Anti-imperialists got a little taste of good news from Trump last month when ey announced plans to pull troops out of Syria. Ey later backpedaled saying ey did not set a timeline for such a pull out. But Trump has long made comments indicating that the new focus of U.$. strategy will be to combat China and Russia. In other words, the war on oppressed nations, particularly in the middle east and north Africa, and euphemistically dubbed the "War on Terror," will no longer be the primary focus.
It has always been MIM line that we are in a period of World War III, that is a low intensity war by the imperialists against the oppressed nations. The hegemony of the United $tates allowed for this to be the focus in the decades following World War II. That hegemony is fading, and the emergence of a fourth world war, or a third inter-imperialist war is bubbling to the surface.
Of course, inter-imperialist war does not mean the oppressed nations get a reprieve from the needless brutality of capitalism, as inter-imperialist war is always about carving up the oppressed nations for their resources and markets. Enter "Prosper Africa", the plan announced by U.$. National Security Advisor John Bolton in December. Bolton stated, "America's vision for the region is one of independence, self-reliance and growth, not dependency, domination and debt."(1) This is a hypocritical jab at China, from the country who has done more to make Africa dependent and in debt in the last half-century than any other. At the same time the Trump administration is calling for more "honest" dealings with Africa, that recognize U.$. economic and political interests more openly.
The "Prosper Africa" plan coincides with Pentagon plans to reduce U.$. troops in Africa by 10%. Nothing close to our demands to shut down Africom, rather a subtle adjustment of current U.$. strategy. The immediate focus seems to be drawing hard lines in the sand of the African continent between those compliant with U.$. imperialism and those who are not.
In recent years, China has joined forces with other emerging imperialist or sub-imperialist nations with independent banking capital including Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa (BRICS). As a group, the BRICS countries have greatly increased trade with African countries over the last decade. Increases in trade on the whole is a benefit to the well-being of all peoples involved. While this trade provides outlets and opportunities for capital from countries with growing finance capital, the established imperialist powers (the United $tates and France) face a reduction in their access to markets and in their ability to strong arm the oppressed nations of the world into serving their interests. This threatens to contribute to economic crisis in the advanced imperialist economies, and trigger more militaristic and desperate actions politically.
The Trump administration has hinted at pulling support from United Nations (U.N.) "peacekeeping" missions in Africa. While opposing the U.N. garners support from white nationalists subscribing to isolationalism and Amerikkkan exceptionalism, the real motivation here is likely to reduce Chinese influence in the region. More than 2,500 Chinese troops are stationed in war zones created by U.$. and French imperialism in South Sudan, Liberia and Mali. China accounted for 1/5 of the U.N. troops pledged to operations in Africa in 2015.(2)
China established its first military base outside of China in 2017 at the strategic location of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa. This is in line with a shift in Chinese foreign policy over the last decade from non-interference to "protecting our country's over-seas interests."(3) The United $tates, France and Japan are among the countries with existing bases in Djibouti, where the government depends on military leases as an important source of income.
The U.$.-backed coup and murder of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 helped break the continent's resistance to Africom. Up until then Africom had to operate out of Europe. With the pan-Africanist government in Libya out of the way, Africom was able to operate from within Africa for the first time. Now the United $tates has at least 46 military bases in Africa and close military relations with 53 out of the 54 African countries. Many countries have agreements to cede operational command of their militaries to Africom.(4)
While the coup in Libya was a victory for U.$. imperialism, it continues to be a disaster for Libyans, with repercussions for the whole region. The United $tates will have a much harder time stemming the still-expanding Chinese pole that challenges U.$. hegemony in Africa. As this contradiction threatens the world with inter-imperialist war, it offers opportunities for the oppressed to move independently as cracks widen in the imperialist system.
On 13 January 2019, MIM(Prisons) sent 230 signatures on the petition to shut down Africom to the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) who will be presenting them to the Black Congressional Congress after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. This petition calls for the disbanding of Africom (a U.$. imperialist tool to control African militaries), the removal of all U.$. military bases on African soil and the end to U.$. invasions, bombings and other military operations on the continent.
So far we have received petitions from United Struggle from Within (USW) comrades in California, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia. BAP is accepting signatures until April 4 — the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. We encourage people to write to us for petitions ASAP and get your signatures in to us by April 1. And we encourage comrades to continue to spread information on this topic to build public opinion against U.$. imperialism in Africa.
USW comrades faced resistance in carrying out this campaign from staff and some prisoners. One USW cell lost 2 sheets of signatures in an altercation with a racist prisoner who opposed its work. Elsewhere in California, prison staff were ordered to target anti-Africom fliers for removal, and USW comrades were targeted for their leadership which forced signature gathering to end early. We have seen increased mail tampering and censorship with California comrades since this campaign began. If it weren't for repression, we would have had twice the number of signatures to submit before the deadline.
While our numbers weren't as high as the goal set by USW, comrades did a good job of turning this around on relatively short notice. Our slow lines of communication limit our ability to organize swiftly. So this was good experience for us in improving in that realm. One thing we need to do better next time is to have a larger list of USW members to forward campaign materials to. If you are a member of USW and did not get the Africom campaign packet, let us know and keep us updated on your organizing work so that you stay on our list of active USW members.
Below are some reports we received back with the completed petitions.
A USW cell in California: Here are 54 signatures we gathered. I hoped there'd be more but all our volunteers backed out on us at the last minute. At least one volunteer was reluctant to participate due to fear of repression. Besides that however it was a good campaign overall. The fliers with the timeline really came in handy. They helped us explain to people what the petition was about. In many instances me and another volunteer spoke at length to people about the nature of the campaign making it clear that our focus here was the oppressed & exploited people of Africa. In some situations, however, we found ourselves agitating for this campaign by talking about the fact that even Amerikan troops' lives were being needlessly sacrificed so that the U.$. government could secure the free flow of natural resources out of Africa. We did this keeping in mind how the Vietnamese National Liberation Front established relations with just about every and any Amerikan organization that was critical of U.$. involvement in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were smart in the respect that they were able to masterfully exploit every crack and division in the domestic U.$. anti-war movement.
