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[Economics] [China] [Theory] [FAQ] [ULK Issue 59]
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China 2017: Socialist or Imperialist?

Is China an Imperialist Country? considerations and evidence
by N.B. Turner, et al.
Kersplebedeb, 2015

Available for $17 + shipping/handling from:
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CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
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is china an imperialist country?

This article began as a book review of Is China an Imperialist Country?. However, I was spurred to complete this review after witnessing a surge in pro-China posts and sentiment on the /r/communism subreddit, an online forum that MIM(Prisons) participates in. It is strange to us that this question is gaining traction in a communist forum. How could anyone be confused between such opposite economic systems? Yet, this is not the first time that this question has been asked about a capitalist country; the Soviet Union being the first.

Mao Zedong warned that China would likely become a social fascist state if the revisionists seized power in their country as they had in the Soviet Union after Stalin's death. While the question of whether the revisionists have seized power in China was settled for Maoists decades ago, other self-proclaimed "communists" still refer to China as socialist, or a "deformed workers' state," even as the imperialists have largely recognized that China has taken up capitalism.

In this book, N.B. Turner does address the revisionists who believe China is still a socialist country in a footnote.(1) Ey notes that most of them base their position on the strength of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) in China. This is a common argument we've seen as well. And the obvious refutation is: socialism is not defined as a state-run economy, at least not by Marxists. SOEs in China operate based on a profit motive. China now boasts 319 billionaires, second only to the United $tates, while beggars walk the streets clinging to passerbys. How could it be that a country that had kicked the imperialists out, removed the capitalists and landlords from power, and enacted full employment came to this? And how could these conditions still be on the socialist road to communism?

Recent conditions did not come out of nowhere. By the 1980s, Beijing Review was boasting about the existence of millionaires in China, promoting the concept of wage differentials.(2) There are two bourgeois rights that allow for exploitation: the right to private property and the right to pay according to work. While the defenders of Deng Xiaoping argue that private property does not exist in China today, thus "proving" its socialist nature, they give a nod to Deng's policies on wage differentials; something struggled against strongly during the Mao era.

Turner quotes Lenin from Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism: "If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism."(3) And what are most SOEs but monopolies?

Is China a Socialist Country?

The question of Chinese socialism is a question our movement came to terms with in its very beginning. MIM took up the anti-revisionist line, as stated in the first cardinal principal:

"MIM holds that after the proletariat seizes power in socialist revolution, the potential exists for capitalist restoration under the leadership of a new bourgeoisie within the communist party itself. In the case of the USSR, the bourgeoisie seized power after the death of Stalin in 1953; in China, it was after Mao's death and the overthrow of the 'Gang of Four' in 1976."

We'll get more into why we believe this below. For now we must stress that this is the point where we split from those claiming to be communists who say China is a socialist country. It is also a point where we have great unity with Turner's book.

Who Thinks China is Socialist?

Those who believe China is socialist allude to a conspiracy to paint China as a capitalist country by the Western media and by white people. This is an odd claim, as we have spent most of our time struggling over Chinese history explaining that China is no longer communist, and that what happened during the socialist period of 1949 - 1976 is what we uphold. We see some racist undertones in the condemnations of what happened in that period in China. It seems those holding the above position are taking a valid critique for one period in China and just mechanically applying it to Western commentators who point out the obvious. We think it is instructive that "by 1978, when Deng Xiaoping changed course, the whole Western establishment lined up in support. The experts quickly concluded, over Chinese protests, that the new course represented reform 'capitalist style.'"(4) The imperialists do not support socialism and pretend that it is capitalism, rather they saw Deng's "reforms" for what they were.

TeleSur is one party that takes a position today upholding China as an ally of the oppressed nations. TeleSur is a TV station based in Venezuela, and funded by Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba, Uruguay and Nicaragua. Venezuela is another state capitalist country that presents itself as "socialist", so it has a self-interest in stroking China's image in this regard. One recent opinion piece described China as "committed to socialism and Marxism." It acknowledges problems of inequality in Chinese society are a product of the "economic reforms." Yet the author relies on citations on economic success and profitability as indications that China is still on the socialist road.(5)

As students of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, we recognize that socialism is defined by class struggle. In fairness, the TeleSur opinion piece acknowledges this and claims that class struggle continues in China today. But the reality that the state sometimes imprisons its billionaires does not change the fact that this once socialist society, which guaranteed basic needs to all, now has billionaires. Billionaires can only exist by exploiting people; a lot! Fifty years ago China had eliminated the influence of open capitalists on the economy, while allowing those who allied with the national interest to continue to earn income from their investments. In other words they were being phased out. Some major changes had to take place to get to where China is today with 319 billionaires.

Fidel Castro is cited as upholding today's President of China, Xi Jinping, as one of the "most capable revolutionary leaders." Castro also alluded to China as a counterbalance to U.$. imperialism for the Third World. China being a counter-balance to the United $tates does not make it socialist or even non-imperialist. China has been upholding its non-interventionist line for decades to gain the trust of the world. But it is outgrowing its ability to do that, as it admits in its own military white papers described by Turner.(6) This is one indication that it is in fact an imperialist country, with a need to export finance capital and dump overproduced commodities in foreign markets.

"The Myth of Chinese Capitalism"

Another oft-cited article by proponents of a socialist China in 2017 is "The Myth of Chinese Capitalism" by Jeff Brown.(7) Curiously, Brown volunteers the information that China's Gini coefficient, a measure of a country's internal inequality between rich and poor, went from 0.16 in 1978 to 0.37 in 2015 (similar to the United $tates' 0.41). Brown offers no explanation as to how this stark increase in inequality could occur in what ey calls a socialist country. In fact, Brown offers little analysis of the political economy of China, preferring to quote Deng Xiaoping and the Chinese Constitution as proof of China's socialist character, followed by stats on the success of Chinese corporations in making profits in the capitalist economic system.

Brown claims that Deng's policies were just re-branded policies of the Mao era. A mere months after the counter-revolutionary coup in China in 1976, the China Study Group wrote,

"The line put forward by the Chinese Communist Party and the Peking Review before the purge and that put forward by the CCP and the Peking Review after the purge are completely different and opposite lines. Superficially they may appear similar because the new leaders use many of the same words and slogans that were used before in order to facilitate the changeover. But they have torn the heart out of the slogans, made them into hollow words and are exposing more clearly with every new issue the true nature of their line."(8)

Yet, 40 years later, fans of China would have us believe that empty rhetoric about "Marxism applied to Chinese conditions" are a reason to take interest in the economic policies of Xi Jinping.

Brown seems to think the debate is whether China is economically successful or not according to bourgeois standards. As such ey offers the following tidbits:

"A number of [SOEs] are selling a portion of their ownership to the public, by listing shares on Chinese stock markets, keeping the vast majority of ownership in government hands, usually up to a 70% government-30% stock split. This sort of shareholder accountability has improved the performance of China's SOEs, which is Baba Beijing's goal."

"[O]ther SOEs are being consolidated to become planet conquering giants"

"How profitable are China's government owned corporations? Last year, China's 12 biggest SOEs on the Global 500 list made a combined total profit of US$201 billion."

So selling stocks, massive profits and giant corporations conquering the world are the "socialist" principles being celebrated by Brown, and those who cite em.

