I’m in segregation so our study groups aren’t technically in groups. They consist of multiple people reading the same materials. All these people are people I socialize with but all of them don’t socialize with each other. Some people, after reading the material, write our thoughts and questions on paper then pass this paper around, then allow everyone to read everyone’s answers. Some people just converse verbally after studying the material and raise their consciousness like that.
Now many of these individuals are members of lumpen organizations and street tribes. I myself had been utilizing my Kiwe national identity to influence individuals from that tribe. With this in mind, we know there is a social stigma that comes from mere socializing with LGBT prisoners, especially for members of lumpen organizations and tribes. I myself through “redirecting the gangsta mentality” towards the communist road, have outgrown this colonizer-influenced mindframe and stigma, therefore I of course began dealing with a tranz sista as my comrade. The other individuals in the “study group” opted out, and I understand now that this was because their loyalties weren’t to political organizing nor communist ideology. Many aren’t willing to SACRIFICE within the movement.
Mao spoke on this in his “Combat Liberalism” speech. This sacrifice isn’t always of the physical form. Recently, tribesmen have actively tried to silence my voice and thus negate the mission by slandering my name. In retaliation to these developments the tranz comrade assaulted multiple tribesmen in my defense and thus was rehoused. Comrades, I learned thru this experience that my prior mission to revolutionize the entire tribe or org is damn near impossible. In my analysis the changes of one or a few comrades revolutionizing/politicizing their lumpen org or street tribe depends on the level of structure that group already has. The more structure and organization the better the opportunity.
Maoism is complete revolution in all aspects of life. Many tribesmen and bros aren’t willing to do this or truly act on it. I’ve completely outgrown the lumpen consciousness and this contradiction isn’t productive or conducive to the revolutionary movement. The good news is that the tranz comrade is now a self-ascribed New Afrikan Maoist. And has shown commitment and sacrifice to the movement. The few comrades that we still involve in the study continue to grow politically and all in all – A Luta Continua (The Struggle Continues).
MIM(Prisons) responds: What you wrote about converting a lumpen organization (L.O.) to Maoism or progressive politics is what we’ve seen from our other comrades throughout the years. We’ve seen numerous times that when people are trying to make a big shift in an L.O., it doesn’t usually go far. On one hand the L.O.s have this incredible infrastucture that can make big shifts happen quickly. On the other hand, the vast majority of members would need to be on board with such an ideological shift for it to be successful. And the infrastucture that makes big shifts possible is also an impediment, in a way, to even making the shift. Keeping things in the L.O. as they are (especially if it means giving up profits or power) is historically a very difficult challenge for revolutionaries.
Which is exactly why one of the United Front for Peace in Prisons principles, Growth, was included in the UFPP and defined in the specific way it’s defined. “Growth: WE recognize the importance of education and freedom to grow in order to build real unity. We support members within our organization who leave and embrace other political organizations and concepts that are within the anti-imperialist struggle. Everyone should get in where they fit in. Similarly, we recognize the right of comrades to leave our organization if we fail to live up to the principles and purpose of the United Front for Peace in Prisons.”
We stand firmly behind this comrade’s choice to unite with the LGBT persyn and include em in the political study group. Building toward communism isn’t just about overcoming oppression based on capitalism and class. We need to actively work against all forms of oppression, including gender oppression, as part of our mission toward the full liberation of the world’s people.
Fifteen years ago she was in a desperate situation and in an unfortunate set of circumstances. From afar we have watched Comrade Brown show and prove to the world over that consistency, education, solidarity and a set of principles not unlike our own can literally tear down the walls of the oppressive state apparatus.
Most peoples and folks would overlook the struggle of a misled youth in favor of the more traditional political prisoner, but, when we saw that our comrade was free we had to inform the masses of eir struggle. #she2 is Legion.
To be Legion you must have been about that life at one point. To be Legion you must have become the change you wanted to see. You could be a Freed Cyntoia Brown or a captive ME.
She beat the patriarchal system that told her that she would do 51 years for killing a trick who tried to rape her while under capitalism. She was forced into prostitution by a pimp that coerced her into the underground commercial sex economy without any input from her.
While she sat in prison she didn’t waste time. She got her education, she got a degree, she advocated for her freedom turning her cell into her dormitory. She went from the state pen to Penn State.
We hope for the best for Comrade Brown as she begins her life on release. She too knows the struggle the pain of the road less traveled, and we humbly salute her with universal greetings of PEACE!
MIM(Prisons) adds: Cyntoia Brown is an inspiration as to what the oppressed nation lumpen youth can overcome and accomplish. Her case is one where gender, class and national oppression all came into play leading Cyntoia to the traumatic experiences of her early life. These experiences were a consequence of gender oppression on her as not only a biological female, but also a young persyn. The lack of development of youth make them more subject to gender oppression in patriarchal society. Such experiences will often mark and change a persyn’s life. And we celebrate those like Cyntoia who come out of those experiences as a strong, educated organizer for the interests of the oppressed.
