Life is about growth and change. A constant change is needed, or even the small pleasures that we enjoy begin to lose their excitement. Even though I don’t agree with a lot of changes, well the ones that aren’t progressive or geared to help us go forward, I still understand that their presence is needed. You see, revolution as a necessity only begins to make sense to those who have the keen insight into atrocities that make revolution a necessity. The problem we encounter is communicating this to the overwhelming majority, and those people are willing and even oftentimes unwilling participants in the progression of the things that make revolution truly a necessity.
The problem is also in how revolution is perceived. Most people equate civil disorder, small riotous acts such as killing police, kidnapping government officials etc. as the revolution itself and this is not the case. Revolution is all about complete change of society as a whole – a violent overthrow of a class dictatorship by another. In some ways, many small revolutions take place each day, but they are not what we need to move forward in good shape. Revolutionary change, to mean anything, must start with the individuals changing themselves. Without that sort of progressive conduct we cannot begin to show others the benefits of our ideals.
Another problem is that the revolution has been hijacked by non-progressive puppets who act under the guise of a revolutionary progressive apparatus. This is much like what deteriorated the power of our progressive leaders of the yesteryears. The new left of the 1960s mislead the Black Panther Party. They encouraged the Panthers to miscalculate revolutionary steps and also by convincing the Panthers that they alone were the vanguard party placed too heavy a burden on its members causing them to make mistakes and also going against the central tenant of communism – from each according to ability and to each according to its needs. Another issue was that their support was only monetary and as Malcolm advised us before
“money brings advice. Since it’s their money that will eventually carry our movement, it’s their advice we will be listening to. Eventually a Black group will end up having a white brain controlling it.”
So the Panthers became the puppet group of the new left, while those who truly waged the battle sat back and got a lot of beautiful brothers and sisters killed and in the end they withdrew their support. A similar thing is occurring now, only this time, since revolution has taken on a new character tone, message, and the leaders appear more dressed up and cute rather than the rugged edge that was characteristic of the yesteryears’ soldiers, the picture has become even more foggy and harder to slice through the deception of Oligarchs.
Another problem is that we don’t own the media outlets, newspaper firms, or even the schools that teach us the absurd and outrageous lies that pacify the brain and hinder revolution. Affirmative action helped us to send more and more blacks to college and to create HBCUs (historically black colleges/universities). But the more educated we become the more dangerous we become, and so even more efforts to conceal the truth have been created.
Basically what I’m leading up to is the fact that as revolutionaries – whether cultural, economic or spiritualist – there is so much work to do. If we let those whose political economic interests do not match ours at the bottom of the rung continue to tell us how best to revolt or change the world then we will continue to lose. What they are really doing is letting the powers that be know how we are coming that way all efforts to forestall our movement will happen before we get to make our moves. The people who have advised us before sometimes become our enemies as well. Why do you think Elijah Muhammad was so adamant about “his” ministers not saying anything about JFK? It was because those same people he called the devil is who financed his program. So he allowed Malcolm to say what he said with no warning (even though he advised all other ministers), that way Malcolm’s fall from grace was ensured.
Even this newspaper Under Lock & Key doesn’t escape scrutiny. There is no published material that is anti-government that escapes censorship. So how big is your commitment to change? Because a lot of what is published as it relates to issues pertaining to Blacks and “our place” in revolution, or how we are “supposed” to move forward seems like the same advice by the new left to the Panthers. Am I making an indictment? No, however, being as aware as I am and considering how aware you are supposed to be, I must wonder if your commitment is sincere. Especially since we are in the belly of the beast and could suffer the same fate as our fallen comrade George Jackson under the same pretextual designs by each state to prevent the disciplined practice of revolution.
As a show of your commitment, since I’m questioning it, I would like this to be printed, not to offend you but to ask brothers and sisters to question their own sincerity as well. If our commitment is not cemented by the events that we must actually change, then we are letting people co-opt our direction and that cannot happen unless they can prove with facts that their direction is more beneficial and helpful. But if that were the case wouldn’t we be a lot more further on that issue and all issues in general?
Galaxy Ruler Universal Sole Controller Allah
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade about the central role played by funding sources in the path (and splitting) of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). And it is fair to say we have not offered a concrete solution to this. The Panthers raised funds from the masses by selling their newspaper and doing other fundraisers, as do we. The Panthers also got funds and resources from local businesses as they asserted political power in areas like Oakland. It was largely the legal repression of the state that pushed the Panthers to start branching out into their fundraising efforts among wealthy Amerikan celebrities and such.
In practice the BPP was the vanguard of its day, with other oppressed nation formations trying to follow suit and white student/youth groups offering support. The BPP correctly encouraged similar formations and leadership to develop for other nations in the United $tates. Yet there did develop a line that the Black revolution here on occupied Turtle Island is the vanguard of the revolution globally, a line some promote to this day. While the oppressed of the world understandably put great hope in this internal force for revolution in the belly of the beast, we understand today that revolution comes from the periphery and works its way to the core. A successful revolution from within the United $tates is conceivable, but not before many successful revolutions elsewhere bring the socialist camp to a point of strength in the world again. The BPP itself reached its peak in part due to international alliances that cooled as struggle against the United $tates cooled internationally.
We also agree with this comrade that it is healthy to question the sincerity of MIM(Prisons) and whoever you choose to work with. Not to the point of paralysis, that it prevents you from working with others. But the only way we will succeed in offering effective leadership is if we receive thoughtful critique from an educated populace. That is why we are always attempting to teach how to think along with what to think. The bigger problem we have today is that there is no revolutionary leadership recruiting mass followings. People aren’t being misdirected by the funding of revolutionary organizations, they’re being misdirected by the funding of non-profits and social media platforms. At its peak, the BPP had an operating budget over $9 million in 2023 dollars(1), but even that would be nothing for the imperialists to double. Not to mention the measly MIM(Prisons) budget. Therefore, the need to address the risk described by this comrade is real and important in the longer term.
Are we sincere? committed? Hell yeah! But intentions are only a starting point. The only real measure is effectiveness. And effectiveness is no easy measure either. In our underdeveloped conditions it’d be easy to say that nothing is effective, which is why we must study other times and places to learn what effectiveness looks like and how to achieve it. The BPP of 1968 was looking pretty effective, but they did ultimately fail. “How much of that was avoidable?” and “how could it have been avoided?” are the key questions for us to attempt to answer. These are questions this comrade’s letter brings to the fore.
In another letter this comrade says we must ensure people are not committed merely to advance their own careers. We agree, and we do have an answer to that, which is anonymity. We intentionally discourage the promotion of cults of persynality, we even try to prevent people from publicly taking credit for the things they’ve done as individuals. We are one body, that takes credit for what we do as a body, and we struggle to prevent splits and offshoots.
