U.$. are a progressive force does not hold true.
Build a United Front for Peace in Prisons
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