The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

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[Drugs] [Economics] [COVID-19] [Prison Labor] [ULK Issue 73]
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LETTERS: Profits, Taxes, Investing, Fundraising and Weed

Capitalism in Smoke

A Kansas Prisoner: I would like to comment on an article by Wiawimawo (August 2019) concerning Tulsi Gabbard, prison labor, and drug decriminalization.

There is zero question that Kansas is using prisoners for cheap labor and profiting tremendously from multi-year sentencing of first-time drug offenders like myself.

I “earn” sixty cents per day to perform a skilled labor sewing position full time. If I refuse to work I will receive a disciplinary work report resulting in my custody security level to rise.

There is a 30-person crew that works at the Kansas State Fairgrounds year round. These prisoners also receive 60 cents per day. The fairground complex could not operate without prison labor.

These jobs are not maintaining KDOC prisons. They are part of the state prison economy, for the profit of the state.

Also, this prison takes 50% of the earnings of all private industry job income prisoners earn. At the private industry jobs, prisoners make minimum wage ($7.25/hour). Incarcerating probation-eligible offenders to minimum-custody facilities to work is proof that in Kansas, exploiting prison labor is a motivating force for mass incarceration.

In almost every other state I would not have been sentenced to prison for possession of medical cannabis.

I understand the point of the article was to look at medium and long-term goals. As a non-violent, non-victim, first time drug offender I believe cannabis decriminalization is a goal worth pursuing. Thousands of people in Kansas have been incarcerated by a corrupt, prison labor motivated criminal justice system.

Is the author agreeing that non-violent, non-victim, first-time cannabis offenders should be working for 60 cents a day to assist the state economy and provide cheap labor for giant factory farms in Kansas? When I see corrupt judges play in to this state economy, there are no myths in my first-hand facts. If I am misinterpreting Wiawimawo’s writing, please clarify what the author intended.

Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: First, thanks for the details on how prison labor works where you are in Kansas. We regularly publish such reports on our website and use them to keep tabs on the realities of prison labor over time. You are our on the ground reporters for everything going on in U.$. koncentration kamps.

One thing you don’t specify is who you are making clothing for at your job. That is an important factor. Usually people are working on clothing and sheets and now face masks for other prisoners to use. That would be work for the prison system, not for profit. Similarly, running the fairgrounds is for the state. These are parallel to the examples of fire fighters given in my original article.

None of these jobs are making profits for anyone, which you seem to have confused. Multiple times you refer to Kansas as profiting from prisoners. States do not make profits. They have revenue and expenses, and they can run over budget if they want with expenses being greater than revenue by issuing bonds. Now the bourgeois definition of profit is netting more money coming in then you put out in expenditures. But even bourgeois economists do not use this terminology in regards to states. As Marxists, we define exploitation as paying workers less than the value that they produce and then selling the product (or service) to realize the full value. This is the source of wealth accumulation in capitalism.

Now to the prisoner sewing clothes for 60 cents a day, it matters little whether those clothes are to be used for state-issued use or sold in a store. So i can understand where you’re coming from. But if we want to explain how the prison system works in this country this becomes an important distinction. It is not profits for big businesses to accumulate capital that drives the system. It is a combination of financial self-interest of the people who work in these institutions, people who some would have us see as the oppressed proletariat themselves, and the broader interests of the oppressor nation to control the oppressed nations in this country. Through this control of the oppressed nations by Amerikans through criminalization and imprisonment, they can further gentrify the places oppressed nations reside and create further economic control for themselves. This is the heart of our analysis. And it is why we have a very different orientation than the petty bourgeoisie who is opposed to private prisons for profit and favor drug decriminalization as discussed in my original article.

“Is the author agreeing that non-violent, non-victim, first-time cannabis offenders should be working for 60 cents a day to assist the state economy and provide cheap labor for giant factory farms in Kansas?”

No, i do not argue that. We argue for more change, not less. We are not reformists, and we don’t think drug decriminalization in the United $tates will eliminate national oppression nor drug addiction. If done well, it could reduce these problems, and the specific expression of drug problems such as marijuana consumption. Therefore the reform is progressive, but it does not solve the problem of national oppression and the criminal drug economy. We have much better solutions for national oppression and drug addiction, and they certainly don’t include imprisoning people for victimless behavior. They do include eliminating profit motives in all aspects of our lives. In the meantime, we support an international minimum wage that would apply to prisoners.


A California Prisoner: The Covid and imperialism article in ULK 72 sparked my interest because I am already vaccinated and I had to ask myself why I, a prisoner, was vaccinated before tax payers? The answer was pretty simple logic. Prison is huge profit for California and the cash cow has been closed for Covid crisis, the sooner California can reopen the prisons, they can continue to rake in the profits they make from our suffering.

Wiawimawo responds: There was a significant effort in California by lawyers and activists to get prisoners to the top of the vaccination list. And this is at least part of the explanation as to why you got vaccinated early. It made sense from a public health standpoint, but this did not happen across the country because many Amerikans don’t care about prisoners’ lives.

It is not clear why you argue that profits dried up in prisons during the shelter-in-place, so i would need more information on that to respond. But as i explain above, states don’t profit from prisons. Prisons are a huge financial expense and do not create any economic value. Prison labor is one way to slightly reduce some of the expenses in running these prisons.(1)

All that said, i want to address this comrade’s talk about the “tax payers.” The vaccination campaign across the United $tates is being paid by the Federal government. The government has now passed a series of bills in the trillions of dollars to address the fallout from the pandemic. This is not “tax payer money.” They are just printing money, or creating money out of thin air to fund these programs. Since the dollar is the global currency, they can do this with some confidence that other countries and investors will buy up the bonds to cover the expense. It’s all funny money that we benefit from here in the United $tates, even those in prison benefit at times, thanks to our position as the premier imperialist power.

This is in stark contrast to countries like India and Brazil that are now being hit hard by the pandemic and the people are being offered little relief. One reason is that these countries can’t just print $1 trillion worth of their currency without causing massive inflation and damaging the conditions of the people more.

To the extent that it is “tax payers” who are helping to balance the budget deficit in the United $tates, we must also be clear where that money is coming from – the Third World proletariat. The above is just one demonstration of how value can flow from the periphery to the imperialist countries. This is reflected in the incomes of all U.$. citizens, who must give some of those super-profits to the state to keep the imperialist system running.