The Coup of 1976

What all these apologists for Chinese capitalism ignore is the fact that there was a coup in China in 1976 that involved a seizure of state apparati, a seizure of the media (as alluded to above) and the imprisonment of high officials in the Maoist camp (the so-called "Gang of Four").(9) People in the resistance were executed for organizing and distributing literature.(10) There were arrests and executions across the country, in seemingly large numbers. Throughout 1977 a mass purge of the party may have removed as many as a third of its members.(11) The armed struggle and repression in 1976 seems to have involved more violence than the Cultural Revolution, but this is swept under the rug by pro-capitalists. In addition, the violence in both cases was largely committed by the capitalist-roaders. While a violent counterrevolution was not necessary to restore capitalism in the Soviet Union, it did occur in China following Mao Zedong's death.

At the time of Mao's death, Deng was the primary target of criticism for not recognizing the bourgeoisie in the Party. Hua Guofeng, who jailed the Gang of Four and seized chairmanship after Mao's death, continued this criticism of Deng at first, only to restore all his powers less than sixteen months after they were removed by the Maoist government.(12)

The Western media regularly demonizes China for its records on humyn rights and free speech. Yet, this is not without reason. By the 1978 Constitution, the so-called CCP had removed the four measures of democracy guaranteed to the people in the 1975 Constitution: "Speaking out freely, airing views fully, holding great debates and writing big character posters are new forms of carrying on socialist revolution created by the masses of the people. The state shall ensure to the masses the right to use these forms."(13)

This anti-democratic trend has continued over the last forty years, from jail sentences for big character posters in the 1980s and the Tianamen Square massacre in 1989 to the imprisonment of bloggers in the 2010s. While supporters of Xi Jinping have celebrated his recent call for more Marxism in schools, The Wall Street Journal reports that this is not in the spirit of Mao:

"Students at Sun Yat-sen University in southern China arrived this year to find new instructions affixed to classroom walls telling them not to criticize party leadership; their professors were advised to do the same... An associate professor at an elite Beijing university said he was told he was rejected for promotion because of social-media posts that were critical of China's political system. 'Now I don't speak much online,' he said."(14)

Scramble for Africa

What about abroad? Is China a friend of the oppressed? Turner points out that China's Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Africa is significant, though a tiny piece of China's overall FDI. First we must ask, why is China engaged in FDI in the first place? Lenin's third of five points defining imperialism is, "The export of capital, which has become extremely important, as distinguished from the export of commodities."(15) A couple chapters before talking about Africa, Turner shows that China has the fastest growing FDI of any imperialist or "sub-imperialist" country starting around 2005.(16) Even the SOEs are involved in this investment, accounting for 87% of China's FDI in Latin America.(17) This drive to export capital, which repatriates profits to China, is a key characteristic of an imperialist country.

In 2010, China invited South Africa to join the BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and now South Africa) of imperialist/aspiring imperialist countries. This was a strategic decision by China, as South Africa was chosen over many larger economies. "In 2007... the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (now the world's largest company) bought a multi-billion-dollar stake in the South African Standard Bank, which has an extensive branch network across the continent." Shoprite is another South African corporation that spans the continent, which China has invested in. In Zambia, almost all the products in Shoprite are Chinese or South African.(18)

The other side of this equation indicating the role of China in Africa is the resistance. "Chinese nationals have become the number one kidnapping target for terrorist and rebel groups in Africa, and Chinese facilities are valuable targets of sabotage." China is also working with the likes of Amerikan mercenary Erik Prince to avoid direct military intervention abroad. "In 2006, a Zambian minister wept when she saw the environment in which workers toiled at the Chinese-owned Collum Coal Mine. Four years later, eleven employees were shot at the site while protesting working conditions."(19) While China's influence is seen as positive by a majority of people in many African countries,(20) this is largely due to historical support given to African nations struggling for self-determination. The examples above demonstrate the irreconcilable contradiction developing within Chinese imperialism with its client nations.

"Market Socialism"

Chinese President Xi Jinping talks often of the importance of "Marxism" to China, of "socialism with Chinese characteristics" and of "market socialism." Xi's defenders in communist subreddits cite Lenin and the New Economic Policy (NEP) of the Soviet Union to peg our position as anti-Lenin. There's a reason we call ourselves Maoists, and not Leninists. The battle against the theory of the productive forces, and the form it took in the mass mobilization of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution is core to how we define Maoism as a higher stage of revolutionary science than Leninism. The Bolsheviks tended toward upholding the theory of the productive forces, though you can find plenty in Lenin's to oppose it as well. Regardless, Lenin believed in learning from history. We'd say Maoists are the real Leninists.

Lenin's NEP came in the post-war years, a few years after the proletariat seized power in Russia. The argument was that capitalist markets and investment were needed to get the economic ball rolling again. But China in 1978 was in no such situation. It was rising on a quarter century of economic growth and radical reorganization of the economy that unleashed productive forces that were the envy of the rest of the underdeveloped nations. Imposing capitalist market economics on China's socialist economy in 1978 was moving backwards. And while economic growth continued and arguably increased, social indicators like unemployment, the condition of wimmin, mental health and crime all worsened significantly.

The line of the theory of the productive forces is openly embraced by some Dengists defending "market socialism." One of the most in-depth defenses of China as communist appearing on /r/communism reads:

"Deng Xiaoping and his faction had to address the deeper Marxist problem: that the transition from a rural/peasant political economy to modern industrial socialism was difficult, if not impossible, without the intervening stage of industrial capitalism... First, Chinese market socialism is a method of resolving the primary contradiction facing socialist construction in China: backwards productive forces."(21)

So, our self-described communist detractors openly embrace the lines of Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi, thereby rejecting the Maoist line and the Cultural Revolution.

Resilience to Crisis

During the revolution, China was no stranger to economic crisis. From the time the war against Japan began in 1937 to victory in 1949, goods that cost 1 yuan had risen to the price of 8,500,000,000,000 yuan!(22) Controlling inflation was an immediate task of the Chinese Communist Party after seizing state power. "On June 10, 1949 the Stock Exchange — that centre of crime located in downtown Shanghai — was ordered to close down and 238 leading speculators were arrested and indicted."(23) Shanghai Stock Exchange was re-established again in 1990. It is currently the 5th largest exchange, but was 2nd for a brief frenzy prior to the 2008 global crash.(24)

The eclectic U.$.-based Troskyite organization Workers World Party (WW) used the 2008 crisis to argue that China was more socialist than capitalist.(25) The export-dependent economy of China took a strong blow in 2008. WW points to the subsequent investment in construction as being a major offset to unemployment. They conclude that, "The socialist component of the economic foundation is dominant at the present." Yet they see the leadership of Xi Jinping as further opening up China to imperialist manipulation, unlike other groups discussed above.

Chinese Ghost
City
A Chinese "Ghost City"
Turner addresses the "ghost cities" built in recent years in China as examples of the anarchy of production under capitalism. Sure they were state planned, but they were not planned to meet humyn need, hence they remain largely empty years after construction. To call this socialism, one must call The New Deal in the United $tates socialism.