Unfortunately, we know countless Cyntoia Browns as Legion implies. And they do not have celebrities working on their freedom campaign. Some of them will spend the rest of their lives in prison. This is the difference between the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, that we live under now, which keeps the leaders of the oppressed locked up; as compared to the dictatorship of the proletariat, that we need, which will recognize those who take up the cause of the oppressed to be reformed contributors to society.
The risk is cases like Brown’s making it look like the U.$. injustice system also recognizes such contributors, as if Brown was released because the government recognized eir value to society, and not simply because of public pressure. Again, there are many Browns who are still languishing in prison because they didn’t get the public support, weren’t “newsy” enough, etc. And there will be many more if we don’t put an end to the patriarchal society that so often leads youth into dangerous situations.
We are grateful Comrade Brown is released and still fighting the good fight, and we have a lot more work to do.
[The following was written about the same time as we were writing Intersecting Strands of Oppression for ULK 65. This author echoes our own discussion of the Brett Kavanaugh hearing while heavily citing MIM Theory 2/3, as we did in our piece. This question of how gender and nation interact, and how revolutionaries should approach these topics in order to push things in the right direction continue to be of utmost importance. - MIM(Prisons)]
On 27 September 2018, in the United States Senate's Judiciary Committee, the nation heard riveting testimony of an attempted sexual assault, and the denial of that assault. A Crime that had occurred 37-years ago with no corroborating witnesses.
In a he-say, she-say trial, who gets the benefit of the doubt? The accused, or the accuser? In this era of #MeToo, is it guilty until you can prove yourself innocent, or innocent until proven guilty? Could due process be sacrificed at the altar of gender politics and why does it matter?
In reviewing my in-cell library on feminist theory, these matters and debates are not new, and the answers to these questions have long been addressed. The first question that has to be asked, "Who speaks for the feminist?" "Who has her girlfriend's back?" The demarcation in the feminist lines can best be exemplified by the research compiled by one feminist researcher, Ealasaid Munro:
"The emergence of 'privilege-checking,' however, reflects the reality that mainstream feminism remains dominated by straight white middle-classes. Parvan Amara interviewed self-identified working class feminists for a piece published on the internet magazine The F Word and noted that many of the women she spoke to found themselves excluded from mainstream feminism both on the internet and 'in real life.' Amara notes that many women tend to encounter feminism at university. Women who do not go on to further education face a barrier when attempting to engage with those academic debates that drive feminism."(1)
So if academia is where the debates that are driving feminist theory are occurring, what does that academic debate look like if she is not white?
"Ignoring the difference of race between women and the implications of those differences presents the most serious threat to the mobilization of women's joint power. Refusing to recognize difference makes it impossible to see the different problems and pitfalls facing us as women. Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you, we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down on the street, and you will turn your backs upon the reasons they are dying."(2)
Another theorist surmised, "Black women's own views on rape can't help being shaped by the actions of their white sisters. That is to say, that Black people cannot use a white supremacist justice system without perpetuating white supremacy."(3)
These other theorists have long been critical of weaponizing process. This was recently on display in California. There, a recall movement was taking place to remove a judge for imposing a light sentence on a Stanford University student for sexual assault. The most vocal opponents to the recall were Black women. The most visible, former California Supreme Court justice, Janice M. Brown.(4) She argued, that punishing a judge for exercising discretion will only harm defendants of color. Statistics bear this out. Per 100,000 of the Black and Brown population in 2010, 6,000 were imprisoned; while per 100,000 of the white population in 2010, 640 were imprisoned.(5) Black and Brown persons of color are in front of Criminal Court judges far more than whites.
Another theorist called this type of feminism Carceral Feminism, and rails against the federal passage of the 1999 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). "Many of the feminists who had lobbied for the passage of VAWA remained silent about countless other women whose 911 calls resulted in more violence. Often white, well-heeled feminists, their legislative accomplishment did little to stem violence against less affluent, more marginalized women."(6) And a further theorist noted, "If women do not share 'common oppression,' what then can serve as a basis for our coming together?"(7)
These other feminist theorist, the marginalized, had observed that the debate was about rational-feminism versus emotional-feminism. This feminist theorist argues that rational-feminism must prevail over emotional feminism.
"The sisterhood line as currently practiced (but not in the 1960s and early 1970s) is white, bourgeois, sexist propaganda. Women just turn around from seeking approval from men that they never got; to demanding unconditional approval from women. They put each other on a pedestal and imagine each other to be flawless goddesses."(8)
This same theorist argues, the root of emotional feminism is nothing more than a chauvinist plot to keep women marginalized and caught up in their emotions, rather than applying her faculties of reasoning.
