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[Polemics] [Economics] [ULK Issue 80]
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Class Collaborationism in International Communist Formation

On 26 December 2022, the Unified Maoist International Conference (UMIC) announced the founding of the International Communist League (ICL). The organizations involved see the need to build a new communist international, building on the legacy of the Comintern and the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement (RIM). As we’ve explained elsewhere we disagree with the creation of a new communist international at this time.(1)

This new ICL is truer to the Comintern than the RIM was, but remains in the same outdated and revisionist global class analysis as RIM. The ICL statement clearly upholds MIM’s first 2 dividing line questions, while failing to address the third directly. MIM’s third point reads in part:

" imperialism extracts super-profits from the Third World and in part uses this wealth to buy off whole populations of oppressor nation so-called workers. These so-called workers bought off by imperialism form a new petty-bourgeoisie called the labor aristocracy. These classes are not the principal vehicles to advance Maoism within those countries because their standards of living depend on imperialism."(2)

Arguably, this line was somewhat controversial in the mid-1980s, when MIM struggled against the RIM’s Revolutionary Communist Party(U$A) on this question. The ICL statement addresses the question in most depth with the following:

“The economic crisis in 2008 that began as a finance crisis in the USA was unloaded on the masses in the oppressed countries and even in the imperialist countries themselves. Thus it has stricken the proletariat of the imperialist countries, which instigated sharp struggles for the defense of the achievements they conquered throughout the 20th Century. The consequences of this crisis were not overcame, this is why the recovering of employment is at the expense of worse quality, lower wages and larger working day. The recovering is at the expense of increasing the over-exploitation of the class.”(3)

We have never heard of “over-exploitation” in the context of humyn labor before, so defining that term seems important here. The text is correct to recognize that the crisis of 2008 was mostly pushed off onto the oppressed countries. The rest is sufficiently vague, while touching on some common cries of the social fascists. There is no summation elsewhere in this wordy statement of the class (or nation or gender) alliances of the populations of the imperialist countries. We are left with the impression that they are allies, even if they suffer less than most. To uphold this revisionist class analysis in 2022 is to ignore some crucial lessons from the experience of the RIM itself.

While upholding the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR), this statement upholds the very ideas that the GPCR stood to combat – those of the Theory of the Productive Forces. It is inconsistent to deny the Theory of the Productive Forces and maintain that people in the top 10% global income bracket are the proletariat. Elsewhere we observe,

“Another lesson that MIM seemed to take from the great reversal in Peru, was the importance of having a correct global class analysis for Maoists everywhere. If a revolution based in the non-Spanish speaking indigenous peoples of the highlands of the Andes mountains and the Amazon rainforest is infiltrated by agents trained in the United $tates and divided by a magazine out of London, then we see the real material impacts of Third World communists seeing the people of the United $tates and Great Britain as 90% proletarian allies. Not to mention, to not understand the basic political economy of imperialism today is to lack a Marxist framework from which to change the world.”(4)

Our disagreement with the formation of an ICL itself is largely connected to our line on the labor aristocracy. But it also stands as its own point on strategy in our current conditions.

The RIM criticized Mao for not building a communist international. It seems the UMIC may agree with this critique based on their actions.

A difference in class/national interests between parties in the UMIC is one reason we believe it is a faulty strategy. At best, the oppressor nation parties will slow down the oppressed, at worse they will sabotage them. Another problem is the mixing of parties engaged in armed struggle with those that are not. This difference in strategic stage calls for different approaches based on different interests. Yet the statement announces that these parties are being held to democratic centralism with each other through the ICL.

Step Forward on Stalin

One point where we see the UMIC statement disagree with RIM, and in a good way, is in their assessment of Stalin during World War II and the overall theory and practice of the united front. Not only does the statement uphold the line of the Comintern during this period, it puts the blame squarely on the parties where revisionism took over. This is better than the RIM line (still upheld by many in the International Communist Movement (ICM) to this day), which criticizes the Comintern for rightism in its call for a united front against fascism. But MIM went even further than the UMIC in disagreeing with this critique of the Comintern to say that in countries like the United $tates there was no revolutionary path to take at the time. Even if the CP-U$A had a correct revolutionary line, there’s nothing they could have done that would have supported the USSR more than what they did, given their conditions. Those conditions being a base in the labor aristocracy.

The proliferation of statements and organizations upholding various tenants of Maoism offers some signs of Maoism being a living science that would-be revolutionaries are grappling with. Of course, the practice of People’s War does this a million times more.

Of all the controversies that have been taken up in the ICM in recent years, we have seen no public debate over the global class analysis. If you are operating in a Third World country and isolating yourself from the oppressor nations, then you could get very far without saying much on the topic of the labor aristocracy in the imperialist countries. But if you wish to engage in international conferences and you fail to recognize the class reality on the ground, you mislead and endanger the revolutionary movement.

A Note on Struggle Sessions

In our previous essay on this topic we criticized author Joshua Moufawad-Paul and the blog Struggle Sessions for advocating for a new International. On 2 January 2023, Struggle Sessions editor deleted all their articles and posted a declaration of the death of the project. This comes after a series of announcements and critiques coming from the former Committee for the Reconstitution of the Communist Party U$A (CRCPUSA), of which Struggle Sessions was an unofficial theoretical mouthpiece. We hope to further investigate lessons from the collapse of the CRCPUSA.

It is worth noting to our readers that the outlet publishing the statement of the UCIM discussed here is a political ally of the CRCPUSA and continues to support it as a project. They call themselves Communist International: Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Online Newspaper and are found at ci-ic.org.

Notes:
1. MIM(Prisons), August 2020, Who’s Got Something to Prove JMP? Under Lock & Key No. 71.
2. MIM’s Three Main Points
3. 26 December 2022, Historical News of the successful Holding of the Unified Maoist International Conference: the International Communist League was founded!
4. this is from an unpublished paper assessing the history of the RIM that we may edit for publication some day if there is interest

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[COVID-19] [Economics] [Legal] [Texas] [ULK Issue 80]
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Again on Prisons Deducting from Stimulus Checks

Do you have any case decisions of the stimulus checks. I just received a check for the first two payments plus interest. It totaled $1,900.76. Of this amount TDCJ deducted $1,786.11 leaving me with $114.65.

This is the first money I’ve had where I could go to “store” since I got here in 2015. The deductions were for medical co-pay, indigent correspondence and postage, and federal court fees. Another prisoner told me that there was a federal court decision in Arkansas against the prison system forcing them to return money deducted from prisoners’ accounts. I’m rough drafting a Step 1 grievance right now to start the exhaustion process, then I’ll add it to the suit I’ve already started. I intend to do the same on this censorship of ULK 79 as well. Any information will help.


North TX AIPS responds: From ‘New Class Action for Prisoners Who Did Not Receive Stimulus Money and Filed Taxes’ published in Under lock & Key Issue 76:

Clay v. Director of IRS Mnuchin No4:21-CV-08132-PJH

Sub Class Representative Thomas H. Clay advises all prisoners who filed for EIP from Oct. 2020 – August of 2021 and did Not receive any check in mail or Direct Deposit. After filing Form 1040/1040SR or letter with SSI# and copy of such to show proof of filing; then write To: United States District Court Northern District of California Oakland Division Attn: Hon. Clerk/Presiding Judge 1301 Clay Street Ste 400 S Oakland California 94612-5212

If you are filing the following criteria below:

1.Non-disabled or physically or mentally impaired prisoner in State or Federal Prison Institution in the United States

2.Correctly filing legal letters to IRS or 1040/1040SR Form 2019/2020 from October 15,2020 thru tax season of January – August 17, 2021

3.Utilizing only Institutional Regular Legal/or Indigent Legal Mail System in State of Federal Prisons.

  1. Who did not receive any payment from IRS of EIP #1 #2 #3

5.In the form of “Check in Mail” or “Direct Deposit to Account”.

6.Who can “Prove upon Request” proof of the correct timely filing by: copies of letters to the IRS office in your State area, Prison Mail Room Record of Legal Mail logged letters showing IRS address. Indigent mailing file showing letter sent to IRS or 1040/1040SR copies or responses from IRS during that period from any of its offices.

7.And you were not issued any checks for EIP #1 $600.00 EIP #2 $1200.00 or CVRP/EIP #3 $1400.00 totaling $3,200.00

The court is reviewing Contempt of Court Order and Sub Class Action from prior suit *Scholl v. Mnuchin that does not protect the rights to amount of payment withheld from prisoners in a discriminatory manner by IRS.

From Stimulus Checks Are Being Stolen by TDCJ-CID from Under Lock & Key Issue 73:

Section 272(d)(2) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides that the second round of stimulus checks ‘shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and no applicable payment shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.’ This means that this round of stimulus checks may not be garnished to cover overdue debts by federal or state prisons.

Scholl v. Mnuchin, et al. No.4:20-cv-05309-PJH ND Cal.; Appeal Docket No. 20-16915 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of prisoners getting stimulus checks while incarcerated. The checks in question should not be confused with the most recent $1400 checks under current President Joseph Biden. It was the $1200 and $600 checks under President Donald Trump that were ruled on.

