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[Culture] [ULK Issue 60]
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Debating Disability Labels

Regarding ULK 57 and "disability". A deaf person is hearing impacted. A paralyzed person is mobility impacted. Together they are physically impacted. Their physical states are influenced by what impacted them — some ailment, incident, or birth condition.

"Disabled" and "challenged" takes something away, some quality or value of the person, as if they are the sum of their physical condition, objectified. "Disabled" in today's reactionary culture and mindset conveys inferior, a tacit separation that, repeated ritually to and by the impacted person, becomes psychologically embedded and the person feels actually inferior — has self-doubts, is self-conscious.

I've been deaf since age 15 and could never say that I was "deaf" even, but said I had a "hearing problem." When referred to as being "deaf," I felt lower than everyone else. I've gotten over it by now, of course, at age 63, but just to say that semantic runs deep with physically and mentally impacted people, and can be a very sensitive thing. Another angle is that transgender people are considered in Western medicine to have a mental "disorder," and so on. Well, that's my 2¢. The article was rather interesting to me.


MIM(Prisons) responds: Language is an important part of culture, and something that revolutionaries have a responsibility to use for political purpose. So we appreciate this comrade raising criticisms of our use of language in ULK 57.

As a launching off point in this discussion, we will bring up our use of the word [email protected]. We use an @ symbol instead of an 'o' or 'a' to convey multiple political points: the @ is not gender-specific; the term is encompassing an oppressed nation and explicitly rejecting Amerikan labels like "Hispanic."

With that in mind we want to look carefully at this term "disability" to consider these criticisms. We do not want to suggest that someone who cannot hear or cannot see is inferior to someone who can. All people have different abilities. Some of these abilities can be trained, but some are things we're born with. Some people, for instance, are stronger than others. The weaker folks aren't inferior, but they might be better suited to tasks that don't require as much physical strength.

This was discussed in the book Philosophy is No Mystery which describes struggles in a village in revolutionary China. One of the challenges they faced was strong young men acting as if their work was more valuable than that of weaker folks (mostly wimmin, but also elderly people and children). However, upon deeper discussion everyone came to agree that the work done by all was critical to their success, and valuing strength over other types of labor was counter-productive.

Let's address the question of whether the term "disability" is similar to saying a transgendered persyn has a "disorder." Transgender folks are often said to have "gender dysphoria" which is the stress a persyn feels as a result of the sex they were assigned at birth. The assigned sex does not match the persyn's internal identity. That's a situation some transgender people seek to address by changing their physical body to match their internal identity. Transgender folks face a difficult situation that needs resolving for them to lead healthy and happy lives.

It's true that when we hear "disability" we generally think of things we would want to fix. But is that a bad thing? When people have vision problems that can be corrected, we want to use medical science to correct them. For instance, removal of cataracts cures blindness in many people. Similarly, if someone is missing a leg, getting fitted with a prosthesis is often a very good thing. In these situations someone lacks the ability to use a part of their body to its full potential. And in some cases this ability can be restored.

So perhaps the analogy we would make is that missing a leg is like someone being assigned a sex that doesn't match their internal identity. The gender dysphoria they experience before transitioning is like lacking a prosthesis for someone without a leg. Making the transition to a sex or gender expression that matches their identity is for any transgender persyn somewhat analogous to people with physical dis-abilities getting them surgically or prosthetically corrected. If we can resolve gender dysphoria, by changing society or improving the persyn's individual situation, we should do that. Just like if we can provide prosthetic limbs and cataract surgery, we should do that.

Where using the term "disability" becomes more complex and muddy is in cases where the persyn impacted doesn't want to make a change. There are some good examples of this, like neuro-atypical folks who have developed highly specialized skills because of their neurology, but struggle to socialize or interact with other people. Some argue this is not something to be fixed but is just a humyn difference. And so we shouldn't call that a disability, but rather just a different ability. However, in the types of cases that were discussed in the issue of ULK in question, the ailments and physical limitations are things we all agree should be fixed if possible. We don't see anyone arguing that keeping cataracts help people in any way.

The question here is whether we can distinguish between conditions that people don't want to change, differences between humyns, and conditions that people can generally agree we should change if possible. If we can, the term "disability" may be appropriate for the category of conditions we would change if possible. And then the final question we must answer is whether the term "disability" in our social context implies that someone is inferior. As we've already said above, we want to use language to empower and build revolutionary culture. This last point is the most difficult one and we'd like to solicit input from other readers, and especially those who contributed to ULK 57. Send us your thoughts on this topic and we will study it further and publish something in an upcoming issue of Under Lock & Key.

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[Culture]
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Christmas Vacation Lampoons the Bourgeoisie, but Not Capitalism

National Lampoon's Xmas Vacation
Movie Review:
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
1989

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation depicts the struggles (if they can be called that) of Clark Griswold. It is Clark's quest to have the perfect Christmas for eir family: spouse Ellen and children Audrey and Rusty. Most of the first act of the film is dedicated to comedically exaggerated petty-bourgeois scenarios in this vein: getting the right tree, putting up the Christmas lights, shopping for gifts, and trying to keep the peace among family members (much extended family arrives in the form of both sets of grandparents, Ellen's cigar-smoking uncle Lewis and senile aunt Bethany, and Clark's redneck cousin Eddie, accompanied by eir spouse, children and dog). Christmas books and movies have long been vessels for anti-capitalist messages, even if they are tainted by idealism and economism: from Ebenezer Scrooge being frightened into giving concessions to the proletariat in A Christmas Carol(1), to the anti-imperialist solidarity of Whoville in How the Grinch Stole Christmas(2), to the anti-militarism parable of A Christmas Story(3). And a superficial "reading" of Christmas Vacation suggests that it may not only follow the same paradigm but even exceed these works and act as an inspiration for communist revolution (spoiler alert: the climax of the movie involves the forceful kidnapping of a member of the bourgeoisie). However, a deeper analysis reveals that, despite occasional flashes of progressiveness and a candid depiction of the labor aristocracy, the film does not provide useful guidance for revolution.

Throughout the movie, some potshots are taken at the bourgeoisie, but nothing too substantial. Clark's next-door yuppie neighbors are depicted as pretentious snobs, while eir boss is gruff and impersonal. But these attacks on the bourgeoisie are based on persynal mannerisms, not economic grounds. Clark is clearly a privileged member of the labor aristocracy. Ellen doesn't seem to work, and Clark makes enough to afford a couple of cars and a nice house, which ey bedecks with an over-the-top lighting display. Clark does not even seem to work hard to enjoy these things. In the whole movie, ey is shown at work in only three brief scenes. And in none of those scenes is ey actually engaged in labor. In the first, ey is chatting at the watercooler. In the second, ey drops off a gift and unsuccessfully attempts to ingratiate emself with eir boss. In the third, ey is sitting in eir office, looking over some plans for a persynal swimming pool. So Clark does not appear to work that hard, but ey does mention several innovations ey has made for eir company, which seems to be a manufacturer of chemical food additives although no manufacturing is ever shown onscreen.