"The root of this is the patriarchal socialization of women to restrict themselves to the sphere of feelings, while letting men develop the rational faculties necessary to wield power. Women are taught to read romantic novels, major in English, or maybe psychology, if the women seem like they are getting too many scientific ideas."(9)
Is the rallying cry, "I BELIEVE HER", the death nails to due process? Is process going to be sacrificed at the alter of gender politics? Is the new standard for America's fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons "GUILTY, UNTIL YOU CAN PROVE YOURSELF INNOCENT"?
One theorist's 1992 writings used the 1986 rape convictions of white women by the race of their rapist. 68% of their rapists were white; 22% of their rapists were Black; 5% were Other; and 2% of their rapists were Mixed. The theorist begs feminists to take a serious look at the 22% of white women raped in 1986 who were raped by Black men.
The theorist goes on to state a general proposition that all feminists can generally agree upon, "Three-quarters of all rapes are by acquaintances, and the figures on rape should reflect that women are raped by the type of people they date."
In 1986, 12% of the men available to white women were Black. However, no where near 12% of the sex white women were having were with Black men. Thus the 22% of white women's rapist being Black is disproportionately high. Furthermore, the population of white women was more than six-times the population of Black men. For every [1% of] white women who had a sexual acquaintance with a Black man, it takes [6% of] Black men to be those acquaintances. Out of those acquaintances charged with rape, the 22% figure means a very high proportion of Black men generally are convicted of rape of white women compared to white men.
The theorist takes note, up to this point, the figures have been examined from the perspective of the rape victim. But taken from the Black man's perspective, white women are a large group of the American population, while Black men are a relatively small one. For Black men, 63.3% of their rape accusers were white women. If Black men had 63.3% of their sexual interactions with white women, then the accusations might be fair, but this was far from the case.
The theorist surmised we could get an idea of how skewed the accusations were looking at "interracial dating." The theorist could not give a figure for what percentage of the dates people went on were interracial. Instead, the theorist surmised we could guess that it was similar to the figures for the percentage of people in interracial marriages. Black men married to white women accounted for 0.3% of total marriages in the United States as of 1989. In 1989, less than 4% of Black married men were married to white women, so we estimate that less than 4% of Black men's dating were with white women. Hence, less than 4% of accusations faced by Black men should come from white women. Instead, the figure was 63.3%.(10)
The history of that story is the other side of sexual politics here in America. An America where the LAPD and Oakland-PD have had 100s of convictions overturned, due to incredibly, credible, false testimony of police officers. A land where 15% of the Black population in Tulia, Texas, were incarcerated by the incredibly, credible, testimony of a single racist officer.(11) According to the San Quentin News, 139 prisoners nationwide were exonerated in 2017.(12)
Credible demeanor in testimony has never been foolproof. The National Academy of Sciences, along with the FBI, have noted eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable testimony.(13) While this would obviously be in reference to witnesses testifying against strangers, but the juries which wrongly convinced these defendants were doing so from witnesses who were credible and convincing in their testimony. In 2013, 153 of the 268 exonerations by the Innocence Project were for rape.(14) 72% of all DNA exonerations are people of color. Of the 72%, 61% are African Americans.(15)
Theorists can clearly see, "I BELIEVE HER," with its lock-in-step demands of sisterhood, is classic emotional-feminist theory. What is the emotional-feminist rationale to do away with "INNOCENT, UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY"? Nor could emotional-theorists surmise they are not doing away with this unitedly, American, idea. [...] "I BELIEVE HER" is a presumption-of-guilt, rather than the presumption-of-innocence that the rational feminist are standing for, and for years have been arguing against the emotional-feminist assault on process. While emotional-feminism, with its well-heeled, racial, social, and economic status is having the loudest voice, their marginalized sisters, whose rational-feminist approach, is the only voice of hope for fathers, brothers, husbands, and sons; a hope the other side doesn't win the debate.
(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.
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?
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.
I recently thumbed through a hand-me-down Under Lock & Key. It was the September/October 2018 issue, No. 64, and had an overwhelming inspiration to write pledging my allegiance to your cause, and to make comment on some of the articles I read concerning offenses against women/girls.
Mostly targeted to those of which appeared to be attempting to justify their actions with the phrase "consensual" sex with under-aged girls. I just hope my thoughts and writings will be as readily accepted as those of others written!
Crimes against women are the most cowardly atrocious acts one can do. Especially when it involves violent forcible rapes, on down to taking advantage of under-aged girls, and I am ashamed and humiliated to be a man during instances as these!
I don't write from a dark hateful place neither in a negative energy, but must say, if you are going to stand for a cause, especially a cause such as the revolutionary one, stand tall and with integrity.
I consider myself a revolutionist, suffering through struggles just to help change the oppressive abuse of authority being displayed by prison officials.
Because the current government structure, as you all would say the injustice system, is designed to make prisoners worse, most likely to return, for their benefit. It appears their attempt is not to rehabilitate but destroy, creating spitefulness and anger especially when they get away with their injustices.