So let us not shed a tear for the poor “tax payer” in this country because California actually made some efforts to vaccinate people in a way that made sense in terms of promoting public health. There is no shortage of vaccines in the United $tates. In fact, we have far more than we need, while other countries have not even begun vaccinating their populations yet. If we were really working in the interests of public health, we would have a more equitable distribution of vaccines across the globe. We’d be prioritizing hotspots, which the United $tates is. And we’d be sharing the technology needed to make vaccines freely, releasing the intellectual property that is holding back progress in the fight against COVID-19. Failure to do so means that the virus will continue to evolve and likely continue to be a problem.


A New York prisoner: In response to ULK 72 (2021) article “Help Fund MIM(Prisons), Donate Now!”, I would like to offer a suggestion outside of charity from donations which seems to be a necessary form of income for the production, maintenance & shipment of ULK’s. What if MIM took some of its donations and invested them in the stock market? I know that seems pro-capitalist, but as the old adage goes you gotta fight “fire with fire.” Making a few short-term trades could possibly boost revenue for expenses (solely), and make donations a welcomed part of production but not so necessary. This would keep MIM’s line of no foreseeable future in capitalism by not becoming long-term investors in the stock market, but instead looking for quick returns in order to fund revolutionary work (i.e. short selling, which is basically betting against the U.S. market, which is still in some ways inherently communist behavior). I am enclosing an articled dated 11 January 2021, “Jay-Z Fund to Help Minority-owned Cannabis Businesses.” What do you think about this venture? I don’t really believe lumpen have the luxury of investing in non-essential production/consumption as cannabis right now, when they don’t even have land to cultivate on. But financial freedom is nonetheless a form of independence… so keep on keeping on Jay-Z!

Wiawimawo responds: First, we agree with using the oppressors’ tools against them, and have no moral qualms about the stock market. Proletarian morality means we do what will most benefit the liberation of the exploited and oppressed. Whether it is a wise investment is another question. Conventional wisdom is that it is a good long-term bet, but unpredictable in the short-term. As for shorting, well hedge fund Melvin Capital Management lost 53% in January in its infamous shorting of Gamestop.(2) They lost about $6 billion on that bet. That’s what the stock market is, gambling.

Now cannabis businesses, that might be a more sound investment. As the article points out, and as i discussed in my article on Tulsi Gabbard mentioned above, the legalization of weed has been a bonanza for white petty bourgeois interests trying to get small businesses up and running before the large corporations dominate the market. New Afrikans are under-represented in business ownership overall at just 10%, but in the states listed that number was 3-6% for cannabis businesses.(3) Jay-Z, and New York State are correctly recognizing this gap and trying to do something to not let it happen in New York.

What do we think about this? More equal opportunity for the petty bourgeoisie just reinforces imperialism. When it was illegal, oppressed people selling weed were targeted by the state and potential allies to the anti-imperialist movement. People running successful weed businesses aren’t likely to be our allies, regardless of their skin color.

The weed game is in a major transition. It is still in a semi-legal state, where the Feds could crack down on you (and they have). Getting access to loans and bank accounts can be difficult as a result. One group that is proving successful as early pioneers in the trade are former law enforcement. They are less likely to be targeted by the state than a former felon, and they have clout to deal with the pressures from extortion rackets and the lumpen organizations they are competing with. Therefore as revolutionaries, the weed business might be risky.

You suggest that we need to invest in stocks to free us from our reliance on donations. On the contrary, we are trying to become more reliant on donations so that our cadre don’t have to worry so much about funding everything ourselves, which we do by working or investing or whatever. Maybe some of us are investing in the stock market to fund this work, but that is not a reliable source of income. We want to be going strong when the market collapses again. And that is why we want to be reliant on the financial support of the masses. Only by relying on the people is our future secure.

As i said above, legalization of weed will not eliminate national oppression in the forms of cop killings and disproportionate imprisonment rates. It will make pacifying substances more readily available to the masses. And for better or for worse it will undercut the underground economy in favor of public tax revenue. And that is what this is about of course, it is providing tax revenue to maintain government funding at the local and state levels.

Until the import of weed is legalized by the feds, this shift of production to the United $tates will be undercutting a source of profits in the drug trade – the Third World farmer. Historically the farmers who grow and process weed are the ones being exploited in Third World countries. As production shifts to the First World, wages will have to increase to exploiter-level wages, with the possible exception of using migrant labor from the Third World. This means the profits must come from other sectors in the Third World instead, to pay the farmers, marketers, sales people and accountants in the First World running the new weed economy, as well as the state taxes. If the exploited weed farmers are eliminated, then the profits must now be squeezed from the banana farmers or copper miners, and all the other exploited workers of the Third World. This puts more pressure on the already dangerously low international rate of profit.

Finally, we agree with your point about land. Without land there is no power. National liberation means liberating the territory of the oppressed. Owning land as individuals is not it. Oppressed nations must control land as independent nations, and be able to defend that land. This is a central task of the New Democratic movement.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons) on U.$. Prison Economy - 2018 Update, Under Lock & Key No. 60.
2. Juliet Chung, 31 January 2021, Melvin Capital lost 53% in January, Hurt by GameStop and Other Bets, The Wall Street Journal.
3. Vial Monga, 21 January 2021, Jay-Z Fund to Help Minority-Owned Cannabis Businesses, The Wall Street Journal.

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[Drugs] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Texas] [ULK Issue 73]
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The Tragedy of Officer Woods

police are weapons of mass destruction

I’ll never speak ill of the dead. However, if by telling their stories, we can prevent needless suffering, then those stories must be told. There is both beauty and power within our words. If we are to progress from erudite to enlightened, then we are obligated to speak effectively and responsibly. Sometimes, the greatest damage is done by not speaking up or not speaking out.

When I first saw Ms. Woods, I couldn’t help but ask my neighbor “Wow! Who is that?” Oh sure, I’ve seen some very attractive guards down here. But this girl seemed almost too pretty to be working at a prison. My cellie spoke up and said “Do yourself a favor bro, leave that one alone. She’s poison candy. Nice shiny wrapper on the outside… but completely toxic inside.”

I take everything with a grain of salt down here. Surely, this was an exaggeration. I thought these two were just being cynical. Time in here has a way of making people jaded. You’re either going to get better or bitter. Unfortunately, their warnings proved to be both timely and accurate. From the first moment she opened her mouth, the most venomous hatred imaginable spewed out.