A great many signatories were Mexican nationals and nationals from different Central American countries who didn't have to listen to more than the basics of our line before they signed. When agitating amongst this Spanish-speaking population we also found ourselves linking the plight of the Central American caravan to that of African refugees stranded at sea being denied entry into Europe.
Only three people refused to give us their signatures. Two of these people were skeptical from the gate and requested more information on Africom, which we happily handed over, whereas one refused to believe us and called us liars. All three were "brown proud patriots."
In closing, we'd like to thank the Black Alliance for Peace for letting us be a part of this campaign. While gathering signatures we found that prisoners were empathetic to the plight of Africans at the hands of U.$. imperialism in this new scramble for Africa. Surely the great African masses will successfully resist U.$. oppression, exploitation and domination, eject the colonizers and have a principal role in defeating U.$. imperialism once and for all. We hope we've made a difference. In Struggle!
Earlier these comrades had reported: We made copies of existing fliers and put them up in different buildings beforehand in an effort to build public opinion for the campaign. Unfortunately, we just received word a couple days ago that all the fliers we put up were taken down by officers on the orders of their superiors. When officers were asked why the fliers were removed they said they didn’t know, they just received a call explaining to them what to look for and to remove them. This is highly suspect since our fliers were up along with a variety of other fliers on an informational board with over 30 fliers including religious propaganda. Yet the Africom campaign fliers were singled out and removed. All this follows an odd run-in with security squad about a month ago. We've since put the fliers back up.
A report from another USW cell in California: I have enclosed 1 sheet [30 signatures] for the petition to dissolve the Africom military command. There are two pages of missing signatures that we worked very hard to acquire here. The problems last week started over a rude racist comment about "nigger politics," which was dealt with promptly on the spot. [Two comrades from this USW cell ended up in the hole as a result of this conflict.]
MIM(Prisons) adds: One comrade who did not participate in the petition drive challenged the campaign to shut down Africom, and in particular questioned Ajamu Baraka as a former Vice Presidential candidate with the Green Party. While MIM(Prisons) did not endorse Baraka's electoral campaign, we whole-heartedly support this campaign to get U.$. imperialism out of Africa, and stand with Baraka on revolutionary nationalist positions such as the one ey took in a recent article responding to the Prosper Africa plan:
"Africans in the U.S. must make a choice. Malcolm said you cannot sit at the table and not have any food in front of you and call yourself a diner. Africans in the U.S. have been sitting at the table of U.S. citizenship and calling themselves 'Americans' while our people are murdered, confined to cages in prisons, die giving birth to our children, die disproportionately before the age of five, live in poverty, are disrespected and dehumanized. A choice must be made, do you throw in with this dying system or do you align with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world."(1)
When it comes to guns and gun violence, Amerikkka truly is #1. According to The Guardian: "No other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own an estimated 265m guns, more than one gun for every adult." Further, there is a mass shooting nine out of every ten days in this country. That's 1,516 mass shootings in 1,735 days.(1) These statistics define mass shootings as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter. That's a broader definition than is used by the government and many other statisticians. But it's illustrative of the tremendous gun violence happening in the United $tates.
Recent mass shootings, including the Las Vegas country music festival massacre, the shooting in a Southerland, Texas Baptist church, and the Orlando Pulse nightclub killings have led to a lot of discussion about gun violence in the United $tates. While there is a long history of mass shootings in this country, various analyses confirm that incidents are on the rise.(2)
In reality mass shootings are just a small part of gun deaths in the United $tates. Over 400 thousand people died from gun violence between 2001 and 2013, the majority (over 200,000) were suicides. Mass shootings only made up about 3% of the homicides in 2017 so far.(3) But there is little discussion of all the other gun-related deaths.
Gun violence in general doesn't bother most Amerikans. It certainly doesn't make it into everyday conversation. The mass shootings are unique in that they appear random and unpredictable. They introduce an element of fear into everyday life for Amerikans who like to think their lives are charmed and protected by citizenship. Especially white Amerikans. And this is a uniquely white phenomenon. The vast majority of mass shootings in public places (71%) between 1982 and 2012 were perpetuated by white men.(2) That's quite a disproportionate representation as "non-Hispanic" white men make up about 1/3 of the general population.
An epidemic of mental illness?
When perpetrated by white people, politicians bend over backwards to explain that the shooter was mentally ill. Mental illness is a convenient cover story to dismiss all of these incidents as the fault of the individual. Something that couldn't have been prevented. And this mental illness is easy to "prove," since we generally define mental health to include not indiscriminately murdering people.
Rather that attribute all this violence to individual mental illness, communists look at society and social causes. If we believe that all these folks are mentally ill, shouldn't we be concerned that Amerikans are suffering from an epidemic of mental illness unseen in other nations? Even by the capitalists' own psychology argument about fault, there must be something systematically wrong in this country.
An analysis that looks beyond the individual will quickly conclude that there is something wrong with Amerikan society that it's producing all of these mass killers. But it's not that Amerika just has an over-abundance of crazy people who like to go on shooting sprees. These mass killings are a direct result of Amerikan capitalism, its culture, and its gun-mongering. People who are floundering for a purpose in their lives latch on to this culture.
Capitalism lacks the ability to provide most people with a meaningful purpose in life. The individualist focus of capitalism teaches Amerikans that they should make money, and then spend that money to enjoy life. Also maybe throw in some meaningless sex for fun. But this doesn't lead to a strong sense of purpose or self-worth. Especially for those who don't succeed at the money-making, or at the sex. So we end up with lots of people depressed, and without a way to address what is wrong with their lives. This is just one of many contradictions of capitalism. Even those benefiting financially from the system can end up feeling purposeless and depressed.
