Learning the difference between our friends and enemies means we know that other prisoners share more in common with us than not. It also means that within one's own nation the formations within have even more in common than not. For imprisoned Aztlán the divisions were ultimately imperialist-inspired. The advanced wing of imprisoned Aztlán understands that it's time to Re-unify Aztlán.
In Califaztlán, norteno, sureno, Eme, NF, have been walls that separated. At times each formation was necessary for safety, and some formations may be more progressive than others. But these formations still separate imprisoned Aztlán. Separation for a nation is not good under any circumstances.* I believe the goal of all these lumpen organizations (LOs) is to unite at some point, but how could it be possible?
A future glimpse of a United Aztlán
It's a fact that much animosity and/or pride for one LO or the other has developed. At the same time we see the Agreement to End Hostilities has allowed us all to get to know and support one another. It's now OK to assist and be there for each other, which is great. We have gone back to before north/south feuds started, however what is needed now is a leap forward.
The truth is so long as the LOs (i.e. NF, Eme) still have north/south formations there will not be any unification between imprisoned Aztlán. This will take steps. The implementation of programs authorized at the highest levels. One such initial program would be formally dismantling the formations of Sur/Norte. By doing this, Raza will simply be Raza again.
Tattoos of Norte/Sur would have to be banned for the future. This would help alleviate conflict/tension.
A transition period would relax the Raza and then the next stage of the unification of Eme/NF would be necessary even if they maintained separate committees with the new political org. But a new org with a new name is necessary to provide a glimpse of a new future of a unified Aztlán. At some point, imprisoned Aztlán must move on and create a name that all can come to, otherwise no side will ever win over the other side.
by a Virginia prisoner August 2017 permalinkPeace Black brother,
I hope this letter finds you strong and defiant in mind, body, and spirit. I really enjoyed the few times we exchanged ideas about the new Black liberation struggle. I was a little surprised when you told me that you consider yourself a Black revolutionary because most young brothers who gang bang don’t identify themselves as such, and that’s because being one requires opposing and resisting racism and oppression which is a huge burden and responsibility. Others simply don’t understand the concept of a Revolutionary.
To put it simply, a Revolutionary is someone who fights and struggles to change the conditions of oppressed people. A counter-revolutionary is someone who-consciously or unconsciously–fights and struggles against change so as to exacerbate and perpetuate the conditions of oppressed people. A Revolutionary is someone who strives to transform the criminal mentality into a Revolutionary mentality. A counter-revolutionary is someone who maintains, values, and takes delight in the criminal mentality. A Revolutionary seeks to become a part of the solution to what’s plaguing the Black and oppressed communities. A counter-revolutionary seeks to remain a part of the problem of what’s plaguing the Black and oppressed communities. A Revolutionary is someone who utilizes all of his/her strength and energy in trying to liberate Black and oppressed people. A counter-revolutionary is someone who utilizes all of his/her strength and energy in trying to oppress and exploit those already oppressed and exploited by this white supremacist, capitalistic system. A Revolutionary is someone who opposes the Gestapo police who are daily murdering and brutalizing Black and oppressed people. A counter-revolutionary is someone who murders and brutalizes Black and oppressed people who are already being murdered and brutalized by the Gestapo police.
So, young brother, upon examining yourself, and taking the above examples of a Revolutionary into consideration, which category do you truly fall into: a Revolutionary or a counter-revolutionary? Most gang bangers, unfortunately, fall into the category of a counter-revolutionary.
As with most–if not all–Black street gangs, which I prefer to call social clubs, they started out as Revolutionary because the social, political and economic conditions that Black people were subjected to in the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, and even today, necessitated that they come together and organize to try and resist and change those conditions. But during the ’80s when the CIA began flooding poor Black communities with crack cocaine and guns to finance its illegal counter-revolutionary war against the democratically-elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua, and to further destabilize the poor Black communities making them more susceptible to subjugation and genocide, these social clubs and the oppressed communities they existed in became fractured and divided. Consequently, these social clubs became counter-revolutionary in that they lost sight of their original purpose and began to prey on the very people and neighborhoods they originally organized to defend, protect, and liberate.
One of the best examples of a social club becoming Revolutionary as the result of a radical transformation in the mentality of its membership is the 5,000-strong Slauson gang under the leadership of Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. During the early ’60s, Bunchy was successful in uniting all of the various social clubs in Los Angeles under his leadership. According to Elder Freeman, a close comrade of Buchy’s, this was the first and only time in history that there was only one unified social club in Los Angeles. To build off of that success and momentum, Bunchy then spearheaded the formation of the Los Angeles Black Panther Party in 1967 which recruited heavily from the ranks of the Slauson gang. Because Bunchy was such a dynamic organizer and a charismatic leader who inspired other "street" brothers and sisters to become Revolutionaries, then FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, had Bunchy and his Black Panther comrade, John Huggins, killed in a COINTELPRO created beef between the Los Angeles Black Panther Party and Ron Karenga’s United Slaves Organization on January 17, 1968. ...
MIM(Prisons) adds: The above is an excerpt from an article written by a comrade who goes on to promote an organization that we reviewed in ULK 50.(1) In that article we describe the numerous serious political errors in that organization's line. But we agree with the general strategy that we need to "unify rival social clubs and redirect their aggression and rage away from each other and towards changing and improving the conditions of Black and oppressed people." There are many examples of comrades doing this that have appeared in the pages of Under Lock & Key over the years. Yet as this issue addresses, the problem is far from resolved.
The Black Panthers of the late 1960s still offer the most successful examples of transforming gangsters into revolutionaries. What that indicates is that building a strong vanguard party, with the correct political line, in dialectical relationship to the lumpen masses is the way to repeat their success. Without that, efforts at L.O. unity will be short-lived or will be siphoned off into bourgeois reformism.
I completed the drug survey from ULK 56. As the days passed I could not stop reflecting on the article "Drugs a Barrier to Organizing in Many Prisons." Here in West Virginia dope is God and those who supply them are Messiahs. I decided to put pen to paper and add my thoughts to the discourse.
I am currently incarcerated at Mount Olive, which is West Virginia's highest security prison. Recently the administration severely restricted our yard time. This was done to punish us for the rash of recent murders. Some of the more militant brothers started organizing a peaceful sitdown to protest. The shot-callers immediately vetoed the sitdown.
