The Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL) was an anti-capitalist group consisting of both anarchists and communists that was active between 1971-1973 in the fascist state of Spain under Franco. The group was unique in that, unlike most revolutionary organizations, it was not centralized. MIL did not believe that a centralized group could be revolutionary. They insisted that a centralized group was synonymous with a party and that a party could not achieve social revolution because a party, by necessity, seeks to gain state power and then strengthen its position. The strengthening of state power – any state power – weakens the revolution.
MIL Line and History
MIL was internationalist in scope and honored the memory and history of various class struggles around the globe. Including, but not limited to: the Iberian class struggle, the Revolution of 333 Days in Hungary, the November Revolution in Germany, and the Bavarian Council Republic. They also had ties to anti-capitalist organizations outside of Spain, especially in France. In addition to it’s internationalist practices, they also collaborated extensively with other revolutionary organizations in Spain (most notably the GAC and OLLA).
The main element of MIL’s revolutionary action was the expropriation of funds from the capitalists through armed agitation. They would spread the expropriated money around the anti-capitalist movement to help further other clandestine operations as well as support worker’s struggles, families of prisoners, and victims of the police. A good chunk of these expropriated funds were invested in the library that MIL helped create called the Ediciones Mayo del 37. The purpose of this library was to publish and distribute revolutionary texts that could help raise the political consciousness of the working class.
Another important aspect of MIL was its support of women’s struggles against patriarchy. They claimed that any group that did not support such struggles were not revolutionary, for it was impossible to fight against capitalism and remain blind to the oppression and exploitation of women in capitalist society. Therefore, any organization that did not support women’s struggles were purposely ignoring their plight, and thus, could not be called revolutionary. Furthermore, MIL advocated revolution across all aspects of society: social, cultural, sexual, familial, and political. Revolution is not partial to any part of society; revolution effects society in its entirety. MIL did not consider itself a vanguard of the revolution – in fact, they opposed the very idea of a vanguard. Which is why they engaged in armed agitation rather than armed struggle.
“‘Armed agitation’ is wholly different from the strategy of ‘armed struggle’, in which a specialized group acts as the vanguard of the movement by constituting the nucleus of a future army…serving as the military wing of a clandestine political party…or by carrying out the most spectacular actions and using its position to attempt to influence and direct a mass movement…on the contrary, the groups that carry out armed agitation understand themselves to be simply a part of a bigger movement, increasing that movement’s capacity for communication, self-defense, and self-financing by organizing and funding clandestine printing, attacking the forces of repression, and expropriating money from capitalists…They also seek to generalize their practice rather than centralize it, distributing weapons among the lower classes and encouraging the horizontal proliferation of armed groups.” (1)
The core reason why MIL was opposed to armed struggle and the philosophy of the need for a vanguard was because they believed that nobody but the proletariat could liberate the proletariat. The idea that the proletariat needed an external group to lead or liberate them went against everything that MIL fought for and believed in. The members of MIL did not think of themselves as heroes of the people. They believed that their role in the anti-capitalist struggle was to act in ways that would help the working-class become politicized and then liberate themselves. As mentioned previously, the way that MIL thought best to achieve their purpose was through the expropriation of funds. By the time that MIL dissolved in September 1973, they had expropriated 24 million Pesetas from capitalists.
Ultimately, MIL dissolved itself after it had reached a point where the members could no longer consider their actions as revolutionary. Although MIL opposed specialization they found that they had become an organization that practiced specialization. They had done so inadvertently by continuously engaging in armed agitation without developing a political line that could explain and support their action to the masses. Just as theory – political line – needs to be supported by practice, so too does practice need to be supported by theory. The lack of one diminishes the other.
Initially, a Congress was held by the members of MIL to seek a solution that could save the group. In the end, they decided to dissolve; in part because their actions had failed to inspire the proletariat to engage in open class warfare. They decided that, at that time, the working class was not sufficiently politically conscious and that their main objective should be to politicize the masses through propaganda until the time came when armed agitation was necessary.
Salvador Puig Antich
The most famous member of MIL was, by far, Salvador Puig Antich. Salvador was born on 30 May 1948 in Barcelona. He began rebelling against authority figures in his youth and was once expelled from school for punching a teacher in defense of another student. Although he was involved in the worker’s struggles in his youth, he did not engage in revolutionary actions until he joined MIL during the summer of 1972. He participated in his first bank robbery on October 21st of the same year (acting as the getaway driver), and the action resulted in the expropriation of 990,200 Pesetas from the Laietana Saving Bank. Shortly after that Salvador began to carry a gun and go into banks himself.
He was a committed anti-capitalist who identified as an anarchist. Although he didn’t join MIL until it had been active for a year, he quickly became a prominent figure within the organization. He authored several texts that were circulated among the members of MIL. The purpose of these texts was to formulate discussion about various topics relevant to the organization and the revolution.
On 25 September 1973 Salvador was in a shootout with the police. During the altercation he was shot twice and one officer was killed. After the incident occurred he was taken to the hospital to be treated for his injuries; when he was determined to be in stable condition he was transferred to Modelo prison to await trail. On 9 January 1974 he was given the death penalty.
Although capitalists have attempted to portray Salvador as a degenerate criminal, the truth cannot be denied: he was a true revolutionary. He never denied his actions and always maintained that everything he did, he did in the name of the anti-capitalist struggle. His every action, his every thought, was centered toward the abolition of the state and the state apparatus. He never capitulated. He stayed true to the revolutionary struggle until the bitter end.
On 2 March 1974 Franco’s fascist state executed Salvador Puig Antich via garrot vil [editor: a chair that is used to strangle people to death]. He was 25 years old. Even though MIL did not develop a sufficient political line and dissolved after only two years of revolutionary action, it should by no means be forgotten. Both MIL and Salvador Puig Antich have influenced countless people in Spain to engage in revolutionary struggle. And, importantly, MIL advanced the theory of the Labor Aristocracy in a time when few did. Even today few recognize that in places like the United States of America, the proletarian class has ceased to exist and a new class has risen in its place; a parasitic class that benefits from the exploitation of the working class in the Third World. This parasitic class is the Labor Aristocracy.
MIL on the Labor Aristocracy
The same day that Salvador was executed Oriol Solé wrote the following from Modelo prison:
“In the United States, in Europe, under the rule of the superpowers, the proletariat has disappeared. Society has engendered a new social class that creates surplus, accumulates capital, and at the same time grows bloated on the surplus generated by millions of wage workers in the poor countries. A new class that builds itself a paradise paid for with the blood of the exploited poor of Africa, Asia and Latin America.” (2)
MIL’s line regarding the Labor Aristocracy was spot on, but several of their positions were flawed. For example, MIL viewed a vanguard as synonymous with a party and argued that any party would seize state power and strengthen its position. They held that no party could be revolutionary because the point of revolution is to abolish the state and the state apparatus.
This is an anarchist view and cannot lead to revolution. The anarchist believes that you should abolish the state and its apparatus immediately. While their concern about a new power oppressive power arising is a valid one, the communist recognizes the impracticality of combating strong class enemies without a state power and acknowledges that an intermediary stage between capitalism and communism is necessary – this stage being socialism. The socialist stage gradually diminishes until the state no longer exists. Only then can communism been achieved.
Another flaw is MIL’s view regarding the vanguard. They did not believe one was necessary and actively spoke against the creation of one. However, history has shown us that not only do vanguards work, but they are necessary to carry out a revolution. Three such examples are the centralized vanguards led by Mao, Castro, and Lenin. All of which carried out successful revolutions. Without their vanguards, those revolutions would not have occurred.
Yet, even with obvious flaws in their political theory, the MIL should not be thrown on the ash heap of history. Both MIL and Salvador Puig Antich are famous in Spain for their revolutionary legacy. But they are little known elsewhere. We should remember Salvador for his revolutionary actions, beliefs, and ultimate sacrifice. He lived for the people and he died for the people. Likewise, we should not let the MIL fall through the cracks of history. In the two short years of its existence, its actions shook the foundations of Spain, and surprisingly, it did so without killing. The only death attributed to MIL was that officer killed during the shootout with Salvador. MIL directly contributed to the worker’s struggles and did not seek to control or direct the proletariat for personal gain.
Every anti-capitalist revolutionary should remember Salvador Puig Antich and MIL and celebrate their legacy every March 2nd – the anniversary of Salvador’s death.
Salvador Puig Antich: Collected Writings on Repression and Resistance in Franco’s Spain; by Ricard de Vargas Golarons; translated by Peter Gelderloos; pg.16
MIM(Prisons) adds: The story of MIL becoming specialized when they opposed specialization echoes the lesson of Jo Freeman’s The Tyranny of Structurelessness. This essay is included in our study pack on organizational structure, for those who want to dive deeper into the Maoist line on this topic.
While MIL grasped the economic realities of the imperialist countries at an early stage of history, like many others they failed to answer the question of how to organize for the end of oppression in these conditions. This has been a question that many similar groups in the First World took to similar conclusions, leading to dissolution. MIM attempts to answer these questions by recognizing the fact that armed struggle is not viable against a strong imperialist state, and the need to be a mass-based movement. We cannot expect huge or flashy actions at this stage of the struggle, and we must build the infrastructure and educate the cadre for when conditions change. Time is on our side.
In 2017, MIM(Prisons) published Under Lock & Key #59 (ULK) which focused on the impact drugs have on the prison movement. ULK #59 was particularly significant to our cause, given the fact that drugs play a central role in preventing the lumpen from developing into a revolutionary force inside U.$. prisons. As various comrades attested to in that issue, drugs are poisons that eat away any potential unity of the oppressed, by fostering violence amongst the imprisoned lumpen, and the bourgeoisification of those involved in the trade. Also, discussed in ULK #59 was the scourge of the synthetic cannibinoid K2 and the rise of opioid use in prisons at the time. Since then, another opioid has gained popularity behind prison walls, mostly because of its availability; Suboxone.
In 2020, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation(CDCR) introduced Suboxone to its 33 prisons as part of its Integrated Substance Use Disorder Treatment(ISUDT). Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid addiction, specifically in the detox and withdrawal stages of care. According to the San Quentin News, “ISUDT is touted as the largest in-prison medically assisted treatment program in the nation.”(1) CDCR credits Suboxone with a sharp decline in overdose deaths in its prisons since its introduction. But is there more than meets the eye to this apparent miracle drug?
What is Suboxone?