Could Clark's mental labor as a chemist still be exploited by the bourgeoisie proper? The answer appears to be no: Clark is planning to pay for eir swimming pool with eir end-of-year bonus. Said bonus represents compensation for the value ey has produced in excess of eir salary and thus precludes em from being truly proletarian. Indeed, eir entire compensation is likely funded by the manufacture of chemicals ey has designed, presumably by Third World workers. Thus, Clark occupies the classic position of a labor aristocrat: someone who may be slightly exploited by the bourgeoisie, but who ultimately receives compensation in excess of the value of eir labor, as a beneficiary of imperialist superexploitation of the Third World proletariat.

As the film progresses, the minor and mainly apolitical subplots fade to the periphery (after some technical difficulties, Clark's light show wows the family and is never mentioned again), and a political thread assumes prominence. As it turns out, Clark is really counting on eir Christmas bonus. In order to expedite the construction of eir pool, Clark has put down a deposit and written a check that eir bank account can't cover. Clark is confident that eir performance will earn em a sizable bonus, but that confidence begins to wane as the days go by without word from the company. Finally, a messenger arrives on Christmas Eve with an envelope. Before opening it, Clark, apparently on the knife edge between luxury and financial ruin, expresses both eir anxiety regarding eir solvency and eir hope that the check will be large enough to not only cover the cost of the pool but also airfare to fly over all the extended family present (ten people!) to enjoy it when it is built. To much fanfare, Clark opens the envelope and finds that, to eir dismay, it only contains a subscription to the Jelly-of-the-Month club, a gift of nugatory value. Enraged, Clark launches into a tirade denouncing eir boss's perfidy and angrily expresses eir desire to see eir boss tied up. Taking Clark's words literally, Eddie slips out, locates Clark's boss (conveniently, Clark mentioned the neighborhood ey lives in during eir lengthy monologue), and kidnaps em. Bound, gagged, and festooned with a large ribbon, ey is Eddie's last-minute Christmas gift to Clark.

There are several issues with this scenario.

First, the stakes are very low. The only thing really at risk is Clark's bonus. Perhaps ey will have to live without the pool for another year. Perhaps ey will be charged by the bank for a bounced check. Perhaps ey will even have to forfeit the deposit ey made. But if Clark is low on cash, that is a problem of eir own making. We are talking about a persyn who probably spent over three grand just on the electricity for eir 250,000-bulb Christmas light display.(4) If Clark misses out on eir bonus, what is the big deal? Ey might have to pawn eir lights and forgo the spectacular light show next year. Eir family might even have to take fewer of their legendary vacations. But it seems unlikely that they are in danger of going hungry or having to sell the house or even the car.

Perhaps the aspect of Clark's misfortune which ey most keenly feels — and which is most relevant to Amerikan audiences — is what it represents. Denied an explicit share in eir surplus value (ignoring, of course, that ey still receives a salary of international superprofits), Clark is confronted by the prospect of eir potential proletarianization. Scarier than any Ghost of Christmas, the spectre of economic forces strikes fear into eir heart. Rather than act constructively, however, Clark, true to eir petty-bourgeois nature, reacts by pointlessly venting eir rage at eir family. Ey also attempts to ignore the problem by frantically following family Christmas rituals (providing time in the narrative for Eddie to complete eir mission with eir absence unnoticed). The proletariat of the 19th Century may have had to turn to the hard drug of religion — "the opiate of the masses" (5) — to cope with its actual oppression, but in Clark's case, nothing so strong is required, just what might be called the eggnog of the masses: a reading of "The Night Before Christmas" and also a Tylenol, washed down by a few cups of literal eggnog.

So, the stakes are low, but this movie is a comedy. Perhaps the events depicted can be seen as a microcosm of the proletarian struggle. Would a mere amplification of things produce a progressive view of international economic exploitation? Sadly, no. Clark is a member of the labor aristocracy, with an imperialist, petty-bourgeois, even bourgeois mindset. Even eir most innocuous actions are tainted with oppression. Eir actions throughout the film appear to be a re-enactment of Amerikkkan history and atrocities, down to a roughly chronological progression from European colonization to Amerikkkan imperialism in the Pacific. The movie opens with Clark driving eir family to the woods to chop down a Christmas tree instead of buying one, a handy metaphor for Amerikkkan theft of the land from Indigenous peoples and destruction of the environment, as well as a reminder that it was the timber of North America that originally drew the English colonizers. Next, Clark moves on to gender oppression. In "The Communist Manifesto", Marx and Engels wrote that the "bourgeois, not content with having the wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal... take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other's wives."(6) In multiple ways, Clark displays these bourgeois ambitions, although ey may be considered only petty-bourgeois due to eir lack of success. First, while shopping for Christmas gifts, ey flirts and leers at the female salesclerk. Later, ey has a daydream about eir pool in which the the vision of eir family playing is replaced by a fantasy of seduction by a womyn who the soundtrack implies to be an Indigenous Hawaii'an, thus tying together the gender and national strands of oppression.

Finally, there is Eddie. Despite eir simple appearance, Eddie is the fulcrum of one of the biggest paradoxes in the film: is ey a force for revolution or reaction? An uninvited guest, ey seems to be nothing but a source of problems, but ey ultimately saves the day with eir actions against the bourgeoisie. Is ey proletarian? Hardly. It is revealed that ey has been out of work for seven years. Aha! Perhaps ey is part of the lumpenproletariat. Even if that were true, ey would be part of the First World lumpen and receive a significant benefit from eir position as a resident of the imperialist u.$. Regardless, the facts reveal that Eddie is no lumpenproletariat hero. First, the reason for eir protracted unemployment is that ey is holding out for a management position — a classic petty-bourgeois aspiration. Furthermore, ey mentions that, despite having had to trade the home for an RV, ey still retains ownership in a plot of land, a farm and some livestock. Ey is still petty boourgeois, then; one who, despite reduced circumstances, holds on to a vestige of the family estate. In addition, another troubling aspect of Eddie's past is offhandedly revealed. Ey mentions that ey has a plate in eir head, provided by the VA. Therefore, ey is not just a passive recipient but an active participant in imperialism: one who enjoys the privilege of free healthcare in exchange for eir role in aiding Amerikan war crimes. Despite this, ey does fleetingly provide the film with its only sliver of appreciation for the destruction wrought by capitalism and u.$. imperialism. While shopping, Eddie asks Clark "Your company kill off all them people in India not long ago?", referring to the Bhopal chemical disaster that killed an estimated 16,000 people and injured as many as half a million more (7,8). "No, we missed out on that one," Clark dryly responds, and the conversation moves on, presumably because Eddie doesn't care. Meanwhile, Eddie causes a chemical disaster of eir own; after emptying the septic tank of eir RV into the sewer, subsequent scenes feature interstitial shots of a menacing green smoke rising from the storm drain.