I was shocked. Then I decided to follow the money, or in this case dope. The gang leaders did not want to antagonize the prison administration out of fear that they would restrict the flow of dope. Drugs were more important than our outdoor recreation privileges.
This is not the only power that drugs have given the administration over us. To curtail the flow of K-2 into the prison we no longer receive our actual mail. We get poor quality photocopies of our mail. There is still K-2 on the compound, but the price has doubled. If prisoners cannot get K-2 through the mail how does it get in? Simple, our captors bring it in. Not only are we enriching our captors, we are increasing their control over us.
Drugs drain all the money off the compound. When prisoners are broke and dope sick they not only rob and extort weaker prisoners, they are grimey with their brothers. This increases the violence on the yard. Instead of working together to improve our situation we make it worse. No unity.
As an old head I lead by example. I abstain from all drugs and alcohol. I do my best to educate the young bloods. No, I do not have much success. As soon as I turn my back they chase the dopeman. I hate to paint such a dark picture, but the truth is not always bright. I look forward to reading the other discourses on this subject.
I am a Mexican National Citizen raised in the old ways of making business. Our word was always good to our dying last breath. In prison politics and Mexican politics, the word is meaningless. (Tell that to good Tio Colosio, who paid with his life for believing someone else's word.)
Well, after 20 years in a main line or so-called active yards, I made the transition to the SNY yard. Here, I found lots of brothers (i.e. comrades), that made the transition years and even decades ago. Fortunately, I escaped the usual brainwashing that my Chicano counterparts are exposed to in the schools and ghettos. So, I called quits, and came over to the bizarre world. I found that most of my new comrades lacked any type of political consciousness. Time after time they declined my attempt to read some of my literature. It did not escape my mind that I once was like that too. It took me years to awaken to the cruel reality of my imprisonment.
Anyway, my first celly was a white male. And I discovered what I have always known in theory: We are all ignorant, poor, and damned (regardless of skin color, creed, or gang affiliation). For reasons that are not pertinent to this essay my new celly only last me less than 24 hours. Nevertheless, he left a deep impression in my consciousness. He told me that on the line his shot caller actually put a hit on him, over a $50.00 pruno debt. So he had to assume the position and allowed his beloved celly, who was a few months short to go home. And he was stabbed about three times. That is how out of control the prison gangs are.
So that the readers know: The average Mexican National prisoner doesn't belong to cartels, or street and prison gangs. Most Mexicanos are unaware of the avalanche of prison politics coming their way. Without no shame I can say that had my counselor told me about my expected role to serve at the active yard I should have checked out right there and then. It wasn't meant to be, so I was set up, by a failed rehabilitation system. I was immediately classified as a "PAISA" or "BORDER BROTHER." This STG (Security Threat Group) is under the direct order of the Sureños Prison Gang (like to be ordered to do hits and follow gang's rules).
Unbeknownst to the Mexican, all of these violent incidents will be used by the Board of Parole Hearings ("BPH"). God forbid one has a stabbing ten years ago. They literally act the part to be surprised that these kind of thing happen in prison. Even a disciplinary citation over a stolen apple will be used to say that one is a danger to the free community. These pundits actually believe that these gulags are CENTERS of top notch rehabilitation. And that one insists in misbehaving!
My new celly is an elderly Mexican. He is respectful and knows how to do time. He too called it quits when he discovered the winds of change in the air. And before things took a turn for the worst, he made the best decision in his life. He became another "SNY." The environment here is more loose. The gang trip is over. I have not seen any acts of predatory behavior towards those that are too weak to defend themselves. Then, there are those that act out as straight protective custody; they believe that the c/o is their daddy or big carnal. They are loud and wear their pants half way down their butt. Still the talking with staff can also be seen at facility "C", an active yard. They came in to the program office and spend time with them (getting cozy with the enemy i.e. the oppressor).
I found out that if I kept to myself and mind my own business I can fly undetected. This wasn't possible in an active yard, because one is expected to put in work for the prison gang. The new prison gangs at this side, they pretty much keep to themselves. And do their fighting without asking for help. Those who do not want to engage in the new gangs warfare are left alone out of the drama. I have spoken to former Sureños and Norteños (youth and elderly), and many described themselves as "Mexicanos" born on this side. Many have realized that the Mexican National is not their puppet to be used and discarded. They all agreed that becoming "SNY" is the best decision that they ever took. Their new leaders are their families, patria, and raza.
Here, former shotcallers and gang leaders are nothing. They are one more slave among the thousands. Long are gone the days of blood money, glory, cell phones, and God ego trips over life and death. As for my own transition from an enslaved active prisoner to an "SNY" it was easy. I packed my belongings without raising too much suspicion. And at school I told the officer "that I wanted out of the yard." They pressured me to tell what I knew about the big fat sapos and those that are kissing their ass. I had nothing to tell them.
Even if I knew anything I would never tell them nothing. I am too old to become a state snitch. So, not all SNY prisoners become snitches. I have been told that sometimes the officers threaten prisoners by telling them they will be sent back to the main line. But, this wasn't my case. (For your information, the officers will never do that.)
For those that I left behind, stop and think about it, for a long time. Is it really worth it to give up one's life by running a fool's errand? What they are sending you to do to someone else's son they will do to you. The masters of manipulation's lost cause is not worth it to die or kill for. Screw their orders, they are not our parents, tios, or big brothers. They are playing God with your lives and freedom.
They are bloodthirsty sociopaths with our brothers' and sisters' blood on their hands. They are the oppressor's little brother; they help the oppressor to keep us in check. Go ahead and tell them to do the killings themselves. They can't really hold you up accountable for your word; that you gave up as a little kid. You did not know anything about life when they enticed you to join the gang. They never told you that by 15 you would be dead or doing life in the gulags.
They never took you to a funeral and told you: that is you in a few years. They never took you to the gulags to visit those who are buried alive. Have they told you that an early death or lifetime in prison was your future? Odds are that you would have run away ASAP. Thus, at the age of 20, 30, or even 60 years old, one must truly awaken to the reality of our predicament and analyze the contradictions of one's slavery. So that we can shake off the old chains that bind us to a lost cause. One must evolve and think outside the box. It is the 21st Century, our families need us out there.