For the most part, I wouldn’t have to be around her very much. I’d managed to land a good job at our unit print shop. Four days a week, I’d be gone for 12 hours a day. Guards here work 4 on 4 off. So that even further reduced my chances of seeing her. I figured I could handle just about anything for 3 days. Guess I was wrong.

My very first run-in with her happened on a Saturday. I knew to be at my cell when they called count time. They came through and did their thing. Then the lights turned out. I went into the restroom to finish getting ready for visit. I heard a door pop open moments later, only to be followed by her screaming “10 bunk!” then a string of profanities. Talk about getting caught with your pants down. She walks by while I’m still on the toilet, screaming, “You’re getting a case!”

My neighbor walks over and says “She took your I.D. bro! And your house is thrashed!” Sure enough, I get back to my cubicle and it’s a mess. Everything is on the floor. She wasn’t even doing a search. She simply did it out of spite. By the time I get things almost back in order, it’s about to be lunch. She’s still got my I.D. card, but now she’s nowhere to be found. Great. Hopefully, I can track her down before I get called in for visit.

Sure enough, lunch rolls around and I gotta tell them to punch in my number. “Ms. Woods took my I.D.” The guard at chow hall looks up and smiles, “Sucks to be you!” By the time I get back to the wing, they call me for visit. I leave to find the sergeant to explain that I can’t get into visitation without it. He tells me, “She probably went on break to write you up. Don’t worry about the case. I got you. From now on, you’d better steer clear of that one! Got it?”

The weeks fly by, and I’m fortunate enough to only see her in passing. Oh sure, she’s definitely pretty to look at, but now I avoid her like the plague. All I’m trying to do is stay out of their way.

One day my boss at print shop says “Okay, shut it down. They’re racking up the farm.” We get out to the back gate and they make me sit down. All these guards go running past us headed for one building.

Two guards are talking between themselves, but we can hear over the radio chatter that there has been another assault on staff. Now these guards start to argue, “Look, I don’t care where you put them! But they gotta be out here so that ambulance can come in!”

By the time we get back to our own building, all hell has broken loose. We can hear the warden’s voice on another radio screaming, “LOCK IT DOWN!!” They got one of the halls blocked off. As we walk by to go back in our wing, we can see all these burgundy pools of coagulated blood. This is bad.

Soon as we walk in, they ask me, “Did you hear about Officer Woods? DUDE … he beat the brakes off of her!” I look down at him and ask, “Who?” his eyes get real big when he says “Smitty! I thought y’all knew. Man … he just flipped out! Followed her right out the door into deep space, knocked her out, and then went to WORK on her! After that they say he just walked up to the desk and turned around so they could put the cuffs on him.”

After three weeks of lockdown, we were finally able to go back to work. Then I learned the rest of the story. Seems that while Smitty was off work on his bereavement, Woods went in and tossed his cell. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when she took his pictures off his wall. You see … this poor man had just lost his mother, sister and baby daughter, all in quick succession within about six weeks of each other.

Now, of course, I wasn’t there to see it, but everybody says he got down on his hands and knees to BEG that woman not to take those precious photos. I’m told that even after he explained their sudden deaths, she callously laughed in his face and said “Forget your dead family.” Only she chose to use a different “F” word.

That beating wasn’t what killed her. It was the lifestyle. Reports say that they saved her life multiple times, both on the way to the hospital and in the operating room once she got there. There was extensive reconstructive surgery. Nobody will even know the full extent of the traumatic brain injury. It’s often those scars on the inside, that just won’t heal.

After a few months off, she returned to work. Doctors had done an amazing job, considering the extent of her injuries. Her entire face was pulverized. Oh, she was still somewhat pretty. But those drop dead gorgeous, model-quality features, were long gone. Her nose, eyes and cheekbones weren’t the same. People couldn’t tell if they were dentures or implants, but that smile would never be the same either.

You see … all along, she’d been manipulated and exploited by the gangs. For almost her entire tenure, she’d been smuggling in dope and cell phones. The perverts had simply preyed on her own insecurity. How could somebody so stunning on the outside be completely devoid of the true beauty that only comes from within? The only way prison officials ever found out about her activities was when they busted somebody with one of those phones.

The photos and videos were as numerous as they were explicit. So was all that contact information. It was a treasure trove of evidence. She’d also been prostituting herself. The predators had simply used her, then discarded her like some piece of garbage. Administration walked her off the unit in disgrace.

In the end, the prosecution’s job would be easy. She was facing a long list of criminal charges. I suppose the stress of an impending court trial, along with everything else, simply proved to be too much for her. I was SOOOO HOPING that all those rumors weren’t true. Unfortunately, she really did it. Ms. Woods died of a single gunshot wound to the head. She put the pistol in her mouth – just to stop the pain.

We found out about officer Woods’ suicide in 2019. A few months ago, we found out that Ms. Davis had met a similar fate. We are still unclear as to whether her death was a suicide or accidental overdose. The specifics of each of these tragedies is not nearly as important as the root causes of the problem, which remains the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. TDCJ does not care about stopping the rampant corruption and injustice here in Texas. Everyone from the newest correctional officers to the top administrative officials are complicit and therefore profits from this malfeasance!


MIM(Prisons) adds: We have seen some interesting things in the last year or so. Some prison systems have instituted egregious restrictions on mail claiming it was used to smuggle drugs, and all prisons locked down completely with no visitors for months due to the global pandemic. Yet, reports from prison after prison, from state to state to the feds, have unanimously reported no change in the availability of contraband during these periods.

The imperialists portray ending crime as a great mystery that can’t be solved, a timeless problem that we can only respond to with force and punishment. This is metaphysics, it fails to look at the past, at humyn societies before classes and poverty, at countries who built socialism and virtually eliminated drug abuse, prostitution, theft, hunger, homelessness, etc. These things go hand-in-hand. Our crime-ridden society is not eternal, it stems from our economic system and is reinforced by the cultural ideas that come with such a system. Changing the economic system is hard, it will take determination and sacrifice by many. But once we do, ending so much needless suffering and conflict between humyns is not so hard.