Marx explained why crisis was inevitable under capitalism, and why it would only get worse with time as accumulation grew, distribution became more uneven, and overproduction occurred more quickly. Socialism eliminates these contradictions, with time. It does so by eliminating the anarchy of production as well as speculation. After closing the Stock Exchange the communists eliminated all other currencies, replacing them with one state-controlled currency, the Renminbi, or the people's currency. Prices for goods as well as foreign currencies were set by the state. They focused on developing and regulating production to keep the balance of goods and money, rather than producing more currency, as the capitalist countries do.(26)

When the value of your stock market triples and then gets cut back to its original price in the span of a few years, you do not have a socialist-run economy.(27) To go further, when you have a stock market, you do not have a socialist economy.

Turner addresses the recent crisis and China's resiliency, pointing out that it recently started from a point of zero debt, internally and externally, thanks to financial policy during the socialist era.(28) China paid off all external debt by 1964.(29) This has allowed China to expand its credit/debt load in recent decades to degrees that the other imperialist countries no longer have the capacity to do. This includes investing in building whole cities that sit empty.(30)

What is Socialism?

So, if socialism isn't increasing profits and growing GDP with state-owned enterprises, what the heck is it? The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR) was the pinnacle of socialist achievement; that is another one of MIM's three main points. No one has argued that the Cultural Revolution has continued or was revived post-1976. In fact, the Dengists consistently deny that there are any capitalists in the party to criticize, as they claim "market socialism" denies the capitalists any power over the economy. This is the exact line that got Deng kicked out of the CCP before Mao died. Without class struggle, we do not have socialism, until all classes have been abolished in humyn society. Class struggle is about the transformation of society into new forms of organization that can someday lead us to a communist future.

"A fundamental axiom of Maoist thought is that public ownership is only a technical condition for solving the problems of Chinese society. In a deeper sense, the goal of Chinese socialism involves vast changes in human nature, in the way people relate to each other, to their work, and to society. The struggle to change material conditions, even in the most immediate sense, requires the struggle to change people, just as the struggle to change people depends on the ability to change the conditions under which men live and work. Mao differs from the Russians, and Liu Shao-chi's group, in believing that these changes are simultaneous, not sequential. Concrete goals and human goals are separable only on paper — in practice they are the same. Once the basic essentials of food, clothing, and shelter for all have been achieved, it is not necessary to wait for higher productivity levels to be reached before attempting socialist ways of life." (31)

Yet the Dengists defend the "economic reforms" (read: counter-revolution) after Mao's death as necessary for expanding production, as a prerequisite to building socialism.

"The fact that China is a socialist society makes it necessary to isolate and discuss carefully the processes at work in the three different forms of ownership: state, communal, and cooperative."(32)

The Dengists talk much of state ownership, but what of communes and cooperatives? Well, they were dismantled in the privatization of the 1980s. Dengists cry that there is no private land ownership in China, and that is a sign that the people own the land. It was. In the 1950s land was redistributed to peasants, which they later pooled into cooperatives, unleashing the productive forces of the peasantry. Over time this collective ownership was accepted as public ownership, and with Deng's "reforms" each peasant got a renewable right to use small plots for a limited number of years. The commune was broken up and the immediate effects on agriculture and the environment were negative.(33)

Strategic Implications

Overall Turner does a good job upholding the line on what is socialism and what is not. This book serves as a very accessible report on why China is an imperialist country based in Leninist theory. The one place we take issue with Turner is in a discussion of some of the strategic implications of this in the introduction. Ey makes an argument against those who would support forces fighting U.$. imperialism, even when they are backed by other imperialist powers. One immediately thinks of Russia's support for Syria, which foiled the Amerikan plans for regime change against the Assad government. Turner writes, "Lenin and the Bolshevik Party... argued for 'revolutionary defeatism' toward all imperialist and reactionary powers as the only stance for revolutionaries."(34) But what is this "and reactionary powers" that Turner throws in? In the article, "The Defeat of One's Own Government in the Imperialist War," by "imperialist war" Lenin meant inter-imperialist war, not an imperialist invasion of a country in the periphery.

In that article Lenin praised the line that "During a reactionary war a revolutionary class cannot but desire the defeat of its government." He writes, "that in all imperialist countries the proletariat must now desire the defeat of its own government." While Lenin emphasizes all here, in response to Turner, we'd emphasize imperialist. Elsewhere Lenin specifies "belligerent countries" as the target of this line. So while it is clear that Lenin was not referring to Syria being invaded by the United $tates as a time that the proletariat must call for defeat of the government of their country, it seems that Turner is saying this.

We agree with other strategic conclusions of this book. China seems to be moving towards consolidating its sphere of influence, which could lead to consolidation of the world into two blocks once again. While this is a dangerous situation, with the threat of nuclear war, it is also a situation that has proven to create opportunities for the proletariat. Overall, the development and change of the current system works in the favor of the proletariat of the oppressed nations; time is on our side. As China tries to maintain its image as a "socialist" benefactor, the United $tates will feel more pressure to make concessions to the oppressed and hold back its own imperialist arrogance.

In 1986, Henry Park hoped that the CCP would repudiate Marxism soon, writing, "It is far better for the CCP to denounce Marx (and Mao) as a dead dog than for the CCP to discredit socialism with the double-talk required to defend its capitalist social revolution."(35) Still hasn't happened, and it's not just the ignorant Amerikan who is fooled. Those buying into the 40-year Chinese charade contribute to the continued discrediting of socialism, especially as this "socialist" country becomes more aggressive in international affairs.

[We recommend Is China an Imperialist Country? as the best resource we know on this topic. As for the question of Chinese socialism being overthrown, please refer to the references below. We highly recommend The Chinese Road to Socialism for an explanation of what socialism looks like and why the GPCR was the furthest advancement of socialism so far.]

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[Economics] [ULK Issue 58]
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Inform the Streets

Knowledge

Revolutionary greetings to all kaptives inside the gulags of the United $nakes of A-murderer. As kaptives with lots of time on our hands, knowing firsthand the oppressive state apparatus, we must work to politicize ourselves, then our contacts on the streets. As there are many orgs in existence pushing for exposure of prison conditions, we must do our part; persistently sending them reports on incidents of violence, food and health care neglect, mail tampering, and the overall divisive and mentally debilitating tactics used by the state (and its pig lackeys).

We must teach one another how to analyze these conditions from an anti-imperialist perspective. We then must help to raise the consciousness of those outside the gulag (individuals, orgs, support networks, etc.). We must help them to see the direct cause of our treatment as imperialism; then we can tie in some of their personal struggles as belonging to the lumpen class/oppressed nation as well, hence imperialism as well.

It appears that our path forward is constantly blocked or taken over by enemy, backwards, or conservative elements without our nationalist movements. Hence our nationalist consciousness remains a strong aspect to unify around. And we should study projects such as the Jackson Rising platform, to both amplify our call to national unity as well as develop the tactics and strategies used by them. By showing the link between imperialism and national oppression, we can direct the path forward.


MIM(Prisons) adds: Jackson Rising was a conference in 2014, which launched the Cooperation Jackson project based out of Jackson, Mississippi. Cooperation Jackson is building dual power for colonized New Afrika, and is an outgrowth of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika, and the Jackson-Kush plan.