Notes: 1. Joshua Bloom and Waldo Martin, 2013, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party, University of California Press: Berkeley, p. 392. and https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1970?amount=1200000 2. get our study pack “Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party 50th Anniversary Edition” for $6 stamps or cash or work trade for more analysis of the BPP
This year marks the 51-year anniversary for the fallen comrade, BGF founder/leader, Black Panther General/Field Marshall and Dragon of Ho Chi Minh. This year also marks the 52 year anniversary of his alter ego, the man-child, snatched away too soon, Jonathon Jackson, whose brave revolutionary effort at only the age of 17 to free his older brother George Jackson from a legal lynching, can only be viewed with awe. Their stories of determination inspire the question of why the revolution has been snared, and to seek a newer and more improved method for the revolution that we new soldiers, guerrillas, and political scientists plan to usher into the near future.
This month of August (Black August) is dedicated to the fallen soldiers who bravely gave their lives to improve the quality of living of not only the Afrikan Amerikans who belong to the original man, but also to educate ourselves about the correct ways of living that the history of antiquity has provided us with. It is a time to internalize those lessons in a way that would help us to bridge the racial gaps and get us to do away with our class masters and black, brown, red (a variation of brown), yellow and white could live in a world that is free from the trifles that have destroyed humanity.
George Jackson was a very strong, intelligent, courageous, and dedicated brother whom the history books should teach us more about. For many, George’s career as a shining revolutionary leader ended about as quickly as it began. However, those exist outside of the mainstream corporativism politics know well that George lived and existed as a legend long before the Soledad Brother case that would make him famous.
George Jackson entered the California penitentiary system in 1960 with an indeterminate sentence of one year to life, for the conviction of a service station robbery that resulted in the theft of $70.00. Though the evidence was in his favor, his court appointed attorney convinced Jackson that if he would only plead guilty to a lesser offense that he would receive some light county time. However, through a change of hands, his deal that was promised would result of his conviction and an indeterminate sentence that then in California would prove often times volatile because it was up to a parole board if you ever went home. A system that was heavily racist and extremely dangerous, proved to be fertile grounds of an indeterminate sentence of one to life, becoming life or in George’s case the death penalty.
The author of 2 classic pieces of Black literature that could be used as a treatise of sorts, George laid out the harsh realities of California’s prison system. The atmosphere was so openly racist that whites were even working hand in hand to kill Black and Mexican prisoners, even though ironically enough, just like in Texas some Mexicans would make alliances with racist organizations and join in killing Blacks. Through these activities George felt the need to organize what he called “the chief of staff” and that chief of staff that organized to combat the killing of Black prisoners would later on become what is now known as the Black Guerrilla Family, a revolutionary group that George attempted to align to the revolutionary movements not only in Amerika, but also in Cuba and other Third World nations. In a nutshell George agreed with International Communist Solidarity.
An avid reader, George transformed himself from an adolescent, rebellious street gangster, to a revolutionary leader and prison activist whose knowledge about history, economics, and politics, would make college professors marvel at his intellect. But this is also part of the larger reason why he was never paroled. You see, the sentence that George had, at the most allowed for a convict to do 2 years and then be paroled, but it was this political insight at a time were Black male expression was denied. Not only Black male expression, but at a time when George found communism, Amerika was trying its best to crush this red scare. So his knowledge of capitalist Amerika was that great that prison officials went to the extremes of trying to kill him. Their line to whites was “kill Jackson it will do you some good.” However as gifted as he was mentally and intellectually, he was also gifted as a self-trained guerrilla assassin. George practiced a very special bastardized style of martial arts and kung-fu called iron palm and he worked out 6 to 7 hours a day doing 1000 finger tips a day.
Typing laboriously on a prison typewriter, Jackson wrote position papers that dealt with prison life, economics, and the corrosion of Amerika’s corporate capitalist culture and circulated these papers throughout prison walls. For his activities, he was first rewarded with segregation, often times with a welded lock. Once that proved to not be enough, he was set up to be killed. But since he was a fierce warrior, oftentimes even fighting for other prisoners who were the victim of racial assaults, he would fight single-handedly 5 or 6 prisoners and come out on top. At this point the white prisoners and officers hated but feared him.
George was loved and respected by the Black prisoner population and became their teacher and leader. Even the most racist whites respected George because to them he was a man who was totally straight. All while others would murder mouth and sell wolf tickets, George was as good as his word. If he made a statement of some kind, it would always be followed by action. George formed a political education class and through that he gave his comrades the revolutionary platform that would transform their Black criminality into a Black revolutionary mentality. He also taught martial arts at a time where martial arts was outlawed in prison.
His commitment was so great that during a prison protest that led to some white inmates trying to actually lynch a Black demonstrator under the order of racist cops, when George saw all of these white guys about to push this brother off of a 30 ft. tier, he began punching, kicking, and knocking those guys off the tier. However, for this, he, not the white inmates, was locked up. It was only later on that prison officials would admit that he stood up for a brother about to be hung.
In 1969, the California parole board who had been stringing George along for years, but who had no intentions of ever releasing him, told him that he was going to be transferred from San Quentin to Soledad and that if he maintained clean conduct for 6 months he would be granted parole. Soledad was a racist penitentiary that stoked the flames between prisoners, and that ignited racial animosity to build to murder. George, as a “class based” revolutionary always strove to get the convict class to see that they could easily overcome their oppressors if they would only unite, because by playing at racism the law would essentially win since it would only be 2 maniac groups at war.
On 13 January 1970 after months of lockdown due to racial killings, a new rec yard was opened. A system where Blacks, whites, and Mexicans are to remain segregated from each other, a so-called “mistake” took place and 7 Blacks and 8 white were led to the rec yard where predictably a fight broke out. The officer’s job is to give a warning shot. However, officer O.G. Miller with a military background, southern upbringing, and racist attitude shot and killed 3 Black prisoners in cold blood. One of the dead was George’s close friend and mentor W.L. Nolen. Three days after these killings the Monterey County Courthouse, over prison radios, announced that these killings were justifiable homicide. In less that 30 minutes later anger would turn into redemption as 25-year-old officer Mills was beaten to death and thrown over a 30 ft. tier with a note in his pocket that said “one down 2 to go.”
In February, George Jackson, John Clutchette, and Fleeta Drumgo would be formally charged for the officers death even though they had no evidence outside of their prison files that labeled them as Black revolutionaries. According to prison officials, George was blamed because he was the only person who could have done it. Hardly enough in the area of evidence, it finally gave the state the legal pretext to do what they had been trying to do quasi-legally for years. If George was convicted it meant death since he already had life.
When George received visits from his family they would bring his younger brother Jonathan and the two of them would get off to one side of the visiting room where George would do his job as an educator and at the age of 16 Jonathon had a remarkable insight into guerrilla warfare, communism, and uniterian conduct locally and globally. His love for his brother made him grow-up. He saw that they never intended to let his brother go. At a time when most teens are thinking about self-gratification, Jonathon could only think of George. He said “people tell me that I’m too involved with the movement and my brother’s case, but I have one question to ask people who think like this, ‘What would you do if it was your brother?’”.