From Preliminary Injunction Bars Arkansas from Confiscating Prisoners’ COVID Stimulus Money from Prison Legal News:

The Court ordered ADC to place any federal relief and stimulus funds in a sequestered account if it continues to confiscate those funds. It must maintain records of how much money it confiscates from each prisoner and what amount is paid for court fines, fees, costs, and restitution. While ADC may return the confiscated excess funds to prisoners, it may not otherwise disburse those funds until the end of the lawsuit. See: Lamar v. Hutchinson, USDC, ED AR, Case No. 4-21-cv-00529 (2021).

The Court then turned to decide whether confiscation of the money was a violation of procedural due process. It found no violation when it came to confiscation for the purpose of paying off court fines, fees, costs, or restitution.

It did, however, find a violation when it comes to diverting the excess funds to the inmate welfare fund and the Inmate Care and Custody Account. The Court noted there were no post deprivation remedies available, for the ADC’s grievance procedure provides a challenge to “issues controlled by State or Federal law or regulation” a “non-grievable issue.” The Court concluded the confiscation of the monies did not violate substantive due process or the Takings Clause.

We hope this information is helpful. While we still stand by the conclusion that these stimulus checks are an attempt to buy off the U$ population at the expense of the third world, we won’t hold unrealistic notions about how this money can be used for our goals of Anti-Imperialism and building up USW. We also have a censorship pack available as well, having relevant caselaw and regulations for fighting censorship on the legal front.

Notes: Prison Legal News, Nov 1 2021, Preliminary Injunction Bars Arkansas from Confiscating Prisoners’ COVID Stimulus Money

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[Economics] [First World Lumpen] [Struggle] [Theory] [Culture] [ULK Issue 79]
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Conquering My Demons

“(We) MIM Should not excuse behaviors that could have been avoided with asexuality. It must weigh the costs of being non-sexual.” - MIM Theory 2/3

Transforming the criminal mentality into a revolutionary one means also fully confronting bourgeois culture, morality and its justification for the existing society, i.e. bourgeois rule. This bourgeois mentality also includes things that aren’t necessarily “criminal” but definitely constitute crimes against others and from a proletarian perspective and for our aims is at the very least counter-productive if not counter revolutionary. Sadly, as Wiawimawo stated, due to us being products of this decadent society we all enter the Revolution with some amount of sickness. Some suffer from drug addictions, some selfishness and extreme individualism, others idealism, patriarchy or even out right misogyny, e.g. “Fuck a Bitch” or other forms of sexism. Most “criminal” lumpen glorify gangsterism and are quite infatuated with gang culture even when pretending to be about unifying the block…. But regardless, we all enter the revolutionary process with ways of the “old society” especially since it hasn’t gone anywhere.

The above quote is from a Comrade who ultimately died due to a lifetime battle with drugs. Yet this is a quite Revolutionary and apt quote and this comrade’s life is also apt for this discussion as it shows no matter how advanced we become and even how authentic our walk, we will always be confronted not only with the broader bourgeois society and its fucked up music, culture, morals, world out-look etc etc ad nauseam. We still are likely to have to confront and check our own bourgeois demons. But the above quote could be applicable to revolutionary Walkin’ in general if any of our behaviors could be avoided simply by avoiding self-indulgence if our goal is truly revolution then we should practice abstinence in that regard whenever possible.

I personally have never came to jail sober and have done all manner of anti-social behavior “under the influence” since I’ve been in prison I’ve yet to get drunk. For me this was so stark it was no choice at all. Additionally other counter-productive behaviors were also not so difficult for me to conquer or at least consciously struggle against. Yet for all my talk I was quite chauvinistic and I’d say misogynistic in actual practice and this is something I’ve struggled with since I was in elementary.

There was a time when I rationalized my misogynistic behavior – I’ve now come to believe this had a lot to do with my inability to conduct consistent communist practice – however, I’m now quite clear that this is simply lumpen and its kissing cousin petty bourgeois personification and practice and furthermore serves only to strengthen counter revolution.

I am not too hard on myself for this late transformation however – every single day in this decadent society we have to swallow, weigh, witness or consciously wrestle with all manner of bourgeois bullshit. Life may be good but this world is truly a nightmare. In these death camps, in a real concentration camp, in slave quarters, in an immigration caravan, in dark alleys and hallways thrash out this imperialist dominated world what people must go through especially when there’s no real struggle to resist and defeat this oppression (as proven by amerikkka’s nuclear bombs) even shadows get burnt… yes shadows were literally burnt into the ground.

Yet I’m now quite clear on my need to confront this as it is simply another tool the state can use to divide, dismiss or exploit real revolutionary work. This always makes me think of focoism, its attraction is “to go out on a high note”… I understand this quite well. I also think this is why lumpen and petty bourgeois youth in the semi-colonies often have a hard time with revolutionary ideas, party’s and practices as all they know is immediate release, this in addition, is why so many Rev’s succumb to self-obsession or self indulgence’s. But once I accepted this is simply lumpen/petty bourgeois bullshit behavior it was easier for me to confront it as any good homie, friend and especially “comrade” should know s/he is not only a reflection of the community, party, professed ideas etc he/r can also undermine, expose or bring harm to he/r person, community, or just their ideas which for a revolutionary communist must be unacceptable.

I speak in general terms because specific failures, flaws, addictions or internalized petty bourgeois (wanna be big bourgeois) bullshit isn’t new to the movement and once I realized how destructive (counter-revolutionary in fact) my failure to totally transform and practice my all too parroted “self discipline” – something as stated I’m quite adamant about “Walkin my walk”… Yet I gave the enemies a free tool to use against me and against us – again I do know why for some focoism is a “natural release”… working w/ ideas and for “long-term goals” especially in isolation of an active movement has been the death of many good Rads and whole collectives especially where self-discipline requires we police things that we once considered quite natural or even which is common practice for others but the state has made it taboo for us.

I read an article in The Abolitionist (Summer 2022) where a captive was released and days later his parole agent came to place an electronic monitor on his ankle which he knew would be a condition of parole, but still days later after she placed the “E.M.” on him she called and explained he will be allowed out the house 6:00am-10:00am and this should be plenty of time “For you to handle your business”. I couldn’t help but think how after 10:00 it would be unlawful to walk to the corner store or park, to go to school, work, to date, build community ties etc etc and how his actions will be a reflection of larger class forces and struggles where if he failed it would set back the opportunity for someone else to be released on “E.M.” supervision and to succeed he would need all the self-discipline in the world not to look out the window at 11 see a friend or interesting person come outside to talk and walk with them to the corner…I imagine all the lawful things a Jew in Nazi Germany or slave in amerikkka was forbidden.

Amerikkka exploits and sanctions the world so its unlawful to aid Cuba, to encourage oppressed people to keep their resources for themselves, to disrupt military supply chains or even expose what the government is doing to the public. On 22 August 2022, KPFA Radio’s “Letters and Politics” had a canadian Marxist scholar on who the host asked “isn’t it an advancement that we have a better life thanks to capitalism?” (this was the gist) The Marxist scholar replied “Yes”(even under the new mode of production we don’t want to lose those “freedoms”) and conceded this as advancement. Yet I contend both the host and this Rad suffered from self-deception. I think Huey’s “intercommunal” line was bullshit – to say nations don’t exist – but capitalism has infact now transferred and transposed the class struggle from core countries to exploited countries largely on the global south so whole countries live the bourgeois life to one degree or another, and the proletariat is now largely confined to their own powerless “nations.”

So for so many others they make do with left over bourgeois scraps. I saw a documentary a while back about how the U.$. was sending its plastic and metal scraps to the Third World as part of its neo-liberal deals with them – just as now Biden can promise less greenhouse gas from U.$ corporations “in amerikkka” but will never say they can’t offset this by reckless disregard for the oppressed nations. Part of the question to the canadian Marxist was also a statement that slavery is no more “thanks to capitalism” to which the Marxist agreed, hence his statement we don’t want to lose those “freedoms” but slavery very much exists outside of the “shiny city on the hill”, outside the gate they root through U.$ trash like pigs looking for mushrooms, women still are very much oppressed and yes slavery, I repeat, still exists. Yet they’re always judged by the standards of the exploiters and defenders of the city gates who gladly lower the drawbridge for the returning army with its war booty.

I stopped drinking because I get drunk and have no inhibitions, no fear and no rationalizations. Likewise I wrestled with self-indulgences “because they were denied” and I too have absolutely no respect for the enemy. Even when drunk I’ve never intentionally hurt anyone I loved, never fought my friends, never stole from loved ones etc, but not so for a perceived enemy, or if I felt I deserved something, or revenge was called for. All this was obviously before I became a revcom. But I know where it all came from and what it represents, its lumpen/petty bourgeois sentiments struggling with social, dictates that “I’m nothing,”“We’re nothing,”“You can’t have,” “You don’t deserve,” etc etc. But I know, because I couldn’t control it, I’d have to leave it alone. So now I’ve arrived rather late, at a similar conclusion of another thing I must deny myself due to how it can never be a resolvable contradiction (for me). I think it was jesus who said (according to grandma’s bible) that if your right eye causes you to sin cast it out. If a revolutionary could paint the mystical soul it would be a macabre creature… stitched and resewn on wings, scars, busted knuckles etc etc.