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[Drugs] [Texas] [ULK Issue 73]
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TDCJ: Your Staff are Bringing in the Drugs, and it Must Stop

In the 27 years of being confined within these walls, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) has always blamed families, claiming that the families are the ones who smuggle dangerous contraband (cellphones, meth, K2, heroin) into the prisons. As of today, we’ve been without visits over a year, due to COVID-19, yet this place is still full of contraband.

Last month several prisoners died from suicide, overdoses, and others hurt fellow prisoners while high on drugs. In order to cover up what’s really going on, the unit was placed on lock down, and a team was brought to shake down and tear up our property. While all this was going on, the only form of communication with our families, the phones, was turned off. We were punished because guards brought the drugs and the prisoners used them.

TDCJ officials and higher-ups refuse to admit there’s a serious problem within the system, and it’s not the prisoners. Prisoners can’t go out the gate, purchase contraband, then return to prison. It’s just not possible. How can prisoners rehabilitate themselves when there’s more drugs in here than out there? Society should take a closer look at the real problem and remember that a lot of prisoners will return to communities out there worse than before, due to the drugs the guards bring into this place.

Someone with a voice of authority and who’s willing to dedicate themselves to bringing new change, needs to step up to this problem. Millions of taxpayers’ dollars are being given to prisons, supposedly to rehabilitate prisoners – it’s the biggest lie prison officials tell the public. Only a handful of prisoners are being rehabilitated. The rest are walking around like zombies high on meth or K2.

I humbly request that my comrades at MIM please help bring this situation to the proper officials, maybe then change will come, that will truly help to rehabilitate my brothers in this place, who are dying from the poison the true criminals (guards) bring to these prisons.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In addition to no visits for a year, TDCJ has also been not allowing all kinds of mail including greeting cards and childrens’ drawings, which they allege were also a means by which family members were sending in drugs.

Under Lock & Key No. 59 dealt in depth with the problem of drugs in prisons, how widespread they were, and the very strong material interest of the prisoners and staff involved in the drug trade to keep that going. The above experiments of closing down visitation and mail demonstrate scientifically that it is primarily staff bringing in the drugs. This is not unique to Texas.

This evidence is damning. And we stand with all comrades locked up who oppose the scourge of drugs being brought into prisons by the state’s very own staff. The censorship and harassment of family members and prisoners themselves also must stop. For our whole lifetimes, drugs have been brought into our communities by the state and then used as an excuse to oppress, harass and control. The drugs themselves serving to control and subdue the people.

We are expanding the work of our Serve the People Re-Lease on Life program with a new revolutionary 12 Step Program to help those with all kinds of addictions to re-create themselves as new, revolutionary humyns. We must build a culture of true rehabilitation that the state is not providing, as this comrade points out. Only programs of the people, can really serve the peoples’ interests.

Meanwhile, we want to work with prisoners and their families to pressure the state to recognize these facts that are being exposed thanks to the pandemic. If we can get them to reduce the amount of drugs their staff sneak into prisons, we can reduce the harm they are having on our people behind bars.

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[Drugs] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 71]
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Black August: Peace and Education to Combat Behavior Modification

[Abolitionists From Within (AFW) submitted a series of essays leading up to Black August and hosted their annual poker tournament that is part of their effort to build the United Front for Peace in Prisons(UFPP). Below are some of the thoughts they sent us, followed by their report on September 9.]

Wake up comrades. Evelyn Williams reminds us that all African American prisoners are political prisoners, whether or not they label themselves as such. Because of the circumstances that got them into prison as well as the harshness of sentencing applied to them. Political prisoners who became politicized inside prison walls and who oriented their lives around the struggle for social justice and national liberation include Malcolm X, George Jackson and the Attica warriors. Many other comrades of yesterday and today’s struggle would be and are encompassed in the term as political prisoners.

So to all comrades behind enemy lines, we are at war and have been and we must understand the enemy tactics. Prisons have become the battle ground in a war of attrition designed to reduce prisoners to a state of submission, psychological incompetence sufficient to neutralize us as self-directing antagonists by making us desperate enough to destroy ourselves for material gains.

So let us not be fooled any longer through our own self-destructive behaviors. You are the target Black man. Tactics of counterinsurgency and low-intensity warfare against us. Assassinated, tortured, frame-ups, imprisonment, control and alter the behavior of people resisting oppression. And as you know, prison officials will use drugs as a method of control. …

Damn comrades, ya’ll giving up. These conditions we living in is temporary. Don’t make it permanent. I see your violent outbursts, passing out, seizures, suicide attempts and serious mental breakdowns. Comrade, them symptoms of that synthetic shit. Homies lose touch with reality and lash out at the one’s who really trying to help them.

One of the comrades pass out standing up. This shit is real bro, that shit hurt me deep. Because you can tell a lot about a person from the company he keep. Comrade, you can’t say you with the business and your actions don’t match. These young warriors not going to respect those acts on the yard.

I hear the C.O.s making jokes like this shit is a game. Perpetuating the fight that the prison administration encourages. However, this Black August and Bloody September we going to continue to organize and apply the UFPP five principles. So AFW will be putting on a poker tournament here with all “ethnic” groups with one goal: Peace and awareness of the prison struggles on these yards and who is the real enemy.

Da struggle continue.


9 September 2020: Black August passed, still pushing. AFW is still building to continue the good fight on September 9 Day of Peace and Solidarity with all our freedom fighters and conscious comrades and to commemorate the all the faceless comrades and to never forget about the Attica uprising and our beloved brother GJ.

I been working out with our comrades, reading, sharing books, etc. Just building doing this COVID-19 the best we can in solidarity with all comrades here struggling behind enemy lines. Today, September 9th, I fast and hit the night yard work out again and count my blessings.

I stress with our comrades to understand who the real enemy is and to learn the enemy tactics of oppression that keep us oppressed. We have to continue to push, pull and stride for unity, and the comaraderie among the brothers and all ethnic groups and continue to put an end to all hostilities among our brothers with peace on our tongue this September 9th day.

The struggle must go on.

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[Drugs] [Release] [ULK Issue 71]
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People, Places, and Things Philosophy for Overcoming Drug Addiction

united front for peace in prisons

I had reached a point in my life where I was high for weeks at a time. I would stay awake for over a week at a time on ice. While living this lifestyle for over a half a year I was also big on the spice (K2). I was smoking an 11oz bag by myself every 2 days. When you are in this state one clearly can’t think or function properly in society on any legitimate level. I decided that I was tired of living this lifestyle and thought back to an intensive behavior modification program that I was forced to attend a few years prior to my current addicted state of being. The greatest tools I had received in this 6 month program was the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding based on these 3 words: People, Places, and Things!