George and Angela Davis became somewhat of a power couple and George appointed Jonathan to be her bodyguard. After being fired from UCLA as a professor, just because she identified with communism, George feared that some right-wing nut might feel like a hero by killing her. It was around this time that the state asserts that Angela Davis provided the weapons that Jonathan Jackson would use on 7 August 1970 when he took a bag full of guns to a courthouse in Marin County and passed the out to 3 prisoners on trial. Calm and cold he stated “alright gentlemen I’m taking over now” and “you can take our pictures, we are the revolutionaries.” At the young age of 17 Jonathan had sense enough that the only way he could affirm justice was through a bold act that would take his life.
A year and 2 weeks later on 21 August 1971 prison authorities would concoct the most outrageous story ever invented to justify the assassination of one of our most gifted leaders, George Jackson. The state “asserts” that after a visit with his attorney Stephen Bingham that George had a metallic item in his hair that proved to be a gun that he used to gain control of the Adjustment Center after he said these chilling words “The dragon has come.” The absurdity is that when they reenacted this in a court, they affirmed that George’s cell was 50 yards away from the visiting room at San Quentin, a highly sophisticated, technological prison. And when they reenacted how it would’ve taken place they said “the gun wobbled dangerously”, meaning that it couldn’t have happened that way. At best if George did end up with a weapon he must have wrestled it away from his assassins.
But the kicker is “they say” George had explosives that he intended to blow a 20 ft wall away and escape. “They say” that George ran towards a wall and was shot in his ankle that was immediately shattered, yet somehow he managed to get up and run again and a second shot was fired that entered his back and exited his head. However, what “they say” again proved to be a lie as autopsy proved that the shots that were fired couldn’t have come from a high position as they assert, but rather from the ground.
Now why such an outrageous story for this situation? I mean to me, even though I feel very sorry for Georgia Bea Jackson as she lost 2 sons within a year, I still can’t help but admit that if he went out as the state asserts, it even more adds to his legend. Killing 5 people in the span of 30 seconds (which is impossible) before being killed is remarkable. But upon investigation, if George would’ve went to trial and beat his case, he very well may have been released from prison. So instead of us believing in government created conspiracies, we need to question the facts. In love and revolution, may George and Jonathon both rest within the essence, while they continue to live through people like me and countless others.
[CORRECTION: This article was published stating that Yogi was Puerto Rican, when ey was actually of Nicaraguan descent.]
Peace Comrades. Recieved the latest issue of the newspaper & passed it off to one of my comrades who just recently got into some trouble. So if possible, I would like to receive that issue & the one before it. Thanks with much love in revolution.
I’m writing this as an article that I’m hoping will get published for the Black August Memorial in hopes that my earnest effort could perhaps clarify things a bit further in terms of matter of perspective & also to educate brothers/sisters on the legendary history of fallen comrade George Jackson.
I read an article that began somewhat vacariously about the fallen comrade & his connection to Hugo Pinnell who was also BGF & how because of George’s wide encompassing views on race & its place in standing to building political/military cadre’s, that this somehow means that we need to abandon the rhetoric that is connected with groups who are primarily concerned with fixing the “Black issue”.
I strongly disagree with the content of that article & not because my views are just so diametrically different, but because I too have wide encompassing views concerning race. However, I’m not under the impression that we need to abandon our quest in building the support that is needed to eliminate the black problem altogether. My first reason for this is largely because I see that Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing. But its also because of the fact that before we can ever hope to build in the concept of global Asiatic unity & eventually begin to merge our support with Europeans, we must first unify among ourselves & use that unity to destroy the Black problem & then we can go on to build with others & help others in their quest for the same sort of thing.
You see, revolution is tied to long range politics. This is so because revolution is so complex due to the fact that everything – places, people, religion, economics, and sociology – will be impacted in a major way. It’s not as simple as a government takeover & let’s be real, if you cannot make revolution into a transmitter that spreads through all cultural variations, then a government takeover here & abroad will never be possible.
George was a people’s revolutionary & by people’s revolutionary I mean people in terms of all humanity. However, even he had to develop into that sort of personhood. Let’s not forget either that George Jackson was a huge history major & for those who really know about George, they attest to the fact that he loved being Black & even wanted to be Blacker. That is not proof that he ever abandoned his concern for his people’s plight nor did he have a lack of pride what comes from a lack of knowledge. Through his studies on Afrikan history as evidence through both of his books, I know he saw the connection between the Original man globally. That means that he saw the black, brown, yellow, red (a variation of brown) as Asiatics & all being the same people, & the fact that we suffered at the hands of the same forces & people was largely his reason to connect with these people.
The Black Guerrilla Family was initially started to combat racism within the confines of an openly oppressive prison system designed against Blacks. Yeah, sure, George did overcome the counterproductive effects of racism that would have surely stunted his growth as a communist revolutionary. But when did the Black Guerrilla Family ever become a family that forgot about the Black issue?
I think for a lot of people who became politically aware, they became like Utopian anarchists in a way. I say this because a lot don’t see the fact that whatever issue they faced like slavery here and abroad is what fueled their passion to become revolutionaries in the first place. I get that we cannot stay blinded by that issue alone, but how do you walk on a broken leg? You have to heal that leg first. It’s like Malcolm said “You can’t stab a man with a 12-inch knife and pull it out 3 inches and ask him why he’s still complaining.” One issue doesn’t trump the next one, however until we get free completely its righteous for brothers to complain and use that concern to solve their problems.
Also as revolutionaries, it’s supposed to be our aim to help others to eliminate their problems, not to beat them over the head for doing so.
I also disagree with the fact that August 21 and the Attica uprising were not events solely about George. Even if you believe the bullshit “story” that the state concocted to assassinate George, this still means that the events that took place and led up to the assassination were about George and this means that the San Quentin 6 coming together was for George. Perhaps it was solidarity across “national” lines but, if Hugo Pinell was Puerto Rican, then how wasn’t he Black? Now I agree that the revolt of Attica was already brewing, however George’s assassination was the match that struck an already heavily gasolined situation.
If anything, no one needs to forget the Black issue, but I mean this in a global sense, not an Amerikan sense, because the original man is everywhere and everywhere he has come into some form of struggle. Read the history books, don’t just get immersed into revolutionary theory. How can you say that you agree with George or any other revolutionary leader if you don’t understand their philosophies which are the result of history and the masterworks of theorists who came before them? I don’t think those who are excited about Juneteenth are wrong at all. But it’s an Amerikan tragedy & that’s what Juneteenth should be about.
For Black August, we shouldn’t be bickering over Black this, Puerto Rican that, we should be trying to show how we all the same people and use that to connect with each other. Globally the Black man is 11 to 1 there’s no reason to argue over why brothers should deviate from Black revolution. If you don’t understand that either you didn’t go through the process of going from A to Z or you understand revolution only as its all inclusive, which is good, but there’s a process to inclusion.