Cooperation Jackson's aim for self-determination for New Afrika is certainly righteous. Yet we want to raise one line question in the project which we believe is extremely important. The economic analysis of Cooperation Jackson seems to deny the petty bourgeois nature of non-lumpen New Afrikans. According to a document titled The Jackson-Kush Plan: The Struggle for Black Self-Determination and Economic Democracy,

"Operation Black Belt is a campaign to organize the oppressed peoples and exploited classes in the South, particularly concentrating on organizing Black workers in the region who form the core of the oppressed Black or New Afrikan nation that has been super-exploited for centuries, into militant, class-conscious and social movement-based worker associations and unions."(p. 13)

While it was reasonable to refer to New Afrikans in the 1960s and earlier as proletarian, or exploited, we believe there is no way that any U.$. citizens could be considered super-exploited today. The struggle for unionization and benefits for citizen-workers today comes largely on the backs of the actually super-exploited people working across the Third World.

While we acknowledge that Cooperation Jackson is one of the only projects we know of which is putting self-determination into action against the United $tates government, we believe that a misstep on the question of the labor aristocracy within the imperialist countries places the struggles of internal semi-colonies in opposition to the proletarian masses in the Third World. How Cooperation Jackson might put this analysis into action in its work is up to New Afrikans working within that project. But we want to push them on clarifying/updating their economic analysis.

Our comrade in Ohio suggests above that our subscribers need to raise their own consciousness, and then reach out to people outside prisons to help raise their consciousness. MIM(Prisons) struggles with other organizations through ULK regularly. Our subscribers struggling with other orgs through the mail, or ULK, is certainly another medium to advance the anti-imperialist movement. You can write in to MIM(Prison) for reading material about the labor aristocracy. Cooperation Jackson can be reached at PO Box 1932, Jackson MS 39215.

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[Economics] [Pennsylvania] [ULK Issue 62]
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Pennsylvania Spends on Prison, Cuts Other Services

I want to write about my thoughts on prison reform and rehabilitation specifically in the state of Pennsylvania. Prison reform? Criminal "justice" reform? As long as the criminal justice system and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PDOC) remain lucrative industries those things will never happen!

To have any type of reform, I believe people should be held accountable for their misconduct (judges, prosecutors, governors, secretary of corrections, correctional officers, etc.) but that's never the case in Pennsylvania. Here in Pennsylvania, these rural areas in particular, the PDOC is a refuge for the unqualified and uneducated, who don't desire anything better for themselves.

Pennsylvania's state budget is crumbling due to the amount of overtime received by COs and to the excess state employees hired in the PDOC. Governor Wolf announced that he wanted to lay off 900 unneeded state employees and close a few jails because of the budget strain. However, Governor Wolf was opposed (almost violently) by the rural population. Their argument wasn't about the "criminals" that could possibly go free; they were concerned about not finding employment anywhere else. Overwhelmed, Wolf decided to only close one prison (which wasn't in a rural area) and retain the state employees (COs).

Instead of doing what he originally saw fit to do, Wolf was forced to cut back on the Meals on Wheels program, raise the state tax, and allow the sale of alcohol on Sundays amongst other things. As you would figure, all of those cutbacks didn't even begin to alleviate the budgetary stress. Why? Because those things weren't issues.

The fact still exist that there are too many state prison officials being hired and Pennsylvania needs to cut back on this senseless hiring, but Gov. Wolf was pretty much bullied out of action. All of this factors into the lack of prison and criminal justice reform, for if there was someone who could educate the tax payers who honestly believe that their "hard earned" dollars are "keeping their community safe" instead of funding a correctional officer's workers' compensation scam, educate them about where their money is actually going and what needs to be done. If a majority of the tax payers knew the truth about their money, about the funding of our oppression, suppression and torture, I believe that they would be more inclined to demand criminal justice and prison reform.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides a good exposure of the interest that prison guard unions and other prison employees have in maintaining or increasing the number of imprisoned people and the number of prisons in the United $tates. And also the political power these workers can exert when their jobs are threatened.

But we have to put this information in a larger context. Prisons are a very small part of state budgets, so it's not the CO overtime causing the Pennsylvania budget to crumble. In the Pennsylvania 2016-2017 budget, 8% went towards prisons.(1) It is good that the budget crisis in Pennsylvania is leading to considerations of closing prisons, but the response by COs and others benefiting from jobs with the prisons is the same we see across the country. Nonetheless, we need to be honest that shutting down a few prisons won't make much of a dent in the state budget.

While we would also like to think that people faced with information about oppression and torture would oppose it, we don't think the terrible conditions in Amerikan prisons are such a big secret. Many Amerikans are vocal in calling for even worse conditions, arguing that prisoners deserve whatever happens to them. And there is little outrage when stories of corruption among prison guards come out. The financial rewards all Amerikans are getting by living here within this wealthy imperialist country has created a population that supports imperialism and its criminal injustice system. While the oppressed nations within U.$. borders do generally come down against the oppression and corruption, the Amerikkkan nation, especially in rural counties, can be counted on to throw its support behind the system.

Note:
Penn Live, July 8, 2016. PA spends more on prisons than colleges, report says. http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/07/pa_prison_budget_tops_higher_e.html
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[Economics] [Spanish] [ULK Issue 58]
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La Aristocracia Obrera y el Beneficio del Nacionalismo Blanco de las Prisiones, no de las Corporaciones Privadas

Analizando el sistema de control social en los Estados Unidos, es imprescindible que sigamos la línea correcta. Actualmente, la posición de muchas personas es la de argumentar que el sistema de injusticia está basado en un "Complejo Industrial de Prisiones", que [email protected] en MIM(Prisons) rechazamos. Un nuevo informe, "Following the Money of Mass Incarceration" (Siguiendo el Dinero del Encarcelamiento Masivo) de Peter Wagner y Bernadette Rabuy, proporciona nuevas pruebas para apoyar nuestra posición.

Las prisiones generalmente son una red compleja de campos de concentración para semicolonias oprimidas, más que una industria económicamente rentable. De hecho, existen algunos beneficios que deben hacerse (y [email protected] capitalistas/imperialistas son [email protected] encontrando sus nichos) pero, sobre todo, el propósito del sistema de injusticia hoy en día es el control de la población.

Tal y como Wagner y Rabuy señalan en su artículo: "En este primer informe, el primero de su tipo, descubrimos que el sistema de encarcelamiento masivo cuesta al gobierno y a las familias de las personas involucradas con la justicia al menos 182 mil millones de dólares al año". Estos 182 mil millones de dólares incluyen los $374 millones de dólares en beneficios recibidos por la industria de la prisión privada. Los beneficios de [email protected] accionistas, que en número son [email protected], apenas y representan una empresa que genera beneficios de manera sistemática. De hecho, en el gráfico utilizado como resumen de su investigación, los autores tuvieron que hacer una excepción en el corte, en lo que respecta los sectores importantes del presupuesto para prisiones en los U.$., ¡para poder incluir a las prisiones privadas en éste!