I am quite clear on a few things and the utter failure of capitalism-imperialism and its rule is one of those things that I have much clarity on. Will I slip up? will it be as easy as alcohol for me? will the enemy be able to conspire against me? will there ever be any normalcy in my life? will it always be ad hoc salvaging? will revcoms ever beat back lumpen/petty bourgeois culture and ideas to be the undisputed voice for the semi-colonies? I may never know these things we may not like all the answers to those things, but I’m quite sure there’s millions of people who like me will never forgive this system for what not only it’s done to the world or ourselves but the choices and contradictions we’ve been forced to wrestle with due to its rule and its utter disregard for our humanity will never be forgiven and whose dogged focus is to bring about a Revolutionary Communist World.

Amerikkkan media feels compelled to state each and every time election talk is brought up that it’s the “Big lie” to claim it was stolen and to be unequivocal about Putin and Russia’s invasion as to the cause of the war in Ukraine and to be clear on the need to support Ukraine’s effort to win the war, it makes sure it always says it was a coup attempt on Jan 6 and that Amerikkka is a democracy. All this because truth is important. One of my favorites is Ben Fletcher who is a petty bourgeois radical who says it’s right to defend Ukraine simply because its unlawful. I wish I could search his writings talks etc but I’d wager dollars to donuts he has never said arms should be shipped to Palestine to defend against or push out Israeli troops, not even New Afrikans should arm themselves to fight back when pigs kill us nor although he says he said it was wrong to invade Iraq etc I’d bet he never said Iraqi’s should be aided to kill U.$. troops or he or any “leftist” in KKKville should support the counter-insurgency I’d bet had he and his ilk done so it would’ve had an effect on secular forces so now only Islamists are given a voice and many even long for the klan to return.

The labor aristocracy and other layers of the bourgeois here are quite in lock step. The only questions are which bourgeois party will win elections or steal them. We are looking at fascist forces, wars, possible world wars, environmental devastation, national oppression and we daily witness the consequences of what having a shining city on a hill entails and what it forces on others to do to survive not being a part of the in crowd, but this is no one’s concern and misleaders like the media or “Labor Leader” Ben Fletcher can only parrot Democratic or anti-Republican talkin’ points and even so called communists or at least “Marxists” can not see beyond bourgeois horizons.

For these reasons we must shore-up our ranks and connect with the broader proletariat movement. As its quite clear we will be in the wilderness for sometime, only practice and work will forge us ahead and conquer our bourgeois and lumpen demons. We can not be idle, not in prison, not school houses, not under capitalism-imperialism. They’re not idle. Steel sharpens steel. Proletariat morals and practice forever taken to a new level. These last paragraphs are not a mis-step; I contend we defeat our demons when we keep bourgeois morality clearly juxtaposed to proletariat morality and ideology. They currently are running laps around us here in amerikkka. Most people can conceive of “the end of the world” but can’t conceive of a New World with new social relations and a new mode of production that they themselves must work for and this is our failure to own.

Yet in this answer we can show a new type of Revcom responsive to the extensive body of work of real Maoism and revolutionary practice. Unbroken macabre spirits on display and in motion will never win over someone like Ben Fletcher the Mis-leader, nor bourgeois media but we can clearly show the dividing line between bourgeois (lumpen included) and revolutionary-proletariat-feminist-nationalists. This could be quite a powerful thing, and because there’s larger forces at work, if nothing else, self-discipline and revolutionary “consistent” practice at the very least may deny the enemy another victory.

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[Economics] [U.S. Imperialism] [ULK Issue 79]
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Global Recession Threatens the Global Proletariat

It seems unanimous that 2023 will be a year of recession. A recent report from the United Nations Committee on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) opens up with:

"The world is headed towards a global recession and prolonged stagnation unless we quickly change the current policy course of monetary and fiscal tightening in advanced economies.

“Supply-side shocks, waning consumer and investor confidence and the war in Ukraine have provoked a global slowdown and triggered inflationary pressures.”(1)

Before talking more about the report, let’s start with some basics. Recession is something that is unique to capitalism. It is a product of capitalism’s inherent contradictions. In previous economic systems, problems of getting resources to people were caused by things like plagues, floods, droughts and war. All things that we are still familiar with today. But there is no other economics system where people go hungry because of “market forces” preventing adequate production and distribution. This happens at all times in capitalism, but it will be affecting broader swaths of the population as we go into recession.

While the pandemic was not the cause of current imbalances, it certainly helped exacerbate them. Because we live in a service economy, Amerikans had a hard time spending all their money when things were shut down. They’re used to regular entertainment, movies, costly sporting events and clubs, having people prepare food for them and the infamous getting their hair done which they cried for during the early lockdowns. Having all that cash on hand, they turned to purchasing goods, which were harder to get due to supply chains slowing down. As the U.$. government continued to roll out benefits to Amerikans they wanted to buy more things and there were less things available to buy. Companies selling things increased prices, and the pressure for inflation began.

The ability to keep printing dollars (in the forms of COVID relief money and low interest loans) is backed by the fact that the dollar is the dominant currency for international trade. And this is backed by U.$. dominance of international monetary organizations and U.$. militarism shaping the world economy in its image.

Increasing Dollar Power

In 2022, the U.$. Federal Reserve got serious about addressing inflation as it began to surpass 8% year-over-year (when they’d like it closer to 2%). In recent months, the Fed has continued to increase the interest rates by .75% at each meeting they have every 4 to 6 weeks. They have indicated that they plan to continue to do so to bring down wages and inflation. One of the goals of the Fed here is to increase unemployment and cool down the job market by making it more expensive for companies to borrow money. Recently Amerikans have had their pick of jobs with many opportunities to increase their incomes. Under capitalism, this is somehow a bad thing. Contrast this with the MIM Platform for a socialist dictatorship of the proletariat, which guarantees employment (as well as free day care, medical care, public transport and college education).

The UNCTAD report highlights the even greater negative impacts of raising interest rates in the United $tates on the Third World proletariat. Yet, UNCTAD’s calls for, “Central banks in developed economies to revert course and avoid the temptation to try to bring down prices by relying on ever higher interest rates.” seems to be a pipe dream at this point. As we discussed in our recent article on the war in Ukraine, the U.$. dollar is the reserve currency, which means what the U.$. Fed does has huge implications for money everywhere.(2) And other imperialist countries have filed suit by increasing interest rates to protect their own currencies from more extreme devaluation. The British pound just hit it’s all-time low exchange rate to the dollar, putting them almost at 1-to-1.

While Amerikans complain about oil prices rising from inflation, war and supply chain issues, OPEC has announced it is cutting production, which will increase global oil prices. This is not helping the cause of the Fed and the U.$. government trying to mitigate inflation for Amerikans.

Relatedly, Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries the UNCTAD forecasts to exceed “normal” pre-COVID GDP trends next year. However, President Biden is striking back at Saudi Arabia threatening to cut off arms sales to the country saying their leadership role in OPEC is aiding Russia, who has been engaged in a proxy war with the United $tates for more than half a year now. Again, we are seeing increasing divisions among the global powers. Similar to the divisions that precluded WWI and WWII as discussed by author Richard Krooth.

In our review of Arms & Empire in ULK 78 we quoted Krooth’s explanation of the role of the strong dollar in bringing on the Great Depression:

“…making it the hardest currency in the world, pushing up its value vis-a-vis other currencies, but also making it inaccessible to nations that otherwise would have purchased from America. When other nations could not obtain dollars by exports to the U.S., obviously they could import nothing at all. And so U.S. exports tended to fall and had to be replaced with bilateral trade agreements. Up went U.S. unemployment when markets fell away and bilateral trade could not replace them. Then down came the dollar, the U.S. devaluing in 1933 in an attempt to stimulate the exports again. But, alas, it was too late. The depression was on, production was down, America was spreading crisis to Europe!” (p.119)

While Europe is not quite in the rough shape it was at that time, de-industrialization has been the trend, as Amerikan’s have had more and more say in how their economies are structured. As we discussed in our recent article on Ukraine, the Amerikans have been conspiring to prevent a close relationship between Germany and Russia. Now it seems that the sabotage attack on the Nordstream 2 pipeline that was built to pipe gas from Russia to Germany is a continuation of those efforts by the Amerikans.

Economic Policy and Economic Systems

The UNCTAD report makes a number of recommendations to mitigate the impacts of the coming recession on the exploited Third World nations of the world, who of course will suffer the most. Again, these problems are inherent to capitalism and cannot ultimately be avoided without replacing it with a socialist economy. However, there are economic policies that can improve, or even save, the lives of millions of people today under capitalism. But they would need to be a bit more radical than those suggested by UNCTAD.

