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[Elections] [National Oppression] [New Afrika] [First World Lumpen] [Environmentalism] [Economics] [ULK Issue 69]
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Jackson-Kush Plan builds Independent Institutions in MS

Cooperation Jackson

A modern-day example of New Afrikans building independent institutions and public opinion for socialism is the groups carrying out the Jackson-Kush Plan in Jackson, Mississippi and the surrounding area. There are a number of different organizations involved in, and evolved out of, this Plan, and its roots go back to the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika (PGRNA) in the 1960s. It is directly built on the long history of New Afrikan organizing for independence, going on since people were brought to the United $nakes from Africa as slaves. The Plan itself was formulated by the New Afrikan People's Organization and the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement between 2004 – 2010. (1, p. 3)

The project has gone through many different phases, all focusing on attaining self-determination for people of African descent in Mississippi and the surrounding region. Sometimes the organizing has been more heavily focused on electoral politics,(2, 3) sometimes more on purchasing land, and currently the Cooperation Jackson project appears to be at the forefront of pushing the Plan forward.

Cooperation Jackson's mission is to develop an intimate network of worker-owned cooperatives, covering all basic humyn needs, and more: food production and distribution, recycling and waste management, energy production, commodity production, housing, etc. The main goals of Cooperation Jackson (C.J.) are to provide sustainable livelihoods for its organizing base, which includes control over land, resources, means of production, and means of distribution. Currently C.J. has a handful of cooperatives in operation, and is building the Community Land Trust to have greater control over its target geography in Jackson. This is just a snapshot of the work of Cooperation Jackson, which is explained in much more detail in the book Jackson Rising.(1)

The Jackson-Kush Plan is being carried out despite big setbacks, repression, harassment, and roadblocks from the government and racist citizens alike, for decades. This is the nature of struggle and the folks working with the Plan are facing it head-on. C.J. and the other organizations involved are doing amazing work to establish what could be dual power in the state of Mississippi.

While the MIM has congruent goals with the Jackson-Kush Plan (at least including the self-determination of New Afrikan people; control over land, economy, and resources; environmental sustainability; an end of capitalism and imperialism), there are some notable differences.(4) We're holding out hope that the Plan is being intentionally discrete in order to build dual power, but the ideological foundations of some of its structure point instead to revisionism of Marxism.

Cooperation Jackson's plan includes working with the government in some capacity. It needs to change laws in order to operate freely and legally. This itself isn't wrong – MIM(Prisons) also works on and supports some reforms that would make our work of building revolution much easier. But because of its relationship to the state, C.J.'s voice is muffled. MIM(Prisons) doesn't have this problem, so we can say what needs to be said and we hope the folks organizing for New Afrikan independence will hear it.

Cooperation Jackson's structural documents paint a picture of a peaceful transition to a socialist society, or a socialist microcosm, built on worker-owned cooperatives and the use of advanced technology. Where it aims to transform the New Afrikan "working class" (more on this below) to become actors in their own lives and struggle for self-determination of their nation, we are for it. So often we hear from ULK readers that people just don't think revolution is possible. Working in a collective and actually having an impact in the world can help people understand their own inherent power as humyn beings. Yet it seems C.J. sees this democratic transformation of the New Afrikan "working class" as an end in itself, which it believes will eventually lead to an end of capitalism.

"In the Jackson context, it is only through the mass self-organization of the working class, the construction of a new democratic culture, and the development of a movement from below to transform the social structures that shape and define our relations, particularly the state (i.e. government), that we can conceive of serving as a counter-hegemonic force with the capacity to democratically transform the economy."(1, p. 7)

This quote also alludes to C.J.'s apparent opposition to the universality of armed struggle in its struggle to transform the economy. In all the attempts that have been made to take power from the bourgeoisie, only people who have acknowledged the need to take that power by force (i.e. armed struggle) have been even remotely successful. We just need to look to the governments in the last century all across the world who have attempted to nationalize resources to see how hard the bourgeois class will fight when it really feels its interests are threatened.

Where C.J. is clearly against Black capitalism and a bourgeois-nationalist revolution that stays in the capitalist economy, we are in agreement. Yet C.J. apparently also rejects the need for a vanguard party, and the need for a party and military to protect the interests and gains of the very people it is organizing.

"As students of history, we have done our best to try and assimilate the hard lessons from the 19th and 20th century national liberation and socialist movements. We are clear that self-determination expressed as national sovereignty is a trap if the nation-state does not dislodge itself from the dictates of the capitalist system. Remaining within the capitalist world-system means that you have to submit to the domination and rule of capital, which will only empower the national bourgeoisie against the rest of the population contained within the nation-state edifice. We are just as clear that trying to impose economic democracy or socialism from above is not only very problematic as an anti-democratic endeavor, but it doesn't dislodge capitalist social relations, it only shifts the issues of labor control and capital accumulation away from the bourgeoisie and places it in the hands of the state or party bureaucrats."(1, p. 8)

As students of history, we assert that C.J. is putting the carriage before the horse here. National liberation struggles have shown the most success toward delinking populations from imperialism and capitalism. Yes, we agree with C.J. that these national liberation struggles also need to contain anti-capitalism, and revolutionary ecology, if they plan to get anywhere close to communism. But C.J. seems to be saying it can dislodge from capitalism before having national independence from imperialism.

