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Under Lock & Key

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Racism] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [ULK Issue 46]
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How to Unite with White Lumpen

The protected, favored race here at Belmont Correctional Institution in St. Clairsville, Ohio is black, especially Muslims. Racism is against whites, light-skinned Hispanics, Jews, etc. A large part of the reason for this unusual situation is the rural nature of the prison and thus the staff employed by the prison. The catchment area for employees is 97% white, encompassing rural Belmont and surrounding Ohio counties and the bordering WV county visible from the prison yard. While it is counter-intuitive that an overwhelming white staff favors black inmates, it is easily explained: they are scared of dark skin, of people with whom they have had little or no interaction other than in the prison. The mainstream media's portrayal of blacks terrifies them. Because of this fear, blacks get a "pass" on behaviors quickly causing disciplinary action for whites, light-skinned Hispanics, etc. The few black staff overtly favor blacks as well. Due to this, and the inadequate socialization and education of the overwhelming majority of blacks here, has led them to become oppressors of these same "white boys" groups by the black majority. Official prison policy is "equalization" of blacks amongst the eight kennels of 272 per kennel, that insures this oppression in every kennel. (We also have the same dog program as in the "Prison Dog Rehab Program Underscores Inhumynity to Humyns" article of in ULK 44, and yes, the dogs are better treated than inmates.)

This leads me to address the racism in ULK 44, that clearly contradicts point #3, "We promote a united front with all who oppose imperialism." An example is contained in the response from MIM(Prisons) on the article "Ohio Guards Instigate Beating, Lock Down Prisoners as Punishment": "a systematic oppression of certain nations (New Afrikan, [email protected], First Nations) by the nation in power (the white nation)." This is overtly racist, incorrect and divisive! Power being defined in terms of political, social and economic power, that exploits the national and international proletariat, the oppressors are not all white. A thorough look at the exploitation of non-whites by non-whites in the First World, especially in the United States, Western and Eastern Europe and Asia can be elaborated upon in a full article within any upcoming issue of Under Lock & Key. Though where it would fit in the listed themes for issues 45-48 is a question, I could do so if MIM(Prisons) would be agreeable to my becoming a ULK Field Correspondent.

Incorrectly defining the oppressor class as white disenfranchises 100's of millions of the oppressed "majority" in the U.S. and Europe from the struggle rather than being inclusive. In Dialectical Materialism, Mao said, "Because the oppressed class [an economic class, not racial groups] fails when it adopts the wrong plans and succeeds by correcting its plans..." The wrong plans are to divide the proletariat along racial lines, causing the exact divisions necessary for oppression. The correct plans include all the proletariat; white, brown, black, yellow or purple. Only then, in unity, can there be the equality necessary to end oppression.


MIM(Prisons) responds: MIM(Prisons) distinguishes ourselves from other groups on six key points and this writer cites our point #3, promoting a united front with all who oppose imperialism, but then ignores point #4 which clearly states that we disagree that there is a proletariat in the First World, especially within the white nation:


"A parasitic class dominates the First World countries. As Marx, Engels and Lenin formulated and MIM Thought has reiterated through materialist analysis, imperialism extracts super-profits from the Third World and in part uses this wealth to buy off whole populations of so-called workers. These so-called workers bought off by imperialism form a new petty-bourgeoisie called the labor aristocracy; they are not a vehicle for Maoism. Those who work in the economic interests of the First World labor aristocracy form the mass base for imperialism's tightening death-grip on the Third World."

The quote above about systematic oppression is not "overtly racist," rather it is specifically addressing nation and not race. Certainly "white" is a racially loaded term, and one could argue that "Euro-Amerikan" is preferable. Yet, "white" remains a term that people can relate to and that often has more negative connotations among the oppressed. We want to stress the negative and encourage the oppressed to not identify with Amerikanism, which is the number one enemy of the world's people. We are not encouraging people to be anti-white because of some racial attributes (racism) but rather we are opposing the reality of the white nation oppressing other nations (national oppression).