So if you really champion George, then try to understand the core of his philosophy, not by separating Blacks from other Asiatics, but seeing them collectively as one globally.
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade writes, “Blacks are the only group who is told to forget about the monumental issue that we faced & are still facing.” We hear this a lot from people of different nationalities, that they are told to, or that their own people fight for the liberation of others but not themselves. So I would say this is a misperception that probably stems from the overall lack of revolutionary nationalism among all nations entrapped by the United $tates at this time and a result of oppressor nation chauvinism telling the oppressed to essentially “stop complaining.”
We wholeheartedly agree with this comrade on the need to unify within oppressed nations in order to build strong alliances between the oppressed and especially with forces in the oppressor nation (who are most likely to lead us astray). USW has a slogan, “Unity from the Inside Out”, and this is one of the many meanings of that slogan. Like this comrade states, we find the work of prisoners (and oppressed nations in general) finding unity and inclusion amongst each other to be of great important work. We also find it important for two oppressed groups to 100% understand/accept each other’s qualitative differences while building unity as blind unity is bound to fall apart. Malcolm X used the term “Black Revolution” as happening in Asia, Africa, and Latin America; so from that angle we see the positive and internationalist application of this model of thinking.
As we explain in another response on single nation organizing, the main reason we think this is true is because imperialism is the dialectical contradiction between oppressor and oppressed nations. To resolve that contradiction, and to end oppression of all forms in the world today, means prioritizing the struggles of the oppressed nations to overcome the oppressor nations and end imperialism.
As to the term “Asiatic”, we don’t subscribe to the ideas of a differentiation between original or aboriginal people and white people being a demonic derivation of that. And i’ve never seen any indication that George Jackson did either. We would use the term Third World oppressed nations, as the Black Panthers did. It is the contradiction between nations, which is an historical phenomenon, not a biological difference.
We received some criticism for our response to a discussion of George Jackson printed in ULK 65. In this article we described how some of Jackson's writings are anti-wimmin and anti-gay. While we stand by that line, we take a lesson from our critics. Printing this in isolation, without commenting on all the positive contributions Jackson made to the revolutionary movement, was a mistake. George Jackson overall played an important positive role as a revolutionary. While we need to analyze our historical revolutionary movements and leaders and learn from their mistakes, we should not dismiss great leaders who made mistakes or had some political line wrong. George Jackson's mistakes did not outweigh eir positive contributions.
July 2018 — We remember for all time in the future the terrible and untimely political assassinations of Comrade George and Jonathon Jackson. Black August and bloody September are fast approaching and while many people will of course mourn due to these fatalities committed by the state, we shouldn't be saddened by these most terrible atrocities. We should rejoice and see repression as a logical response by the capitalist masters to stop our thrust upward.
The history of Amerika's reign of terror begins with its start as a settler's colony that exterminated the otherwise "savage and backward" Indians, and raped Africa for her peoples to build and industrialize this young nation. The trends toward monopoly capital actually began during the civil war, during the only time where the masters of capital felt the greatest threats to its power. Amerikan history has always been a story of masters and slaves, dominators and dominated, capitalists and workers, and haves and have-nots. But the centralization of state power actually began during the age of the Industrial Revolution.
The earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story. At the close of World War II when the purple mushroom clouds over Japan were aired for the world to see, fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika. In fact the trends towards monopoly capital might have begun right here in Amerika.
The Black Panther Party formed as a response to state terror. The savage repression which can be estimated by a brief reading of the nation's dailies has not failed to register on the minds of most lower disenfranchised, especially when you couple the fact that we are worth no more than the amount of capital that we can raise. Whether they know it or not we are victims of both social and economic injustice and our economic status has reduced our minds to a state of complete oblivion.
The older vanguard parties were committed to reformism and its counter-productive nature. The Black Panther Party, American Indian Movement, Black Liberation Army however were committed and prepared to take the fight to whatever level needed to be taken in order to make sure that the demands of the people were met. As a response, J. Edgar Hoover and his secret branch (COINTELPRO) devised a plan to stop a "Black Messiah" from rising out of the ghetto that could lead the people to revolution. On 4 December 1969 Gloves Davis, a black officer in Chicago, killed Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. Of course the COINTELPRO was very effective in infiltration tactics, because Fred Hampton's bodyguard was later to be revealed as a "class defector and stool pigeon" for the forces of repression.
We shouldn't be sad that George is gone. We should be sad that no one has ushered in to take up his works, even though so many champion him and also since there are guerillas all over who shout "George," but have yet to follow in his footsteps. Our overall situation doesn't stand out as glaringly as it did during the 1960s and 70s. However we should not be tricked into thinking that the struggle is no more. The hip-shooting pigs still gun us and call it justifiable homicide due to the trends in the crime culture we have embraced. The crime culture only mimics the European experience. In order for us to seize the time we should think in terms of true freedom. The freedom that comrade George fought and died for. Long live the real Dragon.
MIM(Prisons) associate responds:
The author mentions that "[t]he earlier vanguard parties betrayed the interest of the people by sticking to reformism, even though reformism in Amerika is an old story." However, not all the early vanguard parties were reformist. In general, vanguard parties are not reformist in nature, although they might work on reformist campaigns (wimmin's rights, prisoners' rights, etc.). Vanguard parties, by definition, aim to be the force that lead the revolution. So why did the vanguard parties fail?
One obvious reason is that the United $tates has not entered a revolutionary situation. Due to a variety of factors, and despite the presence of vanguard parties in different places and at different times, there has not been a substantial proletarian movement for freedom. In Lenin's terms, the workers during the Industrial Revolution in the United $tates only reached basic Trade Union Consciousness, not Proletarian Consciousness. Their goal was for better working conditions, not a new system.
This goes hand-in-hand with the second reason. As J. Sakai argues in Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat, there has never been a substantial proletariat in the United $tates. Despite the presence of oppressed national minorities, lumpen proletariat, and a few revolutionaries, the revolutionaries have never reached a critical mass. This is especially true today, as almost all real labor has been pushed to the Third World and Euro-Amerikkkans are living off of the superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.
The author also mentions that "fascism did indeed emerge and consolidate itself in its most advance form in Amerika." MIM(Prisons) believes that the United $tates is not currently a fascist country (nor has it been in the past). Amerikkka is obviously imperialist and this imperialist core was inscribed into the Amerikkkan project from the very beginning, however we do not equate imperialism with fascism. Fascism is a form of imperialism, but we don't think it's the current state of the world. And we see the most fascist expression of imperialism in Third World countries where imperialists are imposing their will.
Fascism is a form of imperialism, and so this means fascism is a form of capitalism. Fascism is the final attempt for the bourgeoisie to remain the dominant aspect in the contradiction between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. As the proletarian forces become stronger, the imperialists go to even more extreme measures to protect their beloved economic system. To say we're in a fascist scenario now, or we're moving toward fascism, is to overstate the strength of the proletarian forces in the present day. Fascism is enhanced imperialism, so it's natural that we would see some elements of our current imperialist society appearing more like fascism than others, even if we haven't moved into fascism as an overall system.