The end of this quote also raises valid concerns about who holds the means of production, and the development of a new bourgeoisie among the party bureaucrats. This is one of the huge distinctions between the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin, and China under Mao. In China, the masses of the population participated in the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, which attacked bureaucrats and revisionists in the party and positions of power. These criticisms were led from the bottom up, and the Cultural Revolution was a huge positive lesson on how we can build a society that is continually moving toward communism, and not getting stuck in state-capitalism.

Another significant difference between the line of the MIM and of Cooperation Jackson is our class analysis. Cooperation Jackson is organizing the "working class" in Jackson, Mississippi, which it defines as "unionized and non-unionized workers, cooperators, and the under and unemployed."(1, p. 30) So far in our exposure to C.J., we haven't yet come across an internationalist class analysis. Some pan-Africanism, yes, but nothing that says a living wage of $11 is more than double what the average wage would be if we had an equal global distribution of wealth.(5, 6) And so far nothing that says New Afrika benefits from its relationship to the United $tates over those who Amerikkka oppresses in the Third World.

We can't say what the next steps for the Jackson-Kush Plan should be. There's still opportunity for people within the project to clarify its line on the labor aristocracy/working class, the necessity of armed struggle to take power from the bourgeoisie, and the significance of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. MIM(Prisons)'s Free Books for Prisoners Program distributes many materials on these topics. Some titles we definitely recommend studying are On Trotskyism by Kostas Mavrakis, The Chinese Road to Socialism by E.L. Wheelwright and Bruce McFarlane, and Imperialism and its Class Structure in 1997 by MIM.

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[First World Lumpen] [United Front] [ULK Issue 69]
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Gangster Mentality Can Transform to Revolutionary Communist

Is it possible to defeat gangster mentality in ourselves? The short answer is: Yes. There is plenty of solid individuals who have turned their back on the thug life and criminal thinking. But, is that what is needed when building a revolutionary cadre organization? Instead, perhaps we should attempt to harness and direct our vision of revolutionary social force into a hammer to first shatter the old imperialist system. And then from the ashes and rubble shape a new and better society that will serve the masses free of exploitation.

As members of the revolutionary cadre organization, each of us has to be a leader, a teacher, an activist, a soldier and represent the future by our conduct. Individual members must take the initiative to bring together various organizations for a united front. For this to happen our members have to think beyond their neighborhood, set or clique. All of us are already soldiers of battles that take place right under the nose of pigs. The system does not care if we kill each other. Actually they encourage warfare between lumpen organizations. When we fight each other we do their job for them.

Fight the imperialist system by making peace in prison and on the street. Educate the young, think on an international level, and lead by example. Evolve from a gangster into a hardcore communist revolutionary. Consider your time fighting for your neighborhoods as basic training for the real battle yet to come.

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[First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 69]
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Damus Agree: A Gangsta Uses Intelligence not Oppression

I want to touch base on the fellow Damu comrade April 2019 "Konfused Gangster Mentality" in ULK 68.(1) I am in total agreement with that author. We as Damus who are incarcerated as a whole are oppressing ourselves, people, and nation. For two decades I've been a Damu under the UBN and for the last 10 years the Damu nation has been watered down. Askaris not fully overstanding the concept of our way of life. There's no way we override oppression and in the same sentence we oppressing the oppressed.

Leaders of the Damu tribes are recruiting but not fully teaching. We bang 5 watts and I see so many askaris falling prey to the trick tyrants are creating. We as Damus must get organized and truly contribute to our Uhuru by any means necessary. I agree with the askari "Damu on Damu is a Double O Banga" not just beef within our nation but with others as well.

The United Front for Peace in Prisons is a structure for unity to stand against imperialism. Damus aren't oppressors, we are Black leaders, therefore we must lead ourselves, people, and nation. To the many Damus askaris in imperial-Amerikkka we must unite within our nation and come together to assist with those who are making changes. Oppression works by turning us against the oppressed, never against the oppressor. A gangsta is one who uses his intelligence. Peace.

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[First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 69]
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Re-defining Toughness

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First we must begin with asking why do we have a gangster mentality? It is because we know we are under attack, and the form of warfare is oppression and prejudice. We act in a way of gangster mentality because we know we must defend ourselves, and our minds from such attacks. Therefore, we are defensive. That is where the mind frame stimulates from.

We are active in battle on these streets because we are no fools, we know survival is at stake. Although street and hoodlum affairs keep every gangster blind to which war we should really be fighting; our focus should not be going against a gangster’s mind, our focus should remain on ending all attacks so that a gangster no longer has to pay any mind.

The best way to begin re-defining toughness, is through understanding; by first accepting every man for who he is, as he is. It isn’t the gangster that needs to change, what needs to change are the threats against us that have made us what we are.


MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade raises a good point about the system of oppression that breeds the gangster mentality. Understanding where people's mindset comes from is a good first step to changing that mindset. And as this writer reminds us, we shouldn't blame people for the culture that created them. The next step is transforming this lumpen outlook into a revolutionary outlook. And that's the long-term struggle that we're taking on in prisons right now. Conscious comrades behind bars can step up and build by educating others. We can focus on building peace between lumpen organizations through the United Front for Peace in Prisons. And through this peace we can turn our warfare on the real enemy, the criminal injustice system.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 68]
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Transition to Become a Better Man

Part 1

I am personally connected to this topic, being an active high-ranking individual of an organization. I have struggled trying to make the transition to become a better man. 22 years young, growing up I was never exposed to positive black New Afrikan role models, or anyone older I could look up to who defined what it meant to be a man. Everyone I hung around was in a 5 years span older or younger and everyone who was successful was either an athlete, entertainer or criminal.