"Esta industria está dominada por dos grandes sociedades de cotización oficial, CoreCivic (que hasta hace poco se llamaba Corrections Corporation of America (CCA – Sociedad Correccional de Estados Unidos) y The GEO Group, así como por una pequeña empresa privada, Management & Training Corp (MTC). Nos hemos basado en los informes públicos anuales de las dos grandes sociedades y en cifras estimadas de MTC utilizando registros de una solicitud de información pública de hace una década" (1). Las corporaciones de la prisión privada tienen muy poco que ganar en el negocio penitenciario, razón por la cual la amplia mayoría (hasta un 95%) son todavía cárceles públicas (2). El Gobierno estadounidense (ej. Los contribuyentes) afronta la factura de los 182 mil millones de dólares. [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] econó[email protected] de la industria penitenciaria son vendedoræs del comisariato, compañías de bonos de fianzas y empresas telefónicas especializadas. Como Wagner y Rabuy demuestran, estas son las industrias multimillonarias. Y estas, por supuesto, se benefician, ¡sean las prisiones privadas o no!

¿Por qué estaría dispuesto el sistema imperialista a gastar casi 200 mil millones de dólares al año en la pérdida de una amplia mano de obra económica y consumidores? Por lo siguiente: "Muchas personas confinadas en rejas no trabajan y los sistemas penitenciarios de cuatro Estados no pagan nada" (1).

Tal y como Wagner señala en un artículo del 7 de octubre del 2015:

"Ahora, por supuesto, la influencia de las prisiones privadas variará de Estado en Estado y, de hecho, han presionado para mantener el encarcelamiento masivo; sin embargo, son mucho más influyentes los beneficios políticos que [email protected] [email protected] [email protected] de ambos partidos han cosechado durante décadas por ser [email protected] con la delincuencia, así como los miles de millones de dólares ganados por [email protected] [email protected] de las prisiones dirigidas por el gobierno y contratistas y vendedoræs [email protected]".

"A [email protected] [email protected] de la generosidad de las prisiones públicas les encanta cuando las prisiones privadas toman toda la atención. Cuánto más centrado está el público en [email protected] [email protected] de las prisiones privadas, menos se cuestiona qué pasaría si el gobierno nacionalizara las prisiones privadas y dirigiera todas las instalaciones por sí mismo: De cualquier manera, aún tendríamos el sistema penitenciario más grande del mundo" (3).

[email protected] capitalistas no sacan beneficios económicos del supuesto "Complejo Industrial de Prisiones", pero [email protected] polí[email protected] se benefician con la obsesión de [email protected] estadounidenses [email protected] con la "delincuencia". Teniendo esto en cuenta, descubrimos la verdad tras la enigmática frase de Wagner y Rabuy: "Para estar seguros, existen razones ideológicas y económicas para el encarcelamiento masivo y la sobrecriminalización" (1).

Ya hemos examinado las razones económicas (grupos de poder como las compañías de bonos de fianzas y los vendedores del comisariato están, obviamente, buscando sacar beneficio). Así que, ¿cuáles son las razones ideológicas?

Si observamos la población de las prisiones (ya sean públicas o privadas), podemos ver dónde gana impulso el encarcelamiento masivo. La gran mayoría de [email protected] [email protected] son [email protected] [email protected], [email protected] y gente de las Primeras Naciones (aunque la mayoría de la población general es euroamericana). La cárcel no es un fraude de ingresos, sino un instrumento de control social. El factor motivador es la dominación, no la explotación.

Aunque si estamos siguiendo el dinero, entonces tenemos que observar cómo se desglosan los gastos. Wagner y Rabuy presentan la división de los costes de esta forma: costes judiciales y legales, costes policiales, decomiso de activos civiles, cargos de fianzas, costes del comisariato, cargos de llamadas telefónicas, "agencias de corrección pública" (como [email protected][email protected] o asistencia médica), costes de construcción, pagos de intereses y costes de comida e instalaciones.

Los autores resumen su metodología para llegar a sus estadísticas y admiten que "existen muchas cosas para las que no hay disponibles estadísticas nacionales ni manera sencilla de desarrollar una cifra nacional a partir de los datos limitados estatales y locales" (1). A pesar de dichas debilidades obvias para obtener datos concretos fiables, sobresale el análisis abrumador.

Wagner y Rabuy hablan sobre la industria de la prisión privada al final de su artículo. Ahí, escriben:

"Para ilustrar tanto la escala de la industria de la prisión privada como el hecho clave de que esta industria funciona bajo contrato para agencias del gobierno (en vez de arrestar, procesar, condenar y encarcelar personas por sí mismas), expusimos a estas compañías como un subconjunto del sistema público penitenciario" (1).

Tal y como se discutió en "MIM(Prisons) sobre la Economía de las Prisiones de EE UU, "si el trabajo penitenciario fuera una mina de oro para especuladoræs [email protected], entonces veríamos corporaciones de todo tipo dirigiendo el camino para más prisiones" (2).

Teniendo esto en cuenta, el gobierno utiliza el sistema de injusticia en Estados Unidos y las prisiones (tanto públicas como privadas) para oprimir a las minorías nacionales. Y [email protected] estadounidenses [email protected], que se alínean en formación con emoción cuando polí[email protected] racistas como Donald Trump continúan siendo "[email protected] con la delincuencia", premian al gobierno con entusiasmo y renovado vigor.

El MIM Thought (Pensamiento de MIM) hace hincapié en el imperialismo, tanto dentro como fuera de Estados "Ofidios" (Unidos). La red de prisiones no es una excepción: en este caso el imperialismo funciona como método de control para [email protected] estadounidenses de las naciones oprimidas. Como las estadísticas de Wagner y Rabuy demuestran claramente, no existe un "Complejo Industrial de Prisiones", existe un intento sistemático de destruir individuos, comunidades y naciones (4).

Notas: 1. Peter Wagner y Bernadette Rabuy, “Following the Money of Mass Incarceration” (Prison Policy Initiative), 25 de enero del 2017. 2. MIM(Prisons) en U.S. Prison Economy, abril de 2009, Under Lock & Key nº 8. 3. Peter Wagner, “Are Private Prisons Driving Mass Incarceration?” (Prison Policy Initiative), 7 de octubre del 2017. 4. “The Myth of the ‘Prison Industrial Complex’”, julio de 2012, Under Lock & Key nº 27.
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[Economics] [ULK Issue 55]
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Labor Aristocracy and White Nationalism Benefit from Prisons, not Private Corporations

Following the Money of Mass Incarceration

In analyzing the system of social control in the United $tates, it is imperative that we follow the correct line. The position of many today is to argue that the injustice system is based on a "Prison-Industrial Complex" [which we at MIM(Prisons) reject]. A new report, "Following the Money of Mass Incarceration" by Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy, provides additional evidence to back up our position.

Prisons are generally a complex web of concentration camps for oppressed semi-colonies, rather than an economically profitable industry. Indeed, there are some profits to be made (and capitalists/imperialists are good at finding their niches), but overall, the purpose of the injustice system today is population control.

As Wagner and Rabuy point out in their article: "In this first-of-its-kind report, we find that the system of mass incarceration costs the government and families of justice-involved people at least $182 billion every year."(1) This $182 billion includes the $374 million in profits received by the private prison industry. The profits to these numerically few stakeholders hardly represent a systematic profit-generating enterprise. In fact, in the graph summing up their research, the authors had to make an exception to the cut off for significant portions of the U.$. prison budget in order to even include private prisons on it!