The MIM Platform includes two policies to be enforced by international banking authorities under capitalism:

  1. Elimination of international currency exchange rate fixing by governments.
  2. Tying of exchange rates to a standard basket of goods.

The UNCTAD report points out exchange rate depreciation in just six months this year for a number of exploited countries:

Sri Lanka77.8%
Ghana32.1%
Sudan29.7%
Egypt19.8%
Haiti15.6%

In the current system, when the currency in Sri Lanka depreciates by 77.8% that means that day-to-day expenses for the proletariat of Sri Lanka are probably about doubled. If exchange rates were tied to a standard basket of goods, then this would no longer be the case. Prices of things like food and fuel would be stabilized across the globe in local prices. The impact on the imperialist system on the people of Ghana is explained in more depth in our accompanying article.

Importantly, the above two demands by the MIM Platform would affect the ability to pay off foreign debts as well. The UNCTAD report lists the percent of government revenues spent on external debt in a number of countries:

Somalia96.8%
Sri Lanka58.8%
Dominican Republic20.4%
Ghana28%
Jamaica26.4%

How the heck can a state spend 97% of its revenue on debts to finance capital (or even 25% for that matter) and ever be able to provide for and serve the people of that country? Exchange rates cannot fix these huge problems, which require debt forgiveness. But the current system of exchange rates does make these debt payments increase as exchange rates worsen as is happening now with a strengthening dollar (as most debts are held in dollars). Overall, the percentage of state revenue spent on servicing debts across the Third World has doubled over the last decade according to this UNCTAD report. As surplus value extraction becomes more difficult, interest payments on debt becomes a larger part of the net flow of wealth from the exploited nations to the imperialist countries.

There seems to be no momentum for MIM’s proposed radical changes among the international bourgeoisie at this time, which means the economy will continue to tighten and shrink. And under capitalism that means people will suffer and die. The system is madness. If production of goods ceases to be profitable, production ceases, it does not matter how many people are in need of those goods. But one of the inherent contradictions within capitalism is that the tendency to compete and increase production constantly undercuts the rate of surplus value extraction. As a result profits are always (generally) becoming harder to come by. The introduction of the Chinese proletariat back into the imperialist economy after 1976, but especially in the 1990s, by the capitalists who run that country brought a breath of fresh air to imperialism with a huge, new source of surplus value. By 2008, the rates of profit had once again become harder to maintain, and today those contradictions are playing out in the form of hot wars, trade wars, currency wars and realignments of major powers.

Notes: 1. United Nations Trade and Development Report 2022.
2. MIM(Prisons), April 2022, Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis, Under Lock & Key 77.

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[Economics] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 79]
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Interview with Union Organizer on the Labor Aristocracy

masked workers

The Maoist Internationalist Movement has always dismissed the strategy of embedding itself in the Amerikan so-called working class and labor unions. The experience of the Revolutionary Union in that kind of work during the 1970s and 1980s was some of the most relevant and interesting to MIM founders, influencing their decision to reject it. Yet, since then, many other self-described “communists” have still advocated and attempted the labor union strategy among Amerikans.

A wave of popular support for labor struggles within the United $tates has been rekindled over the past year. This is primarily due to the successful unionizing efforts of the Starbucks workers in Buffalo, NY on 9 December 2021 and the Amazon workers in Staten Island, NY on 1 April 2022 – both of which set off more union efforts within their companies and have inspired many similar efforts throughout many different industries.

To many so-called “communists”, this recent phenomena serves as a testament to the growing proletarian class consciousness among the U.$. working-class and their increasing revolutionary potential. To these revisionists and white nationalists, the proletarian uprising in the United $tates is just one economic crisis away. Yet most who are swept up in this union organizing populism lack the historical and theoretical background to the Amerikan labor aristocracy. Most are in it for their own self-interest and will be easily pulled towards fascism in a crisis scenario, but others do have real budding proletarian consciousness that can be won over with struggle and study.

In our efforts to investigate labor organizing in our contemporary situation, we found a comrade with a friendly political line who has been involved in actual underground union organizing. What follows is an interview with this comrade, relating eir experience to the history of the labor aristocracy and labor organizing in the United $tates in general.


What things got you interested in doing union organizing?

A few years ago, I began working in an industry whose workforce is primarily made up of the more vulnerable population within U.$. society. For example: ex-cons, immigrants, recovering addicts, etc. This vulnerability was often exploited by management and while it was never explicitly stated, there was an understanding by those in the vulnerable position that the employer had an upper-hand on them and that they had to abide by their requests to avoid any potential complications. This was particularly reflected in a request a coworker of mine (some kid from Central America) made in which ey asked if I would be willing to run if our manager ever called ICE on em in order to focus the agents’ attention on me while ey slipped out and escaped. These coworkers often worked harder than those fortunate enough to have papers and/or a clear record, yet were treated like they were less than humyn. I couldn’t stand that. I couldn’t stand how disposable they were treated because they crossed a border, had a criminal history, or just have a messy past that they are trying to overcome.

During the pandemic, two people I knew from the vulnerable population (deemed “essential workers”), ended up dying from COVID-19 and for what? To maintain a fucking business. To bourgeois society, they were nothing more than cannon fodder. I was angry and I was depressed, and part of me wanted to succumb to my own vices even further, but another part of me felt a deep obligation to all of those I had worked with. To do something about it. I wasn’t an organizer or anything. I had never really done anything like that. But I wanted to do something. So around this time I began taking my political studies more seriously and began to see the bigger picture (i.e. the need for socialist revolution). I wanted to immerse myself deep within the working-class and help build the labor movement as a means to play my role in the struggle for socialism. Eventually, an opportunity to work on an underground union campaign targeting a major corporation presented itself and I dropped everything to be part of that campaign.

And how quickly the front-line workers who died from COVID-19 have been forgotten in order to move the capitalist economy forward. The United $tates, despite its wealth and resources, has had the most people die from COVID-19. It’s at least good to hear that it inspired people like yourself to seek real change. Did you work with one union or many? Were they big/significant unions? Did you get a glimpse of how other union organizing operated, or can you only speak to one organization?

My situation was sort of unique as I worked in a sort of underground cell within the union, but ultimately I worked under two unions. These two are some of the biggest/most significant unions in the United $tates. They operated similarly – very bureaucratically. We did a lot of work with other big and medium-sized unions and they also seemed to reflect that structure. I can’t speak on the more grassroots type unions.

An underground cell? That sounds interesting, how did that work?

I was a union salt, or rather, I was sent into a specific workplace by the union as an undercover organizer to help them organize it. In my case, I was entering one of the most infamous workplaces in the U.$. My goal was to immerse myself with the working-class/the masses and commit myself to the struggle for socialism.

Why do you feel this type of organizing didn’t ultimately match your goals?

I believed that building up worker-power would lead to building up a pillar of support for socialism in the United $tates. My goals were political whereas the union’s were not – this is the fundamental conflict between my interests and theirs.

What kind of things did you end up doing that you felt were not aligned with your goals and politics? Were these tasks/projects unexpected when you first got into union organizing?

I thought I was going into the workplace to build relationships and serve in raising class consciousness, but ended up doing a bunch of non-campaign related tasks/projects, such as phonebanking for random surveys and canvassing for politicians I had never even heard of in neighborhoods nicer than the one I lived in. This was unexpected because I was sold such a militant/radical message by the persyn that recruited me. I had been upfront about my reasons for wanting to work for the union and how it related to my politics and this persyn told me that our goals were similar and that I was in the right place. So it was a surprise to me when I found myself doing a bunch of work that seemed no more radical than working for the Democrats.

Did your political line develop/change during this time? because of the work you were doing? or from external study on your own?

Yes. My political line changed drastically over my time with the union. Partially because of the work, but mostly from deeper study. Like I mentioned earlier, I salted at one of the most infamous workplaces in the U.$. and while the work in itself was difficult, no one there really belonged to the vulnerable population. You needed papers and a clean record for at least five years in order to work there. So I was working with a very different group of people – a group of people I began to understand more and more through my persynal political study. They were not the proletariat and they did not share the same interests with the proletariat. They were labor aristocrats who, despite not being unionized, still benefit from the spoils of global imperialism. I became disillusioned with my work after understanding the reactionary role labor unions and the labor aristocracy have actively played throughout the history of the United $tates and among the global proletariat.

Of course we should not be quick to draw general conclusions from our own limited experiences as that would be an empiricist error. Were you able to connect your experiences to the historic experiences of others?

I definitely do not think my experience can be used to make broad generalizations on how a typical rank-and-file organizer’s experience looks like given its unique form, but I think it does reflect an all too common experience faced by those organizers motivated by a genuine desire to struggle for revolution, but who misdirect their energy into union work, non-profit work or any other form of controlled opposition work that ultimately serves to further legitimize the bourgeois state. There is a bit of naivety that stems from a lack of skepticism towards such organizations and overall lack of experience from such organizers. That is the importance of studying historical experience; to help guide us on what works and what doesn’t work. For example, the experience I often connect (or at least keep in mind the most) was that of the historic IWW because they were an open anti-capitalist union with the goal of organizing all workers. In retrospect, they closely matched my goals and the goals of the other self-proclaimed communists I have worked with. They were relatively successful as a union and were perhaps the best case scenario regarding unions, yet they failed to carry out anything revolutionary and fell short of pushing an anti-imperialist line in fear of the repercussions they would face from the U.$. government. Self-preservation marked higher on the priority list than class struggle to a union of “radicals”; this seems important to keep in mind whenever you find yourself working in an organization full of liberals.