Suboxone is a combination medication containing buprenorphine and naloxone.(2) Suboxone is derived from opium, and was supposedly intended to be a less addictive alternative to methodone, morphine, and oxycodone.(3) Though viewed as a safe alternative to other drugs, Suboxone can still be deadly when taken intravenously or in combination with other drugs and alcohol. Other side effects are:
* cardiac arrhythmia* irregular blood pressure* respiratory issues* liver and kidney problems* constipation* urinary retention* sweating* short term memory issues* difficulty thinking clearly and focusing* impaired coordination* headache* nausea and vomiting* sedation (4)
Where Did Suboxone Come From?
Suboxone was developed in the 1970s by Reckitt Benckiser, a Briti$h company at the behest of the Amerikan government. At the time, the United $tates was searching for a “less addictive” alternative for patients with opioid use disorder. After Suboxone was created, Reckitt Benckiser shipped the drug to the United $tates narcotic farm in Lexington, Kentucky to be tested on detoxified addicts. The farm was also a prison and treatment facility as well as the site of the U.$. government’s Addiction Research Center.
It was at the Addiction Research Center that the government discovered just how addictive Suboxone could be, yet it was still marketed as a useful tool to combat addiction. Originally the doctors prescribing the drug had to hold special licenses and undergo special training. However, the government loosened its restrictions in response to the number of opioid associated deaths. Since then, Suboxone has raked in billions of dollars for pharmaceutical companies and millions more for the addiction treatment sector that sprang up in its wake.(5) Yet, there have been 100,000 overdose deaths attributed to opioids in the last 12 months.(6) Those same doctors trained by the government have also been found to be some of the most unscrupulous predators around.(7) As such, it was perplexing to many that the CDCR would provide such a highly addictive drug with such potential for abuse at a time when most prison addicts had already detoxed and gone through withdrawals, thanks to the statewide prison lockdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Drugs are Chemical Weapons
The use of drugs as part of a larger strategy of unconventional warfare dates back to the 16th century when Europeans created the drug trade to finance the expansion of their empires and the rise of industrial capitalism.(8) One of the most infamous examples of this was the Briti$h East India Company’s use of opium to subdue China and bring it into its sphere of influence by creating a nation of addicts. While the Portuguese and Dutch were the first to popularize opium smoking in China, it was the Briti$h who took full advantage of this. When the Chinese realized what was happening, they attempted to ban all foreign ships from entry and close their ports. The Briti$h claimed the Chinese were blocking their access to Chinese markets, and used this as a pretext to launch the first of two opium wars. By 1900, 27% of all adult males in China were addicted to smoking opium and China was forced to cede Hong Kong to the Briti$h.(9) This chapter in Chinese history marked the beginning of what Mao Zedong called China’s dark night of slavery to the west.
It was around this same time that alcohol was used by Amerikkkans to facilitate the genocide of First Nations people and the theft of their land. This period also marks the first recorded use of biological weapons, when the U.$. Army used smallpox infected blankets to decimate natives and clear the land for white settlers. Together, these acts of savagery resulted in the extermination of 98% of people indigenous to what is today the United $tates and the worst genocide in humyn hystory.(10) Events similar to these played out in Africa, Asia, and the Americas.(11)
During the 20th century, the Briti$h and Amerikkkan imperialists developed more sophisticated means with which to subdue the oppressed nations. Project MK-Ultra is one such example. Project MK-Ultra was initiated by the CIA in the 1950s along with the Briti$h MI6, their sometimes collaborators. This top secret project involved using drugs and the media to attack and discredit Amerika’s political enemies.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), or just simply “acid” for short, became the drug of choice for the CIA at this time. LSD was created by Albert Hoffman, a Nazi collaborator working for the Swiss IG Farben. Starting in the 1950s, the CIA began producing their own acid in “tonnage quantities” after asking pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to synthesize Hoffman’s formula. This was part of the CIA’s larger plan to dose the water supply of the Soviet Union. The CIA knew for themselves the effects of LSD as they tested the drugs on prisoners at the same facility in Lexington, Kentucky that Suboxone was tested at twenty years later! Here, prisoners were kept tripping for 77 days straight as part of Project Artichoke which was one of many programs under the umbrella of Project MK-Ultra.(12)
The connection between the development of Suboxone, the CIA and Acid’s early days are alarming given the fact that Suboxone was introduced to California prisons at a time of heightened political consciousness amongst prisoners, an economic recession, a rise in white nationalism, Black Lives Matter protests, a statewide no visiting lockdown, and the ten-year anniversary of prison hunger strikes that rocked CDCR and produced ripple effects across Amerikkka’s gulags. Thus, it was certainly in the interests of the imperialists to suppress the germs of any potential organizing amongst the oppressed lumpen.
And although the CIA’s plans with respect to the Soviet Union never came to fruition, they did use LSD to attack the political enemies of the Amerikan bourgeoisie. Outspoken college professors critical of the U.$., political activists, communists, government whistle-blowers and their families all fell victim to LSD and were publicly discredited.(13)
As the anti-imperialist movement gained traction both outside and inside of U.$. borders, the use of LSD and other chemical weapons was expanded. Throughout the 1970s heroin became part and parcel to the fight against New Afrikan, [email protected], and First Nations national liberation movements. Asian-produced opium also became critical to U.$. imperialism’s war against Vietnam. Drug money was used to help facilitate the creation of Taiwan as a U.$. ally against Maoist China prior to these events.(14) Methadone too was linked to the opioid problem in New York City in the 1970s. Methadone as “maintenance treatment” for heroin addicts was funded by the Rockefeller Program.(15) The Rockefellers have also been implicated in Nazi atrocities, the red scare media campaigns, and CIA operations.
The 1980s brought us the Iran-Contra scandal responsible for the introduction of crack-cocaine into the ghettos and barrios of the United $tates. Again, the CIA was found to be at the heart of these dirty wars which involved the use of Iranian money to buy Amerikan guns. Money from the Iranians was then use to buy cocaine from Colombia for sale in the United $tates. Amerikan drug money was then re-circulated to fund counter-revolutionaries in Nicaragua fighting the leftist Sandinistas.(17)
More recently, Operation Fast and Furious made international headlines when the CIA was exposed for selling firearms to Mexican cartels as a means of keeping the Mexican government destabilized and the Mexican people from fighting their oppressors. The last thing the U.$. wants is for a neo-colonial country on their doorstep to turn independent and determine their own destinies.
The Problem as We Understand It
If the imperialists really wanted to they could shut down the drug trade, but that runs counter to their interests. Addiction defines capitalist society. Addiction lies at the center of supply and demand economics and is what drives the anarchy of production. From cell phones, to soap operas, to opioids and methamphetamines, everyone living in a capitalist society is addicted to something. Addiction in capitalist society is encouraged as a means to realizing profit; but also as a way to keep people in general, and the masses in particular, distracted and unable to rise up against oppression. Nowhere is this seen better than in the recent hystory of the oppressed nations.
In a critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx explained how religion had hystorically been urged to drug people much in the same ways the bourgeois uses actual drugs today:
“Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”(18)
Marx was writing at a time of the industrial revolution when the “miracle” of capitalism was creating advancements in humyn hystory never before seen. However, it was also creating grinding oppression and poverty previously unknown. Capitalism also promoted ideas of individualism, self-centeredness, greed, and exceptionalism, some of the worst qualities in humyn behavior, and expanding them to include entire populations, most pointedly in the labor aristocracy. All this combined led to lives full of misery and desperation for the masses. Lives in which the only solace was that of an afterlife. And while religion continues to act as a smokescreen in the oppression of the masses, the use of drugs has proved indispensable.
Today the root causes of oppression can be better traced to nation, class, and gender contradictions which have completely warped the way people interact on both a macro and micro level. The root causes of addiction are much the same.
In regards to religious suffering, Marx knew better than to simply call for the abolition of religion. Instead, he realized that it was the conditions that led to religious suffering themselves that needed to be abolished. Otherwise, some other new feel good belief would come to fill the void left by religion, and the oppressive system itself would remain in its place:
“The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their conditions is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusion. The criticism of religion is therefore in embryo the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”(19)
In other words, religion sanctified capitalism and helped make it tolerable for the oppressed. Drugs play a similar role in today’s culture. If one is high all the time than ey does not think about the many years ey have to spend in prison. One does not have to deal with the fact that ey made a decision that impacted countless lives because of eir parasitic behavior. The use of drugs allows one to cope with the impact nation, class, and gender contradictions have had on em through intergenerational trauma, all the while keeping them unable to understand how the three strands of oppression manifest through that trauma.
We encourage people to get drug free and stay that way, but this requires more than the status quo in addiction treatment, which only teaches how to better cope with the trauma of imperialism. We encourage comrades to go further and destroy the conditions that require illusions. We encourage comrades to take up revolution.
MIM(Prisons) adds: We will be doing a follow-up on this article with the results of our second survey on drugs in prisons found in ULK 75. We are still collecting and aggregating your responses. It’s not too late if you have not responded yet.
We know the state is opposed to our efforts to expose and combat the plague of drug addiction among imprisoned lumpen. Branchville Correctional Facility in Indiana censored ULK 75 citing:
“denied based on the article about Suboxone, and the common drug slang terms and sale information used in one of the articles. The items in the article violate IDOC/BCF policies.”
Notes:  San Quentin News, September 2021, Pg. 8.  5 Myths About Using Suboxone, Peter Greenspan MD, October 7, 2021  Extended Suboxone Treatment Substantially Improves Outcomes for Opioid Addicted Youth, November 4, 2008  Suboxone vs Methodone: Positives and Negatives, Avatar, May 21, 2021  Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side, New York Times, 2013  Amanpour & Co, PBS, December 7, 2021  Addiction Treatment with a Dark Side, New York Times, 2013  Drugs As Weapons Against Us: The CIA’s Murderous Targeting of SDS, Panthers, Hendrix, Lennon, Cobain, Tupac, and Other Activists, John L. Potash, Trine Day LLC, 2015, Pg 7-9  Ibid, pg 10  J. Sakai, 1989, Settlers: Mythology of the White Proletariat, 3rd Edition, Morningstar Press, p. 7. Sakai cites 200-300,000 native people remaining by 1900, of an estimated 10 million people before colonization.  Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Pg 10  Ibid, Pg 29-30  Ibid, Pg 31-36  Ibid, Pg 45-51  Under Lock & Key, Issue 59, Pg 5, 2017  Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Pg 13-14  Ibid, Pg 279-285  Karl Marx, 1843, Introduction to “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.”  A Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx
The San Francisco BayView newspaper has outed their former editor Keith Washington as an informant and a manipulator. Previous editor Mary Ratcliff has reasonably posed that this could have been an FBI operation to undermine the BayView. Yet, Washington’s brief stint as editor after being released from prison, followed by relapse into addiction and violence also seems consistent with someone who has jumped from group to group driven by eir own self-interest.