So when basketball or rapping didn't work out I turned to the street where toughness was defined by aggression and fearlessness. Fighting and shooting. I turned to my organization for the loyalty and love and the brotherhood. Being a gangster to me was being heartless to anybody who was not with you, and if they cross you, deal with them like an enemy.

Being incarcerated I learned that leaders and high ranking members need to revolutionize our organizations and get back to the original principles that we were founded on. Having influence is great power, we need to use this influence for education and fighting oppression. It is easy to talk about, it’s a learning process. I can't define toughness or what it means to be a man, but I can explain personally why I am the way I am and what it takes to prevent another from falling victim. Unity is key. Changing your values so you cannot be controlled by privileges and understanding if you are not part of the solution, then you contribute to the problem. Most people care what people think so they let that stop them from acting on what they really feel. But you can’t be for the revolution in mind but not in action.

Education and unity! Use the "negative" organizations as a vehicle for positive influence and change. It starts from the top O.G.s teach the Y.G.s. Teach them how and they will fall in line.

Part 2: What is a man? What defines a gangster?

A lot of New Afrikan brothas like myself have no idea because no example was taught by any positive New Afrikan role models. All we know is what the white-washed media portrays to us. We listen to rap music that glorifies violence and objectifies our women. Our role models being dope dealers and our definition of gangster is Scarface, Larry Hoover, Pistol Pete...

Being fearless and cold, making money by any means makes you a man, not tolerating disrespect, toting guns and how many women you had sex with all define your manhood. I sit here explaining that mentality and see the flaws in it.

Now let's talk about the cycle. Every parents' purpose should be to make the world a better place for the generation coming next. Speaking from my mind, the older generation kills me complaining about the younger generation and in order to solve a problem, first things first, you must start at the root. I will not deflect or place blame but this older generation, our own fathers, uncles, brothers start the cycle by failing to educate and expose their children to something different, something positive. They allow their children to be influenced by white imagery of what a Black man is: violent, or supernaturally talented, only good for white man's entertainment.

I won't sit here and talk about it with no solution, so how do we fix it? Everything starts with the children and what we teach them and what they are exposed to. New Afrikan men must learn the most important part of parenting is presence. Just being available is so important for a child growing up. We need to expose our children to successful business leaders and entrepreneurs that look like us, not only athletes and movie stars or entertainers. Teach them to be financially literate. Teach them about this racist society and how to be prosperous in it. Only way to break the mentality is to replace it. A man is responsible, reliable, self-sufficient, wise, a man does not make mistakes. A man takes care of his children and family. Now that's Gangsta!


MIM(Prisons) responds: Everyone makes mistakes, and they are our source of empirical knowledge. So we should not fear them. What we think this comrade means here is that we should not keep making mistakes and not learn. We shouldn't live a lifetime of mistakes. If we listen to what society tells young New Afrikan men, not living a lifetime of mistakes means going against the grain.

Each One, Teach One! Whether a child or an adult. We all have things to teach. And only by learning from each other does our collective knowledge grow. While we can learn from our mistakes, most knowledge is history. So we don't need to make all the same mistakes the people of the past did to learn the lesson ourselves, empirically. We can leap frog ahead by building on the lessons from the past. It is this collective, historical knowledge that gives humynity the power to reach much greater heights.

Growth is key. We all go through many different stages of the learning process at different times. As long as we are moving in the same general direction, of liberation, then we can unite in our growth.

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[Economics] [First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 68]
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Whites Can Be Lumpen Too

I strongly disagree with the exclusion of whites from the ranks of the lumpen within the United $tates. (see the tenth paragraph of Wiawimawo's article "Sakai's Investigation of the Lumpen in Revolution" in ULK 64) Although most whites in the United $tates. enjoy "white privilege" there are also whole communities of disenfranchised, impoverished whites. These communities are heavily reliant on government support systems to survive (i.e. food stamps, SSI, welfare, section 8 housing, etc.) They are also rife with crime, drugs, and street gangs.

For example, take the lumpen organizations (L.O.s) from Chicago (i.e. the Gaylords and the Simon City Royals). Both of these organizations were started by disenfranchised, impoverished communities consisting of mostly whites. They were originally founded to protect their communities from outside forces.

By stating that only oppressed "minorities" can be considered lumpen, Wiawimawo is engaging in paternalist politics that causes divisions within the movement. The truth is that any people that fit the political, social, and economic profile are lumpen. Disenfranchisement is not unique, nor immune, to any nationality. In solidarity!


Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: We are sending you a copy of "Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates?" so you can better understand our position on this question. First let's look at the quote from my article that you are responding to:

"This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model."

Note i say that we know "many white lumpen individuals who are comrades," meaning we agree with you that there are white lumpen, we just excluded them from the model presented in the paper cited. So why did we do this? Well, it is mostly based in our assessment of the principal contradiction in the United $tates being between the white oppressor nation and the oppressed nations. In the paper we do write:

"White men [who are currently/formerly incarcerated lumpen] number about 1.3 million, but are much more likely to find employment and join the labor aristocracy after release from prison. While in prison white men do fall into the lumpen class but lack the oppressed nation outlook and so often join white supremacist groups rather than supporting revolutionary organizing. This is just one factor contributing to a national outlook that leads us to exclude whites overall when discussing the revolutionary potential of the First World lumpen."