But falling victim to this cycle only lessens us as human beings, if we get caught up in the wheel of things we are not living up to what we claim to be standing up for, which is change.
We are ambassadors for change and must conduct ourselves accordingly. We must stand out from the crowd, not be afraid of individuality. We must carry our heads high and keep our shoulders squared ready to support the weight of others, and to lend a shoulder to cry on if need be, with no ghosts lingering there in the closet.
We must be an energy more spectacular than the universe, an energy that gravitates others to us, a life energy that creates, cultivates and protects those we have around us. Building blocks for them to stand upon, for them who wish to embrace and enjoy change, something new. All of what we're allegedly standing for.
If not we are just a fake and a fraud and a continued part of an ongoing dilemma. Then we are no different than an immoral cult with a fancy name.
Young ladies (and young girls) should not be preyed upon by older guys, (especially not us). Guys, even if she were to show interest, and because you're a type of role model with a higher standard of morality.
As a revolutionist we are obligated to change the exploitation of girls and women alike. Instead, we should help her identify her potential, help channel her energy into something more spectacular, building her up to becoming a powerful leader of her own kind who could lead the way for others who either of us probably could not reach and relate to.
I am sadly disgusted, if not outright disturbed, when a guy, especially an alleged revolutionist claims consensual sex with a young girl. Are you truly incapable of handling a woman who knows how to handle a man?
I will not forget to mention that more despicable crimes against women like forcible rape with drugs, drink or intimidation. We should be advocating for these women, just as well. We cannot continue to accept these types of cowardliness and we as men are just as cowardly if we refuse to intervene. If you see a woman in need of help, help her. Don't turn a blind eye to her black eyes, in the hallway or at the store, step in.
If not where's the revolution?? It isn't simply a donation one goes through with while you're incarcerated? Or is it?
So then where does it start? With us here and now while in prison with the wonderful help from those there on the outside who understand and sympathize with our struggle of oppression, and who also want to unify and make changes.
Us as prisoners must strive to finally become educated women and men. We must come to realize the government down to the prison authorities have things just the way they want them, conquered and divided, defeated and hopeless (don't think) (don't know) and surely never united, they snicker and laugh.
We have slumbered for too long. We must allow the awakening of our minds which is an extremely powerful entity on its own, coupled with your energy and drive we can really make a difference. We are the biggest army (and can be the most fearless army) any government could go up against. They wouldn't know what to do if we shook the illusions from our eyes.
We as prisoners must lay down the knives and pick up the pens and books, learn the law and your rights.
It starts here and now with us and carries on afterward onto the streets. It's war time, our slogan all lives matter equally, not just the corrupt in high places, our pasts are gone, future is ahead.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Glad you found ULK so agreeable and took the time to write us. We agree that being a shining example is an important aspect of leadership. In thinking about recruiting and retaining recruits, consistent behavior by our leaders that is upstanding in the eyes of the masses is something that contributes to this greatly. While we prefer people learn to follow correct ideas rather than individuals and great leaders, we can benefit by always trying to be and develop more great leaders. The fruits of this practice can come to bear years down the line when you least expect it.
Being ashamed of being part of an oppressor group (men) is a righteous response, and one that leads many of us to commit class, nation or gender suicide; meaning to take up actions and politics that go against the interests of the oppressor groups that we belong to. In the imperialist countries we all must struggle in this way to be in solidarity with the world's majority.
We have addressed the question of dating/romantic relationships, how they should be approached by revolutionaries, and specifically the question of older men dating younger wimmin. In doing so we strongly discourage dating recruits, especially in situations where things are more likely to be construed as manipulative, such as dating younger wimmin. (1) As for dating in general, again we echo your advice of being shining examples that the masses will respect and trust.
We like your message of helping empower young wimmin with your influence. This is in contrast to a patriarchal/protective approach, that emotions around these issues can lead to. To say that crimes against wimmin are the most atrocious tends to fall into this subjective/patriarchal thinking. We do not believe that crimes against wimmin are inherently worse, but that our society treats them very differently because we live in a patriarchal society. A California prisoner addresses the impact of approaches to gender oppression that is purely emotional on the imprisonment of New Afrikan men in "Due Process in the Era of #MeToo."(2)
While we frequently discuss gender oppression in the pages of Under Lock & Key, most readers will notice a primary focus on national oppression. This is intentional, as we see the resolution of the national contradiction as the most successful path to ending all oppression at this stage. But for any of our readers who like our focus on nationalism, and have not taken the time to read MIM Theory 2/3: Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, i recommend you take a look. It is in MT2/3 that MIM really dissected the difference between class, nation and gender and justified its focus on nation. Don't just focus on nation because it's more important to you subjectively, understand why it is the top priority by reading MT 2/3.
