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.
"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.
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.
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 nosotr@s 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 l@s capitalistas/imperialistas son buen@s 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 $374 millones de dólares en beneficios recibidos por la industria de la prisión privada. Los beneficios de est@s accionistas, que en número son poc@s, apenas y representan una empresa que genera beneficios de manera sistemática. De hecho, en el gráfico utilizado como resumen de su investigación, los autores tuvieron que hacer una excepción en el corte, en lo que respecta los sectores importantes del presupuesto para prisiones en los U.$., ¡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. L@s poc@s beneficiari@s económic@s 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 l@s funcionari@s elegid@s de ambos partidos han cosechado durante décadas por ser dur@s con la delincuencia, así como los miles de millones de dólares ganados por l@s emplead@s de las prisiones dirigidas por el gobierno y contratistas y vendedoræs privad@s".
"A l@s beneficiari@s de la generosidad de las prisiones públicas les encanta cuando las prisiones privadas toman toda la atención. Cuánto más centrado está el público en l@s propietari@s 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).
L@s capitalistas no sacan beneficios económicos del supuesto "Complejo Industrial de Prisiones", pero l@s polític@s se benefician con la obsesión de l@s estadounidenses blanc@s 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 l@s prisioner@s son nuev@s african@s, chican@s 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 emplead@s públic@s 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 privad@s, 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 l@s estadounidenses blanc@s, que se alínean en formación con emoción cuando polític@s racistas como Donald Trump continúan siendo "dur@s 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 l@s 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).
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 $200 billion a year at the loss of widespread economic labor and consumers? For, as is shown: "Many people confined in jails don’t work, and four state prison systems don’t pay at all."(1)
As Wagner points out in an article from 7 October 2015:
"Now, of course, the influence of private prisons will vary from state to state and they have in fact lobbied to keep mass incarceration going; but far more influential are political benefits that elected officials of both political parties harvested over the decades by being tough on crime as well as the billions of dollars earned by government-run prisons' employees and private contractors and vendors.
"The beneficiaries of public prison largess love it when private prisons get all of the attention. The more the public stays focused on the owners of private prisons, the less the public is questioning what would happen if the government nationalized the private prisons and ran every facility itself: Either way, we’d still have the largest prison system in the world."(3)
The capitalists don't economically gain from the supposed “Prison-Industrial Complex”, but the politicians gain from the white Amerikkkan obsession with “crime”. Taking this into account, we find the truth hiding behind Wagner and Rabuy's cryptic phrase: “To be sure, there are ideological as well as economic reasons for mass incarceration and over-criminalization.”(1)
We've already looked at the economic reasons – power groups like the bail bond companies and commissary vendors are obviously looking to make a profit. So what are the ideological reasons?
When we look at prison populations (whether private or public), we can see where mass incarceration gets its impetus. The vast majority of prisoners are New Afrikans, Chican@s, and peoples of the First Nations (even though euro-Amerikkkans are the majority of the U.$. 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)
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.
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.
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.
[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 Latin@ 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.
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.
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.
"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.
Within the global imperialist camp, particularly here in the United States, there's a reactionary line being propagated and pursued that the U.S. working class in its entirety is proletarian. Not only is this scientifically incorrect, it's essentially anti-Marxist no matter how well-intentioned its proponents may or may not be.
With an exceptionally small number of predominately oppressed nationalities, U.S. workers are for the most part beneficiaries of imperialism, and as a social class constitute a "labor aristocracy", i.e. a class of privileged workers who receive a portion of the profits that the bourgeoisie extracts from the Third World in the form of high wages, numerous benefits, material goods and services. And this includes the goods, services, and profits, extracted, as well as the billions of dollars that are contributed annually to social security by undocumented proletarians, here in the United States.
Some years ago when monopoly imperialism was still in its infancy, Lenin spoke of this stage of capitalism and correctly observed that imperialism gives the bourgeoisie enough super-profits "to devote a part to bribe their own workers, to create something like an alliance between the workers of a given nation and their capitalists..."
The majority of the working class here in the United States have been bought off and bribed, and are clearly by no means a vehicle for revolution at this time. The labor aristocracy has a concrete material basis, that is, a class interest in the preservation of the existing status quo. This is not a case of having to "wake them up" so to speak. They are very conscious of their privileged position in society and the world as a whole. Their material conditions, i.e. their privileged lifestyle, is translated in their minds through their five senses, giving shape to and molding their reactionary ideas and ways of thinking — all of which is further reinforced and solidified through a corresponding culture and bourgeois-owned media, news, entertainment and advertising industry. And as a class of privileged workers, many are not only willing to join U.S. mercenary forces and die to protect and further their privileges, i.e. their piece of the pie, they also commit mass murder on an unprecedented scale of Third World Latinos, Blacks, and other oppressed peoples, including those oppressed within the U.S. empire itself.
To reach into the ranks of the labor aristocracy and proclaim them proletarian in an attempt to develop revolutionary consciousness, and struggle for their so-called worker rights, is to commit a reactionary and strategic error which in reality only serves to further prop up and legitimize imperialism.