As I first stumbled out of the haze of unconsciousness and began to see the true structure of society and the world, as I began to understand what drove and supported the political socio-economic forces, it was inevitable that I would be influenced by the Black Panther Party. As with many urban youth who lived rough, experiencing ghetto life with its grinding poverty and internecine violence, with the police sweeps and sanctioned violence, along with the general spirit of hopelessness that pervaded the community, the appeal of the party was at first superficial. I was drawn to the audacity in the stories of those so very young women and men who were facing off with the state's protector — the police. Although I didn't understand, I was only seeing the surface of what the party was about.
I was aware of some of the survival programs that the party had organized and their provocative slogans. As I read more to get an understanding of the party's actual ideology, my reading expanded and my own ideas took shape. I became aware of the class struggles in addition to the racial struggles — I had assumed that the condition of minority groups in this country was primarily race-based. Now I became aware of the guiding hand of economics in the affairs and destiny of peoples and nations, in conjunction with the politics of race.
Through the books and speeches of the BPP, I became familiar with Marx, Lenin, Fanon, Sartre, Che and so many others through whose analysis and actions revealed a different way of considering human events and condition. They also revealed to me the value of setting examples to motivate and raise consciousness. At first I made what I've now come to see as an error in my attempts to bring myself to socialist thought, at the expense of free thought. But I realized that dialectical materialism does not bring everyone to the same conclusions, certainly not always at the same time.
Our cultural perspectives are not illegitimate, nor should they be denied in order to fit into any ideological category. A people's history will inform their view and approach to the issues that have bearing on them, on their condition. Their specific needs may require addressing in ways that are unique to those people, and may not be suitable for other peoples' circumstances. If people deny that then they are denying themselves the flexibility and effectiveness to meet their needs, solve their problems and advance a common good. This is one of the reasons for the importance of the BPP.
The articulation of the struggle could be — when it needed to be — sophisticated, with a higher level of vocabulary and Marxist-Leninst terminology. Then — when it needed to be — the articulation of the party could be iconoclastic, and even vulgar with the turn of a phrase more easily understood by the lumpen-proletariat, the streetcorner man. Huey Newton and George Jackson spoke to us in both ways. They knew when to because they were as we are. Same history. Same soul. There was no need to pretend in order to manipulate the people. The straightforward speech and fearless actions is what got my attention. Then Huey proceeded to expand my imagination with his own as he described intercommunalism. George served as an example, not only of what a person could survive, but also of how hope and purpose could be restored to a life that had been designated as a throwaway.
The Party existed in a different era than ours. Some things are better, some are worse. Yet what remains exactly the same is the need for people to be conscious of the forces that affect their lives and threaten to dictate their fate, along with the urgent need to seize those forces and address those needs.
The most effective organizers and motivators of people of the underclass are those who can speak the language of the underclass on the one hand, taking the frustrating and complex, making it plain. While on the other hand demonstrating what someone like themselves are capable of with the depths of their understanding and the heights of their courage — remaining unbroken where others have broken under less pressure.
In the present, criticism is leveled at those women and men who risked all of themselves, sacrificed so much — even their own lives. Their errors and excesses have been highlighted in history. Although we can recognize the accuracy of some of that criticism, it would be a grave error on our part to allow those things to prevent us from accepting the lessons in their analysis of the origins, significance and relevance of class and racial struggle, nor should we fail to acknowledge the dedication and examples of courage that were demonstrated by people so young.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade provides us with some important perspective on how we analyze the history of revolutionary activists. Some people are critical of revolutionaries, comparing them to some ideal that has never been achieved, as if these people were gods and should have been perfect. But doing this means we will only criticize everyone and learn nothing from history. Instead we need to measure people, and organizations, by their real world actions in comparison to other real world actions. No persyn or group is perfect. But we look at the impact of their work, and also how well they learned from their mistakes.
The Black Panther Party was the most advanced and effective revolutionary organization in U.$. history. The BPP correctly identified the contradiction of national oppression as principal within U.$. borders, and saw the need for a revolutionary party to organize the New Afrikan nation. They were way ahead of others in the 1960s with their analysis of the importance of Maoism, and their practice of building a strong disciplined organization. There is a lot to learn from the history of the BPP.
This doesn't mean we withhold all criticism of the BPP. But as this comrade notes: our criticisms, which with hindsight are always much easier to see than in the moment, should not stop us from learning from the BPP and upholding their organization for its revolutionary leadership. For more on this topic read Defend the Legacy of the Black Panther Party, available from MIM(Prisons) for $6 or work trade.
I recall entering United States Penitentiary (USP) Leavenworth in 1993 as a very ignorant, reactionary member of a street tribe in need of guidance. I was approached by an individual seen by others in many lights; original gangsta! Comrade George's comrade! Revolutionary! Major underworld figure! All of the above and some. All I know is, the brotha James "Doc" Holiday freely gave of himself to educate all of us tribal adherents.
Making it mandatory that we both exercise daily (machine) and read progressive literature, because consciousness grows in stages. As such, he brought many a tribal cat towards a more revolutionary-oriented ideal. Some accepted New Afrikan revolutionary nationalism. Others gained structure, within their respective tribes (Kiwe/Damu national identities). Whichever choices we made, the overall revolutionary objectives were being met, in that the seeds of liberating consciousness had been sown. We learned of: Che, Fidel, W.L. Nolen, Marx, Lenin, Mao, Huey P., Bobby, Fred, Bunchy, Comrade George, Assata, etc. So many more unnamed heroes/sheroes of the movement for change and liberation.
Was "Daktari" perfect? No! He had flaws and vices like most hue-mans raised in capitalist United $tates — this putrid system which conditions us to value money over character. However, it is my contention that, to overlook the strengths and contributions this elder made to both Cali state and Federal systems' revolutionary cultures is to aid our common oppressors in suppressing the memories of all whose stories could serve as inspirational tools.
Utilizing materialist dialectics to analyze our forerunners' strengths and weaknesses as they relate to contributions to struggle is a positive. Constructively critiquing their actions and/or strategem which negatively impacted our progression towards building revolutionary culture is also a positive. Personally, I do not view giving honors to our fallen as "cult of personality." As a New Afrikan by DNA, I know firsthand how important it is for "us" to have concrete examples to emulate. Sad reality is, U.$.-born New Afrikans have been conditioned via historical miscarriages to see themselves as inferior to others. As such, before giving them/us Marx and the like, they should be taught examples of U.$. folk of color. Identification with/to New Afrikan cultural identity is key to building viable revolutionary culture, prior to more global revolutionary cadre education.
With that, I recently embraced Islam. The need of a morality code was imperative for me (individually) in order for me to continue to be an asset to the overall struggle. Regardless of my personal religious belief, I shall remain committed to giving of myself — blood, sweat, tears, my life if need be — to advance the struggle for freedom, justice, and equality. This loyalty and devotion to the cause, come hell, or forever in isolation, is a direct result of the seeds planted in USP Leavenworth all those years ago by James "Doc" Holiday. I honor him accordingly as an educator, elder, father figure, and comrade.