It should not be lost on readers of ULK that all this talk about mass shootings is explained away by mental illness but any individual of Arab descent who carries out an act of violence is labeled a terrorist. White men are not considered terrorists, they're just ill. Muslims (and non-Muslims who come from a predominantly Muslim region) resisting imperialist domination and violence are "terrorists."
Capitalism = violence
Another contradiction for capitalism is the promotion of violence. The imperialists raise up war and the killing of "enemies" as a heroic act. This is necessary because war for the imperialists is a critical part of conquering the land and people who supply natural resources and labor to create capitalist profits. And war is also important to keeping those people oppressed when they try to rise up and resist.
Capitalist culture glorifies this war and killing. The Vietnam War was the last truly messy war from the perspective of Amerikans. The draft forced men into the army who didn't want to go fight, and most people knew someone who died or was injured. That war was hard to glorify, especially when it involved massacring peasants who just wanted to control their land and their lives. But now, with an all-volunteer army, capitalism has grown more and more cavalier with its glorification of war. The imperialists have also worked hard at marketing these wars, stressing the danger (drugs, terrorism, or whatever is the latest war du jour) that threatens the Amerikan way of life.
With this glorification of war comes a cultural onslaught of violence. We have movies about war, and video games about war, and serialized TV shows about the government engaged in geo-political war games (not to mention cop shows). Violence is as Amerikan as apple pie. And guns are just the current device used in that violence.
All these Amerikan gun-related deaths reveal the moribund nature of capitalism. It can't even keep control of its own privileged citizens. This is not a stable system. There are some strong reasons why even privileged Amerikans should oppose capitalism.
What about gun control?
In the short term, restricting access to guns by Amerikans would probably lead to a reduction in random shooting events. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that for every 1 percent increase in gun ownership levels in a state, there was a corresponding 0.9 percent increase in the firearm homicide rate.(4)
But stricter laws like this always lead to greater restrictions on oppressed people and political activists first and foremost. So we should never suggest the government should increase its powers at the expense of the freedom of the people. Gun control laws were used against groups like the Black Panther Party, who carried guns in self-defense in response to police indiscriminately harassing and killing Black people. Theirs was a righteous protest against a murderous police force. And they acted within the law, carrying guns for protection. So the government, backed by white organizations like the National Rifle Association, changed the law, specifically so that the BPP could not display their guns in public. This display of guns by New Afrikan revolutionaries was terrifying to white Amerika. It's easy for Amerika to enact more restrictive gun control laws when threatened by oppressed nations.
What will stop the violence?
Until we put an end to the capitalist system that encourages violence we're not going to see an end to random gun violence in the United $tates. This is one example of the benefit people in imperialist countries will get from our revolutionary project. They will no longer be allowed to live high off the exploitation of Third World peoples, but they won't have to exist in a culture that promotes senseless violence.
Unfortunately, there isn't a magic bullet. Even after capitalism is overthrown by a communist party representing the oppressed and exploited, the capitalist culture won't just disappear overnight. Maoists in China determined that a series of cultural revolutions would be necessary as a part of the transition from socialism to communism. Those cultural revolutions will fight against the ills so ingrained in us from capitalist culture. They will mobilize people to create new culture that serves the interests of the people. And over time, possibly over several generations, we will get rid of the rotten old culture of individualism, decadence and violence.
Through the eye of the media, one can't help but see and understand the agendas being put forth. First look at how the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear program is being covered with emotionally-driven and fear-inspiring news coverage. In comparison to the cold war period in the United States, where that was solely ideological war due to it being two white global superpowers with different political identities the nuclear issue wasn't syndicated by news on the level that North Korea's nuclear program has been. The United States and all major countries of European descent have done everything in their collective power to keep these weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of nations, governments and people of color or hue. This is about dominance over every country in the world or simply put, 'might makes right' ideology.
Just look at what happened when Iran was building a nuke. How much these European governments were willing to do and in fact pay so that these Middle Easterners would not have the same power of destruction that they themselves wield, and the United States alone has used, on people of color.
These global white supremacists have done everything they could to destabilize nations' governments that they could not control by creating borders on foreign continents, setting up puppet governments (often dictators the likes of Saddam Hussein and Benjamin Netanyahu who use war as a distraction of their individual greed), support contras by the sales of cocaine on the streets of their own country, in which they've colonized other peoples. Gangstering all less technologically-savvy nations out of raw materials, such as petroleum, gold, silver, diamonds, chocolate, opium, uranium, spices, sugar, and factory workers who they pay slave wages. They then turn around and use this wealth to build factories in their home countries and pay their own citizens the going wages.
I say equal power is equal defense, which entitles all nations the same kind of weapons including nuclear bombs if that's what you could be faced with. These global white supremacists only respect those who can present an equal threat. History has proven these whites are the makers and users of weapons of mass destruction, from muskets, rifles, guns, machine guns, grenades, C-4, chemical gases, dirty bombs, hydrogen and nuclear bombs. They've created viruses, diseases, tortures. Yet the media is far more dangerous than any of the ones before mentioned, due to its ability to influence the minds of those not fully conscious of the reality of being controlled by the designers of this Global White Supremacy Agenda.
MIM(Prisons) adds: In July, August and September the Democratic People's Republic of Korea launched a series of nuclear missile tests. The DPRK reports it has developed a more advanced hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM).(1) They've also reported that their ICBMs can now reach the mainland of the United $tates. Meanwhile, the United $tates has launched recent tests of their B61-12, a bomb that delivers nuclear weapons by fighter jet.(2) The United $tates and Russia still have far more nuclear warheads than other countries, almost 100 times the number of what the DPRK has.(3)
People who grew up during the cold war lived in a culture of fear of a nuclear attack. So we do not agree that the threat was ignored during that period because it was "white" countries involved. If anything, we'd argue that we've grown too comfortable with the risk of nuclear disaster that these weapons continue to put us in since the collapse of the social-imperialist Soviet Union. And this cold war was also an imperialist reaction to potential resistance. Although the Soviet Union gave up socialism and turned to state capitalism in the 1950s, the United $tates held on to the anti-communist fear. Socialism in the Soviet Union (and China, and other countries) was a significant threat to imperialism, and so the United $tates prepared for a war to defend their wealth and dominance.