Keith Washington, aka Comrade Malik, was a politically eclectic, self-promoting prison activist. It is for those reasons that his passions often did not overlap with the program of MIM(Prisons), despite being in close contact for many years. During eir time in prison, Washington was a regular reader of ULK, MIM Theory and other literature we distribute on the Black Panthers and Maoism in general. For years ey could not receive ULK because of TDCJ censors, so we had to mail em select articles separately.
We are not saying we did not work with Washington, for we published dozens of articles and reports by em while ey was in prison. Most were reports on conditions in Texas prisons. For a quick minute, ey was even part of the the USW Council, but was quickly removed for openly disagreeing with MIM(Prisons)’s 6 main points. The reason they were even considered for the position was that it was hard to pin down eir political line.
Washington seemed to work tirelessly to expose the corruption and abuses within the Texas Department of Criminal Justice(TDCJ) – though ey often did so from an angle that seemed to believe in the system. This approach conflicted with eir initial focoist tendencies when we first encountered Washington and ey seemed to believe that we were too hesitant to use arms. Later eir politics hinted at patriotism. For much of the time ey worked with USW ey also was working with the New Afrikan Black Panther Party - Prison Chapter, ideologically led by Tom Big Warrior and Kevin “Rashid” Johnson at the time. At one point Washington was the Deputy Chairman of NABPP, but ey never was consistent at upholding NABPP line. Ey went back and forth on the labor aristocracy question in an opportunist way that seemed to be attempting to please MIM(Prisons) with one message and Rashid with another. But communication with Rashid was much more difficult than with us, so ey seemed to lean towards us at times; another example of opportunism over political line. This also showed there was no effective democratic centralism within the NABPP. This is why we say you cannot be part of a democratic centralist formation while encapsulated by the state, except perhaps in an organization within a prison where you can freely interact with other members of the formation.
While Washington pledged eir allegiance to MIM and the NABPP, overtime ey branched out into other forums and organizations, always promoting the persona of “Comrade Malik”. Despite all the articles we did print by em, there were many more we did not, or we had to cut down significantly due to the self-promotion.
We must learn to recognize political opportunism. We should not be surprised that someone with such a history would also opportunistically lie to the pigs to earn favors.
At best, political eclecticism is a sign of immaturity; an immaturity that cannot be trusted with leadership. This is not to say we do not work with younger people or people who are still learning, far from it. We just must recognize their role. But when someone has spent a decade or more studying revolutionary literature, and they are still putting forth eclecticism, or just straight reformism, then it is clear they are not a revolutionary, and perhaps they can play a role better somewhere else. If we cannot convince such people to follow our leadership, then we must work harder to prove our effectiveness.
Eclecticism is always connected to forms of subjectivity and idealism. They are thinking about what feels good to them or feels right to them. Combine this with the self-promotion of “Comrade Malik” and you have a risky individual who will probably bounce from one group to another, one line to another to serve eir own self-interests, leaving havoc in eir wake. This is no longer immaturity, but a conscious self-interest.
In our introductory study course we go over the question of how to implement an effective security program for your organization. This example of Washington is a good demonstration of how political line was applied by MIM(Prisons) to keep a potential wrecker from playing a more damaging role. We would say the work Washington contributed to the pages of ULK served the people, as it was done under our leadership. We did not allow Washington’s self-promotion or right opportunism to take away from the mission of ULK or United Struggle from Within. For organizations that look for the charismatic individuals to promote, this is a danger.
We must also recognize that addiction to chemical substances, violence and criminal behavior plagues the lumpen. The transformation of the lumpen into proletarian revolutionaries is an arduous and life-long task. Even those who have seemed to overcome for years while imprisoned, will often relapse with the dramatic changes and pressures of being released to the free world. That is why we have developed a Revolutionary 12 Step Program that takes the proven techniques of the steps, as applied by the lumpen masses in California, and reframes them to include the transformation to the proletarian mentality. It is the constant struggle to submit our self-interest to the interests of the Third World proletariat that can solidify our own transformation from addiction to action that changes society. Imperialism has addicted us all, especially in this consumerist society in the United $tates.
Our leaders must be forged in a disciplined revolutionary organization built on democratic centralism. They must exhibit self-sacrifice and embody the interests of the Third World proletariat. We cannot follow the bourgeois individualist approach to leadership that decides elections and celebrity in this country. We must put politics in command when developing relationships with new comrades and bringing them into our circles. Some people may never exceed a supporter role, and that is okay, we welcome their support. Being around longer, having connections or resources, or being energetic is not enough to qualify comrades to lead. A consistent practice that upholds the correct line is how we must judge who is to be trusted with responsibilities and leadership roles.
The purpose of this article is to explain that Christianity is not intrinsically counter-revolutionary, and to give my comrades some advice on how to teach revolutionary ideas to Christian prisoners.
While I am an atheist, I recognize that many Christians can deservedly be called Comrades. Indeed, Jesus emself often spoke and acted in favor of the proletariat. However, there is a dangerous strain of imperialist pseudo-Christianity prevalent in the United $tates. The leaders of this cult, who have historically and predominately been rich white men, cherry-pick passages from the Bible in an attempt to justify their selfish agenda. This tactic of distorting Christianity has been used by oppressors from the conquistadors to Amerikan politicians and televangelists such as Pat Buchanan. It's been used to justify the conquests of indigenous people, manifest destiny, slavery, retributive punishment, and the persecution of [email protected], wimmin, New Afrikans, queers, transgendered people, and poor people.
Unfortunately, this cultural brainwashing has infected the minds of many prisoners. To reverse this trend, we must show potential Christian comrades the following two points:
1. That certain lessons they learned do not actually represent the teachings of Jesus Christ. Rather, they reflect the imperialist demagogues who have opportunistically co-opted the Bible to suit their own capitalist and white-supremacist agenda.
2. That the real teachings of the New Testament are not only compatible with, but actually suggest, a revolutionary outlook.
For example, when you hear a Christian prisoner trying to rationalize homophobia, point out that many reputable Bible scholars claim that the New Testament does not actually condemn homosexuality. For example, in Introducing Christian Ethics by Roger Crook, we find an alternative interpretation of Paul's verses in Romans 1:16-32. The point of Paul's passage is not that homosexuality is wrong, but that God does not send people to heaven according to their adherence to traditional morality. Neither homosexuals nor heterosexuals get to heaven because of their sexual preference, but only by accepting God's gift of grace.
However, a more detailed approach eventually becomes necessary. For this, we should introduce our potential Christian comrades to Liberation Theology. The priests and theologians of this movement have actively struggled against U.$.-backed, capitalist puppet governments in the Third World in order to establish socialist governments managed by and for the people. In the book Liberation Theology, Robert Brown identifies four key themes of the movement:
Commitment — taking a stand that unites thought and action
Hope — the anticipation of a better future
God's presence — the realization that we are not alone but that God is in our midst, in another persona and supremely in Jesus Christ
A preferential option for the poor — the guideline for the kind of changes which will bring greater justice into the world (pp. 25-33)
In addition, many of these theologians have synthesized their theology with insights from indigenous spirituality, Marxism, feminism, womanism, New Afrikan studies, queer studies. The books A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone and Feminist Theological Ethics, edited by Lois Daly, are prime examples.
Remember, Comrades. "Christianity does not have to be reactionary!" Jesus was basically a socialist who preached love and tolerance for all people. Ey surrounded emself with poor people and outcasts, not bourgeois demagogues.
!Viva la Revolucion!
MIM(Prisons) responds: There have been some revolutionary liberation theology movements throughout history which provide examples of what this comrade describes. These organizations take their dedication to religion as a dedication to serving the oppressed. In Latin America there are examples of Christian groups explicitely working under the liberation theology banner to support revolutionary struggles. We have also written about the potential of Islam as a liberation theology, and Malcolm X provides a solid example of promoting revolutionary politics in this way. We have much respect for and unity with these movements. And we definitely agree that pointing religious folks in this direction is a good idea.
Quoting bible passages to religious folks to refute their reactionary beliefs or actions may indeed help reach some people. But we also shouldn't pretend that religion is all about revolution or serving the oppressed. Organized religion has a long reactionary history of its own oppression. And the bible has plenty of fuel for reactionary ideas and actions. While pointing religious folks to a more progressive interpretation, we should be careful not to mislead them into thinking that we endorse their mysticism. The very belief in a higher power discourages people from believing that they can control the development of their own and all of humanity's future.
In the end, we try to approach people where they are at. And so this comrade is offering some good tips for approaching religious folks. We just caution against leaveing the materialism out of the discussion altogether.
I received ULK 48, thank you. From 1998 to right after the towers fell in New York, I received MIM Notes, which were instrumental in my politicalization and capacity to be critical with information. Hopefully re-connecting with MIM will aid me in similar if not greater ways.
As far as the ULK 48, dedicated to the discussion of religious organizations in prison, I would like to add a few observations, critiques and opinions that may aid in better understanding what I consider, the functional limits of prison religious organizations.
I preface the following by stating that like many young, impressionable Black males who entered the Michigan penal system in the mid-1990s, I was heavily recruited by a non-orthodox Islamic sect. It was part religious, part Black nationalist, part civic, radical in the sense that it gave it to the grey and black as well as it took it, but the religious organization was mostly philosophically and ideologically backwards. No clearly defined political lines, no effort toward developing social change theory, and no revolutionary practices or principles cognizable to a revolutionary novice, let alone a seasoned agent for change.
However, the group did introduce me to books, which I fell in love with after spending four years in solitary confinement where there was little else to do besides read to escape the attendant activities characteristic of that environment. In the beginning, narrow nationalism and Islamic related literature is all I read. Far more lasting than any specific set of facts or pieces of knowledge obtained, reading provided me with the understanding of how to acquire knowledge on my own. I learned how to read an essay closely, search for new sources, find data to prove or disprove a hypothesis, and detect an author's prejudice, among other skills, that were not promoted during my K-12 educational experience.
Considering the inescapable oppression of long term solitary confinement, it was inevitable that my attention would be turned to ideas and actions I could take to prevent future experiences of isolation, for myself as well as others. Trying to pray or wish my problems away proved extremely ineffective. I abandoned closing my eyes and hoping for a different reality when I opened them, rather quickly. But I do feel indebted to the group for leading me to books - prior to prison I had never read a book from cover to cover, or for more than entertainment.
After reading ULK 48, the first question that comes to mind is, do religious groups in Michigan prisons possess any power - real or latent - to stimulate and direct constructive social change? Or are they, too, victims of the overall U.S. capitalist structure?