But let's get back to the action. When we left the Griswolds, Eddie had just marched Clark's boss into the living room. Ungagged, eir first instinct is to fire Clark and call the cops. But after all of 30 seconds, ey has a change of heart. Apparently, all that was needed was a brief speech by Clark with an addendum by Rusty that withholding bonuses "sucks" to convince Clark's boss to drop all charges, reinstate the bonuses, and add another 20% to Clark's bonus. Clark is so overwhelmed that ey faints.

OK, seriously? If a 20% raise was all that was needed to address the iniquities of capitalism, MIM(Prisons) would disband and recommend you vote for Sanders instead. Actually, even that would be too radical. Fight for 15? More like fight for $8.70. Also, some aspects of Clark's boss's repentance ring false: ey calls Clark "Carl" and refers to em as the "little people". Has Clark received a permanent gain or is eir victory a tenuous and insecure one? We bring this up not to suggest that Amerikan labor aristocrats are truly oppressed, just to point out the vanity and futility of imperialism: despite afflicting so much suffering across the Third World, it has failed to completely resolve the contradiction between workers and bourgeoisie in Amerika.

Basking in their newfound affluence, however petty it may be, the Griswolds are rudely interrupted by the arrival of the pigs. Usually not motivated to do much work, the kidnapping of a member of the bourgeoisie has kicked the pig machine into high gear, and SWAT teams storm the Griswold home from every conceivable entrance, including several pigs rappelling through the windows. (Some pigs even kick down the door of the neighboring house; although this scene was probably meant to provide some comic relief and comeuppance to the yuppies, it also wouldn't be the first or the last time that property and lives were endangered by pigs getting the address wrong). The deference of the pigs to the bourgeoisie is further underscored by the arrival of the wife of Clark's boss in a car driven by a persyn whose heavily decorated dress uniform marks em as the chief of police. This persyn would also be identified by most viewers, on the basis of eir skin color, as "black". In fact, ey is the only non-white character with a speaking role in the entire movie. This detail is significant on several levels. First, the fact that the Griswolds live in Chicago, a city with substantial New Afrikan and [email protected] populations, but appear to interact exclusively with white Amerikkkans represents an likely-inadvertent, but nonetheless true-to-life, depiction of the highly segregated nature of housing and employment in Chicago. Second, we must wonder: what was the motivation of the moviemakers in casting a New Afrikan in this role? It could be mere tokenism, giving the sole New Afrikan actor a role that is effectively a chauffeur. Or perhaps they were being ironic, casting a New Afrikan as the head of the pigs, the institution that has perhaps committed the most violence against New Afrikans in recent decades. One shudders to think that perhaps they thought they were being progressive by casting a New Afrikan in a strategically Euro-Amerikan role and creating the illusion of an egalitarian, racially-integrated police force. The true contradiction in Amerikkka is that of nation, not race. Hence, a persyn who might be labeled as non-white can still, in some cases, manage to join the Amerikkkan nation and rise to the role of head pig (or even, as in the case of Barack Obama, war-criminal-in-chief); the situation in this film, then, seems prescient of the modern-day prominence of sheriff Clarke of Milwaukee, another midwestern town. Perhaps a Christmas comedy is the wrong place to look for an inspiring depiction of New Afrikan revolutionaries, but it is still unfortunate that all we have been given is a bootlicker to the bourgeoisie.

Many people have been killed by trigger-happy pigs, and a kidnapping on Christmas Eve seems like the kind of high-stakes situation that would bring in the pigs with guns blazing, but the predicament faced by the Griswolds is resolved with miraculous ease. After Clark's boss explains the situation, everybody relaxes, although Clark's boss is still admonished all-around for his idea of cutting Christmas bonuses (the head pig even says that ey'd like to beat em with a rubber hose — a seemingly progressive action that, due to its focus on individual retribution, is actually little more than adventurism; and even that idea comes across as an outburst that is never fulfilled). What about Eddie's toxic waste spill? An errant match tossed by Uncle Lewis ignites it, but the resulting explosion only serves to launch a plastic Santa and reindeer into the air, creating the perfect Christmas tableau in the sky and prompting a confused Aunt Bethany to spontaneously break into a rendition of the "Star-Spangled Banner". As the Griswolds and the pigs dance to Christmas songs in the house, Clark stands on the lawn and basks in eir achievement. "I did it," ey says. The perfect family Christmas.

But for us communists, things are far from perfect. Any potentially lumpen characters in the movie, who may have been teetering between revolution and reaction, have, by the film's end, fallen firmly on the side of reaction. Everyone else — the labor aristocrats, the bourgeoisie, pigs — was already there. This movie is best enjoyed not as a blueprint for revolution but as a satire of the Amerikan way of life. It offers hints of Amerikan brutality both domestically and abroad, as well as a depiction of the manner by which government institutions become tools of the bourgeoisie. But most of all, it exposes the reactionary nature of the labor aristocracy: the decadence of its "workers", the hypocrisy of its "morals" and the futility of any "revolutionary" action among the beneficiaries of imperialism.

The brief flicker of revolutionary action that does occur is quickly extinguished due to its limited scope and unsystematic nature. As Lenin once said, "When the workers of a single factory or of a single branch of industry engage in struggle against their employer or employers, is this class struggle? No, this is only a weak embryo of it" (9). How ironic then, that on the (probably mythical) day of Jesus' birth, the embryo of revolution was delivered as a stillbirth. Let us look forward, then, to December 26: the (real) day of Mao's birth. Beyond eir persynal achievements, ey stands as a symbol of real revolution. A genuine proletarian revolution, not a phony one led by Amerikkkan "workers", promises real solutions to the real problems facing the world: an end to the insatiable exploitation by capitalists, an end to the callous destruction of the environment, an end to the violence perpetrated every day by pigs. When that day comes, the workers of the world will unite and we can sing the "Internationale" together.