MIM(Prisons) responds: Lumpen organizations (LOs) in the united $tates are usually organizations of the most economically marginalized of the oppressed in this country. Elsewhere comrades have spoke about the difference between the Neo-Colonial Lumpen Organization (NLO) and the LO. The experience of the above comrade reflects the practice of the NLO. But the LOs in general have both capitalistic and collective/nationalist aspects to them. And those that embrace the collective aspect (usually in a revolutionary nationalist way), can evolve to become Political Mass Organizations (PMOs).(1) So while we struggle with comrades in LOs to move in the direction of becoming a PMO, the above story is a common one in California as SNY has come to represent one third of prisoners in recent years.(2)
This comrade also touches on the national question and national identity in Aztlán. The fact that those of Mexican descent born within U.$. borders are so likely to identify as Mexicanos speaks to the national contradiction between the Amerikan settler and the colonized territory of Aztlán. As this comrade also recognizes we refer to those born north of the U.$.-Mexico border as [email protected] The recognition of a [email protected] nation deeply connected to, but separate from Mexico, was the outcome of the struggles of revolutionary nationalists and communists in the 1960s organizing Raza in the southwest. For those interested in this topic you should check out [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán by a MIM(Prisons) study group. This book is available to prisoners for $10, or work trade.
[In 2012 a comrade summed up an ongoing discussion about organizing the lumpen class, which is below. The summary gets at how we should approach organizing the lumpen. This is a critical question if we are to apply our theoretical understanding of this class to the anti-imperialist movement in a practical way. We aren’t looking to just write essays to expand our brains; we focus on political theory in order to inform revolutionary practice. - ULK Editor]
USW comrades have been discussing money and material trappings as being synonymous with respect and dignity in lumpen organization youth. The struggle for money, like the dope game, for example, can be less a status seeking activity, and more of the people just exercising their survival rights. Comrades made sure to differentiate between money/survival and material trapping (i.e. gold chains, cars, rims, etc.). Amerikkkanism and consumerism promote hardcore parasitism in lumpen youth, causing extreme alienation and fetishization of money.
Today’s youth show the same apathy, indifference and nihilism as the youth of 1955. It was the civil rights movement that awoke the youth of that era. Comrades struggled over what today can take the place of the civil rights movement. War, environment and imperialist expansion were three good starting points to organize around. We lumpen youth have more stake in the future environment and it is us who fight the wars. It helps to understand that those starving to death and suffering/dying from preventable diseases are our people. We must fulfill our destiny or betray it. All this nitpicking and betrayal between sets/sides contributes to humankind suffering. We must overcome this flaw.
The principal enemy we must defeat is the glamorization of gangsterism. A revolutionary or a gangster? What are we? Can the two coexist in a persyn and still be progressive? Gangsterism plants fear by oppression, and revolutionaries are in struggle against oppression. This internecine violence we perpetrate between sets is what the pigs want us to do. They sold us this shit in Scarface and we’ve built on to it and made it our own. Overcoming the glamorization of gangsterism will take proletarian morality, conscious rap, exposing the downsides and ills of gangsterism, the glamorization of revolution, revolutionary culture, and possibly to redefine the word gangsta. Gangsters are parasites and revolutionaries are humankind’s hope. It’s as simple as that. We need to leave the lumpen mentality for a proletarian one. Many true revolutionaries were once gangsters. Gangsterism is a stage, basically.
Self-respect, self-defense and self-determination define transitional qualities of a revolutionary. Bunchy Carter, Mutulu Shakur and Tupac all transcended the hood and grew into progressives. What we are seeking as USW is opening up the spaces for gangsters of all walks of life to enter the realm of anti-imperialism and begin a transformation of mind, actions and habits to develop into the model of a revolutionary gangsta with the capability of forwarding the cause of the people. We must understand our potential. It is us, we reading these ULKs, that hold imperialism in our fists. A real gangsta is one who has gone revolutionary and has kicked off all the strings of social control - mental illness, drugs, fantasy, despair, escapism, etc.
Mainstream gangsta rap is the enemy of our people and the struggle. We have to create more revolutionary music, art and literature. Fergie, Fifty, Eminem, Kanye, all push watered down, flimsy lyrics. Mainstream rap is psychological warfare and just as harmful as crack or heroin. Imperialism allows the urban drug trade just like it allows Eminem. It keeps us down. It is a form of genocide and wholly harmful to the revolutionary struggle. The only positive we even entertained in the discussion is that drugs and pop culture rap are a form of rebellion that begins a revolutionary on the path of revolution. The benefits to imperialism outweigh the negatives and the opposite is true for the lumpen. Drugs have us punked, dig?
Raw fear and discouragement are the pistols on the hips of the oppressor. To be demonized as a terrorist, have mail messed with, loss of good time, pig abuses, all contribute to lumpen becoming despondent and not standing up for their rights. People have a responsibility to act and fight for the type of society that they want to live in, or they really have no right to complain about oppression. We face pepper spray, tazers, isolation and a bullet in the back face down. The Nazis used the infamous concentration camps to instill fear. And the united snakes has the largest prison system in the world for the very same reason: social control and intimidation. Meth, cocaine and psychotropics act as targets for the raw fear pistol. Increasing it. Making it more deadly. To be uneducated or out of shape physically assures a mortal wound when the bullets fly. We must outsmart and out stick and move. Knowing 1500 children starve to death per hour, and the fact that 3.5 billion people survive on less than $2 per day, you suit yourself in bullet proof kevlar. What’s a lost letter and a few extra years in prison without good time compared to that?
Nothing comes to a sleeper but a dream. Only through aggressive challenge and exposure of the life-threatening contradictions of upholding the present status quo will we awaken and overcome. Passivity cowers before the eyes of the slave master. We must educate the people into the understanding that raw fear will remain so long as the imperialist system is in existence. It is us, comrades, built exclusively for its utter destruction. This is a call from USW to unite and rise up, in struggle.
Prison organizations today have the tendency to bang on other orgs more than they do on the pigs, Corrections Officers (COs) and the system. Raw fear is so deep in us and we've placed the oppressors on such a pedestal, thinking the pigs are "godly," invincible and "in-the-right," that we've become stuck. Shaking in our boots or peeking out the blinds shuddering. The pigs want us believing we are degenerates or mentally ill rejects and to trust boldly that the pigs are only trying to help us. One comrade voiced concern over seeing ruthlessness so deep between lumpen orgs in his gulag that captives cheer suicides and mental breakdowns in fellow captives but want to know how "snouty sir's" vacation went. It's a sad situation.