We also point out that historically the settler nation made up of Europeans has always been a petty bourgeois nation, while the oppressed nations have histories that are largely proletarian, but also lumpen-proletarian. History affects our national and class consciousness, so we can't just look at a snapshot in time. But the point of the paper was to show the size of the First World lumpen in the oppressed nations of the United $tates and a snapshot of how their conditions differ significantly from the white nation.

We'd say the examples you provide are exceptions that prove the rule. It takes some digging to come up with them, but certainly they exist. And in the context of the topic of this issue of Under Lock & Key we can certainly agree with you that they should not be ignored.

Most often, in U.$. prisons, when we talk about white L.O.s we are talking about white nationalist groups of some type. In our study, white supremacist organizations that are promoting fascism in this country today are made up of three main groups: former military, members of lumpen organizations/prisoners, and alienated petty bourgeois youth gathering around racist subcultures on the internet. The first two are the more dangerous groups, though the third gives the movement more of a feeling of a mass base of popularity. In our work it is with the second group that we can have the most impact. And we've had a number of former hardcore white supremacists become leaders within United Struggle from Within, and many more have participated in progressive battles for prisoner rights. It is in such alliances with the oppressed nations around the common interests of the imprisoned lumpen that we can really win over potential recruits who were initially drawn to fascism.

We welcome reports on examples of white lumpen organizing in the interests of ending oppression, and further analysis of the white lumpen as a base for progressive organizing.

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[Economics] [First World Lumpen] [ULK Issue 66]
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Are Lumpen the Leaders the Revolution Needs?

"Sakai on Lumpen in Revolution" was my favorite piece in ULK 64. I would have liked to see a more in-depth analysis of the subject of the role of lumpen following the review of Sakai's book. I believe the lumpen will play a principal role in revolution here in imperialist United States.

We live in a time very different from Marx's, when the battle was to be waged between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Marx wrote of the growing contradictions between bourgeoisie and proletariat, following from these contradictions, the proletariat revolution abolishing capitalism. This was apparently true then, but the terrain is very different now. After the imperialist wars I and II led to imperialist expansion and consolidation of global capitalism and the global market, new classes with their own contradictions (and inner-contradictions) have been created. And with the transformation of colonialism proper into neocolonialism, the roles of the different classes and the contradictions even among the oppressed classes themselves, has created many non-principal contradictions, clouding the principal ones.

In the imperialist countries, and especially here in the imperialist capital of the world, the U.S., imperialism and neo-colonialism is beneficial to the "proletariat." The working class population is effectively bought off with a better standard of living thanks to global value transfer from Third World nations. This "sharing of the (stolen) pie" gives the appearance that the proletariat and the bourgeoisie share a common interest in imperialism. Of course, the contradiction between the two classes continues to exist, but giving the proletariat some crumbs off of the table of the "all you can eat global buffet" alleviates the contradictions and pacifies revolutionary potential and the raising of working class consciousness.

With the proletariat in the imperialist countries there also exists blind patriotism and national chauvinism, and this is a major hindrance to uniting the proletariat in any truly revolutionary way. Much of the working class has been brainwashed with national pride without any good reason. Participating in bourgeois political games, buying into their effectiveness. Supporting various U.S. aggression toward Third World countries, and the so-called "war on terror."

These are just a few of the reasons why we should consider the possibility of the lumpen playing a principal role in revolution. Lumpen's very existence is much more precarious and unpredictable. They comprise millions of the U.S. population. They are the most cast-off population. People are accepting gays, lesbians, transgenders, etc. The women's movement is again taking off and enjoying widespread support. Racism continues to be addressed and shunned, as well as religious intolerance. But the lumpen population continues to be cast off, ignored, discriminated against for life, killed, and legally enslaved (see the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution).

Proletariats, with the sheer numbers, and the fact that they are the very foundation, the absolute precondition for the existence of capitalism, they hold the potential to abolish oppression. But for that to happen, the proletariat here would have to settle accounts with imperialism, and this may prove more difficult than transforming the lumpen mentality to a revolutionary mentality.

Lumpen have been in rebellion their entire lives against the exploitive system, even if unconsciously. The prestige of U.S. righteousness, justice, and equality, if it ever existed for the lumpen, is constantly being deconstructed. And the lumpen, with their lumpen organizations, are these not already guerrilla armies? Doing guerrilla warfare every day? We need only work to introduce revolutionary principles and raise their consciousness. Their material conditions of existence are more primed for revolutionary action than the proletariat in the U.S. today.

I would really like to see more dialogue on this subject. I hope that I have made some kind of valid point. I am no authority on revolutionary theory. I am only 24 and very new.


MIM(Prisons) responds: We have much unity with this analysis of classes in the United $tates. But where it is limited to an analysis of classes within U.$. borders, we think it's crucial to think more broadly about classes globally in this era of imperialism. As this comrade notes, the workers in the United $tates have been bought off with the spoils of imperialism. But this doesn't mean the proletariat on a global scale is bought off. We do look to the proletariat as the foundational class for revolution, but we don't find that proletariat within U.$. borders. Instead we find it in the Third World, where it is actively engaged in a battle for life and death with imperialism. There it is not a big leap for the proletariat to take up revolutionary struggle.