While I'm aware that many people would answer these questions in many different ways, I observe that religion plays chiefly a cathartic role for the imprisoned. It provides an opportunity for followers to "let off steam," to seek release for emotions which cannot be expressed to administrators and guards without consequences. Prison religious organizations are social and recreational and a haven for comfort, no matter how illusory or temporary. Within these groups imprisoned people can assume responsibilities and authority not available elsewhere in the prison. For example, s/he can be the head of security, treasurer or public relations director. Only within the religious organization can imprisoned people engage in political intrigue and participate in decisions open to non-imprisoned people.
The potential power of religious organizations in prison is the ability to attract large numbers of imprisoned people. Although their ability to recruit is severely being challenged here in Michigan by the rise of street organizations i.e., gangs, whose numbers have skyrocketed in the last ten years. Among their more flagrant weaknesses is the fact that their potential strengths can all too easily be dissipated by preoccupation with trivial matters (e.g., did Moses part the Red Sea; did Jesus walk on water; what did Muhammad say about facial hair, eating pork, or what activities should be performed with the left hand?), and the desperate struggle for the empty status, bombast, and show of the prison world.
It is not inevitable, and virtually impossible to politicalize and transform members of these groups into social change agents when religious doctrines emphasize the idea of someone other than you/me/us possessing the power to change present reality: the instruments of escape, weapons of protest, the protective fortress behind which adherents seek to withstand the assaults of a hostile environment and within which s/he plans strategies of defiance, is prayer.
It is no wonder then why imprisoned people who have been politicalized tend to reject religious organizations as a multiple symbol of fantasy; and tend to regard prison religious organizations as basically irrelevant to challenging the hard and difficult realities of capitalism, white supremacy, police powers that can reach all the way into one's bedroom or a woman's womb, and so on.
That this is not more widely recognized by members of these groups may be in part because religious organizations are not an effective model of critical thinking. The fact that religious organizations are the most pervasive groups in Michigan prisons, and the fact that they do not play any measurable role dissenting or resisting the frustrating, oppressive, degrading experience of incarceration, are cruelly related.
If religious organizations are a powerful social force, either the facility, Central Office, or the State would severely restrict/eliminate them. The facade of power which these groups now present would be removed. Think about it, most religious meetings in prison go unsupervised.
Members of these groups hold on to the idea that an all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present being will save them at some appointed time and date, while this being had neglected their other needs as human beings. The punishment of "crime" is a political act. It represents the use of force by the State to control the lives of people the State has defined as criminal. No concerted political efforts have been made by these groups to deal with the politics, i.e., the underlying causes of incarceration.
My objective is not to argue that religious belief and political consciousness are incompatible. Speculation on that level is pointless and irrelevant for the purpose of this discussion. However, the simple truth is that the trouble imprisoned people find themselves in, the sham and corruption, the class and race biases of criminal law enforcement, cannot be solved unless imprisoned people feel obligated to learn about systems of power, privilege and oppression, and also feel obligated to do something about them.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This comrade is correct to point out that there are significant limitations to religious organizations, whether behind bars or on the streets. And ultimately only by targeting the underlying systems of oppression will we put an end to criminal injustice and imperialism. However, what this letter does not address is the distinction of some of the more anti-imperialist religious movements like Islam. As we argued in ULK 48 "Just as religion is today an outlet for many radical youth in the Third World, religion has been influenced by revolutionary politics in the context of New Afrika. In the 20th century we see a turn towards Islam by a number of New Afrikans who are searching for identity and liberation from oppression by Amerika." We do not push people towards religion, but at the same time we look to unite with those whose religion is compatible with or promoting national liberation. We have a good historical example of this united front in the Christian liberation theologists in Latin America who were a part of revolutionary national liberation struggles in that part of the world starting in the 1950s.
Uniting with organizations that do not share our political line entirely is part of united front organizing. We focus on the principal contradiction, and unite with others who agree with this goal, while retaining independence to make clear where we disagree politically. In a united front led by communists religious groups can be important allies. But we should always be clear that true equality for all people will not be achieved through belief in a higher power or any other unscientific mysticism.
Mohamedou Ould Slahi has been held in secret detention centers by order of the Amerikan government since 2001, first in Mauritania (the country where ey was born), then in Jordan, and finally in 2002 in Guantánamo Bay where ey is still imprisoned. Slahi voluntarily turned emself in to the Mauritanian police on 29 September 2001; sure that ey would quickly be cleared since ey was innocent of any crimes. Instead ey faced years of torture, through which ey initially maintained eir innocence, until it became clear that ey would never be released and ey could no longer stand the suffering. After that point Slahi began to confess to anything eir captors wanted em to say. Slahi still occasionally told them the truth when they asked directly, but for the most part their stories were not possibly consistent or confirmable since the "confessions" were entirely fabricated. But after ey began to make false confessions and falsely implicate others Slahi was allowed to sleep and eat, and the extreme physical abuse stopped. The details of eir torture will make readers wonder how Slahi held out for so long.
Slahi started writing down eir experiences in 2005 (after ey was finally given paper and pen) and after many years of legal battles eir heavily censored manuscript was finally released by the Amerikan government. This book is an edited version of Slahi's story, complete with the original redactions. The editor, Larry Seims, includes some speculation about what is behind the redactions and documents other declassified information that corroborates what Slahi wrote. In spite of heavy censorship, the released manuscript includes surprising detail about Slahi's experience including years of torture, the clear evidence that ey is innocent, and the Amerikan government's desire for a false confession.
The book is written in English, Slahi's fourth language, one that ey learned in prison in order to better communicate with eir captors and understand what was going on around em. For six and a half years Slahi's was allowed no contact with the outside world and was even hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which has a mandate under the Geneva Convention to visit prisoners of war and others detained in situations like Slahi's to ensure humane treatment. For the first year of incarceration Slahi's family didn't even know where ey was, they found out when one of eir brothers saw an article in a German newspaper. In 2008 Slahi was finally granted the "privilege" of twice-yearly calls with family. In 2010 Slahi's petition of habeas corpus was granted by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, ordering eir release. But the Obama administration filed an appeal and Slahi remains in custody.
Amerikan Imperialist Global Domination
The many people who were arrested and kidnapped from their home countries to be sent to Guantánamo Bay underscore the neo-colonial status of those countries. As Slahi explains "November 28th is Mauritanian Independence Day; it marks the event when the Islamic Republic of Mauritania supposedly received its independence from the French colonists in 1960. The irony is that on this very same day in 2001, the independent and sovereign Republic of Mauritania turned over one of its own citizens on a premise. To its everlasting shame, the Mauritanian government not only broke the constitution, which forbids the extradition of Mauritanian criminals to other countries, but also extradited an innocent citizen and exposed him to the random American Justice."(p. 132)
When the ICRC finally got in to see Slahi, the last detainee they were allowed to visit, they tried to get em to talk about abuse ey experienced. "But I always hid the ill-treatment when the ICRC asked me about it because I was afraid of retaliation. That and the fact that the ICRC has no real pressure on the U.S. government: the ICRC tried, but the U.S. government didn't change its path, even an inch. If they let the Red Cross see a detainee, it meant that the operation against that detainee was over."(p. 348)
This book underscores the power of Amerikan imperialism to do whatever it likes in the world. There is no government or organization able to stand up to this power. This is something that many Amerikans take pride in, but this is the power of a people who seek to dominate the world for economic gain. When the oppressed fight back, that power is deployed to squash the resistance by any means necessary. Of course there is a contradiction inherent in this power: Amerikan imperialist domination breeds resistance from the oppressed around the world. So-called terrorist attacks on Amerikan targets are responses to Amerikan terrorism across the globe.
As Slahi noted when ey was watching the movie Black Hawk Down with a few of eir guards: "The guards went crazy emotionally because they saw many Americans getting shot to death. But they missed that the number of U.S. casualties is negligible compared to the Somalis who were attacked in their own homes. I was just wondering at how narrow-minded human beings can be. When people look at one thing from one perspective, they certainly fail to get the whole picture, and that is the main reason for the majority of misunderstandings that sometimes lead to bloody confrontations."(p. 320)
We would not agree that it is just misunderstandings that lead to these bloody confrontations. Rather it is the blood thirst of imperialist aggression constantly seeking new sources of exploited and stolen wealth that inevitably leads to bloody confrontations.
While Slahi is far from politically radical, eir experience educated em in the reality of injustice and the definition of crime by those in power. Writing about eir arrest and initial imprisonment in Mauritania: "So why was I so scared? Because crime is something relative; it's something the government defines and re-defines whenever it pleases."(p. 92)
War on Islam
The target of Amerikan aggression changes depending on where there is the most resistance to imperialism. Back in the mid 1900s it was focused on the communist countries, this shifted to the "War on Drugs" and attacks on Latin America in the late 1900s, and then to the Arab world in the early 2000s. Slahi is acutely aware of this latest wave of aggression by the Amerikan imperialists targeting Islam and the hypocrisy of this attack:
"...Americans tend to widen the circle of involvement to catch the largest possible number of Muslims. They always speak about the Big Conspiracy against the U.S. I personally had been interrogated about people who just practiced the basics of the religion and sympathized with Islamic movements; I was asked to provide every detail about Islamic movements, no matter how moderate. That's amazing in a country like the U.S., where Christian terrorist organizations such as Nazis and White Supremacists have the freedom to express themselves and recruit people openly and nobody can bother them. But as a Muslim, if you sympathize with the political views of an Islamic organization you're in big trouble. Even attending the same mosque as a suspect is big trouble. I mean this fact is clear for everybody who understands the ABCs of American policy toward so-called Islamic Terrorism."(p. 260-61)
Slahi also documents the denial of religious practice in detention camps:
"But in the secret camps, the war against the Islamic religion was more than obvious. Not only was there no sign to Mecca, but the ritual prayers were also forbidden. Reciting the Koran was forbidden. Possessing the Koran was forbidden. Fasting was forbidden. Practically any Islamic-related ritual was strictly forbidden. I am not talking here about hearsay; I am talking about something I experienced myself. I don't believe that the average American is paying taxes to wage war against Islam, but I do believe that there are people in government who have a big problem with the Islamic religion."(p. 265)
Slahi misses that this chauvinism is not at root a problem Amerikans have with the Islamic religion. Rather it is a problem they have with oppressed people who rise up to oppose Amerikan imperialism. Islam is just one of many targets because it is a religion of the oppressed. The Amerikan government (and its people) had no problem with Islam when al-Qaeda was an ally in the fight against communism. In fact Slahi himself trained with al-Qaeda for six months in Afghanistan, but this was during the time when that group was supported by the Amerikan government and fighting against the Soviet-backed government in that country. This action was legal for Mauritanian citizens, and in fact encouraged by the Amerikan government. Nonetheless this fact became one of the cornerstones of the Amerikan insistence that Slahi was behind the World Trade Center attacks, among other things.