If we truly want to be free from drug addiction we must change some or at times all of the people we associate with. We may have to find new employment, housing, recreational places etc. We will have to get rid of certain habits or stumbling blocks that hinder or block progress to freedom from addiction. We can not make excuses, but must stand firm in our convictions that whatever storms or difficulties may arise drugs are not our solution. They will only make things worse 100% of the time in the long run.

I found success when I completely applied the People, Places, and Things philosophy. It’s never easy, but absolutely necessary. Positive People, positive Places, and positive Practices will keep you in a positive direction. It does not make us weak feeling we need others for support during such trialsome times. It shows strength and courage when we can admit to our weaknesses and reach out for the necessary help. I hope you find success in this strategy as I have knowing that it will awaken you, clear your mind and help you move in a more PROMISING DIRECTION!


MIM(Prisons) adds: Taking the initiative to surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing is a great tool for success. Unfortunately, it is not always an option (especially in prison) or easy to do. We can apply this comrades’ advice to society as a whole and understand the success of socialist China in eliminating drug addiction. They did not have policies that were particularly unique around drugs. But they were in the process of redefining their nation and their future, which offered everyone a positive roll to play, not to mention jobs, housing and health care.

We see the Chinese model as the solution to addiction. In the meantime, we must figure out how to survive and thrive in this system. That is why our Re-Lease on Life Program is developing resources for those who struggle with addiction that help connect them with a lifelong political mission. We hope to have materials to review and test out soon, so let us know if you are interested in reviewing this program.

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[International Connections] [Drugs]
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The Radicalization of an LGBTQ Prisoner

I’m definitely looking forward to receiving more material that will benefit me in my growth in our movement. Of course the prison library here has nothing that is intellectually or politically stimulating. Any military or political writings are pro-amerikan imperialist, and only bitch about how the long-haired commies and commie sympathizers are tearing the fabric of this great country asunder. Blah Blah Blah!…

So a little background info that led to my radicalization, the charge that led me to prison is a murder in the 1st degree which is a life without parole sentence of 60 years at 100%. So I got tweaked on crystal meth, stayed awake for 16 days and unfortunately an innocent person lost their life.

Upon coming to prison my give a fuck button was busted. I felt like I had nothing to live for so I spent my time chasing dope and trying to remain numb. Also I’ve dealt with being a closeted pan-sexual since I was 12 years old. Prison was hard for me at the beginning. All of these bullshit prison politics revolve around race and I didn’t fit in with the “Aryans” so I constantly got jumped and beat up by them and then the gang bangers all saw me as an easy target cause I wasn’t cliqued up with the whites. So I spent my days trying to dodge these assholes and trying not to draw attention to my self. I started noticing how the pigs here were playing bullshit games and turned inmates against one another and stirring up confrontations that led to wars and bloodshed. Also I was slowly building up courage to “come out” and not give a fuck what others think of me.

I began to notice how narrow-minded bigoted pigs and inmates were both marginalizing people of the LGBTQ community. Along with all this, I started paying attention to politics ever since the people of the United Snakes decided to elect a fucking pompous troll for our president. Before this I never really had an interest in politics, but something clicked in me as I kept seeing innocent minorities being basically fucking murdered by the law enforcement who’s supposed to protect us. The blatant discrimination against the LGBTQ community by these evangelical Jesus freaks and the draconian bullshit our “corruptor in chief” was trying to push against us. I got sick of Islamaphobia, systematic racism, fucking garbage Nazis, all of their shit.

One day I saw a live report from a “pro Trump” rally, out in the midst of all these bigot bitches I saw these radical comrades from “Antifa” rallying against these fuckers and I started to do a little research with what limited sources I have and I got turned on to radical/revolutionary material and it hit me: this is what I was supposed to do.

My first step or personal liberation was “coming out,” than I realized I’m in a prime breeding ground of people who’ve been marginalized, demonized, and all together left behind by most of society. A lot of these people (including me) have no idea how to cut the foot off that’s constantly trying to be placed upon our necks. If a single person like myself can acquire the proper knowledge and put it to use, I have the ability to reach people and get them to see who the real oppressors are!

I’ve studied various people who have had a major influence on me: Weathermen, SLA, Malcolm X, etc. etc. and I’m trying like hell to get a full, well-rounded understanding of Maoist thought and the communist philosophy. And with that knowledge, there is no limit to who I can reach!

So that’s pretty much the way I was liberated from my own mental prison. I most definitely agree that drug use in prison is not only encouraged but it’s running fucking rampant! The two main things that are dealt are Suboxone and “bath salts.” Suboxone is basically the U.S. government and big pharma’a sleezy way to extort recovering addicts by getting them hooked on the “miracle drug” that is supposed to cure them. “Bath salts” is the same shit that’s reported in the news making people eat other people like zombies! So you can imagine the effects of a drug like that in a place that’s hyper violent and full of testosterone already.

I’m looking very forward to the next bit of material coming from you and I’m very excited and grateful to have been accepted into the study group. You know prison can most times feel like hell when you feel alone. With no type of purpose or meaning to your existence.

Well that’s where I stop the line. I want to not only educate myself and better my own situation, I want to give other people the tools to help themselves. This prison is unfortunately my life, so I want to spend my time fighting and advocating for every single thing that we are entitled to and raise hell until we get it! We must unite and educate before we can be liberated from these fascist fucks!


MIM(Prisons) responds: We are excited for the fresh energy into revolutionary organizing that the Trump administration has brought. Most people stop at the call for simply getting rid of Trump, bringing back Obama, maybe shifting to Bernie or Hilary, and they are satisfied. The liberal media putting Trump on blast, plus the very visual images of Antifa activists, has helped some people see the atrocities that the Unites Snakes government has been doing all along. Seeing the difference between patriotic reformism and revolutionary communism is a crucial step in opposing the marginalization and oppression that Trump represents. Trump’s persona is unique, but eir policies and practices are not.