So the people you had worked with previously were also not unionized? but they were lacking in full citizenship rights, whether by birth or as punishment by the injustice system? What are your thoughts on the organizing potential there based on your experience and studies?

No, the people I had previously worked with were not unionized and the industry as a whole is typically non-union (with an exception of the more skilled within said industry that make up a very small portion of the workforce). There seems to be too many complications in trying to organize this workforce into a union, primarily because of how willing another persyn who is lacking full citizenship would be to replace them. Also, as I mentioned earlier, the consequences for this vulnerable population are much more detrimental, which lessens the likelihood of participating in a campaign that can risk their employment. Some people need a job to satisfy the terms of their parole and losing their job puts them at risk of going back to prison. When you’re in a more desperate situation, you’re more willing to put up with shit. With that being said though, I do think there is organizing potential among them – it just so happens not to be in labor. Most of them come from oppressed nationalities and their lack of full citizenship rights demarcates them further from being accepted by oppressor society, demarcating them from an amerikan identity. I believe there is potential to organize this particular population of the U.$. workforce around the national question, but only through practice will we see if this proves to be correct.

What do you see as possible solutions/roads forward for you or anyone who shares your goals? How do they contrast with the practices within the labor organizing movement in this country as you experienced it?

The struggle for better wages, universal healthcare, remote work opportunities , or whatever “communists” and liberals are fighting for (i.e. union work) will not lead to revolution – but rather further pacification – which will ultimately serve imperialism. Communists should aim to wage class struggle, not facilitate social work. If diversifying the beneficiaries of global imperialism sounds productive, then support a union. If not, then recognize the importance of keeping your politics in command. As a communist – the goal is revolution and the role we play is in advancing that goal. But we can’t advance our goal if we cannot admit that we need to re-assess the situation we are working in. This requires deep study. So take a step back and study seriously. We are working in very unique conditions and it is important that we understand these conditions if we are remotely serious in our politics. Fortunately for us, Chairman Mao formulated the fundamental question when it comes to making revolution: Who are our friends? And who are our enemies?

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[Prison Labor] [Economics] [ULK Issue 80]
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Inflation and Disability Checks in Prison

I was told that commissary prices went up here in Oregon, but wages for prison jobs have mostly remained the same. At least the administration in Oregon pays prisoners for labor, because back home we don’t get paid shit, as is the case for most southern prisons. I’m curious to see how inflation is effecting other prisons in the United $tates. Is there anything that we (prisoners) can do about inflation? Do we just sit back and let it slide?

On another tip, I’m actually gettin’ ready to file an Americans with Disabilities Act class-action to try and get disabled prisoners, like me, disability checks in prison, because non-disabled prisoners get paid for working, but disabled prisoners, who can’t work, aren’t able to participate in such monetary programs and services. A $50 disability check, per month, would work. Fifty bucks is probably the average amount of money that non-disabled prisoners earn per month in Oregon.

Let Under Lock & Key know how inflation has affected prices in your prison. And what is being done about it by prisoners or the administration? [We’ll be covering this issue in more depth in ULK 81 if we can gather more info from you.]

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[Economics] [Principal Contradiction] [U.S. Imperialism] [Africa] [Theory] [ULK Issue 79]
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A Look At the People's Struggle In Ghana: How Capitalism Exploits

“We can’t afford rent and we’re sleeping outside. The youths are jobless” -Yaw Barimah, Ghanaian taxidriver

In late June 2022, street protests erupted in Ghana’s capital city, Accra. The above quote matches the general feel and demands of the masses who took to the streets. Most lay persons are aware of the current effects of inflation on the daily lives of the average people. Many of us have not made the necessary connection that such inflation and other tricks capitalists use to increase the amount of surplus value extracted from the populace, are inherently apart of the internal dynamics of capitalism itself. Our failure to understand this brings our protests, and dissent to a screeching halt once the point of economic reformism is reached.

In countries dominated under imperialist neo-colonialism, such as Ghana, the weight of economic exploitation is maximized. As conditions sharpen, the exploited classes of Ghana are beginning to stir. On July 4th four teacher’s unions went on strike in opposition to the neo-colonial government’s refusal to pay ‘cost-of-living allowances’ of at least 20% of their wages.

The government holds the position that due to ‘Annual inflation’ now reaching 27.6% and the accompanied reduction in value of the Cedi(1), they’re unable to pay this allowance. The system of imperialism works in a way that parasitic countries like amerika hold economic hegemony over Third World countries like Ghana. This allows for the U.$. currency, the dollar, to dictate the value of the national currencies of Third World countries. What this means for the Ghanaian and other Third World workers is that because their wages are paid in money, the national currency, the amount of their pay, although the same on paper, is devalued along with national currency.

Month-on-Month inflation rates for the Cedi

So the exploitation of the Ghanaian worker has intensified. Their labor is still required to be done at the same rate, same hours labored, same amount of labor, and same wage paid. What has changed is the value of their labor power; with inflation, the amount of cedi it takes to maintain the worker’s needs is greater. Yet wages have not increased, or not increased as much.

To allow the common people to overstand our common interest in overthrowing capitalist dictatorship it is necessary to understand and breakdown plainly, the inner-working of capitalism and how it effects the lives of the people.

In Ghana, as described above, and many other places around the world right now, the mechanism being used by capitalist exploiters is the depression of wages. This generally occurs when the wages of the worker are below the value of their labor power. Labor power here means human work, the sum total of a person’s physical and mental effort.(2) Labor power is the primary factor in society’s production. Uniquely however, only in capitalist society is labor power a commodity.

The process of commodification of labor power manifests itself in two conditions: (1) The worker is ‘free’ in that they can ‘choose’ to sell their labor as a commodity. (2) The worker owns nothing aside from their labor power (what the mind/body can produce). They have no means of productions, or means of living and must sell their labor power to live.

Therefore, what we know as ‘employment’ in the capitalist economy consists of capitalists buying the labor power of the laborer and converting them into hired slaves.

The exploitation of workers is examined by the advent of surplus value. The degree of exploitation is examined by the rate of surplus value. The capitalist devises ways to maximize this rate of surplus value, which brings me back to depression and deduction of wages.

To comprehend wages, we must first overstand that wages are a ‘disguise’. They are a way to fool the people into thinking they’re getting equal value for their labor.

Marx said, “wages are not what they appear to be. They are not the value or price of labor, but a disguised form of the value or price of labor power.”(3) Therefore the capitalists notion that they pay the worker the price of their labor is completely fabricated.

A key in understanding political economy is to comprehend the distinction between labor and labor power. Under capitalism what the worker is selling isn’t labor, but is labor power, which is capable of being commodified, while the former (labor) isn’t.

The next logical question is why? why is labor not a commodity? Commodities exist in their final state prior to being sold, labor doesn’t. Also commodities are exchanged for equal value, according to the law of value. Therefore if labor was a commodity the capitalist should pay the full value created by labor, which would eliminate surplus value (the source of profit), which would eliminate capitalism.

If labor was a commodity, it would have value and that value would be determined by the amount of embodied labor. This can’t happen. How can the value of a phenomenon be determined by the value of itself?

What labor is is the process of labor power. Therefore the wage paid to the laborer is equal to the value of the labor power. In other words, it is the amount required to keep the proletariat as a class alive and working – that is the value of labor power. Whatever extra the worker’s labor power produces above the value of labor power (the wage paid to keep the proletariat alive) is called surplus value and it is what is ‘exploited’ by the capitalist. The wage itself is the chain that binds the exploiter to the exploited. The revolutionary demand must be to abolish the wage system.

The term ‘cost of living allowance’, caused me to think of our need to overstand where the idea of ‘cost of living’ or ‘standard of living’ has its roots.

We begin by concluding that these are two distinctive wages. In the political economy of capitalism, there are nominal wages and there are real wages. Nominal wages are expressed by the wage payment of money.

In our quest to find the ‘cost of living’, we can’t use nominal wages as representation. The cost of living will only be reflected by the amount of means of livelihood which can be bought by the money wage (nominal wage). What the nominal wage can purchase is the cost/standard of living and is called real wages.

Declining value of Ghana’s cedi priced in U.$. dollars

What is taking place in Ghana is that there is a contradiction between the nominal and real wages. The nominal wage is being held in place, while the real wage is in a downward trend, a decline.