Will Amerikans Oppose Torture?
After years of torture and unjust imprisonment at the hands of the Amerikan government Slahi remains relatively moderate in eir views about the country and its people. Ey sees fundamental good in all people, a view that communists share, but one that has blinded Slahi to the economic interests of the vast majority of Amerikans which leads them to support the torture in Guantanamo even after reports like this one are released.
"What would the dead average American think if he or she could see what his or her government is doing to someone who has done no crimes against anybody? As much as I was ashamed for the Arabic fellows, I knew they definitely didn't represent the average Arab. Arabic people are among the greatest on the planet, sensitive, emotional, loving, generous, sacrificial, religious, charitable, and light-hearted.... If people in the Arab world knew what was happening in this place, the hatred against the U.S. would be heavily watered, and the accusation that the U.S. is helping and working together with dictators in our countries would be cemented."(p. 257)
The reality is that most people in the Arab world do know about Amerikan injustice. In fact, in Mauritania the police told Slahi "America is a country that is based on and living with injustice"(p. 134) when Slahi asked why they were extraditing em when they believed ey had already proven eir innocence. And it is this knowledge that leads to many taking up the fight against Amerikan imperialism. At the same time most Amerikans now know about the torture of detainees at Guantánamo Bay and still public sentiment is far from outraged at these actions. Large portions of the population rally around political figures like Donald Trump when ey calls for more torture.
From all of this we see further evidence for the potential of Islam as a liberation theology for those fighting against Amerikan imperialism. Just as the masses in Latin America were drawn to Catholic liberation theology as a reaction to oppression and injustice in that region, segments of any religion are likely to adapt to popular sentiments. Liberation theology was a valuable ally for the revolutionaries in Latin America.
Regardless of the format this liberation struggle takes, we know that the oppressed people of the world can not wait around for Amerikans to wake up and stop the torture themselves. Now more than a year after Slahi's book was released (which even spent some time on the best seller's list), still nothing has been done about eir situation. The masses must liberate themselves; their captors will never willingly give up power. And the Amerikan people are enjoying the spoils of the captors, so most Amerikans are happily going along with imperialist torture worldwide.
Peace from the Gods! We salute the world with universal greetings of peace. We recognize the need for unity-criticism-unity. We only want to build upon the "actual facts" Wiawimawo built upon concerning Islam and New Afrikans. We have found that concerning so-called revolutionaries scientific approach towards New Afrikans and Islam one must first define, then science out the rest for the sake of peace and the absence of confusion. A New Afrikan is a young, poorly educated, superstitious, disillusioned Black person fed up with the slow legal process, who takes up a militant stance against the lack of equality of opportunity and treatment in the United States according to E. David Cronon, a Marcus Garvey biographer who wrote Black Moses. Islam is and always will be peace. There is no "I" in Arabic, so Islam is As-Slaam, root word slm, which is peace. A deaf dumb and blind would use the so-called translation of submission to the will of Allah as the defining of Islam. These are the Facts! Peace is one of the reasons we salute Under Lock & Key.
Wiawimawo has taken a few fragments of information and stretched them to fit a particular line. In the article when he [sic] uses citation 10 from Knight's book, he leaves out the part that states "in turn some[emphasis ours - Legion] Five Percenters replace 'understand' with York's 'overstand' (itself grafted from Rastafari) in regular conversation..." We feel as if to make a point the comrade can't defend a poorly constructed argument, so a blanket statement is made. That's like us saying the Maoist let the Black Panther Party get massacred and laid it down during the COINTELPRO stings.
In citation 11 about the Gods, Black Muslims and Rastafarians in cahoots to kill suspected dope dealers was a cover-up the NYPD manifested to cover up the fact they had ten unsolved murders on the books along with the assassinations of various so-called Black messiahs. On pages 248-252 of In the Name of Allah Vol. 1 you'll find the full history of the situation. The NYCPD, NYPD and FBI tried to cause yet another "civil war" between the Gods and Black Muslims. The NOI was cleared and NYC Mayor Lindsay put Barry Gottehrer to the task of clearing up the confusion.
Five Percenters are doing what no other LO or nation has the ability to do with regard to citation 13, and have been since before 1970. ["In the later 1970s the Five Percenters recruited whole street gangs into their fold whose members accounted for a significant portion of the arrests in Brooklyn during those years.(13)" - Wiawimawo] We are nation builders. It's what we do.
This line about civic duty and spirituality is another stretch. The Five Percenters main brain function is pulling people out of the mud with proper knowledge of self. Spirit as defined in Funk and Wagnalls dictionary is the part of the human being characterized by intelligence, personality, self-consciousness, and will; the mind. We live on actual facts every day in every way. No spook in the sky is ever going to feed us or you. It's in the lessons.
We must point out that Allah (the Father) was never close friends with Malcolm X. The Father stayed away from the beef between X and Elijah. The people come first. The strength of a nation before money is the youth. Malcolm X let the lime light get himself killed. We respect the intent, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People also seem to forget Malcolm X was a UNIA Mason before Elijah, before his brother told him about Islam. So his ability to do for self was in his political make up anyways.
The difference between allegory and myth are exponential. A myth is used to explain a natural phenomenon, while allegory is used to represent characters and events as ideals and princples. To discount the Yacub theory is to discredit any and all efforts made by Maoists, whom use dialectical materialism to present solutions to problems faced by the masses. We are tasked with learning the science of everything in life. So we tend to look listen and observe through an independent lense. If one is a scientist then you are a religionist. If you are not then you really aren't living the life of a scientist (i.e. devoted).
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: Thanks to Legion for eir feedback and corrections. Legion pointed me in the right direction for research on this topic, but is much more knowledgeable on the history than i. There is an interesting problem that we face as we attempt to lay out the history of most LOs when there is little documentation, and primary sources are mostly stories and the (subjective) memories of certain individuals. Much of the research in Knight's book is admittedly unverified and presented in a very loose form.
My citation 10, on Rastafari's influence on the NGE was flimsy on it's own. But i do believe the influence is greater than the use of one word, for example in terms of diet and dress (of some Five Percenters, not all). And the bigger point i was making still stands, that the NGE is a uniquely New Afrikan organization that reflects the history of the nation via movements including Rastafari, UNIA, MSTA, NOI, hip hop and lumpen street organizations.
We agree with Legion that the allegory of the white man as the devil is useful. However, it seems clear that it was taught as historical scripture by many. As a white researcher of the history of these organizations, perhaps Michael Knight gave it special attention. But it is at least one of the major issues that caused Malcolm X and Wallace Muhammad to split with Elijah Muhammad. So its unscientific aspect has made it divisive among New Afrikans at times, and the story of Yacub has never been the mythology of the majority of the nation.
As discussed in the original article, idealist philosophies usually differentiate between the material world and the spiritual one. Such philosophies are "dualist." Communists are monists, as we do not believe there is a mind or spirit that is separate from our material bodies. By working to transform society we address both the material and the so-called spiritual needs of the people. Above Legion seems to see the NGE similarly. Even the NOI has in its founding ideology a "do-for-self in this world" line, yet the NOI philosophy is clearly religious. As i argue in the original article, the NGE represents a move towards materialism (and therefore monism), but certainly in its founding ideas there are many parallels to the NOI. Finally, we do not agree that a scientist is a practitioner of religion; as we define in my original article, religion "is idealism with organized rituals." Legion's insistence on merging science and religion seem to demonstrate that there is still some level of disagreement between us there.
In the 20th century New Afrikans reached out to Islam in an attempt to find identity outside of Amerikkkan culture. In Islam they found history, identity, independence, integrity and a connection to the larger world, in particular the Third World. Today, revolutionary Islam is reaching out to New Afrikans and the First World lumpen. Just this month, an Al Shabaab-affiliated video was released featuring the stories of young men recruited from Minnesota who were martyred in Somalia fighting the African Union troops who serve their U.$. imperialist master. The first five minutes of this video is a pointed critique of the history of national oppression in the United $tates and the idea of race. It features footage from Rodney King to Michael Brown and uprisings in Ferguson, Missouri, prisoners from Georgia to California, and sound bites from Malcolm X to Anwar al Awlaki. It is an agitational piece that clearly promotes the national interests of New Afrika.(1)
In the video, Islam is presented as the answer to the racism and social hierarchy based on pseudo-biology that is inherent to Amerika. The conception of Islam as a liberation theology is not difficult to make given the prominence of the concepts of jihad, or Holy Struggle, and shahada, translated as witness or martyrdom. The Holy Struggle is to be one with Allah and to represent righteousness, truth and goodness as determined by Allah's divine wisdom. While jihad and shahada do not require armed struggle, martyrdom in battle for Allah's will is one way that Muslims can reach shahada according to the Qur'an.(2)
Throughout the stories of the Minnesota martyrs there is a theme of not fearing death, but rather running towards it. In regions where revolutionary struggle and political dissent of any form has been brutally crushed, Islam might fulfill a need in providing this basis for courage in the face of imminent death. There are many examples in history of the oppressed finding courage in a belief in their own immortality, but they generally did not end well for the oppressed. Ultimately, the myth of immortality may be good at recruiting cannon fodder, but it leads to recklessness and a lack of a scientific approach that is required for victory. We see the brazen unscientific approach to battle playing out in the Islamic State, which is now losing ground after a couple years of impressing the world with their successes.
"You can kill the revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution." - Fred Hampton, National Deputy Chairpersyn of the Black Panther Party
Like the Muslim in jihad, the communist struggles to discover truth and goodness. But the communist serves the people, not Allah, so that goodness is relative to the real lives of humyn beings, and truth is that which changes the conditions of that reality. Whether we can serve the people better in life or in giving our lives will depend on the situation. But as most Muslims will agree, serving truth and goodness does not come in seeking death. Rather than finding our strength and resolve in myths, we look to this world to find strategic confidence in our victory. The vast majority of the world's people suffer under the current imperialist system. Yet that system depends on those same people to derive the profits that keep the system moving. So there is an inherent contradiction that will continue to play out in the form of class and national conflict until the exploitative system is destroyed and replaced with one that serves humynkind.
Islam is Growing
If there were to be a religion of the Third World proletariat, it would be Islam, just by the numbers. As of 2010, only 3% of Muslims lived in the imperialist countries, yet Muslims made up 23.4% of the world's population.(3) The Muslim-majority countries are dominated by young people, with over 60% of their citizens being under 30 years old today.(3) Thus the Muslim population is projected to increase, as Muslims will have birth rates twice the rest of the population for the next couple decades. The contradiction between youth and adults has always been an important one, with youthful populations being more open to change.