"Earning stripes" and "putting it down for the cause" is telling when it is fellow captives being lifeflighted and body-bagged as the man with the keys giggles. Putting it down for whom? MIM(Prisons) and USW don't promote violence. But there are lesser and higher levels of incorrectness when the man pushes us in the corner in the use of self-defense. Viciousness and brutality against our own is unforgivable. Period.
Watered-down versions of the various struggles that came before are served up steaming before our hungry, bloodshot eyes. Organizing our people to realize our destiny takes theory and analysis of past and present conditions. Marxism-Leninism-Maoism is the meat we must partake of. Throw that watered down soup kitchen fare into snouty's face. The actual methods on how to organize and take control of our destiny is what's for dinner, comrades. Educating, agitating, theorizing, study groups, unity and books challenge bullshit and backward ideas. Knowledge of history and our present reality is what we lack. We must recoup from the losses we've experienced after all these years. Muscle has memory, believe that! We are only doomed to that failure if we remain asleep. Will we?
Independent nationhood isn't in the forefront of most lumpen minds when Seinfield sitcoms and chick-o-sticks occupy our perception. Progressives of all stripes must rip the amerikkkan flags out of our faces and walk over the motherfucker. Parasites In Gangsters clothing, CIA. Sheep infiltrating LOs mainstream gangster rap or pig induced crap? Occupy wall street or spitting on Third World's feet? Stand in our fork in the road. We are at the historical juncture where the hustling game [dope, pimpin etc.] as our only "come up" must be shot to shit as the game plan. The dope game's insanity. There is a more practical revolutionary way to control our destinies and obtain independence. Getting ourselves out the imperialist crosshairs must be our goal. Not protecting street corners and crack, meth or herb market shares. Just look at the Mexican cartels doing it big time as their people in the base areas remain hungry, shoeless and without basic necessities. The sad aspect is we leave our families in the same boat. We must overcome this.
We must remember, though, that the oppressor will always let one or two big shots come up. Some cartels' base areas in Mexico do gain better living conditions to pacify unrest and garner support from the people. Is drug dealing, guns and stickups too entrenched in the lumpen's economic life that survival, even survival at such low levels, would be impossible without them? This is the ideological crossroads we stand at.
What is preventing oppressed nation people from coming together and bucking this system? If the drug trade doesn't act as a sleeping gas, in that we benefit from it, but as a poison which hurts us, then why do we continue in it? Drug culture and popular culture seem to contribute to this deviation. The use and sale of drugs is addictive. But so is the culture that comes with it. The street/dope world envelops an individual in non-political thinking. Like a cancer, few survive. Some do manage to feed their children and make ends meet slanging but only so long. And at a high price (prison, death, addicted sons and daughters, brain damage, disease etc.).
The media mind washes us into believing the oppressor pigs are "all mighty" and McDonald's workers are slow and slimy. This puts us in the trap of spending our whole lives trying to prove to each other we aren't slow and slimy. But why don't we prove this to the oppressor? Consumerism, amerikkkanism and patriotism stand toe to toe with mass revolutionary politics. And we ain't getting nowhere until the referee drags out the bleeding corpse of "grams, hundreds and eight balls" lying at our feet. Drug culture down. Revolutionary culture up. Drug culture is used as a sort of net to catch rebels before they truly do turn revolutionary. And by the time the drugs spit us out on the cement floor of a solitary cell, collapsed vein and hollow brain, psychotropic culture steps in with a great big smile. Know your enemy.
Most people in the U.$. have an idealistic philosophical view of socioeconomic and political structure so that they support reformist political movements before they do revolutionary movements. Spending time voting for the richest man or writing your governor are almost laughable when one discerns 98% of amerikkka is enemy. Class consciousness in the labor aristocracy and bourgeoisie is high while in the lumpen it is low. Privileges, false-consciousness and "the amerikkkan dream" got us hook, line and sinker chasing the carrot. The pigs, the imperialists, keep us out of legal employment with the opportunity of upward mobility being impossible. So we chase the illusion of the amerikkkan dream in the drug game. To chase ideals taught in elementary and high school right into our caskets. It is this juvenile ass scenario preventing our peoples from unity and throwing off this system like a bad habit.
When the drug trade ceases, and excuses for policing and imprisonment have no grounds to stand on, the government would have to backpedal the drug war into their garage. Most of us don't realize that the more violence we contribute to, in and out of prison, the more excuses for SHUs and SWAT team type scenarios pop up. Can you imagine the power in directing the crack fiend's intelligence, cunning and commitment into politics?! Imperialism fears such scenarios. This is why they keep the drug trade on and popping. Prison guards, street cops, prison administrators, food-telephone-parole-commisary, etc., services would be jobless if we put down the pipe, the drug war's an illusion and smokescreen hiding the wizard of oz behind its fancy tapestry.
Mexican cartels make billions off the drug trade. This money they funnel into amerikkkan banks. The $20 dope fiend gets one to fifteen yeas as the 2 billion dollar dealers get free checking. The sad part in all this is the money in these banks, made from Latino cartels, goes to oppose revolutions in Nicaragua, Paraguay, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. The more Third World countries Amerikkka has under its thumb the more goods oppressor nation labor aristocrats can siphon. Third World countries like Mexico act as prime markets for amerikkkan products and prime hot spots for factories that employ oppressed wimmin and children on 60 times less money than amerikkkans make.
These Mexican cartels are not the principal enemy. But even though they are fighting against the oppressed nations' interest worldwide, they are still oppressed nation national bourgeois and minority compradors. We take Mao's example in China when he united with Chaing Kai Shek, an oppressor, to defeat Japanese imperialism, the bigger oppressor. Mao's tactic worked. We must employ such means, when necessary, if we want to succeed in bringing imperialism to its knees. One divides into two and some of these cartels will side with revolution and some with imperialism. To label all as enemy would in effect shoot ourselves in the feet. Some of the money cartels make goes to the revolution, here and abroad, that's almost assured. So the drug trade is internationalist in some of its practice. We must avoid the trap of big nation chauvinism and see that 80% of the world is Third World.