Seeing the difference between organizing against Trump and organizing against Amerikkka is an extremely important part to organizing against fascism. Where many people would prefer a Bernie-type of government, with more benefits for U.S. citizens with absolutely abhorrent internationalism, we see that trend in so-called “revolutionary” organizing actually a trend toward fascism. Where our comrade uses the term “fascist” in eir letter to be a persynality criticism, we prefer to use it to refer to an economic, social, and military system. We see a Bernie-type social democratic administration as paving the way toward a fascist government, that’s not just bigoted and outspoken like Trump, but protectionist and militarized like Hitler. Trump and Bernie are two sides of the same coin, and we must oppose all Amerikanism in order to oppose fascism.

While the common view is that “minorities” (comparatively small groups of people) are being oppressed by Trump, we take confidence from the fact that we’re not the minority internationally. The oppressed internal semi-colonies have a lot in common with oppressed nations across the globe, and more to gain from uniting with them than trying to integrate into Amerikkka. And oppressed people across the entire world would be behind them.

We’re excited that this author, who is just one voice among many, has chosen to unite with us in this internationalist struggle.

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[Education] [Drugs] [Civil Liberties] [Texas]
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Study Group's Long Struggle; Face Drugs and Censorship

Revolutionary Greetings!

As you know, March 2020 TDCJ has made changes. No more greeting cards are allowed in, only ten photos at a time and more little changes, such as the only ones allowed to send money or ecom packages must be on your phone or visitation list.

They are trying to slow the drug market down. However no changes for good time work time or payment for our labor. Still slaves to the system imagine that. Anyway the study group I am working on hasn’t grown. We are three strong. It’s a start! We decided to post “Did you know”’s and “Just think about it” notes to get the attention of people. A lot of people are still stuck on K-2 and other drugs.

I deeply feel this is what they want to keep us from thinking, but never will I give up hope or educating men. We have a major fight on our hands and the battle is far from won. Not only are we fighting the oppressors but we must educate the masses. I read and studied a lot of material I still haven’t come to the understanding on how to influence people of the knowledge or political education or even a common platform that will help the Texas prison system. We all have been pushing peace so that’s a start.

We just now need to get rid of the Meth and K-2! Our unit just came off lockdown they had a surprise unit sweep, getting rid of a lot of K-2 and Meth only to see the prison block flooded again with that shit. Over 50 cell phones were found and pounds of K-2. No big changes cause it’s still here it seems like even more though. In other words they took pictures then put it right back on the streets.


MIM(Prisons) adds: In our survey on drugs in prisons conducted in 2017, 39% of respondents said staff brought in most drugs, and 78% mentioned staff as part of the problem.(1) From the ghettos of New York to the Iran-Contra scandal, drugs and drug money have been important tools of the oppressor in its war on the oppressed.

As this comrade points out, recent changes in mail polices to address drugs in prison are a joke, and only serve to limit support and education for prisoners. The results only reinforce the fact that drugs are being brought in by staff. Meanwhile, the lack of connection to family, community and organizations that are addressing social ills is counter to any goals related to rehabilitation.

This comrade is on the right track. Providing connection, meaning and hope through independent institutions like their study group is the best counter measure we currently have to the reactionary effects of drugs on the people. We want to hear more about the “Did you know” fliers. What topics and slogans are working to reach the masses that we could share with others? Let us know.

Notes: 1. Wiawimawo, November 2017, Drugs, Money and Individualism in U.$. Prison Movement, Under Lock & Key No. 59.

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[Venezuela] [Economics] [Drugs] [Militarism] [COVID-19] [ULK Issue 70]
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Venezuela Becomes First Target of Crisis-Driven Militarism

Peace Dove

On 1 April 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that the United $tates had doubled military forces engaged in combating drug trafficking in the Pacific Ocean between the United $tates and South America. The primary purpose was stated as being to protect Amerikan lives from dangerous drugs. The secondary purpose was to destabilize the Maduro administration in Venezueala that Trump claims is propped up by drug money. The Maduro administration responded by commending the United $tates for trying to fight drug trafficking for the first time in decades.(1)

While these actions are part of a long history of political warfare in the region, this announcement is also significant in that it is the first show of militarism to stave off the looming economic depression facing the imperialists and the global economy. Finance capital is in crisis.

As Lenin explained, the portion of capital that is finance capital only increases with time. This leads to a very top-heavy economy. One of the primary laws of capitalism is that all capital must circulate. Unlike industrial capital, finance capital is not involved in the actual production of material goods and value. As such it is not limited by humyn consumption, as long as there are profits to be made. The problem is that capitalism, unlike an economic system based on humyn need, cannot adapt to economic slowdowns such as the current one imposed by the health needs of humyns facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

If the economy is shrinking, while finance capital is always growing, then there are not enough places for that finance capital to circulate into to return a profit. This is reflected in the recent reduction of interest rates by the Federal Reserve to 0%. When profit rates are high, people will borrow at higher rates to invest and return a profit. When banks are struggling to loan money for free, that means there are no profits to be made by finance capital. Stock markets losing close to a third of their value in recent weeks also demonstrate the lack of outlets for finance capital.

The United $tates and other imperialist countries have passed stimulus plans to try to keep their consumer classes afloat. The consumption of luxury goods plays an important role in the circulation of capital, by increasing demands on production. As the skies of urban centers become clear of pollution, and animals take the opportunity to stretch their legs in areas normally dominated by humyns and pollution, finance capital becomes desperately confined when the consumer classes reduce their consumption to necessities. This is true even as Amerikans and Europeans continue to enjoy higher levels of consumption and comfort than the majority of the world.

A third factor limiting the circulation of capital, that is still accelerating, is the closure of borders and, with it, a shift in international trade. Imperialism is by definition an international system, and without massive global trade it cannot extract massive super-profits from the exploited nations of the world and distribute them amongst the imperialist country populations. The drug trade has long been an important part of international trade and finance capital. So this move announced by Trump can likely be seen as an exertion of force by the imperialists on the black market to meet some financial interests.

However, the more troubling driver to all this is imperialist militarism. It was global economic crises and trade wars that led to the first two inter-imperialist wars (with guns). This is because war destroys capital, while stimulating production and consumption in the process. War requires production for war, and production to rebuild after it. It is the final solution for the otherwise unresolvable contradictions of imperialism, specifically that of over-production. This move towards Venezuela is just the first in what we predict to be a coming escalation of militarism. And the most likely targets will be countries that have resisted the U.$. imperialists’ programs as Maduro, and Hugo Chavez before em, have done.