This letter is from a first-time reader, so the above is old hat to our regular readers. But what made this letter more interesting to us was within the context of other things going on in Ohio. We can say with certainty that what the writer above reports is the exception to the rule in both Ohio and throughout the United $tates prison system. While this could just be one persyn's subjective experience, it is feasible enough that we will assume for now that what s/he says about New Afrikans playing the oppressor role in Belmont is true at this time. Now let's look at a report from a USW organizer in a different Ohio prison:

"A lot of the individuals professing white supremacist beliefs also contain some underlying socialist views. Whether enough of a test to be an indicator of 'all' or not, i've decided to halt attempts at developing their consciousness at this time. i've opened up my study group to more than a few of them, usually after they've continued to join in open conversations over the range. However, once they see materials that expose Amerika as an oppressor nation they go 'subjective' on me, getting extremely defensive and also protective in claiming the united $tates as their rightful possession."

Our comrades at this prison have decided to focus on single-nation organizing due to their experiences. We want to commend both their efforts to be open to all potential allies, as well as their scientific approach to the situation. Taking a scientific approach requires dealing in probability. This comrade acknowledges that h limited experience does not prove that all white supremacists are pro-imperialism, but that combined with our theory of the labor aristocracy it supports a practice of focusing on organizing New Afrikans. Clearly this single-nation strategy is not coming from a racist political line, but a scientific assessment of national alliances in practice. This practice will ultimately prove more successful than if these comrades had hidden their critique of Amerika in an effort to unite with these white supremacists, which is why this is a dividing-line question for us.

In some writings on the First World lumpen we've specified that we are talking about the oppressed nation lumpen only. This is because we see nation as the principal contradiction, leading to the vast majority of whites allying with imperialism, even at the lowest economic classes. In other writings we talk about uniting the imprisoned lumpen as a whole. This is because the conditions of imprisonment put all nationalities in the same position, living side-by-side, where there is greater potential for them to recognize their common plight. And there is history of this being true in Ohio itself during the Lucasville uprising, as well as in California. In both cases, it was not just white prisoners, but the Aryan Brotherhood who stood with oppressed nation lumpen organizations to demand concessions from the state. It is for this reason that in point #3 we say, "Even imperialist nation classes can be allies in the united front under certain conditions."

On the other hand there are countless examples of oppressed nation lumpen organizations working against the people, even playing the role of organizing violence in alliance with the state, as the first writer above alludes to. This is the dual nature of the lumpen class overall that makes it a potentially dangerous and revolutionary class. Yet, the national contradiction in the United $tates favors the revolutionary potential for oppressed nation lumpen in the long run, while making it more likely for white lumpen to become the foot soldiers fighting for a fascist state to rise. At the same time, we believe the probability of anti-imperialism to develop among white prisoners to be higher than white Amerikans in general. It is not that black=good and white=bad in an absolute sense. It is about percentages. And as our USW comrade found while putting h theories into practice, while there is a high percentage chance of white prisoners opposing the state, and even favoring seemingly socialist ideals, there is a very low percentage chance of them opposing Amerikan exceptionalism and hegemony. Such people are allies in the prison reform struggle, but rarely in the anti-imperialist struggle.

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[Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Latin America]
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Narcoland Book Review

Narcoland book cover

Book Review: Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers
By Anabel Hernandez
2014

Anabel Hernandez exposes the biggest drug organization: The U.$. and Mexican government. Business men, and all branches of the government. Although she doesn't dig deeper into the Amerikan agencies like FBI, DEA, DHS, ICE, etc., she does point out to the involvement of the CIA in the drugs-arms trade in Central America during the civil wars focused on destroying the communist movements.

Unlike other "conspiracy theory" books, Hernandez backs up the facts in her book with evidence and information newly open and available to most. Recent scandals of money laundering by banks like HSBC, HSMX, Bank of Amerika, etc only reinforce the evidence Hernandez presents in her book. The main criminals are those who benefit from this politico-social-economic capitalist system.