Most lumpen orgs will not transform into revolutionary orgs as long as they can benefit materially from working in cahoots with the imperialists, i.e. pushing dope and other hustles. Most youth these days haven't even heard of their set's infancy. Lumpen orgs were originally created to fight oppression in the hood. But the pigs infiltrated these orgs and turned them into oppressive groups. Like a vampire. What better way for a vampire oppressor to sleep easy than making sure everyone from sea to shining sea are themselves vampire oppressors!? Just lock up behind razor wire those whose necks they can get at and it's sweet dreams for dracula.
Today's youth's mission is realizing protracted struggle is necessary in smashing oppression. We must understand that a concerted effort, that may take many years, is ahead of us. But it's also winnable. China and Russia succeeded in defeating backwards systems. We can too. Most comrades get discouraged after so many years of struggling. To struggle isn't easy but it's capable of giving extreme satisfaction when one looks back at the progression one accomplishes over the years. WE have been misled and under-educated by design. All in an effort at halting our progression and the resolution of the imperialist contradiction. Our Humanity has been stolen. We have no empathy for war or starvation. How sick is that?
Back in the day Jim Crow laws made people rise up against oppression. Then it fizzled out until the Vietnam War made people revolt. Nowadays mass incarceration, the new Jim Crow, and Afghanistan are our hot spots of agitation. But the sad part is most lumpen embrace prison and war. Most of us believe we belong in chains and the Middle East is full of "terrorists." It's a mind wash. It is amerikkka who is terrorist. And the Middle East are our people. We know deep down that shit's not right. One comrade in the study group spoke about the suicide rate, and even his very own suicidal tendencies before politics, as being exponential. USW wants to begin to show how change is possible. We will attempt to provide the roadmap but it is on you to start your cars. Let's discover our humanity and start questioning things around us. War and starvation are a preventable. Let us challenge each other to grow and create a better way for ourselves and the future.
Mainstream hip hop and drugs are killing us. Oppressed nation lumpen eat that shit up like rat poison. "The amerikan dream" a.k.a. "rat poison." If the amerikkkan dream is to starve and create war so I can have an x-box and cheap gasoline it's not worth it. Not to USW. You? Dirtying the names of groups like the Black Panther Party, MIM(Prisons) and USW is a tactic used to revise history and throw a wrench in the revolution. People seem to either embrace us or spit on us, and from what we've experienced there's seldom middle ground. But it says more about the spitter than anything else. We must learn to uphold the standards we promote and avoid straddling the fence or deviating from issues. Practice is principal. Is our work focused on anti-community or pro-community work? The people will recognize which pole we are on, that's assured. We must rest easy in the knowledge that the pigs' truth ain't ours. There is no truth in common between the oppressor and the oppressed. Because the aims, efforts and goals we push are seen as a threat to their wealth and leisure time privileges. USW looks up to the Panther legacy for these reasons above, and many others. We invite thorough study of the rich revolutionary heritage of our forebearers with the black berets. Power to all oppressed people.
Today I read ULK 50 and I must say you've piqued my interest. I am part of an organization that has come to be viewed as a gang by society in its own right. Meaning the majority of us conduct ourselves as such. We are said to be forged out of concepts of the Black Panther Party, Black Liberation Army, and Black Vanguards (a movement within the prison system headed by George Jackson). Many of us, including myself, were turned on to this way of life under the impression that we will liberate our communities from drugs, end black-on-black violence, stop the prison cycle, create economic stability, promote a political consciousness, establish a strong unity, etc. But on a daily basis we do the opposite. The attempt to change our criminal mindset to a revolutionary mindset has failed expeditiously here in Maryland. I'm from Baltimore City where there is little or no unity at all amongst any of the organizations or gangs that will be the forefront of the fight!
I often find it hard to change one's comfort zone. Here, if a man is comfortable in his everyday life, my trying to change his/her way of living will be looked at as a threat. No matter if I'm right or not.
I'm currently being housed at Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, Maryland. Since I've been locked up I've been in senseless fights, and involved in meaningless disruptions. Our biggest problem here is drug use! I'm not a drug user but I often assist those who do. Many of us use the profits to take care of our loved ones on the street, or ourselves in here. The police know these things because, how do you think it gets here. I don't knock anybody's hustle. But I recognize how it gets us off our true purpose, which is freedom.
In population there are only 4 phones on the tier. These 4 phones are dictated by those with influence in general population. We subject ourselves to more oppression than does the oppressor himself. I'm looking for ways to begin to change my environment. I'm on lockup right now and reading ULK has given me a wake up call on who I should truly be. As of right now I have about 4 more years until I'm released. With that said I would ask that MIM(Prisions) begin to educate me on what it truly means to be a revolutionary by first sending me basic Maoist, Marxist, and Leninist literature.
I received my copy of the book that you sent entitled [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán. I found it quite interesting because of its historical reflections, but it also produced a storm of negative thoughts to disrupt my normal tranquility and this is why. In regards to inclusion of the Agreement to End Hostilities in the [email protected] Power book, for the most part those individuals who reside on a Special Needs Yard (SNY) are not the enemy, but merely opponents with opposite points of view and I believe that to disrespect us merely because we refuse to conform to the ideology of those who believe themselves to be demigods is to go against the five principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Because not everybody on an SNY are snitches who work for the pigs. Contrary to the propaganda that is preached not everyone has gone through the debriefing process. To be real it's only about 10% who actually had to debrief because they were validated.
I don't understand why you would choose to destroy such an educational book with the propaganda that has been professed to be against "the establishment", but has utilized the worn out but effective tactic of divide and conquer for all these years. If they have learned anything from the treatment that they've been subjected to, for all those years, I would think that they would have learned that when you've got your hands full, that the only way that you will be able to grab on to anything new, is to let go of the past.
Struggle to Unite!
All unity with no struggle is the hallmark of opportunism which leads even those claiming to fight for the oppressed to take up the mantle of oppression as they continuously gloss over contradictions within the broader movement for democratic rights. This is why we must not only unite in order to struggle, but struggle to unite, as only then will the struggle for democratic rights behind prison walls develop to the point that the old prison movement fades away and enters a new stage in its development. This will be the stage in the prison movement in which the prisoner masses finally realize that their oppression is unresolvable under the current system. This will be the stage of the prison movement in which prisoners will give up their illusions of the current system. This will be the revolutionary stage in which millions of prisoners will demand national liberation for the nations oppressed under imperialism.