"This industry is dominated by two large publicly traded companies — CoreCivic (which until recently was called Corrections Corporation of America (CCA)) and The GEO Group — as well as one small private company, Management & Training Corp (MTC). We relied on the public annual reports of the two large companies, and estimated MTC’s figures using records from a decade-old public record request."(1)

Private prison corporations have very little to gain in the prison business, which is why the vast majority (up to 95%) are still public prisons.(2) The Amerikkkan government (i.e. taxpayers) fronts the bill for the $182 billion. The few economic beneficiaries of the prison industry are commissary vendors, bail bond companies, and specialized telephone companies. As Wagner and Rabuy demonstrate, these are the multi-billion dollar industries. And they, of course, benefit, whether the prisons are private or not!

Why would the imperialist system be willing to spend almost $200 billion a year at the loss of widespread economic labor and consumers? For, as is shown: "Many people confined in jails don’t work, and four state prison systems don’t pay at all."(1)

As Wagner points out in an article from 7 October 2015:

"Now, of course, the influence of private prisons will vary from state to state and they have in fact lobbied to keep mass incarceration going; but far more influential are political benefits that elected officials of both political parties harvested over the decades by being tough on crime as well as the billions of dollars earned by government-run prisons' employees and private contractors and vendors.

"The beneficiaries of public prison largess love it when private prisons get all of the attention. The more the public stays focused on the owners of private prisons, the less the public is questioning what would happen if the government nationalized the private prisons and ran every facility itself: Either way, we’d still have the largest prison system in the world."(3)

The capitalists don't economically gain from the supposed “Prison-Industrial Complex”, but the politicians gain from the white Amerikkkan obsession with “crime”. Taking this into account, we find the truth hiding behind Wagner and Rabuy's cryptic phrase: “To be sure, there are ideological as well as economic reasons for mass incarceration and over-criminalization.”(1)

We've already looked at the economic reasons – power groups like the bail bond companies and commissary vendors are obviously looking to make a profit. So what are the ideological reasons?

When we look at prison populations (whether private or public), we can see where mass incarceration gets its impetus. The vast majority of prisoners are New Afrikans, [email protected], and peoples of the First Nations (even though euro-Amerikkkans are the majority of the U.$. population). The prison is not a revenue racket, but an instrument of social control. The motivating factor is domination, not exploitation.

If we're following the money though, then we need look at how spending breaks down. Wagner and Rabuy present the division of costs as: the judicial and legal costs, policing expenditures, civil asset forfeiture, bail fees, commissary expenditures, telephone call charges, “public correction agencies” (like public employees and health care), construction costs, interest payments, and food and utility costs.

The authors outline their methodology for arriving at their statistics and admit that “[t]here are many items for which there are no national statistics available and no straightforward way to develop a national figure from the limited state and local data.”(1) Despite these obvious weaknesses in obtaining concrete reliable data, the overwhelming analysis stands.

Wagner and Rabuy discuss the private prison industry at the end of the article. Here, they write:

"To illustrate both the scale of the private prison industry and the critical fact that this industry works under contract for government agencies — rather than arresting, prosecuting, convicting and incarcerating people on its own — we displayed these companies as a subset of the public corrections system."(1)

As was argued in "MIM(Prisons) on U.S. Prison Economy", “[i]f prison labor was a gold mine for private profiteers, then we would see corporations of all sorts leading the drive for more prisons."(2)

In light of this, the injustice system in the United $tates and the prisons (both private and public) are used by the government to oppress national minorities. And the government is rewarded with enthusiasm and renewed vigor by white Amerikkkans, who goose-step into formation with ecstasy when racist politicians like Donald Trump go on about being "tough on crime".

MIM Thought stresses the focus on imperialism both inside and outside the United $nakes. The network of prisons is no exception — imperialism here functions as a method of control by Amerikkkans of oppressed nations. As the statistics presented by Wagner and Rabuy clearly demonstrate, there is no "Prison Industrial Complex." There is a systematic attempt to destroy individuals, communities, and nations.(4)

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[Economics] [ULK Issue 55]
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Aid Masks Exploitation: Regulations are a Band-Aid to Capitalism's Crimes

Walled World 2

Calculating the transfer of wealth from exploited nations to imperialist countries is a difficult task. Even those with the knowledge and time to do the research find that bourgeois economics does not look at things in terms that Marxists do. There are a number of excellent books by Marxists on this topic on our literature list.(1) Adding to this research is a recent report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI), which they call "the most comprehensive analysis of global financial flows impacting developing countries compiled to date."(2)

The main conclusions of this report are:
"since 1980 developing countries lost US$16.3 trillion dollars through broad leakages in the balance of payments, trade misinvoicing, and recorded financial transfers... the report demonstrates that developing countries have effectively served as net-creditors to the rest of the world with tax havens playing a major role in the flight of unrecorded capital. For example, in 2011 tax haven holdings of total developing country wealth were valued at US$4.4 trillion, which exacerbated inequality and undermined good governance and economic growth."(2)

According to the report, China is responsible for about a quarter of the Third World's net resource transfers to the First World. Despite a growing finance capitalist class, China is still the largest proletarian nation providing wealth for Amerikans and other First World nations. A long fall from grace from when it was the most advanced socialist economy in history, reinvesting all of its wealth into building its own self-sufficiency and serving the needs of its own people.

Last year, the so-called "Panama Papers" brought more light to the issue of tax havens, and the role they play in allowing finance capitalists to move money in ways that avoid having to pay taxes to the states they operate in and often avoiding other legal restraints on how they do business. GFI points to tax havens, as well as illegal movement of capital goods, as playing large roles in facilitating this transfer of wealth from the exploited countries to the imperialist core countries.

Possible solutions to this problem provided in the cited articles are debt forgiveness, shutting down tax havens, and enforcement of fines by agencies such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).(3) Having powerful people monitor and fine other powerful people is like the fox guarding the hen house, and will never make fundamental changes in a system whose whole purpose is the drive for profit.

MIM(Prisons) supports the call for debt forgiveness for poor countries. As the report states, "for every $1 of aid that developing countries receive, they lose $24 in net outflows."(2) A campaign to resist these predatory aid programs combined with forgiveness of existing loans would loosen the current death grip of imperialism on the exploited nations of the world. And if we consider the numbers below, 1:24 is a gross underestimation of the scale of exploitation going on.

Another powerful move to provide some relief to the poor under capitalism would be to enforce a global minimum wage through a body such as the WTO. Economist Arghiri Emmanuel showed the relationship between wage levels and the transfer of wealth between nations in the form of unequal exchange. While this recent work by GFI is more in-depth than most by looking at illegal practices such as reporting false prices to avoid taxes and restrictions, it ignores the hidden transfer of wealth that is enabled by the low wages that are violently enforced on the proletariat of the exploited nations. This transfer of wealth is not included in the $16.3 trillion transfer of wealth calculated by GFI. MC5 of MIM estimated wealth transfer to the imperialist countries at $6.8 trillion in just one year (1993), as did Zak Cope, who looked at 2009 with a similar lens but different approach to MC5.(4)

While GFI states that, "Every year, roughly $1 trillion flows illegally out of developing and emerging economies due to crime, corruption, and tax evasion", their vision of a capitalism with more integrity would only eliminate an estimated 15% of the value exploited from the majority of the world for the benefit of the imperialist nations. We ally with such bourgeois internationalists on some of the demands mentioned above, but also take it further than they will to eliminate imperialism in all its forms and create a world without any form of exploitation or oppression, whether illegal or not.