In First World countries like the United $tates, on the other hand, we see the lumpen playing a leading role in the revolutionary movement. This is in large part because the national contradiction is the principal contradiction within U.$. borders. And as this writer points out, the oppressed nation lumpen continue to receive the brunt of this oppression even while living in a country of great wealth and prosperity. The potential for lumpen organizations to become revolutionary organizations is of great interest to us as well. We work with many of these organizations to build peace and unity. But these organizations are generally structured to meet capitalist goals. In the book reviewed, Sakai, addresses the challenges faced in joining forces militarily with such organizations in other times and places. But in those contexts we are talking about a lumpen-proletariat, in proletarian populations. We talk about the First World lumpen, within the exploiter countries, and see even more barriers in wholesale moves to the revolutionary road.

With such a relatively small potentially revolutionary population in the imperialist countries, we don't expect to see revolution start from within the United $tates. At least not without a significant change in conditions. The most likely avenue for revolution comes from the Third World. This doesn't absolve us of responsibility within imperialist countries. We must organize the resistance, support revolutionary movements in the Third World, and build a movement capable of seizing the moment when it arrives.

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[First World Lumpen] [Gender] [ULK Issue 68]
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Thoughts on Sex Offenders and the Lumpen

Revolutionary Greetings!

Just writing in to say great job to everyone who participated with the latest ULK [ULK 64]. That said, I also want to give my input on various articles that sparked my interest:


RE: "Notes On Advancing The Struggle Inside: Sex Offenders Revisited" by el Independista

(1) In the second paragraph of this article, the author states that Sex Offenders(S.O.s) constitute a more dangerous element than murderers "because S.O.s often have more victims, and many of those victims become sexual predators, creating one long line of victimization."

As to your first point that S.O.s constitute a more dangerous element in comparison to murderers, I think your reasoning here is purely subjective as well as characteristic of the lumpen mindset both inside and outside of prisons, which the criminal lumpen vies to minimize their own parasitic and anti-people behavior. This way the lumpen can say "I may be a thief, but at least I'm not a pedophile." "I may be a gang member, but at least I'm not a rapist, etc." It is a notion that's caught up in all kinds of hypocritical bourgeois standards of honor, integrity and other nonsense. It's bourgeois moralization.

(2) In the second paragraph the author states: "Contrarily, sexual predators affect the entire societal composition. They perpetuate crimes against the males and females, provoking deep burrowing psychological problems and turn many victims into victimizers...The difference is not in the severity of the anti-proletariat crime, but in the after effects."

And murderers and other criminals don't have the same or worse effects on society? All victims of crime and violence will develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to varying degrees. The psychological and emotional trauma that a victim of a robbery and the survivor of a sexual assault suffer can be very similar. The same goes for the friends and family of murder victims. And while it is true that some (I don't know about many) survivors of sexual abuse do turn into perpetrators of those same crimes, the same can be said of victims and survivors of other crimes, i.e. domestic violence, verbal abuse, and yes, murder! Just look at the factors that go into perpetuating gang violence.

That said, there is one huge difference when it comes to murder, sexual abuse, and their after effects. Whenever there is sexual abuse and violence victims are able to move forward and heal from their physical, emotional and psychological wounds if they receive the proper care and attention. When someone is killed, however, there is no rectifying the act. There is no coming back.

(3) In the fifth paragraph you state: "...murder is more of a one-two punch knock out, where sexual deprivation is twelve rounds of abuse...Most murderers are not serial killers..."

According to Webster's New World Dictionary, serial is defined as "appearing in a series of continuous parts at regular intervals." By this definition, then, and in conjunction with your reasoning, many gang members can be defined as serial killers.

(4) In the eighth paragraph, you state that: "...rehabilitating sexual predators can be made on an individual basis by revolutionaries who are able to see past the label prejudice though their efforts, if conducted scientifically, a systematic method can emerge for once the revolutionary is successful...sex crimes will be a problem for capitalism, socialism, or communism. Revolutionaries will have to address the problem sooner or later."

On this we agree, revolutionaries will have to address this problem sooner or later so why not get past the idealist rhetoric, which you inadvertently espouse, and begin dealing with it now by moving beyond lumpen rationalizations on the matter. Comrades should learn to understand that under the current power structure, all sex is rape and that sex criminals cannot be rehabilitated only revolutionized. This means that you cannot rehabilitate someone into a system that has gender oppression and rape built right into it. Therefore, comrades should learn all about gender oppression and the patriarchy and how the patriarchy not only informs what gender oppression is, but defines it.


RE: "Sakai On Lumpen In Revolution"

I only wanted to comment that the ghettos and barrios are not only being dispensed but shifted. The Antelope Valley, High Dessert and other under-developed regions in Southern California are good examples of this trend. Over the past 10-15 years, there has been a slow but steady trickling out of [email protected] and New Afrikans from the wider Los Angeles area and into places like Lancaster, Palmdale, Mojave, California City due to gentrification.

Also, in relation to your article on Sakai's book, what's the status of the MIM(Prisons) Lumpen Handbook?

In Struggle!

MIM(Prisons) responds: We published what was intended to be one chapter of a book on the First World lumpen as Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates. Prior to that we put efforts into the book [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. Current research efforts are aimed at summing up the final results of our updated survey on prison labor in the United $tates. We will be publishing this final report along with a larger collection of writings on the economics of prisons in the United $tates. So that's something to look out for in 2019.