Otherwise, we agree with the author above on the hypocrisies of the imperialists. Militarism is integral to the economic success of the imperialist countries. The DPRK has never used its military to gain wealth by exploiting or stealing from other nations. Rather it sacrifices resources from its isolated economy to ensure it can militarily protect itself from imperialists who would otherwise use their weapons against the Korean people to gain access to the labor and markets that the DPRK government denies them. The leverage of nuclear weapons decreases the need to mobilize the able-bodied population into military maneuvers in response to U.$. operations on its border. There are two massive military exercises led by the United $tates on the Korean peninsula each year. One, Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, occurs in August when it is harvest season.(4) The other, Foal Eagle, occurs in the spring, often overlapping with the planting season in the northern hemisphere.(5) By increasing the technological capacity of its military, the DPRK allows for more labor time to be dedicated to agricultural production and better protects its food supply. Because of sanctions, the DPRK cannot rely on importing food from other countries when harvests are short. In other words, these new developments are a logical product of the U.$. imperialists' stranglehold on the DPRK through economic sanctions and massive military provocations.
Esta semana, los oficiales del Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$ anunciaron
que las personas transgénero son bienvenidas para servir abiertamente como
guerreros del imperialismo y la dominación mundial Amérikkkana.
Hicieron un plan que será puesto en marcha el año que viene, que incluye
apoyo financiero para tratamientos médicos como cirugías, terapia y
Algunos activistas trans, que reconocen por qué este anuncio es
“problemático” para las personas en las naciones oprimidas, afirmarán que
“[el Ejército de los E$tados Unido$] nombraría como nuevo miembro cualquier cosa.” Lo cual es cierto, hasta un punto. El gobierno de los E$tado$ Unido$, en todas sus formas, tratará de controlar todos los aspectos de nuestra sociedad que puedan ser controlados. Lo que recalca el punto de que las políticas de identidad de género no amenazan al militarismo e$tadouniden$e y a la dominación del mundo porque pueden ser controladas por la mera aceptación. ¿La lucha por la aceptación de los transgéneros (o cualquier lucha de género), distinta de la organización revolucionaria, debilita al
capitalismo mismo? No. Y este anuncio lo prueba.
El gobierno e$tadouniden$e no puede nombrar como nuevo miembro a organización antiimperialista genuina, a pesar de sus intentos con las organizaciones encubiertas y la revisión de la historia. No puede integrar la autodeterminación de las naciones con el colonialismo porque son aspectos opuestos de una contradicción mundial. No pueden terminar con la opresión y desesperación de la gente en el Tercer Mundo porque dependen de esa opresión para su función básica de la explotación para mantener a las personas en los E$tados Unido$ ricas y felices.
Si tu lucha puede ser integrada al Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$, entonces
eso demuestra de qué lado está en realidad. ¿Eres un revolucionario
internacionalista? ¿O sólo esperas por una mejor vida aquí en Amérikkka? Todos
los que se opongan a la opresión de identidad de género, militarismo y
genocidio deberían hacer todo en su poder para organizarse en contra del
Ejército de los E$tado$ Unido$, y en contra del capitalismo, dado que esa
es la única manera en que llegaremos a un mundo sin opresión de género para
This week U.$. military officials announced that transgender people are welcome to serve openly as warriors for imperialism and Amerikkkan world domination. They made a plan that will roll out over the next year, including financial support for medical treatment such as surgeries, therapy, and hormones.
Some trans activists, who recognize why this announcement is "problematic" for people in the oppressed nations, will assert that "they'll co-opt anything." Which is true, to an extent. The U.$. government in all its forms will try to control any aspect of our society that can be controlled. Which underlines the point that identity politics is not threatening to U.$. militarism and world domination, because it can be controlled just by mere acceptance. Does the struggle for transgender acceptance (or any gender struggle), distinct from revolutionary organizing, undermine capitalism itself? No. And this announcement proves it.
The U.$. government can't co-opt genuine anti-imperialist organizing, try as it might with front organizations and rewriting of history. It can't actually integrate the self-determination of nations into colonialism, because they are opposite aspects of a worldwide contradiction. They can't resolve the oppression and desperation of people in the Third World, because they depend on that oppression for its base function of exploitation, to keep people in the United $tates wealthy and happy.
If your struggle can be integrated into the U.$. military, then it shows which side your struggle is truly on. Are you a revolutionary internationalist? Or just hoping for a better life here in Amerikkka? Everyone who opposes gender oppression, militarism, and genocide, should do everything in their power to organize against the U.$. military, and against capitalism, as that's the only way we're going to get to a world without gender oppression for everyone.
A California prisoner wrote: In the article entitled "The Myth of the 'Prison Industrial Complex'", MIM(Prisons) quotes Loic Wacquant, reasoning that "fewer than 5,000 inmates were employed by private firms." MIM(Prisons) reasons that since "there is not an imperialist profit interest behind favoring jails ... the concept of 'PIC' is a fantasy."(2) This reasoning is fundamentally flawed. The definition, relied upon here, is not one used by the crusaders of that movement, but rather, is one attributed to the term by MIM(Prisons). In other words, I've yet to see an advocate who claimed that the entire premise of the prison industrial complex is based on direct prison labor for the "imperialist." The truth is, since there's nothing "complex" about direct prison labor, the MIM(Prisons)-attributed definition severely trivializes the true meaning of the PIC. The term has to mean more.