1. Published two years before The Conditions of the Working Class in England by Friedrich Engels, A Christmas Carol is set in a time when a real proletariat still existed in Europe. Unfortunately, Scrooge's ghostly visitation only inspires em to be less penurious, not to relinquish control of the means of production altogether. But perhaps it would be anachronistic to expect such a radical ending.
2. Whoville, the setting of How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, as established in Horton Hears a Who, an allegory for nations oppressed by imperialism. After the Grinch steals their Christmas presents, the Whos' community spirit in the face of adversity is admirable, but could be taken as encouraging a passive response to exploitation, which is undesirable. Furthermore, the Grinch's sudden attack of conscience serves as little more than a deus ex machina; it would be unrealistic to expect real-life imperialists to act similarly. Material problems demand material solutions, not idealist ones.
3. In A Christmas Story, Ralphie's desire for a rifle is motivated by juvenile fantasies of assuming the role of a cowboy (settler-colonialist) and defending eir family from cartoonishly criminal lumpen elements. When Ralphie does obtain eir rifle, ey almost shoots eir eye out, destroying eir glasses in the process. This event is representative of the physical dangers of militarism, but the ocular aspect (the glasses bring to mind Lord of the Flies) also makes it symbolic of how militarism can proliferate ignorance. Although Ralphie is now packing heat, ey is unable to prevent eir family's Christmas dinner from being devoured by a pack of dogs. Are these dogs the running dogs of capitalism, stealing from an innocent family in Depression-era Amerika? Is the family's decision to eat at a Chinese restaurant an allegory for an embrace of Maoism at a time when Maoists in China were leading the world in armed struggle against fascism? Probably not, but it's fun to think about.
4. Ramirez, Candace. "Here's what it costs to power Clark Griswold's 25,000 holiday lights in each state." December 5, 2016.
5. Marx, Karl. Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. 1843.
6. Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. "Manifesto of the Communist Party." February 1848.
7. Dubey, A. K. "Bhopal Gas Tragedy: 92% injuries termed 'minor.'" First14 News. June 21, 2010.
8. Eckerman, Ingrid. The Bhopal Saga: Causes and Consequences of the World's Largest Industrial Disaster. August 2004.
9. Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich. "Our Immediate Task." Rabochaya Gazeta. 1899.
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[Culture] [ULK Issue 60]
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Aztlán Realism Book Release

Aztlán Realism:
Revolutionary Art from Pelican Bay S.H.U.
Jose Villarreal
Aztlán Press
PO Box 4186
San Jose, CA 95150
2017, 214 pgs., soft cover, $50
Cover

Aztlán Realism is over 200 pages of revolutionary [email protected] artwork, straight from the hole. The pages are in black and white, and select pieces are shown in color in the front and back. It is easy to get lost in the pages of this book, imagining a different world, and clearly envisioning what it will be like to fight to get there.

The line in the artwork is on point. Lumpen (prisoners and gangsters) and peasants are shown working in unity to smash capitalism and national oppression. The Third Worldist line is prominent throughout: Aztlán is depicted in unity with oppressed nations globally, against Amerikkka and imperialism in general.

Inside
There is very strong revolutionary feminism in Aztlán Realism. Wimmin are shown on the front lines, and as the backbone, of [email protected] liberation. While the drawings containing wimmin in a revolutionary context far outnumber the scantily-clad and coy-faced Chicanas, we would choose to omit the sexy drawings altogether if we had the option. They're a direct reflection of the gendered culture we currently live in, and glorification of brown rather than white wimmin should not require objectification of bodies.

The only other thing we would change about this book would be to see the whole book printed in color. Villarreal's use of color adds vibrancy to the artwork which is very compelling.

We strongly recommend getting your hands on this book, or just reaching out to Aztlán Press to show some love. Aztlán Press aims to publish the works of imprisoned [email protected] writers, and we look forward to watching them develop over the years to come.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 58]
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War for All of Apekind Trumps Revenge

War for the Planet of the Apes
War for the Planet of the Apes
14 July 2017
PG-13
**Spoilers**

This is the third movie in a new trilogy based off the original 5-film series. Like Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2010), War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) makes many references to the original series. It does a lot to set up for the scenario in the original second film, Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). However, the ending seems to crush that possibility. There is a fourth film being planned for the new series, and it is not clear what the scenario will be.

This new series lacks some of the scifi complexities of the original that dealt with space and time travel and mutations and evolution. So far the new series has covered a modest 15 years, in one world, and is a pretty straight forward story of struggle and war between humyns and apes whose brains evolved due to a brain-enhancing virus developed to cure Alzheimer's disease in humyns.

In Beneath (1970), the humyn civilization is built around a worship of nuclear weapons and the film is a righteous critique of nukes. In War (2017), the humyns are led by a messianic colonel who blames the man-made viruses for their plight. This leads to an anti-science position that puts these humyns at war with another faction who want to find a medical cure to the plague striking humyns. In the case of nuclear weapons we can say that humyns are taking technological advances into a dangerous direction that threatens all life on Earth. But this new Planet of the Apes series leaves us with the message that we should fear medical advancements. Under capitalism, such fear has a material basis because profits over people can lead to technological disasters in all fields. But in this post-apocalyptic world, there does not seem to be a functioning capitalist economy. So the message amounts to a religious movement calling for a cleansing, and opposing attempts at solutions in medical science. This feeds into the fear-mongering of fascist-leaning religious cults, unlike the original series that critiqued genocidal militarism.

In this movie, Koba haunts Caesar, both in dream-like visions and in the ongoing war that he started with the humyns. The mantra of "Ape shall not kill ape" is brought back by Koba in one vision, after Caesar kills a traitor who gave up Caesar's location in an attempt to save himself, leading to the murder of Caesar's wife and older son. Revenge for this event serves as Caesar's motivation through most of this film. When they encounter the traitor at an enemy camp he attempts to notify the humyns of their presence, endangering Caesar's life a second time. While Caesar is very merciful, he cannot abide to absolutes like "Ape shall not kill ape" and still serve the masses of apes at the same time. We later learn that the seemingly ruthless humyn Colonel has also made sacrifices for the greater good of humyns. The Colonel even offers Caesar lessons in not letting his emotions and drive for revenge guide him. This is one positive message of the film, which ends with Caesar returning to the struggle for all apes that he was so dedicated to in the last two films.