“When the purchasing power of money declines and the prices of the means of livelihood go up, the same amount of the nominal wage can only be exchanged for a smaller amount of means of livelihood. Then the real wage falls. Sometimes even if the nominal wage goes up a bit, but less than the increase in prices of the means of livelihood, the real wage will still decline.”(4)

This is essentially what we observe playing out in real time in Ghana and elsewhere. As the above quote alludes to, simple economic reforms like increase in wage will not end this phenomenon, the elimination of surplus value is the only solution. The bourgeoisie will always use the tools of inflation, price increases and rent increases to increase the contradiction between the nominal wage (money paid) and the real wage (what can be bought) to increase the rate of surplus value accumulation (the exploitation of the people).

In conclusion, I want to point out that while the protests organized by Arise Ghana and the work strike by the four teacher’s unions are significant struggles for the daily hurdles of life for the Ghanaian people, the people must be made to distinguish between the causes and effects of economic hardship. When a sick person has a cold and a running nose, they don’t merely get a tissue for the nose without curing the cold itself. The people exploited by imperialism must synthesize the economic and political struggles.

Closing with a word from Marx,

“The working class should not forget: in this daily struggle they are only opposing the effect, but not the cause that produces this effect; they are only delaying the downward trend, not changing the direction of the trend; they are only suppressing the symptom, not curing the disease.”(5)

DOWN WITH CAPITALIST-IMPERIALISM!!!

Notes:
(1) The Cedi is the national currency of Ghana.
(2) Fundamentals of Political Economy, edited by George C. Wang,;Chapt.4,pg.59
(3)K.Marx,Critique of the Gotha Program,selected work of Marx &Engels Vol.3
(4)Fundamentals of Political Economy,chapt.4,pg72
(5)K.Marx, Wages,Prices and Profit, Selected Works of Marx &Engels, Vol.2

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[Principal Contradiction] [Organizing] [National Liberation] [Economics] [ULK Issue 78]
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FAQs on Class and Nation and What We Will Print

MIM,

Thank you for the book MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism – this is exactly the kind of reading material I want and need.

I do want to briefly comment on a recurring phrase I see in some of your theory: “white worker”. Does this mean white collar worker as in labor aristocrat or is this a prejudice that labor aristocrats are white skin color? If you mean privileged as in white collar then why don’t you say collar?

I have not read much of the book yet, just a few pages. However, I can agree that much of the working class in amerika is labor aristocrat, where you lose me is that when I think of labor aristocrat I see a face like Eric Adams, the mayor of New York City, who is constantly calling for more police and more oppression.

Here in California we have a lot of Brown faces, perhaps 50% Brown. The point is whenever I talk to a Brown or Black person about socialism the response is mostly the same. Black & Brown people in amerika love their privilege, they enjoy exploiting 3rd world workers, there the labor aristocrat is Brown and Black in the face and white in the collar.

I think MIM Theory agrees with me that First World working class has no use for revolution and is impossible to recruit or even harmful to the movement, as bourgeoisie in any dictatorship of the proletariat is only there to revive capitalism. However, as MIM states the majority of First World working class is labor aristocrat, then I would assume MIM is considering the demographics of the First World as a whole and means “white collar worker” and not merely a racist jab of “white worker.” All of the cops here have Brown faces.

In Solidarity,

a California prisoner


Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Sounds like we have a high level of unity on the class structure in this country, and the world. The truth is the analysis has evolved since the 1980s, when it was more reasonable to talk about a proletariat in the internal semi-colonies (by which we mean New Afrika, Boricua, Aztlan, and the First Nations). So back then writers like MIM and Sakai would talk about a Black or [email protected] proletariat, while seeing the white workers as an enemy class. And yes, by white we mean white people, though we use it to talk about nation, rather than race, which is a myth. Therefore today we’ll often use Amerikan instead. And many “non-white” people have integrated into Amerika today. Euro-Amerikan is a term for the oppressor nation, but white is still a valid term that is understood by the masses today.

In the introduction to our pamphlet, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates, we wrote:

“If we fast forward from the time period discussed above to the 1980s we see the formation of the Maoist Internationalist Movement as well as a consolidation of theorists coming out of the legacy of the Black Liberation Army and probably the RYM as well. Both groups spoke widely of a Black or New Afrikan proletariat, which dominated the nation. MIM later moved away from this line and began entertaining Huey P. Newton’s prediction of mass lumpenization, at least in regard to the internal semi-colonies. Today we find ourselves in a position were we must draw a line between ourselves and those who speak of an exploited New Afrikan population. If the U.$. economy only existed within U.$. borders then we would have to conclude that the lower incomes received by the internal semi-colonies overall is the source of all capitalist wealth. But in today’s global economy, employed New Afrikans have incomes that are barely different from those of white Amerikans compared to the world’s majority, putting most in the top 10% by income.”

The above quote is referring to the MIM Congress resolution, On the internal class structures of the internal semi-colonies. Even since that was written we’ve seen the proliferation of what you talk about, [email protected] prison guards being the majority in much of Aztlan, and New Afrikan prison guards being the majority in many parts of the Black Belt. This of course varies by local demographics. Regardless, it makes one question whether there are even internal semi-colonies to speak of, or at what point we should stop speaking of them? The massive prison system in this country is one reason we do still speak of them.

So we agree with you that the term “white worker” has kind of lost its meaning today. However, we still see the principal contradiction in this country as nation. Despite the bourgeoisification and integration of sectors of the oppressed nations, and the subsequent division of those nations, we still see nationalism of the internal semi-colonies, if led by a proletarian line, as the most potent force against imperialism from within U.$. borders.

A couple more minor points. We’d probably say Eric Adams, and high ranking politicians like em, are solidly bourgeois. Whereas the labor aristocracy would be those Brown guards overseeing you. In addition, we do not use labor aristocracy and white collar synonymously either, as white collar work has always been petty bourgeois or at best semi-proletariat by Marxist standards. So the real controversial issue is to say there are “blue collar” workers who are not exploited.


Organizations for Whites

Another comrade wrote saying that ey had no organization to join because ey is white. They had mistakenly thought that we think people should only organize with their own nation. We do not take a hard line on this question. And it is obviously related to the above.

MIM(Prisons), USW and AIPS are all multinational. Yet in our understanding of nation as principal, it seems necessary for there to be nation-specific organizations to play that contradiction out between the oppressed and oppressor nations. We certainly have supported single-nation organizing, and in another resolution we put out, we cite that as one of the handful of legitimate reasons to start a new organization instead of joining MIM(Prisons) or USW.

But there may be situations where multinational organizing in this country is actually more effective. At this stage our numbers are so small that it should be strongly considered just out of necessity to begin building our infrastructure. And when single-nation organizations do exist, the united front exists for them to work with others outside their nation.


Printing Anarchist Content

Finally, we had a discussion with a comrade who submitted an article that was favorable or uncritical of anarchist organizing strategy. The comrade wanted to know why we asked em to change eir article, because we claim we will print articles form anarchist allies.

Just because we will print content from anarchists, even content we might have disagreements with, it doesn’t mean we always will. First, our goal is to win people over to the Maoist line. So if you submit something that disagrees with that, our first response will often be to struggle with you over that line with the goal of gaining a higher level of unity.

Now some comrades are avowed anarchists. For them we do not need to keep having the same debate. Nor do we need to have that debate in ULK. When we say we’ll print material from anarchists we’re talking about material that actually pushes the struggle forward. Not material that is debating issues we think were settled 100 years ago. This is similar to a critic complaining about us not printing eir piece in ULK when we responded, because we weren’t showing both sides of the debate over the labor aristocracy. Again, this is a debate that was settled decades ago.

On top of this there are many comrades and organizations we work with that aren’t in the camp of the international communist movement such as the Nation of Gods and Earths for one example. While many aspects of the Supreme Understanding taught by the NGE certainly goes against the Maoist worldview, we are able to find solidarity in practice and in a united front. We don’t necessarily have to battle out whether the Supreme Understanding or Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is correct in the newsletter. We encourage line struggle on the ground.

In summary, this is a Maoist newsletter, edited to represent the Maoist line. We get to pick and choose when to print stuff that disagrees with Maoism if we think it is useful to advancing the struggle. Sure we find it important for cadres to be able to commit to line struggle scientifically and principally, and communists in general should have the ability to look at sources that challanges their viewpoint and uphold their line while analyzing what’s wrong/correct during line struggle. There is infinite non-Maoist material out there; and we advise our readers and comrades to go to those materials if they want to see what our critics are saying. We certainly won’t expect our critics to use space in their newsletters publishing entire polemics that we wrote against them, nor would we say that’s unfair to us.

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[U.S. Imperialism] [Russia] [USSR] [China] [Principal Contradiction] [Economics] [ULK Issue 78]
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Book Review: Arms & Empire

[Arms & Empire(1980) by Richard Krooth is a MIM must read. MIM(Prisons) just developed a study guide to go along with this book. The below is the intro to the study guide with some key quotes from the book.]

Introduction to the study pack

The Maoist Internationalist Movement (originally named the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement) was founded at a time when inter-imperialist conflict between the camp led by the United $tates and that led by the social-imperialist USSR posed a threat to the world. In one of the founding documents, written in 1983, comrades saw the combination of liberation struggles in the Third World and this inter-imperialist conflict as a hotbed for communist revolutions.(1)

MIM founders saw the success of communist revolution as an absolute necessity to prevent a new inter-imperialist war, that would likely lead to nuclear war. As such, they recognized that a revolutionary situation could arise within the United $tates in a matter of years, despite having a budding skepticism of the interests of most in our country in communist revolution.