As dialectical materialists, Maoists are aware that all phenomena develop within the process of stages. The prison movement is no exception. The prison movement is currently in its early, embryonic stage and not yet pregnant with revolution. The Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) and the Pelican Bay Short Corridor Collective (PBSCC) are still a long way from advocating for the revolutionary nationalist stage of the prison movement. More importantly neither the objective conditions nor the subjective forces of the revolution have been sufficiently prepared for the prison movement to have entered this stage. This is not so much a judgment of the PBSCC as it is a statement of facts. However, as stated earlier, unity without struggle is the hallmark of opportunism and while we support the AEH, because we recognize and uphold the progressive nature of that document in our present stage, this should in no way mean that we won't criticize where it fails to represent the true interest of the prisoner masses. Before going into this topic further however, some background on the [email protected] Power book is needed in order to clarify any misconceptions people have have about who was behind the book project.
To be clear, [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán was a collaborative effort between revolutionary nationalists from the [email protected] nation and MIM(Prisons). It was written primarily for the imprisoned [email protected] masses in an attempt to not only educate [email protected] on our hystory, but our reality. It was an attempt to produce a comprehensive but concise work that fuses [email protected] liberation with Maoist ideology. The authors of the AEH did not take part in the production of this book. In addition, both [email protected] Power and the Struggle for Aztlán and the AEH were mutually exclusive projects carried out by two mutually exclusive groups around roughly the same period. This point is extremely important to grasp because of the scope and significance of these projects, as well as their correlation, because it speaks to the leaps in consciousness amongst both these groups. This goes to show that the revolutionary current has once again begun to surge in both the lumpen class in general and the [email protected] lumpen in particular. Both the AEH and [email protected] Power represent positive steps in the right direction.
So, while we most certainly believe that there is much room for improvement in the AEH and have said so since day one, we also believe in such a thing as United Front organizing. United Front organizing involves the unification of various groups, organizations and individuals around a common program capable of bringing together as many progressive forces in order to defeat the common, stronger enemy. The result is an alliance which, while not always easy or without difficulties, gets the job done. Therefore, what is required during this particular stage of struggle is strategic and not ideological unity. To make ideological unity a pre-requisite for U.F. organizing will undoubtedly amount to defeat after defeat for the prison movement because not everyone is at the same place politically, or of the same mind. Some people participating in the AEH are New Afrikan revolutionaries, some are for Aztlán liberation, while more are still stuck in old gang mentality; Norteño, Sureño, Blood, Crip. Some are even SNY! And while there are many things that these groups don't have in common there is still one thing that binds them together — their common oppression at the hands of a common enemy.
More to the point, our decision to take part in this United Front comes from the Maoist conception of the principal contradiction. The principal contradiction is the highest, most influential contradiction whose existence and development determines the existence and development of other contradictions. Therefore, it is imperative that all California lumpen organizations and individuals unite and uphold the correct aspects of the AEH, all the while building newer, stronger and more correct foundations based upon the revolutionary aspects of the AEH while rejecting its reactionary aspects. Doing this will ensure that the progressive nature of the document will continue to push the movement forward, lest it retrogress, stagnate and die.
The growing phenomenon of Sensitive Needs Yards in California prisons is itself a manifestation of the principal contradiction within the prison movement; and the principal contradiction is itself dialectically related to the dismantling of the old prison movement and the temporary demise of national liberation struggles within U.$. borders. Many have forgotten that it was the revolutionary impetus of groups like the Black Panther Party, the Brown Berets and many others that originally sparked the revolutionary fire within California prisons nearly 50 years ago. And just as the creation of the SNY was dialectically related to the contradictions within the old prison movement, so should the contradictions that led to the need for SNYs be resolved with the success of the new prison movement. If the new prison movement is to live up to its full potential it is essential that the prison masses learn from the mistakes of the past. This requires that the revolutionary masses behind prison walls begin organizing in opposition to the status quo, as only then will the prison movement truly become a movement of the masses and not one of individuals. This requires that the revolutionary masses begin taking the initiative in revolutionary organizing and that the leadership sponsor and provide safe avenues for the prison masses to organize. If the PBSCC is sincere in its fervor then the masses will see this and work hard for the struggle. Likewise, if the PBSCC and other prison leaders are not sincere in their fervor, then the prison masses will also see this.(1)
The present principal contradiction within the prison movement was identified by United Struggle from Within (USW) and MIM(Prisons) comrades as the parasitic/individualist versus self-sufficient/collective material interests of prisoners. Within this contradiction it is the parasitic/individualist aspect that is currently dominant, although the self-sufficient/collective material interest aspect, while currently subordinated, has been steadily gaining prominence. How this contradiction will turn out is wholly dependent on how the prison movement continues to develop. Will it continue to move forward or will it retrogress?
It is true that the AEH does not conform to the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Furthermore, if one reads this document carefully ey will note that the first point clearly states that they are only interested in bringing about substantive meaningful changes to the CDCR system in a manner beneficial to all "solid" individuals, who have never been "broken" by "CDCR's torture tactics intended to coerce one to become a state informant via debriefing..." Indeed, if the PBSCC is being honest then they should acknowledge that it is the powerful lumpen chiefs who bear the brunt of the responsibility in pushing prisoners into becoming state informants in the first place, and not CDCR. [We can look to examples like the siege of Wounded Knee when the FBI and military terrorized and interrogated the whole Oglala Sioux population and no one gave up information to the pigs. - MIM(Prisons)] Admittedly enough, the principal writers who have been contributing to Under Lock & Key since this document came out should be blamed for not practicing one divides into two politics (myself included). If the writers regularly featured in Under Lock & Key and the MIM(Prison) website are supposed to be representing the proletarian pole then it's time we begin pushing the leaders of the PBSCC and their supporters in a more revolutionary direction. If the PBSCC is serious about lessening oppression behind prison walls then they should recognize that they will need the help of SNY prisoners who make up over 30% of the CDCR prison population.(2)
by a California prisoner March 2016 permalink[In January 2016, MIM(Prisons) received a report from a comrade in Kern Valley State Prison stating that the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH) had been broken there. The incident included an attack by one group, and retaliation by another group against others not necessarily involved in the original attack. The original attackers reportedly ran to the state for protection. The prospects for peaceful resolution were not great. In response to this report, a comrade now working as part of the Free Speech Society sent us this update on efforts to reconcile the conflict in line with the AEH.]