Of course, Islam has almost no influence in Central and South America and significant chunks of Africa and Asia. So Islam does not represent the Third World as a whole. But First Worldist chauvinism is just as likely to come in anti-Muslim rhetoric as it is to come in the form of racism these days. And it is interesting how its role among the internal semi-colonies of the United $tates has also emerged from the oppressor nation vs. oppressed contradiction, as we will examine in more depth.
It is of note that France, Belgium and Russia are the only imperialist countries that are predicted to have more than 10% of their populations Muslim by 2030.(3) In November 2015, France and Belgium were put under the equivalent of Martial Law in a search for radical Muslims in their countries. Paris remains under this oppressive police state months later. Following the attacks in Paris, there have been attacks in Russia and the downing of a Russian plane. Anti-Muslim nationalism is also rife in Russia, which has recently joined the war against the Islamic State in full force.
In the United $tates, Muslims make up a mere 0.9% of the population.(4) For this reason there is great ignorance of Islam, but Amerikkkans still share the anti-Muslim sentiments of other imperialist countries. 2015 saw the greatest number of attacks on Mosques in the United $tates on record, with a surge following the attacks by Muslims in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California.(5)
The imperialists have succeeded in creating a new race, that is Muslims, for the oppressor nation peoples to focus their hate on. Without this racism, there could be no bombings or occupations in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Yet the white nationalists, in their own twisted logic, can claim Islamophobia is not racism because its based in religion and not "biology." Academia and the media have jumped on this opportunity, presenting Islamophobic papers as legitimate research and reporting, in a form of modern-day phrenology. There have even been discussions online, no doubt dominated by Euro-Amerikans, about how being anti-Jewish is racist but anti-Muslim is not. It is amazing that in 2016, politricks still trumps science, and most people still believe in race. Racist has become such a powerful word due to a combination of the righteous struggles of the oppressed and the promotion of identity politics, that First Worldists are now convinced that Islamophobic chauvinism is not as bad as racist chauvinism.
Islam as Philosophy
When you study philosophy you will inevitably study many religious thinkers. To this day, you will find those who are very deeply involved in religions to be thinkers and philosophers who are trying to understand and use that understanding to interact with the world. As communists, we do the same. So it is no surprise that we often find ourselves in deep dialogue with those of different religious leanings. As we'll get into below, the underlying class makeup of different religions has more to do with how those religions engage with communism than anything else.
So what are we talking about then when we talk about religion? Religion is idealism with organized rituals. The organized rituals part is pretty straight forward. It implies that there is a group of people who adhere to the religion in order to participate in the rituals. And the rituals include all sorts of things from regular meetings, prayer, fasting, philanthropy, dressing up, studying texts, marriage, etc.
Idealism is a broader category of philosophy that includes religions. And there are different versions of idealism, as we might expect. What is common between the different versions is that idealism puts the mind as primary and matter as secondary or non-existent in terms of understanding the "real world." Prior to Hegel, who introduced the radical method of dialectics, idealism was generally metaphysical. Metaphysical idealism is the belief in predefined, static things-in-themselves. For example, for those who believe in one god as the creator, everything that exists is defined by an ideal image from that god. For idealists, there is a barrier between what we perceive through our five senses, and this pre-defined ideal. Philosophers like Kant, who Engels called an agnostic, falling between idealism and materialism, believed that the real ideal was unknowable, or knowable only through faith. For many religions, it is the task of the individual to attempt to know that ideal or absolute truth by following the rituals of their religion. In Islam, this is called jihad. The passing from the material world to the world of ideas is also called transcendence. Transcendence is a major theme of many religions.
For materialists there is no such thing as transcendence. We see that truth is obtained through our five senses in a constant process of gaining knowledge and understanding as a species through practice and the scientific method. There is no ancient scroll or secret key that will open our third eye allowing us to suddenly see and understand all the secrets of the world that are hidden from us by our senses. Or, as Engels puts it in describing why Hegel marked the end of philosophy:
"As soon as we have once realised — and in the long run no one has helped us to realize it more than Hegel himself — that the task of philosophy thus stated means nothing but the task that a single philosopher should accomplish that which can only be accomplished by the entire human race in its progressive development — as soon as we realise that, there is an end to all philosophy in the hitherto accepted sense of the word. One leaves alone 'absolute truth', which is unattainable along this path or by any single individual; instead, one pursues attainable relative truths along the path of the positive sciences, and the summation of their results by means of dialectical thinking."(6)
Why Do We Still Have Religion?
The United $tates is exceptional in the First World in often defining itself through religion (Christianity). One recent book describes this as a fairly recent development, starting from a campaign by industrial capitalists with libertarian interests opposed to the New Deal.(7) The author points out, however, that Franklin D. Roosevelt used a lot of Christian language in his promotion of the New Deal and criticism of the evils of the capitalist class. Roosevelt used that language to capture the populist interests of the majority in the United $tates who were suffering from the Great Depression. The Christian language was an alternative to the communist language in the Soviet Union, which FDR was trying to save the United $tates from. Since the Bolshevik revolution, religious language has been openly used to combat the materialist language of communists.
The capitalist class took up the religious lingo as a marketing scheme after they realized that campaigning honestly for their own interests against the New Deal was not going to get popular support.(7) They backed the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 who brought "In God We Trust" to our currency and put "One Nation Under God" into the pledge of allegience. While Eisenhower did not undo the New Deal as they'd hoped, this trajectory continued with it's pinnacle in 1980 with Ronald Reagon backed by groups like the Moral Majority. It was Reagan who introduced the tradition of U.$. presidents ending speeches with "God Bless America." To this day these evangelical Christian groups have played a strong roll in U.$. politics.
This is just one example of how religion can be used to mobilize people behind a political cause. It also demonstrates how religion can be a very deceptive tool in politics because the politicians avoid talking about the real issues. While in the realm of philosophy we can talk about religion as idealism, in the realm of sociology we see it as culture. And culture is part of the superstructure in that it reflects the economic substructure; in our world that would be (imperialist) capitalism. And within capitalism the fundamental contradiction that defines that system is that between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie. So, we will see how as the proletarian forces become stronger religion will reflect the proletarian world view, such as in Central America when socialism/communism had captured the interests of the masses in those Catholic countries. Religion must adopt a proletarian worldview to stay relevant as the scientific method begins to provide the masses with answers that the religions had failed to. In the status quo under capitalism religion most often reflects the interests of the bourgeoisie.
It has been popular in recent decades to talk about the clash of civilizations between the Muslim and Christian worlds. Some even look to history to show a long pattern of these clashes along religious lines. But these lazy historians cherry pick instances in history when religion is used to further the economic interests of different groups, as it often is. Yet a study of the causes of the most brutal wars in in our modern industrial society demonstrate that it was all about trade, markets and national interests. The two world wars were inter-imperialist rivalries over these things.(8) Then as communism threatened to remove vast segments of the world from the capitalist market economy, the imperialists took aim at countries building socialism. The focus on religion in the the last couple decades is a direct result of the victory of the imperialists in crushing socialist aspirations around the world. This repression, combined with some of the negative experiences countries in regions like the Middle East had interacting with revisionists and social-imperialists claiming to be communists, has led to a significant turning away from the socialist path in many parts of the Third World.
Islam and New Afrikans
Just as religion is today an outlet for many radical youth in the Third World, religion has been influenced by revolutionary politics in the context of New Afrika. In the 20th century we see a turn towards Islam by a number of New Afrikans who are searching for identity and liberation from oppression by Amerika. The great migration from the Black Belt to the industrial centers of the north was a time of great change for the nation, that left many searching for identity and culture. In fact, Noble Drew Ali, Elijah Muhammed and Father Allah all came from the south to face unmet promises of freedom and the American Dream.(9)
The appeal of Islam for people like Noble Drew Ali seemed to be in that it was exotic and unknown in North America, yet well-established elsewhere in the world. New Afrikans have spent much time trying to create a new identity by linking their history to lost histories of other peoples, and this was the tradition that Ali worked in. At this time, it seems that many would-be leaders presented themselves as actually being from more exotic places in order to inspire awe and respect from their would-be followers. But it wasn't just novelty that New Afrikans were looking for, it was something that spoke to their national aspirations, and not the same old Christian doctrines that had been used to keep their progenitors down.
There is a direct lineage from Ali's Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) to Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam (NOI) to Father Allah's Five Percenters, later the Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE). Even today people move from one organization to the other, building on the common mythologies between them. And all three organizations have had important relationships with various lumpen street organizations.
While loosely based on Islam with their founders basing their studies on religious texts, these groups represent a unique New Afrikan theology and culture. The NGE is the most eclectic of the groups because of its open nature. It had a more direct relationship to street life in New York City, and had influences from practices such as Rastafari, making it again a unique New Afrikan culture.(10)
While the NGE has generally shunned being called a religion, its primary purpose was in the realm of thought and philosophy. Father Allah focused on teaching, not on organizing people for any political goals aside from building opportunity for New Afrikan youth. Elsewhere we discuss the Almighty Latin King Queen Nation and its openness to representing religious ideas, while primarily being a lumpen mass organization. In contrast, the NGE, while rejecting religion ideologically, functioned primarily as a religious or spiritual organization, at least at first. It did evolve to take on more characteristics of a lumpen organization after The Father was killed leaving the youth to organize themselves.
In 1966, a couple years after the Five Percenters began, the New York City Police Department reported that they saw the decline of 200 street gangs, and the rise of one — the Five Percenters.(11) While they often found themselves in violent conflict with the armed wings of other New Afrikan religious sects, in 1971 the NYPD believed the Five Percenters worked with Muslims and Rastafarians in a vigilante killing of ten suspected drug dealers. Around that same time, in the 1970s, the Five Percenters played a leadership role in inspiring gangs to come together to obtain anti-poverty funds, parallel to what groups like the Vice Lords and Black P. Stone Nation were doing in Chicago.(12) In the later 1970s the Five Percenters recruited whole street gangs into their fold whose members accounted for a significant portion of the arrests in Brooklyn during those years.(13)
In another article on the MSTA, a comrade explains the dual roles of the organization, which began as a civic organization and later became a religion. This duality is another thing that MSTA has in common with the NOI, NGE and other New Afrikan organizations that are just as concerned with the nation as with spirituality. This role is also seen in leaders of Christian-based churches, as well as lumpen organizations in the New Afrikan community. While this is a manifestation of the continued national interests of New Afrikans separate from Amerika, it has unfortunately been used against their national interests as well. Some revolutionary theorists have pointed out that it is the most scientific revolutionary leadership that has been targeted for complete annihilation by the state, leaving those with idealist and profit-motivated views to fill the leadership vacuum.