For most of MIM’s existence now we have not been in the situation described above. By 1991 the “Cold War” was over with the dissolution of the Soviet imperialist bloc. For a solid 3 decades we lived under a “unipolar world”, where U.$. dominated organizations and alliances ruled the world (NATO, World Bank, IMF, etc).

For many years now (in 2022) China has been the rising imperialist power, mostly independent of the U.$.-dominated institutions, though deeply integrated with the U.$. economically. As the contradictions heighten in the U.$.-China economic system, they also heighten in the capitalist system overall. The post-USSR era brought a sacking of the wealth of the former Soviet states by cleptocratic capitalists. This aligned with the capitalist development of China, and the return of exploitative relations dominating over 1 billion people who became the primary producers for consumers in the United $tates and around the world. These processes of wealth extraction were the life-blood for global capitalism for those 3 decades of inter-imperialist peace. But, capitalism must keep expanding, and there is not much more room to expand. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a series of collapses in the international system of distribution that prioritized profitability over resiliency.

Earlier this year, Russia invaded Ukraine, in what many fear is the first hot war of what will be an escalating inter-imperialist war. Though to date, it has not yet exceeded in scale the U.$./USSR conflicts of the Cold War. It has brought with it massive trade barriers. The Amerikans have rallied the world to isolate Russia with great success, yet differences in interests have also arisen. This will force many realignments in the coming months and years. The battle for markets, using tariffs and embargoes and currency manipulations, will only escalate. This makes Arms & Empire such a relevant read today.

In 1997, MIM passed a resolution stating:

“For MIM’s purposes, World War III began immediately after World War II ended in 1945. World War III continues today. It is a war between the imperialists and the oppressed nations. By defining World War III as post-World War II, MIM does not mean to say that imperialists did not wage war on the oppressed nations prior to 1945, only that the post-1945 period has specific characteristics (such as: 1. the leading roles of the U.S. and, for a time, the USSR and 2. the predominance of neocolonialism) which separate this period from the pre-1945 periods.”(2)

We can say that world war is inherent to imperialism. As Lenin defined it, imperialism is when the world has been completely divided up by competing monopolist powers, making the export of finance capital the dominant aspect of the economy, and finance capitalists become the shapers of the world. This competition translates to economic and military warfare, both of which result in large numbers of unnecessary humyn deaths. Imperialism kills millions. When warfare between the imperialists can be minimized for a period, the warfare is aimed primarily at the oppressed nations who are resisting the imperialists trying to control and exploit them.

On the eve of World War I, the revisionist Kautsky proposed a theory of ultra-imperialism to supercede imperialism, where the imperialists can ban together to manage the world internationally. Today, there are many bad Marxists who unknowingly promote this metaphysical view of world imperialism where the imperialist forces of NATO and the U.$. are an invincible unbreakable force, and that the best thing the communists can hope for is a counter-balance to U.$. hegemony while tailing other independent imperialists such as Russia or China. While also unknowingly parroting neo-Kautskyism, these revisionist Marxists also unite with the bourgeois Liberals on the world view of a post-Soviet world. The bourgeois liberals had their own theories of “the end of history” after the collapse of the Soviet Union that envisioned the current order to have proven itself as the stable state in which we would remain. In this book, Richard Krooth concisely points out why these fantasies can never come true. The internal contradictions of capitalism and imperialism, brilliantly exposed by Marx and Lenin, translate to antagonistic contradictions among the imperialists that cannot be resolved by synthesis but only by one aspect of that contradiction overtaking the other via warfare. This remains true despite brief periods of relative peace between the imperialists that must also coincide with periods of prosperity and great opportunity for the imperialists. And has MIM has pointed out, even in times of prosperity, the different interests of the labor aristocracy can damper the plans of imperialist unity.(3)

Today, the labor aristocracy is talking about their inability to consume products not made by them in their movement to increased wages, decreased worktimes, etc. However, they seem to be able to consume products not made by them pretty well. Cars, phones, food, etc. are mostly produced by the Third World proletariat, and the main gripe comes with things they don’t own rather than things they don’t produce: rent for example.

As we enter a period of heightened inter-imperialist conflict, we echo the sentiments of MIM’s founders. We are not for war, but we recognize that war by the proletariat to overthrow imperialism is necessary to stop war. As military and economic warfare expands among imperialists and between imperialists and the oppressed nations, opportunities for successful revolutions to put the proletariat in state power increases. This is the solution to war. We aim to destroy imperialism, because imperialism is destroying the planet.

Notes:
1. Manifesto on the International Situation and Revolution (first few pages)
2. Resolution on World War III (1997 MIM Congress)
3. Social-democratic gravy train opposes European Union (2005 MIM Congress)
4. also see: “Ukraine: Imperialism in Crisis” in Under Lock & Key 77 for broad discussion of economic and military warfare against Russia in 2022.

Key summary quotes from book

End of the Introduction:

“For we will see that empire was systemic and competitive; that competition and nationalism then powered the changeover from one system of empire to another; that, consequently, the mercantile colonial system was replaced by a system of free trade with the coming of industrialism; that free trade was thereafter replaced by a return to colonial empires with the rise of monopolization in the leading nations; that war between the Powers resolved little in the fight for world domination; and that a new growth of monopolies led to strengthened colonial spheres of influence and renewed warfare.”

Explanation of the Great Depression (top of p.119):

“The U.S. had long since closed down free trade into America, stopping Germany and other European countries from exporting to American shores to pay their debts. This secured the U.S. dollar for a while, making it the hardest currency in the world, pushing up its value vis-a-vis other currencies, but also making it inaccessible to nations that otherwise would have purchased from America. When other nations could not obtain dollars by exports to the U.S., obviously they could import nothing at all. And so U.S. exports tended to fall and had to be replaced with bilateral trade agreements. Up went U.S. unemployment when markets fell away and bilateral trade could not replace them. Then down came the dollar, the U.S. devaluing in 1933 in an attempt to stimulate the exports again. But, alas, it was too late. The depression was on, production was down, America was spreading crisis to Europe!”

Lead up to WWII (p.129-30):

“Within European nations especially, the road to war was laid out in stages – the first for counterrevolution, the second for capitalist resurgence, and the third for crises and the rise of antagonistic governments seeking to take what all others held in trade, investments, colonies and profits. In the first period (1917-23) we can discern how civilian bands of reactionaries had used force and violence against the agrarian or socialist”revolutions“… The reactionaries demanded”law and order," eventually leading to “counter-revolutions.” Yet the incipient fascist movements did not themselves assume government power, for the marketplace was being re-established and did not require a fascistic state.

"The second period (1924-29) had no use for a fascist government either. The powers of capitalist production were expanding, the market fetters were destroyed, and al the important nations save Great Britain were on the economic upgrade. While the United States enjoyed legendary prosperity and the Continent was doing almost as well, Hitler’s putsch was a footnote in political economy. France evacuated the Ruhr, the Reichsmark was restored by U.S. loans, the Dawes Plan took politics out of reparations, Locarno was in the offing for peace, and Germany was initiating seven fat years. The gold standard ruled from Moscow to Lisbon by the close of 1926; buyers could now pay for their imports, restoring the capitalist marketplace to its full capacity.

"Then came the Great Crash of 1929, the market economy turning down, general economic crisis forcing nations to be sellers but not buyers in the world. The continuing deadlock of market dealings demanded changes in the political way in which economic solutions were planned. The Italian trusts chose fascism as a way out of their economic malaise. The German cartels demanded continental markets and colonies, not by marketplace dealings - for they were shut out of the markets and colonies of the other Powers - but by military conquest. Hitler, their puppet, demanded no more than they asked, Germany taking the lead in totalitarianizng Europe. And with Japan in the Asian wing, the Axis Pact aligned fascist power over five continents.

“Thereby the material conditions of society – monopoly ownership, overproduction, market struggle, political bankruptcy, and military occupation – had ended the marketplace system. The monopolists and cartelists needed fascism to build themselves strong for a military confrontation which, they believed, would award them with more raw materials, more markets, more profits and more power. The liberal business interests, then opting for increasing national competitiveness, also blocked any move towards allowing the social means of production to provide for popular need, instead of their private profit. The fascists, combining jingoism and planned speed-ups for the working population, now displayed a tawdry alternative to the free marketplace. And the monopolists then brought them into power in hopes that their accumulation of private gain would continue undiminished. World War II inexorably followed, not only because leaders willed it, but also because the solutions to economic and political crises required it.”

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[Revolutionary History] [Idealism/Religion] [Economics] [ULK Issue 78]
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Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación, Salvador Puig Antich, and The Labor Aristocracy

The Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL) was an anti-capitalist group consisting of both anarchists and communists that was active between 1971-1973 in the fascist state of Spain under Franco. The group was unique in that, unlike most revolutionary organizations, it was not centralized. MIL did not believe that a centralized group could be revolutionary. They insisted that a centralized group was synonymous with a party and that a party could not achieve social revolution because a party, by necessity, seeks to gain state power and then strengthen its position. The strengthening of state power – any state power – weakens the revolution.