All power to the people who do not fear real freedom!!!
In the aftermath of two small-scale race-based "isolated" incidents that occurred on B-facility in January of 2016 at Kern Valley State Prison, the Free Speech Society was able to successfully initiate a conflict resolution committee as a part of the inmate advisory council (IAC) that has been established at this prison.
The conflict resolution committee ensures the de-escalation of potential conflicts between various groups/formations on B-facility. As it constitutes a body of like-minded individuals that is both representative of the totality of the various groups/formations on B-facility, but also capable of resolving potential or actual conflicts in a responsible, positive, and expeditious fashion. In the past, Kern Valley State Prison (KVSP) administrators, which is inclusive of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations (CDCR) headquarters in Sacramento, California have made errors in one form or another, by failing to ensure the engagement of the primary stakeholders that are representative of those groups/formations actually engaged in a conflict, nor has there been a body of "like-minded" individuals specifically tasked with resolving potential conflicts before they mature into actual hostile-based conflicts, whereby unnecessary disturbances become manifest, which jeopardize the safety and security of both prisoners and staff.
Per Departmental Operations Manual (DOM) 53120.5.3 (viz. "Special Concern Sub-Committee") the KVSP B-facility Men's Advisory Council will enact the Conflict Resolution Committee (CRC). The CRC is convened for the sole purpose of resolving potential and actual conflicts on B-facility whenever and wherever they occur, and effectively articulating these resolutions to the entire prisoner population, with special attention given to the groups/formations in conjunction with the Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH).
Because appropriate representation is essential to the resolution of conflicts in an effective and responsible manner, the composition of the CRC will reflect prisoner representation from each specific group/formation who will in turn be responsible for engaging and positively resolving any subdivisions in these groups.
A basic outline of the CRC representative body will consist of a representative from each of the following groups/formations:
Bay area Blacks
Because of the sensitive nature of this special concern sub-committee, the CRC must have access to the units on B-facility, per approval of the facility captain. The daily activities of the CRC are designed to increase dialogue across cultural lines of every formation/group to promote a stronger foundation upon which issues can be put forward and resolved in a constructive manner. Communication and timing are essential components to preventing conflicts before they mature into hostile-based conflict. Therefore, CRC members must be able to talk to who they need to, when they need to. Our objective is to be proactive in resolving potential and/or actual conflicts within the general population. All prisoners are encouraged to relay any and all potential conflicts to the CRC so they can be resolved in an expeditious manner. The function and activities of this committee shall be to ensure equal and effective representation of the entire general population in the resolution of potential and actual conflicts on B-facility. The entire CRC body will abide by the by-laws of the Inmate Advisory Council (IAC).
MIM(Prisons) responds: What started as a report on the breaking of the AEH at one of the largest California state prisons, has been turned around to a testament of the practical work of the AEH. The release of comrades from SHU is at play here in ensuring that the AEH is upheld by the prison masses in a way that addresses the needs of the masses.
In short order, comrades at KVSP have put to work the tools at hand to address the contradictions among the people there in a practical way. This is an example that should be followed and repeated throughout the state and the country. All that said, in the long run we must caution against depending on institutions of the state to meet the needs of the oppressed. Conflict is not the natural state of the oppressed, it is created. And the history of CDCR is one of utilizing, encouraging and even creating divisions among the prison masses for its own interests.
When the Short Corridor Collective asked the CDCR to distribute the statement calling for an Agreement to End Hostilities (AEH), that was a correct tactical approach to working with the state. When the CDCR refused, it still strengthened the cause of peace and unity among the oppressed. In a recent essay a USW comrade lays out the history and current reality of the MAC/IACs in California prisons.(1) While their formation was based in the strength of the prison movement, they have since been used to undermine the movement, as the comrade argues, as a sort of neo-colonial force akin to U.$. foreign policy abroad. Meanwhile, another comrade in Pelican Bay who has been struggling to build peace reports that attempts to work within the MAC and within an approved Inmate Leisure Time Activity Group have both resulted in increased harrassment by staff who see unity as a threat.
Again, we commend the comrades at KVSP who have utilized the tools available to them to address a very dangerous situation, and we offer our support in those continued efforts. But we recommend that all those attempting to build peace in prisons study the 5 principles of the United Front for Peace in Prisons. Independence is one of those principles, because without independence the masses do not have the ability to make decisions for themselves and provide real solutions.
i grew up in the ghetto. The area in which i was raised isn't that much different than any other ghetto, barrio or First Nation reservation in this country. The youth in my 'hood saw the hustler's, players, gangstas and dope pushers as role models. Why? In simple terms, they were feeding the people. They were providing people with a way out of poverty, misery and suffering that was all around them.
Although from a scientific and political perspective, these people would be called social parasites and predators on their own people, one rule of humynity was in full effect — survival. Dialectically speaking, they were also the reason why many people were addicted to drugs, wimmin/boys selling their bodies, etc.
But we were born into this society, its system and culture. We didn't make it the way it is. The conditions of abject poverty, drug/alcohol addiction, prostitution, etc, were already here before we got here. So it is the cyst'm (system), the social, political, economic and cultural institutions that are controlled by this government and the people who really profit from our misery who are at fault for the problems that we see in our society.
The system of political economy that we and most people in the world today live under is called capitalism/imperialism. Malcolm X once stated, "you can't operate a capitalist system unless you are vulturistic; you have to have someone else's blood to suck to be a capitalist. You show me a capitalist and I'll show you a bloodsucker."
I want to quote extensively for a minute some things from the Draft Chapter of the Lumpen Handbook that MIM(Prisons), BORO, USW and some other groups are working on as part of a larger project.
"Power is the ability to define a phenomenon and make it act in a desired manner." - Huey P. Newton
"Marxist socialism is based in the idea that humyns, as a group, can take charge of the natural and economic laws that determine their ability to meet their material needs. Taking charge does not mean that they can decide these laws, but that they can utilize them. In doing so they develop a scientific understanding of the world around them.