One of the new characters introduced in this third film is a goofy source of slap-stick humor. While this may be seen as a desperate attempt to liven up the series, perhaps it is a throwback to the third film in the original series, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), which has a whimsical feel to it that is inconsistent with the two films before and after it. The comic relief character does play an important role in letting us know that more supersmart apes exist in the world. While he got audience laughs, the only funny part about this character in this reviewer's opinion was how the producers introduced the name of the young humyn who joins the ape leadership on their revenge mission. This young humyn is an interesting look at what we could call national or species suicide. She gives the "Apes United Are Strong" salute before playing a crucial role in breaking them free. At one point she asks the orangutan Maurice, "Me? Ape?". Maurice answers by saying her name. A sort of non-answer that seems to say no, but you are one of us. The examples of apes working for the humyns, and this humyn being part of the apes is a blow against identity politics. An individual's politics and the role they play in the world is not defined by what group they were born into, even though we can analyze about groups and their roles and positions in society.

On the other side, there are many traitors working for the humyns who were called "donkeys" and treated as servants, while being forced to commit much of the brutality against captive apes to prove their loyalty. This type of mentality is so well-established today that no force is needed to get Black and Brown pigs to be more brutal than their white counterparts. One of the traitors who beats and abuses Caesar when he enters the work camp comes to his aid at the very end. This comes after we see Caesar act in a firm and principled way in front of the traitor throughout the film. This is not just a nice, fictional story. In his autobiography, set mostly in the first wave of the U.$. prison movement, Black Panther Eddie Conway demonstrates that being politically consistent and being a leader does impact people in ways you may not realize for some time. And that people will come through for the movement when you don't expect it if you set a good example as a leader.

There is something unbelievable in the way the modern Planet of the Apes films combines the lumbering ape-suited actors, with the scenes of tracking humyns and searching in close combat situations. The idealized images of military and SWAT operations we're so used to in movies today just don't accommodate the clumsy movements of the apes. The more primitive scenes of war in the original series are actually more congruent and believable.

Overall, there was some good character development in War (2017) that demonstrated some useful lessons for political struggle. Like the other films in this new series there is more of a focus on fast-paced battle scenes than in the original series. And like the others in this new series, it loses some of the more radically progressive aspects of the earlier version. Despite that, the focus on prison struggles, like in Rise (2010), will probably preclude this movie from being screened in U.$. prisons. We are still holding out to see whether the makers of the new series will delve into the subject of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as did the last two films of the original series.

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[Organizing] [Culture] [ULK Issue 57]
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Your Babysitter is a Puerco

In the first ULK I read (ULK 49 - Survival and Stamina), I read "Shun TV, Be Humble, and Check Security," by a California comrade. It was great to know there were others with my same thoughts about the stupid box. There are multiple reasons the "babysitter" is encouraged by authorities, likewise why you should be more than cautious about getting attached to one. Let's go straight to the pros (not for us captives) for authorities and administrators of DOCs everywhere.

Babysitters are "incentives," but not in the normal sense. Instead of being incentives (read: prizes) to earn through excellent behavior, it's used as an incentive to lose through defiance. Pay attention, this is more than just a simple play on words. In the former, you may by your own will (read: volition or choice) decide it in your best interests to excel as a "model" prisoner in order to earn the incentive. This would be a choice exercised through your own judgment. In the second predicament is where 95% of prisoners find themselves.

In the latter, babysitters are used as coercion. Here's the reality: the authorities establish rules and norms of expected behaviors. Break any rule, or fail to meet an expected norm, and the babysitter won't be there when you get "home." Their message is clear: do as we say, behave as we say, or sit in a cell with your thoughts and yourself (if you don't have a celly). To me it doesn't seem like much of a threat, but I'm the odd man out. I've been in and out of Ad-Seg, or whatever is the en vogue term now, since 2012, and have always preferred to read, study and grow. The majority of us are so caught up in consumerism and what I call "reality avoidance," that the threat of no canteen (commissary, special packages) or no babysitter (TV) is effective to smother defiance (outside of extreme circumstances) and gain compliance.

Over decades prison officials have figured out how to condition prisoners to cherish things of no importance. A lot of hombres just want to watch Castle, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, or whatever, eat their food, exercise when they have homies on their case, and be left to themselves. This is the overwhelming majority mentality here in RH-Max (formerly Ad-Seg). Why is this? Simply because nobody's taken the time to explain the dynamics. In theory we all know what babysitters are used for. In practice, how many internalize this knowledge?

As long as authorities can say "here's a TV, sit down, shut up and don't make us do our job" then we've failed, because the authorities have rocked us to sleep with something stronger than a lullaby. With TV and being "left alone," we are content enough to fight amongst ourselves instead of the puercos. As long as a babysitter can sedate us, the puercos are complacent and can run their program as they see fit. I don't know about you, but I'm not down for catering to the puercos' agenda.


MIM(Prisons) responds: You don't have to sit in your cell alone with your thoughts and nothing to do. Pushing this comrade's observations further, we call on everyone to get involved in the MIM(Prisons) political study group. Or trade some labor for books to study. Make use of your time, like this writer, to read, study and grow. Write to us today to join the next introductory study group.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 56]
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Self-Criticism/Correction for ULK55 language

In ULK55 I saw many parallels to my own journey: past and present. The continual process of trying to politicize euro-nationalists is a very frustrating dilemma indeed. They've been bred by their own (dominant culture) to see themselves as superior! Which ofttimes manifests in their usage of covert racist terminology. Even as they attempt to convey a struggle oriented opinion (see ULK55 p16). A GA captive refers to a man of color as "boy"!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks for this criticism. We print it now since it slipped past our editors last issue. Terms like "baby boy" and boy are often used as terms of affection, especially by older comrades. But the word has a different meaning when written by a white persyn describing an oppressed national, especially by a member of the Aryan Nation. Specifically, boy was commonly used by white Amerikans when bossing around, threatening and just generally oppressing New Afrikans during slavery and after. It was a mistake for us to let such a use of the term slip into ULK without criticism.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 56]
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Music Review: All Amerikkkan Bada$$

Make Amerikkka Suck Again

Most Amerikan self-described "communists" will not even listen to this album as soon as they see the title. Those same white nationalist socialists refuse to read MIM's writings because of all the KKKs and dollar $igns. They claim it's too distracting. We say transforming the oppressors language is a necessary part of building a revolutionary culture to replace the old one.

A week ago, the top results brought by a search for "Amerikkka" on youtube.com(1) brought up songs from Ice Cube's Amerikkka's Most Wanted album, some other hip hop singles, and videos from a former associate of MIM with explicit anti-Amerikkkan messages. This week, Joey Bada$$'s new album is rising to the top for that query. All Amerikkkan Bada$$ isn't as edgy as Ice Cube (it does lack Cube's misogyny) and certainly not as edgy as Shubel Morgan (who did music videos for MIM and LLCO), but it's got a pretty strong message of New Afrikan unity and struggle.