To avoid further distortions — and unreasonable deduction — let's look at the plain meaning of the term (see Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary). (a) Prison, I believe, is self-explanatory. (b) Industry: a distinct group of productive enterprises; esp: one that employs a large personnel and capital. (c) Complex: a whole made up of, or involving, intricately interrelated elements.
In light of this definition, the question becomes does the apparatus referred to as the PIC represent a "distinct group of productive enterprises" that "employs a large personnel and capital," "made up of, or involving intricate interrelated elements"? Answer: Yes, of course. The conglomerate, that is the PIC, consists of hundreds of corporations and unions, including phone companies that literally engage in bidding wars to contract with the prison; the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, their labor union, is one of the biggest in the state, which isn't to discount the plumbers and electricians unions, big food and cosmetic companies, like Doritos, Colgate and many more, all garner impressive profits off of the prison population. Additionally, many small impoverished towns have routinely used prisons to stimulate their economies. And so, per definition, this intricate network of parasitic companies siphoning millions of dollars from both the government and our families does meet the definition of the term prison industrial complex. In a nutshell, while not disputing the facts relied upon by MIM(Prisons) in its article, I believe those facts are being misapplied in this situation. To keep using PIC is not inaccurate or "a fantasy."
Wiawimawo of MIM(Prisons) responds: The definition derived above from the dictionary is a literal interpretation of the words piecemeal and does not reflect how proponents of the term define it. If you look at definitions by those who use the term they usually allude to a collaboration between government and private industry. As we point out in the article being responded to, the term prison industrial complex is appropriated from the term military industrial complex, which we will take some time to explain in more depth to further demonstrate why prisons do not play a similar role under imperialism. We argue that to use the term PIC is to imply that prisons do play this role that is crucial to imperialism's economic success. Further, despite this critic's claim to the contrary, the line that prisons are profiting off of prison labor is quite commonly presented by those who use the PIC term. (See recent call by September 9th strike organizers for the most recent example)
War and prisons serve a similar role in oppressing other nations to enforce the will of imperialist interests on them. As we all know these days, prisons and torture are an integral part of U.$. imperialist excursions throughout the world.
What is militarism? MIM answered, "Militarism is war-mongering or the advocacy of war or actual carrying out of war or its preparations."(1) But what causes militarism under imperialism and what purposes does it serve? We already mentioned the important purpose of controlling other peoples. But there are other economic benefits to militarism under imperialism that are strong enough to lead humynity to war, to the slaughter of thousands of people. Namely, militarism can artificially increase demand enough to buoy a struggling economy, and war can solve problems of over-production under capitalism through its great destructiveness. It can do this because it is both productive in the Marxist sense, and destructive. In fact, one of our critiques of the PIC line is that the injustice system is not productive at all as the definition proposed by the reader above suggests. This makes it qualitatively different from the weapons industry.
The injustice system is not a productive system. Despite some small productive enterprises within it, U.$. prisons are designed to pay a bunch of people to do nothing while preventing a bunch of other people from doing anything. A large portion of working-age oppressed nation people are prevented from contributing to their nations economically or otherwise. Meanwhile prison guard unions are one of the most obvious examples of non-productive "labor" under imperialism.
As we've mentioned before, the military industrial complex represents a whopping 10% of U.$. GDP.(2) And as most of us know, under capitalism there is a problem when demand is not high enough. It is a problem of circulation. When capital circulation slows, profits decrease, so finance capital stops investing, and without intervention this leads to a self-feeding cycle of decreased production, decreased profits and decreased investment. Not only is production of war machines big, but it is mostly determined by the state. Therefore it becomes a useful tool for the state to interfere and save capitalism from crisis. It just needs to order some more fighter jets and things get better (maybe).
Now, the astute reader might ask, doesn't this create another downward cycle where the state has to tax the people, thereby decreasing their consumption rates, in order to buy all those fighter jets? Well, finance capital has developed much more complicated solutions to this problem than just taxing the people. It so happens that the state also controls money supplies, which of course is a primary tool for such Keynesian strategies for preventing crisis. But in addition to creating money out of nowhere, the imperialists are able to squeeze money out of their partners. In fact, the U.$. domination of military production is one way that it maintains its dominance in the world, controlling 31% of global arms exports.(3)
The Islamic State has been a great benefactor of U.$. militarism, snatching up advanced U.$. weaponry from local puppet forces. They are also the most popular of many strong movements influenced by Wahhabism, an ideology that evolved from Sunni Islam and is promoted by the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia. It just so happens that Saudi Arabia is the number one importer of U.$. war production, accounting for 11.8% of exports in that industry, followed closely by India, Turkey and then Taiwan.(4) These are countries that are largely able to fund their own military purchases, thus providing a great influx of money to the U.$. without having to tax Amerikans to increase production. So when people ask why the U.$. works so closely with Saudi Arabia while claiming to be fighting radical Islam, this is the answer, along with the fact that Saudi Arabia does its oil sales in dollars, which also props up the U.$. economy. In recent presidential campaigns we've seen Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump campaigning for Saudi Arabia (and other countries) to do more to carry out war efforts against the oppressed to take some of the burden off of the United $tates.
Of course, much of the arms market is controlled not just by U.$. financial interests, but political interests as well. It is not a free market. In 2014, the Amerikans gave out $5.9 billion in foreign military aid, with Israel getting more than half of that ($3.1B), followed by Egypt ($1.3B), Iraq ($300M), Jordan ($300M), and Pakistan ($280M).(5) This accounts for around half of U.$. military exports. So these countries are big consumers of U.$. arms, with the help of subsidies from the United $tates itself. But that money is not just given away, much of it is in loans that must be paid back by those countries with interest and always with other obligations that benefit the imperialist countries.
All that said, the United $tates still spends far more on war than any other country. Amerikkka's own spending is an order of magnitude greater than what is exported to other countries. So our continued invasion of the Third World will be playing a bigger role in propping up the U.$. economy via the military industrial complex than all of its exports ($610B vs. something like $10B in exports).(3) But as long as those invasions enable imperialist profits, incomes in the First World can stay high, and the tax money to pay for war can continue.