The Lumpen Handbook was envisioned to address more topics related to organizing the lumpen class in a revolutionary way in the United $tates today. We have not had the capacity to carry out that project to the scope originally envisioned, but this issue of ULK (68) is an example of our efforts to continue to tackle that topic.

We also have notes to develop into a Selected Works of the Maoist Internationalist Movement (1983-2008) book; another project we would like to see to fruition if we can garner more support for our existing work in the coming years.

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[First World Lumpen] [Theory] [China] [ULK Issue 64]
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Sakai's Investigation of the Lumpen in Revolution

the dangerous class and revolutionary theory
The Dangerous Class and Revolutionary Theory
J. Sakai
Kersplebedeb Publishing, 2017
Available for $24.95 (USD) + shipping/handling from:
kersplebedeb
CP 63560, CCCP Van Horne
Montreal, Quebec
Canada
H3W 3H8

The bulk of this double book is looking at the limited and contradictory writings of Marx/Engels and Mao on the subject of the lumpen with greater historical context. MIM(Prisons) and others have analyzed their scattered quotes on the subject.(1) But Sakai’s effort here is focused on background research to understand what Marx, Engels and Mao were seeing and why they were saying what they were saying. In doing so, Sakai provides great practical insight into a topic that is central to our work; the full complexities of which have only begun to unfold.

Size and Significance

In the opening of the "Dangerous Class", Sakai states that "lumpen/proletarians are constantly being made in larger and larger numbers".(p.3) This follows a discussion of criminalized zones like the ghetto, rez or favela. This is a curious conclusion, as the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates are largely being dispersed rather than expanding. Certainly the rez is not expanding. Sakai does not provide numbers to substantiate these "larger and larger" lumpen populations today.

In our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? we do run some census numbers that indicate an increase in the U.$. lumpen population from 1.5% of the total population in 1960 to over 10% in 2010. However, other methods led us to about 4% of the U.$. population today if you only look at oppressed nation lumpen, and 6 or 7% if you include whites.(1) This latter number is interestingly similar to what Marx estimated for revolutionary France (around 1850)(p.66), what Sakai estimates for Britain around 1800(p.112), and what Mao estimated for pre-revolutionary China.(p.119) Is 6% the magic number that indicates capitalism in crisis? The historical numbers for the United $tates (and elsewhere) are worthy of further investigation.

graph of u.s. lumpen population
In this graph we see the biggest changes being the increase in the lumpen (from 1.5% in 1960 to 10.6% in 2010) and the decrease in the housewives category. While this is completely feasible, the direct relationship between these two groups in the way we did the calculation leaves us cautious in making any conclusions from this method alone.(1)

1800 London
lumpen (Sakai) lumpen + destitute semi-proletariat (Colquhoun)source
6%16%(pp.111-112)
1850s France (Marx)
lumpenlumpen + destitute semi-proletariatsource
6%13%(p.66)
2010 United $tates (MIM(Prisons))
First Nations lumpenNew Afrikan lumpenRaza lumpenRaza lumpen + semi-proletariatsource
30%20%5%15%(1)

Alliances and Line

Certainly, at 6% or more, the lumpen is a significant force, but a force for what? In asking that question, we must frame the discussion with a Marxist analysis of capitalism as a contradiction between bourgeoisie and proletariat. There’s really just two sides here. So the question is which side do the lumpen fall on. The answer is: It depends.

One inspiring thing we learn in this book is that the lumpen made up the majority of the guerrillas led by Mao’s Chinese Communist Party at various times before liberation.(p.122) This shows us that the lumpen are potentially an important revolutionary force. However, that road was not smooth. On the contrary it was quite bloody, involving temporary alliances, sabotage and purges.(pp.201-210)

Sakai's first book spends more time on the French revolution and the obvious role the lumpen played on the side of repression. Marx's writings on these events at times treated the Bonaparte state as a lumpen state, independent of the capitalist class. This actually echoes some of Sakai’s writing on fascism and the role of the declassed. But as Sakai recognizes in this book, there was nothing about the Bonaparte government that was anti-capitalist, even if it challenged the existing capitalist class. In other words, the mobilized lumpen, have played a deciding role in revolutionary times, but that role is either led by bourgeois or proletarian ideology. And the outcome will be capitalism or socialism.

Defining the Lumpen, Again

Interestingly, Sakai does not address the First World class structure and how that impacts the lumpen in those countries. Our paper, Who is the Lumpen in the United $tates? explicitly addresses this question of the First World lumpen as distinct from the lumpen-proletariat. While MIM changed its line from the 1980s when it talked about significant proletariats within the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates, this author has not seen Sakai change eir line on this, which might explain eir discussion of a lumpen-proletariat here. Sakai's line becomes most problematic in eir grouping of imperialist-country mercenaries in the "lumpen". Ey curiously switches from "lumpen/proletariat" when discussing China, to "lumpen" when discussing imperialist-country mercenaries, but never draws a line saying these are very different things. In discussions with the editor, Sakai says the stick up kid and the cop aren't the same kind of lumpen.(p.132) Sure, we understand the analogy that cops are the biggest gang on the streets. But state employees making 5 or 6-digit incomes with full bennies do not fit our definition of lumpen being excluded from the capitalist economy, forced to find its own ways of skimming resources from that economy. The contradiction the state faces in funding its cops and soldiers to repress growing resistance is different from the contradiction it faces with the lumpen on the street threatening to undermine the state's authority.