To further grasp the material basis that the labor aristocracy is erected upon and which shapes and molds its corresponding consciousness, a brief glimpse into the capitalist production process is necessary, specifically that aspect pertaining to the creation of surplus value.
It is necessary to understand that, as a species, in order to continue living we must first and foremost engage in production, i.e. through the expenditure of human labor we must transform our environment in order to procreate, feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves before any other aspect of society can be pursued, such as the pursuance of science, education, religion, arts, culture, politics, philosophy, laws, etc. Production is the basis and foundation of all societies, and in fact, all these other aspects of social activities not only grow out of, but are a reflection of, and correspond to a society's particular mode of production. Moreover, it is only through social intercourse and cooperation with one another, in various forms, that these necessities can be realized — hence the source of our social essence.
Today in the current stage of economic development (capitalism-imperialism), the vast majority of the world's people have been separated from their means of production (land, natural resources, intellectual property, technology, factories, communications, etc.) by property rights which the capitalist classes of the world, who predominately reside within First World borders, have laid claim to. And yet this doesn't change the essential needs of the human species. We must still have access to the world's resources and materials so that we may reproduce ourselves in order to survive.
Under these circumstances, the world's masses, who own very little if anything at all, are forced into a situation where they must sell to the capitalist class, i.e. the bourgeoisie, the only thing they do own, so that they may in turn purchase back from the capitalists the necessities of life. And what they are forced to sell to the bourgeoisie is their labor power. In a capitalist economy, production is driven by profits, not the needs of the entire society. Under this mode of production the role of the bourgeoisie is like that of a parasite — an unnecessary appendage that has been allowed to remain inserted within the production process and whose existence relies wholly on the unpaid labor of others.
With the exception of the majority of imperialist country workers, the bourgeoisie purchases the labor power from the majority of the world's masses below its value which is the source of all surplus-value (capital and profit). Capitalist production not only creates racial and social inequalities while perpetuating those inequalities which were already in existence, it is also the source of the same prison system we are now confined to.
To elaborate further, surplus-value is that value which is created through unpaid labor power. For example, if the bourgeois owners of a maquiladora invests $1000 a day for the production of shirts - $200 of which pays for the cost of human labor power (variable capital) and $800 which pays for the cost of electricity, oil, cloth, thread, technology, etc. (constant capital), and if it takes, lets say, 5 hours to produce $1000 worth of shirts — the original amount invested, this 5 hours of expended labor power is the true value of the worker's labor power.
That which is invested in "constant capital" remains constant, that is, it creates no new value but only transfers the value of the electricity, oil, cloth, thread, technology, etc, to the shirts being produced. It is the "variable capital," i.e. the expenditure of human labor power, that transforms these various materials into shirts (or any goods) that augments new value.
Even if the maquiladora workers produce $1000 worth of shirts in 5 hours, being that their labor power has been purchased and therefore is now owned and controlled by the bourgeoisie, the workers are still required to expend their labor power for the remainder of the working day, whether that be 10, 12, 14, or however many hours the capitalists can get away with. And, in fact, it is in search of this cheap source of labor power and natural resources, i.e. profits and cheap goods, that the imperialists and their bribed mercenary armies launch their global crusades, all under the guise of spreading democracy, or combating terrorism. It is where the people are most desperate, that they can be most thoroughly exploited along with their natural resources, that is at the root of capitalism's so-called "economic success."
Lets say 12 hours constitutes a full working day for the maquiladora workers, and if it takes 5 hours to produce $1000 worth of shirts, the workers are still required to expend their labor power for an additional 7 hours, the remainder of the working day. This 7 hours over and beyond the 5 hours is "surplus labor," 7 hours of unpaid labor power that the bourgeoisie is stealing from the workers.
Being that workers are paid in either hourly wages, piecemeal, or by the day, etc., these various forms of payment only serve to camouflage and disguise the unpaid surplus labor, thus creating a false appearance that the workers are being paid for all of their labor power when in essence they are not.
In a nutshell the bourgeoisie pays the workers below the value of their labor power and pockets the difference in the form of profits and capital (surplus value) upon sale of the goods produced or grown by the workers. What does this have to do with us as a prison population? This mode of profit production inevitably creates social inequalities. It also provides a corresponding ideology and culture which not only has a fixation and obsession with the over-consumption of consumer goods, but is a culture where a person's social status is judged and determined according to their material possessions. These two elements, the poverty and social inequalities which create the fertile ground, accompanied with its corresponding culture and individualist ideology, crime flourishes and a vast prison system inevitably takes root as a means of social control.
Prior to the emergence of U.S. imperialism, the ruling classes thoroughly exploited a large section of the population within its own artificial borders. But eventually as a result of capitalism's internal contradictions, i.e., the inherent necessity to expand and the bourgeoisie's greedy frenzy to suck as much profit out of people as it possibly can, the already existing social inequalities and domestic rebellions intensified and began to undergo a qualitative transformation which further threatened the existence of the bourgeoisie and its loyal beneficiaries.
