Every day we study the 5 principles, but we lack materials which is one of the reasons I'm writing, in hopes of getting what we need. As of now we are a very young group of men who have come together and are spreading peace, unity and internationalism. Here in prison we have brought two rival gangs to peace: the Sur 13 and Norteños 14 have now made a treaty with each other and have stopped killing each other. We are now speaking with some of the Muslims who may be willing to join "Black Hawk" so we are practicing growth and peace.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer provides an excellent example of building peace through a United Front organization that focuses on education. Rival organizations that fight each other behind bars or on the streets are serving the purposes of the oppressive system which seeks to keep us distracted and fighting each other rather than focusing our energy on the real oppressors. With this peace treaty we anticipate a growing powerful movement in Colorado against the criminal injustice system.
"The educational and professional training systems are very elaborate filters."
This statement comes from the book titled, Understanding Power: The indispensable Chomsky, by Noam Chomsky. In chapter four, he discusses the safeguards and controls put in place by and to protect the capitalist system. His analysis is apt: control and manipulation began with the educational institutions.
In the United States those who control the information are those who hold power. Which is why the U.S. government is the largest and most efficient collector and disseminator of information. More importantly it is the most effective filtration system of information. Why is that? It is elementary, as Sherlock Holmes would say. If your opponent (read the proletariat) lacks the knowledge (read information and education), then your opponent is unable to employ it to your disadvantage. When I say 'your opponent' I mean the opponent of the u.s. government and capitalism.
This is accomplished through 1) popular control and, 2) the media effective popular control isolates citizens and dissidents. When a person is isolated, it is a simple matter to control their reality and manipulate their actions to conform to your specific aims and objectives. On the other hand is the media. The media does much more than simply providing an outlet for the dissemination of information. It helps to, and actually is a main tool for, indoctrination and marginalization. Or the subjection-manipulation cycle as I have termed it, is continued in perpetuity. The formation of this specific control ('control', meaning measures and policies used to prevent substantive changes to and for the preservation of a system) is meant to create a sheepish or gullible populace. One easily manipulated and maneuvered.
In public life, the effectiveness of this control lies in the fact that, those who aren't indoctrinated, or, at least, able to behave as if they are, soon learn that they have no voice, no vote and lack the consideration of others. Even find that they may be shunned (socially ostracized) as if they had a contagious, fatal disease. The un-indoctrinated are thus isolated and made 'seemingly' impotent. This system has been adopted by the u.s. prison system and is strictly adhered to.
The subjection-manipulation cycle has been adapted to and by prisons because it provides a reliable and justifiable method of repressing subversive, disruptive, or 'negative' attitudes, behaviors and/or activities. Prisons present a sampling of society's range of individuals. Some prisoners become well-indoctrinated and follow prisons' policies and regulations. Other less indoctrinated follow some or most. And finally those who are self-determinants (prisoners who refuse to relinquish their freedom to determine their actions and conduct). It is these last that suffer the reprisals of the subjection-manipulation cycle.
Self-determinants are generally punished. While their counterparts, what I termed subjugated, they are rewarded. The reward/reprisal structure is even clearer in the prison adaptation of the subjection-manipulation cycle. As in public life, where dissidence earns social stigmatization. In prison, self-determinants are shunned and given a wide berth. In this way the system filters the population, in order to isolate self-determinants. Holding them up as examples of unacceptable behavior to the subjugated. Punishment in public is normally being unemployable, negative to one's status in society, or being labeled a liability. This ends with a dissident's social ostracization and impotency. The parallel found in prisons is self-determinants are housed in segregation, isolation units, their privileges curbed or stripped completely. Their associates treated harshly or harassed for continuing any association with the self-determinant. The picture is clear as in public, in prison the self-determinant is isolated, repressed in the hopes that they will become impotent.
The subjection - manipulation cycle is not only a system of rewards and reprisals. It also contains the essential element: information control. Prison authorities screen, examine and filter the information made available to prisoners. This is paralleled in the U.S. schooling system and structure. The only information allowed is that which concurs with the system agenda. By promoting, or discouraging (if not prohibiting), certain information the prisons, as schools in public life, can encourage and manipulate modes of thought and revolutionary, anti-imperialist, or anti-capitalist movement. Why else have overly complicated grievance procedures create obstacles and have banned/prohibited literature lists? Education leads to organization.