Sakai dismisses the idea that the line demarking lumpen is the line of illegal vs. legal. In fact, the more established and lucrative the illegal operation of a lumpen org is, the more likely it is to be a partner with the imperialist state. That just makes sense.

The inclusion of cops and mercenaries in the lumpen fits with Sakai's approach to the lumpen as a catchall non-class. We do agree that the lumpen is a much more diverse class, lacking the common life experience and relationship to the world that the proletariat can unite around. But what's the use of talking about a group of people that includes Amerikan cops and Filipino garbage pickers? Our definitions must guide us towards models that reflect reality close enough that, when we act on the understanding the model gives us, things work out as the model predicts more often than not. Or more often than any other models. This is why, in our work on the First World lumpen in the United $tates, we excluded white people from the model by default. We did this despite knowing many white lumpen individuals who are comrades and don't fit the model.

How about L.O.s in the U.$.?

The analysis of the First World lumpen in this collection is a reprint of Sakai's 1976 essay on the Blackstone Rangers in Chicago. Sakai had referred to L.O.s becoming fascist organizations in New Afrikan communities in a previous work, and this seems to be eir basis for this claim.

While the essay condemns the Blackstone Rangers for being pliant tools of the Amerikan state, Sakai does differentiate the young foot soldiers (the majority of the org) from the Main 21 leadership. In fact, the only difference between the recruiting base for the Rangers and the Black Panthers seems to have been that the Rangers were focused on men. Anyway, what Sakai's case study demonstrates is the ability for the state to use lumpen gangs for its own ends by buying off the leadership. There is no reason to believe that if Jeff Fort had seen eye-to-eye with the Black Panthers politically that the youth who followed him would not have followed him down that road.

Essentially, what we can take from all this is that the lumpen is a wavering class. Meaning that we must understand the conditions of a given time and place to better understand their role. And as Sakai implies, they have the potential to play a much more devastating and reactionary role when conditions really start to deteriorate in the heart of the empire.

Relating this to our practice, Sakai discusses the need for revolutionaries to move in the realm of the illegal underground. This doesn't mean the underground economy is a location for great proletarian struggle. It can contain some of the most egregious dehumanizing aspects of the capitalist system. But it also serves as a crack in that very system.

As comrades pointed out in our survey of drug use and trade in U.$. prisons, the presence of drugs is accompanied by an absence of unity and struggle among the oppressed masses. Meanwhile effective organizing against drug use is greatly hampered by threats of violence from the money interests of lumpen organizations and state employees.(2) The drug trade brings out the individualist/parasitic tendencies of the lumpen. Our aim is to counter that with the collective self-interest of the lumpen. It is that self-interest that pushes oppressed nation youth to "gang up" in the first place, in a system that is stacked against them.

The revolutionary/anti-imperialist movement must be active and aggressive in allying with the First World lumpen today. We must be among the lumpen masses so that as contradictions heighten, oppressed nation youth have already been exposed to the benefits of collective organizing for self-determination. The national contradiction in occupied Turtle Island remains strong, and we are confident that the lumpen masses will choose a developed revolutionary movement over the reactionary state. Some of the bourgeois elements among the lumpen organizations will side with the oppressor, and with their backing can play a dominant role for some times and places. We must be a counter to this.

While Mao faced much different conditions than we face in the United $tates today, the story of alliances and betrayals during the Chinese revolution that Sakai weaves is probably a useful guide to what we might expect. Ey spends one chapter analyzing the Futian Incident, where "over 90 percent of the cadres in the southwestern Jiangxi area were killed, detained, or stopped work."(p.205) The whole 20th Army, which had evolved from the lumpen gang, Three Dots Society, was liquidated in this incident. It marked a turning point and led to a shift in the approach to the lumpen in the guerilla areas. While in earlier years, looting of the wealthy was more accepted within the ranks of guerrilla units, the focus on changing class attitudes became much greater.(p.208) This reflected the shift in the balance of forces; the development of contradictions.

Sakai concludes that the mass inclusion of lumpen forces in the guerrilla wars by the military leaders Mao Zedong and Chu Teh was a strategic success. That the lumpen played a decisive role, not just in battle, but in transforming themselves and society. We might view the Futian Incident, and other lesser internal struggles resulting in death penalties meted out, as inevitable growing pains of this lumpen/peasant guerilla war. Mao liked to quote Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, in saying that war is different from all other humyn activity.

For now we are in a pre-war period in the United $tates, where the contradictions between the oppressed and oppressors are mostly fought out in the legal realms of public opinion battles, mass organizing and building institutions of the oppressed. Through these activities we demonstrate another way; an alternative to trying to get rich, disregarding others' lives, senseless violence, short-term highs and addiction. We demonstrate the power of the collective and the need for self-determination of all oppressed peoples. And we look to the First World lumpen to play a major role in this transformation of ourselves and society.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [First World Lumpen] [Organizing] [ULK Issue 63]
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Why Take Action?

uswpeace

We take action regardless of whether we will ultimately win or lose. We take action simply because it is in our nature to resist injustice and oppression. It is who we are. And we recognize that not everyone has that same nature. We should not criticize or look down on those who don't have enough strength for this fight against the odds. After all, oppression of the weak and unfortunate is the very thing we are struggling against. So we hold no animosity towards the naysayers as long as they do not directly interfere with our cause, and we are happy when our actions benefit them even though they refused to participate. People cannot help being the way they are. For those of us with the revolutionary spirit the struggle comes as naturally as apathy and passivity comes to those who refuse to participate.