Today, the Maduro administration remains in power over a year after the United $tates attempted a military coup against it, without actually sending in an invading force. The United $tates continues to push Maduro to give up power to a “transitional government” under threat of continued sanctions and International Criminal Court charges co-signed by imperialist lackeys in the region. While rumors of further military action in this war on Venezuela have long been circulating, we predict that the economic downswing will be the push to make that happen. It is the duty of all who love freedom and justice to build an all-out resistance to a rising tide of militarism from the imperialist countries.

Note: 1. From the South, 1 April 2020, TeleSur.

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[Drugs] [Organizing] [State Correctional Institution Chester] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 60]
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Pennsylvania Drug Situation is a Call to Unity

I am currently incarcerated in Pennsylvania at the State Correctional Institution: Chester. And every day as I look around this place I'm forced to live in, all I see is a growing number of "synthetic snaps." When I first came to state prison in 2006 drugs were an issue but not like they are today. These new cheaper, and more easily obtainable synthetic drugs such as suboxone or subutex and K-2 synthetic marijuana, are making prison society worse and more depressing than ever. These subs cause withdrawal symptoms like heroin and are causing convicts to throw away their solidarity to scumbag each other in pursuit of their next fix.

Suboxone strips are flat and very easy to smuggle into prisons and all one needs to obtain them on the streets is to test positive for opiates at a clinic to receive up to 90 strips a month for a small co-pay. They then smuggle them into the prisons where they can sell for up to $100 apiece wholesale which is like a 10,000% profit which is irresistible to most "hustlers."

This new opiate replacement has prisons in an uproar. Convicts are stealing from and robbing each other to get just a little "piece" to chase away their withdrawal symptoms. And our RHUs are filled with "protective custody" inmates who ran up drug debts on credit that they couldn't cover.

Then we have the so-called "synthetic marijuana" product K-2. I was an avid marijuana smoker on the streets and this stuff is way different than blowin a sacc of loud. K-2 can cause violent outbursts, passing out, seizures, suicide attempts, and serious mental breakdowns. I have seen people attempt to fly over the fence earning them escape charges. People lose touch with reality and lash out at everyone around them. Guys pass out standing up, cracking their heads open, and to top it off a guy on my block at SCI: Somerset went all zombie on his celly biting him on his face and arms. This stuff is more like bad PCP than marijuana. It just blows my mind that synthetics are causing more problems than their "real" counterparts.

We as a united front against the injustice system need to stop trying to capitalize off the downfall of our comrades, and utilize our efforts to solidify our ranks against our oppressors. The rapper Meek Millz is a prisoner here at Chester with me and has stated that even growing up on the drug-laden streets of Philadelphia he couldn't imagine a cell block in prison so closely resembling a drug block in the badlands of his home city. We can't continue to give the oppressors more ammo to use against us. I understand that boredom, hopelessness, and other forms of incarceration depression tend to drive us to find ways to numb us. But let's try to come together and help our comrades strive to kick habits they have already acquired, and to prevent anyone from picking one up.

This is just another battle we need to unite to win. Whether you're White, Black, or Hispanic, Crip, Blood, Latin, or Aryan, come together for the greater good of convicts everywhere. Pay attention, comrades, because Amerikkka wants to catch us slippin'.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the November issue of Under Lock & Key we got deep into the issue of drugs in prison. All writers agreed it's a big problem, though what is used and how the problem plays out varies from state to state and even within each prison. And a lot of folks came to the same conclusion as this comrade: we need to stop trying to make money off the suffering of others and instead come together against the injustice system. This letter is a good follow-up to that issue of ULK because we need to keep this topic front and center as we work to find ways to help people kick the habit and join the revolutionary movement.

Are you helping comrades kick their drug habits? What methods and tactics are you using? What have you tried that didn't work, and why? What harm reduction tactics can we try to employ? What about counseling techniques? The State isn't going to fix this problem for us. We need to make our own interventions and support systems.

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[China] [Mental Health] [Medical Care] [Drugs] [ULK Issue 59]
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Opioids on the Rise Again Under Imperialism

On 26 October 2017, U.$. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency. The declaration should lead to more federal funding for grants to combat opioid abuse.(1) As we explain below, this epidemic disproportionately affects euro-Amerikans. Trump linked his campaign to build a wall along the current Mexican border to the battle against this epidemic, despite the fact that prescription painkillers are at the root of it. This is consistent with the Amerikan government's solution for drug problems created by imperialism. For the crack epidemic of the 1980s Amerika responded with mass incarceration of New Afrikan men as the solution. As opioid addiction continues a steady rise, Trump offers further militarization of the border.

Opioids have been used by humyns for thousands of years both medicinally and recreationally, with many periods of epidemic addiction. Use began with opium from poppies. Morphine was isolated in 1806. By the early 1900s heroin was promoted as a cure for morphine addiction in the United $tates, before being made illegal in 1924. There was a lull in heroin use during the 1980s, when cocaine and crack overshadowed it. Various prescription pain killers began to come back into vogue in the 1990s after the "Just Say No!" mentality was wearing off. Since then, use and abuse has been on a steady rise, feeding a new surge in the use of heroin as a cheaper alternative. This rise, in the economic centers of both the United $tates and China, is directly linked to capitalism.

The Danger

While K2 is one dangerous substance plaguing U.$. prisons these days, partly due to its undetectability, opioids are by far the biggest killer in the United $tates, and we expect that is true in prisons as well. Drug overdoses surpassed car accidents as the number one cause of accidental deaths in the United $tates in 2007 and has continued a steady rise ever since. The majority of these overdoses have been from opioids.(2)

While the increase in deaths from opioids has been strong across the United $tates, rates are significantly higher among whites, and even higher among First Nations. One reason that use rates are lower among New Afrikans and [email protected] is that it has been shown that doctors are more reluctant to prescribe opioids to them because they are viewed as more likely to become addicted, and Amerikan doctors see them as having a greater pain threshold.(3)

We did see some evidence of this trend in the results of our survey on the effects of drugs in U.$. prisons. The most popular answer to our question of whether certain groups did more drugs in prison than others was no, it affects everyone. But many clarified that there was a strong racial divide where New Afrikans preferred weed and K2, while whites and usually [email protected] went for heroin and/or meth. Some of these respondents said that New Afrikans did less drugs.(4) A couple said that New Afrikans used to do less drugs but now that's changing as addiction is spreading. In states where K2 has not hit yet (CA, GA, CO) it was common to hear that whites and "hispanics" (or in California, "southern" Mexicans) did more drugs. The pattern of New Afrikans preferring weed and K2 seemed common across the country, and could have implications for strategies combating drug use among New Afrikans compared to other groups. In particular, stressing that K2 is completely different and more dangerous than weed could be part of a harm reduction strategy focused on New Afrikans.