Recently my family attempted to locate Doc via FBOP locator and as his name was not found, thus I assume he has passed on. I shall miss his wit and grit. Revolutionary in peace!
MIM(Prisons) responds: The greatest tribute we can pay to Doc, and all of the people who helped raise us to a higher level, is to carry on eir legacy through our actions. We don't mean to just "be about" the struggle, or to shout them out in remembrance. "Each one teach one" is a good place to start, and we can even look more deeply at what it was about our comrades' actions that made them such great organizers. In analyzing their actions, we can build on that in our own organizing.
We encourage our readers to take a closer look at what it was that turned you on to revolutionary organizing and politics. It surely wasn't just one action from one persyn, and it surely wasn't just an internal realization. Who was it that helped develop you, and how did they do it?
Especially for ULK 63, we want to look deeper at organizing tactics and approaches within the pages of this newsletter. One thing we can look at is our memories of what other people did to organize us. Think about the people who helped develop your revolutionary consciousness, and write in to ULK your observations.
What was their attitude? What methods did they use? How did they react when someone was half-in the game? How did they behave toward people who were totally in denial? Where did they draw the line between friends and enemies? What are some memories you have of when the spark was lit for you, that told you you needed to struggle to end oppression, rather than just get what you could for yourself? Send your stories in to the address on page 1 so ULK readers can incorporate your experiences into their own organizing tactics.
For this issue of Under Lock & Key we took on the task of investigating the impacts of drugs and the drug trade on the prison movement. We ran a survey in the Jan/Feb 2017 and March/April 2017 issues of Under Lock & Key. We received 62 completed surveys from our readers in U.$. prisons. We have incorporated the more interesting results in a series of articles in this issue. This article looks at the central question of the role of the drug trade inside and outside prisons and how to effectively organize among the lumpen in that context. In other articles we look more closely at the recent plague of K2 in U.$. prisons, and the latest rise in opioid addiction and what socialism and capitalism have to offer us as solutions.
Bourgeois society blames the individual
Bourgeois society takes an individualistic view of the world. When it comes to drugs, the focus is on the individual: we talk about how they failed and succumbed to drugs because of their weakness or mistakes as an individual. While individuals must ultimately take responsibility for their actions, it is only by understanding society at a group level, using dialectical materialism to study the political economy of our world, that we can address problems on a scale that will make a real impact. Even at the individual level, it’s more effective to help people make connections to the root causes of their problems (not supposed persynality flaws) and empower them to fight those causes if we want lasting change.
Much of our criminal injustice system is built on punishment and shaming of those who have been convicted. A proletarian approach to justice uses self-criticism to take accountability for one’s actions, while studying political economy to understand why that path was even an option in the first place, and an attractive one at that.
In the essay “Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide”, Cetewayo, a Black Panther leader, provides a good example of overcoming the conditions one is born into. Ey was addicted to heroin from age 13 to 18, before joining the Black Panther Party. Eir example stresses the importance of providing alternative outlets for oppressed nation youth. In some cases the mere existence of that alternative can change lives.
Drugs and the Principal Contradiction in Prison
MIM(Prisons) and leaders in the Countrywide Council of United Struggle from Within (Double C) have had many conversations about what the principal contradiction is within the prison population. MIM(Prisons) has put forth that the parasitic/individualistic versus self-sufficient/collective material interests of the lumpen class is the principal contradiction within the prison movement in the United $tates today. The drug problem in prisons relates directly to this contradiction. Those pursuing drugs and/or dealing are focused on their persynal interests, at the expense of others. The drug trade is inherently parasitic as it requires an addicted population to be profitable, and users are escaping the world for an individual high, rather than working to make the world better for themselves and others.
A Double C comrade from Arkansas explains this contradiction:
"Things have been slow motion here due to lockdown. Reason being too much violence across the prison. Some of this violence is due to the underground economy. Being submerged in a culture of consumerism which is not only an obstacle to our emancipation (mentally and physically) this self-destructive method of oppression is a big problem consuming the population. I’ve been in prisons where the market is not packed or heavily packed with drugz. It is in those yards that unity and productive lines are greatly practiced. The minute drugz become the leading item of consumption, shit breaks down, individualism sets in and all of the fucked up tendencies follow suit.
"I say 75% of the population in this yard is a consumer. About 5% have no self control, it’s usually this percentage that ends up a ‘debt’ victim (since you owe $ you owe a clean up). Aggressor or not, consumerism is a plague that victimizes everyone one way or another. This consumerism only aids the pigz, rats, infiltrators, and oppressors in continuing with a banking concept of ‘education/rehabilitation’ and therefore domesticating the population.
“I mean the consequences and outcomes are not hidden, it is a constant display of what it is when you can’t pay the IRS, so it is not as if people don’t know. I’ve seen people slow down or stopped some old habits after experiencing/witnessing these beheadings. Shit, I just hit the yard because pigz were all inside the block searching and homeboy’s puddles of blood were still on the yard.”
Drugs and Violence
It is no secret that drugs and violence often go hand-in-hand. As the above comrade alludes to, this is often related to debts. But one of the things we learned from our recent survey of ULK readers is that in most prisons there is an inherent threat of violence towards people who might take up effective organizing against drugs.
A California comrade wrote,
“No one in prison is going to put their safety and security on the line over drugs. You have to understand that life has little value in prison. If you do anything to jeopardize an individual’s ability to earn a living, it will cost you your life.”
Another California comrade was more explicit,
“If you say anything about the drugs, cell phones, extortions, etc., whether if you’re in the general population, or now, worse yet in 2017, SNY/Level IV, the correctional officers inform the key gang members that you’re running your mouth. You either get hit immediately, or at the next prison. Although my safety is now at stake, by prisoners, it’s being orchestrated by corrections higher-ups concocting the story.”
This was in response to our survey question “Have you seen effective efforts by prisoners to organize against drug use and its effects? If so, please describe them.” Not only were the responses largely adamant “no”s, the vast majority said it would be dangerous to do so. This was despite the fact that we did not ask whether it would be dangerous to do so. Therefore, we assume that more than 73% might say so if asked.
Some readers questioned what to do about staff involvement bringing drugs into the prisons. One writer from Pennsylvania said:
“It’s hardly ever dry in Fayette and this institution is a big problem why. A lot of the staff bring it in. Then when someone goes in debt or does something they wouldn’t normally do, they don’t want to help you, if you ask for help. There’s no unity anymore. Nobody fights or stands up for nothing. Everybody rather fight each other than the pigs. It would take a lot to make a change in the drug situation. Is it wrong to put the pigs out there for what they’re doing? Would I be considered a snitch? I know there would be retaliation on me, maybe even a ass whoopin. I’m curious on your input on this.”