As someone that grew up in the poorest section of Mexican society I can say that this book is the most revealing one I've ever read regarding the sad situation in Mexico, especially when speaking of the so-called "War on Drugs." Besides highly recommending this book to everyone and especially my co-nationals; I want to make sure that everyone is aware of the stupid idolization some people fall to. These "drug-lords" are part of the system too. They are working together. As Roberto Saviano puts it in the book foreword,

"Narco-land is not only an essential book for anyone willing to look squarely at organized crime today. Narcoland also shows how...capitalism is in no position to renounce the mafia. Because it is not the mafia that has transformed itself into a modern capitalist enterprise - it is capitalism that has transformed itself into mafia. The rules of drug trafficking that Hernandez describes are also the rules of capitalism."

People in the poor countries, like Mexico, get pulled to crime out of necessity, no arguing about that. But once some of these people get ultra-rich, or just rich, they become part of the problem. These people have billions of dollars not just millions, and rather than use this to educate and arm the people, they use it to buy private planes, yachts, mansions and party and celebrate with the elites at the businesses and governments.

In one way these drug lords are depicted as "bad" by the capitalist government, and society. In another they are admired and discretely shown as a roll model via brainwashing to the youth and uneducated, in the movies (Scarface), TV series (Breaking Bad), and so-called documentaries (Gangland), among many other sources.

Hernandez says "It has to stop [the Mexican drug-political system], and the only ones who can stop it are ordinary citizens... It will only end when Mexican society unites agains this immense 'mafia.' That means overcoming fear and apathy, and above all the tacit assumption that things can not be any different." It's up to us to be more political conscious and do what we must. Whether "Drug-Lords" or "capitalists," they are the same ideology. Meanwhile kids are hungry and lack clothes and education, the most basic needs.

Book also available in Spanish, as "Los Señores del Narco," de Anabel Hernandez.


MIM(Prisons) adds: This book review makes an important point about class analysis and identifying our friends and enemies. While the First World lumpen, individuals who may get pulled into small time drug dealing, are a class that as a whole we can hope to win to the side of revolution, the drug lords have moved out of this class, if they were ever a part of it. They function as a comprador bourgeoisie, profiting off the suffering of their people and working hand in hand with the imperialists. Just because the drug trade is supposedly illegal does not change this reality. And as this review points out, the governments that have outlawed drugs are among the biggest players in drug dealing. What is legal and what is criminal under capitalism is about politics, not about justice or humyn rights.

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [New Afrika]
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New Virginia Organization Embraces United Front for Peace

Thank you for sending me the essay titled Let's 'Gang-Up' on Oppression by Owusu Yaki Yakubu.(1) Having become a "reformed" gang member, this essay was extremely enlightening and solidified what I already knew: that the government fears the unification of gangs and their unified opposition against oppression. They also fear any gang member or other lumpen street elements developing a socially conscious, politicized, and revolutionary mentality.

I became politicized in the early 90s during my second year of captivity. I took a long and hard look at myself as a so-called "gang" member and I came to realize that I was being manipulated by the powers-that-be, through the process of psychology and socialization, to commit genocide against my own people. So I cut my gang ties and came to embrace Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism.

In his essay Owusu speaks about the New Afrikan Independence Movement. The article titled Terminology Debate: Black vs. New Afrikan, in No. 35 issue of Under Lock & Key, also speaks about New Afrikan Nationalism. I am in the process of starting an organization called My Brother's and Sister's Keeper (MBSK), which embraces Revolutionary New Afrikan Nationalism as its political mass line, or guiding principle. This ideology calls for the establishment of an independent socialist New Afrikan republic in the Southeast (USA), specifically in the Black-belt, the destruction of the North Amerikkkan imperialist state, the liberation and unification of Afrikan nations worldwide, the construction of a New Afrikan society, and the building of a new world order.