If prison staff were doing their jobs, then we would expect rates of both overdoses and use in general to be lower in prisons. But we know, and our survey confirmed, that this is not the case (78% of respondents mentioned staff being responsible for bringing in at least some of the drugs in their prison). In hindsight, it may have been useful to ask our readers what percentage of prisoners are users and addicts. Some of the estimates that were offered of the numbers using drugs in general were 20-30%, 90%, 75%, and many saying it had its grips on the whole population.

Deaths from opioids in the general U.$. population in 2015 was 10.5 per 100,000, double the rate in 2005.(5) This is higher than the rates in many state prison systems for overdoses from any drug, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania that all reported average rates of 1 per 100,000 from 2001-2012. California was closer at 8 per 100,000 and Maryland exceeded the general population at 17 deaths from overdoses per 100,000 prisoners.(6) At the same time, prison staff have been known to cover up deaths from overdoses, so those 1 per 100,000 rates may be falsified.

In our survey of ULK readers, we learned that Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction, is quite popular in prisons (particularly in the northeast/midwestern states). Survey respondents mentioned it as often as weed as one of the most popular drugs, and more than heroin. Suboxone is actually used to treat heroin addiction. And while it is not supposed to be active like other opioids, it can lead to a high and be addictive. It is relatively safe, and will not generally lead to overdose until you combine it with other substances, which can lead to death.

Prescription drugs are not as common as other drugs in most prisons, according to our survey. Though in some cases they are available. We received a few responses from prisons where prescription drugs prescribed by the medical staff seemed to be the only thing going on the black market. Clearly there is variability by facility.

Two Paths to Recovery

The increases in opioid abuse in the United $tates has been staggering, and they cause a disproportionate amount of the deaths from drug overdoses. About 10% of opioid addicts worldwide are in the United $tates, despite only being less than 5% of the world's population.(7) At the same time, only about 1% of people in the United $tates are abusing opioids.(8) This is not the worst episode in U.$. history, and certainly not in world history.

british feed chinese opium

Around 1914 there were 200,000 heroin addicts in the United $tates, or 2% of the population. In contrast, some numbers for opium addicts in China prior to liberation put the addiction rate as high as 20% of the population around 1900, and 10% by the 1930s. That's not to dismiss the seriousness of the problem in the United $tates, but to highlight the power of proletarian dictatorship, which eliminated drug addiction about 3 years after liberation.

Richard Fortmann did a direct comparison of the United $tates in 1952 (which had 60,000 opioid addicts) and revolutionary China (which started with millions in 1949).(9) Despite being the richest country in the world, unscathed by the war, with an unparalleled health-care system, addicts in the United $tates increased over the following two decades. Whereas China, a horribly poor country coming out of decades of civil war, with 100s of years of opium abuse plaguing its people, had eliminated the problem by 1953.(9) Fortmann pointed to the politics behind the Chinese success:

"If the average drug addiction expert in the United States were shown a description of the treatment modalities used by the Chinese after 1949 in their anti-opium campaign, his/her probable response would be to say that we are already doing these things in the United States, plus much more. And s/he would be right."(9)

About one third of addicts went cold turkey after the revolution, with the more standard detox treatment taking 12 days to complete. How could they be so successful so fast? What the above comparison is missing is what happened in China in the greater social context. The Chinese were a people in the process of liberating themselves, and becoming a new, socialist people. The struggle to give up opium was just one aspect of a nationwide movement to destroy remnants of the oppressive past. Meanwhile the people were being called on and challenged in all sorts of new ways to engage in building the new society. There was so much that was more stimulating than opium to be doing with their time. Wimmin, who took up opium addiction in large numbers after being forced into prostitution in opium dens, were quickly gaining opportunities to engage at all levels of society. The poor, isolated peasants were now organized in collectives, working together to solve all kinds of problems related to food production, biology and social organization. The successful struggle against drug addiction in China was merely one impressive side effect of the revolutionizing of the whole society.

In contrast, in the capitalist countries, despair lurks behind every corner as someone struggles to stay clean. The approach has ranged from criminalization to medicalization of drug addiction as a disease. "Once an addict, always an addict", as they say. Always an individualist approach, ignoring the most important, social causes of the problem. That drug addiction is primarily a social disease was proven by the practice of the Chinese in the early 1950s, but Western "science" largely does not acknowledge the unquestionable results from that massive experiment.

It is also worth pointing out the correlation between drug abuse and addiction, and capitalist economics specifically. Whether it was colonial powers forcing opium on the Chinese masses who had nothing, in order to enslave them to their economic will, or it is modern Amerikan society indulging its alienation in the over-production of prescription pills from big pharmaceutical companies marketing medicine for a profit.

China Today

And now, opioid addiction is on the rise again in capitalist China after decades. A steady rise in drug-related arrests in China since 1990 are one indicator of the growing problem.(10) As more profits flowed into the country, so have more drugs, especially since the 1990s. We recently published a review of Is China an Imperialist Country?, where we lamented the loses suffered by the Chinese people since the counter-revolution in 1976. It goes to show that when you imitate the imperialists, and put advancing the productive forces and profits over serving the people, you invite in all the social ills of imperialism.

In China drug addiction has now become something that people fear. Like it did with its economy, China has followed in the imperialists' footsteps in how it handles drug addiction. Chinese policy has begun treating addicts as patients that need to be cured to protect society. Rather than seeing those who give up drugs as having defeated the oppressor's ways, they are monitored by the state, lose social credibility, and have a hard time getting a job.(11) Under socialism, everyone had a job and no one needed recreational drugs to maintain themselves mentally. The path to combating drug addiction and abuse is well-established. Attempts under imperialism that don't involve liberatory politics of the oppressed have little to no effect.

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