"Under capitalism, the anarchy of production is the general rule. This is because capitalists only concern themselves with profit, while production and consumption of humyn needs is at the whim of the economic laws of capitalism. As a result people starve, wars are fought and the environment is degraded in ways that make humyn life more difficult or even impossible. Another result is that whole groups of people are excluded from the production system. Whereas in the past anyone could go out and produce the basic food and shelter that they needed to survive, capitalism is unique in keeping large groups of people from doing so.
"In the industrialized countries like the United States, the culture and structure of society has eliminated opportunities and knowledge to be self-sufficient as people were in the past. Production is done socially instead. Simplistically this might look like: one company produces bread, another produces shoes, and everyone working for each company gets paid and uses their pay to buy things from the other companies. Everyone gets what they need by being a productive member of the larger society.
"The problem is that there are not enough jobs. At first this might seem like a good thing; we are so advanced that we can get all the work done for the whole group with only a portion of us having to work. But under capitalism, not working means you do not get a share of the collective product. So when whole groups are not able to get jobs, they must find other ways of getting the goods that they need to survive. And we all know various ways that people do this.
"Some argue that the problem isn't too few jobs, the problem is too many people. But anyone can look around and see that there are enough incomplete tasks to keep humyns busy (repairing roads, providing medical care, maintenance of public space, etc.). There could be jobs for everyone, if we could get paid to do them. This is one of the inherent flaws in capitalism: humyns are only paid for tasks that create or actualize wealth and profit.
"So first capitalism has separated people from their need to provide everything for themselves. In doing so they alienate the worker from eir product, because it becomes the property of the capitalist. But those without jobs are also alienated from the whole production process. People often turn to the illegal service economy of selling drugs or sexual favors, or robbing and fencing stolen goods. Many also turn to the state for social services to get a distribution of the social product, without participating in production.
"All of these solutions are even more alienating than working for the capitalists. Being a shoemaker or a baker are productive tasks that people can find pleasure in, even if they do not have a say in how the product of their labor is then distributed. No one wants to poison their community, deal with the threat of violence every day, sell their body, steal from people or even take handouts without being able to participate in producing. All of these endeavors require the individual to justify actions that they know are wrong, to dehumanize other people and themselves, and to just live under a lot of stress.
"These activities, and the justifications that come with them, contribute to what then becomes the consciousness of this group of people excluded from the economy. Marx wrote about the alienation of the proletariat resulting from them not having a say in how the product of their labor is utilized. But there is a deeper level of alienation among the lumpen in that they must alienate themselves from other humyn beings, even those who are in similar situations to themselves. Capitalism promotes a dog-eat-dog mentality for all people because we are encouraged to look out for ourselves and not trust others. But this is most pronounced for the lumpen, who are in turn demonized for their disregard for other people.
"The demonization that the lumpen faces by the rest of society is one reason that none of these endeavors have futures. You can't sell dope forever. You certainly can't be a prostitute forever. Robbing and scamming is dangerous to say the least. And there are strong policies today to keep people form being on public assistance for too long unless one is disabled or elderly. So there is a strong interest among the lumpen class to choose another path, one that addresses the alienation and lack of control they have over their lives, including a limited ability to meet their needs.
"The Marxist solution to the anarchy of production provided a way out of this by overthrowing the bourgeoisie in power, and replacing them with rule by those who have nothing, and an economic system structured on public ownership and meeting humyn needs. Rather than letting the market determine production and consumption, the people themselves would decide what to produce, how much, what techniques to use and how to distribute the product.
"This was immediately seen as a threat by the bourgeoisie, who developed two possible alternatives to the Marxist solution that would allow them to remain in power and to keep exploiting the masses of the world. Similar to socialism, both alternatives required humyns to do more to consciously determine the economy they live in. The first was Keynesian economics, which is essentially a large-scale effort to tweak the capitalist economic system when it gets out of whack. The second was fascism, which was the openly terroristic dictatorship by finance capitalists, where the ideas of bourgeois democracy and free market economics were pushed out of the way. Neither addresses the inherent contradictions in the capitalist production system identified by Marx. This book is part of developing the analysis behind our solution to the problems of capitalism — the communist solution.
"The communist solution involves the organizing of the oppressed to carry out the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. A key element of revolutionary organizing is identifying who are our friends and who are our enemies. At a general level this must be about objective interests of groups of people. When Marx conducted an analysis of classes, fundamentally he was identifying the classes with an interest in the existing unequal structure (slavery, feudalism or capitalism) and those with an interest in overthrowing the unequal structure."(1)
I said all of this to say that those of us at the bottom are victims of a viscous system that must be overturned. We are not alone in this in that 50% of the world's people are living on $2 a day or less, and 80% of the world's people own only 5% of the world's wealth. In fact, it is those brothers and sisters in the Third World whom we must give more support to because it is they who are suffering the most at this time.
Capitalism/imperialism is a system and culture that produces junkies, whores, dope pushers and social predators of all sorts. Without the necessary tools for survival, people are pushed into lives that they would not normally choose for themselves.
The trick that they're playin' on us is that we're somehow responsible for all of the bullshit that goes down in society. Your choices were not wholly yours no matter what you think because you were never given the full context of the information and knowledge to otherwise be in control of your own destiny. And only a criminal can come up with complex "criminal codes" (laws) to socially control millions of people by force of arms — police, armies, courts.
Did you know that the United $tates locks up more people for drug crimes than the European Union does for all crimes and the European Union has 200 million more people? This shit ain't by accident, coincidence or happenstance! It is by design and plan!!
The solution to these problems can be found in a concrete analysis of concrete conditions. While we may not have created the fucked-up conditions, we are dedicating ourselves to solving them. This piece is meant to spark conversation around these issues and more. For anyone with any questions or who'd like to polemicize with regard to what is offered here or other pressing social or political issues, write to MIM(Prisons), PO Box 40799, San Francisco, CA 94140 and we'll get back at you at our earliest convenience. MIM(Prisons) also offers free books to prisoners and runs several study groups. Write to them if these things are of interest to you.
You are now responsible, because you know better. You an either be part of the problem or part of the solution. Be a catalyst for progressive development in your community.