Although through imperialist expansion, the U.S. bourgeoisie has for the time being accomplished two significant goals prolonging its existence. Rather than having to rely on the exploitation of slaves, the indigenous population, and the most newly arrived European immigrants to create its wealth while continuing to run the risk of being overthrown by its own population, the bourgeoisie was able to pacify its own workers by making further concessions beginning on a large scale in the late 19th century with the first of many continuing campaigns of imperialist expansions. And through imperialist expansion it has not only been able to transfer the vast majority of its domestic exploitation abroad, it has been able to extract far more super-profits from Third World exploitation and natural resources than it was ever able to extract from within its own artificial borders. And with these massive amounts of super-profits and cheap goods, it has created a passive and loyal population out of the majority of its own workers, with a privileged material lifestyle, thus transforming them into a flag waving patriotic labor aristocracy, i.e. beneficiaries and accomplices of imperialism.
By way of imperialist expansion and the transferring of exploitation abroad, this has insured the continuation of the bourgeoisie's super profits while simultaneously enabling them to pay the majority of U.S. workers above the value of their labor power. The lifestyle of the majority of U.S. workers is not only sustained by Third World exploitation and natural resources for its privileged existence as a social class, but as a social class of privileged workers, it also creates practically no surplus value. A close examination of the Gross National Product (GNP) and federal labor statistics of any given year will demonstrate that nearly all of the monetary value of goods and services sold in this country is created outside of its borders, and that extremely small amount of surplus value that is created within the U.S. empire itself is created predominately by oppressed nationalities, primarily by undocumented Latinos and a small portion of imprisoned Blacks. It is a fact that never in the history of this country's parasitic existence has it ever fully supported itself from its own labor. Even the very first settlers on these shores used the indigenous peoples as slaves.
Being that the majority of workers in this country form a labor aristocracy, they are therefore by no means proletarian or a material base in which to struggle for in an attempt to develop revolutionary consciousness. To struggle for so-called worker rights of the labor aristocracy amounts to supporting imperialism, i.e. the exploitation and deaths of thousands world wide on a daily basis from preventable diseases, hunger, medical neglect, wars, etc. Struggling for these so-called rights of the labor aristocracy amounts to nothing less than seeking a larger portion of what's already pillaged and plundered from Third World exploitation, and therefore it is anti-Marxist in essence despite the various forms that it comes packaged in.
In reference to the labor aristocracy Lenin said "... no preparation of the proletariat for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie is possible, even in the preliminary sense, unless and immediate, systematic, extensive, and open struggle is waged against this stratum..."
The gist of Lenin's contention is significant here, and that is, the labor aristocracy as a social class is not a vehicle for evolution but a reactionary road block that must be struggled against, not only theoretically but in practice. This does not imply that some portions of the labor aristocracy wouldn't be won over under given objective conditions, but currently in their entirety as a social class, as a result of their concrete material conditions, they are reactionary in consciousness and deed and therefore must be combated — not catered to.
Also of significance, to get to the soul, the motor and driving force of a true people's revolution, i.e. a socialist revolution, we must, to use Lenin's words, "go down lower and deeper, to the real masses ... to the suffering, miseries, and revolutionary sentiments of the ruined and impoverished masses ... particularly those who are least organized and educated, who are most oppressed ..." And these masses that Lenin speaks of reside predominately within the Third World and include those sectors of oppressed nationalities and poor who live at the bottom rungs of imperialist society itself and within the prison systems.
Despite reactionary nationalist and patriotic rhetoric, the concrete material reality is, our struggle is not "us" as a unified country pitted against other countries, as we have been taught and programmed to believe. It is a class struggle that transcends all national borders. Even the existence of this prison system is just one interconnected aspect of this larger class struggle of irreconcilable opposites. We as a prison population must deepen our knowledge and raise our political consciousness. We must transform our incorrect narrow nationalistic views into a scientifically correct internationalist outlook and recognize the concrete material reality that we as a prison population are just one of the numerous side effects of an outdated and insufficient economic system that results in the social inequalities where a prison system becomes necessary to protect the stolen riches and privileges of the bourgeoisie and its bought off supporters — the same imperialist economic system that oppresses and exploits Third World people around the globe. Our interests do not lie in siding with our own domestic ruling classes in the imprisoning of over 2 million of our own people, or in the exploitation of billions of Third World people around the globe. Our interests lie with our own impoverished and Third World people, not only against our own bourgeoisie and its beneficiaries, but against all capitalist ruling classes of the world regardless of national borders.
So long as we live in a society that is divided into social classes, poverty vs. rich and everything in between, the preservation and continued existence of the prison system is guaranteed. And any improvements made, internally or externally, in regards to the prison system, as welcomed as they are, will be purely reformist, i.e. temporary and for show. To be as effective as possible and maintain continuity in struggle, our ultimate goal must be the creation of a classless society.