The goal is to create an unbearable reality for self-determinants. With the intention of creating a subjugated instead of self-determinant, through the psychological effects of isolation and ostracization As long as prisons can reinforce this cycle, the results will mirror those found in public life. Stigmatized, isolated and labeled an outcast among outcasts, society's outcasts. This is a particularly dire forecast for self-determinants. It presents a massive obstacle, but not insurmountable. The solution begins with knowledge, followed by discipline and unity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer offers some astute commentary on the role of information, education and media in social control under imperialism. And this underscores the importance of independent media of the oppressed as well as independent institutions for organizing and educating revolutionaries. The "self-determinants" as this author calls them, are people willing to think for themselves and perhaps take up organizing in the interests of the world's oppressed. These anti-imperialists need an organization to support them in the face of the challenges outlined by this author. This is why, behind bars, it is important to build United Struggle from Within, as a structure that can unify and support our prison comrades. Ultimately the independent media of the oppressed, along with our independent organizations, will unite those willing to think for themselves into a revolutionary force that can challenge the imperialist structures and fight for a future where self-determination is not repressed.
I am delighted to enlighten you regrading our new study group/think tank, based upon the ideas/ideals of information contained in recent and past Under Lock & Key. In July 2016, we held our first study group member meeting, with some supporters. We met for over an hour, with 29 people in attendance and 18 committed members.
We deputized four positions of responsibility: 2 moderators, and 2 curators. We plan to conduct smaller study groups in individual pods, with direct dialogue from and with the larger weekly group meetings.
Our first meeting dealt with (1) Revolutionary Consciousness, (2) Revolutionary Activism, and (3) Accepting Accountability and Responsibility — in conjunction with the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles on page 3 of ULK 50: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, and Independence.
We will need study materials to continue to move the study group. We are young, new and eager to be a part. We are entertained by what appeals to our conditions — as it relates to Maoist and Under Lock & Key principles. Our prison suffers from gangs, disunity amongst offenders/captives, and a gross lack of understanding of revolutionary ideas/ideals.
The questions we discussed at our first meeting were:
1) What is revolutionary consciousness?
2) What is revolutionary activism?
3) What does "accountability" and "responsibility" mean to you?
4) What can you, and will you, contribute to the ideas of: Peace, Unity, Growth, Internationalism, & Independence?
The hard work will be keeping the young guys inspired, motivated, and focused on getting and achieving our goals (as we set them). We will need as much and as often materials (and possibly books). We will continue to send stamps as often as we can to cover materials. We have good writers of articles, poems, etc. which we will send.
I have enclosed a list of named members - verbal committals - who wish to receive a subscription of Under Lock & Key. I have also enclosed their state number and prison's address. Please sign these Brothers up!
If you have any back issues of Under Lock & Key, articles on uniting gangs, revolutionary understanding, or any fundamental ideas to help our young study group, please send them. We will send an updated report bimonthly detailing our weekly meetings, topics, etc. Please support us, as we are new to this, and young. Be sure to know, we are with you in whatever way we can help with larger goals of MIM, and our local goals - we are with it!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this report to encourage other readers with the example of our comrades in Virginia. You can focus on topics that interest your group and we will try to supply reading material and study questions. Most study groups start by talking about questions like this comrade describes (such as, "What is revolutionary activism?") or even more basic topics. And this leads to more questions and greater consciousness. People who wonder why so many are locked behind bars are just a few steps away from wondering why Amerika attacks so many other countries, and why people within U.$. borders are so much wealthier than the majority of the world's citizens.
By building through education we can set up solid core of cadres who can apply what they've learned to analyze conditions and lead political organizing with correct political line and strategy.
As this missive leaves me in Revolutionary Spirits and with strong desires for emancipation I hope it reaches you in the same manner. I continue to battle the anti-literacy tactics used by these jackbooted fascist Pigs that use the word censorship as a tool to keep us deaf, dumb, & blind. The administration of these Razor Wire plantations, better known as the overseers, have the dictatorship to keep us from reading certain books and material that will liberate us from the continuing cycle of returning to these slave pens of oppression.