Another reader recently wrote in response to another article on the same topic, "MIM(Prisons) on U.S. Prison Economy"(6):
"If it is MIM(Prisons)'s position that the prison industrial complex doesn't generate private profit for some, I would regard that line as practically irresponsible.
"I'm beginning to exit my comfort zone here. I don't have the vast field of data I have examined previously to my avail, but it is my determination that as capitalism advanced to imperialism, market capitalism evolved, or is evolving, toward the monopoly of all aspects of society."
One should not come away from our article thinking that our position is that no one profiteers off of prisons. We agree that there is a great trend towards privatization of state services in advanced capitalism. The first subheading in our article is "Profiteering Follows Policy," where we state,
"Private industries are making lots of money off prisons. From AT&T charging outrageous rates for prisoners to talk to their families, to the food companies that supply cheap (often inedible) food to prisons, to the private prison companies themselves, there is clearly a lot of money to be made. But these companies profits are coming from the States' tax money, a mere shuffling of funds within the imperialist economy."
And we also recognize that many individuals are benefiting from prison jobs. Yet when we call these people parasites, we are told that they are the exploited proletariat. But when we say that prisons are about national oppression, we are told that it is about profits because look at all the money the prison guards are making. The reality is, Amerikkkans support more prisons because they support national oppression. And some of them get paid to participate directly.
Our specific critique of the use of "prison industrial complex" is explained in more depth in the article "The Myth of the 'Prison Industrial Complex'", so we won't repeat that here. But in essence, the PIC thesis is deflecting the critique of the white oppressor nation's willing and active participation in the oppression of the internal semi-colonies for over 500 years on this continent, in favor of aiming attacks at the likes of Doritos and Colgate. Our critic above doesn't address those points, and therefore does not make a strong case for why it is a correct term. We think they are correct in their letter to us when they write, "Believe me, we — the actual 'oppressed nations' — don't care what you call it, just change it!" This reflects the reason why we do focus on prisons: it is a frontline issue for the oppressed nations in the United $tates, who are the principal mode for change in this country. So the prison movement is important in the anti-imperialist struggle in the United $tates, but not because prisons are economically important. The national question does make the current mass incarceration craze unlikely to go away under imperialism, but increased imprisonment is not vital to imperialism's continued success in the way that militarism is. And by having a correct understanding of the role that these things play in the current system we can better change the system.
In eir letter, the California prisoner also suggests that we should use PIC due to its popularity and maintaining the United Front. Well, "injustice system" was popular before PIC was, but some made a conscious decision to replace it with PIC. Those folks are coming from an academic background with a particular political line, and they are no strangers to Marxism. It is our job to put forth the political line of the proletariat in everything we do, which means a scientific and accurate assessment of all things. We do not think that using different terms will deter those interested in combating injustice in U.$. prisons. In contrast, we do believe that by failing to distinguish the revolutionary anti-imperialist position from that of the Liberal reformers, we will hinder real change from ever happening.
Should we only oppose the criminal injustice system when companies are making money off of it? No, we should oppose it all the time as a tool of national oppression and social control.
Imperialism is the ravenous cancer eating away the body of humynkind. Karnes Detention Center in Texas is owned and operated by slimy fungi in the guise of humyns known as GEO group. And GEO group is Amerikkkan kkkapitalists feeding at the table of suffering like worms eating the insides of defenseless infants.
Karnes Detention Center (KDC) is one of the hundreds of torture chambers housing lumpen who are labelled "Illegal Immigrants" by the Amerikkkan elitists. Housed at KDC are mothers and their children. They have no criminal backgrounds. All came to amerikkka because of persecution in their native lands. Persecution often caused by amerikkkan kkkapitalist intervention in the domestic affairs of those lands.
At KDC one lawyer reports seeing many children with persistent cough. The children complained of no medical care and lack of edible food. A three-year-old girl with asthma was told to "drink water" when her mother sought treatment for her.
The food was pre-packaged and expired. Rotted and beyond use. The lawyer brought cookies for them from a vending machine. One sad looking girl held hers but did not eat. When the lawyer asked her, the tiny child said, "I will share mine with mommy." It was then noticed that none of the children ate cookies until they could share with their mothers.
KDC exists because of an executive order signed by united snakes president Obama. He reminds me of a "house nigger." You know, the "smart one" who looked after "Massa's affairs," and slept in "Massa's house?" The one who kept massa informed of dem dumb field niggas jes in case dey was a plottin' and schemin'. House nigger don't care that his "privilege" stands on the backs of bleeding filed workers. Chief Pig Obama and GEO Group stock holders get tax money for crushing undocumented children and their mothers.
Now we could discuss Obama's overwhelming and extensive use of military drones to kill innocent families in Third World nations. We could discuss how house nigger plans to sell drones to other countries to enable those countries to do "operations" that are illegal for the u.$ to perform. Or we could discuss Judge Gideon of Dewitt Town Court in New York. He issued an Order of Protection for Colonel Earl Evans. Colonel Evans is commander of Hancock Field where weaponized Reaper Drones are remotely piloted to make lethal strikes in Afghanistan. These cowardly amerikkkans fire missiles and kill innocent Afghani mothers and children from a cozy office across half a continent and an ocean from the victims. Slaughter without risk.
But Colonel Evans was granted an Order of Protection. He lives on a military base surrounded by soldiers with massive weaponry who are trained and ready to defend Colonel Evans. He needs an Order of Protection because he wants "protection" from peace activists who stand outside the base protesting drone warfare. And then Judge Gideon jails those activists for violating that Order of Protection, circumventing the First Amendment of the united snakes constipation.
Odd but I hear that old tune "London Bridge is Falling Down," but the word "Amerikkka" replaces "London Bridge." May the piece of shit soon implode. Maybe then the Afghanis can get an Order of Protection.