If we look at the involvement of staff in bringing drugs into prisons, and the violence associated with the drug trade, we have to call bullshit when these very same institutions censor Under Lock & Key on the claim that it might incite violence. The system is complicit, and many staff actively participate, in the plague of drugs that is destroying the minds and bodies of the oppressed nation men and wimmin, while promoting individualistic money-seeking behavior that leads to brutal violence between the oppressed themselves.
Organizing in Prisons
While the reports responding to that question were mostly negative, and the situation seems dire, we do want to report on the positive things we heard. We heard about successful efforts by New Afrikans getting out of the SHU in California, some Muslim communities and the Nation of Gods and Earths. Some have been at this for over a decade. All of these programs seemed to be of limited scope, but it is good to know there are organizations providing an alternative.
In Arkansas, a comrade reports,
“For the mass majority of drug users and prisoners I have not seen any positive efforts to stop drug use and its effects. But for my affiliation, the ALKN, we have put the product of K2/deuce in law with heroin and its byproducts where no member should be in use of or make attempts to sell for profit or gain. If you do you will receive the consequences of the body who governs this affiliation and organization for lack of discipline and obedience to pollute your self/body and those around you who are the future and leaders of tomorrow’s nations.”
While practice varies among the many individuals at different stages in the organization, the Latin Kings/ALKQN has historically opposed the use of hard drugs amongst its members. Many in New York in the 1990s attributed their recovery from drug addiction to their participation in the organization.(1)
There are some good examples of lumpen organizations engaging in what we might call policies of harm reduction. One comrade mentioned the 16 Laws and Policies of Chairman Larry Hoover as an example of effective organizing against drugs in eir prison. Lumpen leaders like Jeff Fort and Larry Hoover are where we see a national bourgeoisie with independent power in the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates. The proletarian organizations of the oppressed nations should work to unite with such forces before the imperialists corrupt them or force them into submission. In fact, the Black Panthers did just that, but failed to build long-term unity with the Black P. Stone Rangers largely due to state interference and repression.
On the other hand, in some states comrades reported that lumpen organizations are among the biggest benefactors from the drug trade. Some of the same names that are mentioned doing positive work are mentioned as being the problem elsewhere. This is partly explained by the largely unaffiliated franchise system that some of these names operate under. But it is also a demonstration of the principal contradiction mentioned above, which is present in the First World lumpen outside of prisons, too. There is a strong individualist/parasitic tendency combating with the reality that self-sufficiency and collective action best serve the oppressed nations. Too often these organizations are doing significant harm to individuals and the broader movement against the criminal injustice system, and can not be part of any progressive united front until they pull out of these anti-people activities.
The more economically entrenched an organization is in the drug trade, the more they are siding with the imperialists and against the people. But on the whole, the First World lumpen, particularly oppressed nation youth, have the self-interest and therefore the potential to side with their people and with the proletariat of the world.
As one Texas comrade commented:
"I must say that the survey opened a door on the issue about drugs within prison. After doing the survey I brought this up with a couple of people to see if we could organize a program to help people with a drug habit. I’m an ex-drug dealer with a life sentence. I can admit I was caught up with the corruption of the U.S. chasing the almighty dollar, not caring about anyone not even family. Coming to prison made me open my eyes. With the help of MIM and Under Lock & Key I’ve been learning the principles of the United Front and put them in my everyday speech and walk within this prison. The enemy understands that the pen is a powerful tool. Comrades don’t trip on me like other organizations done when I let them know I’m a black Muslim who studied a lot of Mao Zedong.
Building Independent Institutions of the Oppressed
At least one respondent mentioned “prisoners giving up sources” (to the pigs to shut down people who are dealing) in response to the question about effective anti-drug organizing. From the responses shown below, it is clear that the state is not interested in effective anti-drug programming in prisons. This is an example of why we need independent institutions of the oppressed. We cannot expect the existing power structure to meet the health needs of the oppressed nation people suffering from an epidemic of drug abuse in U.$. prisons.
The Black Panthers faced similar conditions in the 1960s in the Black ghettos of the United $tates. As they wrote in Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide,
“It is also the practice of pig-police, especially narcotics agents, to seize a quantity of drugs from one dealer, arrest him, but only turn in a portion of the confiscated drugs for evidence. The rest is given to another dealer who sells it and gives a percentage of the profits to the narcotics agents. The pig-police also utilize informers who are dealers. In return for information, they receive immunity from arrest. The police cannot solve the problem, for they are a part of the problem.”
Our survey showed significant abuse of Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction. In the 1970s Methadone clinics, backed by the Rockefeller Program, became big in New York. The state even linked welfare benefits to these services. Yet, Mutulu Shakur says, “In New York City, 60 percent of the illegal drugs on the street during the early ’70s was methadone. So we could not blame drug addiction at that time on Turkey or Afghanistan or the rest of that triangle.”(2) Revolutionaries began to see this drug that was being used as treatment as breaking up the revolutionary movement and the community. Mutulu Shakur and others in the Lincoln Detox Center used acupuncture as a treatment for drug addiction. Lincoln Detox is an example of an independent institution developed by communists to combat drug addiction in the United $tates.
“[O]n November 10, 1970, a group of the Young Lords, a South Bronx anti-drug coalition, and members of the Health Revolutionary Unity Movement (a mass organization of health workers) with the support of the Lincoln Collective took over the Nurses’ Residence building of Lincoln Hospital and established a drug treatment program called The People’s Drug Program, which became known as Lincoln Detox Center.”(3) Lincoln Detox was a program that was subsequently run by the Young Lords Party, Black Panthers that had survived the Panther 21 raid, the Republic of New Afrika, and White Lightning, a radical organization of white former drug addicts, until 1979 when a police raid forced the communists out of the hospital, removing the political content of the program.(4)
Young Lord Vicente “Panama” Alba was there from day one, and tells eir story of breaking free of addiction cold turkey to take up the call of the revolution. After sitting on the stoop watching NYPD officers selling heroin in eir neighborhood, and a few days after attending a Young Lords demonstration, Panama said, “Because of the way I felt that day, I told myself I couldn’t continue to be a drug user. I couldn’t be a heroin addict and a revolutionary, and I wanted to be a revolutionary. I made a decision to kick a dope habit.”(3) This experience echoes that of millions of addicted Chinese who went cold turkey to take up building socialism in their country after 1949.