Nothing has changed from the tactics used in the 1900s til now, it's only hidden better. After the Nat Turner Revolt in 1831 legislation prohibiting the education of slaves was strengthened throughout the South. "In the words of one Slave Code... teaching slaves to read and write tends to cause dissatisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion!" Any publication on the topic of conscious-raising is disapproved under the violation of Division of Prison Policy Section D.0109 (f) which consists of violence, disorder, insurrection or terrorist/gang activities against individuals, group organizations, the government or any of its institutions! We are given the option to appeal the disapproval, it’s then sent to the Publication Review Committee, and 80% of the time they agree with the first disapproval. The recent publications disapproved of mine are the new issue of Under Lock & Key, The Wretched of the Earth, and Huey P. Newton's To Die for the People! The Wretched of the Earth was approved [on appeal]. I’m still waiting on the approval of the other two publications.
The Commune here at this Razor Wire Plantation came together to form a hunger strike due to conditions we are burdened with, such as the high percentage of disapproved publications. We were promised that we would be allowed to receive publications if we agreed to end the hunger strike! I must say that lately books have been coming in that would not have made it past the mail room. Before the hunger strike I brought to the attention of the overseer that decides to allow us to have the books or material sent in, that there were books in the library of this Razor Wire Plantation that encourage racism, the hanging of Blacks, but those books are OK because they are in favor of the "overseer's" ideology. When brought to the attention of this certain overseer I was laughed at when I showed him the pictures out of a library book titled The Red Summer of 1919, where a Black man was being burnt alive while a mob of whites looked on with smiles on their face. I was asked by this overseer why would those pictures bother me so much when I’m not a man of color? What I should do was mind my business and order books other than the ones I been ordering was what I was told!
So I asked myself this question: is it possible for a white man to detest racism, oppression, repression, classism and capitalism as much as I do? Yes Racism is alive and well, but when you are a victim of classism it causes you to detest Racism! In today's time you don’t have certain communities among the proletarian class that's for one race only!(*) No, the poor live with the poor and the bourgeoisies live among the capitalists. The proletarian class and the lumpen are victims of poor education, which as we know is a pipeline to these Razor Wire Plantations. The educational system for the poor is a joke! (Angela Davis said: there is a distinct and qualitative difference between one breaking a law for one's own individual self-interest and violating it in the interest of a class or a people whose oppression is expressed directly or indirectly, though in many cases he/she is a victim). Poor education is another tactic used by the capitalist to be able to exploit the proletarian class! While selling their labor just to keep the lights on and food on the table there is no extra income for higher educational opportunity! So the proletarian class education system is the framework of the capitalist! The bourgeoisie gains their strength and stability from framework of poor education for the proletarian class. With proper education and educational opportunities the proletarian class could liberate themselves from the need to sell their labor to provide their loved ones with life's necessities! The capitalist know if this was to happen then the stronghold they have over the poor would be no longer!
Most of us allow ourselves to be controlled because of fear of losing something. This fear is what the bourgeoisie uses against us to control us. These chains must be broken for emancipation to take place! It starts with the necessities of solidarity.
Being in solidarity among the proletarian class means building strong relationships and strong communities of resistance. We must get back to the foundation of movement building, which is about building relationships and sustainable communities while breaking out of the confines of single issue organizing. Our accountability lies in what we do within our own communities. Focusing on our communities compels us to understand First World privilege (i.e. if you reside here you’ve got privilege). On the contrary privilege is layered by histories of slavery, colonization, patriarchal control, etc. Our solidarity struggles must therefore find ways to address these inequalities within. This involves listening and learning from the struggles of the proletarian masses. This would take the kind of inter-communal solidarity that Huey P. Newton had in mind.
Comrades, it starts with us held captive within the gulags of these Razor Wire Plantations. How, you ask? Turning these Slave pens of oppression into Schools of Liberation! The Science of Revolution must be spread to the masses of the communities! The help of Revolutionary intellectuals is a must because the key to the people’s unity is Revolutionary Consciousness! Instead of wasting time on who is right and who is wrong, instead of not being in solidarity with the next person because of their skin color, we must come together and spread the Science of Revolution to the unconscious. Theory is made to be advanced; nothing can stay the same because the capitalists strategize ideas to continue to control change every day. When one advances the theory of Marx, Lenin, or Mao it is not in disrespect or disregard of these great Revolutionists. Lenin said: "without Revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement." We must focus on our communities. If our own communities are not strong enough to stand up to neoconservatives, then the work of those who promulgate war without end, the dictatorship of the free market, and the stealing of indigenous land will be made all the easier! With no unity among us then we are weak and not a factor! There are many organizations, groups, and cadres with different ideologies but have the same goal in mind! As long as we fight amongst ourselves then we are allowing capitalism to live!