In one interview Joey Bada$$ said:

"It’s like hella vegetables. It’s hella good for you, and it’s almost my hesitance with it: the fact that it’s so good for you, because these kids these days want candy."(2)
It's an interesting quote, because Shubel Morgan often talked about the need for "sugar-coated bullets" in their artwork to help the message go down.

The album title, All Amerikkkan Bada$$ is no doubt a reference to Badass's late partner in rhymes, Capital STEEZ's mixtape Amerikkkan Korruption. Lyrics on this new album hit references to that mixtape as well, such as the track "Dead Prez" that was produced by Joey Bada$$. Both Capital STEEZ and Joey Bada$$ are respected as lyricists, with fast New York styles of rapping.

The album cover (and associated art) features an Amerikkkan flag made out of red, white and blue bandannas. The song "Legendary" makes a reference to Crip culture with the line "the legends they never die, the niggers they only multiply." More explicit are the lines in "Rockabye Baby":

"Peace to my Slimes, and peace to my Crips
Neighborhood police and they always on the shift
Protect my Bloods, look out for my cuz
When it's all said and done, we be the realest there was
Who else if just not us?
If you 'bout this revolution, please stand up"
ScHoolboy Q of the Hoover Crips in Los Angeles comes into eir verse with, "I'm part of the reason they still Crippin' out in Brooklyn" and goes on to echo the struggles of New Afrikans against police brutality and unemployment.

While the first single, "Devastated" has been out for months, the second, "Land of the Free", came out just before the album dropped this week. The first song is about success, and the video has a party vibe to it. "Land of the Free" is about the struggle, and the video features some strong imagery, including all-white pigs executing Black and Brown people in all black. Joey Bada$$ intervenes to free some of them, but is later shot and hung by cops in Ku Klux Klan robes. And while the video shows Joey Bada$$'s U.$. flag made of bandanas throughout, what is not so prominent is the upside down U.$. flag on the back of eir jacket. "Land of the Free" features lyrics like, "sorry Amerikkka, but i will not be your soldier, Obama just was not enough, i want more closure." The apt-titled opening track, "Good Morning Amerikkka" references Black Panther Geronimo Pratt's framing for murder by the state.

While the album features the usual "fuck the police" and "fuck the government" refrains, the last track, "Amerikkkan idol", also says, "Fuck white supremacy," a slogan that seems to be coming into vogue following the election of Donald Trump.(3) This track closes with some pretty sober and explicit lyrics:

"What the government is doing amongst our people is downright evil, disturbing. But not surprising, that's for certain... I believe they are simply trying to slander, start a civil war within the U$A amongst Black and white. They want us to rebel so that it makes it easy for them to kill us and put us in jails... Alton Sterlings are happening every day in this country, around the world...And it's time for us to rebel, better yet raise hell. I just want everyone to be cautious about how they go about it... not only battling them on a physical plain, but to outsmart them... As Black men, i think our gangs need to do a better job at protecting us, the people, our communities and not assisting in destroying them brutally. It's time they even the score... We need solutions. You better start plotting now."

This article referenced in:
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[Culture]
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Crítica de la película Rogue One

Rogue One: Una historia de Star Wars (2016)

Rogue One trata de la historia desconocida detrás del primer episodio que se produjo de Star Wars (que ahora, cronológicamente, es ahora el IV en la inacabable y productiva saga de películas de Star Wars). En esta película descubriremos cómo se las arregla la Alianza Rebelde para conseguir una copia de los planos de la Estrella de la Muerte, una pieza fundamental de información utilizada para destruir esa arma. Esta película es un sorprendente ejemplo de cómo algunos instrumentos de la cultura capitalista bien financiados pueden gastar millones de dólares para obtener beneficios del entretenimiento. El presupuesto estimado fue de 200 000 000 $; imaginen lo que se podría haber hecho con esos recursos en un sistema que se guiase por las necesidades de la gente en vez de por los beneficios.

Por ese dinero obtenemos una historia que tiene algunos elementos progresistas pero también muchos mensajes discutibles y reaccionarios. Rogue One trata sobre la lucha de la Alianza Rebelde contra el Imperio, lo que puede ser una excelente analogía anti-imperialista. Y hay algunas temáticas sólidas de sacrificio revolucionario y de la unión de [email protected] [email protected] para luchar contra [email protected] [email protected] común en un frente unido. Sin embargo, al final gana el individualismo ya que, por supuesto, eso hace la historia más emocionante en nuestra cultura.

Este episodio supone un esfuerzo bastante satisfactorio de unir los episodios III y IV y nos explica mejor por qué la Estrella de la Muerte podría destruirse por completo la Estrella de la Muerte con un disparo certero. El saboteador detrás de ésta debilidad nos da uno de los muchos ejemplos de sacrificio revolucionario de esta película. Asimismo, ejemplifica cómo es posible que alguien se resista aun estando [email protected] a permanecer en una situación en la que no parece haber resistencia. A pesar de que se describe a este personaje como alguien con capacidades únicas, su forma de actuar sirve de buen ejemplo del axioma existencialista de que siempre hay elección. Esto puede servir de inspiración para [email protected] en los países imperialistas que están [email protected] por [email protected] de clase, o para [email protected] en celdas de aislamiento que no tienen más contacto con el mundo exterior que cartas esporádicas.

Aunque el sacrificio revolucionario es un tema fuerte con muchos personajes en la Rebelión, no es un mensaje propiamente anti-imperialista, como probablemente reafirmen [email protected] que luchan por el imperio de EE UU y que creen que lo que están haciendo está bien. En la película, el Imperio, más que ser un ejemplo de los males del imperialismo, sigue pareciendo una caricatura de lo que Estados Unidos piensa del comunismo. [email protected] van [email protected] con el mismo uniforme y están [email protected] a trabajar para conseguir el dominio militar del mundo bajo el liderazgo de [email protected] líder egoísta. No obstante, para [email protected] con una mentalidad revolucionaria, podemos simular que quería representar al imperio imperialista, apoyar a la Rebelión y honrar sus sacrificios.

Aparece un grupo que se asemeja a [email protected] rebeldes árabes que han emprendido el foquismo contra el Imperio, y con [email protected] que la Alianza Rebelde quiere trabajar a regañadientes. Esta visión es, en cierto modo, mejor que la representación que se suele hacer de [email protected] árabes en las películas de Hollywood, en las que a menudo son solo terroristas. Pero en este caso aparecen como si no fueran lo suficientemente inteligentes para participar en una batalla unida, haciendo solo lo que ordena el líder y en ataques foquistas aleatorios. Aún así es una imagen bastante estereotipada.