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[Elections] [Economics] [ULK Issue 54]
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Understanding the Role of Class in Trump Election

I have recently watched a well-planned election and campaign by Donald Trump, soon to be president of the United Snakes of Amerika. But I have to give him credit where credit is due. First, the Democrats for years have used the minority vote to get elected, by making promises of making eir life more better under a democratic capitalistic society.

I do want to question protest. They only focus on revolutionary nationalist struggles aligning their struggle with the left wing national bourgeoisie and with women and men of the left wing nations of the oppressed in Amerika. But we should also remember that not all struggles lead to socialism. The recent protests have cells that are revolutionary nationalism, where the people want the power. We need to study and use strategic methods to overthrow imperialism period. Why protest about issues that are not in line with changing our current economic system?

Now back to my opening on why I give Trump credit. Not to say I support his ideology or policies. I am considering how he managed to get support from the patriarchal labor aristocracy, and the First World lumpens. And some lumpens in the poor rural districts. This explains why Mao asked "who are our enemies, who are our friends?" The white proletariat showed up and it lets us know that they are the majority. And will support a system of imperialism. And the oppression of the Third World peasants. Just as long as the bourgeoisie be fed the illusions that jobs will come back to Amerikkka!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Overall this comrade has a good analysis of the election of Trump and the class that is behind this campaign. However, we want to point out that they are not a white proletariat but rather a white petty bourgeoisie. This distinction is important because the Amerikan workers are not exploited, and this is why they support imperialism: they are benefiting economically from imperialism! It doesn't really matter if a few jobs come back to the United $tates or not. As was proven with the failed attempts to get citizens to work the fields picking crops, there are some jobs that Amerikans really don't want. The petty bourgeois class thinks it is owed cushy jobs at high wages, but has no problem with people in the Third World doing grueling work for pennies. The only jobs the Amerikan workers want back are high paying jobs that don't require much work.

For anyone who believes the myth that white workers in the United $tates are on the decline and getting poorer, we have much in-depth documentation about the level of wealth enjoyed by the vast majority of Amerikan citizens and their well-above-exploitation level wages. This is a question of science, that is all the more important now that it has gained attention not only among false revolutionaries seeking to rally the so-called Amerikan proletariat but also among right-wing politicians gaining center stage in Amerikan politics. As this writer points out, we must be clear about who are our enemies and who are our friends, and at base this question requires a clear analysis of class and nation within U.$. borders. Write to us for a copy of our labor aristocracy study pack to get a more in depth understanding of this important point.

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[Organizing] [Economics] [River North Correctional Center] [Virginia]
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Take up Revolution not Drugs

For the second time in about one month over 900 prisoners at River North Correctional Center were given piss tests. Now if a prisoner is causing problems that indicate drug abuse, it's perhaps reasonable to test him. But testing the entire prisoner population is a fishing expedition just hoping to catch someone.

Do the prison pigs have some admirable goal? No. They just catch people to make lives miserable by taking jobs, suspending visits, confining in seg, etc. If each test and lab fee is just $30 then the pigs spent over $54,000 in a month on the off chance they might get to punish someone for using drugs that were not prescribed.

For thousands of years humans have used mind altering substances. The "soma" of ancient India, the mushrooms of the Incas, peyote, opium, reefer, and alcohol are but a few examples. Only recently — within 100 years — have governments made the "drugs" illegal. What have these laws done to stop drug use and abuse? Nothing, as we see drug abuse at an all time high. These imperialist laws only target people, ruining lives with jail/prison while lining the pockets of the pigs with money for funding of the "war on drugs."

A few generations ago a community had cobblers and tailors, blacksmiths and silversmiths, lamp makers and other craftspeople. The cobbler knew the people and knew the kids had warm, dry feet due to his skill. The lamp maker knew she gave them light. Today, how many of our household items are made by people we know? Our shoes are made in a factory by a kid operating a machine at exploited wages. The store with neighbors who called us by name was an imperialist casualty, destroyed by greed.

Imperialism, with its global capitalism has destroyed us. Drug abuse is merely a convulsion before death. But you can be revived. You can join us in re-structuring our communities, our form of government, our lives. That's the call of revolution. Are you willing to die in order to feel alive? Let us use the things you make and let us make the things you need. In revolution every person has an essential part and there's no time for addiction or drug abuse.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We like this author's point about the waste of time that is drug abuse, and the reality that this abuse comes from the alienation fostered by capitalist culture. We sent some feedback to this author on eir first draft of this article because it took up an anti-corporate line that seemed to promote small scale capitalism rather than anti-imperialism. We know that we have much unity with this author and so suggested ey rewrite it. This rewritten version is an improvement but still we want to clarify that small scale capitalism is still capitalism. It is true that huge corporations are a product of imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism. But we don't want to promote nostalgia for petty bourgeois businesses because that's a reactionary approach; trying to go back to another time. Another time that of course never really existed, since even the early days of capitalism were full of war, oppression, slavery and land grabbing. As this comrade explained, we need a revolution to restructure society, and when that happens we will be able to build a new society where people engage in productive labor, which benefits their community. But it will not look like the capitalism of a few generations ago. We will eliminate the system of profit-driven work, instead allowing all people to work for the betterment of society.

In the course of our discussion with this author over eir article ey correctly noted that Walmart will die when imperialism dies in North America: "Walmart exploits laborers around the globe and is a foundation of Amerikkkan imperialism with revenue that exceeds the gross national product of many small oppressed nations. Yet its foreign laborers are paid pennies per hour. Most of their products are from India (semi-fascist regime) and China (state sponsored kapitalism) where workers are exploited. Not patronizing Walmart and not purchasing products manufactured by exploited workers is an 'attack' or at least a 'stand' against imperialism. ... The corner deli or the local mom/pop shop isn't exploiting workers in any nation."

While this comrade is right that big corporations like Walmart are doing far more exploitation of Third World workers than small shops, we don't agree that the corner shop isn't exploiting workers in any nation. They are selling the same products or using the same raw materials that everyone else in the United $tates is selling/using: most of it comes from Third World labor at base. Most products in Amerikan stores are manufactured in other countries. So we shouldn't mislead people into thinking the stuff they buy in a smaller store is exploitation-free. Further, the companies that promote "Made in America" products are not off the hook. Many of them are still buying raw materials and machinery from labor in Third World countries and just assembling products in the United $tates. Finally, most of the U.$. economy is not even productive industries. The service and financial sectors employ most Amerikans, distributing the wealth within U.$. borders, exploited from other nations via trade and extraction of real goods. There is no way to escape participating in the economy of exploitation.

So we don't tell people to boycott Walmart because we don't want to mislead people into thinking that they are going to make a difference under imperialism by favoring one type of exploitation over another. If the exploited workers in another country initiated an action against Walmart (or any other corporation) and asked for our support with a boycott, that would be a different story because that is not Amerikan consumerism feeling good about itself by switching where we spend our ridiculous wealth. That would be internationalist solidarity for exploited people rising up against imperialism.

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[Economics]
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Response to Lumpen Class calculations

[Need to insert url below. for some reason prisoncensorship.info wasn't loading for me so couldn't pull it up.