The future of our emancipation lies in our hands people. So as I bring this to an end, I ask that you really think about our own Liberation and the well being of our communities as well as the future of education for the youth. Frantz Fanon said: "Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission and fulfill it or betray it." What’s your mission?
MIM(Prisons) adds: It is timely that comrades are organizing actions to protest censorship of educational materials by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS), as we just learned that a lawsuit will be going to trial on the same issue. Comrades on the inside and outside are making moves that culminate five years of consistent paperwork battles between MIM Distributors volunteers and NC prisoners on one side and NCDPS prisoncrats on the other.
Those locked up in North Carolina recognized those efforts as our subscribership expanded during periods of time when Under Lock & Key was completely banned in the state. But prisoners did receive the protest letters sent by our volunteers and those letters circulated, sparking even more interest in ULK. As efforts build on both sides of the fence, MIM(Prisons) will continue to support and promote this campaign against illegal censorship and political repression. As this comrade argues, this is an important battle because it contributes to our efforts to make revolutionary science accessible to the oppressed masses.
* While we agree with this comrade's points about education and censorship, we do not seem to agree on our analysis of class and nation in the United $tates. In recent analysis, published in part in Under Lock & Key 51 we show that the class make up of different nationalities in the United $tates are different and that segregation of communities is on the increase. We stand in solidarity with the comrades' actions in North Carolina across national lines for their common interests as prisoners. And while this is an example of class preceding nation, we believe that nation overall is the principal contradiction in this country. This is partially because class contradictions are so weak in the richest country in the world. And recent events around police brutality and prison abuse have shown us uprisings that are very homogeneous in their national makeup. And this is where we see the most radical fractures in our society.
A couple weeks ago I had an incident at work with an "Uncle Tom", and some of it was due to his "kiss ass" attitude at work. Although I had this issue, I had to check myself from further incident with him by remembering MIM's position that we do not promote violence, and in fact are a peaceful movement. To do what I had in mind would have contradicted that. Reading many responses on our study group discussion, including mine, helped me stop and check myself.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We like to highlight examples like this because, while anecdotal, they indicate that our work does reduce violence between prisoners of the United $tates. We note this as our recent issue of Under Lock & Key was rejected for everyone in Fresno County Jail for "tending to incite or promote racism, violence or any other prohibited conduct." And a comrade in California State Prison - Sacramento just had eir study group material censored for the second time ey tried to enroll; even though ey receives all other mail from us without incident. It's just some essays on the economics of the U.$. prison system, yet many prisoncrats fear it, while they promote ignorance and infighting.
The Guerilla Elite Family, is a family of brothers who stand on your 5 principles and struggle to apply them to everyday life, being in such a chaotic environment caused not by prisoners, but the COs themselves.
The Michigan prison system is built on lies and injustice. There are no real rehabilitation programs, everything that is practiced is to punish and to create chaos. Since being in prison for the past 12 years, I had to teach myself how to read and write. I was given natural life at the age of 17. I was thrown into an environment where the blind is leading the blind. I'm not allowed to go to school, because I have natural life. Yeah, where's the rehabilitation in that?
The Guerilla Elite Family was born to unify brothers within and outside these walls. We stand on peace, but I learned that there can be no peace nor unity as a whole, until each individual that makes the whole, has a sense of peace among self to bring to the whole.
We understand that we're not each others enemy, and our aim is to expose our oppressors, while unifying and bringing peace among each other.
We believe unity and peace is found through true mentors. People that the whole can trust and believe in to do right by them. We all have been misled in our lives and used by people we thought had our best interest at heart. So this is part of what makes it difficult to bring everyone together for peace and unity.
It's easy to bring guys together to go to war with each other. But twice as hard to bring guys together to stand on peace and unity to fight against oppression and the ones thats our open oppressor.
The Guerilla Elite Family will keep teaching and mentoring comrades and passing on reading material to help educate guys in hopes to bring about peace and unity.