La misma Alianza parece ser un frente unido de varias especies de todo el universo que trabajan juntas para derrotar al Imperio. Esto podría verse como un paralelismo con el frente unido de las naciones oprimidas que será necesario para derribar el imperialismo estadounidense. En la historia humana tenemos grandes ejemplos de frentes unidos entre naciones, como China. Sin Embargo, pero tenemos poca experiencia del frente unido multinacional y de la dictadura colectiva del proletariado que, probablemente, será necesaria tras derribar al imperialismo estadounidense. La Rainbow Coalition (Coalición del Arco Iris) de Fred Hampton en Chicago fue una forma temprana de dicho frente unido pero se reprimió antes de que pudiera surgir una guerra anti-imperialista.

La película utiliza este frente unido para promover actos de desesperación ultraizquierdistas e individualistas. Cuando se estancan en la lucha sobre si deben o no emprender acciones militares o huir y esconderse, un pequeño grupo de combatientes emprenden acciones independientes porque lo único que conocen es la guerra. [email protected] son [email protected] valientes héroes y heroínas de la película. La principal discrepancia dentro del frente unido era sobre si era posible o no ganar en una lucha contra la Estrella de la Muerte. Este debate acerca de las tácticas podría haber sido una buena lección de lucha y unidad, una posibilidad de reunir más información y de ensayar varias tácticas para aprender de la práctica. En vez de eso, se produjo una pequeña discusión verbal y, después, se tomó la decisión de no actuar debido a todas las discrepancias, representando al frente unido como inútil.

En Rogue One aparecen más personajes femeninos de los que suelen aparecer en una película de Hollywood, pero los personajes principales nacieron en sus papeles, en vez de alzarse para tomar posiciones por convicción y trabajo duro, mientras que los personajes principales masculinos superaron grandes dificultades o luchan contra circunstancias personales para rebelarse. A pesar de todo, la gran mayoría de los personajes de la película son masculinos, un hecho extraño para una sociedad de un futuro tan lejano. Sin duda, el patriarcado sigue dominando en Star Wars.

En todas las películas de Star Wars aparecen referencias a “la Fuerza” en mayor o menor grado. En este argumento, la Fuerza se convierte básicamente en una religión, practicada únicamente por un hombre asiático que protege ciegamente el templo (literalmente, es ciego). La fe ciega de este hombre (no es muy sutil) se convierte en una parte importante de la lucha rebelde. Y, en un momento determinado, dicha fe salva la situación, promoviendo de nuevo, un tipo de ultraizquierdismo.

Con todos estos fallos, MIM(Prisons) no puede recomendar Rogue One más que para realizar análisis críticos.

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[Culture] [ULK Issue 54]
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Movie Review: Rogue One

Rogue One Death Star
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
2016
[spoilers]

Rogue One is the backstory behind the very first episode of Star Wars ever produced (which is now chronologically number 4 in the unendingly profitable Star Wars series of movies). In this movie we learn how the rebel alliance managed to get a copy of the blueprints for the Death Star, a critical piece of information used to destroy that weapon. This movie is an impressive example of how well-funded elements of capitalist culture can spend millions of dollars in order to make a profit off of entertainment: the estimated budget was $200,000,000. Imagine what could have been done with those resources in a system guided by peoples' need instead of profit.

For this money we get a story that has some progressive elements but also many questionable and reactionary messages. Rogue One is about the rebel alliance's fight against the Empire. This could be a great anti-imperialist analogy. And there are some solid themes of revolutionary sacrifice and the oppressed coming together to fight a common enemy in a united front. But in the end it is individualism that wins, as of course that makes for a more exciting story in our culture.

This episode is a fairly satisfactory effort to stitch together episode 3 and episode 4, and provides us with a better explanation for why the Death Star could be completely destroyed with one good shot. The saboteur behind this weakness gives us one of the many examples of revolutionary sacrifice in this movie. It also offers an example of how resistance is possible from someone who is forced into a situation where there seems to be no resistance. While this character is depicted as having unique skills, eir course of action serves as a good example of the existentialist axiom that we always have a choice. This may serve as inspiration for those in the imperialist countries surrounded by class enemies, or those in isolation cells with no contact with the outside world but occasional letters.

While revolutionary sacrifice is a strong theme with many characters in the Rebellion, this message is not inherently anti-imperialist as it will likely reinforce those fighting for U.$. empire who believe what they are doing is good. The Empire in the movie, rather than being an example of the evils of imperialism, continues to come across as a caricature of what Amerika thinks of communism. Everyone wears the same uniform and is forced to work for the military dominance of the world under the leadership of one egotistical leader. But for those with a revolutionary mindset, we can pretend this was meant to represent the imperialist empire, and root for the Rebellion and honor their sacrifices.

There is a group that resembles Arab militants who have taken up focoism against the Empire, and who the Rebel Alliance grudgingly wants to work with. In some ways this is better than the average portrayal of Arab peoples in Hollywood movies, where they are often just the terrorists. But in this case they come across as not smart enough to participate in a united battle, just doing what their leader directs, in random focoist attacks. Still a rather stereotypical picture.

The Alliance itself appears to be a united front of various species from around the universe who are working together to defeat the Empire. This could be seen to parallel the united front of oppressed nations that will be necessary to take down U.$. imperialism. In humyn history we have strong examples of united fronts within nations, such as China. But the multinational united front and the joint dictatorship of the proletariat that will likely be necessary after defeating U.$. imperialism are things that we have little experience with. Fred Hampton's Rainbow Coalition in Chicago was an early form of such a united front, but it was repressed before an anti-imperialist war could emerge.

The movie uses this united front to promote ultra-leftism and individualist acts of desperation. When they get bogged down in fighting over whether or not they should take military action or run and hide, a small group of fighters take independent action because they don't know anything but war. These are the brave heroes of the movie. The main disagreement within the united front was over whether or not it was possible to win in a fight against the Death Star. This debate over tactics could have been a good lesson in struggle and unity, perhaps greater gathering of information and a testing of various tactics to learn from practice. Instead there was a short verbal fight and then a decision that no action could be taken because of all the disagreement, portraying the united front as futile.

Rogue One did feature more female characters than the average Hollywood movie, but the main characters were born into their roles, rather than rising up to take positions out of conviction and hard work. While the lead male characters overcame great hardship, or fought against persynal circumstances, to take up the rebel struggle. And still the vast majority of the characters seen in the movie are male, an odd feature for a society so far in the future. Clearly the patriarchy still dominates in Star Wars.