All USW comrades should be working their way to the level 2 introductory study program offered by MIM(Prisons). We start level 1 studying the basics of scientific thinking. In level 2, we move on to study Fundamental Political Line of the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons, which gives a good overview of the 3 strands of oppression: class, nation and gender, and how they interact. This issue of Under Lock & Key is intended to supplement that theoretical material with some application to prison organizing and contemporary current events. (Let us know if you want to sign up for the study group.)
Academic Individualism vs. Revolutionary Science
Bourgeois individualism looks at race, class and gender as identities, which are seen as natural categories that exist within each individual. While proponents of identity politics generally recognize these concepts have evolved over time, they generally do not explain how or why. Dialectical materialists understand nation, class and gender as dualities that evolved as humyn society developed. Under capitalism, the class structure is defined by bourgeoisie exploiting proletarians. Class looked different under feudalism or primitive communist societies. One of the things Marx spent a lot of time doing is explaining how and why class evolved the way it did. Engels also gave us an analysis of the evolution of gender in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State.
One self-described "Marxist-Feminist critique of Intersectionality Theory" points out that "theories of an 'interlocking matrix of oppressions,' simply create a list of naturalized identities, abstracted from their material and historical context."(1) They do not provide a framework for understanding how to overthrow the systems that are imposing oppression on people, because they do not explain their causes. This "Marxist" critic, however, falls into the class reductionist camp that believes all oppression is rooted in class.
The MIM line is not class reductionist, rather we reduce oppression to three main strands: nation, gender and class. This is still too limited for the identity politics crowd. But when we dive into other types of oppression that might be separate from nation, class and gender, we find that they always come back to one of those categories. And this clarity on the main strands of oppression allows us to develop a path to success, by building on the historical experience of others who have paved the way for our model.
While MIM is often associated with the class analysis of the First World labor aristocracy, this was nothing really new. What MIM did that still sets it apart from others, that we know of, is develop the first revolutionary theory on sexual privilege. The class-reductionism of the writer cited above is demonstrated in eir statement, "to be a 'woman' means to produce and reproduce a set of social relations through our labor, or self-activity."(2) MIM said that is class, but there is still something separate called gender. While class is how humyns relate in the production process, gender is how humyns relate in non-productive/leisure time. And while biological reproductive ability has historically shaped the divide between oppressor and oppressed in the realm of gender, we put the material basis today in health status.(3) This understanding is what allows us to see that things like age, disability, sexual preference and trans/cis gender status all fall in the gender strand of oppression.
Using "Feminism" to Bomb Nations
Militarism and imperialist invasion are antithetical to feminism. Yet the imperialists successfully use propaganda that they wrap in pseudo-feminism to promote the invasion of Third World countries again and again. Sorting out the strands of oppression is key to consistent anti-imperialism.
In MT 2/3, MIM condemned the pseudo-feminists by saying that "supporting women who go to the courts with rape charges is white supremacy."(4) A recent Human Rights Watch report discussing alleged widespread rape in the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) is getting lots of traction in the Amerikkkan/Briti$h press.(5) This campaign to demonize the DPRK is just like the campaign to imprison New Afrikans, with potentially nuclear consequences. We have two leading imperialist nations who committed genocide against an oppressed nation touting information that is effectively pro-war propaganda for another invasion and mass slaughter of that oppressed nation.
If it is true that rape is as widespread in the DPRK as in the United $tates and Great Britain, then we also must ask what the situation of wimmin would have been in the DPRK today if it were not for the imperialist war and blockade on that country. In the 1950s, Korea was on a very similar path as China. Socialism in China did more for wimmin's liberation than bourgeois feminists ever have. They increased wimmin's participation in government, surpassing the United $tates, rapidly improved infant mortality rates, with Shanghai surpassing the rate of New York, and eliminated the use of wimmin's bodies in advertising and pornography.(6)
An activist who is focused solely on ending rape will not see this. Of course, a healthy dose of white nationalism helps one ignore the mass slaughter of men, wimmin and children in the name of wimmin's liberation. So the strands do interact.
Distracted Senate Hearings
Recently, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh went through a hearing before his appointment to assess accusations of sexual assault from his past. This was a spectacle, with the sexual content making it tantalizing to the public, rather than political content. Yes, the debate is about a lifetime appointment to a very high-powered position, that will affect the path of U.$. law. But there was no question of U.$. law favoring an end to war, oppression or the exploitation of the world's majority. Those who rallied against Kavanaugh were mostly caught up in Democratic Party politics, not actual feminism.
A quarter century ago, MIM was also disgusted by the hearings for Clarence Thomas to be appointed a Supreme Court Justice, that were dominated by questions about his sexual harassment of Anita Hill. Yet, this was an event that became quite divisive within MIM and eventually led to a consolidation of our movement's materialist gender line.(7) It was the intersection of nation with this display of gender oppression that made that case different from the Kavanaugh one, because Thomas and Hill are both New Afrikan. The minority line in this struggle was deemed the "pro-paternialism position."