MIM(Prisons) responds: It's good to hear from more comrades working in prisons across the country to build on the principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. As this writer points out, the prisons work to keep captives from education and knowledge, and so it is our task to bring education to prisoners. This is particularly challenging when so many folks behind bars can't even read and write. We can't just send them books and encourage them to study, we have to start out where they are at, and help them learn to read. MIM(Prisons) can only do so much from the outside, so we are working with our USW comrades to build a literacy program that focuses on revolutionary education. Write to us if you can contribute to this program with ideas or resources we can use.
The Soldiers of Bondage (S.O.B.) is a revolutionary communist organization with its members consisting of political prisoners within the Illinois Department of Corrections. The party was founded on 2 July 2011 in Pontiac Correctional Center Segregation. Current membership is very small, but, with the publishing of this study guide, it is hoped that the party will grow nationally in both numbers and resources. A Manifesto of S.O.B. will be completed soon and it will hopefully be made available to prisoners across Amerika.
The "Communist Manifesto" is the most important piece of political literature to the communist. However, due to the many oppressive conditions that plague the lumpen proletariat within the United $tates, many prisoners have problems with comprehending the "Communist Manifesto." For this reason S.O.B. felt it necessary to create a study guide that would assist prisoners in obtaining as much information as possible from the "Communist Manifesto." This study guide contains 184 questions as well as answers from the text.
After creating the study guide the next question to be answered was how to make the study guide easily available to prisoners. After some debate it was decided that the only real option was to go through MIM(Prisons). We are not sure if MIM(Prisons) will just send this out to prisoners who request it or if they will make it one of their official study group programs. Either way it will assist prisoners in the development of their political consciousness.
Remember that the only way to combat the oppressive conditions we are subjugated to is to become aware of the cause and solution of our oppression. It is the hope of S.O.B. that this study guide will help many become aware of these elements. As Karl Marx and Frederick Engels articulated within the "Communist Manifesto," the proletariat must emancipate itself. Amerika does not have a proletariat. However, Marx and Engels's edict is just as true for the lumpen proletariat: the lumpen proletariat must emancipate itself. You must liberate yourself from the oppression you suffer. Begin your journey to become the New Man by educating yourself. Education is power. Resist! Rebel! Defy!
In strength and solidarity,
Cadre (on behalf of S.O.B.)
MIM(Prisons) responds: First we want to commend this group for their hard work focusing on communist education amongst the lumpen. The extensive study guide they created took a lot of work. And their decision to undertake a project that is focused on bringing up the level of theoretical understanding of the lumpen suggests that we have a lot of unity around our principal tasks at this time. MIM(Prisons) knows little about the S.O.B. organization so we cannot comment on our relative level of theoretical unity, and until they publish a manifesto we can only say that the "Communist Manifesto" questions suggest we agree on the bought-off nature of the vast majority of the imperialist-country workers who now constitute a petty-bourgeoisie. This is particularly important as we read a book like the "Communist Manifesto," which was written so many years ago when the labor aristocracy was just a very small segment of the working class, and the workers in First World countries were still a part of the proletariat.
We look forward to work and political discussion with S.O.B. We hope these comrades in Illinois serve as an example for other USW study groups across the country. If you want this study pack, write in to MIM(Prisons). Tell us if you already have the "Communist Manifesto" or if you need a copy
Knowledge is the higher power. Thru dedication, struggle, sacrifice, knowledge and revolution we will put Aztlán along with the rest of the oppressed back in power. Don't let TV and the bullshit ass propaganda dictate what you can and can't do, much less a bunch of sheep heads with a stitched up patch that suppose to mean "authority say so." Also to my elders out in the so-called free world and the ones coming out them SHU dungeons after years and decades of oppression, my message is this: Avoid calling the youth "little homies" as in diminishing their status comrade!! Instead if you are so "big," I'm assuming in mind, por favor embrace the youth and teach em to teach, teach em to understand, teach em to resist, teach em to organize. Put a mirror in front of em and give em a soul. Cuz 80% of the population are zombied out. We all put in work the same, but you that are looked upon as elder and leader, especially from out the dungeon, have a stage and a mic. Remember a true revolutionary is not categorized by age, looks, material items or what one did a thousand years ago, but by what one is doing now and is willing to do for the causa.
Anyone can sit on a bunk and zombie out at the stupid box (TV) for all your life. That my friend is not a revolutionary individual, an Oh Gee or whatever you want to call it. The youth is our future. Embrace and teach. Oh, one more thing, don't get caught up on the goodies. The pigs love to see that shit. I wonder why?