A New Afrikan is an Afrikan born in north Amerikkka. The name and concept "New Afrika" reflects our identity, purpose and direction. "New Afrikan" reflects our identity as a nation and a people - a nation and a people desiring self-determination. "New Afrikan" reflects our purpose as we desire freedom, self-determination and independence. By stating we are New Afrikans, we clarify we want to be independent from the Amerikkkan Empire. We want land and national liberation. We no longer want the ruling class of the amerikkkan Empire to determine our political, economic, socio-cultural affairs. MBSK sees that a people who do not control their own affairs is subject to genocide. When we control our own destiny we can determine our political, economic and socio-cultural affairs in the interest of our survival and development. "New Afrikan" also speaks to our identity because that's what we are. Our nation is primarily a racial, cultural, social fusion of various Afrikan ethnic and national groups - Iwe, Yoruba, Akan, Ashanti, Fante, Hausa, Ibo, Fulani, Congolese and several others - into a unique people. Even though our homeland was in Afrika, our people developed historical, economic, and spiritual ties to the New Afrikan National Territory, which consists of the states of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana. These states together are part of the historical Black belt birthplace, and the North Amerikkkan homeland of the New Afrikan nation. The struggle to free this land is called the New Afrikan Independence Movement (NAIM). To state we are New Afrikan recognizes our continuing aspirations to "free the land." "Free the Land" is the battle cry of the NAIM. When we say "free the land," the New Afrikan national territory is the land we are talking about freeing.

"New Afrikan" also recognizes our direction to build a new society based on new values. We want to create a revolutionary, progressive, humane society where exploitation of humans by humans is eliminated and all can live in dignity, peace and respect. As conscious New Afrikans, we work now to transform ourselves and our nation from decadent death-style of oppression to lifestyles of liberation.

MSBK embraces and upholds the United Front for Peace in Prisons statement of principles. we oppose any Willie Lynch-style divide and conquer tactics the fascist prison authorities (pigs) use to cause division amongst the revolutionary ranks and amongst the races or oppressed nations.

The essay Let's Gang-Up on Oppression re-affirms what we already knew: that we need to develop unity within and amongst lumpen street organization and re-direct their aggression and radicalism to wage the real war: revolution.

Again, I thank you for sending me your material. I made copies of the essay and the UFPP statement of principles and passed them out among the younger brothers here affiliated with lumpen street organizations.


Notes: 1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)

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[United Front] [Organizing] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs] [Theory] [ULK Issue 35]
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A Message to Street Organizations: Ride or Die! Unite or Perish!

urban lock & key

There are two wars waging in oppressed communities throughout the United $nakes: a war by the imperialist-oppressor nation to keep poor and oppressed communities in semi-colonial bondage, and a war between lumpen street organizations. The battlefields are the reservations, barrios, ghetto cities and prison plantations. Many of you have defined the war between us and the dominant nation incorrectly as "racism," but what is really going on is national oppression. And, in order to defeat and destroy national oppression a "nation" must engage in a national liberation struggle with the end result being national independence. But this is getting ahead of myself.

Many of you who belong to a street organization, misnomered a gang, know the history of your group and can trace yourselves back to when your organization fought against injustices being perpetrated against some segment of your community. And you know that many have deviated from your origins and laws. At the same time, a lot of you are struggling to re-define and re-direct your organization back to their original purposes — serving the needs of the people.

Conversely, we all recognize or should recognize that the conditions of our communities and nations are a direct result of our colonization by those who settled this country. The poverty, misery and suffering, the drug addiction and violence are all because you are not in control of your own development and destiny. Those who don't rule, get ruled.

My question to you is 1) who ultimately bears the responsibility to see that peace exists in our communities? 2) who bears responsibility to see that we have adequate housing, medical care, education, etc? 3) who benefits most from our communities being saturated with drugs? 4) who benefits most from all of the violence in our communities? 5) who benefits the most from all of us being incarcerated?