I'm not sure this adequately addresses the writer's complaints but re-reading the lumpen class article I don't really get what they are criticizing because we never say that we defined the lumpen using the poverty line. Mostly they seem upset that we don't recognize that some full time workers who earn around $10k really have it hard and that's not enough to pay for their basic necessities. i.e. not exploited, but also life in amerika is so expensive they can't really afford it. I think this is a reasonable premise: there may be a small percentage of these folks in the U.S. who don't spend money on luxuries, work full time, and really can't pay for the basics. They aren't prol, but they also aren't lumpen.

Wia: Yes we do, we say: "Summing up the income data for defining the lumpen population, we can conservatively use the cut off of $10k/year for family income to say that 16% of New Afrikan families are lumpen and 10% of [email protected] families are lumpen or migrant proletarian." But maybe they're missing that we are using it to estimate the people not working full time or working below minimum wage, and not to measure their living conditions.

It seems this would be best written as a letter response to get clarity than an article. I started pulling some (possibly) relevant stuff on incomes, and just tacked it at the end when it seemed this was not really worth publishing. ]

In ULK51 in the article Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class in the U.$, I found the part of "Lumpen Defined by Income" a bit archaic, and may need to be re-analyzed to give a clearer perspective of the income to standard of living ratio.

Even though unskilled and semi-skilled labor, paid at minimum wage, would seem to be overvalued in comparison to the pay of oppressed nations, from the perspective that minimum wage could buy more and go further within those countries, from the perspective of receiving such pay within the United $nakes it is still not enough to pay for all the basic necessities, such as food, shelter, clothing, medical and education for one humyn, let alone a further humyn.

In 1990 the U.$. tax government declared that under $12,000 a year to be living "At poverty level." In the base pay values of $3 to $5 an hour at 40 hours a week. $5 seems to meet your criteria of the $10,000 cut off point, by being at $10,400 for a 52 week year (no vacations) but would still be considered living under the "poverty line" in 1990, over twenty years ago. I am not sure what the U.$. tax government considers the "poverty level" now, and even though it would be "luxurious" compared to third world standards, at this level within the U.$., to make ends meet, these poverty level humyns would still be considered living parasitically off the wasted excess of the First World, in such commodities as food, shelter, and water that they often obtained in ways other than the trade of government currency.

I just think that the section should be re-evaluated.


MIM(Prisons) responds: In the Defining and Measuring the Lumpen Class article we addressed a few important points. First, we need to understand what the term lumpen means. By definition, those engaged in full time work for pay are not part of the lumpen. The lumpen are unemployed or underemployed. Even people working full time and hustling on the side for extra cash are not part of the lumpen, though they may be more likely sympathetic to lumpen ideas and sentiments. Whether or not someone lives below the poverty line is irrelevant to defining the lumpen. There are some lumpen who earn more than full time working people. We just used income calculations to try to determine what percentage of the population is outside of the traditional workforce.

We're not sure what this comrade would propose for a re-evaluation of that section of defining lumpen by income since we didn't use poverty as a metric for lumpen class status, but rather for full time workers we need to look at income as a metric for proletarian vs. labor aristocracy status (based on whether or not someone earns more than the value of their labor).

We did address this question of the "poverty line" in the lead up to our analysis of lumpen defined by income in that same article: "Yet, even in the recent recession, government-defined poverty rates have not yet reached the levels they were at prior to 1965 when they were around 20%, give or take. In 2011 the poverty rate was recorded as 15%. Even this rate is inflated since assistance in the form of tax credits and food stamps is not counted as taxable income. If this income was included in their calculations it would pull 9.6 million people above the poverty line and bring the percent below the poverty rate to less than 12%. So it is only a small group at the margins that may be seeing a shift in their material conditions such that they could arguably be seen as not largely benefiting from imperialism."

It is true that many full time workers in the U.$. fall below the government-defined poverty line. As this writer says, we can see that many of these folks are living parasitically off of the excess stolen from the Third World. The most interesting point here is that some full time workers need to hustle on the side to survive. That might reasonably expand the group who, while not technically lumpen, is sympathetic to the lumpen and potentially revolutionary.

The Poverty Guideline for 2016 for the 48 contiguous states was $11,880 for an individual, increasing at increments of $4,160 for each additional family member. Many people claim that the cost of living is higher in the United $tates so we deserve to get paid more. This critique is why "purchasing power parity" (PPP) was developed as a way to measure Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita. What purchasing power parity measures is not how many dollars the average persyn earns, but the average amount of value in real goods they can purchase with their income. The United $tates ranks #10 in this measurement, with most places ranking higher than it being industrial cities in Asia and small oil-producing entities. (http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.PP.CD?year_high_desc=true) The U.$. GDP(PPP) is $55,836 per persyn in 2015, approaching 6 times that of the global average of $15,470. In other words, the "high cost of living" does not justify the high income levels in the United $tates.

Of course, those GDP per capita figures are averages and tell us nothing about the lowest rungs of those populations.

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[Economics] [First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 51]
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Commentary on New Afrikan lumpen

"We seldom, if ever, think of ourselves as among those petty-bourgeois forces in need of committing 'class suicide' - but We must remember where We are. Here in the seat of empire, even the 'slaves' are 'petty-bourgeois,' and our poverty is not what it would be if We didn't in a thousand ways also benefit from the spoils of the exploitation of peoples throughout the world. Our passivity wouldn't be what it is if not for our thinking that We have something to lose." - James Yaki Sayles, Meditations on Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, p. 188

I believe this quote may be of some interest to you in your development of the First World Lumpen (FWL). I believe this applies more to the Euro-Amerikkan than to the nationless New Afrikan who falls into the class lumpenproletariat (LP) by default of lacking a class society of its own.

I am aware that the New Afrikan lumpenproletariat (NAL) is more privileged than the Third World lumpenproletariat (TWL). But not privileged enough to make it reactionary. The LP of Amerikkka is majority New Afrikan - or an oppressed nation, which changes the quality of the question. So it is not just a LP, but LP of an oppressed nation. This qualitative leap in the discussion pushes us to do a through theoretical analysis on the LP from all sides of the question.

The contradiction may look like this: First World lumpen and New Afrikan lumpen.

Then it can be stated as this: Euro Amerikan FWL and New Afrikan FWL

Then Euro-Amerikan FWL must be understood to be reactionary as it is majority white nationalist (racist). They consist of oppressor nation background.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have a lot of unity with this comrade on assessing the national contradiction between oppressed and oppressor nation lumpen. As we get into in the Lumpen Class Analysis article in ULK 51, we make a distinction between the lumpenproletariat and the First World lumpen that gets at this comparison between the NAL and TWL the writer points out. We find the lumpenproletariat in countries where there is a sizable proletariat, while the First World lumpen exists in First World countries where there is almost no proletariat to speak of, and this later group benefits from living in an imperialist country.

Further, we agree that there is an important overlap between class and nation when it comes to the lumpen. The national privilege of the oppressor nation makes it unlikely that the lumpen from that nation will be revolutionary, while national oppression puts the lumpen from oppressed nations more likely to be on the side of the world's oppressed. In fact, we believe that the class privilege enjoyed by the oppressor nations extends to encompass any potential white nation lumpen to the extent that they can effectively be considered part of the petty bourgeois class from the perspective of class consciousness. And so when we talk about First World lumpen, we are usually looking at oppressed nation lumpen only.


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