Star Wars movies all feature reference to "The Force" to greater or lesser degrees. In this storyline The Force is basically turned into a religion, practiced only by one Asian man who blindly guards the temple (literally, he is blind). This man's blind faith (it's not very subtle) becomes an important part of the rebel fight. And at one point this faith saves the day, again promoting a sort of ultra-leftism.

With all of these failings, MIM(Prisons) can't recommend Rogue One for anything more than critical analysis.

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[Organizing] [Principal Contradiction] [Culture] [ULK Issue 51]
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Book Review: Lumpen by Ed Mead

lumpen ed mead
Lumpen: The Autobiography of Ed Mead
Kersplebedeb, 2015

Available for $20 + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8

As anti-imperialists and prison activists, we can recommend Ed Mead's recent autobiography as a useful read. There are a couple inconsistencies with the form and the line promoted in the book, however. While Mead critiques anarchism and reformism in the book, at the end is a list of a number of organizations that struggle for prisoners' rights, and they are all reformist/mass organizations with a couple anarchist groups thrown in. Mead stresses that he does not believe communists should hide their beliefs. Yet it is odd that he finds no communist prison support groups to be worthy of mention. Moreso, it seems that for much of Mead's life ey couldn't find a communist organization to be a part of and support.

We also must question the form of an autobiography. Our culture promotes the idea of writing one's own story. While this author has been told to write an autobiography multiple times, having lived much less of my life than Ed Mead, i don't plan to ever do so. I hope that if i do live as long as Mead i'm too busy fulfilling my tasks in a communist cadre org (or hopefully state by then) to spend a bunch of time writing about myself. Certainly there is some value in terms of the building of humyn knowledge of documenting the conditions of the time and places that Mead experienced. But it does not seem a high priority for communists. It was probably for this reason that i found the first chapters of the book tiring to read. I didn't really need to know all about Mead's family growing up to learn some lessons about how to organize with prisoners effectively. But perhaps that was my own problem as that was never a stated purpose of this book.

The foremost stated purpose of the book by Mead is to "extend an invitation to sections of the lumpenproletariat to join the international working class." While not a bad goal, it does hint at differences we have with Mead and other communists within California Prison Focus (CPF) regarding whether nation or class is the principal contradiction. This has led to divisions in our work to shut down Security Housing Units in California. In the 2000s, MIM was part of the United Front to Abolish the SHU, which was dominated by parties and organizations struggling for national liberation. While CPF was nominally a member, their difference on this issue led to a lack of working together. This was despite the fact that the United Front explicitly allowed for organizational independence in terms of political line outside of our agreement on shutting down the SHU. In the 2010s, CPF was part of the leadership that created the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition. Mead was perhaps the only one who tried to include MIM(Prisons) in that effort. But the coalition structure forced us to the outside this time as MIM(Prisons) refused to subsume our politics to the coalition.

While recognizing whites as obviously having advantages over others, Mead does believe there is a significant white nation working class in this country. While citing Mao favorably multiple times, Mead points out Mao's failure to put class first as a point of disagreement.(p. 164) Mead's line is also reflected in an off-hand comment saying Stalin was wrong to condemn the German social-democrats as social-fascists. We think Stalin and the Comintern correctly saw the class nature and interest of the social democrats as being labor aristocracy and petty bourgeois, who wavered towards fascism, paving its way to power.(1)

Mead talks about "white skin privilege" and uses it as an agitational point to push people to join the class war while discussing eir participation in the militant George Jackson Brigade. Mead admits that eir decision to use revolutionary violence was a direct result of the lack of mass support for abused prisoners.(p. 181) At the same time ey mentions other groups at the time doing similar things and believing that small bands carrying out armed struggle would spread across the country. Mead does not conclude anywhere in the book that it was a mistake to take up this line even though comrades died, while the rest spent the prime of their lives in prison. As we discussed in a recent article on the Black Panthers, it was both common and understandable to conclude that armed struggle would become a reality in the United $tates at that time.(2) Yet, not only are conditions less advanced today, history also proved that armed struggle in the United $tates was premature in the conditions of 1966-72.

From what we know about Mead in real life and from reading the book, it is clear that ey was good at and focused on uniting all who could be united. And while we say it is better for communists to work within cadre organizations than mass organizations, as Mead did much of eir life, ey certainly did so in a principled way according to the book. And most of those principles are ones that we too support.

As mentioned, i came to this book in search of some lessons on anti-imperialist organizing in prisons. And while some of the stories are very abbreviated, the book is not short on examples of Mead's efforts, pitfalls and successes. Mead talks about the importance of determining the principal contradiction at each prison ey organized in. While in most cases ey sait it was related to nation, ey said it was related to sexism in Walla Walla, which led to the formation of Men Against Sexism.(3) Interestingly, Mead takes the position that while nation is principal inside prisons, it does not make sense to build a Black-only prison movement (at least on a large scale).(p. 280) We are sympathetic to this view and spend a lot of time calling for unity between nationalities in prison, while promoting national liberation as a strategy for the oppressed nations overall. A couple of good lessons are well-put in Mead's own words:

"...if the immediate demands address prisoners' rights and living conditions, then the backwards elements will either be won over or neutralized by the growing consciousness of the rest of the population."(p. 305) This was one of the most inspiring parts of Mead's story. In a situation where the prison system was dominated by one lumpen organization (LO) that was guided by self-interest, Mead had the revolutionary fearlessness to organize those victimized by the LO to build a mass movement that the whole population came to identify with.

"An organization that depends upon one person for direction is doomed to fail; each level of cadre should be able to take the place of a fallen or transferred comrade, even if that person occupies a leadership position."(p. 306) Mead learned this from experience, both in situations where ey was that sole leader and others where ey was surrounded by a dedicated cadre. Inspiring stories include the first strike ever at McNeil Island, which had 100% participation.(p. 139) While many of the challenges of prison organizing are still the same decades later, you'll find many other inspiring stories in this book as well. It demonstrates both the importance of the prison movement as part of the overall movement for liberation and against imperialism, while showing the limitations of a prison movement that is not complemented by strong movements on the outside. As the current struggle focused on police murders continues to ferment, we work to build a prison movement, and they will feed each other as we move towards the next revolutionary period in history.

Notes:
1. see MIM Theory 10: Labor Aristocracy, or the MIM(Prisons) study pack, The Labor Aristocracy and the International Communist Movement.
2. Under Lock & Key 50: Black Panther Party 50 Year Commemoration
3. PTT of MIM(Prisons), Review: The Anti-Exploits of Men Against Sexism, Under Lock & Key, Issue 29, November/December 2012.
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