MIL Line and History

MIL was internationalist in scope and honored the memory and history of various class struggles around the globe. Including, but not limited to: the Iberian class struggle, the Revolution of 333 Days in Hungary, the November Revolution in Germany, and the Bavarian Council Republic. They also had ties to anti-capitalist organizations outside of Spain, especially in France. In addition to it’s internationalist practices, they also collaborated extensively with other revolutionary organizations in Spain (most notably the GAC and OLLA).

The main element of MIL’s revolutionary action was the expropriation of funds from the capitalists through armed agitation. They would spread the expropriated money around the anti-capitalist movement to help further other clandestine operations as well as support worker’s struggles, families of prisoners, and victims of the police. A good chunk of these expropriated funds were invested in the library that MIL helped create called the Ediciones Mayo del 37. The purpose of this library was to publish and distribute revolutionary texts that could help raise the political consciousness of the working class.

Another important aspect of MIL was its support of women’s struggles against patriarchy. They claimed that any group that did not support such struggles were not revolutionary, for it was impossible to fight against capitalism and remain blind to the oppression and exploitation of women in capitalist society. Therefore, any organization that did not support women’s struggles were purposely ignoring their plight, and thus, could not be called revolutionary. Furthermore, MIL advocated revolution across all aspects of society: social, cultural, sexual, familial, and political. Revolution is not partial to any part of society; revolution effects society in its entirety. MIL did not consider itself a vanguard of the revolution – in fact, they opposed the very idea of a vanguard. Which is why they engaged in armed agitation rather than armed struggle.

“‘Armed agitation’ is wholly different from the strategy of ‘armed struggle’, in which a specialized group acts as the vanguard of the movement by constituting the nucleus of a future army…serving as the military wing of a clandestine political party…or by carrying out the most spectacular actions and using its position to attempt to influence and direct a mass movement…on the contrary, the groups that carry out armed agitation understand themselves to be simply a part of a bigger movement, increasing that movement’s capacity for communication, self-defense, and self-financing by organizing and funding clandestine printing, attacking the forces of repression, and expropriating money from capitalists…They also seek to generalize their practice rather than centralize it, distributing weapons among the lower classes and encouraging the horizontal proliferation of armed groups.” (1)

The core reason why MIL was opposed to armed struggle and the philosophy of the need for a vanguard was because they believed that nobody but the proletariat could liberate the proletariat. The idea that the proletariat needed an external group to lead or liberate them went against everything that MIL fought for and believed in. The members of MIL did not think of themselves as heroes of the people. They believed that their role in the anti-capitalist struggle was to act in ways that would help the working-class become politicized and then liberate themselves. As mentioned previously, the way that MIL thought best to achieve their purpose was through the expropriation of funds. By the time that MIL dissolved in September 1973, they had expropriated 24 million Pesetas from capitalists.

Ultimately, MIL dissolved itself after it had reached a point where the members could no longer consider their actions as revolutionary. Although MIL opposed specialization they found that they had become an organization that practiced specialization. They had done so inadvertently by continuously engaging in armed agitation without developing a political line that could explain and support their action to the masses. Just as theory – political line – needs to be supported by practice, so too does practice need to be supported by theory. The lack of one diminishes the other.

Initially, a Congress was held by the members of MIL to seek a solution that could save the group. In the end, they decided to dissolve; in part because their actions had failed to inspire the proletariat to engage in open class warfare. They decided that, at that time, the working class was not sufficiently politically conscious and that their main objective should be to politicize the masses through propaganda until the time came when armed agitation was necessary.

Salvador Puig Antich

The most famous member of MIL was, by far, Salvador Puig Antich. Salvador was born on 30 May 1948 in Barcelona. He began rebelling against authority figures in his youth and was once expelled from school for punching a teacher in defense of another student. Although he was involved in the worker’s struggles in his youth, he did not engage in revolutionary actions until he joined MIL during the summer of 1972. He participated in his first bank robbery on October 21st of the same year (acting as the getaway driver), and the action resulted in the expropriation of 990,200 Pesetas from the Laietana Saving Bank. Shortly after that Salvador began to carry a gun and go into banks himself.

He was a committed anti-capitalist who identified as an anarchist. Although he didn’t join MIL until it had been active for a year, he quickly became a prominent figure within the organization. He authored several texts that were circulated among the members of MIL. The purpose of these texts was to formulate discussion about various topics relevant to the organization and the revolution.

On 25 September 1973 Salvador was in a shootout with the police. During the altercation he was shot twice and one officer was killed. After the incident occurred he was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries; when he was determined to be in stable condition he was transferred to Modelo prison to await trail. On 9 January 1974 he was given the death penalty.

Although capitalists have attempted to portray Salvador as a degenerate criminal, the truth cannot be denied: he was a true revolutionary. He never denied his actions and always maintained that everything he did, he did in the name of the anti-capitalist struggle. His every action, his every thought, was centered toward the abolition of the state and the state apparatus. He never capitulated. He stayed true to the revolutionary struggle until the bitter end.

On 2 March 1974 Franco’s fascist state executed Salvador Puig Antich via garrot vil [editor: a chair that is used to strangle people to death]. He was 25 years old. Even though MIL did not develop a sufficient political line and dissolved after only two years of revolutionary action, it should by no means be forgotten. Both MIL and Salvador Puig Antich have influenced countless people in Spain to engage in revolutionary struggle. And, importantly, MIL advanced the theory of the Labor Aristocracy in a time when few did. Even today few recognize that in places like the United States of America, the proletarian class has ceased to exist and a new class has risen in its place; a parasitic class that benefits from the exploitation of the working class in the Third World. This parasitic class is the Labor Aristocracy.

MIL on the Labor Aristocracy

The same day that Salvador was executed Oriol Solé wrote the following from Modelo prison:

“In the United States, in Europe, under the rule of the superpowers, the proletariat has disappeared. Society has engendered a new social class that creates surplus, accumulates capital, and at the same time grows bloated on the surplus generated by millions of wage workers in the poor countries. A new class that builds itself a paradise paid for with the blood of the exploited poor of Africa, Asia and Latin America.” (2)

MIL’s line regarding the Labor Aristocracy was spot on, but several of their positions were flawed. For example, MIL viewed a vanguard as synonymous with a party and argued that any party would seize state power and strengthen its position. They held that no party could be revolutionary because the point of revolution is to abolish the state and the state apparatus.

This is an anarchist view and cannot lead to revolution. The anarchist believes that you should abolish the state and its apparatus immediately. While their concern about a new power oppressive power arising is a valid one, the communist recognizes the impracticality of combating strong class enemies without a state power and acknowledges that an intermediary stage between capitalism and communism is necessary – this stage being socialism. The socialist stage gradually diminishes until the state no longer exists. Only then can communism been achieved.

Another flaw is MIL’s view regarding the vanguard. They did not believe one was necessary and actively spoke against the creation of one. However, history has shown us that not only do vanguards work, but they are necessary to carry out a revolution. Three such examples are the centralized vanguards led by Mao, Castro, and Lenin. All of which carried out successful revolutions. Without their vanguards, those revolutions would not have occurred.

Yet, even with obvious flaws in their political theory, the MIL should not be thrown on the ash heap of history. Both MIL and Salvador Puig Antich are famous in Spain for their revolutionary legacy. But they are little known elsewhere. We should remember Salvador for his revolutionary actions, beliefs, and ultimate sacrifice. He lived for the people and he died for the people. Likewise, we should not let the MIL fall through the cracks of history. In the two short years of its existence, its actions shook the foundations of Spain, and surprisingly, it did so without killing. The only death attributed to MIL was that officer killed during the shootout with Salvador. MIL directly contributed to the worker’s struggles and did not seek to control or direct the proletariat for personal gain.

Every anti-capitalist revolutionary should remember Salvador Puig Antich and MIL and celebrate their legacy every March 2nd – the anniversary of Salvador’s death.

  1. Salvador Puig Antich: Collected Writings on Repression and Resistance in Franco’s Spain; by Ricard de Vargas Golarons; translated by Peter Gelderloos; pg.16
  2. ibid; pg.159

MIM(Prisons) adds: The story of MIL becoming specialized when they opposed specialization echoes the lesson of Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness. This essay is included in our study pack on organizational structure, for those who want to dive deeper into the Maoist line on this topic.

While MIL grasped the economic realities of the imperialist countries at an early stage of history, like many others they failed to answer the question of how to organize for the end of oppression in these conditions. This has been a question that many similar groups in the First World took to similar conclusions, leading to dissolution. MIM attempts to answer these questions by recognizing the fact that armed struggle is not viable against a strong imperialist state, and the need to be a mass-based movement. We cannot expect huge or flashy actions at this stage of the struggle, and we must build the infrastructure and educate the cadre for when conditions change. Time is on our side.

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