Know that the state and federal government have been discussing changing federal laws that would declare gangs and gang nmembers to be domestic terrorists. Why would they do that? Because those in power know that you have the actual and potential power to change this society, that you have the actual and potential power to liberate your nation. You can put an end to police brutality, homelessness, hunger, war, etc. Yea, you have that power!

"The police, and those that they truly serve and protect, do not want us to respect the actual and potential power of our young people, they do not want us to glimpse, through our youth, the power that lies within each of us. If the crips and bloods can bring peace to our communities, and the police can't or won't, then why do we need the police? If the Disciples, Vice Lords, Latin Kings and other street organizations can serve and protect our children and elders, and the state demonstrates that it can't or won't, then why should we continue to depend upon it and profess loyalty to it? If the power to end violence exists within our own communities, then we should be looking for ways to increase our power, and we should be looking for ways to exercise it."(1)

Ain't nothing wrong with being in a street organization, because after all, a "gang" is a group of people with close social relations that work together. The problem is that most street organizations are moving in the wrong direction. They're engaging in the wrong social practices which are retarding the growth and development of our people.

Through the media and other outlets, the negative images of gangs are filtered (like that bullshit Gangland), so that our people will see street organizations as the main problem existing in our hoods, and they'll ask for more police presence and harsher prison sentences for those identified as gang members. But gangs didn't create the current problems. The state fears that you'll become conscious and active and solve the problems.

Dig this: "One of the main reasons for the rampant crime that occurs in the colonies is national oppression. The colonized live in areas where there is unemployment or underemployment, crummy housing with high rent and poor education. The colonized kill and fight over the money that secures necessities... this reality afflicts the nationally oppressed in the most harmful ways. The nationally oppressed do not hold state power nor the economic power to compete with the oppressors... so the rampant crime in the colonies is not due to self-hatred but national oppression and capitalist culture and policy."(2)

So you see, "Our problem is not that there are gangs in our communities — our problem is that our communities are colonized territories that suffer from arrested development caused by the U.S. settler-imperialist state. Thus, we have no need to attack gangs — that is, ideally, we have no need to attack any organized group of our people that work to free the process of our collective development. [my emphasis] What we must do is make sure that all organized groups in our communities have this as their goal — and so long as we deal with members of our communities (i.e. members of our families), the means that we use should be education and persuasion, rather than physical force. However, even if stronger means are called for, they should be means created and employed by forces within our own communities and not those of U.S., local, state and federal governments. The transformation of gangs into progressive groups within our communities is part of the process of acquiring group power that will enable us to control every aspect of our lives. Our problem is that too many people in our communities — old and young — lack the identity, purpose and direction required of us if we are to acquire the kind of power that we need to truly free ourselves and begin to pursue the development of our ideal social order."(1)

The betterment of our conditions must begin with self, with you making a conscious and disciplined commitment to transforming yourselves and your organizations. Prestige bars any serious attack on power. Do people attack a thing they consider with awe, with a sense of legitimacy? This is an aspect of the "criminal" and the "colonial" (slave) mentality: continued recognition and acceptance of the legitimacy of the colonial rule, to continue to feel that the colonial state has a right to rule over the colonized.

If we take control of our communities and the power to control every aspect of our lives, then we can ensure that the lynchings end. You can put an end to there ever being another Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Trayvon Martin lynching.

Soldiers, Riders, Gangstaz — protect your community, clean it up, build it up, feed it, educate it, and let no one do it any harm. That's gangsta, but revolutionary!