The minority position was that MIM should stand with Anita Hill because she was the victim/oppressed. The line that won out was that Anita Hill was a petty-bourgeois cis-female in the First World, and was not helpless or at risk of starvation if she did not work for Clarence Thomas. While all MIM members would quickly jump on revisionists and pork-chop nationalists, paternalism led those holding the minority position to accept pseudo-feminism as something communists should stand by, because they pitied the female who faced situations like this.
Similarly today, with the Kavanaugh appointment, we should not let our subjective feelings about his treatment of wimmin confuse us into thinking those rallying against him represent feminism overall.
Bourgeois theories and identity politics
The paternalistic line brings us back to identity politics. A politic that says right and wrong can be determined by one's gender, "race" or other identity. The paternalist line will say things like only wimmin can be raped or New Afrikans can't "racially" oppress other people. In its extreme forms it justifies any action of members of the oppressed group.
Another form of identity politics is overdeterminism. The overdeterministic position is defined in our glossary as, "The idea that social processes are all connected and that all of the aspects of society cause each other, with none as the most important."(8) The overdeterminist will say "all oppressions are important so just work on your own. A parallel in anti-racism is that white people should get in touch with themselves first and work on their own racism."(9) Again this is all working from the framework of bourgeois individualism, which disempowers people from transforming the system.
There is a paralyzing effect of the bourgeois theories that try to persynalize struggles, and frame them in the question of "what's in it for me?" Communists have little concern for self when it comes to political questions. To be a communist is to give oneself to the people, and to struggle for that which will bring about a better future for all people the fastest. While humyn knowledge can never be purely objective, it is by applying the scientific method that we can be most objective and reach our goals the quickest.(10)
Today's principal contradiction, here in the United $tates, is the national contradiction — meaning that between oppressed nations and oppressor nations. MIM(Prisons) provides some very provocative questions as to secondary contractions, their influence on or by and in conjunction to the current principal contradiction. Class, gender and nation are all interrelated.(1) Many times, while organizing our efforts and contemplating potential solutions to the principal contradiction, we overlook the secondary and tertiary ones. Such narrow-mindedness oftentimes leads to difficulties, hampering efforts toward resolution. Other times it makes resolving the principal, effectively, impossible. Analogous to penal institutions making it possible to punish a citizenry but impossible to better it due to the irreconcilable contraction between retributive punishment and rehabilitation. This is why reforms consistently fail and prisons persist as a social cancer.
In regards to intersecting strands of oppression, prisons are illustrative of more than pitfalls of narrow-mindedness (i.e. reform of one aspect while leaving the rest intact). Prisons also provide numerous examples of oppression combinations. Interactions of nation and gender oppression are some of the most evident. Penal institutions are inherently nationally oppressive, because they are social control mechanisms allowing capitalism to address its excluded masses. Since the United $tates is patriarchal in practice, prisons over-exaggerate this masculine outlook, creating an ultra-aggressive, chauvinistic subculture.
Intersection occurs oft times when a female staff member is present. Other than the few brave people, most wimmin in prison are regarded as "damsels in distress." Generally speaking (at least in Colorado prisons) a male will accompany a female; though, most males make no effort to do this for other men. Capitalism's undercurrent to such "chivalrous actions" is rooted in wimmin being the weaker, more helpless and vulnerable gender. In prison, machismo culture such is the chauvinist's belief. While many wimmin aid in their inequality by accepting, encouraging, or simply not protesting such "chivalry," brave, independent wimmin experience a form of ostracism — they are derided, an effort to enjoin their conformity. At the same time men are being chivalrous, they sexually objectify females, further demeaning them, reinforcing their second-class status under machismo specifically and, capitalistic patriarchy generally.
Furthermore, there is also the ever-present nation bias (e.g. hyper-sexualizing Latina females, white females should only fraternize with whites). As prisons are "snapshots" of general society, the contradictions — their intersecting and interacting — hold useful material for revolutionary-minded persyns.
Intersection of different oppression strands (as shown above) demonstrates that the resolution of one does not automatically mean resolution of others. For instance, should machismo in prison dissolve, the national oppression will still remain and vice versa. Prisons are an encapsulation of society, meaning, their abolishment will not necessarily translate to class, nation, gender contradiction resolutions throughout society. Although, it is a very good, versatile place to start. Penal institutions are more of an observation laboratory where the effects and affects of contradiction co-mingling manifest. A place to watch, document, analyze, formulate and possibly initiate theory and practice. There is no better way to comprehend oppression than to witness it in action. Nor is there any better way of combating the many oppressions than from the front lines.
ULK 61 was very informative to me. I'm 47 years old, and I have what you call street cred. I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business. I'm currently serving a ten-to-twenty sentence, and all my charges are for drugs except for one.