Back in 1996, MIM Notes criticized the Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan for stating that an earthquake would strike California in response to federal agents' harassment of NOI officials. MIM wrote, "While Farrakhan's statement appears on the surface to be an extreme example of religious metaphysics, Farrakhan was in fact skillfully using metaphysics as a cover for a crypto-pacifist line directed at his followers."(14) Farrakhan followed in Elijah Muhammad's footsteps, who predicted many major events that never materialized. The mythology of Fard (who is considered a prophet by the NOI) and Elijah Muhammad promoted the idea that the Black man was god and created the white man over 600 years of grafting by the scientist Yacub. Muhammad, and his follower Clarence 13X (later Father Allah), believed that after 6000 years the Black man would return to power, which happened to be in 1966. Muhammad predicted the "Fall of America" to occur that year. The early years of the Five Percenters focused on preparation for this event.
While Father Allah was close to Malcolm X even after both had left/been forced out of the NOI, ey did not join up with Malcolm because Malcolm had rejected the story of Yacub after eir trip to Mecca.(15) Later, Father Allah would take up the line that devilishment was a state of mind and not a genetically distinct white man that was bred by Yacub.(16)
It was Malcolm X who had developed the most scientific theory of liberation coming out of the NOI, which ey seemed to be separating from eir religious beliefs before ey was assassinated, by setting up two separate organizations. Malcolm X inspired many, but it was the Black Panther Party, a Maoist, and therefore atheist, organization that best claims to be the direct descendents of Malcolm's ideas.
The religious side of Malcolm's evolution was carried on by Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace, who took leadership of the NOI after Elijah's death. Wallace had been shunned for siding with Malcolm in the past, so it was not too surprising when ey took the NOI and transformed it into a group based in traditional Sunni Islam, rejecting the mythology of Yacub and the focus on race. But once again, the appeal of that mythology had not died, and many traditional NOI members left. After originally following (and praising) Wallace's leadership, Louis Farrakhan restarted the Nation of Islam a few years later under the original teachings of Elijah Muhammad. Ey courted the Five Percenters as part of eir efforts to rebuild the NOI.(17)
It is MIM(Prisons)'s line that the principal contradiction within the internal semi-colonies is that between integration with Amerika and independence from Amerika. The continued interest in the mythology of Yacub indicates an unscientific rejection of integration by many New Afrikans. The organizations discussed here all have a significant base in the New Afrikan lumpen, and have ideologies that reflect a kernel of the drive for national independence. While some people from MSTA and NGE have recently distanced themselves from Third World Islam, we shall see whether this becomes the dominant tendency, indicating a further move towards integration with Amerikkka for New Afrikans.
"You know back in the day, some of y'all
Would shout out Allah's name like he was hostin yo' mixtape
Then after 9/11 you got scared and shut the fuck up
Didn't talk about the demonization of a culture, immigrants, nothin
Now you show up, talk about we takin it too far
Die slow! MOTHERFUCKER!"
—Immortal Technique, Watchout (3rd World Remix) from the album The 3rd World (2008)
Addendum: Islam Still Small in the U.$.
After publishing this article, we thought it instructive to add some data we came across on the numbers of people, in particular New Afrikans, who represent some strand of Islam within U.$. borders. That number is quite small, representing less than 1% of the people in the country.(1) Even within the New Afrikan nation the percentage is about the same. Yet, that hides the fact that New Afrikans are disproportionately represented in the U.$. Muslim because virtually all other Muslims are recent immigrants (63%) or descendents of recent immigrants from major Muslim countries.(1) In other words, 0.9% of New Afrikans is much greater than the almost negligible number of Muslim Euro-Amerikans. This leads us to the third pie chart above, showing 59% of Muslims born in the United $tates being New Afrikan. Again, this is why we stress the connection to the national question in the article above.
Finally, it should be noted that even among the small percentage of New Afrikans that do identify as Muslim, most practice a more traditional form of Islam than the groups discussed in the last section above.(2) While we didn't find good numbers on Nation of Islam membership, estimates put it at in the neighborhood of 10% of New Afrikan Muslims. The various sects of the Moorish Science Temple of America represent a much smaller group, though we know that among imprisoned New Afrikans the percentage is higher and we have gotten many letters of interest from prisoners in response to this issue of Under Lock & Key. We do not have numbers on the Five Percenters.
Recently, there has been a lot of confusion and/or misunderstanding with regard to the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA) and its relation to the Sovereign Citizen Movement. This is partially because some people who may or may not be a part of the MSTA have taken up certain aspects of the Sovereign Citizen Movement.
There are over five different splinter groups who operate under the MSTA that i am aware of, each with its own self-proclaimed leader of the "Movement" established by Prophet Noble Drew Ali. This is why we have this confusion as to what the Moorish National and Divine Movement is about.
Brief Historical Background
The MSTA was founded by Prophet Noble Drew Ali in 1913 and was first organized as a civic organization. In 1928, it was re-incorporated in the State of Illinois as a religious corporation. The stated objective of the MSTA is "to uplift fallen humanity." Humynity meaning all of the people of the world, with the understanding that charity starts at home before it spreads abroad.
The MSTA is decidedly "nationalist." It proclaims Marcus Garvey as the forerunner of Noble Drew Ali. It should be of interest to note that Prophet Noble Drew Ali was pushing the line that New Afrikans (Moors), were a separate and distinct nation here in the United $tates.
While the MSTA is recognized as a "religious" organization, it also functions on a social, economic and political level, as all of these functions are necessary in building and/or re-building a nation. Herein lies the confusion and/or misunderstanding with regard to the Moorish Movement. The political line and direction varies depending on which "Sheik" you are following.
I am a Moor. I am a also a New Afrikan. I am a member of the MSTA and the 1st Crown Prince of the Black Order Revolutionary Organization (BORO), a New Afrikan revolutionary nationalist organization. For the most part, the MSTA is a cultural nationalist organization.
The line of the MSTA is that we are descendants of Morrocans and born in America. This is based upon the fact that the Moors ruled the Northwestern and Southwestern shores of Afrika, and that this location was the center of the Afrikan Holocaust (aka Atlantic Slave Trade).
We all should recognize that through an imposition of war, Afrikans were brought to these shores from many lands, tribes and cultures with different languages, traditions, etc. But through our collective oppression and hystoric collective resistance, we developed into a social and cultural unit (nation), separate and distinct from any other people on the planet. WE became a New, Afrikan people. Thus, the term New Afrikan. The same can be said for the term Moorish American.
Religion and Communism
BORO demonstrates from a secular form of organization because hystorically and scientifically, secular movements are better political vehicles than religious movements. This is because one's religious orientation does not necessarily determine one's political positions, and it is one's politics that need to form the basis of unity and disunity if a movement is to maintain a clear political focus.
While most religions and religious groups deal in idealism and metaphysics, Moors are taught to be scientists. For Moors, we are taught that the Islamic path to submission to God (Allah) is simplified as a "Creed." Moorish scientists are taught to maintain the principles of Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice. In fact, Temple members are encouraged to engage the world in the same way as the "spiritual" principles given, Love being the first and Justice being the last. Moors should primarily be concerned with spiritual principles rather than some sort of religious orthodoxy. But again, this is all predicated upon which "Sheik" you are following.
Moorish Science doesn't teach that God (Allah) is some great, mysterious spirit, but that all people have within them the seed of perfect development. Your "devil" or "God" is within you and it is manifested through your thinking and words, actions and deeds; which result from our material conditions.
There are a lot of issues around which the anti-imperialist movement can unite with the MSTA. The struggle against religious thinking is secondary to smashing imperialism, militarism, environmental pollution and other antagonistic contradictions which are manifested in our struggle, mainly national oppression and gender oppression.
Our task should be to try to find common ground in which we can unite with those who have religious thinking as their base. We should unite with them in secular political movement such as BORO, MIM(Prisons), USW, or RAIL.
"Our principle ideological task in organizing such religious progressives — as well as the people who take the bourgeoisie's idealist talk of 'eternal truths' like fraternity, equality and liberty at face value — is to explain our slogan that 'there are no rights, only power struggles.' That is, these rights are denied the oppressed masses through economic exploitation and outright violent suppression. The only way to realize these rights is to overthrow the material systems of imperialism, capitalism and patriarchy — and the only way to combat these material forces is to scientifically analyze the contradictions in society and build a secular revolutionary movement, a movement without religious bias which can unite all the oppressed."(1)
While i don't have the time or space to go into all of the contradictions within the MSTA, it is safe to say that it has no ties to the Sovereign Citizen Movement. It is inherently more progressive than most organized religious groups operating in the New Afrikan community, but there is a leadership vacuum. A scientific leadership, that knows how to balance the spiritual aspects of life, with materialism.
At the same time, "some people talk about a 'nation' but really don't wanna be one (independent), as evidenced by their efforts to crawl back on the plantation. How can we tell? You can identify those trying to crawl back on the plantation by the way they identify themselves, i.e. 'black', 'African-American', 'ethnic group', 'minority nationality', 'underclass', anything and everything except New Afrikans, an oppressed nation. Amerikkka is the plantation, and continuing to identify yourself within the Amerikkkan context is evidence of the colonial (slave) mentality. Ain't no two ways about it."(2)
It is the people who make hystory and it is our responsibility to create the type of society that we want to live in. Otherwise, you ain't got no right to complain about the oppression you face.
MIM(Prisons) has received a number of other responses to discussion around the MSTA, following the article "Talks about Sovereignty: A Scientific Approach" printed in Under Lock & Key 44.
One Illinois prisoner wrote: [The article] described these groups aforesaid as Sovereign Citizen movements which, in many instances, can obliquely misrepresent the actual objective these organizations have struggled to attain. The author's paralogism can be easily made by relating the agenda's of New Afrikan groups like the Moorish Nation and the Washitaw Nation of Moors to that of the white nationalist groups, though indeed there are many concrete similarities between the two movements, yet to the contrary, there are also conceptual differences, which in respect to the Moorish Divine National Movement and the Washitaw Nation of Moors theoretical systems warrants elucidation.
...what the author fails to clarify is the Moorish Divine National Movement in fact has a much different historical perspective on such matters. Moorish partisans do not acknowledge the feudal British empire (feudal at the time) nor their posterity, imperialist USA as legitimate authorities of the land. They recognize that all Moorish people here in the colonial USA are colonized and have the right for self-determination and national sovereign independence.