Ride or Die!
Unite or Perish!
July 2013

Notes:
1. Let's "Gang-Up" on Oppression: Youth Organizations and the Struggle for Power in Oppressed Communities (revised) by Owusu Yaki Yakubu. This version can be requested from MIM(Prisons)
2. Essay: Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth, by a New York Prisoner, MIM Theory 9, 1995. Available from MIM(Prisons)

MIM(Prisons) adds: This statement from BORO is a good explanation of why the United Front for Peace work is important, and is demanded by the people. While we are building the United Front for Peace in Prisons we must also work towards a United Front on the streets, where the lumpen organizations come together to fight our common enemy: imperialism. We have seen examples of strong unity and educational advancement in many street organizations. The UFPP works to set an example in prisons that can be taken to the streets.

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[Organizing] [National Oppression] [Street Gangs/Lumpen Orgs]
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Lumpen Organizations: Organizations of the Oppressed Feared by the Police

This article was translated and updated by USW C-4 based on an article originally printed in Notas Rojas

Lately there have been news reports about the amount of L.O. related violence. The "solution" proposed is the presence of more police on the streets and barrios of the oppressed nations. In every state where lumpen organizations exist propositions are being heard to raise police funding by millions of dollars. Asking from a reformist perspective, why isn't that money used to create youth training centers for office/trade or education, and the only logical response is that the police, government and white-nation simply want to make life more impossible for oppressed nation people. Above all for Latinos and Blacks.

Lumpen Organizations are a logical extension of capitalist society

When speaking about gangs and violence let's not forget that the most powerful gang and most violent of 'em all is the U.$. government, and it's agencies of protection are the same entities that determine what is and isn't a gang. It can be said that the gang of "Amerikkka" serves as a model for street gangs which are less violent and less powerful. The similarities are obvious: they both defend territories they've taken possession of, many times with violence, they both take part in illegal trade of narcotics and guns for financial gain (and in the case of street-gangs for protection). In the U.$. there was the initiation of chemical warfare on the Black nation in the form of the crack cocaine epidemic which began in the 70s and 80s, also worth noting is the more recent uncovering of CIA agents selling high power firearms to the drug cartels of Mexico. The difference with respect to lumpen organizations and their members is that many times they don't have another option. The government on the other hand does it as a way to enforce it's politics to assure it's hegemonic control over the Third World as well as a form of making money. No one prohibits the government from continuing.

The irony of the matter is that government functionaries are fighting against something that represents the logical extension of the colonizer's society of the U.$. along with it's values and all. The power, the violence and the voracious ambition are all part of the patrimony of the United $tates. Instead of attacking the root of the problem, the pigs favor armed suppression of the youth. To truly solve the problem you have to solve the problem of the nature of society as a whole and destroy the model on which street gangs are based, the military and the government of the United $tates.

Whatever diminishment in gang activity there is due to mass incarceration and/or the augmented presence of pigs will only serve to quiet the issue for a short period of time and might even cause the transfer of the gang to a territory with less police. A real solution to the violence of street crime needs to include the abolition of the system that requires that some live in misery while others live in disgusting and exaggerated wealth, while the rich accuse the poor of not being "smart" like them as an explanation for the wealth.

The inequality of power is a necessary condition of capitalist/imperialist society. The solution requires doing away with this oppressive system. For those who are searching for a more immediate solution for society's problems like gang violence which affect their communities, the community ends up losing when they make it a priority to increase police presence. How many times must it be proven that the police are our enemies. They kill us without a care in the world. See our recent article on David Deacon Turner, former NFL player killed by the pigs.

Many people who witness the more visible violence, that of the LOs and not of the police, are siding with the pigs against the LOs. This is expected for many reasons, including the friendly relationship between the police and the press. The press doesn't occupy itself with exposing the abuses and assassinations by the police.

For this debate the voice that's most needed is that of the LOs and their members. After all, can we trust in the press or in a press conference by the police? Or that the press will lie about the LOs? The LOs and their supporters have reason to stay away from the yellow press; instead they should utilize other methods and mediums in building public opinion to speak for them. This is another of the millions of reasons why the oppressed need their own independent media. LO members are encouraged to write MIM(Prisons) to have their voices heard in ULK and to help develop an analysis of the lumpen by the lumpen for the betterment of the lumpen.

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