Also, there's this hardcore book that just came out: [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Man, everybody needs to read it. Go on and put that paypal you was gonna spend on hold and order this book. And don't forget to also slide a donation to MIM to help out with the books and material that MIM provides to the less fortunate. Think of it as the prison kitty we have here in the yards and write in!!
Enclosed is a bit of stamps as a donation, and I've been recruiting. I hope they'll pitch in as well.
p.s. For those going to board, know that the swine is conducting a facebook background check, trying to catch mofos on the web. Incognito fellas, it can result in a denial of parole.
MIM(Prisons) adds: A few good tips from our comrade here who is putting eir money where eir mouth is. While we do not promote an idealized revolutionary lifestyle, we do think that people can often underestimate the effect that watching TV has on people and their health. And if that is what you are doing with all your time you really aren't living life.
MIM has long been cutting edge in terms of promoting good security practices and technologies. And a while ago we realized that even prisoners need to be conscious about security in relation to computers and cell phones as we wrote about in Under Lock & Key 31. Finally, if prisoners want to get [email protected] Power, it is available for the discounted rate of $10 from MIM Distributors or for work exchange from our Free Books for Prisoners program.
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.
Last week I received a visit from Deputy Superintendent Ondrejka, who is the head of the security department of this institution. He told me that he received word that I'm having some "undesirable contacts" sent to me in education materials. He stated that the mailroom supervisor is a Christian and that she feels offended when she sees communist materials in the mail when she searches it. Ondrejka said that he is aware that a lot of my communist mail is burned by the mail lady, even though it is illegal to do so.
When I asked Ondrejka if he is going to stop it from happening again, he said "Why should I? Stop getting things like that sent in and you won't have to worry about your mail being burnt." I stated to Ondrejka that I find it funny that the mail lady, who claims to be a Christian, gets offended at political study material, but lets all types of pornography in to inmates via the same channels. Ondrejka said that he could care less about the smut, he is concerned about the communist literature that gets sent into his prison. He told me that the administration is about to start cracking down on anarchist and communist materials, and start labeling those who possess them as Security Threat Group (STG). He said that any further MIM literature will be stopped and deemed contraband.
This being said, I can see for myself just how critical political study really is. If the slavemasters are threatened by it, then it must have incredible worth. I am a firm believer that knowledge is the ultimate power, the greatest weapon there is. The pigs try to stop real education in the gulags, because they know that when we have a true education and know the truth about the way things really are, they are defeated.
I call all my fellow prisoners to arm yourselves: not with knives or guns, but with educational resources - knowledge. With these weapons we can defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism! I salute all of my fellow comrades who are fighting the pigs on a consistent basis. I am right here on the battlefield with you. The pigs censored my first study assignment from MIM(Prisons), but I will not give up! My motto is and always will be resist, resist, resist! I want to thank MIM(Prisons) for giving me ground to stand on in this political battle we are fighting. I look forward to receiving more from MIM(Prisons).
MIM(Prisons) responds: We agree with this comrade that knowledge is a very powerful weapon in our advance toward communism, and it is essential to a successful movement against all oppression. However knowledge alone is not going to enable us to defeat the powers of imperialism and capitalism. When we are strong enough and the conditions are right, we will be forced to pick up knives and guns in order to assert power over the oppressors — they won't have it any other way.
We distribute a Censorship Pack, which has basic information on how to fight censorship of political materials. The mailroom staff in this anecdote is acting in complete violation of established caselaw on the issue of censorship in prisons. Below is an excerpt from the Censorship Pack, citing relevant caselaw.
"The decision to censor or withhold delivery of a particular letter must be accompanied by minimum procedural safeguards against arbitrariness or error." Procunier v. Martinez, 416 U.S.396. 94 S.Ct 1800
"Wardens may not reject a publication 'solely because its content is religious, philosophical, political, social[,] sexual, or . . . unpopular or repugnant,' or establish an excluded list of publications, but must review each issue of a subscription separately." Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401
"When a prison regulation restricts a prisoner’s First Amendment right to free speech, it is valid only if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests." Lindell v. Frank, 377 F.3d 655, 657 (7th Cir. 2004), citing Turner v. Safely, 482 U.S. 78, 89 (1987).
We are looking forward to continuing to study and struggle with this comrade, in whatever way is possible. It might mean fighting off this illegal censorship first, and our Censorship Pack is a good place to start that battle.