Mutulu Shakur describes how the Lincoln Detox Center took a political approach similar to the Chinese in combatting addiction, “This became a center for revolutionary, political change in the methodology and treatment modality of drug addiction because the method was not only medical but it was also political.” Shakur was one of the clinic’s members who visited socialist China in the 1970s to learn acupuncture techniques for treating addiction. He goes on to describe the program:
“So the Lincoln Detox became not only recognized by the community as a political formation but its work in developing and saving men and women of the third world inside of the oppressed communities, resuscitating these brothers and sisters and putting them into some form of healing process within the community we became a threat to the city of New York and consequently with the development of the barefoot doctor acupuncture cadre, we began to move around the country and educate various other communities instead of schools and orientations around acupuncture drug withdrawal and the strategy of methadone and the teaching the brothers and sisters the fundamentals of acupuncture to serious acupuncture, how it was used in the revolutionary context in China and in Vietnam and how we were able to use it in the South Bronx and our success.”(2)
Dealing with the Dealers
Though the Black Panthers had organized the workers at Lincoln Hospital leading up to the takeover, by that time the New York chapter was already in decline due to repression and legal battles. While many BPP branches had to engage with drug cartels, the New York chapter stood out in their launching of heavily-armed raids on local dealers and dumping all of their heroin into the gutters. The New York Panthers faced unique circumstances in a city that contained half of the heroin addicts in the country, which was being supplied by la Cosa Nostra with help from the CIA. While there was mass support for the actions of the Panthers at first, state repression pushed the New York Panthers down an ultra-left path. The Panther 21 trial was a huge setback to their mass organizing, with 21 prominent Panthers being jailed and tried on trumped up terrorism charges. After they were all exonerated, the New York Panthers, siding ideologically with Eldridge Cleaver who was pushing an ultra-left line from exile in Algeria, made the transition to the underground. If they were going to be accused of bombings and shootings anyway, then they might as well actually do some, right?
These were the conditions under which the Black Liberation Army was formed. Though there was overlap between the BLA and those who led community projects like Lincoln Detox, the path of the underground guerrillas generally meant giving up the mass organizing in the community. Instead, raiding local drug dealers became a staple of theirs as a means of obtaining money. Money that essentially belonged to the NYPD, which was enabling those dealers and benefiting them financially. The former-Panthers-turned-BLA continued to destroy the dope they found, and punished the dealers they raided.
Again, we are confronted with this dual nature of the lumpen class. It would certainly be ultra-left to view all drug dealers as enemies to be attacked. It is also certainly clear that the CIA/Mafia/NYPD heroin trade in New York was an enemy that needed to be addressed. But how does the revolutionary movement interact with the criminal-minded LOs today? In its revolutionary transformation, China also had to deal with powerful criminal organizations. The Green Gang, which united the Shanghai Triads, significantly funded the Guomindang’s rise to power, primarily through profits from opium sales. In the late 1940s they opened up negotiations with the Communist Party as the fate of China was becoming obvious. However, no agreement was reached, and the criminal organizations were quickly eliminated in mainland China after 1949. They took refuge in capitalist outposts like Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Chinatowns elsewhere in Asia and Europe. While heroin has returned to China, the gangs have not yet.(5)
While the contradiction between the communists and the drug gangs did come to a head, it was after defeating Japanese imperialism and after defeating the reactionary Guomindang government. And even then, most drug dealers were reformed and joined the building of a socialist society.
In eir article, Pilli clearly explains why slangin’ can’t be revolutionary. And a comrade from West Virginia gives an example where the shot-callers are explicitly working against the interest of the prison movement to further their economic goals. We must address the question of how the prison movement should engage with those who are slangin’. The answer to that is beyond the scope of our drug survey, and needs to be found in practice by the revolutionary cells within prisons taking up this organizing work.
Building Socialism to Serve the People
Many respondents to our survey sounded almost hopeless when it came to imagining a prison system without rampant drug addiction. But this hopelessness is not completely unfounded. As “Capitalism Plus Dope Equals Genocide”, reads:
“The government is totally incapable of addressing itself to the true causes of drug addiction, for to do so would necessitate effecting a radical transformation of this society. The social consciousness of this society, the values, mores and traditions would have to be altered. And this would be impossible without totally changing the way in which the means of producing social wealth is owned and distributed. Only a revolution can eliminate the plague.”
To back up what the Panthers were saying here, we can look at socialist China and how they eliminated opium addiction in a few years, while heroin spread in the capitalist United $tates. The Chinese proved that this is a social issue and not primarily a biological/medical one. The communist approach differed greatly from the Guomindang in that addicts were not blamed or punished for their addiction. They were considered victims of foreign governments and other enemies of the people. Even many former dealers were reformed.(6) Although we don’t have the state power now to implement broad policies like the Chinese Communist Party, we can help drug users focus on understanding the cause and consequences of their use in a social context. We need people to see how dope is harming not only themselves, but more generally their people, both inside and outside of prison. People start doing drugs because of problems in their lives that come from problems in capitalist society. Being in prison sucks, and dope helps people escape, even if it’s fleeting. But this escape is counter productive. As so many writers in this issue of ULK have explained, it just serves the interests of the criminal injustice system. We can help people overcome addictions by giving them something else to focus on: the fight against the system that wants to keep them passive and addicted.
I'm once again checking in from California Correctional Institution (CCI). In 1966, Huey Newton and Bobby Seale planted the seeds of the Black Liberation movement in Oakland. The seeds they planted rapidly spread to the rest of the United States and now years later we're fighting for the same things as the Panthers.
We still follow the same theme of Black nationalism, armed militancy, intercommunalism, and answering the call to join the revolutionary struggle. Even today, I can still see and hear the voices of comrades such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Gwen Fontaine, Fredrika Newton and Lil Bobby Hutton; their teachings, thoughts, practices. And they still resonate with significance and power through the pages of books.
The spirit of the Panthers have been spread so deep into the roots of Black life and into the fabric of every African Community in America, that it's just natural for us to want to stand up and fight when we hear the call. In our homes, schools, hoods, jails, and prisons. That's the revolutionary legacy, and the spirit these comrades planted in us.
This yard we're on is considered an Ad-Seg kick out yard. But in our efforts to educate the people we've begun to create something better. This yard is becoming a place where cadres are born. We have created programmes that serve the people: we have political study groups, we have a GED study group, in which we are helping comrades get their GEDs, and we are helping individuals with their college classes as well.
I am very proud of the comrades on this facility of all nationalities. Because we're not just talking we're doing, pushing hard for a truly united front and serving the people. We have just submitted the paperwork for a banquet. That will be used as a Unity Celebration, where we will all meet and share our thoughts on the issues of today, and share a little political knowledge with each other.
The only issue I see is that the room only holds fifty people, so not all of the groups can fit in this room, so we're planning to have another on the yard the next day. We don't want anyone left out. We are here to serve the people, educate the people, and to help liberate the people, all the people. My rules are if we focus on what we have in common and less on our differences we'll be able to learn better, who we are, and what we're about.
We all want the same things. We all have the same goals, and we all want to create positive change in our world, and in our communities. A community by way of definitions is a comprehensive collection of institutions that serve the people who live there. CCI C-Facility is where we are living right now. So this is the community we're serving.
It is the duty of all revolutionaries to make the revolution. This is obviously rule one. But this is a way of denouncing, in the context, all the so-called revolutionaries who not only did not seek to make the revolution, who managed secure income, talk the revolutionary shit, but who torpedoed the efforts of the people to liberate themselves and that must not be. As Huey said, revolutionary theory without practice ain't shit.