30 March 2015 - As ordered by the Federal government, the U.$. Army must reduce Amerika's active-duty soldier ranks by more than 40,000 by 2017. Recently, here in Alaska, a state which, since its colonization and subsequent possession by the United $tates, has been very heavily subsidized by government funding, large crowds of predominantly white petty-bourgeoisie turned out to demonstrate and rally against the military cuts. The reason? Some 10,000 troops and their families may leave the state, causing 1 billion dollars in losses to the state economy.(1) In other words, large groups of social parasites, living off the largess of their imperial overlord in Washington and the Pentagon, and the sub-parasites who feed off the primary parasites' existence, stand to lose their stable and guaranteed incomes and relatively high standards of living (gained mainly from the oppression and exploitation of the Third World and enforced by the same military) and may need to find other ways to support themselves.
The "Rally For Our Troops," attended by more than 400 people, was organized by Anchorage, Alaska-based business, civic and municipal organizations and was aimed at sparing cuts to Anchorage's joint base Elmendorf-Richardson and Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks. Alaska has more veterans per capita than any other state, and in the so-called "worst-case scenario," as many as 10,800 troops and 19,000 dependents could be forced to depart, amounting to a loss of about 4 percent of Alaska's population.(1) This is not surprising, as some estimates place the amount of the working population associated with government employment as high as 60%.
Of course, the event began with a resounding display of the imperialists' early indoctrination and brainwashing of the young through a performance of a local middle school's Drum Corps and Flag Team, accompanied by hundreds of others waving little Amerikan flags and cheering. After the initial show, the discussion began around convincing the four-person army committee present of the "strategic importance" of the main unit (4th brigade/25th infantry combat team).
The local community concern over losing Army Combat Brigades is economic. It could cost the state 1 billion dollars in economic impact, according to Bill Popp, Anchorage Economic Development corporation President and one of the rally coordinators.(1) That, along with the expected population decrease aforementioned, is the overriding concern for businesses and many concerned participants. Hence, we are here confronted with a major historic and pernicious problem with such outlooks: that being the insipid and persistent factor of self-interest and economic dependence of a large percentage of the Amerikan labor aristocracy on the continuation and preservation of imperialism and its most oppressive and pervading manifestation, the military industrial complex.
The labor aristocracy's support of imperialism coupled with the strategic concerns of the ruling class in perpetuating global capitalist domination via military and political power are two of the biggest foes of the international proletariat in achieving socialist revolution and change in the world today. The front-line defense of any existing, regular administration and order of imperialist rule is its police and regular army, and will be deployed against the will of the revolution when it comes. It will undoubtedly obey its political and economic masters. History is replete with examples of the U.$. military being unleashed not only on the international proletariat to further the interests of the imperialists in their unceasing quest for strategic domination and natural resource/labor exploitation, but also on internal colony repression and domestic discontent control. The U.$. military, just as much as the prison system, is an inherent and vital mechanism for social control and the protection of the established order.
Historical instances abound around the world where the military and U.$. troops were used to break workers' strikes, put down political and social demonstrations, and help corporate power exploit and repress the working class and quash popular discontent with governmental policy. Often times they use quite brutal and violent means and tactics, including blatant murder of citizens, armed or not. Troops have also been used to entrench and enforce racial and economic inequality and conserve the status quo.
To illustrate a few examples of domestic military oppression: from very early on, continuing right through to almost the mid-20th century and including sporadic examples even in the present day, the military was very frequently called out to suppress and eliminate labor disputes and strikes all over the United $tates at the bidding of their corporate masters in Washington. This occurred primarily in the days when a true economic and political proletariat existed within the U.$. borders. One example of this type of domestic military oppression was the infamous "Ludlow Massacre" of 1914, in which the Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation, owned by the Rockefeller family, used murder, beatings, imprisonments and gun attacks to break the strike of thousands of deplorably-exploited foreign-born miners, employing the Army National Guard to do so. At one point, the National Guard opened fire with machine guns on an encampment housing hundreds of women and children, which resulted in the deaths of 11 children and 2 wimmin after the Guard set fire to their tents with torches.(2) Less than 60 years later, another Rockefeller was responsible for the brutal Attica prison massacre, once against perpetrated by the Army National Guard.(3)
During the civil rights era, military attacks occurred against Black demonstrators repeatedly, such as happened in Watts, Los Angeles, Detroit and Chicago, with numerous accounts of brutality committed on peaceable demonstrators and even mere bystanders. In Ohio, college students demonstrating against the imperialist Vietnam War were mowed down by Federal troops. The list of such barbaric and repressive actions against U.$. citizens by military agencies is far too long to include here, but just these few examples should show succinctly how willing and ready U.$. military forces can and will be in violently confronting anyone who poses any challenge to the Amerikan status quo and imperialist agenda.
Even soldiers themselves can become victims of imperialist greed. In both the Vietnam and Iraq wars thousands of veterans were for years denied medical care or even recognition of numerous insidious maladies, many life-threatening, resulting from munitions or chemicals used by the military in those wars: Agent Orange in Vietnam, uranium=tipped shells and inoculations for chemical warfare in Iraq, and other causes of "Gulf War Syndrome" in Iraq. Of course, all this says nothing for the countless thousands of indigenous victims of these brutal wars of imperialist oppression, many civilians and children, who get no help at all from the Amerikan government since such statistics aren't kept by the Pentagon.
The imperialists create new threats and dangers to justify ongoing funding to the already enormous Amerikan military. The "Cold War" and the "War on Terror" are just two examples of these excuses for maintaining a hugely bloated military establishment. As leftist political commentator Noam Chomsky wrote: "the appeal to security is largely fraudulent, the Cold War framework having been employed as a device to justify the suppression of independent nationalism - whether in Europe, Japan or the Third World." As Maoists, we recognize that it includes the suppression of internal colonies within the United $tates as well.