In 2001, I worked in roofing. When I got to the job site there were no shingles so the boss sent us home early with half a day pay. When I came home, as I started up the stairs, I heard a commotion in my front room where me and my wife sleep. As I opened the door I saw my wife (or ex-wife) naked and a man jumping out the window. I lost my mind, started calling her all type of names and beat on her pretty badly. The neighbors called the cops. When I was given my charges it was rape, burglary, kidnapping, and breaking and entering. What should have been a crime of passion turned into something else. They did a rape kit and it was negative. I had keys to the house, and bills in my name.
I had a public defender because she had all my money. So me being a poor Latino, afraid of the racist justice system, I took a deal of 2 years for sexual battery plus ten years registering as a sex offender. I was evaluated by a professional and was determined that I didn't have a sex problem. Therefore I did not have to take the sex program that a sex offender must take. I've been to prison 4 times after that for possession with intent to deliver and all four times I was evaluated to see if I needed the sex program and every time it's been determined that I do NOT have a sex problem. My problems are with drugs. So my question is, if I do not have a sex problem, why is the state of Pennsylvania still registering me as a sex offender and wants to do it for life?
I want to change my life around but it's a heavy load to have as an older man. If anyone knows how I can get relief, please help me if you can.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer underscores our point that labels from the criminal injustice system shouldn't be trusted. Ey also raises an interesting question related to the topic of crimes against the people. Ey writes "I've been a drug dealer all my life because I didn't see it as a crime, I saw it as an illegal business." Drug dealing is harmful to those who do and buy drugs, and their families and community, and so we put it in the category of crimes that are against the people. This is different from, say, robbing a bank, or tax fraud.
It sounds like this comrade now sees the problem with dealing drugs, and wants to turn things around. This is a good example of someone who has great potential to reform and become a productive member of the revolutionary movement. Having a S.O. label is not a barrier to that, though we would struggle with this comrade over whether they feels justified in beating up eir ex-wife. Drug dealing is a business and a means to get by for many who are deprived of better options. Some think it is cool, others find it degrading. If someone has stopped and understands why it's wrong. We care most what ey does with eir life going forward.
I just got done reading ULK 61 and I got to say it opened my eyes to a lot of stuff that I did as a gang member of Aryan Brotherhood in Texas to sex offenders coming into the system. When they came in, me and several other dudes would beat them up to "break them" and then would sell them to the butty bandits due to their crime of being labeled a sex offender.
The system would not attempt to protect them either, due to the label they had on them as a sex offender. So we had free reign to punish them as we seen fit. But nowadays I look back on the stuff that I did and can see the big errors of my ways.
I ran into a dude down in the state hospital that was just about dead of AIDS that he got due to the actions of me and some other dudes breaking him. I was going for breaking my hand in a fight and saw the death wagon pull up and unload two AIDS patients, and one dude seen me and called out my name and asked me if I was still breaking in sex offenders and if so to look at him and see what it causes.
I was like "Dude I do not know you or want to know you either." He told me where I beat him up and sold him, and it blew my mind. I had a lot of hate towards sex offenders when I came into this place and it has mellowed out over the last 34 years that I have been in prison. My baby sister was assaulted by her friend's father, so the issue of sex offenders is personal to me.
When I started in the County Jail beating up sex offenders for something to do, the Sheriff would tell the jailers to put anyone that came into the jail on my tan and tell me in front of the dude what he was in the jail for. I look back on it now and I am coming to the realization that they were using me to punish the dudes that were charged with sexual assault.
One dude, I broke his jaw in two places due to his granddaughter saying he touched her in a private spot. Come to find out it was a lie because she was mad at him for grounding her for the weekend.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not attempting to brag about it, just am showing the length of time and intensity that I have been blinded by the system to do their work, and now I'm starting to understand the system. What made me wake up is one of my brothers got charged with sexual assault/harassment for grabbing his croch and telling a chick to suck is dic- as he left school. Since he made a crude gesture towards her she said she felt violated. He was on a ten-year probation so he got violated for the gesture and came to prison for it. And yes he has to register as a level 1 tier offender due to him being mad about getting kicked out of school for a 3-day period.
Each case is different so you got to look at all of the facts. If you go blindly as I did for years upon years you are no better than the ones you are jumping on, due to the fact that you are siding with the oppressors and are holding down your own people. Yes I am fully aware that there are some sexual offenses that are true crimes and they need all that they get and ten fold more heaped on top of it if they are truly guilty of the crime of sexual assault on a woman or child.
But before you lace up the steeltoe boots and put your pistols on gloves to beat up a sex offender, make sure it's a true crime and one that deserve the punishment that you are fixin to hand out. If not you're just working for the system that you are claiming to work against. You cannot pull both ways at once or you go no place at all.
I used to beat up the dudes, now I try to help them with their cases due to the fact that a lot of them are not able to get help in the law library because they have ask a law clerk to help get a case cite and his first question is "what you charged with?" And he will go to the law books and look up your case, and if you do not pass his smell test he will not help you, or he will tell you the case cite you're asking about is not in the law library, or throw your request slip away and say he never got it at all.