But the truth is that we most definitely can make a difference. The government and the TDCJ administration would like us to believe they are all-powerful and can do whatever they want without concern for any consequences, but that is just propaganda intended to make us give up before we even start. We know this from experience because we have won victories already. We have seen even just a handful of prisoners come together many times and force the administration to improve conditions or follow its own rules.

We know that just because our actions are ignored at first or because we got a rubber stamp response on a grievance doesn't mean it didn't have an effect. Everything has an effect and it all adds up. We recognize that change in any area of life generally requires sustained action over a long period of time. The pigs' first line of defense is to keep us ignorant and keep us discouraged, but we must know better than to fall into those traps.

What we often see is prisoners coming together in a spontaneous uprising when abuses reach a crisis point. The administration will quickly back down and meet their demands. But then when this temporary mobilization of the mass of prisoners falls apart, the administration incrementally begins the same abuses all over again. If they overstep and the prisoners mobilize themselves once more, then the administration just repeats the process of backing down and incrementally reimposing the same abuses. In this way they gradually accustom the prisoners to accept the abuse of their rights and human dignity.

So another reason why we take action is simply to stay mobilized and able to resist the incremental erosion of our rights. We don't fool ourselves about the possibility of keeping the whole mass of prisoners fully mobilized. The majority will always care more about watching TV and playing fantasy football. But there are also at least a few prisoners who see revolutionary work as a way to pass the time that is just as enjoyable and interesting, with the added benefit that it actually gives them some real power over their circumstances. If we can keep this core of dedicated revolutionaries organized and active at all times, then we can put up constant resistance to the erosion of our rights. And we will have an organizational framework and leadership already in place that allows us to quickly mobilize the masses for some larger project whenever it becomes necessary.

We know all this is an uphill battle, but we can take heart when we study the past. In the broad sweep of history the course of events has overwhelmingly been in our favor. The oppressors of the world have been fighting a desperate retreat for the last thousand years, losing battle after battle in the struggle for human rights. It is clear which way the wind is blowing. And the struggle for prisoners' rights fits squarely within that larger struggle.

There will be a day in the not-so-distant future when people look back with horror and shame at our current culture of mass incarceration and the conditions in these prisons. And those who struggled for prisoners' rights and reform of the criminal justice system will be grouped among the heroes who fought to overcome absolutist monarchies, colonialism, slavery, worker exploitation, racism, sexism, and every other form of oppression. We can take action with absolute confidence that we are on the right side of history. In the long run, we are assured of victory.


MIM(Prisons) responds: So much of what this author writes here speaks directly to the value of perseverance in our work. The project of building revolution (or making any great impact on the world) is made up of many, many, many days of mundane tasks. Some days of excitement. And many more days of mundane commitment.

In a debate on whether people are born as, or developed into, revolutionaries, it seems like this author would argue the former. But surely everyone who's turned on to politics can also remember a time in their life when they were apathetic and passive. Whether from an incorrect understanding of how the world works, or a lack of faith in our own ability to change and make change. At some time, probably over a long time, we decided to stand up.

Well, how do people turn from only participating when there's an acute problem, to making that long-term commitment to building a revolution? (Hint: it's not a persynality trait we're born with.)

Author and bourgeois psychologist Angela Duckworth says developing interest and passion for your work (the type of passion that sticks it out through the hard times) is made of "a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening."(1) In the quote below Duckworth talks about "having fun" as part of developing interest. While prisons certainly aren't fun, we can apply this concept to prisoners facing repression, where the "trigger" for interest is repeated exposure to examples and experiences of resistance.

"Before hard work comes play. Before those who've yet to fix on a passion are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around, triggering and retriggering interest. Of course, developing an interest requires time and energy, and yes, some discipline and sacrifice. But at this earliest stage, novices aren't obsessed with getting better. They're not thinking years and years into the future. They don't know what their top-level, life-orienting goal will be. More than anything else, they're having fun."

"... [I]nterests are not discovered through introspection. Instead, interests are triggered by interactions with the outside world. The process of interest discovery can be messy, serendipitous, and inefficient. This is because you can't really predict with certainty what will capture your attention and what won't. You can't simply will yourself to like things, either. ..."

"... [W]hat follows the initial discovery of an interest is a much lengthier and increasingly proactive period of interest development. Crucially, the initial triggering of a new interest must be followed by subsequent encounters that retrigger your attention — again and again and again."

Just because someone is initially uninterested in the politics behind the mass action, through repeated exposure and "retriggering interest," we can encourage them to go deeper. And after the initial interest is sparked, Duckworth says deliberate practice, a sense of purpose, and a hopeful attitude, are what enable us to commit and excel. These approaches are what cause us to overcome the adversity that the author describes in the article above, of administrative failures, discouragement from staff, and even our own mistakes.

And Duckworh argues, based on eir decades of study, that these qualities can be nurtured and developed — by individuals themselves, and by people outside of those individuals. As organizers, we need to work to develop interest, practice, purpose, and hope in others. In eir book Grit, Duckworth lays out many methods to do this, some of which we've touched on in other articles throughout this issue of ULK. With this response, we primarily want to highlight that a revolutionary fighting spirit is something that we can cultivate; just because someone doesn't have it now doesn't mean they won't ever have it. And it's the organizer's job to make that process as successful as possible.

Note:
1. Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Scribner, 2016.
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