Of course, the biggest threat to any revolutionary movements is the standing army, which reactionary and counter-revolutionary factions and governments will not hesitate to use, unleashing military personnel and arms against citizens who pose any threat or challenge to the establishment. As was seen in the 1917 Russian Revolution, reactionary generals such as Kornilov and Kaledin initiated counter-revolutionary attacks against the newly-formed Soviets, and the Western imperialist powers inserted military forces in an intervention aimed at undermining the socialists and keeping Russia embroiled in the inter-imperialist world war.(4)
Revolutionary activists need to confront rallies like the one held in Anchorage with their own counter-rallies opposing military spending and maintenance. Those under lock and key can write letters and send petitions to representatives, suggesting more funds be spent for educational, nutritional or medical programs for the dispossessed and recently-imprisoned as opposed to military funding. Any opposition to military expenditure and activity is desirable as first steps toward the future of socialism in imperialist Amerika. Don't let the official, unceasing propaganda in the media (i.e., ISIS, Russia/Putin, etc) fool anyone - the imperialist military establishment needs to be opposed at all levels and through all possible endeavors by all committed socialists, even if it conflicts with relations to family members who may be enlisted. Every dollar spent on military funding should be seen as one less morsel for food, one less book or pen, or one less dose of life-saving medicine for the world’s proletariat. And now with imperialist defenders and lap dogs like Representative John Boehner asking for increased funding for military and "national security" in the face of the continuing "ISIS" farce and propaganda, and U.$. Senator Dan Sullivan proclaiming that "he who owns Alaska owns the entire world" (statements from U.$. politicians don't get more imperialist-minded than that!), we can see that the Amerikan imperialists will continue to use any excuse to perpetuate the money pit and pig sty that is the U.$. military establishment and its presence both domestic and abroad. Socialists everywhere must hold it as among the highest priorities to organize and act against this greatest of threats to humynity and equality.
MIM(Prisons) responds: This writer does a good job explaining the importance of opposing the U.$. military and the reasons why so many Amerikans support this imperialist army. S/he proposes that we take action by demanding that the money currently funding the military be instead used to help provide food, medicine and education for the international proletariat. As a goal for improving the lives of the world's people we certainly agree. But we do not see this as a winnable battle under imperialism. As the author explains, the Amerikan military is a tool of U.$. imperialism: it's purpose is to keep the people around the world in line so that imperialist corporations can exploit the workers and steal the natural resources. This colonialism is fundamental to the economic model of imperialism. Calling on the Amerikan government to voluntarily redirect military funds to the very people that military is helping to oppress and exploit is not a battle we can win with words alone.
It will take the forcible overthrow of the imperialist government before they will lay down their weapons and give up their wealth. History has shown this time and again: peaceful revolutions are not really revolutions at all. By playing their game and asking kindly for the government to redirect military funds to humanitarian needs we give the imperialists the chance to pretend they are actually working in the interests of the people. We should not mislead people into thinking this is possible. Any so-called humanitarian work by the imperialists is just a cover for their brutal militarism.
This author is correct: "Every dollar spent on military funding should be seen as one less morsel for food, one less book or pen, or one less dose of life-saving medicine for the world’s proletariat." The urgency of the situation can not be overstated, people around the world are dying while Amerikans are rallying for expansion of the imperialist military.
Picture a 6-man goon squad, in full riot gear with a gun, a barrel of tear gas, and an electric riot shield. And now realize that this tactic is used on us prisoners any time we get out of line for any reason. This particular incident happened over a flooded cell, broken state TV, and covered window. Not only was a comrade gassed, the pigs shot him two times with 30mm rubber bullets at close range.
What we're seeing first hand is the militarization of prison guards, but it's also an attack upon our psyche. The gas, the riot gear, and the shock shield are all visual reminders of the pigs' control and what is supposed to result in our subservience. This action can take place at any time the pigs feel a threat to the order of the prison. What threats could we possibly cause behind a steel door in the presence of 6 fully armored and armed guards? When these situations happen the pigs turn off the vents so when they get gassed we taste it too.
I often spend long hours thinking about why such an awful use of force is ued for something so benign. In MIM Theory 5 it is said that one can't go on increasingly repressed by fascism forever. And while premature armed struggle is a hindrance, doing nothing at all is even more detrimental.
We spend more time fighting over small and insignificant bullshit, and we let the pigs take advantage of our disorganization. We fill our time checking our paperwork or fighting petty beefs, and the more we do this, the more important it becomes, until eventually it becomes a belief system that causes our own subservience. We need to look past what the DAs tell us and pay attention to what is happening right now.
There are many prisoners who love the United $tates, those who do not understand the evil it causes abroad, nor domestic slavery it's done here. For those who are struggling, keep engaged. It's our duty to fight injustice and racism, and unite. Unity is a deep concept. It's a constant struggle to help someone who's not from your own and it means reaching out being the first one to overlook what keeps us at one another and lets the pigs run all over our rights. If you're not doing something you're feeding the problem. Educate, teach, unite, fight back.
MIM(Prisons) adds: This comrade underscores some important points that are part of the United Front for Peace in Prison. First there is the principle of Peace; we fight for peace while the prison guards stir up and perpetuate violence. "We organize to end the needless conflicts and violence within the U.$. prison environment. The oppressors use divide and conquer strategies so that we fight each other instead of them. We will stand together and defend ourselves from oppression."
Second there is the principle of unity; we must build unity even when it means taking the first step to overlook differences. "We strive to unite with those facing the same struggles as us for our common interests. To maintain unity we have to keep an open line of networking and communication, and ensure we address any situation with true facts. This is needed because of how the pigs utilize tactics such as rumors, snitches and fake communications to divide and keep division among the oppressed. The pigs see the end of their control within our unity."
We call on all individuals and organizations to study the United Front for Peace in Prisons Statement of Principles, join the UFPP, and build unity in your prison.