And I thought it would be also critical for comrades to note, that the Moorish nationality is not a pseudo-scientific theory, it actually has a historical foundation to support its concept.
A comrade from Michigan wrote: Comrades, I truly appreciate you and all the things that you have taught me and put me in tune with as far as the revolutionary movement. Comrades, you have opened my mind and changed my point of view because I had got caught up under religion but not the political, social, economic and cultural perspectives. Islam isn't a religion at all, it's a way of life, and this is why Islam is the fastest growing way of life in the world today.
The letter you sent me asks the question is the Moorish Science Temple of America a sovereign movement? The answer was No! This is correct because the MSTA is a religious organization that was founded by Prophet Noble Drew Ali in 1928... But in the late 1920s the Moors started fighting over positions and for power. The Moorish movement split up into many different organizations.
I'm a product of the new generation of Moors. Prophet Noble Drew Ali said, "there are going to be new Moors coming into the Temple with their eyes wide open, seeing and knowing they are going to set you old Moors in the back, and they are going to enforce my laws."
I see myself as a new generation Moor and I see and understand the weak and ineffective leadership that's in the Moorish movement. ...I have decided to bring about a serious change in the Moorish movement and its ideology and to become politically, socially, economically and culturally in the struggle to remove oppression and exploitation of the New Afrikans, poor people and Third World countries. This is the reason why I founded the Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement as its Chief Executive Ruler.
...There are more MSTA Temples in the prison system than society now, this is a damn shame. But Moors in society have forgotten where they came from.... And yes, I support the Sovereign Freedom Movement, and I recognize the U.$. Empire government but I'm not a 14th Amendment Federal Citizen, I'm a state citizen under the 11th Amendment of the U.$. constitution. ...
The Moors are indigenous to the Americas because the old Moorish Empire extended from the northeast and southwest Afrika across the great Atlantis even unto the present day North, South and Central America... This Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement has many different associates and alliances because to destroy and overthrow imperialism is going to require a great many alliances. I'm against no other Moorish organization but I disagree with the methods and ideology of teachings because it's too many secrets and not enough action.
I stand with the oppressed, exploited and the poor people of the world because of the cruel abusive and foul treatment by the imperialist and the powerful of the proletariat and lumpen. We stand together in solidarity as Souljas in the revolutionary cause to establish freedom, justice and equality for all people wherever they may be. Our principles are Love, Truth, Peace, Freedom and Justice. And when these principles are violated, justice then must take its course!
A comrade in Illinois wrote: I am writing to you about your recent article that talks about sovereignty. The Moorish Americans are not on a sovereign citizen movement, get it right. We are not some new organization, the Moors are the true indigenous people and nations of the land as you know that the Moors was denationalized during slavery and given slave names and Black state of mind, they were made negroes, colored folks, black people and in 2015, African Americans. Now take a look at the Constitution of the United States of America, Article 1, Section 2. You know where it says three fifths of all other persons. Do you know what they are talking about? They are talking about Willie Lynch syndrome man breaking and slave making!...
MIM(Prisons) responds: We thank this latter comrade for sending many pages of materials on the Moorish Science Temple of America (MSTA). Much of our response here is based on the information in those documents.
The MSTA denounces the terms "Negro", "Colored", "Black" and "African American" to describe a people, primarily because it denies the nationality of said people. Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees all people the right to a nation and to change their nation, and is cited by the MSTA as part of their claim. We agree with this foundational aspect of the MSTA that recognizes the independent nationality of what we call the New Afrikan nation, which was formed by the importing of slaves of various African nations by European settlers. MSTA looks at the history of Amerika, and the 14th and 15th Amendments, and states that it "could never seriously include people of color, women or commoners." Again, we agree here that there is an antagonistic contradiction between the Amerikan oppressor nation and the oppressed.
As the comrade from BORO describes, MSTA's idea of a Moorish American Nation seems to parallel what we call the New Afrikan nation. They explain their use of the term Moor in that it is an ancient civilization, with a glorious history, that is found in the bible. They imply that a nation not found in the bible does not exist. This is a metaphysical view that nations cannot change, form, or disappear with time. Their need to define their nation as timeless seems to lead them to declare the Moorish American Nation to be the indigenous people of and "Heirs Apparent" to the lands of "North America, South America, Central America, and the Atlantis Islands, referred to as the Caribbean Islands." This is echoed by our comrade from Michigan above. Elsewhere the MSTA seems to contradict this when writing, "the Moorish, were a new nation of people, brought forth on this continent by the European forefathers." It is not clear from what we've read how the MSTA reconciles their identity as an indigenous nation to America with the historical fact of the African slave trade and the many First Nations that existed in America prior to that trade that brought masses of Africans to this land.
Now to this question of MSTA and sovereignty. While none of our correspondents above see the MSTA as a Sovereign Citizen movement, at least one of them was quite well-versed in and supported the Sovereign Citizen ideas. As established above, there are different sects of the MSTA. At least a couple of them publicly denounce the Sovereign Citizens Movement.
Yet, the language in many of the documents sent to us are quite similar to that of the Sovereign Citizen Movement, so it is easy to see how the two have merged in some places in recent years. They speak of "legal trickery" and go on and on about archaic legal language to explain the situation they are in and how to get out of it. But in reality it was brute force and oppression that put New Afrikans where they are as a semi-colony of Amerika. The law is merely a smokescreen to cover that up. So that is where we disagree with the MSTA and those who look to Sovereign Citizen ideology for liberation. They treat the legal concepts they talk about as concepts that define our reality. In contrast, we believe it is people, and ultimately the masses, who define humyn destiny. The MSTA's and Sovereign Citizens Movement's approach is a sort of idealism, where the ideas are these legal concepts that they hold up as the ultimate cause of their predicament and solution to it.
Some of the materials sent to us were from the Moorish Order of the Roundtable, founded in 1982 (rvbeypublications.com). This group happens to be the target of an article "Debunking sovereignty myths" on moorishsciencetemple.org. So we see there is disagreement and even confusion among those calling themselves Moors on this question. We support those who are working towards greater clarity. The piece by the BORO comrade above puts the issue plainly, and the work of BORO speaks to their efforts to put a scientific political agenda into practice. We will continue to work with the comrade trying to start the Moorish Islamic Liberation Movement to move in a similar direction.
As a former wyte supremacist, a revolutionary, and an Odinist I am equipped to expose the invalidity of the wyte supremacist myths associated with Odinism. Odinism (also known as Asatru) is a polytheistic religion; meaning there are multiple Gods and Goddesses. The religious text of Odinism is the Poetic Edda. The Edda is made up of different books similar to the Bible called Lays.
Several wyte supremacist organizations point to the God Heimdall as being the father of the wyte race in light of Voluspa, St. 1; Lokasenna, St. 20; and Thrymskvitha, St. 15. However, closer examination will shatter such claims.
First, although Heimdall is cited as being the father of the three classes of men (freeman, noble, and slave) (1) nowhere within the Edda is he cited as being the father of men. Lee M. Hollander notes in his translation of Voluspa, St. 1 that the description of Heimdall being the father of all "hallowed beings" most likely refers to the Gods rather than man. Furthermore, in Voluspa, St. 17-18 we are told that Odin, Hoenir, and Lothur came across the lifeless corpses of the first man and womyn (Ask and Embla). Odin granted them Soul, Hoenir gave them sense, and Lothur granted them being and blooming hue.
Therefore, Heimdall is clearly not the father or man - let alone the wyte race. Anyone who claims he is is distorting the Edda to fit their own subjective agenda.
Secondly, the description of Heimdall as being fair-haired and "whitest of the Gods" is not completely accurate. He may very well have blond hair and be wyte. Yet he is most definitely not the "whitest of the Gods."(2) Baldr, the son of Odin and brother of Thor, would have to be considered wytest of the Gods because his name literally translates as "white."(3)
Finally, the mentioning of three classes of man does not support claims of wyte supremacy within Odinism. It is true that one of the classes listed is that of slave. However, nowhere throughout Rigsthula does it specify a certain race as belonging to any particular class. The ancient Germanic peoples - along with the Vikings - were known to have possessed wyte slaves as well as non-wyte slaves. In ancient times slaves were customary in many cultures.
However, the class system described is one of feudalism and is therefore not practical in modern capitalist society. Furthermore, as communists, we recognize that the concept of classes is oppressive and an integral aspect of imperialism. Therefore, the mentioning of classes is irrelevant in modern times except in the historical role that it plays within Odinism.
In the Lay Havamal Odin commands his followers to be kind and hospitable strangers (St. 2); not mock others (St. 30); look out for the well being of others (St. 40,48); not argue with fools (St. 122); and that no one is so good as to be beyond corruption, nor is anyone so bad as to be beyond redemption (St. 133). These commandments - along with the Nine Noble Virtues (Strength, Honor, Courage, Joy, Independence, Loyalty, Realism, Perseverance, and Heritage) actually oppose racism. Odinism/Asatru is, in reality, a communal religion. Thus it is compatible with communism.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This correspondent is defending Odinism as a religion compatible with communism, and condemning those who use it as a platform for white supremacy. Communists have long been saying that for people truly practicing what their religion teaches, often those ideals are compatible with, and best achieved, through developing communism. It is good to point out to religious people when their actions run counter to their ideology, as we may be able to unite around those who hold the equality of all humyns as an important principle, or those striving for peace, as this comrade is.
That those religions have not even come close to ending oppression on the scale that dialectical materialism has, is evidence of the ineffectiveness of these religions to reach their own purported ideals. That various religions all across the world (from Odinism to Christianity to Islam to Buddhism) are construed as platforms of domination, shows how these ideologies play out in the real world. Rather than looking for truth by choosing which ideology makes the most sense to us, we compare practices with practices to figure out how to reach our goal of a world without oppression. Odinism's ideals may be compatible with communism. But Odinism is not a route to communism.
This comrade attempts to dispute white supremacy by making arguments about who was the whitest of the gods and the "father of the wyte race." As scientists we prefer to point out that humyns evolved into being on this planet. We were not put here by gods. And so there is no higher source of truth or basis for considering some humyns superior to others.
It is good that this comrade recognizes that classes are oppressive, but our struggle against class oppression is not just against "the concept of classes" as ey writes. Rather our struggle is against the reality of class systems that are oppressive and integral to imperialism, and to historical class society. Slavery was not simply customary, but rather the system of slavery required a class of people, slaves, who were used to do much of the most difficult work. It was not out of tradition that people held slaves, just like it is not just tradition that leads to the oppression of the proletariat under capitalism. So the mentioning of classes is not irrelevant in modern times, it is critical that we analyze the class system and fight against it. We can not eliminate it by not mentioning it.