Look at it like this, what if you're with a girl and you're going at it and she says "stop"? If you move forward one more time you have just committed sexual assault.
So before you say it will not happen to you, you got to look at it with your eyes open and see the whole picture and not just what the state wants to show you. So think about all the forms that you may have been labeled a sex offender in the past and then you can get over the stink of the name and start to see the person and not the label that the state has put on a person. Most I can work around because I was a dirty dog in the world and could have been charged a few times too. But the main issue is we need to stop letting the state do our thinking for us and take back our minds from the system. You can handcuff my body but I refuse to let you handcuff my mind any longer.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer has learned through practice pretty much everything we've been saying about sex crimes. This is an impressive transformation, and we hope ey has also transformed eir thinking about oppressed nations over many years behind bars.
It's true that a lot of people have committed sex crimes but not been caught. Men are taught to be "dirty dogs" as this writer says. That's why the revolutionary movement will need to do a lot of work reforming thinking and rehabilitating. Not just those with sex charges, but everyone raised in this messed up system. As we discuss in the "Punishment vs. Rehabilitation" article, we can do some of this rehabilitating now, but we will focus our energy and time on those who recognize their mistakes and crimes and want to make a change and committ to serving the people.
May 2018 — I read ULK 61 and it is a pretty interesting newsletter on a topic that I have never put much thought into. I have to say I do not agree with the portion about "un-muddling the relationships between comrades (i.e. no dating within the org)" in the Sex-Offenders vs. Anti-People Sex Crimes article. I believe this practice would serve no real interest in the organization. I believe it is a form of dis-unity. To make a method of such effective the org would have to segregate the two (men and women). The reason being men and women form relationships naturally. I believe we need to congregate with our women for relationships, build unity, and if unity is a strong point of this organization a rule like that shall be established in this organization.
I do understand why MIM would decide to take that approach, but I see it as going against the inevitable. I believe it would also create secrecy in the org if people were dating and that would cause dishonesty. I believe a better approach would be to recognize the relationship, as to say if the comrades are to date they should be married. Not only would this relationship be recognized by the org, it would be recognized by the state/U.$., further decreasing such allegations of sex crimes. And at the same time the organization would be helping to build and create unity between men and women.
Another reason I believe this approach/practice would be more effective in the organization is because people seem to be more serious about marriage, meaning there just won't be any fraternizing within the organization. If there has to be an appointed licensed priest/preacher or someone to wed the two it should be done so. It, the ceremony, should be done in front of the org. Now it becomes if someone interferes with the relationship man or woman they should be punished/dealt with. Now that the marriage is consensual the sex is consensual. We should not deharmonize the harmony between man and woman. We are trying to build a United Front!
MIM(Prisons) responds: We need to be clear that marriage does not ensure consensual sex. We can't create a utopia outside of the patriarchal culture right now, and so we know that our relationships (including marriages) will still be strongly influenced by that culture. And under the patriarchy sexual relations are inherently unequal regardless of marital status or level of political activism of the people involved.
This writer is correct that people do have a tendency to become romantically involved with people with whom they spend a lot of time. And having a lot of political unity can encourage this romance. We don't share the view that this is naturally just between men and wimmin. It also happens between men and men and between wimmin and wimmin. So separating the people would only stop some romance. There may be other arguments for separating men and wimmin while we battle the patriarchy, but we shouldn't expect this to end romance or sexual assault. The situation in men's prisons across the United $tates is a clear demonstration of this point.
Our main disagreement with this writer is with the idea that we should use romance to build unity. On the factual front, even with the formality of marriage, most relationships don't stay together. This is just a fact of life under the imperialist patriarchy right now. This is the reality we live in. And we know that when relationships end there is a lot of irrational anger (and often rational anger too) that comes with it. So if we're trying to build unity, encouraging romantic relationships is likely to backfire in the majority of cases where the relationship doesn't last. Perhaps we can do better than the average couple with the support of the political organization, but we're still going to have a lot of relationships end. We just don't have the power or reach right now to reverse this fact of patriarchal culture.
In the ULK 61 article this writer responds to we wrote:
"How we handle this process now in our cell structure will be different if a cell has 2 members versus 2,000 members. The process will need to be adapted for different stages of the struggle as well, such as when we have dual power, and then again when the Joint Dictatorship of the Proletariat of the Oppressed Nations has power. And on and on, adapting our methods into a stateless communism.
"Even with policies in place, we have limited means of combating chauvinism, assault allegations and other unforeseen organizational problems endemic to the left. Rather than wave off these contradictions, or put them out of sight (or cover them up, like so many First World-based parties and organizations have done), we need to build institutions that protect those who are oppressed by gender violence."
This is something we need to continue discussing, trying various approaches, and working on the best approaches to ensure the longevity of the anti-imperialist movement.